Sunday, November 29, 2009

Storyhill & Cliff Eberhardt at Cedar

Cliff Eberhardt celebrated the release of his new album 500 Miles: The Blue Rock Sessions tonight with a show at Minneapolis' Cedar Cultural Center.

Red House labelmates and hometown favorites Storyhill opened up, starting off with songs from their release coming out in 2010...
- Avalon
- World Go Round (first time hearing this--beautiful)
- Ballad of Joe Snowboard
- Town Talks (really nice new song--bluesy and very catchy)
- Give Up the Ghost
- Blazing Out of Sight (very nice version!)
- Better Angels
- Caught in a Mess (this is a truly amazing song--made me cry)
- Get Away (with a nice intro about how Cliff likes this song followed by some funny banter about stealing some of his chord progressions)
- Happy Man
- White Roses (this was an amazingly high energy rendition of this Storyhill classic--got the rather sedate Sunday audience pretty excited)
- Highlight (written for Chris' wedding but sung for a couple in the audience celebrating their 35th anniversary)
- Well of Sorrows
- Paradise Lost (nice closer)

After a nice break where I caught up with the Storyhill boys and got this year's Storyhill Fest Midwest t-shirt (with my name on it!), Cliff got on stage, starting off with a really nice cover...
- Bye Bye Blackbird
- I Want to Take You Home (one of my favorites from the new CD)
- Have a Little Heart
- I Want Money (the most down and dirty version I'ved heard him do--awesome! Followed by a story about accordion player Joel Guzman who suggested that the CD cover should be of Cliff exposing himself to an ATM)
- Your Face
- Trouble For Life (a particularly nice version)
- Memphis
- The High Above and the Down Below (w/Tim Fast on harmonica--very nice!)
- 500 Miles (w/Tim on harmonica)
- Land of the Free (w/Tim on harmonies--always love this)
- Back of My Mind

Encore: Goodnight
2nd Encore: The Long Road

Funniest moment of the show was when Cliff said that had someone had suggested he make a kids album, and he decided he probably could do a "time out" album with songs like "Think About What You Did." All in all, a great show with Cliff at the top of his game.

Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head

Alex Battles shared this video on Facebook, and that compels me to share it here.

What a classic! Great New York City shots. John and John being beautifully dorky as they bounce around. Lots of tread with fairly simple production techniques. Bravo, They Might Be Giants!

They played a free show at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut on Friday night, which I skipped in favor of seeing Washboard Slim and The Blue Lights at the New Haven Brewery (and by "seeing," I mean standing in the back of the brewery getting a good buzz on while talking to the Piselli brothers and assorted hangers-on).

But it looks like it will be another They Might Be Giants New Year's Eve -- the last one was December 31, 2005, I think, in Brooklyn -- as we're going to go see them in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Cello Grooves

Driving around Connecticut with my father yesterday, he put the November/December Dirty Linen Sampler CD into the stereo. The opening track is "Full Moon, Baby" by Putnam Smith, a Maine-based banjo-playing singer-songwriter. It opens with some solid cello riffs, and so I said, "Rushad Eggleston!"

Well, no, as it turns out.

The cellist in question in Seth Yentes, a former chess champion, current chess coach and one-time candidate for the Maine House of Representatives. (He lists his address as Monroe, Maine, the hometown of my friend Kate Grossman, former WKCR-FM Classical Music Director. Kate reports having been his babysitter! No way!)

I'm now giving my first listen to all of Putnam Smith's disc, and Seth Yentes lays down some solid groove on a couple of the tracks.

Here's a sample of Putnam and Seth together:

(Photo from Ctd 2005.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fela! on Broadway

Ben Brantley has published a very enthusiastic review in today's New York Times of Fela!, the Broadway musical (recently promoted from Off-Broadway) about the life and music of Afrobeat creator Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

Brantley says that "there has never been anything on Broadway like this production" and that the musical "doesn’t so much tell a story as soak an audience to and through the skin with the musical style and sensibility practiced by its leading man." The music for the show is by Antibalas and therefore is no doubt of high qualithy.

In an article from the Sunday New York Times, Jon Pareles describes Fela and Afrobeat:
In Africa, Fela, who died at 58 of complications from AIDS, is a figure to rival Bob Marley as both a musical innovator and a symbol of resistance. Afrobeat, the style he forged in the early ’70s, combined African rhythms and messages with the jazz and funk that Fela absorbed during his education in Britain and the United States. Ghanaian highlife, Nigerian Yoruba rhythms, Afro-Cuban mambos, James Brown, John Coltrane, Nina Simone and, yes, Frank Sinatra all flowed into his music, which sounds exactly like none of them.
WKCR DJ Brian Linde used to play lots of Fela on the overnight funk show Night Train, and I distinctly remember getting my Fela-groove on the one time that I hosted the show and having an excited caller -- at 3:00 a.m., mind you -- check in wanting to know what was on the air.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it to the Broadway show, but I hope that I can.

French Folks Singing Two Man Songs about American Presidents

I'm back from a tour over at the Two Man Gentlemen Band's blog, where one can find an in-depth discussion of being offered post-concert drinks by fans, a notice that the Gentlemen have successfully rhymed "Pierce" (as in Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States of America) with "beers," some brief thoughts on Hall and Oates and the following excellent but too brief video, a portion of a cover version of the Gentlemen's "William Howard Taft" from France:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

John Gorka's CD Release Show

Right now I am sitting in a packed house at the Cedar, enjoying John Gorka's hometown show celebrating the release of So Dark You See. Here's what he is playing for his first set:

- When She Kisses Me
- I'm From New Jersey
- I Saw a Stranger with Your Hair
- I Know (by audience request)
- I Think of You (this Utah Phillips song is on the new CD)
- Writing in the Margins
- Let Them In (a particularly nice version)
- Where No Monument Stands (a William Stafford poem he set to music)
- Fret One (a funky guitar piece--his first instrumental ever to be recorded)
- Trouble in Mind (another cover on the new CD)
- People My Age
- Branching Out

Gorka promises banjo in the second set..will let you know if he comes through!

The Clash of the Legends: Jill Sobule & Erin McKeown Take on Minneapolis

Tuesday night I met my friends Diana and Dean at the Cedar Cultural Center to see the first of 3 shows there this week. Having missed the tour posters (pictured here on the left), I was unaware that Erin McKeown and Jill Sobule were doing a whole tour together and that we'd be treated to such fabulously fun collaborations. Here's the setlist from their very enjoyable show, starting out with a poem composed that evening about Minnesota with Jill doing a dramatic reading and Erin backing her up on keyboards...

JILL SOBULE's SET (playing lots of songs from her great new album California Years):

- Minnesota Poem (w/Erin on keyboards)
- Where Is Bobbie Gentry? (w/Erin on guitar)
- A Good Life (a nice sing-along)
- Somewhere in New Mexico
- The Rapture (w/Erin on keyboards and vocals. A really catchy song inspired by an email conversation with an ex-gay minister. You can read the lyrics to this new song on The Huffington Post)
- Wendell Lee (a great accounting of some of her past relationships, going back to her high school boyfriend Wendell Lee)
- Mexican Wrestler
- Jetpack (When she asked the audience for several different song options, I yelled loudly for the song about the jetpack...I was rewarded for my efforts because this song was very fun indeed!)
- Strawberry Gloss
- Cinnamon Park (w/Erin on keyboards and vocals)

ERIN McKEOWN's SET (playing keyboards and guitar--a nice mix of old songs and some from the new Righteous Babe release Hundreds of Lions):

- The Little Cowboy
- Fast As I Can
- Paper Moon
- (Put the Fun Back In) The Funeral (love this one from her new album)
- Minneapolis (only available as a bonus track when you buy the new CD on iTunes)
- The Boats
- The Rascal (w/Jill adding some pretty amazing percussion by hitting her lap; also added some hilarious guitar bits)
- Coucou (w/Jill on xylophone)
- Santa Cruz (first of a few songs Erin did on keyboards)
- The Lions (liked this new one a lot too)
- Cosmopolitans (liked this version much better than the one on Grand)
- Rhode Island Is Famous For You
- We Are More (w/Jill on guitar--very nice version with lots of audience participation!)

- America (they got a dude from the audience to come on stage and hold the lyrics to this Neil Diamond classic while the gals hilariously imitated Neil's vocals and Erin did some pretty great xylophone work)
- Single Ladies (a folkified version of Beyonce's hit, proceeded by a great introduction by Erin about how meaningful it was to discover that she and Jill shared a love for the same music)
- Survivor (Jill introduced this as an older song that has meant a lot to her, indicating this would be more of a classic folk song...and then they launched into the most awesome version of this Destiny's Child song ever!)

This show was probably the most fun I've had on a Tuesday night in months...If these gals are coming near you, go see them! You can check out their schedule and their latest videos (including one done backstage at the Cedar, featuring their cover of "America") here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Today's Top Tune on KCRW

For those of you who don't already know, LA-based tastemaker station KCRW offers a free download as part of their Today's Top Tune feature on their website and as part of their iTunes podcast. Today's song is from Pieta Brown's upcoming EP Shimmer, produced by the legendary Don Was (Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Rolling Stones).

Mary Travers Memorial Service

From the New York Times:
Mary Travers Memorial Is Scheduled for Nov. 9

A memorial celebration of the life and music of the folk singer Mary Travers will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday at Riverside Church.

Ms. Travers, who with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey formed the renowned trio Peter, Paul and Mary, died on Sept. 16.

Besides Mr. Yarrow and Mr. Stookey, participants in the celebration will include Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Tom Paxton, Anne Meara, Eli Wallach, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Moyers, Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and former Senators George S. McGovern and Max Cleland.

The service will be open to the public. Tickets will be available on the day of the event on a first-come-first-served basis. Half the seats will be reserved for invited guests. The church is at 490 Riverside Drive, between 120th and 122nd Streets, in Morningside Heights.
Looking forward to the John Kerry/George McGovern version of "500 Miles."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bono Supports Obama's Nobel Prize

One of the best things about having my sister move in with me is that the New York Times now is delivered to my door every Sunday. You'd think I'd be better at keeping up with it, but sadly it's taken me a few weeks to discover this opinion piece by Bono, making the argument that President Obama does indeed deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. If you missed it like I did, it's worth the read.