Friday, July 29, 2005

Mallman, nite 5

Fort Wilson Riot was riotous fun. The campy cabaret-esque first band for Mallman's fifth night, nomadically ventured from Spanish gypsy infused vocals and licks, to punk, old radio soundbytes, rock, (someone said they heard Brian May style riffs from the guitarist), Eastern-Euro rhythms, to somewhat classical territories, and even electronic dabbling. They used Carpenters-like harmonies which were better than that sounds, about birds fighting. They sang of politics and a mockery of self-pity. Unfortunately, at this point I don't have their names. The woman lead is a really good vocalist who sings smoothly and almost, but not too sweetly, crooning harsh, bitter truths of the world with a depth of wry humor.

Comparisons to Thunder in the Valley and the Knotwells seem unavoidable due to the territories FRW venture in genre, attitude, and with lyrical content remniscent of the Knotwells politics, death, mockery, as well as being stylistically overall carnival, cabaret, gypsy, punk but unique in their instrumentation, and rhythms -- Knotwells are louder, more thrash and punk, TITV. . . just very different in instrumentation and vocals. The comparisons stem from the lack of groups in this town categorically under an umbrella of old-world gypsy music, twang, with punk rhythms and spirit, which is somewhat refreshing -- each entity really has their own thing going.

Viewing their website: I see that they indeed note those two afore-mentioned bands as "Schweet Local Music Schtuff" along with the Gleam, and Belles of Skin City. That says alot. Along with the fact that they also like Ween, Byrne, and media sites: Move.on, Guardian UK, and Democracy Now. You're beginning to get an idea. . . but not really till you see them. Which you can do at their CD release party August 11 at the Turf and CD release party August 19 at the Hex.

Beatifics . . . what more can I say about their luscious, intelligent power pop harmonies and guitar, and songs that feel like they're imbedded in my subconscious memory for years to come? Simply that their show was beautiful and swooning as always. Then (one more thing) they did a very pleasant surprise, a New Order cover which I absolutely loved. Keep going Chris, Andy, Craig, and whoever else you may add to your Beatific hordes. . .

Mallman. Wow, again. Always surpassing himself, it seems. . . I was more in the mood for some of his slower stuff and his ballads, somewhat wornout from their rock shows. Apparently, they were too, as they opted to "do a lot of slow ones tonight so we can recuperate." They played absolute favorites of mine, "Hardcore Romantics," and the strong, pulsating "True Love," along with piano solos by Mallman, including "I Work Here, I Grew Up." They were more casual with jeans and more down to earth, a little less glam, more solid rock (which is hard to imagine actually but people there might know what I mean). I love the faster glam shows but was thoroughly enjoying a slower respite. One alt-country number (Romeo Daze?) which I'd never heard, had the phenomenal Ryan Smith showing terrific slide guitar skills, with the timing and patience it takes to draw out the desolate soulful country blues sound.

They ended by completely rocking out hair band style to "Licensed to Drive," from Smith's high school days. Certainly, if you can't afford Def Leppard tonight, like me (sniff!) check out Mallman at the Hex with Eleganza and the Gleam. Whoo whoo. It'll be a riot.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mallman at Septagon, Nite 3

I walked into the Hex late, but still in time to see Mark Mallman and his great band going at it full tilt. To me, there's no live show in town quite as exciting as a Mallman show. The one I'd attended prior, Little Man comes close, with his stunning guitar chops, which is why I was late. There was a bigger crowd at the Hex than Monday night, and I could feel the momentum of the week and the enthusiasm of the crowds building, much as momentum builds during Mallman's shows themselves. While I don't remember what the last two songs were, I do remember hearing lyrics about a rabbit getting run over repeatedly and a lot of stream of consciousness singing and rapping as Mallman is wont to do and does so well. . . his lyrics are macabre, funny, tragic, tongue-in-cheek, campy sung with the drama of Queen or Led Zepellin or some long lost stadium rock fervor on a tiny stage across the street from his favorite bowling alley. It's as compelling to watch as it is to listen.

Steeped in whiskey, I declared Mallman the best live performer in town, that will be remembered for maybe seven decades. DeYoung took it a notch higher, exclaiming "best on the planet!" Today, I'll stick with my opinion that Mallman is one of the most brilliant live performers around with his passion, humor and over-the-top drama and camp. He does it with feeling and a refreshing spontanaeity, with some of the best bandmates anyone could hope for. Perhaps the "planet" is a possibility, even though I don't know all the players on the planet, sooo . . . what Mallman does is indeed filled with soul.

I look forward to the remaining 4 nights, and recommend people catch Mark Mallman and his brilliant musicians Peter Anderson, Cat on bass and Ryan (Melismatics) (who possesses phenomenal rare chops on the guitar that blow me away) while they can.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Stay Up and Spin with Cyn! On KFAI . . . from 2 - 5 a.m.

Hey friends! Listen to my show tonight as I fill in again for the Strawberry Pop timeslot! It'll be a doozy as I spin your local faves (and if there's someone I'm missing, call and let me know at 612-341-0980!)

A feature of tonight's show will be seven songs of Mallman, to celebrate his upcoming seven nights July 24 - 30 at the Septagon (if you count the outside as a "side" at the good ol' Hexagon). He's commemorating seven years of playing, seven recordings, in the seventh month of the year. No, unfortunately I won't be playing all seven albums. That would be about one-seventh of his 52.4 hour marathon. Okay, enough of this, you'll never listen to me, if I keep going on like this.

I'll also feature songs by Little Man, a favorite live band of mine, who are playing with Stingray Green Tuesday, July 26, another fave who I unfortunately have no recording of as yet, so we're sol. But I think you'll like Little Man.

I'll play some songs of artists playing at the Northeast Folk Festival at Grumpy's, all day Sunday beginning at noon. I'm super-excited that I got a call from Tony Glover accepting an interview for my book on West Bank musicians. So, in honor of that, you'll hear some Koerner, Ray and Glover. You would anyway!

I'll play a brand new 7" vinyl (I feel a theme going on here, who knew my first theme would be a number? I didn't! But hey!) by another fave band, Ouija Radio who had an outstanding live performance at the spectacular Varsity Theater with a stunning light show and sound conducted by Erik Stromstad. When I have another sub radio gig (or a regular spot, lead Christy Hunt will "Spin With Cyn" bringing in some of the "ghosts on the radio" she's "tight with." Vinyls by Jimi, Keith Moon . . . I'll play something by one of their fave bands, Awesome Car Funmaker.

So, if you're coming home from bar or are at a party, or having insomnia, tune in to Spin with Cyn!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hosting KFAI's Womenfolk Sunday, w/guest Alicia Corbett 1 - 3 pm

Hello! If you are up for it, listen to Womenfolk tomorrow, Sunday, from 1 - 3 pm. I'm substitute hosting for Ellen Stanley and will feature special guest Alicia Corbett playing live in the studio at about 1:30. She'll stick around and we'll play some of her favorite songs. I'll play some French musicians in honor of Bastille Day, such as Catharin Pfeifer's Yellow Cab #599, Bia with Mon Amour, and Balfa Toujours. I'll also play one of my new favorites, Nouvelle Vague's "Guns of Brixton", a bossa nova cover of the Clash's song. You've got to hear this to believe it. They took several 80's songs by groups such as XTC, The Cure, Joy Division, and Modern English and made them into French bossa nova style. I can't play "Too Drunk to F(*#" cover of the Dead Kennedys' song on the radio for obvious reasons, but it's pretty funny, so you're on your own. You'll find it on their website.

You'll also hear Rayna Gellert, Uncle Earl, Victoria Williams, The Cowboy Junkies, Nina Simone, The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, a Girl Called Eddie, and Nora O'Connor with violin by Andrew Bird. Directly after the show, I'm heading over to the Bastille Day festivities at Barbette's featuring friends Jessy Greene with Desdemona, That's What You Get (at 6 pm), Ear Candy, and many more. Last year's festival was very fun, so I can't wait!

Then, on Thursday overnight I'll be filling in for the Strawberry Pop timeslot. You'll hear seven songs of Mark Mallman as a preview to his seven nights at the Hexagon for his 7th anniversary (maybe they should expand it for the huge draw his shows will have, and call it the Septagon). There will be many terrific local artists playing with him such as Vicious Vicious, Thunder in the Valley, the Gleam, Turantula Skulls (another project of Wes Statler of Melodious Owl -- yes, still only 18 or 19 and yet in TWO bands!), Your Loving Tiger, Revolver Modele, and Fort Wilson Riot, who I heard are really a great new band. . . booker Chris Dorn very highly recommends them. . . you heard it here first!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Listen to Mystery Train tonight from 2 - 5 a.m. fe: Valet members

Tonight I'm substitute host for David Wiley's Mystery Train on KFAI, 2 - 5 a.m. The first hour Robin Kyle and Judd Hildreth of Valet will come in and entertain us with Robin's acoustic guitar and singing and Judd with comedy and tales of his other terrific band, Duplomacy. We'll also spin some of their favorite songs.

I'll play a bunch of performers from the upcoming Green Man festival, as well as some Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan, and songs from a plethora of local musicians, some brand new and forthcoming. I'll also play some old-timey stringband music sure to keep you up all nite. Who needs sleep when you can dance instead?

my recent radio show 7/8 archived under KFAI's Strawberry Pop

Hello! I had a blast flying completely solo subbing on my first KFAI radio show during the now vacant Strawberry Pop timeslot, Friday, July 8 from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Go to KFAI archives, scroll down to Strawberry Pop and click on "most recent" until July 15, and "previous show" until July 22.

You'll need to fast forward a little over 5 minutes in as there was an overlapping show with some metal noise prior that will sound like static but was from a Lou Reed album the previous DJ was playing.

I played 46(!!) songs, including old-timey fiddle of Tommy Jarrell, Foghorn Stringband, some Ralph Stanley in honor of his recent successful heart surgery, Laura Cantrell, Libba Cotten, a few songs off of a pre-release by great local band, New Vintage, The Waifs, Little Man, T Rex, Marianne Faithful, Townes van Zandt, The Byrds, Gram Parsons, Nick Cave, the Centurions, and many many more. . .

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Violent Femmes Review, First Avenue, July 5 (

If there could only be one word to describe the Violent Femmes show July 5, what would that word be . . . ? FABULOUS. The nearly iconic trio, founded decades ago by bassist/multi-instrumentalist Brian Ritchie, percussionist/campy thespian Victor de Lorenzo, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Gordon Gano with his distinct nasally whine and unforgettably fun comi-tragic lyrics, put on a fantastically fun show worth the wait of the decades since I first heard and loved them, during my early '80's college years. They provided the warped angst soundtrack to staying up all night painting, and tear-assing up and down the halls leading people like a Pied Piper on drunken sing-a-long, getting people out of bed to party as we went.

This sold-out show featured a wild crowd of 3 generations of college listeners singing voraciously to nearly every song, which truly made the audience part of the performance. Nearly every song brought the waves of instant recognition and enthusiasm that the first in the set did. "The Country Death Song," an over-the-top twisted ballad that I loved before I became aware of the compendium of ballads in the world, featured warped jangly huge guitar and seemed a predecessor to the Handsome Family and their kin.

Crowd pleasers, "Prove My Love," "36-24-36," and one of the very best ever VF songs, "Blister in the Sun," brought tremendous applause and drove people crazy to sing along loudly and dance wildly.

Gano broke out the violin for two songs. He appropriately played old-timey breaks for old-gospely "Jesus Walking on the Water," -- in old-time the fiddle is a percussion instrument using double stops and shuffle bowing,, not melody. At another point, Ritchie played strong bass on the ol' gutbucket bass, something you don't see much of at First Avenue, or in rock bands.

The band had cool guest tenor sax, Steven MacKay, who played with Iggy and the Stooges during 1970. At one point they had a big horn section (10 members) going, Gano jokingly called "The von Trapp Family," and the crowd went crazy with sheer joy. Interupting this review: seeing this phenomena, I want to mention if people want to hear more of this fun funky stuff, check out local legend Willie Murphy and the Bees some Monday night free at the Viking. . . while no longer 12 - 16 people kicking it up, there are certainly a bunch of 'em and they are as fun and wild as this show was. Now, back to the review.

The Violent Femmes used numerous instruments to play the twang country of the ballads and gospel songs, and referenced funk, R and B, dark spaghetti-western bad '50's B film style noir, jazz, Pink Floyd-esque dark psychedica. I realized the minimalist, yet dramatic drummer, De Lorenzo, while not having a huge kit, who sticks with brushes, is the base, the foundation of the Violent Femmes, standing (literally) front and center, and stealing the show with his antics, dancing, leaping and spinning throught the air between beats, while playing performing "fabulous" solos. Toward the end, Ritchie (in the voice of "God") told a long story about the search for the word that describes De Lorenzo's solos. It took De Lorenzo until the age of 48 to find the word to describe: playing drums, having a baby, having a platinum album, and finally the word he found was . . . "Fabulous!" It was always the drumming that got me the most, along with the plaintive, sneering whine of Gano. One of the coolest things about the show was the capability of seeing in hindsight how the Violent Femmes were precursors and influencers of future generations of nasally angst-ridden alternative rock. But they were perhaps more fun, because they never wallowed nor took themselves too seriously. . . they use a lot of campy tongue-in-chic humor.

The song I, and evidently the entire audience was really waiting for . . . began with Gano's loud and drawn out a capella "Daaaaay. . . " which was immediately buried in the deafening roar of the sing-a-long crowd. "Add It Up," caused a frenzied mosh throughout over half the floor. Gano told the audience that it feels, "very special to play First Avenue. Long live First Avenue! Long Live First Avenue!" and then played the perfect end song to an all-out, fabulous show, "Kiss Off."