Wed, 1 August 2007
And I could not be happier!
While I lived in Nashville, I was introduced to an incredibly talented and creative group who went by the name of "Fleming & John." Composed of husband-and-wife team Fleming McWilliams and John Mark Painter.
Fleming has been described as a "vocal gymnast" and "operatic" for her ability to do a vocal slide from the top of her vocal range to the bottom and back up again in a matter of a second. Her voice takes center stage on all of the duo's songs and is the defining characteristic of the group's alternative (she prefers the term "weird pop") sound.
John is undoubtedly one of Nashville's most versatile musicians. From the everyday guitar and drums to instruments with more exotic names like the mellotron, hurdygurdy, djembe, theremin, and Space Phone, if it is capable of making sound, there's a good chance John knows how to play it, and John contributes nearly all of the instrumentation and some vocals for their albums. Both Fleming and John have penned lyrics which are quite literary, with the most popular song "The Pearl" having been based on the works of John Steinbeck. Great lyrics plus the slightly exotic sounds give the songs a depth that is rarely heard in mainstream music.
Together, the duo formed a sound unlike anything else heard in the late '90s. On their two commercially produced albums, the song format varies from punk to hard rock to disco to lounge. In other words, forget pigeonholing these two. They stand on their own.
Unfortunately, this unique sound gave their record label, Universal Records, a headache trying to market and promote the group. They got extensive radio play in their home base of Nashville (yes, there is more than just country in Nashville), and limited play in other parts of the country. Their major brush with the big time occurred in a one-time performance on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," but for whatever reasons, the group never caught on like they should have.
Not content just to keep their talent to themselves, Fleming and John have contributed vocally and musically to the works of other artists ranging from dc Talk to the Indigo Girls to mutual friend Ben Folds, to William Shatner (yes). John wrote the score for the film Hoodwinked, and Fleming contributed some vocals, including a duet with Jim Belushi.
Today, the duo has focused some of their creative energy on raising their three-year-old son, "Franky," and is in the process of writing and recording some new material. They apparently have been released from their contract with Universal, because they list themselves as an "indie" group. They have uploaded two songs to their MySpace page, and they plan on uploading more until they have enough to make a new album. Let me get in line already!
In the meantime, to get an idea of what the hell I am talking about, check out their two albums
Delusions of Grandeur
(My favorite songs are "I'm Not Afraid" "Love Songs" and "Rain All Day")
The Way We Are
(My favorite songs are "The Pearl", "Ugly Girl", and "Radiate").
Also, check out these so-called "really bad bootleg" videos of an F&J performance on YouTube, along with a song-and-dance performance of "Break the Circles" that sent chills down my spine.
Help me spread the word about Fleming & John, and let's encourage them to complete that album!
Category:Extras -- posted at: 5:58pm EST
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