Tuesday, December 27, 2005

This weeks play list... sort of

This year end has been so busy and a bit crazy. I added what will probably be the last set of the year on the 25th but haven't updated the web sites yet. It's a big list and I need to get through it all. I've also got my year end list of best CDs coming. Meanwhile, here are the CDs that were added this week. Another update is coming shortly. Happy Holidays everyone!

Beck Goldsmith – Purely Second Guesses (2005)

Mary Gauthier – Mercy Now (2005)

Kate Earl – Fate is the Hunter (2005)

Jud Newcomb – Byzantine (2005)

John Doe – Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet (2005)

Bruce Cockburn – Speechless (2005)

KGSR Broadcasts Vol 13 (2005)

Kristy Kruger – An Unauthorized Guide To The Human Anatomy (2003)

Sia – Colour The Small One (2004)

Cllin Herring – Avoiding the Circus (????)

Jesse Malin – The Heat (2004)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Light of Day - Hollywood Part 2

Okay, a good night’s sleep has helped. Let’s see if I can get through this.

As the next 4 artists came and left the stage (Scott Kempner, Rob Dunn, Shane Fontayne & Dawn Allen) I couldn’t help but think that it is really unfair to put Peter Himmelman on before them. Scott gave the show a bit of a rockabilly sound with just an electric guitar in hand and Shane Fontayne did some nice work with tape loops and a bit of a Latin sound from his acoustic guitar playing (he played a song with his son also… a nice touch).

I’m not sure if it is the years, or my ear just appreciates voices more, but Dave Alvin’s voice is breathtaking these days. Among his three or 4 songs were “4th of July” and “Marie Marie”. Peter Case came out and played harmonica and an accordion player joined him. Excellent set.

Dave Alvin was a nice lead in to the highest energy portion of the show. Jimmy Lafave gave us some good Texas folk rock (or whatever you want to call it) that included Woody’s “Deportee” and a fun blues song (didn’t catch the name) to end his set.

My first real find of the evening came from Willie Nile, who brought his whole band with him. He is full of contradictions. He has this fun easy going appearance; very 50’s. Then he sings songs like, “Hard Times in America” and “Cell phones ringing in the pockets of the dead” (about the Spanish train bombings) and wraps it all up in a hard New Jersey rocking package. It was a great couple of tunes. I will be checking his music out.

The rockin’ continued with John Eddie and his band. I think they saw the need to keep the energy level up, because they just went right to it, playing “Family Tree” and then without stopping went into “Fall for it Every Time”. It isn’t a John Eddie concert without hearing 40 and it was at this point, an older woman whom I’ve never met or talked too, grabs me and says, “Isn’t he great? Is he from Jersey?” “Yes”, I said. “He must be from the Shore. Is he from the Shore?”. Excuse me! Do I look like I’m from Jersey! Okay, I didn’t say that. And not knowing the Shore from Hoboken, I said, “Yes. He is”. I thought that was it, until he started to play those unmistakable chords. She grabs my upper arm, hard, and yells, “That’s a Springsteen song! Isn’t it?!”. “Yes. Yes mam it is.” Okay, I didn’t say it exactly like that. I too was excited because John Eddie was about to perform, “She’s the One” and the whole place was starting to go nuts. He of course did a great version with only the solo near the end lacking compared to Bruce’s. John finished off with “Low Life” and that was that. I could have left pretty happy. But there were still 3 more acts!

Peter Himmelman’s brother-in-law was next. Jakob Dylan came out with just his guitar and performed three songs: “One Headlight”, “How Good it Can Get”, and… I just don’t remember the other song. Sorry. My notes said something about “beautiful sad song”. But I just don’t remember. It was nice and he had a few kinds words to say, but if I was only there to see him, it would have been disappointing. There was nothing wrong with his set, but after JE rocked the joint, it was a bit of a letdown.

I wasn’t really prepared for Buddy Miller. If you don’t know his music, think Steve Earle with a solid voice, projecting like those great old folk singers of the past. His short set was highlighted by a Steve Earle Christmas song which he said that he had learned for the Emmy Lou Harris show that he had performed at earlier that night. Since he had already written it down and he didn’t want to waste the only Christmas song he knew by only playing it once, he played it for us.

At about 1am, I moved downstairs. Did I mention I was in the VIP section and sat almost dead center upstairs hanging over the rail watching the show and eating dinner? Anyway, I figured that Lucinda Williams was worth standing for, and she was the last act. So, I wandered downstairs. Now, I haven’t said more than a few words to anyone all evening (that includes ordering dinner) and as soon as I get downstairs I run into a drummer for several cover bands in L.A. I know him from my connection to all the Springsteen fans I’m friends with in L.A. We talked for a few minutes and then this woman walks up to me. “Do you remember me?” Wow! I NEVER get that. She sees my blank stare and says, “Your name is Bruce, right?”. WOW again! “I’m Merit” (not sure of the spelling). “Of Course!” I said. “The 2000 Springsteen shows at the Pond”. We sat in line for a dozen hours and got to know each other pretty well. It all came back. She’s a teacher in Pacoima and loves the Dodgers. It was very cool reconnecting with her. We had started emailing with each other and I think her computer crashed and the emails just stopped (or maybe she was avoiding me). Oh well. We each found our honey’s (she’s been married for 3 years). How did I get on this subject? Anyway, Lucinda comes out; cute as ever. Okay, I’m gonna say this. I just can’t help it. She has got the cutest little tummy. And she wears her load-rider pants just below her tummy so it really sticks out. But it is so cute. That has nothing to do with the music. Just had to say it. For a woman over 50 she is in great shape.

Okay, the music. Lucinda did a nice 6 song set, starting with three new songs: “Jailhouse tears”, :Unsuffer me” and “Where is my love”: All good songs. If she gets someone like Hank Williams III to do the “Jailhouse Tears” duet, it will be a big country hit. The second half of her set was: “Out of touch”, “Righteously”, and “Fruits of my labor”. Throughout the 40 minutes or so that she played she kept, very sincerely, thanking the audience for staying up this late to see her set. She was really touched that we stuck it out for her. I’ve talked about how much I enjoy her in concert and this night was no exception. She seems very happy on stage these days, although she was a bit tired/out of it by 1 am. While the crew fetched her book, so that she could play “Fruits…”, she made a little impromptu speech about how we should enjoy life because we didn’t have any deadly diseases and should be thankful for that. She went on to talk about how she is obsessive compulsive and needs to have her lyrics in front of her (which by the way she glanced at a lot). Someone yelled out, “No you’re not”. And she said, “Oh YES I AM. And a perfectionist. I’m working on it though.” Whatever she’s doing, she needs to keep doing it, ‘cause her music continues to sound great.

At the 7 hour mark, the show ended and we all slowly shuffled out. Actually, a lot of people hung around. I’m guessing some of the artists came out. I know that John Eddie was just hanging in the corner chatting with people. I was way too tired and had too much on my plate the next day to turn it into a sunrise event. This is supposed to become an annual event. Hopefully they will pick a better night. It was a great evening. I’m so glad I went. Thanks to everyone who pushed me out the door. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Light of Day Concert - Hollywood

I’m still working on 3 hours sleep and a couple of short naps. I’m not sure I can create a cohesive review here, but we’ll give it a try…

A bit of history first. The Light of Day benefit was started about 6 years ago in New Jersey, with mainly local talent. The first year was not heavily attended. Six years later they perform three nights and generally you can expect Bruce Springsteen to show up at one of the shows. It was originally a benefit for Parkinson disease research but now shares its profits with ALS research. So, the boys and girls from the Jersey Shore decided to share this extravaganza with the west coast, and Monday night at the Hollywood House of Blues we got our first peak at the Light of Day benefit concert.

You’d think that there were more New Jersey residents here who would have packed the house, but alas only a couple hundred showed up to cheer on a mixed bag of performers. I wrote down a lot of info over the night, but didn’t catch all of the names so please excuse any mistakes or missing names. By the time I got in, the music had already started. I can’t remember the name of the performer. I think his last name was Strange. His couple of songs were fine, but nothing grabbed me right away. This was the case for several of the artists/bands I saw during the evening. For those who don’t want to add them up as I go, there were 17 artists/bands and they performed over a 7 hour period. Many of them were from New Jersey or had strong Jersey connections. The opening act finished up right around 7pm, when the show was supposed to start. And so up first, really, was Dramarama. This was a three piece acoustic version of the band. Two of there 4 songs were new songs of the life/death/hope variety. Did someone have a near death experience? I think they needed to plug in.

Next up was Holly Ramos. 2 songs about lost love with a cute voice. Just not enough time to really comment.

An unnamed woman got on stage and performed two very nice covers: Wonderwall and Amy Rigby’s “Are We Ever Going to Have Sex Again”. A+ for taste in music.

The first strong set of the evening came from Peter Case. He opened with a potent version of “Crooked Mile”, followed with “Farewell to the Gold”, slipped in a Lennon tune, “Not a Second Time” (dedicated to Arnold for his allowing the death penalty) and finished with “Cold Trail Blues” which he dedicated to all the men on death row. Someday I must see a full concert of his. Stanley Tookie Williams was dead by the time the concert ended.

It felt like the show was just getting into gear. It’s about 8:30 and things are moving very quickly. Unfortunetely, one of the highlights for the evening came way too soon. Peter Himmelman came out with a guitar player and proceeded to introduce himself as Shlomo, a friend of Peter’s. He kept this up through the first 2 songs and finally pointed at a woman in the audience and asked her if she had a request. Impatient, he asked, humbly, do you even know who I am. Apparently she replied, “I do. I’m thinking”. But instead of waiting for a response, he decided to create a new song. I called it, “The girl in the yellow polka dot jacket”. It was very funny and pretty amazing that he can pull that stuff off. After a rousing ovation for his ad lib work, he got serious (as serious as he can get) and told the story behind the song “Woman with the strength of 10,000 Men”. It’s a story of him meeting a woman with ALS. Very moving. He sang the song and then he was gone. Way too soon. It has taken me years to see him in concert and I can’t believe I’ve wasted so much time. What a tremendous talent. Did I mention that he also performed a cute little blues number and “Impermanent Things” which he dedicated to L.A. Those who know the song got a good laugh.

Okay, I need sleep. We’ll finish this review later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Jorane Live at the Knitting Factory - Hollywood

Back in May of this year I came across a unique artist by the name of Jorane. She is a cello player from Montreal who thinks she is a singer/songwriter with the artistic flair of a Kate Bush. And guess what, she’s right. For those of you thinking that a woman singing with only a cello accompanying her must be either pretentious or very boring need to see/hear Jorane. Much of her 50 minute set tonight was like any other good female singer/songwriter’s: Beautiful songs, strong melodies and a powerful voice. But, the things she can do with a cello go well beyond an acoustic guitar, the usual tool of any good singer/songwriter. With its deep tones and ability to be bowed, the cello adds textures and moods that would require a small bank of synthesizers to duplicate. Someone sitting next to me said that she has been signed to write music for Cirque du Soleil. That would make sense since her songs are so visual. Checking her website, www.jorane.com she has performed with Cirque before.

So, this was my first time in the Antiknit room at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. It’s pretty small (makes the pre-remodeled Hotel CafĂ© look big), holding less than 100 I believe. It’s not very deep though, so everyone is close to the stage. When I walked in one of the hired help said, “Looks like there are more people than we expected” (there were about 60 or 70 people) and he started unpacking chairs to put in front of the stage. I gave him a hand and unpacked one, front and center… and then sat down with my feet on the stage. :-) The sound is good, but even with 2 double doors and plenty of padding, the punk band in the other room came through during quieter moments. Jorane sang about 10 songs: 8 on cello, 1 on acoustic guitar (a Sinead O’conner cover) and 1 on electric guitar. Most of the songs were from her first American release, “The You and The Now”. When on the cello, she mixed up styles; sometimes bowing and sometimes plucking. The plucking gave it a very bluesy stand up bass sound. I loved her personality, which could best be described as: Cute, happy French girl. She thanked us many times (maybe a bit too much) and seemed really happy to be up on stage playing for us. And I loved watching her eyes. Much of the time they were closed, but then she would open them wide and with a big smile look out with excitement at the audience, and then close them again. This may be the most Kate Bush thing she does. She closed with a short story about how an interviewer could hear some Led Zeppelin in her music. Her response to him was to play a medley of “Dazed and Confused” with one of her songs. And she played it for us; with plenty of gusto. It all ended way too soon. I need to see her again.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

This Weeks Play List

The new play list is starting a bit early this week (Sunday actually). The first set with all of these bands will play on Monday for the first time at around 10AM Pacific Time. I am also messing with the play list window. The song times will not be accurate. Sorry about that. I need to display some form of album title (not correct either) or risk being de-listed. Hopefully, there will be software upgrades in the future that will solve all of this. Meanwhile, here's what's new:

Graham Parker – Songs of No Consequence (2005) This is my favorite GP album in years (and I loved last year’s country CD). Graham is still angry after all these years and this time around he is focusing his attention on all the people around him who have settled; or worse, sold out. That’s not to say that he isn’t leading a “Dislocated Life”. After he is through skewering everyone around him, he has no problem taking shots at himself. And only Graham Parker can get away with a chorus that goes: “ba ba ba ba bad chardonnay”. When he sings “Did Everybody Just Get Old”, those of us nearing 50 can easily feel a bit too close to the song. This will easily be near the top of my year end list.

Kate Bush – King of the Mountain (Single) (2005) Why buy the single when you already have her fabulous CD, “Aerial”? For her version of “Sexual Healing” of course. And that’s all I need to say here.

Neil Young – Prairie Wind (2005) This is an excellent CD from Neil. Whereas some of his CDs over the last decade have been only for fans, this is one that will reach out to the casual Neil Young fans and pop fans as well as his hard core following. The style is back to the alt-country of “Harvest” and “Harvest Moon”. But this is much better than “Harvest Moon”. There is some organ and even a gospel choir mixed in. The melodies are stronger and there are dark themes running throughout it. This should be in the top section of my year end list.

Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell – Begonias (2005) Caitlin seems to do best when she is working with a partner. Having escaped Ryan Adams with her life (and violin) she has found an excellent partner in Thad Cockrell. This CD will remind you of the mellower, country sounds of Whiskeytrain. And if that isn’t a good enough reason to check this CD out, then I don’t know what it.

The Decemberists – Picaresque (2005) I saw and heard these guys for the first time this last September in Austin and they were just so much fun. A cross between They Must Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies, you will either love them or, well, I just don’t think there is an “or”. Everyone I play “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” to loves them. And the rest of this CD sparkles with wonderful stories about all sorts of strange people and things. This is yet another CD that will end up high on my year end list (I guess I’ve been saving the best for last this year).

Anny Rusk – Naked (2005) It takes guts to leave the dance mix crowd behind, moving toward a more singer/songwriter sound. The title “Naked” pretty much tells it all, as the artist known simply as Anny tries to find a newer mellower groove. The emphasis isn’t on the beat here, but more on the mood and lyrics. More often than not Anny succeeds. She has created a fine CD worth checking out. For more info on Anny, you can go to http://www.annyworld.com .

Tina Dico – In The Red (2/7/2006) I listened to this CD once a week or so ago (there was no hurry on my part since it isn’t due out for a couple of months). Today, when I threw it on the player, I couldn’t believe how I totally remembered these songs. This CD digs right in under your skin and doesn’t go away. The melodies are haunting, the arrangements are beautiful and Tina’s voice is so pure. This will be the first CD to be placed in my 2006 Best of the Year List. For more info on Tina, you can check out her web site http://www.tinadico.com .

Doves – Some Cities (2005) Waiting in line to get Lucinda Williams’ autograph at the ACL Music Festival this year, I was able to hear much of The Doves’ set from a distance. It was good enough for me to just go out and buy their latest CD. And I wasn’t disappointed. There is a great pop sound to these guys with roots in the 80’s and 90’s. Good hooks. Good melodies. Good CD.

Various Artists – Music from Gilmore girls (2002) One of the problems with soundtracks is that they often are hard to find and they’re over priced. And so, having found the Gilmore girls soundtrack, I still couldn’t get myself to spend the money. It took a third visit to the store before I finally decided I just had to have those Sam Phillips “cues”. And I will pass them on to you, along with interesting music from Joey Ramone, The Shins (see Garden State), XTC, Grant-Lee Phillips (no relation) and a childhood favorite, Claudine Longet singing Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows”.

Various Artists – Dead Man Walking (1995) I’ve gone 10 years without owning this CD (I never used to like soundtracks). What a great list of artists: Everyone from Lyle Lovett to Patti Smith, from Tom Waits to Eddie Vedder, from Johnny Cash to Bruce Springsteen.

Various Artists – Garden State (2004) One of the best AAA or World Class Rock soundtracks ever released. Are you sure this isn’t a Cameron Crowe film?

Greg Kihn – Next of Kihn (1978) They were just about to hit the jackpot in the rock and roll lottery and touring with this album got them the title “A poor man’s Springsteen”. These simple but effective songs truly came to life in concert, and few men worked harder on stage at the time. If you don’t know the pre “Jeopardy” Greg Kihn, this was his best work.

Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel 3: Melt (1980) Peter Gabriel has always been at his best when he really has something to say. Songs like “Biko” and “Games Without Frontiers” are great examples. And anyone who remembers in detail the OJ trial, re-listen to “I Don’t Remember” and see if you notice anything familiar.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Bruce Springsteen on the Big Screen

So… it was a fun evening. They put us in the largest standard theater (not the IMAX) and filled about 90% of it. The first 45 minutes (approximately… I couldn’t really read my watch) was the documentary on the making of “Born to Run”. For all Springsteen fans, this is a must see. My favorite moment and the loudest laugh from the audience came when Bruce was talking about “10th Avenue Freeze Out” saying that to this day he has no idea what that phrase means. There were lots of bits and pieces from the recording sessions along with current Bruce (and E Street members), a la VH1 Story Tellers, talking about the significance of the songs. We then got about 40 minutes from the live ’75 concert that is on the DVD. The songs included, “Saint in the City”, “She’s the One”, “Rosalita”, the Detroit Medley and “Quarter to Three”. The fire and the energy of this young Boss was just so much fun to watch. I can’t wait to see the whole DVD. And in case you have been living under a rock and didn't know, tomorrow (Tuesday) Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" will be re-released with DVDs of the documentary mentioned above and more of that live show from England.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Brother Rock – Rock -N- Roll Shoes (2004) This is a Christian band with some good strong rock and roll, uhmmm, shoes. There are a couple of songs on this fine CD that aren’t so explicitly religious (which works best for me) and I thought you all might enjoy them. For more info on this independent band, you can reach them at http://www.brorock.com

Patti Smith – Horses / Horses (Legacy Edition) – (2005) I can’t believe it was 30 years ago that I sat in a small club and watched this woman acting like a wild animal crawl around the stage, hump the monitors and just throw so much energy at us that we were shocked, amazed and totally enthralled. She is a poet, an inspiration to future generations and, most important, a rock and roll God. This double CD package includes her original Horses CD, “Elegie” and a live version of “My Generation” on the “1975” disk. On the 2005 disk, she plays all of these songs live from a 2005 concert. Just the two versions of “My Generation” are worth the price of the CDs. Horses itself is one of the great CDs from the 70’s. If you don’t own it already, this is an excellent package to have in your collection.

Rachael Yamagata – Happenstance (2004) Yes she has a beautiful voice, and yes she can write beautiful melodies. What surprised me about this CD, and what makes it unique over many female singer/songwriters, is the energy she puts out. This is not only a pretty CD, it is a strong CD. Hold on tight for a great ride.

Bonnie Raitt – Souls Alike (2005) Bonnie has stepped back from songwriting on this CD, turning it over to her keyboardist Jon Cleary and a Promise favorite Maia Sharp. What she ends up with is a CD that challenges our concept of who Bonnie is, while not letting us forget that this is indeed a Bonnie Raitt CD.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Jacksonville City Nights (2005) This is the second of 3 CDs Ryan is planning on releasing this year. I’m hoping it is the worst of the three. This is easily my least favorite Ryan Adams project ever. Throughout the CD it feels like Ryan is trying too hard to be a country artist. The vocals sound forced, and that just ruins the whole thing for me. This isn’t a bad CD, it just doesn’t measure up to any of his other great ones. Let’s hope that the final CD of the year gives us a more natural Ryan (whatever that is). Okay, maybe I’m being too hard on this CD. It is a good CD. I just think Ryan was trying too hard.

A final note... I really wouldn’t blame any of my listeners if they found themselves listening to Sirius.com for the next couple of months. Channel 10 on Sirius has become “E Street Station” and is playing Bruce Springsteen 24/7 through the end of January. You can get three free days online to hear just how amazing this station is. Friday night we were dancing around the house as they played the entire Winterland ’78 bootleg. They are also playing rare live performances throughout the day. Thank God this is only lasting through January; otherwise I’d have to think seriously of owning both XM and Sirius systems.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Music Update

I'm trying to catch up on things. Here are the latest CDs that have been added to my stream. Coming soon: Rachael Yamagata, Ryan Adams, Bonnie Raitt, Patti Smith and Brother Rock.

Kate Bush – Aerial – (2005) Kate’s first masterpiece of the millennium is brilliant. But you will only get part of the beauty and power here. You really must listen to this on a good music system to truly appreciate just how much care Kate put into Aerial. The flow, the moods, the soundscapes envelope you and carry you into her world. It is a beautiful album. I hope you will try it out for yourself.

Nickel Creek – Why Should the Fire Die? (2005) This is my first Nickel Creek CD and I may have to go back and check out the rest. Are they all this good? This is such a unique band with such amazing performers. It starts off great and never lets go.

Asylum Street Spankers – Mercurial (2004) This was just a fun CD: Funky lyrics, TV references. It is just a lot of fun. When you get tired of SCOTS and the South Austin Jug Band isn’t risky enough, check out the Spankers.

Caesars – Paper Tigers (2005) A recommendation from Eric of the Section Quartet, these Swedish popsters belong in the 80’s or maybe early 90’s. They’re fun and they’ve got great melodies and cool hooks.

Amelia’s Dream – Unravel (2005) Amelia Gewirtz and her band travel around the musical world sometimes sounding like Sarah, sometimes sounding like Nirvana, but always challenging us. For more info on this excellent live CD, go to http://www.ameliasdream.com . You can also pick up the CD at http://www.cdbaby.com

Josh Joplin – Jaywalker (2005) A couple of years ago, I picked up Josh Joplin’s first CD and enjoyed it enough to put it on the station. But as time passed, I really fell in love with the CD. This new CD will hopefully hit me the same way. I immediately enjoyed it and am now waiting for it to totally win me over. A few more listens and we’ll see.

Badly Drawn Boy – About a Boy Soundtrack (2002) Every time I catch About a Boy on cable, I just fall in love with the music all over again. I finally found a copy of the soundtrack and can enjoy it over and over. These are beautiful well written songs; songs that really helped make the movie. You should also check out the movie if you haven’t already.

Amy Rigby – Little Fugitive (2005) I heard the song “The Trouble with Jeanie” and I knew I had to own this CD. This CD has wonderful stories about ex-wives, needy men and dancing with Joey Ramone. I love this one and it should be high on my year end list. Find out more about Amy at http://www.amyrigby.com .

Monday, November 07, 2005

Music Update

It has been real busy around here and although I've updated the station, my blog has fallen behind. Here is a quick list of the CDs that have been added over the last couple of weeks. More are coming this week along with comments about these CDs.

Nickel Creek – Why Should the Fire Die? (2005)

Porcupine Tree – In Absentia (2002)

Asylum Street Spankers – Mercurial (2004)

Caesars – Paper Tigers (2005)

Amelia’s Dream – Unravel (2005)

Josh Joplin – Jaywalker (2005)

Badly Drawn Boy – About a Boy Soundtrack (2002)

Amy Rigby – Little Fugitive (2005)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Porcupine Tree at the Grove in Anaheim... again

It’s only been a few months, but Porcupine Tree returned to the Grove in Anaheim. They are really an amazing band. Their blend of metal with pop harmonies is so unique, so well played, so inspired I find it incredible that they are so unknown. This time around, they focused less on the new CD and more on their more dark and intense songs. The mid section of the show seemed to lack in variety, which made this show a little less interesting than the previous performance in June. But overall it was a great show and a band that I look forward to seeing many times in the future.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

This Weeks PLay List

I returned from Austin last week with lots of music and memories. It’s going to take awhile to get all of the music to you. Meanwhile, this week we have a sampling of ACL bands to go along with everything else. Songs by the Asylum Street Spankers, The Decemberists, Built to Spill and Kate Earl will lead off this week’s set.

We’ve also got Kate Bush’s first Single in a dozen years. Called “King of the Mountain”, it starts with a spacey opening and then builds with a reggae beat that grows and grows. What an excellent song. I can’t wait for the rest of the CD in November.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

ACL Festival

I am in Austin for just under a week to soak in the music from the ACL Festival. We always start early with concerts at local clubs. Check out my ACL blog to see pictures and hear about performances. Go to: http://aclfestival.blogspot.com .

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kris Kristofferson and Steve Earle at Royce Hall UCLA

The last few times I’ve seen Steve Earle, he has been with his band and it was a powerful and exhilarating experience from both a physical and intellectual standpoint. So, Sunday night at UCLA was going to be different. It was just Steve and his guitar (and harmonica). At the beginning he started in on a long rap, as he played a riff on his guitar about being a recovering folk singer. How exciting this would be, to get more stories out of him. As it turned out, he then proceeded to stick to the music and only told a handful of stories and only made a few speeches. The speeches got a mixed reaction from the crowd. It seemed that the first anti-war or anti-Bush comment was well received, but a couple of comments later, the applause was much lighter. And this happened several times. Anyone who thought this wasn’t going to be at least somewhat political had no clue about these guys. Both Steve and Kris have been activists for many years. Near the end, Steve pulled out… okay I need to stop here for a second and say, “I was right”. Back in February we saw Steve Earle and Allison Moorer performing. Allison sang several songs with Steve and his band. I commented to the people around me that there was something going on. I could see it in her eyes. My friends said, “Nooooo”. Well, seven months later she has ditched her husband and Steve introduced her as his wife. So, Steve pulled out his wife, Allison Moorer and they sang a song together. You could see the love in their eyes without doubt this night (we had 5th row… that helped). Most of the songs he sang were somewhat older, playing only one song from the current “Revolution” CD and the title track from Jerusalem. It was a very enjoyable show although a bit short and just not as powerful as when he has the band.

I really had no idea what to expect from Kris Kristofferson. We all know songs like “Me and Bobbie McGee” and a few others that have made it as hits, but that was about all I knew. Kris is a classic folk singer. That is, the words are what are important and the melody is, well, generally stolen from somewhere. In fact, at least 4 or 5 songs had bits of “Bobbie McGee” in them. To emphasize this point, and I’m not sure how intentional it is, but at the end of every song, as soon as he sang the last lyric, he would say “Thank you” and literally stop playing without hitting the final notes on the guitar. It was very annoying. But it left no doubt that he had things to say, words to bring to us. He may not be a John Prine, but he is way up there in this category, and if you can get past the basic arrangements, you will enjoy his shows. There were moments of humor too. He stopped a song mid way through to tell us that this line (“She had rings on her fingers and time on her hands”) was the best he had ever written and that it was so good, someone stole just that line and create a song from it. He also mentioned a movie that had some of his songs in it, but during the credits it said, “All songs written and performed by Willie Nelson”. This brought the comment (and I’m paraphrasing), “Songwriting is a great way to earn a living, but it isn’t for the meek”.

This Weeks Play List

Jose Gonzalez – Veneer (2005) The sticker on the CD describes him as Nick Drake with a Latin guitar. And, yep, that’s it. If you like Nick Drake, you must listen to this CD. It is beautiful and moving, with a sound that is both derivative and yet original. You can put this up front and listen carefully, or play it at your next dinner party and watch how people slowly notice the mood of the music. This is one helluva CD. http://www.jose-gonzalez.com

Eliza Gilkyson – Paradise Hotel (2005) Maybe the next queen of alt-country, this is really my first taste of Eliza; and she tastes very good. The arrangements are simple and yet very expressive. Her voice is so comforting. The songs bounce around between folk, country and straight forward singer/songwriter. And then she covers World Party’s “Is It Like Today”. The song, about God, the universe and everything, fits her songs so well. There is also a fascinating combination of her song Paradise Hotel with Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”. http://www.redhouserecords.com/

Richard Thompson - Front Parlour Ballads (2005) It’s heavily acoustic, but that doesn’t matter. Richard Thompson is one of the great guitar players, acoustic or electric. And he is such a great storyteller, taking you into working class lives and revealing the pain and joy. I can listen to this CD over and over… and have already. http://www.richardthompson-music.com

James McMurtry – Childish Things (2005) Some good alt-country here; with a rockin’ edge. Another good CD for you all to listen to. http://www.jamesmcmurtry.com

Procol Harum – Classics Volume 17 (A Long Time Ago) So, you know that I’m going to segue A Whiter Shade of Pale and Eliza Gilkyson’s “Paradise Hotel”. I just have to. Procol Harum is one of the great bands in rock history. They moved between elegant (“A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “Conquistador”) and rockin’ (“Simple Sister” and “Whisky Train”) then throwing in epic stories like “A Salty Dog”. Every so often I just have to put this CD on and let it take me back to a lost world.

Boz Scaggs – Boz Scaggs (1969) Long before Boz was the disco king (okay, I’m being rude here, but he was so friggin’ popular with the “dance” crowd back then), he was a great representative of the San Francisco blues/rock/funk scene. And listening to this CD for the first time in over 25 years, I found myself enjoying it more today then I did back in the 70’s. There was a driving reason for buying this CD though. I’ve been trying to find an inexpensive version of “Lone Me A Dime” for years. It is a classic blues rock piece that goes into double time at the end and features Duane Allman on some blazing solos. If you haven’t heard this classic, it is worth every penny.

Randy Newman – Little Criminals (1977) He is one of America’s great songwriters. And there is more this CD then the hit “Short People”. Songs like “Baltimore” get into your blood and change your DNA. It is that good.

Nuggets – Disk 4 (1998) This 4 CD set should be required listening for anyone who wants to tag “Rock and roll fan” on to their profile. The two LP set was expanded by Rhino into an amazing collection of music. Hmmm, okay, I’ve probably mention this 3 times before. Enough said.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Catching up on Concerts and stuff

It has been a very busy month so far. I am behind on concerts. I am behind on updating the play list. And it isn't going to get better. Next week I leave for Austin for the Austin City Limits Music Festival; Friday September 23rd thru 25th. As in previous years, I will be writing about the shows and posting pictures. You will be able to find these at http://aclfestival.blogspot.com . Meanwhile, here are a couple of mini concert reviews of Jill Sobule and Lucinda Williams.

Last week I saw Jill Sobule at Largo. Yep another Jill Sobule concert. Jill wasn’t 100% this time. Either tired or distracted, it took awhile for her to kick it into gear. She also forgot a couple of lines from songs. But you gotta love the way she deals with it: “Wait, can I start over?” she asks the crowd. She is so cute. The opening band, which included Dave Carpenter on upright bass joined her on several songs, giving her a full band for the first time in awhile. It was another fun show. We’ll probably go back in October when the next show is announced.

Last Saturday we saw Lucinda Williams. It was a last minute decision and so we had pretty mediocre seats (it didn’t help that we needed 5 seats together). CC Adcock was the opening act and I enjoyed him a lot (although that wasn’t a unanimous decision within my party). It was just him and a stand up bass player who spent most of the show bent over playing the bass almost parallel to the ground. He also had I believe something attached to his hand to hit the body of the bass with to give them a percussion sound. The sound of the two of them was sort of a Cajun mellow Violent Femmes (again I had trouble getting my friends to agree with me on this). I bought his CD and will post about it later.

Lucinda Williams was not the Lucinda we saw in Austin 2 years ago. In fact she wasn’t even the Lucinda I listened to on her new Live in Austin CD. This was a happy Lucinda; a sharing, giving Lucinda. Many of the songs came with stories about who or what influenced the song. Many influences were famous people and the crowd acknowledged them with applause. The largest applause came when she mentioned Paul Westerberg; very unexpected. But it made sense when she thanked the crowd (which she did several times) and said that she loved this crowd because they accepted both her “straight country” and rock and roll songs. I wish we were up closer for this show. It would have been nice to see the “good” Lucinda up close like we saw the “bad” Lucinda two years ago. She played for about 2.5 hours. I found a song list online so I’ll pass it on:

MAIN SET: (1) Ventura; (2) Fruits of My Labor; (3) Those Three Days; (4) Metal Firecracker; (5) Jailhouse Tears; (6) Pineola; (7) Still I Long for Your Kiss; (8) 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten; (9) Where Is My Love? (10) Righteously; (11) Knowing; (12) Changed the Locks; (13) Come On; (14) Essence; (15) Bleeding Fingers; (16) Joy; FIRST ENCORE: (17) Lake Charles; (18) Crescent City; (19) Bus to Baton Rouge; (20) Well, Well, Well; (21) Get Right With God; SECOND ENCORE: (22) Unsuffer Me; (23) American Dream; (24) West.

Monday, September 05, 2005

This Weeks Play List

This Weeks Play List September 5 2005

Just one addition this week, but there is always lots of new music to listen to on The Promise…

Death Cab for Cutie – Plans (2005) A thank you to Jeanne for turning me on to this band. I love the dark places these guys take me. And at the same time, the melodies put a smile on your face. It’s a great combination that you just don’t see enough these days. The song that really hooked me was, “I will follow you into the dark”, a tale that is half love song half suicide pact and totally beautiful. I have to find a way to see them when I am in Austin later this month. You can get more info on them at http://www.deathcabforcutie.com .

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Red Cross Support at CD Baby

CD Baby, my favorite Internet only music store, has gotten together with many of the independent artists they support to donate all proceeds from the sales of their CDs to the Red Cross for hurricane relief. So, buy some music and support the relief effort. Here is the link: http://www.cdbaby.com/group/redcross

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Kate Bush CD

Reuters is reporting that Kate Bush, after a 12 year hiatus will be releasing a double CD called "Aerial" on November 8th in the U.S. (November 7th in the U.K.). It is going to be a long 69 days. :-)

Monday, August 29, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Jon Dee Graham – First Bear On The Moon (2005) This is a quickly thrown together release; part revenge, part gotta pay the rent. But, it is Jon Dee Graham and he is fabulous. 5 of the 8 songs are originally from previous CDs and were recorded from a radio broadcast made on the day of, “King George’s coronation”. There are 3 new songs. “Best” and “Betrayed” are very good. I’m not sure about “Jesus of the Freeway”. It’s a strange song, and I’m not really sure what he was going for here. 7 out of 8 is a good ratio, and if you like Jon’s music, do check it out. http://www.jondeegraham.com/

Bill Bryant – drawn from memory (2005) This is a beautiful CD. Bill is an independent artist who writes soft but soul searching songs. He is somewhere between country and folk with a voice that reminds one a bit of James Taylor. http://www.billbryantmusic.com

Various artists - This is Americana – This compilation of “Americana Music” has a little something for everyone: Country, bluegrass, and alt-country. If you were thinking of listening to some of the better bands in this area, this is a great place to start. You will find music from: Tift Merritt, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Alison Krauss, The Jayhawks, Anne McCue, Rosanne Cash, Fairfax, Jay Farrar, Shelby Lynne, Lori McKenna, Lucinda Williams and more. And it’s cheap. I think I paid a buck for it in Austin last year.

The Tom Collins – daylight tonight (2005) This is just good old rock and roll: Led Zep meets the Black Crows. This is the perfect example of how rock and roll is not dead. It’s a good solid album and it deserves your attention. http://www.thetomcollins.com

Anemo – Alanis meets Kate Bush? No, that’s not really fair. This band has a modern style and their vocalist at times sounds like both ladies. But they really do not sound like anyone that I know of. Okay, that’s not exactly right either. “Who Will You” reminds me a lot of Alanis. But that’s not a bad thing, is it? They sent me some mp3s, and I don’t have a lot of info about them. But, they have some nice hooks and I’ve enjoyed the songs I’ve heard. You can get more info at their web site: http://www.anemo.co.uk

Lyle Lovett – Pontiac (1987) What a classic CD this is. It is fun and funny and it constantly is making you tap your foot. I love it!

John Hiatt – Perfectly Good Guitar (1993) I remember September 7 1993 like it was yesterday. PGG had just been released, but I didn’t have time to buy it and make it to John’s performance at the Coach House that night. During the show that evening he played most of the songs from this brand new CD. I loved every one of them immediately. It is so rare in rock and roll to have that kind of moment.

Poi Dog Pondering – Volo Volo (1992) Rock and Roll has always been a regional business. Outside of breakout hits, most bands have followings in different areas, and are unheard of in others. You would think that with the power of the Internet, things would change; and to some degree they have. As the large labels continue to dump artists in record numbers, the small labels, which are filling up the cracks in the system, can’t afford to give strong national support. So, the regional nature of rock and roll continues. Poi Dog, which has a strong base in Austin and Chicago came to me through friends I’ve met on the Internet who live in Chicago and Santa Fe. With their unique sound and fascinating arrangements this is an exciting band to listen to. I wish more people could hear them. I understand this was their last CD before major lineup changes and a move to Chicago. I must say, I really like the Austin version of this band.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

ACL Festival snubbing Austinites

I’ve been wondering aloud for months and now I’ve got a rumor to hold on to. According to an informed source, the owners of the Austin City Limits Music Festival have given the local musicians an ultimatum: Play for free or buy a ticket and watch the show. One of the great draws for people outside of Austin is the chance to hear music from one of the riches sources of music in the country. I can go to a dozen cities around the country to see Arcade Fire and Widespread Panic. I don’t need to fly to Austin. On the other hand, the producers of the show are thinking that these local bands are getting lots of publicity and it should be worth playing for free. This is a truly symbiotic relationship and I hope they work this out next year. Otherwise, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep going.

Alejandro Escovedo live at the Casbah in San Diego

I’ve been waiting a good 2 years to see Alejandro, and with Deb turning me on to Jon Dee Graham, the anticipation was almost unbearable. But we made it through the evening, and oh what an evening it was…

If you haven’t been to the Casbah, it’s pretty much like all of the other small clubs; fairly clean, minimal number of seats and a small stage. The sound was actually pretty good, except for a buzz that never really went away (or was that me?). The bathrooms… They should make the owners of these clubs use their own bathrooms. Whatever.

Up first was a surprise guest, Mario Escovedo; Alejandro’s younger brother. Actually he’s the baby (13th of 13). Dumping the band concept, he has been doing the singer/songwriter thing pretty much since their father died last year. The problem is that even though you can hear Alejandro’s voice in his voice, Mario does not have the power or range. He was determined though to not let that stop him. Some of the songs were well written and well song, but others caused him to go outside his limits and I don’t really think he succeeded. He did both new and old songs. It was the older ones that had the most trouble being translated to this new format. One of the more interesting aspects of the show was the little brother’s willingness to talk about his older brother (called “Coach” by those who know him). His stories about hanging in Austin with Coach led Jon to later throw his two cents in, saying: “That’s one of his meanest tricks. Five minutes before the show he’ll look at you and say, ‘You’re going to wear THAT?’”.

After Mario’s show, this older guy steps up on the stage in a cheap suit that really needed to be ironed. Oh my… that’s Jon Dee Graham, isn’t it. With just an acoustic guitar and gravelly powerful voice, Jon held most of us in the audience in awe for the 30 or 40 minutes he was on stage. His great melodies, stellar guitar playing and self deprecating sense of humor (“I feel really stupid playing solos when there are no other instruments playing”) were intoxicating. At the end of the show he begged us, really, he begged us to buy his CDs. “If you buy 2 CDs I can have breakfast tomorrow. If you buy 15 CDs I’ll be able to renew my prescription, which makes me a lot easier to get along with on the bus”. This need for money may have to do with his falling out with his current record label. He was so upset with them, he put together a CD of 8 songs (3 new, 5 live songs from the last 3 CDs) and is pushing that at the shows partially to spite them. So, if you don’t have “First Bear On The Moon”, it should be available at Amazon. Maybe the highlight of the show came a few songs in, when, unable to deal with two idiots at the bar (friends of Mario’s it turned out), he walked to the side of the stage and said, “Hey! Hey! Guys, if you need to keep talking, you can take your drinks outside”. That earned him a big applause from the crowd, because you could hear these two talking all the way across the room.

At about 11pm, Alejandro and band took the stage. Maybe the right word is “covered” the stage. The 7 piece band (Alejandro on guitars, Jon on lead guitar and slide, bass, drums, keyboards, cello and violin) barely fit. I kept waiting for Susan, the violinist to poke the bass player in the eye. And the sound! I really wasn’t expecting it to be that powerful, but when all 7 of them start rocking, the place exploded with energy. If this had been a full house (only about 100 or so showed up making the club about half full) I swear there won’t have been enough fans to cool us down from the energy generated. When you add together his unique songs, great jams (man can Jon play slide guitar!) and amazing arrangements you end up with a one of my club highlights of the year. I never saw him before he got sick, so I can’t compare it. But I can’t believe he was any more powerful than last night. There were plenty of highlights; including a potent version of “With These Hands” and 2 new songs (the producer of the next CD is going to be none other than John Cale). I love the new songs; classic Alejandro stuff. They played about 1 hours and 50 minutes, closing with some covers including “All the Young Dudes” (Ian Hunter and Alejandro have a mutual admiration society going) and I believe a Neil Young song. This was well worth getting home at 2am and being up at 7am to go to work.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

John Hiatt and Shawn Colvin Live at the House of Blues Anaheim

Okay, so let’s pretend you are a singer/songwriter and you find yourself at the Hiatt/Colvin show with a to-do list in your hand. What would the short list be? Hmmmm…

  1. Pick up the guitar and don’t let go for, uhmmm, I don’t know, 5… 6 years? Watching Shawn play with her elegance and sophistication and with such ease should make most young singer/songwriters decide to switch to piano. Now, if they go see Ben Folds then they’re in real trouble. John is no slouch either on guitar, ripping off acoustic leads like he’s holding a machine gun. But Shawn just makes it look so easy.
  2. Take voice lessons. Better yet, get someone else to sing the songs. Shawn has a beautiful voice. And John… well, some brilliant DJ/PD (was it on KSCA or WCR?) once played Don Henley’s version of “Through Your Hands” back to back with John’s (I think it was one of those A-Z things). There was no comparison. John has this wonderfully soulful voice that is so full of emotion.
  3. Take some songwriting classes, ‘cause these are two of the best.
  4. Get a stronger anti-depressant, ‘cause you just ain’t that good.

So Shawn comes out with her guitar and beret and funky clothing and wows this, I’d say, 70% Hiatt audience. She came to work and must have gone a good 15 to 20 minutes before deciding to have a long chat with the audience. She once again told the story about her touring Europe with Suzanne Vega; segueing into “Polaroids”. But she also came up with a 4 year old story about going to Disneyland that I hadn’t heard before. It probably had something to do with the show being in Downtown Disney and her daughter running on the stage to chat with her. Her daughter later went into the audience and then climbed onto the stage, leading to my favorite line of the evening: “Where is that nanny we hired off the street this morning to watch you?” Musically it was a typical set that lasted about an hour and twenty minutes. But, about two thirds of the way through the set she blessed us with 3 new songs. For those setting your timers, move it forward six months. February is the planned release date of her next CD. The new songs sounded really good. She said it is going to be a very downbeat CD and 2 of the 3 songs fit that mold. She finished her set off with “Killing the Blues” and then “Round of Blues”, but saved the big highlight for the encore: “Four Seasons in One Day”. It was magnificent.

I haven’t seen John Hiatt solo in many many years. He is truly one of America’s great songwriters. And he proved it, not by going back and playing his best songs, but by focusing on the where he is today. It was a good hour into the set before he dipped back into his prime years (1987-1990). Thinking back, he may have slipped one in (I think he performed “Your Dad Did” during the first half), but the first hour was all about the current Hiatt; including lots of songs from the new “Master of Disaster” CD, and the not too old “Crossing Muddy Waters” and “The Tiki Bar is Open”. Although I enjoyed the “Master of Disaster” CD, the live renditions along with the stories behind them, made me want to go back and listen to it again; as John might say, “With new ears”. The second half of the set mixed songs from 1987 and beyond. As the set neared its end, he moved to the piano where you have no choice but to be moved. I believe he is at his most soulful when playing it. He, of course did “Through Your Hands” at the end of this section and closed off the show with “Slow Turning”, which, as always, brought the house down. One of the highlights of the evening was his story about pulling off to the side of the road and watching the space shuttle launch, only to later learn that “Perfectly Good Guitar” was onboard. It turns out that the crew loved “Blue Telescope”; the only song he played on electric guitar this night. John played for almost 2 hours, and if it wasn’t for the pain in my feet from standing, it would have felt like 10 minutes. This was one of those rare evenings were we all (Me, Maria, Susie and her friend, and Shawn’s greatest fan… I can’t remember her name, but she has only been to two concerts since her breast cancer started. And yes, both were Colvin shows) easily got our money’s worth. 1 twisted catholic boy (“it never leaves you”) plus 1 depressed Austinite equals a very happy nearly full HOB.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Shelby Lynne and Bob Schneider Live at the Avalon

Or is it Bob Schneider and Shelby Lynne? Ticketmaster showed Shelby first. The tickets had Shelby on top. So we were very surprised when Shelby walked out on stage first. I’m not sure if she was responding to someone in the audience but she said, “We had a fight and obviously HE won”. With that Shelby and her 3 piece band kicked it into high gear. This was more of a rock and roll show than the one we saw in Austin last year. In fact, the cowboy hat wearing cowgirl was now a work shirt, beret wearing rocker. I got the feeling though that she was not happy about being on first and to reflect it there was this constant and a bit annoying thanking/pointing to the other members of the band after each song. It seemed very insincere. Maybe it was a message to L.A. Whatever, it was all a bit weird. The band stuck mainly to music from the last 2 CDs, but whenever Shelby dug a little deeper, she got thunderous applause from the very small crowd (I was told they were only expecting 300 people). The set did slow down from time to time, but this was not a country set by any stretch of the imagination. Ben, her slide/lead guitar player was wonderful. I last saw him adding amazing sounds to Gary Jules band. Hopefully Gary used him in the studio this year. The band played for about an hour and then went off without an encore.

So the interesting question was: Is this Shelby’s crowd or Bob’s? Very few people left when Bob and the Lonelyland band stepped on stage (to the music of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood). And as they cranked up and crunched out an old Scabs tune, there was no doubt that they owned the place. This was a very straightforward show (maybe because they only played for an hour and a half). Bob kept it very professional (well as professionally as Bob can). That’s not to say that the band can’t play. Sometimes they are just too loose and the song selection is way out there. Bob also has a tendency to throw away lyrics. He sang the songs much straighter tonight. The new guitar player, Jeff Plankenhorn, did a great job on guitar. I don’t believe he was given as many solos as Billy, but he made the most of the ones he got.

The highlight for the evening was a version of “Under My Skin” that I had never heard before. Bob loves to change the style of songs. The original has an upbeat Tom Waits sound to it. This version though was a slow, sultry almost blues style. It was amazing.

The closing song was a new one: “Sons of Ralph”. It’s, uhmmm, a pirate song. It’s basically a list of all the disgusting things we do as the Sons of Ralph. It’s a sing-a-long of course.

In between, were lots of songs from the latest CD and several from Lonelyland. It was a focused and well performed show.

This was my first trip to the Avalon. It is a cool open theater with benches and couches for the privileged few around the outside and upstairs. The rest of us low life sat on the steps leading onto the dance floor. The sound was barely okay, with too much distortion to give it a thumbs up. AND they wouldn’t allow Bob to record and sell his CDs, so I had no copy of the show to take home. That sucked. If you haven’t been to the Avalon, just expect a bigger House of Blues, without the gift shop and restaurant.

This Weeks Play List

Without Gravity – Tenderfoot (2005) For the second week in a row I’m going to rave about a CD; putting it on my early best of year list. The first song to get me hooked was “Country”, which takes some of its melody from Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”, but then takes off in its own beautiful direction. The rest of the CD is closer to Damian Rice then it is to Traffic. This CD has already clocked plenty of time on my player. Maybe the best band from Iceland since… Do check it out. http://www.withoutgravity.net .

KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 2 (1994) I’m not sure if this is my favorite, but is sure was the most expensive to buy (don’t even ask). How could I let it get away, what with a rare Sam Phillips performance on it; not to mention Crowded House doing “Fall At Your Feet”. All of these CDs can be found on ebay.com, but don't expect to find this one easily. For some reason it is the rarest of them all.

Grey Eye Glances – A Little Voodoo (2002) Some time ago a listener was bugging me to check these guys out. He said he was close to the band and to write them and they would send me some music. I did, they didn’t and I pretty much forgot them until I came across their CD a year later and decided to give it a try. Sorry, no amazing story here. I enjoyed parts of the CD. Maybe my expectations were too high. I will play my favorites from this CD and let you all decide. If you really like them, check out their web site, http://greyeyeglances.com or look up their stream on Live365.com .

Jill Sobule – Happy Town (1997) I’m continuing my look back at older Jill Sobule material. Happy Town was her follow up to her self titled CD and the hit, “I Kissed a Girl”. And it continues with the great songwriting, wry lyrics and clever stories that have been her trademark for the last 10 years. Many of these songs can be heard in her current performances. If you live in or around Los Angeles, she is playing pretty much every month at Largo, http://www.largo-la.com . And of course her web site is http://www.jillsobule.com .

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Jill Sobule at Largo - August 9th

Yep, another evening of Jill Sobule. With her “no set list” approach to concerts, every evening is different. Tuesday night did not disappoint. Jill wasn’t as uhmmm, hyper as last month, but there is always plenty of energy at her shows. The theme this show, and there was really a theme this time, were women she knew in her life: Margaret, Karen, and a few others I can’t remember. It was a fun set. Late in the show she unplugged, totally, went out into the audience and sang 4 or 5 songs. She later told me her voice was a bit roughed up because of that. It was all fun and, well, typical Jill. Although I didn’t find my way onstage, I got two requests in: “Kathy Lee” (which she is threatening to retire) and “I saw a cop”. Actually, she didn’t finish “Kathy Lee” and skipped a verse in “I saw a cop”. But it was good enough. Jess again drew here. There are two good pictures coming, but this is a scan of Jill sitting right next to us during the audience portion of the show.

Opening the show was Tom Brosseau. I have seen him several times; opening for Jill and also Sam Phillips. He has a beautiful voice with a Roy Orbison falsetto that is breathtaking. His songs are really poems. It is hard to follow them though. Maybe a lyric sheet would make the songs more meaningful. Generally, I just get lost in his voice and lose track of the lyrics altogether. He actually joked around a bit during this show, doing a bit of a white folk version of a NWA song.

Monday, August 08, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Tina Schlieske – Slow Burn (2005) This is one of those “Wow” CDs. Names like Joan Osborne, Shelby Lynne, Bonnie Raitt and even Cher come to mind; and that’s just her voice. The music is a little bit blues, a little bit rock with a touch of country. It is very well produced with good solid songwriting. Inside the CD it says that it was recorded on a shoestring with plenty of alcohol and we are to play it loud. If it really was a shoestring it sure doesn’t sound like it. And there is no alcoholic sloppiness here. As to playing it loud, now that is a good suggestion. On my short list for CD of the year. You can find out more about Tina at: http://www.tinaschlieske.com

Jill Sobule – Things Here Are Different (1990) Long before Jill sang “I Kissed a Girl”, making her a star (at least at all the lesbian gatherings), she released this Todd Rundgren produced CD. There are still remnants of the ‘80s here, but not enough to cover up the beginnings of a great songwriter. None of the songs here are at that level where they just don’t let go of you, like… uhmmm, well, just about everything else she has released. But there are some good songs here. One song that has been haunting me is called “Pilar (Things Here are Different)”. It is about the lack of freedom that women have in Spain: A very moving song. This CD can be had cheap at Amazon.com and is so worth it. And Jill has one of the more fun/useful sites online at http://www.jillsobule.com .

Chad Jasmine – The Greatest of Ease (1999) Paul turned me on to this guy, and, well, I’m not sure what to say. This is a fascinating CD and I need to listen to it more. But I listened long enough to know that it belongs on The Promise. http://www.chadjasmine.net .

Southern Culture On The Skids – Plastic Seat Sweat (1997) What can I say… I just gotta put some SCOTS on every so often. A redneck B52s, the SCOTS are just all about fun. And on that level, they always succeed. http://www.scots.com .

A3 – Exile on Coldharbour Lane (1998) There is so muich more to A3 than just the group that sings the theme song for The Sopranos. Hell, there is so much more to “Woke Up This Morning” than the part you hear on the Sopranos. I don’t play a lot of techno on The Promise, but A3 is an exception. With songs like “U Don’t Dance 2 Techno Anymore”, a song about a girl who ODs in front of the DJ at a rave, A3 combines techno, house, blues, gospel and country sometimes all in one song. And there is power behind the messages, which goes along nicely with the power of the beat. http://www.alabama3.co.uk/

Monday, August 01, 2005

This Weeks Play List

Some stories and ramblings to go along with the song list this week. Enjoy…

Waterline – Long Goners (2005) I only have a couple of songs from this CD. Chris who is half of the due that makes up the core of this band was kind enough to send a couple of mp3s to me. The backup band for this CD is The Goners, often John Hiatt’s band over the last decade, and featuring the great Sonny Landreth on slide guitar. These two songs are pretty hot. I’m going to have to check out the rest of the CD. For more info you can go to http://www.waterlinemusic.com

Lucinda Williams – Live at the Fillmore (2005) Make sure you have your anti-depressants handy when you put this CD into your player. There may be no voice in rock right now that so conveys the heartbreak and pain the way Lucinda’s does. As potent as her studio recordings are, this 2 CD set just burns all the way through.

Gomez – Out West (2005) One of the highlights from the ACL Festival last year was the hour long set by Gomez. I’ve always enjoyed their CDs, but really loved their live set. And this 2 CD package is not a disappointment. There’s lots of energy from this very talented band.

KGSR Broadcasts Vol. 8 (2000) There isn’t a live radio collection that is as consistently as good as the KGSR recordings. They are released every year around November and I always wait with anticipation for my copy. They are all 2 CD sets except for the first one (a single CD) and this one (a triple CD!). The third CD in this set is actually a best of from the first 7 years plus a tribute to Jerry Reed from Eric Johnson. As always, there are too many great performances to mention. Everyone from Patti Smith to Bruce Cockburn is on these CDs with lots of Austinites like Patty Griffin, Alejandro Escovedo and Bob Schneider. All of the KGSR CDs find their way onto to Ebay on a regular basis, if you need to add to your collection. And the next CD will be available online at http://www.waterloorecords.com .

Melissa Etheridge – Melissa Etheridge (1988) A bunch of years back, I put Melissa’s music away. It had hit too close to home and was just too painful to listen to. Over the years I’ve continued to see her in concert and listen to her new music. Last week, for the first time in years, I play this CD. From the opening bass and drums of “Similar Features”, the shivers started. This is one of those great freshman CDs; and it has lost nothing with time.

This seems like a good time to tell my Melissa story. It was a few years back. I was in San Diego with my friend Kim and we had pit seats for Melissa. I was one of maybe 3 guys in the pit (I think they were guys) and Kim and I were having a great time enjoying the show. There was a segment of the show when Melissa took requests. Everyone who had been going to the shows knew when it was (Kim saw her up and down the coast that year). As that moment came near, Kim turned to me and said, “Born to Run”! Yes! What a great idea, we’ll yell that out together. And so we did. But Melissa didn’t hear. But the people around us did and thought it was a great idea (in case you didn’t know, when Melissa did her unplugged on MTV, Springsteen came on stage with her and sang “Thunder Road”). And so a group of strangers around us started yelling “Bruuuuuuuuce”. That caught Melissa’s attention. She came over toward us and said, “What”? We yelled “Born to Run” and Melissa said the following: “ Oh, I see. It is always the boyfriends and husbands. They think, I have to sit through this music. The least she can do is play some Bruce.” Then she looks right at us, points and says, “Well, it ain’t gonna happen”. Then she goes to the other side of the stage and takes a request from someone else. So, Melissa, if you ever read this, you were wrong and you owe us all a Springsteen song. :-) Okay, back to the music.

The Devlins – Waiting (1997) Like so many other people, I discovered The Devlins when I watched the first (or was it second) episode of Six Feet Under on HBO. The closing song for that episode, “Waiting”, was so powerful, that it haunted me for months. Finally the Six Feet Under CD came out and I was able to enjoy this song over and over and over… The full CD, which I recently picked up has a different mix for “Waiting”. Maybe not as good, but it is still a very powerful song. The rest of the CD is good but not nearly as potent. It is very spiritual and this leads to a quandary for me. I guess it is time for a little talk…

Some people may be under the mistaken impression that this stream called The Promise has some religious significance. Apparently there are Christian references on the Internet to the words “the promise”. Well, truthfully, I had no idea when I picked this name. Hey, I’m Jewish, how would I know. But I love that the title can have so many different meanings to people. And that is why I picked it. Its real meaning for me dates back to September 1999. I was at Staples Center in L.A. along with 20,000 of my closest friends to see The Boss. Part way through his set, the E Street Band left the stage and Bruce climbed onto the piano bench to give us a valentine; a song I don’t believe he had ever performed west of the Rockies: The Promise. At that time the box set hadn’t been released and this was such a rare song that it took awhile before we recognized it (the acoustics at Staples suck during softer moments). I’ve been totally in love with the song ever since. And so, when I started this station, it was an obvious choice for a name. There are other reasons for the name, but I’ll leave those for another time. Meanwhile, I’ve ended up playing some spiritual music from time to time. It is weird for me ‘cause I don’t want people to see the station that way, but when music is real good, I’ve just gotta play it. And so I play The Scabs to try and counterbalance things. :-)

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/ .

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen