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.

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen