Tuesday, September 11, 2012

GLEN CAMPBELL and his Band 9-9-12


GLEN CAMPBELL 9-9-12


GLEN CAMPBELL - Long Center for the Performing Arts 9-9-12

This concert is part of Glen's Farewell Tour.  He announced last year he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I'd never seen him and he is one of my all time favorites.  There was a day when he and The Beatles sat side by side on my mantel of musical greats.
Knew it would be bittersweet, this show.  Also was prepared for it to be not a very good concert.  Trying to cover my bases.  Brace for the worst, right?  Couldn't have been more wrong.  This show was so much better than I thought it would be.
He started the show with my all time favorite song ever, "Gentle On My Mind," which was written by John Hartford. 
Yes, he forgot a few lyrics early in the show, but would pick right back up and after the first couple of songs, he did fine.  He didn't miss anything on guitar.  In fact, he was mind blowing.  Did several solos and it was unreal how locked in he was.  Stellar as ever!  Great to watch! 
He was like a kid at times. When on his prompter the name of the next song he was going to play would come up, sometimes he'd go "Oh, I really like that one!" or "Oh, that is one of my favorites!" 
He mentioned Jimmy Webb probably 1/2 a dozen times. The first was when he was introducing "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" and he said "naturally, Jimmy Webb." What struck me about that was a few years ago when I saw Jimmy Webb down at Blue Rock (next to seeing Bruce Springsteen, about my biggest highlight ever) and Jimmy told the story (he's got a bunch and in the grand tradition of the Irish, is a master storyteller) about making it. He said the reason he was successful was due to 2 people who, every time they sang one of his songs, would tell their audience "and that was written by Jimmy Webb" and those 2 people were Frank Sinatra and Glen Campbell. So here we are, 30 some years later, and Glen is still telling the audience, giving Jimmy his props.  
He was backed by a 6 piece band, 3 of whom are his kids.  His daughter keeps a pretty close eye on him during the performance.  Struck me how tough that must be.  The pianist has been with Glen for 35 years.  They did a couple of Jimmy Webb songs together, one being "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress," just the two of them on stage and that was very poignant.   
We got all of the hits.  "Galveston," "Rhinestone Cowboy," "Wichita Lineman," "Southern Nights," "Try A Little  Kindness," "True Grit," "Where's The Playground, Susie."  I wish I could remember which song it was but he even yodeled!  It was great!  Played about 70 minutes.  Paid $69 for the ticket.  A bargain as I won't forget this evening.  We also got to hear his most recent, "A Better Place."  It's a great song with lyrics that are in the present:
"One thing I know
The world's been good to me
A better place, awaits you'll see
Some days I'm so confused, Lord
My past gets in my way
I need the ones I love, Lord

More and more each day"
Mentioned his kids being part of the band.  His one son plays drums, another plays guitar and his daughter is a multi-instrumentalist playing banjo, mandolin and keyboards.  She and Glen did a killer "Dueling Banjos" together.  For all I know she may play more but I saw her play all 3 of these.  Anyway, they are good!  I've seen enough kids who I felt wouldn't be on the stage if they didn't have the last name.  Not the case here.  This is the classic fruit not falling far from the tree.  They were Glen's opening act (not the drummer) but the other 2 sang and played for 30 minutes.  They were really good.  Played original music and held the audience.  That's not so easy as an opener, sometimes, but not the case with these 2.  The other son, the drummer, only played when Glen came out.  I couldn't get over how good he was, either.    
I hadn't thought about it until being at this performance.  I see what music does for people with dementia/Alzheimer's all the time but hadn't thought about the musician who is struck by it.  I'll bet music will be the last thing to leave him.  I hope playing guitar is one of the last things he ever does.






Sunday, May 20, 2012

SCRAPPY JUD NEWCOMB and SLAID CLEAVES at Shady Grove


SLAID CLEAVES at Shady Grove 5-17-12

Hadn't seen Slaid in a full show in probably 2 years.  Gorgeous night at Shady Grove to sit out under the big oaks and listen to new songs, old songs, covers and always, the yodeling!
What was also exciting about this concert is it was announced that Scrappy Jud Newcomb would be part of his band, on lead guitar.  Rounding out the trio was Chojo Jacques on fiddle/mandolin.  He's played with Slaid for quite a while.
I thought it was going to be interesting to hear Slaid with somebody different on guitar.  Seems like Michael O'Connor and Slaid have been together forever.  I love Michael.  Think he is one of the greats in this town and that is saying a lot.
The first thing that was different was Scrappy playing electric and resonator, no acoustic.  Michael was always on an acoustic.  Scrappy was pretty laid back at this show.  I think he is pretty much brand new to the band so he seemed to be really going by feel.  Still good to hear him again as he's one of my favorites and I hadn't seen him in a while.
Slaid did all of his standards:  "Hard To Believe"  "Horsehoe Lounge" "Drinkin Days" "Horses and Divorces" "One Good Year" "Broke Down" to name a few.
Talked about Don Walser quite a bit.  Covered him on "Rolling Stone From Texas."
Also played several new songs, all of which sounded vintage Slaid and good.
The show lasted about 2 hours, 2 sets.  This was a free show, sponsored by a local radio station.
I took two videos.  One song is going to be on the new cd which is coming out real soon.  It's called "The Texas Love Song."  Here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYP23CmbqJ8&feature=plcp
Second video is here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTgxJUIZn8Y&feature=plcp  It's called Rust Belt Fields and was written with Rod Picott.  He said this one has never been released.  It's really good and lyrically made me think of Springsteen.
Great to see Slaid again after a too long time away.

ANAIS MITCHELL


ANAIS MITCHELL at Blue Rock 5-10-12

When this concert was announced, there wasn't a second thought for me.  I got turned on to "Hadestown" by a musician here in Austin who said I had to hear it.  Bought it and have been a fan since.  Her latest, "Young Man In America" was recently released and is a real marvel.  Needless to say, I was looking forward to this show.
Somebody who I was sitting next to asked me to describe her as he was not familiar with her.  Well, she's a folk singer but that's not enough.  She sounds differently from everybody else.  She's got an edge.  Can be quite gentle.  Sharp lyrics.  Oh yeah, she also wrote a folk opera ("Hadestown").  I think you'll really like her.
First off, she had weather issues and didn't arrive at Blue Rock until 5 minutes before it was to start!  Her misfortune was our good fortune as we got to be entertained by Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri.  They were there for the show and were asked to play a few songs.  They floored everybody in that place, I do believe.  Her music is very stripped back, Smoky Mountains sounding, think Gillian Welch only doesn't sound like her, just great like her!  Did a song called "Ain't That The Way."  It was a head bopping, bouncy sounding little ditty that you couldn't help but smile through.  And Paul, holy cow, can that man sing.  He did a song called "California" and I loved it!  And they both are guitar players.  They're not strummers.  He also did some singing with Devon and the two of them going back and forth was spectacular.  Turns out they've recently relocated to Austin and I can't wait to see a full show of both.  I know they're married but I believe they do their own thing and aren't a duo.
Then Anais came out, cool as a cucumber. If she was frazzled at all, arriving at the last second, it didn't show.  Complete professional.  She was very funny.  Told us about the nightmare getting to the show.  Did almost all, if not all, of "Young Man In America."  Turns out it is her dad on the cover of the cd when he was a young guy.  One of the stories she told us about.
Also did several from "Hadestown" and Devon and Paul joined her for a couple of those.  Turns out they had performed it with her in West Virginia, taking on some of the parts on the album that were sung by the likes of Greg Brown and Ani Difranco, among others.
Anais live is very captivating.  Has a unique, gorgeously different voice.  Very emotive.  Then her lyrics.  Listen to them.
2 sets.  Probably 2 solid hours of music.  $25 cover.
Kinda neat at the end.  We were having a big thunderstorm, rare around these parts.  We had a cool lightning show.  She ended the night with Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."  Devon jumped up with her, spontaneously.  Great ending.
As per Blue Rock, no photos or video.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

BUTCH HANCOCK at Rock Garden


ROCK GARDEN


BUTCH HANCOCK at Rock Garden 5-5-12

Not much you can say that hasn't already been said about this great, great songwriter.  So, I'll tell you instead about going to shows at special places.  Things are changing in Austin.  Or maybe I'm just getting older and less tolerant of less than stellar listening experiences.  Now I look to go to shows where it's all about the music.  So, even though it's getting tougher to go out to a club and have a good experience, that's led to house concerts, small rooms and other ways to hear live music.
The Rock Garden is one of those places.  It's a back yard.  That's an understatement.  It's big, roomy, a natural amphitheatre, gorgeous view.  So yes, the atmosphere for music is about as good as it gets.  This was my first time here.  I'm not sure how often they hold concerts but they have a nice little stage built, great sound system and everybody listens.  And into this setting we get Butch Hancock.  What more could you ask for?
He did 2 sets, about 45 minutes each.  Got my all time favorite "If You Were A Bluebird!"  Also heard some new songs that will be coming out on a solo Hancock cd and also new Flatlanders material.  Believe both are due out later this summer.
Did video my favorite song and you can see it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My_Q_zAUDYI&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=3&feature=plcp

GLENN FUKUNAGA at Continental Gallery 5-3-12

Unique show.  6 piece ensemble in a room the size of a comfortably large living room playing jazz from Glenn's first ever cd called "Not A Word."  I've seen this guy play with everybody and their brother, all genres, all venues, all ways...except instrumental jazz.
Everybody who played on the cd was at this show:  Joel Guzman on keys, Dony Wynn drumming, Alex Coke on sax and other woodwinds, Kevin Flatt on bass and not on the cd but also at this show was the percussionist Jose Rossy.  Believe he and Dony played together with Robert Palmer.  Jose also played with Weather Report.  That alone blows my mind.  One of the many things that makes living in Austin so dang special.
So, I bought this cd 3 months ago, before it officially was out, when Glenn was playing bass at another show.  I'll say jazz, particularly instrumental, a little goes a long way for me.  I love jazz vocal and there is an occasional  instrumental that will knock me out but as a rule, I want lyrics, melody, my usual rock n roll, Americana, whatever.  But I bought this cd, listened to it and the thing grabbed me straight off.  I don't know how to describe it except to say every time I listen to it, I get lost in it.  Tune out what I'm doing and just listen.  Guess that's all you really need to know.
So, when I saw he was going to do a cd release show at this little room, I was thrilled.  The place was packed!  SRO  I know some people who were turned away.
It was very cool to listen live to "Not A Word" and watch all of these exceptional, even for Austin, musicians play this room.
I didn't take any pictures or video.  Wish I had at least snapped a photo.  So, I'll just post the cd cover and tell you if you like jazz at all, buy this baby.  Really, once "Ha Ha Hawaiian" starts, you'll settle in.


WE WALK THE LINE 4-20-12 EVERYBODY!!!


WILLIE NELSON and KRIS KRISTOFFERSON at We Walk The Line


WILLIE NELSON at We Walk The Line


WE WALK THE LINE Tribute for Johnny Cash 80th Birthday at ACL Moody Theatre 4-20-12



I could just list the names of all who played this show and that would be all that needs to be said:

Willie Nelson
Kris Kristofferson
Lucinda Williams
Shelby Lynne
Sheryl Crow
Brandi Carlile
Rhett Miller (Old 97's)
Ronnie Dunn
Sam Beam (Iron & Wine)
Pat Monahan (Train)
Amy Lee (Evanescence)
Jamey Johnson
Shooter Jennings
Andy Grammer
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Buddy Miller
Don Was
Kenny Aronoff
Ian McLagan (recent inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!)
Greg Leisz
Matthew McConaughey (host)

What a night!  Going into this we knew it was gonna be great but really, I don't think you can anticipate just how spectacular a concert can be until it's presenting itself.  After the opening rave up with Brandi Carlile doing "Folsom Prison" came Andy Grammer, somebody we were not familiar with, who proceeded to do a smashing version (including some beatboxing!) of "Get Rhythm."  After that 1, 2 start we kind of looked at each other and said ok!
There was never a letdown.
Some other highlights now a month after the fact:  
Ronnie Dunn (never a Brooks & Dunn fan) did the coolest "Ring of Fire" I've ever heard.  He had 2 women playing the mariachi trumpets and believe me, the 3 of them lifted that entire room way up into the air.
Carolina Chocolate Drops did "Jackson."  Had never seen them and loved everything about those folks.  It was acoustic and included a cello.  As far as I can remember they were the only ones who did not use the house band.
I wish I could remember what song Amy Lee did.  I've heard of Evanescence but couldn't name you one of their songs.  Her voice blew me away.
There were collaborations.  Sheryl, Rhett & Brandi performed together as did Shelby and Pat.  Sheryl and Willie did "If I Were A Carpenter."  Kris, Shooter and Jamey did "Highwayman."
For me, the drop dead I'll never forget if I live to be 150 you had to be there jaw dropping goose bumping wrist slashing came when Lucinda Williams hit the stage and did "Hurt."  Just as "Ring of Fire" lifted us to the rafters, "Hurt" put us on our knees.  God, that was a powerful 3 minutes.  Times like that all you can do is acknowledge the living soul of music.
The night ended with everybody on stage singing "I Walk The Line."  I did pull out the camera for that and filmed it.  You can see it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPLQ0-O92V0&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=4&feature=plcp

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

JESS KLEIN at Threadgill's


JOHN FULLBRIGHT at Threadgill's


JESS KLEIN at Threadgill's 4-18-12

Little late with this but not because I've forgotten about it.
This was the Austin CD Release show for Jess Klein's new record called "Behind A Veil."  It was a perfect evening to be sitting outside listening to her and the band play almost every song from the new cd.
I hadn't heard the songs with a band live.  Her solo shows the past year and a half, if not longer, have included all of the new material and you could tell it was gonna be a good, good album.  I swear to God, "Riverview," like "Shonalee" from years ago, should be known by everybody.  Damn shame commercial radio sucks.
Anyway, the concert was great.  They played about 90 minutes so the set hit all corners of her music.
I hadn't seen Jess in quite a while so I was unfamiliar with her new band other than the bass player, Mark Addison.  He also produced the album.  New to me is Billy Masters on lead guitar and the drummer, John Paul Keenon.  He is brand new!  Had only rehearsed with Jess the day before.  He did a fantastic job and it was great fun watching him watch Mark Addison for cues.  At any rate, some things never change.  Jess always sings and plays with tons of passion, the new songs are really good and so the show seemed to go by in the blink of an eye.
Opening for Jess was John Fullbright.  I've raved about him since the first time I ever saw him.  He has a debut studio cd coming out, I think, in the next week or so.  Seems like we've been waiting for it forever.  I know it's been at least 3 years since I first came across him.  He played about 45 minutes and we heard many of the songs that will be on the debut.  This guy is the real deal.  He also joined Jess for a couple of songs, playing piano and singing harmony.
Just a spectacular night of music we got from both.  Cover was $10 and that was a steal.
Here are links to a couple of videos. Jess does the title track here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-SocnYBfIM&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=2&feature=plcp
She ended the show with that and it was awesome!

Here is John doing "Gawd Above"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efpu4qDkA6k&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=4&feature=plcp

Saturday, April 14, 2012

LORI MCKENNA at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio 4-12-12

It's been 2 days.  Can't get this show out of my mind and I am happy about that.  Nights like these can keep you going for quite a long time.
I guess I'll start by saying when I saw Lori McKenna was coming to Blue Rock, I reserved  tickets immediately and decided I'd figure out a way to make it happen that we could attend.  That was much harder than anticipated and it did end up that Linda gave up her ticket to stay back with my mom so I could go to the concert.  I owe her big time for making that sacrifice.
I'm probably going to go off on several different tangents regarding this show and we'll see if I can pull it all together.
First off, I'd never seen Lori before.  Have been a huge fan ever since I heard "Bittertown" for the first time and that was 8 years ago.  That album is in my Top 10.  My Top 10 may have 50 records in it but that one is in the Top 10.  I have played that cd to death.  None of it ever gets tiring.
For years, since 2004, I've wanted to see her but she seemed to never leave the East Coast.  Even when I lived in Illinois, she didn't make it that far west!  Once I moved to Austin, thought it would take a small miracle to see her live.  So what happened?  A couple of years ago she blew into Texas to open for Walt Wilkins at Gruene Dancehall!  Turned out that same day I was flying back to Illinois to move my mom down here so I did not get to see her!  I was crushed.  Talk about timing.
Then, last year she came out with "Lorraine."  While I liked "Unglamorous," her record in between, I believe "Lorraine" is right up there with "Bittertown."  Again, great from beginning to end.
And I was still sitting around thinking man, I'd give anything to see her live, just once!
Blue Rock!  This place is by far the best live music experience you could ever have, I think.  At least for me it is.  And I've only been there once before.  That was 2 years ago and it was the great Jimmy Webb, a musical hero of mine!  It's really weird that I haven't been back. I always look at their series, most are folks I love, the venue is spectacular but I hadn't made it back.  I think Lori may have finally broken that bad deal.  I hope.
Instead of me raving about Blue Rock, go take a look yourself.  http://www.bluerocktexas.com/  It's hard to describe the vibe but you are in a different world once you get there and it's one you'd just as soon stay in.
This brings us to this past Thursday evening.  Not only do I get to finally see her but it's at Blue Rock!
No need to worry about not living up to expectations as the concert was far better than I could have imagined.  It's one thing to write great songs and a whole different deal presenting them.  She sings very personal, often intense, songs and in between lightens the load with hilarious commentary.  She reminds me of Shawn Colvin that way.  I think live is what sets apart really great artists.  I've seen my share of singer/songwriters.  You can like the music a lot but if they don't grab you live and take you away for however long they're on stage, they usually fall into that big group called struggling singer/songwriter.  Lori puts you in a trance.  The lyrics are so strong and then she sings with such emotion.  There were times I thought her heart was gonna come right out of her chest she sang with such feeling.  I was sitting there, each song, mind blown, it would end, she'd say something funny, clear the air and off we'd go to the next killer song.
I would love to sit here and tell you every story she told but I don't have that kind of time.  In general, we heard much about her husband Gene, their kids and town.
She also talked about songwriting and co-writing with others, which she does a lot.  I always love when they talk shop like that.  Always fun for me to get a peek inside that place as it's so foreign to us common folk.
She talked about a co-write that happened quite recently and then proceeds to play us a song that came out of it called "Sober."  Who knows if she will record it but all I know is, it's a great song.  It came about from one of the other writers saying falling in love is like getting drunk so the song has all kinds of witty analogies based on drinking with the refrain "when I die I don't want to go sober."  It starts out "I wanna walk that line a little crooked.  Live my life a little on the rocks."  It just grabbed you immediately.  She mentioned going into the studio in the fall so I hope that little gem pops up on her next album.
I've gone far too long without mentioning she had Mark Erelli with her.  Talk about cool.  When I got there and saw his name on the chalkboard it brought a big smile to my face.  He's great in his own right and luckily for us, we did get to hear him do 3 of his own songs.  He started the 2nd set by himself.
Together, they sound great and he plays mandolin besides guitar.  You can easily see and feel their connection and it comes out in the songs.
Nuts and bolts.  $25 ticket cost, bargain in my opinion.  The show was made up of 2 sets with the 1st lasting close to an hour and the 2nd probably not much over 30 minutes.
Here is a sampling of some of the songs we got.  She opened with "The Luxury of Knowing," the 1st song on "Lorraine."  We also got the title track, "You Get A Love Song," "Buy This Town," "Sweet Disposition," "Ladders and Parachutes," and 2 of the most powerful songs I think I've ever heard live, "That's How You Know" and "Still Down Here."  Off of  "Bittertown"  we got the great "Stealing Kisses" and from "Unglamorous" she played "Your Next Love."
Their encore consisted of a very neat off mic cover, Tom Petty's "Room At The Top" with audience participation on the chorus.  She said it fit with how she felt being at Blue Rock and I'm pretty sure everyone in that room felt the same way.
I drove back to Austin in the clouds and I'm still there.
PS  No photo or video.  They don't allow it.  Blue Rock will eventually post some.  I will put that link up once it happens.  Any tiny bit you can get of Lori and Mark from that show is well worth your time.  And I know you're out there as they said they had over 100 on the waiting list!
Update 5-11-12  Here is the link to see a video of Lori's time at Blue Rock:
http://events.bluerocktexas.com/previous-events/detail/lori-mckenna/
Just look to the right where there is a video link on the page.

Friday, April 13, 2012

DANNY BRITT, Merle Haggard 75th Birthday Bash along with RED VOLKAERT, JOE MANUEL and LEE DUFFY at Threadgill's

TRACIE LYNN, Merle Haggard 75th Birthday Bash at Threadgill's, RED VOLKLAERT on the left, JOE MANUEL on the right

CHARLIE FAYE and WILL SEXTON along with JOE MANUEL on guitar, Merle Haggard 75th Birthday, Threadgill's

MERLE HAGGARD 75TH BIRTHDAY BASH at Threadgill's 4-6-12

I've been to a few of these roundups that ASG, Austin Songwriters Group, puts on occasionally.  They are always a ton of fun.
They get a house band together and invite various local musicians to perform a Merle Haggard song.  Since we're in Austin, that house band and those musicians are first class.  The 2 lead guitarists in this group, Red Volkaert and Joe Manuel, both played in Merle's band as did the pianist, Floyd Domino.  They had Marvin Dykhuis on acoustic guitar and he is one of my favorites around here.  Don't ask me who the drummer or bass player was.  They were there but I don't remember the names.  They are always overlooked, aren't they?
It was a gorgeous night to be sitting outside listening to music so we took my mom and stayed for the first set.  By then, my mom's butt had had enough of the hard seat.
We got to hear probably 10 different artists come up and play/sing a song.  Charlie Faye and Will Sexton did a song together and really sounded great.  Another person who came up, Tracie Lynn, while I'd heard the name, I hadn't heard her sing.  Liked her a lot and will try to get to one of her shows.  Also heard Danny Britt for the first time and he was real good.
Would've loved to stay for the 2nd set but still, it was nice to be out listening to that great group of musicians wing it and hear all those terrific Merle Haggard songs for about an hour and fifteen minutes.
There was no cover, believe it or not.  Had a tip jar out.  Sure hope all ponied up.  They sure deserved it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

SXSW 2012 It's All About BRUCE

NNEKA, SXSW KUT Showcase, 4 Seasons Hotel 3-16-12


TRAMPLED BY TURTLES, SXSW KUT Showcase, 4 Seasons Hotel 3-16-12

JAMES MERCER of The Shins, SXSW KUT Showcase, 4 Seasons Hotel 3-16-12

MOTOPONY, SXSW KUT Showcase, 4 Seasons Hotel 3-16-12


RUTHIE FOSTER at SXSW KUT Showcase, 4 Seasons Hotel 3-16-12

BRUCE Solos, AMA, Austin Music Hall, 3-14-12 SXSW


BRUCE again! AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

BRUCE, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

The Stage Full of Players at AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

JOE, ALEJANDRO and BRUCE, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

ALEJANDRO, BRUCE & JOE kicking it up, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

BRUCE, surprise appearance, Austin Music Awards at Austin Music Hall, 3-14-12 SXSW

ALEJANDRO, BRUCE & JOE, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

Here's a band for you!

JOE ELY and ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO along with Sensitive Girls and Boy, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO and ROSIE FLORES, AMA, Austin Music Hall, 3-14-12

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEND and DAN DYER, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

PATTY GRIFFIN, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

RUTHIE FOSTER and CAROLYN WONDERLAND, AMA, Austin Music Hall 3-14-12

RUTHIE FOSTER, CAROLYN WONDERLAND and both their bands at Austin Music Awards held at Austin Music Hall, 3-14-12 SXSW

SXSW 2012

Made it to only 2 events but...the first one I went to Bruce Springsteen also showed up so as far as I am concerned, it was a great SXSW for me!
The Austin Music Awards is back to kicking the music part of the festival off, thank God.  The only bad thing about this program is it's held at Austin Music Hall which is a first class hellhole for music.  Ironic, to say the least.
Anyway, got to see Quiet Company, Joe King Carrasco, Patty Griffin, Carolyn Wonderland and Ruthie Foster together with both their bands (GREAT!) and Christopher Cross.  Yes, that one.
Alejandro Escovedo was closing the show, hence the high level of anticipation by everybody that Bruce would show up since he was giving the keynote speech the next day at noon.  Alejandro brought out a slew of friends including Amy Cook, Dan Dyer, Rosie Flores, Garland Jeffreys and Joe Ely.  Amy and Dan are probably the least well known outside Austin and that's a shame because both are great.  This town is so full of talent it's nuts.
Anyway, after Joe Ely finished playing, he asked if there were any other guitar players in the house.  Magically, Bruce popped out from behind the curtain at the back of the stage.  To say the place was up for grabs from that point on would be an understatement.
We were in the 2nd row so we had prime viewing.
The first song up was The Flatlanders' "Midnight Train."  Joe did the singing while Bruce ripped a couple of serious guitar solos.  Then they did Woody Guthrie's "Goin Down The Road Feeling Bad" and Bruce did sing on this one with Joe.  From there it was Alejandro's "Always A Friend" with all three guys singing.  After that, Joe left the stage, Garland Jeffreys came back and they closed it all down with "Beast Of Burden."  What a last 30 minutes or so of the show!
Really, Alejandro was out there for probably close to 2 hours and that entire time seemed like 10 minutes.  It was just spectacular.  Alejandro had his full band plus a small horn section, 2 ladies (Sensitive Girls) singing harmony, 1 of whom also played keyboards.  It was a calvalcade of talent all night long!  Alejandro, always the bandleader, was also the cheerleader, leading the crowd.  He's one cool guy.
My 2nd event was a morning showcase our local NPR station, KUT, puts on.  It is held at the Four Seasons Hotel, starts at 7am and ends at 11am for 4 days of the festival.  So there I was Friday morning, up at 5am to go hear music!  Surely this is a first.  Loved it!  SXSW is a weird animal.  There's tons of music, tons of people, many who aren't listening and you can go to event after event where it's one big party so forget about listening to the music.  These morning shows provide access to great bands for a bargain price and you get to HEAR them!
I went on Friday as I wanted to see Nneka.  She was closing out the day's program at 10am.
First up was Ruthie Foster and her band.  They did a real nice wake-up set with several from the new "Let It Burn" record.  Her voice, you never would've guessed it was 7am, that's for sure.  My favorite one she did was "This Time" which is a Los Lobos cover.
After Ruthie came a band called Motopony.  From Seattle.  Didn't know them from the man in the moon and at 8am they came out and rocked that room!  I fell in love with them.  They rock really hard but have great pop melodies and their lead singer is a SINGER!  He's very charismatic, knows how to work a stage.  Can't say enough about this band and of course, it's always thrilling to hear somebody with no expectations and they slay you!
Then came James Mercer of The Shins for 2 songs.  Honestly, I don't remember much about the songs.
After James was a bluegrass band called Trampled By Turtles.  I am not the biggest bluegrass fan in the world and am one of those whose mind will start wandering pretty quickly (like I guess it did with James Mercer) but these guys were fantastic.  Never got bored for even a second.  Stellar musicians and singers.
Lastly, Nneka came on and did not disappoint.  I think she's a very unique artist.  It was a real treat to see her live, even for just a short 4 or 5 song set.
I have a few videos.
"Midnnight Train" with Bruce, Joe and Alejandro is at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmLPWWvrT6I&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&feature=plcp
Do yourself a favor and check out the voice of Dan Dyer here with Alejandro:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsBTbFem6M4&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=1&feature=plcp
Nneka is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3v0SJEFHVA&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=2&feature=plcp

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ANGELIQUE KIDJO and her Great Band

ANGELIQUE KIDJO and part of audience on stage Dancing

ANGELIQUE KIDJO

ANGELIQUE KIDJO at Bass Concert Hall 3-8-12

Spectacular show.  The kind where you are so wound up afterward trying to go to home to bed is downright cruel.
If you are familiar with her, you know she has A Voice.  Nothing has changed in that regard!  Her show though, caught me off guard.  Full of energy!  She was all over that stage, singing, dancing, having fun!  Her band included guitar, bass, percussion and drums.  The rhythm section was off the charts great.  Her drummer, if he wasn't singing, was smiling all the time.  And he is a fantastic drummer.  The entire band was wonderful.  Her guitarist played electric, acoustic and stylistically could go anywhere.  They all harmonized.
Her music is full of different sounds.  Of course, you have the African rhythms which are so fun and gorgeous.  But she has Spanish, reggae, soul, all kinds of influences in the music.  Best way I can think to describe her music is it takes you around the world.
We were also treated to stories of her growing up.  A father who reinforced education for all of his kids, not just the boys.  We learned about the generosity of Africans.  It bothers her that all we see of Africa is a depiction of poor, dying kids.  She was very enlightening, at least for me.
Along with the stories, she has a great sense of humor.  You put all that together, voice, rhythms, songs, stories, humor, loads of energy and it makes for one heckuva unique, great show.
Late in the show, she invited the audience up on stage to dance.  Before you knew it, the stage was packed with folks dancing.  Individuals came up front with her and the percussionist to do a solo dance, so to speak.  It was a blast!
Finally, after almost 2 non-stop hours she and the band came back out for an encore and did the Stones's "Gimme Shelter" and you have not heard a version like this before.  Got a video of it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uQggCDYIyo&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=1&feature=plcp

LYLE LOVETT, STEVE EARLE and ROBERT EARL KEEN

TEXAS HERITAGE SONGWRITERS Hall of Fame at ACL Moody Theatre 3-4-12

Got a last minute ticket to this sold out show.  It's an annual event that honors the singer/songwriters who make Texas come alive around the world and this year's inductees were Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and Townes Van Zandt.  Steve Earle was there to represent Townes.
There were presentations but mostly it was a musical show so let's get to it.
Steve Earle was up first and did 3 or 4 Townes songs including "Pancho & Lefty" but also did a Lightnin' Hopkins song and his own "Ft. Worth Blues" that was written after Townes died.  It was neat that J.T. Van Zandt, Townes's son, introduced Steve.
Lyle and Robert came out together and did a song swap.  They each did about 3 songs, I believe.  There was a lot of talking about their college days (they met at A&M).  Lyle and Robert have a long history together and their friendship was evident.  Very neat to hear them talk about the old days.  They definitely have a mutual admiration and it was fun to listen into the stories they share.  Also loved hearing Lyle solo do "If I Had A Boat" as that song just never grows old.
The night ended with them bringing Steve up and they did Townes's "Snowin' On Raton."
I was thrilled to be there.
Got a video of the final song and you can see it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRCnPp_uSZQ&list=UU0uR133ey7uy83Hph3qJiTw&index=2&feature=plcp

Saturday, February 25, 2012

TERRI HENDRIX

TERRI HENDRIX at Cactus Cafe 2-11-12

Little late getting this one out because the morning after the show I was on a plane bright and early for a one week vacation.  Sadly, the seven days flew by!
You know, one of the reasons I stopped blogging, well, the main reason was a change in living situation that just doesn't lend itself to seeing lots of live music and secondly, when I do manage to go to a show, I tend to go see people I've seen numerous times.  It's pointless to write about the same people, say the same things.
And I will say I have seen Terri numerous times so already I'm contradicting myself, right?!
Anyway, my brother was in town, flew in that day and he always likes to catch a show so I started looking around and saw this one.  Told my brother a little bit about her, he'd been to the Cactus once before (Kevin Welch) and loved both the venue and Kevin so felt we couldn't go wrong heading to see anybody there. Which is basically right.
So for this show Terri had Lloyd Maines on guitars and all other walks of stringed instruments along with Glenn Fukunaga on bass.  It was truly a GREAT show!  They were cooking, it was that way from the get go and just kept going.
As always, she does a good job pacing a show.  I have no idea but my guess is she doesn't scribble down 20 songs five minutes before showtime.  Her shows are too well put together.  I appreciate that.
We got 2 lengthy sets.  No opener so the show started around 8:15 and I think we walked out of there around 11.  Cover was $20 and that's a bargain for this trio.  Room was packed to the gills.  The Cactus has a few different ways they set up the room and for this show it was the maximum number of chairs, no tables.  Well, there were 2 tables right in front of the stage reserved for band guests and that's it.  We got there early so we had primo seats up front at an angle to the stage which is cool because when Lloyd was sitting we could still see him play.  That kind of stuff is what I look for when entering a room, best vantage point to watch the players play.  You don't have to worry at Cactus about getting a good sounding area.  It's a small room and the sound is always great.
Like I mentioned, the band was cooking.  Maybe it was because she hadn't played there in a couple of years, the packed house, I don't know.  It just seemed more on fire than I'd seen in a while.
What was neat for me was seeing my brother's reaction.  I was a bit worried as he'd been up since 4am, flew to Austin and now here we are and it's getting kind of late, is he gonna make it?  At the break he turned to me and said "My God, she is great!  How is it I've never heard her?"  There was no question we'd be staying for the second set.  Through the end of the evening, every time I looked over at Bill, his toes were tapping, he was in it all the way.  I got a big kick out of that.  Always when someone sees/hears somebody for the first time and they're blown away, that is exciting to witness!  And where my brother is concerned, he's 5 years older than me and was my musical guide/educator for about the first 30 years of my life.  When I was in high school and he was in college, I was listening to Joni Mitchell while my friends were still wishing The Beatles hadn't broken up.  Hence, his really loving Terri was a thrill for me.
The show itself.  Lots from "Cry Til You Laugh" and songs from throughout her career.  Her music is quite diverse, you know, blues, folk, country rock, bluegrass, jazz and we got a bit of it all.  She also threw in a few gospels songs.  Playing the harmonica more and more.  It was funny, one of my friends said "I remember when she first started playing the harmonica she wasn't very good.  Can't say that now!"  No you can't.
No pictures or video.  My camera was already packed for my trip!
Oh, one more thing.  Her bass blayer, Glenn Fukunaga, just released his own cd called "Not A Word."  It's a jazz instrumental.  Bought it at this show.  Is it ever good!  If you like real jazz, not that New Age crap, do yourself a favor and check it out:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/glennfukunaga

Sunday, February 5, 2012

ELIZABETH COOK and TIM CARROLL

BONES, ELIZABETH COOK and TIM CARROLL

TIM CARROLL

ELIZABETH COOK at Cactus Cafe, 2-1-12

Great night.  First time seeing her.  Big fan of her radio show on Outlaw Country (satellite radio).  She's razor sharp, hilarious and plays great music.  Turns out seeing her live you get the same thing, only it's all her music along with some good covers thrown in.
She was backed by Tim Carroll on lead guitar and a guy named Bones on upright bass.  They put on a heckuva show.  I hadn't heard her music before.  Not sure why.  I believe she played songs mostly from her two most recent records, "Balls" and "Welder."  Her songs run the gamut.  Some are plain funny, witty ditties while others are dang good honky tonk or killer ballads.  She threw in a Merle cover and did a couple of rocking, gospel songs which she learned as a kid and they were excellent.  Between songs it was like listening to a stand up comic.  She played close to 1 1/2 hours without a break.  There was never a song or a minute where she didn't have the crowd.  It was that good.
Opening was Tim Carroll.  Besides her lead guitarist, he's a songwriter in his own right.  Came out with his electric guitar and played maybe 45 minutes.  He was fantastic.  Kind of a punky, country guy.  Writes great songs.  I really enjoyed listening to him and he too, had the audience with him all along the way.  Lastly, he happens to be married to Elizabeth.
So, for $15 I got one great show in the best listening room in Austin.  Can't ask for more.
Managed to snag a video of "El Camino."  Here it is:
http://bit.ly/z0iSbJ