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.
Dates: November 7-10, 2019
Location: Various Venues, Austin TX
The quintessential Lone Star State gathering of the tribes, natch, at multiple venues over the course of November 7 thru 10. (Note: If you don’t recognize any given artist, hover mouse over a photo in order to read which band you are seeing.)
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON
We know that Austin, Texas, is the music mecca, especially when it comes to festivals. Levitation takes it up a notch by bringing in the best in Underground music and artists from around the known universe. For four nights every year it goes into a hyper-space-warp frenzy bringing some of the best and brightest happening Psych, Metal, and Dream Pop music under one tent, or several clubs anyway. It’s like a slice of SXSW but no filler, not that much walking, and you can actually get into venues.
Levitation happens in several venues with Stubb’s (which doubles as a fab BBQ joint) as the focal point featuring the closest things you get to headliners at this 4-day party. Blurt Contributor John Boydston tried to cover as much ground as possible getting to all the acts, but realized early on it was a 4-person job, so this is what he got, some of the best, but of course, by no means all of it.
Thursday at Stubb’s the lineup was Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and ready for her David Lynch Twin-Peaks soundtrack closeup, Angel Olsen. All performers and crowd were braving a chilly temperature drop but soldiered on and got lost in the electric dreamscapes created by all of the above. I caught a few bands down the street at Mohawk which was reveling in the glory of Texas metal warriors Creeping Death (Denton) and Power Trip (Dallas) among others.
Friday night Stubb’s was alive with the magical psych-rock of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips. Not sure if Rev is short for revelry or revelation but both work for me after hearing this power house psych band lay it down. Then the Flaming Lips killed the crowd with kindness, love, and confetti. Just wow – and master Lip Wayne Coyne said it all with this blow-up ballon spelling it out for us.
But wait, Friday was just starting after that show – I hauled my wagon of photo gear into other venues and heard one dynamite band after another any one of which you can see in Austin at these venues, but not likely on the same night, same bill. I caught part of Stonefield’s power set, featuring the 4 psych rock sisters from an area of rural Australia known as Macedon Ranges. Then over to The Barracuda and for the rest of the night heard in rapid succession Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Elephant Stone (from Toronto and truly an East meets West rock experience), Death Valley Girls (always fantastic), Crocodiles (new to me but rocked like no band I’ve seen in years – must hear more), and Broncho ended this amazing night doing what they do but better, tighter, and more up than I’ve ever heard ‘em).
Saturday started mid-afternoon with Habibi – (NYC) bringing their internationally-inspired surfy 60’s girl pop to The Empire. Then White Fence from SF. Led by Tim Presley, a brilliant and underrated writer-singer-guitar picker who I can’t pin down exactly but think Ray Davies meets Piper at The Gates of Dawn. Or The Kinks if Syd Barret was Dave Davies older bro. And caught The Allah-Las who are currently touring, and have managed to seriously beef-up their stage sound without changing anything you may already love about this band, which is remarkable.
Not content with this fun, headed to Stubb’s Saturday night see openers and Waco psych kids Holy Wave, Levitation Festival curators and Austin’s own The Black Angels, who for my money have never sounded more up and alive in their not funhouse mirror takes on life. A really dynamic and electrifying show for this band – and they would have carried the night had John Cale and his band not come out and taken it back. Not sure what else you can say about Cale and his rock pedigree. Being a founding member of The Velvet Underground would suffice but his 50-year career since is equally impressive. Wasn’t expecting this 77-year old rock icon to come out and slay but he and his crack band did just that. Thanks for having him, and me Levitation. If you’ve outgrown SXSW and ACL is too crowded, save some dates on the calendar for this one – Fall 2020.