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: Winter Jazzfest Marathon (Jan. 10-11, 2014)

This weekend I attended both days of the Winter Jazzfest marathon in Greenwich Village. It’s a festival that has a unique appeal to those of us who are particularly manic about concerts; it’s basically an all-you-can-eat buffet of live music held in a bunch of venues in Greenwich Village. For one relatively low price you can run around and hear as many bands as you can stuff in your ears in the time allotted. Most sets were 45 minutes with a few double-length sets here and there. (I took it relatively easy and caught eleven ensembles plus the “round robin” duo improvisation set.)

This year was the tenth anniversary of Winter Jazzfest and featured a huge amount of bands (more than ninety). It was, of course, impossible to see them all, and there were some tough decisions to be made. We’d been warned by friends about previous years having long lines and big crowds at some venues, so we simplified our schedule a bit and tried to do multiple sets in the same venues as much as we could (without sacrificing the bands we most wanted to see). I spent most of my time in the NYU Law venue and the Judson Memorial Church, which was a pretty cool-looking room:

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(That’s Ches Smith on the left and Shahzad Ismaily on the right, during Ceramic Dog’s late-night Saturday set.)

The funny thing was that after I simplified things and tried to make my schedule less ambitious, I somehow ended up seeing (more…)

Concert(s) Review: Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog in Brooklyn and Philadelphia (10/4, 10/5/2013)

I decided on Thursday night to grab some last-minute travel deals and head down to Brooklyn and Philadelphia for the last two-thirds of Ceramic Dog‘s three-date east coast tour. They’d announced the dates not too far in advance, and I already had all this travel planned for Zorn@60 concerts (see: my last two bazillion blog posts) so I didn’t think I could go. Then after all the Zorn concerts were over I started getting that concert itch, and I cobbled together bus schedules and Amtrak points and figured out that I could see two shows while only missing three hours of work if I tried really hard, so… yeah. I booked it all about 16 hours before I left, and e-mailed my mom to let her know I was traveling out of state on short notice.

When people ask and I need an easy answer, I always tell them that Ceramic Dog is my favorite band. Which is sort of silly, since the people who ask me questions like that tend to have simpler tastes in music and the response is always “who?” Those people clearly don’t know what they’re missing – everyone should see this band! They’re a rock band, and they ROCK, but there’s also a lot of experimentation and improvisation, which means they’re way more interesting than just a rock band. Their live shows rarely disappoint.

I had never been to the venue they were playing in Brooklyn, Union Pool, and I really liked it. They have a separate bar and outdoor areas where the less-interested attendees could talk without bugging those of us watching the band. I was in the front row so I can’t complain about the sightlines, and the sound was good (but not outstanding). They had a guest percussionist (didn’t catch his name – leave a comment if you know it!) but otherwise the lineup was as usual: Marc Ribot on guitar and vocals, Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Moog, and Ches Smith on drums. I had left on such short notice that I didn’t have time to charge my camera before the show, so I just have a couple of pics from before it died, and no video:

Marc Ribot at Union Pool
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Concert Review: Ceramic Dog (Shahzad Ismaily, Marc Ribot, Ches Smith) (New York City, 5/5/2013)

On Sunday night, some friends and I caught the record release party for Ceramic Dog‘s new album “Your Turn” at Le Poisson Rouge in New York. I was excited enough to get in line around 6PM to ensure top quality seats, and we ended up at just about the best possible table in the front row. As you can see, it was a pretty good view:

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I’ve always liked this venue, both for the room itself (sightlines, sound, etc.) and the consistently interesting and high-quality music they book. I wish they would open a branch here in Boston! (Le Poisson avec des Chaussettes Rouges?) I’m always happy to catch a show there. (more…)

Two weeks, no concerts.

Sometimes the randomness of my life and concert touring schedules means that I find myself without a good concert to go to for weeks at a time. I’m currently halfway through a two-week concert desert, but I didn’t want to let my blog sit here with no new posts! So here’s an update on the goings-on of the temporarily concertless concert blogger.

I just finished reading Bettye Lavette‘s autobiography, “A Woman Like Me.” I picked up a copy at her last concert in Boston. It was a fun and easy read, and I found it to be written very much in her own highly unique voice. Assuming everything in there is true, she has lived quite a crazy life! I really can’t decide if I think she is a great bullshitter or if the book is brutally honest. Maybe some of each, who knows? Most people will probably find something controversial in the book – drugs, sex, prostitution, domestic violence – but it’s a good read nonetheless.

I have also been obsessively stalking (more…)