Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cover Thursday- I Wish I Was Special

Sarah Jaffe is opening for Centro-matic at Mohawk Place in Buffalo (my home town) tomorrow night.  Her debut album Suburban Nature is one of my favorite albums of the last year.  I'm leaving for home in the morning and if I can make it on time, I'll be at the show.

Despite the massive amounts of popularity and success Radiohead has experienced in the last 10-15 years, perhaps their most widely known and famous song is "Creep" off their 1993 debut Pablo Honey.  The beauty of creep is how thinly veiled it is.  More than most any other song it is straight forward, to the point, and honest.  In my opinion, the reason why it's so popular is because at some point everyone has longed to be included, but felt so hopelessly different than everyone else.

Take a listen to Sarah Jaffe covering Radiohead's "Creep".  What's most powerful about the performance is the sold out crowd singing along to every word.  It's truly beautiful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Concert Review- DMB Caravan- Night 3 @ Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ- 6.26.2011

After two amazing days of music, it was hard to believe that there was still a full day of music ahead of us.  We started the day by perusing some of the fine shops along the boardwalk, and counting the number of massage parlors and psychic booths.  Seriously, every block had the same exact stores.  I never understood that. We were able to find a stylish t-shirt claiming Atlantic City as the "Ultimate Paradise", so overall it was a success.

Our goal was to arrive at Bader Field in time to see Dawes at 2:00, but we arrived a little early.  So we set up shop and enjoyed the Pete Kilpatrick band who took the stage before Dawes.  I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised. Of all the new music I heard this weekend, I think the Pete Kilpatrick Band were   my favorite band I had never heard of before.  They hail from Maine and have been named best musical act four times at the Portland Best Music Awards.  Be on the watch out for another post about the Pete Kilpatrick band real soon.

Dawes took the stage next, and I have to say I was a little disappointed.  I probably hyped Dawes up too much in my mind.  I've read nothing but good things from friends and from music reviews, but their set seemed to be lacking something.  Honestly, I ended up enjoying Pete Kilpatrick Band more.  I should probably take some time to become more familiar with their catalog and give them another chance.

We left Dawes to catch the second half of Fitz & the Tantrums.  This was the band that Teresa was looking forward to hearing most.  If you're not familiar with Fitz & the Tantrums yet (I have a feeling you will be soon), they have a good bit of a 1960's soul feeling with a touch of 1980's charm.  This Los Angeles based band also knows how to get the crowd involved.  This included calling out anyone who wouldn't dance.  The entire performance for lively and energetic, but they stole the show with their first single "MoneyGrabber" off their debut album Pickin' Up the Pieces.  You'll be hearing more from this band, I'm almost sure.

After taking a break for dinner, our group had a decision to make.  David Gray was playing on the main stage, and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were playing on the Pacific Stage.  Jan and I decided to take in David Gray, who put on a wonderful performance.  I've been a fan of David Gray since 1999's White Ladder, but hadn't seen him perform live until August of last year.  David is a great live performer!  His songs, while outstanding on the studio records, are taken to a new level live.  All I can say, is that if you're a fan of David Gray's music, you need to see him live.  Highlights from his set included "Babylon", "Please Forgive Me", "Lately", and "Nemesis".

While we were enjoying David Gray, Teresa headed over for Grace Potter & the Nocturnals.  She said they were outstanding, and I fully believe it.  Grace Patter & the Nocturnals opened for The Avett Brothers last October and put on a great show.  It was a shame their set overlapped with David Gray's.

In favor of staking out a good spot for Dave Matthews Band we missed out on Bassnectar and Michael Franti & Spearhead, but we could definitely hear Bassnectar from our spots.  However, holding out for a good spot for a good idea, because this, out of all three nights, was the best Dave Matthews Band set of the weekend!  The band opened with "Seek Up" which has been a favorite of Dave Matthews fans since the band's beginning.  It typically clocks in well past 10 minutes, and usually only appears 10-15 times throughout a summer long tour.  It's a great way to kick off a show.

Following a performance of "Warehouse" with a sweet salsa jam and "What Would You Say" came a real surprise with "Kill the King".  "Kill the King" has only been played seven times prior to Sunday, and hadn't been played since 2006.

"Dive In" and "Raven" also made appearances which can be fairly rare.  Following those songs the band broke into "So Much To Say", typically "So Much To Say" if followed by the interlude, "Anyone Seen the Bridge", however this time the band had yet another surprise in store.  Instead of "Anyone Seen the Bridge" they covered Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion".  Seriously, it's hard not to love a band that surprises diehard fans the way Dave Matthews Band does.

To close out the regular set, Stefan Lessard began his bass solo which could only lead into "All Along the Watchtower".  The way they perform this song is nearly perfect.  The first verse is slow and haunting, and then it ramps up from there into a fury of energy and excitement.  Sunday night's performance didn't disappoint.

As if this third night of Dave Matthews Band couldn't get any better, they came out with a ridiculous encore.  First Dave Matthews performed an emotional and solo performance of "Some Devil."  Following "Some Devil" Carter Beauford began striking the snare drum, which typically leads into "Ants Marching" a usual show closer.  Not tonight, instead it was an "Ants Marching" fake into "Halloween".  "Halloween" is a pretty angry and emotional song.  It was probably my favorite song of the entire weekend.  It's amazing watching Dave Matthews scream the lyrics with such passion.  As the song ended, the band entered back into "Ants Marching".  Surely, this was the end of the weekend right?  Not quite.  Finally, they played the Sly and the Family Stone song "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)".  This included crazed dancing by Dave and the entire crowd singing "I want to thank you/For letting me/Be myself again".  It was truly awesome, and a perfect way to end the weekend.

What a great weekend!  I had a wonderful time with my brother, his girlfriend, and all my friends.  I got to enjoy a bunch of my favorite bands, and discovered new bands.  And though I've been to over 20 Dave Matthew Band shows, they blew me away again this weekend.  Including the Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds acoustic set, they played 66 different songs this weekend!  No repeats!  Simply unreal.  If you were thinking about catching one of the other Caravan events in Chicago, Governor's Island, or The Gorge, you should bite the bullet and buy the tickets.  It's definitely worth it!

Hope you enjoyed the reviews as much as I enjoyed the weekend!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Concert Review: DMB Caravan- Night 2 @ Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ- 6.25.2011

Saturday brought more great music and continued beautiful weather for day two of DMB Caravan.  All weekend temperatures hovered around the 80 degree mark, and a nice breeze kept the crowds relatively cool throughout the event.  Really, the weather couldn't have been better.

After grabbing lunch and walking around Atlantic City's shopping district, Jan and I made our way over to the field for our second day full of concerts.  Coming into this weekend, Saturday's lineup was the most exciting for me.  First up were Punch Brothers.  No genre of music has grown on me quite as much as Bluegrass has over the last year.  With bands like Avett Brothers, Frontier Ruckus, and Mumford & Sons moving steadily into the mainstream, it seems like Bluegrass is finding a niche in today's music fan's rotation.  Chris Thile of Punch Brothers should be seen as one of the main reasons for Bluegrass' rise in popularity.  The former Nickel Creek mandolinist has been playing music since he was five.  At the age of 12 he won the national mandolin championship!  In one form or another, Christ Thile has been a part of this movement of bluegrass music for nearly 20 years.  Saturday's performance showed just how talented Thile and the rest of Punch Brothers really were.  The audience was quite sparse as most concert goers were claiming spots for the upcoming Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds acoustic set.  This made it easy for us to grab a good spot.  The Punch Brothers put on a great set, strumming their way through a raucous set, the highlight of which was closer and fan favorite Rye Whiskey!  Amongst all the music from this weekend, it's been this song that's been stuck in my head most often.  Punch Brothers were a great way to start a solid day two.

Next up was likely the most widely anticipated daytime set of the weekend, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds' acoustic set.  Since we took in Punch Brothers first, we didn't have much of a shot at claiming a decent spot for Dave and Tim.  So we set up or blanket (best purchase of the weekend) on the outskirts of the crowd to just take in the music.  I went to my first Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds concert last summer, and they blew away the crowed with 30 songs all done perfectly.  Dave Matthews has always been known to say off the wall and ridiculous things at his concerts, but in an acoustic setting his stories are hilarious and more personal.  While the set was short, it was very well done.  The majority of Dave Matthews fans haven't seen him play in a setting such as this, as he only does it every so often, however, I think it's an amazing idea to have this as part of the Caravan experience.  One of the greatest things about seeing Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds live, is Tim Reynolds' utterly first class guitar playing skills.  The man can make so many different noises at one time using just his guitar.  It's unreal.  His solo performance of "Betrayal" was my favorite song of the set.  Additionally, the duo played "So Damn Lucky" as the encore.  The end of "So Damn Lucky" with the repeating rift played by Tim and Dave Matthews repeated "round and round" makes for a great finish.  I think this performance was highlight of the weekend for many folks.

As Dave and Tim ended we headed over to the Pacific stage to watch Lisa Hannigan.  If you've been reading this blog for a while you know that I'm just a little in love with Lisa Hannigan.  I enjoyed her work with Damien Rice and now she is doing more than alright on her own. Also, I think she's adorable and has an angelic voice.... sigh.  Anyway, I've seen Lisa Hannigan play before, and I could wait to see her play again.  She seemed so composed and so thankful to the crowd that came out to see her.  Favorite songs included "I Don't Know", "Venn Diagram", and her new song "Passenger."  I think Lisa Hannigan is absolutely beautiful, but all kidding aside, she's a great performer is incredibly appreciative of her fans.  If you haven't checked out her music yet, you really should.  You're missing out.

Guster performed next.  Guster is one of my friend Jan's favorite bands, so I was really glad they were along for the Caravan.  Jan was an awesome sport about seeing some bands she had never heard, so it was about time there was a band she was psyched for.  I had never seen Guster live before, but they drew a great crowd.  Among the songs played was Jan's favorite "I Spy" as well as "Demons".

After Guster it was time for dinner which included absolutely the worst fish tacos I've ever had and a decent piece of pizza.  We also watched log rolling at the Dos Equis tent.  It's extremely entertaining to watch drunk people fall off the log.  I could have stayed for hours.  While we were laughing and trying to enjoy dinner we missed Damien Marley, but his set was extremely popular with Shane, Teresa, and Kati.  I didn't hear much of it, but they had nothing but great things to say about his performance.

Night two of Dave Matthews Band just improved on an already solid night one.  For me, this show was all about rare songs and guest performances.  "Write a Song" a track that didn't make it onto Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King made an appearance.  Probably the biggest surprise of the night was the return of "Break Free" which hadn't been performed since 2006.  "Break Free" like many Dave Matthews Band songs was never released on a studio album.  It was one of my favorite songs that debuted in 2006, and has one of my favorite choruses of any Dave Matthews Band song, which says a lot.

About midway through the set Dave Matthews invited South African vocalist Vusi Mahlasela for a performance of "Everyday".  Mahlasela actually contributed his voice to the studio recording of "Everyday" as well.  Vusi Mahlasela has guested with Dave Matthews Band only five times.  Through some stroke of good luck, I've happened to see him guest three times.  He adds an element to a song, that without him isn't one of my favorites.

Two songs later came my favorite performance of the night.  Yet again, Dave Matthews invited a guest on stage, this time Warren Haynes.  Warren Haynes is part of The Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule.  He's also been known to play a few good riffs on the electic guitar.  Haynes performed on "#41" Saturday night, which is already in my list of favorite songs of all time.  "#41" is known for it's extended outro full of instrumental solos.  This performance included an electrifying solo by Haynes followed by him and Tim Reynolds trading riffs back and forth.  You'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the crowd who didn't enjoy this performance.  As if the night couldn't get any better, it was followed by "Blackjack", a song that made it's debut late in last year's tour that is becoming a crowd favorite.

The final song of Saturday night was an epic version of "Two Step".  "Two Step" has always been a go-to closer for the band, but this performance was special.  His conga drums throughout the song, paired with Carter Beauford tearing it up through the end of the song made this performance one to remember.

Two days down.  Some outstanding bands, fun times, along with surprises and guest appearances... and there was still more of the same to come on Sunday.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Concert Review: DMB Caravan- Night 1 @ Bader Field, Atlantic City, NJ- 6.24.2011

Just got back from Atlantic City.  I'm exhausted, musically satisfied, and still a little bit dirty.  To review all three days in one post, would make for a review that rivals the length of an epic novel.  Therefore, I decided to review each day on it's own.

It's always fun to enjoy music in a new venue, especially when that venue lies far from home.  Let me say this about Atlantic City, it makes sense as a host city for a music festival.  There's casinos, shopping, and the beach to keep concert goers busy before and after the music.  That being said, overall I was disappointed in the city.  They seemed prepared. Police were out in full force to accommodate the massive amounts of pedestrian traffic.  However, it seems that the city is in a depressed state.  As a former Buffalonian, I can certainly sympathize.  As this is the first event of this nature at Atlantic City's Bader Field, hopefully it brings similar events in the future that will help this city clean itself up and get back on it's feet.

Bader Field mirrored Atlantic City.  It makes sense as a festival venue.  I praise Atlantic City for using the space for something positive, as it had been an abandoned air field.  The sound, considering there were three stages, was very well done.  If you were there to see one band, you could not hear the others.  The vendors and bathrooms were well spread out and not terribly over crowded.  Brita had free water refill stations, which is a brilliant idea.  However, there could have been more, as these had the longest lines throughout the weekend.  The food and beverages were very overpriced, but really who's surprised by that.  It was clear that a lot of work went into getting Bader Field prepared to hold the event.  One of the steps necessary for getting the Field ready was burning the overgrown fields.  The results contributed to a dirty, gritty, sand-like dirt that ended up everywhere.  If you're going to a three day music event you shouldn't really expect to come up Scott clean, but for future events Bader Field may benefit from some freshly grown grass to cut down on the dirt.

On to the music (finally)!  We arrived at the field Friday in time to catch the last part of G. Love & Special Sauce's set.  He had the gathering crowd on their feet dancing, and was a great way to get the weekend started.  At 5pm on Friday I headed to the Atlantic Stage for what was one of my favorite sets of the whole weekend, The Head and the Heart.  I've been looking forward to hearing this band since if first heard them earlier this year.  They didn't disappoint.  The band had a whole lot of energy as they played favorites "Sounds Like Hallelujah", "Rivers and Roads", "Down In the Valley", and "Lost In My Mind" off their self titled album.  I can see this band picking up quite a following as they continue touring the country.  Teresa and I decided that we'll both be in attendance the next time The Head and the Heart is in the DC area.  Of all the bands I saw live for the first time this weekend, they were my favorite!

Next up was Ray LaMontagne.  I've seen Ray LaMontagne play live four times previous to this weekend, and each time he gets better and better.  His music itself is outstanding as the lyrics are heartfelt, and no one has a voice quite like Ray LaMontagne's.  Ray LaMontagne is notoriously shy and reserved.  Early on it effected his performances.  Not anymore.  Ray LaMontagne has found his stage presence. What's ironic about seeing Ray LaMontagne is that most of his songs are quite and laid back, and while he does an outstanding job with these songs live, it's his feet stomping, harmonica wailing, raucous performance of "Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's A Shame)" that blows me away every time.  This song is what music is all about.  From most everyone I attended Caravan with, this was among our favorite song performances.  You can be looking for it be featured on the blog in the future.

After Ray LaMontagne, I headed back to Atlantic stage to watch Flaming Lips.  This was the performance I was most curious about before the weekend.  Flaming Lips has a reputation for having crazy, psychedelic concerts.  On stage with the Flaming Lips were a group of girls dressed like Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.  There were giant balloons floating through the crowd.  Most of the set consisted of songs from Flaming Lips album of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.  During "Money" they launched huge balloons of money into the crowd.  The set also consisted of songs from Wizard of Oz.  Truthfully, and I hate saying this, but I think I would have enjoyed The Flaming Lips a lot more if I was a bit more drunk.  I just wasn't into it.  Part of it could have to do with the crowd who largely were under some kind of influence.

After Flaming Lips came the main attraction, Dave Matthews Band.  I did have to miss the first part of the set.  My good friend Jan had quite the adventure just getting to Atlantic City and unfortunately forgot her ticket back at the hotel, so we made a quick trip back and missed the first few songs.  We made it back in time to hear "Corn Bread", a sure fire way to get a crowd into a concert.  Now, I've seen Dave Matthews upwards of twenty times prior to this weekend, so my review can probably go on forever, but I'll just hit the highlights.  The first highlight for me was "Jimi Thing" featuring David Ryan Harris who had played earlier in the day on electric guitar.  Between him, Jeff Coffin on Sax, and Rashawn Ross on trumpet, this song was outrageous.  Their solos carried the song to a new level.

Two songs after an outstanding "Jimi Thing" the band played "Buena" by Morphine, which was the first of three covers on night one.  Dave Matthews Band always pulls out surprises, and this was certainly one of them.  Next the band played a crowd favorite and fairly rare song "Shotgun".  "Shotgun" is one of those songs that is has a really sad and depressing but has so much emotion that it connects to nearly everyone that hears it.

The final highlights came during the four-song encore.  My favorite of the entire night was a Dave Matthews solo performance of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale".  It was an absolutely beautiful rendition of a song I was unfamiliar with, and I can't wait to somehow get my hands on the version of this performance.  The crowd was in a near hush to take in the beautiful lyrics and Dave's lone voice.

After a "Stay or Leave" and a powerful "Grey Street" the night ended with a third and final cover, "Led Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times".  All three covers on night one were phenomenal.  It never fails to impress me how this band can take songs from other bands and make them their own.  This was a tremendous way to end the first night of shows.

Overall, day one was a huge success, but just a precursor to the excitement to come the next two days.  Come back tomorrow for day two of DMB Caravan!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Caravan Countdown- Said The Joker To The Thief

What better way to end the Countdown to DMB Caravan than with some covers from Dave Matthews Band?  Dave Matthews Band has been touring for over 20 years.  In that time their own songs have evolved and changed over time.  Short studio songs have turned into epic live jams. Early songs have become part of current songs.  A great perk of being a fan of the Dave Matthews Band is that no two shows are exactly the same.

An additional aspect to Dave Matthews Band shows are the covers the band has been known to pull out of their hat.  Over 20 years the band has added hundreds of songs to their cover repertoire.  No genre or artist is off limits, and every cover is masterfully done.  Below are just a few favorites!

Probably the most well known cover Dave Matthews Band plays is Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"  This song has been a live staple from the beginning of the band, and the result is probably the best version since Jimi Hendrix covered Watchtower in the 60's.  Check out Dave Matthews Band playing "All Along the Watchtower" with a bit of "Stairway to Heaven".

Neil Young has always been an influence on Dave Matthews.  In recent years "The Needle and the Damage Done" has made its way into Dave Matthews Band shows.  Below is a cover of another Neil Young song, "Cortez the Killer" featuring Warren Haynes.  The Warren Haynes band will be in Atlantic City this weekend, which makes it a possibility that this song will find it's way into a set.

One more?  Alright!  A cover that has become a crowd favorite in the last couple years is the Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House".  This gets the crowd going every time.  Here's a truncated version featuring Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave at the NFL Kickoff party.

Hope you enjoyed the covers and all of Caravan Countdown Week!  There are three more DMB Caravan stops this summer, so it's not too late to grab your tickets and enjoy some music.  I'm off to Atlantic City!  Reviews start on Monday!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Caravan Countdown- The Head and The Heart: I Get Lost In My Mind

Back in March I featured The Head and The Heart and their song "Down In The Valley".  At the time I was just beginning to listen to the band.  Well, I've been listening ever since.  I keep reading outstanding reviews of their live shows from SXSW and Bonnaroo.  So when I found out they'd be playing DMB Caravan, naturally, I got excited.  The Head and the Heart take the stage Friday afternoon, and are the first band I'm really looking forward to seeing.

Here they are performing "Lost In My Mind" for KEXP.

Can't make it to DMB Caravan?  Catch The Head and the Heart some other time this summer.  They'll be touring Europe and then returning stateside in July.  Find the dates here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Caravan Countdown- Punch Brothers: Makes The Band Sound Better

Chris Thile, formally of Nickel Creek, is a world renowned mandolin player and artist.  In 2006 he formed his current Bluegrass band, Punch Brothers.  Throughout all the Dave Matthews Band concerts I've been to, the band has always invited a wide variety of artists to join them on tour.  Many bands that I listen to frequently are bands that I first heard opening for Dave Matthews Band.  At the Caravan this weekend there are bands representing Reggae, Pop, Rock, Jazz, Funk, Folk, Blues, and Bluegrass.

Just over a year ago Punch Brothers released their latest album, Antifogmatic.  I think a lot of young music listeners overlook bluegrass.  I, myself, just started listening in the last year and a half.  However, it's hard to ignore the energy from Punch Brothers provide in this performance of "Rye Whiskey"!

Learn more about Punch Brothers' at their website!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Caravan Countdown- Dawes: You As A Sunset

One of the bands I'm most looking forward to seeing this weekend, is Dawes.  Dawes is one of those bands I've heard about, but never took the time to explore.  I have a feeling I'm going to regret that.  Dawes was a late addition to the DMB Caravan lineup.  I've seen them all over Daytrotter.  When researching some of the bands, Dawes was an immediate hit.  They sound like they belong in the 70's pop or singer/songwriter movement.

Dawes just released their second full length album, Nothing Is Wrong, just two weeks ago.  However the song that hooked me comes from their debut album North Hills.  Here's Dawes performing, "Love Is All I Am".  The lyrics blow me away!  Hope you enjoy!

I really like the future of this band.  I wish I had taken the time to explore their music earlier.  Take a look at their website.  You can find their new album there as well as on itunes and other music outlets!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Caravan Countdown- Bobby Long: The Girls Up Here Sure Look Swell

Before the Caravan even starts, it has already introduced me to new music.  While checking out some of the artists that will be playing in Atlantic City, I came across Bobby Long.  Just a couple clicks on youtube and I found a new artist to enjoy.

Long is a British singer/songwriter currently signed to Dave Matthews' ATO records.  While touring England with other young musicians Bobby Long met Robert Pattinson (of Twilight fame).  "Let Me Sign" a song featured in the film was co-written by Bobby Long.  In February of this year he released his first full length album A Winter Tale.

Here's Bobby Long performing "Dead & Done" off his debut release.

More from Bobby Long!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Caravan Countdown- Guster: Fiction's Where Genius Lies

Guster formed way back in 1991.  It's hard to believe that was 20 years ago.  Over time they've gathered a steady following of fans.  Part of their popularity can be attributed to their taping policy, allowing fans to tape, trade, and spread live shows throughout the taping community.  Similar policies used by bands like The Greatful Dead and Dave Matthews Band allow groups develop a loyal grassroots following.

Guster will be playing the Atlantic Stage next Saturday at DMB caravan.  I've never seen them live, and they're one of my friend Jan's favorite bands, so they'll absolutely be on our list of must sees!

Check out Guster performing "Demons" off their 1997 release Goldfly.

Go here for more Guster!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Caravan Countdown- Flaming Lips: Do You Realize?

Exactly one week from today kicks of DMB Caravan in Atlantic City.  Three days of virtually nonstop music!  I've always loved music, but I think it was my first Dave Matthews Band concert that ignited my addiction to live music.  I've seen Dave Matthews perform 23 times, which depending on who you talk, either borders on obsession, or is categorized as a fairly weak number (some people have been to hundreds!)  So of course I'm excited to see one of my favorite bands performing each of the three days, but I'm even more excited about seeing so many other acts.  There's bands I know extremely well, ones I'm fairly familiar with, and bands I've never heard of before.  It's bound to be a good time.

As a way of looking forward to the Caravan, the upcoming posts will act as a countdown of sorts.  Each day I'll feature a band who I'm really looking forward to seeing next week.  The only rule is that the band has to be one I haven't seen before.  This eliminates a bunch of bands I can't wait to see again including, Ray LaMontagne, David Gray, Lisa Hannigan (who I'm planning on proposing to next week), Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, and others.

The first band to be featured, I've heard is a must see.  The Flaming Lips have been making music since 1983.  Their shows are... crazy!  That's probably the best word, as they feature psychedelic lighting and props.  They are consistently talked about as one of the best live acts around.  In 2009, The Flaming Lips released a remake of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.  The Flaming Lips are tremendously popular in Europe, and have gained quite the reputation hear at home as of late.  I'm very much looking forward to catching their set!

Here's The Flaming Lips performing "Do You Realize?" off 2003's Yoshima Battles The Pink Robots.

Get more Flaming Lips!

Check back tomorrow for a new band!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cover Thursday- She Says I Am The One

One of my students loves Michael Jackson!  Just yesterday she dressed as Michael Jackson for "Dress Like Someone You Look Up To Day".  Several times this year she's sang entire songs, complete with the dance moves.  It's hilarious and entertaining!  As there are only two days left in school, I thought today was fitting to send this post out to my amazing student!

Here's The Civil Wars covering Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jonah Smith: The Sun Dip Behind A Mushroom Cloud

One thing that I've enjoyed about writing this blog is researching the artists and their stories.  It really makes you believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough.  From bands busking in subway stations, to bands touring on bicycles, there seems to be an amazing story for every band that "makes it."

Jonah Smith independently released his first album in 2000.  Smith worked hard to build an audience for his music.  However, in 2004 he won a songwriting contest held by Relix Magazine, with his song "Tell It To The Mountain."  That entry led to a record deal with Relix, which helped Jonah Smith reach new fans.  In 2010, Jonah Smith released his latest album Lights On.  Smith's soulful voice blends well with his music which contains elements of all kinds of genres from jazz to country.

Here's Jonah Smith performing "World Without Love" off Lights On.

Like what you heard?  Take a gander at his website.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Joe Purdy: Play That One Called Sad Clown

Tonight, just a couple hours from this very moment, Joe Purdy will be playing at Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD.  I, unfortunately, will probably be on my couch writing report card comments... I love and hate the end of the school year all at the same time.  This is an utter shame.  Joe Purdy is one of my favorite modern musicians.  I don't think he cares about becoming famous or being #1 on some list.  He just cares about making quality music.  Over the past 10 years he's released 12... yes 12, full length albums.  That's just ridiculous!  Well over 100 songs.  Usually very sparse, Joe Purdy most often plays and records all of his music himself.  His lyrics are very personal, yet relatable, often dealing with love, losing love, or the occasional balled.  As an example of how much I respect Joe Purdy as a musician, and how much I enjoy his work, I once set out to make a mixed cd of my favorite Joe Purdy songs for a friend.  The process was so difficult, I ended up with a list so long that I had to make painstaking decisions just to get the list down to 30 so I could fit it onto two discs.  It's a blessing and a curse that Joe Purdy isn't as popular as he probably deserves to be.

I've had the pleasure of seeing Joe Purdy twice, and I already regret not being able to make it tonight.  Just this past year he released his latest album This American.  I own every one of his 12 albums, and while it's hard to pick favorites, the top two I'd recommend to a new listener are You Can Tell Georgia, and Paris In The Morning.  You really can't go wrong with either of those records.

Here's Joe Purdy performing, "Ode To Sad Clown", off his 2006 release You Can Tell Georgia.

Go check Joe Purdy out!  Just a few listens, especially to the records listed above, and I guarantee you'll have new staple in your music collection.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jill Andrews: It Will Be Like Dancing

While Jill Andrews has been singing her entire life, she only started playing guitar at 19.  It was then that she joined Sam Quinn, a friend she had met at summer camp, to form the musical duo The Everybodyfields in 2003.  In their time together The Everybodyfields quickly garnered the attention of music outlets such as NPR and Paste Magazine, and played national tours including a stop at Bonnoroo.  However, in 2009 the duo amicably split to follow their own solo careers.

Just last week Jill Andrews released her very first solo full length album, entitled The Mirror.  Fans of The Everybodyfields will be happy to hear her beautiful voice hasn't changed one bit.  Here's Jill Andrews and her band playing the first track from The Mirror, "Sound of the Bell".

You can purchase Jill Andrew's new album wherever music is sold, but why not just buy it from her website?  Also, take some time and explore Andrews' work with Sam Quinn as The Everybodyfields.  I was a big fan of their 2007 release Nothing Is Okay. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The David Mayfield Parade: Dear God, Don't Let This One Slip Away

David Mayfield is one of those amazing musical stories that come around every now and again.  As a kid Mayfield played bass in his family bluegrass band.  By the time he was a teenager he became recognized for his outstanding guitar and mandolin playing skills.  Throughout his career, Mayfield has been in the background of a number of bands.  He's performed and wrote songs as part of Cadillac Sky, played bass on Jessica Lea Mayfield's (his sister) debut album, and performed with The Avett Brothers.  It was while touring with his sister Jessica, that David Mayfield first started collaborating the The Avett Brothers.  Taking note of Mayfield's outstanding musicianship, The Avett Brothers invited him to play with them.  Mayfield's talent were undeniable and the brothers encouraged him to make an album of his own.

In December of 2010 The David Mayfield Parade released their self-titled debut album.  It's been met with rave reviews around the country.  Recent accolades include being featured in the Washington Post, as well as being included in Paste Magazine's List of non-headlining bands at this weekend's Bonnaroo festival not to miss.  It sounds like it's David Mayfield's time to shine.

Here's The David Mayfield Parade performing "I Just Might Pray" off their self-titled debut album.

Catch up with The David Mayfield Parade by checking out their website.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cover Thursdays- Love Can Cure Your Problems

This week I cheated a little for Cover Thursday... but it's a good cheat!  I think everyone wins.  I mean you can't really go wrong when Pete Townshend's involved.

Next week, one of my favorite artists, Joe Purdy, will be playing in Annapolis.  Hopefully, I'll be able to make it to the concert.  Even if I can't, I'll be certain to post about Joe Purdy in the very near future, because the man is an undiscovered treasure.  However, I've been sitting on posting this video for a bit, and thought now would be a good time to feature it as the concert is next week.  A couple years ago Joe Purdy was joined for a concert by Pete Townshend.  Together they played "Let My Love Open the Door", and below is the mesmerizing performance!  I guess it's not technically a cover, but it's too awesome to pass over.

On a related note, if you've never seen the movie "Dan In Real Life", I'd highly recommend it.  The movie itself is funny and well written, Sondre Lerche wrote the soundtrack, and most notably Steve Carell and Dane Cook perform "Let My Love Open the Door" in the movie.  It's my favorite scene, and that performance alone makes the movie worth the time in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jeremy Messersmith: My Guts Are Twisted Steel

Minnesota singer-songwriter, Jeremy Messersmith may be getting ready to go from local star, to the national spotlight.  Messersmith has been pretty well known around Minnesota and parts of the Midwest since his 2005 debut The Alcatraz Kid.  He's been featured in numerous national music outlets such as NPR, and Paste Magazine, and has opened for the likes of The Civil Wars and Joseph Arthur.  His latest release The Reluctant Graveyard was released in May of 2010.  Be on the lookout for more from Jeremy Messersmith!

Here's Jeremy Messersmith performing "A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard".

If you'd like to learn more about Jeremy Messersmith you can hear his recently recorded Daytrotter Session, or check out his website.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mumford & Sons: These Are My Desires

So this blog's main purpose is to feature new, largely undiscovered music.  However, I think by now even my Grandmother has heard of Mumford & Sons.  I tried to justify not featuring them as they've been rocketing up music charts and making appearances at the Grammy's with the likes of Bob Dylan.  However, I just couldn't hold out.  What if somehow, somewhere out there in the universe there's someone who is yet unfamiliar with Mumford & Sons?  And what if that particular someone happens to stumble across my meager little blog?  Maybe, just maybe, I will have introduced Mumford & Sons to the very last person not to hear of them! Maybe...

Mumford & Sons hail from England.  They're quite unique, because there is a distinct element of American Bluegrass in their music.  However, it's a bit more raucous.  It's exciting that Bluegrass is making some headway into popular modern music!  In 2009 Mumford & Sons released their debut, Sigh No More.  Slowly it gained steam in the United States.  My good friend Teresa first introduced me to them last spring.  The next thing I knew, by fall they were all over the radio!  It was exciting to have a band to talk about that other people heard of!  Sigh No More was so successful that the band received Grammy Nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Song ("Little Lion Man").

Please enjoy Mumford & Sons performing "Roll Away Your Stone".

Mumford & Sons are playing nearby Merriweather Post Pavilion on Thursday.  Unfortunately for you and I, it's sold out.  However, if you're hungry for more Mumford & Sons check out their website.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vandaveer: Fairytales Are Prone To Tease

Vandaveer is the musical venture of singer-songwriter Mark Charles Heidinger.  He's actually based right here in Washington, DC.  Last year I was able to catch most of his opening set for The Low Anthem.  I love being surprised by an opening act.  Vandaveer's really drew me in that night.  He and his frequent performing partner, Rose Guerin, harmonized beautifully through several songs from Vandaveers catalog as well as a performance of The Magnetic Fields' song "Book of Love."  Just this past April Vandaveer released his latest album Dig Down Deep.

Check out Vandaveer performing "However Many Takes It Takes" off Vandaveer's debut album Grace & Speed.

You can find out more about Vandaveer by checking out the website.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

River City Extension: A Job, And A God, And A Wife

River City Extension is a band out of New Jersey, that is quickly picking up a following.  Formed in 2007, by singer/songwriter Joe Michelini, it took awhile for River City Extension to get noticed.  However, extensive touring started to pay off over the course of the last year.  2010 saw the release of the band's first full length album The Unmistakable Man.  My first thought was that they have a similar sound to a band like O.A.R.  After listening further, I think Michelini's lyrical style can be compared to The Avett Brothers.  Regardless, of comparisons to other bands, River City Extension appears to be on the upswing in the music world.

Here's River City Extension performing "South For The Winter" from their album The Unmistakable Man.

River City Extension will be performing at next week's Bonnaroo Music Festival.  For more tour dates and information check out their website.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cover Thursdays- Write Myself A Tune

Mavis Staples is legendary in the world of music and civil rights.  Her music career started in 1950, when she toured with her family group at the age of 11.  The Staples music was a virtual soundtrack to the Civil Rights movement of the '60's, covering songs of change by the likes of Bob Dylan and Stephen Stills.  Keeping with her activist message that has defined her career, Mavis Staples appeared at John Stewart and Stephen Colbert's "Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear" in October 2010.  Side note: I was there and it was awesome!  Anyway, joining her on stage was Jeff Tweedy, lead singers of Wilco, and producer on Staples' latest album You Are Not Alone.  In February, Mavis Staples won her very first Grammy, as You Are Not Alone took home the award for "Best Americana Album".

Take a listen to the legendary Mavis Staples performing Creedance Clearwater Revival's "Wrote A Song For Everyone" alongside Jeff Tweedy.  Her voice should be considered a national treasure.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ray LaMontagne: Lay Your Blouse Across The Chair

Welcome to June!!!  June is a great month.  The school year is almost over.  BBQ's are nearly a weekly ritual, and it's summer concert season!  The highlight that I'm looking forward to most this month is the DMB Caravan festival in Atlantic City at the end of the month!  It's a three day event of amazing music.  There are at least a dozen bands I want to check out, and I'm sure I'll find new bands to enjoy as well.

One of the performers at this month's festival is Ray LaMontagne.  Ironically, I first heard Ray LaMontagne open for Dave Matthews Band in 2005.  In my opinion, he has one of the most unique and outstanding voices of anyone making music these days.  One of the things that draws me to Ray LaMontagne is that he's so shy and withdrawn that when he performs it's almost like you're entering his soul.  Since seeing him open for Dave Matthews, I've seen him live three other times.  Each time he's put on a great show.  At the last concert this past summer, he performed "Henry Nearly Killed Me (It's A Shame)" which blew the crowd away.  His music is known for being quiet, laid back, and beautiful, but he knows how to write a raucous song as well.

Ray LaMontagne has released four full length albums since his debut Trouble was released in 2005.  His latest release, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise was released last summer.  Here's Ray LaMontagne performing one of my favorites "Empty".  The lyrics are pure poetry.

Ray LaMontagne is touring this summer.  You should buy tickets!  You won't be sorry.  Take a date too!  You can see tour dates by going here.  Also, be on the look out for more posts about acts appearing at DMB Caravan!