TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Into numberless reflections / Rises a smile from your eyes into mine / Frozen warnings close to mine / Close to the frozen borderline / Frozen warnings close to mine / Close to the frozen borderline

Reading Nico’s icy lyric, I can’t help to think about last Monday’s Presidential debate. Yikes! God help us!

On an opposite note, it’s been a hot one in the canyon this week. What this current heatwave has to do with “frozen warnings,” fuck only knows.

I’ve always liked hot Santa Ana winds, and warnings in a song. One of my band’s first songs was called “Beware.” It’s actually pretty funny that the song had absolutely no meaning, but drew out that certain smile I only seem to find in young men wearing leather jeans or cool psychedelic garb.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live: Angel Olsen and Rodrigo Amarante
at Thalia Hall, 9/27

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER | Angel Olsen was welcomed to Chicago with two sold out nights at Thalia Hall this week. Joining her was bilingual crooner Rodrigo Amarante.

Brazilian singer-songwriter (perhaps best known for the theme song for Netflix’s Narcos), Rodrigo Amarante set the scene for the night holding down the stage with just his guitar and sweet vocals. Between songs he told the audience, “I had the best day. They treated me like a king here even though I’m just a pawn. I’m so happy.” You could feel his happiness as he whistled along with his tunes. As Amarante sang, he and his guitar filled the room with the impression of a full orchestra playing.

Amarante’s first solo album, Cavalo is currently available on vinyl. His sophomore release is anticipated some time this year.

A full house waited in anticipation gathering closer and closer to the stage as Angel Olsen’s set time was approaching. Soon her band entered the stage in uniformed suits topped off with bolo ties. A few moments later Olsen appeared on stage and everyone went silent as she put on her guitar. “Oh you’re quiet now…that’s cool,” she told the crowd who quickly began cheering, “Yeah right!” she exclaimed before playing the notes of her first song “Never Be Mine.”

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Billy Bragg
& Joe Henry at the Birchmere, 9/27

Capping one of the more remarkable concept recordings of 2016, the next phase of Billy Bragg & Joe Henry’s celebration of the U.S. train system, Shine a Light: Field Recordings from The Great American Railroad is a U.S. tour that started Wednesday at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA.

The two seemed a little startled to see so many people. After all, there seemed little passerby interest when they had recorded their collection of classic train songs just last spring, while on board the Texas Eagle from Chicago to Arkansas through the Lone Star state and then on the Sunset Limited up to Tuscon to Los Angeles. In addition to recording while they rolled along, they set up inside grand old train stations, alongside the track or inside hotel rooms nearby (the same one, in San Antonio, where Robert Johnson first recorded).

It’s a lovely and evocative set of songs, of course, from Lead Belly and Jimmie Rodgers (“The Singing Brakeman”) to the Carter Family and Woody Guthrie, whose lyrics Bragg had previously put to song in his Mermaid Avenue project with Wilco. Still, when they did their recordings, they said they had next to nobody stopping to listen.

In concert, Bragg’s deep British baritone works as well on these old songs as they did old labor tunes, standing out on things like Jean Ritchie’s “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” and the traditional “John Henry.” He brings a steady authority and empathy for the bypassing era.
Henry, who may have started this project as producer but elevated to co-singer and guitarist adds key harmonies and intricate strumming. Their singing together lessens the loneliness of the troubadour traveling by rail.

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TVD New Orleans

The Bear Creek Bayou Festival arrives in New Orleans: Our picks for Saturday, 10/1

The music and festivities get started at 11 AM on Saturday morning and continue all day and well into the night. It’s a marathon not a sprint. Here are our picks for the day. The full schedule is here.

I love when festival organizers book up-and-coming bands. Though I haven’t heard Doombalaya, I love their name and given the track record of this fest, I expect they will impress. They hit at 12 noon after a breakfast set from Mardi Gras Indian funkateers, Cha Wa.

Of course, since Doombalaya is up against Zigaboo’s Funk Revue it may be hard to skip one of the originators of New Orleans funk. However, Zig will be reprising his Friday evening set with Foundation of Funk at 3 PM on Saturday, so there’s another chance to hear the drummer from the original Meters.

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The TVD Storefront

Vanessa Silberman,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “American
Folk Rock”

“I always loved going to Amoeba or Rasputin Records growing up in the Bay Area or going to little mom and pop shops and going through the used vinyl and 7″ sections looking for music I liked or cool covers—I love vinyl art!”

“I would decorate my walls in my teens with them and still have everything from Jefferson Airplane, Tom Petty, and Joan Jett, to rare Nirvana, Beach Boys, and Hall & Oates record covers. To me, vinyl record art is as meaningful and valuable as the music itself, or just general paintings or art.

That’s probably what inspired my new Vanessa Silberman EP—the physical CDs look and feel like a vinyl record, have a rice paper sleeve and an insert like an actual vinyl record. I also custom drew the art for each CD per a fan’s requests. It gives me an opportunity to connect with them and ask them what their favorite things are.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Wallflowers,
Bringing Down the Horse

On the subject of The Wallflowers: I resisted Bob Dylan’s fortunate son and his band for a long, long time. I distrusted Jakob Dylan, scion of privilege and owner of one set of amazing cheekbones, the way I do all scions of privilege, and I continued to do so until the night I saw him live in Woodstock, where he was joined for a song or two by the great Garth Hudson, formerly of the Band, on accordion. And wham, I was sold.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan boy of Jakob Dylan or the Wallflowers, but they’ve released some great pop songs over the years, most of them (in my humble opinion) on 1996’s sophomore release, the punningly titled Bringing Down the Horse. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the album went quadruple platinum—and this despite the defection of lead guitarist Tobi Miller at the beginning of the sessions, which led Dylan to bring in a bevy of guitarists to fill in, including Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—and spawned four hits, two of which I happen to love heart and soul.

I call the LP an example of Pop Americana, and Dylan himself has described how, despite the LP’s roots lite feel, he “wasn’t interested in making a throwback album from the ’60s or ’70s.” And this is obvious from opening cut, radio smash “One Headlight,” on. As for the LP’s mood, Dylan has said, “Every song, fortunately or unfortunately is about feeling massively defeated, because that’s what I was living.” Hey, join the club.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 9/30/16

Interview: Graham Jones: It’s fantastic to see the resurgence in vinyl record sales and even better to see new record shops opening. Keynsham gained its own vinyl outlet when Longwell Records opened earlier in the summer… Graham Jones, an industry veteran, has done much to support independent record shops via his hugely entertaining book Last Shop Standing and spin-off tomes: he will be presenting clips from the associated film (with plenty of anecdotes); hosting a pop quiz and there will be live music from Julia Turner.

Playback: Big Henry’s Grooves Antone’s: Enter Big Henry’s Vinyl & Gifts, Antone’s new storefront shop selling records, cassettes, Antone’s merchandise, signed Susan Antone photography, posters, playing cards, and even dominoes. Always spinning are two turntables where clerks – whether it’s co-owner Will Bridges, his wife Noel, employees from Antone’s Records, or house musicians picking up day shifts – play records noon-7pm daily. The shop harks back to Antone’s original Sixth and Brazos location (1975-80), which enjoyed a synergistic relationship with next-door neighbor OK Records.

Is this the final spin for cherished Fremantle record store? One of Perth’s oldest and much-loved record stores is at risk of closing down with apartments proposed for its Fremantle home. Mills Records is one of the most recognisable buildings in not only the port city, but the whole of Perth. Despite the advent of music downloads, the store across the road from the Fremantle Town Hall at 22 Adelaide Street, has managed to stay afloat in a volatile and unpredictable market. But now there is a real risk Mills will have to pack up its records and CDs and move out, after the City of Fremantle received a development application for a five-storey apartment complex and a shop for the circa 1880s heritage-listed building.

25 years after Napster, The Beat (still) Goes On: John Rocchetta remembers the launch of Napster in the late 1990s all too well. The digital music file-sharing service would spell the death of his chain of used CD stores, went the predictions. “Give it up, you’re done,” the founder of The Beat Goes On recalls hearing. But Rocchetta was nothing if not confident in his strategy and determined that the business he’d started in 1991 at the age of 21 with a single store in Kitchener wasn’t just going to survive, but thrive. “We’ve always had a niche market, and we’ve developed that niche market year over year,” he says. “And we’re still here today.”

Huge vinyl record sale planned for Newmarket: Those who enjoy firing up their record players to listen to their favorite music in old school style are invited to an event that will give them an opportunity to purchase albums to build their collection, and meet with others who share their interest. All types of vinyl records, both 45s and LPs, will be available, as will an assortment of related paraphernalia such as record storage, sleeves, dividers, jackets, cleaning supplies to keep their collection in top shape, books, posters, CDs, equipment, and other collectibles. There will be 43 tables set up for vendors to sell their wares, and those from the sale’s previous years will be on hand, along with some new ones.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Tom Jones at the Warner Theater, 9/25

PHOTOS: ERICA BRUCE | He’s not moving his hips quite so much any more. His dark hair has long since gone to silver. But time has done little to take the pipes of Tom Jones, who at a remarkable 76 is doing far more than just reciting the hits that made him a star in the ’60s, but reinterpreting contemporary songwriters, great ones from the past and the pillars of the blues and R&B that got him started in the Welsh clubs more than a half century ago.

He’s so beloved by loyal fans, they’ll follow his creative side trips into more obscure music that he loves, or go along with his different approaches to the songs they came to hear. For three albums now, Jones has been working with Ethan Johns, the English producer who has worked with Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, and Kings of Leon (his father is the famous Stones producer Glyns Johns). Together, they’ve created an echoey, booming version of roots music that nevertheless makes way for Jones’ own large voice.

There’s nothing subtle about his approach. Like a 747, his engines start big and then he soars from there. At a packed house at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC Sunday night, he started with John Lee Hooker (“Burning Hell”), moved to Odetta (“Hit or Miss”) and the first of a couple of Randy Newman songs that have served him well, “Mama Told Me Not to Come.” (“You Can Leave Your Hat On” came later).

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Descendents,
Milo Goes to College

Though it seems they perennially garner fewer accolades than their Cali cohorts Black Flag and the Minutemen, coffee-fueled Los Angelinos the Descendents’ full-length debut Milo Goes to College stands as one of the ‘80s indispensable punk documents. Its grooves are teeming with furious catchiness and what it lacks in good manners it more than makes up for in sheer gusto.  

I’ve fond memories of and considerable good will for the Descendents, namely the incarnations of the group that recorded up to and including the Enjoy! LP, but must say that from my viewpoint they can be easily underrated. Or maybe more appropriately, they often slip through the cracks, in large part due to the non-flash nature of their music and image. First and foremost about focused energy, they wrote tunes that joined musical and lyrical concerns triumphantly seeking to shirk the concept of the punk as a metal-studded casualty with a tube of Testors stuck up his/her nostril.

Occasionally described as “nerd-core,” their songs tackled topics like fishing, hanging out in nature, the joys of junk food, loyalty to friends, bodily gasses, the desire to not be a fuck-up, coffee, friction between cliques, and quite frequently late-adolescent struggles with the opposite sex. Many of these concerns have been addressed by other bands, but frankly a few haven’t, and certainly not with the appealingly direct (again, focused) musicality and no-frills sincerity that basically stands as their enduring legacy.

They began in ’79 with a 45 of surfy, poppy guitar rock “Ride the Wild” b/w “It’s a Hectic World.” While a nice enough first effort, it’s unrepresentative of where they would head after the addition of lynchpin vocalist Milo Aukerman on 1981’s “Fat” EP. The six songs grooved into that disc are characterized by short, sharp blasts of youthful punk action; some are melodic, others breakneck and spastic a la Hardcore, but they all still sound worthwhile as they creep up on thirty years of existence. Additionally, they serve as the template the band would refine on their next three releases.

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TVD New Orleans

The Bear Creek Bayou Festival arrives in New Orleans: Our picks for Friday, 9/30

Florida’s loss is the Crescent City’s gain. After nearly a decade in the Sunshine state, the Bear Creek music festival is moving to New Orleans. Taking advantage of the now well-proven site on the river at Mardi Gras World, the fest is reinvigorating its highly respected brand with two great days and nights of music. Here’s a look at our picks for Friday, September 30. The full lineup is here.

The gates open at 10 AM and the fest kicks off at 11 AM with the duel guitar, multi-percussionist, all-star African-inspired group, Pirate’s Choice. I just saw the band last weekend and was blown away again by Sam Dickey’s scintillating lines and percussionists Luke Quaranta and Weedie Brahmin’s perfectly synced rhythm section. It should be interesting seeing this band before noon.

Four New Orleans funk ensembles kick off at 4PM on alternate stages (with a small amount of overlap) before the main event. Soulive burst on the scene with a post-modern take on the organ trio almost fifteen years ago. Guitarist Eric Krasno, who recently produced and co-wrote Aaron Neville’s latest album, tears it up with drummer Alan Evans and keyboardist Neal Evans. The group rarely plays New Orleans outside of Jazz Fest season, so this is an event for soul jazz lovers. They are also playing tonight (Thursday, September 29) at the official pre-party at the Joy Theater.

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