Track taken from current album, natch.
By Blurt Staff
A lot of interesting artists have already been turning up on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Friday night brought Beach House, touring in support of Thank Your
By Uncle Blurt
Need I mention my abiding admiration for Neil Young? Through thick and thin, good albums and bad ones, he’s my man. So it’s nice to have this free MP3 download of his set the other week, Sept. 19, at his annual Farm Aid concert at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion, Northerly Island, Chicago, Illinois.
Taken from a solid webcast by the archivists at Big O zine, it finds him and Promise of the Real in abbreviated but superb shape. There’s also downloadable artwork. Enjoy, and here’s the tracklisting.
We plan to do it up right again with Dogfish Head at the Ginger Man Pub, natch. Waco Brothers, Everymen, Rev. Peyton, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Chuck Prophet and loads more slated to perform. Below, take a gander at our party posters as rendered by Jonboy Langford.
By Thee Editors
Once again we are headed to Austin for our annual March getaway—not so coincidentally, during the annual SXSW bacchanal which draws music biz types and punters from all over the globe. Bands? Yeah, we’ve seen a few over the years… This time around our trip will run March 18-21,and for most of those days we plan to be hunkered down on the legendary outdoor patio of the Ginger Man pub, located at 301 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701.
Our partner in crime, as usual, is the estimable Dogfish Head brewing company – you might’ve heard of ’em, eh? Tasty! We cannot stress enough the importance of getting to the venue early, as each year we have had a line out the door for over an hour at numerous times during the day. Therefore it may sometimes be difficult to get in – don’t arrive late to enter in time for your favorite band’s performance! With that in mind, please note that entry is absolutely free, with no wristbands or badges required.
17th Annual Industry of Music Showcase / Austin 2015 – March 18-21
Proudly presented by; Dogfish Head and Blurt Magazine.
~Wednesday, March 18th
1pm – Bobby Bare Jr.
2pm – Whiskey Shivers
3pm – Banditos
4pm – Lee Bains III & Glory Fires
5pm – Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers
6pm – The Everymen
~Thursday, March 19th (Jon Langford from The Mekons and Waco Bros will host the day’s event!)
1pm – Walter Salas-Humara (of The Silos)
2pm – American Aquarium
3pm – Churchwood
4pm – Jon Langford & The Far Forlorn
5pm – Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds
6pm – Waco Brothers
7pm – Jane Lee Hooker
8pm – The Bluebonnets
9pm – Ice Cold Singles
10pm – Yoko Darling
~Friday, March 20th
1pm – Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
2pm – Lily Meola & Insects vs Robots
3pm – Waylon Speed
4pm – New Madrid
5pm – Mandolin Orange
6pm – LITE
7pm – Drivin’ N Cryin’
8pm – Girls Guns and Glory
9pm – The Sidewinders
10pm – Enemy Planes
11pm –So Long, Problems
1pm – Low Cut Connie
2pm – Della Mae
3pm – Stone Foxes
4pm – Mastersons
5pm – Black Linen
6pm – Chuck Prophet
7pm – City of the Sun
8pm – “Special Guest”
9pm – The Boxers
10pm – Teen Men
11pm – Great Peacock
With Delbert McClinton, the Mavericks, Paul Thorn, Lyle Lovett, Marcia Ball, Band of Heathens, Fred Eaglesmith, Jimmy Hall, Wayne Toups, the McCrary Sisters, Mingo Fishtrap and others setting sail on this year’s cruise, making waves wasn’t the only thing that made that boat rock.
By Lee Zimmerman
Time seems to stand still when you’re on a cruise ship out at sea. And yet, when it comes to time spent strictly having fun — encouraged all the more by a cruise that puts the focus entirely on music — the time seems to pass way too fast. And when that special sojourn is the Sandy Beaches Cruise on board the Norwegian Pearl and hosted by Atlanta’s Sixthman music cruise team, suffice it to say it’s easy to get caught up in a forward motion of an entirely different sort, a time lapse that’s somewhere in-between.
Or perhaps, somewhere far beyond. The music ploughs ahead at full steam, but sensory perception is often difficult to surmise, being that the players on this particular cruise tend to leave their audiences spellbound, the result of sheer adulation and performances that are high velocity and vertically motivating to say the very least. It began as the brainchild of barrelhouse blues veteran Delbert McClinton, who initiated the cruise some 21 years ago as a means of gathering friends and fans for a celebration out at sea. Since then, the Sandy Beaches Cruise — or SBC for short — has attracted a group of steadfast devotees who make the trek year after to bask in the music, merriment, friendship and fellowship the cruise has come to represent.
Not surprisingly then, the musical line-up is every bit as impressive as any other seaborne festival has to offer. McClinton, who’s never bowed to any fleeting fashion or trend throughout his 50-plus year career, continues in the role of the gracious host and the man responsible for booking the talent. However, the flash and frenzy seems the domain of the support acts, as personified by the sweat and swing of the Mavericks, Paul Thorn, Lyle Lovett, Marcia Ball, Band of Heathens, Fred Eaglesmith, Jimmy Hall, Wayne Toups, the McCrary Sisters, Mingo Fishtrap and several solo artists whose singular names alone could boost the marquee value into stellar realms. Then there are the songwriters whose presence provides the veritable icing on the cake, the proverbial wealth of riches who sometimes seem to get short thrift due to being confined to the songwriter showcases — renowned writers, producers, sidemen and solo stars like the legendary Spooner Oldham, Gary Nicholson, Danny Flowers, Al Anderson, Jill Sobule, Kimmie Rhode, Etta Britt, Shelley King, and Lari White. Their presence often seems fleeting, given that there’s relatively little chance to catch them in the solo spotlight, but it’s to Delbert’s credit that he appears intent on including his friends in his show, whether it’s his old singing partner Glen Clark or former employer Bruce “Hey Baby” Channel. Judging by the game of musical chairs that seems to rotate around each of Delbert’s sets, his generosity is never in doubt.
That said, there never seems to be enough time to soak up the powerful performances that compete for attention throughout the day and night. (As Delbert himself confessed in a rare moment of downtime, the ports of call are almost incidental. “Nobody seems to give a damn about them anyway.”) Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Band are, as always, extraordinary, due in no small way to its ringleader’s self-effacing humor and aw-shucks humility. “I’m impressed y’all can stand up,” the big-haired bandleader suggested during a day of especially high surf. “That’s not a drinking joke, that’s a wave joke. Up here, we’re actually nailed to the stage.” Humor aside, his band is a serious bunch, thanks to the inclusion of the legendary Russ Kunkel on the traps, bassist extraordinaire Viktor Krauss, Jim Cox on keys, and main foil Luke Bulla on violin and harmonies.
In terms of sheer dynamics and propulsive appeal, the Mavericks are the undeniable showstoppers. Singer Raul Malo’s vibrant vocals — often eerily reminiscent of his idol Roy Orbison even while seeped in country heartbreak, ala Hank Williams — clearly shine at the fore, but its guitarist Eddie Perez’s impressive command of quintessential rock star posturing, Paul Deakin’s steadfast drumming and propulsive beat, and keyboard player Jerry Dale McFadden’s unbounded enthusiasm and Peewee Herman-like dance moves that force divided focus amongst all the players. Founding member Robert Reynolds, recently ejected for indulging his personal demons, wasn’t really missed due to his absence.
Band of Heathens seemed more intent on purging their personal demons, at least when it came to their sonic output. A ruggedly assertive take on John Fogerty’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone” and the stirring title track from their acclaimed LP #One Foot in the Ether# proved to be the showstoppers, but for a band built around songwriters, their entire performance proved remarkably resilient. Likewise, Marcia Ball — who, by the way, deserves kudos for employing the most tireless drummer in a vessel filed with remarkable rhythm makers — found the ideal balance in a performance that veered between songs that were either playful or passionate, an astute mix of boogie, blues and bluster that was clearly borne from many a roadhouse rendezvous.
Other artists were no less adept, whether manifest by the gospel sheen of the ever present McCrarys, the zydeco sprawl of Wayne Toups and company, the heartfelt country soul of Teresa James (her song “She Has a Way With Men, But She Isn’t Getting a Way with Mine” boasts the best country lyric heard in some time), or the sheer funk and frenzy of the Al Ghent Band and Mingo Fishtrap. In fact, there was nary any hint of a racial divide, given the roots appeal of the music and its make-up.
Regardless, every cruiser inevitably has his or her standouts. Sandy Beaches made that determination a challenge, although Fred Eaglesmith’s humorous monologues — lengthened to a great degree by a hoarse, disabled vocal — ensured a laugh out loud repast that sounded like an uncanny mix of Johnny Carson and David Letterman. His colorful backing quartet, including a female bassist, a female drummer, and his guitar and accordion wielding wife, Tif Ginn — who doubled as his opening act and backing singer — ably held their own, no easy assignment given Eaglesmith’s down home homilies and irascible demeanour. Nevertheless, when he was left to his own devices as the host of a hilarious homespun talk show in the upstairs Spinnaker Lounge, the music wasn’t missed at all.
Even so, the arguable star of Sandy Beaches appeared to be Paul Thorn, whose new album, #I’m Too Blessed To Be Stressed#, bears the suspicion that he’s about to become a star. Like Eaglesmith, Thorn boasts a telling sense of humor, one that is quantified by his monochromatic southern drawl and abundance of hard luck tales. “If you can pay your bills and afford to go on this cruise, then you are blessed,” he reminded the assembled legions. And indeed, being that the highpoint of that aforementioned album is the unabashedly optimistic “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” when given the added oomph of his full electric band, Thorn’s upbeat, anthemic tomes still manage to carry the day. Like the effect manifest by the entire shipboard experience overall, it’s hard not to be swept up in the emotion and enthusiasm.
Which brings us to the original premise, that being time. The music is timeless it could be argued, but more telling is the fact that the passengers who have spent their hard earned funds to immerse themselves in it are what one might describe as being of senior stature. While a good portion of those on board were likely in their 60s or 70s, the whole notion of age seems meaningless. These particular cruisers danced, boogied and partied as if they were in their 20s and 30s. Anyone who might contemplate the gradual diminishing of enthusiasm for the sounds that amplified their youth would indeed be heartened to find that grey hair, being slower of movement and less than limber is no detriment when it comes to the sheer enjoyment of a communal bond.
“These older folks appreciate the music because it speaks to the experiences they’ve lived themselves,” said a woman sitting next to us one evening, who also happened to be a psychologist. It clearly seemed to make sense.
The issue of age certainly has no restraint on dedication either. One passenger who went by the nickname “Hat,” due to her colorfully festooned headgear, allowed that she had attended SBC for 20 of its 21 years. “It doesn’t matter how many other cruises you’ve been on,” she dutifully reminded us. “If this is you first Sandy Beaches cruise, you’re still a newbie.”
Mary Phillips is, for all intents and purposes, still a relative newbie. Like the vast majority of folks on the boat, she hails from Texas. Mary’s friends convinced her to take her first Sandy Beaches cruise last year after her husband passed away. “People will tell you that this cruise is a life changing experience,” she maintains. “It almost sounds like a cliche. But I will tell you that it did change my life. I didn’t realize how depressed I was. It helped me get out of my funk. All of a sudden, I had 1,700 new best friends.”
Veteran songwriter Danny Flowers put it another way. “I’ve given up being lost in the past,” he told his audience one evening. “I’m working on being lost in the present.”
Then again, Lyle Lovett might have summed it up best. “There are moments when you think it can’t get much better than this. But when that euphoria subsides, it can be scary because you realize it’s all downhill from here.”
The Mile High City gets high on punk, pop, metal and just plain weird-ass rock ‘n’ roll. Our correspondent Dr. Hinely somehow lives to tell about it. Meanwhile, ace shutterbug Greg Kelly documented the scene of the crime through a non-rose-tinted lens.
TEXT BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS BY GREG KELLY
Returning to Denver for its 2nd year (and Toronto for its 3rd) Chicago’s long-running punk fest came this time to the Mile High city for three days worth of music (last year was two) and some bigger names. There was a bit of a snafu in the proceedings as the festival was originally supposed to take place in the same spot as last year, May’s Farm in Byers, CO (about an hour east of Denver) but the corn fried locals said no so the Riot Fest organizers had to scramble to find a venue at the last minute. As it turned out the Denver Broncos were more than amenable and allowed them to use the parking lot of Mile High Stadium (actually called Sports Authority Field at Mile High) and we were back on. No camping but the carnival-like atmosphere prevailed with plenty of rides and the like.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
Got there in time to catch THE ORWELLS, some young cats from Chicago who cranked out some purty good garage rock. I then headed over to the Byers Country Feed Stage to catch ALL, a band I had not seen since the late 80’s (when Dave Smalley was their vocalist). Tonight it was the bearded Chad Price on vocals (and the Descendents behind him) and they put in a decent set but nothing mind-blowing. No, that was saved for THE BUZZCOCKS who played a greatest hits set but really brought the fire. Well done gents. FAILURE had a small but enthusiastic crowd digging their wired n’ weird, proto metal. The generic punk (if you could call it that) of NEW FOUND GLORY had all the kids (way younger than me) doing the bounce while South Africa’s DIE ANTWOORD brought out the freaks en masse with their blend of electronic and hip hop (does that chick have any eyebrows??). I was kinda psyched for GOGOL BORDELLO and while they did bring lots of energy, the songs bored me. NOFX, playing all of Punk in Drublic, were definitely not boring, but not doing anything groundbreaking either (Leader Fat Mike said to the folks in wheelchairs in the front, “Hey, we’re not gonna play tonight until all of you stand up.” (I laughed). Then over at the May Farms Stage with the huge crowd was THE FLAMING LIPS who had a real live rainbow on stage. Another band I hadn’t seen since the 80’s (seriously) but they brought the noise righteously and on stage is leader Wayne Coyne and all 350 of his cousins. I began sleepwalking home so I missed PRIMUS (never liked that band), SLAYER (eh) and WEEZER doing the blue album, made it home on two feet though.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 20, 2014
Really wanted to get there in time to catch the DUM DUM GIRLS who went on at 3 PM but alas, was not able to make it (got into a fist fight with the light rail operator but the DDG’s they’ll be here later this month anyway). I did walk in on CLUTCH who everyone seemed to love…but me. I hated this wanky boogie rock. But hey, it was ok; I popped my earplugs in and walked over to catch a superb set from the mighty LUCERO who brought the noise most righteously. FACE TO FACE sounded pretty generic to these ears but again I did an about face to the stage directly behind it to catch San Diego’s HOT SNAKES (which includes members of Rocket from the Crypt who stole the show at last year’s Riot Fest Denver) who ground out righteous chunks of guitar mess until my ear plus were reduced to…..nothing. It was then time for THE DESCENDENTS (yup, you got it…another band I had not seen since the ‘80s… 87 to be exact). They played all of MILO GOES TO COLLEGE and a generous dose of other hits (i.e.: “Silly Girl,” “Clean Sheets,” “Get the Time” etc.). Wow……..it was the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae that I was already eating. Wanted to catch at least one song by THE USED by my ears said no…a force was dragging me away back to the Byers General Store Stage to catch SOCIAL DISTORTION who brought out the greaser bros (as always) but hey, I like Social D, they always put on a good set and tonight was no exception. I think I ever heard Mike Ness blurt out “Hinely, you forget your pomade?” in between songs. Oh man, that’s soooo Mike to say that (and gulp, I did). Headliner tonight was THE CURE who I missed but my wife and sister both assured me put on a great set (a two and a half hour one). I ever tell you that Robert Smith stole that hairstyle from me?
SUNDAY- SEPTEMBER 21, 2014
Hit it at 2 PM today (after sleeping until noon and drinking Bosco for breakfast) and caught Philly’s MENZINGERS who were real good in a pop punk sort of way (had not heard them before) and then saw BOB MOULD and company (Jon Wurster and Jason Narducy) crank out a blazing set complete with a handful of Husker Du songs (“Celebrated Summer,” “I Apologize”, etc.). I then wandered over (blindfolded) to the stage where BOUNCING SOULS were playing and while I wanted to like my New Jersey brethren it was not to be and not my cuppa tea so I had to flee. Back over to the May Farms Stage the VIOLENT FEMMES took the stage at 4:15 sharp and Gordon Gano (apparently now Denver resident), Brian Ritchie and the rest o’ the gang played all of the classic first album and then some (including a 7-piece horn section for some songs). They were a blast and I was glad they were on the Riot Fest bill this year. ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES were on a dinner time and I eschewed the corn dog for a set of punky, spunky covers and if I ever get married again (doubtful) I’ll hire them (hey, they need the work). MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA sound too much like Mahavishnu Orchestra so I blew ‘em off on principle alone (did I make the right choice?) while are 6:45 PM I staggered over to see the DROPKICK MURPHYS (the guys from Boston or something?) who raised folks spirits as high as the Green Monster at Fenway.. I can only go by what pals say of headlining sets by TV ON THE RADIO, RISE AGAINST, THE NATIONAL (yawn) and WU TANG CLAN but by all accounts no one fell asleep, got hurt or passed out.
So Riot Fest 2014 was a success. Hey, I got to do an arm-in-arm stage dive with Peyton Manning during the Descendents set and ate my first ever banana dipped in fake butterscotch (jealous?). I lost all of my clothes and got two black eyes but if Riot Fest comes back to Denver in 2015 (and if I still like music by then) I’ll be there.
PICTURED BELOW: Die Antwoord, Gogol Bordello, NOFX, Flaming Lips, Weezer, Descendents, Social Distortion, The Cure, Violent Femmes, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, Manchester Orchestra, TV On The Radio, Rise Against and The National.
Our intrepid reporter goes undercover in Nashville and reports back: the “spectacular five day run” on Sept. 17-21 made it clear that the broad-based musical genre is in very good health indeed.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
It’s the final night of the 2014 Americana Festival and Conference, and the final event of a spectacular five day run. Lucinda Williams is about to begin a last minute invitation-only performance at the newly opened City Winery in Nashville, but first, Americana Music Association Executive Director Jed Hilly walks to the microphone. Americana is now a very real, living and breathing genre that finally found true context, he declares. It’s a statement that’s obvious to all who attend, as evidenced through the music, through the bonds of fellowship, through the shared experiences that ebbed and flowed throughout the festivities. Yet, what Hilly doesn’t point out, but what is equally true, is that the term Americana may have finally outgrown its initial meaning. For what had begun as a broad patchwork of singer/songwriters with a feel for the heartland and a scrappy roots rock, alt-country sound has now found a larger audience, one that embraces artists from all over the world — from the U.K. and Europe to the far realms of the Pacific. Indeed, the very term “Americana” seems something of a misnomer now, especially considering the international evocation.
And yet, even characterizing this festival and conference as “international” seems something of an understatement. It’s like describing Nashville – wonderful, wonderful Nashville – as a bastion of great music. Well, yeah, y’all. Forget those gracious and soothing southern accents. We heard the sound-speak of Aussies, Brits, Canadians, Norwegians, French and those from near and far. Ironically, the most difficult accents in terms of interpretation were those of the cab drivers, many of who seem to hail from regions even further removed.
That universality is one reason why Americana now bears such strong purpose. On Wednesday, the opening night of the festivities, the much anticipated Annual Americana Honors and Awards Show — held at the fabled Ryman Auditorium — demonstrated how a wellspring of common emotion can run so deep. There was the heartfelt appreciation for lifetime achievers Loretta Lynn, Flaco Jimenez, Taj Mahal and Jackson Browne. There was delight in seeing the legendary Ry Cooder make his presence known as part of the all-star band guided under the musical direction of the steadfast Buddy Miller. There was joy shared with Jason Isbell, Hard Working Americans, Milk Carton Kids, and Sturgill Simpson when they won honors for up and coming accomplishment. And of course, there was the appreciation for the genuine country gentleman Jim Lauderdale who steered the entire program with his usual finesse and humility. Likewise, where else can you catch a legend like Robert Plant making an unannounced cameo, singing in the company of his former paramour Patty Griffin while maintaining such an unobtrusive demeanor? One can only imagine the mutual nods shared in that all-star backstage gathering.
Still, the Americana Festival is mainly about more unassuming encounters. Consequently, our day began with the enjoyment of some intimate performances and complementary hotdogs at the headquarters of Compass Records. It was there that we were offered the chance to enjoy music and conversation with label boss Allison Brown, the Duhks, Jim Oblon, John Cowan, and Mike Farris. It was great to see the digs belonging to one of Nashville’s most industrious record labels. the heart and soul of Nashville’s thriving music industry was brought home in a way that’s best described as up close and personal.
Later, after the awards show, the festivities began in earnest, manifest in a progression of shuttle-traveled venues which illustrate the essence of Nashville’s stellar live music scene. It was the beginning of a nightly series of difficult choices that pitted opportunity to see one rarified band or artist against another, seemingly impossible decisions that encompassed logistics, crowds, the preference of companions and a dizzying array of motivating factors. The decisions mostly proved most gratifying. For example, Wednesday night we were urged to go to the Mercy Lounge to see Del Barber, a relative unknown for us, but a rollicking performer regardless. On the other hand, some concert picks proved less favorable, as we found out when we swarmed to the adjacent Cannery Ballroom to catch Todd Snider and friends… only to find the friends but no Todd Snider. Snider, who had earlier appeared at the awards show dressed in a white undershirt sans shoes before inexplicably exiting the stage midway into his designated performance, earned the distinction of being the unofficial bad boy of the event, courtesy of his no-show and evidence of erratic behavior.
Pictured below at the awards ceremony: Jim Lauderdale, Amanda Shires, Don Was, Jason Isbell, Joe Henry, Brady Blade, Buddy Miller, Rosanne Cash, Joachim Cooder, John Leventhal, Ry Cooder, Parker Milsap, The Milk Carton Kids, the McCrary Sisters, Paul Janeway (of St. Paul & the Broken Bones) and Rhett Miller. (Photo via AmericanaMusic.org)
* * *
To its credit, the Americana Music Festival and Conference puts as much emphasis on the second half of its branding as it does on the first. Hence, there was a wide variety of seminars, panel discussions and educational opportunities that tackled subjects like marketing, airplay, management, career development, and navigating one’s way through the vast realms of cyberspace. Like many folks, I chose to sleep in most days, being that I’m a befuddled scribe whose main interest is in witnessing all the great music my mind is capable of absorbing. Consequently, the discussion I was most drawn to was a discussion of the Everly Brothers’ influence on Americana and pop music in general. The observations from a panel of experts that included Rodney Crowell were especially astute, but it was the vintage film clips depicting the Brothers in their various stages of progression that drove the point home — that point being that without the Everlys, the future progression of rock and country music might have been inextricably altered forever.
The name given the Outlaws & Gunslingers Luncheon, the first of two visits to the upstairs patio at Soulshine Pizza we’d make that Thursday, proved something of a misnomer. Hosted by Six Shooter Records and Starfish Entertainment, it was a showcase for a gathering of Canadian artists, among them NQ Arbuckle, Oh Susanna and Sean Rowe. My fondness for Canadian music was fully affirmed, and the opportunity to chat with the Arbuckle’s namesake (at least as far as its two initials are concerned) provided some terrific comic repartee. Likewise, meeting producer/songwriter Jon Tiven was also an unexpected thrill, given the man’s 40 plus years of working with such musical mainstays as the Rolling Stones, BB King and his current collaborator Bebe Buell. I inadvertently had him recite his entire resume due to some mistaken identity – his shirt said “George” – although I belatedly apologized when I found myself embarrassed by my obvious blunder. On the way out, I ran in to former Miami homeboy Robert Reynolds of the Mavericks, an encounter that offered another example of how star sightings are as frequent in Nashville as congressional quibbles are in Washington D.C.
Still, it was the stars who littered the stages that made for another great night of music. Following our return to Soulshine Pizza for the Plowboy Records Party, we meandered over to the Cannery for the electrifying Lee Ann Womack, before venturing upstairs to enjoy Amy Ray’s terrific country band and a performance by Robert Ellis, winner of numerous kudos at the awards ceremony the night before. Buddy Miller and Trigger Hippy, Joan Osborne’s impressive new jam band conglomerate with Jackie Green, attracted attention next. However, the highlight of the evening was far removed from the crowds and the chaos. The newly christened City Winery, opened mere days before, was the site for solo sets by Joe Henry and Robyn Hitchcock, both of whom held the crowd wowed and rapt throughout. The beauty of Henry’s intimate compositions was countered by Hitchcock’s off kilter psychedelia and a set of songs (“My Wife and My Dead Wife,” Madonna of the Wasps,” “Queen Elvis” and a sterling take on the Psychedelic Furs’ lovely “Ghost in You”). A welcome cameo from Grant Lee-Phillips further added to the star-like assemblage.
* * *
Friday at Americana would prove equally auspicious. The day began with the Sounds Australia Taste of Australia” luncheon, a gathering which featured not your traditional cuisine from Down Under but rather the pizza that we apparently missed at the aforementioned Soulshine Pizza parlor the day before. An outstanding array of Australian artists – Immigrant Union, Falls, Brooke Russell & the Mean Reds, the Mae Trio and the Audreys – offered short but spectacular sets of wistful Americana music done Aussie style, further affirming the fact that the physical reach of this particular genre is indeed worldwide. Hosted by the inimitable Dobe Newton, an erudite entertainer himself, the fest attracted none other than Robyn Hitchcock, who did his best to blend with the crowd and enjoy the sounds… despite some pestering by diehard fans, yours truly included. Hey, it couldn’t be helped. Whilst one hesitates to appear star-struck, it’s hard to restrain one’s self when the stars abound.
That was all the more obvious when we achieved another one of those once in a lifetime moments, the result of an invitation to go backstage at the Grand Ole’ Opry, a place of incredible iconic glory and great music all wrapped in one magnificent historical setting. Artists play short ten minute sets, while backstage guests sit in church pews and observe the performances as well as the comings and goings of musicians, back-up singers, stage hands, a radio announcer and, of course, the performers themselves. On this particular evening we were treated to an array of both stalwarts and up and comers, from old guard artists like John Conlee Jean Sheppard and Jeannie Seely to the rambling teen and pre-teen combo Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, the spectacular Steep Canyon Rangers, the omnipresent Jim Lauderdale and the artist that literally stopped the show, Mo Pitney. Pitney was the only one who appeared truly nervous, but he went down a storm, even to the point of being asked to come back for a third song, the only artist of the night to receive such kudos.
Still, more than the music, being backstage at the Opry offered the opportunity to actually find ourselves in this breeding ground for so many country music legends. It was also nice to reconnect with the aforementioned Mr. Conlee, who just happened to be one of the first country artists I had a chance to promote when I worked for the late, great ABC Records. Yes, that was a long time ago, but one can never feel too old in Nashville. By law, the gatekeepers must ask for ID in Tennessee. Supposedly, they do that to be sure no one under 21 gains entry to a club where alcohol is served. However, watching them ID the old-timers gives the impression that 60-something may be the actual minimum age for consumption. At my age, I found it a real thrill.
* * *
While it might have been enough to end the evening at the Opry, we opted to venture on, and being the intrepid music enthusiasts we are, we headed back to 3rd and Lindsey to catch the tail end of Hayes Carll’s set, followed by the old time mountain revelry of the Howlin’ Brothers and a full set by Jim Lauderdale who indeed he seems to be everywhere. with all that potential revelry in store, the joint was packed as usual, but by good fortune we ran into a couple of friends from Texas who kindly had a couple of seats in reserve. Wife Alisa opted to call it a night after that, but I ventured back to the Mercy to hear the much hyped band The Bros. Landreth who repaid my fortitude with an exemplary set that included a pair of Wings re-dos, “Let ‘Em In” and “Let Me Roll It.” Hearing such reverence immediately endeared me to the Brothers and made me an instant admirer. Nevertheless, there was one more stop to make, that being the High Watt, located in the same complex and only a few steps away. It was there that I ended my evening to the melodic strains of Truth & Salvage Company. All in all, it was a fortunate choice, but given the array of decisions that confronted us earlier in the evening, those that we passed on instilled some regret.
The array of choices facing us Saturday proved even more daunting, offering further proof that the ability to be in more than one place at once would be a most valuable asset if such a thing were possible. Alas, we did the best we could, considering our limitations. The first stop of the day brought us to Americanarama at Grimeys, an actual real record store, the sort that’s all too rare these days. It was there that we witnessed a short set by Ian McLagan, followed by a brief but enjoyable conversation with one of my great Brit Rock heroes of all time. It was, in itself, bucket list achievement if ever there was one. Even now, it’s hard not to get emotional just thinking about it. From there, it was off to the Bootleg BBQ held at another renowned record retail spot, The Groove, where an outstanding array of British bands held court in the store’s backyard. Those in attendance included Pete Molinari, Emily Barker, Danny and the Champions of the World and non-Brits Israel Nash and Austin Lucas. It was particularly gratifying to reconnect with young Mr. Lucas, who I had the pleasure of interviewing last year, and Danny George Wilson of the aforementioned Champions, with whom I’ve corresponded for the better part of the past decade. That’s the thing about the Americana Fest, the ability to actually meet those who you’ve long admired in order to forge that closer bond.
At that point, the afternoon was only half over. Our next destination was the Riverfront for the night’s big show, featuring Lone Bellow and the Avett Brothers. The setting was ideal; instead of the usual uncomfortable setting most outdoor venues have to offer, there were sloping verandas and terraced seating providing an ideal vantage point that was unhindered by those bobbing to the beat near the stage. Both bands effused a remarkable amount of energy and showmanship, but the Avetts’ perpetual motion and constant kinetic activity kept the crowd mesmerized and thoroughly enthralled. It’s no wonder those boys are rapidly riding a wave towards superstardom.
Still, the evening wasn’t finished quite yet. At the surprisingly sparsely attended 3rd and Lindsley, the Steep Canyon Rangers put on a spirited performance despite a less than packed house. From there, it was back to the High Watt for the evening’s final performance, this by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings who, as it turned out, were solely represented by Colin Linden. Still, he succeeded in representing his missing comrades admirably, and when Lucinda Williams popped onstage for a cameo appearance, Linden’s solo stature was all but assured.
* * *
Sunday brought the traditional Gospel Brunch, full of a spiritual sustenance in the form of the reborn Elizabeth Cook, the mighty Fairfield Four and the regal, rollicking McCrary Sisters. Even nonbelievers devoured their chicken and waffles with renewed fervor. The relocation to the City Winery meant no more waiting in lines or fighting for seating for what’s become one of Americana’s most popular gatherings. Later, it was off to another of Nashville’s iconic locales, the famous Bluebird Cafe where noted photographer Henry Diltz held court to discuss the stories behind some of the more famous photos that have graced so many classic album covers and now populate his Morrison Hotel Gallery, which currently claims the Bluebird as its Nashville home. Located in an otherwise unassuming strip mall, the Bluebird is surprisingly compact, but the photos — supplied by Diltz and partner Peter Blachley — reinforced the star power that’s made this esteemed venue such a venerable destination on many an artist’s road to prominence. Later, Diltz, Blachley and special guest guitarist David Mansfield entertained a packed audience with a selection of original material and selected covers. The combination of imagery and allure was breathtaking.
By the time the evening — and the festival itself — concluded with that invitation only performance by a now suddenly secular Elizabeth Cook and a famously feisty Lucinda Williams, Jed Hilly’s heartfelt sentiments seemed to be echoed by everyone there. As the event drew to a close, it was hard to escape the sense that everyone was a part of an exclusive but ever-growing community sharing a common bond and a common purpose. It will be another year before attendees reconvene, but there’s no doubt that in the interim, the cause will continue to flourish.
A highlights show of the awards evening (musical performances only – no awards) called ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2014 will air on PBS starting Nov. 22. Go HERE for more details.
Among the players in August: The Clean, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Mudhoney, Michael Hurley, Sonny & The Sunsets, Moon Duo, Angel Olsen, Mount Eerie, Endless Boogie, Reigning Sound, The Sadies, Steve Gunn, Bassholes, Hiss Golden Messenger, Disappears, Kevin Morby, Quilt, Sir Richard Bishop, Pete Swanson, William Tyler, Fountainsun, Wooden Wand, EDJ, Bitchin Bajas, Axxa/Abraxas, Container, Profligate, Dylan Golden Aycock, and Nest Egg.
By Blurt Staff
Mark your calendars for Thurs-Sat August 28-30 and book your flights to Asheville Regional Airport, indie fans: that’s when Asheville’s Harvest Records—“one of the best freakin’ indie record shops on the planet… nah, make that universe!” sez our magazine’s editor, who lived in the NC mountain burg for a decade—will be hosting the second installment of their Transfigurations music festival in order to mark their 10th anniversary. It’s the followup to their 5th anniversary bash, with Transfigurations I happening back in 2009 to many huzzahs from the music community.
More than 25 artists personally selected by Harvest’s owners Mark Capon and Matt Schnable will be performing that weekend at venues in both Asheville and nearby Marshall, and if the notion of catching Mudhoney, The Clean, Lee Fields, Reigning Sound and Angel Olsen over the course of a few days floats your boat, you’re going to be embarking upon a dream cruise come August 28. See the full list below.
Capon and Schnable offered the following statement: “In all honesty, if we look back on our earliest hopes, dreams and visions of what Harvest Records could become, it would mirror what actually ended up happening. Since our college days together, the idea was consistent: Open a record shop, yes, of course . . . but don’t let it stop there. Create a space dedicated to the discovery of music, the exchange of ideas, and a place for broader discussions about community. Book shows for artists that normally wouldn’t come to town; host art on our walls from local artists who haven’t shown much before; start a record label and release recordings of sounds that may have not otherwise been produced physically. And it all happened.” –
The Thursday and Friday concerts for Transfigurations II will be held at the Grey Eagle and Mothlight in Asheville, while Saturday’s will be held at Blannahassett Island in Marshall, NC. A limited amount of weekend passes include a $20 gift certificate to Harvest Records, a limited Transfigurations II screen-printed poster and a weekend screen-printed Harvest canvas bag filled with free goodies.
TRANSFIGURATIONS II LINEUP:
Lee Fields & The Expressions
Sonny & The Sunsets
Hiss Golden Messenger
Sir Richard Bishop
Fountainsun (Daniel Higgs + Fumie Ishii)
EDJ (Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats)
Dylan Golden Aycock
September 25-28 is the date; Memphis, TN, is the place; and whether you’re into VOM (!) (techinically, the Son Of…), Paul Collins’ Beat, Protomartyr, Gizmos, Obnox or… the mighty Grifters, this bud’s for you, bub.
By Blurt Staff
We won’t even pretend to editorialize. Just start scrolling and you’ll see why. Really, is there any other place you need to be on 9/25 than Memphis? Full schedule and additions to be announced soon. First off, the newest additions to Gonerfest 11:
Weather Warlock (New Orleans, LA)
Warm Soda (Oakland, CA)
Constant Mongrel (Melbourne, Australia)
Connections (Columbus, OH)
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding (Footscray, Australia)
De Hoje Haele (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Gooch Palms (Newcastle, Australia)
Gimp Teeth (Memphis, TN)
Nathan Roche (Sydney, Australia)
The Stevens (Melbourne, Australia)
Wild Emotions (Jackson, MS)
Son of VOM (Memphis, TN)
DJs Saint Sarah & Giorgio Murderer (New Orleans, LA)
DJ Total Punk (Orlando, FL)
Gonerfest 11 Presents: Anyway, Anyhow
422N. Cleveland @ Crosstown Arts
September 24th-28th, 2014
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 24th
Previously Announced Bands:
Len Bright Combo (NY/England)
The Grifters (Memphis, TN)
The Gizmos – original ’76/77 lineup (Bloomington, IN)
The Rebel (Hertfordshire, England)
Ausmuteants (Geelong, Australia)
So Cow (Galway, Ireland)
Radioactivity (Austin, TX)
Angie (Sydney, Australia)
Terry & Louie (Members of Exploding Hearts) (Portland, OR/New Orleans, LA)
Spray Paint (Austin, TX)
Sick Thoughts (Baltimore, MD)
NOTS (Memphis, TN)
Cool Runnings (Auckland, New Zealand)
Deaf Wish (Melbourne, Australia)
Life Stinks (San Francisco, CA)
Obnox (Columbus, OH)
Or, as Burger puts it, “They’re Coming Right Out Of The Gate With A Lineup To Set The Fields Aflame. Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer Ronnie Spector Doing Ronettes Originals! Milk ‘N’ Cookies And The Gizmos Performing Legendary Pop Stompers! Thee Oh Sees, Off! & Reigning Sound Sending You To The Orgasmtran! And Future Legends Shannon & The Clams, Nobunny And The Muffs Guaranteed To Tickle You Testee!”
By Uncle Blurt
Glom that list of bands at the top of the page – your dear ol’ Uncle fairly weeps with joy at the thought of possibly seeing girl-group legendess Ronnie Spector, not to mention two of my faves from the pre-punk era, Milk ‘N’ Cookies and The Gizmos (both of whom were the subject of many the written appreciation from my battered Smith-Corona back in my ‘70s fanzine days). It all happens next weekend, July 5 and 6, at the Mosswood Park in Oakland.
I mean, who would wanna miss the Reigning Sound, Thee Oh Sees, Nobunny or the Phantom Surfers, either, among the host of 2014-era veterans, either? Loads of up and comers as well.
You can get plenty of details right here, at the Burger site, and meanwhile, here’s the teaser video trailer if you haven’t spotted it already on the interwebs.
Unidentified man, reportedly driving impaired, is arrested, to be charged with two murders and 23 aggravated assaults.
By Blurt Staff
UPDATE: Spin is reporting that the driver of the car has now been identified by police as Rashad Owens and that a “fund has also been set up to help people affected by the event. Visit sxswcares.com for more information.”
In the wake of the tragic deaths and multiple injuries that occurred at about 12:30 a.m. Austin time this morning (March 13) as a result of a drunk driver attempting to evade police by speeding his vehicle the wrong day on 9th street, past street barricades and into a crowd near the Mohawk venue, the SXSW organizers have posted an official response:
The statement reads, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the tragic accident that took place last night here in Austin. We appreciate and commend the first responders, as well as the city agencies who so quickly sprung into action. We will be making schedule and venue changes for programming in the surrounding area of last night’s events. All other programming will continue as previously scheduled. Please watch sxsw.com and twitter.com/sxsw for updates throughout the day.”
Additionally, SXSW Managing Director Roland Swenson posted his own statement: “The SXSW staff is stunned and deeply moved by the events of last night. Dozens of us were on the scene when the incident occurred and we worked closely with APD to create a perimeter around the area, turning back all the visitors spilling out of the clubs who headed north on Red River Street. To avoid confusion we plan to carry on with our scheduled daytime events at the Austin Convention Center in order to serve our tens of thousands of participants during this tragic time. All of the SXSW staff and volunteers reported for their regular duties this morning and will continue working today on the event.
“We are contacting all of the venues to find out if they have made any decisions about their operations that might impact our visitors. Despite all of our preparations for dealing with a major incident during SXSW, nothing could really prepare us for how this feels. As much as we would like to just go home and spend time absorbing the shock of this horrific event, we feel our best use is to continue to operate today. One of the fatalities was a SXSW registrant, a gentleman from the Netherlands. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the families of the fatalities.”
The attendee referenced in Swenson’s statement has been identified as 35-year old Steven Craenmehr, creative director of the agency Massive Music, according to SPIN . The other fatality was a woman on a moped, and the man riding with her is reportedly in critical condition; 22 others were injured. During the incident the drunk driver hit Craenmehr’s bicycle, the moped, a van and a taxi, eventually stopping and jumping out of his car to run before being Tasered and captured by police.