Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Dale Watson at Hill Country Barbecue Market

Dale Watson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in poverty outside of Pasadena, Texas. Watson began writing his own songs at age 12, making his first recording two years later. Soon after, Watson became an emancipated minor; by day he went to school and by night he played local Houston clubs and honky-tonks with his brother Jim in an aggregation called the Classic Country Band. In 1988, he moved to Los Angeles, California, and joined the house band at an alt-country venue. In 1992, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, writing songs for a publishing company. His career as a solo artist began when Watson relocated to Austin, Texas, where he formed a backing band called the Lone Stars and recorded his first album in 1995. Watson went on hiatus after his girlfriend died in 2004, relocating again to be near his daughters in Baltimore, Maryland. Watson returned to Austin in 2006 and resumed playing regular gigs. His 25th and most recent album, Under the Influence, was released on September 30, 2016.

Dale Watson brands his music Ameripolitan, and tonight at Hill Country Barbecue Market, this music spoke for itself. Perhaps Ameripolitan is more of a statement than a genre, as the music sounded very much like outlaw country music, stripping away the Nashville glitz and honing onto roots country blues. With integrity uncompromised, Watson played authentic country music, even throwing subtle jabs at contemporary country stars who are not so country. While his baritone resonated well and the Lone Stars (Don Pawlak on pedal steel, Chris Crepps  on upright bass, and Mike Bernal on drums) backed him finely, his repertoire consisted of typical country fare: humorous plays on words; name drops on the outlaw pioneers; songs about drinking alcohol. For much of the show, Watson fielded requests from the fans and had the audience singing along to "I Lie When I Drink" and other signature songs. It was an enjoyable performance, but not a country music shape shifter.

Visit Dale Watson at www.DaleWatson.com.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Afropunk Music Festival, Day Two

James Spooner's 2003 documentary, Afro-Punk, introduced to a wider audience a subculture of black youth who were gravitating to the largely-white punk scene. The community grew vastly and quickly, such that it became possible in 2005 to stage the first Afropunk Music Festival in Brooklyn, New York. Spooner and Matthew Morgan teamed on the annual event until Spooner left in 2008 production.

Afropunk Brooklyn returned to Commodore Barry Park on August 26-17, 2017, and again attracted some 60,000 attendees. Musicians, vocalists, rappers and poets performed on five stages. Sections of the fields were dedicated to kiosks for artists, vendors and community activists.

Originally, Afropunk lineups consisted largely of underground and alternative music artists. As the Brooklyn event has grown, it has increasingly included more mainstream artists. This year's headliners included Solange, Raphael Saadiq, Gary Clark, Jr., Sza, and Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals. Most of the punk bands this year were relegated to a smaller stage a block away in the Golconda Playground.

Brooklyn's AfroPunk Festival increasingly has become more than music. The event is also is a showcase for local visual arts, crafts and food. This year, the festival also included a skate park and competition. Style, fashion, and expression were everywhere.

Admission to AfroPunk Brooklyn was free for many years, with entry fees of $40 to 50 beginning only in 2015. Participants were able to earn free admission through volunteer work either in their communities or at the festival. Comparatively, other music festivals in New York typically cost more than $100 for daily admission.

AfroPunk continues to grow. The AfroPunk Music Festival is now international. Annual festivals are held in Atlanta, Georgia; Paris, France; London, England; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Son Little
Unlocking the Truth
Rebelmatic
Junior Astronomers
Sango
Proteje
Keith Abstract
Michael Kiwanuka
Dizzie Rascal
Nao
Staceyann Chin
Gary Clark, Jr.
Anderson .Paak
Spike Lee
Raphael Saadiq

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Afropunk Music Festival, Day One

James Spooner's 2003 documentary, Afro-Punk, introduced to a wider audience a subculture of black youth who were gravitating to the largely-white punk scene. The community grew vastly and quickly, such that it became possible in 2005 to stage the first Afropunk Music Festival in Brooklyn, New York. Spooner and Matthew Morgan teamed on the annual event until Spooner left in 2008 production.

Afropunk Brooklyn returned to Commodore Barry Park on August 26-17, 2017, and again attracted some 60,000 attendees. Musicians, vocalists, rappers and poets performed on five stages. Sections of the fields were dedicated to kiosks for artists, vendors and community activists.

Originally, Afropunk lineups consisted largely of underground and alternative music artists. As the Brooklyn event has grown, it has increasingly included more mainstream artists. This year's headliners included Solange, Raphael Saadiq, Gary Clark, Jr., Sza, and Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals. Most of the punk bands this year were relegated to a smaller stage a block away in the Golconda Playground.

Brooklyn's AfroPunk Festival increasingly has become more than music. The event is also is a showcase for local visual arts, crafts and food. This year, the festival also included a skate park and competition. Style, fashion, and expression were everywhere.

Admission to AfroPunk Brooklyn was free for many years, with entry fees of $40 to 50 beginning only in 2015. Participants were able to earn free admission through volunteer work either in their communities or at the festival. Comparatively, other music festivals in New York typically cost more than $100 for daily admission.

AfroPunk continues to grow. The AfroPunk Music Festival is now international. Annual festivals are held in Atlanta, Georgia; Paris, France; London, England; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Skins
Jojo Abot
King
Princess Nokia
Sinkane
Jorja Smith
Little Simz
Macy Gray
Thundercat
Willow Smith
Staceyann Chin
Sampha
Soul II Soul
HO9909
Sza
Solange

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lucero aboard the Liberty Belle

Ben Nichols
Ben Nichols is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, where in high school he played bass in the folk-rocking Harbingers and, with the same personnel, in Victory Garden. His next band, the punky Red 40, did well locally, but Nichols increasingly felt drawn to what he saw as the epicenter of good rock and roll music about 135 miles away, in Memphis, Tennessee. He relocated there and, still in his hardcore punk phase, played in Lucky Old Sun and Pezz. Nichols started experimenting with "cowboy" music and formed the country-rocking Lucero in 1998. Lucero has remained fairly intact since the beginning, featuring Nichols on vocals and guitar, guitarist Brian Venable, bassist John Stubblefield and drummer Roy Berry; Rick Steff joined Lucero on piano, organ, and accordion in 2006. Lucero's 10th and most recent studio album is 2015's All a Man Should Do.

If you are going to ride a party boat, it makes sense to enjoy a party band. Lucero tonight performed aboard the Liberty Belle as the boat cruised the New York City harbor. The alt-country band came on stage to the sound of Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee," appropriately recalling Lucero's hometown. Led by Nichols' gruff yet vulnerable vocals and powered by the ensemble's roots-informed jams, Lucero's lyrics studied life on the road, the workweek versus the weekend, and loves that were lost. Nichols' heart-on-sleeve vocals effectively managed two deliveries: either he sang rousing beer-toasting rockers, or he sang sad-soul songs that likewise might have led to increased bar activity. The 25-song set spanned Lucero's career, touching upon almost every album, and also included new, unrecorded songs. With no special effects, lighting or gimmicks, this performance was about as honest as it could get.

Visit Lucero at www.luceromusic.com.

Setlist
  1. Can't You Hear Them Howl
  2. Texas & Tennessee
  3. Last Night in Town
  4. My Best Girl
  5. Went Looking for Warren Zevon's Los Angeles
  6. Union Pacific Line
  7. Throwback No. 2
  8. (New song, title unknown)
  9. Loving (Ben Nichols cover)
  10. Downtown (Intro)
  11. On My Way Downtown
  12. Women & Work
  13. Darken My Door
  14. 1979
  15. Banks of the Arkansas
  16. Tonight Ain't Gonna Be Good
  17. Chain Link Fence
  18. Nights Like These
  19. Slow Dancing
  20. The War
  21. Last Pale Light in the West
  22. (Title unknown, Ben Nichols a cappella)
  23. Tears Don't Matter Much
  24. Drink 'Till We're Gone
  25. Fistful of Tears

Monday, August 21, 2017

Midnight Oil at Terminal 5

Peter Garrett
Guitarist/keyboardist Jim Moginie and drummer Rob Hirst started rocking together as a cover band named Farm in 1972 while in school in Sydney, Australia. University student Peter Garrett answered their advertisement for a vocalist in 1975. Garrett relocated to Sydney in 1976, and Farm became a full-time band and changed its name to Midnight Oil, named after a Jimi Hendrix song. Guitarist Martin Rotsey joined in 1977 and Bones Hillman replaced earlier bassists in 1987. Known as outspoken and non-compromising, Midnight Oil gained a fierce following, winning 11 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards during its career, including induction into the Hall of Fame in 2006. Garrett first entered politics in 1984, and essentially dissolved the band when he entered politics full time in 2002. The band's 11th and final album was 2002's Capricornia. Midnight Oil reformed for sporadic benefit concerts starting in 2005.

Midnight Oil embarked on its first world tour in 15 years in 2017, which included sets at Webster Hall earlier in the year and tonight's performance at Terminal 5. The tour promotes several box sets of back catalog because the band has not written or recorded new music. As such, the setlist concentrated on the band's best known songs from 1982 to 1993, with a few surprises, included the first ever performance of "Heart Is Nowhere," the tour debut of "Is It Now?" and a rocking cover of the Clash's "London Calling." Accompanied by Jack Howard on trumpet, flugelhorn, keyboards, and percussion, Midnight Oil played its bristling rock music with new fever. Several times, Garret expressed his contempt for contemporary politics and tied it with songs that originated from earlier social commentary: "Short Memory" was a critique of imperialist repression; "Truganini" referenced multiple issues, including the treatment of indigenous artist Albert Namatjira, the Australian flag debate, and republicanism; "US Forces" was a denunciation of American military interference in foreign affairs; "The Dead Heart" told the story of colonization from an indigenous point of view; "Blue Sky Mine" described asbestos exposure in the Wittenoom mine tragedy. The music rocked as solidly as it ever did, with Garrett stalking the stage and dancing awkwardly while singing in strong voice, and the band providing driving aggressive, hard rock with sizzling guitar work and thunderous, primal rhythms. Hopefully the band will use this reignited firepower to write new songs.

Visit Midnight Oil at www.midnightoil.com.

Setlist
  1. Redneck Wonderland
  2. Read About It
  3. Golden Age
  4. Brave Faces
  5. Short Memory
  6. Heart Is Nowhere (live debut)
  7. Dreamworld
  8. Truganini
  9. London Calling (The Clash cover)
  10. Is It Now? (tour debut)
  11. My Country
  12. When the Generals Talk
  13. US Forces
  14. Tin Legs and Tin Mines
  15. Kosciusko
  16. Now or Never Land
  17. Power and the Passion
  18. The Dead Heart
  19. Beds Are Burning
  20. Blue Sky Mine
  21. Best of Both Worlds
Encore:
  1. Forgotten Years

The Living End at Terminal 5

Vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney and upright bassist Scott Owen met in primary school in Melbourne, Australia, and by 1990, while in high school, they were making music together, busking the streets of Melbourne. Cheney was a fan of rockabilly group Stray Cats and this prompted Owen, who originally played piano, to switch to double bass. Recruiting various drummers, the pair formed the Runaway Boys, named after a Stray Cats song, and performed covers of songs by  the Stray Cats and the Clash. By 1994 Cheney and Owen were writing their own songs, which started to incline towards punk and pub rock, and changed the band's name to the Living End, a 1950s expression meaning "the greatest." Since 2002 the Living End has consisted of Cheney, Owen, and drummer Andy Strachan. The Living End's seventh studio album, Shift, was released on May 13, 2016.

Opening for fellow Australians Midnight Oil at Terminal 5 tonight, the Living End played a shorter set than it played at a headlining gig at the Gramercy Theatre last November. Once again, the band married its original punkabilly sound to raucous rock and roll and hard rock, fueling a blustering fire with gasoline. There were few quiet moments, as the band performed with unharnessed energy, with Cheney shouting lyrics and playing rollicking guitar leads and Owen playing his large bass all over the stage. Midway through the set, the one song that started as a softer reggae-inspired song evolved into a banging rocker coupled with gang vocals. With proper exposure, the Living End's controlled rampage could win a strong American audience.

Setlist
  1. Second Solution
  2. Roll On
  3. End of the World
  4. How Do We Know
  5. Who's Gonna Save Us?
  6. Prisoner of Society
  7. White Noise
  8. E-Boogie
  9. West End Riot

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Stabbing Westward at the Gramercy Theatre

Christopher Hall
Vocalist Christopher Hall and keyboardist Walter Flakus formed Stabbing Westward as an industrial rock band in 1986 while working at a college radio station in Macomb, Illinois. They relocated the band to the closest music mecca, Chicago, and started building a following, then moved again to Los Angeles, California. Ten years after forming and several personnel changes later, Stabbing Westward's second album was certified gold on the strength of two radio songs. Subsequent albums did not sell as well, however, and the band split in 2002. The band's fourth and most recent album is 2001's Stabbing Westward. Stabbing Westward reunited for two 30th anniversary concerts in 2016, which then morphed into a 2017 tour. The band presently consists of Hall, Flakus, guitarist Mark Eliopulos and drummer Johnny Haro.

VampireFreaks presented Stabbing Westward's concert at the Gramercy Theatre tonight, the band's first New York performance in 16 years. Oddly, the band played only three songs from its most successful album, performing more songs from the first and third album than from the second. Altogether, Stabbing Westward played 13 songs, including the better-known "Shame", "What Do I Have to Do?" and "So Far Away." Throbbing synth beats and crunching guitar chords made for a pulsating drive that alternately whispered and roared, much like Hall's melodic vocals. On several songs, the band leaned on the softer, dreamier side of the industrial genre, but then quickly provided enough bristle to spike new waves of energy. This was where the band sounded most interesting.

Setlist
  1. Drugstore
  2. Falls Apart
  3. So Far Away
  4. ACF
  5. Sometimes It Hurts
  6. Lies
  7. The Thing I Hate
  8. Nothing
  9. What Do I Have to Do?
  10. Violent Mood Swings
  11. Save Yourself
Encore:
  1. Waking Up Beside You
  2. Shame

Panzie at the Gramercy Theatre

Jasin Cadic
Guitarists DC Gonzalez and Jonnie Rockit were childhood friends in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. After playing in several bands together, they formed the hard-rocking Panzie in 2008. The Trashcan Diaries EP in 2010 and debut Love and Blood album in 2013 helped Panzie get more East Coast gigs and gain a heartier following, but also led the band into a hiatus in 2014. Rockit continued working as a professional guitar tech and Gonzalez was recruited to play in Killcode. In 2015, Gonzalez and Rockit began rebuilding Panzie, recruiting drummer John Servo Di Salvo, who played in Chem Lab and KMFDM, and then vocalist Jasin Cadic, an actor, screenwriter, artist and former front man for industrial hard rock bands Handful of Dust and Starkiller. Panzie now also includes bassist Kevin Jones.

Panzie was an impressive opening act tonight for VampireFreaks' Stabbing Westward concert at the Gramercy Theatre. Panzie's hard rock was fierce, featuring guttural singing, twin guitar leads and a super heavy rhythm section. The overarching sound borrowed the best elements from death metal, groove metal and industrial. The combination was raw, raucous, gritty and brutal. The band had captivating stage appeal as well, with corpse paint, blotched and torn wardrobe on Cadic and red outfits on the other musicians. The theatrics also including a pig mask and oversized butcher knife, and later a noose held high by colorful helium balloons. New York has not had a band this exciting in years, and given the right opportunities, Panzie could be huge.

Visit Panzie at www.panzie.com.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Mark Lanegan Band at the Gramercy Theatre

Mark Lanegan
Mark Lanegan was born and raised in Ellensburg, Washington, a small logging town 107 miles east of Seattle. As a teen-ager, he was a high-school quarterback but he also had a police record, arrested several times for public drunkenness, shoplifting and drug possession; the last time he was arrested, he dodged incarceration by vowing to participate in a year-long rehabilitation course. Lanegan worked picking peas, building fences and working in a video store where his first band, the Screaming Trees, also rehearsed starting in 1984. The Screaming Trees moved to Seattle and wound up among the pioneers of the grunge scene until the band split in 2000. Lanegan also joined Mad Season, Queens of the Stone Age and the Gutter Twins, and worked on numerous collaborations. Lanegan's 10th solo album, Gargoyle, was the fourth attributed to the Mark Lanegan Band and was released on April 28, 2017. Lanegan currently is based in the greater Los Angeles area of California.

The stage at the Gramercy Theatre was bathed in dark blue and red back lighting all night, making visibility more of a mystery than a reality. For most of the set, the audience saw Lanegan's silhouette with an rare partial view of his face. The music was similarly deep, dark and mysterious, with Lanegan's gruff, talky baritone seemingly cutting through boisterous, booming accompaniment from his band. Lanegan barely moved on stage, and his singing paralleled his calm, foreboding demeanor, while his band chugged bombastic pairs of chords. Of the 18 songs performed, all but two originated from Mark Lanegan or Mark Lanegan Band albums; the exceptions were "Deepest Shade" from his days with the Twilight Singers and a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Perhaps this was because Lanegan has moved far from the grungy psychedelic sound of the Screaming Trees and has moved closer to the Cure/Smiths breed of bleakness. Nevertheless, though light seems to be Lanegan's nemesis, someone ought to remind him that fans pay good money to see him, not just hear him, so silhouettes are insufficient.

Visit Mark Lanegan at www.marklanegan.com.

Setlist
  1. Death's Head Tattoo
  2. The Gravedigger's Song
  3. Riot in My House
  4. No Bells on Sunday
  5. Hit the City
  6. Emperor
  7. Nocturne
  8. Goodbye to Beauty
  9. Beehive
  10. Ode to Sad Disco
  11. Harborview Hospital
  12. Deepest Shade (The Twilight Singers cover)
  13. Harvest Home
  14. Floor of the Ocean
  15. One Hundred Days
  16. Head
  17. Methamphetamine Blues
Encore:
  1. One Way Street
  2. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Dead Daisies at the Highline Ballroom

David Lowy
In Sydney, Australia, David Lowy started his career as a businessman and a key player for a family-owned multi-national company that invested in shopping centers around the world. On the side, he was also a pilot, regularly performing at air shows flying a WWII Spitfire and a Vietnam War-era A37B Dragonfly ground attack jet. It was after all this, at almost 50 years of age, that he began playing guitar professionally in rock bands, including Doc Neeson's Angels (2003-2005), Red Phoenix (2005) and Mink (2006-2008). He formed the Dead Daisies in 2012, which quickly attracted a renown personnel. Although the cast has changed multiple times, the present band consists of Lowy, vocalist John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, The Scream), lead guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Dio), bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Lynch Mob, Ted Nugent), and drummer Brian Tichy (Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner, Billy Idol, Seether, Velvet Revolver). After three studio albums, the Dead Daisies' most recent album is a live set, Live & Louder, which was released on May 19, 2017.

After a European tour that ended with the Dead Daisies playing with an orchestra in Poland, the Dead Daisies embarked on a 12-date "Dirty Dozen" tour of the United States that came to the Highline Ballroom tonight. The all-star line-up worked well together, playing 1970s-influenced blues rockers, but with a rougher, faster 1980s pacing and a whole lot of timeless flash. Corabi worked the audience throughout the show, always moving along the edge of the stage and encouraging the audience to sing, raise their hands or listen to his quips between songs. Aldrich started out playing modestly, but his solos within the songs grew longer and more searing until he performed a very extended solo with no one else on stage. Tichy also performed an extended solo that showcased him pounding the drum skins with his bare hands. If there was any doubt as to what sound the band was trying to achieve, consider the Dead Daisies' six covers, all hailing from 1968 to 1974: Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," the Who's "Join Together," the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band," the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's "Midnight Moses," and Deep Purple's "Highway Star." The beauty of the ensemble was that they weaved the magic together: strong vocals, muscular guitar leads, big choruses and catchy hooks. The Dead Daisies gave a modern perspective on a tried and true hard rock sound.

Visit the Dead Daisies at www.TheDeadDaisies.com.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bonnie Raitt at Damrosch Park Bandshell

Bonnie Raitt was born in Burbank, California, the daughter of Broadway singer John Raitt (Carousel, Oklahoma!, The Pajama Game) and pianist/singer Marge Haydock. She was raised in Los Angeles with Quaker traditions, a commitment to social activism, and a respect for the arts. Her musical journey began at age eight with a Christmas present of a Stella guitar, which she began playing while at a Quaker summer camp in upstate New York. She became fascinated with blues and slide guitar at age 14. In 1967, she entered college and joined the local folk and blues music scene in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she gained recognition for her bottleneck-style guitar playing. Raitt's commercial breakthrough began 20 years after she started playing clubs, with a string of multi-million-selling records and 10 Grammy awards. Raitt was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002. Raitt's 17th and most recent studio album, Dig in Deep, was released on February 26, 2016.

Closing the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors summer series at Damrosch Park tonight, Raitt was backed by guitarist George Marinelli, keyboardist Mike Finnigan, bassist James "Hutch" Hutchinson, and drummer Ricky Fataar. She told the audience she had long heard of the AmericanaFest and always wanted to perform in it. While her albums have transitioned her path from blues to pop to Americana, the thread is that her powerful, soulful vocals and her stirring guitar work, especially on slide, links the copious work to Americana. The set hopped from newer songs to hits from her most successful 1989-1991 period and to five songs from the early 1970s when she was first finding her road. The repertoire consisted of 10 original songs, plus covers of songs spanning from Mose Allison, Chris Smither, and John Prine to INXS and Talking Heads. Her stylistic changes from soft and sensitive to loud and rocking showed an uncanny ability to marry the modern with the traditional. Raitt may be undercelebrated these days, because she is a musical treasure.

Visit Bonnie Raitt at www.bonnieraitt.com.

Setlist
  1. Unintended Consequence of Love
  2. Need You Tonight (INXS cover)
  3. No Business
  4. Take My Love with You
  5. Everybody's Crying Mercy (Mose Allison cover)
  6. Spit of Love
  7. Love Me Like a Man (Chris Smither cover)
  8. Nick of Time
  9. Have a Heart
  10. Let's Give Them Something to Talk About
  11. The Comin' Round Is Going Through
  12. Angel from Montgomery (John Prine cover)
  13. Don't Answer the Door (B.B. King cover; Mike Finnegan lead vocals)
  14. I Believe I'm in Love With You (The Fabulous Thunderbirds cover)
Encore
  1. I Can't Make You Love Me
  2. Crazy Love (Van Morrison cover) (duet with Marc Cohn)
  3. Burning Down the House (Talking Heads cover)
  4. Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Revivalists at Rumsey Playfield

David Shaw
One day in 2007, guitarist Zack Feinberg was riding his bicycle when he heard David Shaw singing on his front porch in New Orleans, Louisiana. They started a conversation and jammed later that day. Feinberg  recruited drummer Andrew Campanelli, and within a week they formed a band and played live. The Revivalists is now a seven-piece band, with the addition of Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar, guitar), Michael Girardot (keyboards, trumpet), Rob Ingraham (saxophone), and George Gekas (bass). The Revivalists' third and most recent album is 2015's Men Amongst Mountains.

The Revivalists drew a large crowd to SummerStage's Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, but how many people were really listening to the live music? Throughout the venue, conversations drowned out the band's performance. For the many who were present but not really present at all, they missed a slick concert by a funky, jammy, good-time rock and roll band. Shaw crooned soulfully, Feinberg picked, tapped and slid bluesy guitar licks, and Ingraham and Girardot punctuated the songs with brass. The arrangements were bright and sunny, and frequently the pedal steelwork or country-blues guitar work reminded the audience that indeed this was a southern band with deep roots. Buzz-worthy guitarist Eric Krasno joined the opening act, White Denim, for one song earlier in the evening and returned to jam on the Revivalists' best-known song, "Wish I Knew You." More than half the set drew from the band's most recent album, but the band concluded with a sparkling cover of the Beatles' "Hey Jude." The Revivalists put on a solid concert, even if many in the audience missed it.

Visit the Revivalists at www.TheRevivalists.com.

Setlist
  1. You and I
  2. Stand Up
  3. Keep Going
  4. Amber
  5. Straw Man
  6. BTBD
  7. Bulletproof
  8. Got Love
  9. Upright
  10. Catching Fireflies
  11. It Was a Sin
  12. All in the Family
  13. Fade Away
Encore
  1. Wish I Knew You (with Eric Krasno)
  2. Hey Jude (The Beatles cover)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Donavon Frankenreiter at the Bowery Ballroom

Donavon Frankenreiter was born in Downey, California, and by age 14 became a professional surfer and relocated to Hawaii. Signed to a sponsorship as a free surfer, he was paid to ride the waves but not required to surf in competitions. In Hawaii, he rented a home from the parents of Jack Johnson, a fellow surfer. The two became surf buddies and learned to play guitar together. At age 18, Frankenreiter played guitar in Peanut Butter and Jam, and in his early 20s formed a rock quintet called Sunchild. Sunchild recorded three albums and disbanded in 2001. Frankenreiter launched a solo career as an acoustic singer/songwriter in 2002, later forming the Donavon Frankenreiter Band. His sixth and most recent solo album is 2015's The Heart.

Donavon Frankenreiter has been headlining a concert at the Bowery Ballroom annually since at least 2011, and with no new album available, his returning fans tonight clung to the familiar. Backed by multi-instrumentalist Matt Grundy and a drummer, Frankenreiter's mellow, breezy and upbeat song structures were weaved with soulful, whispery croons, stinging guitar leads and funky rhythms that latched onto gentle and almost hypnotic grooves. Some of these songs led into gruff and gritty guitar solos that were almost jarring but maintained the pulse of the composition. Frankenreiter brought up a New York City firefighter friend to join him for a song, but otherwise there were no surprises; the show was yet another signature performance with a formula that may remain unchanged if he returns to the venue next year.

Visit Donavon Frankenreiter at www.donavonf.com.

The Accidentals at Mercury Lounge

Katie Larson & Savannah Buist
Savannah Buist and Katie Larson met in 2011 at high school in Traverse City, Michigan. The orchestra leader asked for volunteers to play an event and Larson, a 15-year-old freshman cellist, and Buist, a 16-year-old sophomore violinist, were the only students who raised their hands. Larson visited Buist's house to discuss their impending project, and Larson played a song on Buist's guitar that she had not played for anyone prior to their meeting. They formed the Accidentals in 2012, naming the band after the accidental note in music that is outside the most recently applied key signature. Between 2012 and 2013, the Accidentals performed more than 500 live shows while Larson and Buist maintained a 3.9+ GPA. From 2012-2014, the Accidentals recorded two original albums and an EP, were guest artists on 15 others, scored two films, and landed song placements in commercials, documentaries, and music compilations while playing over 700 live shows. Then they graduated high school. In 2015, Buist and Larson scored original pieces for a 72-piece orchestra, an opera-dance project with Son Lux, and a smaller 30-piece string ensemble while touring the US extensively. The Accidentals' third album, Odyssey, will be released on August 18, 2017.

Headlining at Mercury Lounge tonight, the Accidentals performed as a quartet, with the addition of guitarist/keyboardist Jake Allen and drummer Michael Dause, and the foursome interchanged a van-load of stringed and percussive instruments. The lyrics were rooted in stories, and the melodies inclined towards pop to folk, but also borrowed elements from country, jazz and classical. The effect was light and bouncy, but with arrangements far more complex and mature than one would expected from such youthful musicians. Intriguing compositions and spry personalities made the Accidentals performance supremely charming and engaging.

Visit the Accidentals at www.theaccidentalsmusic.com.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"A Night of New York Stories" at the PlayStation Theater

WCBS Newsradio 880 celebrated the 50th anniversary its all-news format with "A Night of New York Stories" tonight at the PlayStation Theater. The radio station staff interviewed Lesley Stahl and Jeff Fager of the CBS series 60 Minutes, former New York Ranger Adam Graves, former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine, former New York Giants co-captain George Martin, former New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly, former Late Show with David Letterman band leader Paul Shaffer, and vocalist Tony Bennett, all of whom shared New York-related stories. In addition, Shaffer and Bennett each performed briefly. The event was hosted by WCBS’ Wayne Cabot and Alex Silverman, and radio personalities Pat Farnack, Steve Scott, Michael Wallace, Joe Connolly, Brad Heller, Craig Allen, Tom Kaminski and others made brief appearances.

Valentine's main story technically was not a New York story, but a story from Stamford, Connecticut, where he opened a restaurant in 1981. An outraged effort to get the street-walking prostitutes to move away from the area led to his being arrested and taken to jail. Valentine's threat to the mayor that he would talk to WCBS' Fran Schneidau and tell her all about the prostitutes on Stamford's streets led the mayor to personally release him. The mayor rescued Valentine at 4:30 a.m. by letting him out the back door of the police station.

The other guests shared rarely-shared personal anecdotes as well, and Shaffer concluded by singing the biggest hit he co-wrote, "It's Raining Men. The final guest, Tony Bennett, revealed that Bob Hope was the person who changed his name from Anthony Dominic Benedetto after asking him to join a Hope tour. Hope told the singer that his name was too long and shortened it for him. Bennett then closed the evening singing two songs accompanied by an acoustic guitarist.
Adam Graves
Bobby Valentine
George Martin
Paul Shaffer performed a song he co-wrote, "It's Raining Men"
Ray Kelly
Tony Bennett sang two songs