Category Archives: Rock n’ Folk

Required Viewing: Fred Eaglesmith

I experienced my first Fred Eaglesmith show Wednesday night as Fred’s ‘Traveling Steam Show” rolled through Arizona.

How to even begin? The great music, the between-song monologues that are a show unto itself, the kickass backing band (including the talented and quite lovely Tif Ginn). My face hurt from laughing so hard, and I am still riding a high from that great night of music.

Fred and the band are inside their vintage tour buses rolling into Texas now as I write this, with a good number of dates left on this tour (up through the midwest and into Canada).

I can’t put the experience into words and do  it justice.  A good start is this full show from the 2007 at the Paradiso in Amsterdam:

Folks, if Fred Eaglesmith and his Traveling Steam Show stops through your town, drop what you’re doing and GO.

Delta Spirit on Austin City Limits / “Vivian”

dsposter

Poster by Justin Helton

Austin City Limits is amazing week in and week out as it is, but when one of my favorites hits the stage for the 30 minute showcase, it always seems to capture something special that gives me a brand new appreciation for the music and the artists I admire (one previous example: John Prine’s 2006 appearance when he introduced me to Blaze Foley’s “Clay Pigeons.”

This weekend’s premier episode with Delta Spirit and Bob Mould brought that same type of moment for me when Matt Vasquez (of Delta Spirit) introduced and sang the song “Vivian.” Matt wrote the song about his grandparents Vivian and Jerry. It’s written from Jerry’s perspective after he’s passed away. He’s up in Heaven and plaintively lamenting the loneliness of it without Vivian. With each chorus, he’s moving closer and closer to her. He moves from “above the clouds” to “below the clouds” to “above your house” and finally, to “beside your bed.” It’s such a moving and heartfelt declaration of love – “not separate even in death.”

I’ve heard and enjoyed the song many times on DS’s History From Below, but seeing it introduced and performed this way, with Matt’s parents in the ACL audience, in the town that he grew up.. well, it hits me in that sensitive sweet spot (where music so often does).

Some moments propel me to this chair & keyboard to share with like-minded music-loving folks. This is one of those moments.

ACL is streaming the full episode right now. The intro of “Vivian” starts at 39:00 (and it goes without saying you should watch the entire episode). Here’s the studio version, followed by the ACL episode.

Delta SpiritVivian (mp3) – from History From Below

Watch Bob Mould / Delta Spirit on PBS. See more from Austin City Limits.

Recap: Band of Horses at the Marquee Theater in Tempe

It was starting to feel like Band of Horses may never actually make it back to Phoenix. Last year, they were scheduled to open for Kings of Leon at Ashley Home Store Pavilion, but that got axed. Then this year, they were scheduled to play downtown Tempe as part of the second installment of the Railroad Revival Tour with Willie Nelson, Jamey Johnson, and actor/musician John C. Reilly, but that fell apart a few weeks prior to the October 26th date.

Luckily, Band of Horses wasted no time and promptly booked gigs in the cancelled tour towns, including an October 26th stop at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. For fans like me, it was a big win, now getting a full headlining gig versus an abbreviated festival-like set.

And so deliver they did, playing a roughly two hour set for (what had to be) a sold out crowd – the set list drawing from all four studio albums. In fact, at the end of the night, only four songs showed up from their latest release, Mirage Rock.

Some friends and I got to spend about fifteen minutes chatting with lead singer Ben Bridwell after the show, and he talked about the fun they’re having with these last minute headlining dates. They’re giving themselves the freedom to relax, have some fun, and play outside of the box a little.

It showed with the 23-song set list that included a couple of rarely seen covers: keyboardist/guitarist Ryan Monroe took to the organ for “Ain’t No Good To Cry,” a late 60′s tune by Hour Glass – the L.A. band that Gregg and Duane Allman were a part of before forming the Allman Brothers Band. How’s that for obscure? (Thanks to Ryan Monroe for the Twitter reply confirming the song name). The other cover was the encore finale, an old deep soul track called “Am I A Good Man?”, originally by a group called Them Two. They’ve pulled that one out quite a bit in the past.

We got a song premiere too, “A Little Biblical” from Mirage Rock, a tune they had never performed live.

But by and large, the band delivered lots of familiar Band of Horses favorites:

  • The night opener, “The First Song,” with Ben sitting down with this pedal steel.
  • “Marry Song,” with Ryan and Ben synched up perfectly with that gorgeous harmony.
  • “No One’s Gonna Love You,” a night highlight, with only Tyler Ramsey on guitar and Ben on vocals – a very intimate few minutes and clearly a crowd favorite.
  • Another slow burning highlight: “Detlef Schrempf,” where Ben came down to the crowd to share the mic during the chorus, letting crowd members sing “My eyes can’t look at you any other way…”- and by the way, I asked Ben after the show if former NBA star Detlef Schrempf knows there’s a song named after him. The answer is yes – Detlef and Ben keep still keep in touch, and try to hang out when Ben stops through Seattle.
  • “The Funeral” was the regular set closer, and since Ben’s amp blew out during the prior tune, it didn’t feature the familiar guitar riff from his Les Paul Standard. Instead, Ryan worked the riff on the organ. They may have stumbled on something there… very cool to see an oft-played tune done in a different style.

Just an amazing night overall – for the super fans like me on down. And to be able to chat it up with Ben after the show was the icing on the cake – such a genuinely nice guy.

Back in October 2008, on the morning after their Austin City Limits Festival set, I saw Ben in the Austin airport, so I went up and said hi. When I mentioned that encounter last night, unbelievably to me, he remembered meeting me on that bleary-eyed morning. So naturally, I asked him to reenact the photo we took in the airport. Kudos to Ben for removing his ball cap to style his hair a la 2008…

2012

2008

Ben promised the crowd that it wouldn’t take so long for the band to make it back to the Phoenix area. From what I can find, the last time they were in Phoenix was a June 2006 stop at the Rhythm Room. That is a long time.

Here’s hopin’ and beggin’ and prayin’ they stop through again soon. Special band. Special night.

Band of Horses Web Site

Band of Horses on Amazon

Set List

Marquee Theater
Tempe, AZ
Oct 26, 2012

The First Song
Laredo
Great Salt Lake
Islands on the Coast
NW Apartment
Electric Music
Ain’t No Good To Cry (Hour Glass cover)
Blue Beard
Cigarettes Wedding Bands
On My Way Back Home
Marry Song
Everything’s Gonna Be Undone
Older
Knock Knock
A Little Biblical
No One’s Gonna Love You
Is There a Ghost
Weed Party
Ode to LRC
The Funeral

~ Encore ~
The General Specific
Detlef Schrempf
Am I A Good Man? (Them Two cover)

** Thanks to Nicole LaRochelle for some of the photos above.

Recap: Deer Tick at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix

The great thing about Deer Tick live is the no frills, no bullshit, “it’s only rock n’ roll” attitude. Lead singer/guitarist John McCauley is the embodiment of it all. He’s clearly in it for the music, and doesn’t much care about self-image or putting on those rock band front man airs. But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a good time and doesn’t embrace some of the – um – rock star lifestyle.

Shuffling on stage last night with three bottles of Coors and the red plastic cup that was never too far from his grasp, John and the band rocked the face off the Crescent Ballroom last night – growling, spitting, and, yes, snot-rocketing his way through a 90 minute, 19-song set full of new tunes from their brand new album Divine Providence, along with some older tunes spanning their first three albums (most from their debut, War Elephant) and a couple of well-placed covers.

They opened with the great Divine Providence album opener, “The Bump,” which serves as a great introduction to the band: “We’re full grown men! / But we act like kids! / We’ll face the music / Next time we roll in“; and the ultimate intro to John: “I got a name / They Call Me The Bump / One night with me / Is gonna mess you up … I’m a drunken devil! / I’m not the king of cool!

And off they went. The set featured 9 songs from the new album, including two sung by guitarist Ian O’Neil (the hard charging “Walking Out The Door” and the southern rock ballad-feel of “Now It’s Your Turn”) and one by drummer Dennis Ryan, “Clowning Around” (Dennis wrote the song about John Wayne Gacy). The first released single from the record, “Miss K”, is good-time rock at its finest, and really pumped the crowd.

John and the band are loose and relaxed between songs, noodling around like they’re in rehearsal. It’s fun to see. Between songs, we were treated to the theme from Law & Order, AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”, and my favorite, drummer Dennis Ryan singing a verse of Santana & Rob Thomas’ “Smooth” – but sung as Tom Waits. Classic.

Deer Tick played five tunes off of War Elephant, including another highlight of the night, a slowed down “Ashamed” with a killer sax solo from Rob Crowell. Just as cool was the song they chose next, a raucous cover of the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.”

Speaking of covers, the band also showed off their alter ego Deervana, with a spot on version of Nirvana’s “On a Plain.”

The night wrapped just after midnight, with the party anthem off the new album, “Let’s All Go To The Bar.” They were on for a full 90 minutes, but it still seemed short, and there wasn’t even enough time for an encore (I’m guessing the Crescent Ballroom curfew is 12 midnight). Everyone was ready for more, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, I made my way out back and chatted with the band for a few minutes (along with my smuggled can o’ Four Peaks Hop Knot IPA – shh).

me & john mccauley

To me, there’s nothing as invigorating as a solid, genuine, live rock n’ roll show. Deer Tick are as real as they come – an unaffected group of guys who clearly love playing music together and insist on having a great time doing it. It’s all for the love of the music – and luckily, those of us in the crowd get to come along for the ride.

Deer Tick Set List
October 28, 2011
Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix

The Bump
Easy
Baltimore Blues No. 1
Main Street
Chevy Express
Walkin’ out the Door
Ashamed
Bastards of Young (Replacements cover)
Clownin Around
Funny Word
Choir of Angels
These Old Shoes
Now It’s Your Turn
Miss K.
On a Plain (Nirvana cover)
Not So Dense
Mange
Let’s All Go To The Bar

Triple D Playlist (more Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit)

To make sure I leave no stone unturned in my music geekitude, I’m now a premium subscriber to both Spotify and Rdio. You’d think I’d have all the bases covered for any song or album I’d like to hear, and for the most part, that’s true. There are still some holes though. Spotify, surprisingly, has no Delta Spirit and none of the three Deer Tick full lenghts. So I turned to Rdio to craft a special “Triple D Attack” playlist.

This playlist features Dawes, Delta Spirit, Deer Tick, with a healthy smattering of Middle Brother songs. Let’s just say I’m knee deep in a Triple D phase.

Song numero uno on the playlist below is “Dirty Dishes”, a song that is so beautiful and tortured and perfect that I just can’t stop listening – and it’s been months.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM89oK_vhB0&w=425&h=349]

In Dawes news, many of you have probably heard about the recently announced tour with Blitzen Trapper. If you’re here with me in Arizona, they’ll be stopping in at the newest music venue in town, the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix. It’s a much needed mid-size venue that hopefully will attract a lot of talent. Dawes & Blitzen Trapper will be there Monday, October 10th. My ticket is secured, and I can’t wait.

Delta Spirit just helped kick off the opening day of Lollapalooza on Friday. The good folks at the Audio Perv already have the webcast up (all tunes I saw live last week in Newport).

So here’s the Rdio playlist. Always worth the 7 day free trial to check it out…

Delta Spirit

Hi, it’s me, man of few words of late. Seems I’ve been soaking in the music and not spitting it back out in written form. You know, it feels like the right thing about now.

But I do need to steer you toward a great record, and that is Delta Spirit‘s History From Below. I listened to it for the first time today, and it instantly grabbed hold. Song numero uno, “9/11″, hit me from the start.

Do check out this song, and this album. Looking forward to seeing them by the water at the Newport Folk Festival this summer…

New Steve Earle Song: “Waitin’ On The Sky”/ new album out April 26th

Crazy to think that it’s been almost four years since a new Steve Earle album. Can’t blame him really – the man’s a workaholic: poet, author, activist, actor, and then – oh yeah – that songwriting/music gig.

Steve’s been busy writing his first novel, I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, and recording his new album of the same name. He mentioned in Rolling Stone recently that it’s “probably the countriest record I’ve done in a long time.”

Earlier today, Steve’s label, New West Records, came up with this cool offer for a free MP3 from the new record, and a PDF excerpt from his new novel. All you have to do is have a Facebook account and click to accept it.

The new tune sounds great – fresh and familiar at the same time. It’s that unmistakeable Steve Earle vibe. Take a listen, then head over to download it.

By the way, another amazing album cover from Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick, who’s created every Steve Earle album cover since 1996′s I Feel Alright (he also did the cover for Yellow Moon by the Neville Brothers). His art makes me want to pick up all of these albums on vinyl. Beautiful work.

Steve Earle – “Waitin’ On The Sky”

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

PRE-ORDER: I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (the album, out April 26) | I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (the novel, out May 12)

DOWNLOAD: The MP3 of “Waitin’ On The Sky” and an excerpt from Steve’s new novel here.

Red House Painters

Red House Painters

Red House Painters. I think I listened to their latest album, Songs for a Blue Guitar, only once before tonight – and didn’t give it a good listen at that.

Some cool tracks on this one…

A Neil Young-inspired 11 minute thrasher here with “Silly Little Love Songs”…

A Cars cover! “All Mixed Up”! Completely revamped…

And the song that pushed me again toward the album after hearing on Sirius XM’s The Loft – the title track. I thought I was hearing a slowed down, acoustic version of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”, but it was this…

Recap: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros / Dawes at the Clubhouse in Tempe

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Music discovery. I feel sorry for those that don’t keep their ears open to new sounds. As the calendar flipped over to 2010, I knew nothing (or next to nothing) about Dawes or Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Last night at the sweltering Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe, I enjoyed the hell out of these two great bands.

It started with the Coachella webcast back in April, when I watched E.S. & TMZ ‘s set. Freaky, folky, hippie vibes – something refreshing and different. So when I saw their Arizona date (and no boycott – woo hoo!), I was all in. So then, just last week, I got curious about the opening band, Dawes, and checked out their web site. I watched a couple videos (“Love Is All I Am”, “When My Time Comes”), really enjoyed the sound and the harmonies, and promptly snatched up their full length debut, North Hills. And what an impressive debut it is – I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it since.

So it was with this frame of reference and mind that I went to the Clubhouse last night – getting there nice and early to catch both full sets.

Dawes are a four piece folk-influenced rock band from the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles. Led by brothers Taylor (lead vox, guitar) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums), they have something special going with their brand of catchy melodies and three-part harmonies. Man, the harmonies! They filled up the room from the onset, with the great opener “How Far We’ve Come” – where Griffin took the first line of the verses, Griffin and keyboardist Alex Casnoff on the second line, and Taylor joining in on the third. Great stuff. Harmonies abounded on tunes like “Love Is All I Am” and the crowd favorite “When My Time Comes”. They also showed a harder edge with a nice new one, “Fire Away” and “My Girl To Me”. Their set had us drawing comparisons to The Band at times, and they obviously grew up listening to a lot of Byrds and CSN.

Dawes

Great all around musicianship and singing with Dawes, but a special tip o’ the hat to the singing voice of Taylor Goldsmith. The guy can flat out sing. And when he gets way up there, there’s a soulful growl that wouldn’t sound out of place on an old Stax record. Great, great live band and great album. You’d do yourself good to pick it up.

On to Eddie and his Zeros, also formed out of the fair city of Los Angeles (the Silverlake section). By the time the band came out, the place was a stuffy, unventilated sweatbox. I got some reprieve by being directly under a fan behind the soundboard, but man, this venue clearly does not care about the comfort of its patrons.

After watching a live set online, I had a good idea of what was in store. And though the Polo Fields of Indio, Calif. have absolutely nothing in common with the Clubhouse Music Venue, the group’s vibe and spirit were intact. Some early microphone issues almost jeopardized that good overall vibe, turning frontman/leader/messiah Alex Ebert a tad grumpy – but all was sorted out.

And so the band played on – mostly tunes from their solid 2009 album, Up From Below. They kicked things off with “40 Day Dream”, “Up From Below” and “Carries On” – a trio of catchy sing-along songs that hooked in the crowd. Edward’s muse, Jade Castrino, was the sole female Zero of the show. Usually, Nora Kirkpatrick is along for the ride (*cough-hotblonde-cough*), but sadly she missed this gig in the desert. If you’ve watched Jade on stage, you’ve probably noticed she’s a little unorthodox as far as live performers go. She won’t face the audience – she sways and faces to the side, shyly smiling, with her eyes locked in on Alex 90% of the time. If you’re questioning the messianic quality of Alex Ebert, you’ll be convinced after watching Jade for a while. But anyways, she seems like a sweetheart, and she got some lead vocal duties with a song called “The River Won’t Flow”.

“Janglin” and “Home” were the feel-good highlights of the evening. It’s hard to not like these songs, paraphrasing my buddy Trevor. The gang of characters there on stage – keyboards, percussion, a trumpet, guitars, bass, and lots of smiles – the band clearly enjoys playing these tunes for the people, even in a 110 degree steam room. The band then wrapped up the evening in mellow fashion, singing “Brothers” while seated on the floor amongst the crowd.

It was short but sweet set, although a hot one. I got the feeling the band was good n’ ready to jump in the bus and make haste for L.A. Can’t blame ‘em.

The experience was worth the heat though – two new, fantastic bands with tons of promise. Lucky for me, they’re both playing the ACL Festival this year, so I’ll be seeing them again in October.

Here’s a nice series of moments from the evening, courtesy of Rand LeSeur Photography

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsTu9Ul9x5U&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Set List
Clubhouse Music Venue, Tempe, AZ
June 22, 2010

40 Day Dream
Up from Below
Carries On
Black Water
Come In Please
The River Won’t Flow (sung by Jade)
Janglin
Desert Song
Home
Om Nashi Me

-Encore-
Brother

June 22 in Tempe: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

Next on my live music calendar is June 22nd for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I knew little about this group until I caught their set on the Coachella webcast. It was the highlight of my armchair weekend at Coachella.

The group is the brainchild of Alex Ebert (aka Edward Sharpe). They definitely bring the communal, hippie vibe; and it’s hard not to see Ebert as the prophet-like Jesus figure among his merry band of peace loving misfits (at least they look & act like they love peace). The music itself is highly infectious, supercharged positive-energy folk rock. Last year’s full length debut, Up From Below ($5.99 for the mp3 album), comes highly recommended.

If you’re in AZ, come join me at the Clubhouse in Tempe on Tuesday the 22nd. I’m not crazy about the choice of venue, but hopefully the band can transform the gloom and doom atmosphere of the place. You can pick up tickets on the Stateside Presents web site, or in person at Zia Records, Stinkweeds or Hoodlums.

Check out this nice 3 song set, where the band crowds into NPR’s studios for “Janglin’”, “Home”, and “40 Day Daydream…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWIvfE01J0k&w=580&h=360]

Also, here’s the band’s first network TV appearance on Letterman last September…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb9jY8yAxgs&w=580&h=360]