Monday January 21 7:45 PM
I miss Jeff Blair. The former Gazette baseball writer (think about this: The Gazette once had Blair and Michael Farber in the sports section at the same time) has moved on to become one of the best baseball columnists in North America. He's still only a phone call or e-mail away but I miss hanging with him. Always an adventure. Always a lot of laughs. Almost always aided by alcohol. And once in awhile I'd actually learn something. Like the time we were chilling at Toronto's famed Horseshoe Tavern in the late 90's and he mentioned a group called the Drive By Truckers. I had never heard of them but I loved the name. Filed away for future reference.
About two years later I finally found one of their cd's called Southern Rock Opera, dedicated to Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was hooked. Country. Rock. Country-Rock. Swamp. Blues. Soul. Sung by four different and distinct vocalists and songwriters. Bloodlines directly into Muscle Shoals. They quickly became my favorite group. To say they're closest to The Band since The Band might be a valid reference point but I actually prefer the songs of DBT. The comparison to The Band isn't lost on them either. One of their finest tunes is called Danko/Manuel.
My friends Gary Silverman and Lloyd Fischler (BillyBob Productions) have been trying to figure out a way to bring these guys into town. But, thankfully, with the release of their new CD they'll be touring and hitting Montreal (Le National) on Thursday March 20th. Can't wait.
Brighter Than Creation's Dark **** Is their newest CD. More tales of loss, hope and redemption. And abuse. Shifting easily between country and guitar-driven rock. With a lot of instrumental help from legendary soul man Spooner Oldham. Female vocalist Shonna Tucker sounds like Neko Case. Don't miss their show.
More music you might like, most recent; some I've just recently gotten to:
Jason Isbell: Sirens Of The Ditch *** Former member of Drive By Truckers now on his own. Still soul-based but with more of a pop sound than a typical Truckers CD. Not a bad thing at all, just not quite as gritty. www.jasonisbell.com
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals: Follow The Lights *** Seven more songs, including four previously released in a different form, while we wait for the not-surprisingly-delayed box set
Ryan Bingham : Mescalito *** 1/2 25 year old sounds 30 years older. Think Tom Waits and Guy Clark. www.binghammusic.com
The Black Angels: Passover **** I love this group. Dark, brooding, guitar-droning music from Austin, Texas I first heard driving to NYC courtesy of Lorne Rubin's buddy Mike Kweatek. (Legit)Descendants of the Velvet Underground. Played here in 2005 & 2006 when I didn't know a damn thing about them.
Buck 65: Situation **** Back to what he does best. This baseball playing Canuck (and former Montreal resident) can rap. And write. www.buck65.com
Jeff Buckley: Grace (Legacy Edition) ***** How do you improve on Grace? If you've wondered if there was more, yeah there sure was. How about studio covers of "Lost Highway" and "Mama, You've Been On My Mind" and a kick ass live cover of "Kick Out The Jams"? Plus a DVD. As painful a loss as Kurt Cobain. Might as well splurge on Live at Sin-E Legacy edition while you're at it.
Luke Doucet and The White Falcon: Blood's Too Rich *** Hockey playing ace guitarist and songwriter, touring w/Blue Rodeo. Get to your seat early for show at Theatre St. Denis Jan 31 & Feb 2. www.lukedoucet.com
Robert Hazard: Troubadour *** Former Philadelphia rocker (Robert Hazard and the Heroes-best cover of "Blowin' In The Wind" I ever heard) who wrote "Girsl Just Want To Have Fun" quiets down a bit. Way under the radar.
Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer **** Tremendous comeback by former drummer with The Band. Couldn't sing for years because of throat cancer. Near miracle at work. Gets a lot of help from former Dylan guitarist Larry Campbell. You can actually watch Levon and Larry and a host of others in Levon's living room in Woodstock. One of the most joyous musical experiences I've ever had.
Highwaymen The Road Goes On Forever: 10th Anniversary edition **** 1/2 Final get together for Willie, Waylon, Johnny Cash & Kris Kristofferson. Try to find even more poignant DVD edition.
The Hives: The Black And White Album *** 1/2 Glorious hard driving punk directly from Sweden. www.thehivesbroadcastingservice.com
I'm Not There: Original Soundtrack ****1/2 Dylan songs from the movie performed by everybody from Eddie Vedder to Antony & The Johnsons to Willie Nelson to Jack Johnson. Includes title track from The Basement Tapes in its first official release. Pretty good "House" band, The Million Dollar Bashers, featuring Tom Verlaine, Nels Cline, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Tony Garnier and John Medeski. Almost as spectacular as the movie.
Willie Nile: Streets of New York **** Title says it all. Willie's been around to tell the tale; inevitable comparisons to Dylan and Springsteen, etc. Thankfully he's lived to tell more including "The Day I Saw Bo Diddley In Washington Square".
Jennifer Warnes: Famous Blue Raincoat (The Songs Of Leonard Cohen) 20th Anniversary Edition **** If you missed it in '87, Warnes singing "First We take Manhatten", "Bird On A Wire", "Joan of Arc", "Song Of Bernadette" and more; backed by Steve Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford and Van Dyke Parks
STAX 50th Anniversary Celebration ***** Discover what made Memphis-based Stax one of the most vital labels in American music history. Essential.
Dave Van Ronk: ...and the tin pan bended, and the story ended ***** His last concert. An absolute must for anybody who cares about the history of music. Van Ronk taught everybody. A two hour crash course on jazz, folk, and blues. Listen while reading his book "The Mayor Of MacDougal Street".
And some of the best in local music:
Annakin Slayd: Stalwart Empire http://www.annakinslayd.xbuild.com/
Angela Desveaux: Wandering Eyes http://www.angeladesveaux.com/
Echo Hunters: Cabin Fever http://www.echohunters.com/echos/
Rob Lutes: ride the shadows: www.roblutes.com
the Jimmyriggers: Traveling Salesman, Killer On The Run http://www.myspace.com/thejimmyriggers
Ladies Of the Canyon: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=90123180
Lee Mellor: Ghost Town Heart http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=36616999
No Barbers Required: Hard To Hold On To www.nobarbersrequired.com
The United Steel Workers Of Montreal: Kerosene & Coal www.uswm.ca
"Without music life would be a mistake" -Frederic Nietzsche