Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sam Phillips at Largo 11-9-13

 This may have been the best Sam Phillips show that I have seen in the last 10 years. There have been many highlights over the years, but this show had it all. Sam’s singing was effortless and beautiful tonight. Nothing new there. Her guitar playing was very self assured (sometimes she can be a bit hesitant on the guitar). She put on a full one and a half hour show with over 20 songs. That is as much as I’ve ever seen her play. And then there was the band. Oh, what a band. Of course there was Eric Gorfain and the Section Quartet. Jay Belarose was back on drums (one of my all time favorites). Patrick Warren, who was on the Boot and a Shoe tour played keyboards. That was pretty much the touring band from 2004. Added to this was Jennifer Condos on bass and and Greg Leisz on guitar (Eric also played guitar and banjo when needed). That’s 9 people on stage! And man did they sound good. The entire 9 only played on a couple of songs as members left and rejoined the stage as they were needed. But when they were all there, it was a great sound.  If there was a way to make money touring with this band, it would be, by the end of the tour, one of the best touring bands of the last few years. They were just amazing to watch.

Before Sam came on stage, a woman was playing music on an old turntable, drawing on pieces of paper and sometimes throwing them into the audience. It was a bit of pantomime and was very cute. It turned out to be Sam’s daughter, Simone. Keep your eyes open for her in a few years.

Next up came the Section Quartet. Instead of playing covers from a multitude of rock songs, which they do so well, they performed what they called an Overture. It was really a medley of Sam’s songs; about 7 or 8. They ended up getting split into 3 groups because the audience applause forced them to stop a couple of times. Probably the highlight of this set was “Animals on Wheels”. Those who have seen Sam perform this know that she usually sings and uses an old tape machine to play the music. Every so often she wiggles the tape machine and causes the sound to wobble.  The Section Quartet came up with a way to play the wobble on their violins. It was hysterically funny and had many in the audience laughing.
Sam came on stage and played almost all of her new CD, Push Any Button, played several from her 2 Nonesuch CDs and several more from that period in between. And for those of us who have been following longer, she slipped in “I Don’t Want to Fall In Love” and “000” (which got a standing ovation). She was in great spirits joked with the crowd and basically led us through the evening as only she can; with her great sense of humor and down to earth attitude.

It was just a perfect evening. Sam, Eric, Jay and a few others hung around after the show and chatted with everyone. It was great seeing them all again. If you are in L.A., do not miss the Sunday night show. There are still tickets available.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Music for August 2013

Push Any Button - Sam Phillips (8/13/2013)

Earlier this year, Sam promised a CD that she felt would represent what she would have sounded like back in the 60’s and early 70’s had she been recording then. She has accomplished this without being totally retro and without stealing from her Beatles inspired sound of Martinis and Bikinis. The sound on Push Any Button is a wonderful mix of La La La’s from the Gilmore Girls, the modern edginess from Don’t Do Anything and melodies that could only be inspired by that great era of music in the 60’s. Maybe the song that accomplishes this best is “When I’m Alone” which has a classic 60’s melody, the Section Quartet playing 60’s inspired strings, harmonies that hearken back to the early 60’s female singers and a great little guitar solo in the last bridge that is just perfect. Lyrically, this is classic Sam Phillips; challenging you to develop your own interpretation and sounding just right (almost forcing you to sing along), even if you aren't sure what she is trying to say. My only complaints about the CD are the bonus tracks that went out to fans who purchased the CD early. The 2 original songs belong on this CD; they are that good. Push Any Button is available as a CD/mp3/Vinyl at and as a CD or mp3 at Amazon.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Some Adult Music

I love watching artists mature. The following artists are all in their 30s and 40s. They have done some living and have things they want to say about it. These aren’t your typical rock and roll love songs...

Jen Chapin - Reckoning (2013)
As you listen to some of these songs you may find yourself thinking they are your normal relationship songs (plus a few socially conscious songs as well). But listen carefully and you’ll realize that Jen is a mother first (probably why it has been so long since the last studio CD) and some of these songs are really about her relationship with her kids. That alone makes this CD worth listening to. Jen's excellent writing and edgy style makes me think of Ani Difranco. I really love this CD and highly recommend it. For more info, check out

Thea Gilmore - Regardless (2013)
Thea has taken time out for a child and that process seems to have permeated her work. This is her most maturely produced CD. Some critics in England have compared it Dido’s work. I might go with Sarah McLachlan. This a beautiful CD (as should be obvious when you mention those two names). Long time fans may find it too... pop. But there is no doubt that a lot of care has gone into producing this. “Regardless” is available as an import or an MP3 download at . Give it a listen. It will take you back to the days of Lilith Fair and then beyond.

Changing the tempo a bit...

Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart (2013)
Somewhere between punk and English singer/songwriter, Frank lays it all out for you. This is an artist who seems tired of the rock and roll life, but maybe can’t help himself. There are still plenty of love (or loveless) songs, but his advancing age (30’s can be a bit old for punk rockers) puts an interesting twist on the songs. He may have created the theme song for his generation, when he sings “We Shall Not Overcome”. I listened to this one way more than I thought I would. Really really good.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

New Music April / May 2013

Tyler Lyle - The Golden Age & The Silver God (2012)

What a find this was. A truly indie CD (he has his own label), Tyler has created a blend of music that somewhere between Mumford and David Grey. But labels and comparisons aren’t fair. I love the melodies and arrangments; the personal nature of the songs. It’s a great spin. Please check him out at .

Patty Griffin - American Kid (2013)
When is Patty never in top form. Another outstanding CD from the person Bruce Cockburn once called “An American Treasure”. Dedicated to her late father, this CD feels familiar, but might best be described as an obvious follow up musically to “Children Running Through”. If you are a big fan of Patty’s, you will not be disappointed. If you are new to her music, you will find a lot to love about this beautiful, down to earth CD.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Music 2013

Walt Cronin & Martin Beal - Gone So Long (2013)
In an era where besting your earlier releases is rare, Walt Cronin just keeps getting better and better. He still has that plain voice that reminds you of a smoother Kris Kristofferson, but his songwriting continues to improve.Joined by Martin Beal on this album, the production is solid, the melodies are wonderful and the the lyrics ring true. This is the best Walt Cronin CD yet and highly recommended if you love Americana/Folk. You can find him on Facebook.

Miles Zuniga - These Ghosts have Bones (2011)
What's not to like here. Miles was one of the key members of Fastball. This CD is just filled with hooks. And, it's a breakup CD. Lots of pain and great hooks? Really. What else can you ask for?

JD McPherson - Signs & Signifiers (2012)
This is just flat out fun. The sound is all rockabilly and the energy level never lets up. You can download the excellent "North Side Gal" here.

Amy Cook - Summer Skin (2012)
I could tell you how good the songs are on this CD that seems to defy boundaries (Not really Country or Folk. More Singer/Songwriter. I guess thats what Americana is all about), but you just have to give it a listen. If you're looking for famous people to endorse it, how about Patty Griffin, Robert Plant, David Garza and Meshell Ndegeocello who all appear on it. It should have been on my best of 2012 list.

Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen