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  Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 64

Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 64

2/22/08 Carrie Rodriguez, House Concert.  About 75 people braved the icy conditions (the kids had a snow day today) and packed Dave and Angela’s place tonight.  Lots of people from the local school district/community in attendance.  I took advantage of not being the host and ate well from the impressive pot-luck spread. 
Marc Chechik opened with a handful of original songs…cozy, confessional lyrics delivered over clean guitar and electric bass (provided by our host, Dave Melson).  One about a couple deciding to throw in the towel on their relationship and a more upbeat bluesy one that metaphorically made use of boxing terminology.  Dave’s bass playing was pretty animated at times.
After the usual mingle/eat/drink break, Carrie Rodriguez and band (b, d, g & CR on vocals & multiple instruments) started up.  Carrie’s rich, gentle voice sets the overall tone to things…songs like “Got Your Name On It” typify the delicate, wistful thing she does. Emmylou’s Daniel Lanois period would be a reference point: the lead guitar does a glowing, fluttery thing over a rich but subtle rhythm section.  This texture was also applied to “'50s French Movie” and “Seven Angels On A Bicycle”, the latter is a dreamy tale about following a cute guy on a bike (possibly a recently-departed friend) across the Brooklyn Bridge. 
Carrie played what I wanted to call acoustic guitar and electric mandolin, except that each had four strings (where’s the Q & A session when you need it?).  Her versatility on four-stringed instruments also extended to the fiddle, providing the occasional change-up from the prevailing moody vibe.  “Never Gonna Be Your Bride” allowed her a nice little workout in a traditional Appalachian vein.  There was a brief break and the exact order of the songs is pretty much a blur to me.
Somewhere in there, CRod introduced a couple of new songs as co-writes with Chip Taylor and Gary Louris.  Sam Phillips’ “Baby, I Can't Please You" provided the most catchy, rocking moment of the evening.  Chip Taylor’s “Big Kiss” worked well in that dreamy mode …it’s a faraway recounting of being seduced- “he never asked if he could…” 
The song that stuck with me the most from tonight’s show was “St. Peter’s”.  She explained that this one was about a good friend who was killed on a bicycle in NYC not too long ago.  Musically, it moves along all dreamy (that word again) and mournful but then breaks into an unexpectedly snappy, upbeat “remembrance” of her friend’s positive attributes toward the end.
This being a party and all, a bunch of us hung out for a couple of hours after the music ended drinking more beer and catching up…“how ‘bout that Barack Obama”?
2/26/08 Ludo CD release party, Vintage Vinyl.  I read about this local band signing to a major label in Sunday’s Post.  Never heard ‘em before, but figured I’d go see what the buzz was all about. Since they’re young and popular, I was somehow envisioning something loud/hard/punk, but what I heard tonight was acoustic and more wide-eyed and fun than nihilistic. The CD I bought makes use of electric guitars and has a fairly poppy sound, but tonight they went acoustic: b, d, 12  string guitar, glockenspiel/toy keyboards and front man Andrew Volpe on acoustic guitar and lead vocals.
The lyrical content was clever and cheerful…similar in tone to what I remember of Geggy Tah’s “Whovever You Are” and the overall sound (at least in tonight’s acoustic mode) was like a more playful version of The Mountain Goats.  There were maybe 100 people on hand…mostly people in their twenties (I’m guessing) and most joyously singing along to some pretty quirky lyrics.
They opened with “Go-getter Greg” (endearingly unpretentious lyrics: “all the other people here are elderly and probably a little stand-offish and I’ve got nothing to do (and whatnot)/by the way, I live in 207, my name is Greg”…you get the idea).  Other songs I remember (in no particular order): “Such As It Ends”, “Drunken Lament” (the high vocals on both of these remind me of some seventies pop band that I can’t quite put my finger on…maybe Styx meets ____),  “Lake Ponchartrain” and “Love Dead” (the phrase “I love you cancerously” is sung over a theatrical, almost marching song structure).  Toward the end of the set, they were joined by the baritone sax player from The Feed (another local band), but his contribution was barely audible.  Right before the last song, they busted out a big bag of cheap kazoos (not those high-priced ones) and passed them out so people could play along.  All-in-all, this isn’t exactly my thing, but it was nice to see this local band and their adoring fans giving it up for each other.  
2/29/08 (leap day) The Redwalls, Bluebird.  Nancy and I showed up around eleven, between bands.  I had never been to Bluebird before; it has a similar layout to The Duck Room with the stage set up along the broad side of the room with a capacity of maybe 400.  I’m guessing it was a bit over half full tonight.  It’s not an especially nice atmosphere…it feels kinda like they rolled all of the kitchen fixtures out of a cafeteria (the club shares first floor space with an actual cafeteria) in order to put on a rock show.  An older couple sitting at a table (maybe the family of one of the opening acts?) kept me from being the oldest person in the room.
Soon enough, John Henry And The Engine started up.  This Columbia four-piece (b, d, k & JH on guitar & vocals) had a tough, classic-rock vibe.  Eventually, the songs (the vocals and the structures) began to sound a bit monochromatic, one to the next.
After the usual catch-up-with-friends intermission, The Redwalls started up.  Nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s an inspired thing they do and the crowd was pulled in and pumped up.  Things were tuneful, happy and snappy.  Three lead singers (and writers) kept things varied from song-to-song.  Lots of songs from their current self-titled CD.  My scattered, after-the-fact memory comes up with these songs:  “Hangman”, “They Are Among Us”(features a swirling guitar doing something resembling the theme to “Twilight Zone”), “Falling Down” (with it’s trademark Lennon-esque “ohohohoh”), “Edge Of The Night”, “Modern Diet” (“They say…”), “Game Of Love” and “Build A Bridge (we’ll bring both sides together). “Deep (in the heart of Texas)” showed up in the encore.  It always makes me want to complete each verse with “Tuesday’s on the phone to me…” Oh, yeah.
3/7/08 The Hard Lessons, Route 66 Roadhouse.  This bar and grill was packed when I showed up at around 10PM…I think management is trying to establish this place as a bona fide live music venue.  It was a little freaky being in this space that was Streetside Records’ Webster location for years and years.  If there’s any consolation as another one bites the dust, at least the building’s current use includes live music.  I found an extra seat at the Euclid Records table as The Nevermores started into their opening set.  This local four-piece (the drummer’s kid is in Cub Scouts with Joe’s son) has a hard, garagey sound, complete with squealing leads.  They ended with a relatively obscure cover “No, No, No”(?) 
Next came The Hard Lessons.  Joe from Euclid Records got them this gig…he’s a big fan and is doing his part to get this Detroit trio more exposure. Tonight’s set was not radically different from the previous two times I’d seen them, which is not a bad thing at all.  With only one album to draw from, that’s pretty much what we got.  “When you say all right, it makes me feel all right…all right” and “Milk And Sugar”.  The only cover I remember was Neil’s “Into The Black”.  Toward the end of the set, Augie, the guitar player got all gymnastic on us… he climbed up on the amps but thought better of swinging from the rafters or jumping off.




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