Thursday, May 31, 2007
Jazz drummer Jerry Granelli is responsible for some of the most interesting music of the last few decades. Don't believe me? Granelli drummed for Vince Guaraldi on a few of the Charlie Brown soundtracks. And he recorded an album with Buck 65 in 1999. The new The Sonic Temple, featuring the guitar of David Tronzo, was released last month. And there's no telling where this composition is going in its first twelve seconds. Is it Pink Floyd? Ennio Morricone? Granelli is smart like that. Julian Priester's trombone, Anthony Cox's insane bass, David Friedman's vibes and Jane Ira Bloom's soprano complement the veteran throughout 1994's vivid Another Place.
I can't begin to express how much this pains me. I have no intention of purchasing Live In Dublin on Tuesday. For years I collected everything connected to Bruce Springsteen- from Joe Grushecky albums to tons of bootlegs. I just don't connect to the sound of his big folk band- and I'm part of the target audience. I grew up with Bruce's music and I also have a healthy collection of Pete Seeger albums and CDs. The last straw was when just four months after the street date of The Seeger Sessions, Bruce released an "expanded" product that rendered my original DualDisc version inferior. Now I'm supposed to buy both a double CD and a DVD of this new live recording? My life as a Bruce completist ends here.
Kansas City Click: Son Venezuela are at the Blue Room. What'll they do for a dance floor?
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Hey, whatever happened to Marty Brown? The country traditionalist hasn't released an album since 1996. There's pitifully little information available about the man. I recall that 60 Minutes once aired an incredibly condescending feature on Brown's "hillbilly" ways. Maybe it crushed his spirit. It's too bad, because Brown might have prospered with the No Depression crowd if only he'd stuck with it. This moralistic Hank-inflected song is from his 1991 debut.
I'm very fond of The New Tragedies. Fans of Rumours' unforgettable melodies and harrowing personal politics will love the two samples the Kansas City duo is offering from their forthcoming Souvenirs EP.
Kansas City Click: Megan Birdsall is at Jardine's. The curious are advised to audition her interpretation of "Dear Prudence."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Maria's moved on.
I have tremendous respect for every musician who keeps working long after his or her "moment" has passed. In many cases- Bryan Ferry, Sonny Rollins, Solomon Burke, Charlie Rich and Bettye LaVette come to mind- some of the artists' best work arrived decades after the hits quit coming. Maria Muldaur plays a modest bar in my town tonight. I've seen her perform in similar venues; she's fantastic. Here she is forty years ago. I wonder how many people in that coffeehouse expected Muldaur would still be on the road in 2007. I suspect that she's not motivated by money; Muldaur seems to be in it for all the right reasons. On the excellent 1983 release Sweet and Low, Muldaur is backed by two separate bands. One's headed up by Dr. John. Kenny Barron leads Seldon Powell, Ben Riley and Michael Moore on the standard heard here.
The new R. Kelly is flying off of retail store shelves today.
I saw Shrek the Third over the weekend. My favorite bit may have been seeing a warring Snow White roaring Zep's "Immigrant Song." Damien Rice's "9 Crimes" is also featured.
Kansas City Click: Go see Maria Muldaur at Knuckleheads.
Monday, May 28, 2007
A typically insightful series of posts about '90s jazz at Destination: Out put me in mind of Steve Coleman. The bandleader was once the recipient of glowing praise in publications like the Village Voice. The profiles hailed Coleman as the embodiment of jazz's future. Accordingly, I bought Sine Die with high expectations. I instantly despised it. I was certain that the synths, funk elements and a female vocalist's crazy ramblings weren't jazz at all. As Dylan sang, "I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now." In my first listen to the album in an least a decade, I found I now enjoy the funk and the experimental synths. And that girl singer? Her name is Cassandra Wilson! The release is far from perfect; but it's certainly not the ridiculous embarrassment I first took it for.
My friend Mike uncovered this ancient trailer for The Deliquents. It's Robert Altman's first film. The trailer is mandatory viewing for anyone who decries the corruption of today's youth.
I receive many of same publicist emails as hundreds of other music bloggers. I welcome seeing how artists are positioned. For the most part, though, I defer such opportunities to the bloggers constantly focused on the next big thing. They're often eager to follow the directives of publicists. Lay Low seems to be an exception. Very few blogs are responding to a publicity push on behalf of the young Icelandic. Maybe most bloggers consider Lay Low too derivative of Jolie Holland and Emiliana Torrini. Or perhaps she's too bluesy for their tastes. That's too bad; Lay Low sounds pretty great to me.
Kansas City Click: I've decided that I won't attend another show like today's Unsane gig at the Record Bar until I buy a pair of steel-reinforced shoes. I'm tired of getting my toes crushed at hardcore and punk shows.
Friday, May 25, 2007
I just learned that Chicago bluesman Carey Bell died May 6. He's heard to great effect on this Muddy Waters song. The tough 1988 performance serves as a reminder that Bell was one of the greats. Brought Up the Hard Way is just one of many excellent Bell titles. I also recommend this live video.
Fans of Mac Lethal and P.O.S. will be pleased by this newly uploaded YouTube video.
Forget the iPhone. Unless pending legislation dooms Pandora, their new deal with Sprint promises to make me very happy.
I was pleased to snag the free live EP by The Black Keys at their MySpace page. "Girl Is On My Mind" is especially fine.
Kansas City Click: It may be hard to muster much enthusiasm for Bow Wow, but it'd be a kick to see how Mims delivers the biggest song of the year tonight at Starlight.
I have to be in a certain mood to appreciate The McFadden Brothers. They're old-school entertainers, so it helps to pretend you've been transported to Vegas circa 1961. They play two sets Saturday night at the Blue Room.
Two terrific jazz acts play free outdoor gigs on the Plaza Sunday afternoon. Listen for Ida McBeth and Gerald Spaits.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
My favorite new song of 2007 is Dizzee Rascal's "Sirens". The apocalyptic burst of noise perfectly captures the zeitgeist. That's not to say it's entirely original. The similarities between "Sirens" and O.C.'s "Constables" are striking. Both songs use sirens and paranoid repetition. The narrators convey a sense of impending doom as they're being hunted in a hostile environment. The only real difference is that O.C.'s sound is informed by jazz, whereas Dizzee's grime is based on the squalling of acts like Public Image, Ltd. My suspicion that Dizzee is swiping O.C.'s ideas makes me appreciate him even more. "Constables" is on Word... Life, O.C.'s coveted out-of-print classic from 1994.
It's "International Talk Like Bob Dylan Day." The official site is so dodgy that I won't link to it. But it's there that I found this ridiculously accurate Bob Dylan impersonator.
My friend BGO uncovered the single most entertaining music video ever. You won't believe it.
Kansas City Click: The Grand Emporium features pure pop for now people tonight. Jon Yeager and OK Jones both craft smart, radio-ready music.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Peace and quiet.
Drummer Paul Motian has made several albums with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. I find them endlessly frustrating. Based on the talent and imagination of the three men, their work together should best all other improvisational jazz. This track from I Have the Room Above Her is typical. Frisell makes interesting noise, Lovano takes it a step further. All the while Motian pushes and pulls. It's fun to hear, but it contains little emotional resonance.
Young Jeezy's mix CD U.S.D.A.: Cold Summer and Trill Fam were the big new releases yesterday in my corner of the music retail world.
I've called on individual Virgin stores as well as their corporate headquarters. Aside from the occasional difficulty in pinning a stray buyer down, they were always cool. And as much as I like their massive stores, I always wondered how they made a profit. Chicago was always my favorite location. It's closing.
Kansas City Click: Although we don't get many chances to see Morrissey in these parts, I'm kind of interested in catching Brian Auger tonight at the Grand Emporium instead. Even though Auger now looks and sounds like this instead of this, he promises to be more fun that that Morrissey mope.
Monday, May 21, 2007
I found myself at a Greyboy Allstars concert Saturday night. The music between sets consisted mostly of Northern soul, reggae dub and the Meters. It was great background music for a gorgeous night under a crescent moon. When an organ-based prog song slipped into the mix, it felt all wrong to me. But it perked up hundreds in the audience made up largely of nouveau hippies in their '20s. It might have been a Booker T. song that I'd never encountered. Or it could have been the Nice. This is my favorite song by Keith Emerson's old band; it's more grungy blues than silly pomp. It's on several compilations, including Nice Hits Nice Bits.
My friend B. just raved to me about his great experiences at the big 50s festival in Wisconsin last week. He said one of the highlights was Big Jay McNeely. It sounds like it was even wilder than this.
Kansas City Click: Dennis Winslett is at the Blue Room tonight.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The party's over.
I'm Movin' On makes me feel a little bit guilty. Ce Ce Peniston was enjoying a fine dance music career. She had big hits like "Finally". Then she made me happy by shifting into a more conventional R&B style. But I guess I was about the only person she pleased with the change.
Thanks to Office Naps, I have a new favorite song- Junior Parker's reading of "Tomorrow Never Knows."
My thoughts are with you, Bo Diddley.
Kansas City Click: Mac Lethal claims he'll never play another Kansas
City club after tonight's gig at the Record Bar. Man, I'd love to see
him blow up; Kansas City needs more local stars. Right now, The
Elders and Tech N9ne are the only active locally based acts that can
sell over 1,000 tickets at least $10 a pop in their hometown.
A former local girl, Elana James, plays Davey's Uptown Saturday night.
Ghosty and Jake Blanton are at the Record Bar on Sunday.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
In his lengthy liner notes to the excellent 2001 recording The Promise Land, Bill Milkowski emphasizes Cedar Walton's accessibility. I'll summarize- Walton is soulful, swinging and he plays the melody. That's not to say he's simple- there's a lot going on here. The Walton solo that begins at 2:45 is sublime. That's Vincent Herring playing it straight on sax, and David Williams and Kenny Washington laying back on bass and drums.
Great country crooner John Anderson has a new album. So why am I so angry about it? It's the ill-conceived packaging. Easy Money comes in an "Express Pak" and a "Deluxe Pak." The former is a slim paper sleeve stickered with something like, "For fans who only want the music." It's a whopping $13.98 list! If you want liner notes and such, you'll deal with a $18.98 list price. I rarely rail against the music industry in this space, but this idiocy shows that it's hopelessly removed it is from reality.
Kansas City Click: I wouldn't ordinarily consider going to an upscale Johnson County bar or restaurant. I just don't have the clothes, haircut or wallet to get through the door. But tonight DJ Sku is at Sake Bar. Check out his subversion of Lil Wayne and Birdman's "Stuntin' Like My Daddy."
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Time to leave.
I missed most of last night's Academy of Country Music awards show, so I don't know if there were any moments as delicious as this. I was pleased to learn that Miranda Lambert beat out Taylor Swift as "Top New Female Vocalist." And witnessing people lined up to buy the new Gretchen Wilson CD yesterday made me even happier. Yet as much as I like Wilson, she's disappointed me. Initial hype indicated that she was a wild rebel set on turning Nashville upside down. And when I saw her swigging Jack Daniels on stage the week her first album was released, I believed it. Fooled again. She's just another fine talent. Wilson, Lambert and Swift might consider the saga of Mindy McCready as a cautionary tale. McCready was on top of the country haystack ten years ago. Her Ten Thousand Angels was a massive hit. Things haven't gone so well for her since. Careful, ladies. Nashville can chew you up and spit you out.
I don't have much to say about the passing of Jerry Falwell. I regularly monitor televangelist Pat Robertson's CBN network, however, in part to spot regular appearances by musicians. It's really illuminating to see someone like Marty Stuart in that context.
Kansas City Click: Shoooter Jennings is the headliner at the Beaumont Club tonight. Don't miss opener Scott H. Biram. The guy makes an unholy racket. Man, I'd love to lock Biram and Gretchen Wilson in a recording studio stocked with nothing but bourbon and fried chicken. With Biram's help, Wilson really could topple the Nashville establishment.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Bunny Wailer turned 60 last month. As they say, it beats the alternative. His two brethren, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, are gone. Bunny sings Bob on the out-of-print Time Will Tell. I really like his reverent take on "Redemption Song." It maintains the gospel vibe of the original while teasing out a few new musical nuances.
I no longer have a stake in independent record label distribution. Even so, the details of Navarre's sale to Koch break my heart. Here's how bad the business has become: Navarre's music division brings in $55 million in net sales, yet the company went to Koch for a paltry $6.5 million. Are you kidding me?
Kansas City Click: I'm really not in the mood for Nashville Pussy right now. A few Jager bombs might help me get there. The cartoonish band is at Davey's tonight.
Monday, May 14, 2007
I saw a band called Shurman open for Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers last week. I liked them, but they sounded and looked uncannily like Clyne's band. I spent a few minutes in front of the club talking to the promoter when I arrived. Based on what I heard pumping through the door, I assumed Clyne was trying out some new material. I don't know which is sillier- Shurman doing a Clyne impression or Clyne's decision to have the sound-alike act tour with him. The same issue may have prevented The Ocean Blue from achieving greater commercial success. Depending on the song, The Ocean Blue resembled Aztec Camera, The Smiths, The Cocteau Twins or the Cure. As this track from the out-of-print Beneath the Rhythm and Sound demonstrates, the Pennsylvania band was really good. But even so, it's almost impossible to avoid playing spot-the-influences. Here's a video for a song from the same album.
Here's my review of Friday's big Brad Paisley concert.
One thing about country music shows- unless Bocephus or The Possum are involved, you know they're going to start on time. Bob Dylan excepted, few rock-oriented acts seem concerned with schedules. Consequently, I know at least two ticketholders who were shocked to discover that Damien Rice punctually began his performance at 7:30 p.m. last night.
Kansas City Click: Residents of a mental health facility are in for a treat this afternoon. I hope Emily Tummons performs her great rendition of "Up On the Roof." It's worthy of Karen Carpenter. The three other songs at Tummons' MySpace account are too therapy-oriented for my taste, but I'm looking forward to catching one of her non-institutional gigs.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Of the four acts on the big country package tour that comes to my town tonight- Brad Paisley, Kelly Pickler, Jack Ingram and Taylor Swift- it's Ingram that's the most intriguing. He toiled for years as just another Texas honky tonk troubadour. The out-of-print Live At Adair's dates from those days. Now that he's finally broken through with a slicker sound it'll be interesting to see if the mainstream contemporary country audience sticks with him.
Whither jazz? It barely registers at UCLA's so-called Jazz & Reggae Festival. Of the two dozen performers, only Christian Scott plays any jazz at all. Don't get me wrong- I'd love to see Dujeous, Luciano, Les Nubians and several other acts on the bill. But why call it jazz? I make this point not to pick on UCLA, but to remind myself that the genre receives meaningless lip service in points beyond my little neck of the woods.
Kansas City Click: The country tour mentioned above is at Verizon Amphitheater tonight. Everette Devan plays his organ jazz at both Harling's and the Drum Room on Saturday. Damien Rice comes to the Uptown on Sunday.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Maybe I'm looking in all the wrong places, but I haven't encountered a single discussion, review or advertisement touting the new James "Blood" Ulmer album. Bad Blood In the City came out this week. I only learned it existed when I became curious to see what label was adventurous and savvy enough to work with Mike Dillon. I'm hoping Ulmer's new project captures the amazing vibe captured on this recent video of Ulmer and Alison Krauss collaborating on "Sitting On Top of the World." If so, it'd be the blues album of the year. "Funky Lover" is from Got Something Good For You, a 1985 session with George Adams, Amin Ali and Calvin Weston. Projects like this make the concept of categories seem silly.
Make sure your bladder is empty and your mouth is clear before you click on this link. It's The Seeds performing "Pushin' Too Hard" on a forgotten TV show. "I hope you like it- I think it's gassy!" You know who else is gassy? The Electric Prunes!
Kansas City Click: I'm hopelessly biased when it comes to Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers. I think they're one of the best live rock'n'roll band in the world. At least half the fun is generated by Clyne's rabid, hard-drinking fans. This video from a recent show provides a representative taste of what's on tap tonight at the Hurricane.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Southern musician and songwriter Carson Whitsett died May 8. He seems to have been best known as part of the Malaco Records house band and as a member of Kathy Mattea's touring band. He also wrote or co-wrote an impressive string of soul songs. They include Solomon Burke's "Don't Give Up On Me" and the commonly performed "Blues of the Month Club." He had a hand in creating this fine composition on the late Dalton Reed's Willing & Able album. A family member made a non-musical video montage of Whitsett family photos.
What if David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was re-imagined as a jaunty folk song? The result might be something like Joel Kraft's new "Computer Geniuses." Hear it here.
Kansas City Click: The recent election of Mark Funkhouser as mayor has given the phrase "We want the funk" new meaning in this town. It comes full circle when George Clinton touches down at Crossroads KC tonight.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Henry Butler reminds me of Ray Charles, and not just because Butler, like Charles, is a blind pianist. The comparison is apt because Butler is proficient in almost any musical setting. I've witnessed him play blues, jazz, funk, rock and gospel. Charles, of course, had the same wide interests. I'm not sure if Charles ever riffed on music from Afghanistan, as Butler does here on his fantastic out-of-print Fivin' Around.
Alvin Batiste, who recorded with Butler on at least one occasion, died last weekend. He was 74.
The disappointed look on customer's faces as they studied the track listing on today's new Z-Ro release saddened me. I guess the song that fans of the Houston rapper wanted isn't included on his new one. A different crowd picked up Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's latest.
Kansas City Click: It's not live music, but the drinks are reasonably priced and there's no cover. These two goofs spin records tonight at the Record Bar.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Love is gone.
I saw Social Distortion play another great show last night. If anything, they're getting better. Current drummer Charlie "Chalo" Quintana once was a member of the Plugz, the L.A. punk band that morphed into the Cruzados. Their out-of-print 1987 album After Dark seems to be missed opportunity. Misguided overproduction diminishes the roots rock band's honest grit. For better or worse, members of the Eagles and Pat Benatar are among the contributors.
I was offered a job by Steve Pritchett a few years ago. We never managed to finalize the deal. According to a statement from Fontana Distribution, the music industry veteran died yesterday. He was a good man.
Gospel singer J. Robert Bradley has died.
I had a good time seeing Ziggy Marley and Robert Randolph over the weekend. My review is here.
Kansas City Click: Anne McCue performs in Kansas City with such regularity that she seems like a local. Catch her at Knuckleheads tonight.
Friday, May 04, 2007
George Benson, Counting Crows, Danilo Perez and Walter "Wolfman" Washington are among the headliners at various stages at New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival tonight. Yet even if I caught a Midwest Express flight to the city later today, I'd make a beeline for ZZ Top. Surprised? If you want to know why I'm an unapologetic fan of the Texas trio, look no further than this buried track from their uncelebrated 1996 release Rhythmeen. Its grimy tone masterfully connects Sonic Youth to Lightnin' Hopkins. As with Coachella, you can watch Jazzfest here.
The astounding music blog Words and Music made me aware of this video. It provides great footage of Peter King demonstrating Charlie Parker's Grafton saxophone at a 1994 Sotheby's auction. Representatives of Kansas City, MO, won the bidding by paying $144,500 for the instrument. It now resides at the American Jazz Museum. I was present at the ceremony in which Mayor Emmanuel Cleaver and other officials proudly presented the prize. I believe it took place at the Black Archives and that Max Roach was there. I can't recall if the Grafton was played that day. Can anyone fill in the gaps?
Legendary St. Louis disc jockey Rod King, a.k.a. Dr. Jockenstein, has died. He was 55. Tom "Papa" Ray wrote a moving tribute to his friend. As of this morning, it's the lead item at Vintage Vinyl's site. Here's an excerpt: "When Jockenstein began his reign, first he brought the Funk, and then he gave the teenage generation of the day their first taste of hip-hop music."
Kansas City Click: Ziggy Marley and Robert Randolph will become the first national acts to perform on the new Crossroads KC stage tonight.
On Saturday, my associate Robert Folsom plays Toto's Coffeehouse in Mission along with numerous other acoustic-oriented artists.
Social Distortion hit the Beaumont again on Sunday. The Black Halos and I Hate Kate open.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
I firmly believe that Robert Randolph is going to be a star. I recently spoke to Randolph; my profile is here. This compilation of sacred steel artists was recorded when Randolph was still a kid. I didn't ask him about it, but I suspect he spent some time listening to the project. If so, he was likely impressed by Glenn Lee, who's just a few years older than Randolph. His country-flavored reading of this gospel favorite is gorgeous.
I'm infatuated with the sound and feel of Dizzee Rascal's "Sirens". It's the most exciting new song I've heard this year.
Although I have no problem with Bon Jovi, I was not pleased when the hit "Wanted Dead Or Alive" became an unwelcome guest in my noggin after this week's humdrum American Idol episodes. I chased it away with Thin Lizzy's superior "Cowboy Song".
Kansas City Click: "New Timey" bluegrass act The Armamo Rangers kick up some dust at the Mountain Music Shoppe.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
"Si se puede"? I don't know; this isn't a political blog. But I can easily testify that the contributions of Texas-born Mingo Saldivar have enriched our nation. His blend of country, European polka and Mexican tradition are emblematic of what makes us great. This cumbia is from his aptly titled I Love My Freedom, I Love My Texas.
Zola Taylor of the Platters has died. Sing along to "Only You".
Kansas City Click: I'm not particularly enamored of Brendan MacNaughton's music, but the jam band-ish dude is at the recently reopened 75th Street Brewery tonight. Good gig.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
My friend BGO is always digging up musical treasures. One of his best finds of late is The Red Button. The band recreates the happy pop of the Hollies and similar British invasion bands. While they're ridiculously good, I judge every power pop band against Shoes. The Illinois band with a rabid cult following has crafted several wonderful head-bobbing albums. This is from a live '81 set; the audience's enthusiasm inevitably reminds me of Cheap Trick's Live At Budokan. It's now packaged with Boomerang. Shoes' titles don't seem to be available at Amazon; try the band's label.
The two new releases I saw moving in quantity today at retailers were country crooner Blake Shelton and the Spiderman 3 soundtrack.
A lot of talent swill be squeezed onto the tiny stage of Jardine's tonight. The featured performers are Mike Metheny, Roger Wilder, Danny Embrey, Bob Bowman and Tommy Ruskin.