February 20, 2009

Kris and Kathleen

It was a good week for Modern Acoustic, we got out and caught a couple of fun shows this week: Kris Delmhorst played a solo show at Passim last Sunday and Kathleen Edwards was at the Paradise on Wednesday. Both shows were more laid back than rocking, which made for a chance to really listen closely to their lyrics. I'm usually one to focus on the actual music but I really dug just paying attention to what their songs were saying.
That's not to say that the music was secondary, because it's not. They both play with melody and harmony in such beautiful ways. Kris has a deep voice, but surprisingly hits high notes with a gorgeous softness. Kathleen can sing softly, but she can belt it as well, and when she does her cute Canadian accent really is accentuated.
Neither show was the kind that you say "I will remember forever," though. Kris played solo most of the night, until the end when she brought local singer Jennifer Kimball up on stage to sing with her. The show was nice, but I missed the extra guitar that Mark Erelli or Jabe Beyer provided when I've seen her in the past. As far as Kathleen's show is concerned, I saw her almost exactly a year ago when she brought a full band. This time she had keyboardist/guitarist extraordinaire Jim Bryson and another guitarist with her. Without the drum and the bass, the show wasn't quite as rockin'. Also missed Bryson's pedal steel which he didn't bring his time.
Neither of these are necessarily complaints since it gave me a different perspective and way to listen to these great artists. So in all, a great week.
Below are a couple of videos I shot of the two shows. For more pics from the shows, click HERE.

February 7, 2009

Across the Universe: the Beatles reign

My wife is a big fan of Julie Taymor and is working on the props for "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," so we spent this morning re-watching Taymor's movie "Across the Universe." For those who haven't seen it Taymor uses Beatles songs and characters from the songs to piece together a story about the history of the '60s. The movie itself is only partially successful: Some of the characters are a little wooden (hello, Evan Rachel Wood), and the movie really doesn't inspire much connection to the characters. But there are some great scenes -- including one in which soldiers in only their underwear are carrying the Statue of Liberty through the jungle while singing "She's So Heavy" (below). Taymor uses each Beatles song to help tell part of the story, and for the most part it works fine; in fact, sometimes surprisingly well. And there are some great cameos by Joe Cocker, Bono and Eddie Izzard that are fun as well.
What really stands out though, and not that this hasn't been said before, is how great the Beatles songs are. The film just drives home the point that there is no band or band's music that has influenced this country more than the Beatles. And please, let's put this Beatles vs. Stones argument to rest. I love the Stones, but there really is no comparison. Some might argue that Elvis in the '50s had a similar influence. I can't argue that since I wasn't there, and others might bring up Dylan. Both are individuals (I did say band), but I would also say that Dylan had a huge effect on a certain group of people and his music was a huge influence, but it does not come close to the cultural impact the Beatles had.
All this, I'm sure has been said, dissected and analyzed before. But in watching that film, and the way Taymor layed out the songs -- even in some of its wild artificiality -- it just made me appreciate the Beatles that much more.
Just my thought for the day.

February 6, 2009

Sarah Borges -- live

Thought I'd write a little companion piece to my guest blog at Mainstream Isn't So Bad... Is It? By the way, if you haven't seen Sean's always cool music blog, you should check it out. He always is posting new and upcoming bands. It's a great way to keep informed.
So on his blog, I wrote about Sarah Borges' new album The Stars Are Out, which drops on March 24. I wrote that post a few days before I caught her at Johnny D's in Somerville. By the way, consider this a big plug for Johnny D's, one of my favorite hangs when I need a music fix. The food is great, and the venue is set up perfectly for a show.
As for Sarah and her band the Broken Singles, they still bring it. They played a good portion of their new songs, but also delved into their two previous albums for songs like "Daniel Lee," which was smokin', and "Modern Trick," one of my favorites.
According to Sarah, this was the first gig at Johnny D's with new guitarist Lyle Brewer. He is a nifty guitar player, playing some really hot licks and some nice subtle touches as well. I have to say I did miss former guitarist Mike Castellana's pedal steel, which always added some country flavor to the songs.
But this is a bar band that knows how to party. The hometown crowd was totally into it -- even Sarah's dad was there. I was able to nab a couple of decent photos from the show, the one above shows Sarah rocking her little green dress, and below, she and Binky, her bassist, are down on the floor playing each other's instruments.
In all, a really fun time.
To view all my pics from the show, click HERE.

A little clip from the show