Thursday Morning Music News: Eddie Vedder comes to St. Louis, David Bowie resurfaces and Amazon clouds up

David Bowie

The Newport Folk Festival announces stunning lineup. Highlights include: Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, the Decemberists, Emmylou Harris and Elvis Costello.

In case you’re just loggin on this week, LouFest has announced a strong, indie-centric lineup.

Carl Wilson at Pop and Hiss has a smart review of the new Britney Spears record. It will make you want to hear it. Really. In other don’t-call-it-a-comeback news, Enrique Iglesias will not be joining her on tour after all.

You couldn’t get tickets, so Pitchfork is streaming the farewell concert for LCD Soundsystem.

A “lost” David Bowie album called Toy has surfaced in the torrentsphere.

At Stereogum, you can hear two more new Fleet Foxes songs: “Battery Kinzie” and “Bedoin Dress.”

Tommy Shaw of Styx is releasing a bluegrass album. We don’t endorse the news. We just report it.

UGO Music has a short-but-sweet and entertaining interview with session drummer Josh Freese.

SXSW releases live recordings from the 2011 festival via iTunes.

Country songwriter Harley Allen died of lung cancer at the age of 55. breaks into the cloud with a new streaming music player and storage system. Super geniuses in music industry freak out.

The Rosebuds announce new album Loud Planes Fly Low, due out June 7.

Red Hot + Rio 2, another benefit CD for AIDS/HIV charities, is due out on June 28. Gogol Bordello, Beck, Dirty Projectors and Os Mutantes all contribute. Pitchfork has details and streams a Beirut cover of a Caetano Veloso song.

Eddie Vedder announces solo tour, with a stop at the Fabulous Fox on July 1.

TwentyFourBit shares a video of Tom Waits Rock & Roll Hall of Fame speech and performance. Not to be missed.

Paste has details of a new Centro-Matic record and tour with Sarah Jaffe, which comes to St. Louis on July 5 at Off Broadway.

Riverfront Times Music Editor (and KDHX DJ), Annie Zaleski, is leaving the alt-weekly to return home to Cleveland to take a position as Managing Editor at Alternative Press. We will miss her.

Concert review: Destroyer and the War on Drugs dazzle the Luminary Center for the Arts, Monday, March 28


In the old, quiet-looking stone building resting across from Tower Grove Park on Kingshighway, there’s something interesting going on. You go down some steps, enter a huge, low-ceilinged room that’s furnished like a upper-middle class basement in West County — low, warm lights, dry wall everywhere, marble-topped bar — and find yourself surrounded by probably a lot of clean, wide-eyed young people you’ve never seen at other shows in St. Louis.

This is the Luminary Center for the Arts, and so far, so weird. Yet, not long after the first dazzling chord of the War On Drugs‘s first song, I realized that this was one of the best places to see a show in the city.

The room disappeared, the band was lit in soft blue, and suddenly, feeling like I was in someone’s basement turned out to be great. And the War On Drugs projected a meaty, textured, phlangy sound through the huge hanging JBLs. Adam Granduciel’s trebly, Dylanesque phrasing rang through the music, and his considerable chops on lead guitar were made evident in elusive, streaking solos and shrieks. Dave Hartley’s bass was both an anchor and flair in the music, filling a tough and rare role somewhere between Paul McCartney’s melodic, jouncing playing and the low-down pocket grooves of soul music.

The four-piece was filled out by right-on-the-beat drumming and 12-string acoustic guitar that provided another layer of percussion as well as melody. They were confident, they held it down; they were one of the great opening acts I’ve seen: setting an appropriate musical atmosphere for the headliner, equal parts composed and satisfyingly giddy energy, softening the crowd up for the big punches to come. Not to mention throwing some haymakers of their own — songs like “Buenos Aires Beach” and their set-closer, “Arms Like Boulders” soared and jagged and pulsed, led by Granduciel, who seemed like some sage, ageless rock & roller with plenty more to offer in the future.

The crowd was full and buzzing by the time Dan Bejar and his band Destoyer came quietly onstage. With a tambourine and a contemplative look at his band, he set off “Chinatown,” the leadoff track on Kaputt. It was what everyone in the audience at least subconsciously expected the band to start with, but this once, predictability and expectations turned out to be good things.

The digital snare and electric piano and snaky horns and entangled guitars making Kaputt happen and then…Bejar comes in, eyes closed, right when everyone needed him. The whole set was a mood piece molded by Bejar’s calm and subtle direction. Rarely did he smile; he said maybe five or six words out-of-song. At the end of the night, you could find him leaning alone on his touring van, a guy who left it all inside, said probably everything he wanted to say that night to anyone in the songs.

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Concert review: Rockabilly thrills with Wanda Jackson and Dexromweber Duo at Blueberry Hill Duck Room, Sunday, March 27

Dex Romweber at the Duck Room

Nate Burrell

Last Sunday, the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill hosted a night of top-notch rock & roll with a formidable lineup of what some would consider, certainly the crowd packed into the cavernous Duck room, a couple of musical icons on the bill.

The Dex Romweber Duo has plenty of street cred including, like Wanda Jackson, the patronage of Jack White. Hitting that sweet spot with a nice bluesy sadness, but still rocking hard at all the right times (and in all the right ways) the brother and sister are skilled musicians working comfortably in a medium they’ve been shaping to their whims for years. Dex has a knack for plying his voice to great effect. It can be a deep growl or a silky baritone, reminiscent of Johnny Cash, as needed. The crowd seemed to enjoy what he was throwing down and were happy to groove along with Dex swimming in the depths of his lows and reveling in the sweet pain of poisonous love. The duo provided an easy entry into the retro rock atmosphere permeating the night while priming the audience for Wanda Jackson’s more spirited take on similar themes and genres.

Jackson certainly did not disappoint. It was truly a pleasure to watch one of the first and feistiest ladies of rockabilly (really it’s hard to place Wanda Jackson in just one category) work her magic. She exudes a certain warmth and winning charm (almost a school girlish innocence and exuberance — it was not hard to imagine Jackson singing her heart out as a teenager and forgetting to get paid, as she recalled during the show, because she was just having too much fun to think about trivial things such as a paycheck).

And she can still growl with the best of them.

All of this and more is what Jackson brought to her live show. You just can’t beat that eager and inviting energy inherent to rockabilly music and Jackson fully embodies that vibe, at turns party girl, jilted, yet never completely naive lover, seductress albeit a sweetly chaste one, gospel singer and straight up rock & roller. I felt giddy listening to Jackson relive memories from her early days playing the Ozark Jubilee and dating a young Elvis Presley. Every song Jackson sang was infused with sometimes 50 years worth of memories.

As her backing band, the High Dollars provided all of the basic foundational elements in an efficiently rocking fashion leaving most of the critical spaces open for Jackson to fill with her dynamic vocal presence. Jackson performed a nice mix of tunes sticking mostly with her older hits such as “Fujiyama Mama,” but also throwing in some of the best numbers from her latest release, The Party Ain’t Over. The crowd was drinking her in as she traveled the course of her career spending a little time in the country & western scene, working her way through Elvis and Chuck Berry, even sneaking in some heartfelt gospel before bringing the house down with “Let’s Have a Party” (technically more Elvis, but one indelibly marked as a signature Wanda Jackson tune).

Perhaps I was simply swept up in Jackson’s historical significance as a pioneering female musician, but damn if she doesn’t put on a good show.

Breaking: Lineup for LouFest 2011 announced: The Roots, TV on Radio, the Hold Steady, Cat Power and a lot more

Hat tip to A to Z, but the big summer festival in Forest Park is back with a swell lineup. Highlights include:

TV on Radio
The Roots
The Hold Steady
Kings Go Forth
Cat Power
Surfer Blood
The Low Anthem

Get the full lineup and details here.

SKA/ROCKSTEADY Special on “Positive Vibrations” April 2nd @ 9 p.m.

Alton Ellis - photo by Michael Kuelker

A Ska & Rock Steady Musical Twist with a Flick of My Wrist

Legends of Ska Filmmaker Interview on “Positive Vibrations”                         Saturday, April 2, 2011   9 – 11 p.m.

Join me this Saturday evening, April 2, on “Positive Vibrations” as I explore classic Jamaican ska music with filmmaker Brad Klein, director of the forthcoming documentary Legends of Ska. I’m building hour one around music by the artists who appear in the film – including some rare stuff that I’ve never played on the air – and an interview I conducted with Klein in March 2011.

The special ska/rocksteady segment will comprise the first hour of the April 2 show, after which I’ll unload an unforgettable heart-thumpin booty bumpin mondo mix of roots and dancehall.

“Positive Vibrations” airs every Saturday from 9 – 11 p.m. central time, and it is co-hosted by Professor Skank and me in alternating weeks. Programming can be heard live 24/7 at and for two weeks afterward.

The genesis for Legends of Ska came in 2000, when Klein was hosting a radio show in Minnesota. He had just interviewed ska great Derrick Morgan, and between appreciating what Buena Vista Social Club did for old school Cuban music and seeing the buzz developing for Ken Burns’ Jazz, Klein wondered aloud where the film for original Jamaican ska would come from.

He did a Gandhi and became the change that he wanted to see.

In 2002, Klein staged two historic concerts at the Palais Royale in Toronto, Canada. On the bill was a plethora of hit-making artists from the 1960s: Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan, Alton Ellis, King Stitt, Owen Gray, The Skatalites, Stranger Cole, Justin Hinds, Lyn Taitt, Patsy Todd, Lord Creator, Lord Tanamo and many others. There is good coverage of the concerts in the Jamaica Gleaner. On a St. Louis note, KDHX’s Papa Ray was in attendance at one of the Toronto shows and wrote about it in glowing terms on the message board for the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival.

Klein has been working on the film ever since, and he is seeking a final push of financing through a grassroots Kickstarter campaign so that the film will be completed by the end of the year – in time for the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. See the Legends of Ska home site.

And if you’re not yet in the know and still reading: Ska is a mix of mento, calypso, American rhythm and blues, and jazz that emerged from Jamaica in the early 1960s out of the ferment of creativity and independent nationhood for Jamaica (1962). Ska was more than any single band, but no band defined the sound better than The Skatalites, who cut hundreds of songs in their brief, meteoric career between 1963-65 and backed virtually all of the major artists of the period. Prince Buster was also prolific as an artist and producer – and cultural figure – in the sixties.

Prince Buster in 2003 - photo by Michael Kuelker

Ska enjoyed a second wave of influence with a revival based in the UK in the late 1970s and successive waves of ska continued ever since, each with its special dimensions, each owing some debt to the original Jamaican masters lest it not really be ska.

By 1966, Jamaicans were ready for a new beat, something with a cooler more soulful groove, rock steady. It was a short but astonishingly fruitful period whose subterranean magnetic tug never leaves once it takes hold.

Concert photos: Wanda Jackson and Dex Romweber Duo at Blueberry Hill Duck Room, Sunday, March 27

Wanda Jackson and Dex Romweber Duo performed in-concert at a sold-out Duck Room on Sunday. All photos by Nate Burrell. See more at my Flickr stream.

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Concert photos: James McMurtry and the Bottle Rockets at the Pageant, Saturday, March 26

All photos by Nate Burrell. See more at my Flickr stream.

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Concert photos: North Mississippi Allstars at the Pageant, Friday, March 25

All photos by Joanna Kleine.

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