TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

I fell deep, through the holes of your eyes / and what I found resembles dark signs / The kind of hell I’m in ain’t enough to keep me down / the kind of hell I’m in just ain’t enough / just ain’t enough to keep me down

Still I cry and I cry and I cry / cause there is no turning back / I said I cry and I cry and I cry / cause there is no turning back

We’re deep into the wintery canyon this year. Last weekend we had more rain that anyone has seen in decades. Before TVD could even post last week’s Idelic Hour, our house went black. Nada power. Hey, it’s not like anyone was gonna call me and to say “Fuck man, I love that song…” Still, it would have been nice to have phone reception—ie: review texts! No hot water or heat for a cold rainy weekend day? Aagghh!

Nope, it was just hard, cold rain. It ended (or just I say came back on) and we carried on through President’s Day. Speaking of—who is celebrating the fucking president this year?

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Alter Bridge and Nonpoint at the Regency Ballroom, 2/20

Alter Bridge is out on the road for their The Last Hero Tour, aptly named after their most recent release on Napalm Records. While the band last passed through the Bay Area in 2016 with Breaking Benjamin, they haven’t done a proper headlining set since 2014, so the San Francisco fans turned out early and in force … even Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach was on hand for the good time.

Nonpoint has been around for the better part of a decade but seeing them Monday night in San Francisco was like seeing them for the first time. Drummer Robb Rivera had his kit up sideways and, along with the rest of the band, radiated energy during the 40 minute set. They kept their crushing set light, however, jokingly introducing themselves as Korn and slipping in a cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” before being joined by Machine Head’s Phil Demmel to close the set with “Bullet With A Name.” No doubt a tough act to follow.

With the Regency Ballroom now packed to the rafters and the front row lined with women, Alter Bridge finally took the stage. One word to sum up their performance … heavy! With The Last Hero out only since late last year, it was clear from the crowd’s reaction that this is an album with a lot of legs. Busting out the new material straight-away with “The Writing on the Wall,” it was clear that the new album had already made its rounds in the Bay Area. No one was standing around waiting for the old stuff … the crowd jumped right in as Tremonti and Kennedy laid down some of the heaviest riffs of the night.

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TVD New Orleans

The Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra at the Hi Ho Lounge on Fat Tuesday!

Finding the black Indians of New Orleans on Mardi Gras is always a challenge. Hearing them sing their songs is even more of a mean feat considering all the photographers vying for the best shot as the tribes march and meet one another. If you want a guarantee that you’ll hear the songs and see at least one Indian, head to the Hi Ho Lounge Fat Tuesday afternoon.

This year’s eagerly awaited return of the all-star Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra honors two of the group’s dearly departed founding members, Big Chief Roddy Lewis of the Black Eagles and saxophonist Tim Green. They will play at 6 PM.

The band, which presents big band arrangements of classics from the black Indian canon of New Orleans, features numerous well-known New Orleans musicians. Big Chief David Montana of the Washitaw Nation Mardi Gras Indian tribe fronts the orchestra along with accordionist, percussionist and vocalist Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes of Sunpie and Louisiana Sunspots and various other ensembles.

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The TVD Storefront

Brooke Moriber,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up a few blocks from Tower Records on east 4th street in NYC when CDs were the thing. I always felt like a kid in a candy store sifting through the albums.”

“What I didn’t know then was how much lush, uncompressed, instrumentation I was being deprived of by only listening to digital music. Vinyl just makes it all come to life. Now when I listen to the mainstream digital media, I feel like I need to pop my ears!

My first vinyl record was a special edition from my favorite band Pearl Jam. Although my own music is very different, I am a huge ’90s grunge fan. When I played the record, I was blown away by the depth, texture, and contrast between the low and high end of the track.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Premiere: Dakota Blue, “Lavalike” EP

PHOTO: PRISCILLA MARS | Following some delay, emerging singer, guitarist, and visual artist Dakota Blue has released “Lavalike,” an intriguing five-track EP.

Each of the tracks on “Lavalike” were written, played, and produced by Blue, an LA native. The music videos for singles “Blueprints” and “Distant Disco” were released in late 2016, offering a preview of the experimental EP. “Blueprints” is a soothing track with a gauzy, blue hazed video, while “Distant Disco” is a psych-pop instrumental with an acid-tinged video to accompany it. Blue’s vocals are reminiscent of the mellow, early ’90s alt sound that launched Beck’s career, while much of the instrumentals harken back to ’70s prog rock. The combination creates a surprisingly fresh sounding, understated EP.

“The State of Things” kicks off the EP with dark, heavy, and sultry tones which are heard throughout each of the tracks. This tone is lifted slightly halfway through by the jangly, yet still pessimistic “Tropical Dust,” only to be dropped to its lowest by the end of the EP with “Shadows In Paradise.”

“Lavalike” is a dreary day soundtrack in the best possible way; a work that is both thought-provoking and entrancing.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Open Up and Say… Ahh!

With a band as great as hair metal heroes Poison, where does one even begin? With the cover of their 1986 debut Look What the Cat Dragged In, on which the boys look cuter than any of the groupies they sleazed into the sack with? Or with 1988’s follow-up Open Up and Say… Ahh!, about which muz-crit Robert Christgau wrote, “A residue of metal principle spoiled the top 40 on their debut, but here they sell out like they know this stuff is only good when it’s really shitty.”

I believe that’s what’s called a backhanded compliment. But I get where he’s coming from even if I disagree. Call Poison pop metal if you want, and no one is ever likely to call their music cerebral. But the songs on Open Up and Say… Ahh! are anything but shitty. Simplistic, sure. But Poison rocks harder than the likes of Def Leppard ever would.

These Aqua Net émigrés from Mechanicsburg, PA took both Hollywood and MTV by storm, and were so in touch with their feminine side they began their career playing pink guitars. Their sophomore LP has been called “a master-class in Eighties metal power balladry,” but that’s patently absurd. Sure, Open Up and Say… Ahh! will most likely be best remembered for the immortal ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” but the song is an anomaly; from opening track “Love on the Rocks” to closer “Bad to Be Good,” Poison eschews the maudlin in favor of rocking balls.

Like many effete and impudent snobs, I spent hair metal’s golden age sneering at Poison and everything they represented. Found them ridiculous. Never gave them a fair listen. I should have heeded the words of Oscar Wilde, to wit, “Ridicule is the tribute paid to genius by mediocrities.” In my own defense, I was far from alone. Rolling Stone only gave them one star, which is one more star than I’d probably have given them at the time.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 2/24/17

Vinyl comes back in Davis fair: Little did Josh Chapman realize seven years ago that when he started the Vinyl and Music Fair he had created a monster. A nice, friendly, old-school monster. What began “as a little, 10 or 15-table swap” of music is now the twice-a-year Vinyl and Music Fair with more than 50 vendors with several hundred visitors expected Saturday at the Davis Senior Center. “It’s morphed into this big event,” Chapman said from Armadillo Music in Davis, a shop that he and his wife, Athena, have run the past six years and has been in the family 21 years. Vinyl records — whether 45s or LPs — have been “making a steady comeback,” Chapman said.

Here’s an inside look at Third Man Records vinyl pressing plant in Detroit: Third Man Records is turning the tables on those who thought the Motor City’s musical glory days were gone for good. And it is doing it one vinyl record at a time. Little more than a year after opening a records and novelty shop in Detroit’s Cass Corridor, the record company founded by Detroit native Jack White is set to officially open its 10,000-square foot vinyl pressing plant, capable of churning out 5,000 platters every eight hours, on Saturday. “The process is hypnotizing, to see how music is actually made,” said Ben Blackwell, who heads up the company’s vinyl operations. “It’s almost rude not to share it with the consumer.”

Here are Utah’s favorite 3 vinyl records: Records may be considered the music file of the past, but that hasn’t stopped Americans from buying them. Forbes recently researched what each state’s favorite vinyl records are. Utah’s favorite vinyls are definitely #ThrowbackThursday worthy, as they include “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson; “Chronicle,” from Creedence Clearwater Revival; and “Revolver,” from The Beatles. Other states favored some more modern albums. For example, in Vermont, Kanye West’s “My Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “Anti,” from Rihanna, topped the charts, according to the Forbes data.

Voices of Dead Loved Ones Now Music to Your Ears: Brits Press Ashes to Vinyl: The saying “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust” is usually heard at funerals. When someone dies, their family and friends are well aware that they will never see or hear them again, however now there is a way to immortalize their loved ones, A UK-based company, And Vinyly, presses the ashes of dead relatives into vinyl, after which they add an audio of their voice or favorite tune onto the record, so that they will be remembered for as long as possible. If you hold the vinyl to the light, you will be able to see straight through it, as well as tiny speckles resembling dust. In fact, the dust isn’t dust at all and are ashes of the person who has passed away.

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TVD Washington, DC

TVD Live: Lee Fields & The Expressions at the Rock & Roll Hotel, 2/18

Round about showtime Saturday night as the young backing band the Expressions were churning out the cool and lightly funky sounds of the past the way serious students from Greenpoint, Brooklyn could do in their matching paisley tux jackets, out came the front man in his sparkly blue tux jacket.

Lee Fields was taking that long walk down the hall from the Rock & Roll Hotel’s green room to its modest stage, but it might have been a longer walk still, back to the Stax era chitlin circuit, bringing with him the grit of a lifetime in rhythm and soul, the yearnings of its heartbreak songs, the insistence of its endurance.

It’s a long road, but Fields, at 65 or so, is the standard-bearer of a kind of soul that was swept away by disco and dance records or was otherwise relegated to the oldies bin. Like Charles Bradley or the late Sharon Jones, he’s found his niche with an ace bunch of enablers, in his case the six piece Expressions who frame his songs and keep it going as he extends the tunes, extolls the audience to clap along, or breaks it down.

The soul man is an endangered species and Fields keeps it going, not wth a lot of amped-up funkified flash, but with a smoother mid-tempo, accommodating aching ballads or promises of fidelity.

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TVD Asbury Park

TVD Radar: “Signal to Noise” WFDU Fundraiser at the Mercury Lounge featuring Monsterland, 2/24–2/25

“College radio” probably conjures up images of walls of records and pimply faced geeks gently dropping a needle on a Ramones record with WWII-era radar operator headphones on. For me it’s hard to update the image I have of college radio from the cliché from the ’80s and ’90s, even having worked at one for the last three years.

Some of the bigger college radio stations have found success within their communities by offering programming that commercial radio does not. Whether it’s the advantage of having their thumb on the pulse of what students in college are listening to because the jocks and programmers are students, or just offering musical options a little off the beaten path—introduced by people who may not be professionals but are passionate about it—can gain these stations a rabidly loyal fan base.

WFDU on Fairleigh Dickinson’s Teaneck, NJ campus is one such station. Over the last year the station has pivoted its main terrestrial programming to a “Retro Radio Oldies” format, filling the void left by other stations who decided to move their “oldies” cuts up to the late ’70s and ’80s, leaving stacks of hits to gather dust.

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The TVD Storefront

Tamar Eisenman,
The TVD First Date
and Premiere, “Easy Comes Free”

“Time to get a turntable! When I moved to New York City about a year ago, I was pretty obsessed with getting a new turntable. Moving makes one buy things. However, a few months later you usually realize you don’t need half of what you bought. These kinds of changes are a reminder to what is essentially important to us in life—like a little epiphany, like ice cream.”

“Two things I did bring along with me and my guitars were my Moka maker and a small magnet that survived four different refrigerators. The quote on the magnet: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” For me, this meant something like, “A musician without a music collection is like a car without gasoline.” Where can you possibly go with writing your new song if you don’t appreciate all the groundwork that is already out there? History is a call, always to be new.

I love my music collection—six, dusty enormous boxes—and although I always hoped that one day I would have an apartment only for those albums, I consciously and rightfully left them behind. Obviously, the times they are a changing, and digital world is way beyond just here.

Any collection is potentially a great story, passing from one to another, threading generations and spaces. All those pieces of a particular something we hold onto is perhaps also another way for us to feel less lonely and illusionary immortal too, like those stamps, coins, music, art, and so on. Yet, without looking back, armed with my magnet and Moka coffee maker, I gladly left my music collection in those six huge boxes and headed out to a new beginning in New York City, CD-less and free, ready to start “collecting” something new.

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