June 28, 2008

Josh Ritter and the Pops

I'm just waking up, but I wanted to get out a quick post about last night's amazing Josh Ritter show with the Boston Pops. The boys were clearly having a great time, smiling their way through a great set backed by an orchestra. The night's best moment was an gripping "Thin Blue Flame" with Josh playing solo on his acoustic guitar with the Pops first violin alongside him. My video is below.
The setlist (from Josh message board, and pretty accurate to my memory):
idaho (solo)
best for the best (with pops)
other side (with band and pops)
rumors (with band and pops)
girl in the war (with band and pops)
wolves (with band)
monster ballads (with band and pops)
thin blue flame (with violin soloist)
the temptation of adam (with pops)
to the dogs or whoever (with band)
right moves (with band and pops)
bone of song (solo until the final line, then pops)
kathleen (with band and pops)

More to on this when I'm more awake, but what a blast.
To see my pics, click HERE.
My other video from the night, click HERE.

June 24, 2008

Issue 21, June 2008

Can Jazz Rise Again?: Though still a vibrant form of free expression, the music today is in need of some new inspiration. But can anyone rejuvenate it?
When I finally settled on the cover topic for this issue, I first gave it a little test-drive – in the car one day with my wife and teen daughter.
Me: I’ve decided on the topic for my next magazine.
Wife: Oh, really? What’s that?
Me: “Is Jazz Dead?”
Wife: What? No way.
Daughter: Dad, that’s stupid, it’s not dead.
Me: Well, I don’t think anyone really cares much about jazz anymore.
Wife: That’s stupid. People still listen to jazz.
Daughter: The kids at school listen to jazz.
Me: Really? When?
Daughter: Well, we play it in band.
Me (to both of them): OK, name one jazz musician still alive who is playing relevant music today?
And then there was silence.
To their credit, I did reconsider and change my headline on the cover. But for the most part, the idea is still the same.
Yes, jazz does still exist and there are still some exciting players out there. But it is not, nor will it ever be, what it was. Is there anything wrong with that? No. But it wouldn’t hurt the ever-graying genre of music to get a shot in the arm.
Is there someone out there who could infuse the music with some new life, maybe capture young people’s ears again?
No one expects the golden age of jazz to return amid a music industry not only in turmoil, but one that only helps itself by promoting the most mainstream acts.
If jazz is going to return it needs some innovation, but is an innovator out there?
And speaking of injecting new life into a genre, we give you Crooked Still, one of a large handful of neo-bluegrass acts that has added spark to a country music as old as the hills where it was created. Crooked Still’s new album, “Still Crooked” is trying to build on the momentum created from their critically acclaimed last album, “Shaken by a Low Sound,” while undergoing personnel changes in the band.
To download the new issue, click HERE.
To read the CD reviews for Crooked Still, as well as those for new solo albums by Eef Barzelay and Drew Emmitt, click HERE.

MA5 - Songs
Songs that helped us survive this issue.
1. “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory,’’ "Asking For Flowers," Kathleen Edwards. Just your typical fun country music song with hockey references.
2. “Trouble,” "Sailin' Shoes," Little Feat. An upcoming tribute album had us scurrying back to hear the original.
3. "Rumors," "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter," Josh Ritter. Getting us psyched for big Pops show.
4. “You Ain't Goin' Nowhere,” "I'm Not There" soundtrack, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Done with the perfect amount of sneer.
5. “Mountain Jumper,” "Shaken by a Low Sound," Crooked Still. The band at their craziest.

June 13, 2008

Fanning the Flames

Josh Ritter, in my opinion, has the best and most creative fan base. That being said, he also deserves it, because he works so hard to reach those fans. Anyone who has been to a Josh show knows that he will spend hours after each concert connecting with his fans -- and not in the superficial ways others do. Some musicians will sign things for fans if they buy something from their merch table. Not Josh, he will talk to and with each and every fan who wants to chat, he will sign anything and everything... and he will remember you the next time you come to a show. He is downright the nicest, most generous performer out there today.
OK, now to those fans. Josh's message board is filled with some great stuff. The usual stuff -- talk of Josh's shows, setlists, ticket requests, etc., but also some very creative and humorous discussion. This one caught my eye today. I just love it... It's titled "Mourning musical loss," so I'm thinking a death, maybe about Bo Diddley, who died recently. Here's the note...

3 of my josh cd's flew out my window this afternoon!
i was driving down the road today with my windows down (BEAUTIFUL day in north carolina!)...and i have one of those cd holder/visor things? i had 4 of my josh cd's in the far pocket, which, i don't think you're supposed to do because it gets all stretched out, etc etc.
yeah, well, i took a quick turn to the right, and THEY FLEW OUT MY WINDOW. 'josh ritter' fell into my lap (whew!), but 'live at vicar street', 'hello starling' and 'golden age of radio' did not fair so well. i would take a picture of what they look like and post it...but its pretty gruesome. i'm seriously heartbroken, hah.
(and if you were wondering - yes, i DID park my car, and dodge speeding cars in order to retrieve the cd's from the road...i'm pretty sure 'hello starling' was run over at least once...)

**psst! hey josh! if you read this board - i'm the girl that sent you the letter saying that i spent my grocery money for the week on your cd's! haha...this is what i get for putting awesome music before food, i suppose!**

luckily i ripped all my cd's to my mp3 player prior to all this, so i can still listen...but i can't decide if i want to re-buy all the cd's. my birthday IS on sunday if anyone would like to send me a few presents? hahaha.
anyway! thanks for reading, y'all!

My second case for Josh having great fans comes from the blog Yellowhammering Afghanistan written by a guy named Mike Tomberlin. He's a reporter for the Birmingham News and a Major in the Alabama National Guard who was shipped to Afghanistan. He blogged while he was there and continued when he got home. I found his blog while searching for Josh Ritter news. He took some beautiful images of the people of Afghanistan and his mission, which he decided to put to the music of Josh's "Thin Blue Flame." Click HERE to see the slideshow.

And here is a spot-on analysis of the song from someone who has been there...

"Unlike most singer-songwriters who tackle war and the state of the world, Ritter's song is not so predictable. Although it is intense, it never comes across as venomous or antagonistic.
It is the best song I have ever heard about the global war on terror - pointing out the positive and negative attributes (depending on your perspective). Like all good songwriters, Ritter uses enough ambiguity to help the listeners interpret a meaning for themselves. The apocalyptic imagery throughout most of the song gives you an idea of how Ritter feels about things."

His blog continues...

"But I believe that Ritter is thinking about the soldiers and their families when he considers "only a full house." There are homes that spend more than a year less than full as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters are sent into harm's way. There are homes that will never be full again as many make the ultimate sacrifice.
I know in my own household, this deployment has helped to make our home "full." We have an appreciation for each other and all of the blessings we have because of this experience. If I could bottle that and give it to everyone, I would.
So while I'm sure Josh Ritter and I would not see eye-to-eye politically, I thank him immensely for this song and for the role it played in my own self-realization this past year."

To read the entire text click HERE.

And thank you, Major Tomberlin, for your great service to our country and your great words.


June 5, 2008

Feeling a little nostalgic

As usual, things come in bunches. Today it's nostalgia.

Yesterday, my wife had my son download some cuts from the band Yes from iTunes. "Roundabout," "Long Distance Runaround," etc, songs I hadn't listened to since about 1983. OK, fine. They had their place in our stoned-teen existence, and it
actually was pretty cool to hear them again from an adult perspective. Their musicianship was top-notch; the playing bordered on bombastic; and the song lyrics were, well, "art-rock."

Second came the news that Wolfgang's Vault, a website devoted to classic-rock concerts, was beginning to allow download purchase of their content. If you've never seen the site, you should check it out. It's amazing how many shows they have. Personally, I don't know how many live Allman Brothers, Thin Lizzy, and Jefferson Airplane shows you need or want to listen to, but they are there for the listening. To the site's credit they also have Springsteen, the Chili Peppers and a host of trippy posters and stuff, so it's definitely worth checking out.
Thirdly, comes this YouTube video that was posted on the Aquarium Drunkard blog site. It's from a 1969 show at the Playboy Mansion, a show called "Playboy After Dark" that used to highlight bands and other groovy people who would stop by Hugh Hefner's place. The video is such a great piece of slice of life, it's just hard to ignore. Enjoy!

June 4, 2008

Marty McSorley: The Video

When Kathleen Edwards played the Paradise in Boston in March, she was psyched that she had finally received confirmation that Marty McSorley would take part in her video "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," which namechecks the former hockey enforcer. Apparently, her label or other high muckey-mucks tried to put the kibosh on her attempt to make a hockey video for the song, but she was able to beat them down (probably with a little intimidation from McSorley!). The video has arrived and it is totally cute, which is not hard with Edwards in the lead. It shows off her sense of humor and includes members of her band, Blue Rodeo singer Jim Cuddy, and former NHL great Paul Coffey. There are some funny stare downs, hip checks, some ice dancing in full hockey gear, and a big kiss scene between Kathleen and McSorley. It's totally worth a look... For some reason I thought Kathleen would have been a better skater than she shows.