Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ellen and a software update

First the picture. My daughter, Jess, got a new tablet for her computer and first up was to finish her drawing of Ellen, our favorite bartender. Ellen works at Largo in L.A. and is a triple threat: 1)She's smart and quick 2) she's pretty and 3) she knows baseball. What else could you ask for from a bartender. :-) And if that isn't enough, she is a photographer. You can check out her pictures at http://www.largo-la.com .

Item number two... New software! I spent the day researching and testing and finally found the right software for pushing the song titles from my stream on to Live365's Player Window. So, if it has been a pain for you to go to my website to see what songs have been played, you don't have to do that any more. Next up will be to make the "Last 20" on my website work without the refresh button.

Monday, July 25, 2005

This Weeks Play List

The Knitters – The Modern Sounds of the Knitters (2005) It was a shock many years ago when the members of X and The Blasters threw down their power chords and did acoustic country covers. As we all get older, it now just seems natural that leaders of these great L.A. bands continue to discover their roots (even if their roots now include some old X tunes). They were surprisingly good 20 plus years ago and even though it isn’t a surprise anymore, this is a really enjoyable CD.

Son Volt – Okemah and the Melody of Riot (2005) Sun Volt has returned. Or at least Jay Farrar and a band. One of the leaders in the alt-country world, Jay Farrar has resurrected his rock and roll side and this CD does indeed rock. It is a great sound, with jangling guitars and country melodies and always a feeling that something special is happening.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Jill Sobule at Largo


Okay, I know what you’re saying to yourselves: What is it with Jill Sobule and Sam Phillips? You’ve seen them a dozen times each in the last year. Why? There are so many other acts out there? The answers are rather simple. With Sam, it is her beautiful songs and voice. I could watch the same show week in and week out. Her kind of beauty, inside and out, is just so rare in popular music. With Jill, you just never know what you are going to get; other than a fun show. And she didn’t disappoint last Tuesday.

At one of Jill’s shows, a few months ago, Jill joked about being diagnosed with A.D.D. With her need to change the shows on a whim, and her being able to link bits of dialog into songs that you wouldn’t imagine in a million years, I have to agree with her doctor. Then there is that whole fidgety thing. Almost from the time we walked in to Largo, Jill was wandering around, with guitar in hand, strumming it and chatting with people. Maybe she was just worried someone was going to steal her guitar (it didn’t look like her usual one… I could be wrong). But I’d like to think that she just had so much nervous energy that she needed something to do with her hands, and the guitar seemed like the best way to relieve it.

Opening the show was Posey Manufacturing, which is Kevin Posey and his dancing (and sometimes singing) sidekick. Now I feel really bad here because I do not remember his name. But this is not a man you forget. He has striking looks: The lines of a David Bowie, with the presence of a young Tim Curry. Add to that the obvious hours at the gym and it doesn’t matter that he has a ballerina outfit on with pasties to cover his nipples; you really have trouble taking your eyes off of him. So, here is how it works… Music and some background vocals are piped in. Its eighties Joy Division with some juicy ballads thrown in to change the pace. The sidekick (God I feel bad for not remembering his name) dances around Kevin and the stage. And Kevin, with his dreamy vocals, sings about boys who’ve f*cked him over. This is performance art as much as it is rock and roll. They are putting together a full show (they usually only perform a 3 or 4 songs) which I look forward to seeing some day. With each of these Largo performances they continue to try out different things. This week they took a page from Jill’s book and had an audience member come up to hold a lyric sheet. Unlike Jill they put a horse harness in his mouth and had him sit on his knees while Kevin grabbed his hair and sang. We were laughing as much as we were enjoying the music. As I’ve stated before, Kevin doesn’t need the “Show”, but this is what he wants to do and it is working.

Jill did a solo show for us; which is just fine for me. The solo shows allow her to do whatever she wants. I told Maria, who had never seen her before that Jill can be very political. So, of course, tonight she wasn’t at all. She brought up Karl Rove a couple of times, but just let the name act as the joke. Her focus seemed to be on her love songs. I think the show may have shifted because of the audience. There were a lot of new fans in the crowd and they laughed A LOT at the songs in the beginning. I’ve never heard the audience laugh so loud during her songs. Its not that they aren’t funny, it is just that we have heard them before. That may have been distracting to Jill and she may have shifted her focus after that. Just a thought. I could be totally wrong. We also got a special performance of “Supermodel” with three women from the audience joining her on stage. Jill said that she usually doesn’t perform it because without the band it sounds like Seals and Crofts. Part way through the song she threw in a bit of “Summer Breeze”, just to make her point. During her encore she did “I kissed a girl” and had Kevin and company come up on stage. He was supposed to sing the chorus (“I kissed a girl”), but had trouble. During the middle of the song Jill says, apologizing to the audience, “I didn’t know he was gay”.

It was a fun night. After the show, I had to double check with Jill on the name of a friend of hers who had gone on to porn, therefore giving Jill the idea for a song. I believe this woman may be a distant relative of mine. LOL

Once again, we have artwork from my daughter Jessie.

Monday, July 18, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Collin Herring – The Other Side of Kindness (2005) Jessica turned me on to this Texas based artist. From the opening chords you realize this ain’t no ordinary CD. A little bit Americana and a lot of Alt Country; this CD rocks. With only 10 tracks (and two of those are instrumentals) this is one of those rare CDs that you wish had more songs on it. The Other Side of Kindness has become an instant favorite. For more info on Collin, you can visit his web site at: http://www.collinherring.com

Brandi Carlilie – Brandi Carlile (2005) We saw Brandi open for Shawn Colvin earlier this year and were impressed. There is a simple beauty in her music, probably coming from her years living in rural Washington State. Her voice isn’t really country and it’s not classic rock either. As I was listening to “What Can I Say”, I thought, maybe she is a female Jeff Buckley. This is a very enjoyable CD; one that is going to grow on me a lot over time. http://www.brandicarlile.net/

The Eyeshadows – Hanging out at Largo, waiting for The Section Quartet to take the stage, I met Tansy, the guitar player for this local band. With a punk pop sound, these ladies are fun to listen to. And so, I thought I’d play a bit for you all. http://www.theeyeshadows.com

John Hiatt – Master of Disaster (2005) How do you review CDs from an artist who has so much talent but may have peaked in the late 80’s? I love everything that John Hiatt has created over the years, and it really isn’t fair to compare his new music to classics like “Bring the Family” and “Slow Turning”. But with every new CD, I hope for a masterpiece. Maybe someday we’ll get another one. Meahwhile, “Master of Disaster” is another good CD from John. Recording with some of the North Mississippi Allstars, this is a very rootsy CD; very acoustic sounding and not as bluesy as some of his recent releases.

Jennifer Corday – Driven (2004) The first time I saw Jen, she was fronting a band called “Corday and the Curious”. This was back when Sheryl Crow and Melissa Etheridge were busting open the male dominated ranks of rock; and Jen fit right in with those women. I was impressed not only with her music, but with her charisma; both on and off the stage. She understood that as a local talent, you had to take care of business off the stage as well. So, after her performance she made the rounds, signing people up to her mailing list and just treating everyone like they were good friends. Over the years, her music has matured and her writing has continued to improve. This CD may be her best with lots of stories about lost love. Although that can lead to a dark CD, there is so much hope and drive, that you never feel like she is wallowing in it. If you’re looking for a good time in The OC, or are involved in an anti-smoking campaign for kids, look Jen up: www.corday.net

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Section Quartet, Sam Phillips and Peter Case at Largo


It was another fun night at Largo Tuesday. One of the things I really love about The Section shows are how they feel more like a party at their house than an official concert. We were the first ones in and Eric and the band are just wandering around. Sam sees us and walks up to us: “Welcome to Largo (shakes hand). May I show you to your seats?” “We don’t have seats tonight Sam. We have to sit at the bar.” “Okay, can show you to your bar seats then?” Or something like that. Then Eric comes over and we chat for awhile. The whole band is working the room chatting with friends old and new.

Up first was Andrew Lynch; I hope I have his name right. He only did a few songs on piano, but impressed the crowd. It would be nice to hear more. Maybe next time.

It was then Eric, Daphne, Lea and Richard’s turn. I can’t remember which songs they performed, but the covers included: Radiohead (of course), Alejandro Escevedo, The Clash, The Muse and Jeff Buckley. After about 15 minutes, they brought Sam up on stage. Sam performed two songs: "Edge of the Word" and Tom Waits “Green Grass”. She has preformed “Green Grass” at virtually every Section show this year. Do you think she likes the song? I know I do. It is a beautiful song and she is perfect for it.

The Section then hammered out another song before bringing up Peter Case. I couldn’t believe it when they decided to do a version of the Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away”. And it really worked. It is one of the great songs from the New Wave era. He followed with a song called, “I shook His Hand” from his first solo CD. It included some harmonica solos which worked real well with the quartet behind him.

The Section played a couple more songs and then the evening was over. I’m looking forward to more shows this summer. You can find out more about The Section Quartet by going to their web site: http://www.thesectionquartet.com

Oh, and Jess drew a picture of Daphne during the show. She then re-did it on her computer.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A Sort of Concert Review

One of OC's treasures is Jennifer Corday. She has become a perennial winner at the OC Music Awards and has so much spirit and energy when she plays that it is always a pleasure seeing her; even if the gig calls for 90% covers. She puts her own spin on other people's music and yet makes it recognizable enough for the drunks... I mean patrons in the bar. We saw her in an Irish bar in Newport last weekend and had a blast as usual. About half the evening we sat out in the patio while she played in the bar. This meant that we had a view of her back through the window, but where only 10 feet away. At the end of her first set, she suddenly wheeled around and tossed me a percussion devise of some sort through the window. I became her drum machine for that song. But the highlight of any Corday show is her version of "I Will Survive". She does a very funny rap in the middle about getting over the asshole that left her and improving herself through kickboxing and surgery. At some point she usually mentions getting breast implants. Jennifer is NOT known for being well endowed; so this is really a joke line. She then follows it up with "Small ones". But that night we beat her to it with Jessie, Shannon and I yelling "Small ones" right after she said, "I got breast implants". She threw some obscenity at us and laughed and continued on with the show. Poor Maria had never heard this version of the song before. She thought we were being rude. Jennifer's own material is good and has been getting better with every year. Her song "Pie" made an MTV collection a few years back. Her web site, for those who are interested is http://www.corday.net/ .

Monday, July 11, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Richard Thompson – Live From Austin TX (2005) It’s Richard Thompson. What else needs to be said? This was recorded in 2001 on the Austin City Limits stage with just a trio that includes Michael Jerome on drums and Danny Thompson on upright bass. You don’t get much more energy from a mainly acoustic performance than this. And RT’s guitar playing… He is truly one of the greats.

The Bangles – Doll Revolution (2003) They were an important part of the New Wave era; showing that women could rock and create hits. Today, they may not be as relevant as they once were, but these women, now entering their 40’s, still know how to create or recreate solid songs. Their version of Elvis Costello’s “Doll Revolution” is worth half the price of the CD alone.

They Might Be Giants – Flood (1990) They have always been an interesting oddity that I would happen to hear somewhere and enjoy; but never investigate. Then I saw the documentary on them and just fell in love with everything about them. This is a classic CD with songs like “Birdhouse in your soul” and “Particle Man”. It should be in all serious and not serious collections.

Spottiswoode And His Enemies – Building a Road (2005) In reviews of this CD, more often than not, Tom Waits’ name seems to find it’s way in. Maybe it is because Jonathan Spottiswoode likes to mix things up; throwing in horns where they don’t seem to belong and finding unique ways to tell his stories. All of this is good and surprisingly very accessible. You can find more of this wonderful strangeness at http://www.spottiswoode.com .

Mike Scott – Still Burning (1997/1998) The passionate singer and leader of The Waterboys has released a couple of solo CDs. None have gained much notice in the U.S. I was a late comer to Mike’s work, so I’ll leave it up to the long time Waterboys fans to argue the quality of his recordings. I love them all.

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