Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

Dylan tonight at Constitution Hall.  By this count, it's show # 31 - though I'm pretty sure I've left a few off from the late 90's / early 2000's.  It was a fun list to put together - times and lives strung together.   

A review, of course, to come.  And more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Last Kind Words

So I just heard about the new Rhiannon Giddens album - Tomorrow is My Turn.  And lo and behold, the opening track is her arrangement of that timeless Geeshie Wiley song.  From the press kit:
Giddens charts a clear path through Tomorrow Is My Turn: “We start off with the unknown and end up with the specific.” Opening track “Last Kind Words” dates back to a rare 1930 78 “race record” and a largely unknown singer named Geeshie Wiley. To Giddens, “The timbre of the singer’s voice, the uniqueness of the chord structure…it reminds me of my grandmother and that era.”
She's outstanding in the Chocolate Drops.  And I can't wait to see how the album turns out.. 

Also, Zola Jesus at the Black Cat on 1/29. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lucinda Williams (Lincoln Theater, 11/12/14)

And yes.  That's exactly it.  I hadn't been back to the Lincoln Theater since the renovation (the last time was that magical 2002 Beck show)..   The energy at the show built - and by the end, she had the crowd begging for more.  Dancing in the aisles.  Rockin' in the free world.. 

She told short stories before a few of the songs.  Hit us with a one-two punch of Pineola and Drunken Angel.  Rocked West Memphis.  The band was tight and each song seemed to build on the one before.  This wasn't the firebrand I saw in Detroit in '99, or the laid-back homecoming show at Stubbs in 2006.  She was living inside these songs in a deep way - but still had the energy and vitality to push them across.. 

We'll see how Bob does on that front next week. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

10:04 (Ben Lerner)

What to say about this book?  I read it in a series of sustained late-night bursts.  And there's something about the flowing, almost stream-of-consciousness prose that fit.  Like Blonde on Blonde after midnight.  Thin, wild, mercurial.

Most of all it was wonderfully, tightly, observed.  Not much happens (though plenty of things occur) - but it's the narrator's perception - and how close he gets to the unspoken (but thought) - that matters.  Simple scenes - the opening, with him walking along the High Line with his editor.  Visiting Marclay's "The Clock."  Working the Park Slope Food Co-Op (his line about the surly cashiers brought me straight back to Brooklyn) - and falling into a deep conversation with a co-worker.   A residency in Marfa, that surreal Brooklyn-cum-West Texas. 

And he threads that thin line between fiction and poetry and life.   Like Bolano, who started as a poet, there's a remarkable precision of language. I liked living in his world.  Seeing with his eyes.  And so, now onto Leaving Atchoa Station..  and then, perhaps, back to Stegner and Crossing to Safety

Thursday, November 13, 2014


It's been a while.  But several new posts are coming soon:
- Thoughts on Ben Lerner's 10:04 - easily one of the best books I've read in a while.  And Do Not Sell at Any Price - which had its insights.  And was well worth reading.

- Notes on the Lucinda Williams show last night.  And records (and books) picked up at Molly's in Philly last weekend.

- And some fiction in process. 

Dylan in 12 days.  Sloan on Friday night (RnR Hotel).  It's nice to finally be able to breathe..  a bit.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Cass McCombs / Meat Puppets (Black Cat, 11/3) - Review

Chilly early-November night.  14th Street quiet in a Sunday-night kind of way.  Tall boys of PBR, reading Amanda Petrusich's Do Not Sell at Any Price at the bar, waiting for the show to begin..   A fantastic telling of a story that resonates:  falling, hard, for old music in a new age.  And peeling back the layers upon layers.  Feeling slightly jealous..  like it's the book I've wanted to write, but haven't.  Or at least there are pieces of me in it.  Which is what it is.. 

But then, the lights dim and I moved to the front of the room.  I honestly didn't know much about the Meat Puppets beyond the fact they wrote Lake of Fire which Kurt covered oh so well on that MTV Unplugged album I've played regularly for the last 20 years.  And that I always thought fit quite neatly with Clarence Ashley's Cuckoo - something about that fourth day of July line..

But they came out hard and loud.  Louder than I'd imagined.  But the guitar work was incredible..  and then came Plateau.  And Oh Me.  And I realized their sound was deeper and wilder and sweeter than I'd imagined.  They threw in a cover of Freddy Fender's "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" - a Texas classic.  Then Willie & Ray's "Seven Spanish Angels."  And I felt like I was back in Austin - this mix of intensity and psychedelia and soulful Tex-Mex waltz.  All breathing next to each other. 

They ended on a sincere cover of Sloop John B. and all seemed right with the world..  

And then, the much hyped Cass Mccombs came out.  Looking a bit like Conor Oberst.  With a band (with pedal steel!) - and dense, rich lyrics that got lost in the sound.  It was good stuff - but lacking a core of excitement, of interest, of electricity.  My mind wandered.  It was late..  and I rolled out mid-set.  Maybe if I knew the words..  maybe next time.  Maybe.