Get out your energy drinks, carbo load, eat a good breakfast and do whatever it takes to fortify your body and spirit because the four consecutive days of the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival presented by Shell are not for the faint of heart. Here are our picks for day two (or five if you’re in it for the duration). The full schedule is here.
Big Chief “Little” Charles Taylor (photo below by Skip Bolen) is one of the most respected Mardi Gras Indians in the tight-knit community. Known for his elaborate, three dimensional suits in the downtown style and his unmistakable vocals, he kicks off the Jazz and Heritage stage with his tribe, theWhite Cloud Hunters at 11:15 AM. Be sure to see an Indian every day at the Jazz Fest!
Last year, Tony Hall’s New Orleans Soul Stars were playing when the first of several massive waves of rain and wind hit the Fairgrounds prior to organizers eventually shutting the whole thing down. They persevered in the face of some of the worst weather I have ever seen at Jazz Fest. Here’s hoping the day is pretty when they reprise their tribute to James Brown.
Recent unexpected deaths remind us not only of our ultimate shared mortality, but our general inability at such times to express loss. And that’s where music comes in.
“Birdhouse,” the latest video from the Cleveland band Seafair that we’re proud to premiere today at TVD, uses the band’s strengths to pledge love and continued devotion to those departed, in a most tuneful way.
Like many of the band’s songs, it’s built on the snap of Ryan Kelly’s drums, over which the acoustic guitar and bass of Michael Flaherty and Joshua Riehl are deepened and colored by the tastefully done violin and cello of Andrea Belding-Elson and Tara Hanish. Atop all of that are the warm and rich vocals of Chayla Hope, who also provides keyboard touches.
Visually, the clip for Seafair’s “Birdhouse” is as lyrical as the sound, with its indication of memory marked by a stack of shared favorite vinyl, the flipping pages of a book, or especially the flocks of birds coming in to land. Throughout, the visual constant that’s front and center is its chief symbol of remembrance—not some mournful shroud or stone marker, but that most hopeful sentinel of spring and flight, the birdhouse.
The Adverts,Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts and Cast of Thousands (Fire) Deserving reissues of the killer debut and underrated follow-up by these crucial UK punkers. Sharpened through gigs, Crossing is a rare punk LP that’s fantastic from start to finish, its highlights including their monster early 45 cuts plus album-only doozies like “On the Roof.” Brandishing more ambitious songs and execution, less punk orthodoxy and occasional non-toxic pop gestures (e.g. keyboards), Cast’s rep has steadily grown over the decades. Fire gives both spiffy new covers and bonus tracks. A/A-
Loren Auerbach with Bert Jansch, Colours Are Fading Fast (Earth Recordings) An eye-opening set surely appropriate for Jansch heavies, though amongst numerous contributors this is still firmly Auerbach’s show, rounding up her mid-‘80s albums Playing the Game and After the Long Night and adding an LP of unreleased material. The label notes the difficulty in fathoming the heretofore modest appreciation for her gifts as a vocalist, a point well taken as the music’s original issue on her own Christabel label undoubtedly limited her exposure. This loving collection sets things right. A-
Bardo Pond,Acid Guru Pond (Fire) One of the finest heavy-psych bands of the last 25 years joins up with prolific Japanese contemporaries Acid Mothers Temple and Krautrock survivors Guru Guru (the number of participants from each band isn’t exactly clear) for an extravaganza of expansiveness spread across four sides of vinyl. Studio meetings of this type tend to fall short of expectations, but the Pond’s style of pulse-drone psych fits well with a loose jamming atmosphere, and these five tracks never falter into aimlessness or self-indulgence. A-
Jaye Bartell,Light Enough (Sinderlyn) Wielding a voice not necessarily unconventional but certainly distinctive, Bartell’s background as a poet shines through (influences cited: Spalding Gray, Eileen Myles, Charles Olson) as the verses on his second album sidestep the commonplace with ease. Enhanced by a folky framework, the work of Leonard Cohen and to a lesser extent Bill Callahan does spring to mind on occasion, but Bartell’s ultimately up to something different here. The title track serves as a good entry point and “The Ceiling” expands things very nicely. Excellent cover, as well. A-
Nielsen Music: Indie Retail Sales Surge On Record Store Day: • Vinyl album sales at independent record stores jumped by 321% over the prior week • Independent record stores accounted for 75% of total vinyl LPs sold in the US that week. • Independent record stores account for 96% of all physical singles sold in the US that week. • RECORD STORE DAY limited edition albums and singles combined to sell nearly 300,000 copies in the US.
Technics’ turntable will give you good vibrations late this year: Technics, the audio brand of Japanese giant Panasonic, has today announced that its Grand Class Direct Drive Turntable System SL-1200G will release in Autumn 2016 (or Spring if you’re in Australia). The announcement follows the release of the limited edition SL-1200GAE, which saw its limited run of 300 sell out in just half an hour when it was released in Japan. 900 units were later released worldwide…The turntable may be using a vintage music format, but its design and construction employs a number of modern innovations to overcome issues that have historically been associated with the format.
Two David Bowie live albums set for vinyl reissue: David Bowie’s legacy looks set to be cast in wax once more, with the release of two live albums on vinyl. Included in the David Bowie: Five Years 1969 – 1973 box set announced last year, Live Santa Monica ’72 and the live album Ziggy Stardust Motion Picture Soundtrack that corresponds to the film of the same name, will be available individually for the first time.
I first heard Ben Harper in 1995 when my friend Kim made me a copy of Welcome to the Cruel World on a tape. That was all I needed. I was sold. I wore that tape out. And by 1999, when I began my freshmen year of college, a Ben Harper patch adorned my backpack—the lone signifier that distinguished my Jansport from the next.
In 1999, I saw Ben—with those spectacular Innocent Criminals—at The Riviera Theatre for two sold-out shows. And last week I returned to The Riv to photograph Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. I know—full circle, right?
The knot of anticipation in my stomach vanished the minute the band walked on to the stage. Perhaps a touch more weathered since I saw them last, they nevertheless sounded as good as ever, which is no surprise given their layers of talent.
After I photographed the first three songs, I found a spot and just took in the remainder of the show. It was everything that I could’ve asked for: Ben’s unmistakable voice, the arcs of energy, the guitar solos, the acoustic set, Juan manhandling his bass, Leon’s beats, the seamless shifts in genre from song to song. I would’ve loved to hear some deeper cuts but I guess that’s the problem when you have thirteen studio albums—everyone wants to hear different tracks.
The store itself is definitely worth checking out for vinyl afficianados- and is Malibu’s only vinyl shop! Curated by Sig Sigworth, Concord’s Senior VP of Catalog Management & Development, the store carries over 900 titles, including new releases, reissues, and box sets in a wide range of genres, as well as t-shirts and books. Juber himself also had copies of his last full length vinyl LP for sale—the moody masterpiece Under an Indigo Sky, released in 2013 on Solid Air Records, featuring a mix of classic pop/jazz standards.
Juber’s performance among the laid-back vibe of the beautifully arranged record shop was both intimate and virtuosic, a rare treat for guitar god fans and music lovers alike. Juber was voted the “Fingerstyle Guitarist Of The Year,” with the China Post calling him “one of the world’s most remarkable acoustic guitarists,” and he certainly lived up to the hype.
Ten bonus points and a dead baby if you can tell me which album John Lydon called his favorite of all time. All time! That means he likes it more than KC and the Sunshine Band’s The Sound of Sunshine or the Eagles’ Hotel California even! Unimaginable! Well, if the dead babies reference didn’t tip you off, which it certainly should have, the former Johnny Rotten’s favorite rock album in the whole wide world, including the Sammy Johns record with “Chevy Van” on it, is Alice Cooper’sKiller.
1971’s Killer followed hard on the heels of that same year’s breakthrough LP for the band, Love It to Death. Which I prefer to Killer, but who cares? I’m not John Lydon. Anyway, Killer cemented the band’s reputation for writing songs of macabre weirdness, which they milked for all they were worth with a live show that included decapitations, gallows, giant snakes, the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, 7,000 showgirls wearing glitter-encrusted Nazi jackboots and porcupine-spike bras, a full-scale reenactment of the crash of the Hindenburg, and an elderly Dr. Josef Mengele playing cowbell. Okay, so I exaggerate. But the band’s gory and fantabulous live show delighted teens while deeply disturbing parents, who were convinced that Cooper’s magically morbid extravaganzas were going to instantaneously transform their kiddies into wild-eyed axe murderers. Which made the kids love it even more!
I’ve said before that the perfect LP would have combined the first three tracks of Love It to Death—in which guitarists Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce play like men possessed by the Devil—and the first two tracks and “Dead Babies” from Killer. But that’s not the way it went down, and I have to (resentfully) live with it. I suspect they had slave-like contractual obligations with their record label that obligated them to put out two albums in 1971, when they’d have been much better served by only releasing one. That was how things were often done back in the day, when record companies behaved much in the same way as antebellum southern plantation owners.
Longtime festers used to call the Thursday that kicks off the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell “Slacker’s Day.” With the lineup this year, we can put that moniker to rest. The day is as impressive as any of the seven. Here are our picks. The full schedule is here.
Guitarist Spencer Bohren is a beloved folk and blues troubadour known across the globe for his encyclopedic knowledge of roots music. He appears at 12 noon with a band, the Whippersnappers, which features his son Andre on drums as well as some other relative youngsters—bassist Dave Pomerleau, keyboardist Casey McAllister, guitarist Alex McMurray, and saxophonist Aurora Nealand.
At 1:50 PM, one of the hardest working musicians in New Orleans, singer/songwriter Dave Jordan is making his first fest appearance since his much-beloved funk band Juice appeared in 2000 and 2001. Jordan and his current outfit, the Neighborhood Improvement Association, just released a new album of scintillating compositions. They will also be appearing at Rosy’s Jazz Hall on a triple bill of three of New Orleans’ best local, original roots rock bands on Saturday, April 30. Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes and the Honey Island Swamp Band are also on the bill. Go see local music during Jazz Fest!
“The first record I ever bought was ABBA’s eponymously titled album. I was 14 and I listened, enraptured, to ‘Mama Mia’ over and over and over again. Now I have a bigger collection of albums that I listen to on my little Crosley suitcase-record player. It’s been with me for the past five years and it turns every space I’m in into a home. I don’t like to listen to MP3s—they’ll do in a pinch if I need something fast, but they don’t feed my soul the way a vinyl record does. Music sounds different on vinyl; more alive, more present, more sacred. More real. With vinyl, the act of putting on a record becomes an interaction instead of a one-way kind of consumption.
When I have it my way, vinyl is all that I have. It’s more of an effort to get the music I want on vinyl, and it takes more time, but there’s also that element of finding music that you didn’t even know you needed. I always look through the bins at secondhand stores and garage sales. For some reason, there are always ten times more Johnny Mathis records than any other in those bins. Can someone tell me why? I have a few, just because it seems like a prerequisite to a record collection. And I feel bad for all of the orphaned Johnny Mathis records. They’re great.
Underneath the overlapping narrative of established musical innovators can be found an even more complex web of figures less well-known but just as crucial to the advancement of recorded sound. Tony Conrad is one such contributor; although we lost him to prostate cancer on April 9 his art, wholly ahead of its time and spanning from experimental film and video to robust drone-based early minimalist musical settings is destined to span centuries. For years the highest profile doorway into Conrad’s sound world was his 1973 collaboration with influential Krautrockers Faust, and Outside the Dream Syndicate’s fresh reissue on LP/CD provides an easy opportunity to get acquainted with an avant-garde master.
Like a lot of folks, my first exposure to Tony Conrad came in relation to the Velvet Underground. Specifically, the entry-point related to his participation in the Theater of Eternal Music aka the Dream Syndicate, a ’60s minimalist group featuring La Monte Young, his wife Marian Zazeela, Conrad, original VU drummer Angus Maclise, and John Cale.
For many Velvets fans Conrad’s name is of little more than trivial concern, with the book that named the group reportedly belonging to the filmmaker/musician, but for a small pocket of devotees the work of the Dream Syndicate; slim, mysterious and commercially unavailable for decades, represented an unattainable object of desire.
By the time the bootleg tape-sourced Inside the Dream Syndicate Volume I: Day of Niagara was issued to much controversy in 2000 by Table of the Elements, the same label had already released Early Minimalism Volume One, a 4CD set of ‘60s material, Slapping Pythagoras, a ’95 recording with contributions from John Corbett, Jim O’Rourke and David Grubbs, and the initial ’93 repressing of Outside the Dream Syndicate, so much of the intrigue surrounding Conrad had dissipated.