Another week passes. Looking forward to catching at least one day of the Calgary Folk Festival this coming week- plans are to be in attendance on Saturday. The week following I’ll be heading up to Stony Plain for the Friday of Blueberry Bluegrass- I’m wanting to catch Fred Eaglesmith there as I’m interested in the reception he’ll receive. I was exchanging email with a New York friend a couple weeks back and she caught Fred while he was in NYC to film Letterman. She expressed that she and hers quite enjoyed the show, although this was tempered with the comment that “the Willie P. Bennett days are long gone.” I understand what she means- it seems like Fred is one of those folks who just can’t stand still with his music- things are always changing. What I find consistent is the quality of his live performances, so I’m looking forward to that evening in Stony Plain.
This week’s listening was typically broad.
Greg Brown- Dream Café I heard the title cut on the radio about three weeks ago, and fell for it in a big way, especially the line where he sings- words to the effect of- “I still smell the lilacs in the corner of the dream café.” Inspired to hear more, I looked on the shelf but couldn’t find the song on the Brown set I thought it was on (Dream City got confused with “Dream Café” in my wee, over-taxed brain.) This week, in anticipation for seeing Brown at the Calgary Folk Festival, I took another look and was surprised to find this album on the shelf. Things surface when they need to. A beautiful album with “I Don’t Know that Guy” standing out. Listening to Greg Brown can change the course of your life because he makes you attentive to details you may otherwise overlook. Like the smell of lilacs in a café.
Kim Beggs- Blue Bones I reviewed the album in last week’s column. An unassuming album that reveals its treasures with every listen. Perhaps my favourite album of the past few months, and an early favourite for my 2011 Polaris ballot.
Lonesome Traveler- Looking for a Way An acoustiblue band out of- I think- Colorado. Just received as it was assigned to me by Aaron at the Lonesome Road Review.
Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby- Two-Way Family Favourites I didn’t care for their album of last year, which was a surprise because individually they are faves. “Whole Wide World” is in my top 50 songs of all-time. This short little collection of covers is more enjoyable, some of it a bit predictable but in other places quite shocking- “Endless Wire,” anyone? The song I was most looking forward to- “Living Next Door to Alice”- has some strange vocal effects in it and these distracted me a bit. I’ll listen to it more, and will give the previous collection a do-over as well.
Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane At Carnegie Hall I’ve been reading the Harry Bosch novels of Michael Connelly of late and the main character listens to instrumental jazz while contemplating his cases. This album was mentioned in one of the most recent novels read and the story behind the release- the tapes were found in an uncataloged box at the Library of Congress- appealed to me. On my next visit to the local library I decided to flip through the jazz stacks (not really expecting to see anything of interest, but thinking that maybe it was time to follow Bosch’s lead, much as I have previously followed Rebus’ listening) and as I turned to leave the cover of this one caught my eye for some reason- the simple blind-contour drawings jumped out at me- and I recognized the title. The album itself doesn’t do much for me, but it was an enjoyable listen. I suppose I look at jazz the same way some others look at bluegrass- I don’t understand where it is coming from, I don’t really understand it, so it doesn’t really appeal. Still, it was nice to listen to the music behind the story.
Jimmy Webb- Just Across the River A real surprise. Terrific and reviewed below.
Red Horse- Red Horse Red House artists Eliza Gilkyson, John Gorka, and Lucy Kaplansky get together to swap songs- via long distance- in an eminently listenable manner. Oliver di Place writes about it much more eloquently than I could- http://oliverdiplace.blogspot.com/2010/07/red-horse-self-titled.html “I’ve got a foolish heart, but I’m not an idiot,” sings Eliza. Yup. And I recognized Tom Russell’s painting style on the cover as the disc slipped out of the mailing envelop.
Miles Davis- The Birth of Cool Picked up at the library.
Kiss- Gold I’ve been watching too much of Gene Simmons Family Jewels of late. For my dollars, the best of the ‘unscripted’ celebrity promotional series if only because the massively ego-ed Simmons is consistently undermined- in the gentlest manner possible- by his sharp-witted children. Unlike other celebrity reality t.v. kids, Sophie and Nick seem like entirely non-bratty, non-self-indulged, well-adjusted people. I have likely bought a dozen different Kiss packages over the years, going back to grade seven and my purchase of The Originals. I usually listen to the sets once or twice and then trade them in. The last time I wanted a Kiss fix, I bought this double set and determined that I would hold onto it simply because I knew the day would come when I really wanted to hear “Firehouse” one more time. A solid set with a fair amount of filler- never has a band ridden a dozen superior songs- all recorded in their first decade- further.
The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder- San Patricio I read a review of this somewhere and it was quite unfavourable but the story of the disc- Irish immigrants to the US (among others) who went to fight alongside the Mexican forces in the mid-1800s- captured my imagination. The Chieftains so are so versatile, and I thought the album made for very interesting listening.
Great American Taxi- Reckless Habits I’ll be reviewing this one in my next column as the band is appearing as part of the Central Music Festival in Red Deer in mid-August. A solid set of country-rock tunes, highlighted by the title track about Gram Parsons.
D.B. Rielly- Love Potions and Snake Oil Some album are ‘all over the place’ and as a result, don’t work as a whole. Rarely do albums as fractured as this one keep it together and provide an enjoyable and refreshing listening experience. I’ll listen to this one more, and will review it…eventually.
Mickey Jupp- Long Distance Romancer and Shampoo, Haircut, and Shave Sophisticated pub-rock at its finest. As I do with Wreckless Eric, I go back to the Stiff days with Jupp although I didn’t listen to his music with the same ferocity I did Eric’s, Rachel Sweet’s or Lene Lovich’s. During the summer, I have nights when I can’t sleep, and had a couple of those this past week- whatever novel I was reading was more appealing than sleep. While reading, these two discs came off the shelf. Nothing fancy, but solid and enjoyable- which seems to be my word of the week.
Kim Beggs- Wanderer’s Paean Purchased via download because of my interest in Blue Bones. I have her second album around here somewhere, but can’t find it. I can’t imagine that I would have traded it in at the used store, but perhaps I lent it to someone and never got it back. I love her voice and approach to folk music.
The Pogues- Rare and B-sides I don’t do this very often, but a couple weeks back I found a four-disc bootleg collection on the ‘net and downloaded it. I already have likely half of these recordings on the album reissues and various singles and collections, but I was interested in having the full slate of odds and sods from The Pogues. Again, insomnia listening. A cracking set- their b-sides are as interesting as everything else they recorded.
Andre Williams & The Sadies- Red Dirt
Johnny Darrell- Singing it Lonesome As I think I’ve written before, I always discover new music within the Oxford American music issues- artists that I’ve always needed to hear. Johnny Darrell was written about in an issue from several years ago but was only read last February. Since then, I’ve found his music in a few different places. When I’m listening to Darrell, I don’t have a more favourite country singer.
John Hiatt- Warming Up to the Ice Age, Riding with the King and Bring the Family Got on a bit of a roll one afternoon last week. While the first two were recorded during a commercial low, they were the first albums of his I heard and I thought they were brilliant. I actually caught him live in Edmonton at the nearly empty Howlin’ Wolf (at least I think that is what it was called) in mid-May 1987 just before he released Bring the Family. One of those shows that go down in the ‘I’m glad I went’ category; it was magic and has only gotten better in my memory. I only stayed for the early show because, when I phoned home to tell my wife-to-be that I was staying for the late show as well, she informed me that I had missed a call from a school in Saskatchewan who wanted to talk to me about a job. As this was the first positive call I had had since finishing university the previous month, I skipped out on the late show, went home to return the call, and ended up starting my teaching career in La Loche. So I traded a second Hiatt set for the start of my career. It was a fair trade, I think.
Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band Hyde Park, 2009 June 28 A typically fine set- uptempo and inspired with an almost flawless setlist- I just don’t get “Outlaw Pete!”
Jackson Browne & David Lindley- Love is Strange En Vivo Con Tino Disc 2
Townes Van Zandt- For the Sake of the Song, Our Mother the Mountain, and Townes Van Zandt The first three albums within the Texas Troubadour set, which has just been reissued by Charley- four discs, seven plus albums- for $22 on Amazon.ca. These ones came up in the 300-disc jukebox this week as something else finished up. What can you say about Townes? He knew how to write a song. Too bad he didn’t know how to live.