Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Kenny White and Holly Palmer Live at Genghis Cohen

What is it with L.A. traffic? Last week it took 2.5 hours to get into Hollywood. Tonight it took less than an hour. Luckily, I had a plan. With some time to kill, I went to Amoeba Records and picked up Jellyfish’s “Bellybutton” and the Young Dubliners’ “Real World”. It was the first time I’ve ever walked out of there for under $25. Actually, it was the first time I’ve ever walked out of there for under $100 I believe.

Genghis Cohen’s is a cool little restaurant, just down the street from Largo on Melrose and Fairfax. The food smells good. Someday I’ll actually give it a try. The room off to the side where the music’s at is a bit like a church with benches (sort of like pews) and small tables in front of them. You can actually order from the menu and they will bring your food to you. I’d guess the room holds all of 60 people; and it was pretty packed tonight. This was in sharp contrast to Kenny’s last visit. On that night he picked not only the night of the season finale of the Soprano’s but it also a Laker playoff night (that probably won’t happen again any time soon). I was one of 9 people who showed up for that show.

Kenny did about 50 minutes playing songs mainly from his current CD, Symphony in 16 Bars, with a couple from his first CD and one or two unreleased songs. Most of the songs were performed on piano, with Kenny moving over to acoustic guitar for a few before finishing off big on piano with a couple of songs including “My Recurring Dream”, a crowd favorite. I know I’ve said this a million times but… When you go to a Kenny White show, what you get is great piano playing, good songwriting and lyrics so good they remind me of Elvis Costello at his best. Hmmm, this is the first time I’ve made that comparison. I think I like it. Elvis has lots of great one-liners in his songs and so does Kenny. But Kenny’s are more personal, more confessional. There is less anger and more insight. Therapy has been good to him and his songwriting.

There seems to be this movement of singer/songwriters doing folk/jazz based music. Julian Coryell has been moving into it but Kenny has been doing it for several years. If Kenny White is the Torchbearer of this style of music (I know, I’m being a bit over dramatic here), then Holly Palmer is the torch. What you really notice about Holly is her need to take risks. Every song is an adventure. In fact, Kenny told me after the show that this was the first time the two of them have played together as just a duo (Kenny on keyboards and Holly on electric guitar). You could tell they were really playing off of each other; sometimes they missed and everyone laughed. This appears to be something that you might expect at one of her concerts. Holly has no problem finding ways to make you laugh. Sometimes it is as simple (and daring) as the willful withholding of a note. Other times she uses gestures and her eyes to get you to laugh. And you never know what is going to come out of her mouth. At times she is almost talking and then she is singing in someone else’s voice and then this beautiful powerful note seems to come from nowhere and takes over the room. It was amazing watching her walk that tightrope.

One of the signs of a great artist is their ability to sing someone else’s music and make it there own. Holly did that every time. Her version of “Crazy” showed off her vocal abilities without coming off like a Patsy Cline wannabe. As you can see, I was really impressed with her. Listening to her CD “I Confess” on the way home, I could hear how she changed and played with so many of the songs. The CD doesn’t begin to explain just how good she is in concert, but it is a good start.

Holly can be found at www.hollypalmer.com and Kenny can be found at www.kennywhite.net.

Monday, March 28, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Blue Merle – Burning in the Sun (2005) As I have stated before on this site, I came across these guys because Island Records sent me a link to a live performance. The studio CD sounds just as good, if not better.

Michele Albano – I know nothing about this woman, other than from an email requesting that I play her music. If I find out more, I will pass it on. The first song out the door reminds me a bit of Fiona Apple. Hope you enjoy it.

Mark Geary – Ghosts (2005) There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of singer songwriters these days. That is a good thing. My friend Mike pushed this one on me. This may be competing for CD of the year, but it is way too early to tell.

Jason Falkner – Bliss Descending (2004) It’s only 5 songs, but so worth the 10 bucks I paid for it. Everyone I know was recommending this one it seemed. I’m sure all of this CD will make it onto the play list within the next 2 months.

Howie Day – Australia (2000) I love his latest CD, so I had to go back and check out his debut. This is a good CD, but not quite up there with “Stop All the World Now”.

World Party – Egyptology (1997) This is a great CD. How did it get overlooked by EVERYONE. And the song, “She’s the One”… That was a song of the year. What? You don’t own this? Go straight to amazon.com and buy it: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00004YS2M/qid=1112002261/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl15/104-7586264-9295968?v=glance&s=music&n=507846

KGSR – Broadcasts Vol. 6 (1998) What a great collection of CDs from Austin. Volume 6 isn’t the best of the 12, but there are some great moments, including excellent songs by Shawn Colvin, Neil Finn, and John Hiatt.

Bruce Springsteen – In Concert and Blood Brothers. More music from the early/mid 90’s from Bruce.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Kathleen Edwards Live at the Knitting Factory Hollywood

A little rain and suddenly the freeways are a parking lot? It took 2.5 hours to get to Hollywood last night (it should take about an hour with traffic). Luckily I had no doubts about seeing a good show. The only issue was whether we were going to see a show at all. Since I’ve never been to the Knitting Factory I had no idea what their version of 8pm meant. Luckily for us, it meant 9:40. We missed the opening act, but at least didn’t have to wait long for the show since we stepped into KF at 9:20.

The Knitting Factory is a very unique place in Hollywood. There are 3 stages and all three were going on at once last night. As long as the music doesn’t get too quiet and no one goes through one of the back doors (I believe only staff can go through those) during a song, life is good. The soundproofing is impressive. As for the sound quality, I was very impressed. Not perfectly clean, but clean enough for rock and roll. The acoustics are very good also. I actually traded a few words back and forth with Kathleen during the show and I was a good 20 feet from the stage. Normally, even 5 feet away doesn’t guarantee they will hear you. The only negative, besides very few seats, is a low stage and a short performer. It’s maybe 3 feet high. Another 2 feet would have been great. From 20 feet back we were straining just to see her face. And of course, the tallest guy in the audience is right up front and right in the middle. Oh well.

So, the last time we saw Kathleen Edwards was Easter weekend 2 years ago. Kathleen reminisced about that show late in her show; remembering that there were only about 30 people in the audience and some fell asleep. The reality was that it was a midnight show and she played till well after 1am, there were close to a hundred people there, and only one person fell asleep. It was a very vocal crowd that night, with Kathleen trading barbs with a drunken woman and even recommending a change in sexual preference to her. It was all very relaxed and fun. And then she would kick into one of her songs and it all got very serious. It was one of my favorite performances of the year.

Last night was a more focused Kathleen, with her only briefly talking to the crowd until late in the show. Of course, she’s got that great “I’ve been hanging in pool halls/cowboy bars/ for ever” attitude, so when she does say something, its pretty funny and right to the point. She has no problem telling anyone where the f*ck to go.

Okay, back to the music. The show focused heavily on her new CD with only about 3 songs from “Failer” being played. This meant a more rockin’ affair. Many of the songs end with Kathleen pounding on her acoustic guitar while her guitar player is playing classic lead or slide lead guitar. With this jangling distorted rock it was fitting that she closed the night with a Neil Young song, “Unknown Legend”. But there were also a few moments of soft anguish (especially at the end as she sang with just her guitar and someone opened a door from one of the other stages… Oh, that look could kill). She covered a Gram Parsons song about half way through the set (the one that didn’t make it onto the tribute DVD which I understand was released this week) that was so beautiful. I suppose a beautiful Gram Parsons song is a redundant term. Overall, Kathleen Edwards continues to impress in concert. Whether she is rocking hard, or making you want to cry, as my friend Blair said 2 years ago, “She’s the real thing”. Below is the song list, based on her set list (It doesn’t include the encore or Gram’s Song).

Pink Emerson Radio
In State
Independent Thief
Summer long
Mercury
Copied Keys
Hockey Skates
Six O’Clock News
What Are You Waiting For?
Good Things
Back To Me

There were at least 4 other songs not on the set list. She played for about an hour and twenty minutes. Her web site for anyone who is interested is: http://www.kathleenedwards.com .

Monday, March 21, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Kevin Posey - Posey MFG (????) I met Kevin at a Jill Sobule concert where he put on an outrageous set. But behind the theater, is a voice that is soft and sensual and very dangerous. His people sent me a couple of mp3s and I'm gonna play them for you over the next 2 weeks.

Brainpool - Junk - A Rock Opera (2004) This Swedish band has gone against the grain and created a rock opera. The music is all over the map; from 80's pop to 70's progressive. There were a bunch of songs that I really liked on Junk, and you'll be hearing them on The Promise. You can find out more about them at http://www.brainpool.nu .

The Devlins - Drift (1993) I first heard them at the end of the first episode of Six Feet Under. "Waiting" was an amazing song, but true to form, (HBO creators have good taste in music and record companies don't) the album was out of print. So I picked up Drift. This is one of those bands that never got the attention they deserved.

Elvis Costello - Brutal Youth (1994) Speaking of lack of attention, this is an excellent CD that never got the respect from radio that it deserved. Powerful and controversial and worth every penny you will pay for it.

Counting Crows - Across A Wire - Live in New York City (1998) The Crows are one of the favorites on The Promise. Adam and company work really hard in concert, so you are sure to enjoy many of these songs.

Bruce Springsteen - Born In The USA (1984) It's a great CD, and even though it was so overplayed, you can't help but enjoy these classics when they come around.

Bruce Springsteen - Human Touch (1992) So many of these songs (that includes Lucky Town) have been left behind. We won't do that.

If you are in L.A. this week, check out Kathleen Edwards at the Knitting Factory. If not, watch for her tour. She is something else in concert.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Here we go again... :-)

Tori Amos - The Beekeeper (2005) This is a beautiful CD with its only fault being a lack of power. There are plenty of good songs here, but there is nothing that really blows me away. Still I am enjoying it a lot and if you are a Tori fan, you will like it.

Blue-Eyed Son - West of Lincoln (2004?) I was in the bathroom at the Hotel Cafe and saw a stack of these EPs. So, what the hell, I grabbed one. The Hotel Cafe has a reputation for putting on consistently good music and this band was playing there in a week or two. Fortunately for them, and I suppose for whoever is reading this, I can't make any toilet jokes about this. It is good. I may have to check out their full length CD.

Hamilton Pool - Return To Zero (1995) I had purchased another KGSR CD the other day on Ebay and to my surprise when I opened the package, there were two CDs. The second CD was from this band who I had never heard of, but were based in Austin. What a pleasant surprise to find this laid back folkishly countryish band. I know, pretty lame description. So, just listen in and enjoy the beautiful harmonies and excellent production.

Crowded House - I feel Possessed (1989) This is the most expensive used CD I have ever purchased in a store (at least per song). There are 4 songs on the EP, 3 are covers and performed with Roger McGuinn. Buy all of CH's music before buying this. It's good, but not as good as their originals.

Bruce Springsteen Lucky Town and The Ghost of Tom Joad (Do I really need to tell you the dates?) I continue to catch up on Springsteen CDs. Both have never gotten the airplay they have deserved. Enough said.

Various Artists - Nuggets Disk 3 Every so often I've got to throw in a real oldie. This is the kind of stuff that Little Steven likes, so I guess that is as good an excuse as any to play it, right? I've already been playing Disk 1. Disks 2 and 4 will show up somewhere down the line.

And finally, I found myself on Itunes the other day. There has been so much talk about The Futureheads version of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love", I just had to hear for myself. And if you haven't heard it, listen in. Also picked up some throw away Lou Reed from the Rock and Roll Animal performances.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Live at the Hotel Cafe

So, have you ever gone to a concert not knowing who the opening act was, only to find it is a great band that you love? Actually that is a possible thread if anyone wants to comment. Anyway, what a surprise to find out that Minibar was the opening act last night. I was supposed to see them perform a year ago at an Italian restaurant in Long Beach only to find out that they had cancelled because they had a gig in Austin.

Minibar is a 4 man band consisting of up to 4 vocals with an acoustic guitar, bass, drums and a pedal steel guitar. When they are all singing it is like country rock heaven. Think early Eagles. They aren’t exactly country rock: It is more like mellow modern rock. But with the steel guitar wailing and those harmonies, well it is easy to get confused. And when they kick it into gear, it isn’t all that mellow either. They played for about 45 minutes. I would love to see a full set by them. It was nice to finally to see them live.

I saw Gary Jules a few weeks ago and this set was very similar to the last (although he was missing his pregnant backing singer). The album he is working on is going to be very good; probably better than his first two. Highlights so far include Pocahontas and Little Greenie (although song titles may change as he has already changed at least one of the names in the last few weeks). Pocahontas appears to be about a woman living in L.A. who “believes in radio”. Obviously this is a fictitious character. Another excellent song is called “Wichita”. You can buy a version of this song on the Live at the Hotel Café compilation. I asked Gary why he doesn’t promote this when playing the song and he said that he makes no money on the live CD and “Wichita” will be on the new CD. You’d think he wasn’t happy about the live CD, but when I asked if there was another live CD coming from the Hotel Café he was genuinely enthusiastic, mentioning that they were working on another one. Gary will be back at the Hotel Café next Tuesday and will be with Minibar at the Viper Room on the 20th. Go see him.

And then Julian came out. When I saw Julian Coryell a couple of weeks ago, it was just him and a stand up bass. This time he had his full band, which, along with the bass included keyboards and drums. And like Gary, his new material may be his best ever. The best way to describe the new material would be to imagine a John Mayer type, but with a jazz base. These are interesting songs (“this song is an argument between someone who believes in God and someone who doesn’t”) with good melodies and then these great jazz and sometimes rock solos. Julian is a great guitar player and he really gets to shine when he has a band behind him (first time I’ve seen him with a band). His upcoming CD is third on my anticipation list (Bruce and Kate fill up the first two slots… which reminds me, they say Kate Bush is just months away from releasing a CD). This was a great set and way to short (45 minutes). Julian will be on tour playing in Aimee Mann’s band this weekend. I’m not sure how many shows that is.

A side note… The Hotel Café seems to have a very unique way of presenting bands. The first show is just after 8 and is usually 45 minutes. The main attraction is then at 9 and goes for anywhere from 45 minutes (A Girl Called Eddy) to an hour and a half (Gary Jules). Then, the closing band plays at around 1030 or 11 for 45 minutes. It is an interesting format.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Lots of music added this week...

Kathleen Edwards - Back To Me (2005) Kathleen's first CD, "Failer" was one of my favorites of the year. So anticipation for this one was very high. And generally I haven't been disappointed. This time out she has turned up the electric guitars and made more of a rocker. So far I love it. For more info, you can go to Kathleen's site at http://www.kathleenedwards.com.

Deena Goodman - Hard to Get To (2004) An indie artist with a voice. Check her out at http://www.deenagoodman.com.

Amy Correia - Lakeville (2004) Amy was vocally all over the map in her 2000 release "Carnival Love". This time out she is sticking with her sultry blues vocal style making this a much more consistent CD. I love them both though.

Patty Griffin - Living with Ghosts (1995) Her first and still one of my all time favorites. Just Patty and her guitar. If you don't have this, go out and buy it; especially if you're feeling depressed.

The Innocence Mission - The Innocence Mission (1989) They were so friendly to us when we met them so many years ago. Maybe it was this hope of good people behind the music that has lead me to meet many artists over the years. "Innocence Mission" is a perfect name for these wonderful artists.

Warren Zevon - Life'll Kill Ya (2000) I'm still missing a couple of his CDs. One of the great American songwriters. Everyone should have plenty of Zevon in their collection.

Tom Waits - Small Change (1976) I saw the tour for this CD way back when and it is still one of the best club performances I've ever seen. This is a great CD and I'm only sorry it has taken this long to get it onto the stream.

Bruce Springsteen - The Rising (2002) Honestly, I had this whole CD on the stream a couple of years ago. Then I made some changes to the stream and it dropped off. I'm getting it all back in though.

Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle (1973) So, I went through all of my Springsteen CDs and realized that there were a bunch that still haven't made it on the stream. So there will be plenty of different stuff over the next several weeks as I catch up.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Girl Called Eddy Continued

Artists have off nights. Writers are influenced by their moods. All sorts of things can happen. And I hate to leave something negative up when there is a chance that it was just one of those nights. So...

My friend Deb saw A Girl Called Eddy tonight in Chicago. Her opinion, which I respect more than just about anyone I know, was that Erin/Eddy put on a great show with plenty of personality. Maybe we just got an off night. There is no doubt that she has the talent. So, if anyone goes to see her during her current tour, please let me know what you thought of the show.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Section Quartet Live at Largo

It was another night of rock ‘n strings as the Section Quartet rocked Largo. Up first was Sierra Swan who not only has a voice, but a lot of chutzpah too. Her opening number was a very personal song that had as one of its central themes the loss of virginity. Did I mention she has a voice? It is powerful, throaty and capable of expressing some strong emotions. Sierra also sang a song from her upcoming CD with the Section Quartet (they play on her new CD).


And then it was time for hour of “Name that Tune” as the Section Quartet ran through some of their standard choices along with some new selections. There were several highlights for the evening: a couple of David Bowie classics, another great Led Zeppelin cover, 2 really good songs from The Muse and an amazing arrangement of
Berlin’s “The Metro”. What these guys do best is find songs that lend themselves to a string quartet and then they create these amazing arrangements. They are playing on campus at USC next week and then 2 nights at the Mercury Lounge in New York. Check them out if you can.

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