2012: A Year In Pictures: April – May

DeVotchka, Beacon Theater, New York, NY, April 4, 2012
Stephin Merritt, The Magnetic Fields, Beacon Theater, New York, NY, April 4, 2012
Claudia Gonson, The Magnetic Fields, Beacon Theater, New York, NY, April 4, 2012
Diamond Doves, Mercury Lounge, New York, NY, April 21, 2012
Elvis Perkins cameo appearance, Mercury Lounge, New York, NY, April 21, 2012
Van Preston, Joe’s Pub, New York, NY, May 17, 2012
Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe’s Pub, New York, NY, May 17, 2012
Lucas Hubbard and Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe’s Pub, New York, NY, May 17, 2012
Jill Hennessy, Lucas Hubbard, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe’s Pub, New York, NY, May 17, 2012

No June; bar review ate my life and I didn’t go to any shows.

The Felice Brothers / Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea / Diamond Doves, Webster Hall, 9/29/11

It’s been almost approximately a year since I last saw the Diamond Doves (formerly the Dearland in Elvis Perkins and Dearland, now doing their own thing) and in that time they’ve changed: they’ve become tighter and more focused, and their drums are bigger and louder and roll like mighty waves.  They were good before, but they’re better now. I’m also pleased to report that they are still making the hipsters dance. Here they are in action:






Next up was Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea. I (once again) had never heard them before and had no idea what to expect. Ladies and gentlemen: this band rocks. Nicole Atkins has an amazing voice – powerful, flexible, commanding, and sultry at the same time – and she and the band bring some serious jams. If you haven’t experienced them yet, you should get on that right away.







And then there were The Felice Brothers, who are on tour right now. The crowd was a little bit flat at first – some of them perhaps hearing songs from Celebration, Florida live for the first time – but they perked right up and made the floor vibrate with their joy when the band launched into familiar favorites like Run, Chicken, Run, White Limosine and, of course, Frankie’s Gun.

The one I was waiting for, though, was River Jordan. It’s one of my favorites, mainly for the steady, thudding, mournful drums; the line about Fuck the House of Blues; and also the point near the end where either the band cuts Ian Felice loose or he breaks free, but either way he’s soaring.

This time it came at the end of the main set, and it was spellbinding, all the way down to the last two minutes or so when various band members stopped playing and walked back into the wings, until it was just the drums ringing out under the lights.

They came back, of course, and the mood changed. They did a cover of Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town that made that song expand and thrum with new energy, followed by a raucous rendition of Helen Fry, and then the show really was over. These are some of the pictures I took during the festivities:







And here is one more of the Diamond Doves (& friend), in their capacity as the Felices’ horn section:



Diamond Doves, Brooklyn Bowl, 8.19.11: “We Always Want People To Dance”


NTSIB friend and cohort Joy Wagner kindly offered this sweet little interview/show review to us and the good dudes at Citizen Dick. Check out Diamond Doves’ music at their MySpace (and then entreat them to get off of MySpace).



The odds are good that, if you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ve already heard of the Diamond Doves. They’ve backed up and opened for several popular acts: A.A. Bondy, The Felice Brothers, Elvis Perkins. In fact, they were Dearland, as in “Elvis Perkins In.”

These days, they’ve struck out on their own, but they’re not trying to ride any coattails. The Doves are doing this all themselves.

“With our band, we’re trying to break every rule we set for ourselves [in the previous band],” says Wyndham Garnett (guitar, trombone, vocals).

Brigham Brough (bass, vocals, saxophone) agrees. “Our past material taught us what we’re capable of and what we wanted to do. But we’re trying less to build off of that platform than to create anew.”

Which isn’t to say that they’re arrogant — just that they’ve learned from experience. Nick Kinsey (drums, clarinet, vocals) maintains “We’ve hit the ground running.”

And indeed, in the space of a few months, they seem to have picked a direction and headed for it full bore. In April, when I last saw them, they were playing upbeat, catchy, and well-orchestrated but fairly mild tunes: solidly enjoyable opening-band material. Between then and August, however, they’ve shifted into floor-shaking, guitar-driven indie rock that can convince even a notoriously apathetic Williamsburg hipster crowd to dance.

Garnett attributes this to the album they’ve been recording. “We’ve been working our ass off to make the new record and we want everyone to hear it.”

“We always want people to dance,” says Brough. “We want to write good songs and make good music. [Within the band] we want to inspire and challenge each other.”

Which seems to be working out pretty well. Their songwriting method is democratic, with each band member contributing his part and allowing the others to fill in theirs. Each takes his turn at singing, while Brough and Garnett often trade instruments onstage. Each has his own distinctive sound, and there is no clear frontman in the typical sense of the word.

Brough acknowledges that this approach is both “our biggest strength and our biggest weakness,” and that it keeps them on their toes.

Garnett asserts that with his contributions, “I want to impress my homeboys and give them something good to play.”

“Our energy ties it together,” says Kinsey, adding that the trio’s longtime friendship has given them a significant nonverbal connection. And indeed, their democratic interactions carry over off the stage. When I caught up with them after their set, they were affable, personable, visiting with friends and chatting over a shared plate of chicken wings. They have a habit of contributing to and even finishing one another’s sentences. The Diamond Doves are just three friends who are also in a band, making music they want everyone to check out.

“We speak music to each other,” Garnett explains, and I readily believe that.

After the chicken wings had vanished, the trio went outside to watch the other bands on the bill and catch up with Elvis Perkins, who’d offered a supportive presence; I sat in the lobby organizing my notes. A young man sharing the sofa explained that he’d journeyed all the way from Pennsylvania to hear the headlining act, and asking what I had come for. When I told him, he frowned in thought for a moment.

“The Diamond Doves, were they the first act?” He paused, then grinned. “They were fucken awesome.”

Between that and the dancing hipsters, I think this is a good sign.


Diamond Doves opening for the Felice Brothers, Club Helsinki, Hudson, NY, 3.26.11

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Postcards from Disparate Voyage

The theme for my concert-going this summer seemed to be “voyages” and in particular water voyages, both to the water, or at least a couple of different beaches, and also on the water, specifically, the East River. As the temperature cools and the fall rainy season drifts in, I bring you some postcards from my last couple of trips:


Willie Nelson, Circus Maximus Theater, Ceaser’s Atlantic City: The show was a little bit more subdued than I was expecting, perhaps a concession to the venue, the age of the audience (there were people in the front row celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary), or a reflection of Willie Nelson also getting up there (77 and still touring!), or some combination of those things. But it was still a great show. It was, in many ways, something of a relief to be able to just sit down and listen to someone sing familiar songs, undistracted by festival crowds or complicated stage business. He did, among others, Good Hearted Woman, All the Girls I’ve Loved Before and City of New Orleans, and I left refreshed, as if I had been visiting with old friends.


Local Natives/We Barbarians/Young Man, The Beach at Governor’s Island: Young Man was kind of dreamy and pleasant to listen to while half-dozing on the sand; We Barbarians woke me up with their more muscular, drum-driven sound, and then Local Natives came on and got everyone dancing. They’re all a little bit more jam-band-y than I normally go for — I found myself thinking I bet this sounds better in southern California, where it’s sunny all the time and they have palm trees that don’t glow in the dark — but on the whole it was a pleasant way to spend a summer evening.


The Diamond Doves

The Felice Brothers/Diamond Doves, Rocks Off Concert Cruise, East River, NY: You may recognize the Diamond Doves from their alternate incarnation as Elvis Perkins in Dearland’s back-up band. I had never heard them in that context, but doing their own thing they were pretty great. (Especially the guy playing the horn and the keyboard at the same time. Now that is multi-tasking!) And the Felices were, of course, their usual rockin’ selves, though the set was, once again, kind of heavy. Most of my pictures are of the Diamond Doves; the boat was packed and by the time the Felices came on I was too far back and too short to get anything good. I reckon y’all know what they look like by now anyway.

IMG_2369 IMG_2390

William Beckett and Michael Guy Chislett, The Academy Is . . . (top); Gene Simmons, KISS (bottom)

KISS/The Academy Is . . ./The Envy, Jones Beach Theater: When this tour was announced earlier this summer, the part of the Internet that keeps up with TAI . . . did a double-take, turned to each other and said WHAT?? and IS THIS A JOKE?? Now that I’ve seen the results, I’m even more curious about who came up with this particular line-up. The Envy, of Toronto, Canada, were vaguely gothy hard-rock; all I can really tell you is they didn’t get lost in the arena, which is easy to do at Jones Beach. Then TAI . . . bounced out and did a solid set, pulling mainly from their somewhat heavier back catalog rather than their newier, poppier work and winding up with a cover of Fox on the Run. I enjoyed them tremendously, but the rest of the KISS audience seemed to be politely and quietly baffled. Then KISS came out amid fire and lights, and I hung around to watch the spectacle until I just couldn’t take one more minute of Gene Simmons’ tongue waggling on the jumbotron. I found they left me pretty cold, all things considered. Odd, perhaps, given my fondness for fire, glitter and ridiculous costumes, but I just couldn’t get into it. Also noted: high volume of attendees that were both a) kindergartners and b) wearing full faces of KISS make-up, which was adorable, but also underscored how the whole thing was more carnival than rock concert.

— Jennifer