Aplscruf's Music Blog

2016: A Year In Review

img_1899-2

Tom Petty and Mudcrutch played The Filmore in San Francisco this year.

Another year flew by. Another year of fantastic shows and new musical discoveries. This year in music took me from Seattle to England to Amsterdam to Portland to San Francisco and back. I’m grateful for the opportunities I had this year to see local bands and national legends. I also posted several online reviews to No Depression, the journal of roots music. Although we lost some musical greats, I am grateful I had the opportunity to see some of them over the years, including David Bowie and Merle Haggard. I’m also grateful for new friends and for adding lovely new branches to my musical family tree.

Now, on to the fun stuff. I thought I’d share a review in pictures, which includes shows and albums I reviewed. Check ’em out online, or find them linked on my feed to the right.

I started out 2016 with a review of Lookout from a sweet ‘n’ local indie-pop band Fine Prince.

fineprince

Seattle’s Fine Prince

Joy Mills, Cahalen Morrison, and Blackberry Bushes graced The Tractor’s stage in January.

Bizarre musical coincidences occurred all year. I was contacted by Jeff Finlin to post his video “I Killed Myself Last Night” from his 2013 album My Moby Dick, which led to an unexpected friendship and a realization that our mutual friends in music criss-crossed the globe. Jeff also had a ridiculously prolific year. He toured Europe twice, released a retrospective album called Life After Death – The Essential Jeff Finlin, published a poetry book, started a yoga for recovery organization, published 365 Days of Recovery Yoga, and will drop yet another new album soon.

1656396

Jeff Finlin

Noam Weinstein released one of my favorite albums of 2016, On Waves.

Noam Weinstein pic

Noam Weinstein

Colt Kraft brought his ganja country sound and dapper sweaters to Darrell’s Tavern in Shoreline.

img_0650

Colt Kraft and Jamie Henwood

Peter Bruntnell,who toured the U.K. and Europe with Jeff Finlin and Clive Barnes this year, also produced one of the best songs and most scathing music videos of the year called “Mr. Sunshine” from his new critically acclaimed album, Nos Da Comrade. Now, it’s December, and the nightmare of greed and power continues on our side of The Pond…

Massy Ferguson played a final show at Jet Bar in Lynnwood before it closed for good. Massy wins for most shows attended this year. I lost track of how many times we saw them.

img_0722

Massy Ferguson

New York’s Sean Rowe blew us away in Bothell inside a tiny classroom-sized listening room at McMenamins.

IMG_0799.JPG

Sean Rowe

A trip to Leavenworth for a Knight family reunion also reunited us with Alisa Milner and Ian McFeron, who played Icicle Creek Brewery. They got married later this year!

img_0809

Alisa Milner and Ian McFeron

In March, Massy Ferguson and The Dusty 45’s joined forces to support Seattle’s DESC organization.

Vaudeville Etiquette, Seattle darlings, played The Sunset and all over Seattle this year.

img_0951

Tayler Lynn and Bradley Laina of Vaudeville Etiquette

A trip overseas led to meeting promoters and musicophiles Oliver and Birgit Gray of Winchester. Their Swiss Cottage and The Railway Inn are havens for many US and UK Americana artists, including a handful that we saw this year: Richmond Fontaine, Jeff Finlin, The Believers, and Fernando.

IMG_2644

Birgit and Oliver Gray’s Swiss Cottage near Winchester, and below, Jo’s Melkweg Cafe in Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, we met Erik and Jo, Wisconsin expats and owners of Jo’s Cafe in the Melkweg music venue. We didn’t see music on that trip, but we met some beautiful people who care about quality music and esteemed musicians.

 Jeremy Nail’s gem of a new album, My Mountain, was produced by Alejandro Escovedo, who also dropped a highly acclaimed album of his own this year called Burn Something Beautiful.

Jeremy Nail stevan.alcala_JN14B

Jeremy Nail

We drove to Portland and watched Todd Snider’s triumphant return to his solo show. Rorey Carroll opened with her beautiful, biting folk songs.

IMG_1593

Todd Snider at Aladdin Theater in Portland

Richmond Fontaine–another beautiful coincidence. As we were touring Europe, Willy Vlautin and crew were just days behind us. They also visited Oliver and Birgit in Winchester–they were one of the first American bands to ever play The Railway and Swiss Cottage as one of Oliver’s promotional acts years ago. We finally converged in Portland and witnessed Richmond Fontaine’s swan song. The band was breaking up. They’ve taken the rest of the year to do so, with a final tour in Europe just wrapping up in October.

Flight To Mars – Seattle’s UFO tribute band gets together annually for a great cause – Crohn’s and Collitis Foundation.

IMG_1783 (2)

Mike McCready and Tim DiJulio of Flight To Mars

Greg Townson was busy with a new solo album and tour with Los Straitjackets as well as a Hi-Risers reunion.

myfriendthenight380-333

Will Kimbrough, Nashville’s prolific singer-songwriter-producer-session artist had a very busy year doing all that. Live At Coast was finally released; and Willie Sugarcapps, his Lower Alabama supergroup, also dropped a new album, Paradise Right Here.

live-at-coast_front-300x266

David Corley came back from the dead (literally) to release his sophomore album Lights Out and tour Europe again.

RNB-30-04-16-2006-36-2633-Knelis

David Corley in The Netherlands. Photo by Niels Knelis Meijer

Aaron Lee Tasjan, another acclaimed Nashville artist who just dropped a new album called Silver Tears, played a free show at McMenamins in Bothell to maybe 50 people. His clear vox and bluesy guitar licks sold us. The talented Brian Wright shared the spotlight and backed him. Where the hell was everyone?

IMG_1838

Brian Wright and Aaron Lee Tasjan

John Doe — a new album, a new book on LA punk, a new video, and a new tour, including a stop in Ballard’s Tractor Tavern. A thrill to meet him. Always keeping things fresh and remembering his punk roots at the same time. Opening and backing him was Texan Jesse Dayton, guitarist extraordinaire, who also came back and played a duo show at McMenamins and dropped a new album.Click on individual pics for a closer look…

Ted Leo (of The Pharmacists) and Aimee Mann played Barboza, the tiny club in the basement of Capitol Hill’s Neumos. It was a Pharmacists Acoustic Greatest Hits Night, as well as a splash of new music with Aimee from The Both.

theboth_photo_gal_39683_photo_926348106_lr

Fernando, who shares lead guitarist Dan Eccles with Richmond Fontaine, came to Hotel Albatross for a lovely solo performance. Two greats, Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett played sets later that night. Later in the summer, Fernando played an outdoor show with Dan at McMenamins in Bothell.

img_1855

Fernando Viciconte played Hotel Albatross in Ballard with Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett

fernando-at-mcmenamins

Fernando and Dan at McMenamins in Bothell, late summer

Massy Ferguson released Run It Right Into The Wall, another fantastic rock album. Ethan Anderson of Massy would later bond with Pete Bruntnell in England at the Maverick Music Fest. You’re welcome!

massycd-runitrightintothewall-cover-square-72dpi

13439112_10154104255820412_8515150025232662569_n

Pete Bruntnell with Ethan Anderson at Maverick Music Festival, England

Massy Ferguson’s CD Release Party took place at The Triple Door, the day before we flew out to see Tom Petty with Mudcrutch…

06-Massy_Ferguson

Massy Ferguson and most of the audience. Photo by Rich Zollner

Tom Petty reunited with his old band Mudcrutch and dropped a “2“! Better than the first album, with each artist getting his chance to shine, and more Petty-esque songs. He played The Filmore in San Francisco, and we had to go. Click on individual pics for a closer look. Tom’s also gearing up for a massive 2017 tour, celebrating The Heartbreakers’ 40th year anniversary!

The Swearengens, a favorite Ballard alt-country band, played The Sunset Tavern in July. I’m excited to see them perform once more at The Tractor’s holiday bash with Massy Ferguson and Jackrabbit on December 23.

img_2164

Fredd Luongo of The Swearengens

The very next day, we came back to Ballard to rock out with surf instrumentalists Los Straitjackets at The Tractor. El Vez joined them on stage!

The B-52’s at Woodland Park ZooTunes summer concert series. Pass the tanning butter! Always a great venue for summer shows. They played all the hits to a sold-out crowd.

b52s-zoo-2016

In August, Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell of Austin surprised us with a full band and backup singers, stepping up his game and into a funky groove.

img_2323

Shinyribs at The Tractor

The Believers, with Craig Aspen and Cynthia Frazzini, tore it up at Oak Harbor Music Fest Labor Day weekend to a huge crowd. They celebrated a 15-year reunion with their original band.

img_2338

The Believers with Craig Aspen, Garey Shelton, and Cynthia Frazzini

The Paperboys from Vancouver came late September to The Nectar in Fremont. They are always a joy to see, and bring a full band with brass, banjo, fiddle, and flute!

paperboys-nectar

The Paperboys – with Tom Landa

Jenny Whiteley went back to her roots on her latest album, The Original Jenny Whiteley (2016 Black Hen Music). The album was recorded on Wolfe Island, Ontario at the magical Old Post Office, and produced by multi-instrumentalist and humanitarian Hugh Christopher Brown (the man can do no wrong!).

Her father Chris and uncle Ken Whiteley joined her on the album, which includes original material interwoven with traditional folk and bluegrass songs, continuing her father’s legacy. They keep things simple, clean, and stripped down, all the while honoring the genre and letting Jenny’s rich, earthy vocals shine.

Wanda Jackson with The Dusty 45’s backing, came to the EMP (MoPop) in Seattle. It was such a thrill to finally see Ms. Jackson, the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Dean Owens caught my ear this year when he released “Cotton Snow”, a song about the Civil War’s bloody Battle of Franklin. Find Dean in Nashville–or Scotland. He will release a new album soon called Southern Wind, a follow-up to 2015’s Into The Sea. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I’ll leave you with Dean’s latest Christmas video he produced with The Whisky Hearts. He’ll play Edinburgh 12 December.

December 10, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Todd Snider Sells Out

IMG_1593

Aladdin Theater  Portland, OR

4/30/2016

Todd Snider sometimes tells the tale of when he almost sold out to Garth Brooks who wanted to change the lyrics to one of Todd’s songs, “Alright Guy” and record it on his rock album as alter ego Chris Gaines. The lyrics include the phrase, “maybe I smoke a little dope”, but Todd claims, “not that I do, it just rhymes with Pope.” Garth wanted to change the lyrics to something less, uh, damaging to his career. Todd’s friends told him he shouldn’t sell out, but he was “…already thinking about what kind of car I’d trade that fuckin’ van in for!”

Todd is the king of the yarn, a raggedy raconteur. On this particular evening, he told another Brooks tale about how one of Garth’s writers stole Todd’s song, “Beer Run”, claiming that if you change enough words and the melody, it’s not exactly stealing. So Todd, not wanting to have to get dressed up and go downtown and sit through meetings, had a brilliant idea and came up with his own song entitled, “If Tomorrow Never Comes” and made sure to follow the writer’s advice. Now, Todd can tell the story in much more detail, followed by a rollicking version of the song in question. Fans lined up in front of The Aladdin Theater in Portland know that. All three shows sold out.

Saturday morning rolled around, and I wasn’t in the mood to drive three hours to Portland in heavy traffic. My weekends are piling up, and I was longing for quiet time at home. P purchased tickets weeks ago, though, so that was that. Also, I feared Todd Snider’s solo show wouldn’t hold up to the ones we’ve seen in the past where he was animated and engaged—and so funny. There were rumors circling about his health and how he’s not the same ol’ Todd when he’s in Hard Working Americans, even though the supergroup rocks. I heard he was feeling better, and ready to take on these three nights in his home state.

When we were about to head out the door, I received a call from our friend C who was headed back home after seeing Todd’s second show. He absolutely raved about how Todd was dialed in, was engaged with the crowd, had the audience in stitches with his stories in between songs, and was musically in fine form. Suddenly, I was ready to take on Todd Snider again. Let’s hit the road!

Off we went, running into snags of traffic in Tacoma and near the border, crossing the great bridge that spans The Columbia and into Portland. We inched our way downtown and relied on GPS to find our hotel. After meeting our friend L at Hair of The Dog Brewery (the best brewery in Portland in our not-so-humble opinions), we headed to the show.

We stopped by The Lamp next door to The Aladdin  first and met a few more friends for a bite to eat. I love the Todd Snider culture. Everyone there in the group met at either a Todd show or some other related show, like Widespread Panic, Phish or Grateful Dead, etc. We actually met our friend L in 2009 at a Todd show in Reno.

IMG_1587

We found seats stage right and settled in. The show started after 8 with Rorey Carroll, a beautiful female folk singer with a sultry, ethereal voice and a sailor’s mouth. Todd came out and introduced her, and mentioned he is producing her album. She had a lanky awkwardness about her that was endearing to the audience, who cheered her on throughout her short set. We enjoyed her set, drawn in by her vocals and ballads as she lightly strummed her acoustic guitar. In between songs, she bantered with the crowd. There were many people who attended all three shows, and they were calling for songs near the end and she argued about which ones she was going to play. “Not the murder song!”

After a brief intermission, Todd Snider came out to hearty cheers and started his long set with “In Between Jobs”.

He spoke of his problems with his back and his arthritis, and how he got to the point where he could only sit down to play. He took a couple months to rest and recover and feels better now. It showed in his performance. He was on point–dialed in, as our friend C said. He was chatty and engaging, honest and self-deprecating. He deftly plowed through song after song, with heart and humor. I only heard one bobble with lyrics, and we must give him credit. In one of the first shows I ever saw him play, he’d forgotten the lines to one of his songs and had to stop and back up. “I forgot the words. But think of how many I remembered!” Classic.

Setlist (as listed on Todd Snider’s Facebook Page) with my notes to the right:

In Between Jobs
Happy New Year
[18 Minutes Into]
[Final Night]
In The Beginning
[HWA Church] – Todd spoke of his time as frontman with Hard Working Americans. He said he enjoyed playing with HWA because he could sing a few lines and step away from the mic as they went into some long jam session. He could nod his head and spin around a little, just 10 feet away from what he used to do in the audience anyway, so why not do it on stage?  But fans of his solo work would knock on the tour bus after the show, confused, offended, and upset that he wasn’t up on stage spinnin’ yarns and playing his acoustic guitar: “Is this what you’re doing from now on?” And Todd would respond, “No, this is what I did tonight.”
Greencastle Blues
[The Last Three Nights]
Too Soon To Tell
[The Last Verse…]
Beer Run
[Garth Brooks Story]
If Tomorrow Never Comes
Is This Thing Working
The Last Laugh
Carla
The Devil You Know – After the song was finished, he raised in arms in triumph like a prize fighter and exclaimed, “That song had a lot of words, too!”
Looking For A Job
[Jewett Sucks]
Doublewide Blues – with one of the lyrics changed to “I don’t get out much anymore since terrorism…”
Vinyl Records
Alright Guy – An audience singalong of the chorus ensued
D.B. Cooper – the ballad of the local hero/villain who jumped out of an airplane with a bag of stolen money, never to be seen again
Talkin’ Seattle Grunge Rock Blues – one of the songs which put Todd on the musical map in the 90’s
[Drive-Thru Story]
Stuck On The Corner >
Johnny B. Goode – “Most of my songs are based on this song’s melody…”
[Grateful]
[Jerry Jeff Walker Story] which stretched out to a coked-up evening decades ago where Todd was flopping like a fish outta water on Jerry Jeff’s dining room table. The next morning, Jerry Jeff was standing naked over Todd as he lay on the couch, exclaiming, “Never again, boy, never again.”
Mr. Bojangles -Mr. Bojangles in Santa Fe at 3 am – One of those once-in-a-lifetime magical moments when Todd and Jerry Jeff are out in the middle of nowhere, on a deserted street in Santa Fe, and here’s this kid playing “Mr. Bojangles” on guitar, with a hat on the ground, busking for tips. And here’s Jerry Jeff, the author of the song, soaking it all in. Todd thought twice about telling the kid he’s playing the song that was written by the man standing in front of him. When the busker was finished, Jerry Jeff unloaded his wallet into his hat (well, Todd embellished, I believe, when he said his change, his bills, his credit cards, his car keys…), and they walked away. Of course, Todd then played a tender version of “Mr. Bojangles” in honor of his friend and mentor, Jerry Jeff Walker.
e:
Big Finish
Good News Blues
Freebird – Freebird. Yes, he actually played “Freebird”, without irony, and with heart, to finish the evening. A final prize fighter stance, a smile, and a wave goodbye.

IMG_1603

 

 

 

May 3, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Folk, Rorey Carroll, Todd Snider | , , , , , | Leave a comment