Monday
Aug252014

Newport Folk Festival 2014 - Newport, RI

We look forward to the Newport Folk Festival every year. Late July in Newport, Rhode Island, hearing a cavalcade of interesting acts under the outstretched arms of the Pell Bridge. This year was no different.

We joined our friends - or perhaps, more accurately at this point, extended family - for another weekend of awesome music, memorable performances and warm company. We saw great acts perform awe-inspiring sets, like Jack White’s heart-wrenching, Seger-less singalong of “Goodnight, Irene”. We caught up-and-coming performers like Benjamin Booker and The Oh Hellos drop star-making sets. And at the end, as always, we marveled at our good fortune.

The Newport Folk Festival is routinely romanticized as a “pure” festival. It’s tough to discount the allure. Nary a festival on today’s bloated circuit scene can boast Newport’s rich, half-century history. It’s probably one of the few festivals that bands will take a pay cut to play. Due to the unique setting - the stage is situated on a national historic landmark - crowds are reasonable in more ways than one. The attendance is limited and as a result, the weekend sells out well in advance of line-up announcements, blurring the line between the bigger attraction - the festival or its acts. This also attracts a certain type of fan who respects not only the setting but the atmosphere. Positive vibes ring out as clearly as the tunes.

As any fan of “Mad Men” knows, nostalgia is a powerful drug. It’s easy to squint your eyes at just about any point during the weekend and imagine yourself at the same festival 50 years prior. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mavis Staples is still the one bringing the house down.) It’s not just a festival but a weekend-long holiday - an intoxicating blend of history, tradition, familiarity and a healthy smattering of the unexpected. As it does every year, the holiday must end.

 


 

 Words by Brian Hodge of Visible Voice 

Sunday
Jul132014

Amen Dunes Unplugged

On a steamy summer night, on the first stop on Amen Dunes' cross-country tour, I had the good fortune to sit down with the band. Inside the dreamlike Columbus Theatre, Damon McMahon was aided by Jordi Wheeler on piano, and keeping time was Gleb Wilson.

“Lilac in Hand” is a highlight off Amen Dunes’ stellar full-length Love, but it was the cover of The Lemonheads’ "My Drug Buddy” that ended up stealing the show for me. Much like McMahon’s catalogue, its melancholy melody has a tendency to jangle in your head long after the song fades out.

 

Tuesday
Jul012014

Jonah Tolchin - Release of New Album "Clover Lane" 

 

Jonah Tolchin’s Clover Lane opens with a hellacious harmonica and a furious footstomp. Right from the start it’s clear that this isn’t just a terrific local record; it’s a polished, propulsive record with enough quality and energy to take Tolchin places.

Based in Rhode Island and no stranger to the stage, Tolchin’s name has been buzzing for a few years now. His honest lyricism and wizened voice slid in almost too well with fellow Ocean Staters like Deer Tick and the Low Anthem. But as those bands took departures in different directions, Tolchin has chosen to simply take his act to another level and left town to do it.

The record was produced by Marvin Etzioni, whose production credits include Peter Case, and whose professional credits include founding Lone Justice. And Marvin “The Mandolin Man” appears to have a bit of Midas in him, as it is instantaneously obvious it is expertly produced. It seems to accurately capture the energy of the environment. Put simply, the record sounds terrific.

Recorded in Nashville, Tenn., the album’s second track is aided by sometimes-Tennessean John McCauley of Deer Tick. In addition to McCauley’s deft harmonies, there is some serious playing by seriously skilled musicians. Eamon McClaughlin lends some frenzied fiddle work, while Chris Scrugg’s steel guitar sets the thing on fire.

Not to say the album is without variety. “Diamond Mind” downshifts to showcase Tolchin’s tender voice and thoughtful lyrics. “I was looking up at the sky again / I fell into the sky. Looking for an answer, but I found me a question why,” he layers atop a lovely, Low Anthem-esque chorus.

“Hey Baby Blues” is a classically cool come-on with a sultry baritone sax. “Hybrid Automo” is a funky fusion that definitely lands on the pro-electric side of the energy debate. In lesser hands, these may be cause for concern, but the risky moves pay off well.

The album ends quietly with “I’ll Be Gone”, a plaintive rejoinder to the temporary nature of it all. “I’m leaving in the morning, and then I’ll be gone,” he sings. Fans who want to see Tolchin in person should do so soon, because he may be gone for bigger and brighter stages, and deservedly so. Might as well enjoy the trip. Thankfully Clover Lane is one hell of a ride.

 

 Words by Brian Hodge of Visible Voice

 

Friday
May302014

An Evening With Pete Yorn - The Crocodile in Seattle WA

It's remarkable how a song can be powerful enough to put you through a complete time warp. Pete Yorn’s catalog was the soundtrack to a significant chunk of time in my life (for good and for bad). His songs evoke emotions that directly associate themselves with memories that I cherish or try to forget. Regardless, with Pete Yorn’s music there is no denying that they are all "jams" that will always create new memories and feelings as you hear them.

Wednesday’s show at the Crocodile was a Pete Yorn “super fan” night. No set list, no backing band, just a singer/songwriter taking requests from a room of people who knew every word to every song.

As of late, Pete Yorn has been on a bit of a hiatus from his solo career. He was admittedly a little rusty although it was hard to tell. The mini tour he is on, “An Evening with Pete Yorn”  allows him to get down to his fighting weight and prepare himself for a full tour, hopefully in the near future…to promote a new album? Either way, Wednesday night in Seattle fulfilled that desire to go back to see an artist while they were playing “shows” vs. “concerts.”

Bandstand in the Sky

New York City Serenade -Cover (song by Bruce Springsteen)

Saturday
May172014

Sharon Van Etten - Live in Concert

The intimate upstairs of the Columbus Theatre seats just 200 people. Little surprise then that Sharon Van Etten took the stage to an salivating sold-out audience. Van Etten played Providence before, but you’d be forgiven if you missed it. She played a house show with locally-based Orion at the home of Alec K. Redfearn some five years ago.


Since then, things have changed a bit and there was reason to celebrate, chiefly the release of her new record Are We There.

The album, her fourth, adds to the artists’ catalog of evocative, emotional and outright excellent songs. Her voice appears at once assured but always with a tender touch.

Combined with subtle surety in her lyrics, Van Etten stands out as a bright star in the crowded singer-songwriter constellation. With tight harmonies and talented musicians behind her, Van Etten also makes for a captivating live show.

You can now stream Are We There Yet on iTunes here and check out more tour dates here. Be sure not to miss her. It may be another five years before she comes round again.

Setlist:
“Afraid of Nothing”
“Save Yourself”
“Give Out”
Taking Chances
“Don’t Do It”
“Nothing wil Change”
“Break Me”
“You Know Me Well”
“Tarifa”
“Serpents”
“Your Love is Killing Me”
"I Love You But I’m Lost"  
Everytime the Sun Comes Up

 http://open.spotify.com/album/1i3pSpQ1mdwEWHHSRPpMiA

Wednesday
May142014

Black Prairie with Tiburones - Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA

 Black Prairie

We were introduced to Black Prairie in 2013 at the Newport folk festival in Newport, RI. Almost a year later we were able to catch them at the beginning of their tour promoting their latest album Fortune. Black Prairie was kind enough to play some songs from Fortune for us behind the venue.

Please be sure to check them out on tour and by streaming their music.

Fortune proves the band has outgrown its roots as a casual side-project of indie folk band The Decemberists, solidifying into a primary, creative focus for its members—a band with its own internal momentum, genuine character and style.  “Making this record was the most collaborative and magical thing,” says founder Chris Funk.  “I’m excited to play these songs live.”

Black Prairie may look like a bluegrass or folk band, but their tastes and repertoire are much more expansive. There is a fierce emphasis on musicianship, Powell says, but otherwise: “They’re genre-less. They’re not afraid of anything. 

The band’s story started in 2007, when Chris Funk gathered local musicians he admired for a chance to write music and play instruments he wasn’t utilizing in his role as guitarist in The Decemberists.  He pulled in fellow Decemberists Nate Query and Jenny Conlee, on bass and accordion, Annalissa Tornfelt on fiddle and vocals and Jon Neufeld (Jackstraw, Doloreon) on guitar, followed later by Decemberists’ John Moen on drums.  Their only ambition was to have fun, but ideas started sparking immediately—they were pushing their own musicianship.

Tiburones was a hidden gem for us! After our session with Black Prairie Chris Funk said “ You’ve got to get this band Tiburones out here and do one of these.” When Chris Funk tells you a band is awesome then you don’t second guess it! Tiburones (Shark) is one of those bands that you hear and you immediately know they have something that most bands don’t. They have a sweet and soulful sound with a charming Latin element to the vocal stylings of Luz Elena Mendoza. Tiburones is on my list of the top bands to look out for in the very near future. 

Monday
May052014

Sharon Van Etten - "I Love You but I'm Lost"

 

Sharon Van Etten recently hosted The New Yorker up to her West Village apartment where she sang “I Love You but I’m Lost,” from her forthcoming album, “Are We There.” She showcases her rich, earthly tone and even gives a little insight into what makes her tick as a songwriter. Watch the performance above.

If the intimate nature of the video is appealing, be sure to catch her in person. Van Etten is about to embark on an ambitious world tour, featuring local stops at the venerable Iron Horse Music Hall (May 8) and the intimate Columbus Theatre (May 10). For a full list of tour dates, visit her website here.

Tuesday
Apr152014

Daniel G Harmann - Showbox - April 17 (Preview)

Fastback Sessions

 

Thursday April 17th
@ the Showbox market
$15 in advance / $20 at the door
BUY TIC FROM DANIEL G HARMANN:

Spectrum, the Seattle RAW event, is a craft fare, fashion show, art exhibit, rock show all wrapped up into one. Live music, DJs, dancers, and so much more will fill Seattle Showbox for one night highlighting the best Seattle's art community has to offer.

One of those featured artist is singer/songwriter Daniel G Harmann. Harmann is a master craftsman of working class art. With the lyrical depth of Low or the Red House Painters, Harmann constructs “iceberg rock” as powerful as late 90s post punk, & as emotionally honest & deep as melancholy rockers Jimmy Eat World, Idlewild, or even Fugazi. Harmann's songs draw the listener in with their dark & smoky feel, while escorting you through life's landscape of pain & redemption in a way only a trusted friend can.
Thursday
Apr102014

Arc Iris Album Release Show

 

Jocie Adams took the stage quietly. Well, as quietly as someone in a gold-sequined jumpsuit can anyway. Adams, best known for her work in the Low Anthem,  saddled up to a piano tucked in the corner and began playing. A classically trained composer, Adams glissaded through a delicate, dream-like passage. She was soon joined on stage by pianist Zach Tenorio-Miller, who leaned over her shoulders and accompanied the piece with both hands. The pair strung together gorgeous, dramatic lines. It was a creative and altogether enchanting opening, and Arc Iris was just getting warmed up.

Soon a menagerie of musicians joined the pair on stage, colored lights reflecting off the band's multi-faced outfits. Boasting a cellist, a double-bassist, a trumpeter, a trombonist and pedal-steel player, and a drummer, the band blossomed into a miniature orchestra, a group capable of delivering elements of classical, jazz, folk, country, and big-band, seemingly all on the same song.

Arc Iris ran through numbers from their debut self-titled album - an album completed some 18 months ago. ("That's a long time," Tenorio-Miller shrugged bemusedly.) It's an album that refuses to be tied down. They sounded lively on"Singing So Sweetly", a jazzy number that highlighted Adams' vocal versatility over plinky piano keys and affected trumpet-playing. "Powder Train" may be the only song about cocaine that features a cello, oweing elements to country and knowing winks from Harry Nilsson. The group sounded equally adept with doo-wop ("Ditch") and Dirty Projectors-like upper-register harmonies.


At turns vulnerable and self-assured, playful but sincere, Arc Iris practices a certain kind of alchemy. Adams and co. take seemingly disparate musical elements and meld them with sneakily poignant songwriting to form an intoxicating concoction of memorable, magical musicality. The live show and the terrific album are both well-executed experiments well worth your time. 

Date 

Venue 

Location 

Tickets 

  

  

Apr 08

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

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Apr 09

BARw/ Plume Giant

New Haven, CT

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Apr 11

Pittsburgh Winery

Pittsburgh, PA

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Apr 14

Schuba's

Chicago, IL

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Apr 16

Jamin Javaw/ Juana Molina

Vienna, VA

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Apr 17

Boot & Saddlew/ Juana Molina

Philadelphia, PA

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Apr 25

Colony Cafew/ Burnell Pines, S...

Woodstock, NY

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Apr 28

The Sinclairw/ Plume Giant, Lau...

Boston, MA

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May 01

The Workmans Club

Dublin, Ireland

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May 02

Night & Day Cafe

Manchester, United Kingdom

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May 03

Live At Leeds

Leeds, United Kingdom

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May 04

Stag & Dagger

Glasgow, United Kingdom

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May 06

The Louisianaw/ Nicole Atkins

Bristol, United Kingdom

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May 07

Bush Hallw/ Nicole Atkins, N...

London, United Kingdom

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May 09

The Great Escape -The Fly Stage

Brighton, United Kingdom

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May 10

The Great Escape - Uncut Stage

Brighton, United Kingdom

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May 11

Paradiso

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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May 14

Les Trois Baudets

Paris, France

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May 16

Privatclubw/ Allie

Berlin, Germany

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May 17

Le Botaniquew/ Nick Mulvey

Brussels, Belgium

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Jun 22

Clearwater's Great Hudson River Revivial

Croton On Hudson, NY