Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Black Label Society at the PlayStation Theater

Zakk Wylde
Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, Jeffrey Phillip Wielandt started playing the guitar at the age of eight. While in high school in Jackson, New Jersey, he practiced as much as 12 hours per day; reportedly he often would play the guitar almost non-stop between coming home from school and leaving for school the next morning, then sleep through the school day. He played locally with Stone Henge and then Zyris. In 1988, Ozzy Osbourne hired the 19 year old, now known as Zakk Wylde, as lead guitarist and co-writer, and they performed together for nearly 20 years. Wylde formed Pride & Glory in 1994, recorded his first solo album in 1996, and formed Black Label Society in 1998 in Los Angeles, California. Wylde played most of the instruments on the Black Label Society's first four albums. Black Label Society's 10th album, Grimmest Hits, was released on January 19, 2018. The band presently consists of Wylde, rhythm guitarist Dario Lorina, bassist John DeServio and drummer Jeff Fabb.

Headlining tonight at the PlayStation Theater, Black Label Society's stage was visually stimulating, with a tower of speakers behind the standing musicians and a smaller stack under the drummer, with the band's biker-styled logo hanging against the back wall. Center stage, Wylde shook his mane of blond hair over his face as he sang muscularly into a mic stand decorated with shrunken head skulls. Opening with the hefty chords of "Genocide Junkies," the band established that this was going to be a high-fevered, testosterone-dripping heavy metal experience chock full of grungy riffs and dark grooves. As the show progressed, it was increasingly all about Zakk Wylde's ripping guitar leads. Yes, there were strong songs from six of the band's albums and yes, there were three other solid musicians rocking on stage, but Wylde's extended lightning runs commanded virtually all the attention. Fast, flashy and fluid, Wylde dominated his instrument without a dependence on foot pedals or other distortions or effects. It was not simply about speed, however, it was about a sharp, clear tone that was seldom murky. Wylde's played his lengthiest guitar lead behind his head as he walked the audience and back to the stage. Pepper Keenan of openers Corrosion of Conformity joined Black Label Society onstage on "Suicide Messiah," delivering key vocal lines through a megaphone. The concert was a headbanger's delight.

Visit Black Label Society at www.blacklabelsociety.com.

Setlist:
  1. Genocide Junkies
  2. Funeral Bell
  3. Suffering Overdue
  4. Bleed for Me
  5. Heart of Darkness
  6. Suicide Messiah
  7. Trampled Down Below
  8. All That Once Shined
  9. Room of Nightmares
  10. In This River
  11. The Blessed Hellride
  12. Fire it Up
  13. Concrete Jungle
  14. Stillborn

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Dead Boys at the Bowery Electric

Cheetah Chrome
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, the Dead Boys evolved out of the band Rocket from the Tombs and were originally called Frankenstein. When the band members relocated to New York City in 1976 at the encouragement of Joey Ramone, they adopted the Dead Boys moniker, which came from the RFTT song "Down In Flames." The Dead Boys became one of the leaders of the first wave punk bands at CBGB's but never achieved commercial success, causing the band to split in 1979 after two studio albums. The Dead Boys reformed for several gigs in the 1980s but these ended in 1990 when lead singer Stiv Bators was hit by a taxi and died. In 2004, the remaining members of the band re-formed for a one-off gig in Cleveland. In 2005, they played a benefit show for CBGB's and another reunion show on Halloween. In 2017, founding members Cheetah Chrome and Johnny Blitz rebranded the Dead Boys with a new lineup to celebrate both the 40th anniversary of the band's debut album and the September 8 release of Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40, a re-recording of that original album. The Dead Boys presently consists of Chrome on guitar, Blitz on drums, Jake Hout on vocals, Jason Kottwitz on guitar and Ricky Rat on bass.

The new Dead Boys embarked on the brand's first major tour in 38 years, which stopped for two nights at the Bowery Electric, one block north of their old CBGB's stomping grounds. The set consisted of the songs from the debut album (substituting "Calling on You" for the original "Hey Little Girl") plus two encores (which like "Calling on You" originated from the band's second album). The songs were performed 40 years ago, yet this set did not pick up where the original band left off. The first time around, the musicians did not really know their instruments like the current line-up did; the contemporary spin presented a much more polished performance than the original line-up ever performed. Nevertheless, there were some moments that recalled the original band's youthfulness, including Hout rolling on the low stage or pretending to hang himself by his own tie (Bators used to do this with his mic cord) and Chrome accidentally tripping over a squatted Hout and then being unable to retune his guitar. In all, the live performance was significant in that it showed that many of the Dead Boys' songs were strong rock and roll songs that have aged well and should have made the Dead Boys a success the first time around.

Setlist:
  1. Sonic Reducer
  2. All This and More
  3. What Love Is
  4. Not Anymore
  5. Ain't Nothin' to Do
  6. Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth
  7. Calling on You
  8. I Need Lunch
  9. High Tension Wire
  10. Down in Flames
Encore:
  1. Ain't It Fun
  2. Son of Sam

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Thirty Seconds to Mars at Irving Plaza

Jared Leto
Jared Leto was born in Bossier City, Louisiana, but his family relocated frequently in accordance with his grandfather's assignments in the military. Leto started playing music with his older brother, Shannon Leto, at an early age. As a young adult, he developed an interest in filmmaking and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he wrote and starred in his own short film. In 1992, Leto moved to Los Angeles, California,  pursuing a career in directing and intending to accept acting roles on the side. He first achieved recognition as an actor in television in 1994 and in film in 1995. Reuniting with his brother Shannon, Leto formed the rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars in 1998. When the group first started, Leto prohibited his vocation of Hollywood actor to be used in the promotion of the band. Thirty Seconds to Mars has sold over 15 million albums worldwide and is listed in the Guinness World Records for most live shows during a single album cycle, with 300 shows; the 300th show took place at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom. The band presently consists of Jared Leto (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Shannon Leto (drums, percussion) and Tomo Miličević (lead guitar, bass, violin, keyboards, other instruments). Thirty Seconds to Mars' fourth and most recent album is 2013's Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams, released shortly before Leto won an Oscar, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Thirty Seconds to Mars launched the Citi Sound Vault concert series at Irving Plaza in the week leading to the Grammy Awards. Leto explained that his brother Shannon was sick and would not perform, so he and Miličević performed mostly as a duo with the aid of several layers of pre-programmed music. The band's touring bassist, Steve Aiello, stood in the sidelines, hardly visible as he assisted on a few songs. As such, this was a fundamentally variant concert for the group, lacking the live band interaction yet thoroughly showcasing that Leto was a very accomplished singer and front person. He encouraged the audience to jump to the techno-inspired opener and to sing the hooks on most of the subsequent songs. The set included surprises as well; the band's most recent radio song, "Walk On Water," was performed acoustically, for instance. Leto said "we're going to get a little sexy" and sang Rihanna's "Stay." He followed with a medley of songs honoring fallen music giants: Prince's "Purple Rain," John Lennon's "Imagine," David Bowie's "Heroes," SoundGarden's "Black Hole Sun," and Linkin Park's "Crawling." Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the band did not perform "Dangerous Night," the single being released the next day. For the finale, Leto invited the fans on stage with the band and two cannons released confetti for the second time during an anthemic "Closer to the Edge." This might not have been Thirty Seconds to Mars' most defining concert, but it was the band's most curious.

Visit Thirty Seconds to Mars at www.thirtysecondstomars.com.

Setlist:
  1. Up in the Air
  2. Kings and Queens
  3. Conquistador
  4. This Is War
  5. Walk on Water > Teardrop (acoustic)
  6. Capricorn (A Brand New Name) (a few lines only, a cappella)
  7. Stay (Rihanna cover)
  8. The Tribute Song
  9. The Kill (Bury Me) (Acoustic)
  10. Do or Die
  11. Closer to the Edge 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fred Hammond at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

As a boy in Detroit, Michigan, future gospel singer Fred Hammond played drums, bass and piano. After a stint in the U.S. Army, Hammond toured as bassist for the Winans from 1980 to 1982. Upon returning to Detroit, he co-founded the gospel group Commissioned in 1984 and simultaneously launched a solo career. For his solo work, he assembled a choir, Radical for Christ, which proved to be even more successful than Commissioned. In 2013, Hammond, Dave Hollister, Brian Courtney Wilson and Eric Roberson to create the vocal group United Tenors. Solo and with these various ensembles, Hammond has sold over 8 million albums, and won multiple Grammy, Dove, and Stellar awards as a performer, producer and writer. With these various enterprises, Hammond was among the architects of a new gospel music genre, Urban Praise & Worship. Hammond's most recent album is 2016's Worship Journal Live. He currently resides in Cedar Hill, Texas.

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill was a surrogate church at times during Hammond's concert, with multiple members of the audience chanting worship choruses to Hammond's lead vocals. Hammond's husky vocals were rich and rousing, convincingly professing the power of God, and rallying his public through his stomping gospel refrains. The set consisted of songs he popularized but also a few common contemporary worship songs, adapted to his singularly muscular delivery. Between songs, Hammond spoke at great length, and occasionally deviated into seemingly spontaneous interludes, such as a brief cover of the Temptations' "My Girl." When it came to his better-known songs, however, the sound was like thunder from heaven; Hammond was backed by two keyboardists and a rhythm section, but the sound was bigger than that, with prerecorded guitar fills and backing vocals augmenting for a fuller sound. In the end, Hammond's singing was remarkably stellar, such that perhaps his set would have been more impactful if he had minimized his chattiness and sang more.

Visit Fred Hammond at www.realfredhammond.com.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The World of Captain Beefheart at City Winery

Living in Syracuse, New York, a nine-year-old Gary Lucas was encouraged by his father to learn to play the guitar at the age of nine. This led to playing in bands during his teens in the 1960s. He then travelled on what he calls a "pilgrimage" to see childhood hero Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet. The two became friends, and Lucas eventually became Beefheart's co-manager, occasionally performed on stage with Beefheart and played on Beefheart's records. Beefheart retired in the 1980s, but Lucas continued collaborating with Beefheart's musicians and in 2006 led a Beefheart tribute band, Fast 'n' Bulbous: the Captain Beefheart Project. Beefheart died in 2010. Lucas’ latest ensemble, The World of Captain Beefheart, consists of Lucas, vocalist Nona Hendryx (ex-Labelle), keyboardist Jordan Shapiro (ex-Gods and Monsters), bassist Jesse Krakow (ex-Fast 'N' Bulbous) and drummer Richard Dworkin (ex-Alex Chilton, ex-Fast 'N' Bulbous). The World of Captain Beefheart's self titled debut album was released on November 10, 2017.

The World of Captain Beefheart's performance tonight at City Winery was more than a tribute band concert. The evening's multi-media experience began with Lucas relating an unscripted memoir of his relationship with Beefheart, followed by rare video clips of Beefheart in concert, live readings of Beefheart's poetry by Bob Holman and Tammy Faye Starlight, a slide show of Beefheart's artwork and artifacts, and the band's performance. In the 1970s, Beefheart's coarse and abrasive music was groundbreaking but underappreciated or unknown to the general music community; his catalog was a raw and chaotic synthesis of rhythm and blues, free jazz, rock and blues. The World of Captain Beefheart polished many of the songs and made them more accessible, especially with Hendryx replacing Beefheart's gravelly vocals with her smoother, soulful singing. While not as radical as the original versions, the set crackled with Beefheart's artistic wizardry, maintaining an obtuse edge that might have made Beefheart proud. Lucas' new venture succeeded in faithfully kept alive the legacy of Captain Beefheart, although it may not satisfy the purists.

Setlist:
  1. Old Fart at Play (poem read by Bob Holman)
  2. Hollow Smoke (Captain Beefheart poem read by Tammy Faye Starlite)
  3. Suction Prints
  4. Sun Zoom Spark
  5. The Smithsonian Institute Blues (Or the Big Dig)
  6. I'm Glad
  7. A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond
  8. When It Blows Its Stacks
  9. Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do
  10. Dali's Car
  11. Sugar 'n' Spikes
  12. Click Clack / Ice Cream for Crow
  13. Evening Bell
  14. Well
  15. When Big Joan Sets Up
  16. Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles
  17. My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains
  18. Tropical Hot Dog Night
  19. Too Much Time
Encore:
  1. Diddy Wah Diddy (Bo Diddley cover)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Milky Chance at the Hammerstein Ballroom

Clemens Rehbein
Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch met in an advanced music course in the 11th grade in Kassel, Germany, when Rehbein played bass guitar and Dausch played guitar in a jazz quartet known as Flown Tones. The group disbanded after the drummer left, but Rehbein and Dausch continued to collaborate, with Rehbein on vocals and acoustic guitar and Dausch providing electronic beats. After only two performances in 2013, Milky Chance recorded an album in Rehbein's childhood home, then posted videos on social media that went viral and ultimately received more than 320 million hits. They packed a guitar and a set of decks into their car and performed more than 100 concerts throughout Europe. Antonio Greger joined in 2015, playing electric guitar, harmonica, and bass. Milky Chance released its second and most recent album, Blossom, on March 17, 2017.

Headlining at the Hammerstein Ballroom tonight, Milky Chance used so much blinding backlighting that the band was barely visible other than in silhouette form. The sound was clear and bold, however, as the band cleverly mixed soft-impact acoustic folk sounds with smooth reggae rhythms and then punctuated the music with booming, danceable beats. With the help of a touring drummer, the core trio invested deeply in grooves that became more rollicking as the songs developed. The result was a set of lilting, soft-rocking singer-songwriter songs with a quite unique surround-sound. The set consisted of seven songs from the debut album and 10 songs from the more recent album, but even with this diminutive catalog, Milky Chance demonstrated that this band is harnessing a unique and enthralling pop sound that should appeal to a wide range of tastes.

Visit Milky Chance at www.milkychance.net.

Setlist:
  1. Clouds
  2. Ego
  3. Blossom
  4. Doing Good
  5. Firebird
  6. Flashed Junk Mind
  7. Peripeteia
  8. Cold Blue Rain
  9. Down By the River
  10. Sadnecessary
  11. Alive
  12. Bad Things
  13. Fairytale
  14. Loveland
  15. Cocoon
Encore:
  1. Stolen Dance
  2. Sweet Sun

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Alejandro Escovedo at City Winery

Vocalist/guitarist Alejandro Escovedo was born into a musical family in San Antonio, Texas. His father played in mariachi bands in Mexico in the 1930s, and later sang in East Bay bands. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, Alejandro's two older brothers, Pete Escovedo and Coke Escovedo, both percussionists, played with Latin-rock bands Santana, Azteca and Malo. Two younger brothers, both guitarists/vocalists, Mario Escovedo fronted the hard rock band the Dragons and Javier Escovedo was in the punk rock band the Zeros. Alejandro started his professional music career in the mid-1970s in a first-wave punk rock group, the Nuns. He then left San Francisco for Austin, Texas, where he adopted a roots rock/alternative country style in the bands Rank and File in 1980 and the True Believers (with Javier) in 1983. Alejandro became a solo artist in 1992. He was awarded the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing in 2006. Cured after a 20-year battle with deadly hepatitis C and receiving therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder after surviving a hurricane on his 2014 honeymoon, Escovedo relocated to Dallas, Texas, and in 2016 released his 12th and most recent studio album, Burn Something Beautiful.

Alejandro Escovedo returned to City Winery tonight to begin a three-night engagement where he would perform his 2001 album, A Man Under the Influence, plus additional songs. He brought a big band; there were 14 musicians squeezed onto the venue's small stage. Together, they performed a rather mellow track-by-track rendition of Escovedo's album. This was followed by a public service video for an Escovedo-linked not-for-profit agency, and then the harder rock and roll songs came to play, assisted by Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, and ending with a tribute to David Bowie. Overall, Escovedo's performance was bright and bubbly, with sincere lyrics and tuneful melodies that appealed to the heart, mind and soul. The weakest link was Escovedo's vocals; while his delivery was earnest and solemn, his voice carried little power or broad appeal. This seemed forgivable, however, due to his personal integrity and lively band support.

Visit Alejandro Escovedo at www.alejandroescovedo.com.

Setlist:
A Man Under the Influence:
  1. Wave
  2. Rosalie
  3. Rhapsody
  4. Across the River
  5. Castanets
  6. Don't Need You
  7. Follow You Down
  8. Wedding Day
  9. As I Fall
  10. Velvet Guitar
  11. About This Love
Think About the Link®  public service announcement video
Additional Songs
  1. Sally Was a Cop (with Craig Finn)
  2. Newmyer's Roof (Craig Finn cover) (with Craig Finn)
  3. Luna de Miel
  4. Tugboat (>) Horizontal (>) Chelsea Hotel '78
  5. Moonage Daydream (David Bowie cover)
  6. All the Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople cover)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Deerhoof Meets Wadada Leo Smith at le Poisson Rouge

Satomi Matsuzaki
Deerhoof formed as an improvisational bass/drums duo in 1994 in San Francisco, California. Quickly becoming a quartet, the band currently consists of founding drummer Greg Saunier, bassist and singer Satomi Matsuzaki, and guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez. Initially performing improvised noise punk, Deerhoof began adding pop melodies and experimental arrangements to create off-kilter and avant garde rock. The band's 14th and most recent studio album, Mountain Moves, was released on September 8, 2017.

In 2009 in Los Angeles, avant-garde jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith joined Deerhoof onstage and improvised for nearly their entire set. Adam Schatz, coproducer of NYC’s Winter Jazzfest, reunited the artists to close this year’s festival tonight. Deerhoof performed 12 songs, mostly from the past 10 years' catalog, allowing extensive room for impromptu improvisation, exploration and playfulness. Periodically, they signaled for Wadada Leo Smith to add trumpet lines, fills which sweetly softened Deerhoof's often crash and burn clamor. The collaborations freely and deliberately wandered and soared, feeding off each other for both angular and elliptical whimsy. The post-punk art-rock that erupted spontaneously could never be reproduced even with the most measured intent.

Visit Deerhoof at www.deerhoof.net.

Setlist:
  1. Last Fad
  2. Twin Killers
  3. Snoopy Waves
  4. Fresh Born
  5. I Will Spite Survive
  6. Breakup Songs
  7. [unknown]
  8. Paradise Girls
  9. Plastic Thrills
  10. There's That Grin
  11. We Do Parties
Encore:
  1. Mirror Monster

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Killers at Madison Square Garden

Brandon Flowers
Vocalist/keyboardist Brandon Flowers was fired by his first band, a synthpop trio known as Blush Response, in 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. After attending an Oasis concert, Flowers felt affirmed that his calling was to be in a rock band. He responded to a classified ad by guitarist Dave Keuning, who had moved to Las Vegas from Iowa a year earlier. The two bonded and immediately began writing songs together in Keuning's apartment. After a few shifts in personnel in 2001, the Killers stabilized in 2002 with Flowers, Keuning, bassist Mark Stoermer and drummer Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. The band's name was derived from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band in the music video for a New Order song. Since then, the Killers sold more than 22 million records worldwide and won numerous awards. The Killers released a fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful, on September 22, 2017.

The Killers returned to Madison Square Garden tonight, but with a different lineup. Flowers and Vannucci were present, but while Keuning and Stoermer remain members of the band, they declined to tour. Guitarist/keyboardist Ted Sablay substituted for Keuning and bassist Jake Blanton filled in for Stoermer. Keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Robbie Connolly and lead guitarist Taylor Milne of Big Talk, Vannucci's side project, and three backing vocalists were also on stage. The musicians took the stage to the thunderous groove of "Wonderful Wonderful," all dressed in black except for Flowers' bubble-gum pink leather sports jacket. From that ostentatious moment, it appeared the Killers was all about Flowers. He stalked the stage left and right, raised his hands in outsized gestures while standing on monitors at the stage's edge, and plainly played the rock star, while the musicians supported his skyrocketing vocals. No solos or instrumental breaks were particularly spotlighted save for Vannucci's impressive drumming. Nevertheless, this was solid rock and roll, cleaned and polished for the masses, given added dynamics by video screens and confetti cannons. The Killers' concert was air-tight and rehearsed for perfection, but perhaps it would have sounded more authentic if the performance had been just a wee bit dirty and sloppy.

Visit the Killers at www.thekillersmusic.com.

Set list
  1. Wonderful Wonderful
  2. The Man
  3. Somebody Told Me
  4. Spaceman
  5. The Way It Was
  6. Run for Cover
  7. I Can't Stay
  8. Smile Like You Mean It
  9. For Reasons Unknown
  10. Just What I Needed (The Cars cover)
  11. Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
  12. Rut
  13. Human
  14. This River Is Wild
  15. A Dustland Fairytale
  16. Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits cover)
  17. Runaways
  18. Read My Mind
  19. All These Things That I've Done
Encore:
  1. The Calling
  2. When You Were Young
  3. Mr. Brightside 


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Anderson East at the Bowery Ballroom

Michael Anderson, now known professionally as Anderson East, grew up in Athens, Alabama, where as a boy he sang in church and had his first solo when he was about seven years old. His father gave him a guitar when the younger Anderson was 11 years old. In the seventh grade, he wrote his first song, called "Brains," and performed it at his school talent show. As a youth, he also taught himself piano. He began experimenting with the recording process when he got a four-track recorder, and later, during his college years in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, he went further and studied music engineering. Two years later, he moved to nearby Nashville and released two indie albums, the first in 2009 as Mike Anderson and the second in 2012 as Anderson East. He broke into the Nashville music scene by writing songs for others and working as both a session musician and a recording engineer. As he collaborated with other artists, his music and concerts reached a wider audience. East's fourth album, Encore, will be released tomorrow, January 12, 2018.

Launching a five-month national tour at the Bowery Ballroom tonight, several of Anderson East's verses may have hinted at a sliver of country twang, but despite its Nashville origins, overall his music was not country music by any means. While strains of Americana were embedded in his music, East was a gritty gospel-like rhythm and blues crooner and his band rocked, tempered on a few songs by a string quartet that East introduced midway through the set. Saying he was especially proud of his new album, East performed 10 of its 11 songs, with only five songs in the set from his earlier works. The songs rode pop melodies, but the arrangements were big and full, with 12 musicians booming with power and energy. East's rich, soulful and mercurial vocals whispered and roared, at all times capturing a fervent honesty that presented him as a regular blue-collar guy with a rustic musical style. This was earthy and spirit-filled heartland music that defied the conventions of Nashville's music machine.

Visit Anderson East at www.andersoneast.com.

Setlist:
  1. Sorry You're Sick (Ted Hawkins cover)
  2. Girlfriend
  3. Surrender
  4. If You Keep Leaving Me
  5. Somebody Pick Up My Pieces (Willie Nelson cover)
  6. Devil in Me
  7. Learning
  8. Quit You
  9. King for a Day
  10. Without You
  11. Satisfy Me
  12. All on My Mind
  13. This Too Shall Last
Encore:
  1. Find 'Em, Fool 'Em and Forget 'Em (George Jackson cover)
  2. House Is a Building

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Dorothy at the Bowery Ballroom

Dorothy Martin
Guitarist Sam Wofford of the Remedy heard his cousin sing in 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Dorothy Martin had a powerful, bluesy voice. Wofford introduced her to the leader of his band, Mark Johnson, and Johnson's production partner, Ian Scott, who together imagined her singing in front of a blues-rock band. Rounding up available musicians and naming the band Dorothy, the team cut "After Midnight" as a music video in 2014, and this launched a career. The band generated a local buzz with several singles, then a 2014 EP and a 2016 debut album, Rockisdead. On May 5, 2017, Dorothy released "Down to the Bottom" as the lead single from the second studio album, which will be released in 2018. Dorothy presently consists of Martin, guitarists Nick Maybury and Eli Wulfmeier, bassist Eliot Lorango, and drummer Jason Ganberg.

Charting a forward-looking path, Dorothy performed 10 new songs and only four older songs tonight at the Bowery Ballroom. Ironically, though, the overall sound was a throwback to classic rock of decades gone by, highlighted by searing vocals and fuzzy, charging guitar riffs. Contrasting the music's gutsy approach, Martin sang and spoke between songs about the positive power of sweet love, revealing the singer's tenderness and possible vulnerability. Above all, Dorothy's performance showcased the strength, range and intensity of Martin's grand vocal prowess. What was lacking was the visual, however; the stage was so dark throughout the set that it was challenging for the majority of the fans to see more than a red or blue silhouette of the performers.

Visit Dorothy at www.dorothytheband.com.

Setlist:
  1. White Butterfly
  2. Who Do You Love
  3. After Midnight
  4. Naked Eye
  5. Raise Hell
  6. Pretty When You're High
  7. We Need Love
  8. Philadelphia
  9. Wicked Ones
  10. Ain't Our Time to Die
  11. Flawless
  12. Down to the Bottom
  13. Freedom
Encore:
  1. Dark Nights

The Washington Squares at City Winery

Lauren Agnelli, Tom Goodkind
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tom Goodkind was playing bass in a garage-rock band, U.S. Ape, and booking music acts at popular New York City new wave venues. His musical tastes started moving in a new direction and he started collaborating with Bruce Jay Paskow, formerly the lead guitarist in the Invaders. In 1983, they brainstormed with Lauren Agnelli, who played in Nervus Rex, wrote about the music scene for a local newspaper, and waitressed in a popular rock club. Fueled by Agnelli's free drinks, they committed to revive the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s and named the venture the Washington Squares after the area's emblematic park. They had little knowledge of folk so they bought old records, resourced veteran folksingers, and sent Goodkind to research folk music at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Washington Squares released two albums in the 1980s, but split when Paskow died in 1994. Previously unreleased recordings are planned for release, the most current being 2018's pending Monsters of Folk Vol. 2 Sessions 1985 - 1987.

Not counting a little-publicized set at Sidewalk in February 2017,  the Washington Squares tonight performed the band's first official concert in 25 years at City Winery, this time featuring Goodkind, Agnelli, bassist Mike Fornatale and drummer Billy Ficca. The Washington Squares was an ironic band in the 1980s, and perhaps even more so now. Still wearing matching beatnik-era striped shirts and black berets, the Washington Squares played a style evocative of the folk artists of the Kennedy era, but updated twice with the band's original Reagan-era grievances and now newly-charged Trump-era discontent. The Washington Squares opened with a mirror of Peter, Paul & Mary's "Samson and Delilah" and ended with a mirror of the Kingston Trio's "Greenback Dollar," but with jangling guitars and soaring harmonies throughout, the set ended up sounding more like electrified 1960s pop than folk. Although born of rough times, the Washington Squares delivered the songs in a rather light-hearted manner. Even the band's original social commentary, "You Can't Kill Me," inspired by the assassination of gay San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, now seemed to have an uptempo twist. For the encore, the band brought on stage musicians Peter Yarrow, Michelle Shocked, and Richard Barone, along with poet Anne Waldman, for a rousing revival of Pete Seeger songs. In today's political and social turmoil, perhaps it is as appropriate a time as ever for the satirical follies of the Washington Squares.

Visit the Washington Squares at www.washingtonsquares.com.

Setlist:
Set 1:
  1. Samson and Delilah ([traditional] cover)
  2. Can't Stop the Rain
  3. You Are Not Alone
  4. Lay Down Your Arms
  5. You Can't Kill Me (>) Gospel Plow ([traditional] cover) (>) You Can't Kill Me
Set 2:
  1. Daylight
  2. Fourth Day of July ([traditional] cover)
  3. Charcoal (including "Riches" (William Blake poem))
  4. He Was a Friend of Mine ([traditional] cover)
  5. Everybody Knows (Leonard Cohen cover)
  6. New Generation
  7. Greenback Dollar (Hoyt Axton cover)
Encore:
  1. Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground cover, with Michelle Shocked, Richard Barone, and Anne Waldman)
  2. If I Had a Hammer (The Weavers cover, with Peter Yarrow, Michelle Shocked, Richard Barone, and Anne Waldman)
  3. Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (Pete Seeger cover, with Peter Yarrow, Michelle Shocked, Richard Barone, and Anne Waldman)
  4. This Land Is Your Land (Pete Seeger cover, with Peter Yarrow, Michelle Shocked, Richard Barone, and Anne Waldman)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Tom Cochrane at City Winery

Tom Cochrane was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and lived in various parts of Manitoba and Ontario for most of his life. He purchased his first guitar at age 11 by selling a toy train set, and began performing across Canada by age 20. He briefly composed movie soundtracks in Los Angeles, California, but unable to find steady income, Cochrane returned to Toronto, where he drove a taxi cab and worked on the loading dock of a department store. He joined the rock band Red Rider in 1978 and served as lead singer and main songwriter for more than 10 years. By 1986, the band was billed as Tom Cochrane & Red Rider. Cochrane launched his solo career in 1991. Since 2002, Cochrane has reunited periodically with his former Red Rider band mates for concert tours. His sixth and most recent solo album is 2015's Take It Home. Cochrane currently lives in Oakville, Ontario, but spends winters part-time at his home outside of Austin, Texas.

Tom Cochrane has been a professional singer/guitarist for 40 years, but the current tour continues to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his first post-Red Rider solo album, the multi-million selling Mad Mad World (actually released 27 years ago). Presumably in his homeland an event like this would be staged in a large venue, but in the states, where he is less known, the tour took him tonight to the intimate setting of City Winery. This was Cochrane's first performance in New York in 10 years, and so he performed a two-hour show featuring Mad Mad World and highlights from throughout his career. The unique feature this time was that he was accompanied only by his own acoustic guitar and by an accompanist guitarist, Bill Bell. The mostly bare stage gave the appearance of a folk music concert, but the tea-sipping Cochrane poured intense energy into his vocals and strummed his guitar wildly like he was back in his arena days. With such a minimal backdrop, there was little to disguise the breadth of Cochrane's catalogue and his dedication to his craft. Only under these circumstances would one come to understand that Cochrane was a songwriter first and a rocker second. If "Life Is a Highway," as he sang in his best-known song, that path was filled with sharply insightful lyrics and a dedication to a passionate delivery.

Visit Tom Cochrane at www.tomcochrane.com.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Concert for Island Relief at Radio City Music Hall

Dave Matthews, the Trey Anastasio Band, Aaron Neville, and Hurray for the Riff Raff performed a charity benefit called the Concert for Island Relief at Radio City Music Hall tonight. Matthews performed mostly solo acoustic and Neville was accompanied only by a guitarist and pianist, but the Trey Anastasio Band was a full eight-piece ensemble.

All proceeds from the event and from online donations will benefit hurricane relief efforts in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Funds will support both immediate and long-term needs in the devastating aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Madison Square Garden Company donated the use of Radio City Music Hall and covered all venue-related expenses, so that all proceeds from "A Concert for Island Relief" will go directly to organizations benefiting the victims of the hurricanes that devastated parts of the Caribbean. Additionally, Ticketmaster donated its net proceeds from ticket service fees to this event.
Alynda Segarra of Hurray for the Riff Raff
Aaron Neville
Trey Anastasio of the Trey Anastasio Band
Aaron Neville, Trey Anastasio and David Matthews
Hurray for the Riff Raff setlist
  1. Nothing's Gonna Change That Girl
  2. Hungry Ghost
  3. Rican Beach
  4. Living in the City
Aaron Neville setlist
  1. Stand by Me (Ben E. King cover)
  2. Bird on the Wire (Leonard Cohen cover)
  3. This Magic Moment (The Drifters cover)
  4. A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover)
  5. Three Little Birds (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover)
  6. Stir It Up (The Wailers cover)
  7. Louisiana 1927 (Randy Newman cover)
Trey Anastasio Band setlist
  1. Mozambique (Trey Anastasio song)
  2. Everything's Right
  3. Sand (Phish cover)
  4. Valentine (Trey Anastasio song)
  5. Dark and Down (Trey Anastasio song)
  6. Curlew's Call (Trey Anastasio song)
  7. Money, Love and Change (Trey Anastasio song)
  8. Clint Eastwood (Gorillaz cover)
  9. Push On 'Til the Day (Trey Anastasio song)
  10. The Parting Glass (a cappella, traditional cover)
Dave Matthews setlist
  1. Don't Drink the Water (Dave Matthews Band song)
  2. Stay or Leave
  3. Funny the Way It Is (Dave Matthews Band song)
  4. So Damn Lucky
  5. Samurai Cop (Dave Matthews Band song)
  6. Grey Street (Dave Matthews Band song)
  7. Mercy (Dave Matthews Band song, with Rashawn Ross)
  8. Satellite (Dave Matthews Band song, with Rashawn Ross & Ben the Sax Guy)
  9. Save Me (with Rashawn Ross & Ben the Sax Guy)
  10. Some Devil
  11. Dancing Nancies (Dave Matthews Band song)
Encore:
  1. Waste (Phish cover by Dave Matthews and Trey Anastasio)
  2. The Maker (Daniel Lanois cover by Dave Matthews, the Trey Anastasio Band, Aaron Neville, Rashawn Ross & Ben the Sax Guy)
  3. Iko Iko (The Dixie Cups cover by Dave Matthews, the Trey Anastasio Band, Aaron Neville, Rashawn Ross & Ben the Sax Guy)
  4. (I Want to Take You) Higher (Sly & The Family Stone cover by Dave Matthews, the Trey Anastasio Band, Aaron Neville, Rashawn Ross & Ben the Sax Guy)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Joseph Arthur at City Winery

 In his early teens in Akron, Ohio, Joseph Arthur inherited an electronic keyboard from his aunt and began writing and playing music. At age 16, he played bass in a blues band called Frankie Starr & the Chill Factor. In the early 1990s, Arthur relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, and sold guitars at a musical instruments store by day and played local clubs and recorded home demos by night. One demo caught the attention of Peter Gabriel, who then helped launch Arthur's career by financing Arthur's debut album. Arthur has played in several short-lived and commercially unsuccessful supergroups: Holding the Void with Pat Sansone of Wilco and the Autumn Defense in 2002-2003, Fistful of Mercy with Ben Harper and Dhani Harrison in 2010, and RNDM with Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament in 2012. Arthur is also a painter and designer, and in 2006 published a visual collection of his artworks in a book entitled We Almost Made It. Arthur's 14th and most recent album, The Family, was released on June 3, 2016.

Returning to City Winery for his eighth annual New Year's Night residency, the Brooklyn-based Arthur once again played solo. In past performances he built his songs by looping guitar, percussion and vocal lines live, but this time almost all the tracks were pre-looped. Nevertheless, he ingeniously created a layered sonic palette by singing and playing guitar along with and adding to the prerecorded tracks. His lyrics were poetic, often brooding introspectively with emotional and spiritual struggles, and he sang them with brawny confidence, sometimes harmonizing with himself via loop effects. On this particular evening, Arthur was especially jovial, charmingly engaging his audience with amusing banter between songs. Arthur also drew on a canvas, saying he hoped to sell the painting so he could use the money to escape the cold and fly to Mexico. Arthur's performance was unique and splendid, a terrific model for how to stage a one-person show imaginatively.

Visit Joseph Arthur at www.josepharthur.com.