Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scott Miller, Sept. 28, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto

I usually scan my ticket stub, but since this show was free I scanned Miller's promo material.
Scott Miller was screwed before he even got to Toronto. First, all of his stuff was stolen after the previous night's gig in Buffalo. To quote Miller, "Fuck Buffalo." He played his mini set at the Horseshoe Tavern, part of the free "Dave Bookman’s Nu Music Nites," with borrowed gear. Next, his set was placed between two local bands, and most of the audience members were there to see the first or the third act, and didn't pay attention to his set at all. The audience annoyingly chatted loudly, and maybe ten of us were actually paying attention to Miller. The 'Shoe should have had Miller play first. You can't blame Miller for being somewhat grumpy given that the world seemed to be conspiring against him that night.

Regardless, Miller pressed on with a way-too-short 45 minute acoustic set. He's a funny dude, and even picked on the audience at one point. "Did y'all come in one car?" He told stories about his songs, and mostly took requests. See the below video for the history behind the song "Ciderville Saturday Night." He even pulled out an early Christmas song saying, "I hate babies, but I love the baby Jesus. He's my second favorite Jew after Sammy Davis, Jr." Look for the Christmas album sometime after Thanksgiving (that's the end of November for you Canadians).

1. I Won't Go With You
2. I Made a Mess of This Town
3. Freedom's a Stranger
4. Mary (The V-Roys)
5. 8 Miles a Gallon (live).mp3
Buy: Reconstruction (2007)
6. Yes Virginia (?, from a forthcoming Christmas album)
7. Ciderville Saturday Night
8. Across the Line
9. Daddy Raised a Boy
10. Drunk All Around
11. Amtrak Crescent

Below you can download the song "Appalachian Refugee," a beautiful track from the 2009 album For Crying Out Loud.

BlankMusic press kits

Monday, September 27, 2010

September Feel Bad For You

From our friends at - the monthly forum users comp! The above "cover art" is a photo I found on my camera after the debauchery from Sunday, September 19 - see the previous post on NQ Arbuckle. That's my shoe on the lower left. Hot! The comp will be available as a zipped file for one week only. Cheers!

1. Nathaniel Rateliff - "Brakeman"
In Memory of Loss (2010)
A fine selection off of my favorite album so far this year.

2. Parlor Hawk - Every Bone.mp3
Buy: Hoarse and Roaring (2010)
Off of an interesting album from a Salt Lake City area band.

3. Frontier Ruckus - "Dark Autumn Hour"
The Orion Songbook (2008)

4. Jimmy Bo Horne - "Spank"
Single (orig. 1979)
A co-worker of mine gave me this tune once as it was his favorite disco era tune. This is the closest I could find to what I once had. Good stuff.

5. Budgie - "Napoleon Bona Parts 1 & 2"
Bandolier (1975)
Classic Brit hard rock from Welsh aces Budgie. Play loud.

6. The Golden Palominos - "I've Been The One"
A History (1986)
Lovely version of the Lowell George classic. That's Syd Straw on vocals and Dennis Hopper at the beginning "a little louder and a little more confused..."

7. The Babys - "If You've Got The Time"
The Babys (1976)

8. The dBs - Molly Says.mp3
From: Sound of Music (1987, out of print)
My favorite dBs/Holsapple song…love the line:
“She could stand at the top of the world
And still complain that she could not see
She could stand in a deep dark hole
And still look down on me”

9. Boston Spaceships - Come On Baby Grace.mp3
Buy: Our Cubehouse Still Rocks (2010)
IMHO, this song reaches the heights of some of GBV's best material.

10. Miracle Legion - "With a Wish"
Drenched (1992)
'90s jangle pop at its finest.

11. Three Dog Night - "Liar"
Naturally (1970)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

NQ Arbuckle, September 19, Dakota Tavern, Toronto

Ever been at a bar or a show and you saw someone who was so embarrassingly drunk that you felt badly for them? I'm pretty sure that was me last Sunday night. My good friends Jen and Ryan got themselves hitched last Sunday, September 19. After their spectacular wedding and me drinking my weight in wine at the reception, I grabbed a cab to the Dakota Tavern to catch the last two of sets of a gig by NQ Arbuckle.

I don't have a lot to say about the show other than it rocked, and I danced and sang along like an idiot. My buddy Steffen took a set list and e-mailed it to me the next day. Steffen took the above photo and some other bitchin' photos at He also essentially saved my life by lending me $20 so I could get home that night. I'm such a waste-oid.

Glad you made it home ok! Setlist below - for the set you didn't see and the songs you don't remember seeing. -Steffen

Set 1:
1. Saskatoon Tonight
2. Officer Down
3. Cheap Town
4. Sleepy Wife
5. Marco Polo
6. Anyhow, I Love You [Guy Clark]
7. Sun’s Hanging Low
8. Part of a poem by Alden Nowlan called Ypres: 1915
9. Mixkin Dancehall Blues
10. Windfall [Son Volt]

Set 2:
1. Punk Rocker.mp3
Buy ( Hanging the Battle-Scarred Pinata (2002)
Buy (Maple Music): Hanging the Battle-Scarred Pinata (2002)
2. Huntsville Affair
3. Fireworks
4. Walls Are So Thin
5. Song for Kathleen O'Hara
6. Angels And Devils
7. When I Come Back
8. Outside The Stars
9. I Liked You Right From The Start > The Gambler [Kenny Rogers] > You Can’t Always Get What You Want [Rolling Stones]
10. Snake Farm [Ray Wylie Hubbard]

Set 3:
1. Sleepy Wife
2. I Can See The Moon.mp3
Buy ( Last Supper in a Cheap Town (2006)
Buy (Maple Music): Last Supper in a Cheap Town (2006)
3. You Look Like A Wreck
4. X O K
5. Atlantic City [Bruce Springsteen]
6. My Baby
7. Don’t Remember Me.mp3
Buy ( X O K (2009)
Buy (Maple Music): X O K (2009)
8. Postcard From Princess
9. Downtime
10. In Another Time > Record Body Count [Rheostatics]
11. Goodnight Irene On New Year's Eve

1. Danko/Manuel [Drive-By Truckers]
2. Skydive Home

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The best band that you aren't listening to: The Fox Hunt

The Fox Hunt is the best band that you are currently not listening to. They hail from Martinsburg, West Virginia, and as their Appalachian roots may suggest, they play a mean version of modern bluegrass. The band has two primary songwriters, John R. Miller and Matt Kline, who both cover a range of human emotions in their music. Women, sinning, drinking, misery, temptation, you know, the happy subjects, are covered in depth in their lyrics. Their music is mostly uptempo country/folk, filled with vocal harmonies, and lots of banjo and fiddle, rounded out with acoustic guitar, mandolin, and upright bass. And the musicians frequently rotate instruments and share lead vocals. Now that's talent!

I first become familiar with them from their stellar 2007 debut, Nowhere Bound. If you don't already own this album, go buy it now. NOW! In 2009 they released America's Working So We Don't Have To, an album of traditional Americana folk songs with their own unique arrangements, followed by a self-titled EP of four original tracks.

This year they released another album of originals entitled Long Way to Go which is quickly becoming my favorite album of 2010. It spans an entire range of roots music, with a mid-tempo opening track called "Screw Me Up" which is about a woman messing with a dude's head. Later, a snappy song called "It Suits Me" which is ostensibly about a one night stand (the instrumental outro kills me, listen below). One of the best songs on the album, "Four Horses" is a slaying meditation on life and death. "No one said that life was easy. No one said that life was fair." Gulp. My favorite song on the album is about breaking the bank to please your lush of a woman (see the "I'll Drink Cheap" video below).

It Suits Me.mp3
Four Horses.mp3
Buy: Long Way to Go (2010)

I once read an interview with Dallas Good of The Sadies where he said (paraphrasing), "I've said it a million times. Bluegrass is faster than speed metal." Watch the below video and you decide.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A weird Sunday morning with The Sadies



Why the fuck is my alarm clock going off at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday morning? (Aimz fades in and out of consciousness) I could use a large glass of water. (rolls over, yawns, stretches) I need to buy a dress for Ryan's wedding, but the stores don't open until noon. Why the hell did I set my alarm? (pulls covers over her head) Why the fuck was I dreaming about my office printer? (clock now says 9:50) Oh yeah, there's a free Sadies show at 11:00. I better pull it together and get moving.

3/4 of The Sadies during the TIFF Lightbox opening street party.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is in full swing, and as part of the festivities the city welcomed the official opening of the TIFF Bell Lightbox with a street party. The Lightbox building is the new home of the TIFF, and it includes the TIFF offices, a public atrium, five public cinemas, two art galleries, three learning studios, a center for students and scholars, a bistro, a restaurant, and a lounge. The other side of the Lightbox will boast a 46 story condominium development called the Festival Tower that is currently nearing completion.

So why, you ask, would I drag my sorry carcass out of bed on a Sunday morning just to see a new building? Normally I wouldn't, but for this street party my favorite Canadians were playing a mini gig. Yes, a free Sadies show is one of the few things that will get me moving on a weekend morning.

The scene was actually quite surreal at 11:00 a.m. at the intersection of King West and John St., roughly four blocks from where I live. Normally this area is pretty dead on a Sunday morning, with a few people headed off to brunch, or to the Starbucks, Second Cup, or Tim Hortons, all of which line the block. I crossed the intersection of Peter and King West and was greeted by a giant inflatable rat, part of an ongoing, rotating series of scheduled walkouts by hotel employees (this time from the nearby Hyatt) to protest working conditions. After the rat and dozens of protesters, I came upon lines and lines of people headed into the Lightbox to see whatever TIFF screenings aired at 11 or 12. Vendors from nearby restaurants were preparing food tents.

"A donut for my dog?"
The people watching was fantastic. In addition to the movie-goers and protesters, there were people of all walks of life milling about the block. Overdressed TIFF scenesters, young couples with their little munchkins, old couples decked out in their Sunday best, hungover locals (e.g. me), baseball fans (the Sky Dome is three blocks to the south and the Jays had a 1p.m. game), the homeless man who hangs out in front of the Tim Hortons who has been terrorizing people with his cranky German
"Most boring security gig ever."
Sheppard for the last eight years (upper right). The security dudes looked completely bored and surly (lower right). One in three people had TIFF lanyards (which means that they are more important than you). One in two had an iPhone. One in four had a bluetooth headset. I kept thinking, "This must be what L.A. is like."

When I got to the stage at King/John, an energetic young rock band called 100 Monkeys was finishing their set. They had a lot of excited fans, mostly chicks. And they were from L.A. - the band that is, I'm not sure about the chicks. The Sadies were supposed to go on at 11:30, but the stage was already behind schedule. I usually see the Sadies take the stage at 11:30 p.m., so I was very amused to see the band members all carrying extra large coffees instead of extra large beers. It's rough being a rockstar at 11 in the morning.

Dallas Good, the other 1/4 of The Sadies.
The Sadies played a very quick set of six tracks, four of which were from their latest album Darker Circles. The mini-set was heavy on the psychedelic riffs, and despite the early hour, they sounded really good. Some on-stage genius decided that a smoke machine would be a good idea, but it actually made the stage look like it was on fire. I estimated that only about 60 people were actually paying attention to the band, as opposed to the reported 1000 that showed up to see "surprise" guest K'naan later that afternoon (This link is to an article in the Toronto Star. The photo of all of the people with cameras just kills me. Can you imagine how man BAD photos of K'naan where taken that afternoon?).

As I was watching The Sadies, I noticed a kid, roughly 12-years-old, standing next to me watching the show. After it was over I asked him what he thought. "It was good!" he enthusiastically responded. One thing that is neat about public performances like this is that youngsters can actually see very cool artists perform. K'naan might sell out the all-ages Air Canada Centre, but the Sadies usually play in dingy bars well past the bedtime of young tweens. I hope this kid was inspired to take guitar lessons.

There were other bands playing that afternoon, but I didn't stick around for them. I had to go dress shopping (unsuccessfully, I might add), and I was really looking forward to my Sunday afternoon nap.

Another Day Again.mp3
Buy: Darker Circles (2010)

Friday, September 10, 2010

When I Lay My Burden Down

Wonderful video of Amanda Zelina of The Coppertone and Dallas Green of City and Colour paying tribute to musician/producer Dan Achen, who passed away last spring. I've never listened to Zelina before, and wow, does she have a great voice. She and Green really nail this traditional folk song.

Although many attribute "When I Lay My Burden Down" to Mississippi Fred McDowell, it is actually a traditional folk song of unknown origin, with the earliest recording dating back to 1928. Even The Byrds have done a version of it.

Mississippi Fred McDowell - When I Lay My Burden Down.mp3
Buy: You Gotta Move (1993, orig. 1964)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Tunz: The Lincoln Bedroom

A few months ago I was digging through my disaster of an inbox, and I came across this snappy little alt country/rock band from Los Angeles. Now before you roll your eyes and say, "Alt country from Los Angles? As if!" Just remember the the godfather of country/rock, Gram Parsons, became famous from his work with The Byrds in Los Angeles. Allow me to introduce The Lincoln Bedroom.

This band was formed by "Picker" David Richman, who started out in a Hollywood indie rock band before heading to Nashville to go to law school at Vanderbilt. He wrote a bunch of songs in Nashville, went back to Los Angeles, took a job with the Los Angeles district attorney (“strangest day job in rock”), and formed a band. Having an advanced degree and being a "professional" in the so-called real world is something that I can relate to. In addition to Richman on vocals and guitar, the band is rounded out by Isaac Laskin "pluckin'" (guitar and vocals), Ben Woodlock "thumpin'" (bass, keyboards, and vocals), and Mann Baldanza "thwackin'" (drums). To my ears, The Lincoln Bedroom blends a bit of punk with a bit of country, kind of like the mid-1990s Old 97's. Their lyrics are full of self-depreciation with themes of lost love and booze. They also do a mean cover of Marty Robbins's "Big Iron."

You can purchase their debut album Broken Record directly off of their web site.

Help Me Get Some Life Back Into This Heart of Mine.mp3

I Just Want to See Her Face Again.mp3

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Americana Music Awards

My blogging colleague over at A 50 Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz is doing a really nice job of previewing the Americana Music Awards, to be announced on September 9. Unfortunately for the AMA, I am not nearly as nice or as sober as Mr. 50 Cent Lighter. If you want reasonable, balanced commentary, go read his page. If you want to see a music snob at her worst, keep reading.

According to the AMA website, the Americana Music Awards are, "Selected by members of the Americana Music Association, the 2010 nominees reflect the genre's affection for innovative and inspiring artistry. The nominees' eligibility is based on work released between May 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010." So if the awards for 2009 had the same eligibility period, and you released an album in April 2009, you are not eligible. To become a member of the AMA you have to pay a $75 annual membership fee. In theory, as a blogger I could be part of this group. In practice, I have better things to spend $75 US ($78 Canadian) on, like beer. Keep in mind that I currently get paid in Canadian dollars, so yeah, I'm cheap, and with Ontario beer tax $78 doesn't go all that far. And, who am I kidding, this blog is a total vanity project. I'm not out to impress anyone.

Starting at the top of the list of awards with "Album of the Year." The first nominee is Rosanne Cash's The List. This album is lovely, and I really enjoyed it, but it bothers me that a covers album is nominated for "Album of the Year." Shouldn't this award be for original songwriting? Similarly, nominee Patty Griffin performs a bunch of traditional songs, plus some originals, on her album Downtown Church. Dave Rawlings Machine's tremendous album A Friend of a Friend covers both Neil Young and Ryan Adams! The final nominee, Ray Wylie Hubbard's A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is no c), seems to be the only one of all originals.

Dave Rawlings Machine - Ruby.mp3
From (Daytrotter): A Friend of a Friend (2009)

I know that there is a great tradition of reinterpreting folk and traditional music in the Americana genre, but there were so many great original albums released in the last year that it just seems lazy of AMA members to select covers albums, regardless of how good they were. In fact, I challenge the AMA to come up with a better list of albums than a group of Americana bloggers did last year (see The Bird List). Although The Bird List and the AMA have different time frames, isn't it telling that only one of the AMA's nominees (Dave Rawlings Machine) made the top 20 of the Americana bloggers? Yes, three of the top ten on The Bird List were AMA nominees for 2009, so I am probably comparing apples and oranges. But you get my point. Or not. Leave me alone, I've been drinking.

The next category is "Artist of the Year." The nominees include: Ryan Bingham, Patty Griffin, Levon Helm, Steve Earle, and Ray Wylie Hubbard. I don't know what to make of this category. I go to a lot of shows and only Steve Earle and Levon Helm played Toronto in the last year, and I was out of town for both shows. Ryan Bingham should take this category, given both his album Roadhouse Sun and his work on the movie Crazy Heart. He's been one busy dude this year.

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses - Tell My Mother I Miss Her So.mp3
Buy: Roadhouse Sun (2009)

For "Duo or Group of the Year" I have no objections to any of the nominees. I saw The Avett Brothers late last year, and Dave Rawlings plays Toronto tonight (Edit: Dave Alvin was actually playing that night. I get confused when I am drinking.). Carolina Chocolate Drops and Band of Heathens are the dark horses of this group.

I am pretty clueless when it comes to instrumentalists, so for the category of "Instrumentalist of the Year" I'll go with what the AMA picks. The nominees are Buddy Miller, Dave Rawlings, Sam Bush, and Will Kimbrough. I may not know much about this category, but I do know that Will Kimbrough rules.

The "New and Emerging Artist" category is completely weird. I wish I could find some information on what criteria the AMA uses to select their nominees. The only two artists that make any sense on this list are Sarah Jarosz and Joe Pug. Ryan Bingham was also nominated for this category in 2008. How can you "emerge" twice? Hayes Carll won the 2008 award for "Song of the Year." How can you win an award in 2008, and then be an "emerging" artist in 2010? And, as Mr. 50 Cent Lighter points out, Corb Lund "was playing in punk bands in his native Alberta, Canada, in the late 1980's before Sarah Jarosz was even born." Maybe Lund was nominated because his current album Losin' Lately Gambler (which is fantastic) is his first proper US release of his five (or six?) albums. But in the internet age, that is a totally lame excuse. I live in Canada and I discovered Lund's music via a friend in the US who lives south of the Mason-Dixon line. AMA members need to wake up.

Joe Pug - Not So Sure.mp3
Buy: Messenger (2010)

Side note: I discovered two other of my favorite Canadian artists via the internets. A kid in Alabama enlightened me to NQ Arbuckle, and a friend in the UK told me about Doug Paisley. Both NQ Arbuckle and Doug Paisley regularly play at a club about 2 miles from my home. Clearly I need to stop sitting at home, drinking by myself, and get out a little more. But my point is that the internet has opened up a new world to music lovers, and if the AMA can't past American releases, then I feel bad for it.

Anyhoo, in my world, I would have nominated AA Bondy, Those Darlins, and hell, Doug Paisley, in place of Bingham, Carll, and Lund. And I really love the music of latter, but they are not emerging artists. In my pickled brain at least, they are already established.

And finally, we have "Song of the Year." This category is so subjective. And honestly, I'm not nuts about any of these nominees:
1. "The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)" - Written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, performed by Ryan Bingham
2. "Drunken Poets Dream" - Written by Hayes Carll and Ray Wylie Hubbard, performed by Ray Wylie Hubbard
3. "Ruby" - Written by Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch, performed by Dave Rawlings Machine
4. "I and Love and You" - Written and performed by The Avett Brothers.

Here are four songs from May 1, 2009 - Mar 31, 2010 which I absolutely love:
1. "I Was a Photograph (Blake's Song)" - written and performed by Kasey Anderson (Is this Americana? I don't care, it's song of the year in any genre.)
2. "Not So Sure" - Written and performed by Joe Pug (listen above)
3. "Mom" - Written by Ben Nichols and performed by Lucero
4. "All Time Low" - Written by Carolyn Mark and performed by Carolyn Mark and NQ Arbuckle

Feel free to tell me that I am full of shit.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day

Or Labour Day in Canadian.

My colleague over at A Truer Sound put together a killer Labor Day mix, and he reminded me of this D. Striker song, which is so appropriate for anyone working a miserable job. Or hell, for all of your poor bastards who have to work today. And how many times have you been hungover off of your ass at work? Once I was in a meeting, got up in the middle of it and puked in the stairwell because the women's room was too far away, went back into the meeting and actively participated in it. Oh the stories I could tell. I rule.

D. Striker - (I'm Hungover In) The Walmart Breakroom.mp3
Buy (pay what you can): High Heels and a Waterbed (2005)

I must admit that this is my favorite work song. "I'm working, but I'm not working for you...."

Superchunk - Slack Motherfucker.mp3
Buy: Superchunk (1990)