Category Archives: Music

Fistful of Mercy

This is the first blog I have done about a band who has not released any music to date.

Fistful of Mercy is the latest band to get the super group moniker attached to them.  This is, often a dubious title as the sum is never equal to the parts.   Fistful of Mercy is comprised of Ben Harper, Joseph Arthur, and Dhani Harrison.  Their album, As I Call You Down, is scheduled to be released in October. 

Just for the record, this group makes my music pants a little crazy.  I’m a huge fan of both Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur.  Dhani Harrison might have a little genius in him as he is the progeny of the late, great, George Harrison. 

While they all have distinctive vocal styling, the comparison to harmonious groups of yesteryears such as Crosby, Stills, & Nash, and The Eagles might be thrown around as there becomes an increased awareness of Fistful of Mercy.

Recently they played eight songs at an invitation only event in Los Angeles hosted by radio station KCRW.  The set was decidedly acoustic with guitars and violin being the instrument of choice.  At one point, Harrison ventured to the piano while Harper and Arthur continued on guitar.

In addition to the KCRW show, the band has recently played a few shows and benefits.

Here are a few clips of the band.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkfIlV7Nur8

This clip is from “Voices for Justice” rally and features Eddie Vedder

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBTFm7JVtGI

 www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuRb_K0LbTA

 Great music awaits!


Mixed Tape Monday: Pass the Jar

Today’s Mixed Tape Monday is not so much a mixed tape as it is a live album with a varied assortment of artists and cover songs.  Zac Brown and his rowdy band of musical brothers did a benefit concert for the Georgia Theatre, a cultural haven of the Athens music scene that burned down in 2009, and released it as a live album entitled Pass the Jar.  The album is a two disc set that is accompanied by a DVD of the concert.  Zac’s music is typically fun in nature and drenched in the good time vibe.  The concert exemplifies that vibe and the diversity of the cover songs reflects his deep appreciation for music in general. 

The album is a good mix of some of Zac’s songs from his major label debut The Foundation such as:

  • Toes
  • Free
  • Chicken Fried
  • Highway 20 Ride
  • Whatever It Is
  • Where the Boat Leaves From

In addition to Zac and his band, Kid Rock, Shawn Mullins, Little Big Town, and Angie Aparo as well as several other artists lend their vocal prowess to the cause.  As diverse as the special guest are, the cover songs are the real gems. 

  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels)
  • Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
  • Blackbird (The Beatles)
  • Jolene (Ray LaMontagne)
  • Can’t You See (The Marshall Tucker Band)
  • The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (The Band)
  • I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan)
  • One Love (Bob Marley)

The album is warm, fun, and a tribute to the strength of the band’s live shows.  To take nothing away from the band’s studio album, to truly enjoy the Zac Brown Band, you need to see them live.  While this album and DVD is as close as I’ve gotten thus far, I have added him to the list of folks I am on the lookout for on the DFW concert calendar.

 Great music awaits!


The Sweet Spot!

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself with more time to listen to music than when I was younger.  Part of this is due to the advent of portable music players, the evolution of digital files, and the technology that allows music to be played on computers.  The stability of a job provides the disposable income for concerts, an excessive catalog of music, and multiple playing options. 

The afore mentioned job also allows me time to listen to music.  When I am in my office, music is constantly playing.  The sanctuary of my truck is also a musical haven. The drive to work, the drive home, and the many miles that I drive weekly all afford another level of listening.  This is also the opportunity that I have to expose my children to music that is in fact played with instruments and songs written by genuine artists.

When I was younger and finding my musical way, I would delve into an album or artist and listen with relentless pursuit.  I would listen to songs, albums, and said artist almost exclusively until the next sonic epiphany.  These neurotic bouts of musical exclusivity could last days, weeks, or even months.  Looking back, it seems that the level of musical monogamy did indeed lend itself to my lifelong love affair with music.  As fleeting as some of those love fests might have been, they allowed a wide range of music to enter my live and much like all past loves, left a mark. 

At times, I revert back to the halcyon days of my formative years and roll the windows down and embarrass my kids with a litany of musical gems while singing and doing the obligatory air guitar or drums.  While my musical tastes have expanded, I still have a passion for the music of my youth.  The bombastic guitars and drums of Metallica always make my musical pants go crazy.  The southern drawl of Tom Petty makes me smile and remember old friends and good times.  Springsteen is still “The Boss” and makes me appreciate the importance of lyrics. 

As I discover new music, I do not seem to be searching for an exact musical type whereas before, I would strictly be looking for alternative music, heavy metal, or some other genre specific music that I heard on some commercial driven radio station.  I’ve come to appreciate the country landscape to some degree and am a huge fan of the burgeoning Texas music scene.  I actively pursue the independent artists and do not subject myself to the pandering of FM pop stations.  By the time the artists I like make it to the radio, I am on to the next thing. 

While each generation has their musical sins, looking back, I feel like I was in the sweet spot of music.  Old enough to appreciate the contributions of Dylan, Hendrix, and others of their ilk, young enough to have grown up with Tom Petty, Springsteen, Journey, Foreigner, Fleetwood Mac, and all the other great artists, and fortunate enough to be part of the musical revolution that brought Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, Nirvana, and a myriad of other artist who changed the musical landscape of my generation.

The classic rock of yesterday is now ancient and the music of my childhood is now played on the oldies station.  While it makes me feel a little older, I do not begrudge the process.  I am just glad that I was part of it.

 Great music awaits!


Mixed Tape Monday on Tuesday

Well readers, I know it has been a while and I have the same excuse as last time.  Home repairs! The lovely dwelling of mine had a leak  in the upstairs bathroom that has required two plumbers, a general contractor, and an insurance adjuster.  As a result, we have had to remove and replace of all of the upstairs plumbing.  In order to do so, they had to rip up floors, ceilings, walls, etc…Insert a litany of foul, four, six, seven, and eight  lettered words and various combinations of said words.  And, at this point, insurance is not covering the damage.  Again, insert more obscenities.

Of the folks mentioned, only two are currently in good standing with me.  Jason McCord of B&B Contracting you, my good man, are a life saver.  Chad and Kyle, from Flow Force Plumbing (www.flowforceplumbing.net ), you guys are the best. 

Welcome to another, late, installment of Mixed Tape Monday.

Topic: House, Home, Room, Repair, anything you might find in a house or that can go wrong with a house, etc…

Song:  She Came In Through the Bathroom Window

Artists: The Beatles

Album: Abbey Road

Song:  Light Up My Room

Artists: Bare Naked Ladies

Album: Stunt

Song:  Summer House

Artists: Better Than Ezra

Album: Deluxe

Song:  Black Door

Artists: The Black Keys

Album: Magic Potion

Song:  My Father’s House

Artists: Bruce Springsteen

Album: Nebraska

Song:  Walnut Street (Just listen to the song and you will get it)

Artists: Walt Wilkins

Album: Rivertown

Song:  Lost In the Backyard

Artists: James McMurtry

Album: Where’d You Hide the Body

Song:  Mudhouse

Artists: Bob Schneider

Album: The Californian

Song:  Back Against the Wall

Artists: Cage the Elephant

Album: Cage the Elephant

Song:  Burn That Broken Bed

Artists: Calexico & Iron & Wine

Album: In the Reins (EP)

Song:  Down the Drain

Artists: Chickenfoot

Album: Chickenfoot

Song:  Beautiful Homes

Artists: Chris Isaak

Album: San Francisco Days

Song:  Floorboards

Artists: Chris Mills

Album: The Silver Line

Song:  Living Room

Artists: David Gray

Album: A Century Ends

Song:  No Ceiling

Artists: Eddie Vedder

Album: Into the Wild

Song:  Climbing Up the Walls

Artists: Erin Ivey (cover of Radiohead)

Album: Sweet Little EP

Song:  Renovations

Artists: Helmet

Album: Aftertaste

Song:  Dusty

Artists: Kings of Leon

Album: Youth & Young Manhood

Song:  Another Brick in the Wall

Artists: Pink Floyd

Album: The Wall

Song:  Big Crash

Artists: Less Than Jake

Album: Hello Rockview

Song:  This Old Porch

Artists: Lyle Lovett

Album: Lyle Lovett

Song:  House Carpenter

Artists: Nickel Creek

Album: This Side

Great music awaits!

 


Walt Wilkins and Tommy Alverson: A Night of Sweet Music and Barbeque

Last night was one of those night you just kind of stumble upon and realize how good life can be when you slow down a bit.  Walt Wilkins, a favorite of mine, was in town this week playing with the great Tommy Alverson.  He did a show in East Parker County on Tuesday night and then a show in North Richland Hills last night. 

I’ve mentioned Walt in several of my blogs and just can’t seem to get enough of his music.  Each show I find something that I did not see or hear before.  Last night was no different.  The show took place at the Big Barn Barbeque in North Richland Hills.  It consisted of Tommy, Walt, two guitars and songs traded between the two.  The set list was a variety of covers and original music from each.  There was plenty of good natured banter between the two as well as considerable amount of talking to and from the crowd. 

Walt’s music has a timeless feel to it with poignant lyrics about love, loss, and the varying stages of life.  His voice is comfortable and familiar with a hint of wisdom.  Walt’s honey dripped tenor is the embodiment of Texas.  Rich, smooth, with just the right amount of twang. 

Tommy Alverson is no slouch in the vocal arena and is a mighty fine guitarist.  His voice is warm and inviting with just a hint of mischief.  Promoting his new album Texas One More Time, his ninth studio album, Alverson played a few cuts from the album, as well as several fan favorites like Una Mas Cerveza”.

There was much discussion from each on how they just love to play and how much music has meant to each.  They covered songs from the likes of Merle Haggard, Bob Dylan, and an impressive show closing cover of Van Morrison’sInto the Mystic”. 

The night had two defining moments for me:

  •  When B3, the current pseudonym of my bonus child, mentioned that she hoped that Walt would play his song “Poetry”, which has covered by Pat Green on his album Wave On Wave.  After some gentle prodding and a few words of encouragement from her mother and me, B3 marched up to the stage and politely asked Mr. Wilkins if he would play Poetry for her.  He responded with a hearty “Yes I Can” and lo and behold, the next song played was “Poetry”!  The ear to ear grin that washed over her face was pure bliss.  Even better was the 6-7 minute version that he sang, talked to the crowd, and did impromptu lyrical changes.  

 

  • As the show is winding down, Tommy and Walt are talking to the group and Tommy mentions that no one can sing this next song like Walt.  Walt begins strumming his guitar and then you hear the familiar word “We were born before the wind” and off he went into a beautiful Texas style version of “Into the Mystic”.  I just sat back in awe of what Ii was witnessing.  I’m a huge Van Morrison fan and am sometimes critical of the various covers of his music.  Not this one, he absolutely nailed it, played with complete reverence, and still made it all his own.

If you ever get a chance to see either Walt Wilkins or Tommy Alverson, take the time, drive the distance, and enjoy what music can do in the span of an hour or two.

Great music awaits!


Carole King & James Taylor: Two Musical Icons Reunited and They Sound So Good!

I’m a fan of the smooth, golden voiced James Taylor and recently stumbled upon a PBS showing of his concert with Carole King.  The show took place at the Troubadour, a legendary West Hollywood spot, back in 2007 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic musical venue.  The Troubadour was a place that many artists like The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, as well as Taylor and King performed early in their career.   What was intended to be a one and done show has turned into a world tour and the release of the cd/dvd combo pack of the reunion between King and Taylor.

I caught the tail end of the show and sat captivated listening to the distinguishing tenor of James Taylor and his acoustic guitar while Carol King accompanied him on piano.  Last night, I purchased the afore mentioned cd/dvd combo pack and treated the whole familial crew to a little bit of musical greatness.

Even though the concert is co-billed, only “You Got A Friend” is performed as a duet while the other fourteen songs receive backing vocals and musical accompaniment.  Speaking of musical accompaniment, the other musical trio in the show included original and longtime band members; Danny Kortchmar was on guitar, Leland Sklar on bass, and Russell Kunkel manned the drums. 

Keep in mind that it has been almost forty years since Taylor and King last played together.  The years were not at all evident in the show.  The intimacy of the show was certainly enhanced by the apparent love and respect that each has for the other. 

The fifteen song set list included:

  1. Blossom
  2. So Far Away
  3. Machine Gun Kelly
  4. Carolina On My Mind
  5. It’s Too Late
  6. Smackwater Jack
  7. Something In the Way She Moves
  8. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  9. Country Road
  10. Fire and Rain
  11. Sweet Baby Jane
  12. I Feel The Earth Move
  13. You’ve Got A Friend
  14. Up On The Roof
  15. You Can Close Your Eyes

While these might seem like some obvious selections, consider the source and realize that anything that made the list would seem obvious given their long, tenured career.  These are two musical icons reuniting after forty years of successful songwriting careers and each has given us a litany of classic songs. 

There was the occasional banter between the songs with each singer regaling us with snippets of song inspiration, emotional connectivity, etc…  None of it felt forced or contrived, just two old friends talking about the good old days. 

Great music awaits!


Burgers, Beer, and Mike Ryan = Greatness

Well, it is Friday and it has been a few days since I last posted a blog.  Part of that is due to my hectic vacation schedule of lying in bed, watching T.V., drinking beer, and attempting the occasional home project.  The other part is due, in no small part, to my incredible laziness the last couple of days.  However, it has not been a total waste of a few days. 

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon some live music on July 4th and was treated to the musical greatness of University of North Texas Alum (Go Mean Green!) Mike Ryan.  This, of course, was completely accidental and coincidental that the place we went for beer and burgers, the always amazing Fred’s in Fort Worth, was having some live music. 

The dude was pretty remarkable and the best part about him was the cover songs.  He played some really amazing and ballsy tunes.  He covered icons like George Strait, Conway Twitty, and then mixed in a little Lenny Kravitz.  His voice was strong and his playing extremely capable. 

He had a few original tunes that were pretty solid and a stage presence that was not overwhelming except when he sang.  He was comfortable enough to show up to the gig in gym shorts and a t-shirt.  He mixed and mingled with the crowd and was extremely gracious to all that he spoke with.

After his set, he passed out copies of his CD “The First One” which is a compilation of three original tunes and three covers. 

  1.  Slow hand
  2. Won’t Let It Show
  3. Dancin’ Til Dawn
  4. Turnaround
  5. Some Fools Never Learn
  6. The Chase

Today, I tip my musical hat to you Mike Ryan, I dig your scene.

Check out Mike Ryan at www.mikeryanband.com

Great music awaits!


Mixed Tape Monday: Freedom or Free

Welcome to another installment of Mixed Tape Monday and Happy Holidays to all of you celebrating our independence on this nationally recognized holiday.  I hope this blog finds most, if not all, of you away from your offices and with friends and loved ones or at least people you kind of like. 

So, my topic for today is, apropos with the feelings of many celebrating this past weekend and today, Freedom or Free!

Song:              Freedom

Artist:              Amos Lee

Album:            Supply and Demand

Song:              Freedom’s Road

Artist:              John Mellencamp

Album:            Freedom’s Road

Song:              Free Coffee

Artist:              Ben Folds

Album:            Way Too Normal

Song:              Freedom Fighter

Artist:              Big Head Todd & the Monsters

Album:            Riviera

Song:              O Freedom

Artist:              Billy Bragg

Album:            Mr. Love & Justice

Song:              Freedom Hangs Like Heaven

Artist:              Iron & Wine

Album:            Woman King

Song:              Set Your Free

Artist:              The Black Keys

Album:            Thickfreakness

Song:              I Shall Be Free

Artist:              Bob Dylan

Album:            The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan

Song:              The Running Free

Artist:              Coheed & Cambria

Album:            Good Apollo I’m Burning Vol. 2 No World for Tomorrow

Song:              One Road for Freedom

Artist:              Ben Harper

Album:            Fight For Your Mind

Song:              Rockin’ In the Free World

Artist:              Neil Young

Album:            Freedom

Song:              Free To Decide

Artist:              The Cranberries

Album:            To the Faithful Departed

Song:              Free

Artist:              Donavon Frankenreiter

Album:            Donavon Frankenreiter

Song:              Chimes of Freedom

Artist:              Bruce Springsteen (this is a cover of a Dylan song)

Album:            Songs & Artists that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11

Song:              Free Radicals

Artist:              The Flaming Lips

Album:            At War with the Mystics

Song:              Free At Last

Artist:              G Love & Special Sauce

Album:            The Electric Mile

Song:              Free To Run

Artist:              Gomez

Album:            Bring It On

Song:              Feel Free

Artist:              Jay Farrar

Album:            Sebastopol

Song:              Freedom Time

Artist:              Lauren Hill

Album:            MTV Unplugged 2.0

Song:              Free Me

Artist:              Foo Fighters

Album:            In Your Honor

Great music awaits!


Josh Ritter: Thin Blue Flame

I’m a huge fan of Josh Ritter and have been listening to him all week long.  I’ve had three of his albums for a few years on my iPod and just recently bought two of his albums (Hello Starling and The Golden Age of Radio) on CD.  The cool thing about the CD’s ,for a music geek like me, is that it came with the studio version and then an acoustic version of the album with a few additional live tracks.  So, basically two for the price of one and it made my music pants go crazy. 

His writing is amazing and I am in awe of his ability to convey thoughts and expressions that start with the writing of lyrics and are passionately delivered through his compelling and, at times, haunting voice.

A few months ago I did a post on Josh Ritter and extolled his greatness and through repeated listening this week, I stand by that bold claim.  However, I do have to update his top five songs.

February Post:

Josh Ritter’s Top 5 Songs:

  1. Here at the Right Time (The Animal Years)
  2. Wildfires (Released on bonus EP)
  3. Wings (Hello Starling)
  4. Girl in the War (The Animal Years)
  5. Me & Jiggs (The Golden Age of Radio)

Revised:

Josh Ritter’s Top 5 Songs:

  1. Thin Blue Flame (The Animal Years)
  2. The Golden Age of Radio (The Golden Age of Radio)
  3. Here at the Right Time (The Animal Years)
  4. Wings (Hello Starling)
  5. Wildfires (Released on bonus EP)

I’ve mentioned that I typically am drawn to the lyrical nature of a song and in the case of Josh Ritter, it is almost obsessive.  He has been in constant rotation in the truck and office this week.  One song, in particular, has stood out that I think is lyrically brilliant and makes me realize that it is a good thing that I have a day job and my writing gig is for grins and giggles.

Here, I give to you, the greatness of Josh Ritter:

Thin Blue Flame

Josh Ritter

I became a thin blue flame
Polished on a mountain range
And over hills and fields I flew
Wrapped up in a royal blue

I flew over Royal City last night
A bullfighter on the horns of a new moons light
Caesar’s ghost I saw the war-time tides
The prince of Denmark’s father still and quiet
And the whole world was looking to get drowned
Trees were a fist shaking themselves at the clouds
I looked over curtains and it was then that I knew
Only a full house gonna make it through

I became a thin blue wire
That held the world above the fire
And so it was I saw behind
Heaven’s just a thin blue line

If God’s up there he’s in a cold dark room
The heavenly host are just the cold dark moons
He bent down and made the world in seven days
And ever since he’s been walking away
Mixing with nitrogen in lonely holes
Where neither seraphim or raindrops go
I see an old man wandering the halls alone
But only a full house gonna make a home

I became a thin blue stream
The smoke between asleep and dreams
And in that clear blue undertow
I saw Royal City far below

Borders soft with refugees
Streets swimming with amputees
It’s a Bible or a bullet they put over your heart
It’s getting harder and harder to tell them apart
Days are nights and the nights are long
Beating hearts blossom into walking bombs

And those still looking in the clear blue sky for a sign
Get missiles from so high they might as well be divine
Now the dogs are howling at your door
Singing bout vengeance like it’s the joy of the Lord
Bringing justice to the enemies not the other way round
They’re guilty when killed and they’re killed where they’re found
If what’s loosed on earth will be loosed up on high
It’s a Hell of a Heaven we must go to when we die
Where even Laurel begs Hardy for vengeance please
The fat man is crying on his hands and his knees
Back in the peacetime he caught roses on the stage
Now he twists indecision takes bourbon for rage

Lead pellets peppering aluminum
Halcyon, laudanum and Opium
Sings kiss thee hardy this poisoned cup
His winding sheet is busy winding up
In darkness he looks for the light that has died
We need faith for the same reasons that it’s so hard to find
And this whole thing is headed for a terrible wreck
And like a tragedy it’s what we expect

At night I make plans for a city laid down
Like the hips of a girl on the spring covered ground
Spirals and capitals like the twist of a script
Streets named for heroes that could almost exist
The fruit trees of Eden and the gardens that seem
To float like the smoke from a lithium dream
Cedar trees growing in the cool of the squares
The young women walking in the portals of prayer

And the future glass buildings and the past an address
And the weddings in pollen and the wine bottomless
And all wrongs forgotten and all vengeance made right
The suffering verbs put to sleep in the night
The future descending like a bright chandelier
And the world just beginning and the guests in good cheer
In Royal City I fell into a trance
Oh it’s hell to believe there ain’t a hell of a chance

I woke beneath a clear blue sky
The sun a shout the breeze a sigh
My old hometown and the streets I knew
Were wrapped up in a royal blue

I heard my friends laughing out across the fields
The girls in the gloaming and the birds on the wheel
The raw smell of horses and the warm smell of hay
Cicadas electric in the heat of the day

A run of Three Sisters and the flush of the land
And the lake was a diamond in the valley’s hand
The straight of the highway and the scattered out hearts
They were coming together they pulling apart
And angels everywhere were in my midst
In the ones that I loved in the ones that I kissed
I wondered what it was I’d been looking for up above
Heaven is so big there ain’t no need to look up
So I stopped looking for royal cities in the air
Only a full house gonna have a prayer
Only a full house

 Great music awaits!


2010 Mid Year Review: Albums You Should Have Bought!

Well, here we are, six months in to 2010.  Musically it has been a pretty solid half a year.  Today I will list a few of the albums that you should have picked up thus far this year.

The albums are listed in no particular order.

2010 Mid-Year Review: Albums You Should Have Bought

Artist Album
Massive Attack Heligoland
The Black Keys Brothers
Gary Allan Get Off On the Pain
John Butler Trio April Uprising
Spoon Transference
She & Him Volume Two
Vampire Weekend Contra
Drive-By Truckers The Big To-Do
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
The New Pornographers Together
Jack Johnson To The Sea
The Gaslight Anthem American Slang
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Mojo
Band of Horses Infinite Arms
Flobots Survival Story
The Dead Weather Sea of Cowards
The National High Violet
Minus the Bear Omni

 Great music awaits!