It's Open Mic Day at The Honest Broker
Rick Beato - Not for his musicianship as much as for the platform he has, his depth of knowledge, his wealth of opinions, and the very idea that he pulled off YouTube after the major success curve at an "advanced" age. Very improbable but understandable considering what he brings to the table.
Nick Cave and his The Red Hand Files email/blog - https://www.theredhandfiles.com/
NYC jazz musician and club owner (Smalls and Mezzrow), Spike Wilner for the work he did (and continues to do) in keeping jazz alive in NYC through the pandemic. During the pandemic, he created live streams of concerts from Smalls in order to create work for the musicians, he formed a jazz foundation to provide health care and other aide to the players and he's organized fund raisers to help pay medical bills for some of the jazz greats, such as Victor Lewis. Spike is a true hero who works without fanfare for the music and musicians he loves.
Snarky Puppy. This large ensemble is a force of music unlike anything else I can think of, past or present. A brilliant collective of young players and composers who are making music history right before our eyes (in my humble opinion). Who else can sound like a combination of Stan Kenton, Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Stravinsky...using rhythmic and harmonic structures (and guest artists) from all over the world. I could go on and on...for the uninitiated, just look them up on youtube.
David Byrne. He's been an 'influencer' in terms of recommending off-the-radar (mostly non-US) music acts since back when I was a teenager stumbling across 'Beliza Tropical' on his Luaka Bop label.
I saw Weyes Blood last night with my fiancée and found myself overcome with emotion multiple times. Natalie Mering (the artist’s real name) is an extremely talented musician who captures the anxiety and dislocation of living at the “end of history” without being heavy handed or cynical. Despite the weight of her subject matter she was delightfully funny onstage between each of her ethereal, spiritually-infused songs. During her song “God Turn Me Into a Flower,” which was accompanied by a visualization from none other than Adam Curtis, I found myself moved to tears
For writers, Joy Williams (who I’m sure many have heard of) is my greatest inspiration. She mixes southern Gothic and pastoralism with a dark sort of humor. She will write these passages where one feels between worlds, it evokes the sensation you have when you are falling asleep and have all sorts of nonsensical thoughts which nonetheless have their own logic. Her most recent book, Harrow, might be her best yet.
Bob Dylan. Salman Rushdie. Both artists for their older works and their newest as well.
I am fascinated by Molly Tuttle for her versatility and skills.
Music: Ron Carter, John Patitucci, Dave Holland, Jason Moran, Charles Lloyd, Nate Smith, De La Soul, Squarepusher, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Lady Gaga...
Literature: Thomas Pynchon, Colson Whitehead, Percival Everett, Samuel R. Delany, and Haruki Murakami.
Film: The Daniels, Ryan Coogler, Star Wars (all of it)
All artists above are deeply dedicated to narrative and sound, and sometimes, both are entwined in the work they produce.
Have to go with Thom Yorke here (and Johnny Greenwood by extensions). An absolute genius who evolves with his work with every new album or project. Honorable mentions: Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Haruki Murakami and Chris Thile.
Surprised nobody has mentioned Caroline Shaw. If we’re talking about living artists who have already achieved significant success (Pulitzer, Grammys) and still has decades to go, she’s top of my list. Added benefit: she’s a thoroughly decent human being, too.
David Hidalgo, heart and soul of Los Lobos
Lyle Brewer, a local hero here around Beantown, guitarist who charts his own course
Stephen Malkmus. He's accomplished a rare thing-arguably, outdoing his songwriting and production skills in his second iteration, even after the alt-rock Hall of Fame career he had with Pavement.
He is totally unique as both a lyricist and guitarist. Malkmus is the only American lyricist to embrace syllabic structural complexities, mixed metaphors and double entendres other than Dylan, but he far exceeds Bob as a guitarist.
The melodic and harmonic complexities, the alternate tunings, and deliberate theft from all ranges and types of music mark Stephen Malkmus, especially in his post-Pavement years, as a musical genius. He's notoriously coy and evasive in interviews, so it would be wonderful to see how interviewed by a musician who understands his output. I think you know who I am referring to.
This may be an unpopular choice, but I am a huge fan of Lady Gaga. She is a singular talent, and she definitely inspires me with her soulfulness, her sincerity, and the musicality she brings to anything she does, regardless of genre. This version of Strayhorn's "Lush Life," for instance, brings me to tears every time I watch it, and I've been a student and fan of Strays for over 40 years. https://youtu.be/_HKJ60Pz0Iw
Liu Cixin (author of the "Three Body Problem" trilogy). He reimagined the possibilities of Sci Fi.
Cormac McCarthy inspires me more than anyone else right now.