Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Concert Review: Old Crow Medicine Show

The setting is Mississippi Nights and Laclede's Landing in downtown St. Louis. There are people lining up outside only twenty to thirty minutes before showtime. When I make my way inside I head straight for the chairs at stage right. The crowd is diverse to say the least. There's man old enough to be my grandfather sitting beside me, a metalhead sporting his Dimebag Darrell shirt, and even a couple that brought their 5-6 year old son.

The show starts a few minutes late, but I know it's not going to take away from the show. They start with one of my favorites, Tear it Down. The vocals are so fast and loud that the banjo is a bit hard to hear even though it has its own microphone. With the way the crowd hollers and yells their approval after one song I know this is going to be a great show. Even the metal thrasher dude is happy. Blackeyed Susan is next with crisp and bold vocals. Two songs into the setlist you can already see the hair flying off of Ketch's fiddle. Another great reaction from the audience as Big Time in the Jungle. Big Time is a much slower song than the first two but it doesn't slow the dancing crowd at all. A song about a "cold wind blowin through town" is next with strong harmonica and a strong influence of blues is forced. The next song is for the ladies... the old Woody Guthrie tune, Union Maid! What a pleasant surprise! Apparently it's on OCMS's new album Big Iron World, which I bought at the show, so obviously I didn't have the chance to listen to it yet. I forgot I knew this song, but it's been awhile since I listened to any music from my grandparents' record collection. The only lyrics I could muster up were "stick it to the union".

not done yet... I've still got about twenty songs left.... but I'm hungry and need nutrition.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Concert review #2: Pete Yorn
Another long night. Another Pete Yorn show. I had a blast once again, and there were a few surprises in store. First off, the Blue Note is the best venue for concerts that I've been to and for those keeping score at home like I am, I've been to dozens of places. Here's my list. Anyway, the night started off by getting the chance to meet someone I just mentioned in the last post. Since that last post I've learned that Jeff Sweatman, radio personality for KBXR, has shocked the world by moving on and taking a new job on the east coast. As soon as I got inside I saw Liz, another BXR-ite, and asked her if Jeff was around. He was standing just a couple feet from me. We spoke briefly about his move and I wish him the best of luck.

The tickets, as pictured above, say 7PM. When I see 7pm, that's what time I expected the show to start, not what time the doors opened. Whatever. After talking with Jeff I headed up the stairs to meet up with the other three friends that left me behind in the lobby, expecting them to be sitting at one of the many tables and chairs in the balcony. WHAT?!? The tables and chairs are gone! They've converted everything over to levels of permanent rows and seats, and that's a bummer. I guess this happened about a year and a half ago, but it's been awhile since I was there. Onto the show.

When I saw Pete play last July Minibar was just there as a supporting band. I was clueless to the thought they had a lead singer and rhythm guitarist. Their ranking as an opening act of the shows I've been to this year rank at the top in a tie with My Morning Jacket. Sensational guitar work paired with strong vocals and that drummer that worked his ass off again. I regret not having enough money with me to buy their CD.

Pete comes to the stage and opens with I Feel Good Again. He also played For Us, Undercover, and LOAC (Life on a Chain) soon after. He tells us some story about helping his friend move and then sings Closet as a tribute. The crowd was just as responsive as they were in St. Louis, only the Blue Note doesn't offer as much of an intimate setting as Blueberry Hill's Duck Room. There were girls dancing all over the place, guys jumping around and shouting the lyrics back, word for word. There was a pretty rowdy section at stage left too... not pushy or violent, but the cheering from that part of the floor was just little louder than the rest. On Your Side was a tribute to Sarah.

Somewhere through the rest of the setlist Crystal Village, Strange Condition, and The Man are blended in. I would have written out a setlist, but had a cup in one hand and a pitcher of beer in the other the entire night. He ended with Suspicious Minds, prompted me to catch up with two of my friends that got lost in the crowd. Erin and I danced our tails off. Thanks girl... love ya. While stopping in Kingdom City for caffeine and burritos I met two girls that were on their way back to St. Louis. They remembered me from the StL show! Then they told me the reason they recognized me is because they said I was wearing the same shirt at the last show. What an observation! It certainly wasn't planned, but after thinking back they are right.

Something tells me this isn't my best writing. I'm still worn out from the two-hour drive back home and then going to work at 5AM. Thankfully it was only for a couple hours. I don't believe I could write reviews for a living if they had to be done within 24 hours of the show. I'll probably edit this post just so I can add a couple pics later. I think I'm going to go back to bed too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Four-pack of the Month
This month's selections are derived straight from the one radio station I would sell my vital organs to hear on a daily basis, KBXR. They are the only station I've found that was worth listening to online... they stream 24 hours a day! When you hear their motto "Columbia's QUALITY Rock", who cares about the grainy internet sound quality, it's the music quality you're after. No Nickelback, Buckcherry, Good Charlotte. You rarely hear the same song twice in three hours, and even the commercial breaks are tolerable. So thank you Simon, Jeff, Liz, and Spencer, for playing what I want... no... NEED to hear. Lots of emphasis on QUALITY.

Let's start with Shawn Colvin. I've liked her for a long time, although the only music I've heard came from A Few Small Repairs (and YES, the album name came from memory!). If the album name or HER name for that matter don't ring a bell, just listen to any Adult Contemporary station and you'll soon hear "Sunny Came Home". Blah.. It's a good song, but "You and the Mona Lisa", and "Nothin' on Me" were so much better. The world threw her to the wolves quickly after this album, much like Paula Cole and Meredith Brooks, who along with Colvin are still writing and making music. Her new album is titled These Four Walls. I heard Colvin's new song, Fill Me Up, and it's not bad at all. Reminds me of Kathleen Edwards, who rocks my world. Give it a listen, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Fill Me Up

Next up is a band that I've never heard until tonight, and I'm instantly attracted. The Hold Steady have a sound so reminiscent of Thin Lizzy that I did a quick Wikipedia search to make sure Phil Lynott didn't father any budding musicians before his death in 1986. Anyway, they've got a hip new song from the album Boys and Girls in America called Hot Soft Light.

I've always liked Robert Randolph and the Family Band. They're a mulitcultural funk and soul band from somewhere in the south. Their concerts are lively and full of long steel guitar solos which I will never grow tired of hearing. I got the chance to see them open for the Black Crowes and the only thing that disappointed me in the performance was that Robert walked onto a stage in St. Louis wearing a New York Mets Jersey. Bad Robert Bad. Anyway, they've got a new album called Colorblind, with the single Thrill of It to turn the album's sales up a notch.

I didn't get to watch the game. I missed the hype, the story, everything about it. Working in the media, being a music and sports junkie, I failed in seeing the return of the New Orleans Saints to the Superdome. I love me some football, I admire the music that Green Day and U2 have both released in the last few years. No, I'm not going to believe that Billie Joe or Bono are going to save the world, but I do believe they are making some damn good music that just happens to be relevant to today's issues. I cannot seem to track down the Wake Me When September Ends-The Saints Are Coming-Beautiful Day track in its entirety, but this should do just fine. For those that don't like live music, here is U2 in the studio; The Saints are Coming. For those that don't mind a little crowd reaction, here. The Saints Are Coming - Live

Watch this video - it's powerful. moving. raises every hair on my body every time I even think of the title of the song.

Could Bono have made a better transition from "Saints" to"Beautiful Day" with the line "after the flood all the colors came out"? That's poetic and I like it.