Monday, April 30, 2007

The Dixie Hummingbirds- Move On Up a Little Higher

Moved away.

James B. Davis, founder of the Dixie Hummingbirds, died on April 17. He was 90. The group's powerful sound, heard to good effect on "Move On Up a Little Higher," directly influenced countless musicians. It's taken from this out-of-print compilation of '50s material. In fact, it looks like the entire Dixie Hummingbirds catalog is a mess. Of the few titles available new directly from Amazon, this might be the way to go.

I'm using DivShare today for the first time. Please let me know if you encounter any difficulty.

First was "Tim McGraw." Taylor Swift's song used the name of a country music star as a gimmicky title. It worked. Jason Aldean just came out with "Johnny Cash". It has nothing to do with The Man In Black. The concept could work in every genre. The image of a lightweight pop star- someone like Lindsay Lohan- would be enhanced by a song titled "Fugazi." An up-and-coming heavy rock band- maybe Black Stone Cherry- might consider separating themselves from the pack with a singled called "Black Sabbath." One of the many new R&B revival acts could record a song titled "Isaac Hayes."

Kansas City Click: I saw Italian prog-metal act Lacuna Coil do an in-store at my neighborhood Borders last year. They were good; their intense fans were even better. They play with Shadows Fall and Stone Sour tonight at the Beaumont.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ken Peplowski- Please Be Kind


Ken Peplowski joins the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra for a tribute to Benny Goodman tonight. Presumably, he'll be playing clarinet. But listen to his gorgeous saxophone work on this standard from the out-of-print Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool. The song also features pretty contributions from Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar and pianist Hank Jones.

My review of last night's Taylor Hicks show is here.

Mstislav Rostropovich died today. This video of the classical music giant performing Brahms is very compelling.

Bobby "Boris" Pickett has also passed. Someone just uploaded this terrific live video to YouTube. It'll make you smile.

Kansas City Click: If trad jazz isn't your thing, Pomeroy breaks in the new stage at Crossroads KC tonight. In their own way, they swing really hard.

Youngman Grand
are an Austin-based guitar-based indie pop band and namelessnumberheadman are, well... everything. Together, they make for a great double bill at the Brick on Saturday night.

Rhythm of the Night! The Beaumont becomes "a place you can dance the whole night away" when Chico and James DeBarge appear on Sunday.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Dino Saluzzi- Milonga De Los Morenos

Dino is done.

I'm eagerly anticipating picking up Ojos Negros, the collaboration between Dino Saluzzi and cellist Anja Lechner. Certain to be painfully beautiful, the recording was issued by ECM earlier this month. "Milonga De Los Morenos" is the shortest piece on the out-of-print Kultrum. The bandoneonist and Lechner's string quartet evoke the score of a forgotten, tragic film.

My review of last night's performance by Jamie Foxx is here.

There's a music industry connection to the "Bishop Bomber" case. One of the companies the suspect allegedly targeted was Navarre. One facet of their operation is independent record label distribution.

Kansas City Click: You won't catch me at the Brick tonight for Ssion- not that there's anything wrong with that... This makes me laugh out loud; it could be the best music video ever.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Porcupine Tree- How Is Your Life Today?

End of story.

The most rabid fans of Porcupine Tree would have you believe that the psychedelic British band is the modern day Pink Floyd. I've always considered them to be a lot closer to Marillion and Collective Soul than to indie-rockers like the Flaming Lips or Cloud Cult. This observation is not intended as a slight. It's just that Porcupine Tree seem to be an arena rock band trapped in an undeserved cult status. That seems to be changing. Their new release, Fear of a Blank Planet, is #6 on Amazon's sales chart. This song, from their out-of-print Lightbulb Sun, is clearly a tribute to the Zombies' Odessey & Oracle. For a more representative sample of Porcupine Tree's sound, watch the video for the the title track. It perfectly encapsulates the spirit of this very moment for too many kids living in the United States.

The excellent music blog La Onda Tropical hipped me to Belgium electronic pop artist Buscemi. Listen to this.

Kansas City Click: How is possible that the world's most celebrated musician within his selected field doesn't have a web page, a MySpace account or a single video on YouTube? Maybe it's a Welsh thing. (Bring on the hate mail, Wales!) Fortunately, Robin Huw Bowen has a Wikipedia entry. The harpist performs tonight at Asbury United Methodist Church at 75th and Nall.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Alton Ellis- Black Man's Pride

Still proud.

My recent Tim Armstrong jag put me in the mood for the original rocksteady artist, Alton Ellis. The monumental "Black Man's Pride" is one of several protest songs on the excellent compilation Arise Black Man 1968-1978. "I was born a loser," Ellis wails. "Because I'm a black man." Ellis merits a place in any discussion that includes both Curtis Mayfield and Bob Marley.

My friend Lee is the smartest guy in the room. He reviews Matt Wilson's Friday night show at his jazz blog The New Lowdown.

Kansas City Click: The air is awfully sticky today. That bodes well for tonight's Southern Culture On the Skids show at Knuckleheads. The sweatier the better with those freaks. The mighty Pendergast open.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Andrew Hill- New Pinnochio


Andrew Hill died Friday. He was 75. One of the characteristics of geniuses is that they never end their quest. Hill is best known for his work with other jazz giants on Point of Departure from 1964. Yet his recent recordings, such as 2002's A Beautiful Day, are even further out. The entirety of the big band project is breathtaking. "New Pinnochio," like other compositions on the live album, opens relatively conventionally before unfurling in countless different directions. While it's difficult to focus on any one portion of a recording so dense (and enjoyable), Hill's brilliant explorations beginning at the 5:49 mark serve as a fitting farewell.

My review of Sean Lennon's performance Friday night is here. Seeing Yuka Honda on stage with him reminded me of Cibo Matto's wonderful "Sugar Water" video.

Each time I've written favorably about Lil' Flip I temper each compliment with numerous qualifications. His new tribute to the Virginia Tech tragedy is in keeping with Flip's maddening sensibility. It's at his MySpace page.

Kansas City Click: Russian bluegrass artist Zhenya Rock does his thing tonight at the Drop.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Silos- Behind Me Now

Left behind.

I tell a lot of jokes that are funny to no one but me. One of them comes to mind when considering The Silos. "If I had a band it would sound just like the Silos," I suggest before skipping a beat. "And that's why I'm not a musician." It's not that I don't respect Walter Salas-Humara's band. I own seven of their CDs and I've seen them perform numerous times. They've made a lot of great music. But it's obviously been a struggle. In spite of a tour supporting the project, their February release, Come On Like the Fast Lane, hasn't created much buzz. It's too bad. It continues the Silos' tradition of exploring the common ground between Lou Reed, Neil Young and Chuck Berry.

This is surreal. A well-known area musician and business owner took a case all the way to The People's Court. His blog report, complete with YouTube video, is hilarious.

In other Seven Degrees of Get Up Kids news, four songs from the New Amsterdams forthcoming Killed Or Cured are up at their MySpace page.

Kansas City Click: There's no shortage of big shows this weekend. Here are three less obvious options. Los Primos De La Sierra play in Kansas City, KS, tonight and on Sunday.

All the cool kids will be at the Decemberists' show, but Saturday's bill with Warped Tour favorites Meg & Dia at the Beaumont might be more fun.

Kirsten Paludan and Olympic Size are at McCoy's Sunday night. The latter's "Friends" is one of my new favorite songs.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Johnny Hodges- Passion Flower


It's absolutely perfect. Anything less would make the definitive take of Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower" laughable. It's almost too much- too sensual, too languid, too intoxicating. Duke Ellington's piano and Jimmie Blanton's bass keep Hodges from falling off the edge on the 1940 small group session. Sadly, this essential collection is out-of-print and I can't find a reasonably priced domestic alternative.

The album doesn't come out until May 22, but the pre-release frenzy for A Poet's Life has been raging for three weeks. Look at the passionate responses to this new video by Tim Armstrong. The reaction of self-proclaimed punks to the Rancid frontman's decision to work with pop tart Skye Sweetnam is amusing. Two additional new videos are here and here. I can see myself making A Poet's Life my personal soundtrack this summer. And if that happens, it's going to be a lot of fun.

Kansas City Click: Kim Park is featured at Jardine's. This video accurately represents his style- he's sort of like a younger, open-minded version of Phil Woods.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Geater Davis- Sad Shade of Blue


Recorded for a small Nashville label, this Geater Davis gut-wrencher seems to be based on Bobby "Blue" Bland's "Two Steps From the Blues." Yet Davis' convincing performance rivals Bland for passion and intensity. I pulled "Sad Shade of Blue" from a compilation titled Soul Deep that isn't listed at Amazon or Ebay. Fortunately, the song is included on this healthy collection.

Sales of two new releases stood out yesterday. I didn't have any trouble separating the Nine Inch Nails fans from the Bucky Covington advocates.

Your metal band can beat up my metal band: They're not exactly innovative, but I really like the new Chevelle. So sue me.

Kansas City Click: I met a woman last night who told me about John Northern's gig at the Record Bar opening for Bob Walkenhorst. I wasn't familiar with him; he seems to be in the folk tradition of Tom Rush and Tom Paxton.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bill Morrissey- Everybody Warned Me


My introduction to Bill Morrissey came via one of the first CDs I purchased. The format was new, and this compilation came cheap. Based on Morrissey's performance, I assumed he was a crusty old-timer. I was stunned when I first saw him perform- he was a tiny guy not too much older than me. The revelation made me an even bigger fan. To paraphrase Steve Earle's famous quote about Townes Van Zandt, "Bill Morrissey is one of the best folk artists in the world, and I'll stand on John Prine's guitar case in my Adidas and say that." Alcohol plays a prominent role in Morrissey's work. In this song from Inside, the desperate narrator is "coughing up blood in a Motel 6." This story details his recent struggles. Good luck, Bill. We still need you.

Ornette Coleman won a Pulitzer for the album I complained about last year. Here's a representative Ornette video.

Kansas City Click: I used to catch rides to school from a guy who would crank UFO and Judas Priest every morning. Federation of Horsepower remind me of that dude. They play the early show at the Brick.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Too Much Joy- Parachute


Too Much Joy always made me mildly uncomfortable, largely because I can't recall the specifics of my passing association with the band. Was I their friend? A drinking buddy? Maybe their cover of "Starry Eyes" came at my prompting. I just can't remember the deal. Until the the mental block is removed, I'll assume the line about Kansas in "Parachute" is a reference to me. The songs are on their out-of-print Mutiny. I thought of Too Much Joy as I wrote a very positive review of Bowling For Soup's Friday night concert. BFS would handily beat TMJ in a battle of "joke" bands. Still, I always liked Too Much Joy's big "hit."

Sometimes I wonder if the Hold Steady are just a figment of my imagination. How else could a band repeatedly speak to my favorite things? Their latest miracle is a sincere Twinkies-friendly reading of "Take Me Out To the Ballgame." Snare it at their MySpace page.

It seems like Mark E. Smith of the Fall has been around forever. I don't know which is more remarkable- the fact that Von Sudenfed is so vital, or that he looks so good in drag. Amazing-ah...

Kansas City Click: No matter how hard Tom Russell tries, he'll never be Johnny Cash. Still, Russell's immense catalog includes at least a dozen songs that belong in the same ballpark as Cash's definitive work. Russell will sing them tonight at Knucklehead's.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Willis Jackson- Dance of the Lady Bug

Flew Away Home.

Don't let the title fool you. This 1950 Apollo Records side is a testosterone-fueled honker, replete with background screams that serve to fan the flames. Willis Jackson went on to record some fine organ jazz sessions, but this stuff is obviously rock'n'roll, even if it hadn't been tagged with that label. This vital compilation is loaded with similar rave-ups.

I'm Bright Eyes-neutral, so I haven't waded through the innumerable words written about the Nebraskan's latest effort. Consequently, I don't know if anyone has already pointed out that he looks just like Gram Parsons in the new video for "Four Winds."

When I heard that The Bad Plus had titled their new album Prog, I hoped for covers of ELP, Genesis, Be Bop Deluxe and Gong. Boy, am I disappointed. Still, the reworking of Rush' s"Tom Sawyer" is a blast. An MP3 of that song can be easily found, and an original composition is available from the label. The promotional video also reveals a mind-bending take on David Bowie's "Life On Mars."

My favorite comic strip, Get Fuzzy, spoofs famous album covers this week.

Kansas City Click: Like hundreds of thousands of others, I'm amused by Alanis Morissette's satire of "My Humps." But I still prefer Bowling For Soup's deconstruction of another insidious Fergie song, "London Bridge". I hope the wacky Texans play it tonight at the Grand Emporium.

I'm on a one-man crusade to revive the Jim Pepper anthem "Wichi Tai To." Someone like the aforementioned Bright Eyes could take a fresh version to the top of the charts. Brewer and Shipley issued their popular take of the song in 1970. They headline this benefit concert on Saturday night. Bob Walkenhorst is also on the bill.

OK Jones has the Sunday night slot at Ott's on the Plaza.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

John Anderson- A Honky Tonk Saturday Night

Sunday morning.

There were two great new voices on mainstream country radio in the '80s- Randy Travis and John Anderson. Anderson's 1982 breakthrough release, Wild & Blue, signaled the format's short-lived return to traditional sounds. Not only does that album's "A Honky Tonk Saturday Night" showcase Anderson rich voice, it's a near-perfect country song. Steve Goodman would appreciate its laundry list of topics- drinking, dancing, casual sex, and best of all, Merle Haggard on the jukebox.

And it was going so well... I auditioned Djin Djin, the new release by African star Angelique Kidjo, last night. It's front-loaded with guest spots by pop stars. Alicia Keys, Branford Marsalis, Joss Stone and Peter Gabriel make constructive appearances in the first twenty minutes. After hearing the fifth song, which features the sublime Amadou & Mariam, I was ready to make room for Djin Djin in my best-of list for 2007. Then came Josh Groban and Carlos Santana. It's excruciating. Can one song ruin an album? I'll have to wrestle with that question. And guess what song is featured in the label's electronic press kit?

I devoured Kurt Vonnegut's paperbacks while in high school. And I'm still thrilled at the memory of lobbing him a softball question at one of his lectures. I lost my taste for Vonnegut soon after, but there's little doubt that his work affected my world view. The author died yesterday.

Kansas City Click: John Anderson plays the VooDoo tonight. It wasn't long ago that Anderson appeared at extremely sketchy dives. This is another case of casinos altering the live music scene. In this case, it's for the better.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Los Tigres Del Norte- Muerte Anunciada


Los Tigres Del Norte added another title to their enormous catalog last week. Detalles y Emociones debuted at #65 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. This narcocorrido is pulled from a 1994 album. Read this fascinating profile for background on the immensely successful band's saga. Although it's too disjointed for me to completely comprehend, this powerful video about the immigrant experience is set to the hit "El Mojado Acaudalado." It shows why the music of Los Tigres Del Norte resonates with their fans.

I've regularly championed the work of Grace Potter and The Nocturnals. Here's a link to their new single, "Ah Mary". The more commercial sound signals the breakthrough I've been predicting. This Is Somewhere is scheduled for an August release.

Kansas City Click: When I caught VAST at the Grand Emporium last year, the opening act perfectly reproduced the early sound of Wax Trax! Records. It was an interesting exercise in form, but I didn't get the point. The Bjork-goes-Goth sound of Anvil Chorus is a musch better fit for VAST, a fine stadium rock act with a sound that feels way too, well, vast for a small club.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nick Lowe- Failed Christian


I sometimes worry about the day that my streak of never repeating an artist at There Stands the Glass comes to an end. I'm up to 362 posts. Then I realize that I haven't touched on many of my favorite artists, including Nick Lowe. His solo releases and work as a producer have had immeasurable impact on my musical development. "Failed Christian" is from Dig My Mood, a relatively recent recording. It deals primarily in adult themes of this nature. I recommend it, but first make sure you have Basher, or if you're too hip for comps, Jesus of Cool.

My friend Mike alerted a music group to this fascinating piece in the Washington Post. It tracks people's startling response when Joshua Bell poses as a busker.

ESPN is using Pearl Jam's "Comatose" as music in highlight reels. It makes me feel like a jerk for regularly underestimating Pearl Jam.

Tears of joy well in my eyes when I watch this shaky fan video of Craig Finn of the Hold Steady jumping out of his skin as he sings the opening lines to "Rosalita." Hat tip to my pal S.S. for knowing that I'd lose my mind over this footage.

Kansas City Click: A great show hits Davey's Uptown tonight. Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle and Malachy Papers offer an innovative, up-to-date take on jazz. Malachy Papers' site is pretty useless, but don't miss the three Dillon compositions at the link.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hubert Sumlin- Love You, Woman

Loved no more.

I wrote a less than flattering review of Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Friday night concert. The concept of the show is great- Shepherd's audience gets exposed to several veteran bluesman. One of them, the great Hubert Sumlin, stole the show. I don't remember him being quite as animated in the Blues-A-Rama tour I saw a decade or so ago. This unlikely solo country blues is pulled from a 1964 session. And if you don't know what all the fuss is about, watch this Howlin' Wolf video. The sync is off, the introduction is a trainwreck, and the camera stays focused on Wolf even when Sumlin solos. Even so, it's essential viewing.

Buddy Flett is also part of Shepherd's blues review. This video shows why he impressed me.

Starbucks ran a full page ad in yesterday's New York Times promoting an album by CeU. The new release is part of their "Hear Music Debut CD Series." And darned if it isn't wonderful. Check this revealing video for confirmation. Here's another.

Kansas City Click: Try Jeff Wood at Vivace. His strong voice and emotional songs might be just the thing on another chilly April evening.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Billy Joe Shaver- Tramp On Your Street

Found a home.

I don't condone violence. And I'm deeply saddened that Billy Joe Shaver is in more than a little bit of trouble. It doesn't look good. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to being slightly titillated by the old outlaw acting like a wild man. I grew up on this album of ill-tempered Shaver songs. Shaver sings about walking barefoot along "ten miles of train track to hear Hank Williams sing" on this song from a tribute album . Here's a shaky video of an in-store at Waterloo Records. It was shot immediately before Shaver turned himself in.

I'm deeply attached to the last CD by tough Kansas City band Pendergast. So even though it explores the same themes, it took a while for me to fully accept the band's new release Between the Bottle & The Pulpit. I've finally come around. The title track hits on many of my favorite topics- the comfort of the road, booze, faith, women and weariness. Listen to it here.

Kansas City Click: Municipal Auditorium will explode when Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Fat Joe and Birdman break out "Make It Rain" tonight. Here's the video. Young Jeezy, aka "The Snowman," is the headliner. His "Go Crazy" is among the best- and most disturbing- hits of the new millennium. The venerable Toots & the Maytals play the Folly on Saturday night. What'll they do without a dance floor? A much younger star, Tyrese, is at the Beaumont on Sunday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Z-Ro- Make It

And gone.

I'm spending a lot of time with the new Lil' Flip album. I Need Mine contains almost 140 minutes of music, so listening to it even three or four times is a major commitment. References to Houston rapper Z-Ro's current incarceration litter the artwork and the outros to several songs. Z-Ro is often called "the Tupac of Texas," and in that tradition Z-Ro foretells his premature demise on Life's "Make It." Z-Ro fantasizes about his desire to "jump up out my casket" to exact revenge on his slayers. Illuminating commentary and additional links about Z-Ro are here.

Look what I found: This is a newly posted live version of one of my favorite songs. Even though everything I love about "I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight" has been excised from this hideous 1980 performance, it's still a thrill to uncover the footage. I tire of hearing fans bemoan Richard Thompson's failure to become a star. It's exactly the willful perversity demonstrated here that keeps him obscure. I demand that RT play his songs the way I want them done! He fares no better without Linda here and here.

Kansas City Click: One of my biggest musical regrets is not finding a way to get to Bob Marley's 1979 concert in Lawrence, KS. I couldn't drive and I didn't have a ticket, but I was aware of Marley's significance even then. His son Stephen Marley is at the Voodoo tonight. Of Bob's brood, Stephen seems the truest to his pop's vision. And "Traffic Jam" is one of 2007's best songs.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Charlie Louvin- This Darn Pen

Out of ink.

Imagine seeing an ancient guy teeter toward the podium at a book reading. "Good evening, my name is Matt," he might say. "I'm going to do something I wrote back in the day. Those King James guys did a nice version- they called it Matthew 5:3. 'Blessed are the poor in spirit....'" That's how I felt as Charlie Louvin sang originals like "Cash On the Barrelhead" and "The Christian Life." My review is here. Louvin claimed that "the best song I ever recorded" was a duet with Willie Nelson on "This Darn Pen." He was referring to the version featured on this album, which he didn't have for sale Monday night. This rendition is available on the out-of-print Live In Holland.

I'll admit it: "Party Like a Rock Star", the moronic new single by the Shop Boyz, makes me laugh like a giddy 13-year-old.

Kansas City Click: UMKC's White Recital Hall will resonate with Schoenberg's noise. I hope to be there.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sonya Isaacs- The Battlefield


As I watched the Isaacs' set at a Bill Gaither concert last week, I wondered why Sonya Isaacs didn't have a solo career. She's attractive and owns a wonderful voice. Only later did I recall that she did, in fact, cut an album. And I own it! The out-of-print self-titled 2000 release is that forgettable. Instead of highlighting Isaacs' bluegrass and gospel roots, producer Vince Gill churned out a mostly anonymous Nashville product. Only "The Battlefield," the album's final song, hints a Isaacs' distinctive soulfulness.

I initially thought REO Speedwagon was a remarkably odd choice to sing the National Anthem on opening day at Kaufman Stadium. I expected fans to grumble things like, "I guess Head East wasn't available." Instead, the '70s and '80s hitmakers were greeted with a hearty roar of approval. It just so happens that an exclusive Wal-Mart package streets today. (The Royals are owned by a Wal-Mart executive.)

Kansas City Click: I used to occasionally buy $8 beers at the Oak Room at what's now the Fairmont Hotel. I figured that was the price to sit in a big leather chair and listen to Kansas City's finest jazz musicians. Jazz is now out of favor at the fancy bar. Part Dave Matthews and part Norah Jones, Heather Thornton is at the Oak Room tonight. Take lots of beer money.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Jonathan Richman- Walter Johnson

Game over.

A terrific set of stories about the languishing legacies of great Midwestern hurlers ran in yesterday's Kansas City Star. In the piece on Humboldt, Kansas' Walter Johnson, ace sportswriter Joe Posnanski reports that most of Humboldt's rapidly diminishing population knows little about the pitcher. The town's citizens need to hear this Jonathan Richman ditty. While Jojo's village idiot persona isn't for everyone, I've always been a fan. And besides, willful naivete is what the best day in sports is all about. "A record's just a record in a book that's just a book," Richman reminds stat geeks like me. This a cappella version of the song is available on Richman's You Must Ask the Heart.

A seemingly new song by the Meat Puppets can be heard at the MySpace page of Kansas City's Anodyne Records.

My review of a Bill Gaither Homecoming concert is here.

Kansas City Click: Brother band legend Charlie Louvin is at the Grand Emporium.