Take a listen: Memphis’ own Valerie June

Valerie June The Order Of Time

Valerie June, a Memphis-based bluesy/folksy (or let’s just say genre-defying) singer-songwriter, has an amazing new album out, The Order of Time.  June talks about the meaning and inspiration for the album on her web site; here’s a piece:

Understanding the order of time is important to anyone hoping to manifest a dream. There is a time to push, and a time to gently tend the garden each day allowing time to do the rest. Starting from an organic root, there are so many beautiful ways to journey. Through the ups and downs of life being able to create a world is of the utmost importance. It’s very easy to be turned around by challenges or to only believe in things that can be seen, but what’s seen outside is created inside first. Knowing that, dreamers are able to create worlds within this world. 

“Astral Plane” is a song on the album that always takes me to a happy place.  You can listen to “Astral Plane” and other songs on the album at  Valerie June’s web site (look for the “Astral Plane link top left).  She sang  this and a few other new songs at her Word Cafe appearance a few weeks ago.

As chronicled in this Rolling Stone article, June got her big break in 2009 when she was on the MTV series $5 Cover, “an episodic show chronicling the modern Memphis music scene from the mind of director Craig Brewer (Hustle and FlowBlack Snake Moan).”

In 2010 June released a collaborative album with the Old Crow Medicine Show, Valerie June and the Tennessee Express, which caught the attention of Dan Auerbach of the Black Eyes Keys.  Aurbach produced her 2013 solo album Pushin’ Against a Stone, at the Nashville Easy Eye Studio.  My favorite song from this album, “On My Way”; you can hear it hereValerie June Pushin' Against a Stone

Valerie June is gearing up for a European tour next month, but I’ll be on the look-out for local concert dates.  I encourage you to do the same.

Tribute shows are like a box of chocolates…..

Sing me back home: A celebration of artists lost in 2016You never know what you’re going to get  

Shows that honor musicians can be amazing events; the best show I’ve ever seen in Nashville was one of them. “Dylanfest” honored Bob Dylan on his 75th birthday at the Ryman Auditorium last year, as a benefit to the worthy Nashville-based Thistle Farms.

The show was a well-oiled machine; the tight house band started things off playing a solid version of “Tom Thumb Blues” and then receded into the background.  One amazing artist followed another; things kept moving.  Kesha – yes that Keisha – sang “I Shall Be Released” barefoot; Moon Taxi killed it with “All Along the Watchtower;” Ruby Amanfu sang an amazing version of “Not Dark Yet”, and on and on.

The tribute to Guy Clark, also at the Ryman last year, didn’t have quite the same magic but it’s hard to gripe after hearing Jerry Jeff Walker sing “LA Freeway.” Lyle Lovett was one of a number of  “Very Special Guests” who were not publicized.  Lyle entranced the audience with his story of how Guy Clark jump-started his career. Chris and Morgan Stapleton also stopped by the stage.Read more: Tribute shows are like a box of chocolates…..

Check it out!: NPR Music’s “First Listen”

NPR Music is a wonderful website to bookmark and/or app to have on your smart phone. One of my favorite features is “First Listen,” which provides free access to new albums that you can listen to in their entirety, along with an in-depth reviews of each one.  If you like what you hear, you can purchase the album or certain songs from iTunes or Amazon right there next to the “Listen” link, and NPR gets a portion of the revenue.

npr's first listen website image“First Listen” is a great way to check out new releases, and Nashville musicians are well represented. Amanda Shires newest release, “My Piece of Land,” and Brent Cobb’s “Shine On Rainy Day” were both recent picks.  Right now you can hear East Nashville’s own Aaron Lee Tasjan’s new album “Silver Tears” and read its’ review, written by another Nashville resident, Ann Powers. Tasjan was a hit at the recent Americanafest, and is having an album release party in Nashville on October 28th at 3rd & Lindsley.

A variety of genres are represented on “First Listen” and current albums include techno – Michael Mayer’s ‘&’; emo – American Football’s self-titled release; the genre defying Leonard Cohen’s  “You want It Darker,” and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq’s “Retribution.”  The free Listen link for each album goes away after about a month, but there is still an embedded Spotify list of the album’s songs are at the end of the review. Explore “First Listen” and, as they say, check back often!

 

SO Annoying!!: Music festivals

prodigy-live-1190545This is the first in my series about the differences between the behavior of millennials and baby boomers at concerts and clubs. There may be no one right way to listen to live music; yet, there seems to be quite a number of ways to be obnoxious.

SO ANNOYING!!: Music festivals is inspired by a blog post,  that I came across (courtesy of Midlife Mixtape), called Dear ACL Assholes by blogger Stealthy Sadie.  [How uncool am I?  Answer: So uncool I had no idea what ACL was at first – it’s the annual Austin City Limits music festival.]

Stealthie Sadie uses the F-bomb more frequently than I think is necessary, but she makes some good points.  Her main beef is with folks who set up elaborate seating arrangements with inflatable couch-like seats.  In her words, about such two people she photographed:

….you two space hogs are taking up, like, five wristbands worth of area by dragging in your bedroom futons, and then fashioning some kind of makeshift rug to place your supplies on, therefore depriving at least three other people from having decent seats. You know what? There’s already a place you can go to sit with your backs to each other, listen to music, text and drink an endless supply of bottled water

It’s called: your own bedroom.

I get her point, I really do.  Though, I gotta admit those “canoe couches” look awfully comfy.  Has anyone used them at festivals, and if so did you get death glares from others?  If you live in Nashville, could I borrow one sometime?  Just for research purposes, of course, in service of this blog.

I haven’t been to a multi-day festival like Austin City Limits or Bonnaroo, mostly because I am allergic to camping.  But, last Labor Day week-end I saw Band of Horses at Live on the Green, a free festival in Nashville.  While there I braved a huge crowd to stand close to the stage.  I enjoyed communing with a few drunk Vandy gals, including one with a remarkable resemblance to the Shoshanna character on HBO’s “Girls,” and her friend, who exclaimed, “See, I told you!,” when I mentioned the resemblance.  All was well until their friend lit up a cigarette and waved it around until it was about five inches from my face. Yo, millennials, smoking cigarettes in crowds is NOT a good idea.

 

29551041861_d743244f86_zNot wanting singed hair, I moved back a few feet, where I was able to enjoy a variety of crowd surfers.  I especially enjoyed one innovative garbage can surfer.  But when the music ended I was very ready for a hot shower and the comfort of my own bed.

So – festival goers of all ages and stages: what’s your take on the behavior of your fellow concert goers?  What are your pet peeves? Do you think there are generational differences in how people act at outdoor festivals? Finally, are your festival going days over, why or why not?

 

 

Todd Snider: Fellow Libra and also musical genius/bad ass

Tomorrow is my birthday, and when asked by my dad how I was planning to celebrate I replied, “I’m seeing a show at the Ryman with a friend.” To which he replied “Wow, you’re really into country music!” To which I responded, “The Ryman is not just for country music. Elvis Costello is playing there, and Carol Burnett, too.” Hardly bro country fare!

I didn’t bother to tell my dad who I was seeing because, alas, I figured never heard of him. I’m going to see Todd Snider, and you might not have heard of him either. I first learned about Snider myself in a Nashville Scene article last May.

L0040140 Libra - Horoscope from 'The book of birth of Iskandar"Snider’s show tomorrow at the  Ryman is the same day his new album, Eastside Bullgdog, debuts. Eastside as in East Nashville, where Snider lived until moving to nearby Hendersonville a few years ago. In a recent Rolling Stone article, author Andrew Leahey (a Nashville musician himself) says of one song on the album, “Ways and Means”, “Snider’s stream-of-conscious narrative namechecks a number of East Nashville institutions, from shuttered dive bar the Alley Cat Lounge to local songwriter Warren Pash, who famously wrote Daryl Hall & John Oates’ ‘Private Eyes.’ It’s far from perfect, and that’s the point. Arriving on October 7th, Eastside Bulldog offers much of the same, shining a light on a songwriter whose rough drafts can rival most people’s final edits.” You can listen for yourself here.

Read more: Todd Snider: Fellow Libra and also musical genius/bad ass

AMERICANAFEST 2016: IT’S A WRAP

img_1106WHAT I LEARNED AT THE 2016 AMERICANAFEST

• I am allergic to hotel ballrooms divided in half that become conference session spaces.

• There is a finite limit to how much music I can absorb and enjoy within a certain space of time. Pacing is key.

• I am lucky as hell to live in Nashville where I can see a number of performers “on the regular.”

• If I go out night after night, my cats WILL express their displeasure through subversive acts such as urinating on the AppleTV device (which thankfully survived the indignity).

• At the Ryman, I’d rather stand at the back of the balcony rather than be squished between immobile and Very. Serious. People. No matter how “good” the seat.

• If it is hot out and it looks like sliders have been in the sun for a while, but you eat them anyway, you may get just a dash of food poisoning.

Read more: AMERICANAFEST 2016: IT’S A WRAP

Launch night at the AmericanaFest: Expect the unexpected

Tuesday was the day I was waiting for – the start of my AmericanaFest staycation. I had the scheduling app on my phone, but also typed up a three-page tentative itinerary because I like seeing things spread out on paper. I arrived at my first event (checkmark!) – The Basement launch party, where I was able to quickly get my conference badge (objective: avoid horrendous line; achieved).

Next, I got a beer and sat outside on the patio of The Basement. There, the thought of “What have I got myself into? I don’t know a soul here” entered my head but quickly left when I began chatting with a lovely woman in my age segment, Kat. Kat is from New Jersey, owns a music promotion company, and has been coming to the AmericanaFest for the past 13 years.

Soon, Kat was holding the beautiful baby girl of a family she knew, while I chatted with baby’s adorable big brother. We then had a nice conversation with the mom and dad about childbirth, balancing work and family, and so on. After a while, with hugs all around, the family went inside. That’s when I learned that mom and dad are the owners of The Basement/Basement East and Grimey’s. I’m not a big fan of the “So, what do you do?” question and I was certainly glad I didn’t ask this time!

Soon it was time for Jack Ingram’s in-store performance upstairs at Grimey’s. Adult beverages were offered for all (beer #2; food 0). I stood by a nice woman from Australia who had her musical instruments with her ‘cause she had a gig at the Bluebird Café later that evening. Nice! My newfound friend, Sarah Carroll, Ukulele Queen of the Bellarine, came prepared and was able to furnish a guitar pick for Jack Ingram (who was maybe not so prepared).

unnamed The Jack Ingram performance was delightful. His stories were hilarious, his songs poignant, including one about his good friend Guy Clarke. But after a few beers with no nutrition, I decided to dart out to the BMI rooftop party, with its promise of food. I ordered my Lyft driver and while waiting struck up a conversation with a musician from Nova Scotia, Erica Kulnys.

Read more: Launch night at the AmericanaFest: Expect the unexpected