Monday, November 24, 2008

You Can Go Home Again: Phil Lesh & Friends Reside Once More At NYC’s Nokia Theater

By: David Schultz

Former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh participated in one of the election season’s hipper Democratic fundraisers when he rejoined Bob Weir and the other surviving members of his old band to support Barack Obama’s Presidential bid. Given Lesh’s staunch support of Obama, it’s slightly ironic that the Deadheads that populate Phil & Friends shows might have strongly identified with the subtext of the propaganda spouted by Sarah Palin with respect to the so-called elitist liberal media. For the brief period of time that the Republican Vice Presidential candidate was allowed to speak freely, Palin tried to curry favor by identifying with a segment of the population she perceived as unrepresented by the press and tired of being talked down to by a news force that acted like they knew more about the country’s core ideals than those who live in America’s heartland. Little did Palin know that the Deadheads of the world understood her rhetoric probably better than she did.

For decades, Deadheads have endured the backhanded praise extended by most critics towards their beloved band: acknowledgement of the Dead’s longevity paired with bewildered observations as to why their music would attract such loyalty; a plaudit to the fans’ devotion coupled with a gibe as to their cleanliness and the customary dig that in order to truly enjoy the Dead’s music, you would need to repudiate a drug-free status. Such oratory has never bothered the Dead faithful: in fact, their thoughts on the elite musical press that have disrespected and mocked the Grateful Dead eerily echo those of Palin for “rags” like the New York Times and Washington Post.

The disdain reserved for the Dead is odd given the reverence those same pundits have for the musical genres featured prominently in their music. Journalists rarely have anything bad to say about Americana musical styles like folk, blues and country, among the more populist forms of music, yet, they never seem to take to it when it’s being performed by Jerry Garcia or Bob Weir. Doing his part to flip the proverbial finger at those who can’t see the forest for the trees, Phil Lesh and his exemplary band comprised of Larry Campbell, Jackie Greene, Steve Molitz and John Molo, returned to the New York City’s Nokia Theater in Times Square, the site of their wildly successful 2007 residency, for a fourteen night run, affectionately dubbed the Phil-A-Thon.

Lesh does more than get by with a little help from his Friends. Even though Jackie Greene joined Lesh, Larry Campbell, Steve Molitz and John Molo just a little more than a year ago, this incarnation of Phil & Friends plays as if they’ve been together for decades. During last year’s residency, this lineup was just starting to gel: Greene having just come into the fold and Molitz just starting to find his niche. For this year’s run, Phil & Friends are a supremely confident unit, taking fine advantage of Greene’s versatile ability to handle vocals so intimately associated with both Garcia and Weir to give new life to songs like “Jack Straw,” “Samson & Delilah” and “New Speedway Boogie.”

Lesh remains one of the finest bassists to ever pick up the instrument and it’s possible to get lost in just watching what he’s doing with each song. Very rarely will you catch Lesh picking a simple bass line; more often, he’s crafting an intricate pattern that weaves gingerly between the rejoinder of Campbell and Greene’s guitar work. For many of this year’s shows, former Friend Barry Sless sat in, bringing a third experienced guitar to the mix as well as the fine twang of the pedal steel. With Sless there to handle the second guitar role, Campbell had many opportunities to show why he’s called the “Master of Strings,” expertly playing a variety of instruments to add different textures and a sense of Americana authenticity. Whether soloing on a variety of instruments or engaging in a challenging give-and-take across the stage with Greene, Campbell remains a wonder on stage. Ageless, he provides sweet harmony with his mandolin and bouzouki but can also coax ferocious solos from the traditionally peaceful instruments. It’s a role he fills not just with Lesh but with Levon Helm as part of The Band drummer’s Midnight Rambles.

Physical resemblance to Dylan notwithstanding, Greene shies away from playing up the easy comparisons to the storied singer. He’s doesn’t shy away from them though: much of his wardrobe, with the exception of a wool Rasta-styled hat, looks like it came straight out of the transcendent folk-singer section of the vintage clothing catalog. Along with Molitz, Greene brings a youthful energy to the band as well as some solid songs from his own catalog. On an early show of the residency, Greene’s “About Cell Block #9” and “Like A Ball & Chain” not only fit in nicely with the classic rock based set, they were definite highlights.

A master of jamtronica, Particle’s Molitz has found his niche within the band, vaulting into the breach with confidence and bringing his technical wizardry to some of the more traditional Dead songs. He’s even lending vocals. Anyone thinking that Lesh & Friends aren’t able to keep up with the young guns only need listen to their rendition of Particle’s “The Elevator.” Molo, who deftly handles all the various tempos Lesh guides the band through, rips through the high-paced beat and Campbell adds a slight bolero feel to the song’s techno beat.

For the last night of the Phil-A-Thon, Lesh seemed in high spirits, an extra bounce in his step. After a wildly upbeat first set that included an opening version of “Terrapin Station,” a wild version of “The Elevator” and a wonderfully moving “Morning Dew,” the second set was a decidedly subdued affair. Lesh handled an exceedingly substantial part of the vocals during a stretch that included “Dark Star,” “Mountains Of The Moon” and “Unbroken Chain.” In contrast, Teresa Williams, who along with Sless earned “sixth Friend” status during the residency, wowed the crowd with an astounding take on “Gimme Shelter.” Normally providing the higher notes on sweet harmonies with Greene or Lesh, Williams stepped to the front with a rock star turn on the Stones’ classic, enlivening the crowd and earning the wildly appreciative reaction she received when she quietly walked off behind the stage.

Other than The New York Times favorable take on the Phil & Friends residency, most of the major media pretty much ignored the festive goings-on at the Nokia, probably spending quality time over at Terminal 5 to lavish praise on The Hold Steady and Conor Oberst. Regardless of whether the “elite” music press wishes to acknowledge the resurgence of the Phil & Friends lineup or take note of strong sense of community that still brings people to multiple shows, the Deadheads probably won’t take notice, or care for that matter. They will be on high alert though when word of the 2009 residency gets out.

The Wait Is Over: Chinese Democracy Has Arrived

To celebrate the cold streak blowing through Hell, Satan's Bar & Grill changed the special from warm beer to Mai Tais, Pina Coladas and Dr. Peppers. After a 13 year wait that included the coming and going of several promised release dates, Chinese Democracy, Axl Rose's long-awaited Guns N' Roses album, finally appeared in Best Buy stores as well as iTunes.

The seemingly endless delays have made Chinese Democracy one of most anticipated releases in recent memory. Unfortunately, the resulting product wasn't worth the wait. Axl's folly has its moments but it falls far short of whetting anyone's appetite and you will have to use your illusion to think of this as a true Guns N' Roses effort.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Bloom: Rose Hill Drive Blossoms At The HighLine

By: David Schultz

New York City has been an intriguing territory for Rose Hill Drive, the hard-charging Colorado trio fronted by brothers Jake and Daniel Sproul and anchored by drummer Nathan Barnes. Unlike other bands that haven’t opened for The Who or shared the stage with Leslie West and Matisyahu, they’ve struggled to find their niche in The Big Apple. When they play the cozy Mercury Lounge, space it at a premium and you have to battle for a good view of the band; when they play larger rooms Gramercy’s Blender Theater or, as they did last Friday, the HighLine Ballroom, the rooms feel underpopulated. Why that may be so is a question better left for publicists and marketing personnel. From a musical standpoint, Rose Hill Drive should be playing their arena-rock anthems in the rooms for which they’re written.

Still young in years, Rose Hill Drive play like road-tested veterans, accentuating the power aspect of the power trio. While Jake Sproul attracts the most attention with his thunderous bass, sprawling lyrics and howling vocals, his brother Daniel has developed into one of the best young guitarists currently plying their trade. At the HighLine, the younger Sproul tore through electrifying covers of Hendrix’ Band Of Gypsys era “Who Knows” and “Power Of Soul,” charged into the Sabbath-tinged riffs of their own “Reptilian Blues” and showed a mastery of bringing a song to a climax on an incendiary version of “The 8th Wonder.” The newfound strength of Jake Sproul’s vocals was another pleasant surprise. Always capable of a healthy holler, Sproul is able to sustain the energy in his voice and has even grown comfortable enough to work in some scatting.

On Moon Is The New Earth, their superb follow-up to their self-titled debut, Jake Sproul moved the focus of his songwriting from Spaghetti Western narratives to old-fashioned rock and roll come-ons. If the subject matter dipped into juvenilia, the seriousness with which Rose Hill Drive plays hasn’t. An assertive drummer, Barnes pushes the rhythm forward with a ferocious mien, often locking in with Sproul’s propulsive bass to conjure up a maelstrom worthy of the classic rock titans that inspire them. On Friday, they gave a fine blues workout to “Do You Want To Get High?” and didn’t need a keyboard to liven up their encore cover of “Long Tall Sally.”

Having already mastered Hendrix and Aerosmith, Rose Hill Drive will be adding Led Zeppelin II to their repertoire of New Year’s Eve covers at the end of this year. Rose Hill Drive are still growing and maturing as a band and given where they are at this point in time, there’s no reason to have anything but high expectations of where this trio can go.

McCartney Contemplates Releasing Long Lost Beatles Track

As hard as it is to believe, there may be an unreleased Beatles track that hasn't seen the light of day. "Carnival Of Light," a 14 minute improvised song recorded by the Fab Four in 1967, was never released because George Harrison deemed the experimental track too radical for their fans, calling it "avant-garde a clue." The song has been buried in the proverbial vault since it was played for the first and only time at a London festival. Seeing as every single note The Beatles played must be heard and dissected, Paul McCartney is planning to release it. Expectations should be tempered for the release: McCartney has described the song as "a bit indulgent" and "very free" so it's unlikely that this is some sort of missing epic along the line of "I Am The Walrus" or "Strawberry Fields Forever."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

They're Called The Hold Steady & Drive-By Truckers; They Mean Well

By: David Schultz

Their name’s The Hold Steady but people call them Sonny Bono; they’re one half of an odd pairing that people just seem to love. At first blush, a twin bill featuring the whip smart indie-sensation that now calls Brooklyn, New York their home with the (mostly) Alabama born and bred Drive-By Truckers seems like a mismatch and in all honesty, it’s supposed to. Part of the allure of the ongoing Rock and Roll Means Well tour is the ability to see two bands that have had critics tongues wagging since the turn of the century. Scratching beneath the surface, the two bands aren’t that dissimilar: both make bank on phenomenally well written songs that capture a breadth of emotion and tell a powerful story in a modicum of words. Last week, the two powerhouses came to New York City for a pair of shows at Terminal 5, flip-flopping the headlining spot like Mitt Romney currying political favor.

Their name’s The Hold Steady but people call them the Dean Martin; they’re the epitome of retro cool. If this were the Fifties, The Hold Steady would look like one big bad band of hipsters; nowadays, it’s hard to believe that the coolest band in the world has members that don Buddy Holly style glasses, wear neo Zoot-suits and dance the dork-shuffle like Franz Nicolay. It’s in their earnest lack of style that they are the most stylish. Finn delivers his lyrics in a dry sardonic voice, narrating a story as much as singing a song, selling it with the same verve as poet raging for justice in a smoky basement full of radicals. His empathic knack for succinctly capturing the follies and hormone-fueled rampages of adolescence customarily draws comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. On stage though, he’s much more Elvis Costello than The Boss. As for the music, Tad Kubler (guitar), Nicolay (keyboards), Galen Polivka (bass) and Bobby Drake (drums) deliver relatively uncomplicated licks, owing a heavy debt to choppy punk rock and Fifties rock and roll. For their seventy-five minute set, they mixed in equal parts of Separation Sunday’s guitar onslaught and Stay Positive’s arena rock bombast with Kubler’s guitar work ranging from deadly incisive to Van Halen quality ironic cheese.

Their name’s Drive-By Truckers but people call them William Faulkner; they’re astute chroniclers of the plight of the South. Where Finn populates his songs with inebriated youths ineffectually stumbling towards the next high or away from the effects of the last one, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley fill theirs with blue collar, backwoods kindred souls. They passed the lead vocals back and forth between them throughout their set, balancing Cooley’s incisive vocals on songs like “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac” with Hood’s insistent pleas on “Putting People On The Moon.” Not possessed of Finn’s quick wit, Hood and Cooley bare their souls, able to provoke an emotional response not with a fine turn of a phrase but with simple words and great honesty. Before launching into “Sands Of Iwo Jima,” Hood expressed his amazement over Obama’s election by telling the story of his great uncle, a staunch Southerner, who after years of racial politics went into a voting booth at 88 years of age and cast his ballot for an African-American. If you need the significance spelled out for you, then these might not be the bands for you.

Their name’s The Hold Steady but people call them Mugsy Bogues; they like to play with the big boys. One of the biggest differences between the two bands became clear when Craig Finn reemerged during for the Truckers encore of “Let There Be Rock.” Gazing longingly at one of the Costco-sized bottles of Jack Daniels that are never far from the Truckers side, Finn beckoned towards bassist Shonna Tucker with a gesture that asked, “May I?” The blonde bassist’s response seemed akin to something along the lines of, “Fuck yeah Bubba, do some damage.” Finn’s eyes may have been bigger than his liver: in contrast to the healthy gulps taken by Hood throughout the night, Finn sips were extremely dainty. He meant well though.

Their name’s Drive-By Truckers but people call them Tony Tarasco; they were done in by the partisan hometown crowd. For the Thursday night show, The Hold Steady helmed the opening slot but played the set as if they were headliners, populating the early part of their set with favorites like “Stuck Between Stations,” “Sequestered In Memphis” and You’re Little Hoodrat Friend,” the latter receiving a nice wailing chorus from Hood. After the Steady, the Truckers set was a relatively average affair, owing in part to having to follow the hometown heroes but primarily due to its similarity to their Terminal 5 set from last March. The Truckers set came alive when Finn, Kubler and Nicolay returned for a shambling version of “Let There Be Rock” and a raucous romp through Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died.” While Cooley prowled anxiously, Finn minced around the stage and the good-natured familiarity between the two bands became quite evident when Hood evinced wild delight at catching Finn mocking his expansive arm gestures behind his back.

Their name’s The Hold Steady but people call them the Fountain of Youth; they will make you feel young again. The Drive-By Truckers: they’ll get your blood pumping too.

The Faces May Show Themselves In 2009

Before Ron Wood became a Rolling Stone and Rod Stewart pissed away his credibility on disco and the American Songbook, they were in The Faces, one of the more influential bands to come from the early 70s. Formed from the ashes of The Small Faces and the Jeff Beck Group, The Faces had a nice little run that included the classic rock staple "Stay With Me." For the past couple years a Faces reunion has always been simmering with Wood and Stewart's schedules being the major deterrent.

Rod Stewart may be ready to remind people that he wasn't always a wuss as he and the original Faces, Wood, Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones (bassist Ronnie Lane died in 1997) are reportedly headed into the studio sometime soon to work out some old material in contemplation of a tour. If The Faces and The Kinks hit the road in 2009, the sting of the Plant-less Zeppelin tour will surely be lessened.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Greatest Van Morrison Set List In Ages

Anyone who's been to a Van Morrison concert over the past couple decades expecting to see the Celtic legend work through many of his classic hits has most likely walked away disappointed and quite possibly on the verge of violent behavior. Over the weekend, Morrison made good for years of self indulgent performances of 30s standards, country ditties and wandering jazz excursions with two shows at the Hollywood Bowl that contained Astral Weeks in its entirety (though not in order).

The set list:

Wavelength, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Caravan, Heavy Connection, Here Comes the Night, And the Healing Has Begun, Summertime in England, Brown-Eyed Girl, Gloria/Who Do You Love

Astral Weeks, Beside You, Slim Slow Slider, Sweet Thing, The Way Young Lovers Do, Cyprus Avenue, Ballerina, Madame George

Encore: Listen to the Lion

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Decemberists Arrive Early: Live At Terminal 5

By: David Schultz

Not too long ago, The Decemberists threw a scare into the fans that made the literate bunch from Portland, Oregon a small indie sensation: they signed with a big, evil corporate label that was surely going to ruin the idiosyncratic nature of the band and make Colin Meloy write commercial pop songs. A funny thing happened though while Capitol was supposed to be destroying the band, they let them retain all their quirkiness and bookish leanings and helped them score a critical success with The Crane Wife, which appeared on numerous “in-the-know” top 10 lists alongside indie-Gods like TV On The Radio and The Hold Steady. With the euphoria of Barack Obama’s election still faintly buzzing among the five boroughs, The Decemberists returned to New York City for a Wednesday night show at the boxy Terminal 5.

With Colin Meloy looking slightly like a hipper and less deranged version of Dwight Schrute, The Decemberists look more like a group you expect to populate the basement of a grad school library as opposed to one that sells out clubs like Terminal 5. The odd little group from the Pacific Northwest doesn’t shy away from their brainy side: many of Meloy’s wonderfully descriptive songs would stand alone as lyrical poetry or, with a little fleshing out of the characters, the most bizarrely morbid fairy tales this side of the Grimm Brothers.

For those unfamiliar with the band, The Decemberists tell tales of the sea that would make Coleridge and Melville raise their glasses in a hearty toast and their romanticized narratives of suicide, murder and uxoricide (killing one’s wife – thank Wikipedia, not me, for knowing that word) are heartwrenching in their depth and exposition. Despite the somewhat somber subject matter, The Decemberists’ shows are amazingly upbeat affairs, in no small part due to Meloy’s utterly engaging personality and stage demeanor. Following Meloy’s lead, the crowd pogoed up and down to “Chimbley Sweep” and swayed back and forth to the strains of “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.” Antics aside, the songs are nicely plotted and get you moving. “O New England” moved along on a two chord amble reminiscent of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves,” “Perfect Crime #. 2” bounced happily along with a Talking Heads’ influenced beat and “Sons & Daughters” capped off the night with a campfire singalong of “hear all the bombs fade away.”

Due to the cancellation of their scheduled run of shows last year, The Decemberists last played New York City a little over a year ago at Central Park’s Summerstage. Because of the onerous curfew, Meloy’s kept his interactions with the audience to a minimum. At Terminal 5, he was under no such restrictions, humorously instructing the crowd on fire prevention, encouraging anyone who brought a guitar with them to the show to join and chiding keyboardist Jenny Conlee about the potentially somber nature of the set list. His relaxed nature and bantering is a skill most frontmen spend their lives failing to achieve.

The other star of Wednesday night’s show, albeit in absentia, was President elect Barack Obama. Meloy welcomed the crowd by acknowledging The Decemberists share a blue state background with the audience and by the midpoint of the night, a lifesize cardboard cutout of Obama had practically become a sixth Decemberist with the band sending him stage diving and crowd surfing. During the encore break, the savvy lighting tech hit the 2D Obama with the spotlight, prompting a loud chant of “Yes We Can!” until the band returned.

Even without dipping too heavily into The Crane Wife, Meloy and his mates easily filled out a two hour set, splitting time between material from their early albums, Her Majesty, Castaways & Cutouts and Picaresque and that from their ongoing singles series, Always A Bridesmaid. With the exception of their cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking With You,” which is perfectly suited for Conlee’s voice, The Decemberists played the singles that makes the three volumes of Always The Bridesmaid. The caustic and witty “Valerie Plame” served as a nice epitaph for Bush’s soon-to-be-ending stint in the White House but the true gem was “Days Of Elaine” powered along by Chris Funk’s jaunty guitar riff.

The Decemberists will remain on the road in support of the Bridesmaid series throughout the rest of November.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bruce Springsteen To Deliver New Record in January?

Beyond rousing crowds for President-elect Obama, Bruce Springsteen has also been busy working at his day job. Rumor has it that he will release his next record in January, just in time for inauguration. I'm betting good money the Boss and the E Street Band will play at one of the inaugural balls as well.

Meanwhile, Mr. Everyman continued his public service this week by appearing at New York's Town Hall as part of the Stand Up for Heroes benefit for which he also donated a Harley Davidson motorcycle and a guitar for the group's auction to raise funds to assist US military service members injured in the line of duty. I wonder if Springsteen speaking out on the under funding of post injury care for our troops will bring on more "shut up and sing" cat calls from the celebrities are stupid unless the support my point of view crowd?

The Hold Steady Have Some Fun

The Hold Steady has been delivering a refreshing brand of indie rock for the past few years that has had the nerve to offer often brooding hipsters of that scene the chance to have a little fun (and Stay Positive!). The AP has a nice article on how the Hold Steady are "one of the few bands to bridge the gap between an angst-ridden indie scene and pure populists who want you to enjoy yourself at the expense of thinking."

Imagine that...going to a rock show to see a band who is enjoying themselves onstage! Maybe even the crowd would have fun too? It's ok hipsters, let loose a bit...no one will judge you. If you haven't seen them yet, visit the Hold Steady Myspace page for tour dates, including what should be some great shows with the Drive By Truckers.

Madonna Reunites Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at LA concert

Madonna's a shrewd lady. Bringing former mouseketeer sweethearts Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake together again on the same stage is sheer marketing genius. I mean, she knows we're all going to write about it. Talk about irresistable catnip for the digerati - holy google hits Batman! We, and when I say "we" I don't mean just us lowly bloggers, but also those "professional" purveyors of "news", will find this "story" impossible to stay away from. Even before it happened, there were several postings on the potential reunion of Justin and Britney, each of which serving as free advertising for Madonna's Sticky and Sweet Tour.

It is true that some greeted the news less reverentially than her Madge-ness would desire and rightly point out that bringing a tabloid page to life is a cheap way to try to maintain some "relevance" as opposed to the trendsetting Madonna of old. But, you know that Madonna knew that too and simply decided to take the unavoidable criticism for the stunt. She's always been rightly of the mind that as long as they (meaning "us") are talking about her, she maintains relevance. I say, well played Madonna, well played. Now if you really want to hit that public relations home run you are looking for, try to get Jessica Biel to show up and challenge Britney to a bra and panties fight over Justin. Now, that would be sticky and sweet Ms. Madonna.

McCartney, MTV Europe Award Fete Obama

Sir Paul McCartney gave Barack a shout out as he picked up the Ultimate Legend Award at the 2008 European MTV Awards last night, appropriately held in Liverpool. McCartney's praising of our new President earned this headline from MSNBC: "McCartney mentions Obama at MTV awards."

Isn't it amazing that Paul can grab a news headline for merely mentioning Obama in an MTV award speech? I'm a fan of both men, but come on. On the other hand, Katy Perry, of "I Kissed A Girl" fame (the show's host), stuffing her curves into one those Obama mini-dresses is definitely headline material!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Consider Yourselves Served: Leroy Justice Cover Let It Be For Halloween

By: David Schultz

On October 31, 1994, Phish famously donned a musical costume at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glen Falls, New York, and covered The Beatles’ “White Album” in its entirety. When over the next four years, they added Quadrophenia, The Talking Heads’ Remain In Light and The Velvet Underground’s Loaded to their All Hallow’s Eve resume, they gave birth to a tradition of bands reproducing famous classic rock albums as part of their Halloween sets. More than a decade after the last of Phish’s musical disguises, Leroy Justice is but one of the bands that picked up the gauntlet this past Halloween, tackling The Beatles’ Let It Be at New York City’s The Bitter End, just blocks away from the oddity known as the Halloween Parade.

Through attrition, The Bitter End, which opened in 1961 is New York City’s longest running nightclub. For Halloween, the well worn venue got into the spirit, decorating the club appropriately with ghostly webs complete with giant spider. Leroy Justice dressed the part as well with guitarist Jason Gallagher donning the Lennon specs, bassist Bradley Wegner looking like a wooly McCartney and Sloan Marshall sporting a vintage ‘fro as 5th Beatle Billy Preston.

On their debut album, Revolution’s Son, Leroy Justice showed a fine aptitude for 70s era Rolling Stones finesse and brawny, whiskey-soaked bar room rockers. In covering Let It Be and songs that The Beatles never played live anywhere but a rooftop, Gallagher, Wegner, Marshall, guitarist Brendan Cavanaugh and drummer Josh Karis pushed themselves to a high level of musicianship. On early versions of “Two Of Us” and “Dig A Pony,” they seemed a bit unsteady with the material. Once they started interpreting rather than emulating The Beatles, they hit their stride: an upbeat version of “The Long And Winding Road” led into a wonderful renovation of “For You Blue” and a rousing finale of “Get Back.”

For Justice’s main set, they offered a muscular and powerful dose of rock and roll, including an inspired version of “Revolution’s Son,” a cover of “Don’t Do It” that owed more to The Band’s version than Marvin Gaye’s and a stirring, smoky run though “Bring It On Home To Me.” Playing well into the night, Leroy Justice left to no doubt that in the future, Justice will be served.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bruce Springsteen Brings Out Crowd For Obama

Photo Credit to TimroffBarack Obama has proven he doesn't need any help in drawing a crowd. But, it never hurts to have some friends on stage - particularly in the final days of the biggest Presidential election in a generation. And, if you're looking for working class votes in a state like Ohio having Bruce Springsteen show up will bring out some people and add some additional street cred on the issues near and dear to Joe and Jane Sixpack.

Of course, Springsteen has made several appearances for Obama this election season, including a massive rally in Philadelphia a few weeks back. But, this last one, just days before the vote, drew an estimated 90,000-100,000 people who braved some rain to hear both the Boss and Barack talk about bringing some needed change to America. Come on up for the rising...indeed.

Backyard Tire Fire Tour Dates with Grace Potter, Rusted Root, the Clarks and Reverend Horton Heat


Backyard Tire Fire is always on the road, but this fall they are extra busy with tour dates with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals as well as, the Clarks, Reverend Horton Heat and Rusted Root. BTF is out in support of The Places We Lived, which is their debut release for Hyena Records.

November 5 / Blueberry Hill / St. Louis, MO
(w/ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals)
November 6 / Redstone Room / Davenport, IA
(w/ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals)
November 7 / Crosstown Station / Kansas City, MO
(w/ Grace Potter and the Nocturnals)
November 13 / Newport Music Hall / Columbus, OH (w/ The Clarks)
November 14 / Club Cafe / Pittsburgh, PA
November 15 / Grog Shop / Cleveland, OH (w/ The Clarks)
December 3 / Mercy Lounge / Nashville, TN (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 4 / Vogue / Indianapolis, IN (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 5 / Southgate House / Newport, KY (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 6 / Majestic Theatre / Detroit, MI (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 7 / The Intersection / Grand Rapids, MI (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 10 / Otto's / Dekalb, IL (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 11 / People's / Des Moines, IA (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 12 / Cain's Ballroom / Tulsa, OK (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 13 / The Village / Little Rock, AR (w/ Reverend Horton Heat)
December 27 / House of Blues / Chicago, IL (w/ Rusted Root)
December 28 / House of Blues / Chicago, IL (w/ Rusted Root)
December 29 / Eagles Ballroom / Milwaukee, WI (w/ Rusted Root)
December 30 / St. Andrews Hall / Detroit, MI (w/ Rusted Root)
December 31 / House of Blues / Cleveland, OH (w/ Rusted Root)



We've been following this band for over two years now, and it's great to see them progress so much and we're looking forward to watching them go further. They're a great bunch of guys who know how to rock and roll with the best of them, check them out when they come to a town near you!

Higher & Taller: The Black Crowes Return To The Hammerstein Ballroom

By: David Schultz

Right about the midway point of their first of three shows at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, The Black Crowes became a full fledged jamband. With lead singer Chris Robinson pitching in on guitar, his brother Rich Robinson and Luther Dickinson ambled down “Shakedown Street” with a Grateful Dead influenced jam, moved full steam into a lengthy section based around “Bo Diddley” and toyed with some “Third Stone From The Sun” cascades before easing into “Thorn In My Pride.” In total, the Crowes’ fanciful flight lasted for nearly half an hour and their glorious execution of the various segueways tipped their hand that we weren’t dealing with any rookies here. Never ones to shy from extending a song to its limit, Monday night’s session crossed the line that separates bands who like to add a little relish to a song from those who take it wherever it may lead. It may have irked those who prefer a more song-oriented setlist but for those who found great joy in the extended odysseys of the Grateful Dead, this version of The Black Crowes was simply nirvana.

While the Crowes didn’t exactly repeat the feat the next night, they did demonstrate a serious bent towards pushing the boundaries of their songs. On Monday, “Thorn In My Pride” veered askew before triumphantly returning home and on Tuesday night, “My Morning Song” similarly digressed. Dickinson, the newest Crowe by way of the North Mississippi Allstars, sits at the center of the Crowes free-form resurgence, resuming the same easy interplay with Rich Robinson that they had while playing together in Circle Sound. Well past the feeling out process, Dickinson handled the majority of the guitar leads, adding his own take to Crowe standards like “Sister Luck” and “Twice As Hard.” Dickinson lights a feisty fire under the Robinson brothers and is pushing the Crowes to playing their most vital rock and roll in years.

Owing in part to the release of Warpaint, their first new studio album in seven years, the Crowes are reinvigorated. In line with Lions and Three Snakes And A Charm, Warpaint’s bongwater soaked rock and roll takes on new life when the Crowes play them live. For Tuesday night’s show, they emerged to Adam McDougall’s sustained “Rain Song” keyboard riff to “Movin’ On Down The Line” with Robinson softly crooning that “it’s alright sisters, it’s alright, brothers.” Rather than sounding like a throwaway intro to a song, it served as a benediction, welcoming the assembly to the rebirth of a band that’s stayed true to their beliefs and followed their own muse, even when it removed them from the mainstream. Over the first two nights, “Walk Believer Walk” moved with a mighty stomping beat as did “God’s Got It,” for which Steve Gorman came to the front of the stage with don a gigantic marching band bass drum. “Locust Street” and “Wounded Bird,” a song with which they seem particularly enamored, had that smoldering fervor that fueled the Crowes early work and “Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution” and “Oh, Josephine” simply rocked.

Dancing like a hairier and more agile version of Mick Jagger, Chris Robinson exudes the aura of the old school rock and roll singers. While it didn’t show on the quick runs through older material like their cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle,” Robinson is hardly bored with the Crowes’ standards. On warhorses like “No Speak No Slave,” “Sometimes Salvation” and “Jealous Again,” Robinson commits himself and delivers with the same conviction as he did nearly two decades ago. Even after all this time, those songs still resonate with meaning and when he’s feeling the spirit, Robinson invokes the gospel like no other singer.

Chris Robinson’s memory notwithstanding, the Crowes historic run of shows at the Hammerstein in 2005 was memorable as most people never expected to see the Crowes reunite. After three years on the road playing for their ever-loyal fans, the Crowes returning to the Hammerstein for another memorable run as as one of the world’s most vital and essential rock and roll bands was equally unexpected.

Ray LaMontagne Tour Dates and Charity Download

Ray LaMontagne is doing a short run of mostly West Coast dates in support of his Gossip in the Grain release, that includes a fun ode to the lovely Meg White. Can a Jack White retort be far behind? If the gossip pages wrote about substantive artists, this would be front page "news"!

Beyond the new stuff, you can also catch Ray with some friends in Gov't Mule doing the Dylan classic "Masters of War" from a Red Rocks show back in 2004. If you buy the track, proceeds benefit HeadCount.org. Upcoming dates:

Nov 2 2008 Wiltern Theatre Los Angeles, California
Nov 3 2008 Paramount Theatre Oakland, California
Nov 5 2008 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Portland, Oregon
Nov 6 2008 McDonald Theater Eugene, Oregon
Nov 8 2008 Vogue Theatre Vancouver, British Columbia
Nov 9 2008 Marion Oliver McCaw Hall Seattle, Washington

If you haven't seen Ray LaMontagne yet and live near one of these venues be sure to get out and check him out so you can see why he gets such rave reviews.

Duncan Sheik Tour Dates

Grammy and Tony award winner Duncan Sheik kicks off a quick fall tour tonight in Atlanta. For those of you who didn't catch Duncan's rise on the singer-songwriter scene in the late 1990's, you may recognize his work from the Broadway show Spring Awakening. Duncan also contributed music to Songs for Tibet - The Art of Peace, along with Sting, Dave Matthews, Alanis Morissette, John Mayer, Ben Harper and others, which just hit stores this August.


November 3 Atlanta, GA Smith's Olde Bar
November 5 Birmingham, AL Workplay Theatre
November 6 Nashville, TN 3rd & Lindsley
November 7 Charleston, SC Sottile Theatre
November 8 Durham, NC Carolina Theatre
November 11 Wilmington, DE Grand Opera House
November 12 Vienna, VA Barns at Wolf Trap
November 13 New York, NY Town Hall
November 14 Westport, CT Westport Arts Center
November 15 Great Barrington, MA Mahalwe Theatre
November 16 Albany, NY The Egg

If you're looking to see Duncan, don't worry if your city isn't on the list. He will also tour in February and March 2009 hitting several more US cities. You can get the full list on his MySpace page.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Oh, You Didn't Know . . .

Maybe they should call it Mis-Led Zeppelin. After Robert Plant rebuffed reunion overtures, it appears that Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham will look for another singer to take out on the road in 2009. While stories of Steven Tyler appearing for rehearsals have surfaced, Billboard is reporting that Alter Bridge singer Myles Kennedy will front the band everyone wants to be Led Zeppelin.

Joining the ranks of the dumbest reunion rumors ever floated, Jermaine Jackson wagged his tongue about embattled brother Michael joining his siblings for a Jackson 5 reunion with sister Janet opening. Within days, Bahrain's most famous resident quashed the hopes of anyone silly enough to believe the reclusive singer will ever emerge from the self-imposed exile he entered after his acquittal on child molestation charges.

Whoever went trick-or-treating at the Bruce Springsteen Web site got a nice treat. He's giving everyone a nice shiny new song - "A Night With The Jersey Devil."

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!