Aplscruf's Music Blog

Diary of a Married Groupie

Joe Smith, Jeff Finlin, Will Kimbrough, Brigitte DeMeyer, and other Cool Cats

I’m changing the format here for a bit. Life continues to bombard me; so instead of posting individual reviews, I will post several short reviews or links to artists who have caught my ear recently.

Atlanta’s Joe Smith and the Going Concern have a catchy new single out. Joe, originally from California, was heavily influenced by the punk scene, including John Doe’s X and Mike Watt. This new song, as the title suggests, has much more of a bluesy vibe. Check it below, and be sure to click on the other songs from previous albums to get the full punk flavor. Purchase their merch and check their Facebook page for upcoming events.

Will Kimbrough and Brigitte DeMeyer collaborated on a soulful new folk album called Mockingbird Soul. They will make appearances in Northern California this week, and will head to Europe this spring. Check their tour schedules on their websites. Oh, did I mention they moved up to #11 in the Americana Charts this week? Lee Zimmerman of No Depression recently gave their album a glowing review: http://nodepression.com/album-review/two-perfect-pair

Here’s a pic of the pair in Seattle a few years ago:

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Will and Brigitte at The Royal Room – Columbia City (Seattle)

Jeff Finlin continues to amaze with his prolific artistry. He just finished recording a new album entitled The Guru in The Girl with Holland’s wildly talented Wild Verband. The record is now mastered–release date coming soon. I am delighted to say this may just be his finest work yet. Finlin fans will be truly blown away.

Finlin also spent most of February on a successful UK tour with Pete Bruntnell and Clive Barnes , selling out several venues along the way. I will defer, once again, to Paul Kerr of Blabber ‘n’ Smoke to wax poetic about their show in Glasgow:

https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/jeff-finlin-clive-barnes-sounds-in-the-suburbs-glasgow-sunday-19th-february-2017/

Before he left for the UK, Jeff Finlin released a stunning video which brings to life his poem, “The Tantric Co-motion of Parvati on I-75” from his collection of poetry, Seduction of Radha. Finlin narrates. The video was beautifully directed by Verginia Grando.

 

 

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Seattle’s Jackrabbit released the rock-driven Dead Man’s Song in December. Take a listen and catch a rare show in Ballard.

At the Tractor Tavern back in December, we met a nice fellow by the name of Mark who manages a singer-songwriter website here: http://singersongwriterslive.com/ On it, he lists Seattle-area shows at venues who cater to singer-songwriters. He includes artist links, and an easy-to-follow legend for those bands he’s seen before and recommends, to those whom he heard were worth a listen.

Support indie artists! Go see a show and be sure to purchase the merch!

 

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February 21, 2017 Posted by | 2017, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aaron Lee Tasjan was Smokin’ at Anderson School

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Brian Wright and Aaron Lee Tasjan

It was another one of those nights where we looked around and wondered where the hell everybody was. Why wasn’t the entire city stuffed in this old gym watching this talented band from East Nashville? It was a free show! Just walk in, that’s all they had to do! It was a Wednesday in Bothell, for one thing.

McMenamins, an Oregon-based hotel, brewery, and restaurant chain, recently opened another fine facility here in Bothell, a neighboring town about 30 minutes northeast of downtown Seattle. The old Anderson School property has been transformed into a beautiful hotel, a large restaurant, several intimate bars and outdoor spaces, a pool with a tiki bar perched above it, a movie theater, and music venues. One venue is in a classroom-sized space; another, an outdoor stage in the courtyard; and the main venue is located in the old gym–or maybe it was the old cafeteria. Regardless, you know the look: a big box with high ceilings. It’s a good space for wedding receptions or class reunions, but an awkward space when you, as a band, have to play in front of a paltry crowd of 25, seated ’round a few round tables. Unfortunately, this is where Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band The Stoned Faces were set to play.

It was a beautiful evening, and there were lots of people milling around outside, sitting near the wood fire pits and propane heaters, eating and drinking. Inside, the bars, booths, and tables were fairly full for a Wednesday. We ate dinner outside first, and made it just in time to see the band load in on the low stage at the front of the gaping venue.

The two-set show started around 7:00.

Aaron Lee briefly introduced himself and explained how he is from East Nashville, not that Other Nashville…and dove into the first set with E.N.S.A.A.T.: “East Nashville Song About A Train”. Here’s a similar version he played at Red Clay Music Foundry:

“Junk Food and Drugs” shows off ALT’s guitar pickin’ prowess:

“12 Bar Blues” not to be confused with George Harrison’s lil’ ditty, “For Your Blues”–This humorous song had to do with the twelve bars the narrator in the song frequented. Watch below as he sing-talks his way through each bar.

One cannot help but make comparisons to Todd Snider, his East Nashvillian neighbor and occasional stage partner. Influences are found in his humorous anecdotes, drug-saturated characters, and even in a few of the melodies. More than once, I leaned over to husband Pat and whispered, “This could be a Todd song!” But Aaron Lee has a voice and a skill on guitar that goes unmatched. His upper register has a clarity to it that gave me chills, and at times, reminding me of Rodney Crowell. His nasty garage riffs and blues-laced jams were dazzling–techniques likely honed from his days with New York Dolls and Drivin’ and Cryin’. This was a rock band at times, under the heavy influence of East Nashville.

During the short intermission, both Brian and Aaron Lee greeted their fans and seemed appreciative to those who did make it to the show. More people trickled in by the time they jumped back on the stage.

“In My Life” the Beatles cover, was the first song of the mostly acoustic second set. It was a sweet rendition–just Aaron Lee, his beautiful tenor voice, and his acoustic guitar.

The spotlight then shifted to Brian Wright, a singer-songwriter and skillful guitarist in his own right. His voice surprised me. It had a rich, deeper tone that evoked emotion.

Just like Nashville needs a train song, they also require a murder ballad. Brian’s ballad is called “Maria Sugarcane”:

Brian also gave a shout-out to the late great Guy Clark and covered a moving rendition of his song, “El Coyote”.

Brian stopped to take a sip of his drink. Someone yelled out “Whiskey?” He turned, with a comedic pause and said, “It’s almost summer. It’s tequila–I’m not a savage!”

Meanwhile, Aaron happily picked along in support, adding harmonies where required. Wright had a fan in the sparse audience who knew all of his songs and requested one he hadn’t played in a while. He obliged, and told her that when the song is over, she’ll either thank him, or he’ll have to apologize. He donned his harmonica and played seemingly without any foul-ups, since she let out a whoop and applause at the end, along with the rest of the crowd.

During this second set, more people wandered in and took their places at back tables or stood along the sides by the bar. Maybe a total 50 people attended. It was so surprising, considering there was no admission fee. The double doors were propped open, letting their bluesy, twangy sound flow into the courtyard.

“$66.00 Blues” was part of the Big Finish of the evening. They brought up the rest of the talented band and jammed their way into Tom Petty’s “Refugee” and back, topping off the the fine set with a big ol’ cherry.

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ALT and The Stoned Faces: Brian Wright (guitar, vox), Jordan Solly Levine (drums), Aaron Lee Tasjan (guitar, vox), and Keith Christopher (bass)

Check ALT’s website for current merch, more information and updates regarding a new album dropping in October, and other tour news.

Check Brian Wright’s website for more info and purchase his new album, Rattle Their Chains.

Read more about Aaron Lee Tasjan and his band here:

http://nodepression.com/album-review/aaron-lee-tasjan-heads-east-nashville%E2%80%99s-songwriting-new-wave

 

June 3, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Alt-Country, Americana, Brian Wright, East Nashville, McMenamins | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Richmond Fontaine’s Swan Song in Seattle

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Richmond Fontaine played a final show in Seattle at The Sunset on May 14, 2016. L-R: Dan Eccles (guitar), Willy Vlautin (vocals, guitar), Freddy Trujillo (bass), Sean Oldham (drums). Photo Credit: Alicia Rose

It was a night full of contradictions. I’d never heard of Richmond Fontaine until just a few months ago. The Portland band have been around over 20 years. Last Saturday, they played a final show in Seattle. I’m now a new fan of a band that is breaking up. Great. I’m late to the party–er, funeral once again.

I witnessed a band’s wake before–Seattle’s North Twin, who delivered their own coup de grace just down the street at The Tractor about six years ago. I prefer it that way; at least there’s some closure. The death of Richmond Fontaine will be prolonged a few more months; but here in Seattle, they celebrated their long life surrounded by friends and musical family. There will be at least one more show in Oregon, and an Ireland/UK farewell tour in October before they pull the plug. They’re ending amicably and leaving us with a parting gift: a fantastic new album fittingly titled You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To.

I binge-listened to RF’s albums over the last few weeks, trying to catch up before we hit the show. Frontman and acclaimed author Willy Vlautin‘s lyrics paint desolate pictures of the downtrodden, lonely, broke, the unlucky, the abandoned–the outcasts of society. Tales of addiction, break-ups, desperation, and downward spirals are common themes throughout the ten albums. Some characters are likable losers who were dealt a bad hand in life or have paid dearly for their bad choices. But there is also a feeling, just a glimmer, a hint, that once in a while, one of those effed-up kids he writes and sings about is going to be alright. Each day that I listened, I always circled back to their latest  release, the thirteen songs on You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To. It’s depressing as hell at times, and yet I wanted to hear it again and again. I connected and empathized with the characters. The up-tempo melodies of some of the songs offset the melancholy lyrics. Balance.

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Willy Vlautin – Illustration by Nate Beaty

I also read Willy Vlautin’s first of four books called The Motel Life. Although the heartbreaking story and sympathetic characters absolutely gutted me, I wanted to read more and was sad that it had to end. I plan on purchasing the rest of his books. Feel free to do the same here: http://willyvlautin.com/store/ Rumor has it, his fifth book is in the works. According to Willy, when his personal life is falling apart, he writes songs. When he’s healthy, out jogging, he’s probably writing a book. Strangely, I had his name and the book’s title in my phone under “Books to Read” for a year–a strong recommendation from my friend Kari, artist and loving partner of David Corley, who also spent time with Willy and Co. in Ireland. I never made the connection until just recently.

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Be sure to purchase their merch!

I also was told by a friend, Oliver Gray (who is mentioned in the liner notes of at least one of RF’s albums), that Willy’s books must be read in order of publication. Oliver is not only a superfan, but a venue owner, promoter, music critic, and author. He has hosted RF shows in England for many years (RF has a huge cult following in The UK and Ireland) and befriended the band in the process. I just met Oliver in person while we were on holiday near London in April, just days before I found out about RF’s show date in Seattle.

One thing I love about live music is how it brings strangers together, bonding over the common love of a band. I made another new friend after I announced on Facebook I was attending this show. Allison, a superfan from Canada, traveled to Seattle with her husband Tony, and we met up at Hattie’s Hat for a chat beforehand. We have several mutual, music-loving friends, so it was only natural that we should eventually meet and instantly bond (while our patient husbands sat idly by). Although she’s been a fan for years, she had never seen RF in person, so she was thrilled to experience this final show.

The day of the show was dark, gloomy, and rainy–so contradictory to the blue-sky day before, which sizzled Seattle with record-breaking temperatures.

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We made our way to the very front of the stage, right after the doors opened. There is nothing like standing in the front row of an intimate venue. I love watching the band, up close and personal. I like catching their nuances: the onstage banter and inside jokes; a grimace while hitting a big chord; a tapping foot; a sly, knowing smile when a rare wrong note is hit; nimble fingers finding the frets; glances and nods when things are going well. RF was no exception. One could tell they have a healthy, brotherly bond with each other, even though their band was on its way out.

If they love each other so much, why are they breaking up? Read and listen to Willy Vlautin’s answers here:

Willy Vlautin was interviewed recently by Casey Jarman of Portland Monthly : http://www.pdxmonthly.com/articles/2016/4/15/willy-vlautin-on-richmond-fontaine-s-farewell-and-the-price-of-living-hard

While in Ireland, Willy also spoke with Martin Bridgeman on a radio broadcast regarding the breakup, the new album, and the crafting of his songs and stories: http://kclr96fm.com/folkroots-interview-willy-vlautin-152016/

The mature audience knew their band and were there to give them a final sendoff with support and love. Although I was a newbie here, I still felt accepted and comfortable among them. It was fun to watch the crowd, too, as many sang along with Willy or nodded their heads in acknowledgement to a song, and loudly clapped and whooped after each one.

Richmond Fontaine began the set with my favorite song off their new album called “Wake Up Ray”. Here is a live version from Oregon Public Broadcasting:

Willy’s lyrics tear at my heart:

Wake Up Ray

It ain’t no use, ain’t no use
Maybe some guys just ain’t meant to
I was living in Montana once and I was married
For a while it rolled so easy
But she got to where she couldn’t stand our place
She got to where she cringed at the way I slept and ate
I bought her a bird, a finch she called little Joe
And then one night she blew into a rage
In a snowstorm she ran outside and opened up the cage

Wake up Ray let’s get out of here
This town’s done nothing it’s clear but try to do us in

Wake up Ray, the sun’s coming up and still I can’t stop thinking
How can someone you love so much grow against you so?
All I did, all I did was try to toe that line
The same line you see everyone else toe
Now all I remember is running through the snow
Looking for Little Joe as the wind blowed

Wake up Ray, I need a cup of coffee in a bad way
Let’s get out of here this town ain’t done nothing
It’s clear but try to do us in

The Seattle show included most songs from their latest album and also dove into tracks from the last two decades.There were some last-minute changes to the original list, too. Their stage performance was tight, energized and faster-paced than some of their recorded songs–fueled, I’m sure, by the enthusiastic audience. Early on, longtime fans shouted out song requests, and Willy acknowledged a few with a wide-eyed nod, or laughed at their persistence.

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Willy would stop once in a while and explain the origin of a song, such as the dark and ominous “Hallway” from 2003’s Post to Wire. He said he used to meet a friend for breakfast at a cafe, and one day he didn’t show up. Willy went to his house and found the friend in his tighty-whities, hiding in the hall with a gun. Apparently, he was on a coke binge and had been up for three days. “He almost shot me that day. I never met him for breakfast after that.”

“Let’s Hit One More Place” from the new album was dedicated to Scott McCaughey of The Minus 5, who headlined this night. Willy said he’s been a fan of The Minus 5 for 20 years, and channeled Scott when he wrote this song.

“Two Friends Lost At Sea” was based on another true story. One of Willy’s favorite Portland punk bands was Dead Moon. When people are excited about a band, they like to tell their friends. Sometimes, that leads to a wonderful shared experience. Other times, like in Willy’s case, it ruins the band for them. He made the mistake of introducing a girlfriend to the band. Later, she broke up with him. The next time he saw her was at Dead Moon’s show. She was making out with some new guy in the front row. Ruined.

Although he seemed a little shy onstage and mostly sang with his eyes closed, he was very personable, friendly, and humble in the merch line before and after the show. He greeted each fan, listened intently to their stories, and seemed grateful to them for showing up. There’s a self-deprecating charm about him, as if he is genuinely surprised by his fame and the fact that his books and music are treasured by so many people around the world.

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Freddy Trujillo and Willy Vlautin

Dan Eccles on lead guitar, just rocked. He was so entertaining to watch as he grimaced and head-banged through the set, his long hair trying to keep up with the beat. His nimble fingers delicately found each chord on the slower folk songs, but slammed the power chords with a full-body gyration. He had a minimal amount of pedals, but made excellent use of them to alter the sound to match a pedal steel guitar, add some serious fuzz, or the emphasize the twang in his Telecaster.

One of the last rocking songs of the evening, “Lost in The Trees” is from 2011’s The High Country. They also played this song at Kilkenny Roots Festival in early May, and are favorite performers there. Below, you can hear Freddy’s thumping bass, watch Dan shred that Tele, and be amazed at how seemingly effortless Sean is at holding the steady, commanding beat on drums. Willy’s grim lyrics and monotone vocals on this song give it a punk edge.

Near the end, a fan threw a Winner’s Casino (an actual casino and a song from 2002’s Winnemucca) satin baseball-style jacket, up on stage as they played their final song. Willy sported a big grin as he played. They later posed for a photo with the jacket, all smiles. It was a great way to close the night and to find closure with this beloved band.

Like some of Willy Vlautin’s characters in his songs and stories, the band mates are probably going to be alright after the breakup.Willy, Sean Oldham, and Freddy Trujillo are already members of another band called The Delines. Willy is planning to spend some time working on his next book. Dan Eccles also plays in a band with Portland legend Fernando Viciconte.

We can’t go back, but we can look ahead. They’re still with us, just transformed and scattered into new entities.

Bitter and sweet.

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Check out Richmond Fontaine’s tour updates for the rest of the year here:  http://richmondfontaine.com/dates

Listen and purchase their music through Bandcamp here: http://richmondfontaine.bandcamp.com/

I also posted a version of this piece to No Depression here: http://nodepression.com/live-review/richmond-fontaines-swan-song-seattle

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 18, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Alt-Country, Americana, Richmond Fontaine, The Sunset Tavern, Willy Vlautin | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jeremy Nail – My Mountain

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Jeremy Nail, native Texan and singer-songwriter, just released My Mountain, eleven alt-country / Americana gems set in solid gold and produced by Alejandro Escovedo. I will direct your attention to my friend Paul Kerr’s review, a work of poetic prose:https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/jeremy-nail-my-mountain/

Also, Cara Gibney posted an insightful interview with Jeremy on Rocking Magpie’s site here: https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/jeremy-nail-exclusive-interview-by-cara-gibney/

Watch the official video of the title track, “My Mountain”:

 

Photo Credit: Stevan Alcala

 

April 25, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Alejandro Escovedo, Jeremy Nail, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

John Doe Reigns at The Triple Door – Seattle, June 19, 2015

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John Doe – Photo by Jacob Knight

John Doe with Jesse Dayton at The Triple Door – Seattle 6/19/15

[see No Depression for a concise, concert-only review here]

I was in junior high when John Doe’s punk band X started picking up speed.  I remember a vague mention of X in high school, maybe a song or two, but they disappeared out of my radar completely as I headed for college.  Seattle, although it tries to be trendy, forgot to send me the memo.  They slipped right by me, along with The Fleshtones.  Also, I tend to get stuck on one artist every few years and miss all the contemporaries.  Musical poverty.  Musical ignorance.

A John Doe Virgin.

I missed out on John Doe as a solo artist, too, until a musician friend posted some lyrics on his Facebook page:

you are the hole in my head / I am the pain in your neck / you are the lump in my throat / I am the aching in your heart

I looked up the lyrics, which led me to “Golden State” a track on the album, A Year In The Wilderness by John Doe.  Thee John Doe.

I purchased A Year In The Wilderness.  It didn’t leave the CD player of my car for a solid month. I fell in musical love.  How did I miss him all these years? The tone of his voice, the lyrics, and the Americana style of the melodies really hits my sweet spot.  I checked his website for tour dates. He mostly stays in California these days, but makes a few trips up north every year.  Its seemed like every time he was up here, we were going to another show or were out of town.

Finally, this June, I was able to purchase tickets to The Triple Door, a swanky dinner theater in downtown Seattle.  I secured a photo pass for my son Jacob that night, courtesy of Doe’s manager, promising to write a show review for No Depression. I was thrilled.  Pat had to miss it, but at least Jacob would be there with me to enjoy the night.

After surviving terrible Friday rush-hour traffic and quickly eating before the show, Jacob and I settled in to Booth 13.  The six-person booth comfortably seats four.  Jacob’s shoulders alone take two spots.  We were all pins and needles waiting for the show to begin.  I was a proud mama watching my son, with his press pass proudly displayed on his shirt, adjust his camera settings to prepare for the shoot.

Finally, at 8:00, the lights dimmed and Jacob took his position across the theater and I readied my pen and journal, crushed between the other booth guests.  I was pleasantly surprised to see several guitars, drum kit and upright bass on stage.  I thought it was going to be an acoustic show, for some reason.

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On with the show (the following is a copy of my post on No Depression):

John Doe Reigns at The Triple Door

John Doe brought his punk energy and some Texas twang to The Triple Door in Seattle.  Doe is in the middle of a short tour to promote The Best of John Doe This Far, his multi-decade collection of greatest hits. The genre-bending performance entertained and engaged the audience from start to finish.

Opening for John this night was Austin’s Jesse Dayton, who, like Doe, is a bit of a renaissance man.  He’s a top-notch session guitarist (he played on Waylon Jennings’ last two albums), a stage and screen actor, producer, zombie movie star and soundtrack artist, screenwriter and film maker (ZOMBEX), raconteur and comedian.

Jesse Dayton

Jesse Dayton

Dayton, who played a dark and dirty Gretsch guitar, was accompanied by Chris Rhoades on doghouse and electric bass, and Eric C. Hughes on drums. The three boys let ‘er rip with some rollicking alt-country and Americana tunes with humor and big Texas style.

Jesse was “brangin’ it” (his motto) with a screamin’ rockabilly solo on the first song, “Daddy Was a Badass” and a slappin’ bass beat. In a faux bravado move, Jesse held his hand up to his ear and begged the audience to make some noise for him.  The crowd whooped and clapped heartily.

He said he was from a parallel universe called East Texas, and dedicated the song, “We Can’t Help The Way That We Are” to Waylon Jennings.

“Beautiful Thing” is a song about the creole woman from Louisiana who helped raise Dayton. When he was a boy, they spent the weekdays listening to blues artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins.  On Sundays, she only allowed gospel music. “She was my best buddy,” he said.  He played a soulful acoustic slide with a nod to his favorite blues guitarists.  One lyric in the heartwarming ballad really stood out: The Funeral was black and white / but our tears were all the same

Jesse with Chris Rhoades (bass) and Eric C. Hughes (drums)

Jesse with Chris Rhoades (bass) and Eric C. Hughes (drums)

Not wanting to get too sentimental, Jesse kicked it up a notch and quipped, “It’s all drinkin’ and cheatin’ songs from here on out!” Sticking to his word, he introduced the next tune, “I’m At Home Getting Hammered While She’s Out Getting Nailed”, by proudly exclaiming that it has “two whopping chords in the whole song, and no bridge or chorus”.

[Up on a scaffolding, on the side of the stage behind the curtain to most eyes, I spied a man with black-rimmed glasses looking down on Jesse’s performance.  My heart skipped a little beat.  It was him!  I discreetly pointed and showed my neighbor, who verified that it was indeed, John Doe checking out the show.]

After a few more tunes, Jesse joked, “I hope we passed the audition tonight.” His last song was dedicated to Eddie Spaghetti of Supersuckers.  Jesse first told a story regarding the beautiful time he had traveling with Eddie on tour and stopping at a  Love’s Truck Stop for some duct tape. Eddie wanted to purchase some chrome girly mud flaps for his garage wall, too.  In a “Shakespearean white trash epiphany,” Jesse promptly went back to his car and wrote a song called “Arkansas Chrome (Duct Tape Song)”.

Check Facebook and Jesse Dayton’s website for more details on this multi-talented Texan.

John Doe is a singer / songwriter with almost four decades of songs to his name.  He’s an actor (with a long list of credits), a poet, a teacher, a horseman, and punk royalty.  Doe is most recognized as the bass player and vocalist with the renowned L.A. punk band X with Exene Cervenka.  He was also with The Sadies, The Knitters, and participated in other collaborations.

The talented and beautiful songstress Cindy Wasserman from Dead Rock West  joined Doe on vocals this night. He facetiously introduced her as the meanest woman in rock ‘n’ roll.  Cindy’s harmonies blend perfectly with his clean and controlled vocals.  The tone of his voice is still so powerful; he can hold a note and take it for a ride into the stratosphere.

Doe played an eclectic set, mixing X songs with his solo projects and included a few covers. Singing from the heart on moody ballads, he also balanced out the tone with politically-fueled rants and up-tempo rockers.  With Jesse Dayton’s band backing him, it was high-energy rock show overall, but infused with Americana, country, roots, and blues–crossing genres without apology.

John Doe and the band at The Triple Door

John Doe and the band at The Triple Door

John dove into the set with “This Far” from 2002’s Dim Stars, Bright Sky , featured in his latest collection.

One of his old friends was in the audience this night.  He introduced “Handsome Devil” from Keeper and warned the audience to never let a friend of a friend spend a couple of nights, because bad things might ensue.  The foreboding lyrics explain:

here comes a stranger
a friend of a friend
knocking on our door
sliding it open
he talks the blues, so do you
this ring is getting tighter
my finger is falling off
this changes everything
he stole your wedding ring
this changes everything
he walked right in, sat right down
baby let your mind roll on
& roll right outta town
where’s my gun?
oh that’s right, I don’t have one
so devilishly handsome
should of known he was actually Satan
this changes everything

Another song of betrayal, “Burning House of Love” from X’s Ain’t Love Grand  included Rhoades, back on upright bass, and an explosive solo by Dayton.

 

“The best life lesson is to hold the reigns firmly, but lightly…” Doe states in the video.   He also kept the audience firmly but lightly in his grasp.  He offset any angry rants with humorous anecdotes, backstory, and friendly banter with the band and the crowd.  During a mishap (Jesse broke the bridge of his guitar and had to swap out with one of John’s and quickly tune it) which involved some quiet talk and scrambling around on stage, Doe stepped back up to the mic and said, “Sorry, we were just up here talking about the basketball game…followed by some choice words about not really caring about basketball, making the audience chuckle.

“Twin Brother”, a very touching song of regret from 2005’s Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet contained haunting, beautiful harmonies from Cindy.

Cindy and John

Cindy and John

He introduced the Bob Dylan Cover “Pressing On” by saying, “I’m not religious, but I do have some spiritual ideas, if you care to discuss them with me at the merch table…” garnering laughter from the crowd, although they soon hushed up as he played this spiritual (or religious, depending on one’s point of view) number.  Later, he also covered Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone” and a lovely, emotional version of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”.

“4th of July” a bittersweet X song, is a perfect accompaniment to these sunny summer days, but Doe complained that he always hears someone request it in November.

John checked in with the audience: “Are you all having a good time?  Excellent.  It’s all going to come to an end.”

“Lucky Penny”, a cherished love song from Keeper, generated a wistful sigh from Booth 13. [Why do I find his grumpy rants so endearing? Because he can still write and sing an honest love song.]

Feeling Blue

Feeling Blue

“Who has worked in a factory?” asked John.  A few people raised their hands.  “Seven people? No wonder this country’s so fucked up.  There are no factories here anymore!”  “Giant Step Backwards”  from Keeper, can also be interpreted as a song of love lost.

Doe flew into another Keeper tune, “Never Enough”, which rants about our materialistic society, or as John put it, the “fucked-up-edness of our country” and lists all the junk we have–and how it’s never enough.  Although the lyrics are scornful, the upbeat tempo is undeniably danceable.

“This May Be the Last Time” from Dead Rock West’s second album, Bright Morning Stars  was introduced by John with, “Nothing is as fearsome as an unhappy partner!” He let Cindy take the lead, and Jesse backed her with lots of bluesy reverb.

Exene wrote the next song on her last record, called “Alone in Arizona” and Doe loved it, so he played it this night. Jesse accompanied with a mood-altering solo to a somber audience. The lyrics are dark and heavy: My heart is blue with losing you / My soul is still losing you / The road is rough, I’m losing you / The sun beats down, I’m losing you

Doe didn’t leave the crowd hanging in the dark for long, and picked up speed again with “Telephone By The Bed” from Freedom Is…with Jesse taking a Billy Zoom punk stance and tight, thumping drums from Eric Hughes.

“The Have Nots”, his ode to the dive bar, was prefaced with the plea, “Take the dive bars back from the fucking hipsters!”

“Golden State” from A Year in The Wilderness was another crowd favorite, made even more special with Cindy Wasserman sharing vocals with Doe.  They ended the regular set to more cheers and applause.

They soon returned to the stage as the clapping continued and played the quietly moving “Darling Underdog”, also  from A Year in The Wilderness  and co-written with Exene.

John Doe wrapped up with  X’s  “The New World”, a fitting end to his diverse set.

Check John’s website and Facebook page for tour dates and merchandise.

_____________

After the show, John invited the audience to visit with him at the merch table, along with Jesse and Cindy.  Jacob and I gathered our things and headed over there immediately.  There was only a short line, so we quickly queued up while I pulled out a couple of business cards. I introduced myself to Cindy, who was in charge of merch.  She recognized my name from my daily video posts of Doe on Facebook over the last week, and I told her I saw her at Neumos a few years ago with Dead Rock West.  She was so friendly and sweet.  I also spent a little time chatting with Jesse, who was also charming, and handed him my card.  I purchased three CD’s, including John’s 2011 gem, Keeper, another copy of The Best of John Doe This Far (his latest and greatest collection) for a friend, and Jesse’s Tall Texas Tales.  Support the independent artists who venture to your city and play small clubs and venues.  Support quality music.

John was busy talking to an older gentleman, a few steps away from the merch table.  Another woman was awaiting a turn for his signature on a CD.  I could feel my nerves set in, but as he patiently listened to the man, he looked up and smiled at me.  I’m not sure if that helped settle my nerves or made them worse.  Finally, it was my turn. I felt immediately humbled among punk royalty.  I was shaking a little, and my shyness seems to paralyze my ability to speak.  I’d rehearsed a few lines, but they all went away.  Below is what I remember of our brief conversation:

“Hi, I’m with…well, I’m not with anyone, but I am writing about the show tonight for No Depression.  I’m Lisa.”

While I said this, I handed him my card, and he shook my hand and said, “Oh, that’s ok, you don’t have to be with anyone.  Oh good…Nice to meet you.”

“This is my son, Jacob.  He took pictures tonight.” John shook his hand as Jacob smiled.

“Have you been to an X show before?”

“No, I’m a little late to the game, here, but I’ve been studying up, bought some CD’s…” Of course, I failed to mention I’ve been a fan these last four years or so, but also ashamed I haven’t been a fan for the last four decades.

“Well that’s ok, always good to have new people at our shows.  A good night tonight.  Nice to play in a club with a great acoustics.”

I did ask to get his pic before the other fans came over, and he said, “Sure, come on over here,” and motioned me to step close so he could put his arm around me.  It all happened so quickly.  It was over in a matter of seconds.  Jake took one pic on his phone.  Me, all crazy eyed, pointing at him, saying to myself, “Holy shit, I’m getting my pic with John Doe!”  I was humbled and thrilled to meet him.

I woke up Saturday morning feeling cooler, somehow, having met John Doe.  Thee John Doe.  “The best hair in Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Punk Royalty.

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Cindy Wasserman, Concert Season 2015, Jesse Dayton, John Doe, Music, The Triple Door | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Wild Feathers and Friends at The Tractor Tavern 10.24.14

Ready to Go!

I ran out of time to write a proper blog, but wanted to share some pics and videos from three terrific bands we saw on Oct. 24 at The Tractor Tavern.  Common denominator of these bands: HARMONY!

Desert Noises

Desert Noises – I like this pic because lead singer Kyle Henderson looks like a young Tom Petty

Desert Noises

Bordering on psychedelic rock, prog. rock, very edgy at times.


DSC06632 - Copy

The boys in blue

Kyle Henderson: Vocals, rhythm guitar
Patrick Boyer: Lead guitar
Tyler Osmond: Bass, vocal harmonies
Brennan Allen: Drums

Kyle Henderson of Desert Noises

Kyle Henderson of Desert Noises

The Apache Relay

Pop rock and soul, with a Shins vibe–mixed with some Nashville twang. Unfortunately, the blue stage lights washed out most of my pics and gave me a headache! Had to move to other side of the stage.  Sorry, boys.  I included a couple of fun videos below. One, “Katie Queen of Tennessee” won Nashville’s Best Video award for 2014.  We really loved their unique sound.

The Apache Relay

The Apache Relay

Good article here from Huffington Post’s Paul R. Byrne

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers : Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns, Preston Wimberly, and Ben Dumas

Vocal harmonies are king with this talented group.  Genre-crossing rock, alt-country, Americana sounds.

We saw them for the first time last year when they opened for Willie Nelson.  Instant LOVE.   I was surprised to see them in such a small venue this time ’round. Their energy onstage is infectious, and almost too big for this little Tractor.  They packed the house. Such a rare treat to see this band up close.

“Left My Woman” shows off the impressive vocal styles of each singer/guitarist:

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

 

The Wild Feathers

The Wild Feathers

 

 

The Wild Feathers joined by the other bands for "The Weight" Singalong

The Wild Feathers joined by the other bands for “The Weight” Singalong

November 2, 2014 Posted by | aplscruf, Concert Season 2014, Music, Rock, The Tractor Tavern, The Wild Feathers | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old 97’s Got Messy at The Showbox May 12, 2014

Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond of Old 97's with Nikki Lane

Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond of Old 97’s with Nikki Lane

Old 97’s have been kicking around over 20 years now.  They are one of the best live shows around and appeal to rockers, country lovers and punkers alike.  Their genre-bending, full-throttle tunes move the crowd into a frenzy.

I haven’t seen Old 97’s since their floor-shuddering show at The Showbox in the fall of 2012.  See that review here on Randomville: http://randomville.com/concert-review-old-97s-at-the-showbox-seattle-942012/ 

The foursome shook the Showbox again Monday, in another amped-up performance.  They are on tour once more to support a brand new album called Most Messed Up which is getting rave reviews, including a four-star review in Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/most-messed-up-20140429

And how ’bout this fiery-hot review from Paste Magazine: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/04/old-97s-most-messed-up-review.html

Opening for Old 97’s was Nikki Lane, a Nashville chart-climbing songstress.  Her appealing retro looks and country songs with biting lyrics are getting national attention, from Americana Radio (charting at #5 last week for her new album, All or Nothin’) to Vogue Magazine.  Her voice has been compared to Tammy Wynette, Amy Winehouse and Wanda Jackson.  She’s touring the nation, so check her out or pick up her album.

 

 

 

May 14, 2014 Posted by | Concert Season 2014, Music, Old 97's, The Showbox | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jackrabbit and Ryan Purcell at Columbia City Theater May 25, 2012

Columbia City Theater, Seattle

Wow, less than a week went by and we got to see another show!  This time, we ventured out of our usual stompin’ grounds and down to Columbia City Theater on Rainier Ave.  It’s a fairly new venue in a very old building, circa 1917.  It used to host Vaudeville shows in its formative years, and was a prominent jazz club in the 1940’s.  The old brick walls, dim lighting and high ceilings gave it a vintage feel.  The beautiful, curtained stage was flanked with ornately carved wood columns.

We got in town a little early and had time to grab some savory appetizers and gelato at Tutta Bella Pizzeria directly next door to the theater.  I highly recommend the meatballs and flatbread.  The salted caramel gelato was pretty fantastico, too.

We then sauntered next door and waited for the show to begin.  There was a bourbon bar at the entrance to the venue and a small bar inside the theater.  After grabbing a bourbon special and Manny’s at the bar, we moved to the theater and sat along the wall with our own candle-lit table fairly close to the elevated stage.  Several benches and small tables lined the walls, but it was mainly open to standing or dancing patrons.

Tony Fulgham of Jackrabbit

Jackrabbit, a beloved Americana band from Seattle, features Tony Fulgham on lead/vocals, Jason Montgomery on guitar/lap/pedal steel, Moe Provencher on bass and Aimee Zoe Tubbs on drums.   Their first full-length album is due in September, but check out their Bandcamp site to listen to their current E.P. and purchase some tunes.

Jackrabbit L-R: Moe, Tony, Aimee, Jason

They started their 10-song set with “I Ain’t Done With You,” which got people in the door and pushing timidly toward the stage.  The crowd was pretty slim for a Friday night, but more people arrived as the night progressed.  It was Memorial Day Weekend, and people tend to scatter all over the state when there is a chance of nice weather.  Next up was my favorite bittersweet jewel, “Throwing In The Towel” followed by “Hurricane,” and the smiling Aimee let loose on the drums.  I love her audacious drumming style.  Tony tried to get the quiet crowd moving and said, “I can tell you’re on your first drink!”

Moe, Aimee and Tony

Tony then picked up his acoustic guitar and played “I’m Sorry” and “Say Goodnight,” which featured sweet harmonies from the girls.  The tender song picked up volume as drums and steel joined in.

A few more songs followed, including “Home Alone” –I wrote down an interesting lyric–It’s good to miss somebody/when you know you’re headed home.  Next was “Around The Bend, with Jason helping out on steel.  The band picked up speed with “Fathers and Sons,” and a lively cover of George Jones’ “The Race Is On,” then crossed the finish line with the rawking “Big Kids” as the crowd cheered and danced.  Yeah, I’m looking forward to September and going to as many Jackrabbit shows as I can until then.

Rawking on “Big Kids”

I always enjoy discovering another new band, but find it hard to venture out of my comfort zone since I tend to latch on to my favorites.  If they’re local, then that’s a bonus.  We were motivated to go tonight mainly to see Jackrabbit, but felt compelled to stay for Ryan Purcell and The Last Round and see if we’d add them to our growing list of local favorites.

Ryan Purcell and the Last Round took the stage to a fairly large audience, although they were still pretty shy about pushing up to the stage and dancing.  The band just released a new album entitled Pick Me Up.  Ryan had quite a magnetic personality on stage.  His raspy voice has been compared to many country artists, but I think he sounds like Jimmy Smith of The Gourds.  He encouraged the crowd to dance and said sternly, “This music will not dance itself.” 

Ryan Purcell and The Last Round

The band has a big honky-tonk sound and is made to party.  Ryan is joined by his brother Evan on guitar/vocals, Peter Davidson on bass, Charley Rowan on keys (make that a double stack) and David McGraw on drums.

Evan Purcell

I enjoyed the band’s frenetic energy, skillful playing and joyful vibe.  The audience responded accordingly, and long before the set was over, the music did not have to dance itself.

Dancing Crowd

Setlist included:

Cover Your Tracks

Happy Hour

Hurricane

Enough (off 1st record – Kick The Dirt)

Long Road (slower, heartfelt)

Closer – Makes You Wanna Cry which included the lyric:  I ain’t never gonna put that bottle down!

Check out Bandcamp to purchase and listen to songs off both albums.

The Tripwires were up next, but we had to head home.  We caught up to Tony Fulgham and said our goodbyes; we reveled in the bliss of another great night of music in Seattle.

More Pics:

Evan and Peter

David

Ryan and Evan

Ryan

Tony

Jackrabbit

Jason

Moe and Aimee

May 28, 2012 Posted by | Americana, aplscruf, Columbia City Theater, Concert Season 2012, Jackrabbit, Music, Ryan Purcell and The Last Round | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Old 97’s at the Showbox 01.24.2011

Wind-Miller

Monday, January 24, 2011

Old 97’s at The Showbox at the Market, Seattle

Langhorne Slim Opened

See my Randomville review here

Monday’s show at The Showbox was quite a ride.  Not only did the opening act Langhorne Slim totally deliver, but the Old 97’s shook the Showbox with a steady, churning mix of old and new material.  The diehard fans packed the house and partied like it was a Friday night.

We wandered around the cavernous Showbox and scoped out our spot, a railing on the right side, a.k.a. Murryside (Murry Hammond, the Old 97’s bass player’s customary side of the stage–thanks, West Coast Fan!).  We were two people deep from the stage, pretty much under the speakers, which helped keep our ears away from the speaker blast zone.

Langhorne Slim

Slim and Moore

Langhorne Slim took the stage just minutes after we arrived.  I was thoroughly entertained by his short set of five or six upbeat folk/Americana songs, infused with a lot of soul.  Slim has a high, soulful voice, which at times reaches a throat-tightening scream.  His charismatic performance was fun to watch; he reminded me of the quirky Ryan Adams.  He bounced around the stage and lost his hat, fell to his knees seemingly begging the audience to hear his words, and at one point lay on his back with his legs straight up and kicked the air.

Slim and Moore Jamming

I don’t have the exact titles of the songs he played except “Collette.”  I’ll try to find a set list soon.

Raised By Wolves

I Ain’t Dead Anymore  (soul/r&b sound)

I would Do Anything For You

Collette

Slim was accompanied by drummer Malachi DeLorenzo, Jeff Ratner on standup bass, and David Moore on keys/banjo.  They played off each other’s energy and absorbed the audience’s joyous noise.  Their tight, percussive sound was so much bigger than their compact appearance on the large stage.  And David Moore temporarily left the planet every time he picked up his banjo.  He shredded that banjo and pounded out percussion sounds in a trance-like state.  Moore could give Scott Avett a run for his money.  In fact, Langhorne and the band will be opening for the Avett Brothers this spring, throughout Florida, Georgia and Texas.

After about a 20 minute intermission, the lights dimmed, and Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You” blasted over the speakers.  The veteran fans knew that was a cue for the Old 97’s to take the stage.  With our choice viewing spot, we were able to see the Old 97’s rush out of the green room and up the short flight of steps to the stage.  The screaming increased in decibels with each step!

Rhett Solo

The Old 97’s, the Texas alt-country/rock band fronted by the hideous Rhett Miller (yes, girls, I’m being sarcastic) delivered all night, with lots of sweat, spit, windmills, thundering solos and a few broken strings!  They fired up the evening with “Grand Theatre” off their latest album by the same name.  Throughout the set, they mixed in several new songs, and the faithful fans gave them enthusiastic props.  Within the first few beats of the older songs, the audience (myself included) jumped up and down, hollered and sang along unabashedly.  They played many favorites, including “Oppenheimer,” “Barrier Reef,” “Rollerskate Skinny,” and “Big Brown Eyes.”  A few of their newer songs are on their way to becoming Old 97’s classics, such as “A State of Texas,” “Champaign, Illinois,” that Miller said he “co-wrote” with Bob Dylan (he added lyrics to the Dylan song), “Dance Class” and the biting and bouncy “Every Night is Friday Night (Without You).”

Rhett

Ken and Rhett

Set List:

Grand Theatre (latest album title)

Get Me Through This Lord (not sure of exact title)

Dance Class (G.T.)

On a Bus

You Smoke Too Much (Murry)

Oppenheimer

Champaign, Illinois (G.T. – Rhett “co-wrote” with Bob Dylan – he added lyrics)

The New Kid

West TX Teardrops (Murry)

A State of Texas (G.T.)

Stoned

I’ve Got a Question

Merle Haggard’s Mama Tried, False start (Murry)

Waltz-paced Love is What You Are (G.T.)

Barrier Reef

Rollerskate Skinny

Smoker (Murry)

Please Hold on While the Train is Moving (G.T.) Funky psychedelic middle part, like a Beach Boys Pet Sounds song, muted guitar

4 Leaf Clover

(Short break, Encore)

Singular Girl  (request from internet)

Valentine (Murry)

Won’t be Home No More

Big Brown Eyes (my fave)

Every Night is Friday Night (Without You) (G.T.)

Time Bomb

Miller still has that front man “it” factor.  He had the girls in the front row swooning and screaming over “I’ve Got a Question,” the cheesy marriage proposal song.  Throughout the set, he shook his booty and strutted around the stage.  His manscaped chest glistened with sweat.  His dripping hair looked like he’d just stepped out of a shower; and when he was head-banging to Ken’s Bethea’s amazing guitar solos, many lucky front-row girls (and boys) got to take a little bit of Rhett home with them that night!

Murry

The rest of the band added fuel to Miller’s fire.  Murry Hammond, the beloved bass player with Harry Potter rims, had his turn at the mic quite a few times.  He sang “You Smoke Too Much” off Grand Theatre, “West TX Teardrops,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” and “Smoker.”  After a short break, he also came out and did an acoustical version of “Valentine,” honoring a song request from several audience members. Ken Bethea’s guitar skills are legendary, and he proved himself worthy as he dove into raging solos and teased the front row by bending low for an up-close view of his moves–and his soul patch. Drummer Philip Peeples is also impressive.  I’m sure he must hit the drums three times more per minute than a typical rock drummer; his sticks were just a blur.  He also had to pay close attention to false starts, solos, and keep up with sudden changes in the set list.

The near-capacity crowd got the Showbox shuddering when Old 97’s performed their traditional closer, “Time Bomb.”  There was a frenzy of cheers as Rhett departed while the rest of the band stayed to play the final notes.   It no longer mattered that it was a Monday; the Old 97’s make every night a Friday night.

Ken Solo

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Concert Season 2011, Langhorne Slim, Music, Old 97's, Randomville, Seattle, The Showbox | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment