Upcoming concerts, tours and albums

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been living in Crazy Town lately, and not going to a lot of shows. I have tickets to ten concerts in May so I’m hoping this will change soon! But in the meantime, I thought I’d give you a little update on a few artists I really like who are releasing new albums and going on tour. Consider them all on my “not to be missed” list.

Joe Henry is doing some rare solo dates in Europe and the U.S. to promote his album due in June: Invisible Hour. There are about a dozen European dates and just six U.S. dates (San Francisco, L.A., DC, NYC, Philadelphia and Boston). He’s one of my absolute favorite singer/songwriters (and an excellent producer as well) – if you haven’t heard him, I can’t recommend his recent output highly enough: Reverie, Blood from Stars, and Civilians are all favorite albums of mine. He works with top-notch musicians, writes extremely fine lyrics, and has a knack for writing that kind of classic melody that feels as though it must have always existed, just waiting to be captured in a song. Check out the single from his upcoming album below (and/or check out another one of my favorites on Youtube by clicking here).

The tour dates are all listed here: http://www.joehenrylovesyoumadly.com/live-shows/

The next underappreciated songwriter on the list: Jolie Holland. I like all of her albums, but the last two (The Living and the Dead & Pint of Blood) really showed off her songwriting talents. Her upcoming album, Wine Dark Sea, is coming out in a few weeks and has been getting rave reviews – I can’t wait to hear it. I love her unique vocals and the fact that every one of her albums is coherent and distinctive enough that you could probably hear any one of her songs and immediately know which album it came from, just from the overall sound and feel of it. I’ve been listening to her a lot lately – the first signs of spring weather always make me want to listen to her music. I have no idea why – just one of those little quirks of the human brain, I guess! Here’s one of my favorite songs from The Living and the Dead:

You can see her tour dates by clicking here – she’s mainly sticking to the U.S. coasts but there are also a couple of Canadian dates.

Up next, Wovenhand, led by David Eugene Edwards. His previous band, 16 Horsepower, remains better-known than his current project, but he has done some fantastic work with Wovenhand and I love the fact that I can see him performing in tiny venues now. (I realize he would probably like to go back to the bigger venues he used to play with 16HP, but… I can’t help loving intimate venues!) I have kind of a weird relationship with (more…)

Concert review: A Far Cry w/special guest Phyllis Chen (4/17/2014)

Meta-blog notes: I have pretty much been living in Crazy Town (Insaniville? Madbridge?) for the last month – as a result, not a lot of shows attended and even fewer blogs written. Life has stabilized but still involves a lot of overtime and extra doctor’s appointments, so I’m not sure when my output will pick up again. I do have tickets to a lot of great music events in May and June (Nick Cave, Marc Ribot’s birthday week of concerts, Joe Henry, another Deadly Gentlemen’s Ball, The Tempest featuring the music of Tom Waits, etc.) so there will definitely be some fun blogs even if I don’t cover as many smaller shows as I usually do.

I had such a busy week that I almost forgot that I had a ticket to this concert – luckily I did remember in time, even if I only got there five minutes before showtime! And even luckier, there was a single seat available in the front row right where I was hoping to sit, with a great view of the piano. A Schoenhut, because of course you have to have the best!

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Yes, it’s a children’s toy piano. And yes, this was a serious classical concert. That’s just how we roll in contemporary music. Phyllis Chen, the only renowned toy pianist I’ve personally ever heard of, was a special guest and soloist – she performed three of her own pieces with A Far Cry, which is an 18-piece string ensemble based here in Boston. In addition to the toy piano, she played on (more…)

Concert review: Chris Eldridge & Julian Lage (4/8/2014)

Sometimes you see a show that’s not just really good, but it really hits the spot: maybe it’s the relaxing show when you’re all wound up, or the difficult music when you’re feeling up for a challenge, or maybe it’s the Cubanos Postizos when I have a back spasm (…you’ll just have to trust me on that one). Whatever the case may be, tonight was one of those shows. I had a bizarre and sudden illness last week that had me ending up in Urgent Care with a prescription for some heavy-duty meds, leading to a long weekend spent in bed and missing no less than three concerts I was really looking forward to. Thankfully, I was able to get myself back in shape for tonight’s show, a guitar and vocal duo of Chris “Critter” Eldridge and Julian Lage at Passim in Cambridge. It turned out to be exactly the sort of fun, relaxed, easy-to-enjoy yet still top-notch-quality music that my slightly pathetic self desperately needed to hear. New and interesting enough to capture my attention completely, but familiar enough to be comfortable. Perhaps you’d like to listen to a piece from their new EP while you read? Check it out:

I’d seen the duo play a short set in January at the Deadly Gentlemen’s Ball, so I had a good idea of what to expect: serious technical mastery of the guitar, and some (more…)

Concert review: Pete Seeger tribute night (3/30/2014)

Last night I went to the Pete Seeger tribute night (which was also a benefit concert for Clearwater) at Passim in Cambridge. I hope everyone who reads my blog is already familiar with Seeger’s work – he was incredibly influential in the realm of music and political activism. Just about every story I hear about him makes me respect him just a little bit more. If you’re not familiar with him, do yourself a favor and look into his incredible legacy, which spans from WWII to the Occupy movement.

I bought a ticket to the tribute concert on a whim before they’d posted any performer’s names, so the whole concert was pretty much a mystery to me. It ended up consisting of eight acts that I’d never heard of before: Laura Cortese, Billy Wylder, Alastair Moock, Scott Alarik, Ryan Alvanos, Catie Curtis, Audrey Ryan, and Lloyd Thayer. I really and truly had no idea what to expect other than a vague assumption that it would be folky and involve Pete Seeger’s music. In the end I was very pleasantly surprised at the high quality of music across the board.

The first two acts turned out to be my favorites of the night: Laura Cortese and Billy Wylder. Laura started us off with a beautiful Seeger singalong (“This Little Light of Mine,” if I’m remembering correctly) and then performed one of her own songs, “Heel to Toe,” which was a pop-bluegrass number. She is a talented performer with a really lovely voice, and started off the night on a very positive note. Here’s a video of her performing “Heel to Toe”:

Billy Wylder (a band, not a person) was the second act, and they were (more…)