Bits: The Black Keys, Andrew Bird, Neil Young, Sweet By and By, the Felice Brothers

  • With the proceeds from a benefit concert played in Akron, Ohio, last autumn to honor Alfred McMoore – the artist who inadvertently named the band – the Black Keys Alfred McMoore Memorial Endowment Fund has been established to support community services for Akron residents like McMoore who suffered from schizophrenia.
  • Andrew Bird will reprise his popular Gezelligheid concerts in December with dates in DC, Boston and Chicago.
  • Neil Young’s highly-anticipated, Daniel Lanois-produced album Le Noise is up on NPR’s First Listen.
  • A reminder for those in Northern California: The Yolo Throwdown Car and Music Festival is coming up this weekend, featuring the Sweet By and By, who are slated to hit the stage around 3:15 P.M.
  • Our good friend Digger has been counting down the top ten Felice Brothers songs of their career so far, which includes the brilliant “Marie”.


Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Newport Folk Festival, Part I

Jennifer took a trip out to the legendary Newport Folk Festival and brought us back this two-part report.

Day 1

The first night of the festival, one of the topics of dinner conversation was Why are you here? Not in a mean way, but rather: what inspired you to make this journey? The best answer I could come up with was: Well, I got a wild hair . . . which was met with bemused humming and ended in a tangent on regional usage of the phrase. It’s essentially true, however: I went to Rhode Island for about 24 hours largely because back in February I squinted at the calendar and decided I could and it was there and why not?, and oh yes, there are some bands playing that I kind of like! And possibly also because the Internet has permanently changed my idea of what qualifies as a “local show.” Rhode Island! I can get there on the train! (And the bus . . . ) That totally qualifies as “nearby”!

My voyage to the Newport Folk Festival began before dawn on Saturday and included a brief (and accidental) detour to New London, CT. I missed A.A. Bondy’s set at the festival as result, which was distressing, but I consoled myself with a walk around town. There is a surprising amount of street art in New London, and a good deal of it has nautical themes. Here’s one of a whale, which stretches almost the entire length of a block:


By WyLAND, 1993

My favorite one, though, is this one , because it is so delightfully bizarre. Anyway, after getting back on the train, I carried on to Providence, RI, where they were getting ready to set the canals on fire (aka WaterFire ; I’m tempted to go back in October and see it for myself) and then got down to Newport in time to catch a little bit of Calexico:



I got there in time to hear them power through a couple of songs, including Guero Canelo, which is one of my favorites. Between bands there was peoplewatching, and also punks with horns and drums:


What Cheer?

Next up was Andrew Bird:

IMG_1436< Andrew Bird

He played some bits and pieces of things that, he said, “might be songs someday” and that was when I wandered off to the beach:



I have to say, listening to Scythian Empires with my feet in the water and the sun on my face was a highlight of the afternoon. I came back up to the main area for John Prine, who brought the whole thing back around to a more old-fashioned country-folk place:


And then later I went for a guided tour of the town:


This statue on the main drag CREEPED ME OUT. Apparently they put socks on the feet in the winter.


The oldest sailors’ bar on the Newport waterfront and allegedly home of the best chowder in town. I had some, and it was delicious.


Buskers by the creepy statue; they were pretty good, so we stayed a few moments to listen to them.


Jazz on the way to the Coffee Grinder; there’s a public seating area at the end of the pier where one can sit and enjoy the breeze and watch the boats in the harbor.


Bridges and boats by night, from Bowen’s Wharf.

I finished off the day with some delicious ice cream, and then went back to the hostel and crashed.


Additional Bits: Guided By Voices, Andrew Bird

  • This was too good not to make an additional post for: Guided By Voices will be reuniting to play the Matador Records 21st anniversary gig in Las Vegas this October.
  • For those on the other side of the States, Andrew Bird will be collaborating with Ian Schneller, the sculptor who makes Bird’s Victrola speaker-style amplifiers, for a project called “Sonic Arboretum”, which will include a performance from Bird, at the Guggenheim Museum on August 5.

Bits: Shel Silverstein songs, Alan Moore opera, No Depression fest, save 924 Gilman, produce a Juniper Tar doc, RSD is crafty

  • Did you know that besides the poems that were so dear to many of us in our youth, Shel Silverstein was also responsible for songs like “A Boy Named Sue” and “The Cover of the Rolling Stone”? A cadre of folky and country artists have contributed to an album of Silverstein’s songs, called Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein, that will be released on June 8. Pitchfork has a couple of songs from contributors My Morning Jacket and Andrew Bird for you to listen to.
  • A favorite of NTSIB, writer Alan Moore is working with Damon Albarn and Gorillaz to produce an opera about magician/mathematician John Dee (if you are familiar with Moore, you know this is completely unsurprising), and Pitchfork has some info on that, too.
  • Another favorite of NTSIB is the venerable magazine-now-community-website No Depression, and they have announced the line-up for their always impressive festival. This year’s festival will include Swell Season, Lucinda Williams, Cave Singers, Punch Brothers, Alejandro Escovedo, Chuck Prophet and Sera Cahoone.
  • Respected punk venue 924 Gilman is in danger of closing down due to a ridiculous rent increase. Here’s what you can do to help keep it going.
  • High Frequency Media is planning a Juniper Tar tour documentary, and you can become a producer.
  • There’s a nice write-up of the Record Store Day activities in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood from a crafter’s perspective at the Jo-Ann Fabrics blog.

Yours Truly shares this video from SXSW of Nathaniel Rateliff playing “Boil & Fight”, but we’re particularly enamored of his rendition of Roger Miller’s “Oo-De-Lally” at the beginning.

Nathaniel Rateliff “Boil & Fight” from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Andrew Bird: Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire

I’ll admit it: I like Andrew Bird himself and find his creativity and talent inspiring, but I’ve had a hard time getting into Andrew Bird’s music. When I tried to just listen to him, I found myself liking “Imitosis”, “Heretics”… and that was about it. When I actually watched him play, by way of videos of live performances, I fell in love with a few more songs, like “Anonanimal” and the marvellously ungainly-titled “A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left”. While all the songs weren’t clicking with me, the ones that did click, clicked hard.

I previewed samples from a few of his albums and just wasn’t finding a whole album I felt like dropping a dime on… until I hit those first two Bowl of Fire albums – Thrills and Oh! The Grandeur – then it was Hot, damn! (On the third and final Bowl of Fire album, The Swimming Hour, switched gears, delving into a variety of pop styles. Bird refers to it as his “jukebox album”. ) If, like me just a week or so ago, you have no clue about the history of Mr. Bird before his ever-growing success as a solo artist, he spent some time contributing his beautiful bow-work to classic Squirrel Nut Zippers’ albums like Hot and Perennial Favorites. That hot jazz vibe must have sat very comfortably with Bird as he went on to form Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire – which was basically Kevin O’Donnell’s Quality Six led by Bird – and the first two albums under that moniker feature all the best elements of what the Zippers were laying down (along with a little help from Zippers Katherine Whalen and Jimbo Mathus), not the least of which was Bird’s evocative fiddle-playing.

The tune “Candy Shop” is a foot-stomper of the highest order. Bird’s trademark wordplay is already on display in tracks like “Minor Stab” about a man who can’t get along with his one-man band. And if a beautifully bowed piece like “Wait” doesn’t make you want to grab a lemonade and sit on the porch swing with your best gal or fella, then I’m not sure I even want to know you.

Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire – Candy Shop