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Bringing Soul Music to Mill Valley

Thee Sacred Souls & Danielle Ponder at this year's festival

Mill Valley Music Festival 2024 (banner)

I’ve seen Thee Sacred Souls twice. At SXSW & Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in 2023. Their show at SXSW was particularly good and I got some of my best footage from it (see below). But Thee Sacred Souls aren’t the only soul I’m going to see at Mill Valley Music Festival on May 11 & 12.

I’m digging into Danielle Ponder’s music right now, but I first heard her near the end of her set at Hardly Strictly in 2022. I’ve needed a full set from her ever since and can’t wait to catch up on her music until the festival this weekend.

There’s plenty more to see at Mill Valley Music Festival this year, including me. Would love to meet y’all in person.

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The Wedding Playlists: A Dinner & Celebration

A comprehensive list of dance & soul music for your wedding mix

I’ve prepared a few playlists for wedding receptions & dinners over the past few years, so since I just had a wedding of my own, to celebrate I finalized those playlists here. It’s centered around millennials since I’m a millennial but covers at least the last 60 years of mostly American pop music and a few important tangents.

There’s music I intentionally left out. The music doesn’t focus on the stereotypical wedding songs, but there’s still quite a few in there–the same point my first wedding party playlist tried to make, Not UR Typical Wedding DJ. If I missed something send it to me. I’ll try to keep this playlist fresh with some of your selections.

These wedding playlists aren’t meant to be ordered to play through, though they could, but more for you to pull from a comprehensive list that will be a good start to any wedding music. I spent too many hours going through too many other playlists, hopefully this will eventually become a one-stop shop. I’ve already got over 10 hours of music on these two, let along the Bachelorette playlist.

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Feelin’ Good as Hell Vibes

featuring Nina Simone, Lizzo and The Beach Boys

I made this for a friend a few months ago that wanted a playlist with uplifting music. It feels like a compliment to my Keep Calm playlist, which was for when we went into the pandemic, and this is the outro, hopefully.

The silly reason I never posted this playlist on Silence before is that I couldn’t find good art for it. Then comes along Midjourney, something similar to DALI-2, that can generate images based off a string of text, and presto here she is! Guess what my input text was.

The title is based on the first three songs of this list.

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Pops, listen to this

A mix of old soul and new

I haven’t made many personal playlists for people, but I’m moving in that direction with technologies making it much easier. Imagine if Spotify or some other music service made it so simple to compare your music taste with someone close to you and serve up suggestions, building something that constantly updates based on each of your moods, new music, new connections, and so much else.

Until then, here’s a static playlist I made for my pops for Father’s day. I actually don’t call him father or pops, so here’s to you dad: a mix of old soul to get familiar with again and new soul that’s already among the greats for me, and hopefully one day for you too. Thanks for introducing me to the music that inspired what I love today!

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Keep Calm (Don’t Panic)

For when our world is going to shit

The first 50 or so songs (up to Prince) were meant to tell a story of our physically distant lives, but all the rest are here to keep you calm. I hope it helps when things go to shit. Or when you just need to relax.

Inspired by brandonstosuy.

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Kisses Sweet

Maybe you give me... (a love playlist)

I probably screwed this up and included some heartbreak song. It’s not about the lyrics when I select. Always the feeling.

A few weeks ago, my girlfriend said all I had was heartache playlists and nothing for love (a few exceptions,) so here one is. For her, Miz Liz. She inspires me as much as this music.

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Channel Tres, best described with music

Music speaks to the heart and not really through words

Music is about feeling. And is best described through it. Even the words are written for the heart more than the head. My last decade has been defined primarily by music, curating here and at TuneIn, but more recently I’ve shifted towards spoken word. Podcasts, not specifically poetry.

Podcasts have the buzz these days, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the substance. They’ve got more of it for the head than music does. The insights from the conversations and questions that come out of podcasts are only matched by the feelings I get from music. But I can find dozens of new inspiring podcast episodes each day. I can’t say the same for music. Music has a greater barrier to greatness and is far more subjective as an art, but the ones I do love I can listen to forever. All the more reason why curation is so important to music. People need as much context and connection when discovering something.

Most of the new music I found in 2019 came from SXSW and I guess that’s how I found Channel Tres. He wasn’t at the 2019 showcase, for all I know, but he was there in 2017 supporting Duckwrth. It was one of the most memorable shows of my life. Dudes could dance, in unison.

Channel Tres has grown into his own thing since then and I was so honored to see him at the Starline Social Club in Oakland this last December. The presence him and his dancers, Jessie & Nique, embodied on stage reflected in his audience. Their routines livened the whole club up. A progression from his dance moves with Duckwrth just two years ago. It felt like something out of a movie. The whole experience. It’ll be etched in my body forever. And the music even more so.

Trying to describe in words something that is far deeper is challenging. I’ll keep it simple, Channel Tres can make a Jew from Minnesota feel like a cool ass black dude from Compton. And it’s mostly through his beat. Empathy at its finest.

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77 “Bittersweet” Sad Soul Songs

SG Lewis' fans compiled some of the saddest songs with soul

SG Lewis asked his Twitter followers what were their favourite sad soul songs. Similar to what I did with brokemogul’s “Best Music Documentaries,” I took over 100 responses and compiled it down to 77 songs.

What I love about this list is how deeply personal and eclectic it is. It comes from over 100 different people who have the same purpose in mind and some level of love for SG Lewis but are probably pretty different otherwise. I removed a few songs that didn’t fit and some late 80’s/early 90’s R&B, but I tried to keep too much of my bias out of it.

It was hard to define what’s sad and what’s soul music. Or what’s old for that matter. Some songs may sound happy – Sam Cooke’s “Good Times” is a good example – but can be used just as well for sad times. The Twitter responses pushed the boundaries of what soul music can be defined as, which I can appreciate to a certain point (it’s still a good song.)

My biggest conflict was not including Angie Stone’s “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” and it’s for the most childish reason. Seriously, wait for it. I swear there’s a random fart noise every measure or so. Or am I just making this shit up? First one starts 14 seconds in. It’s an otherwise genuinely beautiful song.

SG Lewis still has yet to post his own sad soul song. Maybe we can get 77 more in the next year with his choice included.

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Durand Jones and The Indications

Takin' it back from the highs to the lows

I already touched on Durand Jones and The Indications when I heard them live at Outside Lands, 2018, but let’s try it again. My literal jaw dropped when I first heard Durand Jones and The Indications, but not from Durand’s voice. The group’s drummer and falsetto backup, Aaron Frazer, had me from his first note.

Like Khruangbin, their build-up has taken a few years, but Durand Jones, Aaron Frazer, and The Indications have got a full lineup of classic hits and I don’t say that often enough. How Aaron and Durand’s voices play off each other, from the highs to the lows, is unmatched. At least for this generation.

Not to get too “number-y,” as Aaron likes to say, for how talented this group is, I do not see it reflecting on their social, music services (Spotify seems decent), or from many bloggers (according to the Hype Machine.) So I’ve taken it upon myself to reach out to these bloggers, specifically ones that love soul music, and see what’s up! I’ll keep you up-to-date. You just make sure I do what I say.

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Khruangbin is sex on stage

And they're my favorite band for it

I’ve already covered Khruangbin back in 2017 at Outside Lands, but they’ve come out with two albums since. More importantly, they’ve become my favorite band of the year.

It all started when I saw them at The Fox in Oakland late last year. Every time I talk about it, I always say it was the sexiest show I’ve seen. You wouldn’t guess it by their music necessarily, but the chemistry between Laura Lee on bass and Mark Speer on guitar is mesmerizing in sound and look.

A few months later I saw Tommy Guerrero at Noise Pop 2019 and he reminded me so much of Khruangbin’s guitar melodies. As much as his catalog may be bigger than theirs, the trio from Dallas has stuck themselves in all areas of my life, which may have a lot to do with how popular they’ve gotten.

One thing I’ve learned since obsessing over their music is how much of the music-making process is collaborative between the three. Inspired by dub, Thai funk, and middle eastern grooves. And as Mark put it in an interview, they don’t need a lead singer, they’ve got a guitar to carry the melody.

Their latest album is a dub version of Con Todo El Mundo, entitled Hasta El Cielo. I haven’t included any of the tracks on this featured playlist yet. I just haven’t warmed up to it enough, but it’s well worth a full listen through. Along with everything else below.

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