Rumpus

But he stays all the same, waits for you, then sees you through

I’ve been doing lots of things besides writing lately. Some of which you can find here. Maybe one of these days I’ll write a post explaining why I’ve begun another blogging space from scratch, but until then I leave you to explore as I figure out what exactly I’m doing over there. And since it’s been a whole five months since I’ve made a ukulele video, here’s a new one. I have a pretty strict policy that no one should ever sing Adele covers. Adele is a queen in my book. I don’t care if her music is overplayed. I don’t care if she always wins every award. She can’t be touched, nor should she. But I broke my own rule today because I came across the chords for “Daydreamer,” from her first album 19, and fell in love with it all over again but with my uke this time. You can throw rocks if you’d like, or you could listen to me honor Adele in the only (tiny, mediocre) way I know how.

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“Blind Pilot. Sounds dangerous.”

The Kessler Theater in Dallas is groovy, plain-and-simple. Unlike other venues in the area (i.e. the Granada Theater, the Palladium Ballroom, House of Blues, Prophet Bar, Club Dada, etc.) the Kessler has an intimate feel without the grungy bar atmosphere. While I certainly can’t knock the big venues or smaller bars in Big D, as I’ve seen many of my favorite local bands in them, the Kessler was a welcome change. Sitting in Dallas’ historical Oak Cliff, the Kessler feels more like an old movie theater than anything, with a narrow row of balcony seats that wrap around the sides and back of the space. I spotted the members of Blind Pilot leaning against the wall of the balcony catching the last couple of songs of their opening band Lost Lander.

The Portland-based band opened the set playing “Keep You Right,” from their second album We Are the Tide with an authentic Blind Pilot tenderness that is compelling both melodically and lyrically, with lines like, “I press my ear against the ground to know/the song it sings.” Vocally led by multi-instrumentalist Israel Nebeker, Blind Pilot gave an energy-packed show to a room full what seemed like loyal fans as we enthusiastically danced and sang along to every song, myself included. The band played We Are the Tide almost in its entirety, and a handful of songs from their first album Three Rounds and a Sound, including the somewhat subdued “Oviedo” punctuated by a brilliant brass solo mid-song, and the upbeat “One Read Thread” by audience insistence.  Layering intricate banjo fingerpicking, solid upright bass, trumpet, ukulele, and even the harmonium (I had to look that one up, guys), with perfectly harmonizing vocals, there’s no doubt that Blind Pilot is made up of six incredibly talented musicians, and the Kessler theater was a perfect venue for showcasing their infectious sound.

I’ve written many posts regarding my favorite things about live music: that perfect audience energy, the feeling when an entire crowd jumps in unison, and that moment when harmonies and melodies click, when voices and instruments have a beautifully gritty edge of dissonance, and then lock in and the room becomes a different place. I love it all, but what I love most is the way soles and heels and toes and fingertips become an integral part of the moment, the way they keep the beat and sometimes dance along. Blind Pilot amplified all of those elements, and the audience responded with equal amounts of energy and affection in gratitude for the beautiful balance of sweetly soft and intimate numbers like Kati Claborn’s Utah Phillips cover on dulcimer with Luke Ydstie on the upright bass, and contagiously upbeat percussion that drives the title track “We Are the Tide.”

My favorite moment of the night was one I happily didn’t catch on camera; no one was to per the band’s request. It was an exercise in being fully present without the burden of technology, one I was happy to participate in. For their last song, the band stepped into the audience, instruments in tow, including Luke Ydstie’s massive upright bass, and played “Three Rounds and a Sound” acoustically amidst a crowd voices singing along. There are few moments in my life I can recall that were as spectacular as that one was.

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Rumpus

Be reckless. Be Bright.

The Rocket Summer’s newest album Life Will Write the Words is even more incredible than I expected. Bryce never disappoints. I left my apartment only once today to buy an actual copy of the album (it was my day off. I promise I’m not usually this lazy). I listened to the album in its entirety and read the lyrics booklet front to back while laying on my living room floor all afternoon. His lyrics this time around are very narrative, which is pretty cool. In the live chat Q&A he did yesterday, he explained a few of the stories behind the lyrics which included one about confronting a gang to defend his wife. Great stuff. As always, Bryce recorded every instrument on the album which included drums, vocals, guitars, bass, piano, organ, synths, banjo, mandolin, trash cans, type writers, and a few others, you know, because he’s crazy talented and all. He also wrote and produced the album AND released it on his own independent record label. Ridiculous. I realize I’ve geeked enough about Bryce Avary on my blog, but it’s not going to stop me from doing so again. He’s really incredible. I gave in and bought a ticket to his Dallas show next week despite the fact that I haven’t found a human being with good taste in music (who isn’t hundreds of miles away) to come with me yet. You should make that happen, friends. There’s nothing like a Rocket Summer show to make your life exceedingly better. Anyways, you should check it out. Powerful music at its very, very best.

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“Life will write the words, but you choose your own melody. This life has given me hurt, by I choose my own melody. And sometimes it’s that sad, sad song I’m singing all day long. I’m just trying to find the right notes. You can build a bridge in a song but you’ll burn down the ones in your life. Life will write the words, but you choose your own melody.”

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Hey Mr. Love Mr. Big Love Big Love

It appears I’ve made a habit of blogging only when I have stellar music happenings to share with you all. I’m okay with that, I suppose. Round two of seeing Katie Herzig, this time in Fort Worth, was well worth the repeat. When we saw her in Dallas, it was only the second show they had played and the band was still finding their on-the-road groove. It was a great show, but everything about this one trumped the last. The Dallas show had (in my opinion) some pretty annoying openers. I don’t even remember who they were, but this show had the always fantastic Andrew Belle open, who was exceptional. Last night’s set was so much better than when I saw him at the House of Blues opening for Ben Rector. Really, really stellar. The Dallas show was at Club Dada, and at times, Katie’s show is pretty quiet, but dudes at the bar never seem to notice their voices carrying over the sound of the musician, nor do they see the death glares sent back their way. You guys know what I’m talking about, right? This happens every time I see a show at a bar. Last night’s show was at McDavid Studio in Fort Worth, and first of all, who knew Fort Worth was pretty? Really though. There certainly are pretty parts and ugly parts of most big cities, but the part of Fort Worth we saw last night was just lovely. I had no idea. I might have to give Fort Worth more of a chance. The venue itself was perfection. As much as I love standing amidst a crowd and doing the little listening to good music dance thang, I was happy to sit at small round tables with a perfect view only a few feet from the stage. We chatted with a very nice couple who we shared a table with. It was a beautiful room with no annoying bar loud-talkers. Super cosy. The show was incredible, of course. Andrew Belle is charming and super talented. Katie Herzig and her band were perfection. I found myself mesmerized by the cellist, of course. I kept thinking of the SNL skit with Will Ferrel screaming “More cowbell!” but it was his voice saying “More cello, I need more cello!” in my head when the guitar would drown her own. All around great night. All I have to show for it are a few blurry iphone photos and a video (I forgot to take the video horizontally, so it’s tiny, but you can hear it well and that’s what counts, right?).

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Double ukulele action! So much greatness.

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You’re right, Nate.

It is a beautiful thing when you love somebody.

Fun. at House of Blues Dallas, March 21, 2012 


I’m sleepy-eyed and typing this right now because I’m afraid that leaving this post for the morning will cause me to lose some of my post-concert goodness that’s necessary for me to even begin to give this show the words it deserves. The brilliance of Fun. tonight was not the fact that I’ve been a fan since they began and I was a long-time follower of the Format, where Nate’s incredible vocals first hit fourteen year-old Jennifer. It was more. Beyond that, it was one of those “once in a lifetime” circumstances seeing Fun. right as they are making it big. After their album Some Nights dropped and their single hit number one, it made sense that the show would be completely sold out, but the crowd was perfection, knowing the old album as well as the new. You can always tell when a musician is playing to a crowd that sings the songs back to them. Simply (and complicatingly), it was magical. It wasn’t the typical concert energy either. Of course, that energy never ceases to be spectacular, regardless if you’re crammed in a small bar next to the loudest drunk guys or at a large arena with hundreds and hundreds of other people. Live music is like nothing else, and I don’t know if it’s that I don’t ever see bad shows or if I don’t know what a bad show is, but I always walk out with the inexplicable music high. And after sitting around in silence for a few hours, melting in the tension of my shoulders and croaky voice and ears that continue to ring hours later, I think I’ve figured out how to explain what was so remarkable about this night. On the drive back to Denton, Julia was gracious enough to let me blab on about the show in messy, incoherent sentences that mostly consisted of things like “Man” and “Geez” and “I just don’t know,” and geez, man, I still don’t know what to say about it. But beyond those (brilliant) statements, I said that every Fun. song is an anthem in itself. And delivered by Nate, with his face (geez, that face!) and genuine smile that makes everything bad and difficult about being alive melt away, they’re pretty damn powerful anthems and I proudly put my fist in the air, song after song after song, shouting his words that make more sense than any words I’m ever able to string together. The band has power, significant, beautiful power, that resonates long after the song ends.

The opening notes of the Gambler on the piano gave away the song minutes before they played it. Nate told a story as I whispered, well, as much as one can whisper at a show, to Julia that I thought the next song would be the Gambler, crossing my fingers that I would be right. I allowed myself to be the annoying-video-recorder-holding-iphone-over-her-head-girl long enough to (shamelessly) catch this song.

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Get me back. Get me back to New York. She’s got something I’m looking for.

UPDATE February 5, 2013
It seems many people (maybe you?) have stumbled upon this very old post in the past few weeks searching lyrics heard in this sweet little commercial. You’ve come to the right place! I’m happy to inform you that they are the lyrics to this song by Greg Holden. I came across Greg’s music in September of 2009 when he opened for Ingrid Michaelson at the House of Blues in Dallas. I’ve been a fan ever since, and even had the privilege of being one of his Kickstarter campaign supporters and helped fund the making of his album I Don’t Believe You.

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I’m really rooting for Greg because he’s an incredible musician and a fantastic songwriter. I hope you’ll listen, fall in love with, and buy his music. The song “She’s Got Something” from the commercial is from an early EP called Sing for the City. And if you’re a fan of Phillip Phillips and his song “Home,” you might be happy to learn that Greg Holden co-wrote the song with Drew Pearson. To hear Greg play “Home” way before Phillip Phillips got his hands on it, click here. I personally think both versions are fantastic.

And if you still aren’t convinced to check out any of Greg’s music, you should know that he’s friends with a big bunch of incredible musicians living in New York and occasionally they make incredible music together. Here’s Greg with Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino of the newly named A Great Big World who were featured just last week on Glee for their song “This is the New Year,” which is crazy big for them as well. I love them all so much.

He makes a cameo in their adorable video for the song. Crazy world of connections, and that’s just one example. Greg also has videos with Leila Broussard, Julia Nunes, and Katie Costello among others. It’s a crazy talented bunch. Trust me, you want to go on a Greg Holden video-watching binge because he has some pretty amazing work out there.

This recording for The Voice Project is one of my all-time favorites. Greg Holden doing a cover of my other favorite Greg. Doesn’t get any better, folks.

Anyways, I hope you’ve been fully convinced to listen to Greg. I imagine you’ll find him talented, endearing, a beautifully sincere in everything he does. Thanks for reading!

Back to my original post that, in actuality, has very little to do with the incredible Greg Holden.

On Sunday afternoons, I read the arts section of the New York Times. Sometimes I pretend like I live in New York and I plan out my events for the week. I check out which exhibits I absolutely can’t miss. What festivals are coming. It’s so disappointing when I realize  that I do not in fact live in New York and can’t walk across the street to that cute bakery and enjoy a cup of tea and a hand-piped cannoli.

How very disappointing.
I’m suffering from a major case of New York envy.
Maybe someday.

 

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