Polonsky The Polymath Poet – A New Record (Fresh Flesh), A New Post And Our First Contest

Update: This did not post yesterday. Welcome to the pros and cons of modern technology.

On January 19, 2018 Jonny Polonsky releases Fresh Flesh. It is his eighth solo project, which includes 1996’s Hi My Name Is Jonny (LOVE that record), 2004’s The Power Of Sound and Intergalactic Messenger of Divine Light and Love from 2012.

When he is not making his own brilliant music, he has recorded or toured with a few minor artists you may have heard of, like Puscifer, Tom Morello, Pete Torn, Dixie Chicks, Donovan and the relatively unknown Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. What makes this list even more remarkable is the sheer range and variety of musical genres Jonny moves so easily in and out of. This speaks to his amazing talents as a multi-instrumentalist, as well as a songwriter.

I know that times were different back then, but the sheer balls and story behind Jonny’s career is a lesson for any aspiring musician.

He was born in Chicago and grew up in Wilmette, and began “recording and self-releasing homemade cassettes as a teenager, under the name The Amazing Jonny Polonsky.”

According to Wikipedia, Jonny used 411 and “was able to reach and befriend musical heroes of his such as guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), Zander Schloss (Joe Strummer, Circle Jerks), Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine), and Pixies singer Frank Black/Black Francis.”

This led to John Zorn, who invited Jonny to play CBGB’s New Jewish Music Festival in 1992. The incredible and sadly missed Jeff Buckley was at that show and said this of Polonsky: “He came to CBGB’s Gallery and ripped it up… He killed ’em… The charm of it is that he’s brought it into his own thing. It’s a nice miniature. He does it with soul; you can tell the difference between someone who just slips into The Beatles or something and someone like him.”

High praise indeed!

“Jonny Polonsky is a true original—his music should be celebrated everywhere.” Mark Lanegan
Mark is a true Grunge pioneer with the band Screaming Trees and has played and recorded with Queens Of The Stone Age for 14 years after his first band surprisingly broke up in 2000.

Maynard James Keenan of Progressive Metal powerhouse Tool says: “Jonny has pure artist compassion running through his blood.” (MG Note: MJK also makes some phenomenal wine under his label Caduceus Cellars. Seriously!)

Okay, okay… who cares about those guys?! I know you really want to hear what I have to say. Ha.

So here it is… I really cannot tell you how much I love this record. Oh wait, actually I can.

From the opening “The Orbit Of Love” (a blistering rock love song) to the closing notes of “I Want You So Badly,” (both highlight tracks for me) this one just grabbed me. And I have listened to it probably 15 times in the last few weeks.

“Don’t turn away from what you know
Burn away and we’ll set fire to our names
Don’t pull away from the orbit of love
Come away and live inside of my eyes.”

“Is It So Wrong For Me To Be So In Love With Myself And Everything I See?” launches into a retro guitar riff that Lenny Kravitz would love, and makes me want to grab a lighter, bounce my head from side to side, and sway arm in arm with a huge crowd. I love this song! It just kicks some great ass.

Influences like Joy Division, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees mixed with Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and Frank Black, and some good old ’90s punk are heard throughout. It’s funny, but my first and initial reaction to this record was this is what would happen if Jules Shear went punk. Amazing songwriting with a varied and sharpened edge.

The players consist of Polonsky on B-3 organ, guitar and lead vocals (though he plays something like 20 instruments. Bastard!)
Jennie Batter on drums… and yes, how perfect a name for a drummer.
Katie Burden on bass and vocals.
Special Guests include:
Mark Lanegan, spoken word and lead vocals on “Solar Child.”
Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus pounds percussion on “I Can’t Get Your Face Out of My Mind.” This is the one that most reminds me of a punk Jules Shear and just pulses into your ears.

Haskins says this about the new record: “From towering arcs of rock riff blasting guitars and jubilant roof raising anthems, to vulnerable and introspective, melancholic compositions, Jonny Polonsky’s Fresh Flesh will take you on an emotional journey of carefully crafted songs from this accomplished, multi instrumentalist songsmith.”

Polonsky self-produced and the album was recorded at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, the home base for little heard of mega-producer, Rick Rubin.

Rock, pop… love, loss… sex, power and searing guitars… this atmospheric rock record has it all. And now for something not completely different, but new for Marc’s Muse… our first CONTEST!!!

Contest (Some answers are in this post. Some are not):
1) Where did Jonny grow up and who brought him to NYC?

2) Name three bands or artists who have influenced Jonny over the years.

3) How did Jonny first connect with some of his musical idols?

4) What was the name of Jonny’s 2006 band and who else was involved in the project?

Post your answers in the COMMENTS SECTION.

One winner will be chosen randomly from the correct answers received and will have a test pressing of the new record (yes, VINYL) mailed out to them.

Don’t miss the full band show on Feb. 9th at Hotel Cafe, LA’s fantastic and intimate venue. And in the meantime, also enjoy this great K-Tel commercial send up.

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My Top “10” Albums Of 2017 – Happy Musical New Year!!!

This year seems to be filled with my love and affinity for Power Pop and Singer/Songwriters… and is wonderfully filled with strong albums from female artists. Clearly the motto of my daughter’s school is right on… The Force Is Female!

I have not had time to sit with the new U2 album, so not sure where on my list it would be… But I will sit and listen to it again, soon. I also have not had a chance to listen to the new Lorde album, which many have on their year-end lists, so my bad. Please forgive me!

And yes… I am putting in ties so I don’t have to limit myself to 10!!! I guess I am just a dirty cheater… but my list, my rules!!!

Have a Happy and Healthy 2018 and here’s to much more great music!

#10 – TIE
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
Love these two as solo artists… love them together. Great album!

Shout Out Louds – Ease My Mind
Thanks to Tuti and Alan for mentioning this amazing band that is so in my musical wheelhouse. Their fifth album is an easy, lush and gorgeous listen.

 

#9 – TIE
Old 97s – Graveyard Whistling
This Dallas, Texas band has been at it since 1993 and are still putting out amazing and vital records!

Real Estate – In Mind
So, I do not love this band just because they started in the Jersey town next to me. They make great and really enjoyable records, and while they had some major personnel changes, they are still making wonderful music.

 

#8 – TIE
Foxygen – Hang
I love this total throwback of a record, just hate that it is only eight songs long!

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
Jason just keeps making amazing music, and I love the Springsteen influence on “Cumberland Gap.”

 

#7 – TIE
Ted Leo – Hanged Man
I had never heard of Ted Leo or his band The Pharmacists until this year, and this record was one of my most pleasant discoveries. “With funds raised through crowd-sourcing, Leo built a studio in his house and started working on a new, more personal and musically diverse batch of songs. Although a few friends like Mann and Jonathan Coulton dropped by, Leo was the sole guiding force and he acquits himself well as a producer.”

Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In The Alps
So many friends recommended Phoebe and this album is absolutely gorgeous and vital. “You Missed My Heart” is easily up there for my song of the year.

 

#6 – TIE
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Soul Of A Woman
Obviously a bittersweet release, and this is NOT here just because of the passing of Sharon Jones. She and this band made some amazing music and she will be greatly missed.

Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
Another strong female at the reins of a great band! Thanks to Julie Slater for the intro. to Katie Crutchfield and this great band. Did not realize her twin sister Alison had an album out, too called Tourist In This Town. Need to check that out!

 

#5 – TIE
The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
This band started in 1986! They faded out around 2001 and are now fully back. And we are the better for it, as they keep making some incredible music. 2014’s Do The Beast was also in my Top 10. At only 37 minutes this album flies by, but it also stays with you.

St. Vincent – Masseduction
From the cover to the album, this is one great, sexy pop record, filled with so many emotions. “New York” may just be my song of the year, too.

 

#4 – TIE
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Can’t same that I am a huge Rap and Hip Hop guy, but I get it and this album is rock solid… or Rap Solid… and gives me something else I can listen to with my daughter… Okay, maybe not!

Slowdive – Slowdive
This band formed in 1989 and have just released their eponymous record… and it is soooo darn good!!!

 

# 3 – TIE
This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze
This is what Joni Mitchell might sound like if she was starting to make music today. Not sure how I discovered this one, but it stuck. Kate Stables “sings, plays guitar, banjo, trumpet and percussion, while a cast of carefully hand-plucked friends deliver guitar strums, banjo plucks, hushed horns and electronic textures that sit beneath Stables’ easy, earnest lilt.”

Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Young women seem to be making some amazing music this year. Clearly there is an old soul at work here, same with Melina from Jay Som. On just her second album Julien makes some beautiful, smart and sophisticated music.

 

# 2 – TIE
Jay Som – Everybody Works
The fact that she is just 22 makes this album even more impressive. Melina Duterte from Oakland, CA is making what they call 90’s style fuzz pop, and this album is fantastic!

The National – Sleep Well Beast
Rolling Stone saysThe band’s trademark Joy Division gloom gets cut with sexiness and dark humor…” I say they are one of my favorite bands, and if I miss them live in concert one more time… AAGGHH!

 

#1 – The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Oh how I love this band… let me count the ways… L-O-V-E!!! And yet another one I have never seen live. Sigh. For some reason, the dates for them and The National never seem to work out… Wilco, too for that matter…

So my vow for 2018, assuming and hoping they are all on the road, is to finally see Wilco, The National and The War On Drugs!!!

 

HONORABLE MENTION:
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Love Ryan. His music is raw and honest and cuts to the bone and soul… always.

Gregg Allman – Southern Blood
No… but yes, okay… I NEVER saw The Allman Brothers live… and yes, this is a great record and hopefully a lasting memorial to a remarkable talent.

BNQT – Volume 1
The “Indie Supergroup” featuring Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Fran Healy of Travis, and Eric Pulido of Midlake make a great first record.

 The Clientele – Music For The Age Of Miracles
Pure, sophisticated, lush and stunning Power Pop. I adore this band!

 The Dustbowl Revival – The Dustbowl Revival
A huge step forward as they not only expand their sound and style, but continue to capture their amazing live energy on record.

Hazel English – Just Give In / Never Going Home
Another female singer/songwriter on my year end list! This album kept coming out as singles and EPs, but I am happy to finally have it as a whole.

 Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Singer/Songwriter heaven… I begged my daughter to go see him at Coachella… She didn’t, but now I hear him playing in her Spotify, so… good on me… though she claims another friend was the source. Sheesh!

 Neil Finn – Out Of Silence
Strong songwriting is the building block for a great and long career. Case in point… and still going!

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
Indie folk may be supplanting Alternative as my new favorite genre! This band is going on 10 plus years and the music is still going strong!

Liam Gallagher – As You Were
Oasis cut in half. Tuti said I missed a killer live show. Sigh…

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Oasis cut in half. Leaning towards Noel, because he has a bigger solo output and I love what he is doing… but apparently need to see both live! Another missed concert this year. Argh.

Grandaddy – Last Place
I love when bands deep in their careers can keep putting out such great and interesting music.

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Hooky, synth-pop. Yes, please!

LCD Soundsytem – American Dream
I love how Rolling Stone writes: “In the masterfully pissed-off American Dream, he can’t decide whether he’s making a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party.” Hell yeah!

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Wembley Or Bust
Seeing them live at the Hollywood Bowl was one of the best live concert experiences I have ever had, so this souvenir, even though it was not our show, is an easy pick for my year-end list.

Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The SurfaceThis band is betting better and better!!! This one was close to a Top 10!

Mondo Cozmo – Plastic Soul
KCRW and KCSN played the heck out of “Plastic Soul, ”Hold On To Me,” and “Shine,” but I am not over this record yet and it seems more accessible/radio friendly than his previous band, Eastern Conference Champions.

The Pains Of Being Young At Heart – The Echo Of Pleasure
A recent discovery that has been in constant rotation.

Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
Love the story behind this album… finding his Dad’s ticket to Woodstock!

Ride – Weather Diaries
20 years in, and a new release. Kudos to them and this truly amazing record! “Home Is A Feeling” is also like a warm, cozy blanket.

Shakey Graves And The Horse He Rode In On – Nobody’s Fool and The Donor Blues EP
Love these guys on many levels. And a phenomenal band live!

Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1
I am so not a country fan, at least “new” country, but Chris’ music goes beyond a simple genre classification and he keeps putting out killer records.

Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Yeah, yeah, yeah… But… Quite a few songs I really like… and he is clearly channeling his inner Ed Sheeran, but always good to have something the kid and I can enjoy together… though I have finally won her over to the joys of classic rock!!!

Special Honorable Mention:
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This insanely prolific group released four albums in 2017! Yes, you heard me (or read me) right… FOUR!!! This includes Polygondwanaland, which the band gave away for free… and I believe it is still available!   Murder of the Universe, Flying Microtonal Banana, and Sketches of Brunswick East “for which they they hooked up with Alex Brettin of the soft rock weirdos Mild High Club to concoct the smoothed-out psychedelic jazz album…”

AllMusic also says: “Trying to make sense of, and/or keep up with, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard can be a daunting prospect. They are nothing if not prolific, and nothing if not willing to throw curve ball after curve ball.”

CHEERS!

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Tom Petty… A Heart And A Heartbreaker Has Broken Mine

Monday, October 2nd was a shitty day. No, it was a horrible, dark and bleak day. In the midst of trying to write and apply for jobs, I could not turn the news off. The death toll and numbers of those injured was climbing. Las Vegas had become a war zone… yet another example of the world gone mad… another example of why the greatest country on the globe, arguably, and not so clear-cut these days, needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of health insurance and logical gun laws and gun control.

Yes, we need to understand why someone would do this. This is vital as well… To see what signs were missed… or whether or not someone knew something and said nothing. We may not really know why it happened… but we know how… and we clearly know how easy it is to get a gun that no one actually needs… or 42 of them. Enough is enough is enough.

I have been to the Mandalay Bay many times… stayed there many times. I have friends who did an annual charity event there that I volunteered for on several occasions. Ironically, they also did a country music festival… Not this one, but still… “There but for the grace of G-d go I…”

And then… and then… and then…

In the midst of all this, my college buddy and oft concert partner Russ calls about Tom Petty… He was clearly shaken… It was before most news stories were out, so I immediately jumped online. No… Not today… Not now. People mock TMZ, but sadly they are usually right… and they were, once again, the first ones to report what was going on.

Just last week, Tom Petty was in town, playing three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. I was pissed at first when the first show announced was on Rosh Hashanah, I skipped Bruce’s book signing a year ago for the same reason. But then they added two more dates and all seemed right with the world. Well… no concert budget forced me to hope I would win tickets through a local station… and I checked in with my usual contacts at another station, hoping maybe an extra pair would pop up.

Russ and I had a conversation before last Monday’s show about possibly going, but he and I had seen Petty on June 11, 2013 when he did his amazing residency at the Fonda Theatre. You can read my post on that show here. That was a 1200 person venue!  I mean we were right there! We had seen him in the old Forum… when Bob Dylan came out… and in Chicago. Plus… the Bowl can be a pain in the ass… and while it is historic and amazing, it can also be a clusterfuck of 18,000 people, and a curfew that cuts set lists short.

I will regret that decision for a long time to come.  Yes, who knew. Who knew the last Eagles tour would be the last with Glenn Frey? All of my regrets and missed opportunities start to play in my head… David Bowie, Prince, Roy Orbison, Gregg Allman… shows I could have gone to…

I had met Petty, along with Howie Epstein in 1993, at The Troubadours Of Folk Festival on the campus of UCLA.  Thanks to David Wild for that amazing opportunity. I have a signed ticket stub from that show… Tom Petty, along with Roger McGuinn and Arlo Guthrie, and though they all signed over each other, Petty is pretty clear, in the black Sharpie.

Just so you know… I have stopped typing. Tears come too easily today. It is overwhelming. There is so much going on in my brain right now. So much…

Damn The Torpedoes was my first Petty record… and to this day, it is one of the few albums I would call perfection, song to song. It reminds me of a specific time and place… Glen Rock, New Jersey… 1979… But it is also timeless… It moves with me… grows with me…

That’s why music is so essential. It is why artists become such a vital part of our lives. It is why we cry when they pass. Why we feel so lost. It is why we feel at all, and feel so deeply. I know some people don’t understand the pain… the sorrow we feel, as if we lost a friend or member of out family.

I’ll never forget yelping in pain and anguish when my brother called to tell me Clarence Clemons passed away. I was out to dinner with my parents and had to literally walk away from the table and out onto the street. At first they were horrified, thinking it was a real family member… then they were a bit surprised and dismayed that I would react so strongly to someone I had never met and really did not know. But I did know Clarence… just as I knew Bowie and Frey and Prince… and Petty. The only one of these I actually met was Petty… but that is NOT how I knew him.

I knew him for the music. I knew him from the common humanity and understanding we seemed to share… from the poetry, the lyrics and the notes. The chords and the chorus… the bridge and the riff. I knew him because he sung things I thought, and answered questions I wrestled with. That is art… that is music.

Petty’s music has been with me for almost 40 years.  He has been an almost constant companion since I was a teen… In high school, in college, in the car, on road trips… blasting from the house… bringing me up when I needed to learn, or relearn to fly… reminding me to listen to my heart… be patient because the waiting was the hardest part… and wondering how I was going to run down a dream.

And yet today, I could barely listen to the radio. Knowing why Petty was being played was too much to bare.  A sigh… a deep breath… none of it was enough to make it stop… to halt the revealing reality. In my brain I thought maybe I could wish it away… If I stop listening and watch the news it won’t be real.

I mean the news was all over the place… He was… he wasn’t… he will be. But as naive as we would like be as adults, we cannot stop it… Time, music, the show… it all goes on.

There is that moment when you hear a chunk of songs by an artist and feel a sense of dread. It’s not Two For Tuesday… It’s not Triple Play Thursday… It’s not Roll The Dice… Oh no… What happened??? Why are they playing so many of his/her/their songs???

The idea of being found unconscious means you were alone… means no one had a chance to save you. That haunts me a bit… haunts me a lot. For his last minutes, and for any of ours.

 

As I was driving my daughter home, and tears started once again, I told her that I felt bad for her, because as good as some of the artists of her generation may be, the odds of them still being here and vital 40 years from now was a long shot. I told her how much Tom’s music meant to me… How much it got me through. How he was a part of me. And my daughter is a music person. I know she gets it.

But now, as so often happens, music that gave me nothing but joy will be tinged with sadness, heartbreak and loss. Maybe for a few moments I’ll be lost… back in that innocence… purity… peace and calm… but then I’ll want to go back in time, like I do now. Go to more shows… go to the Bowl… stop time to get him help… to make it not happen… because right now all I can think is Nooooooooo! This cannot be.

We all have soundtracks… we all have songs that accompanied a first kiss… a first love… a first heartbreak… a first dance… a birth… a wedding… a death. Music has that power… and those who make the music, seemingly make it just for us. At least that is how we feel about the great ones.

I should have gone to the show at the Bowl… obviously now… but for me the bottom line was a need to conserve funds. I was being responsible… and luckily, I had seen TP & The Heartbreakers several times. It doesn’t take away the immediate sting and pain and loss, but… we cannot dwell and live with regret… Life is too short, too unpredictable… Clearly.

But I realized when you don’t have a lot of money and you’re young, you want things. When you don’t have a lot of money and you’re a bit older, you want experiences… those shared moments in time… those special events that will stay with you for a lifetime. And you miss them deeply when they pass you by. Concerts are a big one, and it hurts when I have to miss a show. Obviously I assumed he’d be back… that this was not the end of the tour… the road… the album…

At the time, as much as I wanted to be there, I was okay with missing it. There’d be others…

In this world… in these days… in any days… that is not a sure thing. Nothing is.

So let us sit with the pain… sit with the loss… sit with the music…
In the dark… headsets on… taking the whole library and output in. It’s astounding… the solo stuff… the duets… The Heartbreakers… The Traveling Wilburys… So much. So much amazing and incredible music.

And then… slowly, let us stand… and sway… and dance… and sing… and celebrate once again. Let us be thankful for what we DID HAVE… what we DO HAVE…

But yes, let us fully realize that it will never again be “just the normal noises in here”…

 

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Metal Monday – Musical Healing With Baroness… And No, Not Downton Abbey

Perhaps there is no irony that I was just watching Do The Right Thing last night… and how prominently it features a rather large and powerful Boom Box.

For me, it was and is about Jason and his magical Boom Box, and they have struck again. Well, not literally… I am not sitting in a bus in the very last seat listening to the literal boom box that sat on the floor or on the seat next to us. Though I wish I was… Wish I had held onto that time a little longer… a little more dearly.

I do miss those days… so innocent and pure… all about discovery of life and love. A broken heart or unrequited crush was as bad as things got back then. Don’t get me wrong. Those hurt like hell and seemed like the end of the world, but trust me… being an adult is SOOO much harder.

These days we struggle with so much… health, career, broken marriages… Life is not easy. And yet it is glorious and beautiful and filled with so many miracles… and we need to celebrate each and every one, each and every day. But that is so much easier said than done.

It is easy to say we should meditate daily, though I can tell you first hand, it works wonders. It is easy to say be more MINDFUL… but we all know that it takes tremendous work and soul-searching. But that is why they call it a PRACTICE. Take a moment out of your day to walk around your neighborhood. Look at each tree, each leaf, each stem… feel the breeze… hear the birds… and KNOW THAT LIFE IS MIRACULOUS.

We all have our own issues, some more dire than others and we tend to take on the issues of others. We feel the stress of our children, and sometimes feel helpless when trying to move them beyond their own frustrations. But the BEST thing we can do for ourselves and for them and for anyone we love, is to HEAL ourselves… get that OXYGEN MASK on first… and then help those around us… loved ones, strangers, the world…

And there is NOTHING that heals as much as music. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my musical tastes run the gamut… the FULL gamut.  Just today my eclectic musical brain is listening to the following… New albums by Cheap Trick, The War On Drugs (so fricking good), Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors… all MUST LISTENS… and older ones by Beth Orton, Nickel Creek and The Sheepdogs.

Thanks and shout outs to Brad, Dan and Julie!  And now… courtesy of Jason, my Monday Morning Metal, Baroness and their amazing “comeback” album… Purple!

What is a bit of a miracle, is that I came up with this title BEFORE knowing or hearing anything about this band! As I write this post, their music is blasting, but in the background are devastating pictures and images from flooded Texas. On the fake news, I might add… he said sarcastically…

My heart is breaking, and somewhat ironically, Metal is soothing it. But the story of this band is nothing short of miraculous and so appropriate… further proof that THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES!!!

Wikipedia says that “Baroness is an American heavy metal band from Savannah, Georgia whose original members grew up together in Lexington, Virginia.

“Baroness formed in mid-2003, founded by former members of the punk/metal band Johnny Welfare and the Paychecks. Singer John Dyer Baizley creates the artwork for all Baroness albums, and has done artwork for other bands.”

On August 15, 2012, their coach “fell from a viaduct near Bath, England… and John Baizley suffered a broken left arm and broken left leg. each suffered fractured vertebrae. Pete Adams was treated and released from the hospital on August 16, 2012.”

There were months of recovery and in 2013, “Allen Blickle (drums) and Matt Maggioni (bass guitar) had left Baroness.

On April 1, 2013, it was announced, that Nick Jost, (bass) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) of Trans Am would be joining the band… and by the early Fall of that year, they were back on the road, touring Europe.

And in 2015, they released their “comeback” album called Purple.  Yes, purple IS my favorite color… but this album also kicks some ass… and “Shock Me” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards.”

That was my favorite track, by the way… AND BEFORE I READ THAT!

I also really like the fiery, hard rocking, fist-pumping, head banging, well-fueled “Kerosene,”  “Try To Disappear” and “Chlorine & Wine.” As Jason says, they are “doomy and metalish but proggy as well.” So yeah, they might be an acquired taste… and their lyrics are not always uplifting… but there is something there… and their story fits right in today’s narrative… people fighting to survive in the face of disaster.

And believe me, if you told me ten years ago that I would become a connoisseur of Metal, I would have laughed at you… but here we are and there you go.

So make it a Most Magical Metal Monday! Stay safe, be happy and be kind… CRANK UP THE MUSIC… and as always ROCK OUT!

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A Band Is Born – Into The Wild With Wilderado

Yeah, I am that guy…the one who gets to the movie early and doesn’t leave until the final credit goes to black, mostly to see if there is a fun outtake or bonus scene, but mostly just because. There is something about

I also like getting to concerts early, especially the venues that allow you to picnic and hang out at. It’s all part of the vibe, the experience, the show. But to go in early… to give up some tailgating and drinking time to see an opener, especially one you don’t know, is a sign of respect for music in general. But it also provides an opportunity for great potential reward, a brand musical discovery and every once in a while, a new favorite band! So yeah, I am that guy, too… and on Wednesday, August 2 at the Greek Theatre in LA, I was most definitely rewarded!

The headliner was Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, out in support of their new record entitled… yup…Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie! It’s an enjoyable album, and better than so much of what is out there. My favorite track is “In My World,” which has elements of the Mac and solo Buckingham. Actually, I agree with from Thom Jurek of AllMusic, who singled out the first three songs as “absolute knockouts.” The first three tracks are stellar, and I also adore track six “Too Far Gone”, which features some killer drumming, and got the audience on their feet and dancing at the Greek!

From what I understand, some of these songs were supposed to be on a new Fleetwood Mac project, but Stevie Nicks was touring in support of her solo project 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vaultand Lindsey and Christine did not want to wait. So Mick Fleetwood and John McVie appear, but no Stevie. 😦

The night was humid…crazy humid. I felt like I was in Florida, where standing still results in a swamp all over your body. I was sweating profusely, and was worried that people would think I was dying. But then again, we were all…moist.

Usually the Greek Theatre, in the hills of Griffith Park, cools down at night, so a sweatshirt or jacket is a nice thing to have for later in the evening. On this particular evening, I wished I had a cold shower. The sweatshirt proved to be nothing more than a burden I had to carry around. Life metaphor? Perhaps.

Say hello to Wilderado.

They call themselves a local band, and now hail from the canyons off the PCH around Malibu, but as soon as lead singer and guitarist Max Rainer opened his mouth to say hello, the Oklahoma twang was evident.

There is a singer/songwriter quality that hails from Oklahoma and Texas, and includes Townes Van Zandt, Lyle Lovett, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Robert Earl Keen. So take that, and add a healthy dash of Neil Young, Dawes, Band Of Horses, Fleet Foxes and a few other Indie Folk Rock acts that have killer harmonies…shake it all up and you have yourself a cool, tall glass of Wilderado.

This video for “Live Nation Ones To Watch” At The House of Blues gives you a nice taste of their sound and personalities.

As does this one, from one of their Sofar LA shows. Y’all know how much I LOVE this series of live music in people’s private homes… basically a worldwide living room concert series!!! Did you see how twangy I just got?

New Dad, Max Rainer, on lead vocals and guitar and Justin Kila on drums hail from Tulsa.
Colton Dearing on bass and Tyler Wimpee on guitar and keys are from the Dallas area

It’s one thing to have great music, and a whole other thing to be genuine and kind. These guys have both… to a man! They were so genuinely appreciative of being at the Greek. You could hear the awe and honor in their voice and in what they said. You could see it on their faces, and you could feel it in the music and the energy from the stage.  I loved when Colton shouted “Hello LA!” I mean, who has not dreamed of that Rock N’ Roll moment?!

I had the same feeling watching these guys as I did when I saw the Record Company open for JJ Grey And Mofro. Killer band, fantastic guys and just after that show they broke in a HUGE way! I’m not saying I broke them, mind you, but I gave them some high praise indeed…and before many knew who they were… So BOOM!

Read that post (my 899th) here!

Wilderado Set List (Wed. Aug 2, 2017 – Greek Theatre LA):
The Ocean And The Sea (Misty Shrub EP)
Already Loved (Latigo EP)
Hollow
Morning Light (Latigo EP)
Bottoms (Singles EP)
Favors
Sorrow
Rubble To Rubble (Latigo EP)
Siren (A great new song they will be recording soon!)

(Photo by Stefanie Vinsel Photography)

Next month they head into the studio to record some tracks, including “Siren,” with the amazing Phil Ek. Phil has worked with some of my most favorite artists, like The Shins, Band Of Horses, The Walkmen, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes, including their amazing new album Crack-Up!

After their set, Wilderado waited by the Merch table, and took the time to talk to each and every person that wanted to chat…or compliment…or take a selfie…
Okay, just ASK someone else to take the photo… Trust me! Selfies USUALLY suck.

My point is this…If these guys keep making great music and stay as humble, kind and sincere as they are, they are in for an amazing ride… as are we!

And remember the lesson of the day kiddies: Get to the concert early, respectfully watch the opener(s) and stay until the end. Usually, you will be quite happy you did! Cheers!

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The Skirball, The Stars And The Sounds Of Silence – A Remarkable Tribute To Paul Simon, With Sean Watkins And Friends

I used to think that LA was a cultural void. I mean that was its reputation for years and years, right? I think perhaps it is the car culture that gets in the way. LA is not a street walking, neighborhood town. It is a get in your car and drive city. That makes going out and taking advantage of events a challenge at times. And yes, brutal traffic and overpriced parking can dampen an evening pretty quickly.

And yet, I will say that things have dramatically improved in the years since I have been living here. At least I notice the artistic, musical and cultural offerings much more, though I have always been paying attention. So maybe things are just better.

Last night at the Skirball, things were great.

The surprise charge for parking aside, which only came in a night before confirmation email, getting to the Skirball was fairly easy. Getting seats… well… that was a bit tricky, too… and many folks were not happy. Lesson learned about getting into the outdoor area faster and earlier and putting down those jackets and sweaters!

Take out those two elements and the having to stand in the back, and the evening was pure musical joy. I highly recommend getting there for one of these musical nights and for the fantastic Paul Simon: Words & Music exhibit (thru Sept 3).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the amazing Skirball and to co-presenter The Bluegrass Situation, (and Amy) whose goal is to support a “new generation of roots and Americana musicians reinventing the genre while deeply connected to its history.”

Thank you to the sponsors, including KCRW, KPFK, Pepsi, US Bank, The LA County Arts Commission and the Department of Cultural Affairs.

And of course, a most special and grateful thank you to the amazing artists and modern-day troubadours who filled the warm evening with such soulful and harmonious tunes.

This was the first Sunset Concert of the season and the program American Tune featured Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour, Works Progress Administration), Cary Brothers, Gaby Moreno, Joey Ryan (half of Milk Carton Kids), Madison “Made” Cunningham and the Bee Eaters, celebrating “the legacy of Paul Simon and the past, present, and future of America’s vital and vibrant singer-songwriter community.”

A DJ set by dublab’s Liz Warner started things off.

The first round consisted of Paul Simon or Simon And Garfunkel songs, and Cary Brothers’ rendition of  my favorite S&G tune “The Only Living Boy In New York” slayed me. I have been a fan of his for a while, (Under Control And Who You Are are album must listens) and just figured out that he may be a fellow Northwestern Wildcat!  Go Cats!!!

The second round was made up of songs by artists who influenced Paul, so we got some Everly Brothers, and a fantastic Antonio Carlos Jobim song performed by Gaby Moreno and Sean Watkins.

And part of what makes Joey Ryan and Milk Carton Kids such a great act, aside from ridiculous harmonies and insane musicianship (Another Day/Another Time: Celebrating The Music Of Inside Llewyn Davis concert is an absolute MUST SEE), is his/their fantastic sense of humor and patter. This was on full display last night, especially when he talked about how hard it is to write a great political song and then broke out the Louvin Brothers’ “Satan Is Real.”. The appreciative and mostly anti-DT crowd loved the reference and there was no question which devil he was singing that song for and about.

Round three consisted of originals and gave us a stunner from Madison Cunningham that had Joni Mitchell all over it. I need to track that one down… and a new one from our evening’s intrepid and self-deprecating (and apparently home-schooled… his joke) leader, Sean Watkins.

I loved how the versatile Bee Eaters (Tashina Clarridge on 5-string fiddle, her brother Tristan Clarridge on cello and Simon Chrisman on hammered dulcimer) were able to plug in to almost any song, including a spontaneous fill in with Cary.

Everyone sounded great… looked great (lighting was top notch), and with the courtyard and LA skies in the background, this was a most wonderful night!

Los Angeles is lucky to call all of these musicians home-town talent, though they come from places far and wide… so yeah, LA’s cultural and musical scene is alive, vibrant and essential. Come on out and support it whenever you can!

Now if I can just keep my bluegrass watered and healthy…

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Metal Monday – Open Your Ears And Your Mind

One of my favorite quotes is from the amazing Rabbi Noah Weinberg who said we must “Listen With Our Ears.” What he meant is that way too often we listen from our position, from our entrenched beliefs, and so we fail to actually hear what people are saying. We immediately take a defensive posture and argue, rather than simply listen… and hear… and take in.

This is an accurate description of the world in which we currently live… and it is soooooo not good. We need to get over who said what, and accept that a good idea is a good idea. The sooner we do this and realize that the big picture must be to help and problem solve and work together, rather than block and blame and fight on separate sides, the better off we and the entire world will be. Truth and fact MUST be respected and honored… and it is from here that we need to start and accomplish.

Soap Box… Stepping off.

Sorry, but coming off the most recent news cycle has my brain in a dizzying spin and I needed to vent a little.

But… I LOVE the fact that I could just quote a Rabbi in a blog about Metal, but this is who I am… a man of many sides and passions. I yearn for spirituality in different forms… life, religion and music!

So what does his quote have to do with music?

Too often we dismiss certain bands or genres because we have pre-conceived notions, ideas we have formed from others, instead of allowing ourselves the objective opportunity to hear, and observe and decide for ourselves. I am and have been guilty of this.

As I began to write these posts on Metal, I went back to bands I had dismissed out of hand… and found that there is a lot of music I actually like. This week’s playlist includes Queensrÿche, Motörhead and two completely new discoveries… bands I had NEVER EVEN HEARD OF, but found because of my research, and OPEN EARS!!! The Sword from Texas and Witchcraft from Sweden are now on my weekly playlist. And yes, I do laugh at myself for both my late arrival to Metal and for my embracing bands that many family and friends roll their eyes at me for.

Some band notes from Wikipedia:

The Sword is an American heavy metal band from Austin, Texas. Formed in 2003, the band is currently composed of vocalist and guitarist John D. Cronise, guitarist Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III.”

“The Sword has been categorized as a stoner rock and doom metal band, and is influenced by groups such as Black Sabbath and Sleep. The band has toured with a wide range of fellow rock and metal artists since its formation, including Metallica, Lamb of God and Clutch, and in recent years has also headlined its own tours. The Sword’s first album Age of Winters failed to chart, but subsequent releases have all gained increasing commercial success in the US and the UK, with High Country also charting in other regions.”

“Magnus Pelander (formerly of Norrsken) formed Witchcraft in 2000 in order to record a tribute to Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling and Roky Erickson.”

“Their debut album, Witchcraft (2004), was worked on in a basement studio with vintage equipment, which gave them their very seventies-esque sound. Mats left the band almost immediately after the recording was done. Mats was also the drummer in the surf trio “The Hollywoods” and 50’s rockin “Eva Eastwood and the Major Keys”. In mid-2004, the band toured Europe with Orange Goblin and Grand Magus.

In May 2012, the band announced that they had signed with Nuclear Blast Records. Their fourth studio album, Legend, was released in September 2012.

The new album marked the recording debut of the band’s new members, including Simon Solomon (guitar), Tom Jondelius (guitar), and Oscar Johansson (drums) formerly of TruckFighters, with singer Magnus Pelander focusing only on vocals instead of both vocals and guitar.”

Kind of odd that if I had ended the blog before this sentence, the word count was 666.  Seriously!

So no, I am not into that part of the music… nor the doom and dark… but there is a lot worth listening to. I dig the retro sounds and the influences of bands I love, like Thin Lizzy and Rush and other Metal bands I am coming around to… and encourage you to do the same!

Just listen with your ears and decide for yourself.

The Sword

Witchcraft

Witchcraft Acoustic

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