WORDS AND PHOTOS: JEREMY LAWSON | Upon arriving at Thalia Hall in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, I was greeted by the Secret Sisters. I was pretty bummed to have missed their entire set. They were just wrapping up an acoustic encore when I looked up to see the enormous ceilings of this amazing venue. I had never been to Thalia Hall and I picked the perfect show to experience the concert hall. The Secret Sisters left the stage and the crowd was ready for what was to come, a knee slapping, banjo picking, good old folk show.
Old Crow Medicine Show took the stage and I had no idea what was in store for me. The show started off with some of their older material. You could instantly tell that the crowd were long time followers of the band. Everyone was singing along and most of them were dancing—dancing alone, dancing with their partners, and dancing with strangers.
The energy was electric and the stage was set for a Pilsen dance party. At one point I was in the balcony and when I looked down nearly half of the crowd was swing dancing. Not your traditional swing dance but mostly swinging each other around with Old Style in hand. People were laughing, yelling and having a good ole time. This was my third time seeing the band and each time the party has gotten crazier.
3:07pm: Last day of Pitchfork ’16! Before I head towards the music, I decide check out the House of Vans area. There is only one House of Vans in the U.S. (Brooklyn) but that’s soon to change because one is being built here in Chicago. I’m psyched. All weekend the HoV area was allowing festival goers to build their own working vinyl turntable from scratch…FREE. Super cool.
3:37pm: Kamasi Washington is a whiz on the tenor sax—perhaps even more of an arrangement whiz. I have been listening to more and more of his music in recent months so his set was a must-see for me. He’s not disappointing, nor is his band, the West Coast Get Down. He is the present—and future—of jazz. It’s just an amazing, multilayered wall of sound hitting the audience.
3:47pm: Holy hell it’s hot today. But the sweat is worth it because Kamasi’s father, Rickey Washington, joins the band for “Cherokee.” He delivers a killer sax solo.
All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.
This week, we continue dusting off the compact disc collection and discovering what New Jersey gems have been hiding on the old A/V shelves. In doing so, we listen to the Hoppin’ Haole Brothers (featuring Uncle Floyd on piano, of course), Sewell’s somewhat forgotten The Parcels, the wonderful accordion slinger John Foti, the greatest cover band in New Jersey—if not America—The Nerds, Duncan Sheik, The Joe Deninzon Jazz Trio, the McCartneyesque Elephant Goes West, and, of course, Val Emmich.
A French copy of Albert Francis’ and Antonio Carlos’ 1967 gem and a Japanese pressing of Springsteen’s “Born to Run” also make an appearance, as does a brand new song by Avi Wisnia. So, tune in for a little of the old—and a bit of the new—as heard on a rapidly disappearing medium that holds its own bit of mystique and magic.
New Jersey based quartet bring morbid garage vibes to surf rock.
YJY don’t mind misdirecting listeners with their newest single “Summer Lifeguard.” Golden tremolo guitar lines collide with crash pad guitars and morbid punk lyrics to create a potpourri of summertime nostalgia.
The track is one part Beach Boys and one part Real Estate with a dash of Pixies—a distinct and subversive sound that is already cultivating a diehard fan base. The single drop comes paired with the announcement of the forthcoming release of their sophomore EP, “The Same Noise.” out August 19th via Sniffling Indie Kids.
On my way home from the gym just now, the local college radio station played “Summer Breeze,” and it was everything I could do not to flatten the accelerator and run my car straight into a tree. Which naturally got me to thinking about the Allman Brothers Band, and how they lost not one but two members to motorcycle accidents, making the them (in my opinion) the second most unlucky band in rock history, right behind Lynyrd Skynyrd. I say second because while the Allmans managed to turn out some great LPs after the death of founder and legendary guitarist Duane Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd was more or less dead in the water after their 1977 plane crash, although they’ve carried on and continue to sully poor Ronnie Van Zant’s legacy by producing meat and potatoes rock that omits the meat.
I’m probably talking out of my ass here, but I have always been of the opinion that there are two schools of Allman Brothers Band fans. The first totally dug the interminable blues songs, as personified by the long-stemmers on 1971’s At Fillmore East, that showed off Duane’s chops in all their brilliance but left souls with short attention spans like yours truly cold, while the second dug the Allman’s fine collection of shorter and less bluesy originals, which showed more country and boogie influences, as exemplified by the exquisitely beautiful tunes on 1973’s Brothers and Sisters.
Because I fall into the second category, this “best of” compilation more or less satisfies all of my Allmans’ needs. It’s tilted just slightly towards the post-Duane Allman Brothers Band, and doesn’t include a single long blues jam—even the frequently interminable “Whipping Post” is from the band’s 1969 studio debut and only five plus minutes here—which means if what you want is to hear Duane lay down the law at length you’re better looking elsewhere, namely to one of the several live recordings of the band in 1971. No, this one emphasizes the more melodic and “pretty” (for lack of a better word) side of the band, which includes such lovely standards as “Melissa,” “Blue Sky,” and “Jessica,” as well as the countrified Dickey Betts’ standard “Ramblin’ Man.”
Vinyl lives! 10 great record stores for a musical treasure hunt: At a time when smartphone users can access hundreds of thousands of songs in an instant, stores selling music on vinyl are still flourishing. “There is the excitement of the hunt and chase. You just don’t know what’s going to come next when you flip through records,” says Amanda Petrusich, author of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 RPM Records (Scribner, $16). “Going to a record store is a physical experience in a way that acquiring music online is not.”
A New Spin on Vinyl Records: On the surface, the vinyl revival is a welcome bright spot for a beleaguered recording industry. On the flip side, there’s a pressing problem – literally. Only a handful of record-pressing plants remain in operation, and they must cope with aging, difficult-to-service machinery, a shortage of skilled labor, and a raw materials supply controlled by a single company. But in the meantime, additive manufacturing technology has advanced to a level of precision that could create interesting possibilities for this niche application.
We’ve Passed Peak Vinyl – Here Comes The Collapse: So vinyl has gone from comprising nearly 9 percent of physical album sales in 2015 to nearly 12 percent in 2016. BUT — as much as it pains me to say it — that’s not the important figure here. In fact, that statistic is basically useless to us. See, vinyl’s overall share of the “physical” market is pretty irrelevant, because its increase in that regard has less to do with the growth of vinyl than it does the decline of CDs. The thing to focus on here is that “38 percent” figure. If we want to get a feel for the viability of vinyl going forward, we have to isolate that data; we have to compare apples to apples.
Death Waltz Records unveil long-awaited Twin Peaks vinyl reissue: Angelo Badalamenti’s beloved score makes its long overdue return to vinyl next month. Death Waltz have finally revealed the first look at the the Twin Peaks soundtrack vinyl reissue. Originally announced in 2014, it — and a Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me soundtrack reissue — will finally be released later this year. More details will be unveiled on August 8, but fans can check out the artwork today (on, coincidentally, Laura Palmer’s birthday). It will be available on Death Waltz’s site August 10, before heading to physical retailers September 9.
Greetings from Laurel Canyon!
One cool thing about doing The Idelic Hour are the small rituals that Jon from The Vinyl District and I have developed over the years. In truth Jon and I have never met in person but each week for the last six years, Jon has sorted and edited my rants. Props to you, Jon Meyers for always taking the time to have a look, take a listen, clear me up, and make me look smarter.
Speaking of smarter, the last few weeks The Idelic Hour has been on summer reruns (the ritual I was referring to at the top of the page). It seems funny when I think about it. “I’m on reruns.” Ha! Truth be told it’s a nice break from the constant search for new music and a ritual that makes the summer feel like summer and therefore healthy—although that could sound absurd.
Good for my soul / Heaven knows she’s good for my soul / Close to my soul / Heaven knows she’s close to my soul / I should have let her know / I should have let her know
2:27pm: I enter Pitchfork and immediately overhear one woman exclaiming to another, “Oh my God! I have that same leotard!” Of course.
2:35pm: Kevin Morby opens with some slow burners, including the title track of his first solo album, 2013’s Harlem River. The sun is shining and crowd is into it.
2:49pm: Morby’s set picks up during “Destroyer” from his most recent album release (this year’s Singing Saw). Whitney’s Will Miller adds horns to the mix and some female singers accompany the band. The crowd is swaying. If this is any indication of what’s to come, it’s gonna be a great day.