Something New, Something Eclectic by Rich Paschall
After almost two years of a global pandemic and with another holiday season at hand, we can see that you need something fresh. Your well-worn faces have come to the right place. We here at the SERENDIPITY Cultural Music Center and Popcorn Stand are happy to introduce you to something new. Well, it’s new to me anyway. You may have encountered some of these artists on our playlists in the past, but these songs likely have not played in your ears before. We have a helping of classical rock, pop, jazz, and even a new Christmas tune.
The popcorn is just about ready and we have plain, buttered, caramel, and buffalo chicken wing flavors. We find that a hot toddy will go nicely with your popcorn. If you grab the recliner, we know you will still stay awake for these musicians.
Leonid and Friends, The Speck of Dust We have introduced you to Leonid Vorobyev and his musical friends in “From Russia With Music.” The band started with a music video covering a song from Chicago, the band. Another video followed. They went viral and the band soon became an international sensation. Currently, on another US Tour, the band has stuck almost exclusively with Chicago covers. They don’t just want to play Chicago music. They want to be as good as the original. By and large, they have succeeded. I mentioned their current stop here in “The Music Returns.”
Earlier this year, Leonid and a lot of friends gathered to play a work by the late Russian songwriter, Alexey Ashtaev. The piece was arranged by Ashtaev and Voroboyev and English lyrics were added by Leonid and his son Roman Vorobyev. The composition accompanied by a large symphony orchestra as well as Leonid’s rock band might remind you of something The Moody Blues would have done on Days of Future Passed. The work was posted in April on what would have been Ashtaev’s 50th birthday.
Alexander Rybak, Beethoven Jazz. This artist was born Alyaxandr Iharavich Rybak in Belarus. His father, a classical violin player, defected while on tour in Norway in 1991. Alexander and his mother arrived in Norway on a tourist visa. Rybak studied piano and violin but chose the violin as his main instrument. He won the Eurovision contest, representing Norway in 2009. The event is held in different cities each year and interestingly he won in Moscow. Rybak is a pop star in Europe and mostly sings in English and Russian.
This year Rybak, now 35, decided to pursue his Master’s Degree in music and wishes to improve his music arranging skills. The following little fusion of classical and jazz grew out of an assignment at his new school. He could have gone anywhere in the world, but now finds himself taking classes just a few blocks from Symphony Hall. He chose Columbia College Chicago.
David Archuleta, Movin. We have talked about the devout Mormon and Season Seven runner-up on American Idol in past posts. We wrote about his missionary work and life afterward in “Something That Has Nothing To Do With Me.” We also reviewed his stop in 2019 at City Winery in Chicago for his “Postcards In The Sky” Tour. He continued to release songs during the pandemic and is now touring with a Christmas show out west.
This past June David surprised just about everyone by coming out in a Nightline interview on ABC. After agonizing over his sexuality for years and going through therapy, David finally realized that it is OK to be who he is. “I feel like I don’t have anything to hide. I don’t have to hide that I’m attracted to guys. And I don’t have to hide that I still love God, and I trust in him as he leads me in this territory I never imagined I would be in,” David recently told Deseret News, a Salt Lake City Newspaper.
His “Therapy Sessions” album now sounds like everything he was going through leading up to his announcement. He recently released a new single Movin’. They did two versions of the song, one is Movin’ After Hours you may wish to stream (not much different, really). He stepped out of his comfort zone and took dance lessons to do the official music video:
Nonkul, Won’t Tell You. I discovered this Thai actor while watching the 30 episodes of the Chinese comedy/drama Dive. It is purely a soap opera of a ragtag group of college divers who must advance their team to the College Finals or the university will disband the team and use the building for some other purpose. Nonkul plays a boy with a Thai father and Chinese mother who does not want to go live with his mother in China. He provides both comedy and some dramatic moments throughout the series.
Chanon Santinatornkul came to his profession by luck. A photographer asked to take his picture for a teen magazine as typical teen style. That turned into a 4 picture layout, then offers to do more photos and commercial auditions. He realized others were getting their audition takes down in two or three tries and it was taking him a lot more. So he took acting lessons. Now he is in high demand as a model and an actor.
Chanon was nicknamed Non and put the last syllable of his last name with that for his stage name. He speaks Thai, Chinese, and English. He co-directed a music video of his song you can find HERE. I opted for this studio version:
Darin, What’s Christmas Anyway? The Swedish pop star began writing songs at age 14. He was runner-up on the first season of Swedish Idol in 2004 at 16. Now Darin Zanyar is 34 and one of the best-selling artists in Sweden and Europe. He records in Swedish and English. Recently he released this new Christmas song: