Monday, February 28, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Here is what was added to the play list this week:

Keren Ann - Not Going Anywhere (2004) What a beautiful CD this is. We walked away from the Girl Called Eddy show talking about Keren.

Lili Haydn - Light Blue Sun (2003) Well, if Lili was trying to get rid of her goth followers, this CD would do it. She has so much talent. I hope she takes on another direction next time. But what can I say; she's a woman with a violin. :-)

Blue Merle - Live I know next to nothing about these guys. Island Records sent me a link to their web site, there was a live performance available for download, it sounded pretty good, and I put one of their songs into the rotation.

Bette Midler - Bette Midler (1973) The old stuff is still the best, and I can't resist throwing a few of these into the mix.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A Girl Called Eddy Live at The Hotel Cafe

We traveled 30 plus years to The Hotel Café Thursday night to see Erin Moran, otherwise known as A Girl Called Eddy. Her self titled CD on Anti records has drawn comparisons to Dusty Springfield and Burt Bacharach. And if there was any doubt we were in another era, the show opened with Erin putting the needle down on a portable turntable. Underneath the scratches were droning keyboards that Erin sang on top of. After that opening number, her two-man and one computer (she couldn’t afford to bring her drummer) band kicked in, playing her beautiful sad music. The only song that really got a different treatment was “The Long Goodbye”, which replaced the power chords from the CD with a more personal slide guitar. I enjoyed the difference, although I really love the hooks from the power chords on the CD. So, this was a great concert, right? Well, not really. Her set was short; under 40 minutes. And there just didn’t seem to be much personality coming from her. Maybe this live stuff is just new to her, but we weren’t really drawn in to her world. Maybe with time she will get more interesting. She is an excellent songwriter and has a beautiful voice. I look forward to next time.

Opening for A Girl Called Eddy was Israeli born, French raised, Keren Ann. I had never heard her music before this night and, well, I bought her current CD when it was over. She has a soft whispery voice, and my first thought was Claudine Longet. Keren doesn’t really have the accent, but she does have that European attitude and style. Her music grabbed us and drew us in. I found her shy sense of humor interesting since she has apparently been around, at least in Europe for 4 or 5 years. About a third of her songs were in French and I fell in love with a French blues number (don’t remember the name). She was accompanied by a keyboardist while she played a very proficient self assured acoustic guitar. I understand she has a new CD coming out next month. I will be picking it up and while you’re waiting, pick up “Not Going Anywhere”, her first English language release. And if I needed confirmation about how much I liked her, I heard her today on The Loft on XM. How long has Mike been keeping her a secret from us?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Misc Stuff: Kathleen Edwards and October Project

Just a bit of news and info...

Kathleen Edwards new CD, "Back to Me" comes out March 1st. I've been listening to it for about a day now and love it. I'm not sure if it is as good as her first, but it is still too early to tell. Kathleen will be touring the U.S. and will be making a stop at the Knitting Factory in L.A. on March 23rd. If you love her music, she is even better live. Don't miss her this time out.

I'm a big October Project fan and I am so happy that they are playing live again and working on a new full length CD. For those of you on the West Coast, you've got one chance this year to see them live. They will be playing in Seattle at Benaroya Hall on April 30th. Tickets go on sale March 5th via the box office or Ticketmaster. Hope to see you there.

Monday, February 21, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Lots of music added this week...

Mara Levi - Life's a Ball (2003) This weeks Indie artist. Check her out at http://maralevi.com

A Girl Called Eddy - A Girl Called Eddy (2004) I am in love with this CD. Is it Dusty Springfield? Did Burt Bacharach write the music? Who cares!

Peter Wolf - Sleepless (2002) - Thanks to Jenn and Larry who kept pushing for me to listen to this. An excellent CD worth checking out.

KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 7 (1999) - Thank you Ebay. :-)

Jill Sobule - I Never Learned to Swim (2001) - Thank you Amoeba. This is out of print for no good reason at all. Lots of great songs here.

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Welcome to the Infant Freebase (1998/2002) An import that Jen recommended. These guys from Sweden (I believe) have a very unique sound, derived from lots of American/British influences. I really am enjoying this one.

Providence (2002) - I'm a sucker for any song Shawn Colvin wants to cover.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Sam Phillips at the Silverlake Lounge

This was my first trip to the Silverlake Lounge. It’s not a place I am looking forward to going back to. It’s not in the greatest neighborhood and there is NO parking. None. I parked several blocks away in a residential neighborhood and walking back to my car (hoping it was still there) at midnight was not a treat either. But more important, the stage is only about 2 feet high (and I’m being generous). Only a handful of the hundred or so who turned out actually got to see her perform. On the plus side, the sound was good; with only one feedback/hum issue during the evening.

So, Sam comes out and I can tell there is something wrong. I’m not sure if it was that the crowd pushed up close to her and her knowing that most people couldn’t see her, or if there was something personal going on. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sam wears her heart on her sleeve on stage and when things are wrong it tends to show up in different stories and some songs seeming to have a strong emotional impact on her. Right off the bat she mentions that there will be much music and much talking and hopefully we’ll be able to find “the show” in it. This reminded me a lot of her performance the night Jay had to fly off to Europe, leaving her without a drummer. This wasn’t as dramatic, but you could feel it. Sam hardly talked to the crowd after that, saving her new story for late in the show. New to the show was a cassette version of “Incinerator” but no shaking of the cassette for solo purposes. This of course meant that she would leave out “Animals on Wheels”.

The story was basically about a boss she had when she was young who believed that God talked to him. He told her that God told him that his wife was going to die and Sam was going to take her place. She asked the audience if anyone knew someone who said that God had talked to them. Someone from the audience yelled out “Bush” and Sam smiled. Now, I’m going to interpret what Sam’s point was, and excuse me if I’m a bit off, but she said something to the effect that she didn’t necessarily believe that God talked to him (and maybe anyone) but she did understand the passion that made him want to believe it. I think the reason she told the story was so that she could say that she believed in wanting to understand what can’t be understood. And I believe that led into “Sister Rosetta…”.

Only one new song this time; “Sister Rosetta Went Before Us”. Without totally ruining the song, I’ll paraphrase a bit of the lyrics which said something like: “I lost the love I never really had, but I can hear the music above my head”. Please, that is just an approximation, but you get the point. She played her two other new songs: “When You’re Down” and “Was it All in My Head”. All three will make an excellent foundation for the new CD. She also performed Tom Waits’ “Green Grass” which she did with the Section Quartet last month. I would love to see her cover it on her next CD. It really fits everything she is singing about these days.

After the show, I was chatting with her and I pulled out the set list and started saying, “What’s this? What’s this?”, poking at the sheet. She didn’t even have to look at what I was poking at. A year ago I started bugging her to play “I Need Love”. It was on the set list but was dropped. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. We were so close this time. Next time”. I’m holding her to that. 

Sam played for about 1 hour. Okay, for those interested, here is the set list:

Foolin’ Myself
Zero Zero Zero
How To Quit
All Night
I Wanted to be Alone
Fan Dance
Incinerator
I Dreamed I Stopped Dreaming
Taking Pictures
Soul Eclipse
Was It All in My Head
Infiltration
When You’re Down
Green Grass
Sister Rosetta Went Before Us
Reflecting Light
Say What you Mean
One Day Late

No new concerts are scheduled, but she will be at the next Section Quartet show on March 3rd at Largo and they could get her on stage.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Julian Coryell and Gary Jules at The Hotel Cafe

One of the rarest things that can happen in a concert setting is to hear all new music and really enjoy it. To date only one performer has ever pulled it off completely in my presence; John Hiatt. I saw him on the day that “Perfectly Good Guitar” was released and I didn’t have a chance to listen to the CD before the show. John played almost the entire CD and song after song I was blown away. No one has ever come close to doing that to me before or since. Last night may be the closest I’ll get for awhile though as Julian Coryell and Gary Jules previewed new music at the Hotel Café in Hollywood.

This was my first visit to the Hotel Café. It is a small room with very friendly staff. It is a long rectangle with only a few good tables up front, so if you are planning on seeing a concert there, get there early. The stage is all of 10 by 10 feet, if that.

Julian, accompanied by a stand up bass player performed for about a half hour playing all new material. If you’ve been following his career, you will be excited to know that he continues to grow as an artist. Playing an old Gibson guitar plugged into an even older amp (he said it was from the 40’s) Julian’s new style is more jazz confessional now. He has merged his jazz days with a new personal approach to writing, creating a sophisticated sound that is emotionally powerful while being “cool” at the same time. I had wanted to chat with him before the show about seeing him 9 years ago, but he was about to start and said afterward he would love to hear my story. After the show he was busy with someone he was with and I didn’t want to interrupt, so I went to the bathroom and when I got out they were gone. I figured it wasn’t meant to be. But as I walked down the street to my car, he was walking back toward me, and called out my name (I’m always impressed when an artist actually listens when you tell them your name). We had a great chat, talking about October Project and his dad (Larry Coryell a famous jazz guitar player). It was a wonderful way to end the evening. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself…

After Julian’s amazing set, Gary Jules came out and packed the stage. Joining Gary on stage were a piano player (he had both an electric piano and an upright piano on stage), a stand up bass player, drums, and a backup female vocalist. Now if you know Gary, you may ask, what about the slide guitar? Well, he was offstage, sitting closer to me than to Gary, and moving back and forth between his lap guitars, an electric guitar and a standing slide guitar. It was great being that close to a slide guitar player and getting to watch him at work. Gary played almost all new music also. The combination of slide guitar and the quiet waves of electronic sounds coming from the keyboardist make for a beautiful and hard to describe backdrop for Gary’s songs. The new music seemed very complete, even though he said that they were just trying them out. The next album is going to be even better than the first two I believe. Gary is a very intelligent and quick witted guy, so if we weren’t enjoying the music we were being entertained by his funny remarks, not to mention his new baby picture, which was adorable. The Godfather of the Hotel Café finished his set with a couple of classics, “Barstool” a long time fan favorite and “Mad World” his cover that made him famous. He actually hasn’t played MW in about 6 months and played electric piano (a new instrument for him) while his drummer moved over to the upright piano. It was just the two of them and it was as haunting as the version he recorded. Gary is appearing every Tuesday this month and is worth checking out.

Four Concerts in Four Nights – Act 4

Sunday morning Deb, Maria and I traveled down to San Diego once again. And again we were going to see Ani Difranco. The concert was at the Copley Symphony Theater and to say that the acoustics were not designed for amplified music is an understatement. I think Ani said it best: “This place is so beautiful, but the sound sucks”. Ani somehow was able to avoid being too distracted with the echo and put on another good show, changing out almost half the songs on the set list from the other night. It was actually a mellower show, which may have been because of the sound problems. We dropped Deb off at the hotel after the show and left her with a beautiful view of the harbor and a thousand or so amateur baseball playing lesbians (you had to be there I suppose). That Deb then got stuck in an elevator at 4:30 in the morning with some amateur baseball players and had a flight cancelled and spent a dozen hours trying to get home is really a story for her to tell.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Four Concerts in Four Nights - Act 3

Saturday Lunch
The sun came out! I can’t believe it. Deb and I headed into Beverly Hills for lunch with Lynne. My friend Janet actually came by for awhile too. The bakery/restaurant, Michele Richard, was very good. Thanks for the recommendation Lynne. This time I avoided the yummy desert, but Deb and Lynne split a mousse. And then on to Amoeba, where 3 hours and you don’t want to know how many CDs later, we dragged ourselves out of the store and on our way to the Wiltern.

Ani Difranco

Act 3 of this 4 act play took us to The Wiltern in L.A. where Ani Difranco was playing. Opening for Ani was Andrew Bird. Although I had heard good things about him, neither Deb nor myself enjoyed his set at all… and I love violin in rock! He expended so much energy working his tape loops that… well maybe that didn’t even matter. We just didn’t like the songs (although the lyrics sounded interesting).

So this was my first Ani show and I was impressed. She came flying out on stage full of fire. I think her newer music seems to dull that fire, but over all she puts on a great show. She played several songs from the new CD but also played a handful of classics from different parts of her career. Late in the show, Andrew Bird showed up to play violin and whistle on a few songs (the whistling I could do without). His playing, which I thought was very good, added more textures to a sound that had only included Ani’s acoustic guitar and her stand up bass player. But when she wants to, she doesn’t let a thing like an acoustic guitar and no band stop her from exploding on stage. And those moments are worth waiting for. We see Ani tomorrow, with Maria joining us this time, to finish off our long weekend.

Four Concerts in Four Nights - Act 2

Friday Lunch
It was another fun gathering of the WCR group for a Friday lunch. Even if you have/had no desire to meet anyone here, eating at Zov’s in Tustin makes it all worthwhile. Joining Deb, Maria and I were Jill, Steve and Jane. Somehow, the cameras never came out. Sorry. You’ll just have to trust us that we had a lot of fun. And yummm, the Key Lime Tart was soooooo good.


The Finn Brothers

Act 2 of the 4 nights of rock and roll once again sent us south to the Belly Up in Solana Beach. Deb, who has been in So Cal. for 36 hours now and has yet to see a sunny sky, as the rain continues. Luckily, Maria, the only smart one in the group, brought a huge umbrella which the 3 of us easily fit under. We arrived at 5pm and were just able to be first in line. What that means at the Belly Up is that you can get a seat right next to the stage on the side: A perfect seat. Tonight’s performance was a stripped down Finn Brothers with just Neil, Tim and a bass player. Tim, along with playing his guitar, had a bass drum and snare drum with a foot pedal. The three of them sat in chairs throughout most of the show, which gave it a very informal feel. And when you consider how informal the Finn’s are to begin with, you can probably imagine how crazy it got when they asked for requests. After playing a couple, not to mention sort of covering a Thompson Twins song, Tim yells, “Whoever can think of the most obscure Split Enz song wins”. We’re not sure what they would have won though because they gave up trying to hear everyone and just continued from their set list. Like their show this last summer with the full band, Neil and Tim played music from all over their career with only 2 albums getting a lot of attention: The Crowded House classic, Woodface and the current CD “Everyone is Here”. This concert was a reminder of just how good “Everyone is Here” is. It fits in perfectly with all the great Crowded House and Split Enz songs. The boys from New Zealand played for about 2 hours and we left very happy.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Four Concerts in Four Nights - Act 1

So, this was the first of four nights of concerts and man what a night…

I remember seeing Allison Moorer a couple of years ago in Austin and really liking her. So, I bought her CD, which was good also. But as she released new CDs, first her live CD and then “The Duel”, the music moved more toward a style I really loved, with ragged distorted guitars playing off her beautiful voice. So, I was a bit disappointed when I realized that it was just going to be Allison without the band. But just the opposite, I was blown away. It almost feels like she holds back a bit with the bands, or maybe they overshadow her, ‘cause when it is just her and her guitar, she soars. Sometimes, as Deb said, you can hear her sister Shelby in her voice and sometimes you can’t. But it is always ringing true with what she is singing. Her half hour set was just way too short.

It was a year ago that I saw Steve Earle for the first time; again in Austin. I only knew 2 of his songs (one was based on a cover that someone else did) back then and his hour long set was pretty friggin good. A year or so later I knew most of his music and was still not prepared for what a full Steve Earle show is like. In rock there are only a handful of artists who not only perform great music but also know how to build and pace a show: Springsteen and Costello are the two best IMHO. Well, I’ve got to put Steve Earle right up there. His set was so well constructed without being polished or pretentious, that you could literally feel the rhythm of the set.

In a classic move, the pre-recorded music coming over the sound system was Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution will not be Televised”. The band came out to that music and then ripped through the title track of his new CD, “The Revolution Starts Now”. The entire first section of the show was political as Steve sang about revolution and people being left behind. In an interesting pacing move, Steve rarely said a word during this entire section; letting the music speak for itself. There were no slow ballads here, just hard driving rock and politics. After that first section, he slowed the pace, going to some acoustic guitars and mandolins and it then started making some speeches to go along with the music. It was a great move. We caught our breath as he talked about everything from unions to the draft. But we lost our breath every time Allison came out to sing with him. Her beautiful voice soaring with his rough but passionate vocals made for a potent combination. He picked up the pace slowly until he was back in full gear with songs like “Cooperhead Road”. The concert had a circular feel to it at the end as he covered the Beatles’ “Revolution” and then played the other version of “The Revolution Starts Now” (for those of you who don’t have the CD, it is the first and last track). It was such a well designed show, I was in complete awe. The two encores were lots of fun (the Stones’ “Sweet Virginia” was great) but he was determined to leave the club on point and so he finished with The Chambers Brothers, “Time Has Come Today”.

What an amazing show, and a great way to start our 4 concerts in 4 nights. Maria joined Deb and I for this show and we all agreed that The Finn Brothers are gonna have to really work hard to top this.

Monday, February 07, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Nothing new to add this week, but a bunch of old stuff got added...

Robbie Robertson - Robbie Robertson (1987)
Holly Cole - Dark Dear Heart (1987)
Lone Justice - Lone Justice (1985)
Nick Drake - Way to Blue - An Introduction to Nick Drake
Bruce Cockburn - Humans (1980)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Promise

The Promise is a radio stream on Live365 that I created back in August of 2002. My goal was to bring my vision of the AAA and World Class Rock radio formats to the Internet airwaves. The station plays plenty of singer/songwriters, some classic rock, some modern rock and lots of really deep cuts from CDs. I also try and put as many independent artists on the air as possible. There are a few artists that are displayed prominently on the station:
  1. Bruce Springsteen - The name of the station comes from a song of his. Barely an hour or two goes by without a song of his showing up.
  2. Sam Phillips - The only artist I've ever asked to marry me (she didn't say no :-) )
  3. Bob Schneider (includes the Scabs and the Ugly Americans) - Few people have blown me away in concert like he did the first time.
  4. Patty Griffin
  5. Ryan Adams
  6. John Hiatt
  7. Alejandro Escovedo
  8. Warren Zevon
  9. Jill Sobule - I can't believe I sang with her on stage (I'm not one to sing in front of people). Hell I can't believe she kissed me.
  10. Elvis Costello
The list of Independent artists and the current songs being played can be viewed at http://www.gdrmusic.com/thepromise .

The purpose of this blog is to give me more space to discuss music. I look forward to any and all comments (a brave statement early on... I may change my mind) about the music I play, the concerts I see, and anything else that fits this music "forum".

Thanks for dropping by,

bruce

Music Hall Link - Cowboy Junkies 4-1-1996 listen