Sofia Rei European Tour 2015

Highly recommended by The Music and Myth:

Sofia Rei is starting her European tour in February. Check out the dates and see if you can catch one of her amazing shows!

Sofia was chosen one of The Music and Myth’s top female vocalists and is featured on The Music and Myth’s best vocal record of 2014.

I will be attending the Vienna show and will post a concert review and an in-depth interview with this immensely talented singer and composer.

Sofia is New York based so this European tour is a great opportunity to see her live. If you happen to be in one of the cities she’s playing, don’t hesitate to attend the show. I can not recommend her work enough!

Here is the title track (my favorite) from her most recent record, De Tierra Y Oro:

and here she is doing one of the best renditions of La Llorona you will come across:

The Music and Myth was created for musicians like her, so if you go see her show hit me up on the website and let me know what you thought!

Mindguard is Book of the Year 2014

Book of the Year

Happy New Year everyone!

The first article of 2014 will not be music related. Instead, I’m posting this to share the joy (and to brag a little)! 😀 Recently, my science fiction novel Mindguard was chosen Book of the Year 2014 by SciFi365.net. It’s an incredible honor and I have been on top of the world since.

If you’ve been following my activity on The Music and Myth, you know how passionate I am about my writing endeavors. Whether I’m covering the absolute best in music or writing the novel I’ve been dreaming of since I was a child, every time I put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, in this case) it is a very emotional experience. To receive such incredible validation of my work is a wonderful feeling and I am immensely grateful that people take the time to actually read what I write. To all of you, my readers, I say: thank you!

Now, since we are on the subject of awards, my next article will feature the Music and Myth Awards for 2014 so check back next week to find out who has produced the best vocal and instrumental records of last year.

The Mraz Trio returns to imagination in another outstanding performance at the Bohemian National Hall in NYC

After the success of their first concert, the George & Camilla Mraz Trio returned to the Bohemian National Hall on Thursday December 11th for another performance of Return to Imagination. On behalf of The Music and Myth, I’ve had the honor of once again being asked to write the playbill text, offering me the opportunity to elaborate on my initial examination of their outstanding work.

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Return to Imagination – thoughtful compositions and virtuous improvisations

On September 24th, the George Mraz and Camilla Mraz Trio (with Anthony Pinciotti) will be performing at the Bohemian National Hall in New York City. The concert is called Return to Imagination, and will feature the band’s own compositions as well as a demonstration of live film scoring. I have had the honor of being invited by the musicians to write a few words about their project, which I’ve seen live at the Inntoene Jazz Festival in Austria, earlier this year. You can read my thoughts on Return to Imagination in their program below.

On behalf of The Music and Myth, I highly recommend this concert for any knowledgeable jazz fan, and anyone with an appreciation for complex, cerebral music.

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The Music and Myth’s top 5 female vocalists

In my previous article I talked about working on my novel and the way in which music influences my writing. I use music to calm me down when I get restless (after hours of sitting in front of my PC) and I use it to invigorate me when I get tired. I also use it to help me mobilize my thoughts and let my imagination flow. On the backdrop of certain songs I shape scenes and characters and give them life.

My first novel (which for the time being is resting comfortably on my shelf) featured a character named Alan Waits. I used a line from Tom Waits’ “Sins of my Father” as an opening quote for a chapter in my second novel (which will definitely not lay forgotten on a shelf).

The main character from my second novel is a strong, intelligent and independent woman. As a male writer it was very important to me to shape her into a complex, multifaceted leading lady. Again, music was an inspiration. Thankfully, I have so many outstanding, smart and talented musicians from which to draw inspiration. Though the pop music scene seems bent on objectifying women and downplaying their talent while emphasizing what it perceives as beauty, the quality music scene fortunately abounds with strong female musicians who command respect through their artistic accomplishments.

Here’s The Music and Myth’s favorite female vocalists:

5. Florence Welch

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I was first introduced to Florence + The Machine by my wife, who is a great admirer of the charming and charismatic Florence Welch. Though at times the young British musician seems to only be teetering on the precipice of the quality-music scene (and I always fear her next step will take her plummeting into the side of pop that is easy on the eyes but difficult on the ears – this video feels like a bad omen) for now she has still managed to maintain her position through her amazing talent, which she expresses in her wonderful compositions, her powerful voice, her relentless energy and intense stage presence.

I first got acquainted to her through an awesome performance of “What The Water Gave Me” on Later… with Jools Holland. I was absolutely mesmerized. After listening to her first two records it’s clear that Florence Welch is a very serious musician swimming in not-always-serious waters. However, she has so far managed to stay afloat and produce two of the most fresh-sounding records of the last few years. What worries me is that, in spite of the irrefutable value of her own work, she has sometimes shown preference for music of dubious quality and has often exhibited a great admiration for exactly the aspects of pop music that her work itself seems to oppose (and successfully, I might add). With her third record in production, I sincerely hope she will continue on the same road. As long as she does she will remain one of (if not the) most original, credible and powerful female composers and vocalists on the present pop music scene.

4. Emmylou Harris

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She is the leading lady of country music. A distinguished and delicate musician who has been a constant presence in the country scene for over four decades, Harris exudes the grace and style of a true artist. I first discovered her work in 2006 when she teamed up with former Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler (whom I’ve been worshiping since my teens) to produce a stellar record called All The Roadrunning. Her gentle voice and graceful personality were the perfect fit for Mark’s low-toned vocals and laid-back demeanor. Here is a song called “I Dug up a Diamond” which my wife and I loved so much we had it featured on our wedding video.

Also, their duet “If This is Goodbye” has been featured in an article I wrote called Secrets of Sadness: Four songs that will make you completely lose your shit. I believe it needs no further explanation. Ever since then, whenever I listen to country music it is most often either Johnny Cash or Emmylou Harris which I also believe needs no further comment.

  3. Cibelle

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Cibelle is another musician I wrote about before, when she absolutely rocked a rather difficult Tom Waits tune. I checked out her solo work when I came across this remake of Gilberto Gil’s “Punk da Periferia”.

This is quite possibly my favorite video on the internet. Everything about this performance is top-notch, from the way they’ve altered the original tune making it funny and bad-ass at the same time, to the cellist who looks like Helena Bonham-Carter and uses her instrument to make scratching noises like she’s Jam Master Jane, to the Ric-Flair-tastic cape on the drummer and the way the entire band just stops playing at one point to join in on the finger-snapping. Then, of course, there’s Cibelle herself. Everything about her is perfect in this performance: her voice, her dress, her facial expressions (which make up half the song’s “attitude”), the way in which she just casually fumbles around with the instruments looking disinterested and how she alters the sound-effects with her foot. Absolutely brilliant! There are other great Cibelle tunes out there (some of them remind me of Xela Zaid – shout out my man!) and they’re usually great but “Punk da Periferia” is perfect in every way and I must have listened to it hundreds of times. Cibelle is a strong musician with a bright future and a great understanding of the importance of performing.

2. Sofia Rei

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Let’s get this out of the way first: when John Zorn asks you to be in one of his projects (alongside the likes of John Medeski, Mike Patton and freakin’ Marc Ribot) it already means you’re a pretty big deal on the music scene. I first discovered Sofia in a video from Zorn@60’s Warsaw concert playing “Besos de Sangre”.

Initially I had checked out the video because it said John Zorn and I also saw the name Marc Ribot (which always means my Jazz-senses are tingling) but I quickly forgot that Zorn and Ribot were even there as my jaw dropped at the incredible performance of this young New York musician. In fact, why the hell am I even wasting your time here: go ahead and listen to the whole concert which is fantastic! I looked for some more of Rei’s work and stumbled across this little gem which would have made the old woman proud.

Whether she is playing with Zorn, performing classics with the Pan American Symphony or singing her own exquisite compositions this lady has a fantastic way of conveying emotion.

1. Patricia Barber 

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She is the Meryl Streep of musicians. Like the distinguished actress, Patricia Barber exudes intelligence and magnetism. Long-time readers of The Music and Myth will remember that Smash was chosen the Best Vocal Record of 2013. Her songs are veritable lectures in writing and composition and her stage presence conveys vitality and prestige. She is the standard-bearer for female musicians and Smash is her magnum opus. There is really not much I can say about Patricia Barber without falling into an elated discourse of celebration. Her music is smooth, well-timed, her voice is noble and refined and her lyrics are brilliant. As a writer, I feel she is a kindred spirit, and she herself seems to agree. In this interview, which preceded her latest record, she says: “I am a fiction writer.”

Indeed, an outstanding storyteller!

Florence Welch, Emmylou Harris, Cibelle, Sofia Rei and Patricia Barber are The Music and Myth’s favorite female vocalists. In an industry whose landscape is vast and constantly changing, it is hard to speak of the absolute best. These five musicians, however, manage to transcend the limits of the very music they perform. They embody their musicianship in a way that makes them indistinguishable from their art and that is an exceptionally rare occurrence. They are deserving of the highest accolades and their work comes highly recommended by The Music and Myth.

by Andrei Cherascu


Hey everyone, if you like my articles on The Music and Myth, perhaps you will also enjoy my novel Mindguard. You can find it exclusively on Amazon.

Mindguard Cover

Paris – A Musical Journey

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The setting is Paris and the main characters are musicians Rebecca Cavanaugh, Jason Domnarski, Florence and The Machine, Spector, Tom Waits, Presteej and the whole gang at Park Slope Rock School. The following will be a short story about music and myth:

Chapter 1: Tom Waits

Around this time three years ago I was working on something that changed my perspective of music, of the creative process behind it and the people who compose it. That particular “something” was my thesis for the American Studies Masters Program; a thesis entitled Images of Americana in the music of Tom Waits.

I had always been fascinated with this character and his unique approach to writing music and performing on stage so I decided to dedicate a year of study to the man’s work. I knew that I was going to learn a lot, not only about music but also art in general and life in particular. Old-man Waits proved a most capable mentor. I read dozens of interviews, three biographies; I’ve listened to all of his records and learned his lyrics by heart. I was so immersed in Tom Waits facts that I won a “Mexican stand-off” of Tom Waits trivia with my Professor, literary critic Mircea Mihăieș, who as I understand is pretty knowledgeable of music and who, to his credit, did not fail me for embarrassing him as a lesser (and more petty) professor might have.

Anyway, for an entire year the study of Tom Waits’ immense body of work was my life. The most important thing I’ve learned from the man is that there are many ways of creating music and even more ways of experiencing it. You only have to listen to Tom talking about how much he loved hearing music from a neighboring motel-room, filtered through the walls and hybridized with the plethora of background noises that thus gave birth to a completely new song. I thought this mindset was so fascinating that it changed not only the way I listen to music but the way I approach writing, art and life in general. That being said there is one experience in my life that I think best highlights the many types of musicians out there and the many facets of music.

The whole experience started in the cubicle I’ve mentioned in my previous article.  I was surfing the web trying to find concert tickets to Florence and The Machine’s Ceremonials tour. My one-year wedding anniversary was fast approaching and I was planning on surprising my wonderful wife, Ioana, with tickets to her absolute favorite band in the world. “I can’t think of anything I would love more than seeing Florence in concert” she had said to me once so what better anniversary present to get her, right? I settled on Paris, thinking that this way we could also get to visit our friends, Jazz musicians Jason Domnarski and Rebecca Cavanaugh. Jason and Rebecca were nice enough to invite us to stay with them for the entire four days of our trip which gave me an idea.

Chapter 2: Jason, Rebecca, The Boulevardier and Park Slope Rock School   

We ended up leaving for Paris on November 24th, incidentally our 8 year anniversary as a couple. It seemed like a great date to be flying to Paris. We arrived at Jason and Rebecca’s place sometime in the evening and were greeted with love, friendship, food and wine for what turned into our first and thus far only Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lovely and memorable evening and it gave us the chance to talk about how we were going to put into practice my aforementioned idea.

At the time I was writing for a magazine called The Boulevardier, aimed at the “modern gentleman”. Way before we ever thought of taking a trip to Paris I had already imagined one day writing a feature article about Jason and his work as a musician and a music teacher at his Park Slope Rock School. I had talked to Jason about it and he liked my idea so I was planning on using my time in Paris to chat with him, take the photos and work on the article a little bit (on Jason’s Mac which, as a PC user, I found entirely confusing). Since Jason is a musician and The Boulevardier prided itself on being a very interactive magazine I got the idea to film a music video. The ever-helpful Jason immediately agreed and, the next morning we were in their living-room, him ready at his piano, me ready to shoot him with my SLR camera and my wife ready to shoot me shooting him (because we’re weird like that). The décor could not have been more proper as Rebecca and Jason’s apartment is one of the most charming and tastefully decorated homes I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in. Sitting calmly at his piano Jason was the embodiment of a thinking artist. I gave the sign, the proverbial camera started rolling and what followed was the most beautiful, intense and original musical experience I have ever lived as Jason enchanted us with “Streamline” our favorite track from his album Here and There. It’s not every morning that you get you wake up in a lovely Parisian apartment, enjoy your coffee and then have a brilliant pianist play for you. So as Jason was playing, for the entire length of the song we felt outside of space and time. My wife was moved to tears and I was left thinking back to Tom Waits’ statement about experiencing music and how the surroundings and the moment of time itself become part of the song.

(You can have a look at the video we shot right here and you can read the feature article I wrote for The Boulevardier here)

Chapter 3: Kids writing music and Presteej at Sacre Coeur

We spent the next few days visiting Paris, with Jason and Rebecca as our guides and we were very glad to get to spend some time together with our friends. If you read my feature story you are familiar with the lovely dinner at Au Passage and how we ended up talking about Jason’s Rock School, the great work his kids are doing and some of the awesome songs they are writing themselves. When we got back home my wife and I found out just how great those songs really are. They were all wonderful especially given that they were written by children but there was one that especially stuck with me. It’s called “This is a Message” by the band Electric Lemons and it’s a song that should be on the radio and should be famous. If you gave it a listen you can’t tell me that you didn’t immediately press “repeat”. It’s more than a kids’ song, it is good quality music and brilliant songwriting and my immediate thought was: “This song is written by children. Adults have no excuse to bombard us with some of the shit music we are subjected to on the radio every day!”

The next day we decided to visit the famous Montmartre and stop at the Sacre Coeur Cathedral. We walked in and spent about 20 minutes taking pictures and just generally being in awe of the construction. When we got out our attention was immediately caught by this. That, my friends, is the band Presteej and that was the exact song they were singing that day. We immediately fell in love with their music and bought one of their records. I could have stood there, in front of the Sacre Coeur and could have listened to them all day and it was very difficult to move away from this great sound when our hectic schedule demanded that we continue our journey. With the concert that was the purpose of our trip still two days away we had already experienced so much wonderful music in so many shapes and forms.

Chapter 4: Spector, Florence, The Machine       

On the day of the concert we arrived in front of the Zenith about two hours earlier, just to make sure. We could already hear the band rehearsing with the thick walls of the venue no match for the powerful voice of Florence Welch. Fans were humming their favorite song and I was silently cursing that I had forgotten my notebook on which I had intended on writing snippets of thoughts and observations. When we finally got in and were preparing for the concert we had all but forgotten that there was going to be an opening act as well. They ended up being English rock-band Spector whom neither I nor my wife were familiar with. Experiencing a live concert of a band you love is something special but something can also be said about hearing music for the first time at a concert. Whereas we knew Florence’s songs by heart and went into the show with her imaginary voice in our heads singing along, in the case of Spector our minds were blank slates and we were completely immersed in every sound that was coming off the stage, making for a different but perhaps equally intense adventure. Then, of course, came Florence and rocked the house.

From start to finish our short trip to Paris was an adventure of song. From Florence on stage with glitter and bright lights to Spector with less of both but more self-deprecating charm (If you folks will be kind enough to clap…we will be kind enough to leave the stage), to Jason playing piano in his living-room, the Electric Lemons rockin’ it from Jason’s Mac and Presteej performing in front of the Sacre Coeur, Ioana and I got to enjoy such varied and wonderful music in so many forms. We have been incredibly fortunate to take what I like to call a complete musical journey and, as we now prepare to see the legendary Mark Knopfler live in Budapest (June 22nd) I can only hope that we will embark on a similar adventure.

Music and Myth – a Happy Birthday article!

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Photo by Andrei Cherascu

I like to believe that all noble and noteworthy efforts start with an epiphany. Mine was “screw it!” It came about upon realization that I was at that time finding myself in a cubicle, answering phone-calls fixing computers and generally waiting for the clock to strike 17:00. I had no idea how I had gotten there and was sort of passively thinking about that as I did my mind-numbing work.

Now, a man’s deep analysis of his life, its purpose and direction does not necessarily have to exceed the 24 hour mark, sometimes all of those thoughts can manifest themselves within a fraction of a second, which in my case lead to the aforementioned “screw it!”

Ok, I might be exaggerating a little bit because I had been thinking a lot up to that point about what exactly I was doing in a cubicle (I wasn’t actually in a cubicle, it’s more of a metaphor) in the first place and why I had gotten it in my head that there was no way in hell I could make a living doing what I actually love. Who is to say I can’t become a writer, write…I mean, right? Usually that thought process was interrupted by having to tend to daily business or just having to leave for work again.  Alright, I just made a short story long; the basic idea is I decided I want to start writing again, which I hadn’t done in about six years (with the exception of writing a script to this really great graphic novel that never ended up happening).

I didn’t just straight up decide to quit my job then and there via middle finger to the boss, though I agree that would have been considerably more entertaining. Nope, I started planning for the future, for a day when I could make a living by being a stay-home writer. I was planning on writing a novel, you see, but there was the little problem that I had never written one before and I was sure I will be experiencing severe keyboard-rust after such a long time. I needed to train, just generally write so that I can get back in “shape”. You see where this is going, right?

I was planning on writing but I just didn’t know what to write about. I could have attempted to put together some short stories but there was always the risk that they would end up sucking and would completely discourage me from ever attempting to put the proverbial pen to paper again. So I needed to write about something that would be fail-proof and the only topic I felt I was passionate enough about and which could at the same time be intrinsically interesting (I doubt many people would enjoyed my weekly articles on pro-wrestling) was music. It made sense: I absolutely love music, I know enough about it and I could talk (or in this case write) about it for hours. I decided to create “The Music and Myth” as a place where I can write about the music I love and also help promote it in any way I can. My readers have surely noticed that this is not so much a place where I review any record I come across as it is a place where I write about and try to spread the word about what I consider to be the absolutely best music I encounter with my life.  On the first ever entry, I wrote:

I thought I might write about records and bands that I love, hoping to spark an interest in their music or at least help promote their “myth”.  […]The “genres” will vary, the styles will vary and so will the instruments and the occasional voices but the one constant will be the esthetic value of the music brought forth by these gifted artists, each outstanding in his or her own way.

In the one year (tomorrow!) since I started “The Music and Myth” I have written about artists as diverse as Florence + The Machine, Alexi Murdoch, Jason Domnarski, Paul Kogut, The Banat Philharmonic Orchestra, Marc Ribot, Nils Peter Molvaer, Gavin Bryars, Anouar Brahem, David Darling, Kim Kashkashian, Robert Levin, Michael Galasso, Jan Garbarek, Hiromi Uehara, Patricia Barber and, of course the incomparable Tom Waits (more on him a bit later). The mere existence of “The Music and Myth” has sparked inside me an even greater interest in music than I’ve had before and has led me to discovering new artists and works that are absolutely breathtaking.

On top of that it has offered me a place where I can just write freely, exercise my craft and do it on a topic I love so much. Now, one year later, I have escaped that mental cubicle as well as the physical job attached to it and am now a full-time writer. In the meantime, I’ve published articles in various magazines; have written music reviews for Blinded By Sound and managed to reach my goal of publishing a humor piece in Cracked. I’ve also written a crime noir novel I am now trying to sell and I am currently working on my second novel which, like I have always dreamed of, will be sci-fi. Throughout this eventful year “The Music and Myth” has not only remained the one constant in my writing, my interest in it and my love for it are increasing every day. That being said, I want to say in advance Happy Birthday to my first baby!

As a special gift to my readers I’ve prepared an article about the many facets of music and the many ways in which we can experience this wonderful art-form. The article will be published tomorrow, on the blog’s birthday, and I do hope you will take the time to read it.

The setting is Paris and the main characters are musicians Rebecca Cavanaugh, Jason Domnarski, Florence and The Machine, Spector, Tom Waits, Presteej and the whole gang at Park Slope Rock School. The following will be a short story about music and myth!