Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marshall Chapman: "Big Lonesome" (2010) CD Review

Marshall Chapman's 2010 release is a beautiful, sad, moving album dedicated to Tim Krekel, who died last year.

Marshall Chapman's new album, Big Lonesome, is sometimes sad, sometimes beautiful, but usually both simultaneously. It contains mostly original material (only two cover songs), and blends country and rock and even some blues.

Marshall had been planning on recording an album of duets with Tim Krekel. But Tim was diagnosed with cancer, and three months later he was dead.

This album seems Marshall's way of coping with her grief - her dreams and memories and hopes. Music has the power to help us through the worst moments in our lives, and this album is a gift from Marshall Chapman to help us all get through such times.

"Big Lonesome"

The album starts with the title track, "Big Lonesome," which was written by Marshall Chapman and Tim Krekel. It's a country tune about a marriage gone wrong, and features some great lyrics like, "I was making love for all the love I missed/Never dreaming it would come to this." And check out these lines: "I'm staring at the TV set alone/It don't matter if it's off or on/I jump up every time I hear the phone/But it doesn't seem to ring much since you've gone."

This song was originally planned for inclusion on the album of duets. Tim Krekel plays guitar and does vocals on this song. Tommy Spurlock plays steel guitar and dobro. Mark Winchester is on bass, and Tommy Wells is on drums.

"Down To Mexico"
"Down To Mexico" is a beautiful song - and yes, it's depressing. Marshall wrote this one while flying to Mexico six days after Tim Krekel's memorial service. In this song, she sings, "We were going to fly down there together/Just like two songbirds of a feather/Sing our songs on the mountain slope/While the lights all shimmer in the town below/For the life of me I'll never know/Why I'm standing here alone." Toward the end there is a section in Spanish.

"Going Away Party"
"Going Away Party" is one of only two covers on the album - this one written by Cindy Walker. This song has a cool, mellow groove, and features a nice horn section partway through. Marshall had been performing this song since the early 1970s, but this is her first recorded version.

"Falling Through The Trees"
"Falling Through The Trees" is an excellent and sad song about hopes and dreams destroyed. Marshall sings, "Is it real, or just something in your mind/You know it's hard to tell the difference sometimes." At one point in the song she sings, "I have dreams so big I get consumed." And then later she sings, "Lightning, thunder - why, they got nothing on the sound/Of those high hopes crashing to the ground." This is one of the best songs on the album.

"Sick Of Myself"

"Sick Of Myself" has a nice 1950s rock feel. It features some cool work on bass by Jim Mayer and great guitar by Will Kimbrough. This is the last song that Marshall and Tim wrote together. She calls Tim out by name a couple of times in the song, as he was the person she'd like to be if she could be anybody else for a while.

Jason Krekel, Tim's son, does what would have been his father's vocal part. And at the end there's a bit of conversation between Marshall and Jason about Tim.

"Tim Revisited"
"Tim Revisited" is obviously a song about Tim Krekel. There is no metaphor here, no hidden meaning - it's all right there, direct, in the lyrics. Marshall sang it to Tim over the phone three days before he died.

"I Can't Stop Thinking About You"

"I Can't Stop Thinking About You" was written about Tim a month after he died. About happy memories, Marshall sings, "I'm told one day they'll comfort me." What a wonderful and heartbreaking line. She ends the song with, "I'm doing all I can to live and carry on/I can't stop thinking about you."

Hank Williams Cover

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is the second and final cover on this album - this one, of course, written by Hank Williams. Marshall does a gorgeous and heartfelt rendition of the song. Try to hold back the tears as she sings, "I've never seen a night so long/When time goes crawling by." The guitar in this song is so clear and sad, and there are some very pretty backing vocals by Bonnie Bishop and Lisa Oliver-Gray.

"Riding With Willie" is about riding on Willie Nelson's tour bus. It has some nice horn parts, and the lines, "I couldn't really tell you what state I'm in/That's the way I like it."

"I Love Everybody"

The album concludes with a live track from the last concert Marshall Chapman ever performed with Tim Krekel. The song, "I Love Everybody," was co-written by Tim Krekel. It was recorded May 30, 2009 at The Vernon in Louisville, Kentucky. The song really kicks into higher gear about three and a half minutes in - it becomes a real rocking number.

Michael Murphy is on sax, and Donn Adams plays trombone on this track. John Mann is on guitar, Mike Williams is on bass, and Mike Alger is on drums.

This track is nearly ten minutes long. After the song, Marshall talks to the audience about "I'm Sick Of Myself," and she reads some of the lyrics.

CD Track List

  1. Big Lonesome
  2. Down To Mexico
  3. Going Away Party
  4. Falling Through The Trees
  5. Sick Of Myself
  6. Tim Revisited
  7. I Can't Stop Thinking About You
  8. Mississippi Man In Mexico
  9. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
  10. Riding With Willie
  11. I Love Everybody

The musicians on this album are Marshall Chapman on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Will Kimbrough on lead guitar, Casey Wood on drums and percussion, Jim Mayer on bass, Michael Utley on organ, Jim Hoke on steel guitar and sax, and Steve Herrman on trumpet. (That lineup is for every song except "Big Lonesome" and "I Love Everybody," which were recorded at other times.)

Marshall Chapman's new album, Big Lonesome, is schedule to be released October 26, 2010. This is her sixth release on TallGirl Records, and her twelfth release overall.

Marshall Chapman has also landed her first film role, playing Gwyneth Paltrow's character's road manager in Country Strong, which is due out in late December of this year.

(Note: I originally posted this review on August 23, 2010.)

Cake Gives Away Tree During Concert

As part of the band's concert performance on July 16th, Cake gave away a tree to an audience member.

Cake performed at the Lowell Summer Music Series in Lowell, Massachusetts on Friday, July 16, 2010. The show started an hour late due to an electrical storm. But the band still did two sets and a two-song encore.

It continued to rain throughout the first set, but it was a light rain, and it did not weaken the audience's spirit. The electrical storm continued too, and John McCrea, the band's lead singer, made references to Poltergeist, by counting the seconds from the lightning to the thunder.

The band played material spanning its 15-plus year career, and even played some new material. They announced that a new album would released soon, and the crowd cheered.

They played only one song from the first album, though fans shouted out requests for "Ruby Sees All" and "Rock 'N' Roll Lifestyle." The song they played was "Jolene," to conclude the first set.

Second Set Tree Give-Away

During the second set, they stopped to give away a tree that had been brought on stage earlier in the evening. John McCrea asked what percentage of the world's population has running water in their homes. He said he would only call on people who were quiet and had their hands raised. After many, many incorrect guesses, one woman called out 36%.

"Close enough," McCrea said. The answer is 35%. So this woman was brought up on stage and made to promise that she would plant the tree and take care of it for the next thirty-five years. "If you don't," he told her, "there are tons of witnesses here who will hunt you down."

She also promised to plant the tree and to take a photo of herself next to the newly planted tree and to send that photo to Cake via the band's website.

All of this was amusing, but it really ate into the second set. It might have been better if they had cut that short and played another song. Though it is a noble endeavor to make people environmentally aware, and it is an excellent thing to plant trees, it also stopped the show dead.

This has become a regular part of Cake's concert. On the band's website is a "Tree Gallery," with photos of people and the trees they won at concerts.

Lowell Summer Music Series

Apparently a lot of people remain seated during concerts at the Lowell Summer Music Series. But not for Cake. In fact, signs were posted around the venue, stating, "Tonight we anticipate: Standing, Dancing, Reluctant Crouching."

Tickets were available at the door, for forty dollars (which was actually only two dollars more than the price for those who bought them ahead of time). All seats were general admission. Blankets and chairs were allowed, as were drinks and food. Photography was not allowed at this concert, and so no photo accompanies this article.

Children up to age 12 are admitted for free to all concerts in the Lowell Summer Music Series. Performers scheduled for later this summer include Indigo Girls, Herbie Hancock, Lyle Lovett, Aztec Two-Step and The B-52s.

(Note: I originally posted this article on July 23, 2010.)

Blue Oyster Cult at Warner Park Concert Review

Blue Oyster Cult rocked a crowd of 7,000 at Warner Park on August 15, 2010.

Blue Oyster Cult performed at Warner Park on Sunday, August 15, 2010 as part of the Valley Cultural Center's Concerts On The Green. The show began just after 6 p.m. with a really good opening set by Allison Geddie. Blue Oyster Cult took the stage just before 7 p.m.

"The Red & The Black"

They opened the show with "The Red & The Black," a great rock song to start the night right. The band then went into "Before The Kiss, A Redcap" from the first album. This song has a really nice bass line. It's a fun, rockin' tune with a simple driving drum beat.

"Burnin' For You"

The band then played "Burnin' For You," one its most well known songs, from the 1981 release Fire Of Unknown Origin. There was a vocal microphone issue for just a moment, but it didn't mar this version of one of the band's classic hits. From there, they launched into "Shooting Shark," a very cool tune with a nice long jam, and followed it up with more jamming with the fun instrumental "Buck's Boogie."

"Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll"

For the hard rock fans, Blue Oyster Cult did "Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll," a heavy, hard rockin' song from their very first album. At the end, they sang, "Rock and..." and the audience shouted back, "Roll." They did this several times, quicker and quicker. Sure, it's a bit silly and cheesy, but who cares? It's a fun rock show. Toward the end of this song, there was a strange guitar solo.

"Then Came The Last Days Of May" is a nice long song with some great work on guitar. This song was also included on their first album.


"Godzilla" is a great and silly rock tune from the band's 1977 release Spectres. The band milked it for all it was worth, which is of course what everyone expected and what everyone wanted. They joked during the song's introduction that it's about paleontology and the one surviving dinosaur.

Rudy Sarzo, the bass player, is interestingly the biggest show man of the band, moving all over the stage. Rudy was not the original bass player for Blue Oyster Cult, but his name is familiar to fans of hard rock. He played with Ozzy Osborne, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and several other bands.

And during "Godzilla," they made mention of these other bands, and did little teases of several songs, such as "Cum On Feel The Noize" and "Here I Go Again." Most of the band left the stage so that Rudy and Jules on drums could each solo. This was one of the highlights of the show. And it led back into "Godzilla."

"Don't Fear The Reaper"

Blue Oyster Cult ended the set with their most famous song, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." It was predictable, sure, but it was also great. Everyone was up and dancing for this one.

The encore was "Hot Rails To Hell."

Set List

  1. The Red & The Black
  2. Before The Kiss, A Redcap
  3. Burnin' For You
  4. Shooting Shark
  5. Buck's Boogie
  6. Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll
  7. Then Came The Last Days Of May
  8. Godzilla >
  9. Cum On Feel The Noize >
  10. Here I Go Again >
  11. Over The Mountain >
  12. bass solo >
  13. Holy Diver >
  14. drum solo >
  15. Godzilla
  16. (Don't Fear) The Reaper
  1. Hot Rails To Hell

Blue Oyster Cult's current line up is original member Eric Bloom on vocals, guitar and keyboards, original member Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser on guitar and vocals, Richie Castellano on keyboards, guitar and vocals, Rudy Sarzo on bass and vocals, and Jules Radino on drums.

The Valley Cultural Center estimates that 7,000 people attended the Blue Oyster Cult concert. Most of the people were cool, but there was of course that one inbred moron with several teeth missing who demanded that people in front stop dancing during "Godzilla." He threatened a couple of people, who refused to comply with his ridiculous demands, but fortunately a friend of his was wise enough to pull him away before he did something stupid. It's a shame these people are let out of their cages, but this guy didn't really dampen the spirit of the audience. Everyone seemed happy at the end of the show. They'd gotten a good evening of rock from Blue Oyster Cult.

(Note: I originally posted this review on August 16, 2010.)

Richard Barone: "Glow" (2010) CD Review

The new album from Richard Barone, frontman for The Bongos, features interesting songs, excellent vocals, and fun, infectious rhythms.

Richard Barone's new album, Glow, is full of excellent vocals, catchy rhythms, interesting lyrics. It's odd, because this album is reminiscent of many things - The Beatles, 1980s New Wave, David Bowie, ELO, The Submarines - while simultaneously sounding completely original. How does Richard Barone do that? Don't worry about it. Just put on the disc, and enjoy.

"Gravity's Pull"

The album opens with "Gravity's Pull," a wonderful pop rock song slightly reminiscent of 1980s New Wave gems and featuring great vocals. (The New Wave angle makes sense, of course, as Richard Barone was the front man for The Bongos, a band that formed in the early 1980s.) The chorus is "I feel gravity's pull/It's what keeps me here/Makes my emptiness full/Oh, so full -/How I want to fly against gravity's pull." This song, like the majority of this album's songs, was written by Richard Barone and Tony Visconti. Lisa Haney plays cello on this track.

Title Track

"Glow," the album's title track, features wonderful vocals. At times it sounds like something George Harrison might have written in the late 1970s or 1980s. It's a positive song that was done in one take. Richard Barone wrote the lyrics and music to this one.

T. Rex

"Girl" is a strange and wonderful little tune, with some nice percussion and intriguing changes and vocals. It was written by Marc Bolan (of T. Rex) in 1971, and originally appeared on T. Rex's incredible album Electric Warrior. The lyrics include these lines: "O Girl/Electric witch you are/Limp in society's ditch you are/Visually fine/Oh yes you are/But mentally dying."

Paul Williams

"Silence Is Our Song" was co-written by Paul Williams. Yes, that's right, the guy that wrote "We've Only Just Begun" and "You And Me Against The World" and "An Old Fashioned Love Song." He wrote the lyrics for this song; Richard Barone wrote the music. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "There's no more normal in this world/as we face the unknown/We search for kindness in a night/that we can't face alone."

"Silence Is Our Song" features a sweet and sad cello party by Lisa Haney. Johnny Rodgers plays piano on this track, and it's the piano that starts the song. Rodgers also does backing vocals.

"1-2-3... Infinity"

The song "1-2-3...Infinity" is a ridiculously catchy pop song, particularly on the chorus. But is it any good? It seems like something that would be at home on the soundtrack for The Apple. (Remember that one?) But it's hard to dislike it.

"Candied Babes"

The vocals and music during the chorus of "Candied Babes" are beautiful. Richard sings, "This will last forever/This time we've got nothing but time/The party lasts forever/In spite of the signs." And then this cool guitar part comes out of nowhere. This album is full of surprises like that. It's a total delight. The only negative thing about this song is the odd and unnecessary crowd noise at the beginning and end.

"Radio Silence"

"Radio Silence" was written and performed by Richard Barone. No one else appears on this track. It's a good tune, though it does get a bit repetitive at the end. According to the liner notes, he recorded and mixed this song at home.

Jill Sobule

"Odd Girl Out" was co-written by Jill Sobule, who also performs backing vocals on this track. It's one of the album's best songs, about a lesbian named Helen back in the days before Stonewall, and then in current day in the final verse. Tony Shanahan plays bass; Tommy Goss plays drums; and Steve Rosenthal plays a Jew's harp and the Hammond C3 organ.


"Sanctified" has a slow, nice acoustic beginning, and then it kicks in like a late 1960s/early 1970s hard psychedelic jam. Just wonderful. This song is a total surprise and treat - another of this album's best songs. The lyrics include these lines: "There's not much I haven't tried/There's not much I need to hide/The angels line up on my side/I must be sanctified." Dennis Diken is on the drums for this track.

Instrumental Track

The album concludes with a different, instrumental version of "Glow" titled "Glow Symphony." And indeed, this version features violins and cello, as well as electric cello. These are side by side with old synthesizers and keyboards, such a Mellotron. As the electronic instruments fade at the end, the natural strings are allowed to take over and finish the song. Yoed Nir plays the cello and the electric cello. Deni Bonet plays violin on this song.

CD Track List

  1. Gravity's Pull
  2. Glow
  3. Girl
  4. Silence Is Our Song
  5. 1-2-3...Infinity
  6. Candied Babes
  7. Radio Silence
  8. Odd Girl Out
  9. Sanctified
  10. Yet Another Midnight
  11. Glow Symphony
  12. Tony Visconti

Richard Barone's Glow was produced by Tony Visconti, who also co-wrote many of the songs. This might also explain why at times the album reminds one of David Bowie - for Visconti produced and performed on many David Bowie albums. He also produced T. Rex's Electric Warrior album.

In the photo that graces the back of the liner notes, Richard Barone is wearing a Lou Reed Transformer T-shirt. The Velvet Underground is clearly another influence. Yet, Richard Barone is not copying that band, or anyone else for that matter - not The Beatles, not David Bowie, not ELO. This album has its own style, its own feel, its own flow, despite the obvious myriad influences. Glow is scheduled to be released September 14, 2010 on Bar/None Records.

(Note: I originally posted this review on August 19, 2010.)

Aviatik: "Reconstruction/Deconstruction" (2010) CD Review

Aviatik's 2010 release is a two-disc "concept album" about one man's fight against dehumanization.

For many people, there is a stigma attached to the idea of a "concept album." That's unfortunate, because a concept album is not inherently a bad thing. And many musicians write on a theme without that stigma. And what does it matter, so long as the music is good and interesting?

Aviatik has put out what is admittedly a concept album. According to the band's own press, the album tells the story of a person who takes a revolutionary stand against the dehumanization of his peers, which eventually costs him his life.

First Disc Is Titled "Reconstruction"

This album is actually two CDs. The first CD is titled "Reconstruction," and it's broken up into three chapters (and a prologue). Chapter 1 is titled "the decieved and the departed" (yes, "deceived" is misspelled), and includes tracks 2 through 7.

"Fear And Firelight" With Sound Effects

The first disc starts with "Fear And Firelight," which functions as the prologue. It begins with some sound effects. Sound effects in music are generally annoying, but they work here. Planes, air raid sirens and explosions immediately place the listener in a war zone, even before the marching drumbeat begins. And almost right away it's apparent that these are talented musicians.

"Hail, Hail (The Bride's In Jail)"
"Hail, Hail (The Bride's In Jail)" has an infectious pop angle and excellent keyboard work. The chorus is: "'Bang, bang,' the shotgun sang/Shotgun wedding while your best friends hang/Hail, hail, the bride's in jail/First time father was the first to fail."

The music on this album often straddles the line between heavy, hard rock and pop. A prime example is "Premonition." The lyrics include this: "I'm living every day like my last/I'm feeling hours alone as they pass/the damage done, the time is lost."

"Finger, Baby (Let It Go)" is fast-paced, with a wild manic guitar in certain sections.

"Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight"

More than two minutes into "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight," the song relaxes into a soft, quiet moment, which is really nice. The song then eases back into its regular volume and pace. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Shut your eyes/But when you fall now I won't catch you/Big surprise/No one's holding your hand."

"The Breaking Sound"

"The Breaking Sound" is one of the best songs on the album. The vocals shine on this one. It's on the mellower side. Toward the end, there is a really good instrumental section - actually, it's not entirely instrumental, as there is some (just barely) audible whispering. When it kicks in, the whispering becomes a sort of radio voice, which is interesting.

Chapter Two: "Revolution"

The second chapter is titled "Revolution," and it comprises tracks 8 and 9.

"Dead Man's Float" starts with a nice guitar part, and then warlike marching drums kick in. This song works best in its quieter moments.

Chapter Three: "The War After The War"

The third chapter on the album includes tracks 10 through 14.

The Phantom Tollbooth

The song "Milo" contains references to the children's book The Phantom Tollbooth. Milo is the name of the main character in that book. He's a young boy who receives a tollbooth that takes him to a fantastic land of imagination. This is one of the best songs on the album.
It starts off, "It's like we've driven past a phantom tollbooth/The brother watchdogs are counting time/Rhyme and Reason held captive in a castle/But we're doing fine."

"Just The Same"
The first disc concludes with "Just The Same." This song features an infectious pop sound and some really good drumming. The screaming four minutes in and again later is maybe a bit much, but this is a sort of anthem for the album. The lyrics include this: "Breaking down is just the same/As blank submission/Compromise is just the same as giving up." And it ends with, "Rise up, lift your voices/We're not giving up."

Second Disc, "Deconstruction," Contains Acoustic Versions

The second disc, which is titled "Deconstruction," contains acoustic versions of half of the songs from the first disc. This second disc is a total treat.

The acoustic version of "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight" really works. The vocals are able to command more attention. The "Hey, hey, give up the fight" part is actually cooler in this version. And the guitar is excellent.

It's interesting to hear a hard rock line played on an acoustic guitar. Surprisingly, it works really well. This version of "Dead Man's Float" shows the beauty of the song.

CD Track List

The following is the track list for Aviatik's "Reconstruction/Deconstruction":

Disc 1:
  1. Fear And Firelight
  2. Hail, Hail (The Bride's In Jail)
  3. Premonition
  4. Back Of My Hand
  5. Finger, Baby (Let It Go)
  6. Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight
  7. The Breaking Sound
  8. Dead Man's Float
  9. Cover Your Eyes
  10. Fistful Of Feathers
  11. Milo
  12. The Reconstruction
  13. Dead Man's Float (reprise)
  14. Just The Same
Disc 2:
  1. Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight
  2. Back Of My Hand
  3. Dead Man's Float
  4. The Breaking Sound
  5. Fistful Of Feathers
  6. Milo
  7. Just The Same

Aviatik is from Akron, Ohio. The band is Michael Watson on vocals, guitars and keys; Alex Herman on bass; Kevin Gerity on vocals and guitar; and Michael Hausknecht on drums and percussion. Reconstruction/Deconstruction was released on March 19, 2010. An earlier, one-disc version of this album, titled The Reconstruction, was released April 11, 2008. Most of the songs from that release are included on this newer CD.

(By the way, an Aviatik was an Austrian fighter plane that was produced in 1917.)

(Note: I originally posted this review on April 19, 2010.)

7 Walkers: "7 Walkers" (2010 Release) CD Review

Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann's new band does a great blend of rock, country and blues with a New Orleans flavor.

This self-titled debut album from 7 Walkers combines many different types of music, including rock, country, folk and New Orleans jazz. It features Bill Kreutzmann on drums. This new band is the most interesting project Bill has embarked on since the Grateful Dead, the band he is still best known for. This CD features lyrics written by Robert Hunter, one of the Dead's two chief lyricists.

Louisiana is an element common to most of these songs. The state plays a big role in this album, and in fact a dedication in the liner notes reads, "This album is dedicated to the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans. It is an open love letter, a message of hope, a prayer for prosperity and a declaration of gratitude. From all of us in the band, thank you!"

The album begins with a track titled "WYAT Radio/Cane River Waltz." It's a silly little introduction with a radio DJ saying, "This is the latest from 7 Walkers." It's a pointless track, but it's only thirty-three seconds, and everything that comes after it is wonderful.

That track leads right into "Sue From Bogalusa," a straight forward country rock tune. It's a fun song that's marred only by the sound of an audience cheering after the line "We're gonna rock all night."

"King Cotton Blues"

"King Cotton Blues" is one of the coolest songs released this year. It features special guest Willie Nelson on vocals and guitar, with lyrics by Robert Hunter. This song, more than any of the others on this album, sounds like a song the Greatful Dead would have done. It's easy to imagine Jerry Garcia singing this one. (It's along the lines of "Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" and "Loser.")

It has some really nice work on guitar and harmonica. Then it suddenly takes on an eerie carnival feel at the end, which is wonderful.

Here is a bit of the lyrics: "Shotgun is too merciful/Hanging is too good/Drowning is too uncertain/And poison is too slow/To snuff a worthless widow's son/Whose time has come to go."

"(For The Love Of) Mr. Okra"

"(For The Love Of) Mr. Okra" is an instrumental track, the first of three on this CD. A strong bass line starts the song. It's fun, and a bit funky. It has really good groove, with some interesting work on guitar and keyboards over it.


"Chingo!" is a strange song with some folk elements, particularly at the beginning. Interesting rhythms and vocals create a bizarre sonic jungle. George Porter Jr. plays bass on this one, and John Bush plays percussion. The song ends abruptly.

"Louisiana Rain"

"Louisiana Rain" has a strange, almost eerie feel at the beginning. Then the vocals kick in over a simple bass line. The vocals, with a nice, deep tone, are sung straight into the listener's ear, like a secret, like a late-night confession.

This is a seriously cool song, with blues elements, particularly on the guitar. These is also some great percussion by Bill Kreutzmann. In fact, the only thing that detracts from this song is the rain and storm sound effects approximately four minutes in - they're unnecessary.

"Someday You'll See (Prelude)" is the second instrumental track on the album. It's a great bluesy rock track. It's slow and steady and powerful, with some wonderful variations.

"New Orleans Crawl"

"New Orleans Crawl" is a New Orleans jazz tune that will take you right to Bourbon Street. Of course, obvious parallels can be drawn to the music of Dr. John, as this song has a similar feel, a similar spirit. This track features Steve Johnson on saxophone and trumpet, and Jane Bond on backing vocals.

Here is a bit of Robert Hunter's lyrics: "Down on your knees/But you can't fall/Once you can do/The New Orleans crawl/Politicians climb up the wall/That's how they do/The New Orleans crawl."


"Evangeline" is a cool, mellow, beautiful and haunting song. It features quiet percussion - heavy on the cymbals - in the background. The vocals and guitar are to the fore. This song features lyrics written by Robert Hunter, and is not to be confused with another song of the same name that The Jerry Garcia Band used to cover. That earlier song was a Los Lobos song, written by David Hidalgo and Louie Perez.

Here is a taste of the lyrics written by Robert Hunter: "Welcome to my heart/Welcome to my soul/You're the kind of woman/Can make a man whole/You're the kind of mama/Make a man out of a boy/Replace the tears of sorrow/With shining tears of joy."

"Hey Bo Diddle"

Yes, the song is actually called "Hey Bo Diddle." That's not a typo, and it's not to be confused with "Hey Bo Diddley," a song that The Animals used to do. This song has a rhythm that combines that of New Orleans with the typical Bo Diddley beat. And it features lyrics by Robert Hunter.

The song begins with an old recording which mentions Huey Long. Huey Long was the governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, and then was a U.S. senator.

"Airline Highway"

"Airline Highway" is the third and last instrumental track on this album. It sounds exactly like what its title describes, and is incredibly short. It builds and fades all in just over a minute.

"Someday You'll See Me" is a nice folk tune with great vocal work by Papa Mali.

"7 Walkers"

The album concludes with "7 Walkers," putting this band in the company of They Might Be Giants, I See Hawks In L.A., Bullied By Strings, Kajagoogoo and Bad Company as bands that have a song title sharing their name.

The song has a cool tribal feel, and a joyous spiritual vibe.

CD Track List

  1. Wyat Radio/Cane River Waltz
  2. Sue From Bogalusa
  3. King Cotton Blues
  4. (For The Love Of) Mr. Okra
  5. Chingo!
  6. Louisiana Rain
  7. Someday You'll See (Prelude)
  8. New Orleans Crawl
  9. Evangeline
  10. Hey Bo Diddle
  11. Airline Highway
  12. Someday You'll See
  13. 7 Walkers

This CD is scheduled to be released on November 2, 2010, through Response Records.

The band 7 Walkers is Bill Kreutzmann on drums and percussion; Papa Mali on guitar and vocals; Matt Hubbard on keyboards, harmonica, trombone and backing vocals; and Reed Mathis on bass. George Porter Jr. plays bass on "Chingo!"

(Note: I originally posted this review on October 12, 2010.)

March 2011 Concert Calendar

I'll be adding to this list later, as i haven't had much of a chance to go through all the listings yet.

MARCH 2011

March 1, 2011
EZ Tiger
- Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th Street, Costa Mesa, CA - 9 p.m.
Free show
James McMurtry - Continental Club, Austin, TX

March 2, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Magic Bag, Detroit, MI

March 3, 2011
Gaelic Storm - The Vogue, Indianapolis, IN

March 4, 2011
Trey Anastasio Band - The Music Box, Los Angeles, CA
Gaelic Storm - Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH
Ellis Paul - Swallow Hill Music Hall, Denver, CO - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $20.00

March 5, 2011
Gaelic Storm - House Of Blues, Cleveland, OH
The Nields - Lyman Hall, First Churches, 129 Main St., Northampton, MA
Ellis Paul - Avogadro's Number, Ft. Collins, CO - 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $17.00

March 6, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Riviera Theatre, N. Tonawanda, NY
Ellis Paul - Center For The Arts, Crested Butte, CO - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $20.00

March 9, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Meyer Theatre, Green Bay, WI

March 10, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Capitol Civic Centre, Manitowoc, WI

March 11, 2011 (Friday)
Marshall Crenshaw - McCabe's, Santa Monica, CA - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $22.50
Gaelic Storm - House Of Blues, Chicago, IL
The Nields - Kirkland Art Center, 9 1/2 East Park Row, Clinton, NY - 8:00 p.m.

March 12, 2011
Gaelic Storm - House Of Blues, Chicago, IL
Ellis Paul - The Red Cat, Birmingham, AL - 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $12.00

March 14, 2011
Gaelic Storm - McCain Auditorium, Manhattan, KS
Michelle Shocked - McCabe's, Santa Monica, CA - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $24.50

March 15, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Albert Taylor Hall, Emporia, KS

March 16, 2011
James McMurtry - The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN - 9:30 p.m.

March 17, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Pabst Theatre, Milwaukee, WI
James McMurtry - The Grey Eagle, Asheville, NC
Umphrey's McGee - House Of Blues, West Hollywood, CA

March 18, 2011
James McMurtry - Eddie's Attic, Decatur, GA

March 19, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Johnstown, PA
James McMurtry - The Shed At Smoky Mountain, Maryville, TN

March 20, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Strand Capitol, York, PA
Ellis Paul - Houston, TX - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $25.00

March 21, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Birchmere Music Hall, Alexandria, VA
Teddy Goldstein - Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen Street, New York, NY - 8 p.m.
Free show

March 22, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Birchmere Music Hall, Alexandria, VA

March 24, 2011
EZ Tiger - Taix, Echo Park, CA - 10 p.m.
James McMurtry - Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS

March 25, 2011 (Friday)
Antioquia - The Starry Plough, Berkeley, CA - 10 p.m.
Cover: $7
David Crosby & Graham Nash - Terrace Theater, Long Beach, CA
Gaelic Storm - The Egg, Albany, NY
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Me And Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA
James McMurtry - Mojo's, Columbia, MO
Over The Rhine - The Red Room, Boston, MA
Ellis Paul - Steel City Coffeehouse, Phoenixville, PA - 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $18.00

March 26, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Calvin Theatre, Northampton, MA
Teddy Goldstein - Knickerbocker Cafe, Westerly, Rhode Island - 8 p.m.
Tickets: $40
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Cooperstown, NY
James McMurtry - The Pageant, St. Louis, MO
Over The Rhine - Highline Ballroom, New York, NY
Ellis Paul - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $18.00

March 27, 2011
Gaelic Storm - Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH
Over The Rhine - Birchmere, Alexandria, VA
Ellis Paul - Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, NY - 2:00 p.m.
Special Family Show; Tickets: $10.00

March 28, 2011
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Joe's Pub, New York, NY

March 29, 2011
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Iron Horse, Northampton, MA
James McMurtry - High Dive, Champaign, IL
Over The Rhine - World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA

March 30, 2011
Hot Club Of Cowtown - Albany, NY
James McMurtry - High Noon, Madison, WI

March 31, 2011
James McMurtry - Pizza Luce, Duluth, MN

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Judy Collins: "Running For My Life" (1980/2010 re-issue) CD Review

This album includes Judy Collins' version of "The Rainbow Connection." That should be enough to make everyone want to own it.

Judy Collins' 1980 release, Running For My Life, features three original songs, as well as several interesting covers including "The Rainbow Connection." This was the first album for which Judy Collins received sole producing credit.

Title Track "Running For My Life"
The album opens with "Running For My Life," the album's title track, which was written by Judy Collins. This is one of three original songs on the album. It feels like folk on the verge of pop, but there is also something theatrical about this song - both in her voice and the production. It makes sense, as she covers two Stephen Sondheim songs on this album.

It's an interesting song, but it suffers a bit from some cheesy backing vocals. There are some good lyrics, however. Judy sings, "I'm going where the weather is hot/And you are not."

"Bright Morning Star"

"Bright Morning Star" starts off with Judy singing acappella, and her voice is absolutely gorgeous on this one. And this time the backing vocalists really add something worthwhile. This song has an uplifting, spiritual feel and tone.

No one is credited on this album as the author of this song. The Stanley Brothers, Emmylou Harris and The Jerry Garcia Band have also covered this song.

Stephen Sondheim

On Running For My Life Judy Collins covers two songs by Stephen Sondheim. Both songs are from the first act of the 1979 musical Sweeney Todd. The first is "Green Finch And Linnet Bird," and Judy Collins' rendition is wonderful. The second is "Pretty Women."


"Marieke" is a song written by Jacques Brel that Judy Collins released a decade earlier on her 1970 album Whales & Nightingales. It's clearly a song that Judy Collins loves, and this second version is incredibly beautiful. Both versions are exactly the same length: 3:18. Her voice is so passionate and gorgeous on this song.

"Almost Free"

"Almost Free" is one of the best songs on the album, mostly because of the lyrics, written by Hugh Prestwood. Judy sings, "I was almost free/There almost wasn't any you and me." The song features these great lines: "Maybe I'm too much in love to be strong/Maybe there's more than one way to be gone/A few more pills, a little more wine/And I can get very hard to find."

"I Could Really Show You Around"

"I Could Really Show You Around" is a totally cool and interesting song, quite different from most of the songs Judy Collins chooses to cover. It has a bit of funk to it, a bit of rock. And this is another song that actually benefits from the backing vocalists. It was written by Peter Allen and Dean Pitchford (and yes, Dean Pitchford is the person who wrote Footloose).

"I've Done Enough Dyin' Today"
"I've Done Enough Dyin' Today" is a song that's both beautiful and sad, a combination that works so well for Judy Collins. It was written by Larry Gatlin, and includes the lines, "The hourglass is all out of sand/How could love slip through our fingers/And leave nothing but time on our hands." The piano is excellent in this song.

"Anyone Would Love You" is a tender love song.

"The Rainbow Connection"
Everyone knows that "The Rainbow Connection" is a wonderful song. We've all heard Kermit The Frog sing it, and somehow that puppet has even managed to bring tears to many people's eyes. And on this album, Judy Collins does a truly beautiful version of the song. It's the best track on the album.

A lot of people have covered this song, but Judy Collins was one of the first - if not the very first - to do it. It's also been covered by Willie Nelson, The Carpenters, Kenny Loggins, Sarah McLachlan, and The Dresden Dolls. Debbie Harry sang it as a duet with Kermit on The Muppet Show in 1981. Recently, an acappella version of the song was featured at the end of the 2006 movie The Breakup. Of all the versions out there, Judy Collins' rendition is one of the best.

Judy Collins Original Material
Running For My Life concludes with two original Judy Collins songs: "This Is The Day" and "Wedding Song." Both songs have the vocals at the fore, with the instruments supporting the voice. "Wedding Song" was written for Judy's brother, who got married in 1979. But it feels like a much older song, a traditional wedding song from centuries past. It's very pretty and bright, and Judy's voice sounds amazing.

CD Track List

  1. Running For My Life
  2. Bright Morning Star
  3. Green Finch And Linnet Bird
  4. Marieke
  5. Pretty Women
  6. Almost Free
  7. I Could Really Show You Around
  8. I've Done Enough Dyin' Today
  9. Anyone Would Love You
  10. The Rainbow Connection
  11. This Is The Day
  12. Wedding Song

Judy Collins' Running For My Life was re-released on July 27, 2010 by Collectors' Choice Music. Nine Judy Collins albums were re-released on that date, including True Stories And Other Dreams (1973), Bread & Roses (1976), Times Of Our Lives (1982) and Home Again (1984).

(Note: I originally posted this review on September 6, 2010.)

Judy Collins: "In My Life" (2010 re-issue) CD Review

In My Life is one of Judy Collins' most interesting albums, and includes early recordings of Leonard Cohen songs as well as the incredible "Marat/Sade."

Judy Collins has one of the most beautiful and recognizable voices in folk music. Yet somehow several of her albums were allowed to go out of print, including her 1966 release, In My Life. As of this writing, new copies of that CD are being sold online for between $50 and $175. But for those who can wait a few weeks, Collectors' Choice Music is re-issuing this album, as well as eight other Judy Collins albums.

This album has a different feel from Judy Collins' earlier records, especially heard in songs like "Pirate Jenny" and "Marat/Sade." Judy really extends her range and repertoire with this album (her sixth). This is one of her best and most interesting releases.

Bob Dylan Song

Judy Collins starts In My Life out with "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," the only Bob Dylan song on the album. Her version is slower and more whimsical, particularly in the instrumentation. This song originally appeared on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited (1965).

The second track, "Hard Lovin' Loser," has a manic pace during the chorus. It has a rock, or even a jazz feel to the verses, though without any rock instruments. It was written by Dick Farina. It features some cool drums and piano work at the end.

"Pirate Jenny" was written by Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill and Marc Blitzstein. It was written for The Threepenny Opera. Judy Collins goes into new vocal territory here, and it's really impressive.

Leonard Cohen Songs
This album is also important as it features the first recordings of songs written by Leonard Cohen. The first of these is "Suzanne," a song that Leonard Cohen would include on his first album, released a year after Judy Collins' version. Judy Collins' version has some minor lyric changes, including, "You can spend the night forever" instead of "You can spend the night beside her." And in the third verse, she repeats lyrics from the first verse instead of singing, "She is wearing rags and feathers/From Salvation Army counters." This is a beautiful version of one of the best songs ever written.

The second Leonard Cohen song to appear on this album is "Dress Rehearsal Rag." Leonard Cohen's own version of this song wouldn't be released until 1970, on Songs Of Love And Hate. There are very minor lyrical changes in this version. Judy Collins' version features incredible piano work. It's an excellent rendition of one of Leonard Cohen's most intense songs.

"La Colombe"

"La Colombe," written by Jacques Brel and Alasdair Clayre, is a wild and angry anti-war song with beautifully dark strings. And it has these lines: "The dove has torn her wings/So no more songs of love."


"Marat/Sade" is an incredible piece of music written by Richard Peaslee for Peter Brook's production of Peter Weiss' play. Judy Collins put together different sections from the play into this amazing piece. For those unfamiliar with the music and the play, Brook's film version is available on DVD. The full title is The Persecution And Assassination Of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed By The Inmates Of The Asylum At Charenton Under the Direction Of The Marquis de Sade. The section Judy Collins chose are "Homage To Marat," "Marat We're Poor," "The People's Reaction" and "Poor Old Marat."

Randy Newman and The Beatles

Judy Collins also includes a cover of Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going To Rain Today." Before Randy Newman became associated with Disney cartoons, he was known for writing some excellent songs, including this one. Judy Collins' version came out two years before Randy Newman's own version. Judy's version is phenomenal.

Judy Collins concludes this album with the title track, a cover of The Beatles song, "In My Life." This is an excellent song, and Judy's version is wonderful.

CD Track List

  1. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
  2. Hard Lovin' Loser
  3. Pirate Jenny
  4. Suzanne
  5. La Colombe
  6. Marat/Sade
  7. I Think It's Going to Rain Today
  8. Sunny Goodge Street
  9. Liverpool Lullaby
  10. Dress Rehearsal Rag
  11. In My Life

In My Life was originally released in the summer of 1966. It was released on CD in 1990. It is scheduled to be re-released by Collectors' Choice Music on July 27, 2010. Eight other Judy Collins albums are also scheduled to be re-released including Fifth Album (1965), Whales & Nightingales (1970) and True Stories And Other Dreams (1973).

(Note: I originally posted this review on July 1, 2010 .)

Leonard Cohen: "Feels So Good"

Fans eagerly await a new studio release from Leonard Cohen, especially when the new material is this good.

Leonard Cohen releases albums so infrequently that it's always such a treat and a pleasure to hear new material from him.

New Material Performed On Tour

On his 2008-2009 tour, he wrote and performed a few new songs, including "Lullabye," "The Darkness" and "Feels So Good." Two of those - "The Darkness" and "Feels So Good" - were performed at his last stop on the tour.

Leonard Cohen plays acoustic guitar on both "The Darkness" and "Feels So Good."

Lyrics Change

As with many of Leonard Cohen's compositions, the lyrics have changed and will probably change again before an official recording is released (and probably again even after that). But the lyrics here are from his performance of the song on November 13, 2009 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California (the last performance of it thus far). There really isn't a chorus, but the first verse is repeated at the end, and is as close to a chorus as the song has. This is that first verse:

Feels so good not to love you like I did
Feels so good not to love you like I did
It's like they tore away my blindfold and they said, "We're going to let this prisoner live"
It's like they tore away my blindfold and they said, "We're going to let this prisoner live"

Audience Response To The Song

Fans of Leonard Cohen respond well to hearing new material, and this song particularly got a great response from the crowd. Especially that last line. The second line of the second verse also got a laugh and a cheer from the audience.

Feels so good to wake up in the morning by myself
Cup of coffee in the kitchen, fire up a little danger to my health
I got the same old broken heart, but now it feels like it belongs to someone else
I got the same old broken heart, but it feels like it belongs to someone else

Leonard Cohen's Wonderfully Deep Voice

Leonard Cohen's voice has gotten progressively deeper over the years. And many fans have attested that he sounded better on this tour than he did in 1993. The deep voice works particularly well when he plays with certain words, such as "kiss" and "ugly" in this verse:

Feels so good not to wonder who you're with
Who you're loving, who you're touching, who you kiss
I guess I just got lucky 'cause I never thought this mood of mine would lift
I guess I just got lucky 'cause I never thought this ugly mood would lift

Leonard Cohen Takes Time Off - His 2010 Tour Postponed

Because of a back injury Leonard Cohen sustained, the 2010 tour has been postponed. It was due to begin in March, but those dates have been pushed back to September. This gives Leonard Cohen a lot of time in which to work on new material.

Fans are hopeful that he will use this time for just that purpose. And while this amazing touring band is together, it is hoped he will enter the recording studio and put the new material down on a CD.

Leonard Cohen's Current Touring Band

To hear what his current touring band sounds like, fans can purchase the Live In London CD. That concert was also released on DVD.

The band is made up of Leonard Cohen on vocals and acoustic guitar (and keyboard on "Tower Of Song"); Roscoe Beck on bass and backing vocals; Neil Larsen on keyboards; Rafael Gayol on drums; Javier Mas on bandurria, laud, archilaud and 12-string guitar; Bob Metzger on guitar, pedal steel and backing vocals; Sharon Robinson on backing vocals; Dino Soldo on saxophone, wind instruments, harmonica, keyboard and backing vocals; and Hattie and Charley Webb - the Webb Sisters - on backing vocals (and harp and guitar on "If It Be Your Will").

This band is known as Unified Heart Touring Company.

(Note: I originally posted this on February 22, 2010.)

Ellis Paul at McCabe's in Santa Monica 1-23-11 Concert Review

Ellis Paul played to a packed house at McCabe's on Sunday, January 23, 2011. He was joined by Radoslav Lorkovic and Mariana Bell.

Ellis Paul is one of the world's best singer/songwriters. He's been playing for more than twenty years, getting his start in Boston in the late 1980s. He was a member of End Construction, along with Jon Svetkey, Jim Infantino and Brian Doser. He's released many albums over the years, first on Black Wolf Records, a label started by manager Ralph Jaccodine, and then on Philo, before returning once again to Black Wolf Records for his most recent CDs.

He has attracted and developed a loyal fan base - not only through his excellent studio albums, but because of his incredible live performances. His concert at McCabe's in Santa Monica on Sunday, January 23rd (following shows in Ventura and San Diego) showed once again what a warm, genuine and engaging performer he is.

Ellis Paul took the stage at 8 p.m. Joining him on piano and accordion was Radoslav Lorkovic. Radoslav has played with Ellis Paul many times, but his presence at these California concerts was a last-minute surprise. He also did some backing vocals.

Mariana Bell

Mariana Bell joined Ellis on backing vocals, as she did the last time he played at McCabe's. She's a wonderful backing vocalist, because she knows just how much to add to a song without being overpowering. She's able to vary her volume, and find just the right places in each song. And of course it doesn't hurt that she has a beautiful voice.

Mariana opened the show at 7:15 p.m. with an excellent (though brief) set featuring a couple of songs from her CD Book (2008) as well as wonderful new material from her upcoming release, Push.

The Day After Everything Changed

Ellis Paul started the show with "Rose Tattoo" from his most recent studio release, The Day After Everything Changed (2010). He told the audience that he would play a lot of songs from that album, and was true to his word, playing nearly half of the album's tracks including "Lights Of Vegas," "Hurricane Angel," and "Dragonfly."

Before "The Lights Of Vegas" he told the story of writing the song with Kristian Bush. Kristian Bush is known for his country duo, Sugarland. For the album, Ellis wanted a song about a geographic location to ground the audience. Kristian told him he was working on a song about Las Vegas, which wasn't what Ellis was looking for. But Kristian played him what he had, and they decided to write it together. But Kristian insisted that there be a "na na na" part to the song.

Ellis argued, until Kristian took his Grammy award off the shelf and slammed it onto the table. At that point Ellis gave in. So at McCabe's, after relating that story, he taught the audience the "na na na" part. "The Lights Of Vegas" is a song that is incredibly catchy, more so because of its chorus than the "na na na" section.

Song About McCabe's

Ellis Paul is a big fan of McCabe's. And he often improvises songs about the venue when he plays there. The second song of the night was such an improvisation.

In addition to being a concert venue, McCabe's is a famous guitar shop, and some beautiful guitars adorn the walls. Ellis said, "So this is like a difficult place to play for a musician, because almost every dime you make is spent leaving with something." Ellis has bought several instruments there over the years. In fact, at his show on November 8, 2008 he improvised a song called "Ukulele Song" on an instrument that he ended up buying.

At this most recent show, he said, "I kinda feel like this is where all the good trees go to die." That is, they become these great guitars. That led to him making up a song.

He sang, "This is where all trees go when they die/When they die/This is where all good trees go." He then listed some brands of guitars that the trees become. The line "And they pray they won't be banjos" got a huge laugh from the audience. Radoslav and Mariana were right in step with him as he improvised the song. It was a wonderful moment.

"Maria's Beautiful Mess"
After his song about McCabe's, Ellis Paul played one of his absolute best songs, "Maria's Beautiful Mess." Ellis is known for writing some great songs, and this one is a prime example. From his 2002 release, The Speed Of Trees, "Maria's Beautiful Mess" includes such wonderful lines as "Her eyes glow/Lips pop open like a bottle of wine/And she loves like it's thirst/Like she's never been hurt/She's dancing just like nobody's watching." Radislov's playing really added to this already-incredible song, and Mariana's backing vocals were perfect.

The Heckler

Ellis asked the crowd if there was anything in particular anyone wanted to hear. Most folks shouted out legitimate requests, such as "God's Promise" and "Jukebox On My Grave" (both of which he ended up playing). But predictably one guy yelled out "Freebird." Why do people insist on doing that? The joke wore out its welcome at least two decades ago. Well, be certain that at least this particular guy will refrain from shouting out such nonsense at future concerts, because Ellis Paul totally called him out on it.

He looked directly at the guy and sang "The Heckler" to him, putting him on the spot. It's a funny song, done a cappella, created for just these moments. Here are some of the lyrics: "Then came your special moment/The singer called out for requests/And a voice just rose within you/Half Jack Daniels, half Tourette's/'Freebird,' you cried." It ends with, "You're a heckler and that's all you'll be/Because this microphone was made to stay with me."

Now if every singer and band would do something similar, perhaps there could be an end to the "Freebird" thing.

Ellis Paul on Piano

On some of his more recent songs, Ellis has been putting down his guitar and playing piano instead. He played a few of those songs at McCabe's, including "Hurricane Angel," "Once Upon A Summertime" and "Heaven's Wherever You Are" - all of which were included on The Day After Everything Changed. During those songs, Radoslav played accordion.

Before "Hurricane Angel," Ellis mentioned that eight songs from the CD are going to be featured in the new Farrelly Brothers film, Hall Pass. His music is not new to films by the Farrelly Brothers. "The World Ain't Slowin' Down" was featured in their 2000 film, Me, Myself & Irene, and "Sweet Mistakes" was featured in Shallow Hal (2001).

Ellis dedicated "Heaven's Wherever You Are" to a guitar that he wanted to purchase several years ago at McCabe's. It was six thousand dollars, and so a bit of his price range. But at one point he decided to buy it anyway, only to learn that it had already been sold. To Neil Young, who bought it for his wife.

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie wrote thousands of songs during his lifetime, many of which were never recorded. And many of those songs have no written music. So Nora Guthrie, Woody Guthrie's daughter, has been asking certain musicians to write music to some of these songs. Ellis Paul chose to write music for a song titled "God's Promise." While introducing the song at McCabe's, he told the audience about his Woody Guthrie tattoo (which is on his right shoulder), which he showed to Arlo Guthrie several years ago in Boston.

He described the moment of meeting Arlo and showing him the tattoo: "I saw his eyes kind of focus in and his molecules all separate at the same time, as he focused on my shoulder. And then he kind of looked at me like you would look at me if you saw your father tattooed to my body. And then all the particles kind of came back together again and he said, 'Cool.'"

"God's Promise" was a song that Woody Guthrie wrote when he was in the hospital.

"The Speed Of Trees"

Another audience request was "The Speed Of Trees," the title track from what might be Ellis Paul's best studio release. Ellis Paul has a great rapport with his audience, and he joked with the man who requested the song. The man requested it for a woman for her birthday.

"Is it a landmark birthday?" Ellis asked. The man responded, "It's special."

Ellis then asked, "Is it really her birthday today?" The man replied, "We're celebrating it today." The audience responded with a collective "Ahhh," and then laughter. Ellis said, "You see how a few clever questions can really clarify so much for all of us." But he agreed to do the song (though he hadn't rehearsed it with Radoslav and Mariana).

Ellis Paul wrote "The Speed Of Trees" in Big Sur. The lyrics include, "Your love makes me move at the/Speed of trees/I've laid down some roots/I've grown a head full/Of make-believes/But if it weren't for that face of yours/I'd be rattling windows blowing down doors."

"3,000 Miles"

Ellis Paul ended the set with "3,000 Miles," a song which has been an audience favorite for many years. It's a song from his second CD release, Stories (1994), and one that he's performed at nearly every concert since that album's release. This night he played it with a slightly extended intro, to feature Radoslav on piano. And then toward the end of the song, Radoslav did a lead part on piano that was incredible.


The encore was "Home," which was one of the first songs Ellis played piano on. It's a beautiful tune about an old house that Ellis owned and loved. When babies were on the way, they had to move out because the house had dangerous staircases and lead paint. "And then occasionally it snowed inside," he joked.

So in the song he burned the house down in order to feel better about leaving it. In this song, Ellis sings, "This house is just an address/You're my home." "Home" was included on Live At Club Passim New Year's Eve 2005.

Concert Set List

  1. Rose Tattoo
  2. This Is Where All Good Trees Go
  3. Maria's Beautiful Mess
  4. The Lights Of Vegas
  5. Hurricane Angel
  6. Alice's Champagne Palace
  7. Dragonfly
  8. Walkin' After Midnight >
  9. Change >
  10. Walkin' After Midnight
  11. The Heckler
  12. Jukebox On My Grave
  13. Take All The Sky You Need
  14. Once Upon A Summertime
  15. Heaven's Wherever You Are
  16. The World Ain't Slowin' Down
  17. God's Promise
  18. The Speed Of Trees
  19. 3,000 Miles
  1. Home

Ellis Paul's set was approximately an hour and forty-five minutes. Ellis had a cold, but it wasn't obvious from his performance.

Last year the city of Boston honored Ellis by declaring July 9th to be Ellis Paul Day. He celebrated his twenty years of music by performing all of his studio CD releases (except the children's album) in chronological order over a series of four concerts at Passim.

Radoslav Lorkovic has performed and recorded with Greg Brown, Odetta, Richard Shindell and Jimmy Lafave. He's also released several of his own albums.

McCabe's is located at 3101 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, California.

(Note: I originally posted this review on January 25, 2011.)

Greg Brown: "One More Goodnight Kiss" (1988) CD Review

Greg Brown opens this album with the title track, "One More Goodnight Kiss," a great late-night song. Soulful in its attitude, perfect in its execution, this is a excellent song. Radislov Lorkovic's keyboard part really works.

"Say A Little Prayer" is another song on the quiet, mellow side.

"Mississippi Moon"

"Mississipppi Moon" has a definite bluesy feel to it. This is one of those songs of Greg Brown's that reach back into people's collective memory of childhood. He always does such a great job of making these songs live as memories of the listeners.

The song starts, "Me and my brother saw an awful thing/Comin' up outta the river/A hot night in June/We ran back to the porch/And Daddy wiped his brow and said/'Boys, that's just the Mississippi Moon.'"

The only thing marring this song - and at that, only slightly - is the dark cymbal crashing.

Album Is Full Of Nostalgia And Images Of Childhood

"Cheapest Kind" is another song of childhood. The lyrics include, "Dad and me would stop by the store when the day was done/Standing at the counter he said 'I forgot to get the peaches, son'/'What kind should I get?' I said to him there where he stood in line/And he answered just like I knew he would, 'Go and get the cheapest kind.'"

This album is full of nostalgia and yearning for a time passed. But when listening to Greg Brown sing these songs, the past is right here for listeners to enjoy. What a wonderful thing to be able to wrap up a time, a feeling and present it to everyone to share. Greg Brown does this as well as anyone.

"Canned Goods" is another nostalgic song. A taste of the lyrics: "I really gotta go down and see her soon/Cause the canned goods that I buy at the store/Ain't got the summer in 'em anymore/You bet, Grandma, as sure as you're born I'll take some more potatoes and a thunderstorm."

"Walkin' Down To Casey's" also presents images of childhood. This song speaks of that time in childhood when there are hints of its end, of something larger coming. And part wants to hold onto childhood, and part wants to move on. With this song, Greg Brown has captured that time for the listener to enjoy, no matter how long ago he himself (or she herself) moved on.

"I Can't Get Used To It"

"I Can't Get Used To It" is a really cool song with some great guitar work, and also a wonderful keyboard section.

"Rooty Toot Toot For The Moon" is a fun song, whose horn part reminds one of that great New Orleans sound. Then it suddenly switches gears and locations, with some percussion reminding one of the Caribbean. Oddly, this works. And then the horn returns.

"Our Little Town"

"Our Little Town" is about a small town that's dying. It's sad, and it's sweet. Some of the lyrics are "I don't have to read the news/Or hear it on the radio/I see it in the faces of everyone I know/The boards go up/The signs come down/What's going to happen to our little town."
Bonus Songs On CD

The CD contains three bonus tracks: "Cronies," "It Gets Lonely In A Small Town" and "I Wish I Was A Painter." The lyrics to "I Wish I Was A Painter" are based on a poem by Ella Mae Brown.

Musicians On The Album
The musicians on this album are Greg Brown on vocals and guitar, Marc Anderson on percussion, Marcia Bjerke on backing vocals, Pat Donohue on acoustic guitar, Radoslav Lorkovic on keyboards, Dan Lund on electric guitar, Peter Ostroushko on violin and Steve Pikal on trombone.

This album was released on Red House Records.

CD Track Listing
The following is the track list for Greg Brown's "One More Goodnight Kiss":

  1. One More Goodnight Kiss
  2. Say A Little Prayer
  3. Mississippi Moon
  4. Cheapest Kind
  5. Canned Goods
  6. I Can't Get Used To It
  7. Rooty Toot Toot For The Moon
  8. Walking Down To Casey's
  9. Speed Trap Boogie
  10. Our Little Town
  11. Wash My Eyes
  12. Cronies
  13. It Gets Lonely in A Small Town
  14. I Wish I Was A Painter
(Note: I originally posted this review on February 24, 2010.)

Greg Brown: "One Big Town" (1989) CD Review

One Big Town has a different feel from a lot of Greg Brown's releases. There is a full band, and a more rocking sound on some of the songs.

Greg Brown starts this album off with a bang with "The Way They Get Themselves Up." It's a full band song, not one of his quiet acoustic numbers. It's also one of the less interesting songs on the album.

"The Monkey"

The second song, "The Monkey" has a nice build, though it ultimately doesn't truly reach another plateau. Still, it's a cool song. The lyrics include "A glow beneath A bang above/A whimper at the end of love/No one has slept and sweetly dreamed/Not since the monkey bucked and screamed."

"One Cool Remove" is a good song that suffers a bit from Greg's double vocals interplay. It makes up for that with a nice saxophone part.

"Just Live" is more of a rock song, with the main guitar part done on an electric guitar. Its chorus is simply, "Just live until you die/That's all - just live."

CD's Title Track

"One Big Town" is a quieter acoustic song, and it's a much better song. The lyrics include, "We hear the same song, see the same show/Under the shadow of the end-/Fear for our children wherever they may go/As we watch the red, red blood flow again." The song does go on a bit longer than it needs to, at just over six minutes.

"Things Go On" has an almost slow reggae feel, or like early Police material.

"America Will Eat You"

This is the best song on the album, and among Greg Brown's greatest songs ever. This is the song that truly makes this CD worth owning. It's a fairly bleak look at this country, and completely honest. It starts, "There's only so many times you can eat that rubber food/'Till you're gonna say, Well, that's all there is, I'm eating it, I guess it must be good/There's only so many times you can sit and watch tv/Stay detached and think it's stupid/and that you're somehow free."

Another excellent verse is: "We're tempting little morsels on the corporation's fork/If you show up with the right bits and bytes, they'll fatten you like pork/And America will stretch her maw and show you her white teeth/It's only when it's much too late you'll see the cancer underneath."

This song got a lot of airplay on college stations like WERS in Boston when it was first released. This is the song that turned a lot of people onto Greg Brown. Also, the lyrics contain a reference to the film Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. So there.

"Tell Me It's Gonna Be Alright"

The album ends with "Tell Me It's Gonna Be Alright," a really sweet song. It has a nice keyboard part by Radoslav Lorkovic. The lyrics include, "Tell me no more snow will fall/Tell me all about the warm sunlight/Tell me you'll hear me when I call/Tell me it's gonna be alright."

Full Band On This CD

The musicians on this album are Greg Brown on vocals and guitar, Bob "Bo" Ramsey on electric guitar and background vocals, Rick Cicalo on bass, Steve Hayes on drums, Radoslav Lorkovic on keyboards and background vocals and Bob Thompson on saxophone.

(Radoslav Lorkovic will be familiar to anyone who has seen Ellis Paul at Passim during his New Year's Eve run of shows the past several years.)

This album was released on Red House Records.

CD Track List

The following is the track list for Greg Brown's "One Big Town":

  1. The Way They Get Themselves Up
  2. The Monkey
  3. One Cool Remove
  4. Back Home Again
  5. Just Live
  6. One Big Town
  7. Lotsa Kindsa Money
  8. Things Go On
  9. America Will Eat You
  10. Tell Me It's Gonna Be Alright
(Note: I originally posted this review on February 23, 2010.)

Adam Aijala & Ben Kaufmann: "Live At The Old Town School Of Folk"

This CD contains highlights of a show that Adam Aijala and Ben Kaufmann performed in Chicago on April 24, 2010, including an incredible "The Boxer."

This excellent album, titled Live At The Old Town School Of Folk Music, features music from a concert that Adam Aijala & Ben Kaufmann performed on April 24, 2010 at The Old Town School Of Folk Music in Chicago.

Adam Aijala and Ben Kaufmann will be familiar names to fans of bluegrass music and fans of the jam band scene, for they're members of Yonder Mountain String Band. In that band, Adam Aijala plays guitar, and Ben Kaufmann plays bass. On this recording, Adam gets the chance to play a bit of banjo, and Ben plays guitar and even mandolin, in addition to bass.

The songs obviously have a more folk bent than a bluegrass sound on this recording. And though some of these songs are ones that they perform in Yonder Mountain, this album presents a new way of looking at the material. And it works wonderfully. The album has a loose and friendly feel, like they're playing on your back porch - for you and some friends.

These are two seriously talented musicians and songwriters, and this album showcases their vocal talents as well as their great ability on guitar and bass. This show was part of a short tour of intimate venues, with a seated, listening-room atmosphere.

They actually did two sets that evening. This CD represents the best of that show, with the tracks that Adam and Ben considered the best moments. It's over an hour of highlights from the concert.

The stage banter is separated for the most part, put on separate tracks from the songs, which is nice. The CD opens with a stage banter track, with them talking about how glad they are to be at that particular venue.


"Pockets" is a wonderful song written by Adam Aijala and Dave Johnston, and one that Yonder Mountain String Band performs in concert. This song has a fun rhythm, and Adam does some phenomenal work on guitar, particularly in the instrumental sections.


Ben starts "Complicated" by saying, "Give me some power chords, Adam." Adam responds, "You want power?" Well, Ben has it on this song, especially in his voice. Ben's voice simply soars on this one. And when Adam adds his voice, it's just this side of magic. The refrain is "In my own defense/I don't believe that I was born this complicated."

This is one of the CD's best tracks. "Complicated" was written by Ben Kaufmann and included on Yonder Mountain String Band's 2009 release The Show.

"Not One Drop"

"Not One Drop" is a wonderful, playful, and even joyful instrumental track written by Adam Aijala. (Try listening to this without smiling - it's impossible.)

During the song's introduction, Adam jokes, "We may look serious on stage sometimes, but we're not." Ben then teases him, "I never look serious. You look - They call you the Ice Man."

"Sometimes I've Won"

"Sometimes I've Won" is another tune that they often do at Yonder Mountain concerts. Ben Kaufmann wrote this one, and the lyrics are excellent. Here is a little taste: "I've had friends, they've come and gone/I've seen love shine like a sunset and last about as long/In the end we're all walkin' different roads/But we're lookin' for the same signs, the ones that lead us home."

The version on this CD is excellent, and it features Adam Aijala on banjo.

"The Boxer"
Adam and Ben do an excellent cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer." Their voices sound beautiful. It takes some guts to tackle a song like this, and they do a great job with it. It's seriously impressive, the way they capture the sadness of the song, especially on lines like, "Asking only workman's wages/I come looking for a job/But I get no offers/Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue/I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome/I took some comfort there."

The original version of this song is on Simon & Garfunkel's album Bridge Over Troubled Water.

"I Love What I Do For A Living"

"I Love What I Do For A Living" is a song written by Ben Kaufmann about playing music in bars for a living. It has a nice country feel to it. The track before the song is a stage banter track, and in it Ben tells the story of when he was writing the song. It's actually a really sweet (and ultimately very funny) story.

"Just Us"

In the introduction to "Just Us," Ben says, "So earlier we played my wife's least favorite song. And now we will play her favorite song. This is sensitive, thoughtful Ben, my sensitive, thoughtful period." Adam jokes, "Get him while you can. Sensitive Ben time."

Ben introduces "Just Us" by saying "It goes real pretty, like this," and that Ben is no liar, as the song is really pretty. It's a sweet-sounding mellow tune that Ben wrote. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "Out at the lighthouse, it was just us/For miles and miles/Watching all the other stars fall from the sky/You are the only one."


"Downhill" is a fun and quirky instrumental track that Adam wrote. In his introduction to this song, Adam says, "Ben's going to rip it on the mandolin." And yes, Ben Kaufmann plays mandolin on this one. This song hits a beautiful stride, and keeps it up. This is one of those instrumentals that is designed to make you feel good, to get your toes tapping.

"Catch A Criminal"

The first line of "Catch A Criminal," "Going back to Colorado," gets a cheer from the audience (Yonder Mountain String Band is based in Colorado). This is one they often do at the Yonder Mountain shows, and it's always a pleasure to hear it. And here it is, stripped down a bit, but still with that great groove, that wonderful energy.

There is some incredible work on guitar on this track. "Catch A Criminal" was written by Ben Kaufmann and Dave Johnston, and was included on Yonder Mountain String Band's 2009 release, The Show (though on that album it's listed as simply "Criminal").

"Tear Stained Eye"
"Tear Stained Eye" is a song written by Jay Farrar, and included on Son Volt's debut album, Trace. It's a beautiful song with that tinge of sadness that Farrar puts in most of his material. Adam and Ben do a wonderful rendition, perfectly producing and embodying that emotion.

"One After 909"

Yonder Mountain String Band often coves The Beatles in concert, performing songs like "Only A Northern Song." On this album, Adam and Ben do a wonderfully sparse (and yet still with a rock feel) version of "One After 909."

"One After 909" was actually one of the earliest John Lennon/Paul McCartney compositions, but they didn't include it on an album until 1970's Let It Be, the band's final studio release.

"Worker's Song"

"Worker's Song" is a wonderful and serious folk tune written by Ed Pickford. This version by Adam and Ben is just perfect. The vocals have that earnest power and emotion that's needed to make a song like this work. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "In the factories and mills/In the shipyards and mines/We've often been told/To keep up with the times."

"Touch Of Grey"

This CD concludes with a fun rendition of the Grateful Dead's "Touch Of Grey." As Adam strums the first chords, the crowd cheers - obviously being familiar with the song. This is one of the few Grateful Dead songs that even non-fans know. It was the Grateful Dead's one big hit, from 1987's In The Dark.

This is a wonderful rendition. Ben says before the song that he really wants to play it. And his desire shines in his voice and his playing. And Adam's guitar solo is excellent. Sure there's a goof near the end, but who cares? They laugh it off. And besides, before the song, Ben said, "I'm going to play it perfect just like they did." Just like the Grateful Dead, a band that often botched a line or two of their own lyrics and kept on going.

CD Track List
  1. "Thanks for coming..."
  2. Pockets
  3. Complicated
  4. "They call you the Ice Man..."
  5. Not One Drop
  6. Sometimes I've Won
  7. The Boxer
  8. "Play something else..."
  9. I Love What I Do For A Living
  10. Remind Me
  11. "Sensitive Ben time..."
  12. Just Us
  13. Downhill
  14. Catch A Criminal
  15. Tear Stained Eye
  16. "Thanks..."
  17. One After 909
  18. Worker's Song
  19. Touch Of Grey

This CD was released September 18, 2010. It had a very limited press of only 200 copies. Proceeds from the sales of this disc benefit the Four Mile Fire victims. It is uncertain whether a wider release of this recording will become available. Originally it was planned for a wide release, but there is now talk of possibly releasing a different live performance. Let's hope that this album becomes widely available, because it's one of the best releases of the year.

The Old Town School Of Folk Music has been around since 1957, though in a different location at that time.

(Note: I originally posted this review October 23, 2010.)