Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Zombies at City Winery

In 1958 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, keyboardist Rod Argent jammed with his school mates. Vocalist Colin Blunstone, who was from nearby Hatfield, joined in 1961. The band was originally called the Mustangs, but discovering that other bands used that name, became the Zombies. Winning a recording contract through a beat-group competition, the Zombies hit with "She's Not There" in 1964, selling over one million copies. The Zombies also hit in the U.S. with "Tell Her No" in 1965, then "Time of the Season" in 1968, even though the band had split in 1967. Blunstone recorded solo albums and Argent led a rock band called Argent. The Zombies reunited briefly in 1991, then Blunstone and Argent reunited in 2000 as Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent and moved to the US in 2001. Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent recorded an album and performed live into 2004, when the duo rebranded as the Zombies. The Zombies released albums of new material in 2004, 2011, and the sixth and most recent album, Still Got That Hunger, in 2015. In 2017 the four surviving original members (Blunstone, Argent, Chris White, and Hugh Grundy) re-united to tour in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Zombies' second album, Odessey & Oracle. The current touring band consists of Blunstone, Argent, guitarist Tom Toomey, bassist Soren Køch, and drummer Steve Rodford.

Considering that the nascent band formed 60 years ago, the Zombies sounded remarkably alive and fresh tonight at City Winery. Blunstone breathed airy musical scales with his gentle, feathery voice to Argent's artistic keyboard whirls, paying tribute to Zombies music and cover songs from the 1960s while also venturing into soft-rock melodies for the present time. Still a pop band, but not tuned into modern stylings, the performance was cut from an old cloth and honored classic traditions with sophisticated melodies, rich harmonies, elegant arrangements, and complex instrumental progressions. These pop veterans performed their set with fluid, lyrical beauty, and while not every song was memorable, they were performed in such refined taste that it could have led a listener to wonder why we ever left the 1960s.

Visit the Zombies at www.thezombiesmusic.com.

  1. Road Runner (Bo Diddley cover)
  2. The Look of Love (Burt Bacharach cover)
  3. I Want You Back Again
  4. I Love You
  5. Sanctuary (Colin Blunstone & Rod Argent cover)
  6. Moving On
  7. Edge of the Rainbow
  8. Tell Her No
  9. You've Really Got a Hold on Me (the Miracles cover)/Bring It on Home to Me (Sam Cooke cover)
  10. Chasing the Past
  11. Care of Cell 44
  12. This Will Be Our Year
  13. I Want Her She Wants Me
  14. Time of the Season
  15. Hold Your Head Up (Argent cover)
  16. She's Not There
  1. God Gave Rock and Roll to You (Argent cover)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Garland Jeffreys at City Winery

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, biracial singer and songwriter Garland Jeffreys was already singing when he attended university in Syracuse, New York, a school he selected because Jackie Robinson had attended there. Once back in New York City, Jeffreys sang in Greenwich Village folk clubs, and became among the first artists to sing about race relations, sometimes utilizing blackface masks and a rag doll named Ramon in performance. In 1969 he founded the short-lived Woodstock-based Grinder's Switch; when the band dissolved in 1970, Jeffreys resumed his solo career. His blend of rock, reggae and soul was perpetually critically-acclaimed but never sold well; his best-known song, "Wild in the Streets," has been covered many times, however. Jeffreys' 14th album, 14 Steps to Harlem, was released on April 28, 2017.

As tonight's concert at City Winery began, Garland Jeffreys introduced his daughter, 22-year-old Savannah Rae Jeffreys, then left the stage as she crooned two sweet songs, the first played solo on piano and the second backed by her dad's band. From there on, her dad marched into a fiery performance beginning with an enthralling interpretation of Leon Russell's "A Song for You" and ending with the Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man." Between those bookends, Jeffreys seemed to marry literary and musical visions as he sang original songs that spoke of personal life challenges, societal strife and the unique realities the New York experience. Even when his profound lyrics lilted to the bittersweet, his gutsy vocal delivery resonated with resilience. "Wild in the Streets," a song Jeffreys wrote after hearing about a pre-teen rape and murder, rocked harder with a guest appearance by British guitarist Brinsley Schwarz. Still rocking at 74 years old, Jeffreys proved to be a first-class yet underrated artist who modestly lives in a legacy that is straining to be revealed to the masses.

Visit Garland Jeffreys at www.garlandjeffreys.com.

  1. A Song for You (Leon Russell cover)
  2. The Contortionist
  3. Oceana
  4. Reggae on Broadway
  5. When You Call My Name
  6. Venus
  7. Wild in the Streets
  8. Christine
  9. 96 Tears (? and the Mysterians cover)
  10. Hail Hail Rock 'n' Roll (tagged with "I Loves You, Porgy" by Nina Simone)
  11. (Unknown)
  12. (Unknown) (tagged with "Exodus" by Bob Marley & the Wailers)
  13. R.O.C.K.
  14. Mystery Kids (tagged with "It Happened In Monterey" by Frank Sinatra)
  1. 'Til John Lee Hooker Calls Me
  2. I'm Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover) (dedicated to Laurie Anderson)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dirkschneider at the Gramercy Theatre

Udo Dirkschneider
Born in Wuppertal, Germany, vocalist Udo Dirkschneider grew up in nearby Solingen and there started his musical career in 1968 at age 16 with Band X. The band's name was changed to Accept in 1971, but with numerous changes in its initial years, Accept did not solidify as a band until 1976, achieving worldwide success in the mid-1980s. After seven albums with Accept, the heavy metal band fired Dirkschneider in 1987, and he formed U.D.O., which would record new music but also perform many Accept songs in concert. Dirkschneider rejoined Accept for three more albums in the 1990s, left in 1996, and Accept split in 1997. Dirkschneider rejoined Accept in 2005 for a short-lived reunion, but the band split again, reassembling in 2009 with another singer. U.D.O. has released 15 studio albums, the most recent in 2015. In 2016, Dirkschneider announced that he would form a new band, called Dirkschneider, in which he would perform his Accept catalogue for the last time. Dirkschneider released a live album, Live - Back To The Roots, in 2016, and extended its tour into 2018 to include more Accept songs. The band Dirkschneider presently consists of Dirkschneider, guitarists Andrey Smirnov and Bill Hudson, bassist Fitty Wienhold, and Dirkschneider's 24-year-old son, drummer Sven Dirkschneider. At the conclusion of this tour, the vocalist will reconvene U.D.O. and never again perform Accept songs live.

The audience tonight at the Gramercy Theatre chanted "U-do, U-do, U-do," the lights darkened, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown's "Fire" boomed from the speakers, and the musicians began taking their places and launched into "The Beast Inside." Dirkschneider began his vocals off stage, finally coming center stage to the cheers of his fans. The band Dirkschneider performed a fast-paced all-Accept two-hour concert, highlighting both the strength of Dirkschneider's vocals and Accept's discography. The 65-year-old singer charged into the set with his coarse, snarly voice, and the band supplied roaring guitar leads, thick metal riffs and driving rhythms. The combination was ideal. The band performed all of the Accept mainstays, including "London Leatherboys", "Living for Tonite", "Screaming for a Love Bite", "Metal Heart", "Fast as a Shark," and "Balls to the Wall," but deep cuts that had not been performed for a long time, including "Can't Stand the Night," "Aiming High" and "Russian Roulette," made the show far more than a cash grab. Fans upstairs left with a trajectory for the future: a sign in the balcony read "Dirkschneider returns to U.D.O. - new album coming August 2018."

Visit Dirkschneider at www.udo-online.com.

  1. The Beast Inside (Accept cover)
  2. Aiming High (Accept cover)
  3. Bulletproof (Accept cover)
  4. Midnight Mover (Accept cover)
  5. Another Second to Be (Accept cover)
  6. London Leatherboys (Accept cover)
  7. Fight It Back (Accept cover)
  8. Can't Stand the Night (Accept cover)
  9. Amamos la Vida (Accept cover)
  10. Up to the Limit (Accept cover)
  11. Breaker (Accept cover)
  12. Screaming for a Love-Bite (Accept cover)
  13. Love Child (Accept cover)
  14. Objection Overruled (Accept cover)
  15. Russian Roulette (Accept cover)
  1. Princess of the Dawn (Accept cover)
  2. Metal Heart (Accept cover)
  3. Fast as a Shark (Accept cover)
  4. Balls to the Wall (Accept cover)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Uriah Heep at the Gramercy Theatre

Mick Box
In 1967, 19-year-old guitarist Mick Box formed a band called Hogwash in Brentwood, England. When the singer left, some of the band members formed a new group called Spice, which in 1969 became Uriah Heep, named after the character in Charles Dickins' novel David Copperfield. The band sold over 40 million albums worldwide with over 4 million sales in the U.S., but the band's audience declined by the 1980s. After many personnel changes, Uriah Heep currently consists of Box, lead vocalist Bernie Shaw, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, bassist Davey Rimmer and drummer Russell Gilbrook. Uriah Heep's 26th studio album, Living the Dream, is expected to be released in the fall of 2018.

For most of Uriah Heep's career in the United States, the band was frequently a support act for a major headliner. Some 50 years after it all began, Uriah Heep headlined at the Gramercy Theatre with a set comprised mostly of its best-known songs from 1970 to 1973. While only Mick Box has remained in the band from that golden period, the rest of the band did well not to directly copy the older arrangements. The musicians jammed in the spirit of the originals while giving the songs their familiar, epic crescendos. Combining hard rock and progressive rock, the songs blended soaring vocals, fantasy lyrics, searing lead guitar runs and massive organ rolls. Some of the songs lasted 10 to 15 minutes. Bands rarely create this kind of music anymore, so welcome to the ingenuity and experimentation of the1970s.

Visit Uriah Heep at www.uriah-heep.com.

  1. Gypsy
  2. Look at Yourself
  3. Shadows of Grief
  4. Stealin'
  5. The Law
  6. Sunrise
  7. The Magician's Birthday
  8. The Wizard
  9. One Minute
  10. Between Two Worlds
  11. July Morning
  12. Lady in Black
  1. Easy Livin'

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

Scotty Morris
After playing in punk and alternative rock bands during the 1980s Nardcore scene in Oxnard, California, vocalist/guitarist Scotty Morris and drummer Kurt Sodergren started playing music together in 1993 in Ventura, California. Morris named the contemporary swing revival band after blues legend Albert Collins signed his poster "To Scotty, the big bad voodoo daddy." Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's popularity spiked when it performed in the 1996 film Swingers. The band also performed at the Super Bowl XXXIII Halftime Show,  on many television shows, as special guests with many symphony orchestras, and for three U.S. presidents. The band consists of Morris, Sodergren, pianist Joshua Levy, bassist Dirk Shumaker and a horn section of Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen "The Kid" Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet), Alex "Crazy Legs" Henderson (trombone) and Mitchell Cooper (trumpet). Big Bad Voodoo Daddy has sold over 2 million albums. Its 11th and most recent studio album, Louie, Louie, Louie, a salute to the music of Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan and Louis Prima, was released on June 16, 2017.

In the 1990s, swing music found a new and young audience that perhaps sought an antidote to the reigning grunge and third wave punk, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was among the leaders of this new underground movement. Then as tonight at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, the high-energy band played a horn-dominated set that blended jazz, ragtime, blues, and Dixieland sounds from the mid-20th century. Songs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s were given the same respect as the band's original songs. All of the musicians were granted the spotlight, stretching their adept chops with fervor and precision to make for good listening and good dancing material. Musically, there was a lot happening among the nine musicians during the nearly two-hour set, and all of it was good.

Visit Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at www.bbvd.com.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Joe Satriani at the Beacon Theatre

Left to right, Joe Satriani, Glenn Hughes, Phil Collen, John Petrucci
Joe Satriani was born in Westbury, New York, and at age 14 learned to play guitar only after failing at drums and piano. During football practice in 1970, he heard of the death of Jimi Hendrix and announced to his coach that he was quitting the team to become a guitarist. Early in his career, Satriani worked as a guitar instructor, teaching his fellow Long Island schoolmate, Steve Vai. In 1978, Satriani moved to Berkeley, California, where he taught Kirk Hammett of Metallica, David Bryson of Counting Crows, Kevin Cadogan of Third Eye Blind, Larry LaLonde of Primus and Possessed, Alex Skolnick of Testament, and others. Satriani recorded instrumental albums under his own name, but also played with the Greg Kihn Band, Mick Jagger, Deep Purple and Chickenfoot. He has sold over 10 million albums, making him the biggest-selling instrumental rock guitarist of all time. Satriani's 16th studio album, What Happens Next, was released on January 12, 2018.

In 1996, Satriani founded the G3, a recurring concert tour with a trio of guitar virtuosos, and the 2018 edition features himself, former Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci, and Def Leppard's Phil Collen. Collen opened the concert tonight at the Beacon Theatre with his side band, Delta Deep, playing bluesy rock and soul songs. Petrucci and his rhythm section followed with a stunning set of chunky and melodic progressive metal instrumentals. Satriani was the main act, however, backed by keyboardist/guitarist Mike Keneally, bassist Bryan Beller, and drummer Joe Travers. Satriani as the highly technical guitarist used all his techniques, including legato with hammer-ons and pull-offs, two-handed tapping and arpeggio tapping, rapid alternate picking and sweep picking, all of which allowed him to play fast yet smooth and flowing shreds. Volume swells, harmonics, whammy bar effects and just general flashy moves made the sights and sounds more exciting. The highlight of the evening was the G3 jam that closed the evening, when Satriani and his band were joined on stage by Petrucci, Collen, Delta Deep vocalist Debbie Blackwell-Cook, and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Country Communion fame. Hughes led the jam's cover of Deep Purple's "Highway Star," and Blackwell-Cook and Hughes led Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition" and the old blues song "Going Down" as the guitarists took turns wailing. For guitar fans, the night was as supercharged as it could be.

Visit Joe Satriani at www.satriani.com.

  1. Energy
  2. Catbot
  3. Satch Boogie
  4. Cherry Blossoms
  5. Thunder High on the Mountain
  6. Super Funky Badass
  7. Cataclysmic
  8. Headrush
  9. Circles
  10. Always With Me, Always With You
  11. Drum Solo
  12. Summer Song
G3 Jam
  1. Highway Star (Deep Purple song, with John Petrucci, Phil Collen & Glenn Hughes)
  2. Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover, with John Petrucci, Phil Collen, Glenn Hughes & Debbie Blackwell-Cook)
  3. Going Down (The Alabama State Troupers cover, with John Petrucci, Phil Collen & Glenn Hughes)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters at the Beacon Theatre

Robert Plant, CBE, best known as the lead singer and lyricist of Led Zeppelin, was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England, and was raised in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. As a teenager, Plant developed a passion for the blues, and abandoned training as an accountant to become part of the English Midlands blues scene. By day, he laid tarmac on roads for a construction company in Birmingham and briefly worked in a department store in Halesowen, and by night he sang in blues rock bands. He bonded with drummer  John Bonham while in the Crawling King Snakes. The Yardbirds had split in 1968, and guitarist Jimmy Page recruited Plant, who was singing in Obs-Tweedle, for a new band tentatively called the New Yardbirds. Plant and Bonham merged with Page and bassist John Paul Jones, and the band soon came to be known as Led Zeppelin. Led Zeppelin became the biggest band in the history of hard rock, but disbanded in 1980 following Bonham's death. Plant briefly considered abandoning music to pursue a career as a teacher, going so far as to be accepted for teacher-training, but was persuaded to launch a solo career. Plant's 11th solo album, Carry Fire, was released on October 13, 2017.

Tonight at the Beacon Theatre, Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters performed an eclectic set that adapted Celtic, North African and other world music genres to rock. These influences dominated to the point where the music was no longer recognizable as rock. The compositions often emphasized violin, keyboards, banjo and acoustic guitar more than lead vocals and electric guitars. The Led Zeppelin songs were reworked into mellower arrangements, and Plant's signature howl was barely heard until the encore. How did the front man for the world's greatest rock band come to make such dreadful music? Plant, your audience implores you to return to rock.

Visit Robert Plant at www.robertplant.com.

  1. New World...
  2. Turn It Up
  3. The May Queen
  4. Rainbow
  5. That's the Way (Led Zeppelin song)
  6. All the King's Horses
  7. Please Read the Letter (Jimmy Page & Robert Plant cover)
  8. Gallows Pole ([traditional] cover)
  9. Carry Fire
  10. Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You (Joan Baez cover)
  11. Little Maggie ([traditional] cover)
  12. Fixin' to Die (Bukka White cover)
  13. Misty Mountain Hop (Led Zeppelin song)
  1. In the Mood
  2. Bring It On Home / Whole Lotta Love / Santy Anno (traditional) / Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin song)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Aid Kit at the Beacon Theatre

In Enskede, Sweden, Klara Söderberg wrote her first song in 1999 when she was six years old. At age 12, she received a guitar as a Christmas present and quickly learned to play it. Older sister Johanna Söderberg sang with her sister first at home and then as buskers in the Stockholm metro and in front of liquor stores. They promoted their own country-folk songs along with several covers to radio stations and on social media. First Aid Kit became internationally known when a video of a cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" went viral. The sisters have since toured internationally and performed at numerous festivals. Johanna (vocals/bass) and Klara (vocals/guitar) are presently backed by Steve "Stebmo" Moore (keyboards, trombone), Melvin Duffy (pedal steel guitar), and Scott Simpson (drums). First Aid Kit's fourth album, Ruins, was released on January 19, 2018.

First Aid Kit concluded its tour with a sold-out performance at the Beacon Theatre, the band's largest headlining concert to date in the United States. Now in their mid-20s, the Söderberg sisters have matured beyond their folk platform to lead a full-fledged pop band, as their set exuberated in melodic hooks and an occasional hard-edged riff. Particularly in the early part of the set, the sisters' often synchronous vocal pairing recalled old-time country duets, and Duffy's pedal steel amplified the country arrangement, but the songs' bouncy and danceable rhythms modernized the sound into something much more encompassing. By the time First Aid Kit performed the angry commentary of "You Are the Problem Here" and a cover of Heart's "Crazy on You," the band was all-out rocking. To start the encore, however, the sisters revisited their folk roots as they gathered around a single microphone and started "Hem of Her Dress" accompanied only by Klara's acoustic guitar. Support act Van William was then invited on stage, and he performed "Revolution," a song from his album that featured vocal assistance from the Söderberg sisters. First Aid's overall performance was refreshingly sweet due to its bubbling chemistry of lilting, crooning vocal harmonies and soft, clean arrangements.

Visit First Aid Kit at www.firstaidkitband.com.

  1. Rebel Heart
  2. It's a Shame
  3. King of the World
  4. Postcard
  5. Stay Gold
  6. The Lion's Roar
  7. You Are the Problem Here
  8. To Live a Life
  9. Ruins
  10. Wolf
  11. Crazy on You (Heart cover)
  12. Fireworks
  13. Emmylou
  14. Nothing Has to Be True
  1. Hem of Her Dress
  2. Revolution (Van William cover, with Van William)
  3. Master Pretender
  4. My Silver Lining

Monday, February 12, 2018

John 5 & the Creatures at the Highline Ballroom

John 5
Born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, John Lowery started playing guitar at age seven after watching Buck Owens and Roy Clark's television show Hee Haw with his dad. Lowery was a student when his first band, Dirty Tricks, won a battle of the bands contest, and started experimenting with corpse makeup as a teenager while in another band, Vampirella. At age 17, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began a career as a session guitarist and played in the short-lived bands Alligator Soup, Sun King, Bone Angels, Red Square Black and 2wo. He also played guitar for Lita Ford, k.d. lang and others. In 1997, Lowery approached David Lee Roth and was hired to play is Roth's DLR Band. In 1998, Lowery joined Marilyn Manson, who renamed him John 5, the moniker he still uses; 5 played in Manson's band until 2004. In 2005, Lowery formed the radio-rock band Loser, but soon also began playing in Rob Zombie's band, which led to the demise of Loser. After eight solo studio albums, John 5 released a live album, It's Alive, on January 25, 2018.

John 5 & the Creatures (bassist Ian Ross and drummer Logan Miles Nix) brought an extravagant stage show considering the size of the rather intimate Highline Ballroom. The stage featured three video screens showing clips of monster, horror and gore films, several larger than life inflated monsters, and lots of other trimmings. 5 himself came on stage wearing corpse-like face make-up and tattered corpse-like clothing. Once he started playing guitar, however, the audience saw that the show was not all about gimmicks. 5 ripped on a series of instrumentals backed only by a rhythm section, and the captivating wizardry he exhibited on his many guitars was jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring. Most of his set was a showcase of his heavy metal shredding specializing in his trademark Drop-D tuning, but he also borrowed elements of jazz fusion and country, even playing banjo instead of guitar for one song. With no one else playing lead and no one singing, 5 made every one of his speedy notes count. As he remarked, "that is a lot of notes." Never mind all the visual stimuli, the spectacle of the evening was 5's 10 fingers.

Visit John 5 at www.john-5.com.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Machine Head at the PlayStation Theater

Robb Flynn
Vocalist/guitarist Robb Flynn, born as Lawrence Cardine in Oakland, California, joined the Bay Area thrash metal band Forbidden (originally Forbidden Evil), as a senior in high school and played in this band from 1985 to 1987. He wrote four songs which appeared on Forbidden's debut album, but left before the album was released in order to join guitarist Phil Demmel in local thrash metal rivals Vio-lence. In 1991, Flynn formed Machine Head; Demmel reunited with Flynn in Machine Head in 2002 at a time when Machine Head almost disbanded. Machine Head presently consists of Flynn, Demmel, bassist Jared MacEachern and drummer Dave McClain. Machine Head's ninth studio album, Catharsis, was released on January 26, 2018.

Machine Head performed for two hours and 45 minutes tonight at the PlayStation Theater, with no support act or intermission. This was far longer and stronger than metal bands traditionally play. Coming on stage to the recorded sound of Ozzy Osbourne’s "Diary of a Madman," Machine Head ripped into the longest set list of the tour so far, including "Blood for Blood," which the band had not played since performing at the Limelight in 1994, and "Desire to Fire," not played in America since 2001. The set featured at least two songs from each of Machine Head's albums, and summarized all the band's movements, from groove metal, thrash, nu metal, and punk to its newer, more melodic sound. Flynn noted that this variety alienated some of the band's former fans, thanking those that remained faithful. In reality, however, Machine Head's versatility within metal proved to be the band's asset during this lengthy performance. Flynn screamed, growled, rapped and sang cleanly, guitars wailed and shredded, as the band uncompromisingly adhered to its integrity. The set featured sociopolitical commentary as well: new song "Volatile" was a pounding anthem dedicated to Heather D. Heyer, who died during a 2017 protest against neo-nazism and white supremacy; another new song, "Bastards," was written the day after the most recent presidential election and was inspired by a conversation Flynn had with his sons. The band performed plenty of hair spinning and moshable songs, but competently proved that metal was an expansive genre. Few metal bands could achieve this goal as adeptly as Machine Head did tonight.

Visit Machine Head at www.MachineHead1.com.

  1. Imperium
  2. Volatile
  3. Now We Die
  4. Beautiful Mourning
  5. The Blood, the Sweat, the Tears
  6. Crashing Around You
  7. Desire to Fire
  8. Guitar Solo
  9. Darkness Within
  10. Catharsis
  11. From This Day
  12. Ten Ton Hammer
  13. Is There Anybody Out There?
  14. Locust
  15. Bastards
  16. Drum Solo
  17. Bulldozer
  18. Killers & Kings
  19. Davidian
  20. Behind a Mask
  21. Elegy
  22. Take My Scars
  23. Aesthetics of Hate
  24. Game Over
  25. Blood for Blood
  26. Halo

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Quicksilver Daydream at Mercury Lounge

Adam Lytle
Born in Pontiac, Michigan, and raised on a farm in Maineville, Ohio, Adam Lytle took piano lessons as a youth and played guitar in bands while in high school. About 10 years ago, he pursued his musical vision by relocating to Brooklyn, New York. There, he recorded two EPs and one album with Wild Leaves, but when that band went on hiatus, Lytle reinvented himself in 2016 under the alias Quicksilver Daydream, using an analog tape recorder purchased from a dead man's estate. A DIY debut album, Echoing Halls, was released on June 16, 2017. Almost immediately after that release, Lytle began reworking some of his older songs for what would become a five-song EP called A Thousand Shadows, A Single Flame, which will be released tomorrow, February 9, 2018.

At Mercury Lounge tonight, Lytle on vocals and guitar was backed by lead guitarist Joey Deady, guitarist and Mellotron player Glenn Forsythe, bassist Brett Banks, and drummer Cole Emoff. Quicksilver Daydream's sound owed a serious debt to 1960s psychedelia, with Lytle's cloudy vocals and the band's trippy guitar lines and shimmering ambient backdrops. Lytle performed like a singer-songwriter, but not the standard folkie or confessional model; his lyrical flow was rooted in an avant garde movement from an earlier era and his adept band provided intriguing musical accompaniment that gave electric flesh to the skeleton. Quicksilver Daydream's strength was in wrapping this imaginative initiative around a vintage genre. More experimental than commercial, the songs were vehicles for Lytle's creativity, which paired light melodies with somewhat darker and more complex arrangements. The captivating allure of Quicksilver Daydream's set was that a listener could not predict where the compositions would venture next.

Visit Quicksilver Daydream at www.quicksilverdaydream.com.

  1. Hang On
  2. Echoing Halls
  3. Raven's Eye
  4. Ferryman
  5. House of Many Doors
  6. Waking Eyes
  7. Gathering Days

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Mary Gauthier at City Vineyard

Mary Gauthier was born to a mother she never knew in New Orleans, Louisiana, and adopted when she was a year old by a couple from Thibodaux, Louisiana. At age 15, she ran away from home, and spent the next several years in drug rehabilitation, halfway houses, and living with friends; she spent her 18th birthday in a jail cell. Eventually she opened a Cajun restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts, but was arrested for drunk driving on opening night. Achieving sobriety, she dedicated herself to full-time songwriting, performing and recording. She wrote her first song at age 35, and sold her share in the restaurant to finance her second album in 1998. In 2001, she relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, and since then her songs have been recorded by Jimmy Buffett, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Bobby Bare, Bill Chambers, Mike Farris & Candi Staton, Amy Helm and Bettye Lavette. Her eighth studio album, Rifles & Rosary Beads, was released on January 26, 2018.

Mary Gauthier's two-night engagement at City Vineyard was a bit different from previous area performances in that her current album is a departure from form. Rifles & Rosary Beads is a collection of songs that were written on retreats with veterans, in which Gauthier set to music and rhythm the struggles that the veterans relayed to her. Accompanied by a violinist, Michele Gazich, Gauthier opened and closed her set with some of her older songs; these were panoramic and pastoral perspectives on the hardships of life, sung in a melancholy voice that oozed hopefulness and thankfulness more than despair or yearning. The newer songs were equally emotional, but in these cases were the emotions of others who had touched her life. Gauthier introduced each song in a sense by introducing the audience to the veteran and his post traumatic disorder symptoms. The songs were tragic narratives of open wounds redressed as therapeutic healing. While these songs demonstrated the width of Gauthier's dauntless songwriting ability, they were also disturbing and not designed for easy listening. Gauthier merited her applause, but her audience may want her to move on from this episode quickly.

Visit Mary Gauthier at www.marygauthier.com.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ruthie Foster at Zankel Hall

Ruthie Foster came from a family of gospel singers in Gause, Texas. At age 14, she was a soloist in her hometown choir and was convinced that her future career would be in music. Foster then studied music and audio engineering at a community college in Waco, Texas, and began fronting a blues band playing Texas bars. Foster joined the U.S. Navy, singing pop and funk hits in the naval band Pride. After the military, Foster relocated to New York City, where she performed American roots music at local folk venues. When her mother fell ill in 1993, Foster returned to Texas to be with her family. She reignited her career there, in due time winning seven Blues Music Awards, three Austin Music Awards, a Living Blues Critics’ Award, and the Grand Prix du Disque award from the Académie Charles-Cros in France. Her eighth and most recent studio album, Joy Comes Back, was released on March 24, 2017.

Roseanne Cash is a creative partner in the American Byways roots music series at Zankel Hall, and she introduced Ruthie Foster by relating how impressed she was with Foster's inventive reinterpretation of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Foster on guitar and vocals was backed by her trio (Scottie Miller, keyboards, mandolin, vocals; Samantha Banks, drums, vocals; Larry Fulcher, bass guitar, vocals) and instantly began to smoke with a combustion of red-hot soul, blues, rock, folk, jazz and gospel, all within a set of only 10 songs. Foster's rich and hearty vocals were gutsy and gripping as she blazed through original songs and covers. The quartet came together for ensemble singing on Homer Banks/Bonnie Bramlett/Bettye Crutcher’s poignant "The Ghetto," but  she handled Son House’s "People Grinnin’ in Your Face" as a mostly solo a cappella. Like Foster's variation on "Ring of Fire," the entire performance was, well, blazing.

Visit Ruthie Foster at www.ruthiefoster.com.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Tommy Emmanuel at the Town Hall

Born in Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia, Tommy Emmanuel received his first guitar at age four and was taught by his mother to accompany her as she played lap steel guitar. When Tommy was six, his father created a family band, the Emmanuel Quartet, sold the home, and took the family on the road. With the parents and two sons living in two station wagons, much of Emmanuel's childhood was spent touring Australia, playing rhythm guitar, and rarely going to school until the authorities intervened. After Tommy's father died in 1966, the Emmanuels settled in Parkes and then Sydney, where Tommy won a string of televised talent contests in his teen years. By the late 1970s, he was playing drums with his brother Phil Emmanuel in the group Goldrush while doing session work on albums and jingles. In the late 1970s, Tommy was the lead guitarist in the Southern Star Band, the backing group for vocalist Doug ParkinsonHe launched a solo career in 1979, but during the early 1980s, he also joined the reformed lineup of 1970s rock group Dragon. His most recent album, Accomplice One, was released on January 19, 2018.

Tommy Emmanuel headlined the Town Hall tonight, and his jaw-dropping virtuoso performance on acoustic guitar would make one wonder why he is not as well known here and he is back home, where he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). Taking the stage alone with only a stool, a microphone and three acoustic guitars, each with a different tuning, Emmanuel performed a set of instrumentals and songs that featured his ornate finger-picking technique with no foot pedals or other distortion devices. Clear and pure, Emmanuel translated his hybrid finger-picking style to pop, blues, bluegrass, country, classical, jazz, and folk compositions. Like a piano player, he often used all 10 fingers as his left hand flew up and down the fretboard of the guitar necks and his right fingers simultaneously played bass, chords and lead melodies. Emmanuel was a magnetic and animated performer, slapping his guitar as a percussion instrument at times, singing well, and sharing charming anecdotes between songs, but the cascading harmonic progressions he played on the guitar were unmatchable and riveting. Opening act and sometime collaborator Rodney Crowell joined Emmanuel on stage for the set closers.

Visit Tommy Emmanuel at www.tommyemmanuel.com.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Wood Brothers at Irving Plaza

During their childhood in Boulder, Colorado, brothers Oliver Wood and Chris Wood listened to their father perform classic songs at camp fires and family gatherings, while their mother, a poet, instilled in them her passion for storytelling and turn of phrase. Oliver moved to Atlanta, where he played guitar in cover bands before earning a spot in Tinsley Ellis’ touring act. Oliver began to sing and then founded the blues-rocking King Johnson. Chris, meanwhile, studied jazz bass, moved to New York City and, in the early 1990s, formed Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), performing contemporary jazz and abstract music. When the two brothers played on the same bill one night, they realized that they could combine Oliver’s songwriting and Chris’s forward-thinking musicianship. The two formed the Wood Brothers, a folk and Americana trio that includes multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. The trio presently is based in Nashville, Tennessee. The band's sixth studio album, One Drop of Truth, will be released tomorrow, February 2, 2018.

The Wood Brothers headlined two consecutive nights at Irving Plaza, and both nights welcomed keyboardist John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood for much of the set. The core of the music was rooted in Oliver Wood phrasing his vocals akin to Willie Nelson and Chris often adding the kind of harmony twinning that has clicked for many sibling singers before them. Rix added vocal harmony, melodica, and percussion on his drums or on his self-designed "suitar," a guitar re-fabricated as a percussion instrument. Medeski's contribution were far more than frill; on some songs his extensive keyboard fills reshaped and even dominated the compositions. The symbiotic intertwining of his mastery of the keys with the Wood Brothers' country-folk style took flight, taking simple songs and frequently turning them into barnburners. The support act, the Stray Birds, also joined the Wood Brothers around an old-timey microphone for the traditional "Down by the Riverside." The eclectic program swung from country blues to folk influences and included elements of gospel to jazz for a warm and spirited program.

Visit the Wood Brothers at www.thewoodbrothers.com.

  1. Sing About It
  2. Atlas
  3. Mary Anna
  4. Fall Too Fast (with John Medeski)
  5. Tried and Tempted (with John Medeski)
  6. Snake Eyes
  7. Chocolate on My Tongue
  8. Neon Tombstone
  9. Laughin’ or Crying (with John Medeski)
  10. The Muse
  11. Chevrolet (with John Medeski)
  12. Down by the Riverside (traditional, with the Stray Birds)
  13. Happiness Jones (with John Medeski)
  14. You Wreck Me (Tom Petty cover, with John Medeski)
  15. Where My Baby Might Be (with John Medeski)
  16. Honey Jar (with John Medeski)
  1. Luckiest Man (with John Medeski)
  2. One More Day (with John Medeski)