In The Mix: Honest Performances from 'Shotgun Willie' and DJ Xan

Xan at the Boiler Room in Moscow, Russia: The set begins in what sounds like a disorienting video game where the object of the game is to simply keep your mind. The crowd bobs to and fro in disorderly unison. Xan appears to be very calm and focused on what he is about to produce. For the first five minutes, the sound ever so slightly changes, keeping his own set at a certain stalemate.

If Xan wants to excite the audience, he ought to add more layers and elements to his performance a bit earlier on. Finally, the techno-electronic uprising ensues the large audience as we approach the 10-minute-mark.

Keeping the same consistent techno beat in the background gets a bit old, and the music begins to almost sound like a nightmare (if there were ever to be background music in your dreams). Each added layer is easily discernable in Xan’s style. We can detect each sound he mixes into his set, and really understand the effect that sound has on his performance.

The atmosphere in Moscow at the Boiler Room is collected and observant. The audience reacts to Xan’s music more with intent and understanding, rather than raging and making a scene. Mostly everyone in the crowd is on the same page; enjoying Xan’s talent calmly without overshadowing the purpose of being in the Boiler Room. Toward the halfway mark, we start to hear Xan’s deep house background emerge in he is DJing. He accelerates the performance and adds a woman’s voice to create a more in-depth sound.

Once the 25-minute-mark is reached, Xan’s set actually becomes music you should be dancing to. Xan is one of the few DJ’s at the boiler room that demonstrates a set that could be considered calm or laid-back. No, I wouldn’t recommend seeing Xan in person if you don’t like techno-house music or instrumental music, however alike Willie Nelson’s debut album, Xan’s set is simply him— real and unforced (which is all we can really ask of an artist).

Shotgun Willie – Willie Nelson: Outlaw and country rock legend, Willie Nelson, released his quality debut album Shotgun Willie 44 years ago. Willie was simply himself — a whimsical blend of country, folk and classic rock ‘n’ roll.

Prior to this album release, Nelson belonged to Nashville label RCA. After making the move out to to his home state in Austin, Texas, he joined forces with Atlantic Records becoming their first country-rock artist, and ultimately asserting himself as the unique, multifarious singer-songwriter he is. “You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say/You can’t play music if you don’t know nothing to play.” The 1973 record starts off strong beginning with album title track, "Shotgun Willie," holding all of the purely sound guitar picking, harmonious horns and lyrics that ring true.

Willie achieves his gypsy-inspired sound quite prevalent in "Slow Down Old World," by using an amplifier with his acoustic guitar named Trigger, that has been with him since its purchase in 1969. Rhythm picks up again in "Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)," written by Bob Willis and accompanied by pleasant harmonies in the chorus. Nelson gets practical with his reflective "She’s Not For You," drawing on disingenuous love.  

Willie’s most transparent record ends with his strongest vocal on "A Song for You." He begins this song differently than most in this record, using his voice to lead the flow of the music and letting everything else follow in perfect harmony.