Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 2015 Concert Calendar

I started this blog to let people know about all the good music that's out there. And there's plenty. Here is a list of a few concerts you might be interested in for the month of December, 2015. Most of these are artists that I've reviewed. I will try to add to this calendar whenever I can throughout the month.

December 1, 2015  (Tuesday)
The Howlin' Brothers  -  Haus der Kultur, Waldkraiburg, Germany
Sara Syms  -  Preservation Pub, Knoxville, TN

December 2, 2015  (Wednesday)
Jay Farrar  -  Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA
Gaelic Storm  -  One World Theatre, Austin, TX
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Schlachthof, Kassel, Germany
Christopher Williams  -  House Concert, Fraser, CO  -  7:00 p.m.

December 3, 2015  (Thursday)
Rebecca Angel Band  -  Hamagrael Craft Fair, Hamagrael Elementary School, Delmar, NY  -  10:00 a.m.
Gaelic Storm  -  Cain's Ballroom,  Tulsa, OK
The Howlin' Brothers  -   Heimathaus, Twist, Germany
Lady Low  -  The Satellite, Los Angeles, CA  -  9:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul The Four Corners / Flying Goose Brew Pub And Grille, 40 Andover Road, New London, NH  -  8:00 p.m.
Whitney Rose  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX  
Melvern Taylor And His Fabulous Meltones  -  Toad, Cambridge, MA  -  7:30 p.m. 
Christopher Williams  -  House Concert, Monument, CO  -  7:00 p.m. 
Keller Williams  -  The V Club, Huntington, WV 

December 4, 2015  (Friday)
Adam Ezra Group  -  The Parlor Room, Northampton, MA  -  7:00 p.m.
Steve Forbert  -  The Kennett Flash, Kennett Square, PA
Gaelic Storm  -   South Side Music Hall, Dallas, TX
Leftover Cuties  -  Laura R. Charles Theater, National City, CA
Brooks Williams  -  The Ropery Hall, Barton-Upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire, UK
Christopher Williams  -   House Concert, Golden, CO  -  7:00 p.m.
Dar Williams  -  The Towne Crier Cafe, Beacon, NY
Keller Williams  -   State Theatre, State College, PA

December 5, 2015  (Saturday)
Entrain  -  Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Steve Forbert  -   New Hope Winery, New Hope, PA
Gaelic Storm  -   Liberty Hall, Tyler, TX
Leftover Cuties  -   One Colorado Courtyard, Pasadena, CA  -  6:00 p.m.
Rebecca Loebe  -  Acoustics at Oaks End, Smyrna, GA
The Nields  -  Irvington Town Hall, Irvington, NY
Ellis Paul Steel City Coffeehouse, 203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA  -  8:00 p.m.
The Whooligans  -  The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA  -  10:00 p.m.
Dar Williams  -   Irvington Town Hall, Irving, NY
Keller Williams  -   Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA

December 6, 2015  (Sunday)
Gaelic Storm  -   Dosey Doe, The Woodlands, TX
Brooks Williams  -   Sound In The Suburbs, Glasgow, Scotland
Christopher Williams  -   First Presbyterian Church, Grand Junction, CO  -  7:30 p.m.
Dar Williams  - New Hope Winery, New Hope, PA

December 7, 2015  (Monday)
The Greencards  -  Dyck Arboretum, Hesston, KS
Secret Someones  -  Webster Hall, New York, NY
Brooks Williams  - Conwy Folk Club, Conwy, Wales

December 8, 2015  (Tuesday)
Judy Collins  -  Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
The Greencards  -   The Blue Door, Oklahoma City, OK
Lou Volpe Group  -  John Birks Gillespie Theater, 53 E. 11th St., New York, NY  -  8:00 p.m.
Christopher Williams  -   Bethany Church, Greenland, NH  -  6:45 p.m.

December 9, 2015  (Wednesday)
Peter Case  -  Armando's, Martinez, CA
Christopher Williams  -   Bethany Church, Greenland, NH  -  6:45 p.m.

December 10, 2015  (Thursday)
Funkyjenn  -   El Cid, Los Angeles, CA
Whitney Rose  -  Continental Club, Austin, TX 

December 11, 2015  (Friday)
Adam Ezra Group  -    The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA  -  8:30 p.m.
Leftover Cuties  -   Terragram Ballroom, Los Angeles, CA  -  8:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook, CT  -  8:00 p.m.
Keller Williams  -  City Winery, Nashville, TN 

December 12, 2015  (Saturday)
Antje Duvekot  -  The Purple Crayon, Hastings On The Hudson, NY
Josh Lederman And The Cambridge-Somerville All Stars  -  Plough And Stars, Cambridge, MA  -  4:00 p.m.
Leftover Cuties  -   Brick And Mortar, San Francisco, CA  -  8:30 p.m.
Mandolin Orange  -  Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY
The Whooligans  -   The Red Leprechaun, Long Beach, CA
Dar Williams  - Sixth And I Historic Synagogue, Washington D.C.

December 13, 2015  (Sunday)
Adam Ezra  -   The Flying Monkey, Plymouth, NH  -  6:30 p.m.
Leftover Cuties  -  Harlow's, Sacramento, CA
Ellis Paul  -  Acoustic Celebration, 351 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT  -  8:00 p.m.

December 14, 2015  (Monday)
Ellis Paul Mark and Emily Turner Memorial Library, 39 Second Street, Presque Isle, ME  -  5:00 p.m.

December 15, 2015 (Tuesday)

December 16. 2015  (Wednesday)
James McMurtry  -  Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA
Whitney Rose  -   Sportsmen's Tavern, Buffalo, NY

December 17, 2015  (Thursday)
Blimp Rock  -  London Fuse, London, ON, Canada
Rebecca Loebe  -   The Rock Room, Austin, TX
James McMurtry  -   Narrows Center For The Arts, Fall River, MA
Melvern Taylor And His Fabulous Meltones  -  Toad, Cambridge, MA  -  7:30 p.m. 
Dar Williams  -  South Orange Performing Arts Center, South Orange, NJ 

December 18, 2015  (Friday)
Dave Davies  -   Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
Adam Ezra Group  -   Dogfish Head Brewery, Rehoboth Beach, MD
The Howlin' Brothers  -   ACME Feed And Seed, Nashville, TN
Jimmy LaFave  -   Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Austin, TX
James McMurtry  -  Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Ellis Paul  -  The Jefferson Theater, 110 East Main Street, Charlottesville, VA  -  8:00 p.m.
Dar Williams  -  Landmark On Main Street, Port Washington, NY 
Keller Williams  -  Warren Station, Keystone, CO 

December 19, 2015  (Saturday)
Adam Ezra Group  -   The Fire, Philadelphia, PA
The Howlin' Brothers  -   ACME Feed And Seed, Nashville, TN
Lori McKenna  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  5:00 p.m.
Lori McKenna  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  8:00 p.m.
James McMurtry  -   Johnny D's, Somerville, MA
The Nields  -  The Calvin Theatre, Northampton, MA
Ellis Paul  -  Tally Ho Theatre, 19 West Market Street, Leesburg, VA  -  8:30 p.m.
Michael Stanley  -  Hard Rock Live, Northfield, OH
Town Mountain  -  Isis Restaurant And Music Hall, Asheville, NC  -  9:00 p.m.
The Whooligans  -   The Auld Dubliner, Long Beach, CA
Dar Williams  -  Calvin Theatre, Northampton, MA 
Keller Williams  -  Warren Station, Keystone, CO 

December 20, 2015  (Sunday)
Lori McKenna  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  5:00 p.m.
Lori McKenna  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  8:00 p.m.

December 21, 2015  (Monday)

December 22, 2015 (Tuesday)

December 23, 2015  (Wednesday)

December 24, 2015  (Thursday)

December 25, 2015  (Friday)

December 26, 2015  (Saturday)
Melissa Ferrick  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  5:00 p.m.
Melissa Ferrick  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  8:00 p.m.
The Howlin' Brothers  -   ACME Feed And Seed, Nashville, TN
Josh Lederman And The Cambridge-Somerville All Stars  -  Plough And Stars, Cambridge, MA  -  4:00 p.m.
Dar Williams  -   The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY

December 27, 2015  (Sunday)
Dead And Company  -  Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
Adam Ezra Group  -   Daryl's House, Pawling, NY  -  8:30 p.m.
Melissa Ferrick  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  5:00 p.m.
Melissa Ferrick  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  8:00 p.m.
Kenny Neal  -  Earl's Hideaway, Sebastian, FL  -  6:00 p.m.
Dar Williams  -   World Cafe Live, Wilmington, DE

December 28, 2015  (Monday)
Dead And Company  -  Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, CA
James McMurtry  -   McGonigel's Mucky Duck, Houston, TX

December 29, 2015  (Tuesday)

December 30, 2015  (Wednesday)
Dead And Company  -   The Forum, Los Angeles, CA
Adam Ezra Group  -   Spruce Peak PAC, Stowe, VT
Ellis Paul  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  7:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  10:00 p.m.
Phish  -  Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Railroad Earth  -   Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL
Red Wanting Blue  -   House Of Blues, Cleveland, OH
Yonder Mountain String Band  -  Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO

December 31, 2015  (Thursday)
The Cherry Poppin' Daddies  -  Fred Kavli Theater, Thousand Oaks, CA
Dead And Company  -   The Forum, Los Angeles, CA
Adam Ezra Group  -   Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH  -  7:30 p.m.
Jimmy LaFave  -  McGonigel's Mucky Duck, Houston, TX
Ellis Paul  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  7:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul  -  Club Passim, Cambridge, MA  -  10:00 p.m.
Phish  -  Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 
Railroad Earth  -   Vic Theatre, Chicago, IL
Red Wanting Blue  -   House Of Blues, Cleveland, OH
Town Mountain  -   Oskar Blues, Brevard, NC  -  9:00 p.m.
The Whooligans  -   Dublin Square, San Diego, CA
Christopher Williams  -   Park Street Church, Boston, MA 
Keller Williams  -  Telluride Conference Center, Telluride, CO 
Yonder Mountain String Band  -  Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Dictators: “Go Girl Crazy! (40th Anniversary Edition)” (2015) CD Review

The Dictators’ debut album, Go Girl Crazy!, released in 1975, was one of the first punk records, and is now being re-issued in a special remastered and expanded edition. These tunes are screaming with attitude, sarcasm, and energy, and delivered with a delicious humor. Most of the tracks are originals, but the band also does a couple of interesting covers. This expanded edition contains a whole lot of bonus material, including several previously unreleased tracks, plus liner notes by band member Andy Shernoff.

The album opens with “The Next Big Thing,” which begins with applause, and then with a little pretend berating of a crowd: “I don’t have to be here, you know. I didn’t have to show up here… This is just a hobby for me. Nothing, you hear? A hobby.” This song sort of pokes fun at the boasting of rock and rollers, heard in the vocal approach to the title line, “I’m the next big thing,” while also possibly claiming that same thing for themselves. Who knows? After all, for sure this song has a rock hook, and it does get a bit personal with the (surprising) lines, I knocked 'em dead in Dallas/And I didn't pay my dues/Yeah, I knocked 'em dead in Dallas/They didn't know we were Jews.” There is certainly some humor in the lines, “But I won't be happy/’Til I'm known far and wide/With my face on the cover/Of the TV Guide,” trading Rolling Stone for TV Guide. (Dr. Hook’s “Cover Of Rolling Stone” came out a few years earlier.)

The Dictators follow that with a funny, cool rendition of the Sonny And Cher hit “I Got You Babe,” a great, loud, messy version. Sure, it’s a large part sarcasm, but still, they’re taking the time to play the song, so there must be some earnestness there. And I love the way they sing the “I got you to hold my hand/And I got you to understand/I got you to walk with me/And I got you to talk with me” part, which includes some kissing sounds after the line “I got you to kiss good night.” They also do a seriously fun cover of the Rivieras’ “California Sun.” “And I’d what?” “Cha cha cha.” The bonus tracks include alternate takes of both “I Got You Babe” and “California Sun.”

In “Back To Africa,” they sing about love for a dark-skinned woman, “Darker than a chocolate cake now/She wants to be a singer in America/I told her I could give her a break.” But even more interesting are these lines: “I think that I love you/You're too free to care/Religion will save you/Civilization's here.” In this one, they also sing, “Sometimes I wish I were black.” And then the band follows that perfectly with “Master Race Rock,” a song that is somehow ridiculous and simultaneously ridiculously fantastic, and is not at all about skin color, but rather about teenagers. Check out lines like “Country Rock is on the wane/I don't want music, I want pain!” and “We're the members of the master race/Got no style and we got no grace/Sleep all night, sleep all day/Nothing good on TV anyway/Gasoline shortage won't stop me now, oh no!” Oh yes, teenagers in the seventies! And then “Teengenerate” begins with some mellow organ at like a dull dinner party or something, before kicking in using that famous drumbeat from 1960s songs like “Be My Baby.” An alternate take of “Teengenerate” is included in the bonus tracks, with some playing around at the beginning. “Weekend” is also about those tough teenage years (“I might know better when I’m older”).

“Two Tub Man” has a silly introduction. But once it gets going, like a minute in, it’s pretty cool, with a lot of energy and some absurd lyrics (“I drink Coca cola for breakfast/I've got Jackie Onassis in my pants/I'm never gonna watch channel 13”) as well as some playful boasting (“What I want to do I do/Who I want to screw I screw”). The bonus tracks include a remixed version of this tune (humorously labeled “Remixed, Over-Produced And Totally Reimagined”), remixed from the original multi-track source tapes this summer. Gone is that introduction. (There is a similarly remixed version of “Weekend” on this disc.)

The original album concluded with “(I Live For) Cars And Girls,” a fairly straightforward rock number with some 1960s influences (listen to those backing vocals). “There’s nothing else in this gosh-darn world except for cars and good-good-good-good-good girls.” The bonus tracks include a single remix of “(I Live For) Cars And Girls.”

In addition to the other bonus tracks I’ve already mentioned, there is an outtake of “Backseat Boogie,” which is a fun, fast-paced rock and roll tune. “Don’t you think I’m cool?/Backseat boogie/I don’t follow no rules/Backseat boogie/I don’t go to school.” There is also an alternate take of “The Next Big Thing,” and an instrumental version of “Master Race Rock.”

CD Track List
  1. The Next Big Thing
  2. I Got You Babe
  3. Back To Africa
  4. Master Race Rock
  5. Teengenerate
  6. California Sun
  7. Two Tub Man
  8. Weekend
  9. (I Live For) Cars And Girls
  10. Two Tub Man (Remixed)
  11. Weekend (Remixed)
  12. Backseat Boogie (Take 1)
  13. The Next Big Thing (Take 1)
  14. I Got You Babe (Take 2)
  15. Master Race Rock (Instrumental)
  16. Teengenerate (Alternate Take)
  17. California Sun (Instrumental)
  18. (I Live For) Cars And Girls (Single Remix)
Go Girl Crazy! 40th Anniversary Remastered And Expanded Edition is scheduled to be released on December 4, 2015 through Real Gone Music.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jeremy Spencer: “Jeremy Spencer” (1970/2015) CD Review

As great an album as Rumours is (and it is an excellent album), I’ve always preferred the early, more bluesy Fleetwood Mac material, before the girls joined the band. Then Play On might be my favorite of the band’s records. It came out in the fall of 1969. Early the following year, Jeremy Spencer’s self-titled debut solo album was released. But this is a solo album in nearly the same way that Bob Weir’s Ace is a solo album, for all of the Fleetwood Mac members play on it. And it has a little of that great bluesy rock, but also a lot of early rock and roll sounds. This is mostly original material, but Spencer does cover a couple of older rock and roll numbers here. While the intentions might not always be serious, I really love this album. As I said, this is essentially a Fleetwood Mac album, and one that has up until now not been available on CD. This CD issue contains a bonus track, as well as new liner notes by Richie Unterberger, including material from an interview he conducted with Jeremy Spencer.

This album opens with “Linda,” which has a definite and very strong Buddy Holly influence, heard both in the rhythm and in the vocals. Just listen to the way Jeremy sings the word “desire” in the lines “I know a girl called Linda/She’s my heart’s desire/This little girl called Linda/Sets my soul on fire.” This song was also released as a single. He follows that with a cover of an early rock and roll tune, “The Shape I’m In,” which was written by Lee Cathy and Otis Blackwell, and recorded by Kenny Lee Martin in 1958 and then by Johnny Restivo in 1959. Otis Blackwell also wrote “Don’t Be Cruel,” “All Shook Up,” and “Breathless,” and co-wrote such great numbers as “Fever” and “Great Balls Of Fire.” Here is a taste of the lyrics to “The Shape I’m In”: “I can’t go, I can’t stay/It’s your fault I’m this way/I ain’t ever been in the shape I’m in.”

There is a goofy introduction at the beginning of “Mean Blues,” which goes on for like forty-five seconds, but once that’s over, the band then goes into that heavy blues rock that Fleetwood Mac was known for at the time. But here it’s presented with a sense of humor, heard in the vocal delivery and in lines like “I got a mean woman/She don’t do anything I tell her to/That’s the truth.” Jeremy Spencer then returns to early rock and roll with a cover of “String-a-Long,” written by Jimmy Duncan and Bobby Doyle, and recorded by artists like Fabian and Ricky Nelson (as “String Along”). Even though the band is clearly having fun, this rendition feels sincere and is actually really good. Peter Green plays banjo on this track.

“Here Comes Charlie (With His Dancing Shoes On)” is a bluesy tune that incorporates the Bo Diddley beat (think “Willie And The Hand Jive”), but also has a sense of humor about it, heard particularly in the backing vocals, which have a sort of falsetto at times. “He wears long black jeans that fit so tight/All the girls agree that he’s out of sight/He can give the girls most anything/That’s when they all begin to sing.”

Jeremy Spencer slows things down with “Teenage Love Affair,” a song which seems to poke fun at the very sound it’s employing – those serious early rock and roll songs about teenage heartache. Here he sings, “I’m feeling so mixed up/Sad and lonesome too/’Cause since that day you left me/Girl, I don’t know what to do.” And check out these lines: “It has been so long/Since I last saw your face/I feel so lost inside/And I just can’t think straight/My teacher thinks I’m a fool/So I’m working after school/I guess that’s just a part of a teenage love affair.” It has a fairly straight and earnest delivery. Likewise, “Jenny Lee” is about teenage romance and has a playful sense about it. “I asked you out the following night/You said, gee, it will be all right.” But even if they’re joking, the song is fun and works well, and you might find yourself bopping along to it.

But “Don’t Go Please Stay” is probably the best tune on this CD. It is a sort of mix of early rock and roll sounds with bluesy elements, and it’s great. Stephen Gregory plays saxophone on this track. And I love the vocals. “Please stay/Not just because I told you to/Just stay because you love me/I’ll do anything for you/Yeah.” That is followed by the final cover of the album, “You Made A Hit,” an early rock and roll tune that was recorded by folks like Charlie Rich, Ray Smith and Joe Fuller. It was written by Walter P. Maynard, Jr. Jeremy Spencer’s rendition is seriously good.

Things then get a little weirder with “Take A Look Around Mrs. Brown,” which begins with some belching and other goofiness, and then the line “You live in a semi-detached house.” It has a very loose, deliberately messy sound, with some direct references to The Beatles near the end. Then “Surfin’ Girl” is a playful take on the whole surfing music genre. The original album’s final track, “If I Could Swim The Mountain,” is also an odd one, kind of a mumbling goof on Elvis Presley’s vocal approach to some of his slower numbers.

The bonus track is “Teenage Darling,” which was originally released as the flip side to the single of “Linda.” It’s an original tune, another fun play on the 1950s doo-wop teen love songs. “Teenage darling/Please say you’ll be mine/Now and forever/Until the end of time.”

CD Track List
  1. Linda
  2. The Shape I’m In
  3. Mean Blues
  4. String-a-Long
  5. Here Comes Charlie (With His Dancing Shoes On)
  6. Teenage Love Affair
  7. Jenny Lee
  8. Don’t Go Please Stay
  9. You Made A Hit
  10. Take A Look Around Mrs. Brown
  11. Surfin’ Girl
  12. If I Could Swim The Mountain
  13. Teenage Darling 
Jeremy Spencer is scheduled to be released on CD on December 4, 2015 through Real Gone Music.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Lyn Stanley: “Interludes” (2015) CD Review

It’s amazing to me that Lyn Stanley’s singing career began only four and a half years ago. Listening to her new CD, Interludes, her third full-length album, you’d think she’d been singing professionally her whole life. On this CD, she does some jazz standards, but also delivers some surprising choices of material, all of the songs in some way related to love and relationships. And she has a great band backing her, displaying undeniable talent while remaining in support of her vocals. I absolutely love her style. She has a voice for night, and some of these tracks (like “The Island”) feel like that magic time when the night is basically over but there is still the possibility of squeezing some more intimate moments from it. That in-between time when everything is possible and the consequences seem distant and unimportant. It’s great to be able to visit that place through music.

Lyn Stanley opens this album with “How Long Has This Been Going On?” I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again here: You can’t go wrong with Gershwin. Lyn delivers the first few lines a cappella, so right away you get an idea of what she can do vocally. It’s a fairly smooth, relaxed rendition, and it features Bob McChesney on trombone. Lyn Stanley follows that with “Just One Of Those Things.” Going from Gershwin to Cole Porter, she shows us what she can do with material from the greatest songwriters. “Just One Of Those Things” actually begins with percussion, and when Lyn’s vocals come in, they are accompanied at first by wonderful work on bass, then by guitar, then by piano in quick succession, an interesting approach. That is Chuck Berghofer on bass, by the way. This jazz rendition has a great pace, and again features excellent work from Bob McChesney on trombone.

Lyn then tackles a more modern song with Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet,” which was written by Christopher Ward and David Tyson. Lyn Stanley isn’t the first jazz vocalist to cover this one. In fact, not too long ago Hannah BurgĂ© included a version of it on her debut album, Green River Sessions. Lyn Stanley does a really good job with it, having it open with finger snaps and bass, and giving it a kind of sexy vibe. This track features some seriously nice work on piano by the amazing Mike Garson. And those finger snaps are by Steve Rawlins. It’s really good, but even better is her rendition of “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams,” a tune written by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, and featured in the 1934 film Moulin Rouge. This is one of my favorite tracks, and it interestingly features both cello (an instrument I love) and harmonica. Lyn’s vocals are seductive and romantic. I love songs like this that transport you. For the length of the song, you can live in that world, or imagine that your life is actually much more interesting than it is. That’s Cecilia Tsan on cello.

Surprisingly, she follows that with a Led Zeppelin cover. Yes, seriously. She takes “Whole Lotta Love” and gives it a smoky, jazzy feel. There is even an instrumental section, where each musician takes brief lead parts in a round. I dig the piano, particularly during the extended ending. That’s Mike Garson again on piano. I should mention that while this is a Led Zeppelin song, Led Zeppelin completely ripped off Muddy Waters’ recording of Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love.” I like Led Zeppelin, don’t get me wrong, but they totally stole this song (among others).

I love Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain,” a song she co-wrote with Arthur Herzog Jr. “Hush now, don’t explain/You’re my joy and pain.” Lyn Stanley does a really good job with it. It’s dangerous covering Billie Holiday, because how can anyone beat that voice? It might seem like covering her is setting one’s self up for failure, but Lyn Stanley makes the song her own. This version has its own feel from the start, opening as it does with some nice work on harmonica by Hendrik Meurkens. (By the way, Hendrik Meurkens also plays harmonica on that Hannah BurgĂ© CD.)

Lyn gets kind of playful with her vocal delivery of “It’s Crazy,” making that track a delight. And then she gets quite playful and loose on the fun “I Was A Little Too Lonely,” written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston. “You promised me you’d come back/I promised to wait/But I was a little too lonely/And you were a little too late.” This tune also features a cool bass solo by Chuck Berghofer.

CD Track List
  1. How Long Has This Been Going On?
  2. Just One Of Those Things
  3. Black Velvet
  4. More Than You Know
  5. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
  6. Whole Lotta Love
  7. Last Tango In Paris
  8. Don’t Explain
  9. Nice ‘N’ Easy
  10. The Island
  11. It’s Crazy
  12. In A Sentimental Mood
  13. I Was A Little Too Lonely
  14. I’m A Fool To Want You


The musicians on this release include Bill Cunliffe on piano, Mike Garson on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass, Ray Brinker on drums, Paul Kreibich on drums, John Chiodini on guitar, Bob McChesney on trombone, Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica, Brad Dutz on percussion and Cecilia Tsan on cello.

Interludes was released on November 20, 2015 as a double album on vinyl and on SACD. 

Record Store Day, Black Friday, 2015

A few months ago I watched a documentary titled Revenge Of The Mekons, about a band I hadn't heard but which over the course of the film I came to love. I decided I had to own everything they ever recorded, and I went to Amoeba to purchase whatever CDs of theirs they had. They had none. Then a few weeks ago I went to Newbury Comics in Boston with the aim of picking up every Mekons CD I could find. They had none there, and couldn't order any. What the fuck? If Amoeba and Newbury Comics didn't carry The Mekons, who would?

Well, I knew a new Mekons record was going to be released on vinyl on Record Store Day, so I could at least purchase that.  That is, provided that I got in line early enough. The list of record releases this time around wasn't all that interesting, but there were two I was determined to get. In addition to the Mekons record, I really wanted the Dressy Bessy 7-inch. Both of these were in the "Limited Run/Regional Focus" section of the Record Store Day list, which means a very limited number were pressed. There were also two Kinks EPs that I was interested in, but I knew there would be more of those available.

Freakbeat is my record store of choice, and what they do there is ask each person in line for his or her number one pick. That way, each person is basically guaranteed to get at least one thing he or she wants. This works out fairly well. There is the danger, of course, of someone quite a bit behind you in line wanting what might be your second choice. So maybe I'd get The Mekons, but probably not Dressy Bessy. It all depends on what the folks behind me are focused on, as well as what the people in front me are ready to purchase.

I got to the store at 8:30, two and a half hours before it opened. Shockingly, only six people were ahead of me. So I figured my chances were pretty good. There was a scary moment when I told the guy my first choice was The Mekons and he responded, "There's a Mekons record?" But he went in to check, and sure enough, they had it, and so it was mine. So now I own my first Mekons album. I'm hoping to add to that soon. And, by the way, I was lucky enough to get the Dressy Bessy single as well (along with the two Kinks EPs). A good day.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Grateful Dead: “Dave’s Picks Volume 16” (2015) CD Review

The final Dave’s Picks volume of 2015 arrived recently, and it’s a good one. Anything from 1973 holds the promise of something special, and this show from March 28, 1973 at the Springfield Civic Center in Springfield, Massachusetts certainly doesn’t disappoint. I am one of the many people who consider 1973 to be the best year for the band. The jams had a great jazzy vibe then, and some of my favorite Grateful Dead tunes were introduced, such as “Eyes Of The World.” Also, there seemed to be a ton of joy and passion in the music, even more than usual. This show took place not far from where I grew up (though I had just turned one year old, and so was completely unaware of the band at the time).

Disc One

The first disc contains most of the first set (man, they played long first sets back then – the first disc is approximately seventy-five minutes). The first set kicks off with a seriously fun and smooth version of “Cumberland Blues.” They follow it with “Here Comes Sunshine,” which was a new song at the time, having been introduced just the previous month. The first set also contains “Wave That Flag,” the song that would eventually become “U.S. Blues.” This early version has a lot of lyrics that would later be dropped, and it’s great to hear them. “Hide in caves, walk on waves/Pull the tooth, stretch the truth.” Plus, it’s a great tune to dance to.

The band keeps things moving with “Beat It On Down The Line,” before slowing down with “Loser” and a nice “Jack Straw” and a wonderful “Box Of Rain.” One of the highlights of this first disc is “They Love Each Other,” another tune that was new at the time. This version has a lot of energy, played at a faster clip than it would be in later years. Also, at this time it has that other short bridge section that would later be dropped, and I really like that section. This rendition does seem to end abruptly and perhaps prematurely, but no matter. It’s followed by a sweet “El Paso” and a beautiful “Row Jimmy.” These lines always grab me: “Broken heart don’t feel so bad/You ain’t got half of what you thought you had.”

Disc Two

The second disc contains the last several songs of the first set and a good chunk of the second set. It opens with something of a rarity, Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough.” This was a song the Grateful Dead only played in 1973, and it features Donna Jean Godchaux on lead vocals, doing a country twang. There is a bit of stage banter before the next song, with Bob Weir telling the crowd, “If you gotta smoke, you gotta go out back and do it.” And then they do the Take-A-Step-Back bit, because, as Bob mentions, the people up front were becoming two-dimensional. They then go into a mellow and pretty “Looks Like Rain.” The first set concludes with “China Cat Sunflower” into “I Know You Rider.”

The second set then gets off to a rocking start with Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land,” followed by “Loose Lucy,” which was another tune that was new at the time, having been played fewer than ten times. This song went through some minor changes, and here it is slower than it would be played later, and it has that backing vocal bit, “Round and round, woo, round and round,” which was later dropped. After “Me And My Uncle,” there is some stage banter about a demonstration for the legalization of marijuana that was to be held in Hartford. This disc also includes “The Race Is On,” a song the Dead played a lot in 1973, but not much in other years. There is also a really good version of “Stella Blue,” one of my favorite songs, and one that was still relatively new at the time (less than a year old). “It seems like all this life/Was just a dream.” This disc concludes with an excellent “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” (which was also less than a year old at the time of this show).

Disc Three

The third disc then contains the rest of the second set, as well as the encore. And it’s here that we have the biggest jams of the concert. It sounds like right from the start Phil is ready for “Dark Star,” but the band first plays “Weather Report Suite Prelude,” which the Grateful Dead did only a few times. It’s a pretty instrumental piece, and it leads right into a great, thirty-one-minute “Dark Star.” This begins as a mellow, relaxed jam, but of course gets more intense at moments, as the band gets into it, rising and deciding when to fall as well. The jam goes into some surprising areas, like around the twelve-minute mark, when what seems like a drum solo suddenly turns into some interesting stuff on guitar and piano. And then eighteen minutes in, the band returns to that familiar theme and we get the first verse. And after that, the band goes into weirder territory. And without ever getting to the second verse, the band segues into “Eyes Of The World,” another of my favorite songs, and another that was new at the time. Here they get into the first verse almost immediately. This is an excellent early version, though there isn’t all that much jamming until after the final verse. But that jam at the end is absolutely fantastic, and includes that great section that the band only did early on. I absolutely love it. This jam is probably the highlight of the show for me. Although what follows is also wonderful, as the band then ends the second set with an energetic “Playing In The Band,” which of course contains plenty of great jamming. The band keeps up the energy for the encore, “Johnny B. Goode.”

CD Track List

Disc One
  1. Cumberland Blues
  2. Here Comes Sunshine
  3. Mexicali Blues
  4. Wave That Flag
  5. Beat It On Down The Line
  6. Loser
  7. Jack Straw
  8. Box Of Rain
  9. They Love Each Other
  10. El Paso
  11. Row Jimmy
  12. Around And Around
  13. Brown-Eyed Women
Disc Two
  1. You Ain’t Woman Enough
  2. Looks Like Rain
  3. China Cat Sunflower >
  4. I Know You Rider
  5. Promised Land
  6. Loose Lucy
  7. Me And My Uncle
  8. Don’t Ease Me In
  9. The Race Is On
  10. Stella Blue
  11. Big River
  12. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Disc Three
  1. Weather Report Suite Prelude >
  2. Dark Star >
  3. Eyes Of The World >
  4. Playing In The Band
  5. Johnny B. Goode 
Dave’s Picks Volume 16 was released in early November, 2016 (actually, it looks like my copy shipped on Halloween).

Judy Collins Announced As Keynote Speaker For 2016 Folk Alliance

Judy Collins will be the keynote speaker at the 28th annual Folk Alliance conference, which is scheduled for February 17-21, 2016, at the Westin Hotel Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Judy Collins will perform on February 19th. The full lineup includes many other excellent artists, including Perla Batalla, Catie Curtis, Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Club Of Cowtown, Bill Kirchen, Miss Tess And The Talkbacks, Steve Poltz, and Henry Wagons. And of course the conference is a chance to check out and get turned on to other artists you might not yet be aware of.