Rock ‘n’ Roll Photog: The Lemonheads, and a vast amount of feelings

Jennifer has promised a forthcoming post on the Newport Folk Festival, but first she has some feelings about the dreaded “nostalgia act” vibe to work out.

Internet, in the last two weeks I have, among other things, seen the Gin Blossoms, Soul Asylum and The Lemonheads, and I have a lot of feelings on the subject that I’d like to discuss, but first I’d like you to meet two fantastic newer bands: The Shining Twins and The Candles.

These are The Shining Twins:


Alex Weiss (bass), Marisa Kreiss (drums), Xanax Aird (guitar, lurking in the background)
They were the first band at the Lemonheads show. I knew a little bit about them before I got there, enough that I had them in my mental “you should maybe check them out” file, and so I was excited to see them on the bill. I wasn’t too sure how I was going to feel about the music, because the two songs I had heard – I Hate You and Stix + Stonez – were towards the whinier end of the punk spectrum. I am pleased … Continue reading

Jessica Lea Mayfield and the Black Keys at the Nautica Pavillion in Cleveland, OH, 7.24.10

If the quality of a Black Keys show can be judged by the number of times Dan Auerbach shouts a non-lyrical interjection into a song (think James Brown), this show was stellar.

It was an intensely hot day in Cleveland, the kind where just standing in line can make you break a sweat, but spirits and anticipation were high, and I was pleased that the show had finally sold out.

The audience was decidedly split on opener Jessica Lea Mayfield, but this was not terribly surprising considering how different Mayfield’s music is from that of TBK. While it was disappointing that big brother David Mayfield was not on string duties, it was good to see JLM broadening her sound (and, one imagines, allowing David more time for his work with Cadillac Sky and his solo work) with keyboards and electric bass. And guitarist Richie Kirkpatrick is always entertaining to watch. The new song from Mayfield’s forthcoming album sounded solid, and early word is that the whole album is killer (in an interview, Dan Auerbach, who created the Polymer Sounds label in … Continue reading

The Felice Brothers at Lebowski Fest in Louisville, KY, 7.16.10

The recounting of the NTSIB roadtrip to points south will begin with the end. We are, as regular readers have surely noticed, a little fannish about the Felice Brothers, so when the opportunity presented itself to cap off our roadtrip by seeing the Brothers play Lebowski Fest, we couldn’t pass it up. It was the fourth Felice show for me, the third for Jennifer and our first show together. All very exciting, I assure you. And it was, for me, the most fun of the Felice shows I’ve experienced.

We set off from the hotel a little late and, sadly, missed “The Greatest Show on Earth” (a favorite of mine), but we sang along to “White Limo” as we crossed the parking lot and weaved our way as close to the stage as we could. The Brothers kept it upbeat for the drunken party crowd and Lebowski-ized a couple of songs, transforming “Where’d You Get Your Liquor?” to “Where’d You Get Your Caucasian?” and “Roll On, Arte” to “Roll On, Donny”. Other highlights included a guest spoon-player on “Whiskey … Continue reading

Hacienda at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, 6.19.10

[No photos for this review as I was, sadly, too far back to get good shots. Which is a shame as Hacienda are handsome dudes.]

If there is a word that means loose and laid back, yet still full of great energy, Hacienda should be the illustrating photo for that word’s entry in the dictionary. From the moment the band came out and broke into their cover of the Everly Brothers’ “You’re My Girl” (a surprisingly dirty-minded song from the Everlys), the world just felt good. As they played great, dancing-required songs like “Who’s Heart Are You Breaking” and “She’s Got a Hold on Me”, I couldn’t help wishing I could see these guys play on their home turf of San Antonio, Texas, in some informal, small, outdoor venue with good beer, good people and barefoot dancing in the grass under the stars.

Speaking of good people, one of two complaints I could lodge about the evening was the audience (the other being the vocals mixed too low in the sound levels).* I did see people dotted through the crowd who were obviously enjoying Hacienda’s set as much as I was, but the majority of people seemed to be … Continue reading

JP and the Chatfield Boys & Cadillac Sky at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, 6.5.10

JP and the Chatfield Boys

The evening began a little quietly with JP & the Chatfield Boys playing straight-up bluegrass of a somewhat sedate nature. While they’re certainly a skilled group, they were pretty by-the-book. But the harmonizing on “Midnight Moonlight” stood out, as did the fiddling on “Stoney Lonesome”. They would be a great group to catch at an evening outdoor event.

Cadillac Sky

A sure sign of a good show: when you, as an audience member, are exhausted, yet the band is still going.

To call a Cadillac Sky show a bluegrass show would be akin to attempting to recreate a Brueghel painting with one brushstroke – there is so much more going on. Cadillac Sky assured us they meant business by opening their 2-hour-plus set (from my calculations, but I didn’t pay close attention to what time they came out, so I may be off – I can tell you they played longer than I’ve seen any band … Continue reading

Muamin Collective & GZA (and many others) at the Grog Shop in Cleveland, OH, 5.29.10

Not only was this my first hip hop show outside of a festival, but it was also my first show at the Grog Shop, so I am unqualified to say how much of the chaos was the norm for either aspect. But GS is notorious for their late start times, and nothing really kicked off Saturday night until after 10:00. Fortunately, up unil then, members of Muamin Collective served as DJs, spinning fine tunes that had the heads of those of us who were there “early” in constant motion. Unfortunately, once the show did start, I kind of wished they’d go back to straight deejaying. For one thing, there were a freaking lot of openers – even more than the four openers slated for the night, as additional acts who were brought on to fill time. All the acts had a lot of heart, but none of them had much game (and even when they had promising beats, the GS sound system rendered them unappetizingly muddy).

That is, until Muamin Collective stepped up. These guys had some of the most amazing energy I’ve ever seen, with great beats and great spirit. They rocked the crowd and, for a while, … Continue reading

Futurebirds & Jessica Lea Mayfield at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, 5.19.10


With six members playing pedal steel guitar, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and drums – switching off instruments and vocals throughout the set – Futurebirds have a hell of a lot of strings, but you wouldn’t mistake them for a string band. You might mistake them for a really big bar band, though. I’ll just be honest and say that their music didn’t do much for me, but their sense of humor did. A band who can play to a nearly-empty hall and still enjoy the hell out of themselves is okay in my book. The crowd was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and they were rewarded when the band kicked in three great songs at the end of their set, one led by drummer Payton Bradford who came out from behind his kit to strap on a Fender and go.

(One song was dedicated to LeBron James. “This one’s for LeBron. Maybe he’ll stay,” they said, perhaps in a bid to further endear themselves to the crowd. “He won’t,” came the … Continue reading

Suckers & Local Natives at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, 5.11.10

Local Natives (in-store performance at Music Saves)

Wide Eyes
Cards & Quarters
Warning Sign

I may be a big puss and a little too easily affected by music, but as soon as Local Natives broke into their trademark harmonizing at the beginning of their Music Saves pre-gig in-store performance, I felt a little moisture trying to escape from my face. I wasn’t crying – just… leaking a little awe.

This was quite a turnaround considering it hadn’t been that long ago that I was finding myself unable to get into the Local Natives groove (it was that backyard SXSW performance captured by Yours Truly that finally got me to tap in). Lucky for me that there’s no expiration date on good music.

It struck me that Local Natives’ performance was almost the antithesis of the Felice Brothers’ performance I had just experienced the night before. I am a big fan of slopping, emotional music, which the Felice Brothers are pros at creating, but there is certainly something to be said for the ability of a band like … Continue reading

Cassette & the Felice Brothers at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland, OH, 5.10.10


(I’m not very familiar with their songs, so I wasn’t able to construct a playlist.)

Cassette has a violinist and a cellist. These are good things. Cassette also has a keyboardist who seems to enjoy the hell out of himself and a singer whose voice really shines from time to time. These are also good things. Their songs are of the softer, more subtle variety, which A) doesn’t seem like the best fit for a Felice Brothers opener and B) is not my favorite kind of music, to be honest.

Perhaps it was because they were on their last night of their tour with the Felice Brothers, but Cassette’s music lacked oomph and many songs seemed not so much to end as peter out. Their set ended, however, on a highlight as the band, especially the cellist and keyboardist, let go and played their hearts into a burning crescendo. More fire like that throughout Cassette’s set would serve them well.

The Felice Brothers

Continue reading

The Hiram Rapids Stumblers & Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, 3.10.10

The first thing to stop me short after entering the Beachland Ballroom Wednesday night was the rows of chairs. The second thing was all the grayhairs who were sitting in those chairs. And they all seemed to know each other. I began to wonder if I’d missed news of a venue change or had somehow arrived on the wrong night. It was only when the Hiram Rapids Stumblers took the stage that I was sure I was at the right place at the right time.

The Hiram Rapids Stumblers setlist
I totally dropped the ball on this one. Here are the songs I’m sure they did:
Hop On Lula
Baltimore Fire

Yeah. I know they did an Uncle Dave Macon song concerning a mule and a semi-original composition that set a Langston Hughes poem to music, and there were a couple of tunes about gals with similar names (Susannah and Susie Anna?), but that’s as detailed as I can get. If anyone can help me fill out the information there, just drop me a line.

The Stumblers are a decent band – a downhome … Continue reading