A while back, I decided to take a drive through the desert. There were birds and plants and rocks and things—Maria Muldaur putting her camel to bed; a hostelry called the Hotel California, where I almost spent the night until I espied the repulsive Don Henley in the lobby; and one delirious-from-the-heat member of the band America, whom I picked up on the verge of the highway and who kept mumbling about a horse with no name, and how Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man he didn’t already have, and how if he hadn’t been so hungry he would never have killed and eaten his band mates, to say nothing of the nameless horse.
Later I took a long hike in the killing heat and suppose I grew a bit delirious myself, because as I was passing a quartet of cacti one of them spoke. It said, “Do you know who we are? We could have been the biggest band ever! The superest of the supergroups! Forget CSN&Y! Forget Blind Faith! Forget Asia and ELP! Forget The Firm even!” And that cactus was still ranting (about Steampacket, I think) when I awoke on my bathroom floor, and realized the whole thing had been a very weird but realistic dream.
Or had it? If so, how to explain the cactus spines sticking out of my back? Or the painful case of sunburn? Or the sole surviving member of America crouched defensively in a corner of my living room, mumbling about how the horse with no name might well have had a name but simply didn’t care to divulge it, it was a horse thing, they could be very close-mouthed that way. What’s more, a quick Google search revealed there REALLY was a band called Cactus, formed way back in 1969 by bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, both formerly of Vanilla Fudge.
Greetings from Laurel Canyon!
It’s a warm summer night in the Canyon. It’s late and I’m slightly out of my head. To be honest, I am not really sure what is going on in Malaysia, Gaza, and the Ukraine. All I know is that today I’m very happy to be in the hills of Southern California.
There are no summers like California summers. I seriously hope, indeed pray, we can enjoy this Summer of 2014. Myself, I need the warmth.
This week I continue my trip of putting together “random music” for my playlist. Maybe it’s the “fad” for my summer of 2014. The process of creating a random playlist of songs it subtle—and can even be more time-consuming than many of the themed playlists I often run with.
There is something lovely and unique about writing a song that expresses gratitude for being young, hungry, and at the mercy of the elements. Singer-songwriter Jay Brown feels no shame in looking back at his early years in the great wilderness of Boone, NC where once he survived on little more than black coffee and folk songs.
As he recollects this chapter in his life, Brown seems more wistful than apathetic, providing an authentically nuanced performance for us to listen to comfortably in our air-conditioned cubicles. Backed by his deft finger picking and lilting melodies, Brown needs little more than to romanticize a few of his past experiences under the moon with the wind at his back to make us feel like we’re there with him… and it feels pretty damn good.
Brown’s eleven song LP is a honey-dipped stroll through folk, country, gospel, and other intimate forms of acoustic music. Jay’s voice may conjure up the presence of Willie Nelson, while his subject matter tends to focus on the domestic bliss he has found with his lady and child. It is an overall impressive outing for Brown who seems to be enjoying a solo departure from mainstay group, The Lazybirds.
“Get Your Fill of Feelin’ Hungry” is off Jay’s new album, Beginner Mind which is released October 14th.
What shouldn’t aging rock stars do when they feel themselves fast approaching the tipping point of total irrelevancy? Simple: make a video of themselves fopping about in an overly fey manner to that hoary old Martha and the Vandellas chestnut, “Dancing in the Street.”
Just about everybody, with the possible exception of G.G. Allin, has taken a stab at it, leading to such a glut of cover takes that a hidden codicil of the 1938 Munich Pact banned future versions of the song. Unfortunately no one thought to inform Mick Jagger or David Bowie of this fact, and the result is one of the most unintentionally hilarious videos in rock history.
It opens with a shot of Mick Jagger’s hideous yellow sneakers bopping up and down, and it’s all downhill from there. The boys are attired awfully—Bowie is wearing, for reasons known only to Bowie, a white lab coat over a camo jumper—and spend the entire video camping it up like two aging queens on methamphetamines, leaping up and down, swapping lines, standing back to back while making “dance like an Egyptian” arm gestures, and singing with their respective rock star lips about an inch apart.
Saturday night, July 26, one of the leading lights of modern jazz piano appears with his band for the first time in New Orleans at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. Show times are at 8 and 10 PM.
Sosa is a native of Cuba and was trained in two of the island nation’s rigorous music academies, the Escuela Nacional de Musica and the Instituto Superior de Arte. Both institutions are located in Havana and have produced countless numbers of talented musicians.
Given the close affinity between the music of New Orleans and Cuba, it comes as a surprise that this is Sosa’s first time in New Orleans.
Throughout the weekend, I felt like I put the highest expectations on Sunday of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Sunday’s line up certainly had its fair share of heavy hitters and there was pressure to impress.
Would Grimes be able to come back from her less than stellar 2012 set at the Blue stage? Would Kendrick Lamar close out this year’s festival on a high note? Would anyone even bother to see any other rock bands after Annie Clark’s epic guitar shredding and Neutral Milk Hotel’s giant all-park sing along? Who knows? Who cares?! It was still a really amazing day.
Schoolboy Q I saw because well, I was curious if Kendrick would come out. He didn’t, but the show was still awesome. Schoolboy came strutting out in a signature bucket hat. His DJ did a good job of hyping up the crowd before he came on, so that was cool too.
Love a band? Hate a band? It often comes down to simple timing. For instance, had My War been the first music by Black Flag I ever heard, instead of their earlier EPs and singles, I would never have given them the time of day. The same is true for The Psychedelic Furs. I first heard them when they were putting out such catchy and undeniably lovely new wave songs such as “Love My Way,” “Heaven,” and “Pretty in Pink.”
Unfortunately, I disliked new wave, because in the wake of first-generation punk it sounded too wimpy, emasculated, and dance-oriented for my tastes. To paraphrase one David Bowie, “I never got it off on that new wave stuff/How bland/Too many Duran Durans.” Or to quote the great Minutemen, “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth?”
But had I heard the Furs around 1980, instead of, say, 1983, things would have been very different. In fact, I’d have loved them. Because 1980 was the year they released their debut LP, the eponymous and post-punk The Psychedelic Furs. Forget their melodic new wave tunes that ended up on film soundtracks and got played at every prom in the land. The Furs’ debut is a fabulous collection of droning grooves over which vocalist Richard Butler talk/sings enigmatically about who knows what to the accompaniment of guitars and one great saxophone. And to think I never heard so much as a song off it until Kid Congo Powers covered the ecstatic “We Love You” at a live show here in DC. Thank you, Kid, for your great tastes in music and your great mustache and for turning me on to The Psychedelic Furs. I owe you big time.
Plant. Page. Jones. Bonham. Four names at the very top of hard rock royalty. A number of touring acts are striving to keep the spirit of Led Zeppelin alive, but none as unique and electrifying as Zepparella. Four immensely talented women playing their asses off and paying homage to Zeppelin… How can you go wrong?
Very honestly, it’s easy to go wrong. Bring up Led Zeppelin to most rock fans, and you aren’t just talking about any old band. This is “The Hammer of the Gods” we’re talking about here. The bar for doing the legendary band and their catalog justice is pretty high—and Zepparella cleared the bar with room to spare.
As the crowd trickled into Jammin’ Java, the vibe was much more relaxed than a typical night out at a club. At the small, yet nice, venue with decent food and a heck of a coffee bar, the slightly older crowd was in good spirits, as were the few kids in tow.
Warming up the crowd this evening were the Queens of Noise, a Runaways tribute band out of the DC area. Five young women with five seemingly distinct personalities paid homage to the girl band of the ’70s. With a dirty blonde mop that hid her face from view, guitarist Nicole Morris had the look of a surfer fresh off the California beach and deftly handled Joan and Lita’s licks.
Saturday of the Pitchfork Music Festival 2014 was another day of great acts. I tried a lot of new things, including a separate entrance with a way shorter line (hint: there’s a general admission entrance right next to the VIP entrance) and a salted caramel hot chocolate creme puff. Booyah.
My day started with Pusha T, who despite coming on stage pretty late, was a strong start for me. The set was short but so fun and pretty energetic. Then it was off to see Tune-Yards…
Tune-Yards tends to get a lot of flack from critics for being too quirky and frankly, all over the place. When it comes to Tune-Yards’ sound, I find it difficult to really pinpoint a genre—every song sounds different, yet they are all a mix of African drum beats, jazz, a lot of looping noises and vocals, a ukulele, and colorful, sometimes grotesque lyrics. The music videos are also just as colorful. Saturday’s set was full of brightly patterned costumes and neon face paint. (It’s fun to wear face paint!) They way the whole show came together had my friends saying to each other, “this is the best set we’ve seen so far!”