January 20, 2007

Not Just a Pretty Face

I feel like I've been spending way too much time at the Cinema Bar lately. In the past week and a half, I've been there three times. But how could I not go when last Saturday Ramsay Midwood was playing, and then Randy Weeks and Jesse Dayton were playing on Thursday?

Despite the crazy loyal LA following Randy Weeks has acquired, I had yet to see him play live, and this seemed like as good a time as any. The former one-half of the duo Lonesome Strangers, and the author of "Can't Let Go," recorded by Lucinda Williams on her legendary Car Wheels on a Gravel Road CD, Randy's long been hailed as a favorite singer/songwriter in the LA alt-country scene, and his nasally vocals draw appropriate comparisons to Willie Nelson. Clearly, the audience favorite was his "Transistor Radio," also the title track from his latest CD.

By the time Jesse Dayton started, the tiny Cinema Bar was CRAMMED full o' people taking advantage of the great music for no cover charge. Getting anywhere - to the bar, the restroom, the dance floor - was a chore, but Jesse's performance made up for that. A set that never slowed down included his signature "Kissin' Abllene Goodbye," "I'm at Home Gettin' Hammered (While She's Out Gettin' Nailed)", a cover of Steve Earle's "Hometown Blues," and a killer medley finale that ran the gamut from Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson to Robert Earl Keen. His playing just gets better and better, and his good looks don't hurt either. I was a little surprised that the composition of the audience wasn't decidedly more female, but then again, the last thing the Cinema Bar needed that night was more people.

Then again, maybe more Jesse Dayton fans in this world wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.

Posted by darlin at 5:42 PM

Preaching to the Choir

The last time I saw the Reverend Horton Heat, I was living in Orange County and drove to my favorite venue, the House of Blues on Sunset Strip. Now, I live in Los Angeles and drove to Orange County to see the good Reverend at the House of Blues in Anaheim. Ironic, but as someone pointed out to me, it's much better to see the Reverend in Hootenanny Country.

The House of Blues Anaheim show was the second of a five-night run throughout Southern California. Right away, I'll admit at the start that I feel a little odd writing this review, since our dear friend DJ Wanda was at the Tuesday night show at the HOB Anaheim, and I consider her to be a much more eloquent, knowledgeable, and opinionated writer than I am. But she, bless her heart, is at Punk Rock Bowling this weekend, and I don't see her pausing from her drinking any time soon in order to write about the show, so I'm taking the initiative and just doing it, damn it!

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers took the stage promptly at eight o'clock (thankfully, I'd obeyed Wanda's "Don't be late!" commands), and after standing in the longest line ever at the ticket window (I suppose that's what I get for not ordering my tickets online, but as I discovered, I saved myself $8 in service fees by purchasing at the ticket window), standing in another line to get wristbanded, and yet another line to get have my ticket scanned and go through security, I was in, with plenty of time. I fully expected Col. J.D. Wilkes to have completely undressed himself on stage by the end of his set (he never took his pants off, though - sigh), and with his wild antics, I was surprised when he didn't start walking on the ceiling.

In contrast, Junior Brown just stood in one place for his hour, picking his guit-steel, demonstrating usual Junior Brown greatness, despite a long awkward pause at the beginning of his set and a dead mic that had to be replaced in the middle.

The Reverend is well aware that several members of his congregation may have had plans to see him at more than one show during this run, so in a genius move to create some diversity for those fans, after a solid 40 minutes, the Reverend started taking requests, mixing those in with his own selections. A disclaimer at the beginning of the request announcement gave him the freedom to turn down requests he didn't think he'd be able to do ("I've written over 100 songs, and have killed over one billion brain cells."), but it sure was exciting when someone would request a song he'd clearly not done in a while, but played it anyway.

I understand that the Reverend played until past 12:30a, but I left three-quarters of the way through. That's the problem with cute shoes - they really aren't great to wear to concerts that require you to stand for four and a half hours. By the time I left, my feet HURT.

If you don't already have tickets for the weekend shows at the Henry Fonda Theatre or the Troubadour, you're probably SOL, as I believe both of these are now sold-out. But maybe you'll get lucky and have a chance to sell your soul to a scalper for them. The Reverend will save you.

Posted by darlin at 5:02 PM

January 12, 2007

Night at the Truckstop

You can probably imagine the debauchery that's sure to ensue when a lineup includes bands named Roadkill Kings, Trucker Up, The Cheatin' Kind, and Saints of the Gutter. Throw all those bands together at Alex's Bar (the only So Cal bar I'm aware of that's cool enough to have Shiner Bock on tap) on a Thursday night, and the picture in your mind only gets worse.

The reality of the night exceeded any of those expectations. Where else can you find an LA truckstop girl (complete with mini-skirt, leather jacket, and cowboy boots with stiletto heels?!), a guy so drunk that just when you're convinced he's about to pass out he asks you exactly how much do draft beers cost here anyway, and a traffic accident that involves a fire hydrant, four (five?) cars, and floods East Anaheim Street? Only during the country night at Alex's.

The music started a little after 9pm, with the fabulous honky-tonk sounds of the Roadkill Kings. They're a great band, but broke the unspoken rule that if you're going to cover a variety of songs, you should only cover one song per artist, and not perform two songs by Hank 3, and especially not two songs by Hank 3 from the same album. However, they redeemed themselves in my eyes with their last song, which they dedicated to anyone who has "a dream."

(At this moment in time, the Widowmaker of Trucker Up looks around and announces, "Nobody here's got a dream! You see any dreams here? I don't see any dreams here. I see a couple of nightmares over there!")

They started playing a ballad, which I thought was terrible - I'm all about inspiring songs, but who the hell closes their show with a ballad?! No one thinks it's a good idea to put the crowd to sleep with your last song.

Then they started singing. And the opening line stopped me from yawning.

"Sherry was a waitress...."

It was at that point that, I LOST. MY. MIND.

It didn't matter that I was the only one reacting. It didn't matter that I was the only one who knew where they were going with this. It didn't matter that I was clearly the only one who recognized the opening lyric from Robert Earl Keen's "The Road Goes on Forever."

I cheered like there was no tomorrow.

Trucker Up, per usual, outdid themselves. I tell people that they shouldn't come to a Trucker Up show if they aren't real, true, hard-core country fans, or if they're easily offended, because Trucker Up offends everyone ("including hard-core country fans!" according to the Widowmaker). Thursday night, Trucker Up pulled no punches - and took shots at and offended not only their Merch Girl, but also female lead vocalist and guitarist Southbound Sandi. Why the Widowmaker isn't a star already baffles me.

Trucker Up's lead guitarist, the Kentucky Colonel, was double-clutching it that night, as he followed up Trucker Up's rable-rousing set with his "other" band The Cheatin' Kind, who rocked my world with my "always-favorite" cover of Tammy Wynette's "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad." Saints of the Gutter wrapped up the show, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't like it when the lead singer grabbed his crotch. Nothing could have been more appropriate for a night like that.

I can't wait to go back. No, seriously, I can't wait. All shows should be that much fun.

Posted by darlin at 7:27 PM

Paul "No Relation to Kenny" Chesne

With only two nights a week off from work these days, I really try to make the best of them. I knew that going from a "normal" (Ha!) day shift to a night shift would be a rough change (especially for someone who LIVES for live music), but I grossly underestimated the havoc it would wreak on my nightlife by almost completely obliterating it. To keep myself from losing my mind entirely, I do my absolute darndest to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE on those precious Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Which is how I found myself making the trek from Glendale to the Cinema Bar in Culver City Wednesday night to see Paul Chesne's acoustic show. I've really only seen him play once, and that was at Reckless Kelly's first appearance at the Viper Room. His sound was a little too 'rockish' for my tastes, as was his CD, but I figured that I might as well see if I liked him any better acoustically than I did with his full band.

I did.

I found that only two guitars lent itself better to the singer-songwriter aspects of alt.country, and I was able to appreciate much more what it is he had to say (I wasn't really convinced he had anything to say, or at least nothing that I could understand him saying, at his Viper Room show). Paul made the bold move of doing a show comprised entirely of new material, without any "support" from previously known songs that fans could get excited about and sing along with - and yet still managed to enrapture the small crowd (which for a while included Randy Weeks and Ramsay Midwood). He's lacking a bit in stage presence; I don't think he ever mentioned his own name, but I'm satisfied that given some more time, he'll have quite a following and formidable presence in the alt. country world.

I got to chat a bit with Paul after his show, and asked him if his new CD would be more acoustic, like this show, or more along the lines of his previous CD. I was a bit disappointed when he said the new CD would be "all over the place."

A pleasant surprise was headliner Matt Ellis, who's kind of a Tim Easton with a really sexy Australian accent. If Paul Chesne is an up-and-comer, Matt's another singer-songwriter well on his way to stardom. And not bad to look at, either.

Posted by darlin at 6:26 PM

December 9, 2006

You Don't Know Jack

The first week of December always seems like it's heavy on great music - and then of course followed by a long dry spell as the holidays get closer. The day after the "Locked and Loaded" tour at Universal, I drove up to the Fox Theatre in Bakersfield to see Gary Allan and Jack Ingram. Now why Bakersfield? Surely, they must have had an LA date. They did - they were at my favorite venue, the House of Blues on Sunset Sunday night, but alas, I was working. Thursday night's show at Bakersfield's Fox Theatre was the perfect alternative - this way, I could avoid the House of Blues, and not take a day off from work (and my spies told me the House of Blues was its usual nightmare, reaffirming that I'd made the correct decision).

Getting to the theatre proved to be a bit of a challenge, as the Bakersfield Christmas Parade had not only shut down several streets and traffic lights, but made parking quite a challenge, as the Fox Theatre doesn't have it s own parking structure. I wound up parking in a church five blocks away and hoping that the Presbyterians wouldn't tow me away (they didn't). The Fox Theatre is beautiful - it has an old-timey marquee like the El Rey, but has a majestic interior like the Henry Fonda Theatre.

Jack played a set that was reportedly very different from his Los Angeles set - a testament that he was easily able to pick up on the fact that the Bakersfield audience was (surprisingly, to me, at least) a little more conservative. No jumping off amps for Jack in Bakersfield. Jack didn't play any radoi hits until about four songs in, instead leading with some of my favorites like "Fool" and "Biloxi," which he dedicated to his estranged father, who was having a birthday that night, and was the unfortunate impetus behind this sad and angry song. Jack's new single is a remake of Hinder's "Lips of an Angel," which is indicative of how ballsy Jack is to try to introduce this song to a country audience. In the words of my friend Tricia, it's "kind of a fucked up song" about hooking up with your ex while your girlfriend is in the next room. Bakersfield didn't know what to make of that.

We headed backstage after Jack's set, where the sound was terrible, so I can't say anything about Gary Allan's set, although I'm sure it was incredible. I like Gary Allan 'cause he not only covered Todd Snider's "Alright Guy," but also made it the title track for one of his albums. I like it 'cause he says the word "dick." In case you were wondering, nothing particularly exciting was going on backstage, but several members of Jack's Beat-Up Ford Band raved about a punk band called The Dead Ringers. And plenty of drinking.

Posted by darlin at 10:53 PM

Suffering Permanent Hearing Loss - and Loving It

There are very, very few arena shows that I get ridiculously excited about, but with a lineup like the "Locked and Loaded" tour featured, including Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and the Randy Rogers Band, well, that's worth the effort of some enthusiasm.

Texas' Randy Rogers Band lit up the stage at the Universal Amphitheatre Wednesday night with their high-energy (especially fiddle player Brady Black, who I really thought was going to do damage to his fiddle, with his aggressive playing - check out their Live at Billy Bob's CD to get a taste of what I mean), while Miranda Lambert burned it down. She's a well-adjusted young lady who likes to sing about revenge, murder, bar fights, etc. Her big hit is called "Kerosene," her current single "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend," and she's got another song coming out (her label thought it "inappropriate" for the holidays) called "Gunpowder." Her on-stage presence kicks ass - and I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid she'd kick mine if I didn't - but because she's the real deal (Who else has the good taste to make a point of covering Steve Earle's "Hillbilly Holler"? Okay, I was the only one in the audience singing along, but good for her for making the people aware!).

Dierks was for sure the most mainstream act of the night, but he is one of the more genuinely talented artists of the genre. While I think he has yet to put out an album that truly captures how strong he is live, Dierks always entertains, and gives me hope for mainstream country music. Dierks has a background in bluegrass (and unlike a certain other mainstream artist who has recently made the laughable announcement that he's going to produce a bluegrass album, because bluegrass is such an influence on his shows), and it shows. Dierks played a couple of songs - including his hit "My Last Name" - acoustically - with fiddles, banjos, and the four or five guys gathered around one mic. Dierks is a guy who likes the atmosphere of small clubs, and to re-create the feel of a more intimate venue, the first several rows of the orchestra section were removed for standing room only - for those who had wristbands. Unfortunately, the sound was a little off - it seemed that after the first song, one guitar was awfully loud, and to compensate for it, Dierks seemed to be singing even louder - distorting the sound. Many audience members left early, citing the loudness as the reason, which unfortunately made the venue even emptier. This was clearly not a sold-out show, which was disappointing for such a strong lineup. The show finished with a cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," turned into a duet with Miranda. And believe you me, there's nothing scarier than the intensity in her eyes when she sings, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," 'cause you believe that after a song like "Gunpowder," she just might have.

Posted by darlin at 10:14 PM

December 2, 2006

Can't Stop Wayne the Train

I love Wayne Hancock. And I also love Safari Sam's, where he played last night. Not only does Safari Sam's have a huge-ass parking lot, but it also has Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. What more could you ask for?

All the ingredients were in place for a kick-ass show, and Wayne (and Safari Sam's!) delivered. I was at work until 11:30p, but a call to the venue ahead of time assured me he wouldn't go on until 11p, and I was further informed "He's gonna play for a LONG time." Despite having to stop at the ATM, despite having to walk for what seemed like forever to get to my truck, despite being stuck in traffic on the 101, despite being stuck behind a slow-ass mother fucker on Sunset Boulevard who clearly did not understand that I WAS MISSING WAYNE HANCOCK FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, I managed to get there around midnight, just in time for "Thunderstorms and Neon Signs" (which made my life complete) and STILL got to see Wayne play for TWO HOURS. He did take some breaks, letting his girlfriend / merch girl take over for a couple of songs. She delivered a pleasant enough set, but for sure couldn't compare to Robert from Big Sandy, who relieved Wayne for a song. In addition to old favorites, Wayne did a bunch of songs from his latest CD Tulsa, and some requests, even some which he clearly would rather have not performed ("Don't ever write a song you don't want to sing," Wayne advised - I don't know what his problem was - 'cause I totally dug the song).

Kudos to sidemen Eddie Biebel and Jake Erwin, who strum and slap like there's no tomorrow. Even on ballads, the combined energy about these three guys makes them unstoppable, but at the same time - in more boisterous songs, there's something about the breaking of Wayne's voice that makes him seem as lonely as the train he's nominatively compared to. And we're totally okay with that.

Posted by darlin at 2:27 PM

November 26, 2006

The Detours 11-24-06

At The Mort

Words and Pictures by Kevin Hillskemper

The Detours have been doing some reunion shows lately. Check their website for a history lesson. You probably know some of their songs. The Adolescents recorded a few and DI recorded a few more when former Detours passed through their ranks. The last time I saw the Detours was about 25 years ago at a backyard party in Anaheim. No, I don't expect you to care.
This was likely to be the last show that will be at The Mort, a rehearsal and performance space in a run-down industrial park in Orange. It's rumored to be haunted. That's probably why my pictures came out all spotted.

The set got off to a shaky start when the PA system quit during the first song. Singer Gordon Cox conducted the crowd in a sing-along until the sound came back. He is equal parts Huey Long. Robert Goulet, Cal Worthington, and Joe Piscopo. He could have also sold them a car, had them speaking in tongues, and sold them acreage of California Pines. He's pretty darn good.
The set was short and action-packed. I'll throw out a few songs titles in case you want to catch any - "OC Life", "The Saint", "No Way", "Creatures", and so on. I'm not sure if they played "Falling Out" or not. It seems to be stuck in my head for some reason.
Rikk Agnew certainly let his presence be known. The small size of the room emphasized his guitar-hero theatrics and usual antics like thwacking himself on the forehead with a microphone.
Halfway through the bands performance of "Hang Ten in East Berlin", he suddenly abandoned his guitar and stormed offstage. After retrieving his grocery bag full of liquid refreshments, he ran up to me and grabbed me by the shirt collar. He pulled me toward him and started us both in a swirling death-spin. Not being much of a hoofer myself, I did not reciprocate on his offer of a personal slam dance. He then tossed me aside and disappeared into the night.
I admit that it caught me off-guard, but I wasn't really surprised. If you put yourself anywhere in the proximity of Rikk Agnew, stuff like that is going to happen.
Rikk Agnew drops his pants for the camera.

Posted by Big Kev at 10:48 AM

November 25, 2006

Shut Up and LISTEN

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard a Dixie Chicks song. I mean, not just heard on the radio as background noise, but really, truly heard their music. It was the fall of 1998; I was in my freshman year of junior college, off-roading with my friend Joe in his gray Jeep Cherokee through the orange groves after class (and you thought there was nothing to do in Riverside). He put Wide Open Spaces in the CD player, and said, "There's this really good song you have to hear," as the opening chords of "You Were Mine" filtered through the truck's speakers. The lines, "He's two and she's four, and you know they adore you" ripped through my heart like nothing else ever had, and the very next CD purchase I made was Wide Open Spaces.

Much later, I realized that that was one of the defining moments that made me want to work in music. I wanted to be that person saying to others, "You have to hear this song." I remember purchasing the subsequent Chicks albums (Fly and Home) the day they arrived in stores. By the time Taking the Long Way was released, I was high enough on the radio food chain to not only get a free copy, but an advance, even. A nice little bookmark for career progress.

And while some would critize the Chicks for the progress of their own careers, many more would celebrate their progress as artists, as evidenced by their just-about-sold-out show at the Staples Center Friday night. In short: they've come a long way from the days of "pink feather cowboy hats," as Martie put it. Their audience, which four years ago, would have been comprised primarily of droves of fifteen year old girls linked arm in arm, or seven year old girls accompanied by their mothers, is now made up of a much more mature, NPR - type audience, gay men, hipsters, and plenty of stars, including Gregory Peck's wife, Benjamin Bratt, and Laura Dern. Reports were that Natalie Maines' husband Adrian Pasdar had bought 400 tickets for stars and staff of his TV show, "Heroes," and two windows at the box office were devoted exclusively for "Adrian's Heroes" to pick up their tickets.

Although the show opened with an instrumental rendition of "Hail to the Chief," before launching into "Lubbock or Leave It" from Taking the Long Way, this was not a political show, outside the music, and with the exceptions of Natalie's fleeting references to "The Incident."

This was also not a show about theatrics, spectacle, or pyrotechnics. Production elements, although not sparse, were relatively simple, and did nothing to distract from the music. No flying over the audience, no costume changes, no magic acts. Likewise, Natalie spoke calmly and quietly between songs, but again - nothing to detract from the music.

Not surprisingly, "Not Ready to Make Nice," was the highlight of the show, performed with as much personal passion as ever, earning the Chicks a standing ovation and a full minute of thunderous applause. While the audience was clearly not as familiar with the music from Home, and even less so with the music from Fly (the title track was the only selection from Wide Open Spaces performed). Clearly, the folks in the audience were the type who had maybe one or two Chicks albums in their collections previous to Taking the Long Way (if you'll recall, there was certainly a time when, even if you weren't a fan of mainstream country, even if you weren't a fan of anything remotely country, it was cool to own a Chicks CD), but had never really appreciated the genius of the band until "The Incident."

Ironically, when songs from Fly are played right next to songs from Taking the Long Way, one realizes exactly how much times have changed for the Chicks. Not sure what I mean? Listen to "Some Days You Gotta Dance" from Fly, and then "Easy Silence" from Taking the Long Way. These are clearly not the girls who once wore pink feather boas to awards shows.

On the other hand, some lyrics from their previous albums prove to be erie forecasts of what was to come. There's a bittersweetness to the line "Room to make her big mistakes" that didn't previously exist in "Wide Open Spaces." Likewise, a certain sadness in their remake of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide." At the same time, a triumph when Natalie pumps her first when she sings, "You don't like the sound of the truth comin' from my mouth" in Patty Griffin's song, "Truth No. 2" from Home.

Although the Chicks' set lasted almost two hours, it was barely enough time to scratch the surface of their material. The course of their set included a new song inspired after they saw a rough cut of the documentary Shut Up and Sing (co-written by opener Pete Yorn), and their rendition of "Mississippi" makes me want to like Bob Dylan. On the other hand, I wouldn't have minded the aforementioned "You Were Mine," or Maria McKee's "Am I the Only One" (also from Spaces), or Radney Foster's "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)," or "I'm Gonna Let Him Fly" or "Favorite Year" or "Voice Inside My Head" or...I could go on.

The Dixie Chicks may have traveled a hard road to get to this place, but it's been well worth the wait. In regards to "The Incident," Martie says, "It's the best thing to ever have happened to me."

It's the best thing to ever have happened to their fans, too.

Posted by darlin at 3:49 PM

November 11, 2006

Raul Malo @ Roxy: November 8, 2006

The only time I've ever seen chairs set up at the Roxy is when Raul Malo performs, which works for his mellow, romantic style. Unfortunately, they did not work for Raul's opener Mother Superior, whose loud aggressiveness was quite a contrast to Raul's melodiousness. (Side note: Mother Superior is the most recent recipient of the Faith Hill Award for Poor Sportsmanship, for having allegedly made fun of him as they were loading out their equipment).

Like his latest solo album You're Only Lonely Raul's set was very ballad-driven, showcasing the smooth purity of his voice, but occasionally feeling a little sleepy. It was the kind of show to attend with your significant other. Raul's set list included mostly stuff from You're Only Lonely (which is largely an album of covers), and a handful of Mavericks staples like "O What a Thrill", "Dance the Night Away," and "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down."

Not a show that'll get you all wound up, but a calm, lovely night of very romantic music.

Posted by darlin at 5:26 PM

November 9, 2006

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Eagles of Death Metal, ThrowRag @ the HOB, Anaheim: November 8, 2006


David and I couldn't agree on whether or not Joan Jett has "had some work done." I say yes, probably Botox, maybe more. He says tons of foundation and clean living (hey, she's a vegetarian). But we could agree on the following:

1) Joan's hot. Whether you're a guy or a gal, you'd do her.

2) The band sounds impeccable. David credits this to "low stage volume." I say they practice (hey, she's a Virgo).

3) Great harmonies. (see above)

4) Every song is great. From the old standards ("Cherry Bomb," "I Love Rock n' Roll") to the new tracks off the "Sinner" album, there is really no filler here. And it's not all the same song either. She is one great songwriter and a terrific performer.

5) Joan Jett has amazing arms. Better than mine, certainly, and even better than David's (and his are great). She's got amazing triceps, and you know that's hard to do. I stood there envious every time she raised her arm to pump her fist (and that happened a lot).

6) Joan Jett and the Blackhearts played for only an hour and you thought it was longer (in a good way), then came out and did an amazing encore of COVERS. Who the hell can close with a cover? Joan Jett, that's who. She shows every rock star I've ever seen how it's done (with the exception of say, Tom Jones).

7) The Eagles of Death Metal are amusing, but every song is the same.

8) When Throw Rag opens, they set the bar pretty high.

9) The crowd was incredibly mixed. Aging rockers, soccer moms and pre-teen punks rubbed elbows with rockabillies and OC wannabes. And it was a good thing.

10) Anyone who doesn't like Joan Jett is stupid.

Posted by DJWanda at 10:34 PM

November 4, 2006

A Blue Night

So I went to the House of Blues Wednesday night not to see the Gin Blossoms, who were headlining, but to see his support Shawn Mullins. Somehow, I'd gotten it into my head that Josh Kelley was opening, but when I got to the HOB, someone else's name was written on the bill. Well, that someone else (whose name escapes me at the moment) had to cancel due to a death in the family, and Evan and Jaron opened instead. The duo (two cute boys and their guitars) reminded me a bit of Hanna McEuen, minus the Roy Orbison influence, and with a very funny song called "Leave Your Wife in the Truck," which included a very intentional dig at Rascal Flatts, which of course only made me love them more.

I just saw Shawn Mullins, the former Thorn, less than a month and a half ago at his showcase for the Americana Music Association Conference in Nashville, and his show there was so good, I couldn't pass up the chance to see him again, even if it meant he'd probably be playing an identical set, which he did. Shawn has for sure had some success in the pop world with his song "Lullaby," but even that song, I think, has an Americana feel to it, and the songs on his latest CD 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, even more so. Accompanied only by multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook, I couldn't believe how much sound came out of only two instruments at a time. My friend Pam described Shawn's voice "like a pillar, and everything else in the room surrounds it," and he plays his guitar in the same manner. His song "Santa Fe" makes me want to live there, and the line, "I'd drink a whole bottle of my pride" from "Shimmer" stops me dead EVERY time I hear it. I'm also not tired of hearing his story about how the third verse of "Blue As You" was written by Matthew Sweet, who they'd woken up to participate. The story goes that Matthew woke up, groggily muttered the verse while Shawn wrote it down, and then Matthew promptly went back to sleep (look up the verse yourself if you're really interested). Shawn mentioned, "I don't know what this song's about, but I like how it makes me feel when I sing it." I could listen to "Beautiful Wreck" forever, and there's nothing like a good murder song like "Cold, Black Heart" to endear you to your audience. Also touching was his cover of "House of the Rising Sun," also from 9th Ward, which was named after the New Orleans studio in which about half of the album was recorded.

I was a bit surprised that the show wasn't sold out; I thought the Gin Blossoms had a pretty good following, but I also embarrassingly had them confused with the Goo Goo Dolls when I learned I'd be going to this show. Although I only recognized three or four of their songs, they reminded me of a very mild Son Volt. VERY mild, mind you. The highlight of the show for me was obviously Shawn Mullins, but I can't say I didn't appreciate the chance to expand my horizons.

Posted by darlin at 4:55 PM

October 28, 2006

Reckless Kelly Was HERE!

Hi. Remember me? I used to post show reviews here almost weekly. That was when I had a life, and wanted to tell people about it. Turns out switching jobs takes up a lot of freaking time.

Fortunately, I got to remember (a little) what it was like to have a life Thursday night when I went to see Reckless Kelly at their triumphant return to the Viper Room, where they played their first LA show last December. They came to LA in June as well, to open for Robert Earl Keen at my favorite venue, the House of Blues on Sunset Strip. It's with pride that I can say I've been to all three of RK's LA shows.

It was a late night. I'd anticipated RK to go on around 10:15, but they didn't start until after 11. New Braunfels' Ryan Bingham opened, and I couldn't tell ya anything about him, other than I'd definitely go see him again.

RK was worth the wait. It seems to me that of all the other times I've seen them (which is now five times, to be exact, including this show), this was the show that best represented the RK library. Part of that is probably because this is one of the two times I've seen them as the headliner, and not relegated to a short opening set or limited to a SXSW timeframe. Lots of early stuff and fan favorites, including "Nobody's Girl," and "Drink Your Whiskey Down." I was also happy to see that "Seven Nights in Eire" seems to have become a fixture in the live Reckless Kelly show. This was also the first time I'd seen them perform "Stick Around" live, which always struck me as a bit odd that they didn't really perform it live very often, seeing as how it was one of their "singles." Also included on their set list were two of the previously unreleased tracks on their latest CD, a live album called Reckless Kelly Was Here.

If you didn't make it out to the show, definitely get yourself a copy of Reckless Kelly Was Here. For $21 on their website, you get two CDs, and a DVD, and it'll make you very sad you missed seeing them while they were here in LA.

Posted by darlin at 4:45 PM

September 16, 2006

Tink's End of Summer 06' Concert Slew of Reviews

A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor June 2, 2006 @ the Hollywood Bowl

So this was the first time that I have gone to the Hollywood Bowl (although family members remembers going when I was young but who can remember that?). I went with Brian (Barflies.net's Occulator) and then met up with former Barflies.net contributor, Tanya.
It was a beautiful night. Our seats were high enough that we could see the Hollywood sign.
A Prairie Home Companion is patterned after the old time radio shows of the 30's and 40's that you can hear on various public radio stations.
This performance was to promote the new movie A Prarie Home Companion that was soon to be released in the theatres. It featured 3 of the actor's from the movie, Meryl Streep, Virgina Madson and John C Reilly. Also on the bill was Shelby Lynne and a Bluegrass band that unfortunatly I forgot the name. The performance was great with the various sketches, monologues, and advertisements for products that I'm not too sure really exists. The only draw back was that Garrison Keillor has a low monotonous voice which works well on the radio but it did not project to well at the Bowl. Not sure if it was where we were sitting or they didn't mike him well but sometimes it was difficult to hear what he was saying.
I love the Hollywood Bowl. It's so nice to go to a venue and bring your own food and alcohol and not have to dump it at the gate. I also recommend that if you have the opportunity to take a bus that the Hollywood Bowl provides, please do. It's so worth it.

Throw Rag, end of June 06, The Key Club

This was the first time I got to see Throw Rag without Jacko and it's as if he never left. The set was still strong as ever, maybe Sean Doe had to work a bit harder but always a great show. Not sure why but the crowd was very small so it's was quite "intimate". Barflies.net 'hearts' Throw Rag. Also featured on the bill was the Cheatin Kind, Lonesome Spurs ( she uses a old suitcase as a drum and you have to check out the outfits!) and downstairs at Plush was the Irish Bros.

Hootenanny, July 1, 2006, Oak Canyon Ranch
Please see review

Chris Isaak, July 12, 2006, O.C. Fair

I love county fairs and I love Chris Isaak. And the two go together like peanut butter and jelly!
This was the second time seeing Chris at the O.C. Fair. But this time I had better seats (Thank you, Muffin!) We got there early to enjoy rides, games, and the animals. I won a stuffed dog from one of the money robbing games and he looks like Triump the Insult Comic Dog. He now sits in the back of my car. I need to find him a large gold bow tie and a cigar.
Anyways, this was the first time that Muffin got to see Chris live and now she is calling herself Mrs. Chris Isaak, whatever. Having got to see Chris last year at the fair, the only beef that I had was it seemed scripted but Chris makes up for it being charming, cute and a great performer.
Muffin bought some Chris Isaak swag and then we had him autograph it. I wanted to meet him so I took the shirt that she bought and when it came for my turn of course I was shy and all tongue tied. He signed his name with a big heart and said I will look great in the shirt but it wasn't my shirt, DAMN! Lucky for me, I think he likes brunettes. Yeah for me!

Tom Jones, July 22, 2006, @ the Hollywood Bowl

As long as I've known Brian, he has raved about Tom Jones. And I'm like whatever. So Brian buys a slew of tickets for Tom Jones @ at the Hollywood Bowl he says "you're going". So for years, my sister Nancy has raved about Tom Jones, asking me if I wanted to go see him every time he came to town. And again I'm like whatever. So when Brian happened to have an extra ticket, I decided to take my sister but it was a suprise. She didn't know till the day of the show.
Before we headed over to catch the bus to the bowl, I asked her if she wanted to know now or when we got to the bus AND she was like now!!! So I told her and she was so suprised, she started to cry. She has always wanted to see Tom Jones. She remembers sneaking downstairs when she was little to watch his t.v show. That's how long she has been a fan.
So for me, who was like whatever, everytime someone mentioned Tom Jones now I'm in love with Tom Jones. What a great show and what a great performer. He's the only man over 60 that is allowed to dye his hair and still look great. We had a great group go, featuring former Barflies.net contributer Lauren, that the ladies, who sat in front of us, thanked us for making it so much fun for them.
I guess it's been a tradition for years that woman would throw their underware at Tom, so Brian being the traditionalist bought some underware for us to throw. A) I found that disturbing but B) they were little girls panties. I'm still disturbed.

Posted by Tinkinator at 9:30 PM

September 11, 2006

Willie Nelson @ Hollywood Bowl: September 10, 2006

Willie Nelson wrapped up a three-night run at the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night. Instead of performing a set of standards and then a normal set of "hits" following an intermission (as he had Friday and Saturday night), Sunday night's show featured Neko Case and Ryan Adams as openers. Neko Case was a dream, with her distinct and lovely voice, while Ryan Adams and his multiple self-indulgent guitar solos proved dreadfully boring. Willie's performance philosophy was the polar opposite of Ryan Adams, as he performed one song after the other, seemingly without taking time to breathe. Even the couple new songs he played are sure to become classics, based on the very favorable reaction from the audience.

Given that all three shows at this gigantic theatre were nearly sold-out, it gives proof to the fact that real country music is still alive and well in Los Angeles.

Posted by darlin at 9:33 PM

September 8, 2006

Old Crow Medicine Show @ Henry Fonda Theatre: September 5, 2006

Even if you don't like bluegrass music, there are two words which will explain why you should go see the Old Crow Medicine Show anyway: CUTE BOYS. Seriously. They're everywhere at OCMS shows. On stage, in the audience, EVERYWHERE.

Okay, if that's not enough reason for you, they're also damn good musicians. Think bluegrass music with hard-core punk attitude, and you've got OCMS. This isn't your grandfather's nice church-bluegrass - this is bluegrass on speed.

I don't think they had an opening band for their Tuesday night show at the beautiful Henry Fonda Theatre. I'm not sure because we arrived fashionably late (but not as fashionably late as the poor folks who were arriving right as the show was ending), just before they ended their first set, but in time to hear them perform what I think is my theme song, "Fall on My Knees," from their recently released EP Down Home Girl. They've also got a new CD out, too, called Big Iron World, and they played plenty of tunes from that album, too, as well as a nice Waylon Jennings cover. Other highlights included "Wagon Wheel," "James River Blues," "Wagon Wheel," and the perennial audience favorite, "Tell It to Me."

And of course, the eye candy is always a nice touch.

Posted by darlin at 9:18 PM

August 29, 2006

Derailers @ Molly Malones: August 28, 2006

Much like working at a pop radio station that used to be a country station, it's hard to watch the Derailers without remembering the ghost of what used to be.

When Tony Villanueva left the group, it seems he took some of the magic with him. My feelings about the Derailers minus Tony kind of went in an arc - when they started their set at Molly Malone's Monday night, I thought, "I miss Tony!" As the show went on, I didn't miss him quite so much, as they played some of the songs that Brian Hofeldt originally did the lead vocals for, and a couple of tunes from their latest album Soldier of Love. Toward the end of the show, though, I missed Tony again. Do the Derailers, with their vast library of material, really need to cover "Johnny B. Goode"?

Sometimes you're better off just starting all over again.

Posted by darlin at 8:47 AM

August 26, 2006

Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez @ McCabe's: August 20, 2006

Some shows you just know are going to be good, and then they surpass your expectations. Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez's show at McCabe's in Santa Monica Sunday night was one of those shows. Their debut performance at the quaint guitar shop, Carrie opened the show which started shortly after 7pm. The fiddle virtuoso played a series of songs from her debut solo CD Seven Angels on a Bicycle, some, but not all, of which featured her considerable skills with a fiddle. Carrie's sultry yet sassy voice worked well with uptempo numbers like "Never Gonna Be Your Bride," and "'50s French Movie" (which, written by Chip Taylor, I personally believe rivals Jedd Hughes' "Damn, You Feel Good" as the sexiest song ever), but also seemed to melt in ballads like the title track from her CD.

After a short break, Carrie returned to the stage...this time with Chip Taylor in tow. She provided backing vocals for most of his songs, as well as singing a few tunes from each of their three duets albums. In addition to performing several songs from his new album Unglorious Hallelulujah (highlights included "Thursday Night Las Vegas Airport," "This Old Town," "I Don't Believe in That", and a ton more that I'm forgetting), Chip also did an awesome version of "Big River" (noting that one of his prized possessions was a hand-written note from Johnny Cash to Chip, saying how much he liked Chip's version of it). To wrap up the show, Chip performed the songs that he's arguably most famous for writing: "Angel of the Morning," and "Wild Thing."

(Chip relayed a story that he'd recorded "Wild Thing" in-studio shortly after writing it, out of fear that he'd forget. Following the recording session, he came home and asked his brother Jon (Voight, yes, that Jon Voight) if he'd like to hear his new song. Reluctantly, Jon said "Okay," then fell on the floor after hearing it. "That's the best thing you've ever written," Jon told Chip. It's one of those moments that I like to think about...the very first time a legendary song like that was heard by any sort of audience.)

Chip just by himself would have been a delight, but imagine him, plus Carrie, plus the guitar work of John Platania...Magic's the only word to describe that kind of evening.

Posted by darlin at 12:19 AM

August 11, 2006

Todd Snider @ the Troubadour: August 10, 2006

If James McMurtry and Lyle Lovett had a baby, it would be Todd Snider, whose latest CD The Devil You Know was released earlier this week. In support of its release, Todd made a rare LA appearance, which included a showing on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Wednesday night. Although Todd sometimes struggled with some of his new lyrics at his Troubadour show, his self-deprecation made it forgiveable ("Let me play some stuff that I know now"). Todd has political views comparable to James McMurtry, but shares Lyle Lovett's dry sense of humor. In one statement, he'll have you rolling on the floor laughing, but also left thinking about his point ("People who are afraid of gay marriage have nothin' else to be scared of" - also check out his song "The Ballad of the Kingsman.") At SXSW earlier this year, one of the panelists on the "10 Things You Can Do to Change the World" said, "The difference between art and craft is politics." Todd Snider well exceeds this definition of art, while at the same time being extraordinarily entertaining.

Posted by darlin at 8:48 AM

July 30, 2006

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than "The Malo"

Raul Malo

Saturday, July 29th, was a very hot summer night at the Coach House, as the audience waited with anticipation for the "man with the golden voice" to transcend the stage. And, there usually is a lot of that anticipation floating through the air with the Coach House's usual two opening acts. This time around local singer, songwriter and guitarist, Brooke Ramel, opened the show with a half hour acoustic set. Ramel was followed by actor/singer, John Corbett (Northern Exposure), a raucous 45 minute set of Southern Rock which seemed to win the crowd over. Taste in music is tantamount to individual choice, but let's just say that Corbett seemed to warm the stage and crowd even more for what was to take place next...Raul Malo, or "The Malo" as he's known.

It was Mr. Malo who had the ladies mesmerized and glued to their chairs. The amazing thing is that he doesn't even have to do much at all. Singing is so natural to him he does it with ease and it oozes that Latin charismatic charm. So much so, that his voice resonates the room because of his wondrous vocal range. Who else can be singing a mellow tune and bring it all the way back to a rockin' version of "Twist and Shout"? He can and does very easily.

So, there we were in out box seats, so to speak. It was our first time sitting in the black box area, as I call it. VIP Section, or whatever it might be tagged. A perfect area to scan the crowd and watch the audience reaction. No doubt, they were under his spell. It's nice to hear a singer do his own material mixed with personal renditions of old classics, like "At Last", Etta James most famous blues recording. Throughout the night he offered a range of songs done in his own style and stemming from the likes of Van Morrison's "Bright Side of the Road" to Guantanamera (originally by the Sandpipers in the 60's and revived in the movie the Buena Vista Social Club).

Some might remember that Raul Malo was at one time the lead singer for the music group, The Mavericks, who won several CMA Awards in the mid 90's. Though some of those songs are now a part of the past, they are still remembered in his shows and the crowd loved hearing "Dance the Night Away" and several others. Since that time, Malo has carved his own way in the music world tapping different resources from Latin to Classic Standards, along with his own personal songwriting abilities.

This past week, Raul Malo's newest album "You're Only Lonely" was released on Sanctuary Records. Produced by Peter Asher and consisting of 12 classic standards, ranging from Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb's "Run To Me"; Willie Nelson's "Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground"... to Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home" (a duet with Martina McBride).

Of course, there's nothing like a live show to bring it all home, so be sure to check out www.raulmalo.com for tour dates and locations in your area. You won't want to miss this performance!

Posted by CindyLu at 8:41 PM

July 25, 2006

Jack Ingram @ The Whisky-A-Go-Go: July 24, 2006

I'd been looking forward to this show from the moment I heard about it - and not just because Jack Ingram could be the most gorgeous man on earth. He's also a wickedly talented performer - and everyone who went into the show that night left raving about what a star Jack Ingram is.

Okay, the doors opened at eight, and the house band went on at nine. Like most house bands, I thought them terribly average, but liked them a lot better at the end of their set, when they gave a plug for the radio show I produce, Altville. Sin City All-Star Travis Howard came on next, putting on a rocking set that included a song he'd written for Miranda Lambert's Kerosene CD, "I Can't Be Bothered." Jack's labelmate Taylor Swift, a very sweet 16-year-old singer-songwriter who put on a worthy effort (and who had boots that envied Emmylou Harris'), but whose stage presence seemed forced. In between acts, three pole dancers - that may be a little harsh - I believe they were introduced as "Cowbellas" - danced badly choreographed routines to songs like Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman." I'm not sure what the point of their being was, if only to irritate the audience that they were being subjected to this nonsense.

It was getting pretty late by the time Jack Ingram started his set at 10:30pm, but his energy was strong enough to give second wind to everyone, including those of us who were seriously wondering how we were going to make it to work by 8am today. Jack kicked his set off with a couple of songs from earlier albums like Hey You and Electric, before throwing in a couple of promising new songs from his next CD, his latest hit "Love You" and of course his #1 record "Wherever You Are," which was introduced with an earnest remembrance of Jack's having listened to Sunday morning 'Countdown' shows on local radio stations and dreaming of the day when maybe his song would make it to the top of the chart. Fortunately, with "Wherever You Are," Jack was able to achieve that dream, and bring forth a little hope that maybe there is hope for top 40 radio after all.

Posted by darlin at 11:46 AM

July 24, 2006

Tom Jones @ Hollywood Bowl, 7-22-06

I remember when I lost my cherry. It was 1995, it was with my friend Karla—who was also a virgin—and we both went into it more for shits’n’giggles. Little did we know it would change our lives, that when it’s all over, there’s no going back.

Yes, my first Tom Jones concert eleven years ago at the Universal Amphitheater, where we only went because tickets were a ridiculous seven bucks, altered me forever more. No longer was Tom Jones just some schlocky Vegas relic still trying to keep the glory alive. He was a veritable sex machine. The song that triggered my affinity wasn’t “It’s Not Unusual” or “What’s New Pussycat,” it was a single that aired ubiquitously on Radio Europe in 1994 when I was studying abroad and all I heard on the radio were the same 10 songs over and over. I didn’t take to Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun,” but I did eventually succumb to the dance floor magnet—“If I Only Knew.”

Since then, I’ve seen him in concert about nine times. I’ve seen him at performing arts centers, I recently saw him in all his glory in Vegas, I even once drove up to San Fran to see him at the Fillmore. But when I saw him last year at the Greek here in L.A., I realized my mission: Pop people’s TJ-cherries. I popped three that night, and all three lovely ladies left agreeing that they wanted to hump him. Knowing that the man known as The Voice is sexy, and the only man I’d ever say that about, doesn’t make me fruity. On the contrary, I bring chicks to his shows because it’s an aphrodisiac. He oozes sex. Though he’s 65-years-old, he could bag more babes than anyone half or even a third his age. He gets more panties thrown at him nightly then you’ll ever have the salacious pleasure of removing from bothered bodies in your life.

Last year, it was three virgins. This year: 10. I had to go through Group Sales for his concert at the Hollywood Bowl to arrange a dozen tickets together. (He nearly sold-out two straight nights at this 18,000 capacity venue, over 40 years after the start of his career!) “But if you deflowered 10 people, why’d you need 12 tix?” you’re asking. Because one of them, Barflies’ very own Lauren the Adnostic, was so smitten last time, she returned. (Incidentally, one of my honeys from last year was stoked about seeing him again, but the show fell on her cousin’s wedding. The last one really wanted to go, but we broke up since then and I wanted her to think I was bringing a date.) So the night finally arrives and the lot of us met up on site beforehand for a delectable potluck. Joining me were old friends, friends from work, friends from out of state and out of country, and another Barflier, Liz the Tinkinator, and her sister, Nancy, who CRIED when she found out where Liz was bringing her as a surprise. Nancy, who ditched her husband and son behind, is my new favorite person.

After our picnic, we found our way to our seats, where we had over half the row. Because of the amount of wine, vodka, and Irish whisky consumed beforehand and during the show, I suspect a few people seated were irritated by more than their sticks up their asses. C’est la vie. We caught the end of the opener, the Pete Escovado Orchestra, which wasn’t unlike seeing Tito Puente, only the drummer happened to be Sheila E. of Prince notoriety. The only thing more impressive than her extreme hotness was her drumming prowess. Her solo, captured on the Bowl’s four Jumbotrons, was a whir of flesh and drumsticks. Then the real spectacle took place.

ToJo (my newest nickname for him) opened with “Tom Jones International” from his recent album produced by the Fugees’ Wycleaf Jean. You read right. Dressed in tight black pants and a black shirt that looked like it had been bedazzled with black beads, the scorching summer heat turned him into a sweaty mess faster than usual. He announced that his set would consist of tracks from his three newest albums, which also included his umpteenth repackaged Greatest Hits and one of early rock covers performed with pianist extraordinaire, Jools Holland. When the lead-in strains of “Delilah” began, Lauren and I looked at each other wide-eyed, excited, yet confused why it appeared so soon on the set-list.

“Why? Why? Why? Delilah. YOU BITCH, YOU SLUT. YOU WHORE. My, my, my Delilah. YOU BITCH. YOU SLUT. YOU WHORE. So, before, they come to kick down my door…”

Evidently, not everyone at the Bowl was familiar with this little amelioration of the chorus the way Flogging Molly fans are when they cover it. No matter, most people around us had a good laugh and the cool older ladies in front of us I think joined in. As for the 12 of us, we ripped that strumpet Delilah a new one with great fervor. When Tom sang “Help Yourself,” we were all magically transported to Pleasuretown, where Ron Burgundy and Kelly Bundy were doing it on a rainbow. And when he sang to me how I could leave my hat on, well, it was all I could do to keep from going the full monty.

Here I must add that his set was disappointingly short. Barely over an hour. Not than I know many men that age who can perform at that level—his dance moves could make Shakira blush—but it was easily the shortest show of his I’d ever seen. I’d like to blame the Bowl’s early curfew. He did not play many of my favorite songs, ones that are staples of his set list: “If I Only Knew,” “Daughter of Darkness,” “Burnin’ Down the House,” and, gasp, “Sex Bomb.” He did, naturally, please and delight us with “What’s New Pussycat” and “It’s Not Unusual.” Earlier in the night, once we took our bench, the fantastic bulge in my pocket was revealed. I’d procured panties for all the ladies in the group. Only a few were launched during these musical chestnuts.

All in all, everyone had a kick-ass time. They’d seen the Welsh Wonder in action, and they were convinced I wasn’t making it up—my fanaticism—this whole time. When he did Howlin’ Wolf’s “300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy” reworked as 200 lbs, because, well, he’s svelter, I think I heard some, uh, how to put this delicately, some squishing. TJ’s band was as solid as ever, owing much to the brass section. By the time he closed with “Kiss” (it all comes back to Prince) as the encore, we were 12 punch-drunk giddy ToJo fans, dancing with abandon, anxiously waiting for Tom’s return. I’ll order four dozen tickets as soon as they go on sale.

Posted by occulator at 12:53 AM

July 14, 2006

Miranda Lambert @ House of Blues Anaheim: July 13, 2006

My week of really great music continued Thursday night with Miranda Lambert at the House of Blues Anaheim. Yes, the same Miranda Lambert who was second runner-up in the second season of Nashville Star. But don't hold that against her - before I heard her CD, I had written her off as, well, a Nashville Star contestant. Then, at the suggestion of a trusted friend who RAVED about the title track from her major-label debut, I listened to Kerosene, and finally understood what the big deal was. Miranda wrote or co-wrote every ten of the eleven tracks on her album, most of which she performed at the show, as well as covering Steve Earle's "Hillbilly Highway", John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery," and Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" - which just shows how good her taste is. Her opener, co-writer, and member of the Sin City Allstars Travis Howard joined her for a couple of tunes, including "Angel," and her second single "Bring Me Down," which he co-wrote. Overall, a high-energy, kick-ass show from a little but loud Texas girl with a lot of attitude. She'll perform again tonight at the House of Blues LA.

Posted by darlin at 11:15 AM

July 13, 2006

Lyle Lovett @ Greek Theatre: July 12, 2006

You can probably guess that this concert was amazing - and it was. It really was. I missed the Blind Boys of Alabama, who opened for Lyle, because I was getting drunk in the parking lot (I had priorities), but from what I could hear, they sounded great. Lyle Lovett is alt-country meets jazz meets gospel, and all of his songs tell the most amazing stories, much like Lyle does in between those songs with his dry sense of humor. Just as impressive as Lyle was his quartet of backup singers whot belt it out like no one's business, and the sheer size of his "Large Band," (I think there are 23 pieces in his band), and OH MY GOD THAT SOLO HIS CELLO PLAYER PERFORMED!! Even though he played for two hours, that was barely enough time to scratch the surface of his vast library of material, but that just makes you want to see him again next time, right?

Posted by darlin at 9:06 AM

July 12, 2006

Nickel Creek @ House of Blues Sunset Strip: July 11, 2006

The 'good ole boys' may not like Nickel Creek because they aren't bluegrass in the traditional sense - they've frequently been described as 'newgrass,' a title which I'm sure Nickel Creek would resist mostly because Nickel Creek seems to resist being lumped into any category. Regardless of how one chooses to describe them, there is absolutely no denying the virtuosity of this band - they really are THAT good. What's most remarkable about them is that they have the ability to play each song just slightly differently than the last time you saw them - not so different that it's unrecognizable, but just enough to show that they can do THAT, too. In addition to a nice sampling of their three albums, the band also covered that song about "Short People Have No Reason to Live" and a very funny acoustic version of a Britney Spears song I probably would have found even more hilarious if it had been a song I was familiar with (I think the name of the song is "Toxic," but I'm not versed enough in the Brittany discography to say for sure). They closed with each member performing one solo song (fiddle player Sara Watkins performed a Tom Waits song that left me in tears), before closing the show the way they work best - all of them feeding off the others' energy and talent that makes bluegrass seem cool to the young people, too.

Posted by darlin at 9:53 AM

July 11, 2006

The Wreckers @ House of Blues Anaheim: July 9, 2006

The latest "buzz group" in mainstream country is The Wreckers (comprised of Grammy-winner Michelle Branch and her best friend and former back-up singer Jessica Harp), who took a break from either touring with the supremely untalented boy-band of top 40 Country - Rascal Flatts - or playing casinos filled with old people who were mad "because they lost all their money," according to Ms. Harp. Unfortunately, doing so many tours has not translated into many ticket sales for the duo, seeing as how the HOB show obviously did not sell well, and the venue was frantically trying to make up for lost ticket sales by hounding the audience with constant reminders that they not only had overpriced drinks for sale, but also snack items.

Despite Branch's pop success, The Wreckers succeed as one of the more talented acts in Top 40 Country. Their harmonies blend together perfectly, and the balance between the two makes them a true duo - and not just "Michelle Branch and Her Partner." The pair took turns at lead vocals, and also share most of the writing credits on the songs from their debut CD Stand Still, Look Pretty. You also gotta love their ballsiness - what other mainstream country group - which caters to a demographic of 40-year old mothers who like the 'family-friendless' of country - would not only record a song with the phrase, "The thing that I done wrong was put up with his bullshit for far too long," but LEAD their show off with that song?! Other highlights included their current single, "Leave the Pieces" (co-written by local-girl Jennifer Hanson - daughter of one of the boys from Alabama), their future single, "My, Oh, My," the song that SHOULD be a single, "Tennessee," and the very funny "Only Crazy People Fall in Love with Me." For their encore, the girls covered Deana Carter's coming-of-age hit "Strawberry Wine" and the title track from their album. Disappointingly, they didn't play the Patty Griffin cut from their album, and they only played for a little over an hour. After paying $75 for a pair of tickets, and traveling an hour to get to the show, it almost didn't seem worth it....On the other hand, considering that I could have paid twice as much to see them play for half as long when they open for Rascal Flatts (who I hate) this Friday, I think I made the right choice.

The Wreckers will perform again at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills next Tuesday, July 18.

Posted by darlin at 10:39 AM

July 10, 2006

My view of the Hootenanny


Well it wasn't much. Didn't have too much fun at the Hoot this year. I didn't take the heat very well.
I pretty much sat in the shade and watched people go by. I didn't even shop very much and that isn't like me.
It was refreshing to hear James Intveld and Big Sandy. It was cool that Wanda Jackson took the stage but her vocals didn't project very well. Maybe she was hot, too! My friend seemed to enjoy The Living End. I'm actually surprised that they are finally on the bill or even playing in America, isn't it a bit late for them? They should have played the Hoot like 5 years ago when they had that big hit.
When we finally got into the park, we went to eat and sat down at the second stage. Don't remember the bands name (I think they were first to play) and basically the vocals were not good for the sound that they were playing and I think the lead singer just wanted to basically tell how much he hates women and look cool but I think he looked ridiculous.
We ended up leaving during Flogging Molly. I was sad.

Posted by Tinkinator at 10:19 PM

July 6, 2006

"Blight At The End Of The Funnel" Opening Reception with ADZ, Flipper, Channel 3, and DI - July 1, 2006

Text and Photos by Kevin Hillskemper


Ed Colver is a Los Angeles photographer and artist known primarily for his photos of the Southern California Music scene of the late 70's and early 80's. His pictures are in every single book of LA punk history. You've seen his stuff.
Blight at the End of the Funnel is an exhibit that includes not only his photographs but some of his multi-media installations as well. It's at the Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center in Downtown Santa Ana. It was nice to see his photographs blown-up onto high-quality paper and mounted on a wall instead of on yellowing newsprint or having the crease of a book running through the middle of them. Since all of the hype and hoo-hah was about the photos, I will say a little bit about the installations. What I really liked about them is the artist's use of humor to portray outrage. Some of the harder hitting works are more tragic but it's coming from the same place. Most of it being political satire, it's both comic and tragic. I'm tripping over myself, aren't I? What the hell am I blabbing about? I'm not a fricken art critic.
He uses the American flag a lot in his work. It was strange to see this show during the same week that the same symbol was being used to sell ground beef, beer, and used cars.

After the book signing, ADZ hit the stage and did a short set of punk rock with a capital Rock. They did a few of my favorites from their "Transmissions from Planet Speedball" album (which features Ed Colver cover art) and a fine version of "Do The Nihil" by F-word.

Flipper played forever. They took the stage in full daylight and didn't leave until it was completely dark. The once-enthusiastic crowd became listless and bored during the course of their marathon dirges. I liked it. Ears did perk up occasionally for favorites like "Ha Ha Ha" and "Sex Bomb Baby." I wanted to hear "I Am The Earthworm." Do they still play that? Did they ever?

Channel 3 brought the crowd back to life. I haven't seen them for a long time and I think they're better than they used to be. I was reminded of how great "You Make Me Feel Cheap" is. Not necessarily a great song, but a great overall concept.
Oh yeah, Ed Colver did the cover for their "Fear Of Life" record.

DI closed the show. Casey had already been working the crowd for hours. He must have had a conversation with every person there. He talked right up until showtime, jumped on stage, and then continued talking without missing a beat. He's not human.
The band did manage to play a few songs like "OC Life, " "Falling Out, " and "Hang Ten in East Berlin."
Then they played a few more songs like "OC Life," "Falling Out," and "Hang Ten in East Berlin."


What exactly did I say about humor and tragedy? Maybe you can explain it to me.
Blight at the End of the Funnel runs until August 20, 2006 at
California State Fullerton's Grand Central Art Gallery
125 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA

Posted by Big Kev at 7:45 PM

Pat Green @ House of Blues, Sunset Strip: July 5, 2006

Yeah, yeah, so I know I'm probably the lone Pat Green fan who reads barflies, but fuck it - I'm going to tell you how awesome this show was anyway! Texans and wanna-be Texans alike invaded the Sunset Strip last night to see a guy who can sell out arenas in his homestate play the much smaller House of Blues, which was conducting VERY thorough security searches (fortunately, the HOB staff was even joking about it - they were probably the nicest I've EVER seen them). The Texans who came out to this show, however, were almost obnoxious about their Texas pride - I mean, what other state would even consider bringing a Texas flag to wave during the show? Can you even imagine a state like, say, Minnesota representing itself as such? If you love Texas so much, why not just go back there? Anyway, Pat's best songs are not his radio hits ("Wave on Wave" which put him 'on the map' in Top 40 Country is easily his most boring song IMO), but he still has enough brains to know that if he's got a song like Radney Foster's "Three Days" in his repertoire, he'd better damn well keep playing it. Other crowd favorites included "Southbound 35," "Take Me Out to a Dancehall," "Carry On," "California," and "Crazy," which I'll admit, made me cry like a baby.

Diss Pat Green all you want for his Top 40 success. Then go buy his Three Days CD. And then his Lucky Ones CD. And then maybe Wave on Wave (but skip the title track). And Dancehall Dreamer. And oh, yeah, Cannonball will be released on August 22. Get that one, too.

Posted by darlin at 9:24 AM

July 3, 2006

After the Hoot there was: James Intveld and Rosie Flores

For those who don't wish to melt in 90 degree temps, there are several nighttime events after the Hootenanny to meet that desire. One of those events was the James Intveld/Rosie Flores show at the Blue Cafe this past Saturday night. Can you say "supercharged" like the Energizer Bunny? I'm sure you can! That's exactly what this show was all about.
When Rosie hit the stage as the opening act, I wasn't quite there yet. Having new carpet installed in your place will make you late every time. But, once I hit the parking lot, a few songs into her set, I could hear Rosie's voice echoing through the night sky. I realized how much I'd missed seeing her play, because it'd been a few years, and I don't get out as much as I used to. I eventually make my rounds slowly and Rosie is a sure bet to make you rock the night away. She's the little Rockabilly Filly from Austin who stirs it up!
She certainly set the stage right, because when it was time for James Intveld to take it, the crowd was really ready! And, he took their souls and ran with it. The girls were weak at the knees, and I'd say the guys were pretty mesmerized themselves! A veteran takes the stage and commands it - that is what James Intveld did. When he's onstage, he can take the tiger by the tail and wind it around his finger. And you know, when I do go out I want to be assured I have a good time, and I did, regardless of the fact that I worked sun up to sun down!
I could go on, but would rather share some pictures to capture the night. Pictures tell the story.

Posted by CindyLu at 2:30 PM

June 29, 2006

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris @ Gibson Amphitheatre: June 28, 2006

Best. Show. Ever.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris hit the road in support of their recently released album of duets, a project that's been in the works for seven years. All the Roadrunning is well worth the wait; although it was recorded over the aforementioned seven year period, the album is seamless, much like their performance at the Gibson Amphitheatre. The former lead singer of Dire Straits and the First Lady of Alt. Country started the show singing a couple of songs together, then Emmylou took the reigns for a handful of songs before turning them back over to Mr. Knopfler. Among the highlights were the angelic rendition of Emmylou's "Michelangelo," and Mark's "Romeo and Juliet" which left not a dry eye in the house. The duo wrapped up the show together, performing more cuts from All the Roadrunning, demonstrating the perfect mesh of their voices. Two encores closed the show, after two hours of some of the most beautiful music imaginable.

Posted by darlin at 3:51 PM

June 26, 2006

Stiff Little Fingers at the House of Blues Anaheim, June 17, 2006

Review by Kevin Hillskemper

Photo from the Stiff Little Fingers website

Stiff Little Fingers could be the B.B. Kings of 1977-era UK punk. They were not the first, or the biggest, or necessarily the best, but they’re still alive to inherit the throne. At two original members, they are running neck and neck with the Buzzcocks. I think it would be cool if the two bands merged to form one great punk super-group. But what would you call them? The Buzz Fingers? Stiff Little…..oh, never mind.
I had never seen Stiff Little Fingers before and I was happily amazed. They made some pretty good records, of course, but it took seeing them live for me to appreciate how powerful their songs really are. They only put out a handful of albums, but they have a surprisingly solid body of work to draw from.
Founding Finger Jake Burns has still got all his chops and can bellow with the best of them. With original bassist Ali McMordie back in the band, it's no surprise that the set consisted mostly of crowd-pleasing early material. If you paid to hear “Tin Soldiers,” “Wasted Life,” "Nobody's Hero, " and so on, you got your money's worth and then some. No “Gotta Getaway” though – probably because there were too many drunks shouting out requests for it. Fair enough. "Doesn't Make It Alright" fulfilled the warm and fuzzy sing-along part of the show. The newest songs, from 2003’s quite good “Guitar and Drum” album, fit in nicely with the classics and went over quite well. I really liked the great show-biz moment when Burns introduced the members of the band Las Vegas style during the extended version of “Suspect Device.” Applause. Encore – “Johnny Was” and “Alternative Ulster.” Thank you good night.

The Tossers opened the show. They were a fake Irish band. They are very good at emulating the style of the early Poques and Flogging Molly but don't add much to it. It's somewhat off-putting when the singer speaks in a New York voice but sings like a Lucky Charms commercial. I suppose that without the fake accent, the music would just sound like bluegrass and how cool would that be? Like many white people in this country, I had an Irish ancestor or two but so what? St. Patrick’s Day means about as much to me as Arbor Day or National Stamp Collecting Week.
I celebrate Casual Friday.

Posted by Big Kev at 7:16 PM

June 20, 2006

Leon Russell @ The Whisky: June 19, 2006

Other than he's a legend, I know absolutely nothing about Leon Russell, so I was on on the fence about going to this show until two of my best drinking buddies announced they would be therel. Cool - I'm in.

The second of a series of Monday night shows known as Rockin' Country Nights at the world-famous Whisky-a-Go-Go brought in many more white-trash old rockers, but balanced out with the girls provocatively line dancing to Dwight Yoakam, which seemed slightly less out of place than the timfaithtobyshania that the DJ was spinning in between acts last week. According to Sandi, Leon Russell (who truly is a cross between Willie Nelson and Santa Claus) has lots of good songs, but wasn't playing any of them Monday night. That was a non-issue to his fans, though, who gathered at the stage like salivating dogs, or rocked their asses off to his blues-inflected country.

The rumors that Shooter Jennings were supposed to show up proved false, but apparently Adam Hood and James Intveld also performed. I wouldn't know - I didn't get there that early. Next week Joe Ely's on the bill - see ya there!

Posted by darlin at 8:39 AM

June 13, 2006

Junior Brown @ The Whisky: June 12, 2006

Junior Brown's show at this legendary venue kicked off a series of Monday night shows known as Rockin' Country Nights at The Whisky-a-Go-Go. A who's-who for anyone in the LA underground country scene, the performers who made on-stage appearances included Buck Page (from Riders of the Purple Sage), Nashville hit-songwriter Jeffrey Steele (who seemed a little out of place, singing mostly his Top 40 country hits, but I'd rather hear HIM singing them, with his grit and attitude, than any of the Rascal Flatts boys), James Intveld, and then of course Junior Brown, whose guit-steel playing is enough to both inspire and discourage any novice guitarist. Audience members included a Willie Nelson look-a-like, a girl dancing while trying to keep her beer balanced on her head, and several Sunset Strip bar-hoppers who obviously didn't know they'd walked into country night at the Whisky. Noticeably missing was Junior's better half, Tanya Rae Brown. C'mon - it was JB's birthday - where the hell was she?!

Leon Russell is scheduled for next week, and rumors are that Shooter Jennings is also supposed to show.

Hope your boss doesn't mind your being late to work on Tuesdays this summer!

Posted by darlin at 8:34 AM

June 6, 2006

Not Cool, Totally Hot: Hank III @ the Roxy June 2, 2006

The story is half photo essay, half review, so it's here.

Posted by DJWanda at 11:34 PM

June 5, 2006

Trucker Up @ The Purple Orchid: June 4, 2006

I can't write an unbiased review for Trucker Up. I'm their Merch Girl. And I'm still drunk from all those Mai Tais I drank at the show.


Posted by darlin at 8:36 AM

June 2, 2006

Robert Earl Keen and Reckless Kelly @ HOB, West Hollywood: June 1, 2006

Always a treat seeing all the Texans on the Sunset Strip when REK heads out west...and Thursday night at my favorite venue, the House of Blues, West Hollywood was no exception. Austin's best bar band ever Reckless Kelly did an awesome job getting the crowd all riled up for Robert Earl Keen, performing a set that was slightly more country than their last LA appearance. After Reckless made way for Mr. Keen, the crowd was treated to a full two-hour set that included signatures like "Gringo Honeymoon," "The Bucking Song," "The Great Hank," "Dreadful Selfish Crime," "Furnace Fan," "Corpus Christi Bay," "The Front Porch Song," "Five Pound Bass," "Feelin' Good Again," and of course "I'm Comin' Home," and "The Road Goes on Forever," plus plenty of humor like only REK has (ask me about the "Mickey Mouse Outfit" joke).

The only thing that would have made the night more enjoyable would have been the absence of my ex-boyfriend.

Posted by darlin at 12:26 PM

May 19, 2006

Tim Easton and Garrison Starr @ the Hotel Cafe: May 18, 2006

A little math, to start:

Tim Easton + Garrison Starr + Dead Rock West = One HOT show.

With a lineup like that, how could the Hotel Cafe NOT be packed for Tim Easton's CD Release Party? I was shocked to find there was actually a LINE at the tiny Hotel Cafe for folks waiting to get in, but fortunately, opener Garrison Starr didn't take the stage until ten minutes after her scheduled 9pm start time. Garrison is funny as hell, making self-deprecating remarks about sweating, lack of proper rehearsal, and acid reflux, which only added to her sparkling performance. If you haven't already picked up her latest CD The Sound of You and Me, do so, and you'll hear that she sounds exactly like she does on the album live. Tim Easton's latest CD Ammunition was released in stores earlier this week, and armed only with his guitar (no backing band at all), Tim did himself justice playing all the songs from the album in order. An audience favorite was the satirical "Jesus, Protect Me From Your Followers," which earned him the loudest applause of the evening. It was obvious that most of the crowd had showed for Tim, but those who left early did themselves a great injustice by not sticking around for the Gram Parsons-inspired Dead Rock West.

Posted by darlin at 1:42 PM

May 11, 2006

KT Tunstall @ The Music Box: May 9, 2006

Before KT Tunstall started receiving serious airplay from commercial adult contemporary stations or having her songs covered by American Idol contestants, she was the topic of conversation among underground hipsters. The British chantreuse released her "Eye to the Telescope" album in the United States earlier this year, and it quickly flew up the charts of Triple A radio, and earned her critical acclaim. Vocally, KT sounds much like Bonnie Raitt, but she's got a pop style and sensibility all her own. With all this "buzz" about her, it's easy to see why she packed The Music Box at the Henry Fonda Theatre Tuesday night, but not easy to see why her production manager felt it necessary to have lighting that distracted from, rather than enhanced her performance. Although it took about twenty minutes for KT to really get into her show, once she had it going, she was unstoppable, save for the cliched move of the artist to take over for the drummer at the end of her show. Seems that an artist as talented as KT Tunstall would be beyond that.

Posted by darlin at 1:38 PM

May 5, 2006

Drive By Truckers and Son Volt @ HOB, West Hollywood: May 4, 2006

I hate the House of Blues, West Hollywood. Hate, hate, hate it. So I only go to a show at the HOB if it's a really hot lineup, and Thursday's pairing of Son Volt with the Drive-By Truckers definitely met that criteria. The second of two nights at this venue, either band could have been considered the headliner, but Son Volt (which some may argue isn't the 'real' Son Volt - it's Jay Farrar with a new backing band) was first up to bat, and honestly have never sounded better. Jay Farrar finished the set with a couple of acoustic songs, including the signature "Windfall." The Drive By Truckers weren't nearly as redneck, or as loud, as I remembered, but I was still glad to have my earplugs. An interesting mix of people made up the crowd for this show: everyone from hipster girls to white-trash 40-something year olds wearing shorts and no socks (I was sorry I didn't have my camera to capture that image for posterity!).

Oh, yeah....the big question of the night was "What exactly are those black and red things on the set behind the DBTs? Bats? Ladybugs?" Eventually, we figured out they were black crows with red eyes. Scary, scary crows.

Posted by darlin at 9:14 AM

March 13, 2006

Maria McKee @ The Hotel Cafe: March 12, 2006

Stunning is the only word to describe Maria McKee's live show. A voice purer than mountain-spring water, plus the great vibe from the newly remodeled Hotel Cafe in Hollywood made for a rapturous evening. Maria played a nice balance of the roots-rock she's arguably best known for, and the elegant piano work that has influenced her more recent work. Completely at ease on-stage, Maria's set was short, only an hour long, but very fulfilling.

Posted by darlin at 12:42 PM

February 16, 2006

Jessi Colter @ The Viper Room: February 15, 2006

In preparation for the release of her first album in over twenty years, the legendary Jessi Colter graced the stage of The Viper Room Wednesday night, joined by Tony Joe White and her son Shooter Jennings, who are also featured on her forthcoming CD Out of the Ashes. The widow of Waylon Jennings performed for a wide array of fans of her own, her husband's, her son's, as well as Tony Joe's, and her producer's (Don Was). It was not only a night of country music super-stars, but also a night for Hollywood's celebrities; among the attendees were Matthew McConaughey, Penelope Cruz, and Rick Schroeder.

Jessi was seated for most of her rather short set, but was warmly welcomed nevertheless. She performed a good mix of her own music (most notably her career song "I'm Not Lisa"), music from her new album, and a cover of her late husband's "Storms Never Last." Son Shooter joined her for "Please Carry Me Home," from Out of the Ashes, which was originally recorded for Songs Inspired By the Passion of the Christ. The tenderness between mother and son was touching, and the inspiration they draw from each other, undeniable.

Out of the Ashes will be released in stores February 28 from Shout! Factory Records.

Posted by darlin at 11:03 AM

February 3, 2006

James McMurtry @ The Troubadour: January 26, 2006

What's with The Troubadour and all these great acts lately? Shooter Jennings, Rodney Crowell, James McMurtry, and Kris Kristofferson coming in March?! Big props to the booker at the Troubadour...Good job!

James McMurtry put on a solid show on the 26th...featuring local band Shurman as the opener. This is a band that accurately describes themselves as "too rock for country, and too country for rock;" however, Shurman never disappoints in their live shows. James played to a packed crowd, the largest he's ever played to in Los Angeles, thanks to the unstoppable efforts of Cary Baker and Conqueroo Music Publicity. James played a nice balance of earlier work, as well as plenty of material from his politically-charged "Childish Things." An obvious audience favorite was "We Can't Make It Here Any More," a very left-leaning tune.

So which Hollywood celebrity would you expect to see at James' show? Well, it seems that Matthew McConaughey purchased eight tickets for the show, and occupied the front and center floor space, singing along with every word. Penelope Cruz, who was in tow, seemed bored and unimpressed, but Matthew's enthusiasm more than made up for that.

Posted by darlin at 12:39 PM

January 22, 2006

Rodney Crowell @ The Troubadour: January 18, 2006

Some things in life are just a given. Politiicans will consistently lie, you will consistently lose the other sock in the dryer, Rodney Crowell will always blow you away with his live performances. Wednesday night at the Troubadour in West Hollywood was no exception. The extraordinarily talented Will Kimbrough and Jedd Hughes (who was unfortunately billed as "Jeff Hughes" on the concert posters) played together as the opening acts, alternating back and forth doing lead vocals, and then joining Rodney on-stage as part of his band (side note, how is it possible to get both Will Kimbrough AND Jedd Hughes in your band? I guess it helps if you're Rodney Freaking Crowell). Rodney (much to the audience's delight) played lots of selections from 2003's Fate's Right Hand, as well a handful of songs from his latest CD The Outsider and from earlier in his illustrious career, and also what must be a brand new (and quite powerful) song he wrote about his late first wife. To close the night, Rodney performed his "Walk the Line Revisited)," with Kimbrough taking over the tribute chorus of Johnny Cash's lines from the song's namesake.

Posted by darlin at 2:16 PM

December 11, 2005

Shooter Jennings @ The Troubadour: December 8, 2005

Shooter Jennings is one of those superbly talented musicians who suffers from the simultaneous blessing and curse of being the offspring of one of the legends of country music (see my review of Holly Williams). He grew up in Nashville, but then moved to LA to explore the possibilities of rock, only to return to his roots in country. Nevertheless, there's no denying the influence of rock in Shooter's work, even though it's just as country as could be. As demonstrated by his sold-out show at The Troubadour last Thursday, Shooter's got several songs that walk right down the middle road of country/rock. His first single, "Fourth of July," a song about a road trip to Willie Nelson's Annual Fourth of July Picnic, includes references to Ted Nugent and George Jones, but his next single, "Steady at the Wheel" is clearly a rock song. On the other hand, "Lonesome Blues," which was very well-received by his very enthusiastic audience, is a country song at it's best, and Shooter appropriately paid tribute to his father with a traditional rendition of "Lonesome, On'ry, and Mean." The Troubadour is a simply fantastic venue; there's not a bad seat - er, place to stand (it's a standing room only venue) - in the house, and although it can sometimes get very loud in that small venue, Shooter and his band never sounded better. Here's hoping that Shooter comes back to LA very soon!

Posted by darlin at 8:38 PM

Reckless Kelly @ The Viper Room: December 1, 2005

The last time I got to see Reckless Kelly perform live, I drove all the way out to Las Vegas (poor me!) to see them open for Dwight Yoakam. That, much like the sets I've seen them perform in their native Austin, was only a forty-minute set, hardly enough time to satisfy the hard-core Reckless Kelly fan. Fortunately, they FINALLY made an apperance in the So Cal area on December 1 at the legendary (err, perhaps 'notorious' is a better word here) Viper Room on the Sunset Strip. The boys put on their usual spectacular show, playing all the expected Reckless Kelly favorites, but dropping their normal rustic sound on a few songs for a more rocking groove - catering perhaps to the less twangy LA scene? Regardless, a great show from a great band at a great venue.

Posted by darlin at 8:31 PM

August 30, 2005

Holly Williams @ The Mint: August 28, 2005

Look into the eyes of singer/songwriter Holly Williams and you’ll see a look that tells she is haunted by her family legacy.

Holly’s the latest ‘breakthrough’ artist in one of country’s most celebrated dynasties; one of those dynasties that’s able to refer to its members by their first names only. Holly’s grandfather is none other than Hank, Sr. Her father, Hank, Jr. Her half-brother, Hank III. He has the same haunted expression in his eyes, too.

It can’t be easy to bear that legacy. For every potential listener whose interest is piqued by “Hank, Sr.’s granddaughter / Hank, Jr.’s daughter”, there’s that many more listeners who immediately discredit them as not being able to live up to that potential.

Instead of being a carbon copy of his grandfather, Hank III adds his own attitude to his roots in country music. His notorious punk rock sets draw just as many fans as his ultra-traditional country sets.

Holly Williams takes the opposite approach. Her mellow, pop-influenced ballads seem almost ethereal, rather than hard-core country, and just barely fit the definition of “Americana.” Her inclusion of a John Prine tune in her set and a reference to her grandfather in one of her songs are the only indicators of her country background. She lacks her grandfather’s twang, her father’s rowdiness, and her half-brother’s rambunctiousness.

That doesn’t mean at all that her set wasn’t enjoyable. Her stunning beauty is matched by the power of her voice, her exquisite songwriting, and the passion of her delivery. What I see in Holly Williams is the next generation of country.

Posted by darlin at 9:12 AM

July 13, 2005

Adolescents Album Release Event - Virgin Megastore, Orange - July 12, 2005

Text and Photos by Kevin Hillskemper

I don’t think the store was quite prepared for this. But everything turned out okay.

As soon as the band kicked into “Kids of the Black Hole”, the simple little in-store live set turned into an exercise in crowd control. Store employees, plain-clothes cops, and self-appointed volunteer security guards came out of the woodwork to hold back the surging throngs. Some of the volunteers seemed a tad overenthusiastic, but that’s easy for me to say because I was safely ensconced in the wheelchairs-and-old-people-with-kids section to the side of the “stage”.
Frank Sr. missed the show to have surgery as old punkers often do. It’s either knee surgery or a sex-change depending on who you believe. He was replaced by Joe Harrison of Wrecking Crew -- who is even younger than Frank Jr. Frank Jr. is still filling in for Rikk. Confused? Don't be.
The trouble with being influential is that you are always in danger of being replaced by someone that you influenced. The Adolescents could possibly be first band to successfully clone themselves for spare parts. Tony and Steve best be advised to keep fit and watch your backs.
I didn’t write down the set list, but I know they played “Rip It Up”, “Creatures”, and “Wrecking Crew”. From the new album was “Lockdown America”, “California Son”, and “OC Confidential”. And then they played “Amoeba”, which turned into a huge family-style singalong.

Merch. It always comes down to the merch.

Posted by Big Kev at 9:47 PM

April 13, 2005

Viva Las Vegas 2005

Well this was my 4th Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender and well, if you been to one, you have been to them all. Every year, I get so excited about it and at the end, with tired feet, I vow that I'm never coming back and well I always do.

My highlight of this year was the Dave and Deke Combo Reunion, The Collins Kids, and the Rocketz, going to finally see the Elvis-o-rama museum and learning to play Craps. Dave and Deke were awesome. I always enjoy the Collins Kids. I know I can always see the Rocketz in L.A. but I so enjoy that band. I wish I payed the extra cash to see the Elvis Impersonation show at the Museum because I happened to see the "Young Elvis" walking around the museum and he was hot!

I thought the line up was lack luster and was disappointed that Ruth Brown fell ill and was unable to perform. Hopefully she is fully recovered. She is awesome! I'm also sad that I missed the Comets!

But thanks to the car show, I have decided that I want to learn how to pinstripe. If you know anyone that teaches, please leave a comment with their info!!

And of course, Charles Phoenix slide shows are a must to see!

As of April 05, I'm not going next year, but you just never know!

Posted by Tinkinator at 9:54 PM

April 10, 2005

Asleep at the Wheel @ House of Blues, Anaheim - 3/29/05

It seems I’m driving to Orange County more & more lately to go to shows, especially if they’re as just plain GOOD as Asleep at the Wheel. It was well worth the drive..and the notorious walk from the Downtown Disney parking lot to the House of Blues.

Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Vaquetones opening the show. Lead singer Miguel Garcia overcomes his initially reserved personality to show a real comfort on stage, with his discussions of his cheap shampoo and the strippage of his shirt.

Shortly after, the curtains opened with Ray Benson crooning “So good to see y’all!” The band kicked off their show with “Cherokee Maiden,” and hardly paused for breath after they started. The crowd was small, but very receptive, and the lack of bodies allowed for dancing, which I imagine is quite a change for the staff who are used to seeing that space used for mosh pits instead. Asleep at the Wheel benefits from not only the princely charm and mischievous grin of Ray Benson (who made a point of saying, “We play country AND western music!”), but also a band that has the virtuosity of playing that music well. In particular are piano player John Whitby and fiddle player Jason Roberts, who just makes it look so easy.

They covered all the pioneers of Western Swing music: Bob Wills, Hank Thompson, Cindy Walker…as well as themselves. They’re nine-time Grammy winners, but still humble enough to be self-effacing about it. Ray introduced “Ain’t Chet Yet” from his solo album, mentioning it that this is the instrumental song that won six Grammys, and that “As the lead singer, I’m very proud of that.” Their version of Dimitri Tiomkin and Paul Francis Webster’s “Green Leaves of Summer” made me cry, and also delightfully included in the show were songs from the new “Live From Billy Bob’s” DVD.

Man, do I love this band.

Posted by darlin at 5:33 AM

March 26, 2005

Kathleen Edwards @ Knitting Factory 3/22

Tuesday night, I was cranky, hungry, still tired from a very fun but very long five days at SXSW, and desperately needed to do some laundry. But I really wanted to see Kathleen Edwards perform at the Knitting Factory that evening, based on the kick-ass performance she gave the last (and only other) time I'd seen her live. So I sucked it up and drove out to Hollywood for the big show.

It's been a while since I've been to the Knitting Factory, & it looks like they've done some remodeling. I'm not exactly thrilled with the current setup. The "Front Space" is an awkward place to see a show; if you're not lucky enough to be one of the first thirty people to walk in, forget about being able to see the performers. The stage isn't high enough, and there's a wall that juts out to entirely block the view of the stage from anyone who wants to get a drink from the bar. They've also got an obnoxious rotating light, which was clearly not only irritating the audience, but also Kathleen. We were all glad when they decided to shut the thing off.

Despite the surroundings, Kathleen delivered the goods. Her rough voice draws inevitable comparisons to Lucinda Williams, but Kathleen is definitely her own artist. She is an extremely passionate performer; as cliched as the phrase is, she really does put her whole heart into what she's doing onstage. I got chills as she wailed "I can't feel my broken heart" in "Six O'Clock News." Although it's occasionally a bit hard to understand some of the lyrics in her more up-tempo songs, her stage presence, band, and melodies are strong enough that it doesn't really matter. Her brilliant songwriting really stands out in ballads like "Mercury" and mid-tempo songs like "Copied Keys." She delivered a very diverse set of songs, a nice balance of music from her first album, as well as her most recent CD Back to Me, and also included some covers from Gram Parsons and Neil Young, demonstrating her wide array of influences. It was nice to see the audience so enraptured with her music; almost no one left before her encore was over.

Clearly, I wasn't the only one who thought that spending an evening seeing Kathleen Edwards sing her ass off was way better than doing laundry.

Posted by darlin at 5:54 PM

February 26, 2005

Paul Westerberg at the Anaheim House of Blues, 2-26-05

I think he's back on the sauce.
There is a recording of Elvis Presley from 1970-something trying to sing "Are You Lonesome Tonight" while zonked out of his mind. You've probably heard it. He slurs through half the song, forgets the rest, and then tries to laugh it off.
That's what this show reminded me of.
What made Paul Westerberg the life of the party when he was 21 makes him a sad, pathetic, old clown at 45.
Yeah, I saw the Replacements a couple times. So what. I've seen PW solo a couple times too and liked it. What went wrong?
He obviously didn't want to be here tonight. I don't think he made it through a single song without screwing it up somehow. However, when his guitar player missed a single cue for a solo, Paul threw a big stinking hissy-fit. What a dick.
It wasn't all bad. I liked the cover of "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family. He put more effort into that than any of his own songs. The band was very good, especially the drummer.
The show closed with "I.O.U.". He sang the lines "I want it in writing - I owe you nothing" like he meant it. Fair enough.
Tuesday is trash day in my neighborhood. If anybody wants my old Replacements records, they will be on the curb.

Kevin Hillskemper

Sorry Ma, forgot to take out the trash

Posted by Big Kev at 11:27 PM

January 10, 2005

One Minute Tink Reviews -Reckless Kelly-Jan 1 Boise, Idaho

Reckless Kelly and Mickey and the Motorcars - Jan 1 at the Big Easy Concert House- Boise, Idaho
So I'm up in Idaho for the Christmas break and New Years Eve to get some RandR. Yes, Boise,Idaho . . . I know, I know. I was visiting family and no it's not like Napoleon Dynamite. Boise is becoming a "buzz" town. Plus, the fact that you can buy a decent house for $60,000. So for years now my sister has been raving about this band called Reckless Kelly and I heard some of their songs but slightly too country for me.
Anyways, I got a chance to see them while I was up there. I thought they were really great. See, there are 4 brothers, 2 are in Reckless Kelly and the other 2 are in Mickey and the Motorcars, who happened to open for them. It was quite the family affair. Raised in Idaho, but their base is in Austin, Texas, but you wouldn't thought that with the crowd that turned out for the show. I think Boise considers them their house band, the place was pact.
So my sister and brother-in-law push me to the front. Front Row. Chello!! Mickey and the Motorcars has a similar sound to Reckless, but they of course bring something different. Something more edgier( is that a word?). Reckless comes up next and the place goes crazy. They did some really cool Beatles covers but the rest were orginals (I think). At one pt. I looked over and it was all girls, going crazy for Willy, the lead singer. One sad girl wanted to photo blog and the security stopped her. How rude! Right, Barflies crew?!? The Big Easy is Boise's answer to the House of Blues. Decent size venue. I saw that this month they were having a Epitaph Tour come through and The Rev. Horton Heat has played there many times.
I think Reckless and Mickey are great to see live. They are all really talented musicians.

Posted by Tinkinator at 8:57 PM

January 3, 2005

The Gears, The Crowd @ The Doll Hut 12-30-04

Text and Photos by
Kevin Hillskemper

If there is ever a Southern California Punk Rock Hall of Fame, both The Gears and The Crowd should get in on the ground floor. It’s the same old story – they could have been contenders, they were ahead of their time, and blah, blah, blah.
Don’t cry for them, Argentina, they’re still alive. Go see them.

The Crowd have been together, more or less, for twenty-five (!) years and keep putting out new albums every few years. Still, it’s unlikely they will ever live up to the impact they made with their monumental contributions to the “Beach Blvd” album.
That seems to be okay with them – their legacy is secure.
I was much impressed by the way they deal with constant requests for the older songs. Guitarist Jim Kaa simply posted the set list on the wall behind him (which in the Doll Hut can be read by everyone in the place) and whenever some knucklehead shouted out for “Modern Machine” or “Trix Are For Kids”, he would point to which song they were playing now and when they would play "Trix". It worked for me. Give the new songs a listen – they’re not bad.


The Gears reunion shows are few and far between. They don’t have to worry about the audience accepting their new material because they don’t play any. Their set consisted of the entire “Rockin’ at Ground Zero” album, the b-side “Hard Rock”, and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen”. It was beautiful. It’s easy to forget how brilliant their songs are because they are so simple and direct. Poetry cannot possibly express romance like “I want to make out with Trudie tonight, I want to get drunk with Trudie tonight, I want to be with Trudie tonight”.
Excuse me while I get all gushy and sentimental. All of their songs are great and it was nice to hear them played live again.
“Oh Darlin’, it’s come that time again. I’m sorry but I’ve really got to go.”

I just thought of the phrase "You can't buy honesty" but I couldn't find a good place to put it.

On a completely unrelated note - You know that song "Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers? I don't like it. I think it's terrible.

Posted by Big Kev at 7:38 PM

December 9, 2004

Neko Case at the El Rey, Los Angeles - Dec. 4, 2004

Not the (Neko) Case

Neko Case is nervous. She can’t seem to get her guitar tuned just right, and the way she’s fiddling with it, I know she’s nervous. See, she’s playing a Gibson SG that only has three strings, the top and bottom strings have been removed. The man next to me, Steve, tells me this is an old Velvet Underground trick, to take off the top and bottom strings and tune the three remaining strings the same. I don’t know about that trick, or any of the others that will be perpetrated on me this night, but I was watching the night that Ashlee Simpson ran off stage on Saturday Night Live, and let me tell you – she was lip syncing. And I don’t think that Neko Case, even if she can’t get her three-stringed guitar tuned, will have that problem.

Even though Case admittedly sings and writes “little songs” about bees, and sparrows, and tigers and then jokes – “see, they’re all sad little songs about animals on this tour!” – there is nothing little about her voice. This is a voice with power and range – the voice of a chanteuse, but also a bee, a sparrow, or a tiger, as she sees fit. Travis/Dallas Good makes his Gretsch sound like a slide guitar; The Sadies seem perfectly matched for Neko’s voice and the songs she has written with them are outstanding. The way they elevate country music goes something like this: Neko Case has a voice that’s transcendent, phenomenal, and ethereal – take that as a given and a starting place. Then put her on a little four-stringed acoustic guitar, while Travis Good plays fiddle, Sean Dean bumps out the stand up bass, Mike Belitsky keeps time, and Dallas Good adds this amazing layer of electric sound on top.

And just in case you need to die happy that night going home from the El Rey on slick, rain-soaked Los Angeles freeways – ask Dexter Romwebber to come up on stage and sing with you during the encore. That’s right – he got up there and sang “Lucky Eye” with The Sadies and Neko Case! I should start wearing a heart monitor to shows, really. I have to wonder – what if God gave you a voice like Neko Case, and you decided not to sing? Luckily for us, that’s not the Case.
-- Wanda

Posted by DJWanda at 11:31 PM

The Sadies at the El Rey, Los Angeles - Dec. 4, 2004

The Sadies Roll Along

Bill Gentry told me that The Sadies reminded him of The Byrds, “if The Byrds were a wagon wheel.” But The Byrds were a wagon wheel, weren’t they? And The Sadies are a wagon wheel, too, if that wheel were on a semi hauling 90 miles an hour down the Interstate and the driver were all jacked up on coffee and speed, carrying a little pot under the seat.

The first time I saw this band play, I was so blown away I couldn’t speak. Spaghetti western meets western swing, smokes some pot, and has a hoedown. The term “insurgent country” doesn’t seem to do it justice. Now, some five years later, I am blown away again. Amazing covers? Try “Pretty Polly” (traditional – the Byrds did it too), “Stay All Night” (Bob Wills), “Higher Power” (Louvin Brothers), and “Wearin’ that Loved On Look” (yes, a song made famous by Elvis). Amazing songs? Try “Lay Your Arms” (from 2002’s Stories Often Told), “Dying is Easy,” (from 1998’s debut Precious Moments) “1000 Cities Falling” (from 2004’s Favourite Colours). Let’s just say all and call it a day.

Like Dexter Romwebber, who melds blues, surf, punk and rockabilly, The Sadies are creating a musical fusion of spaghetti western, 60s psychedelia, American Cosmic Music, country and western, old spirituals, and traditional music. But what does the band sound like? Like the love child of Ennio Morricone and Gram Parsons, with the vocals of The Supersuckers. Not to mention the guitarist has Peter Frampton hair. And they’re tall. And they wear amazing suits. I’m telling you – this is the best thing that Canada has ever given us.
-- Wanda

Posted by DJWanda at 11:24 PM

Dexter Romwebber at the El Rey, Los Angeles - December 4, 2004

What I Like About Dexter Romwebber

• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that he totally looks like someone you’d work with at your boring cubicle job – a middle-aged guy in navy Dockers and a cotton oxford shirt, and then he gets up there and rocks your pants off!
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that his drummer Sam “Crash” Laresh has the best glasses ever – always – and that he tapes his shirt shut, but the tape keeps popping off as he gets progressively wilder on the drums.
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that when he breaks a string, he doesn’t miss a beat, he just keeps playing and then switches guitars on the next song. No spending ten minutes tuning up. He’s not a pussy.
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that he is the only one on the face of the Earth that can do a guitar solo without being a total wanker about it
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that you can see the waistband of Sam’s Sponge Bob Squarepants boxers under his jeans.
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that he plays the blues, surf and rockabilly with the raw energy and passion that it’s supposed to have, and a guitar that sounds slightly out of tune, but on purpose.
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that he plays all these really dreamy ballads and slow songs, but they’re not that slow, and when he sings, he sounds like he means it
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that the new album is so good I have two – one for my car and one for my dj case. I meant to give the extra one away, but I never did. And I don’t feel guilty.
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that he’s probably the only real psychobilly artist out there in a sea of posers.
• What I like about Dexter Romwebber is that he surprises people: the woman next to me, Amy, said she was afraid when he started playing. Afraid for him, and then, ultimately, afraid for us. Scaring the shit out of people by looking so normal and rocking so hard is probably the most subversive thing I’ve seen in a long time. And I like it that way.
-- Wanda

Posted by DJWanda at 10:58 PM

October 30, 2004

Slim Cessna's Auto Club / Legendary Shack Shakers at the Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA - Thursday, October 28, 2004

Mighty is the powerful band that can make me leave my happy home and the creature comforts of my three cats and venture out into the cold. We're talking strong stuff indeed! But the double bill of Slim Cessna's Auto Club and Th' Legendary Shack Shakers was too powerful to resist. Equal parts tent revivalism and old time blues, these are two of my favorite bands on the circuit right now, and they made my trip to the cold dark capitol of the Northwest completely worthwhile.

We flew up to Seattle for no other reason than to see these two bands together, but decided to make a bit of a holiday out of it by staying for 24 whole hours - a record-breaking vacation for us. We splurged and stayed at Kimpton's Hotel Monaco Seattle - this is a beautiful hotel and I highly recommend it - the whimsical decor was warm and welcoming and lifted my spirits, considering that it was about 51 and raining the entire time we were there. The pet-friendly hotel ensures that you'll meet lots of critters in the hotel, and if you don't bring your own pet (we didn't), they give you a goldfish to keep you company (ours was named "Charito," or "little Charo" for all you gringos out there). The first day we rented a car but ditched it almost immediately for a walking tour of the Space Needle (the Space Needle Cam lets you see that it's foggy and raining all the time!), Experience Music Project, Sci Fi Museum, and Pike Place Market (via a cable car in the rain). After a quick nap and hot showers, we cruised by Doc Maynard's (where the Irish Brothers had played last weekend) in Pioneer Square, scarfed down some pizza, and drove over to Ballard, where the Tractor Tavern is located. My imperfect radar meant that we only got a little lost, despite Big Kev's directions, MapQuest, and a host of other directional aids. But we made it!

The Tractor Tavern is one of those legendary places where everyone has played. It's a cross between Alex's Bar and the Doll Hut with a vibe all it's own. Some people like to take a motorhome across America, visiting the sites; I like to visit famous bars.

Despite the rain outside, the club was warm inside (with coat check! one of my favorite things!) and despite the smoke (yes, you can smoke in Seattle clubs), we inched up close to the stage so I could get pictures for all you folks (I'm nothing if not dedicated).

Slim Cessna's Auto Club opened the night, although either band could have opened - they are equally matched for brilliance. The crowd seemed eager to see them, as it appears it's been four years since SCAC were in Seattle. Ripping through almost all the new songs on their cd, "The Blovdy Trvth Peace Tenent", Slim and Munly managed their special brand of gospel, yodel, country, preaching, and dancing (although only the spiritual kind, while possessed of the Holy Ghost).

Th' Legendary Shack Shakers were up next, with their usual brand of hoedown (or should I say "lodown"?) hillbilly hijinks and Southern Goth mayhem. Like Flannery O'Conner on crack, but in a good way. And the Colonel JD may be the only man I know that can - and does - wear lederhosen. Yes, folks it's a carnival for the senses, it's the sense of the carnival in all of us. You will want to give up all you own and join the band, or at least the street team, when you hear Th' Legendary Shack Shakers.

After the show, I bought all the merch they had (well, all the merch I didn't already have). Munly even convinced me to buy his two-cd set, Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots, which is by far the scariest cd I have ever owned. I will only listen to it during daylight, and the accompanying dvd of "images" is really intense. Faulkner meets Harper Lee meets Cormac McCarthy, if you know what I mean. And if you don't know what I mean, be glad. The cd is very good, really.

I don't know how to describe the music of these two bands - country Goth seems too simple - tent revival hillbilly seems to complex. And yet, there is something going on with these bands that is wonderful in its energy and dangerously interesting in its lyrical reliance on old-time religion. As a writer, I'm told I overanalyze everything, so I'll let the music speak for itself. If you're intrigued (and you should be), find the cds or go to the websites and take a listen. See if you think these bands are worth a trip to Seattle.

Posted by DJWanda at 11:57 PM

Split Lip Rayfield at the King King in Los Angeles - October 22, 2004

splitlip2.jpg splitlip3.jpg splitlip6.jpg

What’s the best gauge of how good a band is in concert? You might be surprised to learn that it’s the merch table. Seriously. If the band has just a couple of CDs and t-shirts for sale, it’s not necessarily an entire lost cause, but if they are selling everything from pencils to pot holders (and I’m talking about the ones you use in the kitchen to help you cook), you can usually count on an awesome show.

Such was the case with Split Lip Rayfield at the King King in Hollywood on Friday, October 22. A fantastic selection of creative souvenirs and Split Lip’s expected excellence made for a good time.

Idaho Falls must have been the first band on stage, but I can’t be sure, ‘cause I missed them. It’s now a dream of mine to see Idaho Falls in concert, because I’ve spent the last three years arriving at their shows after they’ve gone on stage. I really want to see this band!

I arrived in the middle of the Weeds’ set. I couldn’t understand most of the vocals, but the lead singer was very engaging and sported the best “socks ‘n’ sandals” set I’ve ever seen.

Up next was LA’s own Mike Stinson. I never really got into his albums until I saw him live a couple months ago at Spaceland. His CDs just don’t do him justice. If you’ve been passing up seeing Mike Stinson, stop. Go see him live. You won’t regret it.
At last, Split Lip Rayfield took the stage. They must have played for an hour and a half straight. These guys are beyond talented; their fingers seem to fly as they pluck their instruments (I believe the proper term to describe their music is “Thrashgrass”: really, really fast bluegrass). They don’t like to talk, they just wanna play. I think what I love most about Split Lip (other than the gas tank that serves as their bass: c’mon, how country is that??) is that they are a band, and not just a lead singer and “everybody else”. You really get the feeling that they’re very democratic, that there is no band member more important than anyone else. It’s very refreshing.

And to top it all off, at the end of a very entertaining show, there was the merch table. It was irresistible. I spent way too much money. At least I have a head-start on my Christmas shopping now.

- By Vicki Pepper

note: Because I didn't have my camera with me, these pictures were taken by Wanda back in May at the Bottom of the Hill.

Posted by DJWanda at 11:23 PM

September 29, 2004

Pixies at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles, Sept. 22

The most influential band of the last twenty years stepped on a Los Angeles stage at The Greek Theater for the first time in 13 years with little fanfare. Billy Holiday was playing over the PA when the four members of the Pixies strolled on stage with waves and smiles. No words were spoken and before anyone could catch their breath, drummer David Lovering began knocking out the famous intro to “Bone Machine.”

The Pixies don’t move much on stage. Don’t say much either. Here’s a highlight of the their audience interaction: Kim Deal, sporting a new, short do, steps up to the mic and says “It sure is a nice night.” And the crowd goes wild. Deal could read the dictionary with that voice of hers and people would love it. Anyway, not much else was said, except for thank yous and when Black Francis (he wants to be called Frank Black nowadays, but we just can’t) asked his band if they wanted to play “our internet song,’ a reference to the group’s first song since reuniting in March, “Bam Thwok,” which is only available online.

So they may not have the greatest stage presence — but they sound perfect, like they’ve secretly been practicing the 30-plus songs they plowed through for the last 13 years. They played the album gems one would expect, even gave us both the slow “U.K. Surf” version of “Wave of Mutilation,” and the faster one. Joey Santiago attacked his guitar with one of Lovering’s drumsticks during “Vamos,” and they treated us to the b-side lullaby “In Heaven,” and a wonderful cover of Neil Young’s “Winterlong.”

So what if they don't do much on stage.

— By Michael Coyle

Posted by micoyle at 2:52 PM

September 1, 2004

Country My Ass!

Dale Watson will someday be famous for the following words: That’s County My Ass! And, nobody sings it better than Dale! Along with his band the Lone Stars, Dale tore it up on a recent stop at the Doll Hut in Anaheim during his Southern California tour.

It was a crowded Thursday night at the Doll Hut despite most people having to work the next day. But, by the looks of the “beaming” faces no one seemed to care. The Hut was filled with avid Watson fans that came to see one of their favorite’s play, and the night just kept getting better.

This was my first time seeing Dale perform live since the early 1990’s, long before his return to Austin. At that time, his music had a different flavor, and had not yet evolved to the stature it holds today. I must say I was more impressed than ever, not only can he sing in that rich baritone voice of his, but he has a very charming stage presence as well. He puts on a great show, because it not only takes talent, but charisma to complete the whole package.

During “Exit 109” a huge semi with the words “Stage Coach” painted across it drove slowly down Manchester and past the Hut. I had visions of the driver slowing it up, parking his rig and coming through the doors to see who was playing that fine country music! Breaker, breaker…can you hear this???

Highlights of the night were “Country My Ass”, a tune penned specifically to jab the red hot poker at Nashville and it’s never ending Merry-Go-Round of “everything sounds the same” “pretty boys and girls” of today’s Country Music scene. Like most people, I have a favorite Dale Watson tune: “Money Can’t Buy Her Love” from the tribute album “Every Song I Write Is For You”, dedicated to the loving memory of his late fiancé, Terri Herbert.

Dale has given the public many fine albums over the years, each filled with lessons of life…..a life filled with his own share of personal tragedy, so when he sings of sorrow he knows what he’s talking about, and when he sings of adventure, he also knows what he’s talking about. I can identify with what Dale’s been through in a big way, but life goes on and we go forward.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while now, he’s probably played every club in town. Both of my cousins moved to Austin recently and I’m due for a visit. You can be sure I’ll catch a show by Dale when I’m in town…wouldn’t miss it! I hope you’ll do the same.

For more information on Dale Watson and the Lone Stars, visit their website at www.dalewatson.com. Dale has a tour schedule listed on the site, so be sure and catch him next time he comes to your area. And, Dale, you be sure not to forget your old pals over here in Southern California next time you hop on the tour wagon. We’ll be waiting for you!

Posted by CindyLu at 9:56 PM

June 5, 2004

Circle Jerks, Throwrag, and Radio One at the Anaheim House of Blues - April 29, 2004

Circle Jerks,Throw Rag, Radio One
House of Blues, Anaheim

Throw Rag in one word: Sweaty. Of course, I mean that in the best of ways. At the House of Blues, Jacko appeared to be sporting a new washboard (yes, I notice things like this), and while I dont love the House of Blues, half the fun of watching Throw Rag at a large all-ages venue is watching them incite a crowd as only Throw Rag can do. During the requisite washboard solo, they invited Bob, who appeared to be about 15 years old, on stage. I guarantee Bobs life will never be quite the same, as he has now been reborn into some Hunter S. Thomspon-esque world of sweat and lights and rock n roll freakdaddy coolness. Highlights of the set included my favorite old song, Only Drink on Days that End in Y and my favorite new song, Rule Breaker along with some new songs, notably, Danny Boy and Love Boat. Throw Rags new songs are even harder and more rockin than their last two albums think Motorhead meets the Cramps via Queen. And I love Queen. For their finale, of course, Captain Sean Doe stripped down to a Speedo and cape (this is an all-ages show, remember?) and did Demons in a Row and my other favorite song, The Beast in Me. (you know what? theyre all my favorite songs).

During the intermission, I quickly polled the folks around me, trying to find someone that had been there for the opening act. Finally I found someone: Radio One? They sounded like the Hunns. Didnt thrill me. You heard it here first, folks.

The Circle Jerks came out and started with All Wound Up. I waxed philosophical, looking at the 30-somethings around me and wondering where any of us would be without the Circle Jerks in our life me, Greg Tracy, Henry Rollins (well, he wasnt actually there, but they did change his life). I have to think that this is a pretty amazing world we live in, a world where a bunch of 12-year-olds with Mohawks can worship a bunch of middle-aged hippy guys, old enough to be their fathers, and think nothing of it. I mean, am I the only one who sees a weird irony in a man who looks like your moms older brother (you know, that weird uncle you have) up on stage singing, I Just Want Some Skank?

In between songs, Keith gave the crowd a school lesson. David found this tedious and self-serving, but I think I know what Keith was doing he was trying to get the kids to realize that the Circle Jerks are not the beginning they are just one in a long line of bands that kids should go home and Google if they want to be well-versed in Punk. Keith also gave them some ground rules:
1. Dont spit on us. Were human beings.
2. Honor your ancestors.

And while the Circle Jerks played some of my favorite songs are these considered their hits? songs like Deny Everything, Wild in the Streets, and Red Tape Keiths asides between songs were some of the most enjoyable bits of the evening. Do you have a curfew? Somewhere to be? Are your parents waiting for you in the parking lot? All at once I flashed back to my first Circle Jerks show at the Whiskey a-Go-Go in the early 80s. I know it was the early 80s because I had a learners permit and not a drivers license. A Goddamned learners permit! And this guy named Fuzzy was going to take me (he was a kind of hair-growing-out skinhead of the Richy Rich La Habra Heights type) when he suddenly called me up after school and said he couldnt take me. I was so devastated; I remember crying to my dad, so my dad took me. He let me drive to L.A., so that I could get practice driving on the freeways, and when we got there, sat in a booth with me and my friend Sarah and bought us drinks (screwdrivers). Keith had just broken his leg in a fight, or fallen off a wall or something, so the show was kind of low energy, maybe even acoustic someone will remember this and write to tell me about it. Do you have a curfew? Somewhere to be? Yes, Keith, I did. Are your parents waiting for you in the parking lot? You know it.

I am not sure that kids today understand the political climate in which many of the Circle Jerks songs were written. I am not sure that I understood them at the time. Sadly, I am not sure that the political climate has changed all that much, which is a scarier thought. Do kids today understand the punk anthems of the 80s? Do they understand the politics of the world they live in now? If they did, would they be able to sleep at night?

As the entire venue sang along with World Up My Ass, a salt-and-pepper haired punker turned to his friend wearing an unfortunate Bushmills jester hat: I havent seen these guys since 86! Salt-and-pepper punker exclaimed. Do they look the same? Mr. Bushmills Jester Hat wondered. No man, answered salt-and-pepper punker. Suddenly, a fight broke out next to me between two men who were old enough to know better. Security did a swan dive off the bar and dragged them both out the door. I said, do they look the same? yelled Bushmills-Jester-Hat. No man, No way. That was the 80s.

-- Review by Wanda

Posted by Ms. Jen at 7:18 PM