Thursday Morning Music News: Fallon grounds Questlove, Springsteen preps tour and Paul Motian, Joe Gracey and Moogy Klingman pass away
RIP influential jazz drummer Paul Motian.
Whatever word is more epic than “epic,” that’s the word for Amnesty International’s four CD “Chimes of Freedom” tribute to Bob Dylan.
NASA gives the OK to avant-garde artist Hubble to go nuts with the cosmos.
Slate gives a history lesson on the drum machine.
Universal Music Group is taking on Grooveshark.
Austin music great, Joe Gracey, has passed away at the age of 61.
It’s Thanksgiving, so naturally Jim DeRogatis brings the hate.
Pitchfork pulls together videos of Ryan Adams, Britt Daniel and Dave Grohl paying tribute to Bob Mould — with Mr. Mould himself.
Are you a non-profit film maker? If so, Moby has something nice for you.
The Onion AV Club composes a buyer’s guide to Record Store Day Black Friday.
I’m probably one of the few people who loves this, but: Music Critics as Kittens.
“What We Saw From the Cheap Seats” is the title of the forthcoming album from Regina Spektor.
Rolling Stone polled a bunch of guitarists and came up with a list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists ever.
RIP Moogy Klingman, co-found of Utopia.
Bruce and the E Street Band announce tour and new album for 2012.
Cameron Crowe made a mixtape for Matt Damon. Listen.
Hear a new song by Leonard Cohen.
Jon Wurster of Superchunk picks his top seven music documentaries.
Motherboard tracks down some classic album covers on Google Street View.
First things first: If you haven’t already, check out the 2006 documentary, “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everyone Talkin’ About Him)?” (It’s available instantly on Netflix.)
Do this before heading to Off Broadway on Saturday where several local bands will pay tribute to the songster who inspired contemporaries no less prominent than the Beatles and Brian Wilson. The reclusive singer’s catalog continues to be covered and sampled in newer acts from the Walkmen to Blackalicious.
Though Nilsson became a household name and won a pair of Grammys with 1969’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ (Theme to Midnight Cowboy)” and 1972’s “Without You,” Nilsson was a musician’s musician. He preferred recording and hanging out with homies such as John Lennon to touring and pursuing fame.
Here are a few notable Nilsson and Nilsson-related videos I found during a recent drive on the Information Superhighway.
Good Old Desk (1967)
Here’s Nilsson appearing on “Playboy After Dark” sometime during the Nixon administration. Harry looks understandably awkward while a pipe-smoking, musically clueless Hugh Hefner, a Brillo-chested hunk and several Tina Louise-looking bunnies surround him. When Hefner asks Nilsson, “Whatever inspired you originally to write a song about a desk?,” you’ll pray to G.O.D. that Harry changes the subject. Alas, Nilsson tries to explain only to find Hef more interested in his next glass of Champagne.
Though Nilsson sang it better, “One” was made famous by Three Dog Night in 1969. Nilsson continued the rich rock star tradition of butchering the English language with his opening line, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.” A busy telephone signal provided the inspiration for the opening notes of the song.
Everybody’s Talkin’ (1969)
I was embarrassed when, a little too recently, I learned that Nilsson didn’t actually write his two most famous songs. (Oh well, you can’t win them all.) The song that will forever be linked with “Midnight Cowboy” was first released by the even more reclusive Fred Neil in 1966.
I was hoping to do a five-day edition to cover the holiday weekend — there’s just too much to cover. Here’s the start of the deluge:
Wednesday, November 23
The Stag Nite All-Stars present “The Last Waltz”
Off Broadway 3509 Lemp 9-1 $10 (+3 under 21) Smoke-free
The SNA-S, a loose collective of many area players/drinkers, offer their annual rendition of the last concert by the Band. An entertaining Q&A with participant/kinda organizer Johnny Vega$ from the RFT and Kiernan Maletsky.
Another tradition on Thanksgiving eve is a show by ’70s country cover-meisters Diesel Island at Iron Barley (5510 Virginia), running 9-midnite. There’s no cover, but attendees are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy or some canned foods (or both!) for a charitable drive sponsored by a Vietnam veterans group. Smoke-free.
Although Mr. Vega$ will be waltzing tonight, Stag Nite proper will still take place at El Leñador (3124 Cherokee), with a rock and pop-rock roster of the Orbz, Supermoon and bulletPOP! providing the evening’s sounds. Jay Connors will serve as your host. Starts around 9:30, with a $5 cover (21+ only). Smoke-free. Stag cans for $1 until midnight.
Also starting around 9:30 is a show featuring two fine vintage acts that have re-emerged; quirky rock with some pop sensibilities from the Lettuce Heads and hook-laden pop-rock from the Painkillers. This happens at the Webster Groves location of Llywelyn’s Pub (17 W Moody Ave). Cover is $5 (age restriction unknown).
Thursday, November 24
A Salty Salute: St. Louis does Guided by Voices
Off Broadway 3509 Lemp 8-1 $8 (+3 under 21) Smoke-free
A large roster of local talent pays tribute to GbV — a very influential act on numerous bands of the last two decades. A discussion of the event with organizer Matt Harnish of Bunnygrunt, courtesy of Chris Bay and the RFT (the article includes a schedule of bands/times).
Another option to cure the tryptophan blues is the weekly Chippewa Chapel open mic at El Leñador, starting at 9. Free (21+ only).
Your humble servant,
Art can be lovely, mesmerizing, breathtaking and thought provoking. However, art can also be destroyed. Thanks to Art Attack 3 a crowd of 200 plus KDHX supporters saw art destruction in the form of a buck-tooth, chainsaw-wielding mad man. And that was just one of five destruction methods.
On a destruction-less note, Howie Day dazzled the Duck Room on a Thursday evening then just two days later Katie Herzig and Butterfly Boucher did the same at the Old Rock House. Lydia Loveless and The Fling stopped by the good ‘ol Magnolia Avenue Studios for a live performance.
And that folks, sums up yet another week of photography highlights.
The hits just keep on coming for live music lovers in St. Louis.
The great Guy Clark, one of our finest living songwriters, makes a rare St. Louis stop on February 29, 2012 at the Old Rock House, as part of its Listening Room Series (in other words, mostly seated). Tickets are $40 reserved, $30 general admission for this all-ages show. They go on sale Friday, November 25 at 5 p.m.
I can’t even recall the last time Clark was in town; perhaps it was at the Sheldon years ago. The Nashville maestro, who turned 70 this past month, was recently the subject of an excellent double CD tribute album, “This One’s For Him: A Tribute To Guy Clark.”
And so, with a sparse acoustic guitar part and that simple lyric Ryan Adams marks his return to music after a hiatus of nearly three years. “Ashes & Fire” is his first record since 2007′s “Easy Tiger” and since he disbanded the Cardinals in 2009. (Last year’s “III/IV” was actually recorded during the “Easy Tiger” sessions, and “Orion,” a heavy metal record, was released on vinyl by his label, PAX-AM, and available only through the label’s website.)
Ryan Adams is one of the most prolific songwriters working today, but he took a break from music in order to deal with personal issues. Those issues included some trouble with drugs and alcohol, and a bout with Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that affects balance and can result in hearing loss. Adams did, in fact, lose some hearing in one ear, and recently told Rolling Stone that he had permanently lost some of the middle tones in one ear.
Now, married and with his personal life presumably in order, Ryan Adams has returned to music. Perhaps a little of that Disney magic has rubbed off on him (his wife, Mandy Moore, was the star of “Tangled”), because “Ashes & Fire” is one of his best records to date.
Adams has been a critic’s darling and a critic’s nemesis. He can be a brilliant songwriter and performer. But he can also be temperamental, and has produced some uneven records. “Ashes & Fire” is simply a solid singer-songwriter record. The emphasis here is on the songs and the vocals, less on the musicianship that marked his time with the Cardinals. That’s certainly not to say the music fades into the background. Bringing in musicians like Norah Jones on piano, and Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) on keyboards and the occasional Hammond B3, the band serves to underscore the lyrical content and the vocal performances, rather than taking the forefront.
Not surprisingly, Adams frequently mines the territory of heartbreak and loss, as on songs like “Lucky Now” when he sings: “The lights will draw you in/But the dark will bring you down/And the night will break your heart/But only/If you’re lucky, now.” Of course, this is familiar territory for Adams. But even at his most earnest, as on “Kindness” when he asks a lover, “Do you believe in love?” the lyrics are never clichéd or overly sweet.
The songs here are acoustic and often subdued. There are no rockers, with the title track being among the most upbeat of the songs on the record. And that’s okay. “Ashes & Fire,” like most Ryan Adams records, has a feel that is all its own. While a feeling of melancholy persists throughout, the record is never maudlin, even when wearing its heart on its sleeve.
And it even ends on a hopeful note, closing, almost as quietly as it began, with the wistful “I Love You But I Don’t Know What to Say.”
Thanksgiving is still a week away, but here’s an early cornucopia of good shows to choose from:
Friday, November 18
Lydia Loveless / The Blind Nils
Cicero’s 6691 Delmar 8-11 $10 (+3 18-20) Smoke-free
Columbus, OH’s LL is a young woman with an older, world-weary one’s perspective in her songwriting. Traditional country sounds melded with a brash rock attitude. A profile of her from Roy Kasten and the RFT. Quiet folk sounds, with very tasty vocals, from TBN.
Troubadour Dali / The Sights
Off Broadway 3509 Lemp 9-12 $10 (+3 under 21) Smoke-free
Glam-ish pop-rock, with a psychedelic sheen, from TD. Detroit’s TS are another entry on a long list of fine acts from the Motor City, performing an ear-pleasing melding of pop with garage rock.
If you’re in the mood for something twangy, and can handle copious amounts of smoke, Butcher Holler will celebrate an album release with a show of their country/rock/rockabilly sounds at Colorado Bob’s Ship of Fools (3457 Morgan Ford). They’ll start around 8:30-9:00, then be followed by the sassy, snotty rock of The Quaaludes/DTs. Free (21+ only).
Schlafly Bottleworks 7260 Southwest 9-12 Free Smoke-free
AG offers the songs of Bob Reuter with a passionate, rough-at-the-edges mix of rock, blues and folk.
Hero Jr. / Royal Smokestacks / Ellen the Felon and the Mattronome
El Leñador 3124 Cherokee 10-1 $5 Smoke-free
Indy’s HJ have a modern rock sound that really doesn’t appeal to me (a bit too Kings of Leon-esque for my taste), but they may be more engaging live. RS are fronted by Pat Eagan (Monads), and offer a energetic style of folk-ish rock. EtFatM offer her strong voice and keyboard-centric pop-ish songs, propelled by his elaborate and muscular drumming.
I just learned that the Chicago group Cash Box Kings is playing at BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups (700 S. Broadway) between 9 and 11 tonight. They feature a rotating line-up, and tonight’s includes Joel Paterson, a fabulous guitarist who’s been in a lot of fine projects (including many of the back-up bands assembled for original-era rockabilly acts at festivals). Their music is about vintage jazz and blues, so fans of acts like Rum Drum Ramblers and Pokey LaFarge should dig this with a shovel.
I can’t locate a price for this, but I’d guess it’s $10 or less. Smoke-free.
And of course Art Attack 3, a benefit for KDHX, happens tonight down at Neo.
Saturday, November 19
If you were hoping to attend the SteelDrivers at Off Broadway tonight, you’ll want to get on it; tickets are going fast. Advance tickets, if still available, are $15. Visit the venue website to access the ticket broker.
Theodore / Tone Rodent / Fred Friction
Schlafly Tap Room 2100 Locust 9-12 Free Smoke-free
This show offers a diverse menu of acts that are part of the Tower Groove Records musicians’ collective.
T offer powerful songs of love, loss and pain, based in a mix of country, folk and rock performed with an affection for cacophony (much of it courtesy of unconventional instruments/gadgets). TR play loud, slightly trippy noise-rock. FF will probably do a solo set of his heartfelt, booze-soaked ballads.
Kings Go Forth / Superhero Killer / Exploding Cigars
Firebird 2706 Olive 9:30-1 $15 (+2 under 21) Smoke-free
Very tight, funky soul sounds, with a ’70s Curtis Mayfield vibe, from Milwaukee’s KGF. Ryan Wasoba offers an assessment for the RFT. SK is a newer soul-oriented group I’ve yet to hear. EC are even newer, and also unheard by me.
Fans of the scene at the old Way Out Club on Cherokee can reminisce a bit this weekend when Free Dirt, a mainstay act from then/there, reunite to perform their twang-infused rock at Ten Mile House (9423 Gravois), starting at 10. They’re sharing the bill with country/blues rockers Old Capital(sic) Square Dance Club, it’s unclear as to who is playing first. Cover is $5 (21+ only). I think the venue is smoke-free (as minors are allowed until 9).
Before City and Colour took the stage, guitarist Daniel Romano (guitarist for that band) opened with set of tunes influenced by American country and Bonnie Prince Billy.
Hacienda followed Romano and offered up a bass-led, up-tempo collection of tunes that landed somewhere between OK Go and Kings of Leon.
Dallas Green, lead singer and songwriter of City and Colour, appeared on stage and began the pedal steel fueled “We Found Each Other in the Dark” from 2011′s “Little Hell.” The bass drum pushed the moonlight whiskey sentiment as Green crooned “We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live.” Romano let loose a slew of shimmering, treble notes from his guitar as the audience swayed. The pit was jammed with people — the decision to change venues from the Duck Room to the Pageant (ticket pre-sales were strong) had paid off.
“The Death of Me” rambled and jangled like a wagon weaving through the countryside. Romano’s backup vocals lent complexity to the track. Green sang, “My drinking wine will validate my sorrow. Everyman needs a muse and mine could be the bottle.” On “Waiting…” Green went acoustic and painted a pastel picture of broken love and hard times.
Green introduced his band of “five very nice Canadian boys,” and said, “This song is about my father; he is also Canadian.” The velvet guitar of “The Grand Optimist” evoked the jilted love between father and son, but Green twisted the notion: “I am the world’s poor pessimist … I guess I’ll take after my mother.” The organ built with the bass drum as the band’s “oohs” weighted the track with mesmerizing harmony.
“Weightless,” however, returned the show to an electric, up-tempo vibe and engaged in a deluge of existential questions. “Day Old Hate” found Green wondering about life and “the things we do just to stay alive.” On “Body in a Box,” Green asked the audience to “Put away the phones for just this song and just have a moment with me and you.” The song exploded with organ, acoustic, harmonica and intimations of the grim reaper. “We celebrate the lives of the dead,” Green sang. “It’s like a man’s best party only happens when he dies.”