emily remler

Last Call: Close Your Eyes, Be Transported
From left to right, Travis Bettis, Paul Rippee, Lee Brice, and John Bohlinger close their eyes and channel the spirits of music while on tour in 2018. Photo by Chase Lauer

Put on the blinders, focus inward, and tap into the moment.

“Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit." —Ludwig van Beethoven

During some mindless YouTube-ry, I happened upon John Mayer's “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" performance on Live on Letterman from 2013. Mayer's solo seemed genuinely moving, like a let's-just-see-where-the-spirit-takes-it kind of improv. I've played Letterman but never had that kind of performance. I hit the right-ish notes at the right time, but it felt stiff, self-conscious, safe, and boring.

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Photo courtesy of Always

Is there a female guitarist in your Top 10 Favorites list?

Recently I learned I'm the kind of beta male who gets teary-eyed while watching a feminine-product advertisement. I'm talking about the Like a Girl viral-video ad campaign by Always that investigates why women lose confidence after puberty and how the phrase “like a girl" takes on a negative connotation as we mature. Granted, I can't imagine many boys pass through puberty unscathed, but this video indicates that society's sexual bias places lifelong limitations on girls, while boys are raised with a “you can do anything" mentality. This got me thinking about sexism that hides in plain sight.

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The nice New Jersey girl who changed jazz guitar forever.

Photo by Frans Schellekens / Redferns / Getty.

In 1935, Benny Goodman hired Teddy Wilson as his pianist. That was a big deal: Benny Goodman was white, and Teddy Wilson was black. In those days, jazz, like everything else, was segregated. Goodman was a pioneer who felt racism had no place in music, and his integrated band was a first. It launched the careers of Lionel Hampton and Charlie Christian. It changed music in America. And while it wasn’t the end of racism in jazz, it was a beginning.

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