May 10, 2008
April 4, 2008
Just a short post on our Thursday night show because I want to spend some time on both of these artists a little later. We strayed away from Tin Pan South for what turned out to be a great evening. It’s a little after 1:00 a.m. and I am wired. Justin Townes Earle has been on the cover and center of attention in several local papers here, so we took a chance at getting into his show at the Mercy Lounge. I’m so glad we did.
The opening band was The Felice Brothers. My gosh, what a show they put on. They are a group of five, three of them brothers, from New York. I would highly recommend their live performance if they are in a town near you.
This appeared to be a homecoming of sorts for Justin Earle. Yes, you probably know who his daddy is. But he can stand on his own, and did it very well. He’s had a rough patch, but is alive and kicking. We saw that tonight. I wish him the best. More on both of these later!
April 3, 2008
Waiting for the doors to open is usually a pretty enjoyable experience. This evening we met Canadian, Graham Greer, who shared our enthusiasm about the upcoming show. He was hoping to touch bases with Colin Linden, and we were hoping he might show up to play alongside Greg Nicholson. You might remember my post about him after our last trip South, during our encounter with Kinky Friedman. Although Linden didn’t make an appearance, it was a nice segue way for conversation that led to sharing of music. It turns out that Grahm Greer was a member of Barstool Prophets, and has a new band, Moonlight Graham. He gifted us with a CD which we are making our way through this morning. Sounds good so far!
The lineup for the first show was Donnie Fritz, Greg Nicholson – not to be confused with his other persona Whitey Johnson, Le Roy Parnell, and Dan Penn. Because we were off to the right, I couldn’t get a good shot of the full stage. Drats.
Donnie Fritz played keyboards for Kris Kristofferson for 20 years, and among other great songs, penned “We Had It All” for Ray Charles.
Le Roy Parnell and Gary Nicholson are always outstanding. They were together for a Tin Pan South show last year as well. All of the writers on the stage has co-written often and the stories they shared between the songs were almost as good as the tunes.
The most enjoyable part for me was to hear Dan Penn. Two of the songs he sang were ones that I remember growing up. The Dark End of the Street, in that deep soulful voice made the fur on the back of my neck stand up. He also wrote two hits for the Boxtops, The Letter, and Cry Like a Baby. What a thrill to hear him sing.
Delbert McClinton also made an appearance midway through the show and sang my favorite, When Rita Leaves, which was a co-write for McClinton and Nicholson.
The second show was more subdued than the first, and a nice way to end the evening. Writers were Phil Madeira, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Gordon Kennedy, and some chick. Willi says I’m pretty tough on chick singers, and he’s right, I guess. I really enjoyed hearing Kennedy singing his song Change the World. You probably remember the recording by Eric Clapton and Babyface. All in all, a great night.
April 2, 2008
Standing in line for our choice for the first show of the evening, and Tin Pan South, there was a couple in front of us from New York, and two women from San Diego. It’s amazing to talk to people just like us who are music lovers and will make this trip just for the tunes. Although we have “Fast Access Passes”, so do a lot of others, and if we want good seats…we get their early.
Usually these shows are in the round, stripped down to the songwriter and their guitar. The first show was a little different as this group decided to bring in a band and all of them played together on each others songs. From left to right, they are Will Kimbrough, Mando Saenz, Kim Richey, and AM. What the heck does AM stand for? I have no clue and not enough time to figure it out.
This is the second time we have seen the first three artists. I have been a fan of Kim Richey for some time, in fact she co-writes and has recorded with Tim Krekel. Her voice blended with Mando Saenz like the two were siblings. Amazing.
Will Kimbrough was the main attraction for me. He is an outstanding musician in his own right, although I have seen him play along side Rodney Crowell. At one point in the show they all decided to sing a round solo, but he was right their along side each of them, filling in with guitar rifts. He has some nice clips on YouTube, but I’m not going to have time to add them to this post. He’s someone I would like to post about one of these days.
The second show we chose was James LeBlanc, Walt Aldridge, Steven Dale Jones, and Donny Lowery. It was billed as the “Muscle Shoals Brothers” and was truly stripped down and in the round. The last three are truly writers for the stars, and James LeBlanc is well on his way, most recently penning a hit for Travis Tritt with Walt Aldridge, Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde.
I really enjoyed hearing Donny Lowery. Often when we choose the shows we want to see I may only know one or two of the performers, and it isn’t until they start the round with songs they wrote that I figure out just who they are. Donny Lowery wrote a song that has been one of my favorites from Restless Heart, called Right or Wrong. Great song, and great to hear him on our first night.
March 31, 2008
My daughter introduced me to Shawn Mullins with his 1998 release Soul’s Core. Shortly after, the song Lullaby became a hit. I lost track of him again until The Thorns in 2003 with Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet, and Peter Droge. I bought it, but it didn’t knock my socks off. What really made me a Shawn Mullins fan was 9th Ward Pickin’ Parlor, recorded in pre-Katrina New Orleans in 2006. His newest release, Honeydew is equally as good.
I found this show a few nights before our trip while I was fiddling around on-line, visiting venues we had been to on previous trips. Pleased as punch, I tromped downstairs to announce to Willi that I found a show for us on Sunday night. He was unimpressed. So, I tromped back upstairs and bought the tickets anyway. At $10.00 a pop, if he didn’t come around we weren’t out too awfully much. As it turns out, it was money well spent. And Willi agreed.
Opening the show was Jennifer Daniels. We had not heard of her prior to this, but we enjoyed both her music and the banter between the songs. She introduced us to her rasta dog named Bob Marley, and joked about the six guys in the next band and their primping prior to the show, saying they all had different hair and she wondered if they all used the same “product”. With the exception of one angst ridden song, I would give her another try.
Next in the line-up was Ben Cyllus, also someone I had not heard of, but he is reported to be an up and comer. The show was broadcast live beginning with his act. His bandmates had traveled from their hometown of Detroit for the show. He has an interesting sound I found to be similar to Ryan Adams. I would give him another try also. I think we will be hearing more from him.
Shawn Mullins’ set was solo. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. He sang many songs from his newest release, interspersed with those the crowd remembered well. His voice was powerful and clear. He provided musical commentary for the working class. We both felt he had moved well into the classic folksinger genre, ala Woody Guthrie.
Although All in My Head is the song we are hearing on the radio, the one that caught my attention from the new CD was The Ballad of Kathryn Johnston, a 92 year old black woman from Atlanta who was shot to death as police broke down her door in a suspected drug raid.
When the live broadcast came to an end, the announcer broke into the flow of the show for the closing. As he left the stage, Mullins replied with a light hearted “How Rude”, and settled in for another several songs, much to the delight of the audience. And again, I wonder if this will be the highlight of our trip south. It could be.
For a taste of Shawn Mullins, here’s a clip of “Cold Black Heart” from the Pickin’ Parlor CD.
March 31, 2008
We struggled with the decision whether to watch the rest of the Louisville/North Carolina game in the hotel room or mosey on over the Zena’s to see Tim Krekel play at 10:00. It was half-time and Louisville was hanging in there, at least they were if you’re a Cardinal’s fan. Willi was right when he said there was no way Tim would start as long as they were still playing. When we got there everyone was gathered around a little television set on the end of the bar. Everyone that was there anyway. The rest of the crowd stayed home and watched the game in the comfort of their living room.
Initially we were going to walk the seven blocks or so to this show, but at 3:00 a.m. as we were driving back to the hotel, I was pretty happy we didn’t. I don’t do all nighters like I use to!
Shortly after the game ended, not in Louisville’s favor, the place started to fill up and by 11:30 it was packed, including the quasi stage…it seems like everyone who is in town shows up to play, and we were the beneficiaries. Aside from the regulars, there was a conga player, just in from Los Angelos and John Mann, a performer in his own right sitting in on keyboards, guitar and vocals. The brass section was full with trombone, sax and trumpet, and another sax joined in before the night was over. Nine in all.
It was an outstanding show, an interactive performance at it’s finest. Tim Krekel with the full orchestra, in his hometown, is the best. Everyone dances and sings. They know the words by heart, no matter if it is a song from ten years ago or today. The band is outstanding. Always. It just doesn’t get any better than this.
A highlight for me was his tribute to Wilson Pickett, off of the Soul Season CD, followed by Funky, Funky Broadway, then shortly after Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag. He also played many of my favorites including All Night Radio, and Fell Down in Memphis.
Seeing Tim with the full orchestra is a completely different show than when he plays solo with only his acoustic guitar and harmonica. That was the way we first saw him ten years ago in Nashville at the Bluebird. I like them equally as well, as different as they are.
We always plan our trip south around when Tim is playing in Louisville. Sometimes when we see him on the way down I leave thinking that nothing can top the show we just saw. This was the case Saturday night.