Amy Winehouse in the black for real this time

Amy Winehouse died today, and you can read all about it on the righteous Huffington Post obituary that reminds us her demise was just a “slo-mo car crash.”

Her death is not altogether shocking, but it is disturbing nonetheless.

In a sense, her artistic marketability stemmed from a bad-girlification of 1960s soul music.  She was a skinny, tatted-up tough girl from working-class London, with big hair and a voice to match.  Her struggles with (or seeming acceptance of) drug addiction only enhanced her reputation as a true entertainer, one with moxie, attitude, and presence.

Fans relished her bad behavior, cheering lyrics like “You love blow and I love puff” (Back to Black”) and “I told you I was trouble / You know that I’m no good” (“You Know That I’m No Good”).  Her refusal to go to rehab was celebrated in a Grammy-winning song (“Rehab”), in which Winehouse admits to suffering from addiction and depression.

This glorification of mental illness and self-destructive behavior sends mixed messages to those who also struggle with these issues.  Winehouse’s drug use was not only acceptable but legitimized by her celebrity status.  This was a double validation:  Her drug use fed into her being perceived as a rock star, and her being a rock star forgave her drug use.  And now she’s dead, and no one’s surprised.

So what does it take to remove the idolatry from substance abuse?  The wasted talents of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and many others including Amy Winehouse now, have all developed into a tragic mythos of “forever young,” without acknowledgement of what really ripped these creative beings from our midst.  The real scourge is untreated illness, the exaltation of which prevents honesty, recovery, and true grit from being communicated to a public sold on the dangerous cheapness of entertainment.

Femme Fatale Friday: Lindsay Rae Spurlock

I recently discovered Lindsay Rae Spurlock and her music when Emilie mentioned her in her Bragalicious post here. I listened to Lindsay’s tune “As For Now” and was blown away by it. I thought “I have to find out more  and share her with our readers!” So……here she is, our newest Femme Fatale Friday.

Are you a native Louisianan?

Yep! I was born in Lafayette, moved around with my dad while he worked in radio (a radio brat, so to speak), then moved back to Louisiana (Baton Rouge) from Middle school through college (LSU)… spent lots of time in Nola. Then after I graduated I moved to Atlanta, GA, then NYC, then Austin, now Los Angeles… all in pursuit of this music career. I will always consider Louisiana home!

Did you write all of the tunes on “Heart On”?

Yes.

How long have you been performing and what is your earliest memory of performing before a group ?

I have been performing my own tunes live for about 12 years. I performed/acted in musicals and plays throughout my schooling years. I started writing my own songs with guitar when I was 16 years old.  I was driving by a pub in Baton Rouge, LA called Tony’s Tavern and noticed a large ” open mic night tonight!” sign in the window. So I turned around, went in, barely old enough to enter this joint,  but confidently inquired about the process to sign up.Then came back later that night, invited tons of friends, and it was the most exhilarating rush being on that stage performing my own material. This was the first time I played my own music, solo, before a group.

Tell us about some of the television shows that have featured your music and how that came about.

Some of the television shows include; MTV’s Real World (3 different seasons)-My tune “November” played at the season finale of the Brooklyn season as everyone was saying their goodbyes….you know when they say the goodbye and act sad and cry, but are secretly glad because all they did was talk about each other anyway behind their backs… My tune “You Have My Heart” played on this same season, as well. “November” played on another episode in the Washington DC Season. NBC’s sitcom novella “Watch Over Me”- Tune: “November” played at the season finale of this show as well as a final sort of emotional goodbye, when a husbands new wife dies from being poisoned by the “bad guy”… touching. hehe  Also the latest placement was on the 3rd season premiere of Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital” with my tune “As For Now” playing in the end credits. Super good placement! Got a lot of momentum from this one. I have an upcoming placement in Felicity too! I’ve had some placements in the show Bad Girls Club and also overseas, in different foreign films and such. My tunes play in various stores across the nation too: Barney’s, Neimen Marcus, Aeropostale, Bonefish Grill, (Bonefish did a compilation with my tune “You Have My Heart” and mailed it out with promo and coupons across the nation) Outback Steakhouse, Charlotte Russe, etc…

How this came about: music soups (music supervisors) found me online or through people and contacted me. Also how I got signed now with a music placement company based out of the UK called AG Sync, who now has offices here in Hollywood and New York.

What inspires you as a songwriter?

Life.

Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you have any rituals, a special place where you write, does the melody or the lyrics come first…..etc.

The melody and lyrics usually come at the same time. I sit down at the piano and just start. Usually whatever is on my mind will just start manifesting itself into song.

What kind of music do you listen to? Who are some of your faves?

I like all kinds of music. Love music with good melodic lines, both vocally and instrumentally driven.

I grew up listening to a lot of queen with my dad. Love queen. I think Freddie Mercury’s voice is the best male vocalist I’ve heard.

I really admire musicians who can pull it off live, sans any pitch correction on the vocals.

Love electronic stuff! Love Bjork. Love Animal Collective (in fact my producer did Animal Collective’s “Post Meriwhether Pavillion” album. and Gnarls Barkley’s “St Elsewhere” album….maybe i mentioned this. love his work)

Loved the cranberries

Love Death Cab

Love Aphex Twin’s instrumental pieces “Rhubarb” and “Lichen”…..these are my favorite synth pad pieces and evoke lots of emotion. lots.

There are more… listed on my myspace/FB pages.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Conquering a greater portion of the world with my music. Playing bigger stages!

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I have no doubt Lindsay’s going to be kickin it for years to come.  For more scoop on what she’s up to, check out these links:

Lindsay’s My Space

Lindsay’s FaceBook

Listen to Lindsay’s song “As For Now” and download it free here.

Bragalicious

Over at my personal blog (which has recently been re-named), Jill of All Genres, one of my most regular types of post is what I call the “bragging post,” where I take the opportunity to brag about the accomplishments of my talented friends. It’s one of my favorite things to do and luckily, there are no shortage of accomplishments to brag on.

Charlotte suggested that I post my most recent bragging on post, Bragalicious, here, since many of my shout outs are local New Orleanians (or Baton Rougeians). It’s been too long since I’ve written a post on NOLAFemmes, so I am happy to post Bragalicious here for you.

Speaking of NOLAFemmes and bragging…Judy’s post “Up, up and away!” was a “Freshly pressed” pick on the front page of WordPress yesterday (now page 2). That is totally bragalicious.

* * *

First and foremost, as we speak, pretty much all of The Peauxdunque Writers Alliance is gearing up for The Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers. Four of our members are attending, including Maurice Ruffin, Terri Stoor, Tad Bartlett and J.Ed Marston. That means something like 40% or so of our membership was accepted.

Jamey Hatley is also attending the Summit. Additionally, she’s won a prestigious waitership to Bread Loaf later in the summer.

Also, Maurice Ruffin‘s short story “And Then I Was Clean” will be published in UNO’s Ellipsis Journal.

Another Peauxdunque member, Joselyn Takacs has been accepted into the MFA program at Johns Hopkins University and is on her way.

A little birdie told me that Barb Johnson will be receiving the Barbara Gittings Literature Award at the ALA Conference tomorrow.

Sarah Morton is creating a graphic novel out of a short story written by Bobbi Perry, who attended the LSU MFA with me and Jamey. You can read it online!

Helen Krieger and Joseph Meissner are screening Flood Streets at the San Antonio Film Festival on Thursday.

Lindsay Rae Spurlock‘s song “As for Now” was featured on Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital.” You may still be able to download it for free if you like her Facebook page. Here’s an awesome photo of her, too:

Lindsay Rae Spurlock, photo credit Julia Henry

Congrats to all my phenomenally talented friends!

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at House of Blues

This is late in coming, but better late than never, right? After I reviewed Lissie at House of Blues and suggested everybody check out Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, I promised I would review the show, so here I am.

First of all, it was a sold out show at the main HOB stage, so it was crowded. That’s not my favorite way to enjoy live music and I was a bit grouchy, but also really excited to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals cause I’ve heard that they’re amazing live. And I noticed that most of their shows on this tour have been sold out, if that gives you any evidence.

I am here to tell you that GP&N (for brevity’s sake) are every ounce the phenomenal performers that I’ve heard. Positively electric. An easy comparison to Grace Potter is Janis Joplin, but I read someone compare her to Tina Turner and I think that may be even more apt. Or some kind of combination of Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and herself may be the most apt description.

I found a local music blog that has videos and a gallery of images from the show. You should definitely check it out and I’ll include some videos below so you can get an idea for yourself of what it’s like to see GP&N live. There’s a high-energy new-wave psychedelic funky/folky quality that is just utterly unique.

This one is a bit dark, but the audio is pretty good.

The lighting in this one is much better and it’s a great song.

This video is not from her recent New Orleans performance, but I’m including it because she did perform it in a special arrangement and after some discussion of Katrina and our recovery. This performance is close to what she performed here in New Orleans, without her commentary, of course.

If, after all this, you want to re-create the Nola concert for yourself, I found a setlist for the show and there should be videos for almost all of these songs available. Have fun!

P.S. Actually, I did it for you. Here is a playlist of the songs that GP&N played at House of Blues earlier this month. Enjoy!