Friday, October 28, 2011

Los Abandoned Reunion

One of my favorite Los Angeles bands, Los Abandoned, is getting back together for one special show tonight. That's right: tonight. At The Echoplex in Echo Park. (The Echo is a venue where the band often played, a venue where they did some of their best shows.)

Los Abandoned are forever tied in my mind to The Peak Show and Go Betty Go and those incredible parties over at York Studios. Those were some of the best days I've spent in this city. Those shows were epic, and the music was fantastic. It's the only house party I know of that was actually the recommended show of the night in the LA Weekly (of course, that was the beginning of the end). And then of course there was that show at the Henry Fonda Theatre where every member of all three bands (Los Abandoned, The Peak Show, Go Betty Go) played together as the L.A. Cover Unit. An amazing night.

And tonight you can relive (or perhaps live for the first time) a piece of that magic. The show starts at 9 o'clock, and there is no opening band (though there will be DJ sets). Los Abandoned are going to do two sets, so you should get to hear a big chunk of their music. Tickets are only $15.

Los Abandoned broke up in 2007, leaving a horrible void in the L.A. music scene. And this reunion show is billed as a one-time thing. But I'm really hoping that tonight will prove to be simply the beginning of a new chapter for the band. After all, this is the band that convinced folks that Van Nuys es very nice.

Christa Couture: "Lost" (2011) CD Review

Recently Christa Couture released a sort of Best Of Ep titled Loved. That CD caused me to completely fall for her. At that same time, she put out this EP of previously unreleased material. Titled Lost, it contains five songs that showcase her wonderful voice and songwriting abilities. These songs were recorded between 2002 and 2010.

"Gone Too Far"

The EP begins with "Gone Too Far," a sad, but strangely pretty song. I absolutely love Christa's voice, and the lyrics she writes are always interesting. These lines caught me off guard: "But I like my wounds/I'm glad they're from you/Yes, I was willing." How is that for honest and torn? There is something so intimate about her delivery that you feel you could reach over and she'd be physically present. "Gone Too Far" was written by Christa Couture, Don Harrison and Ewan Deane.

"The Most Lovely"

"The Most Lovely" is an odd happy-sounding country-folk hybrid. It comes as another surprise, and makes me wonder if there is anything this woman can't do. Her voice at times reminds me a bit of Ani Difranco on this one. "The Most Lovely" was written by Christa Couture and Don Harrison.

"A Grief As This"

"A Grief As This" is a powerful tune that completely switches gears from the previous track. This one can devastate you. And again, this song contains some incredible lyrics. In this one she sings, "No, I don't want it to be that such beauty reminds me just how empty a body can be." And I love these lines: "And don't say that this is God's way/Because God is not thinking of me." Aaron Joyce arranged this version of the song. (A different version was released on The Wedding Singer And The Undertaker.)

"Let It Go"

"Let It Go" is a pretty tune that lifts you back up after the wonderful despair of "A Grief As This." It has a steady, reassuring rhythm, and lines like, "Look inside/Well, you might find you have some space for me." There is some really nice stuff on guitar on this song. "Let It Go" was written by Christa Couture and Don Harrison.

"Cally's Waltz"

The EP's final track, "Cally's Waltz," has a definite European quality. It's a bit haunting, both in the instrumentation and her voice. It oddly reminds me a bit of the music of Julie Delpy, particularly the waltz she wrote for Before Sunset. Christa wrote "Cally's Waltz" while living on Cally Road in London, where her phone number got printed in an ad for a call girl. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "Maybe I'm the reason it all went wrong/Maybe I could have been more faithful and strong/Would it make a difference, or is it just a nice thought/No, it didn't make no difference/You're gone."

CD Track List

  1. Gone Too Far
  2. The Most Lovely
  3. A Grief As This
  4. Let It Go
  5. Cally's Waltz

Lost was released in June, 2011. Released at the same time was Loved, which features five fan favorites recorded between 2002 and 2010. On the back of the CD cases for both discs it says, "Unauthorized duplication is totally awesome."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Kelly's Lot: "Live In Brussels" (2011) CD Review

Kelly's Lot is an excellent blues-rock band based in Los Angeles, and fronted by Kelly Zirbes. They've put out several albums, but the way to truly experience this band - and Kelly's voice - is in concert. So I was really excited to hear they were putting out a live album. And this collection does capture the spirit of this band.

Yes, this band is all about the blues, but it's their own brand of blues - it's like Positive Blues. Take a song like "Taking Time" for example. This is no poor-me type of blues. And even when things go wrong for the characters in these songs (and of course things do go wrong - this is the blues, after all), it's not like they're victims. How could you consider the protagonist of "Better Way" a victim? And certainly the singer of "Pistol" can take care of herself.

A lot is said about Kelly's voice, and with good reason. But what also needs to be clear is that these guys are excellent musicians. Without ostentatious stage antics or any nonsense, these guys really PLAY. You know? Perry Robertson has often blown me away when I've seen him perform. Also, these guys clearly love what they're doing. You can see it in their smiles; you can hear it on all of these tracks.

This is the best album the band has put out so far. Seventy minutes of excellent blues-rock. With one obvious exception, all the songs on this release are original songs, written by singer Kelly Zirbes and guitarist Perry Robertson.

"Reason For The Blues"

The opening track, "Intro," is simply Kelly thanking the audience.

Then the band jumps right into a groovy blues number called "Reason For The Blues." Kelly has a great voice for blues and rock. It's rough and powerful - you get the feeling she could bruise you with it if she so desired. Kelly really demonstrates her vocal chops when she gets to the lines, "'Cause you're hard like candy/Sweet like wine/I can't help myself every time."

And then there is some great work on guitar by both Rob Zucca and Perry Robertson.

"Taking Time"

Kelly introduces "Taking Time" by saying, "Here's a new song. I call it 'Coffee.' Or, 'Taking Time.'" I love it when bands introduce new material in a live context. With the title not even firmed up, you get the sense you're experiencing something in development, which is always exciting. And this one is an immediate favorite. Kelly sings, "Well, I'm taking time for love/I'm taking time for you." This song also has a good little jam.


"Redbone" is my favorite tune from the band's 2008 release, The Light. This song has a seriously cool groove. And this live version is a lot of fun. I love Matt McFadden's bass line.


"Crossroads" is the album's sole cover tune. Kelly's Lot does a fast-paced, high-energy rendition of this classic tune written by Robert Johnson. The band is clearly influenced by Cream's version. While Kelly's voice is electrifying, it's actually the instrumental section of this track that really sells it.


"Tired" has that familiar traditional blues rhythm and groove, something the previous tracks have stayed away from. The band doesn't rely on it. But it's welcome here - it works. Listen to that great pain in Kelly's voice when she sings, "I'm lost, I'm so lost." And there is a nice extended guitar section. The band really stretches out here - this song is ten minutes long. Kelly is not afraid to step aside and let the band cook on its own for a while.


Kelly's soft, simple intro, "This is called 'Pistol,'" does nothing to warn you about the groovy, kick-ass song that follows. This song really caught me by surprise. Check out these lines: "I got my knife sharpened/I'm not ready to see you bleed/Make sweet love to me, and in the morning we'll see."

"Take This Heart"

When folks talk about Kelly's voice, one of the comparisons that is often made is to Janis Joplin, in terms of the raw power and sexiness. Kelly included her version of Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" on the band's 2009 release, Pastrami & Jam. In introducing "Take This Heart," Kelly says, "I kind of tried to channel her...This song is about what I think she would be saying if she were still out there performing." (That introduction is presented as a separate track, titled "Homage To Janis Joplin.")

It begins, "Take this heart/Take it away from me/Take this soul." Of course the allusion is to one of Joplin's most famous songs, "Piece Of My Heart." My favorite lines from "Take This Heart" are, "Because baby you've taken the best of me/So why don't you just take the rest of me."

CD Track List
  1. Intro
  2. Reason For The Blues
  3. Hush Up
  4. Taking Time
  5. Redbone
  6. Better Way
  7. Come To This
  8. Crossroads
  9. Tired
  10. Train
  11. Right Now
  12. Pistol
  13. Homage To Janis Joplin
  14. Take This Heart
  15. Nobody Here But Me
  16. Happy Girl

Kelly's Lot is Kelly Zirbes on vocals, Perry Robertson on guitar, Rob Zucca on guitar, Matt McFadden on bass, and Robert Dill on drums.

Live In Brussels was released July 15, 2011. It was recorded at The Montmartre.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings: "Collector's Edition Box Set" (2011) Review

I sort of lost track of Bill Wyman after he left the Rolling Stones in the early 1990s. (Honestly, I also lost track of the Stones after seeing a disappointing show on their Steel Wheels tour.) So this was my chance to get caught up. And holy moly, this collection really surprised me. This set has some straight rock and some bluesy rock (which you'd expect), but also some swing, some jazzy stuff, lots of old timey gems. And a lot of these are originals.

How is Bill Wyman able to write a song that seems to fit right in with classics and standards? Many of these songs have a built-in timeless quality. Listen to "Bad To Be Alone," for example; it's easy to imagine Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday or Alberta Hunter diving into it. This collection also features a nice variety of lead vocals - both male and female. Bill Wyman, Beverley Skeete, Georgie Fame, Geraint Watkins, Mike Sanchez, Paul Carrack, Geoff Grange, Adrian Byron Burns, Albert Lee, Gary Brooker, and Andy Fairweather-Low all have at least one turn at lead vocals.

This five-disc collection features the first four releases from the band (including 2001's double album Double Bill, thus five discs). There are no bonus tracks.

Struttin' Our Stuff

The band's debut album, Struttin' Our Stuff, was released in early 1998. Half of the tracks are originals, written by Bill Wyman or by Bill Wyman and Terry Taylor, and some of my favorites are among those tunes, especially "Bad To Be Alone" and "Going Crazy Overnight."

The album begins with a good cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Green River," helped a lot by female backing vocalist Beverley Skeete. This is rock and roll with a good groove. Bill Wyman sings lead, and his performance reminds me a bit of T. Rex.

"Melody" is the only Rolling Stones song in the collection, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and originally included on the band's 1976 release Black And Blue. Georgie Fame and Beverley Skeete share the vocal duties on this rendition. And that's Eric Clapton on lead guitar.

"Stuff (Can't Get Enough)" has a bit of a '70s disco thing happening, except with more serious lyrics. "Bad To Be Alone" is jazzy blues with female lead vocals by Beverley Skeet. This is a wonderful tune written by Bill Wyman.

"Jitterbug Boogie" is a strange song that mixes elements of big band with early rock and roll. The results are delicious and infectious, and again, this one's an original. Albert Lee is on lead guitar.

They end the first album with "Tobacco Road." I've always loved this song, and this is a very cool version. It has the appropriate strength and rawness in tone. And Peter Frampton is on lead guitar. Paul Carrack performs lead vocals. You'll probably remember him from such bands as Ace and Squeeze.

Anyway The Wind Blows

Anyway The Wind Blows, the band's second album, was originally released on February 23, 1999. Only approximately a third of its tracks are originals. But there are some interesting covers here. And again, there are some wonderful guest musicians on many of these tracks.

The album's title track (and first track), "Anyway The Wind Blows," is bluesy rock, with Peter Frampton on lead guitar. Georgie Fame performs lead on this one, singing, "Easy come, easy go/Anyway the wind blows."

Their version of "Spooky" (a song made popular by the Classics IV) has female lead vocals, so the line becomes "Love is kinda crazy with a spooky, spooky guy like you." This is a fairly mellow version, but I like the horn.

"Mojo Boogie" is a lot of fun. Why is it that songs about New Orleans are almost always excellent?

"Too Late" is a fun Willie Dixon tune. On the first album, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings covered Dixon's "Down In The Bottom," but this cover of "Too Late" is more effective. It really works with Geraint Watkins' piano chops.

"Every Sixty Seconds" is an original tune, written by Bill Wyman and sung by Beverley Skeete. This is one of my favorites. It has a simple groove, and features Chris Rea on slide guitar.

"Ring My Bell" is one of the best tracks, mostly because of the piano. At times it reminds me of some of Gershwin's style (like something Woody Allen could have included in Manhattan). And the horn section is great. But it's Beverley Skeete's vocal performance that really sells this song.

I've heard several versions of "Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You" over the years (including ones by Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole, Diana Krall, and Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass, ), and this one is really good. It doesn't hurt that it features Eric Clapton on lead guitar. And yeah, to answer the song's question, I'd think anyone who bought me a fur coat for Christmas was good to me.

"When Hollywood Goes Black And Tan" is my absolute favorite from this disc. This song is a swinging fun old timey parlour-type gem, which was recorded by Cleo Brown in the thirties. Vocalist Beverley Skeete really nails it. It also features Martin Taylor on lead guitar. I could listen to this song all night, and never tire of it.

The only song from this disc that I don't care much for is "Struttin' Our Stuff." It's one of those our-band-is-fucking-great type songs that I can do without in general. (Oddly, there is another song about the Rhythm Kings on the third disc, titled "Rhythm King.")

This disc ends with a J. Geils Band cover (yes, really): "Gonna Find Me A New Love" which was originally from The Morning After. I've always really dug Peter Wolf's vocals, and though Geoff Grange does a good job with it (even imitating some of Peter's intonations), I keep hearing the original in my head. But this is a fun rock song, something J. Geils was fantastically adept at.


Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings' third release was Groovin' (2000). This one has more slower tunes than the earlier two albums.

It begins with "Tell You A Secret," a rockin' blues tune sung with a perfect gruff coarseness by Adrian Byron Burns. There is a great call and response between Burns and the female backing vocalists. It was written by Bill Wyman and Terry Taylor.

The title track, "Groovin'," is a cover of The Young Rascals song. This one isn't that effective. I sort of like the original, but this version seems like easy listening. There's nothing to sink your teeth into, and it doesn't have the honest immediacy of the original. It just feels like a bit of fluffy nostalgia. Though I do like Martin Taylor's short guitar solo.

"Mood Swing" has a definite New Orleans flavor to this swinging tune. It features Gerry Hogan on pedal steel and Chris Hall on accordion, and some wonderful work by Dave Hartley on piano.

"Can't Get My Rest At Night" has a slower groove. Former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor plays slide guitar on this track. (Mick Taylor was with the Stones from 1969 to 1974, playing on some of their absolute best records.) I love the backing vocals, this time provided by Melanie Redmond, Keeley Coburn, Susie Webb and Zoe Nicholas - they repeat, "That's all right." Indeed. This song was written by J. David Ray. Oddly, Bill Wyman is not on this track.

"I Put A Spell On You" is one of the best Halloween-related songs ever. This rendition has female lead vocals, done by Beverley Skeete. It has more of an easy groove than the song usually does. It's a slow version with a horn section, giving it a late-night city vibe. But it lacks the wildness, the power, and the raw edge of many other versions.

"Tomorrow Night" is another slow, late-night jazzy number.

"I Want To Be Evil" is a seriously fun tune written by Lester Judson and Raymond Taylor. It features delicious and sweet female vocals on lines like, "I want to be nasty/I want to be cruel." It also has a cool bass line, and a change in pace toward the end as if going for a big show-tune finish. "I Want To Be Evil" was the opening track on Eartha Kitt's 1954 album, That Bad Eartha.

The band does a good cover of the Lovin' Spoonful song, "Daydream." Gary Brooker does a really good job on lead vocals (Gary Brooker is probably best known as the vocalist for Procal Harum). And Dave Hartley's work on piano at the beginning immediately differentiates this version from the original, playing what would be the chorus. The backing vocalists get a turn singing the chorus at the end.

Groovin' ends with "Yesterdays," a quiet late-night vocal piece written in 1933 by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach. Beverley Skeete does a wonderful job on this song that has also been covered by such folks as Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Marianne Faithfull. This rendition features some nice work on piano by Dave Hartley.

Double Bill

The final two discs of this box set compose the 2001 double album, Double Bill.

Double Bill begins with "Long Walk To DC," a gospel-flavored rock tune with female vocals and backing vocalists acting as a choir. There's joy in this one. Written by Homer Banks and Marvell Thomas, this song was recorded by the Staple Singers.

"Hit That Jive Jack" has a great jazzy groove and smooth vocals by Georgia Fame, as well as by backing vocalists Beverley Skeete and Janice Hoyte. This track also features good work by Bill Wyman on bass, and nice stuff on lead guitar by Martin Taylor. Written by John Alston and Campbell Tolbert, "Hit That Jive Jack" is a song that will put a smile on your face.

"Love Letters" is a gorgeous mellow tune, written by Edward Heyman and Victor Young. I am really impressed by Beverley Skeete's vocals; she is someone I need to look into further. This song is also notable for it features George Harrison on slide guitar (one of his last recordings).

"Get In The Kitchen" is a fun tune, the tone set by Dave Hartley's light and playful touch on piano. He's basically dancing across the keys.

The first of these two discs ends with a jumping, cooking rendition of "Turn On Your Lovelight." Gary Brooker has lead vocal duties on this one. Beverley Skeete and Janice Hoyte do the backing vocals. Georgie Fame is wonderful on organ, and a great groove is provided by Graham Broad on drums. Ooo-wee, the energy is palpable. I love this tune, and this is an excellent version.

One of the highlights of the last disc is their version of "Lonely Blue Boy." Vocalist/pianist Gary Brooker really shines on this one. I love the way he builds to the line, "Well, they say that love is the answer, but love never came my way." There is a nice touch with the addition of mandolin, played by Martin Taylor. And some good stuff by Andy Fairweather-Low on lead guitar. "Lonely Blue Boy" was written by Ben Weisman and Fred Wise.

The last disc includes a cover of Dan Hicks' "Where's The Money." They do a good job with this fun tune, getting the odd vocal line right. Though this song originally came from Dan Hicks' 1971 record, last year Dan Hicks released a weird sort of parody of this song title "Christmas Mornin'" on Crazy For Christmas. Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings included another Dan Hicks Cover, "Walking One & Only" on Anyway The Wind Blows. The section with bass and piano in that song is simply wonderful.

"Jellyroll Fool" is one of my favorites. There is a bit of a country flavor to this quirky original tune. Bill Wyman sings this one. Geoff Grange adds a lot to it on harmonica.

They do a rendition of "My Handy Man," a song that Alberta Hunter included on Downhearted Blues: Live At The Cookery, an album that was recently re-issued. The version by Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings suffers by comparison. It feels tame, not nearly as risque and deliciously dirty as the Alberta Hunter rendition. Bill Wyman does not play on this track.

They conclude the collection with "Breaking Up The House," a ridiculously fun rock and roll number written by Syd Nathan and Henry Glover. Albert Lee plays lead guitar on this one. This song also features a sax solo by Frank Mead.

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings seem like a band that would really cook on stage. And guess what - they're touring now with special guest Mary Wilson on vocals. Unfortunately, there are no U.S. dates (Bill Wyman is not into extensive touring, which is one of the reasons he left the Rolling Stones). But if you're in the UK, I'm betting it would be worth your time to check these guys out. The tour takes them through November and into early December.

CD Track List

Disc 1: Struttin' Our Stuff
  1. Green River
  2. Walking On My Own
  3. Melody
  4. Stuff (Can't Get Enough)
  5. Bad To Be Alone
  6. I'm Mad
  7. Down In The Bottom
  8. Motorvatin' Mama
  9. Jitterbug Boogie
  10. Going Crazy Overnight
  11. Hole In My Soul
  12. Tobacco Road

Disc 2: Anyway The Wind Blows
  1. Anyway The Wind Blows
  2. Spooky
  3. Walking One & Only
  4. Mojo Boogie
  5. Too Late
  6. Every Sixty Seconds
  7. Ring My Bell
  8. Days Like This
  9. He's Real Gone Guy
  10. A True Romance
  11. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You
  12. When Hollywood Goes Black And Tan
  13. Crazy He Calls Me
  14. Struttin' Our Stuff
  15. Sugar Babe
  16. Gonna Find Me A New Love

Disc 3: Groovin'
  1. Tell You A Secret
  2. Groovin'
  3. Rough Cut Diamond
  4. Mood Swing
  5. Hole In The Wall
  6. Can't Get My Rest At Night
  7. I Put A Spell On You
  8. Tomorrow Night
  9. I Want To Be Evil
  10. Rhythm King
  11. Daydream
  12. Oh Baby
  13. Streamline Woman
  14. Yesterdays

Disc 4: Double Bill
  1. Long Walk To DC
  2. Hot Foot Blues
  3. Hit That Jive Jack
  4. Love Letters
  5. Love's Down The Drain
  6. I Can't Dance
  7. Medley: Snap Your Fingers/What A Friend We Have In Jesus
  8. Get In The Kitchen
  9. Boogie Woogie All Night Long
  10. Medley: Do You Or Don't You/I Wanna Know
  11. Trust In Me
  12. Turn On Your Lovelight

Disc 5: Double Bill
  1. The Joint Is Jumping
  2. Brownskin Girl
  3. Tired & Sleepy
  4. Lonely Blue Boy
  5. Bye Bye Blues
  6. Where's The Money
  7. Jellyroll Fool
  8. Jealous Girl
  9. My Handy Man
  10. Rollin' & Stumblin'
  11. Keep On Truckin'
  12. Breakin' Up The House

Collector's Edition Box Set is scheduled to be released on October 25, 2011. (By the way, that's the day after Bill Wyman's birthday.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Holland Greco Celebrates Birthday at Thirsty Crow, 10-16-11

Holland Greco did a special set at the Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake yesterday afternoon to celebrate her birthday, which was actually the 14th (she shares her birthday with Thomas Dolby). Holland Greco used to have a residency at that venue, and when she stopped, Princess Frank (Holland's drummer) took over, playing every Sunday. He does a cool one-man band thing, and started the show yesterday, playing originals and as well as covers like "Sunny Afternoon," "Ring Of Fire," and "Help." The crowd sang along on several songs. He ended with "Money (That's What I Want)" as the tip jar was passed around.

After a short break, Holland began her set. Bass player Michael Papillo wasn't able to make the show, so it was a return to the duo of Holland and Princess Frank. They started their set with three tunes they've been playing since their days as Heartkour: "100 Proof," "Stuck" and "Flashback." Then Scrote joined them on guitar for a fun cover of Little River Band's "Reminiscing" and then a wonderful new song titled "Irene Sylvia." Holland wrote the lyrics, and Scrote wrote the music for this one. What if the Grim Reaper were a woman, and you fell in love with her? What would you do for her? A perfect song for this Halloween month. The three then did another cover, Bobby Hebb's "Sunny."

Scrote then did three songs himself - "Animal," "Do Something Different" and "Pleasure." Holland joined him on maracas for "Animal." And Princess Frank joined him on drums for "Do Something Different."

Scrote then left the stage, and Holland and Princess Frank wrapped up the set with three Misfits songs, clearly celebrating Halloween as well as her birthday. "Vampira" is one they've performed many times, but the others were new - "Last Caress" and "Halloween."

Set List

  1. 100 Proof
  2. Stuck
  3. Flashback
  4. Reminiscing
  5. Irene Sylvia
  6. Sunny
  7. Animal
  8. Do Something Different
  9. Pleasure
  10. Last Caress
  11. Vampira
  12. Halloween

Thirsty Crow is located at 2939 West Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thomas Dolby Performs at the Masonic Temple at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 10-14-11

Because of how good Thomas Dolby's new album is, I had incredibly high expectations going into this concert. But I also knew there was a lecture involved and that it had something to do with his online game, which I hadn't played, so I wasn't sure how it would all play out. Would he talk for a while, then play a few songs? Would there be a band? Also, I had never been to this venue before, so I wasn't sure how sound would be. But Thomas Dolby at a Masonic Temple? In a cemetery? Just before Halloween? It sounded too strange and wonderful to miss.

At a little after 8 p.m., the doors were opened and we went inside. But the door to the actual concert hall didn't open for another half hour. Most people hung out in the room with the bar and merchandise table (his new CD was available for sale early to the folks who attended this show; it's not going to be in stores until the 25th). And a long line began to form. Finally a little after 8:30 we were let in. I went right to the front row, center. The stage had a piano at one end (stage right) and a keyboard at the other (stage left). Candles were lit and placed around both instruments. And that was it. No band. And no nonsense. It was going to be Thomas Dolby solo. And it was his birthday.

When he took the stage at 9:12 p.m. he thanked the crowd for being at his birthday show, and then stood at the keyboard and played "Europa And The Pirate Twins" from his 1982 release, The Golden Age Of Wireless. (The announcement asking for folks to refrain from using flash photography was immediately ignored by several members of the audience - then and occasionally throughout the show.) He got the audience clapping along on the very first song. It was strange listening to him play harmonica on the keyboard. I'm used to seeing a harmonica when I hear one. The sound, by the way, was excellent - it was completely clear.

After that opening number, he talked about how he used to live right up the street from the venue, on Whitley Ave. He then began a slide show presentation on the wall at center stage. He talked about the studio where he recorded his new album, A Map Of The Floating City - a studio built on a lifeboat. He joked that he'd be ready "when the flood waters came."

This led to his second song, and the first of the night from his new CD, "To The Lifeboats." This song was released in March on the EP Oceanea, and it's my favorite from the EP (and one of my favorites from the full-length release). For this song, Thomas Dolby sat at the piano. He had only one microphone, so he had to carry it over to the piano. This was a beautiful rendition of "To The Lifeboats." He said he'd written it for guitar, but it sounded wonderful on piano.

From there, he went back to the slide show presentation, so it was clear that the lecture and the music were to be combined throughout the performance. He talked more about his studio, which has solar panels and is completely self-sufficient. It uses renewable energy, stored in batteries.

He told the tale of a dream he had in which he was visited by Billie Holiday. In the dream, she told him, "I have a song for you: 'This Time It's Love.'" So when he woke he wrote "Love Is A Loaded Pistol," which incorporates that line and the titles of other Billie Holiday songs. He performed this one on piano.

From his lifeboat, he can see boats going by, and he noticed that sometimes they looked like the Manhattan skyline. He segued into the idea of the online game, The Floating City, first introducing the basic concepts, and then for most of the rest of the performance taking the audience through the entire game, which had recently wrapped up. I have to be honest: video games and online games don't really interest me. I've never played any of the online games. That being said, I was completely intrigued by the incredible detail of Thomas Dolby's creation, and by the fact that players were adding as much to the game as he himself added. That everyone who played was in a sense its author.

The game takes place in a possible near future when things have gone horribly wrong, and the only place cool enough to live is the north pole. Players form tribes to survive and make their way there. There are three continents: Urbanoia, Amerikana and Oceanea (the three sections of the CD). The players were divided into nine tribes. One of the tribes was called "17 Hills" (the title of one of his new compositions as well), and when he mentioned that one, it got a large cheer from the audience. Clearly a good portion of the crowd at this show had been involved in the game. The tribe "17 Hills" was essentially the local tribe.

The whole idea of the game was fascinating - the way it played out, the way it brought together people from all over the world. Thomas Dolby involved members of his family too, and they took on various characters that players would encounter. This was a game that took place in chat rooms and forums as well as on the official site.

When I first entered the venue and saw only the piano and keyboard, I figured there was little chance of seeing him perform "The Toad Lickers," my favorite track off of A Map Of The Floating City. Because that song is really a bluegrass tune, with several guest musicians playing fiddle, accordion and the jaw harp (that's Imogen Heap on the jaw harp), and some backing vocalists as well. But Thomas Dolby began introducing the song, playing different folks' contributions on the keyboard, and even playing a video of Imogen Heap recording her portion. And then he performed the song on keyboard, and it was great. Though it's still odd to hear a song fade out when seeing it performed live. It reminds me of certain episodes of The Monkees, when they were supposedly playing at a party or a venue and then the song would fade out as it did on the album.

After performing "Spice Train," the album's single, Thomas Dolby brought everyone up to date with the end of the game, and said that the players have sort of demanded that it keep going. So he's leaving it up to them to continue it if they wish. As I've said, I've never been interested in online gaming. But after hearing Thomas Dolby talk about it, I'm a little sad I missed out on this one. He gave me an appreciation for what goes into these games, as well as what people get out of them. If the game does continue, I might look into it further.

He then finished his set by playing "She Blinded Me With Science," the song he is still most well known for. And I have to admit, it was a total thrill to see him sing it.

A standing ovation brought him back on stage, though he joked that a lecture isn't supposed to have an encore. That's one thing about him that this performance really showcased - his sense of humor. You can hear it in a lot of his songs, in particular rhymes and phrases. But hearing him speak at length you really get a sense that this is a seriously funny (and incredibly intelligent) individual.

People shouted out requests for a lot of songs, and the one that Dolby chose was "Hyperactive!," a hit from his 1984 release, The Flat Earth.

Set List

  1. Europa And The Pirate Twins
  2. To The Lifeboats
  3. Love Is A Loaded Pistol
  4. Evil Twin Brother
  5. The Toad Lickers
  6. Spice Train
  7. She Blinded Me With Science

  1. Hyperactive!

The show ended at 10:45 p.m. A little while after the show Thomas Dolby came out to sign posters and copies of his new CD for the long line of fans. For those who missed this performance and live in Los Angeles, he will be doing another show at the Grammy Museum on Monday, October 17th.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finding Fiction: "Try This At Home" (2011) CD Review

Finding Fiction is a Brooklyn-based band that was formed in 2008 by Mario Santana and Tim Farr. The band has had several members in its brief history, and its newest CD, Try This At Home, is actually a solo album. Mario Santana does all of the vocals and instruments on this release.

I was fortunate enough to catch a show during Finding Fiction's recent tour. They did a set at Trip down in Santa Monica on September 22nd. The band's new keyboardist, George Chen, was unable to make the west coast leg of the tour, so the band's road manager/photographer Crystal Parker sat in on keys for those shows (she is working on her own solo material now, and should have something ready for release next year). The lineup that night was Mario Santana on vocals and guitar, Aaron Latos on drums, Luke Dennis on bass and Crystal Parker on keyboards. This is a fairly new lineup for the band, and this tour was the first time they all played together, but they sounded incredible. They performed a few songs from this CD, including "Weathermen."

Try This At Home is a 5-song EP containing just under a half hour of music. Their music was described to me as power pop meets arthouse, and that's an apt description. But some inspiration seems to be taken from the jam band world as well. It's odd to think of an album having jam elements when the instruments were all played by one person. It's not like Mario can jam with himself. Yet this EP does have an exploratory feel at various moments within the songs (perhaps like something by Sound Tribe Sector 9). Listening to this album you'd never guess that it was performed by just one person. It has such a full, and at times intricate, sound that it seems several minds had to be working in conjunction to create it.

"Migraines And Sheep"

The EP's opening track, "Migraines And Sheep," starts with keyboard and right away I'm on board. This song has a sort of joyous full sound - the glorious side of pop. Later there is a quieter section with guitar and keyboard and vocals, something Mario likes to do with a lot of his material. Then the thump of the kick drum comes in, leading back into a more full-sounding section.

"Migraines And Sheep" is my favorite track from this release. It's a fantastic song that I enjoy more each time I listen to it. Here is a taste of the lyrics: "I'd count every minute in between/a million migraines and sheep/to feel your fingertips through this screen/through this screen/or is my machine becoming more like me."

"Panic Rooms"

"Panic Rooms" has a driving pulse to it. It feels a bit harder than the opening track, and a bit more on the electronic side. The image "crowded rooms with walls that move" later turns to "panic rooms with walls that move," which is interesting because you might imagine a panic room as being a room that you alone occupy, at least until the danger has passed (so in contrast to a crowded room - though I know some folks who panic in crowds). I really like the vocals on this track (and on all of them, actually). Three minutes in, there is an electronic interlude; then the vocals and guitar come in and the song slowly builds again.


"Weathermen" is a song the band played when I saw them in Santa Monica, and it was one from their set that really stuck out for me (the line "I swear the weatherman's got it in for me" was in my head for several days after the show). This song has a dense structure - with some good work on percussion.

Approximately two and a half minutes in, there is a section of electronic industrial-type sounds, like something is truly being manufactured during the song. That leads to the repeated lines "I swear the weatherman's got it in for me" and "I haven't seen the sun in weeks." I love the build after that, again heavy on percussion, and the breakthrough it leads to. There is some nice stuff on guitar at that point. The song ends with a sweet-sounding "la la la."

"Dear Daylight"

"Dear Daylight" has an odd beginning, with electronic sounds and then the pound of a drum. These songs certainly are not shy or timid; they don't creep up on you. "Dear Daylight" is a vibrant collection of sounds that create this bright force. It sort of begins to unravel or deconstruct approximately four minutes in, but quickly comes together again. I really dig these lines: "daylight you're just a disguise/put on/put on/by the night."

"Paper Planes"

"Paper Planes" is an interesting way to end the EP, with the lines "till the voices in our heads/go out the way they came in." For Mario's is the voice in my head. A voice that is backed by wonderful percussion on this one. At times this song feels relentless, insistent - like it could explode at any moment under the pressure of its own force. This song, like the others, breaks down at moments, but then comes back in just as strong as before.

I'm especially fond of the repeated line "friends in quotation marks," which seems to have more poignancy in these days of online social networks.

CD Track List

  1. Migraines And Sheep
  2. Panic Rooms
  3. Weathermen
  4. Dear Daylight
  5. Paper Planes

Try This At Home was released August 5, 2011.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thomas Dolby: "A Map Of The Floating City" (2011) CD Review

When one thinks of Thomas Dolby, one generally thinks of synthesizers and 1980s pop songs (especially "She Blinded Me With Science"). His newest album, A Map Of The Floating City, should change all of that. It's good enough that it should change the public's limited conception of him. (In fact, it's one of my favorite albums of the year.) Beside its being his first studio release in twenty years, this album is important in that it crosses over many musical boundaries. Thomas Dolby has never really allowed himself to be limited to any one type of music, and this wonderful CD explores a range of musical genres and forms.

He also tells excellent stories with many of the songs on this album. This CD is really about the vocals and lyrics, and connecting directly with the listener.

One thing that's surprising is how often this CD made me laugh (or at least smile). In telling his tales, Dolby uses a lot of great images, many of them humorous. Examples include lines like "Apathy on toast" from the opening track and "They ate Mars bars for love/They crashed the car for love" in "Road To Reno." And of course "The Toad Lickers," perhaps my favorite track, is quite funny.

This album is divided into three sections: "Urbanoia," "Amerikana" and "Oceanea." Each of the three has a distinct feel. The third section was released as an EP on March 28, 2011. All songs on this album were written by Thomas Dolby.


The opening line of the CD is "There is nothing new under the sun." But this is the first full-length studio album by Thomas Dolby in twenty years, and it's so original and varied that it definitely feels New. With a good steady beat and some inventive lyrics, "Nothing New Under The Sun" is a great opener. Check out these lines: "Panic on the seas/Mozzarella cheese/diplomatic deep freeze" and "Head without a spine/Why am I surprised to find you supine?" He takes these interesting rhymes, and then actually makes the song partially about writing them; he sings, "Hey, any fool can write a hit."

"Spice Train" is more what the casual Thomas Dolby listener might expect - an electronic tune with repeated synth rhythms. But what I love about this song is the vocals, and how they work with and in contrast to the electronic sounds. Is there such a thing as electronic folk? Has Thomas Dolby just invented it?

Here is a taste of the lyrics: "The Earth is like a garage sale/And I'm pitching my stall/To cater to the infidels/Now I'm shifting my shape/Morphing into Spider-Man/I'll tether my blimp wherever there's a party on/Because if you roll with it/You can ride this spice train/When it boils down to it/You can hold the world in the palm of your hand." A different edit of this song is included at the end of the CD.

"Jealous Thing Called Love" is a surprise. Every time I listen to this album, the beginning of this song makes me smile. It has an odd easy listening feel to it, like a version of Herb Albert and The Tijuana Brass that would be played in Sears. It might catch the listener off guard. That impression lasts only a moment. It's gone from the second his vocals come in, and this song is actually one of the best of the CD, and my favorite from the first section. I especially love the sound of the chorus in this song.

The chorus is "I'd have given her anything/Anything she asked/My little heart was a-trembling/I must have been on Mars/The sugar walls came tumbling down/What was I thinking of/When I fell for a pretty thing/A jealous thing called love." I wonder, is the line "The sugar walls came tumbling down" a reference to the Sheena Easton song?


The section titled "Amerikana" is probably the most surprising. This might not be what folks expect from Thomas Dolby, and is actually my favorite of the three sections.

"Road To Reno" is a somewhat sweet (at least at first) and humorous love story, and has the bright feel of a folky pop tune. He introduces the couple with these lines: "He was a crooked politician/She sold brassieres at Sears/He said he like The Beatles/And she liked Tears For Fears."

The song suddenly takes a surprising turn. He sings, "And when all the love ran out he went out and bought a gun." Those lines, and the ones that follow, will grab you. And just when you think he's leaving you with that image, the song kicks back in again. It's jarring in the best way. I'm actually intrigued by this song, by what Dolby is able to accomplish, the way he affects the listener. We're smiling through most of it, and then he hits us with this detailed section of their demise, and then after a moment he makes us smile again. There is something wonderfully twisted about it.

"Road To Reno" features Geoff Grange on harmonica and Rich Armstrong on flugelhorn.

"The Toad Lickers" is a fun country folk tune with bluegrass elements and an attitude. He sings, "Forget your blues, forget your punk and funk and Christian rock and roll." After all, this is a "brand new mash of bluegrass and techno." Sure, but it's much more bluegrass than techno. And it features great vocals (Thomas Dolby has an excellent voice). Probably my favorite tune on this release, "The Toad Lickers" is another song infused with humor. Check out lines like "ID the species by their feces in the free mountain air." I love the keyboard section. This song features a guest appearance by Imogen Heap on jaw harp.

Mark Knopfler plays guitar on "17 Hills," an amazing song that really takes the listener on a journey. That song also features Natalie MacMaster on fiddle. And I love Jeffrey Wash's work on bass.

"Love Is A Loaded Pistol" has the great feel of a piano standard played in a jazz bar late at night. And again, it features some wonderful vocal work and excellent lyrics. I love the change the song takes partway through these lines (right after "This time it's love"): "On a creaky piano stool tonight/As the moon is my only witness/She was breathing in my ear/'This time it's love'/But love is a loaded pistol/And by daybreak she's gone."

Three of the songs from this section were made available as a downloadable EP titled Amerikana in 2010.


The final section of A Map Of The Floating City is titled "Oceanea." And it's this section that was released as an EP earlier this year (please click here for my review of it).

Thomas Dolby recorded this album at a studio built on an old lifeboat, which adds another layer of meaning to this section.

My favorite from this section is "To The Lifeboats," which is a phenomenal song. It really struck me when I first heard the EP, and its power has not diminished at all, but rather grown with repeated playing. I really like the percussion in this song. And as with all of the songs on this CD, there are some wonderful lyrics, like these: "The superstitious sailors of old refused to learn to swim/But there's no need to drown these days/Because we've got lifeboats/Where are the lifeboats?/There are no lifeboats."

CD Track List
  1. Nothing New Under The Sun
  2. Spice Train
  3. Evil Twin Brother
  4. Jealous Thing Called Love
  5. Road To Reno
  6. The Toad Lickers
  7. 17 Hills
  8. Love Is A Loaded Pistol
  9. Oceanea
  10. Simone
  11. To The Lifeboats
  12. Spice Train (radio edit)

Musicians appearing on this release include Thomas Dolby on vocals, keyboards, piano and synths; Kevin Armstrong on guitar; Mark Knopfler on guitar; Nat Martin on rhythm guitar; Neill MacColl on acoustic guitar; Bruce Kaphan on pedal steel; Matthew Seligman on bass; Jeffrey Wash on fretless bass; Chucho Merchan on acoustic bass; Mat Hector on drums; Nic France on drums; Liam Genockey on drums; Pat Mastelotto; Bosco de Oliveira on percussion; Kevin Robinson on trumpet; and Natalie MacMaster on fiddle.

A Map Of The Floating City is scheduled to be released on October 25, 2011 on Lost Toy People Records. Let's hope that this is the first of many new releases from Thomas Dolby.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Willie Nile: "The Innocent Ones" (2010/2011) CD Review

For those who are unfamiliar with Willie Nile, his new album The Innocent Ones might very well be the record to bring you aboard, to add you to the ranks of his fans (putting you in the company of Lucinda Williams, Richard Thompson, Roger McGuinn and Pete Townshend). Willie Nile opened for The Who in 1980, and has played with Bruce Springsteen, so of course is no stranger to great rock and roll. And this is a great rock and roll album (though of course there are singer/songwriter and even punk elements mixed in). All of the songs are originals, written by Willie Nile and Frankie Lee ("Sideways Beautiful" was written solely by Willie Nile).

This album features some excellent lyrics. Willie has a few things to say, but he's not trying to knock you over the head with a message. Of course, if you happen to think while dancing, then all the better. But this CD is actually a lot of fun. And my favorites are deep cuts, so be sure let the whole CD play (don't just download a few songs, because you'll be cheating yourself out of some fantastic tunes).

"Singin' Bell"

The album's first track, "Singin' Bell," begins with slow church bells, reminding me of AC/DC's "Hell's Bells." But then after a few seconds of that, right when you think that this will be a somber song, it kicks in with a tremendous burst of energy, and doesn't let up. This is rock and roll, using the genre's elements - a driving beat, lively vocals and a memorable guitar line - to great effect. It even breaks down to vocals and drums for a moment (but with a bit of guitar as well). There is a joy to the performance that is palpable.

The opening lines are, "Oh can you hear that singin' bell/A voice so clear, a tale to tell." Perfect lines with which to start Willie Nile's new album.

"One Guitar"

"One Guitar" begins with those timeless insightful philosophical pop lyrics: "Na na na na-na na-na-na-na." And yes, it's catchy. This song is about the idea of musicians being soldiers in a different kind of army (a much better one, of course; after all, very few people have been killed by a guitar). This idea has been around for a long time - the power of a single person with a guitar. I remember Ellis Paul talking about it in one of his first interviews back in the late 1980s. It's a good message, and this is still a fun song.

The chorus is "I'm a soldier marchin' in an army/Got no gun to shoot/But what I got is one guitar/I got this one guitar." Stewart Lerman plays electric guitar on this track.

"The Innocent Ones"

"The Innocent Ones," the title track, begins with a more serious tone - both musically and lyrically. The first verse is "Driven from the center right out to the edge/Miserable and desperate, standin' on a ledge/What was on the inside is now completely out/Nothing is for certain, everything's in doubt." But with the chorus comes a brighter feel, helped by the backing vocals. Both the verses and the chorus are sung with a wonderful earnestness and power. Willie is giving everything to you here. But for me it's the joy in the chorus that makes the serious tones of the verses more palatable and effective.

"My Little Girl" feels like a mid-1960s pop song (you could imagine a group like The Beach Boys covering it, or it being included in a film like That Thing You Do!).

"Topless Amateur"

"Topless Amateur" has the feel of a straight-forward rock tune (something in the guitar line and the simple drum beat brought early John Cougar to mind). But the lyrics are something else again. The first line is, "She was a topless amateur and a hundred dollar fur was the prize." And then later Willie sings, "For a country made of cheese there's an awful lot of ham on the wall." That line gets me every time.

"Rich And Broken"

"Rich And Broken" is one of my favorites from this CD. It's fun and catchy and, yes, even sweet in an odd way. And humorous. Whoever thought the simple and common line "and she's mine" could elicit such a big laugh? And every time it's repeated, too. Check out these lines: "You might catch her disappearing/Beneath the weight of all the praise she's hearing." And these: "A voice is never too far from her head/But she ain't heard a single word you said." I absolutely love this song.

Hirsh Gardner plays parade drum on this one.

"Can't Stay Home"

"Can't Stay Home" is a great punk tune. And a love song to boot, as Willie sings lines like, "But when I see her on the street the sidewalk melts from all that heat." This song is pure fun, and it's one of my two favorites from this release (the other being "Rich And Broken"). And he goes back to that always-pertinent, always-reliable lyric, "Na na na na na na na na."

"Sideways Beautiful"

I love that Willie follows the punk song with the most stripped down, bare song of the album, "Sideways Beautiful." We're deep in singer/songwriter territory here. There's even harmonica on this one. And again, the lyrics have a lot to offer. Here is a taste: "Your crooked smile's a lemonade stand refugee/Standing on the corner giving it away for free." I love the title, the image of "Sideways Beautiful."

CD Track List

  1. Singin' Bell
  2. One Guitar
  3. The Innocent Ones
  4. Hear You Breathe
  5. Song For You
  6. My Little Girl
  7. Topless Amateur
  8. Rich And Broken
  9. Can't Stay Home
  10. Sideways Beautiful
  11. Far Green Hills


Musicians on this album are Willie Nile on vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, organ, keyboards, harmonica; Steuart Smith on acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric sitar-guitar, banjo, bass, pump organ and piano; and Frankie Lee on drums, percussion and backing vocals. Stewart Lerman plays electric guitar on "One Guitar." Hirsh Gardner plays parade drum on "Rich And Broken."

The Innocent Ones was released on October 11th, 2010 in Europe. It will finally be released in the United States on November 22, 2011 on River House Records.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

France Rocks CMJ Nights, October 19th and 20th

For those folks who live in New York, there is a two-night concert you might want to check out. The show is called France Rocks CMJ Nights, and the lineup is composed entirely of French bands and artists. These bands are all new to me.

After listening to several tracks, the first night seems like the better of the two nights. If I were in New York, I would make a serious effort to catch that show. Each of the acts that night has its own style and genre, but all are talented and interesting. Revolver and Hindi Zahra jump out as the possible stand-outs of the evening. The song "Get Around Town" by Revolver is so bloody catchy. I immediately loved it.

I also really love "Everyday" by The Two. That song features some nice vocals. Speaking of great vocals, check out Hindi Zahra's "The Man I Love." That is one gorgeous song. Sure, the lyrics are simple, but also universal. And her voice will win you over immediately. Her new single, "Fascination," is also really good.

The lineup for the second night doesn't seem quite as strong as the first night, but still worth checking out. Make The Girl Dance's "Baby Baby Baby" is a good club dance tune, and I'd be curious as to what they're like in concert. And keep in mind that there is no cover for either night. (Steve Owen once wrote on a CD for me, "Beer is food; free is good." Indeed.)

Here is the lineup for the two nights:

October 19, 2011
The Lanskies - 8:00 p.m.
Hindi Zahra - 9:00 p.m.
The Two - 10:00 p.m.
Revolver - 11:00 p.m.
Chateau Marmont - midnight

October 20, 2011
Stranded Horse - 9:00 p.m.
The Inspector Cluzo - 10:00 p.m.
Zenzile - 11:00 p.m.
Make The Girl Dance - midnight

These shows are part of the CMJ Music Marathon. The first night will be at the Hiro Ballroom, which is located at 371 W. 16th St. The second night will be held at the Santos Party House at 96 Lafayette St. Both locations are in New York.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October 2011 Concert Calendar

Here is a list of concerts you might be interested in for the month of October. Most of these are bands that I've reviewed, though some are some bands that I haven't yet written about, but really like. If you can, try to check out at least a few of these shows. I will be adding listings throughout the month, so please check back again later.

October 1, 2011
Slaid Cleaves - St. Bede's Club, Chorley, UK
Antje Duvekot - Common Fence Point Community Hall, Portsmouth, RI - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $22
Gaelic Storm - Rombello Cruz, Tampa, FL
James McMurtry - Park Theatre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Ryan Montbleau Band - The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI - 8:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul - The College School, 7825 Big Bend Blvd., St. Louis, MO - 1:00 p.m.
Special family show
Ellis Paul - Off Broadway Nightclub, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, MO - 7:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton - Folkfest St. Pete, St. Petersburg, FL

October 2, 2011 (Sunday)
Bullied By Strings - Double Door, 1572 N Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL - 10:45 p.m.
Tickets: $7/$10 at door (This concert will also stream live at
Slaid Cleaves - The Maze, Nottingham, UK
Gaelic Storm - Rombello Cruz, Tampa, FL
The Greencards - Red River Revel Arts Festival, Shreveport, LA - 5:30 p.m.
James McMurtry - Aquarium, Fargo, ND
Martin Sexton - Melting Point, Athens, GA
with special guest Chris Trapper

October 3, 2011 (Monday)
Thomas Dolby - The Loft, Washington D.C.
Gaelic Storm - Rombello Cruz, Tampa, FL

October 4, 2011 (Tuesday)
Slaid Cleaves - Green Note, London, UK
James McMurtry - The Mill, Iowa City, IA
Ryan Montbleau Band - Rumba Cafe, Columbus, OH - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12

October 5, 2011 (Wednesday)
Thomas Dolby - New York, NY
Furthur - Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Great American Taxi - Cherokee, St. Louis, MO
James McMurtry - Knuckleheads, Kansas City, MO

October 6, 2011 (Thursday)
Furthur - Greek Theatre, Los Angeles CA
Great American Taxi - Birdy's, Indianapolis, IN
The Greencards - The Castle Theatre, Bloomington IL - 8:30 p.m.
James McMurtry - George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville, AZ
Ryan Montbleau Band - Levitt Shell, Memphis, TN - 7:00 p.m.
Free show
Willie Nile - St. Gertrude, Malmo, Sweden

October 7, 2011 (Friday)
Slaid Cleaves - Uncommon Coffeehouse, Framingham, MA
Thomas Dolby - Martyrs, Chicago, IL
Great American Taxi - Club V, Huntington, WV
The Greencards - Old Rock House, Saint Louis, MO - 8:00 p.m.
Merle Haggard & Kris Kristofferson - Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
James McMurtry - Lola's Saloon, Fort Worth, TX
Ryan Montbleau Band - Blueberry Hill, St. Louis, MO - 9:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advance/$12 at door
Willie Nile - Kulturhus, Hassleholm, Sweden
Christopher Williams - Circle H., Granby, CO - 7:00 p.m.

October 8, 2011 (Saturday)
Entrain - The Big Easy, Portland, ME
Great American Taxi - Family Roots Fall Fest, Glouster, OH
I See Hawks In L.A. - Underwood Farms Folk Festival, Moorpark, CA - 4:30 p.m.
The Brian Kinler Band - M Bar, Los Angeles, CA
Tickets: $10
James McMurtry - Threadgill's, Austin, TX
Ryan Montbleau Band - Martyrs, Chicago, IL - 9:00 p.m.
Tickets: $15
The Nields - Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, MA - 7:00 p.m.

October 9, 2011 (Sunday)
Slaid Cleaves - Ogunquit, ME
Great American Taxi - Mountain Mama's Amphitheatre, Disney, OK
Ryan Montbleau Band - Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, MN - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $15

October 10, 2011 (Monday)
Thomas Dolby - Triple Door, Seattle, WA
Ryan Montbleau Band - The Temple For Performing Arts, Des Moines, IA - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $35

October 11, 2011 (Tuesday)
Great American Taxi - Gerstle's Place, Louisville, KY
Kelly McGrath - Sherlock's Baker St. Pub & Grill, Dallas, TX - 6:00 p.m.
Ryan Montbleau Band - The Bottleneck, Lawrence, KS - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $8

October 12, 2011 (Wednesday)
Slaid Cleaves - Watercolor Cafe, Larchmont, NY
Thomas Dolby - Portland, OR
Great American Taxi - Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
Willie Nile - Joe's Pub, New York, NY

October 13, 2011 (Thursday)
Slaid Cleaves - Iron Horse, Northampton, MA
Thomas Dolby - Bimbo's 365 Club, San Francisco, CA
Great American Taxi - Mulberry Mountain Harvest Fest, Ozark, AR
Ryan Montbleau Band - Belly Up, Aspen, CO - 9:30 p.m.
Free show
Yonder Mountain String Band - Ozark, AZ

October 14, 2011 (Friday)
7 Walkers - Harvest Music Fest, Ozark, AR
Anita And The Yanks - Paddy O's, 20320 South Western Ave., Torrance, CA
Slaid Cleaves - Naked Soul, New York, NY
Thomas Dolby - Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA
Antje Duvekot - Lake Placid Center For The Arts, Lake Placid, NY - 8:00 p.m.
Great American Taxi - Mulberry Mountain Harvest Fest, Ozark, AR
The Greencards - Mulberry Mountain Harvest Music Festival, Ozark, AR
I See Hawks In L.A. - The Palms, Winters, CA
Howard Jones - The Music Box, Los Angeles, CA
James McMurtry - Harvest Fest, Ozark, AZ
Ryan Montbleau Band - L2 Arts And Culture Center, Denver, CO - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $18 advance/$20 at door
Willie Nile - Irvington Town Hall Theater, Irvington, NY
Wagons - Americana Music Festival, Nashville, TN
(I believe this show is Henry Wagons solo)
Christopher Williams - 225 Cafe, Colorado Springs, CO
Dar Williams - Blue Ocean Hall, Salisbury, MA - 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $30
Yonder Mountain String Band - Ozark, AZ

October 15, 2011 (Saturday)
7 Walkers - Kenny Dorham's Backyard, Austin, TX
Dropkick Murphys - Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA
Antje Duvekot - The Vanilla Bean, Pomfret, CT - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Great American Taxi - The Rutledge, Nashville, TN
Kelly McGrath - Uncle Gus's Mountain Pit, Ten Mile, TN
James McMurtry - Mercy Lounge, Nashville, TN
Ryan Montbleau Band - Mishawaka Amphitheatre, Bellvue, CO - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12
Willie Nile - Drew's, Ringwood, NJ
Wagons - Americana Music Festival, Nashville, TN
Christopher Williams - Q Cafe, Seattle, WA - 8:00 p.m.
Dar Williams - The Purple Crayon Center, Hastings On Hudson, NY
Tickets: $40
Yonder Mountain String Band - Ozark, AZ

October 16, 2011 (Sunday)
Anita And The Yanks - Muldoon's, Newport Beach, CA
Antje Duvekot and Lucy Wainwright Roche - Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12.50
James McMurtry - Cosmic Charlie's, Lexington, KY
Ellis Paul - The Rudyard Kipling, 422 West Oak St., Louisville, KY
Christopher Williams - Memorial Church, Yakima, WA

October 17, 2011 (Monday)
Thomas Dolby - Grammy Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Antje Duvekot - Slates Restaurant, Hallowell, ME - 8:15 p.m.
Ryan Montbleau Band - Downstairs, Park City, UT - 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advance/$12 at door

October 18, 2011 (Tuesday)
7 Walkers - Tipitina's, New Orleans, LA
James McMurtry - World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA

October 19, 2011 (Wednesday)
Antioquia - Front Range, Colorado Springs, CO
James McMurtry - City Winery, New York, NY
Ryan Montbleau Band - Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advance/$12 at door
Revolver - France Rocks CMJ Nights, New York, NY - 11:00 p.m.
Free show featuring all French acts, including The Lanskies, Hindi Zahra, The Two and Charteau Marmont; the first band goes on at 8 p.m.
Yonder Mountain String Band - Georgia Theater, Athens, GA

October 20, 2011 (Thursday)
7 Walkers - Magnolia Fest, Live Oak, FL
Gaelic Storm - Kessler Theater, Dallax, TX
James McMurtry - Ephrata Main Theatre, Ephrata, PA
Stranded Horse - France Rocks CMJ Nights, New York, NY - 9:00 p.m.
Free show featuring all French acts, including The Inspector Cluzo, Zenzile, and Make The Girl Dance
Yonder Mountain String Band - Norfolk, VA

October 21, 2011 (Friday)
Antje Duvekot - Alexander Twilight Theater, Lyndonville, VT - 7:30 p.m.
Gaelic Storm - House Of Blues, Houston, TX
James McMurtry - 930 Club, Washington D.C.
Ryan Montbleau Band - Sam Bond's Garage, Eugene, OR - 9:00 p.m.
Tickets: $7
Ellis Paul - The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, MI - 8:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton - Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Christopher Williams - Chuck's, Portland, OR
Dar Williams - Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield, ME
Tickets: $35
Yonder Mountain String Band - The Fillmore Silver Spring, Silver Spring, MD

October 22, 2011 (Saturday)
7 Walkers - LEAF Festival, Black Mnt., NC
Antje Duvekot - Whittemore Theater, Marlboro, VT
Entrain - Food And Wine Festival, Greenwich, CT - 1:00 p.m.
Gaelic Storm - The Parish, Austin, TX
Diana Jones - The Princeton Coffeehouse, Princeton, IL
Kelly McGrath - The Broken Spoke, Counce, TN - 8:00 p.m.
James McMurtry - Awful Arthur's Tower, Roanoke, VA
Ryan Montbleau Band - Mission Theater, Portland, OR - 9:00 p.m.
Tickets: $15
The Nields - Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge, MA - 3:30 p.m.
Special family show
The Nields - Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge, MA - 7:00 p.m.
Ellis Paul - Canal Street Tavern, 308 E. First St., Dayton, OH - 9:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton - Tupelo Music Hall, Londonderry, NH
Dar Williams - Tupelo Music Hall, White River Junction, VT
Tickets: $35
Yonder Mountain String Band - Theatre Of The Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA

October 23, 2011 (Sunday)
7 Walkers - Carolina Theatre, Durham, NC
Entrain - Green Parrot, Key West, FL
James McMurtry - Mountain Stage, Charleston, WV
Ellis Paul and Peter Case - Old Town School Of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, IL - 7:00 p.m.
Yonder Mountain String Band - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT

October 24, 2011 (Monday)
Entrain - Green Parrot, Key West, FL

October 25, 2011 (Tuesday)
James McMurtry - The Pour House, Charleston, SC
Ryan Montbleau Band - Humboldt Brews, Arcata, CA - 9:00 p.m.
Tickets: $15

October 26, 2011 (Wednesday)
James McMurtry - Lincoln Theatre, Raleigh, NC
Ryan Montbleau Band - Harlow's, Sacramento, CA - 7:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advance/$12 at door
Yonder Mountain String Band - State Theater, Portland, ME

October 27, 2011 (Thursday)
7 Walkers - Napa Valley Opera House, Napa, CA
Entrain - The Schooner Wharf, Key West, FL
Gaelic Storm - Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ
Great American Taxi - Stage Stop, Rollinsville, CO
James McMurtry - Visulite Theatre, Charlotte, NC
Ryan Montbleau Band - Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA - 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10 advance/$12 at door
Willie Nile - Bluefunk Rhythm And Blues Club, Poynton, Cheshire
Martin Sexton - Stone Mountain Arts Center, Brownfield, ME
Christopher Williams - Chad's Blind, Lincoln, IL
Dar Williams - Kent Stage, Kent, OH
Tickets: $25
Yonder Mountain String Band - Higher Ground Ballroom, Burlington, VT

October 28, 2011 (Friday)
Antje Duvekot - Barge Canal Coffee Company, Hamilton, NY
Entrain - The Schooner Wharf, Key West, FL
Gaelic Storm - Chandler Center For The Arts, Chandler, AZ
Great American Taxi - Cervante's Masterpiece Ballroom, Denver, CO
Diana Jones - The Little Theatre, Gateshead, United Kingdom
Kelly McGrath - Mulligan's, Jackson, TN - 9:00 p.m.
James McMurtry - Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA
Ryan Montbleau Band - Don Quixote's, Felton, CA - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $10
Willie Nile - The Exchange, Colwyn Bay, N. Wales
Ellis Paul - Jammin Java, 227 Maple Ave., Vienna, VA - 8:00 p.m.
Martin Sexton - Strand Theatre, Rockland , ME
Christopher Williams - Lafayette, IN
Dar Williams - Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, OH
Yonder Mountain String Band - Northern Lights, Clifton Park, NY

October 29, 2011 (Saturday)
7 Walkers - Hangtown Halloween Ball, Placerville, CA
Black Party Politics - Old Towne Pub, 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, CA
Tickets: $5
Antje Duvekot - Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, CA - 8:00 p.m.
Tickets: $18
Entrain - The Schooner Wharf, Key West, FL
Gaelic Storm - Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA
Great American Taxi - Vern Burton Community Center, Port Angeles, WA
Diana Jones - CCA Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
James McMurtry - The Down Home, Johnson City, TN
Ryan Montbleau Band - The Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, CA - 10:00 p.m.
Tickets: $12
Ellis Paul - Kennett Flash, 106 West State St., Kennett Square, PA - 8:00 p.m.
Dar Williams - Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, OH
Yonder Mountain String Band - Best Buy Theater, New York, NY

October 30, 2011 (Sunday)
7 Walkers - Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Gaelic Storm - Belly Up, Solana Beach, CA
Diana Jones - Kinross, Scotland
Ryan Montbleau Band - Anthology, San Diego, CA - 7:00 p.m.
Willie Nile - Boom Boom Club, Sutton, Surrey
Christopher Williams - Holland, MI
Dar Williams - Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, OH

October 31, 2011 (Monday)
7 Walkers - Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA
Willie Nile - The Cellars At Eastney Cromwell Road, Southsea, UK
Wagons - The Espy, Melbourne, Australia
Dar Williams - Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, OH

October 2011 Update

Howdy, everybody. At the beginning of each month, I'll include a link to the blog that lists all of my articles, arranged by subject, so that they're easy to find. That link is this:

List Of All My Music Articles

It's been my intention with this blog to let people know about all the great music that's out there. So I tend to write about CDs and bands that I like. Sure, there might be an exception now and again. But I have no desire to tear apart some new band that's out there struggling to find a fan base. What I want to do is let people know about new bands they might not have heard of yet, and to remind them of some bands they might have forgotten. And to keep people up-to-date with all the great new releases, as well as concert listings. Basically, to share my love of music with anyone who cares to read this.

And for anyone who might be interested, I thought I'd let you know that my friend Jason and I started a greeting card company (yes, seriously), and a series of short films that are tied in with the characters from the greeting cards. And of course we have a blog. For anyone who'd like to check it out, the company is called Grandmother's Fanny Game.