December 13, 2007

A great night!



What an inspiring and incredibly fun night of music by Josh Ritter and a couple of his bandmates, Sam and Zack, at Passim on Tuesday. The show (actually shows, there was an early set as well) was a benefit for their friend Kate (see entry below), who is battling cancer. The music was wonderful and varied, ranging through all of Josh's albums, from early-career favorites ("Hotel Song") to "Historical" ("Temptation of Adam" and an acoustic "To the Dogs or Whoever"). I don't have a complete setlist, but among the tunes were (in no particular order): "Kathleen," "Harrisburg," "Lawrence, Kansas," "Come and Find Me," "Jiggs," "Good Man,""Wolves,"Here at the Right Time,"Still Beating," and "Empty Hearts." I think this is about right (feel free to correct me!)
Zack played his "Cowboy Song" and there were plenty of laughs and lighthearted moments amid the poignancy of some of Josh's songs to the cause. In all a great night. Below, is a clip from the show.
For a few more pics, click HERE.
video

December 7, 2007

Concerts for a Friend


On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Josh Ritter will perform two shows at Passim in Cambridge, Mass. to benefit Kate Filanowski who is battling breast cancer (click HERE to read her Caring Bridge blog). Kate, who has a great spirit and a smile to match, is a close friend of Josh and the band as well as the extended band family and, at age 30, is facing huge medical bills for her treatment. We all wish Kate a speedy recovery and these shows, in which all proceeds go to help her out, are a marvelous and thoughtful idea from Josh. The only problem is both shows sold out very quickly and many of Josh's fans, most who don't even live close enough to Passim, would like to help Kate out in some way. So Josh and the band will be auctioning off some really fun items on Ebay, again with all proceeds benefitting Kate's medical costs. There is also a way to donate directly to Kate's cause through Paypal (click HERE).

Below are the items that are available on Ebay. They are available right now!

*Vinyl copy of "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter" signed by the whole band
*Autographed songbook
*Actual drumhead from concerts, autographed by Josh
*Josh records personalized outgoing message for your phone
*Handwritten, autographed lyrics to "Kathleen" from Josh
*Personalized serenade from Zack on "Nessie" the tuba
*Sam and Zack write, perform and record song just for you
*Drumsticks used on Irish tour and "Jools Holland Show," signed by Josh

December 5, 2007

Hanukkah CD swap, a great tradition


Last year, my sister came up with a fun idea for our family Hanukkah celebration, which usually includes a large group of people coming together for Latkes and boisterous, prop-enhanced renditions of traditional holiday songs (The non-Hanukkah sing-along of "Mule Train" is an added bonus!). My sister's idea was to include a CD swap where everyone has to bring a homemade CD of tunes. Numbers are randomly picked and matched to a CD, one for each person. Everyone leaves with a CD of new music. It's a great way to bring everyone together talking about the really interesting compilations people come up with. I, of course, can't resist coming up with a theme or a reason for my songs. Last year was unusual cover music -- Gillian Welch singing Neil Young's "Pocahontus"; Dar Williams doing Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb," etc.
This year my theme is the "Voice Crush." As I explain on the CD cover, "A voice crush is when you fall in love with someone solely based on the tone of his or her vocals. For them, I’d put a poster of their voices on my wall ... if that were even remotely possible." Actually, I copped this from a blogger out of Cincinnati talking about singer-songwriter Kim Taylor. I find it explains how I fall for certain artists, especially women singer-songwriters.

Anyway here is my song list for this year's CD:
1. "Standing," Patty Griffin
2. "Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson," Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
3. "The Air Is Thin," Jesse Sykes
4. "Old Simon Stimson," Peter Mulvey
5. "Hard to Know," Mindy Smith
6. "That’s So Amazing," Michelle Shocked
7. "Under My Skin," Bob Schneider
8. "Rise Up With Fists!!," Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins
9. "Wrecking Ball," Gillian Welch
10. "Jezebel," Iron and Wine
11. "High Shelf Booze," Eilen Jewell
12. "Water Water," Kris Delmhorst
13. "Los Angeles, I’m Yours," The Decemberists
14. "Modern Love," The Last Town Chorus
15. "People," Kim Taylor
16. "It Makes No Difference," The Band
17. "Ecstasy," Crooked Still

November 26, 2007

Issue No. 18, December 2007


THAT'S THE TICKET - Modern Acoustic proudly presents our faves of 2007

Since its inception, Modern Acoustic has always prided itself on keeping readers informed about great music. Our goal is that you would read something here and then whatever way suits you best – artists’ web sites, iTunes or your local store – give the music a listen for yourself.
That of course takes commitment in keeping track of that essential music as well as time.
So in our continuing effort to make sampling new music more accessible, we have gone interactive (Wild applause here!)
What does going interactive, actually mean?
It means that as you read in upcoming issues about bands that spark your curiosity or interest, you can click on an accompanying link right in the magazine’s pdf and it will take you directly to a website or MySpace site, a place where you can hear music on the spot.
It also means that if we review a concert or post a photo from a show, you can click on the accompanying link to more photos of the show or even to video clips we shot.
You can also instantly visit our blog, our MySpace site or our online merchandise store (Did we mention our Very Cool T-shirts?) right from the comfort of your very own copy of Modern Acoustic.
And to start all of this off with a bang, we decided to launch the premiere of our interactive efforts with our super-duper end of year issue. You will see in its pages that we’ve become linking maniacs.
We saw some great shows this year – from stalwarts Gillian Welch to Crooked Still (twice!), caught some up-and-comers like Antje Duvekot and Anais Mitchell, and survived and thrived at a couple of awesome summer festivals.
We also spent much of our driving time to and from work listening to the likes of Jesse Sykes and Alejandro Escovedo.
It’s hard to believe another year is ending, but the good thing is we’ve filled it with the sounds of artists who are out there giving their all for our listening pleasure... and that deserves our wild applause.
To download the new issue, click HERE.
ALSO, we review the new Alison Krauss-Robert Plant album "Raising Sand." To read the review, click HERE.

MA5 - ALBUMS THAT HELPED US SURVIVE THIS ISSUE:
1. “A Man Under the Influence,’’ Alejandro Escovedo. We’re definitely late to the party on this guy. A great sound.
2. “Raising Sand,” Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Really great sound from these two. Read review.
3. “Strange Conversation,” Kris Delmhorst. Still enjoying Kris’s wonderful voice, and looking forward to a new album soon.
4. “Live at Massey Hall, 1971” Neil Young. I love hearing Neil start to play now-classic tunes, with no recognition from audience.
5. “Shaken By a Low Sound,” Crooked Still. Last year’s fave of the year is still high on the listening list.

November 25, 2007

Back online

Modernacoustic.com is back up and running. A new issue will be posted shortly.

November 24, 2007

Down, down, down

Hi everyone.
My website, modernacoustic.com, is down. I did something very bad while trying to post my latest magazine and am in the process of trying to get it back up. Hopefully I'll be back up and running shortly, so stay tuned.

November 15, 2007

Gill, if you are out there...


This is an open-letter to Gillian Welch.
Dear Gill,
If you just happen to be trolling around the Internet, maybe wondering what your fans are up to, and you come across this post -- here's my message: Please, please put out a new album soon! You have some diehard fans who anxiously await something new. Four years is a long time to wait. As for your touring, it has been spare. I mean opening for Bright Eyes? The guy is fine, but, come on, you and David are NOT opening acts. And since your website has no message board to allow fans to discuss and commiserate, we are out there scouring the Web for any clue to what you guys are doing. Have you been recording a new album, having a baby, decided to quit the music biz all together? Please throw us a bone. And that reminds me, recently, I've been searching out any information about your new song "Throw Me a Rope," which has not been released yet. There are a couple of poor quality videos on YouTube (see below) and that's about it. Oh, there's a cool blog, Boney Earnest's Suburban Hilltop Tent Revue, that has passionately devoted a lot of its content to discussing you guys and The Song.
Please, Gill, throw us a rope...

November 7, 2007

Better late...


I realize I'm a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but if you haven't heard the music of Alejandro Escovedo, I would say please make your way to his Myspace site, his website or iTunes to have a listen. I picked up a copy of his 2001 "A Man Under the Influence" CD recently -- I've actually had it for a while now, but just listened to it recently -- and it blew me away. His songs vary in style from a Tex-Mex-y kind of sound to more rocking numbers. I then immediately bought his most recent album, "The Boxing Mirror," which is less varied and more rocking, and filled with crazy, wacky sounds. Give it a try, I think you'll like it.

October 29, 2007

It never gets old


Forgive my small diversion from music topics to celebrate the Sox as 2007 World Champs! What a fun year it was. I truly never believed that I would see a World Series victory in my lifetime, and now I've seen two! It is amazing. I was thinking last night as I was trying to fall asleep following the celebration about how many years it was between World Series appearances when I was a kid -- '67 to '75, '75 to '86, '86 to 2004 (me pictured with the 2004 trophy) -- and how the Sox could never win it. And now my 11-year-old son, between the Sox and the Patriots, thinks this is just a regular occurrence that our team wins it all. Anyway, we'll get back to music, right after I get some sleep.

October 25, 2007

Two for Thursday

A couple of items I've just learned about...

First, the Boston Music Award nominations are now in and YOU can vote for your favorites. In recent years these awards seem to have fallen on hard times, even to a point of being a joke when the likes of Pat Metheny and Bonnie Raitt were up for awards even though they haven't lived in Boston for over a decade. And this year there are still some questionable ones (hello, Josh Ritter, who has lived in Idaho for the last couple years). But there are some our favorites who are getting notice and got our vote (in fact, we voted for Josh anyway!). Lori McKenna was nominated for a bunch of awards and so was Sarah Borges. Another of our faves, Eilen Jewell was left off, which does not make us happy. Anyway, to vote click HERE.

Our second piece of news does not make me as happy. Rushad Eggleston (left), the brilliant charismatic cellist, is leaving the band Crooked Still. It has been our fear since I saw them earlier this year that the band is just too good to stay together long term. As it is their banjo player extraordinaire Greg Liszt has taken leaves from the band to tour with Springsteen. Crooked Still is adding another cellist and a fiddle player and are not breaking up, so we can take heart in that.

October 23, 2007

Wear it all, begins!



You've read the magazine... you've browsed the blog... now wear your obsession with pride. Yes, now available is Modern Acoustic the T-shirt, sweatshirt and other fine products suitable for you or your very cool friends and relatives. OK, enough of the sales pitch.
But it is true, now available through Cafe Press are VERY COOL shirts in a variety of styles and colors. How cool? Take a look.
Go to www.cafepress.com/
modernacoustic
to browse through the merch.

October 18, 2007

Where it all begins


It's easy to forget sometimes - as you pay your money, sit in nice seats, and listen to polished bands - about where it all starts for musicians. A couple of nights ago I got the pleasure to revisit that experience at an open mike night at the Burren in Somerville. My reason for going was to meet Seattle singer-songwriter Ali Marcus (right), someone who I became acquainted with through my magazine (she wrote a piece for my Internet radio story, Issue 15) and heard her music (reviewed in Issue 16), but never met in person. She and her friend Kristy Cameron (below), another musician (who to my surprise has a strong Josh Ritter connection), are touring the East Coast and were playing their way from Boston to Northampton to New York, picking up open mike gigs spontaneously as they went.
It was a long night of music: There were plenty of musicians who came to showcase their work, and though the crowd was fairly small at first -- there was after all a Sox playoff game happening -- by the end of the night, there were people dancing (even to Kristy's pony song!!) in front of the bar. And while some of the acts, especially early, were less-than polished, there were many others that really showed some skill and potential. Among those I can remember were a woman named Elizabeth Perkins, who had a really nice voice, and a dude playing bass in a rockin' duo, who could really play.
And of course my new friends Ali and Kristy. Ali played this great new tune she said she just wrote about Kurt Cobain. Being from Seattle, she has some history there, but her song was about how she just read his biography and found that he was not a very nice guy. Ali's got a great stage presence and also plays a mean harmonica! As for Kristy, she's got the guts to get up in front of people and play the banjo -- solo! Go, Kristy.
Visit Ali Marcus' website HERE
Visit Kristy Cameron's myspace page HERE

October 6, 2007

The Day After the 2 Nights Previous


I just woke up after back-to-back nights of Josh Ritter and Co. at the Somerville Theatre. The tunes are still deep in my subconscious, my head still bouncing to the beat. A tremendous pair of shows with so many highlights, among them the incredibly rocking new songs "Rumors," "Mind's Eye," "To the Dogs." The older songs, gussied up with a bigger sound and slightly new arrangements, certainly held their own. "Girl in the War" was more determined than ever. The horn section, man, if they could only take them on the road for the complete tour... They really helped hammer "Real Long Distance." Which night was better? Who knows, who cares. The crowd seemed rowdier the first night; the band cranked on Night 2.
Some asides:
* Josh, please tell us that story again about playing wiffle ball among the sheep. Still trying to figure that one out.
* Opening act Old School Freight Train got each night off to a rollicking start. Who ever thought Blondie's "Heart of Glass" could be done as a roots-rockin' ballad?
* Finally, I just want to say thanks to the Ritter band. I got to know the two newest members, Austin and Liam, over the two days. I really appreciate how nice all the guys are, but the band couldn't do any better than adding these two. Their exuberance and willingness to answer all of my silly questions is/was amazing. Zack is a rock, and the Loch Ness Tuba is a monster! Sam, thanks for everything. We all had a great time. If you ever need a tour bus driver, count me in!
For more pics, click HERE
video

October 2, 2007

Issue No. 17, October 2007


CAUGHT IN A JAM: For a full weekend we found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the Gathering of Vibes jam-band festival

I arrived at Ithaca College in 1979 with a boxful of Lynyrd Skynryd, Tom Petty and Pink Floyd albums.
Two years later, when my college roommate, Jeff, and I went our separate ways to follow our dreams, I left with a boxful of tapes recorded from his totally cool collection of jazz and rock albums, and a wider appreciation for all kinds of music.
Jeff and I have kept in touch over the years, our families have become almost relative-like. But we live far enough apart here in New England that get-togethers – let alone going to shows – are sadly few.
This summer we were determined to see a show together. The Newport Folk fest? The lineup wasn’t inspiring. He came up with the Gathering of the Vibes Festival in Bridgeport, Conn. Jeff is more into the jam scene than I am, even though I did my time as a Deadhead in the early ’80s. I was not quite convinced about traveling 3 1/2 hours for a day of jam bands. But when the plan became three days of music and camping, well, I was excited there was adventure (and a magazine story) to be had.
There were many emails back and forth planning meals and equipment to bring, all leading up to a great weekend that started with rain the first night and ending with two beautiful days on the Connecticut coast, enjoying sun, surf, great food and music.
In this issue, we offer some of the sights we saw. The jam-band community, like the Dead community that spawned it, is quite intact. In our three-day stay, we saw no fights, no problems with the police and a lot of people – both young and old, singles and couples with kids – enjoying themselves. The festival itself, its professionalism, the food, the care for the fans, was top notch.
And the music?
That’s another question, one we explore as well. For those who love jam bands, it was great. For those of us on the fence ... well, we reveled in a weekend filled with good vibes.
Click HERE to download the new issue
Click HERE to view pics from the festival

ALSO, we review new CDs: Erin McKeown's "Lafayette," Joni Mitchell's "Shine," and Iron & Wine's "The Shepherd's Dog.'' Click HERE to read the reviews.

MA5 - SONGS THAT HELPED US SURVIVE THIS ISSUE.
1. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,’’ “The Covers Album,” Cat Power. Slinky, and almost unrecognizable from the Stones original.
2. “Throw Me a Rope,” unrecorded, Gillian Welch. I’m sure the song will appear on the next album, whenever that is. Right now, we can only hear it with the help of YouTube.
3. “Loan Me a Dime,” Boz Skaggs with Duane Allman, “The Duane Allman Anthology.’’ Down, out, and awesome.
4. “Celluloid Heroes,” “Misfits,” The Kinks. It’s been a while since we heard this. Always fun to revisit old friends.
5. “Oreo Cookie Blues,” “Strike Like Lightning,’’ Lonnie Mack. Yes, a song about the actual cookie – with a little help from Stevie Ray Vaughan on acoustic slide (!).

September 28, 2007

In preparation for Josh Ritter

Can't wait for next week. First, I'm on vacation and that's always a cause to celebrate. But also, on Thursday and Friday we'll be visiting with family -- the Josh Ritter family. He's performing two shows at the Somerville Theatre, which means we'll be seeing many of our extended "family" as well as bringing our kids to see the show on Friday. In preparation for the occasion, here is a full Josh concert from Amsterdam, just a few weeks ago. Enjoy and get psyched!

September 25, 2007

Boston Folk Festival



A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time at the Boston Folk Festival, a great event on the campus of UMass/Boston. It was nice to see acts I'd never heard before: Patty Larkin, Chris Smither, Catie Curtis, Antje Duvekot, among them. And it was great to see the likes of Erin McKeown, Lori McKenna, and Mark Erelli again. This year they decided on a round format for the acts, meaning groups of three were onstage at once taking turns singing. While it was fun to see some of the interaction between the musicians, it seemed to take some of the momentum out of the performers as they had to wait their turn to play. Anyway, it was a gorgeous day to be outside and hear music. More photos here.

Also, about a month ago, I spent three days of music, camping, and cavorting with post-Grateful Deadheads at the Gathering of Vibes festival in Bridgeport, Conn. I'll be writing about it in the next issue of my magazine, due in early October. If you want to see the pics, click here.

August 24, 2007

Issue No. 16, July 2007


BEYOND LABELS: New Albums, New Recording Companies, But These Four Artists Stay True To What Moves Them

Labels.
We’ve been thinking a lot about them lately. It’s just a fact that everyone gets labeled: He can’t hit a fastball; she’s reclusive and unreachable; they are a punk band.
We even label ourselves, and then – if the creativity hits us – we try to break away from that label.
A few may have noticed the subtle change of the label on the front of Modern Acoustic last issue. Where it used to pompously profess “A music magazine for really cool people,” we now claim to be a magazine about “Music and music-related issues that matter.”
Why the change?
To be honest, the “cool people” kicker was merely an inside joke – a way to keep from taking ourselves too seriously. It actually served as a reminder that when we write reviews or pick our favorite album of the year that our opinion is just that. And while we may not be fond of, say, Norah Jones’ music or Springsteen’s output with the E Street Band, it does not mean that they are without merit. It is just an opinion.
In the end we thought our “cool” label might insult people who did not know or like the music within. So we’ve changed – although we promise to continue not taking ourselves too seriously.
As far as the albums reviewed in this issue, we do have a label for them: outstanding. We’ve been waiting for new albums from Sarah Borges, Josh Ritter, Lori McKenna, and Eilen Jewell for some time, and they all deliver.
And what ties them all together is that – you guessed it – they are all on new record labels.
The great thing is that while we think we know what we’re getting from these musicians... well, you’ll just have to give them a listen. Because despite what you’ve heard from them in the past, they will surprise you.
Which means of course they can’t be labeled.
Click HERE to read our reviews of Sarah Borges' "Diamonds in the Dark," Josh Ritter's "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter,'' Lori McKenna's "Unglamorous," and Eilen Jewell's "Letters From Sinners and Strangers."


OTHER ARTISTS IN THIS ISSUE: Gillian Welch (left), Jennifer Kimball, The Last Town Chorus (below), Ali Marcus, God Fearing Aetheists, The Bowmans, Peter Janson, Erdem Helvacioglu, and Laura Molinelli.
FOR MORE OF MY
CONCERT PICS, click here.

MA5 - ALBUMS THAT HELPED US SURVIVE THIS ISSUE
1. “Lonelyland,’’ Bob Schneider. As soon as hot weather rolls around, we have to crank up this album.
2. “Live Dead,” Grateful Dead. Ditto, even 40 years removed from their heyday.
3. “Letters From Sinners and Strangers,” Eilen Jewell. This new album is great to play on humid summer nights
4. “Black Sheep,” Martin Sexton. We’re seeing him at the Gathering of Vibes fest in August.
5. “Sky Blue Sky,” Wilco. Not a huge fan of the band, but I’m trying. This is a good one.

August 23, 2007

Welcome!

Hi everyone. For those who have been subscribers to my magazine and visitors to my website, www.modernacoustic.com, thank you. For those who are new, welcome and please check out that site, especially while this one is under construction and I figure out what the hell I'm doing! I am giving this blogsite idea a test run to see if it will help increase traffic and/or get more eyes on my magazine. I will try to post most of the magazine's content here, and will include a link to the website for those who'd like to download (for free) the full pdf of the magazine. I will also try to keep up with some sort of blogging when possible.
More to come shortly! Thanks for stopping by.