Upgrading your playlist with Josh Vietti

19 November 2013

It’s not even Thanksgiving and I’ve already received two non-denominational holiday cards, witnessed the resurrection of an inflatable snowman, and personally purchased a package of white chocolate peppermint covered pretzels. And ate them. And I didn’t share. Any of them, but…. I digress…

Yesterday, I noticed one of the XM radio stations mysteriously changed to “Holiday Music,” I was slightly outraged, thinking it’s just too soon, too soon. Which leads me to today’s post on non-holiday yet appropriate holiday party music.

Forget the crostinis and the spiked eggnog, the playlist is the most crucial element!  Who made up the rule that we must play holiday music at holiday social gatherings? Tell me so I don’t go to their party.  We all have our favorites: Hello? Anyone remember when I played Bob Dylan’s “It Must Be Santa,” on repeat last year? You hated me. Let’s just play them on Christmas Eve and be done with it. This year we’ll skip the XM snoozefest and move onto more exciting tunes that won’t turn your soiree in to the typical silent night.

Last year I was obsessed with Maxence Cyrin, an incredible French pianist who threw instrumental music out the window, ran down stairs, stomped on it and pieced it back together with new beats of pop, electro and rock threaded throughout. It’s background music, but it’s not background music. It also gets the conversation going amongst your guests, in an almost “name that tune” type-game. Nirvana, The Pixies, Daft Punk and my holy grail, Beyonce. Cyrin’s album Novo Piano is my favorite of his three release, you can downlaod the entire album on Itunes. 

I’ve had Maxence Cyrin in my rotation for the last year, waiting for Spotify or Pandora to rears its instrumental head with something similar. Patience paid off.   I was pleasantly surprised when I recently heard the ever present chords to Jay-Z and Alicia Key’s “Empire State of Mind” remastered by violinist Josh Vietti. First of all, we can all agree the song is unequivocally played out. However, as overplayed as it is, any New Yorker could also admit the song stills tugs on your heart strings, because if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. What Vietti’s interpretation does is give the song a breath of fresh air it needed.

“It’s hard to describe me. I’m not a singer. I’m not a rapper. A lot of the old school mentality of the music industry, producers, executives, they’re like, ‘How can we market this?’ But it pretty much crosses all genres, ethnicities, ages and everybody loves it.” 

So, I became obsessed with the Irvine, California native who bops around in his consistent uniform of a black fitted flat brim hat and matching T-shirt tucked into jeans. Vietti made his way on to the scene by, get this, street performing for four years with reported sales of over 50,000 demo tapes.


Josh playing during his college tour, via Instagram @JoshVietti

Josh playing during his college tour, via Instagram @JoshVietti

To start, here are a few of my favorites from around the web:

  • An adorable little kiddli-wink requests Josh play Wiz Khalifa’s Black and Yellow,  surrounding kiddli-winks dance around the mall as he plays.
  • This photo.
  • Still not convinced? Josh gets just an hour to come up with a song to play with a random guitarist he’s never met and basically smashes it out of the park on the AXS Live Artist Lounge. No sheet music, just free-styling. Brilliant.

I suggest getting Josh Vietti’s entire album “Best of Both Worlds” (not to be confused with the R.Kells/Jigga collabo. ) Then play it start to finish for all of your upcoming holiday parties right into 2014.  You can get his entire album on iTunes (it’s not all hip-hop, there are some tender numbers too, try Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and New Edition’s Can You Stand the Rain.)



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