Hi there and welcome to this week’s episode of unabashed Friday fangirling!
“Kitten Whiskers,” and “More Kitten Whiskers” are a nod to the song from The Sound of Music and are simply intended to share some of my favorite things with you. These posts have absolutely noting to do with Tarot. Well, almost nothing. Ideas like “Rediscover simple pleasures” and “little things mean a lot” have been turning up in quite a few readings lately. I really do take my own advice – sometimes. All of the things in the “Kitten Whiskers” posts delight me, and I hope they will lift your spirits a little bit as well.
Today: Music. Like laughter, it’s good medicine. LIstening to music expresses, acknowledges and validates whatever mood I’m in the healthiest possible way. It helps mental focus (I’m listening to the new playlist as I write this.) Music generally celebrates life in all of its aspects. I don’t know squat about the technical side of music. I am lucky beyond measure to have married a wonderful guy who just happens to be an excellent musician, to be the mother of a music therapist and to have had access to music ever since I was old enough to change the dial on my parents’ radio.
You may not have heard of some of these artists, but I really hope you’ll give a listen or better yet, buy the music and support their work. Where possible, I’ve linked directly to their website or bandcamp page. I’ve also cobbled together a handy Spotify playlist for this post, oh so creatively titled “TaoCraft Tunes”
In a previous “Kitten Whiskers” post, we met my friend Jose Johnson and his life coaching, martial arts teaching, and book writing work. There is another side to Jose. He is a professional musician and has recorded both as a solo artist and with bands including Big Tubba Mista. The title track of his early 2000s album Side Street of Dreams is bones-deep calming and meditative while other tracks like “Tribal Mists” are energizing and empowering enough to get you through wushu warmups. It brings a smile to your face and does your heart good either way. Listen here:
Or learn more about all of Coach Jose’s work at JoseJohnson.com
Dinosoul is a local Pittsburgh duo. When their website says that they are here to “love, connect and inspire” they mean every bit of it – and they achieve it. Having met Donny and Carolyn, plus living in the city where the music was composed gives their album Eleven a strong sense of presence and place for me. Sure, Pittsburgh has the surface vibe of football, perogies, beer, bridges, yinz, n’at, but Dinosoul (especially the songs “4 am” and “Dimension”) capture the deeper energy of the place, like the legendary ‘fourth river’ aquifer captures the deeper waters of the local geography. Through their music you can feel the city at night or sunset at the point looking down the Ohio river. You can listen (and buy) Eleven and Dinosoul’s other music on their Bandcamp page. Check out some of Donny and Carolyn’s other projects: Empath Sober Bar and Free Will Pgh on Instagram. Pro tip – While you are there, FOLLOW @Dinosoulmusic A new song is coming! Squee!
While I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jose since 2000 or so and talking with Donny and Carolyn in person, but when it comes to Strangeletter it was fangirl at first TV ad. I became an instant Browncoat and Strangeletter fan all in one 30 second promo for the series Firefly that featured Strangeletter’s song “Here Comes A Chopper.” I can’t for the life of me remember how I got from a TV ad to Strangeletter’s YouTube channel and Bandcamp page, but I’m glad it happened whatever it was. I don’t know a thing about music genres. I have seen their music tagged with alternative, dark wave, and post-progressive rock, but the adjectives I would use are words like ethereal, experiential, and evocative. Their music invokes mental images in a way that verges on intuition, almost like a sonic Tarot card. For example, with “Chopper” I ‘see’ night, a futuristic suburb, dsytopia and and organized underground resistance. (Apparently, ‘futuristic’ means about a week – I rough drafted this part of the post a few days before the stormtroopers landed. All love and good vibes to the good people of Portland.)
Darkwave, shoegaze, triphop, ambient…whatever you call it, that part of the music spectrum is my favorite. But sometimes all you want is a cold drink and some reggae. It all started with the reggae influence you can hear in the Police and other 80s bands. Then I stumbled on to a cd of Julian Marley’s Lion in the Morning at a yardsale and the rest is history. Fast forward 20 years, and I finally started to learn Esperanto. Put those two things together and you get the one and only Jonny M. I’m not sure, but I think he speaks more languages than the Pope and is an gifted musician in any language. Always hopeful, just like his chosen language, his music ranges from light, pleasant songs like “Dankon” to richer, deeper songs like “Eterna Lumon” and “Sonon De La Viv'” You don’t have to speak a word of Esperanto to appreciate the spirit of the music. To prove that point, also listen to En Natura on his Bandcamp page. I can’t speak a word of German and can still enjoy the album, especially “Die Germanen.” Music really is a transcendent language all its own. Mi sxatas lia muzikon tre multe!
Many thanks to Jose, Donny, Carolyn, Steven and Jonny for granting permission for me to fangirl their music and link to their art and sound.
There is a metric crap-ton of other music out there that I straight up adore. I don’t know if it’s ok to mention any of it without permission. Rather than get anyone’s copyright shorts in a bunch, I just made a random fangirl Spotify playlist to share a few other favorites in no particular order.
Happy weekend everyone!