Record Store Day 2011: Ashley Brooke Toussant and Shivering Timbers

Record Store Day was not the buy-a-palooza for me this year that it was last year. The one album I was really interested in this year – the reissue of Vanguard’s Skip James Today! – was unlikely to be available at any of my record stores, and having just lost my day job Friday, spending money on a piece of vinyl I can’t play right now anyway (I have four turntables, and none of them are working properly) didn’t feel like a priority.

What was a priority was getting down to Square Records in Akron to catch in-store performances from Ashley Brooke Toussant and Shivering Timbers.

(Don’t feel bad for me. While I didn’t get the Skip James vinyl, I did pick up the Godfathers’ Birth, School, Work, Death on vinyl for a song. And I met Square Records’ resident cat, Kali. Record store cats are aces. So much less haughty than book store cats.)

Ashley Brooke Toussant

It’s difficult to think of a description of Toussant that does not include the word “adorable”. But while she is a wee thing with a cherubic face and big, blue peepers (two people remarked that she looks like … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: The Pogues

The Pogues’ last tour, which I caught as they rolled through New York during St. Patrick’s Day (really St. Patrick’s Week, or Month), was titled “A Parting Glass” and meant to be the last one. For a lot of reasons, I hope that’s not actually true. Not least because St. Patrick’s Day in New York will not ever be the same without them. These shots are actually from March 16, the second night of a three day run at T5.

I didn’t stay in the pit very long, a combination of it being a school night and the pit being a little bit rough. I actually did the most dancing of the evening once I had retreated upstairs to the couches near the bar, where I twirled through a couple of measures of Dirty Old Town with a stranger. Though if this was their last go-round, I’ll hoard that memory as a fine send-off.


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Exploding Lies/Hacienda/The Greenhornes at the Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH, 4.1.11

Exploding Lies


Exploding Lies


The night kicked off (and that is the appropriate way to describe it – this night did not do something meek like “begin” or “start”) with Cleveland’s own Exploding Lies, a blues-inflected rock band with emphasis on low and heavy vibes. So dedicated to that low and heavy end are this band that they sometimes step into the Black Sabbath end of the spectrum with impressive results. While the band seems a little hesitant on stage, there is a lot of potential there, and once they are comfortable enough to own the stage, they will move from good to great.

(And they already have one of the most entertaining-to-watch drummers I’ve seen.)






My second time seeing this south Texas foursome was even better than the first. Perhaps it’s the family dynamic – the band being made up of the brothers Villanueva (Abraham on keys, Rene on bass and Jaime on drums) and cousin Dante Schwebel on guitar – but this band is tight. And it’s that tightness in musicianship that allows them to throw out perfectly loose grooves. So in sync are they … Continue reading

James Leg at the Happy Dog, Cleveland, OH, 3.17.11

James Leg and Andrew Jody look like they belong in two different bands. Leg, long and lean with big boots, big rings and wallet chain, is the very picture of a Southern blues rocker while Jody, skinny in a striped shirt, sporting a mod haircut, looks like he would have fit comfortably in any number of ’70s garage bands. And, technically, they belong to a number of different bands, with Leg being one half of the Black Diamond Heavies as well as having been/being a member of the Immortal Lee County Killers and the Cut in the Hill Gang and Jody’s list of credits including The Long Gones, Oxford Cotton, Pearlene, Barrence Whitfield and The Savages and more. But when they come together, they form a synergistic unit, their energies equally matched.

Kicking off with an amped up cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “Sad Days and Lonely Nights”, Leg hit the keys and growled lustily into his mic while Jody’s attack on the drums was solidly timed as well as impressively creative. In an interview, Leg’s Black Diamond Heavies partner Van Campbell said he believed one could see the effects of the spiritual warfare Leg contended … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Love Crushed Velvet


We are crazy with the interviews here all of sudden. Today, Jennifer talks to A.L.X., singer of Love Crushed Velvet.

IMG_7623A.L.X. and Love Crushed Velvet at Crash Mansion

Love Crushed Velvet, last seen on NTSIB participating in the Beatles Complete on the Ukulele event, will be putting out a new record in the middle of April. Recently, I sat down with lead singer A.L.X. to discuss a variety of musical topics:

During the Beatles Complete on the Ukulele event I thought I heard someone say you were from Austria. That’s since been cleared up – you were born in East Germany and later moved to the United States – but in the process of straightening that out, you dropped a tantalizing reference to having briefly been a cult celebrity in Austria. What was that all about, because it sounds like a good story.

It was one of those weird things about being in the right place in the right time. I ended up living there back in the ’90s – I was actually a student at the time.  Even though I was born in … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Biffy Clyro and Moving Mountains

So, the night before I witnessed loud music performed by men in suits, so did Jennifer. And then she witnessed loud music performed by half-naked men. Sounds like a good night to me.


This is Moving Mountains; they are from Purchase, New York, and, while they might be wearing suits and grandpa sweaters, their music is like an oncoming freight train. I seriously was not expecting the periodic bursts of James Hetfield-style ogre roar that I heard Saturday evening, but I assure you I enjoyed them tremendously. Also they sound very different live then they do on MySpace, much heavier, and the drums and bass combine into a tidal wave of percussive power. If you aren’t headbanging during their set, I think you might be dead inside.


And this is Biffy Clyro, of Kilmarnock, Scotland. They’ve been around since 2000, but I only learned about them this year, via the unlikely agency of UK TV show The X Factor, when contestant Matt Cardle covered their song Many … Continue reading

Rainy Day Saints/Frosting/The Godfathers at the Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH, 2.13.11

Rainy Day Saints

When I had previously seen Rainy Day Saints, their sound mix was muddy, making it difficult to gauge anything but a beat. Sad to say, this night was more of the same. Even sitting at the bar situated at the back of the Grog Shop, the sound seemed to be mixed for some point 20 feet behind the back wall. They might be a great band, but if they don’t gauge their sound mix down a little, it’s going to be hard to tell.


“This song’s on capo 1, everybody.”

Chicago band Frosting have a full complement of women and bald dudes and a good sense of humor. The group, led by a singer/guitarist who is not bald or a woman but does sort of look like a mashup of Doug Fieger and Mark Arm, powered through an upbeat set of guitar pop. A post-song comment from the singer gives a good idea of … Continue reading

Benjamin Riley Band/Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine/Patrick Sweany at Off Broadway, St. Louis, MO, 2.10.11

To continue Patrick Sweany Month here at NTSIB, we are pleased to have a guest review of Patrick’s recent CD release show in St. Louis by our friend Nate Burrell, along with some wonderful photos by Nate and another talented photographer, Kate McDaniel.

On a cold and icy Thursday evening in south city St. Louis, music fans braved the elements to go out and see an absolutely stellar 3-band bill at Off Broadway – our city’s premier music venue. With the stage lights beaming down, headliner, Nashville-based rhythm and soul rock-n-roller, Patrick Sweany grabbed his pale green guitar, stepped to the mic and shouted out “All right, St. Louis, how ya doin’?” and immediately started into a hot set that melted the stage and unthawed the ears of anyone unfamiliar with his signature sound. Backed by an extremely tight bassist and a drummer with metronome like precision, Sweany burned through a few numbers from early in his catalogue before unleashing live versions of tracks from his recently released 5th album That Old Southern Drag. Showcasing his commanding guitar work and his beautifully raspy, soul-filled voice, Patrick stomped, shredded, and howled out tune after tune for 75+ minutes, leaving the crowd … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: Iron and Wine with Edie Brickell

This week, Jennifer visits with a couple of old friends, watches Sam Beam rock out (and get Dylan’d for his trouble) and has some choice words for the monkeys at the circus.

Occasionally my adventures in modern music appreciation feel a bit like being at a big party with a lot of pleasant strangers, where I’m half wandering between intriguing conversations and half hiding behind a potted palm with a cocktail thinking Who are these people and what is going on here? And then the crowd parts and a familiar but rarely-seen face appears, and I feel a surge of relief and affection and want to stop and chat and see what they’ve been up to all this time.

One of these moments occurred last Saturday night, when Edie Brickell & friends (including Charlie Sexton!) took the stage at Radio City Music Hall:


In case you are now squinting your screen thinking Edie who?: she had a big hit with What I Am in 1988, and then in 1992 married Paul Simon (MTV nation emitted a collective WHAT? at the time) and essentially fell … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: The Beatles Complete on the Ukulele

The Beatles catalogue gets refreshed on… the ukulele? It’s true! And Jennifer was there to experience it.

The Beatles Complete on the Ukulele 2011, producer Roger Greenawalt’s annual weekend-long celebration of the Beatles’ entire catalog / fundraiser – this year’s recipient is Mark Zuckerberg – took place this past Saturday and Sunday at the Brooklyn Bowl.

This actually marks the second concert I have attended in a bowling alley. The first a all-star Cure cover-band (The Love Cats) at Asbury Lanes, and, well, I love all aspects of Asbury Park, Asbury Lanes included, but in terms of style, Brooklyn Bowl is a cut above. It is, in fact, possibly the fanciest bowling alley I have ever attended. Also, the food is delicious.


The “Uke Mob”, performing Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?
The first two songs of the evening were performed by a “Uke Mob” made up of enthusiastic amateurs. After that, a wide variety of bands took the stage to celebrate the Beatles, and were accompanied by Greenawalt on the ukulele. The following are some of my favorite moments:

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