Archive for August 2010
For a variety of reasons, including back-to-school- start up, time escaped me a little this past week and I didn’t get around to posting the previous week’s listening. I had a friend gift me a box of 80s vinyl a couple weeks back and I’ve been working my way through that. Also, Megatunes has closed/is closing shop and I managed to get up to Edmonton for a mad, ten minute, 75% off buying spree last weekend as they were locking the doors a week ago Saturday; while I know there was undiscovered gold left on the shelves, I’ve accepted that I got off pretty good for $50. I just wish stores could stay in business! (I understand the employees of the Edmonton store have plans for a new enterprise which is promising.) As well, I’m trying to continue through the piles on the floor and have made some headway through the miscellaneous Bs scattered about.
As always, lots of listening- most of it roots but some of it just odd.
The album- or in this case e.p.- I most enjoyed this week
Joe Whyte- When the Day Breaks and Devil in the Details Another one of those singers that has to eventually find you because you don’t even know he exists. Joe is giving away his When the Day Breaks e.p. as a download http://www.joewhyte.com/?section=home and it is pretty amazing. His song “4th of July” is one for the ages, I think- a slo-fi piece of hometown blues. As I often do when I get something free, I end up spending more money and immediately downloaded the just as impressive Devil in the Details. A little Gaslight Anthem in there somewhere, a whole lot of downtown country soul. As they say, support the artists.
Jay Bennett- Whatever Happened I Apologize I only discovered Bennett and this album after he died. Exactly the kind of music I love exploring. The world is most obviously full of these types of guys- immensely talented and under recognized (yes, I get the Wilco thing). One week I might ‘discover’ Stephen Simmons, the next Matt Urmy, Jerry Castle, Joe Whyte, or someone else- Keeps one listening, I find.
Moving onto the Megatunes treasure trove…I haven’t listened to everything yet, but just for fun I’ll list everything:
Various Artists- The Imus Ranch Record Surprisingly disappointing collection of mostly pedestrian covers; only the John Hiatt reworking of The Bottle Rockets’ “Welfare Music” made me sit up at attention.
Mike Stack- 98 Years One of my favourite Alberta singers and writers; I had never seen this one anywhere, and feel bad that Mike probably won’t see money for this copy. An engaging set of original material with Prine and Temptations covers as bonuses. Another create piece of cover art from Steve Coffey.
Emmitt-Nershi Band- New Country Blues This one will get more playing. Positive grooves.
The Stanley Brothers- The Complete Rich-R-Tone Sessions Earliest Recordings Vinyl edition. It just seems right to listen to the Stanleys on vinyl even if it isn’t on 78. Clear vinyl as a treat. I love this set and have played the CD regularly for years.
I also picked up copies of Rosie Flores’ Girl of the Century, Sparks’ Exotic Creatures of the Deep, Gord Matthews’ The 3rd Best Thing, Tift Merritt’s Buckingham Solo, Bryan Sutton’s Not Too Far from the Tree, and Kim Beggs’ Streetcar Heart, several of which I had already paid to download, but…
While in Edmonton, I also popped into the West Edmonton Hardly Much Value store and dug through their delete/overstock bin and found a couple things that caught my eye: Seun Tuti + Fela’s Egypt 80 self titled effort, a tribute to Steve Goodman My Old Man that looks like it may be interesting, and Allison Moorer’s Mockingbird.
From the box of vinyl, I’ve raced through a number of titles while accomplishing various tasks around the house:
The Rolling Stones- Singles Collection The London Years I’ve got through 3 of the 8 sides- Hot Rocks on steroids. Very nice.
U2- Rattle and Hum I’m pretty sure I’ve never listened to it before. I doubt I will ever again, but from listening to it this weekend, I would judge it to be a fine set. Lots of variety. I used to love U2. Not sure what happened. A friend would suggest they became popular; I think there was more to it than that.
Jean-Michel Jarre- Les Concerts en Chine Well, I listened to one side of four at least. I guess I don’t really get it.
Mike Oldfield- Crises and Five Miles Out These I get. I played the two albums every chance I had at the record stores I worked at. I have Crises downstairs so if anyone needs a copy. What ever happened to Maggie Reilly?
Cowboy Junkies- The Caution Horses I love this album and haven’t listened to it in probably close to fifteen years. What was I thinking?! A beautiful recording that, for me, is even more appealing than The Trinity Sessions. “Your memory leaves my stomach churning feeling like a lie about to be revealed…”
Big Country- Peace in Our Time Just lovely. If only I could find the Wonderland e.p.
New Order- Substance 1987 My annual dose of New Order. Check.
The The- Mind Bomb Another new one to me, although I’ve listened to other The The albums going back, again, to my record store days.
Continuing through the great mass of unshelved discs, part way across the ocean of Bs:
Belle and Sebastian- The BBC Sessions Bought simply for the live cover of “Whiskey in the Jar” but fully appreciated from start to finish.
Bearfoot- Doors & Windows No longer bluegrass, not quite Crooked Still. A more than enjoyable album from a year or so back.
Barney Bentall- The Inside Passage I bought this one last Christmas and didn’t really enjoy it. Second time around, I found more. Kind of like Stan Rogers for the left coast set. Some of the lyrical details grabbed me.
Be Bop Delux- Live! In the Air Age
Billie Joe Becoat- Reflections from a Cracked Mirror Amazing. Seek out this one if you’re open to challenge.
Darin and Brooke Aldridge- Self-titled If you listen to Bluegrass Junction you can’t hardly escape these folks. Darin’s been around for quite awhile but Brooke is a new, fresh voice. When she sings, I want to explore a whole different life, one that involves porches, hollers, and coon dogs. I appreciate bluegrass performed to this level, but since I bought it as a download I don’t know who is playing what. As talented as Darin is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he handles most everything. Yes it is pretty slick and smooth, but it is entirely honest, ringing true on every level. A keeper.
Various Artists- Dear New Orleans A collection of songs- some previously released- with New Orleans and her ongoing tribulations at heart. I think it is a very impressive package, but the second disc drags as it deteriorates with second-rate rock. The first disc maintains its pace much better, drifting from a broody Paul Sanchez tune featuring Shamarr Allen and a multi-artist take of “Dr. So and So” toward the Indigo Girls and a live take of “Kid Fears.” The highlight may be Jill Sobule’s “Where is Bobbie Gentry”; however, like much of the material, the connection to the Crescent City is lost on me.
D. B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Finally reviewing this coming Friday in the paper. All-around Americana. Lovely stuff.
Sara Hickman- Absence of Blame A gorgeous album, also reviewed this week.
Les Copeland- Don’t Let the Devil In Guitar and vocal-based blues. Couldn’t ask for more. Some blues players try too hard, embellishing their music not only with the roots of the music but with every extension of it- put in some rock n roll lick, a bit of soul shuffle, a bunch of voices. Not Copeland…unaccompanied for the most part, played cleanly with an emphasis on mood that highlights his laid back, almost laconic style. Late in the disc “Don’t Let the Devil In” and “Crying for an Angel” he does some jazz explorations, maintaining his blues focus. Also in the column this Friday.
Various Artists- Putumayo Presents Tribute to a Reggae Legend When I first listened to this Marley set, it sounded too smooth and easy listening. Second and third time through I found things to be more attractive with a greater variety of sounds and approaches.
Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams Maybe my favourite male vocalist in bluegrass…today anyway.
The Special Consensus- 35 Can’t get enough of these guys. I review this one in the upcoming Waskasoo Bluegrass newsletter- half fresh material, half archival.
Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise Also in the newsletter. Kallick doesn’t get enough credit as a bluegrass force- writing, singing, leading a band, and promoting the music. Great stuff. Buy it.
Cheryl Wheeler- Pointing at the Sun Gosh, she’s good. I need to listen to Wheeler more often.
Kim Wilde- The Remix Collection My quest to ruin any credibility I have continues.
Katrina Leskanich- The Live Album A very high energy set with a good mix of new and old.
Kim Beggs- The Wander’s Paean My new word of the week: paean. I think Beggs is the singer I’ve most enjoyed exploring this summer who isn’t John Boutté.
Jerry Butler & John Wade- Haulin’ Grass 30-plus minutes of bluegrass truckin’ songs. After hearing Butler do a spot on rendition of “Backin’ to Birmingham” in Lester Flatt voice, I was sold.
The Runaways- The Runaways and Queens of Noise History has been kind to these albums.
David Broza- Painted Postcard I haven’t listened to this one in eight years. Great sounds. Pulled off the shelf because I left a couple of his albums unpurchased at Megatunes. Dang.
Eleni Mandell- Country for True Lovers
Hey Mavis- Red Wine Reminds me a little of the Lonesome Sisters. Viola distinguishes Hey Mavis from similarly aligned acoustic roots outfits.
Clint Eastwood- Sings Cowboy Favorites Recorded in 1962, the material is quite lame but Eastwood pulls it off and maintained this listener’s interest all most the whole way through.
Carrie Newcomer- Betty’s Diner: The Best of Carrie Newcomer A neat summary that I listened to during a couple drives this month; Newcomer’s voice is so strong and deep. I love it, but some may find the album a little dreary and samey. She seems like such a darn nice person, too. I’m glad I bought this one a few weeks ago.
I’m late to this one, but that can’t be helped now. While doing some research for an upcoming review of Sara Hickman’s very impressive new album Absence of Blame I came across her video for a song I hadn’t heard, “Palin’ By Comparison.” Unfortunately not included on Absence of Blame, it is available from iTunes and her website. I would inbed the video, but really, who am I kidding; I can barely figure out links. See the video here: http://www.sarahickman.com/
Support the artist. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
When I opened the envelope this album arrived within a couple months back, I took one look at the cover- before reading the names or anything else- and thought, ‘Why is Red House sending me a Tom Russell album?” Of course, they weren’t but the painting gracing the cover immediately revealed itself to me as a Russell; his distinctive use of colour and shape identified itself to me within a second.
As impressive as the cover art is, the music contained on the disc is equally memorable and, yes, distinctive. My review has been posted to http://lonesomeroadreview.com/. I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts, too. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald
In this week’s column I was pleased to feature Ruth Moody’s new album The Garden. A member of the Wailin’ Jennys, Moody has much to offer. Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee, Donald
Roots Music Column, originally published August 20, 2010 in the Red Deer Advocate
Ruth Moody The Garden Red House Records
A founding and continuing member of The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody is one of the significant forces on the Canadian roots landscape; her recently released album is more than impressive and should please those who appreciate her work with the Jennys.
Moody is a talented multi-instrumentalist and demonstrates her abilities on guitar, accordion, banjo, piano, and ukulele throughout the dozen tracks contained on her debut, full-length effort.
With strong, insightful songwriting, Moody, a full-voiced soprano, carries this album well above the deluge of confessional diary writing that comprises much of nu-folk.
The gentle, lonesome eroticism of “Cold Outside” is instantly attractive. The contributions of Crooked Still to the title track are apparent and set the tone for an album of refreshing music.
Simultaneously intimate and welcoming, The Garden is a sparkling collection of songs and sounds that is immediately appealing and which holds up to thoughtful analysis.
Also in rotation: Will White- Rise Above; D.B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil; The Mountains & The Trees- I Made This For You; Jay Clark- Live at Hippie Jack’s; Alejandro Escovedo- Street Songs of Love
The album I most enjoyed this week.
Danielle Doyle- The Cartographer’s Wife I’m getting closer to finding the words for this album. It is one of those discs that I discover something new to appreciate with every listen. Her voice is especially appealing, reminding me a little of one of the Be Good Tanyas. Seek out this one.
Red Horse- Red Horse Reviewed in the column this coming Friday, I’ve listened to this one several times and keep coming back to it. Listening just today with fresh ears, the depth of the voices and the mastery of the art are so appreciated. A stellar album.
Alejandro Escovedo- Street Songs of Love and The Alejandro Escovedo String Quartet Room of Songs Two very different recordings that engage dissimilar elements of Escovedo’s talents. While I always enjoy hearing Escovedo kick it out, I most appreciate the gentler side that he occasionally reveals. I only just learned of and found the Quartet album and appreciate it a little more with every song and listen.
The Mountains & The Trees- I Made This For You
Kathy Kallick Band- Between the Hollow and the High-Rise A great bluegrass album.
Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice- Heartaches and Dreams
Will White- Rise Above
D.B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Working on a review of this one; a wide range of sounds and approaches. Quite nice.
Black 47- Fire of Freedom Enjoyed this one’s spirit.
Jay Clark- Live at Jammin’ at Hippie Jack’s A two-disc collection from East Tennessee’s favourite modern songwriter- and if he isn’t, he should be- I am never disappointed by Jay Clark. Yes, I’ve heard these songs before and no, he doesn’t significantly alter them. But when I picture Jay sitting on a stool singing these songs to a collection of people who not only get him and appreciate his perspective, but who have lived his words, I feel that much more of a connection to his songs. If you haven’t heard Jay Clark, this is a great place to start.
Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer When I Go This album has been in my eMusic Saved for Later file simply because I was certain I already had it but couldn’t find it. Three years later, I accept that maybe I didn’t already have it. Makes me miss even more what I only caught live once. They had a special connection, but this album is- as the title implies- largely Carter and that is what I needed this week.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band- London Calling: Live in Hyde Park Watched the DVD this past week. Let no one accuse Springsteen of not working for a living. By the time this three-hour journey is finished, Springsteen is drenched to the knees in sweat. Yes, the voice gets hoarse in places, maybe even flat, but the songs and energy carry the day.
Steve Forbert- Bang Contest EP Send in a cover of the oft repackaged Van Morrison Bang sessions, get a digital EP of recent live cuts. My offering is to be added as #21, but hasn’t made it yet.
Cowboy Junkies- The Radio One Sessions Has anyone ever heard an ‘off’ recording of the Cowboy Junkies? I haven’t.
Hugh Dillon- Works Well With Others Formerly the chief Headstone and now an actor, Dillon returned to the studio for this offering. It’s pretty good, but not essential.
The Cat Empire- Cinema
Badfinger- The Best of Badfinger Three great songs and some others that I can’t remember.
The Payola$- Hammer on a Drum Sounds as good if not as vital as when first heard. Need to pull out No Stranger to Danger.
Great American Taxi- Streets of Gold Gladly overpaid for this one at the Central Music Festival this weekend. As I had heard many of these songs live on various live recordings, nothing surprised me too much but I’m glad to have the set. “Lumpy Beanpole and Dirt” is a terrific number.
Tim O’Brien- Chicken & Egg Like just about every other Tim O’Brien album. Expertly played, fresh songs. More mainstream Americana rather than bluegrass .
Rolling Stones- Exile on Main Street Reissue, disc 2 I bought the single disc version when it was re-released but haven’t listened to it yet. I borrowed the 2-disc set from the library and gave the second disc a listen today. Sounds fine, but I’m not interested enough to listen to the bonus material again.
Continuing my way through the pile and onto the ‘B’ titles:
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin- self-titled An okay rock and roots album with a couple catchy songs, but doesn’t come close to having the staying power of his earlier album Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired.
David Ball- Heartaches By the Number I understand why Ball would want to make this album and the performances are more than solid. A fine listen with some great songs included, but I doubt I’ll listen to it again very soon.
The Banana Splits- We’re the Banana Splits A nice slice of history. I attempted to watch an episode the other day and realized that some fond memories of childhood should never be revisited. Having said that, it is hard to beat “The Tra La La Song!”
Bobby Bare & Skeeter Davis- Your Husband, My Wife I love the Internet for lots of reasons. This is one of them. Solid, mainstream 60s country.
Bobby Bare- I’m A Long Way From Home
Willie P. Bennett- Blackie and the Rodeo King and Hobo’s Lament Whenever I dig out a Willie P. album, I feel some kind of good. I saw something about Willie being honoured at the upcoming Canadian Country Music Awards, which is a good thing.
The second day of the 2010 edition of the Central Music Festival did not hold the excitement of the previous evening. While the weather was outstanding and the lineup significant- headlined by a rising country star from Central Alberta, Shane Yellowbird- overall the day suffered from a certain mediocrity. While truly presenting a catholic menagerie of approaches and styles, the afternoon lineup did little to build momentum toward evening.
While individual tastes and impressions are, well… individual, the only act heard before 5:00 that significantly moved the audience appeared to be Edmonton’s Black Pioneer Heritage Singers. This seven-piece gospel outfit, with percussion communicating almost as much as the voices, shared a musical tradition going back scores of year. Stellar vocal arrangements infused with equal parts of spirit and sass brought Big Choir to the concert bowl. Familiar gospel numbers including “Keep Your Hand on the Plough” were performed. Forget every white bread sing-a-long of “Put Your Hand in the Hand” you’ve ever heard; BLHS delivered southern-styled soul in their interpretation and Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” was similarly remade.
As impressive as the group’s two female, two male vocal lineup is, nothing prepared us for the addition of Agnes Brown to the proceedings. Considered the group’s matriarch, this queen of gospel shook and stomped in her ministry. With four voices harmonizing with the obviously active senior, one could be forgiven for feeling as if they were in a community church somewhere much further south. “Ain’t That Something to Talk About,” indeed! Frailing on the banjo, Ms. Brown led her younger disciples through several songs including “The Resurrection Song” which led into “There Ain’t No Grave That Can Hold My Body Down.”
Without a doubt, the highlight of Day 2 happened early.
We snuck out for a quick run home, but I returned just as local group Oldbury were finishing their set; from all appearances, they worked the assembled audience into a bit of a frenzy. U22 participant Lucas Chaisson- heard previously at Canmore- has the Brett Dennan-thing down, and while his songs belay his youth the boy does have promising talent. However, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to hear “Man in the Mirror” again; I continually get horrid mental pictures of images in the mirror’s background.
Perhaps Canada’s finest interpreter of traditional blues, Jim Byrnes laidback music was nearly perfect for early evening. Accompanied by the ubiquitous Steve Dawson- previously heard this summer in a Mississippi Sheik tribute in Calgary and with The Sojourners in Canmore- Byrnes didn’t break any new ground despite performing a couple numbers from his upcoming release. In fact, the most recent song performed through the 75-minute set was a gorgeous take of “Just Like Tom Thumb Blues.” Bookending that Dylan number were a couple songs each from Jimmy Reed, The Sheiks, and Robert Johnson including “Take Out Some Insurance,” “Bootlegger’s Blues,” and “From Four ‘Til Late.” The stories Byrnes shared added to the set.
Allow me a moment to sing the praises of Steve Dawson. Not only can the guy play anything- and make it sound great- but he has great vision and ably operates a label while producing seemingly non-stop. Not only in Red Deer yesterday, but whenever heard he is likely at his best providing electric (even when acoustic, as on Saturday) leads to those he chooses to support. While he and Byrnes were consistently impressive, I was especially impressed by the bottleneck slide work Dawson added to “Bootlegger’s Blues.”
Jenny Allen performed a set that was just the right length. At turns heated and powerful, the Calgarian is imminently personable. Janis Ian’s “From Me to You” was given an ideal and memorable reading but this did not overwhelm Allen’s own pieces including “A Beautiful Mess” and other songs of miserably failed relationships. Like Dar Williams, Allen has the ability to soften her message with lightheartedness.
For those of us concerned about sameness bred of acoustic earnestness throughout much of the day, Ponty Bone and the Squeezetones put an end to all that. The accordion veteran and his four-piece outfit brought a steamin’ pile o’ San Antonio to us and garnished it with a slice of Louisiana. Blaze Foley’s “Ain’t Got No Sweet Thing” was a highlight of a set that may have suffered from its own type of sameness for listeners, but seemed to please the dancers in every way. “Baby, You Know,” “Castle Blues,” “Bon Temps Rouler,” and “Lucille” kept the area in front of the stage swaying and jumping.
But Ponty Bone- listen to the stage manager next time- it appeared he stormed through the signals to wrap the set that were obvious to everyone else.
Chris LeBlanc brought his deep, Maritime voice as the evening moved toward closure. Holding his own with only his guitar and songs like “Two Lane Road,” “Set My Heart on Fire” (with the excellent lyric “the flames flickered in her eyes”) and “Two Hearts, Four Wheels,” LeBlanc brought modern, traditional-based country music to the stage. Lightening the mood with “Arrest Me,” LeBlanc played the majority of his Too Much Nothin’ album; like me, most of the audience seemed unfamiliar with the New Brunswicker, but his calm, mature manner seemed to keep folks listening. Numbers like “Little Brick Bungalow”- reflecting on living within one’s means- reminded me of why I enjoyed listening to commercial country music in 1992.
Once Shane Yellowbird hit the stage with his beer garden-country, it was time for me to head for home. Nothing against the fellow, but that style of Tim McGraw modern country leaves me cold.
Overall, a very nice day and a half. Lots of different sounds, but unlike larger festivals where one can seek out music closer to one’s interest, at the single-stage Central Music Fest one has to take what comes. While this can expose one to music that may be surprising- Lucas Chaisson, Lisa Heinrichs, or Jenny Allen, for example- one does need to exercise patience to endure things of much less interest.
Still, a good vibe. The audience appeared to be- for the most part- there for the music and was quite appreciative. The vendors were well-stocked and the prices- for the most part- avoided the gouging that is common at some music festivals; I’ll pay $5 for a serving of butter chicken or curry and rice anytime. Excellent sightlines, lots of clean port-a-potties…and with an emphasis on Alberta music, who can complain too loudly?
We’ll be back, I do believe.
But I didn’t win the Steve Coffey painting!
When we awoke to pouring rain some 18 hours ago, worry for the fourth edition of the Central Music Festival increased. When it ceased raining around noon, one became hopeful. When the skies again opened as we got into the truck just after five, my wife and I could only laugh. What a way to spend an evening!
As it turned out, excepting a few brief showers throughout the evening, the powers that control the weather chose to take it easy on this little fest. While cool, it turned out to be a very pleasant evening and the walk-up ticket sales appeared healthy. While I am notoriously poor at estimating audiences, I’m guessing there were 500 or so brave souls in attendance for the first of two days of the CMF.
Deliberately diverse, the organizers of the CMF avoid calling their event a folk festival and embrace music of all types with an emphasis on Central Alberta performers. Of the nine entertainers taking the stage this evening, only two traveled from outside Alberta- Nova Scotia’s The Trews and Colorado-based Great American Taxi.
As with all live music, the most significant and poignant moments occur when the connection the singer holds to his words is apparent. The Trews demonstrated this while performing a song that obviously carries meaning for them, “Highway of Heroes.” Similarly Calgarian John Rutherford’s strongest moments came while singing “Bud’s Guitar Store,” an achingly beautiful song. Red Deer’s Kim Johansson garnered most attention while delivering “Red Deer’s Gone.”
Steve Coffey delivered a solid 30-minute set accompanied by two of his Lokels, Russ Baker and Dave Bauer. The Calgary artist (he painted the gorgeous work that is featured on the festival poster; fingers crossed that I win the painting in the raffle tomorrow!) and songwriter abandoned his plan to feature some new songs and instead explored his back pages. Flipping to 2002, the trio delivered a welcome rendition of “Afraid to Fly.” It was great to hear other favourites including “My Life Unwinds,” “My Hometown,” and “Cottonwood Road.” Coffey and crew were given the impossible task of following up an extended set offered up by Great American Taxi.
That five-piece band performed a tight set of extended jams and percolating Americana. I can’t imagine the city hosting a finer set of roots music during the final five months of this year. It was incredible to experience world-class talent within the natural amphitheatre that normally serves as a horse pasture. While it appeared few in attendance had previously heard the band, by the end of the set converts had been made; the band didn’t let the lack of exuberance from the audience get in the way of their performance. I can only hope that someone was taping the set and will upload it to the Internet Archive.
Kicking things off with “Lumpy Beanpole and Dirt” and “Back to the Home Place,” the quintet swung through much of Reckless Habits including “One of These Days” and a devastating “New Millennium Blues.” The basscentric “Swamp Song” was sang by Brian Adams, and “Runaway Train” made an appearance. Commemorating the passing of Little Feat’s Richie Hayward the day before, mid-set a loose but somehow still precise cover of “Sailin’ Shoes” was delivered. Marking what was announced as their first appearance in Canada, the band performed a solid take of The Band’s “Twilight” with, I believe, Jim Lewin singing. “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance” brought some tropical warmth as darkness fell. “Unpromised Land”/”Whiskey Before Breakfast”, “Fuzzy Little Hippie Girl,” “Ramblin’ Highwayman,” and “Good Night to Boogie” closed out the magnificent set.
What was most impressive, having listened to several live sets from the Internet Archive, the set tonight still provided surprise and no small amount of awe. My wife commented on the obvious multi-dimensional talents of the group, and I have to agree. What a show! And VInce Herman is giving Dave Alvin a run for coolest guy in roots music.
Local heroes St. James’ Gate were the first act we caught upon arrival and they got the gathering audience hopping. Pillaging the songbooks of Great Big Sea (“Ordinary Day”), The Arrogant Worms/Captain Tractor (“Last Saskatchewan Pirate”), and AC/DC (the explosive set closer “It’s A Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock and Roll),” the Celtic rock band dropped in a couple original numbers as well including the popular “Raise Your Glass.”Glenn MacLeod especially has a terrific and appealing voice and it was a shame that he was buried a bit in the mix. Billy O’Neil’s work on the pipes was also appreciated.
The evening closed with The Trews performing an acoustic-if-you-disregard- the-electric-bass set that had the kids up and hoping in front of the stage. Having only heard my first song from the band earlier in the afternoon, their music didn’t really hold my attention. It appeared that the kids enjoyed it and I did as well, for the most part. Really, I have nothing to say- it was fine but we left when the lead guitar player- who was pretty dang good- went into an extended solo while the rest of the group left for refreshments. Sigh- it was almost like Trooper!
Tomorrow- today now- is another day. I’m looking forward to The Black Pioneer Heritage Singers out of Edmonton, Jenny Allen, Jim Byrnes, and Ponty Bone, but I’m certain they’ll be pleasant surprises as well. With the forecast favourable, it would be great if the Central Alberta community came out in record numbers for the final day of the Festival. For information on the festival, visit www.centralmusicfest.com; tickets will be available at the gate.
And the butter chicken from the Indian cart is very, very good!
My reviews of the new albums from Jerry Castle and James Alan Shelton are posted at http://lonesomeroadreview.com/.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee,
It has been an exceptional week for disc listening this week; late nights of reading and thinking along with a few days of work-motivation challenges has allowed me to have the music machines spinning more than usual. What has marked the week has been I haven’t listened to anything that I didn’t end up enjoying, and a few- like Angel Band- really surprised me. Almost got to Carstairs for the Mountain View fest on Saturday afternoon, but didn’t make it; Fred was in province for the best part of a month and I didn’t catch him. Shame on me! Here’s what I listened to this past week- some real gems; I hope you’re inspired to seek out some of these sounds. Best, Donald
The album I most enjoyed this past week
The Mountains & The Trees- I Made This For You An incredible new release out of Newfoundland. I’m not familiar with Jon Janes but I keep listening to this album. Pop and folk working together, lyrics that dig in under the skin to explore the usual subject matter but in ways that maintain interest. A powerful voice that isn’t over-extended. Lovely fiddle touches. Quite moody, but warm. A wonderful find.
The Grateful Dead- In the Dark I saw a used copy of this album for $14 the other day; not sure why it was so expensive. My iTunes version sufficed, giving me the fix I was craving.
Dala- Angels & Thieves Pulled out as a result of hearing them in Canmore last weekend. I enjoyed the live presentation a bit more than this collection of original and cover material, but this album is still impressive. The original material isn’t as strong as they would deliver on later albums, but their covers of songs from Donovan, Blur, Neil Young and The Cure are spot on in their creativity. Lovely blending of voices.
Jesse Malin- Glitter in the Gutter Picked up for the Springsteen track. A fine semi-modern rock album but I don’t think I’ll listen to it again any time soon.
Evie Ladin- Float Downstream Produced by Mike Marshall, from the Stairwell Sisters. An album that has been sitting, ignored, in the pile for awhile. Lots of harmony and banjo, neo-old tyme. I need to listen more, but it is quite appealing.
Brian Dunn- Examining the Fallout Created with Nathan Lawr, whom I’ve been hearing a lot about recently. Interesting noises. Again, a pleasant surprise but not sure if it is really my kind of thing.
Amos Garrett, Doug Sahm, and Gene Taylor Band- The Return of the Formerly Brothers A nice set of tunes, some of which are pretty familiar. More roots than blues, which is the way I most enjoy Amos Garrett. Doug Sahm does much of the singing and is in good voice. It is folk festival season and that is why this one came up for a listen.
The Duhks- Fast Paced World I stopped listening to The Duhks when Jessica Havey left, and for no good reason, apparently. I guess I figured the ‘new’ singer wouldn’t be as impressive. I started exploring them again this week and am finding much that is appealing. A fine album.
Darrell Scott- A Crooked Road Bought this from Amazon when it was released a few months ago but was saving it for a night when it seemed right. That finally came up on Friday. I’ll need to listen more; first impressions are positive.
Various Artists- Private Radio Soundtrack Borrowed from the library.
Woodbend- Hank’s Old Mandolin My father-in-law saw them at Blueberry and spoke quite positively about them so I thought I’d give it another listen. I’ll need to give it another go. They make some interesting cover choices- Corb Lund, for one.
Will White- Rise Above An excellent acoustiblue album from a Calgary songwriter. Great original material with southern roots.
Zachary Richard- Last Kiss Outstanding in every way although I could do without the contributions from She Whose Name Will Not Be Typed Within Fervor Coulee on “Acadian Driftwood;” that being said, the voice on the album doesn’t sound anything like her to my ears- without the liner notes, I would never have known who was singing with Richard and it sounds very good. Still, his version sans accompaniment at Canmore was even more intense. One can feel his pain when he sings, “Somebody call out a warning, Somebody come to my rescue” in “The Levee Broke.” This is more than just another Cajun album- this is folk songwriting at its highest level. A deep fellow- read his postings at www.zacharyrichard.com
Zachary Richard- Snake Bite Love I could listen to him all day, I do believe. More directly ‘Cajun’ in sound than Last Kiss, the songs still draw you in.
John Boutté- Jambalaya A nice album, not essential like Good Neighbor but covers much of the Boutté repertoire. Live at Jazz Fest 2007 A brilliant set featuring a version of “Louisiana 1927.”
The Drive-By Truckers- The Big To-Do Another one that has sat in the pile for too long; I bought this one back in May. The only two DBT albums (not including The Fine Print) that hit me hard on first listen were Southern Rock Opera and Brighter Than Creation’s Dark so I’ll need to spend more time with this one. If nothing else, they have great song titles.
Shearwater- Shearwater Acoustiblue from the left coast. Gentle. Nice background music, but still holds the attention.
Jerry Castle- Don’t Even Ask Country rock from Nashville. Review is up at Lonesome Standard Time.
Delhi 2 Dublin- Planet Electric Not my normal thing as it is both quite noisy and very young. But appealing, meant to be played loud. I love the blending of East Indian music with elements of electronica and Celtic sounds.
James Alan Shelton- Where I’m Bound One of my favourite bluegrass guitarists. I’m reviewing it for the Lonesome Road Review.
Tom Russell- Cowboy’d All to Hell The more time I spend with this one, the more I appreciate it. There is only one new song on the collection, but several new recordings of classic songs. He has such a command of language and can generate vivid portraits in just a line or two of astutely chosen words.
My home office is a mess, with piles of magazines going back a few years and discs that haven’t made it to the alphabetical stacks. This week I decided to start working my way through the piles that have been alphabetized but aren’t yet ready to be permanently filed- these are things I’ve acquired over the last year and a half but haven’t had a chance to give them my full attention, so they’ve been sitting in the Shelves of Purgatory. I started with the ‘A’ discs, and actually worked my way through them in three extended sessions.
The Action- Action Packed Mid-60s mod rock. Nothing essential and nothing The Small Faces didn’t do better, despite the Paul Weller endorsement. Still, “Something Has Hit Me” and “Shadows and Reflections” are cracking songs.
Africa- Music from ’Lil Brown Since I found this recording, I’ve listened to it four or five times. You can find more expansive discussions of this band and album on the ‘net- look around a bit. Quite magical, if only for the medley of “Louie, Louie” and “Ode to Billy Joe.” One of those albums I wish I had found years ago.
Akido- Akido A beautiful album with engaging percussion.
Dave Alvin- Blue Blvd. I found this CD for $3 so decided to replace my cassette copy. One of my favourite Alvin releases.
Kasey Anderson- Nowhere Nights and Dead Roses Reminds me of James McMurtry. I think one has to take the time to listen to his words in order to really appreciate what Anderson has to offer. “Out on this road all the miles feel the same,” he sings in “The Borderline.” There is desperation here, shades of talent all over the place, Crowell, Russell, etc but also lesser known folks like LeeRoy Stagger, Steve Pineo, and Dave McCann- sill original, still dynamic and personal. Good stuff.
Doug Andrews & The Circus in Flames- A Little Bit of Gasoline I downloaded this from eMusic a couple years back but found a used copy for a couple bucks several months ago. If you like The Sadies, this one might appeal, capped by the epic “When Christ was a Cowboy.”
Angel Band- With Roots & Wings I apologize to the three ladies that make up this vocal combo. I apologize to Appleseed Records. I apologize to Lloyd Maines who produced the album. They sent it, I think I listened to it. I did nothing with it because, quite obviously, I’m an idiot. The entire time it was playing this past week I kept shaking my head and exclaiming, “Dang, that’s good.” Sometimes it was after a particularly beautiful lead vocal segment, more often when an instrument came in with a fill to support the harmonies. Like a Tex-Mex Wailin’ Jennys, these gals have it- terrific songs, a killer studio outfit, wonderful harmonies and arrangements- and I’m a sucker for Emmylou references. Some of it is lonesome- “The saddest bird I ever saw lives on a branch in Arkansas, Perched alone with nothing to do waits all his life for a rendezvous”- from “Cold Lonesome Down in Blackbird Creek”- but more often the pain and reflection is disguised in breathless liveliness. A beautiful recording project. I am so glad I rediscovered it with fresh ears.
Any Trouble- Where Are All the Nice Girls? and Wheels in Motion Elvis Costello meets The Jags. Folk meets power-pop. The first album has some of the finest songs to come out of new wave- “Second Choice,” “Playing Bogart,” and “Girls Are Always Right.” Thirty years ago, covers of Springsteen songs were not a penny a pair as they are today, so when I heard their version of “Growing Up” on late night radio, I bought Where Are All the Nice Girls? and an official live bootleg containing a version of “Growing Up” at the next opportunity.
Joseph Arthur- Daytrotter Session Okay, so this was the only thing I listened to in the last week that didn’t work for me. On one track, “Dead Savior” he sounds engaged and vital- sort of sounding like Jim Carroll. The rest though appear to be outtakes from a Foreigner reunion album.
Audrey Auld- Losing Faith, Texas, and The Billabong Song e.p. with “Poverty Line” and “Bread & Roses” singles “I got California debt on a Tennessee income…” “He’s more generous than handsome…” “Once I thought I would be a big star…looking at myself on T.V.” More than great lines, Audrey Auld- not sure what happened to the Mezera- has great songs, a great sense of the world and how she can reflect it in songs, and not just her own. Slim Dusty songs, an Eric Bogle classic, and lots of Tazmania’s great vocal export. I spent an afternoon with Audrey this week- well, with her music- and remembered again why I went on a bit of a download jag last winter. She is something special. Comes with the Fred Eaglesmith endorsement. Listening to Audrey sing “Harmony” with Kieran Kane is just magic. Classic country sounds with a contemporary bent.
Hoyt Axton- And His Guitar Recordings from the 60s that have been packaged and repacked any number of ways. “Greenback Dollar.” “500 Miles.” “John Henry.” He had such a terrific voice and easy-going approach to songs. While listening to this, I made a little list of singers I never got to see live but wished I had. John Stewart. Johnny Cash. Bill Monroe. Kirsty MacColl. Hoyt Axton is another one.
Okay, now I can move all those ‘A’ listers to the archive shelf and move a wee pile onto the bottom shelves until I get through the ‘B’s this week. Or not…
I also listened to James McMurtry’s first Sugar Hill album It Had to Happen. Another one of those performers I love whenever I listen, but I don’t listen to enough to call them a favourite.
Broken Social Scene- Forgiveness Rock Record and Broken Social Scene How have a missed falling for his band? Reenergized me with an unavoidably catchy blend of sounds- a real mess that works.
I don’t normally do this, but Rodney is one of the good guys and if I can help just a little, I want to- two Red Deer dates coming Sept. 20 and 21. More at http://www.myspace.com/wartornman
Northern Electric Records is proud to announce the release of Rodney DeCroo’s new “double” cd Queen Mary Trash on Thursday, September 09, 2010.
In the long run, Queen Mary Trash will be viewed as a milestone event for Vancouver (via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) singer-songwriter Rodney DeCroo. Recorded over a mere five days, the two-disc set captures DeCroo and band at a feverish peak of creativity and ability, across 24 tracks ranging from the balls-out crunch of “Riverboat” to the gentle poetics of “Voyager”.
It was 2006 when the live album War Torn Man had critics across Canada unanimously declaring the authenticity of DeCroo’s voice, and the hard-won brilliance of his songwriting. Here was a man who could extract both breathtaking beauty and sweet howling rage from a difficult life, both his own and the hard knock lives of others. Mockingbird Bible in 2008 was a softly devastating yet strangely uplifting tour through the shadows, and certified DeCroo as one of the country’s premier folk-rock /roots performers and songwriters.
With Queen Mary Trash, producer-guitarist Jon Wood faced an embarrassment of riches. DeCroo was writing at a furious pace, and widening his scope – he’s a reborn soul man on “Out of This World”; a fanged satirist on the remarkable “Paris Spleen”; and he brings brimstone and fire to “Elijah, Come On!” Carolyn Mark is on board for the entire album; along with Kris Welch and Ryan Olszewski, of Vancouver’s late roots-chargers No Horses, both of whom throw down some vicious guitar on “Night Field Again”, and “Sorrow On the Mountain”.
Queen Mary Trash will be available in stores and online as of Thursday, September 09, with a CD release party that evening at The Wise Hall in East Vancouver, featuring DeCroo with His Convictions and special guests Carolyn Mark and storyteller/ writer Ivan Coyote slated to perform sets. The release show will be followed by a 20 date Western Canadian Tour (see dates below).
Joining DeCroo and His Convictions on the road is the astounding Carolyn Mark.