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Aug 27

Patty Griffin at the Mountain Winery

Filed under: albums, live music | Back to: Homepage

Patty Griffin has it. I don’t know what it is, but you just know it when you hear it. Case in point, several years ago I went to see Patty at a songwriter’s pull with Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Dar Williams at the Warfield. All lovely singer songwriters in their own right; but it must have been embarrassing for those women to share the stage with Patty. Something about her electrifying voice speaks right to the heart and makes all other sound pale in comparison. Much like James Taylor, I think Patty could sing anything and she would have the audience swooning. Over the years I’ve swooned at the Variety Playhouse, the Warfield x2, the Fillmore x2, the Great American Music Hall, a tiny Tex Mex restaurant in South Austin and Slim’s on the hottest SF day on record with surprise guest Natalie Maines….

So last night I went to see her at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. And while this wasn’t the absolute best Patty Griffin performance I’ve seen, it was in full effect. Of note, she opened with the cover Hang on St. Christopher which is off one of my favorite Tom Waits albums. Happily she played a few older songs from Flaming Red – an album that is jarring compared to her folkier work but brilliant and under appreciated. She did play my current favorite Up to the Mountain, but sadly without the lead guitar of Doug Lancio this time.

Patty Griffin - Children Running Through My favorite albums, not surprisingly, are the ones where she really lets he voice shine.  She said in concert last year that she’d been advised to sing quietly on previous albums.  Thankfully she ignored that and really belted out on her latest masterpiece, Children Running Through.  It shows. If you don’t have this album, go buy it now. Sadly, it looks like Rhapsody doesn’t have it available, so I can’t link to samples here.

Her debut album Living With Ghosts will always hold a special place in my heart. It reminds me of contented Sunday mornings and cardamom flavored coffee. That has nothing to do with the album – all acoustic guitar and vocals filled with loud, bitter tunes – but more because I’ve got my own things going on.  Anyway, here’s the album on Rhapsody:

Mosesimage
Let Him Fly
Every Little Bit
Time Will Do The Talking (Mariah moment and all)
Mad Mission
Poor Man’s House
Forgiveness
You Never Get What You Want
Sweet Lorraine
Not Alone

And here are a few gems from Flaming Red:

One Big Love
Tony
Change

Also check out Chief, Tomorrow Night and Mil Besos from 1,000 Kisses.

Finally, I’ve made my sister record some Patty Griffin tunes over the years.  I Write the Book (clip here) is off some bootleg I found and probably my all time favorite Patty song (really, really bitter):

I Write the Book
Time Will Do the Talking
One Big Love

Take a listen. If you figure out what it is, please let me know.

Aug 24

Willie

Filed under: live music | Back to: Homepage

Indulge me on this rambling post.  Everybody likes to play that “what was your first concert?” game.  I think mine was pretty cool:

willie_nelson_ticket_1984

Yes, I’m a pack rat and hold on to things like ticket stubs forever.  I think we still have the red-headed stranger bandanna somewhere, but sadly the 3/4 length sleeve baseball shirt that said Willie in the shape of the state of Texas is long gone.  (Do you have to ask if I got picked on in junior high?)

Anyway, I’m going to see Willie Nelson at the Mountain Winery in a couple of weeks, so I’ve been listening to him non-stop.  According to the media player folks at Yahoo, I should be able to share here and you can listen to 25 full songs before it starts playing snippets.  So, an eclectic list of Willie Nelson recordings for your listening pleasure:

Ou Es Tu, Mon Amour? (Where Are You, My Love?)
I Never Cared For You
Three Days
Stardust
Georgia On My Mind
All Of Me
Time Of The Preacher
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Red Headed Stranger
Heartaches Of A Fool
Good Hearted Woman
Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground
Look What Thoughts Will Do
I’d Have To Be Crazy
Crazy

Added bonus #1
Gary Allan has written a hilarious song about Willie Nelson:

What Would Willie Do (lyrics)

He loves all the people no matter their races
Hell he even had a hit country song with Julio Iglesias
And that ain’t easy to do…

This reminds me of the quote on my sister’s email signature:

In Texas, we all share the common religious belief that if we live a good life, when we die, we go to Willie Nelson’s house.

– Kinky Friedman

Added bonus #2
One of the more interesting concerts I’ve been too was Carla Bozulich’s tour in support of her 2003 concept album, Red Headed Stranger.  With Willie’s blessing she re-made Red Headed Stranger – a concept album of its own – track for track.  The results are unique and outstanding:

Time Of The Preacher
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Red Headed Stranger

BTW – Much of the guitar work on Carla’s album comes from Nels Cline, who’s now playing for Wilco.  Willie plays on a couple of songs as well…

Enjoy.

Aug 15

Broken Wings – Electric

Filed under: wip | Back to: Homepage

Angel with Broken Wings (Mark Bingham, Flight 93) by James H..I promised in my earlier post that I would take a stab at recording this one the same way that I wrote it.  Here’s Broken Wings with the electric guitar behind it:

Broken Wings – Electric

For reference, here’s the more polished acoustic version:

Broken Wings – Acoustic

Hmmm… still not there.  But closer?  Eh, at least it’s fun to sing.  I think I’ll work on some new stuff for now and come back later.

Here’s how anti-anything-pop-culture I was in 1985.  I had no idea a song titled Broken Wings was a #1 hit for Mr. Mister until I did a search on the title just now.  Apparently Nothing Left to Lose is a relatively more recent single by Mat Kearney.  Thankfully, it looks like no one has written a woman-killing song titled Micheline besides me, so I’ve got that going for me.  It’s all good – according to the New York Times’ songwriter’s blog, we’re all rip off artists anyway.

Photo Credit: James H.

Aug 11

Creativity and Creative Commons

Filed under: about | Back to: Homepage

Jeff Jarvis says that every minute 10 hours of video is posted on YouTube.  Wow. Hopefully you find his observations about the massive amount of internet-fueled creativity as interesting as I do:

This has surely always been the case. The internet doesn’t make us more creative, I don’t think. But it does enable what we create to be seen, heard, and used. It enables every creator to find a public, the public he or she merits. And that takes creation out of the proprietary hands of the supposed creative class.

It got me thinking that for all the music that I’ve been writing and performing since my first preschool piano recital, I feel more creative now than ever.  I’m sure that’s in part because the barrier to pushing stuff out to the world has become incredibly small.  Now if I could only finish and post some of the stuff I’ve been working on…

Which reminds me that I wanted to talk about the copyright on this web site.

My album of original music, downtime is available on iTunes, Amazon, Napster and CDBaby and I always have a copy or two available at my shows.  You should totally buy it.  The CD artwork is sweet and the music files are of higher quality than those available for download here.  Someday soon I’ll have another album available that includes the WIP on this site.  Hopefully it will be compelling enough that you’ll want to buy it, too.

Creative Commons License That said, I really hope that you like the music enough to share it.  As such, I have licensed all of my posted original music and lyrics via Creative Commons.  I use the Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License, which means that you can download for noncommercial use, provided you give proper attribution and share any work derived from it under the same license.  If you would like to use the recordings for commercial reasons or have any questions about the copyrighted material on this site, contact me.

As for YouTube?  Yeah, I hope to contribute my own hours of online video someday soon.  In the meantime (and in the spirit of Jeff’s post), check out this sweet animation for the Violent Femmes Country Death Song.  Enjoy.

Aug 11

Nothing Left to Lose – Electric

Filed under: wip | Back to: Homepage

Here’s a new sketch of Nothing Left to Lose with the Telecaster.  I didn’t capture the exact guitar sound I wanted, but it’s close:

Nothing Left to Lose – Electric

Here’s the more produced acoustic version for comparison’s sake:

Nothing Left to Lose – Acoustic

Ideally I could get this to the point where it sounds as stark and beautiful as the Up to the Mountain arrangement Patty Griffin used the last time I saw her in concert.  It was the highlight of the show for me.  Here’s a recording somebody posted on YouTube:

Patty Griffin - Up to the Mountain

Patty Griffin - Up to the Mountain

I think I need to be a better guitar player to make this work.  And a better singer.  And a better songwriter…  **Sigh**  Patty Griffin is so lovely.  🙂

Aug 01

Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Filed under: albums | Back to: Homepage

image Neko Case is the love of my life.  She will be, anyway, if we ever get to meet.  When she sold out Bimbo’s four nights in a row, I went to every show.  I was totally going to stalk her until I saw this guy’s post and realized what a rank amateur I am when it comes to obsession.

It’s an easy bet that I have listened to Neko’s latest, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, more times than she has (that’s the nature of art).  It is a gorgeous piece of work that I find hard to describe, but can’t put down.  It’s filled with quirky little songs that defy conventional songwriting structure – lacking choruses and repeated hooks – but I find myself singing along to.  I’m a fan of big, strong voices, and Neko’s is the biggest and the strongest.  I also love a lot of reverb and the production of all of Neko’s solo work revolves on big, beautiful, echo’y sound.  She surrounds herself with some great musicians, including Kelly Hogan who I’ve followed since her Atlanta, Jody Grind days.  “Country noir”?  “Alt-country”? “Southern Gothic”?  I don’t really know what adjective applies other than “beautiful”.

I love her other albums as well.  I can listen to Look for Me, I’ll Be Around, the Sarah Vaughan cover from Neko’s Blacklisted, over and over and over again.  My sister and I did the best we could to cover:

Kim Meador – Look For Me, I’ll Be Around (Faster, Acoustic take here)

I think there’s a new Neko album on the way.  I can’t wait.

Here’s some songs off of Fox Confessor:

Margaret vs. Pauline
Hold On, Hold On
That Teenage Feeling
Maybe Sparrow

And here’s a couple of bonus songs from other albums:

Favorite
No Need To Cry