Author Archives: Clark Newman

TVD Live: Kingsley Flood with Tom McBride at IOTA, 1/14

This past Saturday, Kingsley Flood, along with Tom McBride, provided an evening of rip-roaring folk rock sounds to an intimate-but-filled house at IOTA. The Vinyl District was proud to participate, and I was quite pleased to have the opportunity to introduce each act and in doing so take all the credit.

The Boston-bred Americana “Rock with a Fiddle” sensation Kingsley Flood were playing to promote their latest EP release Colder Still, as this was the release party. If I were to sum up Kingsley Flood in one word, it would be “fun.” They were kind enough to send me a copy of their EP, and I devoured it quickly. I found though, after seeing them twice (now thrice) and then hearing their recorded sounds, I prefer the live sounds. That’s not to knock the quality of the EP—it’s to talk up their live show—but it’s hard to bottle lightning.

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TVD Recommends: Kingsley Flood with
Tom McBride at IOTA,
1/14 (plus Giveaway!)

Celebrating the release of their new EP Colder Still, Kingsley Flood pays a visit to the DMV by way of IOTA tomorrow night. The Vinyl District has long been following the trajectory of Kingsley Flood and are honored to introduce them before they hit the stage at this release party.

Kingsley Flood has been on a rampage—well known as one of the best live acts in Boston, their song “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” was featured as NPR’s Song of the Day last May.

Look for us there Saturday night and turn an ear to the exciting-yet-comforting folkrockicana sounds.

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TVD Live: Parlotones
at DC9, 10/12

Ever heard of the South African Invasion? Me neither, but it felt like one Wednesday night at DC9, where South African bigshots Parlotones took the stage with adorable accents and a fresh sound.

Now in South Africa, these guys play to 60,000+ crowds, but that love has not quite leaped the pond yet. If you’ve never been to DC9, I would describe it as a “bar-plus,” as in plus a stage. It’s small, intimate, laid out well, but we’d be on the news if 60,000 people tried to get in. This night, it was more like one hundred and change, with a strong showing of South African expats.

Opening for the Parlotones was a three-piece rock set who go by the name of Prisms. Just one guitar, bass, and drums, these guys deliver a hard-driving rock sound with simple rhythms and guitar flourishes under boyishly-toned singing. They were politely received, as much of the crowd were the aforementioned expats eagerly awaiting their favorite homeland band.

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Kingsley Flood Inundates the 9:30 Club

Americana rock and folk rock were the genres of the night when Junior League played at the 9:30 Club, after sets by Kingsley Flood and Typefighter. Fiddles, banjos, trumpets, steel guitars, saxophones, and the All-American electric guitar were on display. If you’re American, pat yourself on the back. I was there to take another look at Kingsley Flood, about whom I had penned a review earlier this year, and see what’s new with the up-and-coming group. Toss in Typefighter and headliner Junior League, and it turned into a hell of a show.

Typefighter started the evening with a very pared-down, solid rock show. Lead singer Patrick McLaughlin provides a high, dancing voice over a range of rhythms and feelings from the music, ranging from driving, pounding rock, to soft, sweet singular guitar.

Kingsley Flood is a local power act. Lead singer Naseem Khuri currently hails from DC via Boston and fronts this pack who otherwise claim Boston as their HQ. As I mentioned, I covered Kingsley Flood in January when they played at Rock and Roll Hotel, and I must say they’ve grown in their confidence on stage and presence they project to the audience since then. It’s one thing to bang the bass drum and belt out melodies over frantic strumming and call it folk rock, but Kingsley Flood takes it to another level with their professional approach to the music that is at once both meticulous and easy. Jenée Morgan gives backup vocals, plays fiddle and saxophone, and is the perfect counterpoint to Khuri’s presence.

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TVD Live: Haley Bonar with Daniel Martin Moore and Holcombe Waller at Sixth & I, 6/25

Photo Credit: Louisa Podlich

On Saturday, June 25th, Haley Bonar graced the downstairs “stage” at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue along with Daniel Martin Moore and Holcombe Waller on The Waiting for Lightning to Strike Tour. I quote the word “stage” because other than a slight step in the ground, it was about as intimate as a living room jam session. No more than fifty people sat in chairs around cocktail tables and in sofas (yes, sofas) all focused towards the corner stage with minimal trimmings.

Ms. Bonar is touring following the release of her latest album Golder and showcased a few tunes from it. It was a welcome detour from the ear-plug-requiring dance-floor-packing shows I’m used to covering. Haley Bonar sports a very unique voice that is simultaneously sweet and strong, innocent and powerful.

For the record, I departed a day-long barbecue where the energy was more in line with what I’m used to reviewing, so I had to change emotional gears quickly when I stepped into the space. That is not to say I was bored with the new energy. Bonar’s songwriting and tone straddles the fine line between slow, emotional folk music and rousing folk-rock, including “Candy Machine Gun,” which was featured as KEXP’s Song of the Day last week. The foot was tapped and the head was bobbed, indeed.

GOSSIP: Bonar is preg-preg! She was precious as a peach with a guitar draped over her knee-length white dress, which was also draped over her belly. She transitioned from guitar to electric piano, while her band featured soft drumming, and for the last number, “Softly and Tenderly,” a cello melody.

In all, her set was very enjoyable, and a strong opening to songwriters Daniel Martin Moore and Holcombe Waller. Moore plays like a veteran (and his credentials touring with bands such as Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, and Swell Season can second that), moving through an impressive array of tones within his folk style. He is touring to promote his latest album In the Cool of the Day—with a title track that is a gorgeous rendition of the Christian revival song I remember once singing in the choir.

Holcombe Waller has a haunting, exquisite voice and very highly-crafted songs that made me glad I was sitting down to really absorb the music. He plays intricate guitar rhythms with beautiful backup, while his delicate, Idol-quality voice dances wild melodies above. He is an artist I will definitely look for in the future.

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The TVD Interview and Ticket Giveaway: Haley Bonar at 6th & I, Saturday 6/25

Minneapolis’ Haley Bonar is touring to promote her new EP Golder, and will be gracing the downstairs stage at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on Saturday, June 25th with Daniel Martin Moore and Holcombe Waller as part of the Waiting For Lightning To Strike tour.

The Vinyl District digitally caught up with her and got in a few cyber-questions edgewise. Download her wisdom to your dataframe and come check her out in the real world because we have a pair of tickets to give away! Details after the Q&A.

Haley Bonar | “Set Things Aright” (Daniel Martin Moore cover)

What can you tell us about the scene in Minnesota, and what would you tell an aspiring musician looking to start out there?

Hell yes! I’d say to an aspiring musician looking to start out here that it’s easy—you just start playing shows. Fans and other musicians are loyal, and if you’re good, they stick with you.

I saw someone (the internet) described your genre as “slowcore,” which is apparently a sub-sub-subset of post-grunge backlash, according to Wikipedia. However, the suffix “-core” to me connotes a sort of electronica, which your music is notably lacking. Why is that?

I don’t know who came up with that term, but it’s kinda stupid and doesn’t really apply to anything!

Have you had any notable collaborations you treasure? Are there any bands/artists out there that you could see yourself working with in the future?

I love the musicians I already work with—I’ve had the pleasure of working with many different Minneapolis musicians, and my current band is probably my favorite so far.

What is your idea of success? I have a hard time picturing you in your element at a sold-out arena, but what do I know? How far does your mental plan reach into the future?

Success is working your ass off and constantly facing yourself forward creatively and emotionally. I believe changing within yourself but keeping true to your instincts is being successful as an artist. I don’t think playing arenas has much to do with it—a lot of great artists who sell out arenas followed their instincts musically, and people believe in it.

Daniel Martin Moore | “Mayday” (Haley Bonar cover)

To enter to win the pair of tickets to see Haley Bonar and friends, tell us your favorite arena artist. To start us off: LCD Soundsystem (RIP). The winner will be chosen on Tuesday (6/21) at noon.

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The TVD Interview and Ticket Giveaway: Paul Sanchez of Nine Lives at 6th & I, 6/20

Next Monday, June 20th, Sixth and I will showcase Nine Lives, The Musical Adaptation, a concert which follows the stories depicted in the novel Nine Lives by Dan Baum. Nine Lives tells the stories of nine individuals in New Orleans during the time period between Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina in 1965 and 2005, respectively.

Singer/Songwriter Paul Sanchez (Cowboy Mouth) wrote music for the concert along with Colman DeKay, and Sanchez is joined by author Dan Baum and all-stars Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris (Sweeney Todd, Assassins), and musician Arsene Delay to bring these stories to life next week. The Vinyl District was lucky enough to catch an interview with Paul Sanchez in anticipation of the show.

Read the interview, then enter for a chance to join us as we take a journey through the many styles and stories of New Orleans. We have a pair of tickets to give away. Details after the interview.

Many people (including myself) were born after Hurricane Betsy or were otherwise minimally unaware of the event. Thanks to the 24 hour news cycle everyone was painfully aware of Katrina, but can you enlighten us to the parallels and differences between the two events? Did it seem like history was repeating itself in a way that should have been preventable?

I was a boy when Betsy hit and while in both instances the levees breached in the Lower Ninth Ward and flooding was catastrophic. My Uncle Andrew lived in Arabi which is south of the Lower Nine. He had a boat and went through his neighborhood rescuing people from their roof tops just like you heard about in the flooding of 2005. Well, in 1965 Walter Cronkite was like Google and Huntley-Brinkley were like Facebook. We didn’t have 24-hour news or access, but those voices were the voices from the mountain, and folks listened so the country knew. I think television has gotten more efficient at combining the news with what is being sold on the commercials between the news, so the stories and drama are amped up, but it’s just business for the news shows.

Folks died in attics and in the flooding during Betsy and just because it wasn’t as great a number of people or because less folks saw it, doesn’t make the dying any less real for those gone or any less painful for the ones left behind.

In the instance of Katrina, the flooding was far worse and the reasons are many. For one, there was far more land mass between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico in 1965. In the last twenty five years alone, Louisiana has been steadily losing the equivalent of one football field every fifteen minutes, so what used to be miles and miles of wetlands between here and the Gulf is now gone, and the Gulf of Mexico is lapping at our shores.

It was/is preventable in that the wetlands can be restored but time is running out [and] another big storm, a direct hit in New Orleans will rewrite history and geography. The levee system was poorly built by the Army Corps of Engineers and needs to be fixed. The countless canals built by the oil companies between New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi River have allowed for intrusion from the Gulf and the erosion of the wetlands, and without the annual flooding of the river into those areas, which occurred naturally before the storm, the wetlands will continue to erode.

Actually, it is in the best interest of Big Oil and the federal government to get a handle on this because the oil companies have billions invested in oil rigs from New Orleans to the Gulf, and if those companies invested along with the government in controlled flooding of the river south of New Orleans, they would be helping rebuild wetlands in areas they still have working oil rigs.

I am from Houston and remember vividly the thousands of people who fled there (only to face Hurricane Rita soon thereafter). Many were forced to stay because they simply do not have the means to return. This fundamentally changed the demographics of both Houston and New Orleans moving forward. What are your thoughts on what this means to New Orleans and New Orleans music?

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TVD Live: French Horn Rebellion and Yelle at 9:30 Club, 4/27

Wednesday Night was a busy night for 9:30 Club–they managed to put on two distinctly separate shows and switched out the entire crowd in between. This put French Horn Rebellion at an advertised time of 10:30, which unfortunately was not adhered to, leaving many hipsters stranded in line, checking each others’ threads out and shuffling their feet. I don’t know who the first set was, but I overheard an exiting patron mention something about them being at “Buzz Fest,” so I immediately knew I didn’t care to know.

FHR actually did start a little after 10:45 and performed what seemed like a truncated set with minimal trimmings. French Horn Rebellion consists of brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari, which was immediately obvious based upon the on-stage energy and antics between the performers. They both stood behind decks of keyboards, mixers, and laptops, and also played, you guessed it, a french horn.

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TVD Live! Dr. Dog
at 9:30 Club, 1/29

Philadelphia festival veteran group Dr. Dog made a two-night stop in DC at the 9:30 Club as just one leg in their ongoing tour that continues until Winter 2011. The Vinyl District was there to see what the big deal was and to check out opening acts Buried Beds and The Head and the Heart, who are traveling with Dr. Dog down the eastern seaboard until February.

The show started with Buried Beds (also from Philadelphia), a five person outfit that featured a fiddle and keyboard. Their sound, which I would call art-folk pop-rock, was the theme for the bands that evening. They usually had more than one person singing the lyrics and blending in nice cross-gender harmonies. As such, it was hard to tell if they even had a lead singer, much less if that singer were male or female. Their bright, sweet sound was generally the lowest tempo music of the night, a good segue for the rest of the evening.

The second act was rising sensation The Head and the Heart, hailing from Seattle, Washington, and just signed to their hometown’s most influential record label. They rolled five-deep and once again brought cross-gender harmonies, a fiddle, and a keyboard. Their style was similar in spirit to Buried Beds, with less of an emphasis on folk music. They were more up-tempo at times and usually had no less than three members harmonizing at any given time. Their voices were very strong, and their harmonies were very tight – a real gem to listen to, especially during break-downs when their voices became the music itself. I was very pleased with The Head and the Heart, and I plan on following them more closely.

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9:30 Concert Preview: Dr. Dog 1/28 and 1/29

Philadelphia breakout group Dr. Dog will add DC to the list on their seemingly unending tour with a two night stop at 9:30 Club on Friday, January 28 and Saturday the 29th. The Vinyl District will be there Saturday night to hear the fanciful tones and layered sound of Dr. Dog’s brand of psychedelic indie folk rock. We’ll also be there to check out opening acts by The Head and the Heart, who were just signed to Sub Pop, and Buried Beds.

Dr. Dog released their latest album Shame, Shame in October 2010 while mired deep in a thick touring schedule that shows no sign of letting up until Winter 2011 at the earliest. Hope to see y’all there!

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TVD Live! Kingsley Flood at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 1/8

Boston-based Kingsley Flood paid a visit to Rock and Roll Hotel, prefaced by South Jersey’s Sounds from Atlantis and followed by DC’s Typefighter. The evening showcased a sampling of Americana rock that showed no shortage of banjos, saxophones, fiddles, and trumpets.

I could – should – have researched Kingsley Flood and listened to their published work before seeing them live, but opted – urm, forgot – to stop short of listening to their music and seeing their show with a completely ignorant perspective. My lackadaisical method paid off when their sound, numbers, and energy struck me as a domestic answer to Gogol Bordello.

Kingsley Flood has been featured on NPR, and frontman Naseem Khuri’s decision to abandon a career in international affairs in order to pursue music has seemed to be the right choice, as they recently won New Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards. Khuri lives in DC and has a local following, but the rest of the band members reside in Boston, and Khuri credits AirTran’s low fares for making the collaboration possible.

Khuri leads a band of six with his vocals and rhythm guitar, and at different times the band featured a fiddle, saxophone, trumpet, and keyboard. There was a palpable excitement from the crowd for the band, who was not last on the bill but by far provided the thickest turnout. Khuri’s well-honed voice and knack for interaction with the crowd created a positive, intimate atmosphere despite the extreme volume and sizable numbers.

Lending to this, Khuri recounted the story of an evil cat that kicked him out of bed the night previously, to which he dedicated “Stoop Cats.” I saw the picture; this cat was a demon. They also played “Cathedral Walls” from their first album, Dust Windows, which Khuri introduced with an anecdote about his father. Having the trumpeter Chris Barnett walk into the crowd and play back towards the band helped the feeling of intimacy as well.

As we all know, however, music is about style, and the style reflects the music. It’s a metaphorical MC Escher painting from which a casual observer can make observations about the type of sound and the type of reception the band is looking for. The band’s style screamed Americana with Khuri’s upturned fedora and pushed-up sleeves, and fiddler/saxophonist Jenée Morgan’s summer dress and cowboy boots further amplified that image.

The entire outfit was well-put together, and every instrument was genuine. I appreciated the highlights given to “not-a-guitar” instruments and that members wielded multiple instruments, which proves their dedication to their craft, and diversified the sound. Khuri’s vocals and lyrics were powerful and well-rehearsed, but I believe he wasn’t quite exploring the space and range his voice can allow. Overall, it was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday evening. We just wish that they had a release on vinyl… Khuri speculates that they will release a 7” single soon. (We’ll be waiting patiently.)

Sounds from Atlantis opened for Kingsley Flood, and I and the rest of the crowd were pleasantly surprised by their talent and sound. Every member of that band knew his instrument well, and they played a healthy mix of soulful indie folk rock. Lead singer Tony Cooksey writes the songs, which display a variety of emotion, and sings with a very powerful and skilled voice. DC’s notoriously tepid audience was cheering and shouting by the end of the set, which nicely prepped them for Kingsley Flood.

Finally, Typefighter ably finished the set, a more pure rock band with fewer bells and whistles. They stuck close to what they do best, guitar rock, and gave a positive performance. Their style and sound were reminiscent of Band of Horses. Front man Ryan McLaughlin rocked the beard and the microphone, belting out indie rock anthems in a distinctive voice.

Overall the three bands gave largely positive performances, with each having something different to give, whatever your taste.

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