Friday, December 19, 2008

Brad Payne

We were deeply saddened to hear today that Brad Payne passed away Wednesday the 17th due to complications from pneumonia. From our first fortunate encounter on a Sunday morning to traveling explicitly to St. Augustine just to watch him perform, we loved hearing his voice and talking about his love of dogs. As a musician, we were such fans that Brad was the initial MyJoog artist we profiled on this blog. Here is the news as reported by Old City Music News:

"It is with a very heavy heart that I begin this week’s Music News by sharing some very sad news with you. Another bright star in St. Augustine’s music community has flickered out with the untimely passing of BRAD PAYNE this past Wednesday, December 17th. I am still reeling from the news of this terrible loss. Brad was an amazing talent – singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, recording guru – a true artist in the purest sense of the word. He leaves behind an impressive body of work, created at thousands of live performances and in his Gypsy Moon Studios. He also leaves behind a loving family – his parents, a sister, two children and two grandchildren - and many friends, as well as legions of fans who I know will miss him deeply. I am fortunate to have had Brad as a friend, as well as a collaborator on a number of projects over the years. In addition to his musical gifts, Brad had an extraordinary understanding off all things technical. I will miss his quick wit, kind heart, and incredible hair : ), not to mention his remarkable talent. Most of all, I will miss his true gypsy spirit, perfectly articulated in his personal motto, “Have guitar, will travel.” Your travels have now taken you from this world, my friend, and onto the next . . . I feel certain your new venue will gently welcome you into its peaceful and loving embrace."

We will miss Brad tremendously.

Friday, December 12, 2008

For the Troops II

We learned today that John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting has released For the Troops II. “I’ve heard from service members who, before going on missions or upon returning, listen to songs for inspiration, motivation, reflection or simply to be distracted from a reality few of us could ever imagine,” said John Ondrasik, who writes and sings under the pseudonym band name Five for Fighting and spearheaded the CD’s development. “I hope that my song and the other hits from artists who generously contributed to this project stir those same emotions in our service members. We greatly appreciate the sacrifices the military has made for our country.”

This CD is free to download for U.S. active duty service members and veterans world wide with a valid military ID at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) Web site. In addition, TriWest Healthcare Alliance is producing and distributing 200,000 hard copies of the CD at various locations across the nation and overseas.

The complete track listing of “For the Troops II” is:

3 Doors Down – When I’m Gone
Daughtry – Home
Five For Fighting – Freedom Never Cries
Good Charlotte – I Don’t Want to Be in Love (Dance Floor Anthem)
Gretchen Wilson – California Girls
Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft
Joe Perry – Shakin’ My Cage
Josh Groban – Machine
Jude – I Think It’s Time (Everything’s Alright)
Keith Urban – Everybody
Maroon 5 – Won’t Go Home Without You
Roy Orbison – In Dreams
Alan Jackson – Where I Come From
Trace Adkins – Fightin’ Words.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Graham Colton, Michael Tolcher, Bryan Greenberg, and Tim Brantley @ Jammin' Java

On Wednesday December 10th we attended the above show at Jammin' Java. Like most of the audience we were interested to see actor Bryan Greenberg perform as well as witness the buzz around Graham Colton and Michael Tolcher. Since we were deviating from our standard Americana genre, we were not sure what to expect, and sure enough, the night was full of surprises. Beginning with the number of women in attendance. We're not used to attending shows with a 95% female audience - guys, if you want to meet women, these are the acts you need to follow.

The next surprise was the opening artist, Atlanta based Tim Brantley. The guy can sing, probably the best voice of the four. Even though there were brief periods of awkwardness when he addressed the crowd - we were sorry his short set ended. He started with "Working Man" from his new CD Goldtop Heights, and proceeded with "Damage" and the title track. Watch out for Brantley - next time we'd like to see him with a full band.

As Brantley left the stage, more women arrived and rushed the stage in anticipation for Bryan Greenberg. We were slightly cynical about seeing the actor as part of the tour - thinking it was just a ploy to attract an audience. We were expecting him to play a few guitar notes and croon to the crowd -- but these misconceptions were quickly dispelled during the first song. Greenberg has talent - and we were most impressed with his guitar playing. No strumming the same chord here; the guy played some complicated notes. In 2007, the artist released Waiting For Now and he played a few songs from that CD. "Someday" is the most popular, but we liked "Neverland" the best. Not surprisingly Greenberg has a strong stage presence. He looks like he's enjoying himself and is willing to poke a little fun at himself and his tour mates. He even limited playing to the sentiments of the female audience - only a few instances of sad eyed crooning. But we really enjoyed his set - and it ended with a nice duo with Colton playing "Sort Of Have a Girlfriend".

As Greenberg left we were predicting an exodus as people had seen the most popular act. To our surprise the crowd grew larger; all waiting for Michael Tolcher. These were serious music fans that became more evident as Tolcher performed. Most of the crowd new the lyrics of his songs. Interesting. Michael Tolcher has an extensive array of influences as he was comfortable covering the Beatles as easily as eminem. His original music combines elements of rock and funk that are apparently very popular. It seems everyone knew "Speed Feels Better". Afterward I listened to an old CD, I Am. There's some good music there: "Taxi Ride Kinda Night", "Kiss and Tell", and the immensely popular "Sooner or Later". Now we know why many fans came just to see him.

The crowd dissipated slightly before the last act, Graham Colton, but only slightly. Sometime ago we listened to his 2004 CD Drive, which is a good alt-rock album but we heard that his latest CD, Here Right Now, has a more pop sound. That is definitely the case, but tonight he played more old stuff; that meant "First Week", "Cigarette", and "Don't Know What You Got". From the new CD he played "Killing Me" and the popular "Best Days" - with its "800,000" downloads courtesy of American Idol fame; our favorite was "Cellophane Girl". Colton is talented and entertaining; his fans were not disappointed as most sung along - particularly when he covered Oasis - Champaign Supernova. Us, we wished he had rocked out more - maybe next time when there are less women in the audience. For those in New Orleans over New Years, Colton is opening for Better Than Ezra. Now that's a show to see.

The night ended as all artists came onstage to a crowd pleasing rendition of "Dancing in the Dark". Greenberg's timing was impeccable as he grabbed ladies and pulled them onstage to dance and sing along. All in all, it was a good night and we will be much less cynical in the future.

More pictures are available at the MyJoog Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

2009 Merlefest Schedule Announced

The organizers of Merlefest have released the stage schedule for the 21st rendition of the event, which will occur April 23rd - 26th at the Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro North Carolina. Representatives from will attend in order to provide our perspective, whether its Shannon Wurst, who did such a nice job last year, or another artist. For those unfamiliar with Merlefest, it is a celebration of the life of Merle Watson - embracing a diverse spectrum of music associated with the Americana genre: bluegrass, alt-country, blues, Celtic, folk, and roots. The Music of MerleFest page provides an excellent overview with links to other interesting information such as the history of the festival and the Watsons.

Thursday April 23rd starts and ends with the celtic group Scythian. The band opens the festival at 3:00 PM and closes the day with a dance party from 10:30 PM to midnight. In between several famous artists will perform including Travis Tritt, Jerry Douglas, Tift Merritt, Dailey and Vincent, Peter Rowan, among many others. The music starts much earlier Friday, this time with Scythian leading the way at 9:30 am; little sleep for these guys. What follows is an incredible array of talent finalizing with Donna The Buffalo and the Friday night dance from 10:00 PM to Midnight. Who else performs Friday; just The Waybacks, Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Cadillac Sky, Ollabelle, and Jim Lauderdale among others. Plus numerous banjo, guitar, and picking workshops and contests. Thursday's contests feature the mandolin.

Not surprisingly, Saturday is the longest and most complex day of the four. Happy Traum welcomes attendees at 9:25 am and the day concludes with the popular Midnight Jam hosted by David Bromberg. The headliners for this day are cajun stars BeauSoleil, Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush, and Doc Watson. There is an amazing collection of talent that will force difficult decisions. For instance between 5:00 and 6:00 PM The Kruger Brothers, The Greencards, The Waybacks, Scythian, Rory Block, Missy Raines and The New Hip, The Steeldrivers, Polecat Creek, and Cadillac Sky are all scheduled within that time frame. We lean towards Rory Block, but who knows. What a lineup. There are similar quandaries throughout the day - a direct result of providing music on 14 stages. Sunday is a shortened schedule by Saturday's standard but still provides "some" music between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Put The Carolina Chocolate Drops on your schedule (1:30-2:30) and try to stick it out for Martha Scanlan at 4:00 PM. If you missed BeauSoleil during Saturday's Cajun dance, then you get another opportunity Sunday at 3:00 PM. See, that's another major benefit of Merlefest. At most festivals an artist plays once, maybe twice, then they're done. But here, most artists perform multiple times during the festival providing ample opportunity to hear a set.

Merlefest is one festival we book early. If you like "traditional music of the Appalachian region", you should too. We will see you there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fleetwood Mac Unleashed: Hits Tour 2009

There are a number of "older" acts currently on reunion tours, but one that we eagerly await is the Fleetwood Mac Unleashed: Hits Tour 2009. The tour begins March 1st 2009 in Pittsburgh and concludes a month later. Mick Fleetwod, Stevie Nicks, John McVie, and Lindsey Buckingham will all be playing your favorite songs from their 70's rock phase: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours, and Tusk. When the tour commences the band will also release a new CD\DVD package of Rumours which contains unseen footage previously unreleased recordings. We will see you at the March 10th show.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Currently Listening To...

We just wanted to pass along some music we've been listening to that you may want to check out. Most of the songs are available at the artists' website or myspace.

Keith Morris & the Crooked Numbers new CD, Songs From Candyapolis. This CD is very entertaining and "lyrical" - it helps to read along in the liner notes. There is also great guitar playing provided by Jeff Romano.

Charlie Poole's You Ain't Talkin' to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music. We never get tired of these recordings - particularly his banjo playing.

Joe Pug EP. We were sent this demo EP and it is really good; just two songs Hymn # 101 and Nation of Heat. Both are songs with meaning and available to listen from Pug's website.

Roger McGuinn's The Folk Den Project. This is a compendium of classic American songs - either from English or African heritage. We being it out every December for his Christmas carols.

Christopher Denny session. This Arkansas songwriter has talent. The four songs from the session are played consistently in our Ipods; particularly "Gypsy Into a Carpenter".

Hoots and Hellmouth session. This band from Philly has a rather unique sound. Love the bass cello and "Hom For Supper".

Basia Bulat session. What a voice. The Daytrotter recordings are excellent - particular considering that the band drove 15 hours through a nasty snowstorm to reach the recording studio. Our favorite is the untitled first song that showcases her talents.

Okkervil River session. I heard Will Sheff guest DJ on NPR's All Things Considered and immediately searched Daytrotter for any recordings. The songs have great melody and interestingly a couple are from the point of view of a female. Scroll to the end so you don't miss "You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Man".

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dave Mason @ Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Over the Thanksgiving weekend we ventured to Somerset, Pennsylvania in order to visit a couple Pennsylvania wineries, and to go skiing at Seven Springs Mountain Resort. As an extra benefit the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason was scheduled to play at the resort.

Dave Mason first found fame with the short lived, but legendary group Traffic in the 1960's. Think Mason, Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood. During this time he wrote the future hit "Feelin' Alright" which Joe Crocker made famous. Just before the decade ended Mason started his solo career which included performances with The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Jimi Hendrix. Mason also played in Fleetwood Mac for a few years in the 1990's. But its his solo albums that have been the most popular - from his debut Alone Together to the platinum Let It Flow.

Before arriving at the concert hall I was expecting an intimate crowd of maybe one hundred other fans, but had no idea this was a full blown concert with ten to twelve times that attending. Most seem to have come to here "We Just Disagree" and "Only You Know And I Know", me, I like his more blue-ish songs that complement his raspy voice. I got that when he started playing songs from his new CD, 26 Letters 12 Notes - particularly "Good 2 U" and "Let Me Go". "Ain't Your Legs Tired Baby" is another track from the CD that fits this style. This was definitely a rock concert - Mason and his full band. Mason was front and center on vocals and guitar but Gerald Johnson on bass was the obvious attraction as he grooved to the music in his distinctive style. Along the Alvino Bennett on drums, Johnne Sambataro on guitar, and Bill Mason on keyboards, the four created a huge sound - that brought back many memories of classic rock concerts.