Sunday, February 26, 2006

This Weeks Play List

Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins – Rabbit Fur Coat (2006) The voice of Rilo Kiley creates this excellent closer to country than alternative CD. Her pragmatic look at God and religion is so refreshing. She’s not angry and she sure isn’t kissing butt as she lays out her life to be examined. Will easily make my year end best of list.

Calexico & Iron and Wine – In The Reins (2005) A great collaboration between these two bands. Hopefully this won’t be the last.

The Gousters –The Gousters (2005) An independent release featuring, again a collaboration, Walt Cronin and Zander Schloss, bass player of “The Circle Jerks”. I love how this CD changes styles; sometimes a strong country feel, sometimes it almost sounds like Jon Dee Graham. There is some good stuff on this indie CD. You can find out more at: www.thegousters.com .

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Surf Music in San Diego

My college radio station, KCR has put out a benefit CD to help buy needed equipment for the radio station. As part of this effort, we threw a CD release party at The Whistle Stop in San Diego. The CD contains music from 11 surf bands located in Southern California. So, of course, we showcased three of them for our party. Although I liked all three bands, I really need to talk about the last band of the evening, The Slacktones. I was not prepared to be wowed by a “surf band”, but these guys did it. For those of you who don’t follow surf music, there are two things that all good surf bands have in common; a fast and tight drummer and a great lead guitarist. I hadn’t really thought about the latter until I watched these guys play; and Dave Wronski from the Slacktones is amazing. His songwriting is creative, pushing the limits of surf and yet still maintaining a surf sound. And the guitar playing was so fast and accurate and inventive. I really didn’t expect to walk away with a band’s CD, but there I was, asking which CD had that great song with the soft section in the middle (that would be, “The Bells of St. Kahuna”… and what a fantastic song that is). It is almost like going to a jazz concert except that it may be more melodic and the chances of hearing the theme to Hawaii 5-0 are better (they did a nice job on it, although it was no where near the highlight of the evening). It was a fabulous evening and we, the alumni, were able to collect over $800 for the station.

Kenny White and Cheryl Wheeler in San Diego

Watching Kenny White work a grand piano brought back memories of the first time I saw him when he opened for Shawn Colvin. He is such an impressive piano player that I sometimes find myself thinking, okay, just get to “In My Recurring Dream” (which is always the closer) so I can watch you take off. And on a real piano… wow! I’ve seen Kenny a few times over the last year or so, and with only a half hour or so to play with, he really can’t do much extra in his shows. He did add a new political song that takes some hard shots at the current administration. He told me later that there are 4 or 5 political songs that may come out on an EP. They will be available on his website, http://www.kennywhite.net sometime in the near future, hopefully.

Cheryl Wheeler put on a show very similar to the one we saw in NYC a couple of years ago. She is so funny that you don’t mind hearing some of the same stories over again. There were new ones though, and as always they were a hoot. For those who have heard her CDs, what you don’t get on the CD is her beautiful voice. It really comes through in concert. Overall it was a lovely evening. I look forward to their next west coast tour.

Kathleen Edwards and Luke Doucet at Largo in Hollywood

It was a night for couples. Not that any of the songs had anything remotely resembling a love song in them. In fact Kathleen said it best last night when she said, “Luke sang songs about a breakup. I’m singing songs about whoring and slutting”. Of course she was overstating things a bit, but it got a good laugh. The reason it was couples night was that Luke played most of his set with his future wife Melissa McClelland and Kathleen played most of her set with just Colin Cripps (her guitar playing producer).

Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland opened the evening and he warned us right off the bat that his new CD was all about his last breakup. Luke is pretty unknown in the U.S. which is too bad. He is a very talented writer. The music from the new CD was excellent in concert. And, yes many of the songs were about his breakup. In one of the best songs there was a line that was something like, “You have to have a heart in order for it to break”. As you might imagine, the breakup didn’t go well for him. But the intro to this song started a very funny moment, as he began explaining that he called her up to tell her the CD was coming out and it was all about her and that he thought she would rather she hear it from him then from friends. So he invited her over and he sang her the songs. It was at this point that Melissa said, “I wish I could have sung harmony on them”. We all laughed. She then did a clawing motion (can you say cat fight?). The ex’s response to all of this, according to Luke, was “You wrote an entire CD about our breakup. Do you know how many songs I’ve written? None”. And we all had to believe she was a heartless… uhmmm, songwriter. It was great moment that was only surpassed by the song about his brother who is selling crack on the street. It was a very sad and moving song. Luke spent much of the evening playing lead electric and singing, while Melissa played rhythm guitar and sang harmonies. She has a beautiful voice, and may be almost as witty as her future husband. What a wonderful duo they are and although Melissa hasn’t broken his heart yet, Luke was quick to point out that he had plenty more breakup songs that he just needs to add a name to. Yes, there is plenty of humor in his songs too.

When Kathleen Edwards doesn’t have a band behind her a different woman shows up. Or maybe it was just the small intimate surroundings that made her seem more accessible and soft (she was drinking whiskey straight up though). That isn’t to say that she didn’t rock hard with just the duo, but that she seemed more relaxed and approachable. In fact, after the show I talked to her for a minute and I was really surprised at how sweet she seemed. I gushed over her for a minute or so and she sincerely thanked me and asked my name. She was very sweet. But I digress. The duo played songs from both of her CDs along with a new song about a woman that never came home. It was a very sad and beautiful song. I’m guessing her third CD will be right up there with the first two. Part way through the show she asked a special guest to come join her. It was Benmont Tench; from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers and so many guest appearances on CDs over the last 30 years. He is an amazing keyboardist. So he sat down at the old standup piano that lives on the back side of the Largo stage and refused to leave. After two songs, he said something to Kathleen or she said something to him, couldn’t really tell, and then he sat down as she said, “It’s in this key”, and strummed her guitar. Benmont said, “Oh that’s easy”. And then proceeded to play some awesome licks on a song he had never rehearsed with her. He did it again when they played an old John Prine song. He almost stole the show. Kathleen rounded out her set with several solo numbers which were easily as moving as the studio versions. They say that the true sign of a good song is how it holds up when you take the band away. The music held up just fine.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This Weeks Play List

I'm a bit late this week, but here we go. All three CDs are small label/Indie CDs. Hans and The Beautiful Girls are touring the U.S. right now, so check out their sites for tour dates.

And I just have to comment on the Super Bowl music... If I were the producer of the shows, I sure would have pulled my name from the credits. Mics going out. Guitars not in the mix. I know it is live, but you've got a billion people watching. Get it right or don't do it. Meanwhile my daughter was freaked out that she had to see Mick's stomach. Grant it, there are few 60 year olds that can show off their middriff. But please, for the sake of the children, DON'T. :-)


Leila Florentino – Sail (2005) Her voice reminds me a bit of Kate Bush. The music is more straightforward though and neither are as quirky. There is an innocence here that is beguiling. She is a young singer/songwriter with plenty of potential. Check her out at http://www.leilaflorentino.com and you can buy her CD at Amazon.com .

Hans York – Inside Out (2005) The guitar playing is exquisite and the production is impeccable. Think Bruce Cockburn and you’ll have an idea of where this artist is heading. Excellent CD. For more info you can visit his site: http://www.hansyork.com/

The Beautiful Girls – We’re Already Gone (2005) These Aussies are somewhere between Jack Johnson and Bob Marley. Most of the music on this CD is Reggae with the occasional JJ’ish ditty. You’ll also find socially aware lyrics and cool melodies. You can’t ask for much more then that. And I understand their live show is amazing. You can find them here: http://www.thebeautifulgirls.com

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