Monday, May 16, 2005

Gene Clark Tribute May 21 with Rich Mattson and more @ Hex

Whether you're amped up for more live music after Art-a-Whirl, or just getting fired up to go. . . here's a not-to-be-missed event -- the Gene Clark Tribute at the Hexagon for free! Rich Mattson of Ol' Yeller has assembled a band to pay tribute to Gene Clark on Saturday, May 21st at The Hexagon Bar in Minneapolis. The band includes Rich Mattson on vocals and guitar, Bill Quinn on pedal steel guitar, Keely Lane (Trailer Trash, Ol' Yeller) on drums, Dale Kallman (Ol' Yeller), on vocals and bass, and David Beckey (The Autumn Leaves), on vocals and guitar. The group will be performing three sets of Gene Clark material and special guests include Chris Dorn (The Beatifics), Jeaneen Gauthier (Jan), Jon Hunt (Landing Gear), Chris Mirski and others.

Kansas City Southern: A Tribute To
The Music Of Gene Clark
Saturday, May 21st
Hexagon Bar
2600 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN

Mattson says: "Singer-songwriter Gene Clark is not a name that many people are familiar with, but if they've listened to the radio anytime since 1965, they have most certainly heard his music and his influence has been felt all over the globe. He was with folk-rock and psychedelic-rock pioneers The Byrds when they had their biggest hits, "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Turn! Turn! Turn!", and "Eight Miles High." After leaving The Byrds, he released several well regarded solo records, as well as two ground-breaking albums with Dillard & Clark. Gene Clark is arguably the father of country rock, and his songs have been covered by a wide range of artists, including Roxy Music, Husker Du, Willie Nelson, The Turtles, Leo Kottke, Robyn Hitchcock, Salt N' Pepa, Tom Petty, This Mortal Coil, and many others. Sadly, Gene passed away on May 24 1991 at the age of 47."

Now, some other stuff Mattson passed on that's going on this week:

"On Tuesday May 17 I'll be playing bass with my good friends Baby Grant Johnson and the New Vintage at the Turf Club. We're on late, but before us come and check out Austin songwriter Ethan Azarian and Terry Walsh and 2am.

Then on May 21, Saturday afternoon the New Vintage plays again at Grumpy's Northeast, in the backyard at around 2:30pm. This is part of the big annual Northeast ART-A-WHIRL you may have heard about. Lots of kickass Minneapolis bands are playing.

***Sunday May 22nd (also as part of the ART-A-WHIRL experience), Andy Schultz and I will be playing acoustically at the California Building (22nd Ave. and California St. N.E.), outdoors at 3:00.

OL' YELLER returns to action FRIDAY MAY 27..we'll be playing at Mayslack's from 10:30 to 1:30. A whole lotta rocking to make up for lost time. We miss you."

Music and Green Politics, Triple Rock May 19

hosted by p.o.s.

Exile on 7th Street and Art-a-Whirl Bash

Midnight Evils and friends play Exile on Main Street at the Entry May 20th, 8 pm including Baby Grant Johnson.

The spectacular, large line-up for the May 21st Northeast Art-a-Whirl Bash with BarBQ, Live Music and Beer is:
Kruddler, Fuck Yeahs, Sea Whores, Landing Gear, Baby Grant, Alicia Corbett, Noise Queenant, Mach Fox, Ear Candy, 1 pm to 7 pm.

Grumpy's is at 2200 - 4th St. NE. Go out and support local arts!

Ethan Azarian, Baby Grant Johnson's band New Vintage, and Terry Walsh @ Turf Tuesday

Terry Walsh and 2 a.m. likely at 10 p.m., Ethan Azarian, from Austin, Texas, who I hear is really great, New Vintage -- Baby Grant Johnson's Band who I really enjoy, and fe: Rich Mattson of Ol' Yeller on bass! are playing the Turf Club on Tuesday, May 17th.

Baby Grant is also hosting his weekly Grumpy's "Stripped Down," Wednesday, May 18th playing at 8 pm for an hour, and then hosting special guest Azarian.

I highly recommend these events, all are great players!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

SPMC & Mammy Nuns at 331 Club, Mattson at Grumpy's

What a week in the "life of Cyn!" Besides chasing down news stories, I've been keeping up the live music listening. . . always so fun in this great music town. The Mammy Nuns kicked off their First Tuesdays at the 331 Club, in a fine way. They were as terrific acoustically as they are plugged in, I swear. And with a big following of earlier SPMC regulars at the Turf, it truly felt like "mini-Turf" at the 331. Joe was phenomenal on the sousaphone, wandering the streets with it at one point as I hear he's wont to do. Alas the bordering restaurants Erte, and the Modern Cafe were closed, so it was just I and Dawn Drouillard in the drizzly moonlit night enjoying the nomadic tuba tones (Dawn's former lead of Interstate Judy, now of That's What You Get, playing the Entry May 19th at midnight -- yes, those of ye who know me, know I'll try to catch both the Green Party bennie and TWYG).

Hazy Dave is a phenomenal, versatile guitarist, ranging from slide blues, to old-time to Latin with equal skill -- perfectly harmonious with lead Rob who simply "Rules" -- the sound of their two guitars together was electrifying; I was at times awestruck by the sounds only two in perfect nonverbal sync for seemingly years, can do. Andy's drumming was stunning as well, brilliant Latin, Cuban, rock, country rhythms, always the perfect backbone flowing in and out forefront and back perfectly timed and just absolutely fun, with the solid bass notes, at times melodic of Joe's tuba. I was delighted that they played one of my very favorite songs of all-time, "Long Black Veil," covered by many through time, from Johnny Cash to Nick Cave. Willy Murphy's version is also great. But the Mammy's really truly did this song about betrayal, honor, and justice, justice. It makes my heart hurt every single time I hear it. Dave also sang a traditional song I love that the Dickel Brothers also cover really well (I don't recall the name) about a guy who comes home different nights to: different shoes, coat, and head on the pillow, which the wife says "you blind old fool, you drunk ol' fool, surely you can see? That's a cabbage my momma gave to me." But, he replies, "whiskers on a cabbage, I swear I've never seen." Probably a Skillet Lickers song, it would be about right.

Jokes abounded as we all partook heavily of the cheap margheritas, and perhaps mistakenly of the new "official SPMC drink" at least for one night, (for that, I hope!) Unicum, from Hungary, that the band kept waxing on about. Being the fearless reckless sort that will always try anything once, my sneaking suspicion was confirmed by a Canadian that this was one form of another nasty infamously dreaded Hungarian drink, Polanki. The description for you, curious dear reader is thus: Jagermeister, with some of the sweetness removed, mixed with a Palmer's style Long Island Ice Tea (those who have been there know better), and ear wax, yes ear wax. That bitter nasty flavor that makes you wish you could shave your tongue to rid the nasty aftertaste that lingers for days. But I digress. That's just how bad it stays with you. Eck!

The music was great, tho! Martin Devaney got up there and did a couple of old Hank tunes, something that always makes me happy. And Terry Walsh of 2 a.m. and Belfast Cowboys wowed the hangers on with his excellent voice, worth checking out more of. The newly renovated 331 is beautiful. We were all so happy regular SPMC nights are on all over our town.

Fun at Grumpy's NE last night, Wednesday, for the weekly "Stripped Down! Bare Live Music, 8 - 10 pm" hosted by Baby Grant Johnson. He usually plays the first hour and hosts another great musician the 2nd. Last night the first hour was Mike Nicolai, who Grant plays with in his band, New Vintage (formerly "the Baby Grant Johnson Band." The second performer was an absolute never-miss favorite, Rich Mattson. He has such a great voice and his songwriting is the best! I hear that Baby Grant has 4 performances in various configurations around town next week. I'll keep you posted! The first one is Tuesday night at the Turf 'round 10 pm.

Next Wednesday, Grant tells me Ethan Azarian, Austin Texas is his guest. I hear Ethan is unusual, really like nothing I've ever heard, and excellent. I look forward to it.

The Knotwells, free at Lee's Liquor Lounge tonight!

Yay, another great rebellious, sweaty dance party! If you liked Gogol Bordello, you'll also like The Knotwells, an absolute not-to-be-missed band that you have to experience live is playing for free at Lee's Liquor Lounge tonite with Hot Rod Hearse!

Arik Xist, singer says:

the group I play with (the Knotwells) will be playing a free show with psychobillies, Hot Rod Hearse at Lee's (101 N. Glenwood in downtown Minneapolis) on Thursday, May 12th. I think this one is gonna be a rocker. Playing St. Cloud was quite invigorating, spirits are high, liquor will be flowing...Time to get out, get your groove going...(yeah, I suck, what of it?)

He doesn't suck. While still underground, in basements, and warehouses, co-ops, and jukejoints, they've played over 70 shows in the past couple years, and if you haven't caught one show yet, go see what you're missing. Go to the link above to their website created by friend Mike Gunther's Restless Soul, Suzanne Scholten . . . there you'll see photos and can access their songs so you get an idea of what you're in for.

They feature many cool instruments: violin, accordion, guitar, Manjo, miked bike instrument, banjo, mando, kazoo, horns, you name it, they play it. Defying description, the closest I can come to it is. . . twang-punk, East Euro Gypsy Punk, whatever it is, they make you dance. Which is what its all about. Besides great stories of trash, murder, debauchery, and rebellion.

You get another chance Thursday, May 19, 8 pm at the Triple Rock for the Green Party and Music, a benefit for Cam Gordon, City Council Candidate for Ward 2 (yay!). Playing with the Knotwells are: Unknown Prophets, Bleeding Hickeys, Chadwick Anderson, and Building Better Bombs. Great event!

Varsity Theater fun, past and future (Valet, Ike Reilly, the Junkyard Lilies, Ryan Sutter and the Painted Saints

The beautiful newly renovated Varsity Theater has been back in full swing for about a month now. It's an ever-changing versatile space featuring psychedelic projections on the wall as you walk into the deep space, warm bluelight glow from fun cozy crawlspaces under the "bleachers" which to me seem inspired by sci-fi writer William Gibson's small Japanese sleeping pods, and one girl said, "Chucky Cheese for adults!" inciting delight, intrigue, and playfulness that Jason McLean is renowned for in his forward-thinking vision.

Currently there are couches, stuffed chairs at many levels with numerous warmly lit white linen tableclothed tables at many levels so the sightlines are great whereever you are. There is a wide selection of beverages with a range of prices, some beer and wine as low as $3 - $4.

April 30, Beltane, was a great lineup of Tin Horn, James Apollo, and Valet. James Apollo was excellent, with a full band and a big sound, moving from 50's be bop Buddy Holly and Elvis styled songs to Cal-Mex rhythms remniscent of Calexico. The young Apollo combines an old spirit with a youthful verve and has an excellent voice.

Those of us who were there felt lucky to see Valet in one of their rare appearances, playing at a venue that was a great match for their quieter, more introspective music. Their slow, poetic lyricism wroughtwith melancholy, wry humor, and bittersweet pangs of memory, loss, and desire for the future could be clearly heard in these environs where the crowds were evidently really listening. The theatrical and dreamlike tone of the Varsity nudges people to sit back and let the dreamy music wash over them. . . it's easy to feel relaxed and want to stay awhile and absorb everything. There's also plenty of room toward the back to visit with friends if one prefers. Valet played songs from their 2004 CD Life on the Installment Plan, such as "Manifesto," "Havana," "Bring Back the Firing Squad," "George Best vs. Michael Stone," and "Journalists." I have no favorites among the storytelling songs, as I enjoy all of them equally. I see that Valet plays again on May 21 at the Spot Art Gallery with 10 Ton Bridge, and Big Rhombus.

The superior lighting and sound systerm were useful at the packed Ike Reilly show recently on May 1 Sunday night, where he played for a few hours to a very enthusiastic wild crowd (as usual). This is the best environment I've seen Ike in to date, as his voice and music was loud and clear, without the buzz or earpain that other sound systems sometimes encompass. He and his great looking band, looked more spectacular than ever. There was plenty of room to move and dance in spite of the crowd and to spot friends due to the various levels and vantage points. It was a treat to be able to stand on the steps right near the stage and see and hear them in all their exciting energy and nuances, without the sound hurting the ears.

A couple shows that I'm looking forward to in the future calendar of the Varsity are: Classical Indian Music at 5 pm, Tues. May 24, and The Junkyard Lilies, and Ryan Sutter and the Painted Saints. The Junkyard Lilies, featuring 3 members of Hungry Horse, are cited from a 2003 City Pages article -- " “Indeed, like their influences--Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo, the Jayhawks--Hungry Horse's moody, dirty guitars evoke a world of farmhouse husbands and wives abandoned by their spouses, drunken friends in pickup trucks, outcasts driving off to Nashville to find a change of scenery." Painted Saints are, cited by Jason as: "a spaghetti western/gypsy/chamber country/sad bastard school
of music. They write tin can and twine romances in a color of rust with backdrops of long wind swept open roads framed by tangled barbed wire and naked telephone poles." With a description like that, how can I not go?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Old-Time Music at the Half-Time (meets Portland)

Fun at the Half-Time Rec Old-Time Square dance tonite (held first Mondays, 7:30 - 10:30 pm). Besides the terrific Mastodons who've played the dances for years, and it's super full, there was a guest young whippersnapper caller from Portland, one of the biggest old-time scenes in the country, which draws hundreds of punks, travellers, people of all ages and walks of life (it ain't the square dances you might be thinking of, with the costumes and the twang and polkas). Paul Silveria, here for 4 days, brought with him his compilation of Portland old-time stringbands "An Old-Time Portland Potluck" featuring the several bands of that area, done up old '20's Skillet Lickers 78's and radio show style. It's a "window-opener" as one fiddlin' friend would say, really fun, wild, and funny. Foghorn, Whiskey Puppy, Gov't Issue, Earl White -- very great.

If anyone's interested, let me know. They're $10. The low down on the Dickel Bros. is that at least 3 of the 5 are together, and while Clancy isn't fiddling there (cuz he's here), they may well come down this summer, because they love Minnesota.

Paul brought with him the Tilt-a-Whirl dance, the rage in Portland and fairly dangerous. You know a dance is dangerous when the caller teaching it, warns repeatedly, "and GENTLY disengage from your partner." When you see it in action, people are spinning so fast in circles, that their feet barely touch the floor. . . if anyone let go, they'd fly into a wall, with a great centrifugal force. Fun! Sounded like an amusement park!

Looks like friends, St. Dominic's Trio will be playing gigs at the Half-Time a few weekends this summer, so keep an eye out for that.

So, I hop in my car, and I don't believe my ears. The Current was playing an old-time string band tune, from the 30's or so! Almost noone ever in radio land in these parts (cept maybe KFAI and me on my Wave Project show) play old-time. Lots of bluegrass, but no old-time because that's still pretty obscure. What timing. And then the next song was a rare Pink Floyd. Totally something I'd do, and it worked. You could hear similar qualities and melodies at times, and it's mostly about the spirit.

Continuing with shameless self-promotion . . . I'm publishing a couple articles on old-time music, I'll let you know when they come out. Old-time is difficult to define, you mostly know it when you hear it. But it sure is fun.

Speaking of which, if you've read this far, not having been bored by my rant, there's going to be a great show at the Cedar on Friday -- Dirk Powell and Riley Baugus, the guys who did the Cold Mountain soundtrack and are some of the best old-time players in the country.

the Dickel Bros. are together again

Whoo hoo! I hear the Dickel Brothers are back at it again. Great old-time music with a punk drive. Unbelievable fiddle (maybe Clancy, great fiddler who lives up North is back? Or the newer fiddle. Both are excellent. And Brian Bagdonas on bass (from Foghorn String Band, and Stumptown Printers.) The website should be running soon.

I'd love to get 'em in town. They live in Portland and liked coming here when they were together about 5 years ago. They'll play for next to nothing, basement parties, backyards, co-ops, what have you.

You've gotta hear 'em. Let me know if you want more information.

Here are some links to learn more.

An excerpt from a profile:

"I feel like I have nothing to do with what is going on today," explains fiddling wonder Clancy Dickel. "And everything that is, was--everything that has happened, did happen with string-band music."

With EmPty Records' recent release of Volume One, the Dickel Brothers' first full-length recording, the world is poised to take a swig off the bottle the Dickels have passed around Portland since 1996, when Matt Dickel and his spiritual brother Joel began busking the streets with raw, breathless folk. Joel left Matt to carry the familial old-time torch alone for a full year. Then, Clancy surfaced. Before long, the heat rising from the duo's throwdowns at the Delta Cafe and E.J.'s drew in a few other brothers.

Today, mandolinist Michael, Marcus on banjo, and stand-up bassist Brian round out the brood, forming a five-piece combo that brawls across any space it claims as a stage. A recent show down in the Shanghai Tunnel saw Clancy swinging by his knees from exposed plumbing, sawing fiddle and singing at the same time. The Dickels stress that their barely contained aggression springs directly from the bloody grooves of 78s cut by dirt-poor musicians before the war--World War II, that is.

"It's really the purest form of folk," says Brian Dickel. "It was a necessity. People worked hard, and they needed an outlet. That's what attracted me to old-time. In the '60s and '70s, a lot of hippies picked up on the old-time vibe. I think now we're looking at it from this other angle and revitalizing the fact that it is a people's music."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Happy May Day -- Come out and play!

Tonight's Turf Club Old Stage features "The Walsh Bros," Terry (of Belfast Cowboys, 2 a.m., and St. Dominic's Trio), Jim, writer for the City Pages, and Jay, Little Man, all members playing acoustically together, a first, and Captain Yonder.

At another favorite place, Varsity Theater , will be the Ike Reilly Assassination, with the Hang Ups. I'll likely try to go there right after the acoustic show. Owner/booker Jason McLean did a ton of hard work to get the place to meet the city's many demands, so come out and support his efforts. It's a really beautiful environment, like no other in town, and the sound is fantastic. Valet and James Apollo were great there last night.

Jason has some cool ideas for film there, and the place is perfect for giant projections.