Posts Tagged ‘Concert Reviews’

Eugene’s Saturday Market Live Stage 2008

18th May 08 (Sun) Leave a comment

I usually head down early to Eugene’s Farmers’ Market / Saturday Market for good local veg… then sometimes, if there’s good music scheduled, I make my way back in the afternoon…

Here are my 2008‘s catches, in descending chronological order (updated as they happen -or- as I remember to write about them)…


May 17th: Pojama People ( Good thing they had a tagline on the poster at Saturday Market; otherwise, there’s no way I’d head back out in the heat (it was bloody hot today). The tagline was something along the lines of “the music of Frank Zappa.”

I found a spot in the shade (thankfully)… I bought an ice cream sandwich (which ended up being a totally messy pile of yum)… I sat down and took in some Zappa and Zappa-inspired tunes (a not as messy pile of yum). They are made up of Alli Bach on percussion, winds, vocals; Glenn Leonard on drums (and a 13-yo student, Spencer Ewing, very capably sat in a few tunes, too); Brian Casey on bass; Ted Clifford on keys; and B-Bo on guitar. Per some webpages, they also sometimes have Ike Willis sing with them sometimes, too… cool.

They played a lot of instrumental songs, and they also played some Zappa tunes with lyrics with “liberty taken to them” — almost all politically bent (which is fine with me… and likely Zappa). Here’s what they played (thanks to Glenn for the setlist corrections)…

  • Zoot Allures
  • Arrogant Dubya Son (new lyrics to FZ’s “Idiot Bastard Son“)
  • Help, I’m Iraq (new lyrics to FZ’s “Help, I’m a Rock“)
  • Duke of Prunes
  • Eat That Tin Kong (a mashup of “Eat That Question” & “King Kong“)
  • Sofa
  • If I Fell (Beatles)
  • You Are What You Is / Dupree’s Paradise / Improv
  • Alien Orifice / Tribute to American Idol (new lyrics to FZ’s “Tinsel Town Rebellion“)
  • McCain (new lyrics to Clapton’s “Cocaine“)
  • Let’s Make Blackwater Turn Back (new lyrics to FZ’s “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black“)
  • Village of the Sun / Achidna’s Arf / Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing? (with “13“)

They’re playing at Sam Bonds Garage on June 28th. If I’m free, I hope to see them again. They were good (ie- not your usual cover band).


May 3rd: Big Roy and the Twigs ( I went to see Big Roy because I know him via the head of the accounting department at UofO, Steve Matsunaga (Roy is Steve’s son). I heard some of their tunes on MySpace, and figured, “what the hell.” I showed up, and they had already started their set. It was hot (not bloody hot), but I caught 4 or 5 songs. They had some decent chops, alas, all I really remember is that they seemed to play a lot of alt-rock covers (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ songs appeared at least twice). It would have been nice to hear some of their originals, too. I was melting; so I headed back to the car. Nice set, though. Hopefully I can catch ’em again sometime…



REVIEW: Ornette Coleman and SFJazz Collective @ PDX Jazz fest (Portland – – 2/15/08)

16th Feb 08 (Sat) 3 comments

Gettin’ there… oy… bad “car on fire” accident just outside of Salem. Parking around the venue was wicked bad. It’s near Portland State University… which automatically means “minimal parking options” and there were tons of roads closed for construction… I ended up parking about a mile away. Grabbed a notdog from a hotdog shop en route. It was a yummy spicy Boca variety. Yay! I love living in Oregon — you can actually get a non-meat protein, horseradish-and-ketchup-into-your-system delivery device in a fauxtube-steak format from a fastfood-type outlet.

Anyway, post-dawg… I showed up at the venue at 7:23pm for the 7:30 show. I ran part of the way; so it was a close one…

Ornette Coleman @ the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The main dude (artistic director) for the PDX Jazz Fest 503(c)(3) looked sorta like James Randi — alas, he wasn’t (he’s Bill Royston). He announced the sponsors: Oregonian A&E, Qwest Communications, and the Portland Trailblazers. My a priori understanding of the Oregonian A&E is that they have TV shows of Criss Angel-types who make your pilate mat and hummus plate disappear while playing indie rock in the background at silly volumes. I might be wrong, though. Qwest Communications is most famously known for providing reasonably-priced, high-speed internets that aren’t available at my address. The Portland Trailblazers play what I understand to be a game called “basketball.” It’s like a big game of team-based ping-pong. Except the table is huge, you stand on it, and the net isn’t in the middle, it’s on the ends of the huge table. Oh, and you can hit the net, but you don’t use paddles. You use your hands!! Oh, and the ball is huge and not made out of plastic. So, the Trailblazers are basically a ping-pong team. Once Mr. Royston got the sponsors out of the way, he introduced SF Jazz’s Joe Lovano who introduced Ornette Coleman

Ornette started playing around 7:40pm… his band wasn’t the band from his last CD (the Pulitzer Prize winning Sound Grammar); and I didn’t get their names, as they weren’t listed in the program. He had a drummer (possibly his son), a guitarist, and two bassists (one upright, one electric). I’m more horrible with Ornette’s song names than just about anyone, though. I do know for a fact that he played “Lonely Woman” (from The Shape of Jazz to Come). I also think he played “Song X.” He only announced one song from the stage (the opener to the set), but he’s got a slight lisp and the mic wasn’t on all the way. It sounded like he said “Buttered Helen.” So, yeah, I don’t know. He and his band played a blistering hour+twentyfive improv set, only stopping briefly prior to the encore. Ornette primarily played his trend-bucking non-metallic white sax. He also played violin (lefty) and trumpet during some songs. It was a brilliant free jazz set all around. I’m thoroughly glad that I got to see this pioneer of the free jazz movement.

I left as the band left the stage the second time… to get to the Newmark Theatre for Round 2 of the PDX Jazz Fest. Luckily the Newmark Theatre is 50 yards away, if that. Which was good, because as I was planning online,’s maps… well, they’re utter crap. It said the venues were 1.2 miles away by foot. Wrong!

SF Jazz Collective @ the Newmark Theatre
Mr. Royston announced a new sponsor for this SFJC show: American Airlines. I hear that they are a busline that provides “air vents” for every passenger’s seat. Seems “OK” for a bus trip. I’d rather fly, though. He then introduced The Bad Plus (who I wish I could have seen last week in Eugene, they rock) who introduced the 8-piece SF Jazz Collective

SF Jazz Collective is a group that is commissioned each year to arrange and play the works of a jazz great. Past years have been Ornette Coleman (2004), John Coltrane (2005), Herbie Hancock (2006), and Thelonious Monk (2007). This year’s group arranged Wayne Shorter tunes. I haven’t gotten into Wayne Shorter (yet), but I know he played with Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and he’s on Herbie Hancock’s V.S.O.P.. Oh, I guess I’ve also heard his band Weather Report. So, I lied, I have gotten into him at least through WR and Herbie… Anyway, the SF Jazz Collective build a new repertoire each year based on a jazz great and then they all each write a new tune for the group.

The band for 2008 (links and instruments below) is Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas (one of my fav jazzmen), Stefon Harris, Miguel Zenón, Robin Eubanks, Renee Rosnes, Matt Penman, and Eric Harland. This was Dave’s 2nd season with the group. This show was their first show of the 2008 season, but they were far from rusty. They played for about an hour and half before I left (I had to bail half way through the encore in order to get home by 1am… oy). They announced their songs from stage, and they had a handy-dandy program available, too. Here’s what they played: “Go” [Wayne Shorter: hereafter WS], “Armageddon” [WS], “The Angel’s Share” [Matt Penman], “The Year 2008” [Eric Harland], “Black Nile” [WS], “Infant Eyes” [WS], “Secrets of the Code” [Dave Douglas], and the encore was announced by the pianist as “another Wayne Shorter tune that I’m sure you know.” Alas, I didn’t know it. It started out with piano… so I’ll leave it at that.

8 songs, 90 minutes. You do the math (I’ll give you a hint: divide, don’t multiply. Show all work to receive partial credit).

Also in their 2008 repertoire (sets change nightly): Wayne Shorter tunes “Aung San Suu Kyi,” “Diana,” “Footprints,” “El Guacho,” and “Yes or No.” Band member tunes “Aurora Borealis” [Renee Rosnes], “Frontline” [Miguel Zenón], “Road to Dharma” [Stefon Harris], “This That and the Other” [Joe Lovano], and “Breakthrough” [Robin Eubanks].

Oh, I forgot to say… somehow my ticket for SFJC was in the “wheelchair section.” That ruckin’ focked!! I could spread out. Totally luck of the draw on the ticket… but I tain’t complainin’…

The Appropriate Linkage:

yay… Glen Phillips and Belà Fleck next week…

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter TrioCopperopolis

EDIT (4/7/08): has a nice review of the Ornette show HERE

Favorite Concerts of 2007

24th Dec 07 (Mon) 2 comments

Well, there are still some 2007 CDs that may or may not arrive in my hands before the year’s over (specifically Eyvind Kang, Dave Douglas, Greydon Square, Radiohead, Doug Pinnick & La Mar Enfortunaall of which have Top 20 potential); so I’m not ready to post my “Best CDs of 2007” list, yet. Look for that one sometime in early 2008…

This blog is for my favorite concerts of 2007. I went to too many to recount in detail, but these are the tip-top ones…

  1. Music Now Festival 2007 (Pedro Soler, Bryce Dessner, David Cossin, the Clogs, the Havels, Osso, Amiina, My Brightest Diamond, Sufjan Stevens) at the Memorial Hall, Cincinnati-OH (4/5/07 to 4/7/07) my review
  2. Masada (John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen, Joey Baron) at the Rose Theatre at the Lincoln Center, New York-NY (3/10/07) my review
  3. Nellie McKay at the Shedd Institute, Eugene-OR (10/5/07) my review
  4. Silverchair at the Fillmore @ the TLA, Philadelphia-PA (7/28/07) review snippet
  5. Secret Chiefs 3 at the Bowery Ballroom, New York-NY (3/15/07) my review
  6. John Zorn’s Moonchild (Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, Joey Baron) at the Moore Theatre, Seattle-WA (11/4/07) my review
  7. Holy Fuck at the Southgate House, Newport-KY (4/1/07) my review
  8. Antibalas at the Southgate House, Newport-KY (4/29/07) review snippet
  9. Noctaluca at the Taste of Cincinnati, Cincinnati-OH (5/28/07)
  10. Blackfield (Steven Wilson & Aviv Geffen) at the Bowery Ballroom, New York-NY (3/16/07) my review

OK, I guess I’ve still got coming up in 2007 Iron & Wine in Portland (12/2) and maybe David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) in Eugene (12/14); but the above concerts were my favorites of 2007…

Happy thanksgiving, yo! One thing I’m thankful for is definitely music… :-)

~Dan – np: npr jazz profiles (podcast) – duke ellington: the bandleader, pt. 1

12/24 Update: wow… I totally forgot the kick ass Zappa Plays Zappa show at Moonlite Gardens in Cincinnati, OH on 7/24/07. I think I forgot because I didn’t blog about it when it happened (gettin’ ready to quit my job and pack up and head west at the time)… but now reading this week’s CityBeat, tons of people listed it as a favorite, and man, I was at that show, too… Dweezil = awesomes! Ray White = awesomes! Frank on a big screen behind the band, singing and soloing with the live band = awesomes! 2nd time seeing the ZPZ tour in 2 years (completely different setlist, too). I think it needs to be a once-a-year thing… in perpetuity.

mini-REVIEW: Silverchair in Philly & Detroit (late-July & early-August ’07)

4th Aug 07 (Sat) Leave a comment

two little blurbs… two great shows… too much driving…

Philly~ I drove too much over this past weekend (16 hours of driving in a 34 hour window)… but I got to see Silverchair for the first time. It was at the Fillmore at the TLA in Philadelphia. The opener, We Are the Fury, was “alright.” I’ve seen better, but I’ve definitely seen worse. Silverchair came on around 10:10 and played around an hour and a half. The first two songs were muddy as hell, all bass and vocals, but luckily the sound guy fixed it by the 3rd song. They played most of the new album, Young Modern, “The Lever” and “Greatest View” from Diorama, “Emotion Sickness” and “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” from Neon Ballroom, “The Door” and “Freak” from Freakshow, and none from Frogstomp (thankfully).

Detroit~ great show!! “Without You” instead of “The Lever” and no “Low” when compared to Philly. Fantastic set regardless!!!


REVIEW: Ric Hordinski & Leigh Nash @ the Monastery (Cincinnati – – 6/26/07)

27th Jun 07 (Wed) Leave a comment

great show last night. Ric‘s set was loud and buzzy, but good songs nonetheless. he didn’t play anything from his new record, The Silence of Everything Yearned For, which was odd… but it was a good set anyway. smile.gif and his new record is great. listening to it now… perhaps more similar to Hush but more straight-forward guitar rather than ambient guitar. Josh Seurkamp joined him on drums, and Mark Lukie (sp?) on bass (aka “Shaggy” per Bruce).

Leigh Nash‘s set was great as well. She played roughly an hour, containing songs from her solo album (last year’s Blue on Blue) as well as “Breathe Your Name” and “Kiss Me” from the 6p catalog. Cute persona and beautiful voice. We stayed for her whole set, even though I’m known for liking sleep on a weekday. It was a highly enjoyable evening.

np: ric hordinskithe silence of everything yearned for

REVIEW: Ellery, CSO, Antibalas (Cincinnati – – late April 2007)

30th Apr 07 (Mon) 1 comment

Great three-concert weekend… Ellery/Over the Rhine on Friday, Paavi Järvi’s CSO with Alison Balsom on Saturday, and freakin’ ANTIBALAS on Sunday. Wow… I don’t mean to sound bitchy, but Over the Rhine was the lowlight of the weekend. I think I’m done seeing them live for a long time. So, yeah, you won’t hear me bitching about how bored I was anymore. I think I’ll set my self-imposed boycott at 4 years, and see how I do. unsure.gif I might sneak a Taft show in or a Portland show in… but I’m definitely/officially on the bubble these days for their live shows. Eh. It was a good run.

Anyway, Ellery… great stuff. Can’t wait for a follow-up album… Tasha’s got a great voice. This was my 9th time seeing them… and it doesn’t drag. Great songs, great music. I’ll miss them when we move to Oregon. Maybe they’ll have to come out and do some label showcase shows for their Seattle-based Virt Records. As for Over the Rhine, I liked some of their newer songs… but left after/during “Ohio.”

M & I saw the CSO with guest pianist Hélène Grimaud in the spring. I enjoyed it, but the piano didn’t seem to work as well (and Margarita was bored, to say the least). This show with solo trumpet, though… it was fantastic. The Paavi Järvi-led Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played SIBELIUS’s Night Ride and Sunrise, then solo trumpeter from the UK Alison Balsom came out for HAYDN’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major. It popped, and the symphony and solo trumpet really meshed. Also impressive was the way she was belting out the notes while wearing a quite elegant and long evening gown. After the intermission, Paavo led the CSO through SIBELIUS’s The Bard and SCHUMANN’s Symphony No. 4 in D Minor. Fantastic evening… including dark chocolate pretzels from Divine’s at the show… mmm…. oh, and a veggie phillycheese from Northside’s Melt to start the evening off anyway…. mmm… Hail Seitan!

Last night was Antibalas (aka Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra). Wow. They’re an 11-piece band from NYC… maybe like an east-coast Ozomatli, but instead of the Latin feel, they’ve got the Nigerian thing going on. They’re similar to Ozo in that they’re also very funky, dancable, and political-infused. They went on around 10:15 and M & I ended up bouncing and dancing with some friends until we had to call it quits around 12:15am while they were wrapping up their last pre-encore song. Of the 2 hours, they probably played 6-8 songs… smile.gif Very groove oriented and some fantastic solos by all members… they had a keyboardist, congo-player/singer, 2 guitarists, a bassist, a gourd/percussionist, a drummer, 2 trumpeters, and 2 saxaphonists (1 alto, 1 baritone). Fun evening… the main singer’s shirt was also quite spiffy.


REVIEW: MusicNOW Fest (Sufjan Stevens, Amiina, My Brightest Diamond…) Cincinnati, April 2007

9th Apr 07 (Mon) 5 comments

I’ll start this 1st review by saying that I truly feel fortunate to live in the city that is hosting this truly wonderful MusicNow Festival. It is elegantly and professionally put together and a trove of new and exciting music (many of the pieces from last night were world premieres).

Music Now Festival – April 5, 2007 (Day 1)
Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, OH

Pedro Soler:
selected works for solo guitar
We showed up a little late (maybe only 10 minutes), but luckily there were some fabulous seats up near the front left. Pedro plays an amazing flamenco guitar. Very much a virtuoso. I’d say the music was not quite noodling, but also not quite all that melodic either — sort of a cross-between. His technique was fascinating to watch, and it was oft stunning. He played probably 50 minutes or so, ended with a standing ovation. He’s 68 or 69 years old and a world renowned flamenco guitarist, but this is apparently his first tour of the U.S. — with Cincinnati being one of the first dates. Bizarre choice in city to start.

Bryce Dessner’s “Memorial” (2006):
Bryce Dessner (guitar), David Cossin (percussion), Padma Newsome (viola)
This piece for trio showed off some great playing and composition. It was originally composed for the New York Guitar Festival to show off Bryce’s Spanish guitar playing. I’d say it was probably 10-15 minutes (no idea really) with some flair and highlights from Padma and David as well. David’s percussion on this piece made us excited for the next piece…

Tan Dun’s “Water Music” for solo percussion (2007):
David Cossin (percussion)
This was a third arrangement of Dun’s “Water Music.” The initial being for percussion and orchestra and the 2nd being for a percussion quartet. The solo percussion from David Cossin was brilliant and subtley played. Not brilliant in the Alanis “My Humps” way, but brilliant in the soundscapes and avant-garde asthetic kinda way. :P His main “drums” were two big plastic bowls… BIG bowls (10 gallons each is my guess). The opening was a rainfall from a colander. Next up was an odd-looking bulb with water in it, and a stem with strings (or spokes) that David played with a cello bow. It made primarily shreeking, dissonant noises; but then he warbled it around near the mic and the water in the bulb at the base ossilated the sound. Quite neato. He then went on to play different cymbals over (and in) the water and different depths with different mallets, sticks, et cetera. Two of the cooler parts of the set — 1) the wooden bowls of different sizes placed upside-down over the water… think “water tom” drums. Nice, full sounds… he played these with bigger tympani-like sticks, as well as with his hands. And 2) the water trombone… it was a clear boxy basin of water with a clear, slender tube in it. He hit it with something that resembled a Croc shoe (but wasn’t), and he raised the tube up and down. Again, “water trombone” is the best description.

Anyway, I’m a fan of one-man musical freak-shows (That1Guy, Buckethead) and a fan of composed and avant-garde music (Zorn, Zappa, et al). This was a pleasant combination of all three of those aspects of experimental music. David Cossin’s performance wins my “surprise enjoyment” award for the evening. Surpise in that I didn’t know so many artists were playing Thursday night, but I’m glad he did. The other musicians that evening were also probably glad that their gear wasn’t set up too near his 20 gallons or so of water… as some of it made its way on to the stage.

Maria Huld Markan’s “Thorri” (2007):
Hildur Ársælsdóttir (saw), David Cossin (marimba), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)
Written by Markan of Amiina and performed here for the first time in public… it had a good vibe. Very much like most chamber music I’ve heard, but with a slight world feel (marimba) and oddities from the saw. It wasn’t as captivating/electronic as Amiina’s music, but I enjoyed it. Maria’s intro to it was funny. The title of the piece (Thorri) is all about what Icelanders call the Jan/Feb period in winter. They have a festival where they eat traditional, yet disgusting foods… “rotten shark” and “sour ram testicles” were uttered in an accent that was not-unlike that of Björk. Quaint. Anyway, she wrote the piece in London because she missed the bright, crisp winters she had in Iceland while suffering through a grey, rainy London winter. Great music, too…

Sufjan Stevens’ selections from Enjoy Your Rabbit arranged for string quartet (2007):
Michael Atkinson (arrangements), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)

Enjoy Your Rabbit is Sufjan’s experimental, instrumental electronic album. When I first got in to Sufjan, I actually liked this album the best (it’s fucking weird as was what I was craving musically at the time). Anyway, “selections from Enjoy Your Rabbit arranged for string quartet” was actually one of the biggest draws for me for this festival in the first place. I heart Enjoy Your Rabbit; and, bonus, I heart string quartets. The formerly unnamed string quartet (named themselves “Osso” {aw-so} from the stage last night) played the selections in a very chamber music way, but paying attention to the electronic blips-and-beeps from the original by vocally “shushing,” playing pizzicato, and plucking or beating on their instruments to translate the electronic structure for their organic instruments. They played what I figured they would… the more melodic tunes from the album: Year of the Ox, Enjoy Your Rabbit, Year of the Lord, and Year of the Boar. Great stuff, and I was thrilled to be part of this world premiere.

Padma Newsome / Clogs Songs (2007):
Shara Worden (vocals), Sufjan Stevens (vocals, banjo, celeste), Padma Newsome (vocals, viola, harmonium, celeste), Rachel Elliott (bassoon, celeste), Thomas Kozumplik (percussion), David Cossin (percussion), Aaron Dessner (bass, guitar), Bryce Dessner (mandola, ukelele, guitar), Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin), Michael Atkinson (horn), Irena & Vojt–ch Havel (cellos)
Another world premiere… the Clogs had heretofore been primarily an instrumental band. This collaborative Clogs (fronted by Padma Newsome and Bryce Dessner) featured more “traditional” song structures and *gasp* vocals. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) lended her operatic voice to the first three songs (“On the Edge,” “The Owl of Love,” and “The Adages of Cleansing”). She’s got a beautiful voice, but I don’t think it matched well with the songs. Viola-playing Padma switched to vocals and harmonium for the 4th song (“Red Seas”). Sufjan joined the percussionist to play the celeste (like a super-sized toy piano). The Osso string quartet also joined the band for some songs (I forget which ones). The last song (“We Were Here”) featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo and Shara Worden came out and sang with Sufjan. All in all, a great set…

I’m looking forward to Day 2 (Amiina & My Brightest Diamond) and 3 (The Havels & Sufjan).

Music Now Festival – April 6, 2007 (Day 2)
Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, OH

Maria Huld Markan Sugjusdóttir, Hildur Ársælsdóttir, Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir, Sólrún Sumarliadóttir
I like Amiina a lot, having seen them open for Sigur Rós several times, and this show didn’t disappoint. It was good to pick up their debut LP (Kurr) without having to pay tons in shipping. Their sound also featured some gentle vocals in several tracks, which is a new direction for them. It almost seemed to Enya-y for me, but that’s OK. Maybe it’ll replace Bob Johnson‘s Musings as our house’s 1 massage CD (“oh no, not Bob Johnson!“). I dug their hour long set — it was a good mix of the string/organic sound and electronics. It was a very similar set-up as previous shows… instruments everywhere and the girls roaming about and playing just about everything. The saw song (“Seoul”) was played. They also had a short last song where all four girls played saws of various lengths. I can’t say I saw that coming…  :D

My Brightest Diamond:
Shara worden (vocals, guitar, piano), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)
Shara Worden’s been a favorite vocalist of mine since I first heard her on MySpace. Bring Me the Workhorse, her debut album under the My Brightest Diamond moniker (she has three discs as AwRy), was one of my favorite CDs in 2006. Anyway, I knew what to expect going in, but she still blew me away. Her vocals are quite possibly the richest, most beautiful in indie rock. She’s got the delicate, quirky pixie side and the grandiose, powerful operatic side. It’s compelling to see her sing. The last time I saw her, she had more of a rock-meets-strings setup. This time around, her backing band was solely the Osso string quartet (no drums/bass). I scribbled down the song titles, but I know I’m guessing on some in the italics (she didn’t give the name, or I forgot it/couldn’t hear her totally)… Apples (a very cute song), Dragonfly (from Workhorse), If I Were Queen, Bass Player (a new song), Disappear (from Workhorse), Goodbye Forever (which had the lyrics “A Thousand Shark’s Teeth” which will be her new album title), Clean Through, Gone Away (from Workhorse), Riding Horses (from her AwRy Quiet B-Sides disc), New Dawn/Day/Life (Nina Simone standard), Golden Star (from Workhorse), Black and Gusteaux (the French Sherlock Holmes), Youkali (gorgeous French lyrics, a cover from her AwRy Quiet B-Sides disc). A fantastic performance.

Sufjan is tonight… Shara and the Osso quartet will be backing him. yay!

Music Now Festival – April 7, 2007 (Day 3)
Memorial Hall, Cincinnati, OH

Irena & Vojtech Havel:
cellos, piano strings, piano
The sister of festival curator Bryce Dessner went to Prague in the mid-80’s and bought a CD by the Havels and brought it home. That CD would shape Bryce’s musical interests as he progressed into songwriting. He essentially went on a 15-20 year hunt for this band from Prague, but finally made contact last year in order to bring them to Cincinnati to play at this festival (made possible by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council). Some people in the audience might not have liked the Havels, but I thought they were quite compelling to watch – – except for perhaps when Irena was singing (I liked it more when they were both cello-ing). They played for about an hour, 10 minutes of which was vocal and the rest was all instrumental – – chiefly avant-garde, but more composed in nature than noodling, IMO. There was some bird chirping and kittie meowing cello lines, but there were also some more standard scales. Their dual cello work was all over the place, but still structured, sort of. I loved it when they were complimenting each other (one upbeat, one downbeat). I also liked some of the more adventurous plucking below the bridge and almost strumming the cello like a guitar (rather than pizzicato). Their second to last bit was of both of them playing the piano, Irena sitting and after Vojt–ch finished on the cello he came around and played on her right, then, while standing started playing on both her right and left. It was sweet and romantic.

Sufjan Stevens:
Sufjan Stevens (vocals, guitar, banjo, piano, harmonium, celeste), Shara Worden (vocals, celeste, piano), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Michael Atkinson (horn), Rachael Elliott (bassoon), Padma Newsome (viola), Osso Quartet: Maria Jeffers (cello), Marla Hansen (viola), Oliver Manchon (violin), Rob Moose (violin)

The first time I saw Sufjan live, he and his band dressed up as cheerleaders. The second time I saw him live, he had on huge bird wings, and his band had on butterfly wings. This time, it was all about the music… no costume gimmicks. He and his lovely string-based band put on a great show. Probably my only regret in setlist was that they didn’t play “They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh!” (my favorite from Illinoise), but all-in-all, it was a great-sounding, moving set… hour and a half, I think.

Here are the songs that they played (I’m not claiming 100% accuracy)…

  • “Jupiter to June” (titled guess… song from way back in his unreleased conceptual songbook about the planets)
  • “Dad’s Girlfriend” (titled guess… Sufjan on solo banjo… song about one of his dad’s crazy girlfriends)
  • Three Stars (new one?)
  • The Avalanche (from the vinyl & iTunes version of Come on Feel the Illinoise and the CD version of The Avalanche)
  • All the Trees of the Fields Will Clap Their Hands (from Seven Swans)
  • The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us! (from Illinoise)
  • Casimir Pulaski Day (from Illinoise)
  • John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (from Illinoise)
  • Come On! Feel The Illinoise! (Part 1: The World’s Columbian Exposition; Part 2: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream) (from Illinoise)
  • “???” (a new one… I think I zoned out)
  • The Transfiguration (from Seven Swans)
  • Year of the Boar (played by the string quartet, Osso… from Enjoy Your Rabbit)
  • Seven Swans (from Seven Swans)
  • ENCORE: To Be Alone With You (Sufjan solo guitar… from Seven Swans)

It seemed heavy on the Seven Swans/Jebus-y stuff, but seeing as it was “Zombie Carpenter Eve” this night, I understand why… there also may have been an instrumental or two from Michigan and/or Illinoise that I didn’t know the name — thus it didn’t make it in my notes…

Fantastic festival. Day 2 was probably the most favorite, but all three days were utterly enjoyable.


REVIEW: my crazy music-filled NYC trip in March 2007

17th Mar 07 (Sat) 4 comments

Wow… today is my “first day off” from a show since last Friday (2/9)…

Here’s how NYC “for business” played out on the “for enjoyment” sense of it…

I arrived in town at 11:30am. Checked in, and then headed up to “scout out” the Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater as that’s where MASADA was playing that night. While I was there, I got word that there were two free jazz shows going on that afternoon that were sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of U.S. Department of State. It was apparently spreading jazz music to 3rd world countries, and this was the coming home show. I love jazz, and I love how sometimes governmental bodies put good money to use for the arts. It seems weird how we seem to only export bombs lately. Jazz is better than bombs, but less than food and medical aid. I guess I should just be glad that is wasn’t bombs or Christina Aguilera instead of jazz.

Anyway, the Ari Roland Quartet was the free 1pm show. Great quartet, not unlike some quartets that I like… more straight jazz, flashy but not experimental (IMO). Enjoyable, but not mind blowing. “Safe jazz,” if you ask me. Their drummer was pretty good. My favorite song was the one penned by their piano-player. The Cultures of Rhythm was the free 3pm show (both of these free shows were at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center). COR were a bit more interesting. It was a jazz quartet, but “bouncier.” And it featured djembe, drums, hammond organ and a trumpeter. Trumpet usually excites me more than safe saxaphone jazz. Anyway, this band (Culture of Rhythm) had a great vibe. Very enjoyable…

After these free shows, I was pooped… and headed back to my hotel in Chelsea for a nap. The evening show was Masada and Cecil Taylor at Lincoln Jazz Center’s Rose Theater. This was Masada’s last show ever. I drove down to Raleigh, NC, last fall to see tham at Duke. This show, they amazed even more. Masada has many incarnations (as do many of John Zorn’s projects), but the standard acoustic quartet of John Zorn on alto sax, Dave Douglas on trumpet, Greg Cohen on bass, and Joey Baron on drums is the true Masada band. Masada tunes are all written by John Zorn… he’s written upwards of 300 one-page melodic tunes. These one-page 16-bar songs become the framework for jazz improvization. While some of it becomes quite adventurous and “avant-garde,” it still remains very melodic — which can be scarce for John Zorn material. Anyway, the four members of Masada were ON that night. It was truly a beautiful hour+ of music. I’m sad that it’s their last show as this original quartet, but I’m glad that I got to see them twice. I didn’t stick around for Cecil… I had other shows I wanted to fit in…

I took the subway from Columbus Circle (near Central Park) all the way down to the Bowery… walked about a mile to get to the Stone (an avant-garde music space) and made it just in time to see the Joe Morris Trio. It was basically a guy (Joe Morris) noodling on a guitar while another guy (Daniel Levin) was noodling on a cello and another guy (Michael Evans) was noodling on a drumkit. Udon!

I was toying with the idea of heading way the fuck back uptown to Lincoln Center for the 11:30pm show for Kenny Werner‘s Lawn Chair Society. I dig the CD (and it features trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxaphonist Chris Potter), but I didn’t have tickets and thought it’d be sold out, and I knew Dave Douglas wasn’t playing in the band that night (and I had just seen Chris Potter play a few weeks earlier in Cincinnati). It was rainy and I didn’t find the subway stop where I left it last; so I walked about 2 miles to Union Center (my pedometer was upwards of 11 miles walked that 1st day — it got about half that every day afterwards). My sleepy head won out and I crashed back to my hotel in Chelsea eventually…

Oh, speaking of crashing… they had 7th Ave closed from 27th St to 23rd St most of the day on the Saturday and Sunday that I showed up because they were filming chase scenes for the upcoming Borne Ultimatum. I didn’t catch a peek at anyone famous (Matt Damon or anyone), but it was interesting to see how they blocked a major road off for the better part of the weekend. The secondary chase seemed to happen right outside my window (on 25th St)… it’ll be weird to see when that movie comes out if I recognize any of the street stuff…

SUNDAY 3/11 I had a lazy and cheap Sunday… went to the Downtown Music Gallery’s free shows (they do them every Sunday). I spend a lot of coin at DMG for avant-garde jazz; so I figured I’d take in some free stuff. At 6pm, I saw Jason Stein (sax from Chicago) and Mike Pride (percussion from Brooklyn) toy around with some sounds. It was pretty intense, and very much avant-garde. I dug it. Next up (7pm) was Susan Alcorn on lap-steel. It was mesmerizing, entrancing, but uninviting. It really zoned me out for a good 45 minutes. Very much avant-garde lapsteel. At least it wasn’t country, eh? rolleyes.gif

I was gonna catch two shows at the Stone after these free DMG shows, but I was worn out. Susan Alcorn fried my brain, or perhaps it was watching Jesus Camp that afternoon. Scary shit, that movie was…

MONDAY 3/12 Lazy Monday… I think I walked down to WTC and Statue of Liberty this morning, but I forget. That may have been Sunday morning (and then after got a shot of Johnny Walker Red at Elliott Smith‘s XO hangout). I didn’t pay for the ferry to Ellis Island… eh. Monday dinner was delightful. I caught some good thai grub with who law enforcement officers refer to as the “great-hatted bootlegger.” Keith was catching a Steve Earle show with a friend and we met up prior. Good food and conversation. Afterwards, I hussled out to the Jazz Standard (I forget what part of town). Brian Bromberg’s Downright Upright All-Stars were about 20 minutes in to their sold-out show, but the gate keeper let me sneak in to the standing-room-only part of the club. The club wreaked of pork and bbq sauce, but I guess that’s better than pork and bbq sauce and smoke… gotta love the smokin’ bans. Dave Weckl played dums for this band, and I had heard of his name before. Anyway, they played more accessible jazz (not safe, but not avant-garde). Very enjoyable stuff… I picked up their CD on the way out. I then headed to the Village Vanguard, and was gonna try to see the Village Vanguard Orchestra (a big band). They didn’t take credit cards at the door and I didn’t wanna shell out a lot of cash; so I quietly left and went back to my hotel. I was tired anyway…

TUESDAY 3/13 This was a Tonic night. I’m a big Ikue Mori fan… she is a laptop soundscape musician. Very avant-garde (‘cept her Painted Dessert is my favorite and it’s more traditional song structured). Anyway, Ikue Mori was playing a show with Briggan Krauss (on sax) and Jim Black (on percussion). It was quite avant-garde and was led by Briggan mostly. Ikue could have been there or not for all I know/care. Eh. Jim Black’s drumming was fantastic, but not drumming in the stricted sense. He played a lot of scraping movements along the cymbals… he also used a cello bow on the cymbals… he also covered his toms and snare with literally t-shirts to get a really muffled sound. It was weird, but good. The 10pm Tonic show was Ellery Eskelin (on sax), Lisle Ellis (on laptop and upright bass) and Erik Deutsch (on piano). I’ve enjoyed Ellery Eskelin’s guest spots on various jazz CDs I own. The show was good, but too dissonant for me at that point of the night; so I only stuck around for half of their set before heading back to the hotel.

WEDNESDAY 3/14 I opted out of the ambient-metal band ISIS. I love their sound, but just saw ’em a few months ago opening for Tool. I went back to Tonic instead for two bands that became the better choice. I saw Inlets and Edison Woods. Inlets was fantastic. It is fronted by Sebastian Kruger (who has played on My Brightest Diamond CDs). He is a multi-instrumentalist and has some great songs. He also has a dandy falsetto. Both his physical appearance and music sound bring to mind Jude and Sufjan having hot-n-nasty sex in your living room and popping out Sebastian as their “love-child.” So, yeah, in short, Inlets sounds like a man-on-man love-child. He washed up before getting on stage, mind you. Oh, and his EP is available FOR FREE at For Free. Next up was Edison Woods, which was a band much like Elysian Fields, yet maybe not as sultry. Their main vocalist/pianist didn’t have the best vocals ever, but their background vocalist had some operatic amazingness going. She should have been the lead vocalist. Oh well… the band also had cello and some brass and drums. I dug ’em… not as much as Elysian Fields, though. I’m bummed… Elysian Fields is playing at Joe’s this coming weekend. Keith, you should check Elysian Fields out. They’re Over the Rhine-y-ish…

THURSDAY 3/15 Thursday was one of the shows I was looking forward to the most (outside of the Masada show). Secret Chiefs 3 and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at the Bowery Ballroom. I got there early enough, as I knew that SC3 was going on first, and they also had some limited edition vinyl singles that were rumored to be going quick on the SC3 board. I snagged my vinyl sets and a t-shirt. Trey Spruance (mastermind behind SC3 and Mr Bungle) was manning the table along with bassist and multi-instrumentalist Jason Schimmel (of SC3, but also in Estradasphere). My vinyl & t-shirt order total came up to a “magical number” per Trey. I just nodded in agreement and said “yeah.” I had no fucking idea what he was talking about… maybe because it was divisible by 9 or something. or maybe his brain is fried. Anyway, the artwork for the SC3 vinyl singles is kewl.

The show was anti-climatic. I mean, when I saw Estradaphere (a brother band of SC3’s) last year in Bloomington, they blew me away. Secret Chiefs 3 should have blown me away. The first three songs were utterly sloppy, though. By the 4th song, they started venturing into “known” territory and it sounded great. By the end, they had it going pretty good, but again, it was weird that it just wasn’t up to the level of tightness and musicianship that Estradasphere showed. I think Trey’s been off the road for too long… he hasn’t toured consistently since the Mr Bungle days. I think it showed. Also, they had two violinists (Anonymous 13 and Timb Harris)… I never knew A13 was a girl… but both she and Timb were good, but not as good as Timb was on the last Estradasphere tour. Other than the drums and basses, SC3 also busted out the Oud, Sas, Sarangi, Esraj, and probably even a Jalebi or two… and Trey doesn’t play any normal guitars… they’re all butchered and tuned oddly to some middle-eastern scale or something. It’s quaint.

Regardless of the seeming sloppiness at the beginning, it was still a fun evening… it was good to see SC3 play some great tunes like “Dolores Strike,” “Personnae: Halloween,” “Bereshith,” “Assassin’s Blade,” “Ship of Fools (Stone of Exile),” and definitely “Renunciation.” I only stuck around for a bit of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum’s set. They don’t do much for me on record (or live). I’d say the “Renunciation” encore and the vinyl singles (money directly into Trey’s hand) were the highlights.

FRIDAY 3/16 I saw a wonderful show at the Bowery Ballroom by Blackfield (Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson and Israeli popstar Aviv Geffen). I’ve posted a review in the blog as well. The opener was Jordan Rudess (of Dream Theater). I feel truly outraged at any elephant that lost its life to make pianos used by Jordan.

I think of any of the bands I saw… my wife (and others who aren’t into the avant-garde stuff) would have liked Masada, the Downright Upright All-Stars, Inlets, and Blackfield. SC3 was a bit too strange, even though she likes some of their recorded stuff.

Time for bed… biggrin.gif


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