John Doe and The Sadies hit Manhattan on May 6 at The City Winery and played a rocking show. Ranging from X covers “Have Nots” to country classics such as Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Through the NightJohn Doe demonstrated why he is one of the finest talents in music today. With The Sadies, an amazing band from Canada backing him, John Doe put on a clinic in country based roots music featuring the tunes from his latest release “Country Club.” Ever the show man, Doe had the crowd laughing with his anecdotes in between songs. For someone who came up in the punk revolution of the late 70’s in his days in X, Doe is extremely comfortable crooning country ballads such as Willie Nelson’s “Night Life.” This gives his shows an emotional intensity that few artists today can capture. But it’s not all intense. Humor is a big part of the ingredients too. In a song that he co-wrote with Exene Cervennka, his long time partner from X, “Dawned On Me,” Doe captures in an ironic way the betrayals of life. He conveys the message that even though life is cruel and harsh it is also funny and a good time which the crowd was having that night as well Doe and the Sadies who you can not ask to be a better backing band. This was evident when Doe let them take the forefront on such tunes as “Mother of Earth.” A big highlight of the night occurred when Garth Hudson of The Band joined festivities on stage underscoring the roots nature of the set. At then end of the night everyone left satisfied having seen a fantastic show.
John Doe is back again. As a founding member of punk monoliths X, he seized his rightful place as one of the most influential musicians in American alternative music in the 1980’s, clearing a path for the revolution in that genre that would take place a decade later. Since launching his solo career in 1990 with the dusty road-poetry of Meet John Doe, John has produced six stunning roots rock albums of frightening honesty and vision. A Year in the Wilderness is no exception.
This time around, John has invited his friends and frequent conspirators to help him interpret songs that came fast and hard. Doe dubs the Wilderness sessions, “A scary and wondrous process where a blast of intuition and force that takes only moments to realize, but that can last forever and carry consequences you never imagined.” Guest stars appearing on A Year in the Wilderness include Dave Alvin, Jill Sobule, Kathleen Edwards, Dan Auerbach (from The Black Keys), Greg Leisz and Aimee Mann.
Here we have one of those Holy Shit We’re Playing Madison Square Garden shows, always a charming event — what little banter KOL frontman Caleb Followill offers is of the “This is one of the biggest, best moments of my life right here” variety. We are sincerely thanked for “Getting on your little websites and spreading the word” (no problem, dogg); most notably, there’s the declaration that “We have the best fans in the world — one of the last true fanbases, I think.” Whoa now. Let’s not get carried away.
Continue reading “Kings of Leon at Madison Square Garden 1.30.09”
The Knitters, an offshoot of the band X, return music to its authentic roots. Displaying their virtuosity The Knitters perform music from which rock n’ roll evolved from. Drawing upon an acoustic sensibility The Knitters show they can rock with the best of them.
I was fortunate enough to catch PJ Harvey back in the fall of 2007 when she made an appearance at the Beacon Theater. Playing just solo, she put on a fantastic show.
I have put up an eBook of my pictures of Band of Horses for people to download.
Here’s a blurb from the band’s facebook and a video I made from my pictures.
We were at Avast here in Seattle, where most of the new Band of Horses album Cease to Begin was recorded and mixed, and left with a bit of time on his hands, singer/songwriter Ben Bridwell kept himself busy with a crossword puzzle. He burned through most of it in just a few minutes. And though I was trying to focus on the music I was hearing for the first time, it was hard not to notice that the kid I’d met years ago (as a member of Carissa’s Wierd and as the person putting out CW records through his Brown Records imprint), and whose music I’d loved for so long, wasn’t just a great musician but also had a remarkable facility with words. And, of course, it made sense: he’s a talented lyricist. From the concisely conveyed sense of interconnection (and longing for it) in “Ode to LRC,” to the emotional complexity achieved through simple means in “Detlef Schrempf,” the new album is filled with examples. And the album’s opener, the soaring, athemic “Is There a Ghost” shows the band, together, at the height of their considerable powers.
Released in March of 2006, Band of Horses’ debut Everything All the Time made good on the promise hinted at in their early shows and demos. The band went from early shows opening for friends Iron & Wine, to playing on The Late Show with David Letterman by July, and being nominated as one of ten finalists (along with Joanna Newsom, Beirut, Tom Waits, and, the eventual winner, Cat Power) for the Shortlist Music Prize for that same year. And the record was well-received critically, with celebratory press in Spin, Entertainment Weekly, NY Times, Harp, Billboard, Pitchfork, Magnet, NME, Uncut, and a slew of others. Not a bad place to start.
For a lot of reasons, Cease to Begin is the perfect title for this new record. Not only do the songs themselves weave this theme through the record, but stopping and starting anew is also a reflection of the past year and a half for Band of Horses. Though they worked with producer Phil Ek again, as they did on Everything All the Time, much has changed between the fairly recent then and now. There have been band members who have come and gone, including Mat Brooke, who left the band to pursue other interests and his own band. For core members Ben Bridwell, Rob Hampton and Creighton Barrett, there has been a move from Seattle, WA to Mt. Pleasant, SC, a relocation that had been planned for some time so that they could all be closer to their families. And, close friends and family have come and gone—some far too early. Necessarily shot through with these experiences, the songs on Cease to Begin are strikingly beautiful, if less elliptical and more straightforward, with more sophisticated arrangements than the last record.
I’ve always thought that the thing that sets Band of Horses apart from so many other great bands, is that the music makes you feel something. It’s an experience and it’s what I consider truly soulful or devotional. It comes from the heart and it’s a gift that not too many are blessed with. Ben’s voice carries a feeling of both strength and vulnerability and it captures the very essence of the human spirit, the reconciliation of attachment and detachment, the strength that’s found through suffering, and the understanding that we are as significant as we are insignificant. This is what Cease to Begin is all about.
— Megan Jasper, Seattle, WA, July ’07
We were at Avast here in Seattle, where most of the new Band of Horses album Cease to Begin was recorded and mixed, and left with a bit of time on his hands, singer/songwriter Ben Bridwell kept himself busy with a crossword puzzle. He burned through most of it in just a few minutes. And though I was trying to focus on the music I was hearing for the first time, it was hard not to notice that the kid I’d met years ago (as a member of Carissa’s Wierd and as the person putting out CW records..
I take a lot of my pictures of the artists, set them to their music and make youtube videos.
Here is video I made of Band of Horses from the summer of 2007.
Since the early days of X, I have always been a great fan of John Doe. He continually presents a new identity constantly. In this photoset I captured him at Maxwell’s performing his solo work with the back up band Dead Rock West. In this show John mixed solo work with classics from X. It was also a nice mixture between his rock numbers and folk pieces. He has the uncanny ability to go from hard rock tunes to searing insightful folk ballads.