Dates: March 3, 2020
Location: Lost Lake Lounge, Denver CO
By Tim Hinely
You know the story by now, when Ben Cook (aka thee young guv) isn’t making music with his main concern, as guitarist in Canadian punk band Fucked Up, he’s locking himself away in his bedroom and creating golden pop nuggets under the name of Young Guv. If you dig the sparkling sounds of bands like Teenage Fanclub, Velvet Crush and Big Star then this will be in your wheelhouse.
With Fucked up on hiatus Cook and his pals decided to take their sideshow onto the highways and biways and wow fans in each and every city in the United States.
…and wow ‘em they did.
The 30 or so people in attendance at the Lost Lake Lounge were treated to a very short set (maybe 25-30 minute), but the band might as well have been playing the Pepsi Center they way they exploded on stage.
Cook, in a trench coat and sunglasses (for some reason reminding me of Michael J Fox) led the charge and nailed a handful of songs most off last year’s I and II.
I know for sure from said record we heard “Roll With Me” and “High on my Mind” and a song I think he announced as “Ready for Love” (though maybe he said “Luv Always”).
The band rocked most prodigiously and if I’d only seen the guitarist on the left I might have thought I was seeing Sloan (same glasses as one of the Sloan guys) and it was fill-in bassist, Jacob, first gig and I’d say he did an exceptional job.
How did it all end? With Cook walking off stage and grabbing a whole chicken that was in a plastic container (the kind you see under hot lamps in supermarkets) and threw it out into the crowd and called it a night.
This band knows how to put on a show! Come back soon, please.
Dates: February 24, 2010
Location: Center Stage, Atlanta GA
Text & Photos by John Boydston
It was a cold, and very wet February Monday night, but that didn’t stop Soul Asylum fans from turning out, and Dave Pirner and the band from Minneapolis rewarded.
Center Stage is one of my fave venues in Atlanta, not a bad seat, cozy even and SA warmed things right up with a generous set list including “Runaway Train” and “Black Gold” from 1992’s breakout triple-platinum LP “Grave Dancers Union.” Encore included a surprise cover of Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” and how cool is that? Better yet is drummer Michael Bland – who was behind the kit with Prince during the The New Power Generation era of ’95-’97 and recording and playing live with the cat for seven years. Winston Roye on bass, on Ryan Smith on lead guitar for several years now, who joins Dave doing apt covers for the cities they hit – check ‘em out day of show on the band’s Facebook page.
New LP “Hurry up and Wait” out April 17. And looks like they are touring the world and elsewhere for much of 2020 so as an ex-anchorman I once worked with said: Don’t miss ‘em if you can.
The crowd was also ready for openers from Chicago, Local H, a reason to get there early.
John Boydston loves it when people follow him on Instagram for some odd reason: @Johnboydstonphoto
Dates: March 7, 2020
Location: Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA
Text & Photos by John Boydston
Time keeps on moving into the future because, like, where else would it go? That’s kind of been the philosophy of UK band Wire – to keep moving forward and avoid the ruts. And the fans keep on moving right with ‘em.
Wire played an amazing show at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse in early March. They kept the songs short, and the chatter to a bare minimum so I will do the same. Suffice it to say the packed house was happy with the show – as happy as one gets hearing post-punk punk and anti-pop pop from their favorite veteran UK indie rock legends.
Touring with all but one original member – you can probably guess the new guy from the photos. Wire is Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey, and Matthew Simms. I personally don’t go way back with this band as a fan – but the show was a knockout and I hope to go way forward with them into the future. Formed in 1976, Wire is touring behind a brand-new LP called Mind Hive, hailed by some as a high-point in the bands career. Released on the band’s own Pink Flag label.
Check out ongoing tour dates and all things Wire here: http://www.pinkflag.com/news.php
Follow: @johnboydstonphoto on Instagram. Or jobo.smugmug.com for a bigger look-see. Cheers!
Dates: January 20, 2020
Location: Gothic Theatre, Denver CO
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY
Man I think the Drive-by Truckers really like Denver. This show at the nearby Gothic Theatre in Englewood was the first of a 2-night stand and I know Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have both done recent solo tours (Cooley I think has done a few).
To be honest it had been nearly a decade since I last saw Athens, GA’s finest, I believe it was on a tour with the Hold Steady at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon. I remember that night a lot of alcohol being consumed (Not by me).
The band seemed in great spirits this night in the not-quite-sold-out-but-close venue. There were definitely some D.B.T diehards including the girl behind me who was hootin’ and hollerin’ the whole time until, while I was taking my sweatshirt off, I accidentally snapped my hand and knocked her drink all over here (thankfully she was cool about it).
The band has a new record coming out in about a month The Unraveling which is like their millionth one (counting proper studio records, live albums, compilations, etc.). Ok, it’s actually their 12th studio record (but who’s counting?) and the band has been on a truly consistent roll for ages.
They opened with “Birthday Boy” (from The Big To-Do) but then jumping both “The Righteous Path” and “A Ghost to the Most’ (two of my favorites off of the great Brighter Than Creations Dark LP from 2008….later in the set they also played “3 Dimes Down’ and “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife” from the same record). We heard a few new ones including “Armageddon’s Back in Town” and “Thoughts and Prayers.”
From English Oceans we heard stoked versions of “Shit Shots Count” and “Made Up English Oceans.” Early in the set they played the great “Tornadoes” (off of The Dirty South) and “When the Pin Hits the Shell’ (from Decoration Day) so the band really dug deep on this night for their fans.
Near the end of the set we heard covers of The Ramones (“The KKK Took My Baby Away”) and Alice Cooper (“I’m Eighteen”) and ended it all with a truly inspired version of “Grand Canyon.’
I’d say they’re welcome back anytime but something tells me they’ve got their next gigs here already booked.
Our gal on the ground in L.A. does indeed believe in magic, and she’s got the images from this star-studded benefit for the Autism Think Tank to prove it. Initial details we posted HERE, so check out her photos and observations. Exclusive photos (pictured above: original Spoonful members John Sebastian and Steve Boone) and videos follow the text.
Text & photos By Susan Moll
In conjunction with the Autism Think Tank and the Autism Healthcare Collaborative, the Los Angeles-based Wild Honey Foundation stages yearly tribute concerts at the historic Alex Theatre to raise funding for autism research, education and treatment. Last year’s Wild Honey benefit paid homage to The Kinks Are the Village Preservation Society, and The Band and Buffalo Springfield have also been celebrated in the past. (Follow the above links to our coverage.)
This year’s occasion was dedicated to the Lovin’ Spoonful, beloved sunshine boys of the ‘60s. Their folk-pop sound, admired by Lennon, McCartney and the brothers Davies, was a study in contrast to the pandemonium of the mid- to-late 1960s. As the Spoonful daydreamed, Watts rioted; as they believed in magic, Vietnam War protestors self-immolated. With songs redolent of sunshine and flowers, rain on roofs and summers in the city, the Spoonful served feel-good music to a country and a world desperate for something, anything, to feel good about.
It’s rare that a band shows up to play at its own tribute, and this year’s Wild Honey gathering marked the first time that original members John Sebastian, Steve Boone and Joe Butler appeared onstage together since their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two decades ago.
They maintain it wasn’t an official reunion – an impossibility without Zal Yanovsky, who passed away in 2002 — but a casual regrouping of the Nashville cats. A slideshow of rare images of the band snapped by renowned photographer Henry Diltz preceded the happenings, which lasted for nearly four hours. No one in the Spoonful or the vocalists and instrumentalists of the Wild Honey Orchestra, the collective that backed each of the guest performers, lacked in stamina at any point of the 36-song lollapalooza of a setlist. Sebastian, Boone and Butler radiated palpable delight in their togetherness.
Sebastian happily regaled the audience with vignettes from throughout the Spoonful’s career, each one more entertaining than the last. In the ‘70s, he lamented that his musical style was no longer in vogue until the Sweathogs barged in. Enter “Welcome Back,” one of many enthusiastic sing-alongs … Sebastian detailed the origins of “Summer in the City,” penned by his brother, Mark, who stood in for Yanofsky … Dave Alvin, who paired with Sebastian for “Night Owl Blues,” first encountered the Spoonful at age nine, when they appeared at the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena with Herman’s Hermits. Not only was it the first concert of his life, it was the first time he ever saw anyone play an electric harmonica … Cindy Lee Berryhill gave out “Money” with banjoists Rob Bonfiglio, Jordan Katz and Jason Berk and percussionist Jim Laspesa (Love and Mercy) clacking away on a vintage typewriter… Bonfiglio and better half Carnie Wilson dueted “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” the stuff of young boys’ fantasies. So many girls, so little time… Micky Dolenz turned in a sweet rendition of “Daydream” and Claudia Lennear of 20 Feet from Stardom fame lent the evening a soulful touch with “You Baby,” a Ronettes 7-inch as well as a Spoonful hit … Carla Olson, whose next album, Have Harmony Will Travel 2, comes out March 20, was full of fire on “Stories We Could Tell” and “4 Eyes,” performed with Sebastian and Peter Case, respectively. … Case, meanwhile, broke open “Blues in the Bottle” and Steve Stanley stepped away from his duties at the head of the Now Sounds reissue label to contemplate a “Younger Girl” … Marshall Crenshaw channeled hums of the Spoonful with “Rain on the Roof” backed by pedal steel player Dave Pearlman, who’s accompanied the likes of Dan Fogelberg, Bobby Womack and Phil Everly on tour … Leave it to Mark Eitzel to find a happy band’s saddest song — “Didn’t Want to Have to Do It”– which he sang with passion and compassion to spare … Durham-based singer/songwriter Skylar Gudasz , who has accompanied Big Star on its Third traveling concert series , sang “You’re a Big Boy Now.” (Her next album, Cinema, arrives April 17.)
The evening concluded with the entire ensemble gathered onstage for the finale, “Do You Believe in Magic?” It’s guaranteed that everyone did.
Summer (n The City: Sebastian & Wild Honey Orchestra
Daydream: Mickey Dolenz
4 Eyes: Peter Case & Carla Olson
Susan Cowsill: You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice
Group Encore: Do You Believe In Magic?
Dates: February 15, 2020
Location: Swallow Hill, Denver CO
By Tim Hinely
Somehow, someway in all my years of show going I had never seen Lloyd Cole before. I’m not sure how that happened but I was ready to rectify that at Denver’s Daniels Hall (Swallow Hill).
It was also my first time to Swallow Hill after 8 years of living in Denver. It’s sort of a collective which, in addition to gigs they also offer classes and lectures, etc. A great piece of the Denver music community and the sprawling house-like room has several other rooms as well as plenty of nook and crannies (I believe another musician was playing in some other room on this night). A nice place indeed.
Cole played this very venue a year or so ago and I found out about it too close to the date and wasn’t able to make it, but I wasn’t going to miss this one (not even with the New Pornographers playing down the street at the Gothic).
Lloyd is partially touring for his album released last year (Guesswork) though for this tour, playing solo with a plugged n acoustic guitar, he was playing a career-spanning set.
First words out of his mouth were “Let’s get one thing straight, none of you are getting any younger either.” And so that set off a wonderful evening of music and jokes….yes, Cole is hilarious in that droll, British way.
The place was packed, the crowd was ready and Cole proceeded to play two sets of some of the best jangle pop known to man. With his old band, The Commotions and from his long regarded solo career, he has a deep catalog and visited many parts of it. Opening with “Past Imperfect” and then onto “Kids Today” (off of 2017’s Standards) and then on to classic with the Commotions, “Rattlesnakes.” Also from the Commotions catalog we heard “My Bag” and “Mainstream” later in the street.
He took a short break and came out and for set two. He opened with another classic “Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?” (the song that Scottish band Camera Obscura had the perfect response to) and later in the set we heard another old crowd pleaser in “Charlotte Street.” Cole didn’t forsake his newer stuff though, on the contrary, we heard lovely new gems like “Violins,” “Night Sweats” and “The Afterlife” (all three off of 2019’s Guesswork).
He nailed the LC & the Commotions trifecta at the end with “Hey Rusty,” “Perfect Skin” and Lost Weekend” came out for a few encores (including the great “Forest Fire”) and called it a night.
In addition to his well-crafted songs and his still-very-strong voice Cole kept the audience laughing for most of the night with his dry sense of humor (I burst out laughing a few times..including the one about busting on the Red Sox for being more worried about the Yankees than they are their own team….and he can do that as he has been a Massachusetts resident for several years) so if he ever hangs up the guitar he’s got a good shot at comedy clubs.
Dates: February 1, 2020
Location: The Fillmore, Philadelphia PA
Veteran jammers rockin’ the Fillmore, natch. (Photo from the band’s Facebook page.)
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Propelled by little more than strong word of mouth and a decade-and-a-half worth of stunningly impressive albums, The Wood Brothers were able to pack Philly’s 2,500 capacity Filmore on a recent Saturday night for an enthusiastic show that was as close as many will come to a religious experience.
The Fillmore Philadelphia is more than twice the size of the Union Transfer, where the band played less than two years ago. The age-agnostic crowd features everyone from aging punk rockers to jam band fans, all there to hear an hour-and-a-half of perfectly-crafted Americana, mixed with folk and blues. The set kicked off with “Alabaster,” the first track of the band’s latest effort, Kingdom In My Mind.
There were a handful of other new songs trotted out that night, like ‘Little Bit Sweet” – already an audience favorite, despite coming out just weeks before. But for the most part, the band churned through an almost greatest hits of fan favorites, like “Postcards From Hell” and “I Got Loaded,” both met with near rapturous response. The also tossed in a remarkable cover of the traditional “Little Liza Jane”.
The trio, comprising brothers Chris and Oliver Wood, along with drummer/multi-instrumentalist Jano Rox, played a blistering set that didn’t let up until the last chord rang out as the band left the stage. It seems odd that a group that gets seemingly little airplay and is name checked only by other music fans has managed to generate such a massive national following. But after a show like this one, it’s easy to see why that following continues to grow year after year.
Dates: January 17, 2020
Location: World Café, Philadelphia PA
By John B. Moore
Springsteen’s got nothing on David Lowery… well, at the very least, Lowery would have no problems keeping up with Bruce’s legendary reputation for on stage stamina.
Fronting two bands on their recent winter tour, Lowery played two complete sets to a full capacity crowd at Philadelphia World Café Live recently, first playing a career-spanning set from Camper Van Beethoven and then taking the stage with an almost entirely different line up about 20 minutes later for an even more raucous set playing songs from his post-CVB band Cracker.
What’s remarkable, is that the both shows were impressive enough to capture fans of both bands, with the audience hitting peak excitement just a few songs into CVB’s act and keeping that enthusiasm up until the final song in Cracker’s set. It helps, that both bands stuck to fan favorites, with Lowery and his first group starting off the night with the cult “hit” “Take the Skinheads Bowling.”
Lowery self-effacing as ever apologetically announced every guitar solo with a sheepish “Here’s another guitar solo” before ripping out fantastic guitar god-level licks. The CVB set included a solid Status Quo cover (“Picture of Matchstick Men”), as well as an impressive instrumental, “S.P 37957 Medley” that included Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir” segueing into “Hava Naglia”.
After a surprisingly brief break, Cracker guitarist Johnny Hickman played an acoustic song off his new album and then Lowery and his drummer came back on stage, joined by the rest of the members of Cracker for an equally impressive run through of more than a dozen songs. The set began with a great version of Jerry Garcia’s “loser” that thankfully did not sound like a Garcia song and immediately went into the stellar “King of Bakersfield,” off of Cracker’s last album.
As Cracker was the more well known of Lowery’s two bands and as a result had more radio “hits,” they naturally had more crowd singalongs that night, including “Teen Angst (What The World Needs),” “Low” and a truly remarkable version of “I Want Everything”. Through it all, Lowery showed remarkable endurance throughout the night, bringing joy to a crammed room full of aging cynical Gen Xers.
Next weekend, January 17 & 18, it’s gonna be an Athens-Georgia sonic love fest, featuring the Tractor gang (above, wayyyyy back in the day) plus OH-OK and Magnapop. If those names don’t resonate with ya, you have clearly found the wrong music website.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON
There hasn’t been much good news ushering in 2020, far from it. But in the spirit of finding joy where it resides – here’s something fab for Love Tractor fans. The new year is bringing not only just better sounding Love Tractor recordings, but new music too. And to celebrate, the band is playing two shows – Friday Jan 17th at the 40-Watt Club in Athens with OH-OK opening, and Saturday January 18th in Atlanta with Magnapop opening that show.
I reached out to Love Tractor guitarists Mark Cline and Mike Richmond to preview the shows and releases – not to mention to add some crucial, and resonant, context to this beloved Georgia outfit’s colorful legacy.
Love Tractor is back from a long breather (pictured above is guitarist Mark Cline) doing live shows, restoring their back catalogue for new vinyl and digital re-release. And if that’s not enough for fans, get ready for new music from the band as early as this spring. (Below: guitarist Mike Richmond)
BLURT: Tell me about the upcoming re-issue of the first Love Tractor LP, originally released in 1982:
Mark Cline: We just finished reconstructing the album as the ¼” masters were a mess. Tracks were missing or corrupted so it forced us to go back to the 2-inch 16-track masters and remix the entire album. The record sounds great. Dave Barbe and Bill Berry chaperoned the remixing process, and Jeff Calder (from the Swimming Pool Q’s) was key in locating the tapes and having them digitized.
We tried our hardest to remain true to the original Bruce Baxter mixes, but the 1st remixed record has a lot more power to it. Someone in the studio, perhaps Bill (Berry) said when listening back to the remix that “it’s like cotton has been taken out of my ears.”
Mike Richmond: Mark, Army (Armistead Wellford, pictured below), and I were joined by Doug Stanley, Kevin Dunn, Bill Berry, and Mike Mills in the studio for this. It came out really nice and we were able to make slight improvements while staying true to the original. I think the plan is to re-issue record one in April of 2020 and then follow up with Around the Bend, Til The Cows Come Home EP, This Ain’t No Outerspace Ship, Themes From Venus, and The Sky at Night. We also have a recording of new material in the works.
Mark Cline: We did three additional enhanced mixes for Record Store Day. We have new material which we have started recording so those songs will be coming out as digital singles in-between the rereleases. At least that is the plan as of today, might change tomorrow.
Part of the beauty of Love Tractor music is how melodic and simple it sounds – but I know it is very complex from a player’s point of view. How do you get ready for these live shows, since you aren’t doing many per year at this point?
Mike Richmond: Love Tractor songs are deceptively difficult to play. I have to really stay on top of it by rehearsing several times a week. We live in different states (Georgia, Virginia, New York) so it is not easy for us to rehearse or perform. We all have to do this on our own and then a few days before we perform, we get together as a whole unit and go through the songs.
Mark Cline: For me, more than the other guys, when performing, I’m shocked at the level of precision the songs require and how many of my parts are quite difficult to play.
So, the music is dense, and you’ve added players for live shows – tell me about that.
Mark Cline: The auxiliary players in some cases are for large shows, so we can perform the albums as they were recorded. Love Tractor has been since 1986 a 5 piece band, Doug Stanley from The Glands was officially inducted into the band in the ’90’s, Doug is a brilliant musician, he is absolutely on the same wave-length as me, Mike and Army and in my opinion he really shaped the sound of The Sky at Night. Joe Rowe is an amazing drummer (also PRS’ new beat man). For the really big shows, if they are available, we like to add the Late B P Helium (Elephant Six Collective) and Jay Gonzalez (Drive by Truckers) and Kevin Dunn from the great seminal Atlanta band The Fans— it fills out the sound. The decision is artistic.
Right now, we are playing as a five piece, but one never knows who will be joining us on stage. (Ed. note, if you want to catch original Love Tractor drummer Bill Berry with the band, he’s prone to get up on stage at the Athens shows – visual evidence in below 2017 photo, below, where he’s pictured on the left – but you never know.)
Mike Richmond: Initially we had everyone that played in the WE LOVE TRACTOR tribute band. Jay Gonzalez (Drive by Truckers), Bryan Poole (Of Montreal), Doug Stanley (Glands), Joe Rowe (Glands), and then we added our long-time friends Kevin Dunn (The Fans), and Bill Berry (REM). It was great playing with all those guys on-stage. Nowadays the performing band is Army Wellford, Mark Cline, myself, Doug Stanley, Joe Rowe on drums. I have nothing but fondness for all the people that have played with Love Tractor.
What surprises you most about playing these songs live again?
Mike Richmond: It is pleasantly surprising that I never get tired of these songs. That don’t seem dated to me but evergreen.
Mark Cline: How fresh and timeless they sound – in some cases I realize what influenced a particular song (“Paint Your Face” and “Stand in a Corner” — in my opinion, which was influenced by Neu!).
What can fans expect from these two upcoming shows in Athens and Atlanta?
Mark Cline: We have been attempting to perform the albums in chronological order. Thus, the first few shows were exclusively our first album, then we added material from the second album and the EP. These next two shows we will begin performing a few songs from This Ain’t No Outerspace Ship, Themes From Venus and The Sky at Night.
I’ve heard of people flying in from different parts to catch a show, and for my part, I met a fan who drove from New Jersey. Any surprise there for the band about fan loyalty?
Mike Richmond: I was almost entirely unaware of what fans would think of us now or if we would even have any fans at all. So the response has been great. With the rise of social media, I get a sense that people are very receptive to the idea of seeing LT live, some of whom were too young to see us in the ’80s. It could literally feed the band in the sense that we could release new material or tour. That almost depends solely on fan support.
Mark Cline: The response has been great! We really want to give a great performance, it is also interesting for us as artists to revisit certain songs. Now of course they want us to tour, but we don’t have an “organization” (managers, agents, office) in place to really make touring happen. So right now, we are limited to where and when we can play.
All the new music and reissues will have a new home – Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records or HHBTM. Check out its home and impressive roster here: https://www.hhbtm.com/bands/
So, fans – now’s your chance with two shows coming up:
1) Friday January 17th, 2020 Love Tractor, at the 40Watt Club in Athens, GA. It’s a co-bill with OH-OK playing first, featuring original members Lynda Stipe and Linda Hopper, a band who got their big break when R.E.M., the band her brother happened to be lead singer for, needed an opening band in a pinch. (One of those Wiki factoids so good I don’t care if it’s true.) Playing with a full band tonight so the rock starts early.
2) Next show is the next night in Atlanta, at The Vista Room, Saturday January 18th, 2020, with co-billed Magnapop opening. Also featuring Linda Hopper on vocals, there’s Ruthie Morris on guitar, Shannon Mulvaney bass, and David McNair on drums. Magnapop doesn’t fuck around so get there early, don’t miss ‘em – and you are welcome!
Ye Olde Editor Side Note: a legendary party – statutory restrictions prevent me from detailed disclosure – in Chapel Hill that had brought R.E.M. and a bunch of their pals to the NC college town on the group’s initial non-Georgia mini-tour. That entourage included the lovely Ms. Hopper, who confided to aforementioned editor that she had a band percolating herself. That prediction came true. They were a delightful combo. She’s pictured more recently below in John Boydston’s photos of Magnapop from not all that long ago.