Sunday, April 16, 2006

This Weeks Play List

Jeremiah Lockwood – American Primitive (2005)
What a fascinating CD. Jeremiah’s music is so totally unique and yet it is steeped in the many traditions of Americana: Traditional Blues, folk, bluegrass all are here. Experience it yourself at: http://www.jeremiahlockwood.com/home.html

Traveling Wilburys – Vol 1 (1988) Vol 3 (1990)
It all started at Penny Lane Records in Pasadena. They had a Russian import of the 2 Wilburys CDs. When I tried to buy it I found out that it had already been sold; however they couldn’t find the cover (they keep the actual CDs behind the counter). I got a nice, “thanks for finding it”. No finders fee, nothing. But then the guy in charge says, “We have Vol 3 in stock”. Okay, cool. He finds it for me and off I go, generally happy with at least buying the real thing. Of course, listening to this fun CD made me want Vol 1 even more. So, on to Ebay I went and 12 hours later I was the owner of both Traveling Wilburys CDs. These aren’t important CDs. And maybe if they weren’t out of print I might not have cared as much. But, they are a reminder of how much fun rock and roll can be. The word on the Internet is that George was working on a box set when he died and that now his son has picked up the project. Someday these unimportant and yet essential CDs will be available once again.

Skydiggers & Cash Brothers – Skydiggers Cash Brothers (2005)
The Skydiggers and the Cash Brothers are both integral parts of the Canadian alt-country scene. It has been several years (at least) since the Cash brothers left the Skydiggers to start up their own successful band. Late last year they got back together to do this low cost reunion type acoustic CD. Listening, I felt like I was in a big overstuffed chair. The feel here is comfortable and relaxed as the main songwriters from each band trade off compositions and vocals. I believe this is only available on their websites. Do check it out.

Rufus Wainwright – Poses (2001)
While I’m writing this, my IPOD starts playing “Dead Skunk”; the first single from Rufus’ father, Loudon. That has nothing to do with this, just thought it was funny. Anyway, Stacey, http://chewingtheclef.blogspot.com/ recently reviewed this CD on her blog and I was so taken by the review I decided it was time to own a Rufus Wainwright CD. After listening to Poses for the first time, I couldn’t help but feel like I had just come out of a Broadway play. That is not to say that these are “Broadway tunes”. Okay, maybe they are, but they are really good “Broadway tunes”. I’m not one to sit down and listen to a musical but I can see myself enjoying this on a rainy day, like today, or a cold night in front of the fireplace. It is soothing, yet edgy. And his voice is just so beautiful and inspired. The bonus track, “Across the Universe” demonstrates this perfectly. Thanks Stacey.

Janis Ian – Billie’s Bones (2004)
Janis Ian has been making music now for 40 years! Her outspoken nature has served her music well throughout the years. This CD takes an interesting and successful move into country. It isn’t a full blown country/alt-country CD, but that feel permeates it. There is a wonderful duet with Dolly Parton which highlights this new direction. But… Janis Ian is and has always been one of the greatest singer/songwriters we have. And it shows in the excellent CD. “Billie’s Bones” deserves so much more attention then it received. Please, go support Janis at http://www.janisian.com/

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Dulcinea (1994)
I spent most of the 90’s listening to women (this would be a good place to put in an ex joke, but…) and Glen Phillips and his band were so popular it was easy to just ignore them (I still can’t believe I ignored a band that derived their name from a Monty Python skit). I do remember seeing them during the “Rock The Vote” tour. I was there to see 10,000 Maniacs but came away in awe of T-Bone Burnett. And why didn’t I get the hint that I should have been listening when Glen said to the crowd how excited he was to be in the same building as Sam Phillips (she didn’t perform that night)? So, here I am, years later listening to their CDs for the first time. But you all already know about them: Great production, lush arrangements, beautiful tunes. Listening to Dulcinea is an overall enjoyable experience. I guess I’m going to have to listen to the rest of them.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Tina Schlieske at The Mint and Kristy Kruger at Genghis Cohen.

So it was like this… There's this singer with a voice as powerful as a small atom bomb. But she lives/tours in Minnesota. What are the chances she'll find her way out to L.A. And there is this woman with long hair and a kazoo who captured our attention in Austin with her unique style and who's last CD was one of my biggest and happiest surprises last year. But she lives in Dallas. What are the chances she'll find her way out to L.A. But last night Tina Schlieske was the opening act for the monthly Sin City concert at The Mint and Kristy Kruger had her CD release party at Genghis Cohen's. If that isn't a big enough coincidence, when I saw Kristy in Austin, she was one of the opening acts for a Texas version of Sin City.

Okay, here's the plan: Tina is going on at 8PM and Kristy goes on at 9PM "Sharp". An email to Shilah, who runs the Sin City shows confirms that Tina will be on no later than 8:15. The Mint is 2.5 miles from Genghis Cohen. I CAN DO THIS!

The evening started out great; finding a parking space a block from The Mint. The staff there is very friendly and obviously love the music. Stephanie, my bartender that night, was bouncing around and couldn't wait for the music to start. On Stephanie's suggestion I had the Filet Mignon Slider; a burger made with fresh ground filet mignon and piled high with, uhmmm, stuff. What a treat, and it stayed with me all night.

Sin City is a alt-country/Americana showcase and Tina Schlieske doesn't exactly fit. But man can she sing; which is probably why she was added to the show. Opening with just her singing over her guitar, the song slowly built until the whole band (which includes her sister Laura on backing vocals… Okay, it is a family thing 'cause her sister has a great voice too!) was cooking on all burners and Tina's voice was exploding on top of it. Tina's songs are rock with some white soul and a bit of country thrown in. It's a very Midwestern sound and it works well around her soaring vocals. The performance, which ran about 45 minutes, focused on music from her current CD "Slow Burn"; one of my favorite indie releases last year. For someone who has several CDs out, she seemed a bit timid when talking to the audience (called us "Ladies and Gentleman" several times), but her performance proved that the CD isn't a fluke. She's got the talent. Tina can be found at: http://www.tinabsides.com/default.asp

With one song left in Tina's show, I ran out of The Mint, http://www.themintla.com/ , and jumped in my car for the long 2.5 mile drive down Fairfax to Genghis Cohen; http://www.genghiscohen.com/ . I gave myself 15 minutes, but there was plenty of traffic on Fairfax on a Friday night. Arriving only a few minutes late, I was still able to get a seat before Kristy started. The place was packed. I've never been to GC when it was filled up. The poor waitress (don't know her name, but she is always there. You can't miss her with her blond pigtails and artwork all over her back) was covering the entire room. There were 3 shows there that night, and not everyone was there to see Kristy, but they were a good and sometimes enthusiastic audience. Kristy opened with a story, actually a nightmare, about what could happen to her this night. It was a multi-part dream in which everything that you couldn't imagine would go wrong; finishing up with the sound guy cutting off the sound and calling her a bitch. Luckily for her and us, none of it came true. With her 4 piece band behind her (Upright bass, acoustic guitar, steel guitar and for the last half of the set banjo), Kristy ran through most of her new CD, (I love this title!) "Songs from a dead man's couch". She played acoustic guitar throughout, sang into a bullet for about half of the show (gives it a 40's quality) and not only pulled out a harmonica for the closer, "Gold Rush", but even got the kazoo out. Her sound is hard to pinpoint. Take a bit of the current Sam Phillips, throw in a dash of Tom Waits, it's a bit jazz with a country beat, and all singer/songwriter. The new songs seem to be about the loneliness of the road and about striving to find "gold". Kristy Kruger is young and strong. And she will need to be because she is taking the road less traveled and we are all very grateful for it. Find out more about Kristy at http://www.kristykruger.com/ and you can get her new CD at http://cdbaby.com/cd/kruger4 .

On my way out the door I heard one of her band members say they were headed out to Largo to see Jon Brion. It was only 10pm… Hmmm…

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This Weeks Play List

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 (2006)
So, now it is official: We are playing music from this heavily bootlegged concert, considered by many to be one of the great E Street shows. The energy, the excitement, the risks, they are all here. It is a great show and worth having in your collection, even if you now also own the DVD.

Melissa McClelland – Stranded in Suburbia (2004)
When I saw Luke Doucet in concert, Melissa was his partner on stage. She is also his new partner in real life and they were just so cute together on stage. Melissa has a great voice (you don’t get to sing backup on a Sarah McLachlan tour without the pipes). It might be easy to compare her songs to Avril Lavigne, but there is so much more. Listening to the songs, this appears to be a woman who knows how beautiful she is yet is still insecure. She puts on a tough outer exterior, but is scared on the inside. I believe she has a CD coming out this month in Canada. I can’t wait to see the growth over the last 2 years. You can find out more at Melissa’s site: http://www.melissamcclelland.com/

Beth Orton – Comfort of Strangers (2006)
To be honest, I first discovered Beth upon hearing “Central Reservation” from 1999. I loved the moody atmosphere of the CD and the single, “Stolen Car”. Nothing she did before or has done since has been quite like it. For many casual fans that meant disappointment. Well, it has been 7 years and it is time to put that behind us (myself included here). This new CD from Beth Orton does not have the atmosphere, and I don’t know if I’ve changed more than she has, but I love it that way. I was really surprised at how I found myself not wanting to take this CD out of my player. There are great melodies and rhythms here to keep your foot taping and your mind thinking. This may become my favorite Beth CD.

Jim Wolf – No Sleep What-so-ever (2005)
Indie artist Jim Wolf has some great tunes on this new CD. I really enjoyed it. There is a strong pop sense here with good production. Worth checking out at: http://www.jimwolf.com .

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