Mousertainment Music Spotlight: Love & War Album Review

“I’m not a concept, I am real…”

Love & War CD – a little worse for wear for having been in my car for the past several weeks!

Love & War CD – a little worse for wear for having been in my car for the past several weeks!

Those of you who read this site regularly may recall that last month I went to the live concert performance celebrating the release of this album. It was one of my favorite experiences of the year. 

I had previously heard one single from it (“Look At Me Now“) but was otherwise unfamiliar with the music when I went to see the show – although I was aware of several of the singers and musicians involved with the project.

In retrospect, I’m sorry I hadn’t heard the entire album prior to the concert, as I would have appreciated the show even more.  But I have been living with this awesome music on constant replay in my car wherever I’ve gone for the past several weeks as I cannot stop listening to it. And when I’m out and about, I regularly catch myself humming or singing the various songs from it. I think at this point I’ve pretty much randomly sung all of them without thinking about it. And I’ve literally woken up singing or humming them on multiple occasions. This album is completely stuck in my head. I’ll tell you why in more detail below, but first let me tell you a little about its history.

Over a year ago, musician Mike Hill had the dream to create an album. So like many artists, he turned to Kickstarter to see if he could make it happen. Only it wasn’t just an album he wanted to make – there was a story that he wanted to tell about the creation of it and why he was driven to do it. So with the help of a lot of fans and supporters, he raised enough money to not only produce this album and coalesce an incredibly talented group of people to turn it into a reality, but he also gathered the funds to film a documentary about its creation. The documentary will have its premiere in Hollywood in January (and hopefully I’ll get to attend and write about it, too!). But the album was released last month and it really is an amazing achievement.

A concept album, this original work is unified by its theme of examining love and relationships against a pop and rock background. Featuring a different singer (male or female) on each track, and a range of sounds and song styles, the one thing that brings it together is how we are all driven by what we feel and experience in relationship to others. I love the mix of musical genres and relationship perspectives expressed here. And I love all of the musical contributions of everyone involved – from the songwriters to the singers to the musicians to the producers.

In any artistic work, one needs visionaries behind it. In this case, the producers not only did a terrific job with the practical side of production – from the mix to the instrumental choices, it all sounds rich and polished and professional. But they made absolutely perfect creative choices in combining the proper songs with their best singers. Each voice was just right for each selection. Each musical genre choice worked both individually and in harmony with the rest of the album. I loved the combined use of male and female vocalists and how they were interspersed in the track list. It all just WORKS.

And while I immediately fell in love with certain songs the very first time I heard them performed at the concert (ahem, “Paper Planes” and “Has Anybody Seen Her” – and I was already a fan of “Look At Me Now” before the concert), other songs took merely one listen on the album and I was hooked (hello, “Psycho” and “No No Go Go”), while others gained strong appreciation after merely a few plays (“This”, “Love & War”, “Unbroken”, etc.). But really, I love the whole album and all of its songs. And I keep playing them repeatedly again and again!

Breaking it down, however, it seemed to me each song had a strong hook and success potential with exposure and airplay and while I don’t really want to hear anyone else sing them besides those who actually did, if these songs were sung by contemporary popular artists, I note below who they seem most suited or similar to and who I think they’d be hit songs for if they got general radio play. Continue reading

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Holiday Tree Lightings at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland

As mentioned yesterday, with the disappearance this year of The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers at Disney California Adventure, there is no longer really a Christmas tree lighting “ceremony” anymore at that park.

Instead, a voice over the loudspeaker informs guests in the area at dusk that they can attend the nightly tree lighting on Buena Vista Street near Elias & Co.

Mousertainment Tip: Check your daily Entertainment Times Guide or Disneyland app for the schedule, but it has been pretty consistently happening at 4:55pm daily at Disney California Adventure and is supposed to continue through December 30th this year.

DCA Christmas tree. Now it’s unlit…

DCA Christmas tree. Now it’s unlit…

With little other ado, the tree is lit and guests are urged to shout “Happy Holidays!”

And… now it’s lit. That’s pretty much it.

And… now it’s lit. That’s pretty much it.

Sadly, this lack of ceremony is simply a re-do of what Disneyland has also been doing for some time… Continue reading

Show Spotlight Flashback: Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting with The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers

“If I cannot bring you comfort, then at least I bring you hope…”

The Bell Ringers and Mickey Mouse help light the Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street!

The Bell Ringers and Mickey Mouse help light the Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street!

As we did not get to see The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers out in Disney California Adventure this year – a great loss to Christmas cheer! – it means we also lost the associated event of their participation in the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Buena Vista Street. So we’ll flashback now to what you would have enjoyed at this time last year…

What was the Buena Vista Street Holiday Tree Lighting with The Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers?

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This was a brief show by the Bell Ringers with a holiday song or two performed in their beautiful vocal and instrumental style to celebrate the nightly lighting of the Christmas tree at Disney California Adventure.

Along with the music, there was a welcome to guests with appearances by the Citizens of Buena Vista Street and various Disney characters.

Who were the performers?

The Bell Ringers greet Mickey Mouse and PhiPhi!

The Bell Ringers greet Mickey Mouse and PhiPhi!

This unique show brought together three different entertainment elements – the Buena Vista Street Community Bell Ringers, the Citizens of Buena Vista Street and Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in their Buena Vista Street period seasonal best!

The Bell Ringers incorporated their music into the presentation and encouraged the crowd to sing along, while the various characters wished everyone a happy holidays!

When and where could I find it? Continue reading

Show Spotlight: A Christmas Fantasy Parade

“On this very special night…”

Minnie, Mickey, Donald and an elf celebrate A Christmas Fantasy!

Minnie, Mickey, Donald and an elf celebrate A Christmas Fantasy!

What is A Christmas Fantasy Parade?

Santa Claus riding his sleigh in the parade. Have you been naughty or nice this year?

Santa Claus riding his sleigh in the parade. Have you been naughty or nice this year?

The annual holiday parade at Disneyland Park is A Christmas Fantasy – and happily, unlike the Magic Kingdom’s seasonal entertainment at the Walt Disney World Resort, it does not require a hard ticket extra fee to see it (or the Christmas fireworks)!

This character-filled celebration of Christmas and winter is a musical delight for all ages featuring dancers, skaters and even skiers!

Who are the performers?

The Princess float – with Tiana & Naveen, Cinderella & Prince Charming, Aurora & Phillip, Belle & Beast, Ariel & Eric.

The Princess float – with Tiana & Naveen, Cinderella & Prince Charming, Aurora & Phillip, Belle & Beast, Ariel & Eric.

A whole host of Disney characters fill this parade – from the Fab Five to Chip & Dale to Pooh & Friends to Disney Princesses & their Princes to Woody & Buzz to the recent additions of Anna and Elsa from Frozen. This parade is a fantasy-come-true for character fans!

But there are also toy soldiers, gingerbread men, snowmen, reindeer, Christmas trees and elves galore sharing the spotlight with their more famous friends. And of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus!

When and where can I find it? Continue reading

Show Spotlight: Dickens Yuletide Band

“We wish you a merry Christmas…”

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What is the Dickens Yuletide Band?

The Dickens Yuletide Band is a brass band on Main Street, U.S.A. that performs during the holidays at Disneyland Park. The musicians wear Victorian style outfits as they play Christmas carols (hence the name).

Their musical selections tend towards the traditional. When I stopped to watch them last week, they played “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing”, “Silent Night”, “Carol of the Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

Who are the performers?

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This group of half a dozen musicians play various brass instruments from tuba to trumpet, along with a drummer.

When and where can I find them? Continue reading

Mousertainment’s Favorite Bands: The Beverly Belles

(They) had a boogie style that no one else could play…”

The Beverly Belles at the Grand Californian Hotel during Christmas Time.

The Beverly Belles at the Grand Californian Hotel during Christmas Time.

I first discovered these girls when they were singing Christmas carols last year at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa.

As a big fan of the Andrews Sisters and big band era music, I immediately loved the style of The Beverly Belles – and of course, their vocals!

I’ve been fortunate enough to see them perform various times since then, including last month at a special Veterans’ Day event and they continue to impress me every time!

The Beverly Belles salute our veterans!

The Beverly Belles salute our veterans!

They really are note perfect in all they do – from their outstanding harmonizing (both a capella and when singing against instrumental accompaniment tracks) to their period makeup and hair.

I think everything from their outfits to their choreography to their arrangements are top notch – and I’m not the only one!

The Beverly Belles sing at various events (often in California and Colorado where the group is based) from the aforementioned Veterans’ Day celebration to tree-lighting ceremonies at Christmas time at local shopping outlets and other venues and they were even recently featured in a performance on The Hallmark Channel! Continue reading

Christmas Time with The Dapper Dans of Disneyland

“If you want to be happy in a million ways – for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home!”

The Dapper Dans welcome everyone home to Disneyland for Christmas!

The Dapper Dans welcome everyone home to Disneyland for Christmas!

While I am a fan of The Dapper Dans of Disneyland all year ‘round, I do enjoy when they get to mix it up a little during the various seasonal celebrations at the park.

Halloween Time with the Dapper Dans is my favorite time of year, but Christmas Time is absolutely delightful, too!

Like Halloween, during the holidays, the Dapper Dans get to bring in a new selection of songs with extended choreography and in this case, props!

The Dapper Dans receive Christmas cards from friends – and sing about it!

The Dapper Dans receive Christmas cards from friends – and sing about it!

And while there are always occasions throughout the year when the Dappers will call for some audience participation, at Christmas Time, there may be no place to hide from being selected to join the fellows to sing (and dance!) to “Mele Kalikimaka” – which is, of course, Hawaii’s way of saying Merry Christmas to you. Don’t say you weren’t warned! Continue reading