Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Song of the Day 1/6/10

Every day, our Top 666 Songs of Alltime countdown gets one step closer #1. Wednesday’s song is #204:

LJ Murphy – Saturday’s Down

The New York noir legend’s biggest hit is this uncharacteristically quiet, haunted narrative of what’s left of a weekend watching Brooklyn’s parade of lost souls circle around Williamsburg’s McCarren Park circa 2005, before the trendoids and the yuppies took over. From his 2006 cd Mad Within Reason; there are also a million bootlegs out there and many of them are very good.

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January 5, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CD Review: Podunk, BFE – Get Your Hole Ready

Editor’s note – thanks to Jayne for the heads-up about this one

From Portland, Oregon comes this consistently funny, sometimes hilarious album of bluegrass/grasscore punk songs. The cd cover shot is a pretty skyscape through what looks like a doorframe, like in some Caribbean travel brochure – until you realize that it’s the view upward from the bottom of a grave. If you’re wondering what the BFE in Podunk, BFE means, that’s Bum Fuck Egypt which says a lot about how this sounds. The instrumentation here is bristly and tasty with banjo, mandolin, guitar, and upright bass along with drums on some of the cuts. Some of the songs are so fast that it sounds like the band is scrambling to catch up, which only adds to the mayhem (although the playing is really good, especially for a crew who obviously don’t take themselves all that seriously). The lyrics mostly concern alcohol and sex, not necessarily in that order. A father-son duo pass the time at the local 24-hour bar; a sympathetic friend tries to lure a jumper down from the ledge with a beer (“I know you’ve got tears to cry, but he’s not your kind of guy”), and in the best of the cheating songs, the guy who first appears to be a sensitive listener type proves to be a lying, cheating SOB just like all the rest. Another ends up going home from the bar with the wrong person (whose name turns out to be Earl). Then there’s the woozy dude with holes in his memory a mile wide, except for his jailhouse tattoo. The one song with an obscenity in the title turns out to be a really nice instrumental. And the best song on the album ends with a Dolly Parton style litany of dead icons, except that these guys are all in hell, Lefty Frizzell, Tupac, Townes Van Zant, Keith Richards – “oh yeah, he’s not dead yet.” When the jokes get old, the tunes will keep your toes tapping: the drunker you get, the better this probably sounds.

January 5, 2010 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Greg Garing at the Delancey, NYC 1/4/10

The Monday night Small Beast show at the Delancey being New York’s most brazen display of good songs and good chops, the parade of talent that’s come through here over the last eight months or so far exceeds anything any other club in town has seen over that span of time. As far as pure talent is concerned, Greg Garing tops the list – and for anyone who was lucky enough to catch his solo show last night, that’s no disrespect to any of the other artists who’ve played here. If you can imagine Willie Nelson if his drug of choice was moonshine instead of pot, you’d be on the right track. Garing is the kind of artist who inhabits his songs – it’s impossible to separate him from them, seeing as he practically goes into a trance and becomes them. His guitar virtuosity, soulful terseness and stylistic chops are unsurpassed, matching a jazzy Chet Atkins-gone-punk countrypolitan feel along with a seemingly effortless whirlwind of flatpicking on a couple of bluegrass numbers, along with some judicious blues and country gospel work. As when Black Sea Hotel played a couple of weeks ago, the room was silent, absolutely rapt. Garing may have a four-octave vocal range – from Tennessee Ernie Ford bass to a falsetto and a heartwarming blue yodel – but he used all of those devices subtly. It would not be an overstatement to mention him in the same sentence as Jimmie Rodgers. And while he did play a few covers – a brisk, unadorned Deep Ellem Blues, a slowly smoldering take of the blues How Long and a Jerry Lee Lewis barrelhouse romp through Real Wild One (he also played pretty amazing piano on that one and a brief ragtime number that he seemed to make up on the spot), it was his originals that resonated most intensely.

The biggest crowdpleaser was a gentle ballad, a reflection on how nature has no preference for any season, with the refrain “We’ll be happy once again.” With the mercury outside below twenty, this hit the spot, along with a beautifully heartfelt gospel-inflected number possibly titled Teardrops Falling in the Snow. One of the more upbeat numbers sounded like a Hasil Adkins song; he also did a resonant cover of the #1 country single of 1968, the politically charged Skip a Rope, written by his old friend Henson Cargill. Garing admitted as his set got underway that he’s “a lucky boy,” having played with several original members of the Grand Old Opry as well as bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin (Garing was reputedly the only sideman that Martin would allow to drink with him, maybe because he could). And some years later, as leader of the Alphabet City Opry, he jumpstarted a fertile New York country scene that’s still going strong almost fifteen years down the road.

Botanica frontman Paul Wallfisch played mostly solo on piano beforehand, covering Leonard Cohen, Serge Gainsbourg and then, with Bellmer Dolls frontman Peter Mavrogeorgis on guitar, the Stooges’ Gimme Danger (Paul sang) and a spine-tingling noir version of She Cried ( a Del Shannon cover that Peter, who sang, discovered via the late Roland S. Howard ). Wallfisch’s longtime onstage sparring partner Little Annie also contributed characteristically charming, smoky vocals on songs by Jacques Brel and Leon Russell.

Before Wallfisch, a boyfriend/girlfriend duo called the Pinky Somethings [wasn’t really paying attention] opened the night with carefree if barely competent covers of a lot of good songs: Warren Zevon, John Prine, George Jones, more John Prine. This is how you start out, playing your favorites. If they keep it up and reach the point where they’re writing songs like the ones they like so much, they’ll be really good too.

January 5, 2010 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music, small beast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Song of the Day 1/5/10

Every day, our Top 666 Songs of Alltime countdown gets one step closer #1. Tuesday’s song is #205:

Kelli Rae Powell – Don’t Look Back Zachary

The road trip that for a minute looked like an escape from hell turns quickly to hell. But she can’t go back. The oldtimey siren’s minutely jewelled, gracefully haunted memoir with ukelele. From her 2009 album New Words for Old Lullabies.

January 5, 2010 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment