I’m Trying to Catch Some Kind of Spark

On Saturday, May 14, 2016, I headed to the South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival and Art Walk to catch Glen Phillips playing on a free outdoor stage. This was a rare chance to hear his solo music with a backing band, as usually I catch him solo acoustic. The band was made up of Paul Bryan on bass (who is producing Glen’s forthcoming album Swallowed by the New), Chris Bruce on guitar, and Abe Rounds on drums. Singer Khäsy Modisette provided background vocals. There were a few calls from the crowd for songs from Glen’s band Toad the Wet Sprocket, but he mostly stuck to his solo catalog, apart from the two Toad hits he always plays, one song off the last Toad album, one WPA song, and a concessionary playing of “Nanci” for someone in the crowd. This is one of the few times I’ve gotten to stand up and (sort of) dance to Glen’s solo tunes. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the new songs fleshed out with a full band and am so eagerly awaiting the release of the new album (anticipated in Fall 2016). The highlight of the night had to be the last song, “Held Up,” which is a different sort of sound from Glen, but so rhythmically wonderful.

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Glen Phillips Performing at the South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival

The set list for the night:

  1. The Next Day” from Mr. Lemons
  2. California Wasted” from New Constellation (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  3. Leaving Old Town” from Live at the Belly Up, expected on Swallowed by the New
  4. True” from Winter Pays for Summer
  5. All I Want” from fear (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  6. Baptistina” from Live at the Belly Up, expected on Swallowed by the New.
    Glen introduced this song by saying “Sometimes it’s bad for the dinosaurs, but it’s good for the mammals.”
  7. Gather” from Winter Pays for Summer
  8. The Easy Onesfrom Live at the Belly Up, expected on Swallowed by the New
  9. Walk On the Ocean” from fear (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  10. Everything But You” from Mr. Lemons
  11. Amnesty” expected on Swallowed by the New, used a line from this song for the post title
  12. When Doves Cry” Prince cover
  13. Grief & Praise” from Live at the Belly Up, expected on Swallowed by the New
  14. My Criminal Career” expected on Swallowed by the New
  15. Always Have My Love” from Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  16. Nanci” from Dulcinea (Toad the Wet Sprocket), he played this one solo acoustic
  17. Go” expected on Swallowed by the New
  18. Held Up” new song, not sure whether or not it will be on this next album

 

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Paul Bryan on Bass

 

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Chris Bruce on Lead Guitar

 

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Khäsy Modisette Provided Backing Vocals

 

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Glen Phillips Under Different Colored Lights

 

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Time May Change Me

On May 7, 2016 I decided I’d like to go see a show that night and checking the local listings, I found out that Space Oddity: David Brighton’s Tribute to David Bowie would be playing at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, CA. Opening for him was The Cars tribute band, Candy-O, and I thought this combination sounded like it would make for a fun night. Think what you will about tribute bands, I’ve found them to be generally enjoyable, and the longer they’ve been around, the better they usually are, and that night was no exception.

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Candy-O Pays Tribute to The Cars at Saint Rocke

I arrived about ten minutes before Candy-O took the stage. Candy-O hails from Southern California and have been paying tribute to The Cars for 15 years. They were consummate musicians and it was exciting to be able to hear the music of The Cars live. The band played through a bunch of the songs you would expect to hear and included a couple I didn’t know at all. They closed with my favorite, “Just What I Needed,” so I was happy I caught their act.

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David Brighton Pays Tribute to David Bowie

DSC05758If you are a Bowie fan and like to hear his songs live, in the style in which you are most familiar with them (from the albums), then I highly recommend David Brighton and his band. They really do the music justice. Brighton inhabits the character of Bowie so thoroughly, never for a second dropping out of the Bowie (or Ziggy or Thin White Duke, etc.) persona. He’s got the costumes, the look, the moves, and the voice. He clearly loves to perform these songs. Having never seen Bowie himself in concert, I can’t compare directly with the legendary man, but I was especially touched by the warm, charming personality that radiates from Brighton’s Bowie. Go see this man perform!

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Brighton’s Perfect Thin White Duke

His accompanying band were pretty fantastic too. How cool to have these two guys in your band, Paul Nelson and Switch, who can both take on lead guitar and play those fantastic riffs and solos we all recognize. Their skills stood out for me and I was doubly impressed.

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Paul Nelson of Space Oddity

I didn’t note the set list down song for song during the show, but I was able to grab photos of the printed list. They played all of the songs in larger bold and not those that are in parentheses (though they did play “Get It On“). The band stuck pretty close to this order as well, with a few songs in a slightly different order.  Highlights for me included “Moonage Daydream,” “Changes,” (borrowed the lyric from this song for this post’s title) “Life on Mars,” (of course, my favorite Bowie tune) and “Under Pressure.” Check out the band’s promo reel for a glimpse of what the live performance is like.

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David Brighton as David Bowie

 

 

From Fisher Road to Hollywood

One of my most anticipated concerts of this spring was The Milk Carton Kids and The Avett Brothers  at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, CA on Friday, April 29, 2016. I’ve seen both these bands within the last couple years, so I already had an idea of what to expect. Having purchased a pit ticket I arrived early and was able to secure a place front and ever-so-slightly off center, which is exactly where I like to be for a show. It was great to be in the pit to be close to the performers.

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The Milk Carton Kids: Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale

The Milk Carton Kids are a subdued duo combining beautiful harmonies between Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, poetic lyrics, and stunning guitar runs. Unfortunately, the crowd streaming into the venue and chatting through the first few songs of the set felt distracting and disjointed to the connection between artist and audience.  It may have even been bothering the musicians as they made a false start at the beginning of “New York” and had to stop and regroup, Kenneth remarking “It’s been a long year.” It felt like they finally grabbed the attention of the crowd with their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” as the audience became more focused on the stage and less on themselves after that point. The pair took a long break to tell the story of “Charlie” to the audience prior to playing it and after the song there were a few women in the pit vocally volunteering to be Charlie’s mama. When introducing “I Still Want a Little More,” Joey remarked, “We’ve been together six years and over that time, it’s become really clear that Kenneth is the better guitar player.” While true, Joey provides a rock solid foundation with his playing from which Kenneth can confidently launch his mind-boggling lightning fast solos.   I can’t really list highlights as I love every single one of the songs they played, though maybe “New York” and “Michigan” a smidgen more than the others.

The Milk Carton Kids full set list was as follows:

  1. Hope of a Lifetime” from The Ash & Clay
  2. The Ash & Clay” from The Ash & Clay
  3. The City of Our Lady” from Monterey
  4. New York” from Prologue
  5. Wish You Were Here” (Pink Floyd cover)
  6. Heaven” from The Ash & Clay
  7. Charlie” from Retrospect (as Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan)
  8. Michigan” from Prologue
  9. I Still Want a Little More” from Prologue
  10. Girls, Gather ’round” from Retrospect (as Kenneth Pattengale & Joey Ryan)
  11. Snake Eyes” from The Ash & Clay

 

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The Avett Brothers Perform at The Greek Theatre

If one can wish for an ideal concert experience, at least imagining what the music side of that would be like, I’ve learned that The Avett Brothers are genies at making wishes come true. The band kicked off the show with a lively instrumental from an early album, “The D Bag Rag,” then quickly snatched up any casual fans by playing the popular “Down With the Shine,” which is great as a crowd singalong. They played a diverse selection of songs from their repertoire, mixing together old and new songs, rocking the crowd as well as slowing the tempo right down, and singing of the emotional highs and lows one experiences in a lifetime. There was so much material covered in their lyrics that one could relate to and the music backing the message was first-rate.

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Seth Avett

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Bob Crawford

Throughout the show Scott and Seth Avett sought variety by changing guitars, switching to banjo or piano, or putting down the instruments to focus on vocals and hand-clapping the rhythm. Members of the band provided superb accompaniment: Bob Crawford on bass; Joe Kwon on cello, Paul Defiglia on piano, Mike Marsh on drums, and Tania Elizabeth on violin. The band members performed with so much energy and heart it would be difficult not to be enraptured by their work. Their efforts made for an outstanding, authentic show, which never felt predictable. Joe and Tania particularly added a lot of flare and talent to the evening. Are there any other cello players that perform standing up, sometimes playing while moving around the stage?  I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it before.

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The Avett Brothers Cellist Joe Kwon

DSC05590A particularly special moment for me was then Scott and Seth came to the front of the stage, mere feet from were I was standing. When I had arrived, I had noticed the tape on edge of the stage marking “things will happen here.” It was a wonderful teaser of a message, which held true to its word. They played two new songs “Fisher Road to Hollywood” and “I Wish I Were” from this position. Check out the links for the videos I shot of those two tunes that night. The songs will be on the forthcoming album True Sadness. Of course, I have to use the line “From Fisher Road to Hollywood” for the post title.

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Scott Avett

The Avett Brothers set list was:

  1. The D Bag Rag” from A Carolina Jubilee
  2. Down With the Shine” from The Carpenter
  3. Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” from I and Love and You
  4. Ain’t No Man” from True Sadness
  5. Die Die Die” from Emotionalism
  6. Talk on Indolence” from Four Thieves Gone
  7. Part From Me“from Magpie and the Dandelion
  8. Laundry Room” from I and Love and You
  9. Live and Die” from The Carpenter
  10. Fisher Road to Hollywood” from True Sadness
  11. I Wish I Was” from True Sadness
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    Tania Elizabeth

    Murder in the City” from The Gleam II

  13. Le Reel Du Pendu/Les Bars De La Prison” performed by Tania Elizabeth
  14. True Sadness” from True Sadness
  15. Country Blues” (Doc Watson cover)
  16. Living of Love” from Emotionalism
  17. Vanity” from Magpie and the Dandelion
  18. Slight Figure of Speech” from I and Love and You
  19. I and Love and You” from I and Love and You

Encore

  1. Mama Tried” (Merle Haggard cover)
  2. The Fall” from Four Thieves Gone
  3. Morning Song” from Magpie and the Dandelion
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Seth Avett with a Gorgeous Guitar

 

 

Do You Wanna Dance?

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There was on amazing concert honoring the band Big Star on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, CA. I’m not using that word amazing lightly either. With stellar musical arrangements, a group of talented musicians dedicated to playing the music of Big Star live, along with special guest artists and the Kronos Quartet, took the audience on a exquisite journey through the album of Third/Sister Lovers along with favorite tunes from the Big Star catalog. The concert was filmed by Yes Equals Yes and will be available to purchase as a DVD next spring.

Time and life constraints have kept me from writing about this show earlier, but I wanted to make sure that I documented my favorite parts personally, even if belatedly. Craig Rosen did an excellent job reviewing this show for Billboard, so check that out if you are interested in additional details. I have been fortunate enough to see a version of this show before, when it played at the Wilshire Abell Theatre in September 2014. They also played through all of Number 1 Record that time, which I was psyched about as I had been playing that album a lot then, but had only recently become a fan. Now that I’ve been listening to Big Star’s music for a couple more years, it was a great chance to hear these songs with a more familiar ear. The presentation of the music has gotten more finely polished during the intervening time.

Pat Sansone of Wilco kicked off the show on acoustic guitar singing “I’m in Love With a Girl” as audience members were still finding their seats in the sold out theatre. (Please note all links to original versions of the songs played during this concert are in the full set list at the end of the post.) As the songs progressed, more musicians showed up on stage. Early on, expert songwriter and Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson effectively sang a spot-on rendition of one of my favorites, “The Ballad of El Goodo.” Then there were two rockers in a row with original Big Star member Jody Stephens showing off his stuff on drums. First, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco had us rocking out to “When My Baby’s Beside Me.”  Ken Stringfellow of The Posies sang a powerful version of “Feel,” with Heartbreaker and Largo-regular Benmont Tench joining in on organ.  In my notebook, next to this song I simply wrote, “awesome.” I’m a sucker for the song “Thirteen,” having learned to play it on guitar myself, so it was satisfying to hear Skylar Gudasz lend her pretty voice to the tune as Django Haskins provided support. Dan Wilson got to sing another of my favorites from Number 1 Record, the touching and poignant “Don’t Give Up On Me Yet.”  This concluded the first set of songs and there was an intermission here.

Django Haskins kicked off the next section of music singing “Nature Boy,” a cover of the enchanting song by eden ahbez originally made famous by Nat King Cole, setting the stage for the next half of the evening, as if to say, “Something special is coming — pay attention.” Tweedy introduced “Kizza Me” by remarking, “Here’s another standard for you.” Jody Stephens took his turn on vocals to sing his song “For You,” which he sang in honor of 50 years of Ardent Studios, where Big Star got their start, and dedicated the song to Ardent founder, Jon Fry. Appreciation was also expressed for the string arrangements of Carl Marsh and it was noted that he had written new intros to some of the pieces, including “Nighttime,” which followed and was sung by Tweedy.  A nice surprise addition to the show was Sarah Kramer playing a sweet trumpet solo at the end of “Big Black Car,” which was sung stunningly by Jessica Pratt.

My absolute favorite moment of the concert was Ken Stringfellow’s compelling vocal delivery of “Stroke It Noel.” He asked the question, “Do you wanna dance?” not as if he was asking for just a dance, but as if the whole rest of his life depended on the answer to that one simple question.  So this song gets the honor of having its lyric as the title of the post. Vocalists take note, this is how you insert yourself into a song. Ken’s take on this song, as well as the fantastic band behind it, has to be in the running for one of my favorite performances of this year. This was the moment that made the extra long drive to get to the venue that night completely worth it. Yes I will spend an hour and 40 minutes in barely moving traffic if I can hear someone pour himself into a song in that manner. Thank you, Ken!

Another highlight for me was finally getting to see Robyn Hitchcock perform live. I’ve been waiting a long time to see Robyn on the stage, ever since he played at a 21 and up club very near to where I lived when I was 20 years and 11 months old. I wasn’t able to go see him because of the age limit (and my lack of fake ID and the fact that even today I get carded). What a treat to see him perfectly showcased with the oddball song, “Downs.” Robyn introduced the tune by saying, “If it works you’ll be amazed at how we did it, if not, you won’t be surprised.” Count me in on Team Amazed. On a side note, I’m excited to be able to go see Robyn perform his own show at Largo on June 5, 2016.

Well, “Holocaust” is clearly one of those incredible, well-written songs that takes your breath away. Django Haskins submitted a worthy rendition, with Peabody Southwell providing spine-tingling backing vocals. When Brett Harris  took the lead vocals for “Kanga Roo” he pulled me into that song measure after measure, like he was pulling me up on a rope hand-over-hand while I was dangling from the side of a mountain. He along with the accompanying musicians provided a dynamic and gripping performance. “Thank You Friends” saw everybody who performed in the show return to the stage, taking turns singing lines from the song. They stated at the start of the concert that because the show was being filmed people didn’t really need to take photos or video, but a few people were and I took this moment to snap a shot myself, though I was seated further back than I would have liked for taking photographs. And as if I conjured him out of nowhere just by having thought about him during an earlier part of the show when I thought I saw someone who looked like him, Blake Mills, appeared on stage to play guitar for this song! As the song progressed, everyone slowly took turns exiting the stage during the song until there was just the piano playing at the end.

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Everyone on Stage for “Thank You Friends”

Brett Harris and Mike Mills (yeah, that guy from R.E.M.) sang “In the Street” and the whole crew rocked my socks off. At this point in the show, it was just one excellent moment coming  fast on the heels of another. Jon Auer followed with a knockout version of Chris Bell‘s “I Am the Cosmos.” Then Mike Mills introduced “September Gurls” by saying it was one of his favorite songs of all times, “And I’m F-ing thrilled to be doing it.” It was an absolutely delicious, rock solid version of the song, delivered with such confidence you could be mistaken for thinking he had written it himself. It was a masterclass in delivering a cover song from a pro. Robyn was back on stage (along with a hair dryer, for effect, and wearing a different shirt) to sing “The Letter,” which Big Star member Alex Chilton had made famous when he was the vocalist for The Box Tops. It’s okay, Robyn, I like to sing with my hair dryer too.  Mitch Easter deftly handled covering Big Star covering The Kinks on “Till the End of the Day,” while Blake Mills returned to play a nice guitar solo (and I don’t mean nice as in polite, I mean it emphatically, with a capital N and drawn out letter sounds). For an added bonus, the show closed out with Jody singing Andy Hummel‘s tune, “Way Out West.”

On a closing note, drummer Jody Stephens has a new album out with his new band Those Pretty Wrongs. Check it out. Here’s a link to the official video for their song “Never Goodbye.” Also, can I please look as young as Jody does when I’m in my early 60s?

The full set list from the concert was as follows:

  1. I’m in Love with a Girl” from Radio City, sung by Pat Sansone
  2. Watch the Sunrise” from Number 1 Record, sung by Brett Harris
  3. Back of a Car” from Number 1 Record, sung by Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow
  4. The Ballad of El Goodo” from Number 1 Record, sung by Dan Wilson
  5. When My Baby’s Besides Me” from Number 1 Record, sung by Jeff Tweedy
  6. Feel” from Number 1 Record, sung by Ken Stringfellow
  7. Thirteen” from Number 1 Record, sung by Skylar Gudasz, Django Haskins
  8. The EMI Song” from Alex Chilton’s Free Again, sung by Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo
  9. Give Me Another Chance” from Number 1 Record, sung by Dan Wilson  (Followed by an intermission.)
  10. Nature Boy” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Django Haskins
  11. Kizza Me” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Jeff Tweedy
  12. O Dana” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Jon Auer
  13. For You” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Jody Stephens
  14. Nightime” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Jeff Tweedy
  15. Jesus Christ” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Mike Mills
  16. Take Care” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Ira Kaplan
  17. Big Black Car” from Third/Sister Lovers, Jessica Pratt
  18. Stroke It Noel” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Ken Stringfellow
  19. Blue Moon” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Jody Stephens, Tanner on bassoon
  20. Femme Fatale” from Third/Sister Lovers (The Velvet Underground cover), sung by Jessica Pratt with Brett Harris and Chris Stamey
  21. Downs” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Robyn Hitchcock
  22. Dream Lover” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Ken Stringfellow, Skylar Gudasz
  23. Holocaust” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Django Haskins, Peabody Southwell
  24. You Can’t Have Me” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Mike Mills, Skylar Gudasz
  25. Kangaroo” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Brett Harris
  26. Thank You Friends” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by just about everybody
  27. You and Your Sister” from Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos, sung by Pat Sansone
  28. In the Street” from Number 1 Record, sung by Mike Mills and Brett Harris
  29. I Am the Cosmos” from Chris Bell’s I Am the Cosmos, sung by Jon Auer, Ken Stringfellow
  30. September Gurls” from Radio City, sung by Mike Mills
  31. The Letter” single by The Box Tops, sung by Robyn Hitchcock
  32. Till the End of the Day” from Third/Sister Lovers, sung by Mitch Easter
  33. Way Out West” from Radio City, sung by Jody Stephens

 

Sing Loud While You’re Able

Glen Phillips played at SOhO Restaurant and Music Club in Santa Barbara, CA on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. I’d missed the last couple solo shows Glen has played, so I was pretty excited to get to this one. It was a slightly nerve-wrecking drive out of L.A that Tuesday evening due to various accidents on the highway and it took even longer than it normally does to get out of town. I made it to the venue about 20 minutes before the show was to start and ordered my dinner promptly. I don’t particularly like to be eating when the musicians are on stage, but so be it, I was just happy to arrive before the music started.

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Curran+Freya Performing at SOhO

Curran+Freya opened, blending their two young voices in harmony over a set of three covers, as Curran accompanied on guitar.  They commenced with “Big Jet Plane” by Angus and Julia Stone, which was a funny coincidence to me because I had heard the song “Paper Aeroplane” not too long ago by Angus and Julia Stone, and thought it would be a good one for Curran+Freya to cover. These two could cover any of Angus and Julia’s songs well, as their voices convincingly match in timbre and the duo sing with a similarly light, vulnerable and delicate, yet confident style.  Next they sang “Lovesong” by The Cure, which Freya has previously covered with her dad, Glen. Vocally it was another pretty rendition, but a few more years of life experience will help them find the passion and longing in this song.  The pair concluded with a cover of Damien Rice’s song “Volcano.”

I find it difficult to write about Glen, being in the position where I have seen him perform many times and have chatted with him sometimes after shows. He remains a voice of wisdom to me, even if he is just synthesizing ideas from the books he reads or other people’s ideas, as he alluded to in one of his comments that evening. Glen has provided numerous interviews when touring with his band Toad the Wet Sprocket or in regard to his solo work that can be found online and he consistently comes across as an intelligent and compassionate man. If you study through the back catalog of his songs lyrics, you will likely reach the same conclusion. Prior to this concert he gave an incredibly well-spoken, in-depth, and open interview for the Santa Barbara Independent (though slight error at the top, he is not ex-Toad, the band is touring together this summer), which is worth reading.

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Glen Phillips Performs at SOhO

Before I head on to the set list, one interesting note — Glen recently played an online StageIt concert in which he performed all the songs off his solo debut Abulum, which just had its 15 year anniversary of being released. He remarked that there were a few of those he hadn’t had in his solo rotation that he might start incorporating, but then did not play any songs from Abulum that night! He did play a bunch of new songs, including a few that appeared on a recently released album of songs recorded live at Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA, aptly titled Live at the Belly Up.  The set list at SOhO included:

  1. The Next Day” from Mr. Lemons
  2. Baptistina” from Live at the Belly Up
  3. Courage” from Winter Pays for Summer
  4. End This Now” from Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  5. True” from Winter Pays for Summer
  6. Rise Up” from Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  7. Last to Fall” from the deluxe version of New Constellation and the Architect of the Ruin EP (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  8. Gimme Sympathy” – Metric Cover
  9. The Easy Ones” from Live at the Belly Up, Freya joined him on harmony at Soho
  10. Walk On the Ocean” from Fear (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  11. Go” unreleased song
  12. Held Up” unreleased song and the first time he has played it in an “uncontrolled environment”
  13. Amnesty” unreleased song
  14. Gather” from Winter Pays for Summer
  15. Always Have My Love” from Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  16. My Criminal Career” unreleased song
  17. Grief & Praise” from Live at the Belly Up — I borrowed a line from this song for the title of the post
  18. Finally Fading” from Winter Pays for Summer
  19. Released” from Winter Pays for Summer
  20. All I Want” from Fear (Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  21. Everything But You” from Mr. Lemons 
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Glen Phillips, Living In the Song

When Glen performed his StageIt show on the day that Prince died, he began a cover of “When Doves Cry” just before the timer automatically ran out on the show. We got to hear about one verse of it. When he came back on the stage at SOhO for his encore, people started hollering suggestions for songs and I shouted out “When Doves Cry.”  He introduced the song by saying this was probably the one chance he had to perform it and then broke into a rhythmic cover of it. It was likely that he was going to play the song anyway, but it felt good to me that we were on the same page.  The guy sitting at my table (possibly named Michael), who had arrived just as the show began, started singing along with some nice little backing vocals.  The audience got on board for the final chorus. It was a special moment, which I captured on video and you can find linked here: When Doves Cry — Glen Phillips Covers Prince. He finished the show with a standard closer from his repertoire, “Don’t Need Anything” from Winter Pays for Summer.  I may have arrived to his show with my “cup 1/16 full,” but it was overflowing by the end of the set.

Feels Good, Just Like It Should

DSC05444I was at The Troubadour on Saturday, April 23, 2016 for a concert including three bands: We the Folk, T Sisters, and Dustbowl Revival. The first two bands were new to me. We the Folk formed at the UCLA campus and has been playing some of the small popular venues in L.A. for the past couple of years. Fronted by David Villafaña on vocals and guitar, the band on Saturday was comprised of five additional musicians playing fiddle, accordion, bass, drum kit, and percussion. The T Sisters is comprised of three harmonizing sisters — Erika, Chloe, and Rachel Tietjen — with the support of a couple musicians, Steve Height on bass and mandolin player/guitarist, Andy Allen-Fahlander. They’ve been working on music full-time since 2014, opening for some well-known names on the folk, country, and Americana circuit. Dustbowl Revival, the dynamic octet that brings their fantastic melting pot of music genres and lively spirits to every venue they play, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing three times in the past year.  The members of the band are Z. Lupetin on vocals and guitar; Liz Beebe on vocals, washboard, and sometimes ukulele; Daniel Mark, mandolin; Connor Vance, fiddle; Matt Rubin, trumpet; Ulf Bjorlin, trombone; James Klopfleisch, bass; and Josh Heffernan on drums.

 

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We the Folk Performing at The Troubadour

We the Folk was holding their album release concert for their new work WTF.  They took the crowd on a wild ride, mixing up their sometimes Spanish, sometimes English, Latin-Klezmer-Folk hybrid of music in a stunning swirl of rhythm and at times, nearly frenetic playing. Their specialty seemed to be steadily increasing the tempo to a blistering pace. Much credit to their fiddler, Gabriel Wheaton, for his lightening quick playing on his solos. They played a solid set, mixing up songs of varying tempos, and kicked off the party atmosphere with some brisk numbers at the end. Their web site notes that they are on a mission to get you dancing — on that Saturday night, mission accomplished! These were the tunes written down on their set list:

  1. Marie del Mar” from WTF
  2. Toxic” a Britney Spears cover
  3. She Belongs” from Culver Session
  4. Solo Cognito” from WTF
  5. Cheap Elegance
  6. Last Night” from WTF
  7. Fiddlin’
  8. “Tula”
  9. Rich Man” based on “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof
  10. Won’t You Come Back”from WTF
  11. They played an additional instrumental song for an encore

 

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T Sisters Performing at The Troubadour

Next up were the T Sisters bringing their musical flair in the tradition of classic female trios to the Troubadour stage. These ladies sang some soulful tunes with pretty harmonies encompassing the folk, Americana, and even disco genres, and clearly had a fun time dancing around the stage, keeping the party grooving. They announced that they were just finishing up a Kickstarter campaign, so look for their second full length album to come out in the near future. Their set list included:

  1. “You’re All I Need to Get By”
  2. Shadoop
  3. Come Back Down” (an original song, not the one of the same name by Toad the Wet Sprocket)
  4. Broken Wings” from Kindred Lines (and not the Mr. Mister tune)
  5. “Road”
  6. “Love Me Today”
  7. “Thief”
  8. “Fight” a song they described as being “about fighting for what you care about”
  9. Woo Woo” from Kindred Lines
  10. I Will Survive” cover of song made famous by Gloria Gaynor

 

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Liz Beebe and Z. Lupetin of Dustbowl Revival Perform at The Troubadour

Dustbowl Revival played their set no holds barred. Each band member was invested in enthusiastically laying down the music and they did so with panache. The crowd responded with much joy and the energy in the room fed right back into the band.  The slew of new songs they played that night were sounding tight and the familiar ones got everyone pumped up. The music switched from one genre to another, whether it be bluegrass, swing, Southern soul, jazz or traditional; the variety of styles kept the show entertaining and highlighted the skill and talent of each musician. Their set list was as follows:

 

  1. “I Decided”

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    Bassist James Klopfleisch Having Fun in the Shadows

  2. It Ain’t My Fault” from With a Lampshade On
  3. Old Joe Clark” from With a Lampshade On
  4. “Busted”
  5. Big Boned Girl
  6. Honey I Love You” singer Z Lupetin prefaced this by mentioning that people ask them, “Why don’t you have any nice love songs?  It’s all death and destruction.” Then he said, “We have one, now we have two.” Check out the link for this new song that shows Liz and Z. singing a duet sans the band.
  7. Feels Good” from With a Lampshade On, I used a line from this song for the post title
  8. Midnight Special” traditional folk song, with T Sisters joining on vocals
  9. I Don’t Drink Anymore
  10. Midnight Rolls Around
  11. John the Revelator” from Carry Me Home
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    Singer Liz Beebe

    “Without You” a new song written by Liz Beebe that they referred to as a “car commercial” song and wanted to let advertisers know it is available. Also, Liz noted that it was about “being with someone and being okay without them.”

  13. Folsom Prison Blues” Johnny Cash cover
  14. The Fire
  15.  Song with lyrics, “Don’t let that girl break your heart”
  16. Lampshade On” from With a Lampshade On; there may have been some climbing on things (Ulf climbing lighting rigging with his trombone, Z. hopping on a giant box next to the stage — see photo below) that aren’t usually used as performance platforms.

 

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Z. Lupetin, With a Lampshade On!

They performed their encore in the middle of the crowd, playing “New River Train” from Carry Me Home and moving seamlessly into “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The mood was seriously electric in that space for a band that had unplugged. The audience was so revved up they cheered the band on to play a second encore. I briefly wondered if there would be a riot if they didn’t come back on stage.  The group did return for the “fast and raunchy” (as Z. dubbed it), “Whiskey in the Well.” The crowd would have loved for them to play all night long, myself included.

 

 

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Drummer in Red, Josh Heffernan Takes a Solo

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Daniel Mark and Connor Vance Swap Instruments