Friday, March 30, 2007

John Campbell- When the Levee Breaks


I'm very pleased to count Pete Lubin among my friends. The semi-legendary A&R man and raconteur recounts his work with bluesman John Campbell at Jefito Blog. The epic tale is well worth your while. Jefito offers a few tracks from Lubin's production. This Memphis Minnie via Led Zeppelin burner is from Campbell's subsequent Howlin Mercy release.

I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed Bill Gaither's Homecoming show last night. The Isaacs' take on one of my favorite hymns was especially touching.

Kansas City Click: KCUR's Sonic Spectrum is hosting fine music at the Record Bar Friday and Saturday. Details are here. I'm ashamed to relate that I won't see B.B. King Saturday night. Instead, I'll be catching OK Jones at The Hurricane. It'd be fun to be part of this drunken madness on Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Roger Kellaway- Mack the Knife

Out of sight.

Roger Kellaway is one of those musicians who has worked with everybody and done everything. A couple of years ago he released Remembering Bobby Darin, a tribute to his old boss. It's a wonderful effort featuring guitarist Bruce Forman and bassist Dan Lutz. The familiar Brecht/Weill composition that closes the disc is clearly played for laughs. Yet I find it a refreshingly playful performance that's all too rare in the po-faced world of jazz.

I'll admit it. I'm obsessed with the television infomercial for this set of CDs. It's not like I'm tempted to purchase these "soft rock" hits from the '70s. I just find the lengthy advertisement oddly comforting. And I laugh out loud every time I see a satisfied "customer" say something like "It's not just a collection of music- it's a collection of emotions."

Kansas City Click: Bill Dye is one of my favorite local guitarists. He plays with John Paul tonight at BB's Lawnside BBQ.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Geoffrey Oryema- Gari Moshi

Moved on.

Easily one of the most overtly commercial songs I've posted at There Stands the Glass, "Gari Moshi" is a propulsive Paris-based production by native Ugandan Geoffrey Oryema. If I hosted a radio program, I'd insist on making the song my primary bumper music. While this nineties release failed to make Oryema a superstar, the day is nearing when a steady stream of African artists claim spots on American pop charts.

Only audiences for teen idols and gospel music are more fun than jam band fans. I had a good time at a sold-out Widespread Panic show last night.

I suppose I shouldn't be disappointed that the new Timbaland is so intellectually vapid. It's just that I can't help but think that if some of the lurid lyrical content was supplanted by a broader vision, it could have been an "important" album. Instead, it sounds like a raunchy billion dollar bash.

Kansas City Click: Most contemporary Christian music doesn't move me. Yet Mike Crawford's songs at MySpace are really interesting. I suspect he's listened to a lot of Pedro the Lion. Crawford opens for Leeland at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Overland Park tonight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Trip Shakespeare- Pearle


Nostalgia time. In the late '80s one of the most popular bands on the Midwestern tour circuit was Minneapolis' Trip Shakespeare. A big reason the band's shows were so fun was that girls loved them. Although they were tagged as a "new wave" act, Trip Shakespeare was actually a dance band. A geek like me could take a girl to a Trip Shakespeare show and know that she'd agree to go out with me again. That wasn't the case with other bands that shared the same circuit, acts like Soul Asylum and Tupelo Chain Sex. "Pearle" is from the band's out-of-print debut album from 1986. It's available from secondary vendors at Amazon here, or as a "custom burn" from Twin Tone here.

I'm so deliriously tired today that this contrived Joe Nichols song made me tear up as I drove home from work.

Kansas City Click: I'll be at the Widespread Panic show tonight.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lil' Flip- 100%


I'll probably purchase I Need Mine on Tuesday, largely on the strength of the song "Ghetto Mindstate". Like many fans of the Houston artist, I have mixed feelings about Lil' Flip. He's inconsistent and anything but likable. A by-product of his many label problems is the vast amount of semi-legitimate Flip product on the market. One example is this CD. It has a few exceptional tracks, including the song featured here. Needless to say, objectionable content is pervasive.

Kansas City Click: Try Belle Starr at Missie B's.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bernard Purdie- Wade In the Water

Dried up.

Someone spent a lot of money on this project. It has a full orchestra conducted by Gil Goldstein and heavyweight soloists like the Brecker Brothers and Eddie Harris. The model on the cover of the elaborate CD package appears topless on the liner notes booklet. And for all that effort, the 1996 release is out-of-print and is selling for the price of a cheap cup of coffee. Fabled soul session drummer Bernard Purdie is worth the noble effort, of course, but this feels like a financial investment gone horribly wrong.

My review of The Elders' big St. Patrick's Day concert is here.

I'll be on a blogger's holiday the rest of the week.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Beaver Nelson- Some Day Just Like Today


I'm depressed. I wish I was in Austin drinking free beer and hearing my new favorite band for the first time. This is the second year in a row that I haven't attended SXSW. I first hit the annual music festival around 1990. It bore little resemblance to the celebrated international event it is today. Not better or worse. Just different. The focus used to be on unsigned Texas-based artists like Beaver Nelson. It was predominantly for industry weasels and local music heads. You'd meet with record labels, distributors and retailers during the day. At night you'd see showcases by the likes of Nelson, Jimmy LaFave, the Reivers and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Nelson's not even at SXSW this year. I don't know if he passed or if the event has moved on without him. I've always like the guy- partly because I think he resembles what I'd look like if I missed a few meals. This 2002 album is not his best effort; I chose it because it's the most obscure of the several Nelson albums I own. This amiable song conveys Nelson's general sensibility- he's like a disoriented Springsteen.

My review of a wonderful John McEuen performance is here. And I rave about the new album by The Frames here.

Kansas City Click: Since I have the blues, I'll suggest Trampled Underfoot tonight at Eddie's in Lee's Summit (in spite of their "Blues Hammer" leanings). The Elders play the Uptown on St. Patrick's Day. Perfect! The big time hits KC on Sunday with a show at the Gem by The SF Jazz Collective.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Charlie Poole- Goodbye Booze

Dried up.

I was delighted to see John McEuen give an intimate concert last night at an instrument shop. The performance may send me on an old-timey bender. McEuen's demonstration evoked the mysterious "old, weird America" of legends like Charlie Poole. If Poole had followed the advise proffered in this 1926 recording, he might not have died at the age of 39. An excellent box set of Poole's work is available, but this song is also available on this CD.

Kansas City Click: John McEuen joins the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tonight at the VooDoo Lounge.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Charlie Rich- You Don't Know Me


Many music fans are in a dither about The Definitive 200 list of albums. They fail to understand that the campaign is a music industry promotion. The tag line "Where would you be without them?" isn't directed at consumers; it's aimed at retail. Without monstrous smashes like Thriller or Rumours stores might not have prospered in the '70s and '80s. Nonetheless, I belong to a group made up mostly of area industry veterans, and we're compiling our own list.
I'm struggling with my desire to load my ballot with lost gems like
the out-of-print Pictures and Paintings. Recorded shortly before the Silver Fox's death, it's a magnificent summation of Rich's life and career. For each album like this, however, I'd be forced to omit a stone cold classic like Exile On Main Street, Catch a Fire or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Kansas City Click: Brilliant Minneapolis pop band The Honeydogs stop at The Hurricane tonight on their way to SXSW.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sir Mack Rice- Mini-Skirt Minnie

Gone to bed.

It's an involuntary reflex. I swoon every time I hear a contemporary artist evoke the '60s soul of Stax Records. Last year I fell for throwback music by Christina Aguilera and James Hunter. And I can't wait to buy the new Amy Winehouse tomorrow. Her breakout song "Rehab" seems to "borrow" elements of this 1967 hit by Sir Mack Rice. The song is available on one of the best big investments I've made- The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968 box.

My review of Aaron Lewis' Saturday night concert is here.

Kansas City Click: I suggest the Dennis Winslett-led jam session at the Blue Room.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mary Chapin Carpenter- It Don't Bring You


I never understood why so many people actively dislike Mary Chapin Carpenter. Is it because she's not as conventionally pretty as Emmylou or Dolly? If it's a presumptive lifestyle thing, well, I won't even go there. Maybe it's because she can be wimpy- well, she is a singer-songwriter... Besides- what a singer! And what a songwriter! And Come On Come On is one of the landmark albums of its time. Carpenter also introduced both BeauSoleil and Lucinda Williams to the mainstream. Anyway, she doesn't need me to defend her. Her new release Between Here and Gone is out this week. Underneath the slick major label production of 1989's seemingly out-of-print State of the Heart is this gem of a song. If the somewhat dated sound is too much for you, try to hear Maura O'Connell sing it.

Kansas City Click: Reach is the last of seven artists at The Record Bar tonight. The Jackpot in Lawrence has a great triple bill on Saturday night. Sunday offers another chance to see a tremendous summit of top regional acts. The Roman Numerals, Vedera and the Architects are three of the bands at El Torreon.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Paul deLay, 1952-2007


Portland bluesman Paul deLay died March 7. He was 55. deLay led a hard knock life. He didn't play "the blooze"; he was the real deal. He's heard here on his 1999 album deLay Does Chicago. This original composition showcases his expressive voice and remarkable skill on harmonica.

My review of Wynton Marsalis' intriguing new From the Plantation To Penitentiary is here. I enjoyed talking to Aaron Lewis of Staind last week. My profile is here. (Registration may be required.)

The New York Times has a nice video feature on Jay Farrar of Son Volt.

Kansas City Click: Get your nose broken Irish-style tonight at the Beaumont. The Dropkick Murphys headline a show that also includes excellent true believers The Briggs.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jerry Clower- Big Fish

Part of the catch and release program.

What made Jerry Clower funny? It's force of personality, not jokes, that made him a beloved Red State comedian. And while this is the first time I've posted a purely spoken word piece, it's not entirely random. Focus on Clower's musical cadence. I've heard several preachers use variations of this gag in their sermons. Just as Clowers' rhythm may be church-based, his Southern sensibility is part of the same culture that produced Elvis, Hank and Lynyrd Skynyrd. A complete understanding of the music and lives of these artists isn't possible without an appreciation of the likes of Clower.

I had intended to purchase the new Notorious B.I.G. release yesterday, but when I had it in my hands it just didn't feel right. The inclusion of so many "guest" vocalists alarmed me.

Kansas City Click: The Taking Back Sunday/Underoath/Armor For Sleep show at the Uptown appears to be sold out. So why not head down to El Torreon, where four bands of the same ilk are playing. Chances are pretty decent that a few members of the "star" tour will also be at El Torreon to check out Autumn Offering.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Betty Carter- Tell Him I Said Hello


When Nicole Kidman's lookalike was ousted from American Idol last week she cannily interjected words to the effect of "Oh why did I decide to scat/Americans hate jazz" into her farewell song. I won't begin to speculate on how an artist like the great Betty Carter would fare on the program. But I may never hear a better example of a great instrument utilized by a great mind than this 1955 recording. The out-of-print Social Call sells for $40.00 and up. But don't fret- this song is also available on this Spanish import for half that.

Here's a static video of the delightful Dr. Dog at a recent in-store.

Maybe it's because my cranium is loaded with enough allergy medication to operate a meth lab, but I'm captivated by this human jukebox. I'd live at my neighborhood tavern if a guy or gal like this sat in the corner entertaining my requests every night.

Kansas City Click: The Boulevard Big Band does their thing at Harlings or at J. Barleycorns- their site indicates that they may have recently moved their bi-monthly session. Call the venues to confirm.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Kerry Strayer- Night Lights (The Lonely Night)

The light is off.

Kerry Strayer is one a couple dozen prominent jazz musicians too often taken for granted in Kansas City. He regularly leads bands at area clubs and lounges. So what happens when a guy like Strayer leaves town? Ten years ago this month Strayer was joined by the jazz world's top musicians in a New York studio. The resulting Jeru Blue: A Tribute to Gerry Mulligan on Palmetto Records is an outstanding straight-ahead date. Randy Brecker and Ted Rosenthal are two of the stars heard here. But it's Strayer's perfect tone and deeply emotive work on baritone saxophone that make this devastatingly gorgeous ballad memorable.

My review of Friday's George Strait, Ronnie Milsap and Taylor Swift concert is here.

A primitive St. Louis music 'zine blew my impressionable mind back in the early '80s. It made me realize that I wasn't alone; other geeks were out there. A decade later I found myself working with many of the editors and writers of Jet Lag. The first five issues are now online. They demonstrate how pathetically underground the "alternative" scene was "back in the day." I implore you kids to scroll through the site- you'll quickly realize that being a fan back then really was like walking five miles to school in two feet of snow. This was punk.

Kansas City Click: Last Monday night, the country-folk side of Wilco was represented at the Record Bar by Autumn Defense. Wilco's arty jazz/noise/classical side takes its turn tonight when drummer Glenn Kotche takes the stage. Olympic Size opens.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Scott Appel- Somnus

Thank you, Scott.

Here's a tip for a savvy record label- reissue Nine of Swords. The three copies available through secondary vendors at Amazon are priced at $80 and $100. It's not as if the Scott Appel album is a secret. It received enthusiastic reviews when it was released in 1988. Appel was a sort of Nick Drake revivalist back when Drake was no more than a footnote to all but hardcore folk fans. This album, which included previously unpublished Drake songs, served as my introduction to the now fashionable Drake. Out of respect for the late Appel, I'm featuring one of his original compositions here. But trust me- he did Drake better than anyone. C'mon Drag City. Or what about you, Sugar Hill? Every freak-folker worth his or her salt needs Nine of Swords.

"The Way I Live" by Baby Boy Da Prince is easily the best current radio hit. I usually burn out on such tracks after a week or two. And I certainly can't get behind the lyrical content. Yet every time I hear it on both urban and "hot' formats it makes everything else on the playlists sound stale. Part of the attraction is the young man's speech impediment. Is it caused by his grillz or by something else? The song of the South is already slow, so the chopped & screwed version is kind of unnecessary.

Borders provides good footage of a Gomez in-store. My favorite part is watching a couple of the guys roam the store.

Kansas City Click: Local jazz fixture David Basse is joined by California-based veteran pianist Mike Melvoin at Plaza III Friday and Saturday night. I've never been to Jerry's Bait Shop in Lenexa but Sunday might be a good time to change that. A dude from the Pomonas entertains that evening.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Randy Newman- Shame

No more shame.

I love The Driftwood Singers. The vinyl fetishists at the eclectic music blog are funny, smart and kind of creepy. Lefty, one of the site's contributors, recently suggested that Randy Newman's Bad Love is his second-best album. It's easy to scoff at that silly assertion, but "Shame" is certainly one of his best songs. The deranged narrator attempts to woo back his "pretty little baby." "Do you know what it feels like to have to beg a little bum like you for love?" he cries before falling apart at the 3:50 mark. Making matters even more absurd, he quarrels with song's background singers. While the pathetic narrator's clearly a self-centered, materialistic pig, Newman's brilliant portrait forces the listener to identify with him anyway.

Brett Dennen fought the crowd and the crowd won. The rising star attracted a couple hundred people to a bar in my town last night, About half of them knew the words to every song and sang along with impassioned conviction. Unfortunately, they also gabbed with one another as if a year-long vow of silence was going into effect at midnight. The big redhead was clearly rattled by the raucous carnival atmosphere. I took this photo during one of his failed attempts to capture the audience's attention. His band offered a dance-oriented reggae-based lilt that his fine new album So Much More only hints at.

Kansas City Click: The Record Bar pops with Apples In Stereo.