Courtney Jaye + Ben Bridwell

Where the voice of Ben Bridwell goeth, I shall follow.

And the boy has brains, apparently, because hubba bubba pow wow (sorry – that’s my reaction to the pic above). Ben (Band of Horses frontman) shows up on singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye‘s brand new record, The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye (out Jan 12). From the samples in iTunes, Courtney’s record sounds really promising – melodic, sunny, rootsy. And this duet with Ben leads the charge…

Courtney Jaye (w/ Ben Bridwell) Sometimes Always (mp3)

Buy: The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye

Visit: Courtney Jaye’s MySpace

Open All Night as Bruce takes a rest

After the whirlwind schedule that Bruce and the Band have put themselves through the last couple of years, they’ve definitely earned some much needed R&R. And with some sort of hiatus underway (1 year? 2-3 years?), Boss Geeks like me start to speculate on what his next move might be. We know he can’t stay idle for too long, especially these days.

After The Rising Tour, 2005 and 2006 brought about two great albums and tours away from the E Street Band: Devils and Dust, and We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Thankfully, Bruce made it through Phoenix on both tours. Seeing him solo was certainly a treat (as was the Tom Joad tour) – but that damn Seeger Sessions tour. Man oh man, what a show they put on!

Counting Bruce, the Sessions Band numbered 18 musicians & singers. Eighteen!  It was a joyous concoction of sound, as they tackled old folk songs, new originals (“American Land” and “Long Walk Home” debuted), gospel music… and then there were the Seeger Sessions tweaks to Bruce’s catalog. Well, more like overhauls than tweaks… from “Blinded By The Light” to “Ramrod” and “The River”, the results always brought out new elements in the songs, and seeing them performed by so many on so many instruments – steel guitar, banjo, trumpets, trombones, and tubas…

One of the best examples is how Bruce modified “Open All Night”, a track from the sparse acoustic Nebraska album. It’s actually one of the more uptempo numbers on Nebraska. But the Sessions Band took the song to another level – a piano and horn driven stomper right out of the 1950’s.

I put on the Live in Dublin DVD earlier this evening as my family and I set up the Christmas tree. The Sessions Band had everyone shimmying and shaking, but “Open All Night” really got the joint rocking. I gotta confess, I enjoy this DVD as much as any E Street live DVD, and as far as speculating and hoping and wishing goes – I hope Bruce gets the Sessions Band together for another tour!

Here’s some evolution for ya – a trio of “Open All Night”…

Bruce Springsteen & the Sessions Band – Open All Night (mp3) – from Live In Dublin

Bruce Springsteen – Open All Night (mp3) – from Nebraska

Bruce Springsteen – Open All Night (mp3) – Short outtake from the Nebraska sessions

Thrasher

A couple weeks back, I finally got a couple of good CD display cabinets, mounted them on the wall, and released my CD’s from years of exile in plastic storage bins. It’s nice to have them in my face again, and it’s making me revisit a lot of favorites from my past that haven’t yet made it to the iTunes rip machine.

One such CD is Neil Young & Crazy Horse‘s Rust Never Sleeps, which I initially bought because of my love for the song “Powderfinger”. But upon listening to it recently, it was the beautiful lyrics, intense imagery and the simple & sweet melody of “Thrasher” that hit me.

The amazing lyrics have undoubtedly been absorbed and closely studied by longtime fans of Neil, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around them – even just the last few lines:

Where the vulture glides descending
On an asphalt highway bending
Thru libraries and museums, galaxies and stars
Down the windy halls of friendship
To the rose clipped by the bullwhip
The motel of lost companions
Waits with heated pool and bar.

But me I’m not stopping there,
Got my own row left to hoe
Just another line in the field of time
When the thrashers comes, I’ll be stuck in the sun
Like the dinosaurs in shrines
But I’ll know the time has come
To give what’s mine.

There’s magic in those words. And the sort of melancholy, matter of fact style in which Neil sings it…  Wow… Such a good tune…

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Thrasher (mp3)

Buy Rust Never Sleeps

My Night With The Pogues (@ the Marquee Theater)

Check another one off of my bucket list – I have now seen the Pogues.

Last night’s show at the Marquee Theater in Tempe was their first stop in Arizona. Ever. And it was my first chance to catch a band I’ve long admired – a legendary British band masterfully playing Irish folk music since 1982. A band fronted for most of their years by the notoriously erratic and often [always?] inebriated Shane MacGowan.

This was the 7th show of a relatively short swing across the West and central U.S., and reports in from their Los Angeles show a few nights ago had me reconsidering the steep $60 ticket price. Shane wasn’t in great shape at the Nokia Theater – stumbling and fumbling around, falling down multiple times; at one point finishing a song lying on his back.

But Shane is like that box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get. He has his good days and his bad days, and I wasn’t about to miss the chance to see these legends.

After a couple pints of Guinness at my old haunt, Casey Moore’s Oyster House (I lived around the corner for five years back in my single days) – it was off to the Marquee Theater across the Mill Avenue bridge.

It was a little after 10pm when the band sauntered on  stage to the sounds of the Clash’s “Straight to Hell” on the PA. 10-15 seconds after his bandmates came out (just enough time for the crowd to think “Uh oh” to themselves), Shane MacGowan – drink and cigarette in hand – shuffled out to center stage in a seasoned drunkard’s stagger.

Then the opening notes of “Sally Maclennane” kicked in, and there was no looking back. My friend Todd and I spent the show front and center, just on the outer edge of the drunken mosh pit that would vary in intensity throughout the evening (but was never still). Even during songs like “Dirty Old Town” and “Rainy Night In Soho”, there were at least a few testosterone-laced brutes jostling around.

As the show progressed, a pattern began to take shape: a couple songs with Shane, and one without – while Shane took a breather side stage (I assume). But like clockwork, Shane would make his way back to center stage, grab the mic in his signature style, and sing the great songs of the Pogues. Unlike his earlier shows in San Diego and L.A., he stood the entire time. It seems funny to be thankful that an artist you paid $60 to see was able to simply stand for a whole show. But this is Shane MacGowan we’re talking about. I’d be interested to know if Shane has ever been sober for a performance.

Clearly it was one of Shane’s “good” nights. Maybe it was the Arizona sunshine at the Biltmore luxury resort, where the Pogues stayed; or maybe it was the U2 concert in Glendale the night before, where Shane was in attendance, and prompted a shout out from Bono himself (and a segue into “Dirty Old Town”). Maybe the U2 show inspired Shane to pull it together for his fans.

Whatever forces of nature were in place, it resulted in over 90 minutes of unbridled Irish-inspired joy and revelry. The crowd – old and young alike – swayed, danced, and most notably, smiled. This was one of those live music experiences where time stood still. Before I knew it, the final song,”Fiesta”, was playing, Spider Stacy was smashing a pizza pan against his forehead, and Shane was leading the crowd in a singalong:

“Come all you rambling boys of pleasure / And ladies of easy leisure / We must say Adios! until we see Almeria once again”.

And then it was over.

I may never see the Pogues again. God willing, Shane MacGowan will continue to defy all odds behind his self destructive behavior, and he will continue to front this amazing band. But I thank the Music Gods I had an opportunity to experience the spirited majesty of a Pogues show.

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On Twitter: well, people do read the Twitter ramblings of @ickmusic! Check out this Phoenix New Times article.

On Youtube: 1123Mozart captured this great quality video of “Rainy Night in Soho”..

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Set ListMarquee Theatre – Tempe, Arizona – 10/21/2009

Sally Maclennane
Streams of Whiskey
If I Should Fall From Grace With God
The Broad Majestic Shannon
Young Ned Of The Hill
White City
A Pair of Brown Eyes
Tuesday Morning
Transmetropolitan
Kitty
Sunnyside of the Street
Repeal of the Licensing Laws
Body of an American
Old Main Drag
Thousands are Sailing
Dirty Old Town
Bottle of Smoke
The Sick Bed of Cuchulain

Star of the County Down
Rainy Night in Soho
Irish Rover

Paddy on the Railway
Fiesta

Buzz Cason’s Sentimental Attitude

Oh here’s a nice one. Sort of like Rodney Crowell singing an up-tempo 60’s Bob Dylan tune. The singer is Buzz Cason.

When I heard the song this morning on Sirius Outlaw Country, I pictured Buzz as a younger 20/30-something alt-country rabble rouser a la Todd Snider. Come to find out Buzz was born in 1939 and was a backup singer for Elvis in the 70’s.  Whaaa?   But that doesn’t do justice to his career accomplishments. Read his bio here, with name drops like U2 and the Beatles.

And enjoy this catchy, quick Nashvillian shit-kicker of a number….

Hear: Sentimental Attitude (mp3)

From his new album, Busload of Love.

Wilco w/ Feist on Letterman

Before I venture off to watch Paul McCartney on Letterman, I thought I’d post last night’s Letterman, in which Wilco and Feist took over the Ed Sullivan Theater for a nice version of “You and I”. The band is clearly completely in synch and enjoying their time together. The vibe is relaxed, loose, and just pretty damn nifty.

New Tunes: Reed KD

Here’s a good first impression: Reed KD out of Santa Cruz, California.

Right up my alley, really. Uptempo, spirited, folksy & rootsy. The bass drum makes me think of Zeppelin’s “Bron-Y-Aur Stomp”, and his voice sounds juuust a bit like Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. Something about the annunciation. I dunno. I dig this one.

Hear: If the Tide Swings (mp3)

From his new album: In Case the Comet Comes

Visit: Official Site | MySpace

Ick’s Pick (Week XIV): Old Californio’s new album, ‘Westering Again’

Sure, I could steer you toward the new Neil Young, Richard Swift, or Doves albums – all out this week – but this one’s been on steady rotation for several weeks now, and it would be silly of me not to make this my Ick’s Pick o’ the week. A few weeks ago, I announced myself blown away by this band: Pasadena’s Old Californio, and their new album, Westering Again – largely due to the mind-blowing infectiousness of the opening tune, “Mother Road”.

Well, today’s the day the album is unleashed to the masses, and I strongly recommend you visit one of the links below to pick it up. If you’d be interested in a diverse American album drawing on influences ranging from Gram Parsons and Moby Grape to the Grateful Dead and Crazy Horse, you’d be well served by hearing this album. Here’s my “Mother Road” post that goes into the band and album in more detail. And, you can still rock out to “Mother Road”…

BUY Westering Again here on iTunes or here on CD Baby.

HEAR Old CalifornioRiparian High (mp3)

VISIT: Old Californio on MySpace

Mother Road [instant fave]

We all have those friends who decry the state of new music today. “All new music sucks!”, they say. Of course, some of these people think Creed was the best thing since sliced bread. Well, every time I hear these people, I now have another band to fire back with: Old Californio.

Last Friday, I opened up my snail mail to find their forthcoming CD, ‘Westering Again‘, inside. Instead of tossing it on the stack of CD’s I need to listen to, it went right into my car CD player. I don’t know exactly why. Cover art? Cool band name? Fate? How ’bout all of the above.

Less than 30 seconds into the opening track, a spiritual experience ensued. The song is “Mother Road”, and it’s easily the best tune I’ve heard all year. Rootsy, earthy, homegrown, purely American rock n roll – a perfect blend of inspiring, get-out-on-the-road lyrics, unforgettable riffs, great chord changes, and a harmonious sing-along chorus. If the Traveling Wilburys sprung back to life, this could easily lead off their third album.

“You got to get on the mother road
just like a river reflectin’ everything it’s told
You got to get on
Get your story told.”

You’ll understand after you’ve hit the repeat button 5 times and you’re singing along.

Old Californio is singer/songwriter/guitarist Rich Dembowski, Jason Chesny (bass), Levi Nuñez (keys, including some great B3), and Justin Smith (drums). The album was produced by the band along with Alfonso Rodeñas (Mark Olson, Los Tigres Del Norte), and recorded in their old chicken coop garage turned studio in Pasadena, California. There’s clearly a West Coast / southwest-y feel throughout the album. I hear shades of Dylan (“From the Mouths of Babes”), Calexico (the horns on “Riparian High”), and the Grateful Dead (during “Warmth of the Sun”, you’d swear that late 70’s-era Dead were morphing into “Not Fade Away”).

I’m an upbeat person by nature, and maybe that’s why this album connects with me so easily. Among the Californian soundscapes, the reverence for the great outdoors and the escapism, there is an undercurrent of positive energy – an “It’s good to be alive” vibe. I can get behind that.

Old CalifornioMother Road (mp3)

Westering Again will be released on April 7th. I’ll post a links to buy when available. For now, keep these guys on your radar.

Links: Old Californio’s MySpace page.

Northern Exposure: The Great Outdoors, “Winter”

Savour the Flavour of Winter.Canadian folk-rock collective The Great Outdoors have completed their ambitious project to write, record and release an EP for each season. The three preceding EP’s managed to perfectly capture the tone of each respective season and Winter introduces elements of blues and roots music to the mix to a stunning effect. “The Winter’s Touch” plaintive tenor closes the door and invites you in from the cold as Melisa Devost‘s beautiful voice warms your heart. “The Garbage Man Song” rambles along and features some distinctly Tom Waits influenced moments provided courtesy of guest vocalist Nickle City Slim. “No Bells” swings with a bluesy swagger that pays off with an in your face guitar accompaniment that would otherwise seem out of place. “Edison’s Genius” picks up where the previous track leaves off with its blues-tinged delivery but in place of place of guitars is a horn arrangement that recalls Monk‘s “Abide With Me”. The set wraps with “Snowdrop” a slow burn ballad. Check out “The Garbage Man Song” here and you can catch the rest of the release on the bands MySpace page.

The Great Outdoors – The Garbage Man Song” (mp3)

Links: on Last.fm | on MySpace