Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Monday, August 29, 2005
Jon Dee Graham – First Bear On The Moon (2005) This is a quickly thrown together release; part revenge, part gotta pay the rent. But, it is Jon Dee Graham and he is fabulous. 5 of the 8 songs are originally from previous CDs and were recorded from a radio broadcast made on the day of, “King George’s coronation”. There are 3 new songs. “Best” and “Betrayed” are very good. I’m not sure about “Jesus of the Freeway”. It’s a strange song, and I’m not really sure what he was going for here. 7 out of 8 is a good ratio, and if you like Jon’s music, do check it out. http://www.jondeegraham.com/
Bill Bryant – drawn from memory (2005) This is a beautiful CD. Bill is an independent artist who writes soft but soul searching songs. He is somewhere between country and folk with a voice that reminds one a bit of James Taylor. http://www.billbryantmusic.com
Various artists - This is
The Tom Collins – daylight tonight (2005) This is just good old rock and roll: Led Zep meets the Black Crows. This is the perfect example of how rock and roll is not dead. It’s a good solid album and it deserves your attention. http://www.thetomcollins.com
Anemo – Alanis meets Kate Bush? No, that’s not really fair. This band has a modern style and their voc
Lyle Lovett –
John Hiatt – Perfectly Good Guitar (1993) I remember
Poi Dog Pondering – Volo Volo (1992) Rock and Roll has always been a regional business. Outside of breakout hits, most bands have followings in different areas, and are unheard of in others. You would think that with the power of the Internet, things would change; and to some degree they have. As the large labels continue to dump artists in record numbers, the small labels, which are filling up the cracks in the system, can’t afford to give strong national
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I’ve been wondering aloud for months and now I’ve got a rumor to hold on to. According to an informed source, the owners of the Austin City Limits Music Festival have given the local musicians an ultimatum: Play for free or buy a ticket and watch the show. One of the great draws for people outside of
I’ve been waiting a good 2 years to see Alejandro, and with Deb turning me on to Jon Dee Graham, the anticipation was almost unbearable. But we made it through the evening, and oh what an evening it was…
If you haven’t been to the Casbah, it’s pretty much like all of the other small clubs; fairly clean, minimal number of seats and a small stage. The sound was actually pretty good, except for a buzz that never really went away (or was that me?). The bathrooms… They should make the owners of these clubs use their own bathrooms. Whatever.
Up first was a surprise guest, Mario Escovedo; Alejandro’s younger brother. Actually he’s the baby (13th of 13). Dumping the band concept, he has been doing the singer/songwriter thing pretty much since their father died last year. The problem is that even though you can hear Alejandro’s voice in his voice, Mario does not have the power or range. He was determined though to not let that stop him. Some of the songs were well written and well song, but others caused him to go outside his limits and I don’t really think he succeeded. He did both new and old songs. It was the older ones that had the most trouble being translated to this new format. One of the more interesting aspects of the show was the little brother’s willingness to talk about his older brother (called “Coach” by those who know him). His stories about hanging in
After Mario’s show, this older guy steps up on the stage in a cheap suit that really needed to be ironed. Oh my… that’s Jon Dee Graham, isn’t it. With just an acoustic guitar and gravelly powerful voice, Jon held most of us in the audience in awe for the 30 or 40 minutes he was on stage. His great melodies, stellar guitar playing and self deprecating sense of humor (“I feel really stupid playing solos when there are no other instruments playing”) were intoxicating. At the end of the show he begged us, really, he begged us to buy his CDs. “If you buy 2 CDs I can have breakfast tomorrow. If you buy 15 CDs I’ll be able to renew my prescription, which makes me a lot easier to get along with on the bus”. This need for money may have to do with his falling out with his current record label. He was so upset with them, he put together a CD of 8 songs (3 new, 5 live songs from the last 3 CDs) and is pushing that at the shows partially to spite them. So, if you don’t have “First Bear On The Moon”, it should be available at Amazon. Maybe the highlight of the show came a few songs in, when, unable to deal with two idiots at the bar (friends of Mario’s it turned out), he walked to the side of the stage and said, “Hey! Hey! Guys, if you need to keep talking, you can take your drinks outside”. That earned him a big applause from the crowd, because you could hear these two talking all the way across the room.
At about , Alejandro and band took the stage. Maybe the right word is “covered” the stage. The 7 piece band (Alejandro on guitars, Jon on lead guitar and slide, bass, drums, keyboards, cello and violin) barely fit. I kept waiting for Susan, the violinist to poke the bass player in the eye. And the sound! I really wasn’t expecting it to be that powerful, but when all 7 of them start rocking, the place exploded with energy. If this had been a full house (only about 100 or so showed up making the club about half full) I swear there won’t have been enough fans to cool us down from the energy generated. When you add together his unique songs, great jams (man can Jon play slide guitar!) and amazing arrangements you end up with a one of my club highlights of the year. I never saw him before he got sick, so I can’t compare it. But I can’t believe he was any more powerful than last night. There were plenty of highlights; including a potent version of “With These Hands” and 2 new songs (the producer of the next CD is going to be none other than John Cale). I love the new songs; classic Alejandro stuff. They played about 1 hours and 50 minutes, closing with some covers including “All the Young Dudes” (Ian Hunter and Alejandro have a mutual admiration society going) and I believe a Neil Young song. This was well worth getting home at and being up at to go to work.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Okay, so let’s pretend you are a singer/songwriter and you find yourself at the Hiatt/Colvin show with a to-do list in your hand. What would the short list be? Hmmmm…
- Pick up the guitar and don’t let go for, uhmmm, I don’t know, 5… 6 years? Watching Shawn play with her elegance and sophistication and with such ease should make most young singer/songwriters decide to switch to piano. Now, if they go see Ben Folds then they’re in real trouble. John is no slouch either on guitar, ripping off acoustic leads like he’s holding a machine gun. But Shawn just makes it look so easy.
- Take voice lessons. Better yet, get someone else to sing the songs. Shawn has a beautiful voice. And John… well, some brilliant DJ/PD (was it on KSCA or WCR?) once played Don Henley’s version of “Through Your Hands” back to back with John’s (I think it was one of those A-Z things). There was no comparison. John has this wonderfully soulful voice that is so full of emotion.
- Take some songwriting classes, ‘cause these are two of the best.
- Get a stronger anti-depressant, ‘cause you just ain’t that good.
So Shawn comes out with her guitar and beret and funky clothing and wows this, I’d say, 70% Hiatt audience. She came to work and must have gone a good 15 to 20 minutes before deciding to have a long chat with the audience. She once again told the story about her touring
I haven’t seen John Hiatt solo in many many years. He is truly one of
Monday, August 15, 2005
Or is it Bob Schneider and Shelby Lynne? Ticketmaster showed
So the interesting question was: Is this
The highlight for the evening was a version of “Under My Skin” that I had never heard before. Bob loves to change the style of songs. The original has an upbeat Tom Waits sound to it. This version though was a slow, sultry almost blues style. It was amazing.
The closing song was a new one: “Sons of Ralph”. It’s, uhmmm, a pirate song. It’s basically a list of all the disgusting things we do as the Sons of Ralph. It’s a sing-a-long of course.
In between, were lots of songs from the latest CD and several from Lonelyland. It was a focused and well performed show.
This was my first trip to the Avalon. It is a cool open theater with benches and couches for the privileged few around the outside and upstairs. The rest of us low life sat on the steps leading onto the dance floor. The sound was barely okay, with too much distortion to give it a thumbs up. AND they wouldn’t allow Bob to record and sell his CDs, so I had no copy of the show to take home. That sucked. If you haven’t been to the Avalon, just expect a bigger House of Blues, without the gift shop and restaurant.
Without Gravity – Tenderfoot (2005) For the second week in a row I’m going to rave about a CD; putting it on my early best of year list. The first song to get me hooked was “Country”, which takes some of its melody from Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”, but then takes off in its own beautiful direction. The rest of the CD is closer to Damian Rice then it is to Traffic. This CD has already clocked plenty of time on my player. Maybe the best band from
KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 2 (1994) I’m not sure if this is my favorite, but is sure was the most expensive to buy (don’t even ask). How could I let it get away, what with a rare Sam Phillips performance on it; not to mention Crowded House doing “Fall At Your Feet”. All of these CDs can be found on ebay.com, but don't expect to find this one easily. For some reason it is the rarest of them all.
Grey Eye Glances – A Little Voodoo (2002) Some time ago a listener was bugging me to check these guys out. He said he was close to the band and to write them and they would send me some music. I did, they didn’t and I pretty much forgot them until I came across their CD a year later and decided to give it a try. Sorry, no amazing story here. I enjoyed parts of the CD. Maybe my expectations were too high. I will play my favorites from this CD and let you all decide. If you really like them, check out their web site, http://greyeyeglances.com or look up their stream on Live365.com .
Jill Sobule –
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Yep, another evening of Jill Sobule. With her “no set list” approach to concerts, every evening is different. Tuesday night did not disappoint. Jill wasn’t as uhmmm, hyper as last month, but there is always plenty of energy at her shows. The theme this show, and there was really a theme this time, were women she knew in her life: Margaret, Karen, and a few others I can’t remember. It was a fun set. Late in the show she unplugged, totally, went out into the audience and sang 4 or 5 songs. She later told me her voice was a bit roughed up because of that. It was all fun and, well, typical Jill. Although I didn’t find my way onstage, I got two requests in: “Kathy Lee” (which she is threatening to retire) and “I saw a cop”. Actually, she didn’t finish “Kathy Lee” and skipped a verse in “I saw a cop”. But it was good enough. Jess again drew here. There are two good pictures coming, but this is a scan of Jill sitting right next to us during the audience portion of the show.
Opening the show was Tom Brosseau. I have seen him several times; opening for Jill and also Sam Phillips. He has a beautiful voice with a Roy Orbison falsetto that is breathtaking. His songs are really poems. It is hard to follow them though. Maybe a lyric sheet would make the songs more meaningful. Generally, I just get lost in his voice and lose track of the lyrics altogether. He actually joked around a bit during this show, doing a bit of a white folk version of a NWA song.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Tina Schlieske – Slow Burn (2005) This is one of those “Wow” CDs. Names like Joan Osborne, Shelby Lynne, Bonnie Raitt and even Cher come to mind; and that’s just her voice. The music is a little bit blues, a little bit rock with a touch of country. It is very well produced with good solid songwriting. Inside the CD it says that it was recorded on a shoestring with plenty of alcohol and we are to play it loud. If it really was a shoestring it sure doesn’t sound like it. And there is no alcoholic sloppiness here. As to playing it loud, now that is a good suggestion. On my short list for CD of the year. You can find out more about Tina at: http://www.tinaschlieske.com
Jill Sobule – Things Here Are Different (1990) Long before Jill sang “I Kissed a Girl”, making her a star (at least at all the lesbian gatherings), she released this Todd Rundgren produced CD. There are still remnants of the ‘80s here, but not enough to cover up the beginnings of a great songwriter. None of the songs here are at that level where they just don’t let go of you, like… uhmmm, well, just about everything else she has released. But there are some good songs here. One song that has been haunting me is called “Pilar (Things Here are Different)”. It is about the lack of freedom that women have in
Southern Culture On The Skids – Plastic Seat Sweat (1997) What can I say… I just gotta put some SCOTS on every so often. A redneck B52s, the SCOTS are just all about fun. And on that level, they always succeed. http://www.scots.com .
A3 – Exile on
Monday, August 01, 2005
Some stories and ramblings to go along with the song list this week. Enjoy…
Waterline – Long Goners (2005) I only have a couple of songs from this CD. Chris who is half of the due that makes up the core of this band was kind enough to send a couple of mp3s to me. The backup band for this CD is The Goners, often John Hiatt’s band over the last decade, and featuring the great Sonny Landreth on slide guitar. These two songs are pretty hot. I’m going to have to check out the rest of the CD. For more info you can go to http://www.waterlinemusic.com
Lucinda Williams – Live at the Fillmore (2005) Make sure you have your anti-depressants handy when you put this CD into your player. There may be no voice in rock right now that so conveys the heartbreak and pain the way Lucinda’s does. As potent as her studio recordings are, this 2 CD set just burns all the way through.
Gomez – Out West (2005) One of the highlights from the ACL Festival last year was the hour long set by Gomez. I’ve always enjoyed their CDs, but really loved their live set. And this 2 CD package is not a disappointment. There’s lots of energy from this very talented band.
KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 8 (2000) There isn’t a live radio collection that is as consistently as good as the KGSR recordings. They are released every year around November and I always wait with anticipation for my copy. They are all 2 CD sets except for the first one (a single CD) and this one (a triple CD!). The third CD in this set is actually a best of from the first 7 years plus a tribute to Jerry Reed from Eric Johnson. As always, there are too many great performances to mention. Everyone from Patti Smith to Bruce Cockburn is on these CDs with lots of Austinites like Patty Griffin, Alejandro Escovedo and Bob Schneider. All of the KGSR CDs find their way onto to Ebay on a regular basis, if you need to add to your collection. And the next CD will be available online at http://www.waterloorecords.com .
Melissa Etheridge – Melissa Etheridge (1988) A bunch of years back, I put Melissa’s music away. It had hit too close to home and was just too painful to listen to. Over the years I’ve continued to see her in concert and listen to her new music. Last week, for the first time in years, I play this CD. From the opening bass and drums of “Similar Features”, the shivers started. This is one of those great freshman CDs; and it has lost nothing with time.
This seems like a good time to tell my Melissa story. It was a few years back. I was in
The Devlins – Waiting (1997) Like so many other people, I discovered The Devlins when I watched the first (or was it second) episode of Six Feet Under on HBO. The closing song for that episode, “Waiting”, was so powerful, that it haunted me for months. Finally the Six Feet Under CD came out and I was able to enjoy this song over and over and over… The full CD, which I recently picked up has a different mix for “Waiting”. Maybe not as good, but it is still a very powerful song. The rest of the CD is good but not nearly as potent. It is very spiritual and this leads to a quandary for me. I guess it is time for a little talk…
Some people may be under the mistaken impression that this stream called The Promise has some religious significance. Apparently there are Christian references on the Internet to the words “the promise”. Well, truthfully, I had no idea when I picked this name. Hey, I’m Jewish, how would I know. But I love that the title can have so many different meanings to people. And that is why I picked it. Its real meaning for me dates back to September 1999. I was at