Thursday, December 30, 2010

RIP: Billy Taylor

Once again during my Christmas vacation, a great Jazz pianist passed away. I missed this news, but Billy Taylor passed away this past Tuesday, at age 89. He was one of those very rare individuals who could both teach and do.

This post over at NPR will perhaps do some justice to a truly great musician, and Jazz's ultimate evangelist.

We knew this day would come, but it is still very sad news.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

RIP: Captain Beefheart

Another great musical talent left this plane yesterday, Don Van Vilet. A name familiar to Zappa fans everywhere as Captain Beefheart. Short write-up here in Rolling Stone.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ornette Coleman at Bass Concert Hall

Another Jazz Legend at Bass

Once again, I was able to see another Jazz legend at Bass Hall. I was very fortunate, since I had waited some time to get tickets. Luck intervened once again, and I ended up in the 4th row. Although I was not able to take pictures during the show, I snuck one of the stage beforehand.

Ornette Coleman's Stage at the Bass

The show was introduced by a friend of mine, Casey Monahan, Director of the Governor's Texas Music Office. He spoke at length, about several Texas artists, all hailing from Texas, and in particular, one school in Fort Worth, which gave us Ornette Coleman, and Dewey Redman, just to name a few.

I estimate that the show lasted about 70 or 80 minutes, with Ornette playing mainly Alto Sax, but also Trumpet and Violin on several occasions. His band was interesting in that it featured two bass players. The band lineup was as follows:

  • Denardo Coleman - Ornette's son on Drums
  • Al MacDowell - Electric Bass
  • Tony Falanga - Upright Bass
  • Mari Okubo - a Japanese Operatic Vocalist who joined the band on stage for one number

Al played a very guitar-like style on Electric Bass, sometimes playing barre chords and strumming. It was always in counterpoint to what the other bass player Tony, was playing on Upright. Throughout, the band allowed Ornette to freely solo, in his smooth melodic way.

As far as Ornette goes, if you're familiar with his work, you know that he was controversial in some Jazz circles. He ushered in a movement that although mistakenly called free jazz, was melodic, obviously Blues based, but discarded traditional BeBop harmony. (This reminds me, BTW, that it would probably be humorous to see if Miles ever did a Blindfold test for Ornette.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but will admit to having a little difficultly with song featuring Mari on vocals. I particularly enjoyed one piece where Tony Falanga played Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, as Al and Ornette really went to town. I'm sure Johann Sebastian would have approved, had he been there. Last but not least, I was amazed how well Ornette played, since he is in his 80's now.

Bottom line: It was a great space in which to hear some great Jazz.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

FFF Fest - Day 2

Probably won't be getting a wristband next year

Although I went for about 5 hours after the Ravens game, there was nothing that really did anything for me at this festival. I held out some hope that Deerhunter might deliver, but I ended up being underwhelmed.

Here's a few shots from the last day.

Red River District, Nov 7, 2010 Red River District, Nov 7, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fun Fun Fun Fest - Day 1

This was my first Fun Fun Fun Fest, and I'm questioning whether I'll bother next year. I was already bummed because Devo was forced to cancel, after Bob Mothersbaugh's severe tendon injury a few weeks back. Of course, I should have known that the day may have been a let down after last night's stupendous show.

I arrived shortly before 2PM, to discover that the Willcall line was around the block and almost down to the 35 frontage road. Well over an hour later, I finally entered the grounds. As a result, I was not in a good mood.

Willcall line for Fun Fun Fun Fest

I spent the next five hours, standing, inhaling dust and pollen, and listening to a lot of mediocre bands. I spent most of my time at the Orange stage, and found the bleed over from the Black Stage, with all the Metal and Thrash acts, to be particularly annoying. Hopefully, things will improve tomorrow. I will be going after the Ravens game and hope to catch Deerhunter, who opened for Porcupine Tree at Sunset Station, back in August.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

Asleep at the Wheel's 40th Anniversary featuring Willie Nelson

Asleep at the Wheel

If Austin has music ambassadors, then they undoubtedly are Willie Nelson and Ray Benson, leader of the band, Asleep at the Wheel. The Wheel moved to Austin in 1974, at the request of Willie Nelson, and they helped create the Austin music scene. They were fixtures at Armadillo World Headquarters, and they were the very first act to appear on Austin City Limits. Since their arrival, nothing has ever been the same.

Last night's show was a 40th anniversary celebration of Ray's 9 time grammy award winning band. The featured guest was, of course, Willie Nelson. I hemmed and hawed for several days about whether to go to this show, or the kickoff night of Fun Fun Fun Fest, with Weird Al Yankovic. The prospect of seeing some roots music, and more importantly, a legend, won out some time late yesterday afternoon.

In addition to popping my cherry for seeing Willie live, this was my first show at the Long Center. I arrived at 7PM, and it's a good thing because the show started promptly at 7:30. As it turns out, the early start was needed since the show ended just after 11:00.

At 49 years of age, I felt like a spring chicken in this crowd, with most of the audience much better dressed than a normal Austin crowd. So, mixed in with the Austin Opera patrons, there was a smattering of dance-hall cowboys, and outlaw, biker types. Your typical Willie Nelson crowd in other words.

Set One

The first set went well over two hours, with Ray and his current fiddler, Jason Roberts (Ray's musical director?), being the only constants on stage. The set was subdivided into sections, for each decade of their career, with a video segue projected on a drop down screen.

Ray announced that over 45 musicians were present, who were either presently in the band, or were members in the past. Several times during the show, I counted over 30 musicians on stage, at the same time. At various points they had 5 pedal steel players, 6 fiddlers, a 6 piece horn section, and 6 different piano players on stage at the same time. Although unlike the others, the piano players had to time-share between 2 full concert grands.

The highlights for the first set for me, were the first decade band with Leon Perkins, and Lucky Oceans, and Floyd Domino. Leon's song writing extends far outside of the sphere of the Wheel, and it's amazing how many hits the man has under his belt. Ray was lamenting how many hits they had made for other artists.

Other highlights, were the section with Chris O'Connell, and a special appearance by Leon Rausch, an actual member of Bob Wills Texas Playboys, who must be in his 90's now.


At intermission, the band invited the entire audience out to the patio for a group picture, and free beer. In addition, they had a table with about 7 posters, and they invited everyone present to sign them. I thought this was a great personal touch, and explains why so many people love Ray and his band.

Set Two

The last set was all Willie and the current members of the Wheel for the most part. They played a combination of Willie's hits, and a generous helping of the songs from Willie and the Wheel, an album that I love. Ray also mentioned that they were working a second Willie and the Wheel album, which he jokingly called WW2.

I don't know what else to say, other than I was awe struck by Willie. What a performer! There's something real and genuine about the man, that just oozes from the stage. This is something that you can't fake. Perhaps next year, I will go to his 4th of July picnic, rather than punt like I did this year.

In closing let me say, I will follow other sites and update a complete list of musicians, and a setlist, if either materializes. And despite the no photos policy, I managed to get one shot at the very end.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

California Guitar Trio at FEFC and the One World Theater

I first saw all three members of CGT perform with Trey Gunn, and Robert Fripp as part of the League of Crafty Guitartists (LoCG) over 20 years ago, in Poughkeepsie, NY. I distinctly remember being blown away at that time. The dedication and discipline exhibited by all of the graduates of Fripp's Guitar Craft program, was astounding.

CGT emerged from the LoCG several years later, in 1991, and established themselves as a musical force. While it has been great fun to see this band through their entire career, it is even more fun to have had the opportunity to get to know these fantastic musicians on a personal level.

This past week, I had the pleasure to hear CGT perform three times, in support of their new album Andromeda. First, at a benefit show at the FEFC on Thursday night (10/21/2010). Then, two shows at the One World Theater on Sunday (10/24/2010).


From my involvement with AMF, I have become friends with CGT's former road manager, Bruce. As a result, in the past I have been able to see Bert Lams' side project with Tom Griesgraber appear in a string of house concerts, last year. This time around, I was invited to a special benefit at FEFC.

The set list consisted of the following songs, and they played for almost 70 minutes:

  • Cathedral Park
  • Melrose Avenue
  • Andromeda
  • Bach Prelude in Circulation
  • Walk Don't Run
  • The Theme from HBO's John Adams Series
  • Echoes
  • Hazardous Z
  • Classical Gas
  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence Theme
  • Portland Rain
  • Chacarera
  • Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dm


  • The Marsh
  • Bohemian Rhapsody

The acoustic treatment in this space was excellent, and I know that several people were blown away by their arrangement of Pink Floyd's, Echoes. The band said this was their Warm-up show. Let me just say, they didn't need too much warming up. They were already on top of everything.

One World Theater

The set list for both the early and late show were slightly different than FEFC, and of course featured some additional musicians. In particular, 4 percussionists from University of Texas Percussion Studio. Once again, there were 3 Vibraphones, but they added a Drum Set on stage. The 4 players cycled in during the first three songs, with the Drums only used on Melrose Avenue. As before, this added an extra layer of sound to this already dense performance.

On the first encore number, the combined group of guitarists and percussionist was also joined on stage by local artist and Berklee student, Suzanne Oleson on mandolin. I have also gotten to know the Suzanne's parents, who took some excellent shots and posted them on facebook.

  • Cathedral Park
  • Blockhead
  • Andromeda
  • Bach Prelude in Circulation
  • Walk Don't Run
  • The Theme from HBO's John Adams Series
  • Echoes
  • Hazardous Z
  • Classical Gas
  • Portland Rain
  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence Theme - with the UT Percussion Studio
  • Chacarera - with the UT Percussion Studio
  • Bach's Toccata and Fugue in Dm


  • The Marsh - with the UT Percussion Studio, and Suzanne Oleson on Mandelin
  • Melrose Avenue - with the UT Percussion Studio

I was unable to take a picture during the show, but here is one from afterwards at the Meet and Greet:

California Guitar Trio

In closing, let me just say that the worst part will be having to wait another 12-18 months to see CGT back in Austin again!


CGT has updated their site and now has pictures from the FEFC and the One World.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

RIP: T Lavitz

Really sad news, T Lavitz, keyboardist extraordinaire passed away last Thursday. I had seen him perform too many times with the Dregs/Dixie Dregs at the Chance in Poughkeepsie, to count. Never got to see him with Jazz is Dead or Boston T Party, and missed seeing him with the Bluesbusters (they had someone sub'ing for him that night).

I'm speechless, and am off to go listen to Unsong Heroes and Boston T Party now.

ACL Festival 2010 - Day 3

Late Start

On this third and final day of ACL, I chose to watch my Ravens dismantle the Donkeys, first. So I arrived late at around 4PM.


I don't remember too much about this band. They sounded alright.

Flaming Lips

I found these guys annoying like Gogol, and didn't bother to try and get close to the stage. In the picture below, you will notice the lead singer, Wayne Coyne, crowd surfing inside of a transparent bubble or ball. Flaming Lips

Nora Jones

Nora was everything I expected, and I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get a picture. I had just met up with my friend Ron, and was finding the extra 10K people to be very annoying.

I think the scheduler was a little brain dead. Having Nora right before the Eagles, insured that no one was able to move in that half of Zilker.

The Eagles

Well these guys are legends. Although I don't own a single Eagles album, FM Radio from 1978 on pretty much made certain that I knew every song in their catalog.

I had a great time, stayed for the whole set, and am embarrassed to admit that I found myself singing along with some of their songs. ( I did cry when Old Yeller died too, so there! ;)

One thing I did find interesting is that Joe Walsh chose to play several James Gang songs, and his most famous solo song, Life's been good to me so far. Don Henley also performed some solo material, but Glenn Frey did not. I found this setlist and it seems relatively accurate.

In conclusion, let me say that it was a lot better than Bob Dylan a few years back, but it felt like a State Fair or Six Flags show. The Eagles The Eagles

ACL Festival 2010 - Day 2

First Aid Kit

I arrived early again Saturday morning. I guess this is something that comes with old age ;) The first band I heard was a Swedish duo, First Aid Kit. They were fantastic vocalists, playing acoustic music. It was interesting, but a little slow and subdued for my taste. Nonetheless, they were both excellent performers.

First Aid Kit

Towards the end of their set, they had to deal with bleed-over from the AMD stage and the next act:

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Grace Potter is beautiful tall blonde with a great voice, who also plays Hammond Organ. With all that going for her, I wish she had better music. Perhaps I'm in the minority though, but I don't dig hearing covers of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit. The rest of her set sounded like some 80's vintage Heart songs that didn't make the final cut for the album, and got left on the studio floor.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Pete Yorn

What can I say? Pete is fantastic, as is his band. He is an Austin favorite, and very clearly enjoys playing ACL.

Pete Yorn

the Gaslight Anthem, Manchester Orchestra and Kinky

I was unable to get acceptable pictures of these bands. I also ran into people I knew at both the Gaslight Anthem and Manchester Orchestra sets. The fact that I was engaged in conversation rather than listening, probably says something about my assessment of these bands.

I did find Kinky very interesting, however. There is a bit of buzz about them in Austin and other locales. I may have to check out one of their shows soon. They play an eclectic mix of Latin, Funk, Electronic and Dance music. They killed under the Pavilion formerly known as the WAMU.

Gogol Bordello

I met up with my friends, Ron and Alissa, and we trekked over to hear this band based upon a recommendation. I can sum them up this way: Take Frank Zappa and his band, lower the overall level of musicianship several fold, and make the humor a lot more annoying, and you have Gogol. Once per lifetime is enough for this crew. Gogol Bordello


After several aborted attempts, I was finally able to see Muse live. They very definitely killed during their set, and the crowd was rocking. Although they are often mentioned with Porcupine Tree, I don't see the connection there. They are most certainly not Prog.

The best description I can think of is that they are Depeche Mode with more guitar, and more upbeat lyrics. Rhythmically, they're kind of vanilla, with everything having a dance music kind of feel (which may explain the prevalence of female fans).

The leader of the band is Matthew Bellamy, and he is Muse. He is Freddy Mercury (with a similar incredible vocal range) and Tommy Morello (from Rage Against Machine) all rolled up into one. The other 3 members of the band (bass, drums and keys) could be easily replaced, without any impact.

Other notable things about their performance were the kick-ass light show. They do use a lot of sequencers in their show, but it's somewhat forgivable. Muse

Monday, October 11, 2010

ACL Festival 2010 - Day 1


Unlike last year, I made it a point to get to Zilker a bit early. I managed to catch a few shots of the nearly empty grounds as I arrived. You knew it wasn't going to stay like this. Zilker, Oct 8, 2010 The Calm Before the Storm The AMD Stage


I worked my way over towards the AMD stage, but since I was about an hour early for the Wheel, I decided to catch the Givers. They are a rather young pop act from Louisiana. It was well performed, but I didn't find them particularly engaging. Givers

Asleep at the Wheel

If there's one constant at the ACL Festival it's Asleep at the Wheel opening on the first day. To date there have been 9 ACL Festivals, and the Wheel has played every one of them.

They filled the air with favorites like Route 66, Miles and Miles of Texas and Hot Rod Lincoln. They also played a generous helping of songs from their last 2 CDs, including one of my favorites, the Bob Wills tribute recording, Willie and the Wheel.

I was disappointed to discover that the Wheel will be celebrating a 40th Anniversary Show at the Long Center, with Willie on Nov 5th. Unfortunately, it conflicts with Fun Fun Fun Fest. Will have to see if I can swizzle my schedule accordingly.

Barton Springs, Oct 8, 2010

One thing I like about these early shows is that the crowd is still sparse, and it's easy to move around. As a result, I was able to walk all of the way up front to the rail in front of the stage, and get some shots of Ray and the band.

Early Crowd for Asleep at the Wheel Roy Benson and Jason Roberts

Donavon Frankenreiter

I was unfamiliar with this artist, but penciled it in after listening to the samples on the ACL site. This was a very tight band, and particularly liked what I heard the keyboard player doing. Donavon himself was a very good songwriter, and the music fit the mood for the great weather that we were experiencing.

Donovan Frankenreiter

Those Darlins

I caught 2 or 3 songs of this predominantly female band. They reminded me of the Ramones with a country twang.

Blues Traveler

Even though John Popper seems to have an endless supply of Blues Harps, I've never felt this band was particularly Bluesy. They played their basic Greatest Hits set. The highlight was local 15 year old fiddler, Ruby Jane, joining the band on stage to trade 4's and 8's with Popper.

Also of note, by mid-afternoon the closest I could manage to get to the stage was behind the sound booth. I had heard that this year, 10K additional tickets were sold. It was becoming apparent that is was a bit more crowded than normal. (As the weekend progressed, it got worse ;( Ruby Jane and John Popper

Kings Go Forth

This was a kick-ass 70's soul/funk band. I wish that I had gotten a reasonable picture of them.

Angus & Julie Stone

I was very pleasantly surprised by this act, and would rank them as one of the best of the festival. They are a brother and sister act from Sydney, Australia. Both are excellent vocalists, and Julia is multi-instrumentalist to boot.

I'll just say that at the completion of their set, I had music crush on Julia. Would love to hear more from this act, and I would recommend them to anyone. Julia and Angus Stone


A raucous Sicilian based band, that followed the King under the Clear Pavilion. Instead of Latin feel, it had a similar Sicilian influence. The crowd ate them up. I must say that I enjoyed them too. Qbeta


Local favorites Spoon, had one of the early evening headlining slots on the big AMD stage. I'm not sure I can say I saw Spoon, although I heard them. Basically, it was too much of a hassle to get close to the stage. I recognized many of the songs from the ACL taping I attended in July. I also noticed that my friend, Wayne Meyers was playing in their horn section again, on the big video monitors.

Sonic Youth

The extra 10K people were readily apparent, as it was exceedingly difficult to get close to several of the stages. I have several of Sonic Youth's CD in my collection (purchased after hearing Steve Reich talk about them), but I must confess that I don't really get them. Nothing about their performance at ACL changed anything for me. Sonic Youth


I stayed for the first 40 minutes of Phish's set. Honestly, I'm not a Jam Band fan, and didn't become one during this show. They did do one reasonable cover of the Talking Heads' song, Cities.

Not being particularly engaged by Phish, I headed for the shuttles and listened to the Strokes as I waited in line. Phish

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It's that time of the year again

I cruised down to Zilker Park yesterday evening and picked up my wristband. Can't wait until Friday.

Zilker, Oct 5, 2010
Zilker, Oct 5, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Porcupine Tree at Radio City Music Hall on 9/24/2010

New York Odyssey

Last spring, Porcupine Tree had announced that they would be playing two special shows at the end of the Incident tour, one in New York City at Radio City Music Hall, and the other in London, at the Royal Albert Hall. My friends, Ron and Alissa, and I immediately planned on going to the New York show.

Together, the 3 of us had seen 5 other stops on this tour in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The first show at the Rams Head in Baltimore, had occurred 364 days prior to this finale. We found every one of these shows to have been outstanding. With the exception of the San Antonio show, they had all followed the same format, two sets, each an hour in duration. The first set consisting the Incident in its entirety, followed by a second set of songs randomly selected, from their other albums.

This show however, was advertised as a three hour affair, obviously it was going to be different.

My history with Radio City Music Hall

While living in the Tri-state area, I had seen several shows at Radio City. The last one being Rush on their Signals tour, with Marillion as the opener, on 4/8/1983. The acoustics there are exceptional, so I was anxious to see another show there, after 27 years. (Holy shit, am I that old?)


Tree's fan base has steadily grown, they're not a secret anymore. It was clear that it was a sell-out or close to it. There were quite a few people walking the streets with band t-shirts on. As we waited outside for the doors to open, we spotted Jordan Rudess and John Myung of Dream Theater, among the crowd.

Theatre District, Sep 24, 2010

On entering the hall, we visited the bar, then the merch table, and then quickly found our seats. They were in row 3, but it was actually 8 rows back because there were about 5 rows of seats in the Orchestra Pit. None the less, it was a great vantage point.

Porcupine Tree at RCMH

The Show

After reviewing the usual places for the set list, there was this link to a photo, from a site in the Netherlands. (BTW, they did not totally follow the list in the photo).

As you can see, there were 3 sets. The first was unique in that it was Unplugged. Everyone with the exception of John Wesley and Richard Barbieri were playing acoustic instruments, with Colin on Upright! Steven announced sometime after the second or third song that tonight was going to be different, and that we were going to hear the Old Shit. The first set was phenomenal.

There were short intermissions between the sets, and at the conclusion of the first, I turned around to get a look at the hall. I was surprised to discover that Living Colour bassist, Doug Wimbish was sitting right behind me with his daughter. I'm sure that I would have been able to bird-dog other famous musicians in the audience. I'm also sure that this says something about Porcupine Tree. They are very clearly held in high regard by other artists (but I already knew that ;)

I think that like most PT fans, I enjoyed the second set the most, and was glad to be reminded how much I enjoy songs like Even Less. I also loved the hearing Arriving Somewhere for the encore. This show was three hours of auditory bliss.

Other observations about the show

Even though we were in the eighth row, there is a slight upward grade to the Orchestra Pit seats. Since many of the people in the pit chose to stand during a large portion of the show, this detracted a bit from the viewing experience.

I also noticed that since we were directly under the house mains above, that the sound was a little strange. Previously, I had always sat about 3 quarters of the way back in the house, which made for much better acoustics.

Out of the 6 PT shows I have seen in the last year, this was 2nd best. There was something very special about the Baltimore show at the Ram's Head. My friends and I, as well as the fanzine, Carbon Nation, all agreed that something special happened that night.

However, I will remember this RCMH show vividly for years to come, and I appreciate the planning and forethought that Steven and band put into this performance. Right now, I have to say that Porcupine Tree is one of the best live bands out there.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jon Anderson at the Paramount

My history with Yes

I am one of those old timers, who was fortunate enough to have seen Yes multiple times. My interest in the band waned with the second departure of Bill Bruford, after the Union tour. Other than BB, I have not seen any other members of that band perform in almost 18 years.

I have great respect for the alumni of Yes. However, I had to pass on the chance to see them, on the Yes and Asia tours, this past summer. When my friend called about this show, it seemed like it would be more interesting than the standard State Fair stop. Like Bruford, Jon's solo career was actually noteworthy. In fact, the Jon and Vangelis albums are fantastic.

The Venue

I have seen many shows at the Paramount, and have never had a bad experience there. I knew we had Orchestra seats, but didn't realize they were in the front row. When we got to our seats, I knew that we were in for something special.

The stage setup was sparse, with two guitars on stands, a ukelele, a mountain dulcimer, and a piano. Jon came out promptly at 8PM and began playing guitar and singing. The acoustics and sound were perfect, and I estimate that he played for about 70 minutes.

The music

I don't think that I can find any words to describe how fantastic this performance was. The consensus amongst myself and my friends was that Jon blew us all away.

Several times during the show, it seemed as though the Paramount had disappeared, and that I was in someone's living room. The best description I can manage is that Jon presented "a musical Autobiography." It was intimate, frank, and real.
Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson at the Paramount

Set List

Although I am very familiar with Yes and Jon's solo material, much of it was presented in medley form. He also reduced the arrangement, so that he could deliver them on a single instrument.

Before leaving, I was able to go up to the edge of the stage, pick up Jon's set list and take a picture of it. I expect to see Jon again.
Jon Anderson - Set List

Search for Jon Anderson

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Porcupine Tree with Coheed and Cambria at Sunset Station in San Antonio, TX

For the third time this year, I was able to see my favorite band, Porcupine Tree. This time, they were co-headlining with Coheed and Cambria. Since the gig was in San Antonio, there's no way I could miss it.

I was a bit concerned however, because the sound at this venue has been atrocious, for some other shows I have seen there. Basically, Sunset Station is a concrete slab with a roofed pavilion over it. In addition, shows end early here because San Antonio's noise ordinance calls for a hard stop at 11PM.


Because of the horrendous traffic on IH 35 heading towards San Antonio, the opening act, Deerhunter, was already on stage when my friends and I arrived. We were able to hear the last 2 songs of their set, but I really didn't get a good feel for this band. The were closer in sound to Tree than Coheed (which is a good thing).

It appears I will get to hear this band again at Fun Fun Fun Fest, later this fall in Austin. So, I'll be able to comment further, after that event.

Porcupine Tree

Unlike their normal shows, this one was compressed. One long set, with no time for encores. No matter, this was a nice appetizer for the main course, next month in NYC. My friends and I are traveling to see their special tour close-out show, at Radio City Music Hall, one of the best concert venues on the planet.

Here is the set list that I posted over at A quick perusal of the previous shows will reveal their set has been the same every night. Basically, they played the first four songs from the Incident, and then finished with their older stuff (although I Drive the Hearse is also on the Incident).

Surprisingly, the wizards that Tree hires to do sound, worked their magic again. Although not stellar, the sound was acceptable, and better than normal. Steven was in a good form, and did a little informal straw poll, to see who had more fans. It appeared to be slanted about 65% PT fans, 35% Coheed. There was a visible age gap between these two groups, too.

There were no postings requesting no photos, so I took some shots: Porcupine Tree at Sunset Station Porcupine Tree at Sunset Station Porcupine Tree at Sunset Station

Coheed and Cambria

My friends and I stayed for the first 4 songs in Coheed's set before leaving. I had already seen them at ACL two years ago, and while I found them listenable, I wasn't knocked-out by them.

During the 30 - 40 minutes of setup between the two set, it had looked as though the average age had dropped by about 15 years. Interestingly, it appears that the different fans timed their arrival for the set they wanted to see, and then left.

Fortunately, the arranged the sets, so that the old fogeys (the PT fans) could go home and get to bed. I had a great time, but am now looking forward to RCMH that much more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Robert Plant - Band of Joy at Stubbs

Line to get in

Although none of my friends seemed interested, I couldn't pass up seeing Robert Plant, after the great show he put on at ACL, two years ago.

Red River District, Jul 26, 2010

As expected, people were lined up around the corner to get into Stubbs. The line went all of the way to the 35 frontage road.

Bettye Lavette

I situated myself in the pit, over towards the left side of the stage, about 10 rows back. The opener was Soul and R&B singer extraordinaire, Bettye Lavette. She was touring in support of her latest album, Interpretations: British Rock Songbook, where she performs covers of Classic, British Rock songs by Elton John, the Who, and Pink Floyd, just to name a few.

I was a little tentative about this act, after the lukewarm review she had gotten from the boys over at Sound Opinions. Any reservations I might have had, because of the shortcomings identified in their review were put to rest, as soon as she began singing. She is a very powerful performer, and is difficult to ignore.

I estimate that she started playing around 7:15 and played about 45 minutes. I will probably keep an eye for her in the future, since I would enjoy seeing Bettye headline.

Pattye Lavette

Robert Plant and Band of Joy

The main event started sometime around 8:30, and I estimate it lasted about 2 hours. Since the Band of Joy album has not been released, I was a little unsure what to expect. I did anticipate that T Bone Burnett might be involved with this project, since he was involved with Robert's project with Alison Krauss.

Those suspicions were further raised when I noticed that Austin's very own, Patty Griffin, was touring and singing with Robert. Not very surprising actually, after seeing her also join Elvis Costello in a similar capacity, in another T Bone project. She is one of the usual suspects, as they say.

Although I was unable to find a setlist, this one from a Houston show two nights prior is a close enough approximation. This show went by way too fast, and it most definitely appealed to my tastes.

I am particularly fond of music that sits at the nexus of Country, Blues, and Rockabilly, and is sometimes tagged with the moniker, Roots Rock. Whoever put this band together, did an excellent job. They were fucking excellent, and I could easily go see this show on two consecutive nights, and not get bored.

The band members were:

  • Buddy Miller - Acoustic and Electric Guitars
  • Darrell Scott - Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Pedal Steel, Banjo
  • Byron House - Electric and Upright Bass
  • Marco Giovino - Drums
  • Patty Griffin - Vocals

In closing, here's a few shots from the show:

Robert Plant - Band of Joy at Stubbs
Robert Plant

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Protomen at Game Over Video Games

About a month ago, I was listening to the Wired Audio Playlist Podcast (one source I use for new music) and immediately noticed a cut called the Hounds. The production on this cut was exceptional, and had a very familiar vibe. I remember having to rewind the podcast later in order to find out that the band was the Protomen.

Finding their website and myspace pages, I listened to some more of their tracks and enjoyed them as well. I found out that Hounds was a track from their recently released, second studio album, Act II: The Father of Death. The songs all had a Meatloaf feel to them, mashed-up with some Peter Gabriel.

A little further research on the Internet and Wikipedia revealed that they had 3 albums total (1 live), the band was from Nashville, and the second album had in fact been produced by famed Meatloaf producer, Alan Shacklock. I noticed that I had missed them performing at this year's SxSW, chalking that up to bad luck.

The most interesting thing about this band the fact that they have conceptually based all of their music, on the Capcom Video Game for the NES, Mega Man. (Which I had played with my little brother about 20 years ago). Obviously, they have a small cult amongst the gamer crowd. Although not a gamer, I had already decided they were creative and great musicians, after listening to their material.

Fast Forward to Friday

Friday evening I noticed a tweet go by about the Protomen being on tour, and their Battle Wagon having broken down, in Texarkana. I went over to their website and discovered that they were scheduled to play in Austin, Sunday night, with two opening bands, at Game Over Video Games. I really don't get into video games, and am not that into All Ages shows, but decided to go anyway.

When I arrived at the venue it was obviously a congregation point for those on the nerdier side of the tracks. The store was in a strip mall near the corner of Anderson and Lamar, and is like a museum for video games and game consoles, going all the way back to the Atari days. The actual show was in an empty stall next door. About 30 people were already milling around waiting for the show.

An announcement went out that the band had arrived late, without the 2 opening acts, but that the show would be going on. When they finally let us into the empty stall, it was hot and loud. None the less, this 9 piece band (7 guys and 2 gals) delivered the goods. They have multiple vocalists, and every person was a first rate musician. In addition to synths, guitar, bass and drums, 2 of people also doubled on trumpet and violin. Their set consisted mainly of the Act II material, followed by a smattering of the songs from their first album, and a cover of Styx's, Mr. Roboto complete with Vocoder.

The lighting was insufficient to get a good picture, but these guys were fantastic. I would recommend you check out the samples on their website, and would go on to say that I would gladly see them again (hopefully in a better venue).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Austin City Limits Taping - Spoon

Beginning its 36th season, Austin City Limits is now the longest running music series in American television history. The KLRU studio on the UT Campus, has hosted numerous musical legends. It's prominence is such that the venue was inducted into the Roll and Rock Hall of Fame.

The beauty of this show is that unlike the tripe you find on network TV, it is taped live. There's no lip-syncing, overdubs or auto-tune. If there's a problem they may do an extra take, but you're never going to witness a debacle like Ashlee Simpson. This show has the intimacy of a small night club, and really succeeds in capturing what I call the Austin vibe.

You would think that after moving to Austin in 1993, that I would have already attended multiple tapings. I am ashamed to admit however, that this show was my first. It turns out, that the process for securing tickets to a show is a closely held secret, by those in the know. Donors to KLRU get preferential treatment, but everyone has to wait in line. With a capacity of 350, the seats are at a premium.

This season is particularly significant, because it will be the last one filmed at the present location. ACL will be occupying the new hall downtown in December. I can't wait to see the finished space, since it will have a much larger capacity. Since ACL only uses 47-50 dates per year, Live Nation will be booking it as a venue the remaining days. (I guess this means the Austin Music Hall is done now). Rumor has it that the very first ACL performer, Willie Nelson, will also christen the new stage.

Due to my involvement with the Austin Music Foundation, I have gotten to know several people that work for the show. To date however, this had not helped me secure tickets. So, when I saw the ACL tickets in silent auction at an AMF fundraiser, I didn't even think twice. Begging my friends hadn't worked, so I bought my way in ;)

Even though I had VIP passes, I was still required to wait in the same line as everyone else. I was about 20th in line, and although it was a little warm outside, the hour and half wait went quickly. Kudos to the KLRU staff for having bottled water outside, and the professional way everything was handled. Chit chatting in line, most of those around me were veterans, having been to multiple shows. All claimed, that I was in for a treat, and that it might be the best listening space in town for live music. (Honestly, I don't think it's any better or worse than Bass or the One World).

Right before 7PM when the doors opened, I could see that the line had grown, and it would be a full house. A later tweet confirmed this, with one of the ACL staff indicating that approximately 30 people were turned away.

Upon entering the studio with the first wave of people, I made sure to grab one of the vaunted front row, seats, just off the stage left corner. I took a couple quick cell phone pictures while the studio was still relatively empty.

The Drag, Jul 7, 2010
The Drag, Jul 7, 2010

Spoon took the stage at around 8:05PM and played for at least 90 minutes. There were several special guests, including Charlie Sexton. I am not intimately familiar with their material, but they seemed tight and well rehearsed. I did manage to find this picture of their setlist for those keeping score at home.

The Drag, Jul 7, 2010

Although I didn't get a chance to corner him later, my friend Wayne Myers (who often plays with Graham Reynolds) was playing trombone in the horn section, which Spoon had hired for the night. The entire horn section seemed to all be local guys from Austin.

The Drag, Jul 7, 2010

I included this last picture so that you can contrast it with the shot of the same space above.

The Drag, Jul 7, 2010

I really enjoyed this evening, change my opinion on Spoon a bit (meaning I may actually buy a CD), and have promised myself to try and capture another ACL taping. Band of Horses perhaps?

One last note: This show is presently set to be aired on October 9 of this year, coincident with the ACL Festival.