2 Shades of Grey

Songs from the soundtrack of your life


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2 Shades back for 44th Worsthorne Arts & Crafts fair

Monday saw the Millstone Folk Band entertain with acoustic tunes from across the British Isles.

Tuesday saw the Contempo choir raise the rafters.

Wednesday saw 2 Shades  of Grey back at this annual event, which was dedicated to the memory of Tony Cummings.

We played an eclectic mix kicking off with a song almost older than us, Tennessee Ernie Ford’s classic “Sixteen Tons” (first written and recorded by Merle Travis in 1947). Then an Eva Cassidy take on “It doesn’t matter any more” –  better known as the 1958 posthumous Buddy Holly hit written by Paul Anka.

Then a medley of songs from one of our favourite bands the Drifters: “Under the Boardwalk”, “On Broadway” and “Save the last dance for me”. If you hear a reference to Rudy in one of the songs it’s because he was their lead singer who died the night before they were due to record “Boardwalk”.

We dedicated the Carole King song “Crying in the rain” to Tony as he’d sung Everly Brothers songs with us on several occasions and gave a nod to Elvis with the brilliant Marc Cohn song “Walking in Memphis”.

Then we finished with a Tex-mex medley comprising “Crazy”, “Tennessee Waltz”, South of the Border”, and the Maverick’s “Dance the Night away”, where we were assisted by Amy, the conductor of the Contempo choir on tambourine.

Thanks to Barrie’s wife for brief video clip. Enjoy! 


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2 Shades entertain at Parkinson’s Disease Society Summer event

2 Shades were happy to return to this annual event held in Burnley.

An appreciative audience enjoyed a mix of Nat King Cole and Ella standards, some Tex-Mex music and some popular songs old and new from artists like the Buddy Holly, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Drifters, Tony Joe White, George Ezra, Alison Krauss, Charlie Rich, Paul Simon, and Mark Cohn.

 

On a technical note guitar aficionado Mike played his Telecaster Vintage Cabronita though a Fender amp (saving his new Gretsch and Silverstone guitars for another day).

Previous PDS events.


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RIP Tony Cummings

We are sorry to report the passing of our good friend and collaborator Tony Cummings who died recently. Tony was well-known  in Worsthorne, contributing his talents to the annual Arts Fair among other things, and will be sadly missed.

 

He was also a keen Burnley fan and collaborated in our tribute to Sean Dyce in 2014 in a video made by local videographer Ken Stott.

 

 


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Glorious guitars in Scarborough

On a recent trip to Scarborough I was introduced by my brother to this wonderful guitar shop called Guitar Galleries. It was closed when we got there but the £10,000 price tag on the Duesenberg guitar hanging up in the window piqued my curiosity.

So the following day I headed back with my brother in tow (to make sure I didn’t spend anything) and asked the friendly proprietor if I could have a look round and takes some photographs. No problem.

Inside the spacious emporium there were walls dedicated to all the major brands. In the electric department alongside Fender, Gretsch, Rickenbacker etc were less popular brands such as Godin and Crimson. The other department featured top of the range Taylor guitars and some tasty Fender acoustic amplifiers.

I was curious who bought these guitars and it seems they have a healthy on-line presence and export around the world. What a wonderful way to spend an hour browsing in a place like this. Magic!


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First Aid Kit……..another Swedish export!

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

There are some musicians / groups who are so distinctive that it is almost sacrosanct to try to cover their songs. Amongst this select band I would put the Swedish super group Abba, whose sound was so distinctive, not least because of the composing / songwriting skills of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and the stunning vocals of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad.

Recently I was listening to a programme on the radio and a couple of young ladies were being interviewed about their latest record, a Swedish duo by the name of First Aid Kit.

The folk duo  consists of the sisters Klara (vocals/guitar) and Johanna Söderberg (vocals/keyboards/autoharp/bass guitar). When performing live, the duo are accompanied by a drummer, a pedal steel guitarist and recently a keyboard player. In 2008, they became internationally known by their YouTube video cover of the Fleet Foxes song “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” that…

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Costa Coffee session in Burnley

2 Shades performed a 2-hour set at Costa Coffee this week. It was a low-key affair with minimal kit – just my Washburn electro-acoustic guitar – but a great opportunity to try out some new songs and some we hadn’t performed for a while. 

It was also a chance to see how well my Fishman Loudbox Mini acoustic guitar amplifier’s vocal channel performed. It was excellent and using the TC Helicon harmony voice processor in stereo mode, an Electro Harmonix B9 Organ pedal, and a Boo Tremolo pedal, there was sufficient variety in sounds to support the eclectic 31 -song programme which included standards, pop songs and a couple of blues-orientated songs.

New to our set was Homeward Bound, When I Fall in Love, Mountains of Mourne, Sixteen Tons, and Here Comes the Rain Again.

An enjoyable afternoon which we shall be repeating.


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Happy songs don’t do well in charts – a sign of the times?

For eleven months last year the charts were dominated by sad songs in minor keys.

Songs in major keys had only short spells in the charts. Some, like songs by Clean Bandit, DJ Khaled, and Harry Styles, lasted only a week at the top.

And it’s not just the minor key. For the first time since 2002 the average bpm of number ones fell below 100.

The research, carried out by Popbitch website and published by the American Psychological Association, concluded that “popular music has, in general, become sadder-sounding over time with an increasing use of minor keys and slower tempo”.

Another study in 2011 found that “lyrics of popular music became more self-focussed and negative over time” with the number of minor songs doubling since the 1960s.

This may be partly due to a change in formats. Vinyl 78s could hold 3 minutes of music which led to a high number of bpm. Streaming (the curse of modern charts) allows an unlimited length of song or album and s reducing the number of songs making it to the top of the charts – only 14 last year.

Popbitch refers to a 2009 study by American researchers which found that “when social and economic times were relatively threatening, songs that were longer in duration, more meaningful in content, more comforting, more romantic, and slower, were most popular”.

This is not the first research lately to identify this shift. I posted last year about this