Thursday, August 12, 2010

RIP Richie Hayward

In August 2009, Richie Hayward, drummer for Little Feat from its origins in 1969 until 2009, announced that he had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer and would not be at work indefinitely. A benefit concert was organized and a website created where fans unable to attend could donate towards his treatment costs. Hayward lived in Canada, outside of his native USA, and did not have health insurance. Little Feat have announced that their drum technician Ford will take his place. He died from liver cancer on August 12, 2010.

In November 2009, Levon Helm auctioned his Last Waltz gold record to support Heyward's recovery effort.

Little Feat
Time Loves A Hero

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's All About Seoul!

Well, actually Japan...but I couldn't resist.  You have to check out this clip of a Japanese cover band playing Billy Joel's 'All About Soul' from the River of Dreams album.  Great, great song.

But first I wanted to say that I've been on a major Billy Joel kick lately.  And I feel about him the way I feel about Van Morrison.  It's all about the back catalog baby.  Brown Eyed Girl.  Pop crap.  Piano Man...well that's just a good song.  But anyway, I've been mining the Billy Joel archives because life has thrown me a few curve balls in the last couple of months.  And Billy speaks the kind of truth that I need to hear right now.  Plus, anyone who can get Elle MacPherson and Christie Brinkley in the same lifetime is okay with me.

First listen to the Billy Joel version at least for 30 seconds to get the vibe of the song.

Then check out the Japanese cover band.  Who knew the Piano Man translated to Japan?  Actually maybe it doesn't!  Love the vocals and the dedication.  He's REALLY trying for the impersonation.  Do they even know what they are singing???

UPDATE: 'A Voyage on the River of Dreams' is an Australian 3-CD box set released in 1994, which includes the studio album, River Of Dreams, along with a 6-track live CD from the '93-'94 River Of Dreams tour, plus a Questions & Answers CD recorded at Princeton UniversityThis boxed set made the charts in Australia (#33) and New Zealand (#47), the only places besides JAPAN where the set was officially released.

There you have it.  The Japanese love them some Billy Joel.  Who knew?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Frank Turner at Bonnaroo

Back on May 1, 2007, in the early days of this site, I posted a video of English folk-punk singer Frank Turner performing his song "The Real Damage" on a barge in South London.  At the time, Frank had just released his first studio album.  I don't remember how I originally happened upon the video, but I remember being immediately taken with his impassioned acoustic performance of the song he'd written about waking up in a strange house, among strange people, with a dead cell phone and no memory of what he'd done the night before.

Three years later, after gaining increasing popularity around the world, Turner played at this year's Bonnaroo  in one of the festival's smaller tents, the Troo Music Lounge.  Just prior to the Stateside gig, Frank played a concert in Israel and earlier in 2010 he played shows in faraway countries like China and New Zealand. Even though he wasn't on one of the proper stages at Bonnaroo, his booking is recognition that his stock is rising in America.

One of the songs he performed at the festival is called "Nashville, Tennessee." No, he didn't write it specifically for the festival.  He's actually been performing it since at least 2006 (evidenced by YouTube). Watching the video, its pretty cool seeing him finally performing the song inside of the state that inspired the title. He seems to being enjoying that fact as well.

"Nashville, TN" features the lyrics:

From the heart of the Southern Downs, to the North-East London reservoirs,
From the start, the land scaped my sound, before I'd ever been to America.
And if I knew anybody who played pedal steel guitar,
I'd get them in my band and then my band would get real far,
But I was raised in middle England, and not in Nashville Tennessee,
And the only person in my band is me.

Photo Monday

The Band chilling in their kitchen in Williamsbur...I mean, Saugerties, New York (Photo by Elliott Landy, 1968)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Father's Day: My Father's Eyes

With Sunday being Father's Day, I decided for tonight's post that I would do some searching online for an appropriate song to commemorate the occasion. Combing through the results, I concluded that: "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" is a little too funky and "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" is just downright incorrect. Despite reviewing pages of search results, in my head, I couldn't get past Eric Clapton's "My Father's Eyes" from his 1998 album Pilgrim. This is an album that my parents bought for me while I was in college. It's the one that featured Eric's duet with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, "Change The World," that's been inescapable on radio ever since.  The album got a good number of spins on my stereo before finding its permanent home in my Pro Logic CD book.

One song on the album that always stood out to me was My Father's Eyes. The lyrics are moving, Clapton's vocal is soulful and strong, and the guitar riff is clean and memorable.  One negative, which doesn't totally detract from the song, is that the production is a little too slick; a little too perfect. Despite that complaint, I still do enjoy listening to it since it reminds me of the days where I actually flipped through my Pro Logic CD book looking for something to drop into the Discman to soundtrack my walk to class.  It also happens to be an emotional song about the relationship between a father and a son, with the lyrics touching on both Eric never meeting his own father and the tragic loss of his son Connor.

As is many times the case with YouTube, this evening I stumbled upon a video that I never expected to find, since I never knew its contents took place. Even though My Father's Eyes wasn't released until 1998, on Pilgrim, it was in fact performed six years earlier by Clapton and his band on January 16, 1992 at Bray Film Studios in Windsor, England.  This was the session where Clapton resurrected his career by performing a set of acoustic songs for MTV's Unplugged series.  As a result of this night's taping, Clapton won six Grammy's including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Rock Male Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song, with the majority of those accolades received for "Tears In Heaven".

I learned tonight that a number of songs that were played that night did not make it onto the album. One of them was an early version of My Father's Eyes.  Fortunately, the video of this performance has made its way online.  It contains all of the emotion of the original and drops the slick veneer.

Please take a listen to the unplugged My Father's Eyes performed by Eric Clapton and his band at the legendary 1992 session for MTV and remember to wish your dad a Happy Father's Day on Sunday. [The song starts at 1:38]:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Old Grey Whistle Test

The Old Grey Whistle Test was a British music television program running from 1971 to 1987 on the BBC2 channel which featured interview segments and in-studio performances. The acts were chosen not for chart position, a la Top Of The Pops, but rather for the quality of their songwriting and performing. A good number of very successful artists' first British television appearance took place on OGWT, so its clear that the show was both very willing to take chances on relatively unknown acts and had very very good taste. According to Wikipedia, in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programs compiled by the British Film Institute in 2000, The Old Grey Whistle Test ranked 33rd. Three volumes of DVDs have been released featuring performances that took place on the show.

I have compiled a few of my favorite videos from the The Old Grey Whistle Test:

1. The Wailers featuring Bob Marley and Peter Tosh performing Stir It Up in 1973. This performance took place one year before Eric Clapton had his only #1 hit with  I Shot The Sheriff.  The quality of the audio on this video is stunning:

2. John Lennon performs Stand By Me for the show in 1975. Lennon recorded this in a New York studio City because he couldn't leave the States due to his fight with US Immigration. During the song, John gives out a hello to Julian and everyone in England.

3. ZZ Top perform I Thank You and Cheap Sunglasses in 1980. This is a very rare glimpse at the band performing without their trademark cheap sunglasses, which eventually come out in time for the latter tune.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Years Ago On A Warm Dark Night

Q: What do Gram Parsons and Back Fence superstar Mark West have in common?

A: The influence of George Jones and Lefty Frizzell

Our regular readers will remember that three years ago our WeightStaff field reporter snagged an interview with the elusive, notoriously media-shy Mark West. Mark is the bass player and vocalist in the Vinnie Ferrone Band, which performs regular gigs at The Back Fence bar in Manhattan's West Village. West was featured in our very rare "Ten Questions With..." series back in June 2007. Question Five (of 10) inquired about Mark's influences. Surprisingly, he responded with traditional country music performers George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, and "old Kenny Rogers". I've always been surprised by this response, but it makes me respect the man even more. I superficially would have expected him to say Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Ray Charles. But Mark's response demonstrates his ability to appreciate real music from all directions.

Take a listen to Lefty Frizzell's recording of Long Black Veil from 1959, the original recording of this much-covered track. West's indication of Lefty as an influence makes so much more sense when hearing the soul in his vocal delivery of this dark tune. I can absolutely hear Mr. West delivering a killer vocal on this. I'll be sure to request it next time I watch him perform at The Back Fence.

Bonus Fact:
Long Black Veil appears on The Band's Music From Big Pink album and is the the only non-original (or non-Dylan song) on their first four albums.

Fallen Angel: Gram Parsons and Wild Horses

Over the weekend, I watched an excellent documentary on the musical career and scandalous death of Gram Parsons. From The Byrds to The Flying Burrito Brothers to his work with Emmylou Harris and The Fallen Angel Band, Gram produced some phenomenal music before his tragic death at the age of 26 from a drug overdose. The movie makes clear Gram's love for traditional country music, including singers George Jones, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard.

Gram brought his vast knowledge of country music songwriting to The Byrds in 1968 when he was invited to join as a keyboard player by Chris Hillman to help offset the departure of David Crosby.  The music Gram produced with them on their Sweetheart of the Rodeo album in 1968 and later with The Flying Burrito Brothers between 1969 and 1970 significantly impacted the infusion of country music into the rock n' roll scene.

While a member of The Byrds, in 1968, through Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn, Gram Parsons met Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.   He began to spend significant amounts of time with them, especially Keith, playing records and teaching them about American country music. As the story goes instead of traveling with The Byrds to perform a charity concert in South Africa, Gram instead opted to remain in Europe with Mick and Keith, which led to Parsons' dismissal from The Byrds.

Over three days in December 1969, The Rolling Stones recorded the song Wild Horses in the famed FAME recording studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The song was shelved by the band due to contractual issues with their record company, but Parsons heard it and requested permission to record it with The Flying Burrito Brothers even though the song had not yet been released. With Mick Jagger's permission, Parson's recorded the song and included it on the Flying Burrito Brothers' second album, Burrito Deluxe, released in April 1970.  Gram honored Mick's request to not release the track as a single. One year later, in April '71, The Rolling Stones recording of Wild Horses was released on their own album, Sticky Fingers.

Take a listen here to The Flying Burrito Brothers' recording of Wild Horses:

Bonus footage:

The Flying Burrito Brothers performing Six Days On The Road as the third band of the day at the infamous Altamont Festival on December 6, 1969. They followed Santana and Jefferson Airplane and preceded CSNY and The Stones. This footage is from the documentary Gimme Shelter:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lyrics As Poetry: Here Comes That Rainbow Again

The following clip is from Kris Kristofferson's appearance on the Elvis Costello-hosted television show Spectacle.  In introducing his own song, Here Comes That Rainbow Again, Kristofferson states that Johnny Cash wrote in his autobiography that this "might be his favorite song."  Heavy praise for a musically simple song with only two verses that runs less than three minutes.  One listen to the narrative lyrics and you'll know what Johnny was talking about.  The song was released by Kristofferson as a single in 1981 and was subsequently recorded by Cash on his 1985 album Rainbow.

Watch Johnny Cash perform the song in a clip from The Late Show with David Letterman from 1985 featuring an appearance from Waylon Jennings: 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

From The Archive: Oysterhead

Comprised of Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, Primus bass player Les Claypool, and Police drummer Steward Copeland, Oysterhead formed in April 2000 for a one-off performance.  They specifically formed for the Super Jam series organized by New Orleans-based Superfly Entertainment during one night of the city's Jazz and Heritage Festival.   Despite their original intention to only perform together one time, the band went on to record a full length album in 2001, called The Grand Pecking Order, and go out on a short tour. I attended their show that year at Constitution Hall in Washington DC and I remember enjoying it, but the band definitely went off into some crazy, psychedelic, freak-out tangents.

Oysterhead reunited on the main stage at the 2006 Bonnaroo Festival, an event partially run by the aforementioned Superfly Entertainment. I was also in the crowd for this festival set, which was even more 'out there' than the show I'd seen in DC and although entertaining for a short time was difficult to stick with in the sweltering heat of the day.

Here's Oysterhead performing Oz Is Ever Floating on the Conan O'Brien show, presumably in 2001.  The man mentioned throughout the song, Dr. John C. Lilly, died at the age of 86, two days before the release of the album.

According to Wikipedia, "In the early sixties he [John C. Lilly] was introduced to psychedelics like LSD and (later) ketamine and began a series of experiments in which he took the psychedelic either in an isolation tank or in the company of dolphins. These events are described in his books Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer: Theory and Experiments and The Center of the Cyclone, both published in 1972."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Familiar Faces

Stars are crawling out of the woodwork to join the band [The Faces] onstage for a reunion tour in early 2011 after their recent reformation. Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall is taking Rod Stewart’s place as vocalist, and Slash, Noel Gallagher, Kelly Jones from Stereophonics and Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes have all been associated with the tour. “There’s loads of people who have said ‘Oh please let’s sing with you’. And Slash is going to help us on guitar when he can fit in between his promotions,” Guitarist Ronnie Wood told the World Entertainment News Network.

The Faces split in 1975—with members going on to find success elsewhere—and reunited briefly for a charity show last year. Hucknall, Wood, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan will play their first gig as the reformed Faces in August in the U.K.

Source: Paste Magazine

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rock Family Tree: Sneakin' Sally

I love discovering unexpected connections between bands, musicians, or songs that I hadn't previously known about. With a little effort (aka research online) I've been able to uncover countless examples where I'll learn that: a song I've known for some time was actually originally performed or written by someone else of note (see previous post re: The Band covering Marvin Gaye's Baby Don't You Do It), that one famous band was born out of another famous band (e.g., Neal Schon leaving Santana to help form Journey), or that well known musicians sat in to help another artist record an album (e.g., Stephen Stills first solo album in 1970 featured appearances by Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Jimi Hendrix, and Booker T. Jones in addition to David Crosby and Graham Nash).

It was a new discovery tonight that led me to write this post. To set some context, just yesterday morning while shopping at Burlington Records off of Church Street in downtown Burlington, VT, I picked up a vinyl copy of Robert Palmer's first solo record Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley. I was first introduced to the title track from this album in late 1997 when I'd read that Phish had resurrected it in their setlists after the song had been shelved from their live concerts for over eight years. After listening to the song a number of times back then and also hearing Phish play it live on 8/8/98, I was immediately drawn to it, with its relentlessly funky groove.

Fast forward to tonight where I was reading up on the album after dropping the needle on my new purchase. I was very surprised and very excited to read that Palmer was backed on the original 1974 recording of this particular song by some of my favorite musicians of all time, namely the original New Orleans funk pioneers The Meters (Art Neville, Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, Jr., and Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste) and Little Feat lead guitarist Lowell George. I have been a fan of these other musicians for over ten years and had no idea that they were the musical force behind Robert Palmer's solo debut with Sally. In fact, the Meters and Lowell are featured as Robert's backing band on half of the album (4 of 8 songs), with Lowell George playing on a total of five of them. On the last track, one not featuring the Meters or George, an appearance is made by none other than Steve Winwood on piano. Not bad company for a guy to start off a solo career after three unsuccessful albums with a band called Vinegar Joe. Palmer's second solo album, Pressure Drop, including the title track cover of the Toots and the Maytal's hit, found Robert backed this time by the full Little Feat lineup, including friend Lowell George on lead guitar. On one other track on this record, legendary Motown bass player and Funk Brother James Jamerson lends his skills.

Take a listen to the original Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley, featuring Robert Palmer, the legendary Meters, and the incomparable Lowell George:

Bonus Facts [Source: Wikipedia]:

- This same year, 1974, Paul McCartney invited the Meters to play at the release party for his Venus and Mars album aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones was in attendance and was greatly taken with the Meters and their sound. The Rolling Stones invited the band to open for them on their Tour of the Americas '75 and Tour of Europe '76.

- Neal Schon was asked by Eric Clapton to join Derek and the Dominos, but since Santana called Neal only a few days earlier, he decided to join Santana instead.

Did You Know: Easy Rider Edition

In reference to the previous post, The Band's version of The Weight appears in the Easy Rider film, but the version of the song that was included on the soundtrack was performed by the band Smith because of contractual problems preventing use of The Band's original.

Listen to Smith's take on our namesake tune:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dennis Hopper: Liberta E Paura

As I have proselytized in past posts, Dennis Hopper is, and should always be remembered as a true American hero (ironically, it was Peter Fonda's character in Easy Rider who was named "Captain America").  Not just because he was a gifted artist -- which he most certainly was -- but because he refused to take any shit from anyone; he stood up for what he believed in -- for what we all believed in but didn't have the balls to do or say.  In fact, I will go as far as stating that without him (and I'm including his ideals, his attitude and of course, the films he bestowed upon us), the "Summer of Love" and on a wider scale, the entire hippie/counter-culture movement, might have been relegated to one forgotten footnote in the short history of this country  (Easy Rider was released about 2 months before Woodstock occurred and many of the attendees, especially those from the East, would not have been exposed to what was going on out West but for the film's penetrating message).  I firmly believe Hopper epitomized the true essence of being an American:  liberty, fearlessness, and rebellion (yes, our country was more or less founded on these principles).  And for this, I think we owe him a great debt -- or at a minimum, the proper recognition he deserves. 

I will not attempt to eulogize Hopper here because there are far better websites and other outlets where you can read detailed accounts of his life and achievements.  But I'll leave you with a quote from Easy Rider, where in his infinite wisdom, acute foresight, and comic irony, Hopper sums up nicely the significance of the counter-culture movement and even more, why this country would never be the same again thereafter:

George Hanson [Jack Nicholson]:  They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em. 
Billy [Dennis Hopper]:  Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.

Well put.

Clip from Easy Rider that brought our namesake, The Weight, into national prominence:


Covered in Dust: The Ultimate Writer's Block

The Weightstaff is comprised of 3 people.  And throughout the lifespan of The Weight's existence, we have each had our time of being prolific and/or fading into the background.  Usually, the exuberance and interest of 1 or 2 of the members carries the site and the the other is allowed to roam outside of the blogosphere.  Well, considering how long its been since I have regularly posted (think the Nixon era...or so it feels) I have been more out of the loop than Walt from the Island on Lost.  [Sorry, I couldn't resist as I'm listening to the Bill Simmons Lost season finale podcast.] 

So I'm the guy covered in dust as alluded to in the title of this post.  I finished graduate school in the last couple of weeks and was so buried in assignments and working full time that my interest in music and pop culture almost disappeared.  So forgive me if this post is more to stretch my blogging legs rather than informing you, the reader, of anything all that interesting.  But I am hoping this is the beginning of another beautiful blogship.  So bear with me here as I divulge what I have found of note in reading the latest Rolling Stone:

1) The George Harrison/Martin Scorsese biopic is still happening!  I love this pairing and am very intrigued by what the final result will be.  I want to hear more from the Silent Beatle and will be able to in 2011.  If this is as good as No Direction Home, I'll be pleased.

2) The Roots have a new tune called Dear God 2.0 with none other than jacketed Jim James.  Back in college, I loved the Roots album 'Do You Want More??!??!' because they were playing instruments when Cash Money and their electronic blips and bleeps were all the rage.  I respected it.  Good for The Roots for staying (somewhat) relevant.

3) Santana continues his spiritual "whoring himself out" streak with a covers album.  Clive Davis has convinced the guitar god to work with Chris Cornell on 'Whole Lotta Love', Joe Cocker on 'Little Wing', Rob Thomas on 'Sunshine of Your Love', and Nas on 'Back in Black'.  Really Carlos?  This sounds like next year's American Idol finale.  Did you already spend all that Supernatural cash on a shrine to Metatron?

Lastly, did Bret Michaels sell his soul to the devil?  He has worked the media perfectly so far in this latest "comeback".  So, it took cheating death to become the focus of media attention.  And I'm sure the attention will flame out.  But he should be on Celebrity Rehab not winning Celebrity Apprentice!  I applaud his latest "career".  You think Vince Neil is trying to figure out how to almost kill himself?

In the upcoming week I'm hitting up Conan O' Brien at Radio City on Wednesday and a Levon Ramble with Drive By Truckers on Saturday.  This post is hopefully the rebirth of a big part of my life over the last few years.  Here's to wasting more time together in the future...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Levon Helm Birthday Week

Not only is it Bob Dylan Birthday Week, but as one faithful reader reminded me today, its also Levon Helm Birthday Week!  Former drummer extraordinaire for The Band, he celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday, May 26th.  On Sunday June 4th, about 20 miles from his home in Woodstock, Levon will be performing on Hunter Mountain for the 4th annual Mountain Jam Festival where his current band will close out the last day of the event with a set labeled as Helm's 70th Birthday Jubilee.  The performance is scheduled to include special guests Warren Haynes, Donald Fagen, David and Patterson Hood, Sam Bush, Ray LaMontagne, Steve Earl, and Jackie Greene.

To celebrate his birthday here on The Weight, we bring you a video capturing one of my favorite Levon-sung tunes, The Band's live take on "Don't Do It" from December 1971 at the Academy of Music in NYC.

"Don't Do It", while being famous amongst fans of The Band as being the song to close The Last Waltz (and open the Scorsese-directed film), is known by fewer as a cover of a Marvin Gaye track officially titled "Baby Don't You Do It" penned by legendary Motown writers Holland–Dozier–Holland.  It was released in 1964 and features Hitsville USA musicians the Funk Brothers.  If you did know that "Don't Do It" was a Marvin Gaye cover, you've likely not heard the original version.  Take a listen here:

OK.  So let's say you knew about the Marvin Gaye version and you've even heard it before, did you know that The Who recorded and released the song in the Summer of 1972 as the B-side to 'Join Together'?

Honorable mention goes to versions of the song by The Small Faces and The Black Crowes.

Which version is your favorite?:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bob Dylan Birthday Week Part 3

On 5/24/06, Bob Dylan's 65th birthday, at the start of Pearl Jam's first encore in Boston, Eddie Vedder sat alone with a guitar and a harmonica to play a heartfelt rendition of Forever Young. This was the first and only time that this song appears in a Pearl Jam setlist. The next track played that night was Dylan's Masters of War.

As a bonus, check out Pearl Jam performing All Along The Watchtower with Ronnie Wood at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London on 11/08/09 (shaky camera alert):

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bob Dylan Birthday Week Cont'd.

In the early 70s, Loudon Wainwright III was one of the many newcomers tagged as the "next Bob Dylan". Twenty years later in 1992, at the time of Dylan's 50th birthday, LW3 wrote a song to commemorate Zimmy's milestone and also address the impact the marker had on his own career. In typical Loudon Wainwright fashion, the song is introspective, catchy...and a little bit weird. Quite coincidentally, he name drops Bruce Springsteen and John Prine, who are both currently featured with Bob Dylan as part of this week's Photo Monday:

Hey, Bob Dylan, I wrote you a song.
Today is your birthday if I'm not wrong.
If I'm not mistaken you're fifty today
How are you doin', Bob? What do you say?
Yeah, times were a-changin',
You brought it all home --
"Blonde On Blonde", "Like a Rolling Stone" .
The real world is crazy, you were deranged,
An' when you went electric, Bob, everything changed --
A shock to the system.
Yeah, I got a deal , and so did John Prine, Steve Forbert and Springsteen, all in a line.
They were lookin' for you, signin' up others,
We were "new Bob Dylans" -- your dumb-ass kid brothers.
Well, we still get together every week at Bruce's house --
Why, he's got quite a spread, I'll tell ya -- it's a twelve-step program.

Yeah, had to stop listening, times were too tough,
Me bein' the new me was hard enough.
You keep right on changin' like you always do,
An' what's best is the old stuff still all sounds new.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photo Monday

Happy 69th Birthday to Bob Dylan!

(Dylan pictured here with a very "80's" Grateful Dead)

(Rolling Thunder-era Dylan pictured here w/ an impressionable Bruce Springsteen and John Prine)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pearl Jam Hunger Strike w/ Ben Bridwell

Two nights ago (5/21/10) Band of Horses singer Ben Bridwell joined Pearl Jam onstage at the Garden in NYC for Temple of the Dogs' tune Hunger Strike.

Hunger Strike has only been played live by Pearl Jam 24 times since its debut in Copenhagen, Denmark on 2/9/92.  It's been played only 7 times in the US and only 9 times since 1998.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Photo Monday

In celebration of Page McConnell's 47th birthday today, here is a photo (circa 1991) of Phish looking like a pack of Williamsburg Hipsters.   Is it just me, or does Page resemble a young Tom Hanks here?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Concert I Missed...

Grateful Dead, 6/25/95, RFK Stadium, Washington D.C. 
Pink Floyd, 7/9/94-7/10/94, RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
David Gilmour, 4/5/06, Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York (w/ the late Richard Wright and guests David Crosby and Graham Nash)
MGMT, 6/14/08, Late Night Set, Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tennessee (w/ guests Kirk Hammett and Zack Galifianakis)

and most recently...

Mark Knopfler, 5/6/10, United Palace Theater, New York, New York

Due to an {cough} innocent mistake in scheduling by a fellow Weightstaffer, I am adding the recent Mark Knopfler show in New York City to my list of fateful missed concert experiences.  While I can't offer any commentary on the show per se, I can say that after reading a short but pointed review (link below), I feel a bit worse than I did yesterday about not witnessing one of the finest guitarists/songwriters of the last 40 years.  Knopfler, who is of course best known for his tenure as frontman and guitarist for Dire Straits, is undeniably part of the dying -- well, aging -- fraternity of real "guitar heroes":  Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, David Gilmour, etc.  He has played with his good friend Clapton on several occasions and has recorded with Dylan, Elton John, and John Fogerty, just to name a few.  He has scored films such as The Princess Bride and Wag the Dog.  He has played venues as legendary as Wembley Stadium and Knebworth.  And while bands like the Eagles and the Stones have played the same setlist for the past 30+ years, Knopfler has dared to explore new territories -- alternative genres that others were unwilling to risk -- and with great success.  Indeed, he has three Grammys to his name -- all in the Country Music category.  As late as 2007, he was nominated again for Best Folk/Americana album for his work with  Emmylou Harris.  Perhaps Robert Plant, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan are his only contemporaries who dared stray from the predictable path of "arena rock" retirement tours.
It would have been nice to have experienced Knopfler, under the lonely spotlight with his red Strat and his haunting guitar sounds, listening to him sing songs of the Welsh working-class and times of old.  There is a great quote in the review from another fan that I'd like to re-state here for emphasis:
"After all this Lo-fi chill wave bullshit, it sure is refreshing to hear clear, confident, crisp instrumentation. Knopfler sounds GREAT."

I can only hope he will visit again... 

The Concert I Missed:

Mark Knopfler, 5/6/10, United Palace Theater, New York, New York

Photo Monday

"Well, he's a frustrated musician, and I guess I was a frustrated filmmaker. So, it was a perfect connect. I would turn him on to music of great obscure things that end up in a lot of these movies, actually. I would try to think of something that would just blow his mind. And he would screen movies for me—like trashy B-movies that are amazing in their own way. It was never the obvious. He was never showing me D.W. Griffiths' movies or what are considered classic films. They were always off the beaten path, but very interesting—Sam Fuller movies, things like that. So, we traded back and forth on all these kinds of things. He knew that I was a film buff long before we crossed paths, and I knew that he was a music fanatic long before we crossed paths. So we had something to work with there."
--Robbie Robertson on Martin Scorsese, speaking about when they lived together while editing The Last Waltz

Monday, May 3, 2010

Awesome; I Phuckin' Shot That!

Phish performing Sabotage at the Lemonwheel Festival in Limestone, ME on 8/16/98.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Jones Street Station: Tall Buildings

Brooklyn's Jones Street Station (formerly Jones Street Boys) show off their five-part harmony on their cover of John Hartford's ode to city life, 'Tall Buildings'.  I never get tired of listening to this.  And Hartford's lyrics are fantastic.

Someday my baby, when I am a man,
and other's have taught me, the best that they can
they'll sell me a suit, and cut off my hair

and send me to work in tall buildings

and it's goodbye to the sunshine, goodbye to the dew
goodbye to the flowers, and goodbye to you
I'm off to the subway, I mustn't be late
going to work in tall buildings

when I retire and my life is my own
I made all the payments, it's time to go home
and wonder what happened, betwixt and between
when I used to work in tall buildings

I hadn't planned on posting the John Hartford version of this song, hell I didn't even know this was a cover until after I'd started this post, but I was able to find a live performance of this song by its original author.  Now I'm looking forward to digging into the Hartford catalog.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Photo Monday

An incredible photograph of Dennis Hopper and director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause, Johnny Guitar).

Hopper, who played a minor role in Rebel, was at the time romantically linked to the film's lead actress, Natalie Wood. During production, Wood, then only 16, also became sexually involved with Ray -- who was 27 years her elder.  Ray and Hopper remained on bad terms for many years until, as rumor has it, they reunited at a 1970 Grateful Dead show at the Fillmore East and called a truce.

A much younger Dennis Hopper pictured here (second from left) in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Something Unpredictable

Glen Campbell performs Green Day's 'Good Riddance'

Glen Campbell performs 'Sing' by Scottish band Travis

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pickin' Videos: Wait A Minute

For this edition of Pickin' Videos, where I like to showcase my favorite bluegrass clips found online, I've selected the Seldom Scene performing 'Wait A Minute' on the Tommy Hunter Show, taped for the Canadian Broadcast Company. The Seldom Scene formed in 1971 in Bethesda, MD, in the basement of banjo player Ben Eldridge. They went on to become world famous in the bluegrass community and have undoubtedly influenced many bluegrass groups that came after them. Listening to this clip and others by the band, you will hear modern bluegrass heavyweights Alison Krauss and Union Station, Newgrass Revival, and Old Crowe Medicine Show. Eldridge still performs in the band today, 39 years after their formation in his basement.

Living not too far from Bethesda and The Birchmere music venue in Alexandria, VA, their home base for many years, I have been able to find a number of their records at my local vinyl shop, and they sound amazing on the record player.

Next month, at the aforementioned Birchmere, founding Seldom Scene member John Starling will be performing with Union Station's Dan Tyminski and his son Jay Starling. Coincidentally Jay Starling performed at The Birchmere just two nights ago as a member of Keller Williams' band The Added Bonus.

This clip of 'Wait A Minute' epitomizes not only what I love about the best bluegrass music, but more generally what I love about all music. You get the purity of acoustic instrumentation, a high level of musicianship, and perfectly blended vocal harmonies. You also get a glimpse into the band's sense of humor following their performance.

Additional Seldom Scene clips worth checking out:

The band performs JJ Cale's After Midnight

A short oral history of The Seldom Scene as told by Ben Eldridge

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Weir vs. Wired

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone's David Fricke, Grateful Dead/Ratdog/Furthur frontman Bob Weir ruminates on why digital music will never be as fulfilling as analog music.   I sort of see his point, but this is a bit ironic coming from a guy who relies on the "digital" teleprompter for lyrics at live shows and who presumably draws a nice royalty check from the GD [Digital] Download Series... 

But, we still love ya Bobby!

For other segments of the interview click here

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Philosophy in Lyrics

And while the future's there for anyone to change,
Don't you know it seems
It would be easier sometimes to change the past

Fountain Of Sorrow
Jackson Browne
Late For The Sky

Noel Gallagher To Play First Post-Oasis US Gig In...

Milwaukee ??!?

[Editor's Note:  Pronounced 'mill-e-wah-que', which is Algonquin meaning "the good land."]

Sometime soon, he’ll take his second major step when he travels across the Atlantic to play his first solo show in America. Yet rather than the norm hot spots of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, Gallagher will take to the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the occasion.
A date and other specifics have yet to be announced, but, according to the venue’s website, Gallagher and his band — former Oasis lead guitarist Gem Archer, touring keyboardist Jay Darlington, and percussionist Terry Kirkbride backed him in London — will perform “all the songs you know and love plus a few rarities.”

via Consequence of Sound

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Noel Gallagher Plays First Post-Oasis Gig

Last night, Liam's brother played his first gig since Oasis broke up last year at the annual Teenage Cancer Trust charity concerts held over a series of nights at the famed Royal Albert Hall in London.  Can't wait until this better half of Oasis comes Stateside! The setlist was:

'(It's Good) To Be Free'
'Talk Tonight'
'Fade Away'
'Cast No Shadow'
'Half The World Away'
'Don't Go Away'
'The Importance Of Being Idle'
'Listen Up'
'Sad Song'
'Rockin' Chair'
'Slide Away'
'Digsy's Dinner'
'The Masteplan'
'Married With Children'
'Don't Look Back In Anger'

via NME

Check out the video of Noel's entrance and appropriate set opener:

The little things they make me so happy
All I wanna do is live by the sea
Yeah little things they make me so happy
But it's good it's good it's good to be free

Don't Go Away

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beatle Festival Coming to DC

Billed on their website as the "The World's Largest Beatles-Inspired Music Festival", Abbey Road On The River  will be held at National Harbor (technically in MD), on the Potomac River waterfront a few miles from Washington's National Mall.  It will take place over five days around Labor Day Weekend.  The festival has been held in Louisville, KY every year since 2005 and it will return there again in 2010 over Memorial Day weekend.  The DC incarnation of the event will be the first time that Abbey Road On The River has been held outside its home base in Kentucky.  It features Beatles cover bands and 'Summer Of Love'-inspired acts from all over the world.

A few of the bands listed as being booked for the Washington show include:
Candlestick Park - Scotland, UK
Lucy In The Sky - Cologne, Germany
The Jukebox - Puerto Rico
The Repeatles - Sweden
The Blue Meanies - New York, NY
Desmond & Molly - Cleveland, OH

I decided to pick out one listed band (The Jukebox) to see what they sounded like. Check out the Puerto Rican Beatles' cover of I'm A Loser:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You're Welcome: Jawbone - The Band

With the new feature "You're Welcome", I've chosen to highlight a great track, by a well known band, that you're likely not familiar with.  In this case, its not just any band, but The Band.  And the song is called "Jawbone".  It appears on their self-titled album, known to fans as The Brown Album, which was released in 1969.  Jawbone doesn't appear on any of their greatest hits collections, was not played at The Last Waltz, and didn't even make the cut on the 6-disc A Musical History box set, released in 2005.  And this is why its the perfect candidate for the inaugural You're Welcome.

Contributing to its unknown status, "Jawbone" is overshadowed on The Brown Album, the follow-up to the legendary Music From Big Pink, by heavyweights Across The Great Divide, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Cripple Creek, and Rag Mama Rag.  In my opinion, Jawbone is in desperate need of some recognition as it is another great example of the under-appreciated vocal ability of Richard Manuel.  In this instance, Richard is supported by backing harmonies from singing drummer Levon Helm.  The song is also another example of the funky swing that The Band was capable of producing, featured on tracks like King Harvest and Life is a Carnival.

On a sidenote, Jawbone was the name of a now defunct UK fanzine about The Band, first published in 1996.

Oh...and by the're welcome.