28 May 2010
27 May 2010
The wonderful John Prine visited The Late Show with David Letterman last night and sang a duet of his "All The Best" with Yim Yames. My Morning Jacket's cover of the song is included in the upcoming Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, to be released 22 June on Oh Boy Records. Here's the track listing:
1 "Bruised Orange" - Justin Vernon
2 "Wedding Day In Funeralville" - Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band
3 "All The Best" - My Morning Jacket
4 "Mexican Home" - Josh Ritter
5 "Six O'Clock News" - Lambchop
6 "Far From Me" - Justin Townes Earle
7 "Spanish Pipedream" - The Avett Brothers
8 "Angel From Montgomery" - Old Crow Medicine Show
9 "The Late John Garfield Blues" - Sara Watkins
10 "Daddy's Little Pumpkin" - Drive-By Truckers
11 "Unwed Fathers" - Deertick feat. Liz Isenberg
12 "Let's Talk Dirty In Hawaiian" - Those Darlins
26 May 2010
A double CD of a 1966 Otis Redding show at Hollywood's Whisky-A-Go-Go, Otis Redding - Live On The Sunset Strip, was released this week. Pop & Hiss brings us a great story on the gigs, taped over four nights, using a noted eye-witness as its main source: Ry Cooder, who was playing guitar at the time for the warm-up act, Taj Mahal. "It was unbelievable," recalled Cooder. "He'd get up, stomp his foot, wave his arm, grab a microphone and sing with such searing intensity, I thought, this man's going to have a heart attack if he keeps this up. He's not going to make it. But it was good -- a great R&B show, the likes of which I'd never seen."
Step right up! Mr. Tom Waits edits the 200th issue of Mojo, on newstands in the UK soon. Wait a couple of weeks for it to show at your favorite bookstore in the US. Features in the July edition include Waits' interview of Harry Belafonte, a 15-song CD selected and sequenced by the singer and the magazine's guide to all of the Waits album catalog.
U2 had to cancel as the headliner at the massive Glastonbury Festival on opening night, 25 June. But The Guardian reports that Gorillaz have stepped into the breach. Speaking on behalf of 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel Hobbs, Damon Albern said, "it was us or The Beatles, and they split up years ago."
The new Arcade Fire 12" will be released in the next couple of days. Nialler9 has posted both songs, "The Suburbs" and "Month of May" for you to sample in full.
The Cute Beatle visits The White House next week, feted by a number of noted musicians, including Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Jack White and Emmylou Harris. Click Track gives us a Macca song wish list. TNOP agrees wholeheartedly that "We Can Work It Out" is the hands-down choice for The Wonderous One.
Drew Olson of OnMilwaukee.com speaks with Kurt Neumann of the BoDeans and provides a historical timeline of the underrated band. TNOP still fondly remembers the shows in the early 1980s at The Landing at Humboldt & North.
OK. So you are in your cap and gown at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and thinking what boring commencement speaker am I going to have to suffer through? And out walks . . . Patti Smith! And she not only is funny, entertaining, name-dropping and emotional, but sings a couple of songs too! And how can't you love this send-off into the world: "be happy, take care of your teeth, always let your conscience be your guide. well, i wish you god and good luck." The Awl gives great video and The Smoking Bop Gun provides the transcript.
TNOP UK music correspondent and all-around bon vivant Miles Gallagher has been talking up Rock Island, Illinois singer-songwriter Lissie Maurus over the past couple of weeks. Now a great new video of a live performance with Ellie Goulding at the Brighton Great Escape has surfaced. Enjoy Lissie's composition "Everywhere I Go" (via TwentyFour Bit).
Here's a great excuse to escape to a great city: NXNE takes place 14-20 June in Toronto. Billed as "650 Bands - 7 Days - 40 Films - 50 Venues" the festival music headliners include Iggy & The Stooges, De La Soul and The Ravonettes and screens Don Letts' documentary on the late Joe Strummer.
Band of Horses, touring behind their third LP, Infinite Arms, played Los Angeles' Roxy on Tuesday night. Spinner was there.
Hot Press reports that the new Ra Ra Riot album called The Orchard will be released in both the US and Ireland/UK on 24 August.
Damn! They beat us to it. All Songs Considered solicits nominations for best opening tracks on an album. The blog is at 450 suggestions and counting.
To coincide with the 1974 release of Brian Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets (which, by the way, contained the classic track "The Paw-Paw Negro Blow Torch"), a pre-Pretenders Chrissie Hynde was sent by NME to interview the ex-Roxy Music chameleon. He answered the door to his London flat in a red satin kimono and black satin dress pants. Ah, those were the days . . .
TNOP told you. Janelle Monae's The ArchAndroid has garnered rave reviews from Pitchfork, The Boston Globe, and The Chicago Tribune, among many others. Greg Kot interviews the exciting young singer in Turn It Up.
The Telegraph profiles the legendary Booker T. Jones.
Well, our stop's coming up. Before we step off into the hustle and bustle of the big city, slip on your earbuds and listen to Stevie Wonder sing maybe the best Beatles' cover ever.
25 May 2010
24 May 2010
23 May 2010
Here's a great way to start the new week: revisiting a Tom Waits appearance in 1977 on Fernwood 2Night. The TV show is a lost cult classic. Produced by Norman Lear, it was a summer replacement show that ran for three months. Martin Mull played fictional talk show host Barth Gimble and Fred Willard was his sidekick Jerry Hubbard. The memorable house band was Happy Kyne & The Mirth Makers.
In this episode, Waits plays his classic "The Piano Has Been Drinking" and then goes to the couch for an entertaining interview.
21 May 2010
"Boots of Spanish Leather"
Original Dylan version found on The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)
This selection is a bookend to last week's choice (The Clancy Brothers' cover of "When The Ship Comes In") in that "Boots of Spanish Leather" is another track taken from Bob Dylan's 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin'. In addition, the version by Texas singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith also had its roots in the 30th Anniversary Concert back on 12 October 1992.
In and around that time, Nanci Caroline Griffith was recording her tenth full-length record, to be titled Other Voices, Other Rooms. It was her first album of cover songs, and she had lined up an impressive array of musicians to play on songs written by indivduals who had most shaped her career and craft: Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, Iris DeMent, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Allison Krauss, John Hartford, Leo Kottke - and Bob Dylan.
The version of "Boots of Spanish Leather" presented here is quite close to the original. But what makes it unique is Griffith's voice - not only its beauty and lilt, rambling down the road with a natural story-teller's ease, but also listening to the last three verses sung from a woman's perspective. Dylan's gentle background harmonica adds a subtle touch of grace to this intensely personal song between two lovers.
[Thanks to Peggy Day for the suggestion.]
Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Boots of Spanish Leather"
Live Listening & Viewing: Nanci Griffith & Carolyn Hester, "Boots of Spanish Leather" (New York City, 16 October 1992)
Another Cover Version: Dervish, "Boots of Spanish Leather" (2007)
19 May 2010
Could this be the hit song of the upcoming summer months? Already?
TNOP might put some money down at the window betting on Janelle Monae's single "Tightrope" to win, place and show.
A Kansas City native, the 25 year old Monae (born Janelle Monae Robinson) trained in musical theater in New York City. Forsaking the formal stage, she moved to Atlanta and was discovered by Outkast's Big Boi (he's featured briefly on the recording of "Tightrope").
And, man, is this young woman a dynamite performer. With James Brown dance moves, powerhouse pipes and a natural ease allowing her to improvise on stage like a seasoned pro, Monae commands rapt attention from the listener/viewer.
Do yourself a BIG favor and click above to watch Janelle Monae tear it up on The Late Show with David Letterman last night.
It also helps that Monae has the marketing muscle of Bad Boy/Atlantic Records behind her. The debut album, The ArchAndroid (Suites II and III of IV), dropped yesterday. The official video to "Tightrope" is a kick too; watch it here.
18 May 2010
Tighten Up (Part 1)
b/w "Dog Eat Dog"
Archie Bell & The Drells
Written by Archie Bell & Billy Butler
Ovide Records (later distributed by Atlantic Records)
This story is about a regional group that had an "overnight" hit record with some strange twists along the way. Like the fact that the lead singer singing about a dance craze was shot in the leg while serving in Vietnam. And while recovering from his wounds, kept making calls overseas pleading with DJs to stop playing the "wrong side" of his group's record - the "A" side.
But let's allow the lead singer to begin the story, as he does on the "B" side that became a smash.
I'm Archie Bell of The Drells
From Houston, Texas
We don't only sing but we dance
Just as good as we walk
In Houston we just started a new dance
Called the Tighten Up
This is the music
We tighten up with
Archie Bell formed a group with four friends from high school in 1966. They called themselves "The Drells," a derivative of Archie's family name. Having won some local talent shows, The Drells' first champion was local DJ Skipper Lee Frazier. In 1967, the five young men recorded "Dog Eat Dog" for Frazier's Ovide Records. The flip side was a dance number called "Tighten Up."
Fate intervened (for good and for bad, it turns out). The Vietnam War was raging in the South Pacific. Bell was drafted and immediately inducted into the army. According to one version that has been passed around (and perhaps perpetuated by the singer himself), when he was sworn in, Bell raised his right hand in a black power salute and was answered with a one-way ticket to the platoon facing the worst of the fighting at the time.
Wounded in the leg by gunfire in Vietnam, Bell was sent to recover in Germany. While convalescing, he was advised by other members of the group that "Dog Eat Dog" was getting some significant airplay in Houston, and, of all places, New York City. He took to the long distance lines, calling DJs and telling them that they were playing the "wrong side" of the 45, even though "Dog Eat Dog" was - per custom in the days of the two-sided single - designated as the "A" side for promotional play.
The badgering of radio jocks worked. "Tighten Up" sold 800,000 copies in the New York metropolitan area alone, and over 3 million copies in the US. It hit Number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B singles charts the week of May 18, 1968, only to be knocked off its perch by Simon & Garfunkel ("Mrs. Robinson") and Stevie Wonder ("Shoo-Be-Doo-Da-Day"), respectively.
Bell's explanation for how "Tighten Up" was written is a fairly direct one, not uncommon to many records of the time: a simple suggestion or observation. In this case, group member Billy Butler was dancing around backstage before a show. Bell told him that he didn't recognize the dance steps. Butler replied, "It's a brand new dance called the 'Tighten Up'." Bell took it from there, creating a unique call and response between the vocalist and the drums, bass and organ, no doubt influenced by the great James Brown's dominance of the soul charts during the '60s. From there he upped the ante: Bell recruited some horn players from Texas Southern University ("the Tornadoes") to pop the melody together with syncopated hand claps.
The result is a stone cold classic that instinctively makes you turn up the car radio as soon as you hear the first guitar chord. Or get up off your feet in the living room, because "everybody can do it" - The Tighten Up.
Listen to the original 45 rpm recording of "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell & The Drells.
Watch Archie Bell & The Drells perform "Tighten Up" on TV (date unknown; video is subpar):
16 May 2010
Unless you've been away from all things media, the re-release of The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. has been everywhere. TNOP has waded through alot of media hype and recommends the three pieces that Greg Kot contributed to his Turn It Up blog: separate interviews with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, as well as a retrospective review of the classic double LP itself.
13 May 2010
The Clancy Brothers & Robbie O'Connell with Tommy Makem
"When The Ship Comes In"
Original Dylan version found on The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)
The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration in honor of Bob Dylan's 30 years in the music business was held on 16 October 1992 at New York's Madison Square Garden. Famously dubbed "BobFest" by Neil Young, the star-studded affair featured artists performing exclusively Dylan compositions, including Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and George Harrison.
But amongst the musical firepower, an unassuming - and probably to the majority in the audience, unknown - group of middle-aged men almost stole the show.
The Irish folk singers Liam Clancy (tenor) and Tommy Makem (baritone) had been admired by Dylan since his early days in Greenwich Village. On this occasion, the two singers trade initial verses on "When The Ship Comes In," and then are joined in harmony by Liam's brothers Bobby and Paddy as well as nephew Robbie O'Connell. The choice is apt, as both the melody and lyrics fit the classic mold of an Irish rebel song.
After the lights were dimmed at the Garden, the after-party was held at Tommy Makem's Irish Pavilion on West 57th. Makem was coaxed onto the stage near the bar and sang songs he had recorded with The Clancy Brothers that were favorites of Dylan's.
All the Clancy Brothers have since passed away. Tommy Makem, too. Their cover of "When The Ship Comes In" is an important and historical recording, enhanced because it was captured on video as well.
The appreciation of this anthem was late in coming for me. "When The Ship Comes In" is not a song to be found on any of the Dylan Greatest Hits or Biograph. I had seen snippets of newsreel footage from The March On Washington taken in August 1963 with Dylan singing at the podium with Joan Baez. Later I found out that this was the song they were performing; the tune had supposedly been written a few weeks earlier. According to both Baez and once girlfriend Suze Rotolo, Dylan had written the song inspired by a hotel incident and then fit the words to a melody influenced by Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht.
Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "When The Ship Comes In"
12 May 2010
11 May 2010
Wilco - TNOP's Best Band In America At The Moment (admittedly, they've held the title belt for a number of years now) - once again showed off their live prowess on last night's The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. The boys' selection was "Deeper Down" from Wilco (The Album).
Wilco starts the European leg of its latest tour on 21 May in Helsinki. U.S. dates resume at the end of July.
But it's just the beginning
---Bob Marley, "Want More"
I know claiming Bob Marley as Irish might be a little difficult here tonight, but bear with me. Jamaica and Ireland have lots in common... Naomi Campbell, Chris Blackwell, a fondness for little green leaves... the weed... religion... the philosophy of procrastination (don't put off till tomorrow what you can put off till the day after)... unless of course it's freedom. We are both islands, we're both colonies - JAMAICA IRELAND - ... the common yoke... the struggle for identity, the struggle for independence... the vulnerable and uncertain future that is left behind when the jackboot of empire has finally retreated.... roots... the getting up, the standing up - and the hard bit - the staying up. In such a struggle, an often violent struggle, the voice of Bob Marley was a voice of reason so when I heard Bob Marley first I not only felt it, I felt I understood it. It was 1976 in Dublin, we were listening to punk...it was The Clash who brought him home to us, that and E.C.'s cover of 'I Shot the Sheriff'. Bob Marley and the Wailers had love songs you could admit listening to, songs of hurt...hard but healing... Tuff Gong politics without rhetoric, songs of freedom where that word meant something again, new hymns to a dancing God, redemption songs, a sexy revolution where Jah is Jehovah on street level not over his people ... with His people not just stylin... jamming' the lion of Judah down the line of Judah from Ethiopia where it all began for the rastamen, where everything began...well maybe.
I spent some time in Ethiopia with my wife Ali and everywhere we went we saw Bob Marley's face... wise, royal, Solomon and the queen of Sheba on every street corner, there he was, dressed to hustle God... 'let my people go' an ancient plea...prayers catching fire in Mozambique, Nigeria, The Lebanon, Alabama, Detroit, NEW YORK CITY, Notting Hill, Belfast... a king in dreads... a third and first world super star. Mental slavery ends where imagination begins... here was this new music rocking out of the shantytowns, born from calypso and raised on the chilled out r 'n' b, beamed in from New Orleans... lolling lopping rhythms... telling it like it is, like it was, like it ever shall be...skanking mon! Ska, Bluebeat, Rocksteady, Reggae, dub and now ragga... and all of this from a man who drove 3 BMWs, BMW!? BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS!!! (that was his excuse!) rock and roll loves its juvenilia, its caricatures, its cartoons, the protest singer, the gospel singer, the popstar, the sex god and of course... your more mature messiah types?! we love extremes and we're expected to choose... the mud of the blues or the oxygen of gospel, the 'hellhound on our trail' or the 'band of angels'. Marley didn't choose or didn't walk down the middle, he raced to the edges embracing all extremes and creating a oneness. He wanted everything at the same time and was every thing at the same time... prophet, soul rebel, rasta man, herbsman, wild man, a natural mystic man, ladies man, island man, soccer man, family man, Rita's man, showman, shaman, human, JAMAICAN.
---Bono, "Induction Song" (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Special Awards Ceremony, 1994)
10 May 2010
CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS FOR TV TIMES AND/OR REPEAT SHOWINGS; ALSO CONSULT WEBSITES AND YouTube
TONIGHT, 10 May
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (CBS) - Wilco
Last Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) - Green Day; Taj Mahal
TUESDAY, 11 May
The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS) - MGMT
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson - Jonsi
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Keith Urban; Mike McCready
Lopez Tonight (TBS) - Ozomatli
WEDNESDAY, 12 May
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (NBC) - Macy Gray
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Queen Latifah; Sheryl Crow; Chuck Leavell
THURSDAY, 13 May
The Late Show with David Letterman - The National
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Jakob Dylan
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Phish; Dr. John
The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) - The Hold Steady
FRIDAY, 23 April
Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) - Dr. Dog
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - A screening of "Stones In Exile"
07 May 2010
The White Stripes
Original Dylan version found on Desire (1976)
[Ed. note: Regular readers of this blog know that Bob Dylan is affectionately referred to as the "Patron Saint" of TNOP. This weekly feature sifts through the thousands of cover versions of Dylan songs and provides you with our favorites, as well as a quick memory to our first exposure to the Dylan original.]
Some of the best stories in rock and roll are about the artists that go against the grain of what seems to be pervasive in the musical world at the moment. And so it was that Jack White and his "sister" Meg unleashed their raw, garage band assault on the blues at the beginning of the new century. It was contrary to in-your-face rap and the growing impersonal electronic noodling on the rock landscape.
It should not be surprising, then, that Jack White would form a musical bond over the years with another famous contrarian, Bob Dylan. The native Detroiter's choice here (from 2001, when the duo was just starting to draw international attention) is "Isis," a chorus free song written by Dylan and Jacques Levy from Desire. (The White Stripes' debut album included "One More Cup of Coffee," also from Desire.) White's vocal urgency here is definitely traced to the feverish delivery of Dylan on his performances of the song during the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975.
The White Stripes have also been known to pull out covers of "Outlaw Blues" and "Love Sick" in concert. In addition, the debut album of White's side project, The Dead Weather, includes a version of Street Legal's "New Pony."
Dylan himself has often tipped his hat to The White Stripes: in addition to joint live appearances (see below), the band's songs have been included on Theme Time Radio Hour. Jack has also popped up as a guest on the show; and Meg was mentioned as a female drummer in the episode "Musical Instruments."
It comes as no surprise that Jack White has supposedly been quoted that he is the progeny of his biological father, spiritual father (God) and musical father (Bob Dylan).
First off, a side note. There's no doubt I was drawn to "Isis" this week simply because of its reference to "the fifth day of May" - Cinco de Mayo. But "Isis" is also one of my personal Dylan favorites.
Like many in their teens, when Desire came out in the beginning of January 1976 there was great anticipation. To me, there was still a newness about Dylan; I certainly was on an on-going discovery of the bulk of the vital 1960s output. But in the midst of the singer-songwriter revolution in the early 1970s, Blood On The Tracks was a watershed to those my age, from a melody as well as lyrical standpoint.
Dylan had been in the pages of Rolling Stone pontificating about the innocence of boxer Rubin Carter and a single tracking the athlete's plight, "Hurricane," had made quite a splash. He would also play some benefit concerts (that presumably cleared no profit) on behalf of Carter, who had been convicted of murder (and would be exonerated in 1985). This was the first time that I had really witnessed Dylan entering into the public fray. But, not surprisingly, reaction to his strident stance on the former middle-weight champ's innocence was decidedly mixed.
Now the majority of that band had assembled in New York City to record a new set of Dylan tunes, and the title Desire was stamped on the album. So placing the 33 1/3 disc on the turntable, carefully placing the needle on track two, I held my breath for the first new shot of Bob. A simple rolling piano riff played by Dylan introduced me to "Isis." And off I went into a land that seemed drawn from one of those old John Ford westerns. The fable unravels in verse after verse - there is no chorus - and is dominated by the violin of Scarlet Rivera. The tale of a mysterious stranger and the lure of buried treasure is countered by the narrator's love of an equally mysterious woman. And Dylan gives the narrator's wife the name of the ancient Egyptian deity Isis, the goddess of magic and light.
As luck would have it, one of my teachers was writing his doctoral thesis on Isis, and this fact made me more drawn to the song. Not that I could understand all the nuances.
In his liner notes to Desire, Dylan writes: I have a brother or two and a whole lot of karma to burn . . . Isis and the moon shine on me. At that stage of my life, no light of understanding was shining on me as to why Dylan was throwing in, for example, a Middle East pyramid into "Isis," a story presumably set in Mexico or America's Wild West, and anchored by a clearly Celtic harmony. But hell if it didn't leave me more intrigued.
Original Listening: Bob Dylan, "Isis"
Live Listening: Bob Dylan, "Isis" (with The Rolling Thunder Review, from Biograph)
06 May 2010
Turner Hall, Milwaukee
[On occasion, our far-flung correspondents attend and review shows. Here's another installment.]
The web site Daytrotter has become popular with music fans for creating a unique format that has since been imitated, but never duplicated, in various forms. Based out of barnlike studio in Rock Island, Illinois, a town on the banks of the Mississippi River, Daytrotter's recording studio has been host to many popular and upcoming independent bands.
Now, for the third consecutive year, Daytrotter has put together a mini-caravan of acts to perform in the Midwest in what it dubs as its "Barnstormer 3." TNOP recently caught the second of five shows at Turner Hall, joined by our UK correspondent, Miles Gallagher.
Free Energy, a openly proud rawk 'n roll quintet from Philadelphia (but hatched in Minneapolis) took the stage as we entered Turner Hall, an old German gymnastics building converted by some imaginative music entrepreneurs. Miles wrote an Ascending column in these pages last month on the band, emphasizing their promise on the live stage. He confided to me his disappointment in their freshman CD Stuck On Nothing - despite production by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem - concluding that Free Energy's studio recording had "been slow by half a beat." After a listen to the record, I knew what he meant; and apparently the public did, too, as the release fell flat with listeners, despite an appearance on Letterman and a media push from the likes of Paste and Rolling Stone.
With a retro look that could have landed them the band lead in Almost Famous, Free Energy powered through their set with plenty of fun and hooks to spare. Echoes of T. Rex, Thin Lizzy and The Stones perked up the crowd. Lead singer Paul Sprangers delivered time and again, adapting a Joey Ramone stance and leaving the stage antics to his more than able guitarist, Scott Wells.
"We're breaking out this time," Sprangers sings on the tune that bears the band's name. And with the freedom to hone their craft on an intimate stage, power pop confections like "Bang Pop" have both Miles and I bobbing our heads in unison. Although they pay homage to the above mentioned bands - and a few more - Free Energy fills a void that seems to have been missing in rock lately.
Missouri singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff comes next, and immediately seems out of place. Fiddling endlessly with mic checks and then not even introducing himself or his band, the crowd first deflates during a couple of (albeit lovely) three-part harmony numbers without musical accompaniment. The band is certainly proficient but frankly rather lifeless as it continues its set of Americana. Then "Laughing" and "You Should Have Seen The Other Guy" provide shots in the arm and their finale (a straight cop of a Bon Iver harmony) draws the biggest reaction from the crowd. Rateliff will be opening for The Tallest Man On Earth in the coming weeks; TNOP is confident that his act will translate better on that bill.
If this had been coined an old-fashioned "Battle of the Bands," San Diego's Delta Spirit would have skipped away with the crown on this particular evening. "Bushwick Blues" is a great opener. Drummer Brandon Young serves notice right off the bat that he means business behind the skins, bashing the snare with such intensity that he breaks a stick (which would occur more than once in this truncated set). His partner in rhythm, bassist Jon Jameson, also kills throughout. Guitarists Matt Vasquez and Sean Walker play off each other nicely. Although this act obviously has roots in Americana as well, Delta Spirit has got soul. During "Ransom Man," Miles yells in my ear what a great bottom sound the group has. Vasquez is comfortable at the mic, singing with eased emotion whether Delta Spirit is playing a ballad or boogie woogie. The group's second album, History From Below (Rounder) drops 8 June. TNOP can't wait.
Rounding out the night was Ra Ra Riot, probably the most recognizable name on the bill. The Syracuse band has a cool factor that flows from the fact that their sound isn't immediately derivative of any genre in particular. In a refreshing (and admittedly ironic) twist, cellist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller "take the place" of seemingly ubiquitous synthesizers. While vocalist Wes Miles noodles with a keyboard every once in awhile, his noteworthy range makes the listener stand up and notice, particularly on songs like "Dying Is Fine" and "Ghost Under Rocks." Bassist Mathieu Santos drives the beat of Ra Ra Riot; again, in a rock juxtaposition, Milo Bonacci's guitar is usually complimentary rather than up front. Along with the steady drumming of Gabriel Duquette, it all adds up to a fresh cocktail of rhythm that leans on Celtic and African influences.
And if you haven't caught The Black Keys live, do yourself a favor and catch them this summer on tour. In addition to opening for Kings of Leon on a handful of dates, the boys headline at some pretty great venues around the country, joined by The Morning Benders, Nicole Atkins or The Whigs.
04 May 2010
Kent State University
From the New York Times front page story by John Kifner:
Four students at Kent State University, two of them women, were shot to death this afternoon by a volley of National Guard gunfire. At least 8 other students were wounded.
The burst of gunfire came about 20 minutes after the guardsmen broke up a noon rally on the Commons, a grassy campus gathering spot, by lobbing tear gas at a crowd of about 1,000 young people.
Frederick P. Wenger, the Assistant Adjutant General, said the troops had opened fire after they were shot at by a sniper.
"They were understanding orders to take cover and return any fire," he said.
This reporter, who was with the group of students, did not see any indication of sniper fire, nor was the sound of any gunfire audible before the Guard volley. Students, conceding that rocks had been thrown, heatedly denied that there was any sniper.
Allison Krause, 19 (shot from 110 yards away)
William Schroeder, 19 (130 yards)
Jeffery Miller, 20 (90 yards)
Sandra Scheuer, 20 (130 yards)
It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students. Probably the most important lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. David Crosby cried after this take.
---Neil Young, liner notes to Decade on his song "Ohio"
03 May 2010
Watch him tear it up at The T.A.M.I. Show in 1964: