Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Section Quartet at Largo

A fun evening was planned for those of us who braved the freeways on a weeknight to help celebrate Largo's first anniversary at the Coronet Theater. Although it was a short evening, it was packed with music and comedy. At the center of the show was The Section Quartet, who have not played L.A. for some time. Since their last visit, Leah had a baby so they had to manage without her. Daphne moved to Viola and... I can't remember the name of the violinist who replaced her. The band used a single microphone to amplify their sound (instead of hooking all of the instruments up) which they haven't done in years. That, combined with the warm (I believe omni-directional) vocal microphone that acts as the house microphone, made for a softer sound than usual. That sound fit the evening's entertainment as Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Phillips, Rob Dickinson (from The Catherine Wheel) and Jon Brion shared the stage with the quartet. Highlights for me included Sam performing Tom Waits' "Green Grass" and I think it was Rob doing Peter Gabriel's "Mercy Street". In between the performances, we were entertained by two music related comedians. Gruber, who did a wonderful vocal pantomime (yes I know, it can't be a pantomime if it is vocal) about a giant being served at Starbucks which segued into Randy Newman's "Short People" and Addi who made a bass guitar out of balloons and then played a song for us (AMAZING). You can check Addi out here: . The evening ended with Grant, Rob, Jon and much of the crowd singing "California Dreaming". Eric told me later that they'd like to do these shows on a semi-regular basis. I can't wait for the next one.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Jill Sobule and J.D. Souther

I joined Jane and Amy along with a really sweet couple at the Coach House last night for the Sobule/Souther show. It is always fun to hang with Jane and Amy, especially when Amy gets into her storytelling mode. The couple, who were seated next to us, were fairly new to the OC, so we chatted about the places they've been and where they should go. It was a fun way to kill time while we waited for what seemed like an eternity for our waitress to even take our drink order, let alone our food order.

Brooke Ramel was the opening act. She did a fine job. I think I've seen her before. She's been playing shows at the Coach House for 10 years or so and does a good job connecting with the audience. I almost bought one of her CDs, but... got distracted.

All I can say about Jill Sobule is: Wow! I've only seen her perform as a headliner. I've never seen her open for someone. If you are a good performer you know the difference. She had to earn this crowd's respect and she didn't have a lot of time to do it. Well, it took about one line into her first song to grab their attention. She dropped the F bomb in a song appropriately called "Don't F**K with me", and by the end of the song had every one's attention. In fact, I do not remember the Coach House EVER being so quiet during a pre-headliner set. And for those of you who may be wondering if she is still a vital performer, Jill was not going to play it safe. Her first grouping of songs were all from her new CD, "California Years". In fact, I believe the only song she sang that predated the last 2 CDs was a request (by me) for "Mexican Wrestler". That's right, she didn't even attempt "I Kissed A Girl". She did one cover song, again my request (for some reason my voice just had a direct line to her last night), "All the Young Dudes". Jill had the crowd wrapped around her finger the entire 45 minutes; laughing at the funny stuff and nearly crying during "Mexican Wrestler". The CD line after her show as also as long as I've ever seen for a pre-headliner. I already can't wait to see her again.

J.D.'s show was very different. Where Jill focused on her new music, John David only played a couple of songs from his excellent "If the World Was You" CD. Granted he has a huge catalog to draw from, but I would have loved to hear more of the new CD. I'm sure part of the issue was that he was playing solo and "If the World..." really shines with that band he put together. As a solo performer, Souther is engaging and relaxed with some wonderful stories that just sort of pop out of him. He's not the worlds greatest singer, but when he puts his voice into those wonderful songs, it just works. There was not a bad song or a bad story in his hour and a half performance. To finish out the night, Jill joined him on stage for a very ragged version of the Sinatra hit, "Something Stupid". It made me wonder if the two of them had hung out together with Warren Zevon, when he was alive; just being horribly funny and very crazy. You can see it in all of them.

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen