Category Archives: Photo Gallery

KALAMASHOEGAZER FESTIVAL 11/10/18, Kalamazoo, MI

The eclectic, eccentric multi-band event was held, appropriately enough, at Bell’s Eccentric Café. Pictured above: Springhouse.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY

I had never been to Kalamazoo before. Heck, I had never been to Michigan before but a one-day music festival with 8 bands seemed as good as any to make the flight and visit the Wolverine State (or whatever the heck it is). April and her small group of dedicated music fans (April Zimont is/was in the fab band Glowfriends and now the same folks have a new band called Tambourina which played on this very night) have been putting the festival on since 2006 and do a damn good job of running it. It ran like clockwork and everyone had a good time (no frowns) and at tix at $15 it was a steal (they could/should have charged twice that much).

My old friends Tears Run Rings were on the bill, as was Jack Rabid’s NYC band Springhouse (you know Jack from his long-running, legendary mag The Big Takeover) so yeah, I pretty much had to go.

The weather was cold and snowy, but Bell’s Eccentric Café was warm, cozy and inviting and seemed a popular place for both locals and folks like me coming in to see the festival. The bands played in a nice sized room that has touring bands as well (Anna Burch was playing the next night). There was also a bar in the back, food service (tasty grub!) and they even had a small balcony upstairs (where I caught part of the show from).

Up first was Milwaukee’s Brief Candles (above) who I’d heard some tunes before but not a lot and they were perfect openers, getting the crowd lubed up.  They’ve been around for a looong time and have a classic shoegaze sound (big hooks). Check out their Bandcamp page sometime.

Seashine took the stage next and they were a quartet from St. Louis (Demi, Paul, Seth and Kate) with a real positively dreamy sound that was real easy to like. I’m gonna look for some of their stuff (only some tunes on Soundcloud from what I’ve seen).

Kalamazoo’s own Tambourina was up next and kicked the tempo up a bit while vocalist April bounced all over the stage (not sure where she gets her energy from). I really enjoyed their soaring set that really had the crowd bouncing.

Though I’ve been a fan of Tears Run Rings for ages I had never seen them play live and they did not disappoint. Playing a few cuts off their new EP (Somewhere) as well as a healthy dose of tunes from their entire catalog. They really had the crowd swaying and hypnotized.

Sacramento’s Soft Science (Test Pattern Records) had a few equipment problems but once those got sorted out (Katie’s vocals were hard to hear at the beginning) that didn’t stop them from putting on a terrific set, mostly of cuts off their righteous, recently-released LP,  Maps. Well worth your time.

Chicago’s Airiel, a trio with a handful of records out on Shelflife (and a bevy of fx pedals) brought in a bit of a heavier sound and had the crowd eating out of their hand.

Springhouse came armed with some merch and a seriously good set. Now a quartet with the addition of Dave Burokas on 2nd guitar (Dave was the editor of old killer NJ zine Sporadic Droolings….fun fact: he gave DAGGER my first ever review!). We heard “Eskimo,” “Land Falls” and plenty more old faves and drummer  Jack Rabid has not lost a step on his drum kit).

Texas trio Ringo Deathstarr showed up a little later but the packed house were ready and they did not disappoint either.  I don’t believe they’ve released a record since 2015’s Pure Mood, but they dug deep into their grab bag of songs and killed it. Adding some fun and humor whilst chatting with the crowd and totally delivering until the wee hours.

***

It all ended about 1:00 AM and I had an early flight so I had to say a few quick goodbyes and cut out but it was well worth it. Great bands, nice people, a well run mini-festival all around…not much more you could ask for, really.  I will be back one day. …thank you Kalamashoegazer, you know how to put on a festival!

BRONCHO – 11/2/18 Nashville & 12-8-18 Atlanta

Twice the rocking’ and twice the fun!

TEXT & PHOTOS BY JOHN BOYDSTON

The band Broncho is currently on tour promoting their latest LP “Bad Behavior” and I was lucky enough to catch two recent club shows with the band of artsy upstart rockers.

Nashville, TN
Basement East
November 2nd, 2018

Broncho’s music and stage show can be moody, dark, strangely upbeat, usually melodic, and always catchy.  For all the dark atmospheric stage lighting, they do bring the hooks, bounce, and beat.

Atlanta, Ga
Masquerade
December 8th, 2018

 

Broncho is front guy Ryan Lindsey, Nathan Price, Ben King, and Penny Pitchlynn on bass and who usually catches the best light, hence her prominence in these photos.  The band calls Norman, OK home and why not?  The new LP “Bad Behavior” is garnering great reviews, and said to be more pop than previous records, and that can’t hurt anything since the band’s signature mood, quirks, and scrappy rock are all still there.  I considered their 2015 release “Just Enough Hip to Be a Woman” to be on the pop-side so what do I know?  My favorite from that release ‘Class Historian’ is a modern classic.  Look up those videos, songs, as well as current and future tour dates here:  http://broncho.tv/

Check out more of John’s work on Instagram: @johnboydstonphoto

Billy Idol 9/28/18, Nashville

Dates: Billy Idol

Location: Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel, Nashville TN

A rebel yell was heard echoing through the Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel in Music City USA.

Text & Photos by Mark Jackson

Billy Idol has been out touring and sounding as great as ever with the release of  his remix collection Vital Idol: Revitalized. It has fifteen tracks remixed by such artist as Moby, Crystal Method, Paul Oakenfold, and others.

On the same day as the release Billy preformed at the Carl Black Chevy Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel in Nashville, TN, to an ecstatic fan base. Billy and the boys put on a hell of a show that kept the fans on their feet all night while dancing, singing, and jumping. Billy was looking and sounding as sharp as he did in the ‘80s, and Steve Stevens was still up to his old tricks, playing the guitar behind his head and with his teeth without missing a chord.

If Billy F**king Idol comes to your town, make sure you grab a ticket, give a “Rebel Yell” and sing along all night to his ageless hits…

Visit our ace photographer Mark Jackson: @MarkJacksonPhotography1

 

A ROTTEN PROPOSITION: Public Image Ltd. Live in Atlanta

At Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse on October 10, The Artist Formerly Known As Johnny Rotten brought his PiL.2018 to his Peach State fans, some of whom were no doubt on hand all those years ago when a certain British punk band made its American debut….

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON

John Lydon and Public Image Ltd. are in high gear with “The Public Image is Rotten North American” tour, and in damn fine form if their 2nd stop – in Atlanta, Ga – is any indication.   Shows are selling out, and this one looked to be as well.  Check out upcoming PiL shows and dates here:  http://www.pilofficial.com/shows.html

The band is celebrating its 40 years of music with a world tour, a career-spanning CD & Vinyl box set release “The Public Image is Rotten,” and a new doc by the same name.  Current PiL lineup is Lydon, Lu Edmonds (guitar), Scott Firth (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums).

The former Johnny Rotten formed PiL in 1979 immediately following the demise of The Sex Pistols, going for a more ‘anti-rock’ avant-garde thing.  He’s been the only constant member of a band delivering 10-studio LPs over the years.   As lineups evolved, so has the music, crunching about any genre you can name into a unique and original meld.   Lydon is 62, older and ever-the-wiser.  PiL’s music still vital and relevant.  And you gotta go.

(And if you’re looking at these photos, I don’t know what the trash can is doing on stage.)

 

Follow John Boydston on Instagram – @johnboydstonphotos

 

LIFE’S A RIOT WITH… Riot Fest 2018!

Douglas Park in Chicago was the scene of the crime, and September 14-16 marked the time, featuring icons like Weezer, Beck, Run the Jewels, Liz Phair, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the recently-poisoned Pussy Riot. (Photo gallery follows the commentary, below.)

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY ERICA BRUCE

For BLURT, mid-September in Chicago instinctively means “three days of Riot Fest in Douglas Park.” The masses were a little concerned this year that it may not happen, but, like many of the punk bands it hosts, Riot Fest has long proven itself scrappy, and scrappy doesn’t go down for the count lightly. The loss of one headliner, Blink-182, brought two other bands, Run the Jewels and Weezer, in their place. Seminal bands played seminal records in full, icons proved why they are icons, and men in kilts were the hottest fashion statement. As Hurricane Florence was throwing her mighty rain against the east coast, BLURT decided to see what was going on in the mid-west.

 

-Icon Who Never Ages -Liz Phair

When Liz Phair’s record “Exile in Guyville” came out in 1993, many of the Seattle women were moving the needle on feminism by sporting kinderwhore and being brash. But Liz Phair has always been the nerdy girl’s Riot Grrl.  Her records said all the things the wallflower female with a feminist streak thought but felt she could never say about sex and relationships, and how it feels to be a woman in a male-dominated business like music and the world in general. She made lots of women feel 6’1 instead of 5’2 then, and, based on her Friday performance and the faces of the 20-somethings in the audience, she inspired a whole new generation to feel the same. Fairly convinced she is the female Dorian Grey as well as she never seems to age.

-Band Who Walks the Walk-Pussy Riot

There are those who proclaim themselves punk and then there’s Pussy Riot. Members of the protest punk collective have endured lengthy prison sentences for “hooliganism” in their native Russia, physical abuse, and more recently, the poisoning of its member Peter Verzilov. And yet DEFIANTLY, THANKFULLY, they endure….

Nadya Tolokonnikova, flanked with a DJ and a cadre of neon green ski cap associates, spoke out against corruption and Trump/Putin similarities. They taught via a pre-recorded 25+ set of facts about inequality and issues across the world. They even inspired a young woman against the rail to find her voice and loudly scream, ‘Listen to the message!” over and over to a tone-deaf dude being inappropriate, to which others followed. Pussy Riot is a living breathing embodiment of trying to make the world a better place. “Poisonings and assassinations will not stop us,” said Tolokonnikova from the stage.  BELIEVE IT.

-Band with the Best Props: The Aquabats

MC Bat Commander of The Aquabats coined them the “world’s most mighty almost super heroes.” Considering they were wearing long sleeve tunics and masks in the sun, they are also the bravest. Thankfully the mutant land sharks that caught them off-guard that time at the beach were made into wonderfully fun inflatables that bounced throughout the crowd. Fun fact: Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker was an Aquabat in the late 90s!

-Band with the Positive Message: Digable Planets

Seminal records/bands from 1993 seemed to be a theme at Riot Fest this year, so what better act to include than Digable Planets covering Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)? in full. The light, Consciousness, and melodious positivity that began in 1988 when De La Soul introduced us to the D.A.I.S.Y. age (Da Inner Sound, Y’all) impacted itself heavily into the Planets sound and lyrics with a message. It’s hard to be positive about much these days, but if you listen hard, you can still hear Reachin’s sweet-sounding impact in people like Kendrick Lamar, it’s just said a bit more staccato.

-Best Celtic Punk Mix: Flogging Molly

There’s punk and then there’s Celtic punk, and the latter can always make an accordion and a fiddle sound tougher than any Minor Threat cover band. That’s Flogging Molly. “I just came back from a European tour and it’s nice to be  back where people can understand what the fook I’m saying. Course what I’m saying most of the time is shite,” joked lead singer Dave King.

-Band with the Darkest Lighting: Tie-Cypress Hill, Dropkick Murphys

However, someone with Cypress Hill was holding the cutest bulldog side stage, so they get a pass.

-Most Covers in One Set-Weezer

Rivers Cuomo continues to hit all the high notes and never age. As night 1 headliners, Weezer piled the big hits up in the front half of the set (“Buddy Holly,” “Hash Pipe,” etc.), and mixed in a few covers (“Take On Me” by a-ha, “Happy Together” by The Turtles, “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath). They even did a nod to the had-to-cancel Blink-182 and covered “All the Small Things.” And yes, they closed with everyone’s current favorite version of that song about rain in a foreign continent.

Other notes from things seen on Friday:

-The Front Bottoms: Full of fiddle, acoustic rhythm, and earnest lyrics about delusional love and something about a sleeping bag. Seems tween girls also love lead singers who earnestly look like Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins these days.

-K.Flay: Did a cover of “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger. And a guy named David proposed to a woman named Mandy onstage.

-Young the Giant: Lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s big voice is a good fit for their big athematic arena songs. That’s all I can say about them.

-Bleachers: The band really wants to sound like Springsteen but seems more like John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band with a synthesizer during their cover of “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode.

Saturday:

Day 2 was all about an old school tour through most 20th century music genres. We also started keeping track of all the covers being played a little more closely.

-Most Inspired Stage Costume: Gary Numan

Dressed like Alexander McQueen-inspired mummies coming for your hair gel and eyeliner, Gary Numan still obviously really enjoys what he does, and man, he does it so well. It was great to watch all the kids who weren’t born in the 80s clearly enjoying his set. His synth impact is still so relevant that Trent Reznor should pay him royalties.

-Best Voice to Melt a Heart: Cat Power

This show was the first of the world tour for Chan Marshall’s new record, Wanderer, the first in six years. The set was having a few technical issues at the start, but once it was figured out, that voice, so smoky and lovely and emotive was let loose. It’s nice on record, but live? Otherworldly.

-Best Drummer: Wolfmother

With songs about gypsies and women and guitars that go up to 11, Wolfmother is a modern-day nod to 70s cock rock. There are a lot of comparisons to Led Zeppelin music-wise, which you can agree or disagree with. But it’s fair to say if Zeppelin reunites again, they should consider Wolfmother drummer Hamish Rosser; Bonzo would be impressed.

-Most Original T-Shirt: The Voidz

The Voidz went on 10 minutes late, and for once, lead singer Julian Casablancas was without sunglasses on stage. But he looked healthy and sounded great, and is even getting a little dancey in his older age. Not many can rock a stock car pit crew button up from a guy named Steve, but if anyone can, it’s Casablancas.

-Best Health Recovery: Elvis Costello and the Imposters

It was a pure joy to see Elvis Costello back and in prime form just months after cancelling tour dates to recover from cancer treatment. The Riot Fest set was his first show post-surgery, and he told the audience, “I’m fine, thanks!” Sporting shades like those of the other Elvis during his Vegas period, Costello, the post-punk king before post-punk was a term, was a highlight of the weekend.

-Most Diverse Crowd: Jerry Lee Lewis

Along the rail for Jerry Lee Lewis’ set, the audience was like a microcosm of America: young, old, women, men, black, white, green (well hair was green), probably the most diverse audience we saw all weekend, which makes sense as who doesn’t want to see a living legend? While his backing band, composed of Kenny Lovelace, Ray Gann, and Kenny Aronoff, kicked off the set with four cover songs, an honest to God mosh pit started a few rows back. But once Lewis finally hit the stage, using a cane and wearing a purple sparkly jacket, white dress shirt, jeans, it was all eyes front. At 82, The Killer isn’t kicking back piano stools any longer, or setting the keys literally on fire, but playing like a house on fire? That he still does.

-Most Moon by the Light of the Moon: Jesus Lizard

“I fucking hate playing festivals,” said Jesus Lizard lead singer David Yow, “but they are paying us 250 million!” The band threw all of its noise and punk and thrash to a delighted crowd, as Yow gave the crowd the finger, made a heart sign, pulled up his shirt then unzipped his pants and mooned the crowd. He then jumped into the audience, literally singing upside down at points.

More cover songs and snippets from Day 2: The Frights (Prince of Bel Air theme song, “No Scrubs” by TLC, “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy); Beck (“Miss You” by the Rolling Stones, “Cars” by (and with appearance by) Gary Numan; Jerry Lee Lewis band (“You Are My Sunshine” by Ray Charles, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley)

Sunday:

A day heavy on east coast bands playing great, probably really glad to be away from the rain.

-Most Songs in Shortest Set: Beach Rats

Day 3 was kicked off with D.C. punk via the NJ shore in the form of Beach Rats. A super punk group of sorts, the band is composed of members from the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, and Minor Threat/Dag Nasty. And like traditional D.C. punk songs, the 15-minute set included 4576 songs and bass lines you felt in your chest. Good stuff.

-Most Hated by Feminists: Fear

Fear played their seminal 1982 album “The Record” in full Sunday afternoon and lead singer Lee Ving shared quite a few thoughts from the Rise stage. He spoke of old Chicago friends (“We love you guys. John Belushi RIP, brought us to Chicago and it’s been our home ever since”) and politics (“Fuck you Boris Putin (sic). Just kidding he’s probably a cool guy once you get to know him”). He also introduced the song “Honor and Obey,” as a love song. Let’s just say with lyrics like “Get up and make my fucking breakfast you lazy bitch/Yeah, you’re my wife now, don’t start whining and giving me shit,” it’s good they didn’t play before or after Pussy Riot, or someone’s ass may have been kicked.

-Coolest of the Cool: Johnny Marr

It doesn’t get much cooler than Johnny Marr, and live, it’s even better. The set was an even keel of songs from his new record, “Call The Comet” and some from The Smiths, oftentimes sounding better vocally than Morrissey himself (sorry Mozzer). In terms of scale, Nick Lowe is Jesus of the Cool, Paul Weller is the Godfather, but Marr is the only Johnny Fuckin Marr.

-Band Who Inspires Most Happiness: The Bouncing Souls

“It’s a beautiful day here, and we’re alive!” said Bouncing Souls lead singer Greg Attonito. The crowd took it to heart, and the positivity resulted in a raucous sing along to “Lean On Sheena.” The Souls live is truly pure joy wrapped around three guitar chords; it’s just simply impossible to feel anything else. Got to be something in that NJ shore air from which they hail.

-Best Sharer of Influences: Clutch

Go-Go music isn’t really well known outside of the D.C./MD/VA area, so local bands when touring seem to want to spread the word. MD-natives Clutch gave the Sunday afternoon crowd a taste with the walk-out music of “We Need Some Money” by Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, and then their song, “D.C. Sound Attack!” complete with its Go-Go beats. If you were there and suddenly feel this intense desire to yell “Wind me up Chuck!” or drum on plastic buckets, don’t worry, Clutch was successful, you were bit by bug that is Go-Go.

-Most Civic Minded: Superchunk

Given the mess Hurricane Florence was unleashing on NC over the weekend, probably the happiest east coast band to be playing in the sun on Sunday was the NC-based Superchunk. They remain a well-oiled machine live, regardless of how long they go between live shows. Tracks off the new record, “What a Time to Be Alive,” especially the title track, are catchy as hell, as well as political, not the usual move for them. So when lead singer Mac McCaughan said, “Don’t forget to vote,” you knew he meant it.

Also saw: Blondie, Bad Religion, a cute dog and a pot-belly pig!

For full sets of photos from all three days, go see the photo album here!

And special thanks to Heather West, Western Publicity, for all of her help! (Amen! Heather, you rock! – Ed.)

********************

PHOTOS: DAY 1 (FRIDAY)

Dropkick Murphys

Flogging Molly

Liz Phair

Pussy Riot

Weezer

Young the Giant

Aquabats

Cypress Hill


Digable Planets

Dropkick Murphys

 

DAY 2 (SATURDAY)

Gary Numan

Jesus Lizard

Jerry Lee Lewis

The Voidz

Wolfmother

Cat Power

Elvis Costello

 

DAY 3 (SUNDAY)

Bouncing Souls

Clutch

Fear

Johnny Marr

Blondie

Superchunk

 

 

 

 

FOR THE LOVE OF… Lockn’ Festival 2018

Aug 23 – 26 were the dates; Infinity Downs Farm in Arrington, VA was the place! Photos follow the review. (Pictured above: Umphrey’s McGee.)

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY WILLA STEIN  

The Lockn’ Festival is a four-day music and camping experience in Arrington, VA at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The festival is an interlocking connection of musicians and fans inspired by The Grateful Dead and the jam-bands that grew out of the love for this style of music. Lockn’ also incorporates genres from all over the musical spectrum, including jazz, reggae, R&B, Americana, rock ‘n’ roll and country into one great big ball of sound.

The festival also focuses on local community engagement, from local food sales to those who educate and take pride in preserving the natural settings that surround the area. Lockn’ vendors far and wide provide all kinds of amazing foods and memorabilia to choose from and a whole array of craft beers and wines. And, if you found the time, you could take part in other activities on the farm, such as group yoga or Waterlockn’ on the Tye River.

This year’s musical highlights included tributes to Aretha Franklin by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and country singer Margo Price joining in with Widespread Panic. Other standout performances included acoustic “Appalachian psychedelic bluegrass” by Keller and the Keels and a reggae-blues mix with Toots Hibbert and Taj Mahal. And you never know what Chris Harford & Band of Changes will bring to the stage, but you pretty much know it’s going to be good! This collaboration included bassist Dave Dreiwitz, guitarist Scott Metzger and Joe Russo on drums. Another great set was the high-energy pop rock of Sheryl Crow’s band featuring the talented Audley Freed on lead guitar.

It was an unforgettable Sunday night, as Dead & Company’s second night performance closed the festival with an outstanding collaboration with saxophonist Branford Marsalis,  who has played off and on with band members since 1990. At the end of the second set, Weir revealed that it was Marsalis’ birthday! The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and, as the set came to a close with “Not Fade Away,” the dapper Marsalis reemerged on stage with his tenor sax, keeping the crowd cheering and chanting all the way to the encore of “Brokedown Palace,” “U.S. Blues” and “Ripple.”

Lockn’ brings the best out of everyone - the performers and the audience alike. Last year’s theme seemed to be about Making America Love Again in light of the events in nearby Charlottesville; this year, the love continued to flow throughout every campsite.

Lockn’ is not just a festival of music collaborations, it is a place where thousands of people gather for 4 days, celebrating their love of music, camping and dancing in peace and harmony … where “strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand” is not just a song lyric.

All photos copyright 2018 by Willa Stein Photography.

Susan Tedeschi

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

Widespread Panic

Tom Hamilton, Ghost Light

Holly Bowling Ghost Light

Hamageddon is a 14’ high x 18’ long metal pig sculpture that cooks a pig in its belly and shoots fire from both ends

Campground

Toots and the Maytals

Always a colorful crowd…

Band of Changes

P-Funk

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow with Bob Weir observing from above

Keller Williams

Derek Trucks and Tim Lefebvre

Tedeschi Trucks Band

 

Dead & Company

Sign Language Interpreter, Lockn had interpreters for each act.

Dead & Company with Branford Marsalis

John Mayer

 

Bill Kreutzmann

The LOCKN’ Logo

The Melvins 8/10/18, Englewood CO

Dates: August 10, 2018

Location: Gothic Theater, Denver CO

Live at the Gothic Theater, heavy metal was a-happenin’…

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY BEN CURNETT

If heavy music was ever summed up in one performance, it happened last Friday night in Denver when Melvins played to a near-capacity crowd at the Gothic Theater in Englewood, Colorado. I’m not saying that’s what happened. Metal comes in nearly as many flavors as Japanese Kit-Kats (try the black tea if you ever get the chance; skip baked potato), so pulling it all together on one stage, much less in one show, is a task for imbeciles. Any band that tries to be all things to all people sucks outright and is evil in all the ways that are no fun at all. Not like, “Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!” evil, but more like, “Of course corporations are people!” evil, and they can go screw.

But that’s what makes Melvins so good live: they actually do it all, heavier than pretty much everyone, and it’s mind-numbingly, otherworldly good. They’re good expressly because they don’t try to be all things to all people, evil or otherwise. They’re just their own very odd, very loud selves. and that’s good enough to be the guys to sum it all up if … IF … heavy music could ever be summed up in one performance.

Which it can’t.

Still and yet, two bass players is a pretty good start. The newest Melvins LP, “Pinkus Abortion Technician” refers both to Jeff Pinkus, longtime Butthole Surfer and second-to-newest Melvins bassist, and the classic Butthole’s album “Locust Abortion Technician,” a collection of songs that still has my vote (cast when I was 12) for scariest record of all time. Pinkus was matched on all things bass just on the other side of the stage by Redd Kross, OFF!, and actual-newest-Melvins standard bearer Steven McDonald. McDonald sang two of the songs on the setlist (Redd Kross’s “What They Say,” The Rolling Stones’ “Sway”) like a rock star, which may sound redundant but bears distinction just because he 1) wore the flashiest suit I’ve ever seen outside of a Too $hort video, and 2) Pinkus is more like something else entirely. A dragster mechanic, maybe. Some gems from the new record came out in the show (“Stop Moving Down To Florida,” “Don’t Forget To Breathe”) as well as classics from all over the board (“Honey Bucket” from 1993’s “Houdini,” “Eye Flys” from 1987’s “Gluey Porch Treatments.”) There was no speaking, if you don’t count the Moving Down To Florida parts, which you shouldn’t. Just rock. That’s all.

Buzz Ozborne and Dale Crover, Melvins’ guitarist and drummer, head and heart, areolas and spleen, know their way around a live performance. It’s as if they have some ectoplasmic connection that leads audiences around like tour guides on Mars; without their guidance, you’ll probably die. This, I strongly suspect, is the reason Buzz wears a magic robe when he plays: Melvins actually HYP-MO-TIZE audiences with thunderous drums and squelching guitar, nonsensical lyrics and brain-rattling distortion that sounds like music but is actually a spaceship engine that’s fueled by 90 minutes of your life and spits out warm, disturbingly loud, humming goo.

 

 

LAKE STREET DIVE 7/12/18, Raleigh NC

Dates: July 12, 2018

Location: NC Museum of Art, Raleigh NC

Sonic art one beautiful Tar Heel eve at the North Carolina Museum of Art. (Scroll down for more images.)

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER

On a clear Carolina night, the amphitheater at the NC Museum of Art was filled with the sophisticated pop sounds of Lake Street Dive. On tour supporting their latest record, Free Yourself Up, this was their third sell out of this venue, causing lead singer Rachael Price to comment that it is starting to feel like home.

Opening with the first cut from the new album, “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts,” the 21 song set included all the tracks from the new record interspersed with songs from their previous two albums, closing with a longtime fan favorite, the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.”

Price, Mike “McDuck” Olsen, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese, always had a full sound but the addition of Akie Bermiss on keys adds just enough extra to help fill out the live sound. He even took a lead vocal singing Shania Twain’s “Still The One” in a style suited to a dark jazz club. Throughout the night the vocals and playing were tight and on point, with Kearney’s bass playing delivering numerous amazing moments. But to me, what really makes Lake Street Dive stand out in a world of beats, jam-bands, and singer/songwriters is their finely crafted songs. Even songs that at first sound simple still contain interesting chords, changes, and rhythms that harken back to The Beatles and Brill Building, in approach, if not actual sound. That’s what keeps me coming back whenever they come to town.

Opening the show was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear (above), a mother/son duo with a soulful, bluesy sound. They grabbed the audience’s attention from the first song and I’m sure gained a lot of new fans.

Follow master shutterbug, journalist, and vinyl enthusiast Todd Gunsher at his Instagram page.

 

 

 

Sherry Ryan / Darren “Boobie” Browne 5/25/18, Toronto

Dates: May 25, 2018

Location: The Burdock, Toronto ON

Live at The Burdock, and a night of Canadian musical community.

TEXT/PHOTOS BY ERIC THOM

I have family who hails from Halifax, so I know a thing or two about the close-knit sense of community inherent to those who live on our proud East Coast. However, there’s something even closer to be found amongst the people who call Newfoundland their home. It’s an intensified existence in which the land and the people are one, bound together in celebration of the sweet blend of harsh conditions and jaw-dropping beauty that is everyday life. Sherry Ryan hails from Middle Cove, just north of St. John’s – and it shows on so many levels in her art form.

Born of the traditional Céilidh (from the Scottish Gaelic for ‘kitchen party’) – a coming together of friends, family and often members of the immediate community – the Nerwfoundlanders’ world is grounded in music, good food and a coming together for a group hug. This was richly evident in this show – as Sherry’s sister, Jackie, commandeered a collection of cousins, friends and ex-pats to become a part of this special ‘homecoming’ show. The intimate setting of The Burdock’s music room was ideal for the emotion-fueled evening as Newfoundlanders and otherwise savored the work of this talented duo. Darren “Boobie” Browne, another noted Newfoundland export, provided drop-dead accompaniment on mandolin, supplying deft vocal harmonies to complement each of Sherry’s well-placed notes – creating a surprisingly full band sound in combination with Sherry’s acoustic guitar work, all the more impactful in the rec-room-cozy space. Never was an audience more captured than this.

 

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Touring to support her fourth release, Wreckhouse, Sherry has long been a special breed of singer-songwriter, effortlessly painting mood-drenched pictures with relatively straight-forward lyrics that benefit from equal parts country and that certain hint of forlorn sadness that comes with the territory. What’s most distinctive is her voice which, as it starts to sink its hooks, has an uncanny resemblance to Anne Murray’s in its clear, confident alto (with an implied debt to Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline). Yet, her material has nothing to do with the pop-country backdrop of “Snowbird” – offering, instead, strong local imagery, the heartache of torn relationships, folklore – real and imagined and the laments inherent in the passing of time. The album’s title– “Wreckhouse” – refers to a true tale of the ill-fated Newfoundland railway (1882-1997) – and is the name given to car-tipping wind conditions that relied on a local trapper’s weather call to “Stop The Trains” (one of the album’s crowning jewels and co-written with her late Dad), thereby protecting them from nature’s wrath. Having more in common with John Prine than Anne Murray, this homegrown masterpiece represents the essence of Ryan’s talents. Like Prine, she reels you in with her heartfelt stories, a hint of humour and the vocal power to command attention to her every word. The new album, however, is a strong release based on it being a potent ‘band’ record – each original composition basking in the added firepower of pedal steel, guitar, piano, swirls of B3 and background vocals. The acid test for any good song is, however, what was witnessed on this warm, sun-drenched evening – two people, two instruments, strong vocals embellished with remarkably high-register harmonies. The powerful opener (and single) “Natural Law” mined the same country edge of the recorded version, despite the lack of baritone guitar and pedal steel. Browne’s deft skills with electric mandolin created sounds the likes of which I’ve never thought the mandolin was capable of, his vocal harmony adding considerable depth and personality to Ryan’s already powerful lead vocal. The next song, “Ferry Won’t Wait” is an ode to a missed ferry, causing a cancelled concert on Fogo Island in the land that weather rules. The Prine-like “Long-Awaited Question” was born from a breakdown at the Dollar Store that ended with a Tarot Card reading and the end of a relationship. “Cool and Clear”, following the order of the release, relies on piano on the album as yet another breakup song (this time, a friend’s) benefits from its simple, delicate delivery onstage. Again, the heartfelt yet humorous real-life “Stop The Trains” is a loving celebration of the way things were, worsened by the intervention of ‘modern-day improvements’ – to its hilarious conclusion. Jumping ahead to “On Paper”, these two voices created an hypnotic effect of back-and-forth with precious little accompaniment required, yet both guitar and mandolin turning in incredible, colorful textures.

The comparably upbeat “Ain’t Gonna Worry” moved into blues territory, buoyed by quality finger-picking that erupted, with Sherry’s coaching, into a legitimate audience singalong. The following song, “10 Minutes”, documents the distance across town in St. John’s at a torqued-up speed. One of the night’s most stunning songs was the standout “After Whiskey Before Breakfast”, providing Ryan with her Emmylou moment. Slowed down for maximum effect and minus its full serving of recorded pedal steel, this was a downer for the ages (meant in a good way). Much as the full band treatment cues the instant party, it’s this two-player presentation that demonstrates Ryan’s vocal power in its strongest light. Calling up two relatives to join her in a rendition of ”Something Else” (from 2008’s Wonderful Cures), its powerful chorus lit up the room, Ryan’s vocal still able to cut through the full force gale of voices. The natural fit of Ryan’s vocals to Browne’s harmonies was realized in the Carter Family’s “Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow Tree”, underlining Ryan’s understated guitar strengths and Browne’s prowess on mandolin. A compulsory, near-deafening call for an encore yielded a P.E.I. song written by one Gene MacLellan, as she kicked into “Snowbird”, no less – sounding as pure and natural as the Maritimer who made the song so indelible.

These themes of home, hearth and heartbreak suggest a rich upbringing in the sounds of the Carter Family but the fact that she’s a loyal Newfoundlander goes a long way to defining who she really is. She may not be a household name but she’s certainly no diamond in the rough at this point. She’s got a firm grasp of where she wants to go and all the skills to get there.

As for Browne, an integral component of a number of Newfoundland bands (The Burning Hell, The Kubasonics) and a continual, in-demand sideman, his self-released Birth of the Chickenpick (Boobie Browne & The Onions] is well worth hunting down.

Website: http://sherryryan.com/

Videos:

Natural Law

I Made it On My Own

Long Awaited Question