Author Archives: Roger Catlin

TVD Premiere:
Honey Radar,
“Wind-Up Man”

Leave it to lo-fi Philly rockers Honey Radar to dig up and redo one of The Monkees’ most obscure songs. The appropriately robotic “Wind-Up Man,” a self-lacerating attack at the cookie cutter pop music machine that created the Prefab Four, was first performed in the strange and equally obscure TV special 33 1/2 Revolutions Per Monkee that was also the last creative endeavor of the original quartet before they broke up.

For Honey Radar, it’s one of a slew of recordings collected for a compilation of things they did for the Atlanta-based label Chunklet Industries. Sing the Snow Away: The Chunklet Years is due in stores June 20, but The Vinyl District is proud today to debut that weird Monkees cover that works better and certainly rocks harder in the hands of Honey Radar than it did by its originators, who never did commit it to a recording.

“The Monkees were the first group I was obsessed with when I was a little kid,” says Honey Radar bandleader Jason Henn. Though he says the 1969, purposely trippy 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV special was “almost unwatchable, worse than Magical Mystery Tour,” it had “some songs in it that I like, and ‘Wind-up Man’ always sounded to me like it would make a good straight-forward rock song.”

The band played it live a few times and put it on a 2016 split single with label owner Henry Owings where it stood out, mostly because his side was more conceptual comedy—Owings’ extended impression of the band Slint: three minutes of awkward silence, poking fun of that band’s lengthy breaks between songs at gigs.

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TVD Video Premiere: India Ramey, “King of
the Ashes”

PHOTO: STACIE HUCKEBA | India Ramey didn’t know for certain what would happen when she saw a political ill wind blow in late 2016. Still, she wrote the clarion warning “King of the Ashes” unaware it’d be so well suited to the most challenging American spring anyone can remember, with with more than 109,000 dead from a pandemic, millions out of work, and uprisings in every state against the country’s historic pandemic, racism. As such, Ramey’s warning, with twangy guitar and a call to action, couldn’t be more timely.

The Vinyl District is proud to premiere the stirring “King of the Ashes” video, a harbinger of her upcoming fourth album Shallow Graves due in stores September 4. “I woke up in a different world today,” it begins. “All that I held dear had been stripped away.” She warns of a man about to burn everything down, who preys on the fearful and the weak, who will “burn it down to be king of the ashes.”

By the time Ramey calls for people to rise up in the first ringing chorus, it’s all too clear of whom she speaks. “I wrote it about Trump, and was predicting that there would be some sort of apocalypse under his reign,” says Ramey, who was a a deputy district attorney in Montgomery, Alabama, before she became one of Nashville’s most promising voices.

“I am sorry to say that I was right. It proved to be quite the prophetic song, unfortunately,” says Ramey, who has been pegged an alt country performer to watch since her first album Junkyard Angel a decade ago. With a bracing righteousness that matches her tunefulness, Ramey is sometimes categorized alongside Jason Isbell, whose Southeastern engineer Mark Petaccia produced the new disc, her first since 2017’s Southern Gothic-flavored Snake Handler.

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Laurel Canyon’s countercultural history explored in new doc airing now on epix

Throughout history there have been communities where creative people gather, attracting like-minded artists who create something that becomes a legacy. Usually it involves low rent. In Los Angeles, the woody hills above Sunset with its cul de sacs and affordable rentals helped nurture what was also the natural sounding outgrowth of folk into rock in the late ’60s with occasional twangs of country.

More than 50 years after its heyday, Laurel Canyon has been heralded of late in documentary films. First came Jakob Dylan’s Echo in the Canyon, which was built around interviews with surviving originators alongside rehearsals for a contemporary salute to the bands. After a short run in theaters last year, it’s now showing on Netflix. Now comes the more expansive Laurel Canyon, a two-part, two-night, four-hour film that premiered on epix Sunday (May 31) and concludes this Sunday (June 7) and is available on demand.

With the goofy catchphrase of “Everything They Touched Turned to Music” it aims to capture a magic time when guitars rang through the hallows and The Byrds, The Turtles, Frank Zappa, and The Doors were all neighbors, more often trading joints than cups of sugar, and always apparently open to drop over and jam.

Alison Ellwood, whose previous similar extended music documentary was History of the Eagles, begins with what looks like it will be a ton of previously unseen or otherwise rare home movies of activities in Laurel Canyon, when handheld movie cameras were just another avenue of creativity for those capturing the freewheeling spirit of the era.

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TVD Premiere, Hawk,
“I Believe in You”

The road to joy in rock ’n’ roll is one of simplicity. A few chords, a pleasing refrain, and repeat ’til nirvana. It’s a familiar roadmap for Hawk, the project that brought 2016’s I’m on Fire and 2018’s Bomb Pop. It happens again like clockwork with the new Fly, which arrives in stores on May 15.

Not to be mistaken for the Pennsylvania metal band of the same name, this Hawk is a project that’s been hiding in plain sight for a few years, with Venice, California, writer and singer David Hawkins and guitarist Aaron Bakker at the center of an impressive pop supergroup, featuring multi-instrumentalist Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, legendary Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, and now Mott the Hoople keyboardist Morgan Fisher. (Gary Louris who was part of past Hawk projects as well as Hawkins’ folk rock chamber group Be, had to bow out this time due to commitments to his main band, The Jayhawks).

The Vinyl District is proud to debut a particularly uplifting Fly track in these dark times, “I Believe in You.” Written to encourage his daughter, its opening line is a classic phrase of power pop, “Oh girl, you know that it’s true”—that’s much more in the vein of The Monkees (from “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”) than Milli Vanilli. With his formidable colleagues, Hawkins whips it up into a layered rock confection, with harmonies, keyboards, and a ringing Stringfellow guitar solo to boot while repeating its urgent truth.

“I wrote this song for my daughter. She is one of the coolest people I know; she is so positive and kind despite facing her own challenges, and every day she wakes up with a smile and shares it with everyone she sees; it’s really inspiring. I wrote it to celebrate her and encourage her,” Hawkins tells us. “I came up with the words and melody while I was feeding her breakfast one day, and I just started singing it to her in the mornings to start the day. She loves it. I had to explain to her what ‘outta sight’ means—so cute. She was super excited when I told her ‘her song’ was going to be on the record, and she just beams every time I play it.”

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Roger Joseph Manning Jr., The TVD Interview

Keyboard maven, studio whiz, and go-to arranger Roger Joseph Manning Jr. has created in a number of forums since 1994 when the colorful and influential band Jellyfish that he co-founded with Andy Strummer broke up. But even after putting together bands that include Imperial Drag, Moog Cookbook, and TV Eyes, and working with artists from Beck to Air to Cheap Trick, Manning has returned to working with two other members of the final iteration of Jellyfish.

Manning had worked with Tim Smith and Eric Dover in other projects (including Umajets and Imperial Drag), but working together brought back a kind of Jellyfish sound to the group they’re calling The Lickerish Quartet (after the title of an arty 1970 Italian porn flick). Their debut EP “Threesome Vol. 1” is due in stores on May 15 via The Lickerish Quartet Label Logic, distributed by Ingrooves. We caught up with Manning over the phone from Los Angeles.

How is the pandemic lockdown affecting you?

Fortunately there’s very little strife at my end. I am mostly at home during the week anyway, working in my music room on a variety of things. So, aside from procuring supplies. I don’t mind that. My girl, who is a lot more social than me and her job requires her to be more social, she’s having a tougher time of it. But I’m just like pretty much business as usual.

What’s it like to release a project from a new band in the middle of all of it?

Mostly, I’ve come to find, it’s a blessing for the fans, who couldn’t be happier about having I guess what I call a pleasant distraction at this time. They have been demonstrating in their correspondence to us how appreciative they are that this happened when it did.

Obviously, we didn’t time it that way. And I’ve been thankful that the music has been able to take their minds off things. Of course, it’s all a double-edged sword. People are tightening their belts financially, obviously, so I don’t know who even wants to throw down for a $15 CD or whatever, vs. if we were in a regular economic climate like the oasis we were all on last year.

There are going to be three EPS, is that the plan?

Yeah, that is the plan. And we have most of the music ready to go. So barring anything unforeseen, that’s what the public should get within the next year and a half or so.

Why did you decide to release it that way, rather than on one album?

Mostly from an advised business standpoint of how things operate today, getting music to fans and that interaction, how it’s done now. Because everything is so singles-driven, because of DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music.

It’s certainly not my preference. It’s not what I grew up with. I like being lost in somebody’s 45-minute soundtrack that they would present with 10 or 12 songs. but I think an EP is a good compromise. I think it’s enough of a detour that really keeps the fans entertained for a while, and sets up an environment of—well hey, if you want some more, we’ve got something a few months away as opposed to a year or two away.

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Liveat930.com brings the live concert experience to your quarantine

PHOTOS: JOHN SHORE | In our time of the Coronavirus Clampdown, fans of live music are feeling the void, just as musicians have seen their livelihoods temporarily disappear. The nation’s string of music clubs reliably alive with nightly shows are shuttered and empty as the streets around them. One of the nation’s best-loved venues, the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC is attempting to fill that void by streaming a string of live shows it shot for a public television series that ran a few years back.

The 12 episodes of Live at 9:30, recorded in 2015 and 2016, features performances from nearly 60 different artists—from heritage acts like Garbage, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and The English Beat to local heroes Trouble Funk and Thievery Corporation to groups that have long since outgrown playing 1,200-capacity clubs like the 9:30: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Grace Potter, and Lake Street Dive.

Filmed with 15 different cameras, the intent was to “capture the energy of the audience, something we unfortunately can’t reproduce at the moment,” says 9:30 spokesman Jordan Grobe. The shows, streaming free on Liveat930.com, reflect not only the energy of the room, but the variety of its bookings.

“Each episode focuses on five different artists to show people different genres they might not be familiar with,” Grobe says. “So for instance, you might love Gogol Bordello, but not be familiar with Shakey Graves, so those are in an episode together.” “The format of it is sort of a reverse Saturday Night Live, where instead of it being 85 percent comedy, 15 percent music, it’s 85 percent music, 15 percent variety.”

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Cáit O’Riordan,
The TVD Interview

PHOTO ABOVE: JOHAN VIPPER | March gives way to thoughts of St. Patrick’s Day and the raucous annual gigs from the premiere Celtic punk band The Pogues, who supercharged traditional melodies even as frontman Shane MacGowan crafted songs as indelible as any from the Emerald Isle on classic albums like 1985’s Rum, Sodomy & the Lash. The band was active until 1996, reunited in 2001, and continued to tour yearly until they called it quits in 2014.

But in 2011, Peter “Spider” Stacy, who was living in New Orleans and working on a Pogues musical with the team from HBO’s The Deuce and The Wire, saw a set from the Lost Bayou Ramblers that had a familiar verve, despite a wholly different background. Stacy, who handled tin whistle for The Pogues took over vocals when MacGowan was fired from the band in 1991, sat in with the Ramblers for a few gigs and the Cajun musicians learned some Pogues songs.

Adding original Pogues bassist Cáit O’Riordan last year boosted the authenticity of the group which adopted a touring name Poguetry from the 1986 EP “Poguetry in Motion.” The group is on its biggest US tour to date, blending the sound and fury of The Pogues with some Cajun fervor. The Grammy-winning Ramblers open the shows with their own set as well.

We caught up with O’Riordan, 55, over the phone from New York. shortly after the first gig on the tour which continues this weekend in Philly, DC, Brooklyn, and beyond.

You just played the first gig of this tour last weekend at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. How did it go?

It went great. It’s an amazing venue. And it was Friday night in New Orleans. But it was the Friday after Mardi Gras, so we weren’t sure what state people would be in. But people just wanted to dance and have a good time, which is everything that you could want from an audience.

How did it all get started?

Spider lived in Louisiana and he went out one night and saw this band, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, and he just immediately amazed by them and introduced himself and they all got along great and they started writing together. Spider was a guest on the Ramblers album that won a Grammy last year (for Best Regional Roots Music Album), Kalenda. They tried out a few gigs.

And then me and Spider met up in Dublin at a big concert that was celebrating Shane MacGowan’s 60th birthday at Ireland’s National Concert Hall [in 2018]. Spider and I were in the house band for that and that went great; and we just got to talking, and we started talking about Louisiana, and he said, “You should come out and do some gigs with us.” So I did. We did some Christmas gigs and they were great. I just had the same reaction to the Ramblers as he did. I thought these guys are incredible. It’s such a pleasure to work with them.

They seem to come from such a different background—Cajun rather than Celtic.

Obviously it is, it’s a different background. But there’s so many parallels. It’s that thing of carrying a culture inside you, but being surrounded by a different culture, a much different culture that is trying to crush out your own culture. When you’re put under that pressure, you either crumble or you get stronger in your own culture, which very much happened with the London Irish under Thatcher. And I see these guys, the Cajuns, cause they’re working really hard to keep their music alive and their language alive—there’s a lot of parallels there.

Were they even aware of The Pogues when Spider first met them?

I don’t know. I couldn’t imagine why they would be. In my world I’m pretty urban, my life is pretty much Dublin, London, New York, Boston, LA. In that world—people my age—everybody knows “Fairytale of New York” at least. They all have an image of, if not The Pogues, they’ll see Shane in their mind’s eye and have a whole idea of what goes on with that—mostly drinking and the rowdiness and the green beer. I just love the opportunity to just iterate always that Shane is actually one of the great Irish poets. I always encourage people to listen to the lyrics. But if they do just want to dance and yell, that’s good too.

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Sergio Mendes: Bringing ‘Joy’ to Screens and Vinyl

Six decades after the rise of bossa nova, and more than a half century since the heyday of Brasil ’66, the music of Sergio Mendes is poised for another serge in popularity with the release of a new documentary and album.

John Scheinfeld’s new documentary Sergio Mendes: In the Key of Joy premieres Saturday, January 18 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Next month it will be accompanied by a new album of the same name, In the Key of Joy on Concord Records, with a slate of new songs with guests stars that include Common, Hermeto Pascoal, and Joe Pizzulo among others.

“One aspect of Sergio’s long and impressive career that has impressed me is how he has successfully navigated the career peaks and valleys encountered by most artists,” says Scheinfeld, whose previous films include The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? and Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary. “Amazingly, he has found a way to push the envelope and transform his sound from decade to decade while always remaining relevant and staying true to his musical roots.”

A three-time Grammy winner, Mendes has released dozens of albums over the years, had some top 10 singles with remakes of “The Look of Love” and “The Fool on the Hill” in 1968, and returned with a hit 15 years later with another Top 5 hit, “Never Gonna Let You Go.” He remade his “Mas Que Nada” with Black Eyed Peas in 2006 and earned an Oscar nomination for a song in the 2012 animated Rio. We caught up with Mendes, 78, this week over the phone in a call from his home in Woodland Hills, California.

How long did it take to put the documentary together?

Two years. John Scheinfeld did the John Coltrane documentary and Harry Nilsson. He’s a great guy, very musical. We went to Brazil, we interviewed a lot of people down there, we got a lot of old, great footage. And it’s just great. I’m very, very happy about it.

And you recorded a new album to come about the same time?

Yes, It’s got a lot of young artists—newcomers—and a lot of new songs, no covers. And of course vinyl, which I love. I have a 26-year-old, he buys two records a week. And his deck, you know, the turntables…the other day I had dinner with my friend, the great engineer Bernie Grundman, and he was talking all about the resurgence of vinyl. We are all very happy about it.

It’s part of your legacy too, with those great albums of the ’60s and their great artwork. You don’t get that impact in smaller formats.

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Or streaming—you hear one thing and throw it away. It’s kind of weird for me.

You’ve never taken a break, have you? You’ve been performing pretty consistently for six decades?

As long as God allows me to do it and gives me the health, I’m there and ready.

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TVD Live: Jesse Malin with Ryan Adams and Chuck Prophet at the Hotel Cafe, 1/9

What was already a pretty nifty small club gig—with New York rocker Jesse Malin and his band headlining a show also featuring Chuck Prophet at Hollywood’s Hotel Cafe turned into something more notable when the guest stars started coming in during Malin’s encore.

First there was Richard Bacchus of his old band D Generation—together they did “Capital Offender,” the only song from that outfit Malin played all night. But then a puffy, wild-haired, bespectacled rocker in flannel came out. It was Ryan Adams, on stage for the first time in nearly a year, when a New York Times story alleging sexual misconduct made him drop out of sight—the first major #MeToo reckoning in the rock world. Plans to release the first of three albums he announced he’d put out last year were dashed by his record company. Three equipment companies withdrew endorsements.

But Malin stayed a friend to Adams, inviting him on to play what turned out to be five songs from The Fine Art of Self Destruction, the 2003 solo debut from Malin that Adams had produced and played on. It was also the first album Adams ever produced. As Adams careened around the stage, playing mostly rhythm and adding the occasional harmony vocal, they played “Queen of the Underworld,” “Wendy,” “Downliner,” “Solitaire” and the suddenly ironic title song—a big boost to Adams fans who cheered the return online the next day.

The appearance seemed a bit different tonally from the rest of the set, with otherwise concentrated on the album he recorded out in Los Angeles with Lucinda Williams and released last year, Sunset Kids. Malin, at 51, carries the mantle of New York rock traditions dating back to Dion, with a tough guy demeanor and a heart of gold. With his newsboy cap and thin frame, he can churn up the rock with his band, but also slow it down for an acoustic confessional. As a performer, he’ll jump on the drum stand, abandon the stage, wander through the crowd and end up standing on the bar in the rear of the room — all while still connected with a wire; no wireless microphone for this guy.

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TVD Live: She & Him Christmas Party at the Anthem, 12/5

PHOTO: DAN WINTERS | The first time Zooey Deschanel sang a Christmas song for huge audiences was 16 years ago in the movie Elf, crooning “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in the shower, eventually dueting with an unwelcome Will Ferrell. It was that moment that showed M. Ward that the actress could actually sing, and they eventually got together to form the duo She & Him, which continued to record originals and covers even as her star rose as the star of TV’s The New Girl for seven seasons.

The third album for the two was a Christmas release, as was their sixth, two years ago. That makes fully one third of the She & Him recorded output Yuletide music. So Christmas is a big deal for them. Hence a big “Christmas Party” tour that filled Washington, DC’s cavernous Anthem with good cheer if not completely with fans. A lot of them came in holiday finery so extreme there was a costume show and competition mid-show, hosted by the comic who opened the show Pete Lee, whose schtick is being a wide-eyed innocent, not unlike a certain overgrown elf Deschanel has worked with before. Six Christmas trees stayed alight on the broad stage all night and a huge 10-foot video screen looped a fireplace fire throughout.

Deschanel’s well-defined favorite holiday period was clear from her choice of the the 1944 Frank Loesser duet she did in Elf—relying on the kind of mid-20th century, postwar pop standards popular way before her time—from about the time her father was born. That lent a kind of draggy, melancholy haze to the first half of the show, weighed down with slowed versions of nostalgic standbys from your mom’s Firestone albums like “Happy Holiday,” “The Christmas Waltz,” and “The Christmas Song.”

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TVD Live: Marshall Crenshaw at City Winery, 11/16

Marshall Crenshaw’s tours these days take different forms. Sometimes he goes solo, other times he shares the stage with the Bottle Rockets. He was the lead voice for a Smithereens tribute tour earlier this year as well. But Saturday for a show at City Winery in Washington DC, he fronted a trio that gave both muscular backing to his tuneful, timeless songs and a loose, fresh approach to many of them.

It began with the opening “There She Goes Again,” whose bounce slowed with a more relaxed beat. The sprightly song had kicked off his landmark self-titled album in 1982 that’s still a favorite of Crenshaw fans and to which the singer returned a couple of other times for show high points, “Cynical Girl” and “Someday, Someway,” which with he ended the set.

But other songs may have better used his group, which boasted bassist Jared Michael Nickerson, who has played with Charlie Musselwhite, Freedy Johnston, and Vernon Reid and drummer Dan Hickey, who played for years for They Might Be Giants, and also Joe Jackson, Joe Cocker, The B-52’s and Cyndi Lauper.

The jazzy “Fantastic Planet of Love” was well suited for their instrumental flights; the hard-charging “Better Back Off” got a slower, almost country approach. The looseness overall may have been the inevitable result of not rehearsing, the singer admitted. Crenshaw extolling the practice of Dean Martin in approaching his TV variety show the same way. But it also meant the show had a spontaneity throughout.

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TVD Premiere: Mister Rogers, “Many Ways To Say I Love You”

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FRED ROGERS COMPANY | Yes, we are tough, we are girded against an unforgiving world, the headlines make us quake each day and now winter is coming. But, oh my gosh, the tinkly piano and reassuring voice of Fred Rogers will make you melt all over again, be you tattooed metal head or cynical indie rocker. We at TVD are only too happy to make your day, save your week, instill one tiny fiber of hope with the premiere of “Many Ways to Say I Love You” from Mister Rogers.

It’s a vinyl-only bonus track from a new vinyl version of It’s Such a Good Feeling: The Best of Mister Rogers. The Omnivore Recordings CD/digital version came out in October, well in advance of the big Tom Hanks movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood that will be released November 22.

But on that same day, a translucent cardigan-red vinyl version of It’s Such a Good Feeling comes out, exclusively at Barnes & Noble, with two extra tracks not on the CD/digital version. That one of them is “Many Ways to Say I Love You” makes you instantly think: How could they have left it off in the first place? How would we otherwise hear of the cooking way to say I love you? The eating way? The cleaning way? The drawing way? Mister Rogers had a way to stick it right to your heart, in a sincere and kindly, totally non-cynical way—a trolley train express right back to your childhood.

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TVD Live: Kinky Friedman at Pearl Street Warehouse, 11/7

He’s been a popular detective novelist, a singer, a columnist, Peace Corps volunteer, animal rescuer, and a politician. He played at the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday Night Live, and the Rolling Thunder Revue. He’s the only performer in 45 years to record an episode of Austin City Limits that was never aired. And he won 12.6 percent of the vote when he ran for Governor of Texas in 2006.

Kinky Friedman is back on the road and playing music, with the latest of a revived recording career and a new album that’s in the Americana Top 10. In a typically laconic solo show at the Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington, DC on Thursday, days after he turned 75, he placed himself in the tradition of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, with wisecracks out of Mark Twain (he fiddled with a cigar that he never lit indoors).

That notion probably comes from starting with Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd,” a populist Robin Hood anthem, that begins with the invitation, “If you’ll gather ‘round me, children, a story I will tell..” That’s the same way another staple of his set began, Peter LaFarge’s “The Ballad of Ira Hayes,” another song about social import about a Pima Indian who became a forgotten World War II hero.

More often in his show—and what the dozens of people came to see—were his randy little ditties like “Waitret, Please Waitret” (“come sit on my fate” is its written lyric) or his flirty song of archeology, “Homo Erectus.” And it wouldn’t be a Kinky concert without his “Asshole from El Paso,” Chinga Chavin’s inversion of Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee.”

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TVD Live: The New Pornographers and
Lady Lamb at the
Lincoln Theatre, 11/6

PHOTOS: RICHIE DOWNS | From the big sound that comes from The New Pornographers you’d almost expect more people on stage. But just eight were there Wednesday at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington DC, covering songs from eight different albums before a happy, largely seated audience.

It was the rare second day in the city to satisfy demand. Even more rare was that they were inside a theater rather than a big nightclub. “In 15 years I don’t think we’ve ever not played the 9:30 Club,” frontman Carl Newman said. It was such a topsy-turvy thing, he sang a line from “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” from “Hamilton,” perhaps inspired by being in the Nation’s Capital an extra day. But in doing a second night’s show, though, they were determined to present a different show than the night before. “It’s only polite,” said Newman, ever the Canadian.

So people didn’t hear the new “Leather on the Seat” from their new album In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. Instead of “Dancehall Domine” from Brill Bruisers they played “You Tell Me Where”; two things were heard from Challengers including the title track that they hadn’t played the night before; they did a rare “Use It” but not “Stacked Crooked” from Twin Cinema. Further, “Avalanche Alley” instead of “High Ticket Attractions” from Whiteout Conditions; and “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” instead of “Crash Years” from Together.

It couldn’t have been too easy; these are intricate pop creations with lots of parts presumably needing lots of practice—they don’t just bang out anything. But it all sounded pretty darn glorious and they kept in enough favorites to rally fans from any of its eras (for me, it was “Singing Spanish Techno”).

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TVD Live: Robert Gordon & Chris Spedding at City Winery, 11/5

Rockabilly had its heyday and faded 20 years before Robert Gordon picked up the mantle in the late ’70s. By then, he had already been frontman for CBGB’s mainstay Tuff Darts and he would bring the same punk energy to the bass-slapping vibrancy of the ’50s sound.

He was the pre-Stray Cats king of the rockabilly revivalists even if he only grazed the mainstream. Still, Bruce Springsteen gave him the throbbing “Fire”; he recorded Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway” before its author made it his signature song. Throughout a string of initial albums, he built a body of rockabilly works that would drive the music into the next decade.

Decades later, Gordon, at 72, is still performing and on Tuesday headlined a show at City Winery in Washington, DC, not far from where he grew up in Bethesda, MD. A lot of old friends showed up for him, including the drummer for the first band he was in at age 15. But it was not as crowded a night as past local appearances have been.

In a stylish suit and cummerbund, with an attempt at a modish cut in his hair, he cut a figure like a retired baseball star or ex-boxer opening a nightclub. He was welcoming and debonair but with a rough-hewn, old school expression that put him from another era. In front of a band with more credentials than there were fans before them, they rocked right into “Someday, Someway” after a five song set led by guitarist Chris Spedding, who comes to the tour after backing Bryan Ferry on a swing that played to thousands at the Anthem locally this summer.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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