Lucid Culture


NYC Live Music Calendar 8/18-26/07

Sat Aug 18 at Damrosch Park out behind Lincoln Center starting at 7, it’s rockabilly night, an unusually mixed bill. At this point it looks like expert blues fingerpicker and Rev. Gary Davis disciple Larry Johnson will be opening for a rockabilly supergroup of sorts comprised of awful 60s survivor Roy Head, “Rock and Roll Tornado” Dale Hawkins, semi-legend Charlie Gracie, and baritone crooner Sleepy LaBeef followed by the gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds.


Also Sat Aug 18 Samara Lubelski plays Cake Shop, 9ish. She’s good: jangly, watery, goth-tinged, electric rock.


Later Sat Aug 18 Electric Engine – indie rock masters of the crescendoing chorus – open for the attractively thoughtful Hula at Luna, 10 PM.


Even later Sat Aug 18 Moonlighters’ frontwoman Bliss Blood’s excellent Delta blues band Delta Dreambox plays with special guest, retro ragtime innuendo master Al Duvall at Banjo Jim’s, 11 PM.

 Sun Aug 19 Matty Charles & the Valentines play Pete’s, 10 PM. They’ve played residencies here off and on for god knows how long and they’re back, and if you like country music you should see them sometime. 

Mon Aug 20 what’s left of 70s soul/funk legends the Spinners (the frontguy died back in the 80s) open for Philly soul brothers the O’Jays at Wingate Field, 7:30 PM, Winthrop Street and Kingston Avenue in Bed-Stuy, free. The headliners are supposedly pretty much the same as they were in the 70s. C’mon, tell me you don’t want to jump on the Love Train. Directions: 2  train to Winthrop Street, walk 2 blocks east or by bus: B12 on Clarkson Avenue to New York Avenue, walk north; B44 on Nostrand Avenue and New York Avenues to Winthrop Street, walk east.


Thurs Aug 23 a terrific show at Kenny’s Castaways on Bleecker St., of all places: soaring psychedelic 80s throwbacks Liza & the WonderWheels open at 8, followed by fiery upstate garage rockers Skelter at 9. Headliners System Noise, who play at 10 have a spectacularly powerful frontwoman, good lyrics, amazing eerie guitar, a new bass player and are pyrotechnically good live.


Fri Aug 24 it’s the cd release party for scorching garage/punk rockers 18 at Union Pool, 10ish. Lyres authenticity, Ramones energy, unbelievable tightness.


Also Fri Aug 24 Marcellus Hall & the Headliners play Lakeside, 11 PM. The New Yorker illustrator and once-and-future White Hassle frontman is at the absolute peak of his powers as retro hookmeister and dazzlingly literate, funny wordsmith. He also plays Pete’s on Aug 29 at 11, probably solo.


Sat Aug 25 at 3 PM it’s the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, uptown at Marcus Garvey Park with Abbey Lincoln, Chico Hamilton, Marc Cary and Lezlie Harrison. Sunday’s show at Tompkins Square Park also starts at three and features Abbey Lincoln, Chico Hamilton, Todd Williams and Maurice Brown


Later Sat Aug 25 there’s an amazing show at Hank’s in Flatbush, Brooklyn, Atlantic Ave. and 3rd Ave., take any train to Atlantic Ave and walk a block on Atlantic toward Brooklyn Heights. Haunting Britfolk-inflected siren Amanda Thorpe, sounding better than ever, opens the show at 9 followed by the equally haunting and much louder Randi Russo and her band.  Long-running, black-as-coal Nashville gothic headliners Ninth House have shuffled their lineup yet again and are better off for it, should be a lot of surprises tonight.


Sun Aug 26 the Mingus Big Band AND the Mingus Orchestra play the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival at Damrosch Park, out back, show starts at 8 PM but get there an hour early if you want a seat.


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August 17, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City | 2 Comments

CD Review: Richard Thompson – Sweet Warrior

This is Richard Thompson’s best, angriest, most lyrically rich and stylistically diverse studio album in ages, in fact since Industry, his 1997 collaboration with bassist Danny Thompson. Some of you may wonder why we’re reviewing someone so well-known here, and there’s a reason: he’s actually not that well known. He hasn’t had a label deal in years. He does, however have a rabid cult following, some of who go on the road with him like the Grateful Dead. Those fans insist that Thompson is both the best rock guitarist AND the best rock songwriter ever. They might be right.

He was already a dazzling player at 19 when he joined legendary psychedelic/Britfolk rockers Fairport Convention in the late 60s. He left that band a few years later and then put out several critically acclaimed semi-acoustic albums with his wife Linda Thompson. That collaboration culminated with their legendary 1982 record Shoot Out the Lights, a brutal blow-by-blow chronicle of the dissolution of their marriage that ends with what would become his signature song, The Wall of Death. It’s safe to say that it’s one of the greatest albums ever made. Since then, he’s released innumerable solo albums, both live and studio recordings, and virtually all of them are terrific. This ranks with the best of them.

The album’s centerpiece is a towering, seven-minute epic about violence. Its setting is Ireland, but its cast of dubious characters and their inevitable charge towards tragedy could could just as easily be in Iraq. Toward the end, we get a typically febrile Stratocaster solo from Thompson. He generally plays with a round, open tone without any distortion or effects, similar to Robert Cray. Here, he fires away a fusillade and then the instruments fall away one by one, with an understated, somber grace that perfectly matches the lyrics. Thompson is a master of matching melody to words, and this is a prime example.

There’s also a fiery anti-Iraq war number called Dad’s Gonna Kill Me, told from the point of view of a British soldier with his patrol, “sitting targets in the Wild West Show.” Dad is someone in command: he’s never named. It’s a tense, terrified, loping minor-key number that builds to an eerie, pointillistic guitar solo.

A lot of this album is electrified English jigs and reels, spiced with ominous guitar chromatics: Thompson loves those Middle Eastern tonalities. The sarcastic Mr. Stupid is directed at a greedy ex (ex-wife Linda, perhaps?) living off his royalties and tour earnings: “Clear the streets and book your seats, Mr. Stupid’s back in town.” She may despise him, but he’s quick to remind her that he’s still the one who writes the checks. The theme recurs in the album’s concluding number, Sunset Song, Thompson railing about being “up there on the cross where some say I belong.” He hasn’t been this angry at anyone – other than the Bush regime – in a long time.

Otherwise, there’s the excellent, sarcastic, defiantly fast I’ll Never Give It Up; Bad Monkey, another broadside aimed at an ex; Francesca, a rueful minor-key lament set to a surprisingly effective reggae beat, and the scorching, anti-Tony Blair song Sneaky Boy. And six other good ones, beautifully arranged with antique instrumentation: strings, krummhorn, mandolin, even uillean pipes on the tail end of the aptly metaphorical Too Late to Come Fishing. If you’re in the Thompson cult, you undoubtedly have this by now along with everything else; if he’s new to you, this is a fine way to become acquainted with a criminally underrated, astonishingly powerful rocker.

August 17, 2007 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment