Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm With Emily

The indignant outcry that greeted Emily White's infamous essay for the blog of NPR's All Songs Considered annoyed me.  While I've spent tens of thousands of dollars purchasing prerecorded music, I have no animosity towards members of a generation that don't see the point in buying music.

As a child I dedicated my allowance to the purchase of 45s at Red X in Riverside, Missouri.  I began working when I was ten, which allowed me to by albums by the likes of Wings, Aerosmith, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.  Even when I was making minimum wage, I budgeted $10 a week for new music.  That money went a little further during my stint as a clerk in a record store.  My friends and I swapped cassette recordings of our collections.  (File-sharing isn't exactly a new concept.)  The first compact disc I purchased was a two-fer reissue of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Let's Get It On.

During college I became a serious collector of record labels like Homestead, SST and Twin/Tone.  When I caught a performance by Camper Van Beethoven in the basement of a dormitory at the University of Kansas in 1985, I purchased Telephone Free Landslide Victory.  That band's David Lowery wrote a widely disseminated scathing retort to NPR's White.

Lowery's screed about the difficulties faced by artists in 2012 isn't wrong, but it ignores reality.   When guys like me throw in the towel, it should be pretty clear that the traditional acquisition of prerecorded music has ended forever.  My stockpile of  albums and compact discs is too big to count.   And it's still growing.  A couple days ago I dropped a dollar on an a vinyl copy of the Mel Lewis Orchestra's 20 Years at the Village Vanguard and last week I picked up a stack of compact discs at San Diego's Access Hip Hop

Here's the clincher- I haven't played the latest additions to my collection.  I listened to those same recordings on Spotify instead.  I pay the streaming service $10 a month.  It's not ideal, but it's a lot more desirable than dusting off my copy of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star."

I enjoyed Wednesday's Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford concert.  Here's my review.

Kansas City's Mon EG raps that he wants to "bring the eighties back" on "Rocstar".  The video was aired on BET's 106 & Park last month.

"The biggest concert to ever hit the city!" goes down Saturday at Club Skyline.

Sam Bush is a "freshman senior".  Give that bluegrass musician a reality show, stat!

Kansas City Click: I'll be at the RecordBar's matinee show on Friday.

I hope Gucci Mane takes his shirt off Saturday at Club Skyline.  (See above.)

I'll return to the RecordBar Sunday for PLBB.

Black Cobra hits the Riot Room on Monday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

All's Fair

With a great deal of trepidation, I took a flyer on the San Diego County Fair while in California in last week.  Accustomed to quaint livestock shows, scouting displays and sketchy carnies at similar events in Kansas and Missouri, I cringed at paying $10 to park and another $12 to enter the fair at the Del Mar track.  My skepticism was unfounded.  While I saw plenty of goats, 4-H exhibits and creepy carnival barkers, San Diego's version of a county fair is hardly forlorn or dusty. 

The musical smorgasbord was amazing.  In addition to several stages featuring cover bands, a stunning array of international acts perform at the festival every day.  I caught Lonestar and Eric Burdon

Lonestar performed on a massive Coachella-sized stage for an audience of about 3,000.  As much as I'd like to loathe the band for its undeniable influence on Rascal Flatts, I can't deny the power of songs like "No News".  I dug 'em in spite of myself. 

The convoluted career of Burdon has always confused me.  His set on a smaller stage for an audience of approximately 2,000 contained a mishmash of material.  I hadn't witnessed a Burdon performance in about 15 years and I'd forgotten how many memorable songs he's recorded.  I almost lost my mind hearing his classic versions of material like "When I Was Young".  Crazy. 

Back on the ag front, I learned that the sale and purchase of raw milk is legal in California.  That's it- I'm moving.

I reviewed last night's Scissor Sisters and Rye Rye concert.

I reviewed a Lukas Nelson show a couple weeks ago.

How is it that I didn't know about the Stepkids' "Legend In My Own Mind" until today?  (Thanks, Russell Jelinek!)

I recognize that it's just one cliché after another, but I adore Lita Ford's new Living Like a Runaway album.

Big Moon Ritual makes it clear that Chris Robinson loves American Beauty and Sailin' Shoes as much as me.

The goofy smirks on the faces of the vocalists as the Hood Internet cover the Pretenders' "Back On the Chain Gang" delight me.

It was love at first listen when I heard the late Manuel Galbán's Blue Cha Cha this morning.

Kansas City Click: See what you missed last week here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Just Met You and This Is Crazy: Music Midway in 2012

Unless I go all-in during the second half of 2012, it looks as if my streak of taking in at least 365 shows each year will come to an end on December 31.  Even so, much of the music I've heard in the first six months of 2012 has consoled and inspired me.

Now that most music is instantly accessible, I've listened to well over 200 new albums in the first half of 2012.  Limiting the list to 25, consequently, was difficult.  I appreciate the otherwise consensus picks like Beach House's Bloom, but the albums listed below have given me the most pleasure.  Here's a Spotify playlist of my top picks.

While the entries on my album and show lists have provided unspeakable thrills, my song list is lackluster.  Where are the undeniable singles of 2012?

The 25 Best Albums of 2012 (so far)
1. Lee Fields & The Expressions- Faithful Man
2. Hahn & Hauschka- Silfra There Stands the Glass review.
3. Meshuggah- Koloss
4. Brody Buster Band- Will Die Young Ink magazine review.
5. Death Grips- The Money Store
6. Robert Glasper- Black Radio
7. Esbjorn Svensson Trio- 301 There Stands the Glass review.
8. Killer Mike- R.A.P. Music
9. Jack White- Blunderbuss
10. Project H- Become Light Plastic Sax review.
11. Charles Gayle Trio- Streets There Stands the Glass review.
12. Big K.R.I.T.- Live From the Underground
13. Pat Metheny- Unity Band
14. Norah Jones- Little Broken Hearts
15. Behzod Abduraimov- Prokofiev, Liszt & Saint-Saëns
16. Heems- Nehru Jackets
17. Steddy P- Better Make Room There Stands the Glass review.
18. Saint Vitus- Lillie F-65
19. Krizz Kaliko- Kickin' & Screamin'
20. High on Fire- De Vermis Mysteriis
21. Bobby Womack- The Bravest Man in the Universe
22. Sly & Robbie- Blackwood Dub
23. Enter Shakira- A Flash Flood of Colour
24. Ted Nash- The Creep
25. Capybara- Dave Drusky There Stands the Glass review.

The 25 Best Live Performances of 2012 (so far)
1. Enrico Rava- Winningstad Theatre Plastic Sax review.
2. Vivica Genaux and Europa Galante- Folly Theater There Stands the Glass review.
3. CS Luxem- FOKL Center There Stands the Glass review.
4. Matt Otto Quartet- Westport Coffee House Plastic Sax review.
5. Tord Gustavsen- Queen Elizabeth Hall Plastic Sax review.
6. Bobby Watson with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra- Unity on the Plaza
7. The Dubliners- Royal Albert Hall There Stands the Glass review.
8. Testament- Midland Theater Back to Rockville review.
9. Philip Glass and Tim Fain- Helzberg Hall There Stands the Glass review.
10. Trivium- Liberty Memorial Park
11. The People's Liberation Big Band- RecordBar Plastic Sax review.
12. Danzig- Uptown Theater Back to Rockville review.
13. Tech N9ne- Midland Theater Back to Rockville review.
14. Leon Russell- Knuckleheads Back to Rockville review.
15. Mission of Burma- RecordBar
16. Gipsy Kings- Midland Theater There Stands the Glass review.
17. Nnenna Freelon- Folly Theater
18. Suzanne Vega- Yardley Hall Back to Rockville review.
19. Alaturka- Kansas City Academy Plastic Sax review.
20. Taj Mahal- Knuckleheads Back to Rockville review.
21. Mutemath- Beaumont
22. Eddie Money- Old Shawnee Days There Stands the Glass review.
23. American Head Charge- Beaumont Back to Rockville review.
24. Brandon Draper World Jazz Quartet- Polsky Theatre
25. Neveready- Belmont Park

The Ten Best Singles of 2011 (so far)
1. Esperanza Spalding- "Black Gold"
2. Nas- "Daughters"'
3. Carly Rae Jepsen- "Call Me Maybe"
4. Lady Antebellum- "Dancin' Away With My Heart"
5. Eric Church- "Springsteen"
6. Gocho- "Si Te Digo La Verdad"
7. The Black Keys- "Gold On the Ceiling"
8. Bassnectar- "Vava Voom"
9. Kellie Pickler- "100 Proof"
10. Scissor Sisters- "Only the Horses"

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Review: In the Heights

I almost walked out on In the Heights.  Although spending a perfect evening at the lovely Starlight Theatre is a classic Kansas City experience, my sense of disappointment threatened to get the better of me Friday.  I'd hoped that the celebrated musical would be less contrived than this.  The hip hop and salsa elements of In the Heights didn't just allow the flawed production to get a pass- the hopelessly hackneyed show was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  That's embarrassing.  Still, my $10 ticket was a bargain.  At that price, I might even endure this monstrosity in July.

Herb Reed of the Platters has died.  He was born in Kansas City.

The Washington Post's obituary of Bob Welch refers to his "poorly received" jazz album. Man, is it… unusual.

I've enjoyed bits and pieces of the live stream from Bonnaroo this weekend.

Anyone up for a road trip to Knotfest in Council Bluffs?

 If the blues wasn't in one of its cyclical troughs in popularity, Sue Foley would be a star.  Here's her new video with Peter Karp.  The duo will appear at Knuckleheads in July.

The collaboration between Bela Fleck and the Marcus Roberts Trio is an inspired idea.  Too bad about the album cover.

Kansas City Click: My official picks are published here.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Review: Eddie Money and The Clocks at Old Shawnee Days

I wanna go back cause I'm feeling so much older.- Eddie Money, "I Wanna Go Back"

Three large-scale fashionable pop music events transpired in Kansas City last night.  The Shins and Foster the People were among the acts at Buzz Beach Ball.  Wiz Khalifa and Yelawolf were scheduled to appear at Dancefestopia.  Jennifer Holliday was among the headliners at a gay pride festival.  

In a mildly pathetic but cost-conscious decision, I opted to go back thirty years to catch Eddie Money and The Clocks at Old Shawnee Days on Saturday.

I was giddy at the rare opportunity to hear The Clocks, a Wichita-based "new wave" band that had a minor hit in 1981 with "She Looks a Lot Like You".  I don't recall seeing the band back in the day.  I regret to report that I was disappointed.  Instead of a set of power-pop gems, the band favored sentimental songs that I associate with the likes of Quarterflash and the Motels.  I hadn't realized that the power-pop of "She Looks a Lot Like You" was atypical of the band's style.

Eddie Money, conversely, was a pleasant surprise. Wearing a personalized Royals jersey and backed by a solid band with a bar band feel, Money made old hits like "Baby Hold On" and "Gimme Some Water" sound shockingly vital.  Money is still a goofball with a shaky voice, but his genial personality immediately won me and the audience of about 2,500 over.

I wondered why the Brooklynite repeatedly complimented the "shawties" in the audience.  I eventually realized he was actually addressing the people of Shawnee.  I shared his affection.  The six dollars I spent on delicious custards represented my only expenditure on the gorgeous evening.

Thanks, shawty!

The suburban festival also featured country artist Rickie Lee Tanner.  I enjoyed his covers of mainstream country hits, although I gasped at his introduction to "Wave On Wave."  "Any Pat Green fans in the house tonight?" Tanner queried.  Green was performing a few miles away at Crossroads KC.

An enthusiastic report by Patrick Neas altered me to the debut album by the Kansas City area's Behzod Abduraimov.

Kansas City Click: Buck 65 plays the Riot Room on Sunday.

The RecordBar hosts Grass Widow on Monday.

Seether opens for Nickelback at the Sprint Center on Tuesday.

A set by She's a Keeper precedes the Royals game on Wednesday.

(Original image of the moon over Old Shawnee Days by There Stands the Glass.)

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Doc Watson, 1923-2012

I marvel at the fact that the time I've been allotted on this planet has allowed me to experience performances by artists that seemingly belong to a different era.  I've witnessed the likes of Roy Acuff, Count Basie, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Jay McShann, Little Richard, Bill Monroe, Jimmy Scott, Myra Taylor and Doc Watson.  I last caught Watson at Johnson County Community College.  It was always a treat to see the man who introduced me to material like "Darling Corey," "Intoxicated Rat," "Shady Grove" and "Tennessee Stud."  I can't imagine a kinder or more expert instructor.

I reviewed a concert by Danzig, Kyng, MonstrO and Hammerlord.

Hours of research aimlessly goofing around on Spotify led me to the Steve Lehman Trio's Dialect Fluorescent and Floratone II.  So good.  So neglected. 

The members of Spirit is the Spirit want you to buy them a van.

Here's the cool story behind a public domain version of the Goldberg Variations.

While I can't prevent you from calling Horseback a novelty act, nothing you say is going to make me stop loving its new release.

The Malawi Mouse Boys have a charming new album.  Here's a documentary about the project.  (Look carefully to discern the origin of the collective's name.)

Mr. Doolittle is a faithful reader of There Stands the Glass.

Kansas City Click: I'm seriously considering catching The Clocks' opening set for Eddie Money at Old Shawnee Days on Saturday.

Buck 65 plays the Riot Room on Sunday.

The RecordBar hosts Grass Widow on Monday.

Seether opens for Nickelback at the Sprint Center on Tuesday.

A set by She's a Keeper precedes Wednesday's Royals game.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)