Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Doug & Telisha Williams @ The Birchmere

Doug and Telisha Williams opened for Joe Ely and Joel Guzman at the April 24 Birchmere show and weren't they a pleasant surprise. This husband and wife duo have been playing together for years - from attending the same high school, attending different colleges, and through "normal" occupations. Finally, full time musicians, the duo have the playful chemistry of spouses accompanied by excellent vocal and musical talent.

Telisha's voice is powerful - in the old school country tradition. Her vocals immediately grab your attention; a few audience members, including ourselves, exclaimed "wow" when they started. During most of the short set Doug kept the rhythm while Telisha sung and played the bass cello or mandolin. Most of their songs where off their CD Rope Around My Heart, with the title track a playful love song that the two wrote together - about each other. "Nashville" was a great song that anyone who has spent a day at Tootsie's can appreciate. Coming on a future CD, "Learning to Drink Whiskey" was another fun song, where they describe how relationships and the process of drinking the spirit are quite similar. For the last song, "Bad Attitude", Doug was finally able to exhibit his vocals and play a more rockin' arrangement that was a great finale for the set.

Doug and Telisha Williams have scheduled a full tour this summer playing festivals and small venues. Make sure you check MyJoog.com or their website for dates.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Joe Ely & Joel Guzman

We had the opportunity to attend two consecutive shows by Joe Ely & Joel Guzman as they tour in support of their latest collaboration: Live Cactus!. The first show was Thursday April 24th at The Birchmere and the second was the following night in Easton Maryland's Historical Society Auditorium. Both performances were outstanding and displayed the immense talents of each artist. The shows were also an example how the technology acronym KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) also works in the music world. There was just Mr. Ely on the guitar and Mr. Guzman on the accordion. Nothing else. Obviously the high cost of transporting a band was also at work but together, they have tremendous chemistry - and they never practice. Basically Ely starts a song, and Guzman waits a few seconds, picks up the rhythm and melody, and joins in. After a moment, Ely steps back so that Guzman takes center stage, and then they join forces. This process was repeated for both slow ballads and fast packed trains songs. Their version of If You Were A Bluebird was the best I've heard and during White Freightliner Blues and Boxcars, Guzman imitated train whistles and mimicked Ely on guitar as they played side by side. Improvisation at its best.

Each night we listened to tales of Lubbock and a combination of Ely's and Butch Hancock songs: Letter to Laredo, Billy the Kid, Boxcar, All Just To Get to You, If You Were A Bluebird, The Road Goes on Forever (Robert Earl Keen), She Never Spoke Spanish to Me and its sequel She Finally Spoke Spanish to Me. They paid their respects to Townes Van Zandt by playing the fore mentioned White Freightliner Blues and on Friday night Tecumseh Valley. And each night they saluted Billy Joe Shaver by playing Live Forever, which Ely learned when Shaver asked him to play it at his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Of the two performances, the second was slightly better. It could have been the informal nature of the venue or the addition of a few of our favorite songs Silver City, I'm Gonna Strangle You Shorty, and If I Could Teach My Chihuahua to Sing. It could have been that both Ely and Guzman seemed more relaxed the second night; having a day to rest from the stresses of air travel and security lines and\or the affects of sipping a locally produced wine, St. Michaels Winery Gollywobbler Red. It may have been the three encores. Or it may have been the experience walking the short distance after the show to get a late night drink and having Mr. Ely walk in and sit at a table nearby. It was definitely a pleasure watching him cheerfully sign CDs and being completely comfortable in that environment. Its also nice to see Mr. Ely skip more established venues and play in a small town - thanks also to the efforts of Mangold Entertainment. We eagerly await both Joe Ely and Joel Guzman's return to the mid-Atlantic. If you can't wait - Live Cactus! illustrates the type of performance we heard.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rolling Stone Magazine: Best of Rock

Rolling Stone Magazine has published their list of the top rock clubs, live performances, radio stations, etc. The full articles is here, but below is there list of the top 5 music venues:
This is a tough list to compile. I wonder if the editors have visited some of our favorites:
Send us your top 5 list.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fred Eaglesmith @ Jammin Java

On Tax Day, April 15th, we headed out to our favorite local venue to see alt-county singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith perform. For those non Fredheads, Eaglesmith has penned hundreds of songs recorded on over a dozen records, CDs, bottlegs, you name it. He is popular both in his native Canada, where he won a Juno - think Grammy - for Drive-In Movie and in the states, where his last release, Milly's Cafe, spent weeks in the U.S. Americana Top 10 chart. And Eaglesmith is probably the most popular non-Texan performer around Austin; who else can have a three day music festival named in their honor at historic Gruene Hall.

We were hoping to hear our favorite tunes such as Cumberland County, Alcohol & Pills, 49 Tons, and Freight Train, of which, we heard a couple, but no one walked out "disappointed". Throughout the night Eaglesmith alternated between entertaining the audience with his unique voice and needling or poking fun at the audience, hippies, yoga, and socialized medicine. No politically correctness here. The same is true for his songs. His latest CD, Tinderbox, highlights the daily struggles of southern farmers; but if you really want to hear the him rock listen to Lipstick, Lies & Gasoline. Or better yet, he plays anywhere between 150 and 200 shows a year - so attend one of these events and purchase one of his bootleg CDs. Eaglesmith also organizes or participates in several music festival throughout the year as well as two musical train trips. Where else can you become a Fredhead and watch polar bears on the same trip. Check his website for details.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Felice Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, McCarthy Trenching @ Club Iota

There are many times when we are reluctant to see a show on a week night, knowing the next morning will be painful, but as is usually the case, the night is well worth it. That was evident Thursday April 10th, when we saw McCarthy Trenching, Justin Townes Earle, and the Felice Brothers at Club Iota. McCarthy Trenching started the evening by playing several cleverly written songs about horse racing, barbecue, weddings, and Mormon girls. Nebraska born front man Dan McCarthy seems to posses the laid back Midwestern sense of humor as well as a vocal style straight from Austin. It's great to be free. The self titled McCarthy Trenching is a good CD to play during a party. Funny, good vocals, and smooth acoustics.

Justin Townes Earle performed next accompanied by Cory Younts. Earle's family tree is well known, but I still didn't know what to expect. When he first grabbed the microphone and said, "Are you ready for some hillbilly music?", I knew we were in store for a good show. And what a show. We've seen various degrees of "stage presence" this year with some lacking it entirely. Not so with Earle - he is a top flight performer. He transitioned smoothly and quickly between songs and it was a thrill to watch his picking, singing, and boots being used as percussion. His music is old school country - almost rockabilly - no pop laced Nashville sound here. The vocals raw and powerful. Listen to the Ghost of Virginia on Yuma. As good as Earle sang and played, his sidekick Cory Younts almost stole the show playing the mandolin, banjo, and harmonica - at times two harmonicas at ounce. These two are perfect compliments both musically and as a comedy team - with Earle playing the straight man and Younts the comic. At times as I watching their performance I wondered if this is how the old Sun Records tours felt. And on the ride home I repeated the performance by listening to The Good Life. South Georgia Sugar Babe and Hard Livin' are instant classics. This CD will stay in the rack for awhile.

As soon as Justin Townes Earle finished, there was little time for a bathroom break - The Felice Brothers took stage immediately. By this time, the club was completely full - the young crowd pressing against the stage. This was the band that everyone had come to see. Based out of New York, the Catskills in fact, the Felice Brothers were on the final days of a 10 week tour. Despite the weariness of the road, the band was energetic throughout - with the crowd dancing and singing along. But I'm not exactly sure what I saw. Was it a jam band, a blues band, a gospel band? There was a washboard and accordion but it wasn't zydeco. Soulful vocals and harmonies. This band does not fit into a single category - these actual brothers (Ian, Simone and James) - plus a couple "blood" brothers - just play great roots-based music. And entertaining - from ordering whiskey from the stage to dancing, to joking, and switching instruments. Now I understood the large crowd. The songs were diverse from the Dylan-ish Wonderful Life and Frankie's Gun to the gospel-ish Whiskey in My Whiskey. All these are available on the self titled The Felice Brothers. At the end the band was still energetic - coming back for an encore even after you could tell they were wiped and even huddling to catch their breathe before playing T for Texas to satisfy their fans.

I'll be following these three closely and we strongly recommend you put them on your MyJoog.com favorite's list.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival - Timonium Fairgrounds, Maryland

On Saturday we will be venturing out to the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival at Timonium Fairgrounds, Maryland. This is a very unique event which includes bourbon and beer seminars, unlimited tasting of over 60 brews and 40 bourbons,and barbecue provided by local establishments. Plus, semi-local rock band - Mr. Greengenes - will provide musical entertainment from 2:00 PM-6:00 PM. What more do you need.....

The bourbon and beer exhibitors are extraordinary. Our bar is always stocked with staples such as Booker's, Baker's, or Blanton's Single Barrel, but also attending are several I've never tasted such as Parker's Heritage, Kentucky Tavern, Jefferson's Reserve, Rock Hill Farm Single Barrel, and Raven's Run. For a truly unique experience stick to the single barrel bourbons and see why bourbon is as much a sipping drink as Scotch.

For beers, there are a wide array of styles. Vermont's Magic Hat, California's Stone Brewing Company, as well as Pennsylvannia's Erie Brewing Company have several good varieties. Watch out for the Belgium Chimay. Whereas this is an amazing beer- it's potent. Then there's National Bohemian. This often maligned Pilsner beer was once brewed locally in Baltimore but is now owned by Pabst - and brewed by Miller in North Carolina. An interesting arrangement. "Natty Boh" is underestimated and along with Schlitz is a great summer time beer that I'm convinced will compliment barbecue.

Finally, the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival provides several interesting seminars. Jimmy Russell, the Master Distiller at Wild Turkey Distillery will describe "The Wonderful World of Bourbon" and then see Kirk and Mark of the WHFS Morning Show will sample and educate from their favorite bourbons. Hugh Sisson, Founder and General Partner of Clipper City will discuss his brewery's operation and will pair several Clipper City brews with barbecue. Finally, Monyka Berrocosa, Food & Wine Journalist & Educator, will discuss several styles of beer - from light lagers to porters.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April-June 2008 Music Festivals

The Spring music season has finally arrived. Here are a few music festivals scheduled from April-June.