Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Anna Ternheim - Joe's Pub, 3/24/08

Swedish singer-songwriter Anna Ternheim played a well attended Joe's Pub show last night, giving the stateside audience the pleasure of hearing her do songs from her Swedish CDs, Singles and EPs. Winner of several Swedish Grammy awards, Anna is set to release her first full length American CD, Halfway to Fivepoints,April 22nd on the Decca label. Decca released a self-titled EPlast fall, which is currently available.

For some in the Joe's Pub audience, this was an introduction to her music, for others it was a chance to hear her sing songs that had become favorites from afar. In any case, Anna's performance was as deep and beautiful as her songs are, and as she herself seems to be. Between songs she told some stories and gave some background about some of the songs and in so doing offered some much appreciated insight into her and her music.

In addition to her singles and album tracks, Anna played a new song, "Summer Rain", and some interesting covers that included Bowie's "China Girl" that sounded amazing even if the prerecorded backing track disappeared mid-song, a nice version of her cover of the Broder Daniel song "Shoreline", and for her encore she came back with Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies".

Anna will be making New York her base of operations this spring and there will be numerous opportunities to see her sing, including April dates at Rockwood Music Hall and the Living Room in New York and Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, followed by a May tour of North America with El Perro Del Mar and Lykke Li. Here are a few more photos from last night's show.

Everyone at Joe's Pub last night probably has their own favorite moments, but the song that grabbed me the most and still won't let go is "Lovers Dream" sung to a most haunting backing track. Here's a Youtube clip of a live performance, check it out.

"Lovers Dream" - Live TV Duet with Fyfe Dangerfield (courtesy Shecat)

"Lovers Dream" was the next to last song in the set, followed by "To Be Gone" also sung to a backing track. Here's a live performance from 2005 of this great song.

"To Be Gone" - Live at Söndagsmorgon 06-02-2005 (courtesy bokmask)

Halfway to Fivepoints (USA,2008)

Anna Ternheim EP (USA, 2007)

Separation Road (Sweden, 2006)

Somebody Outside (Sweden, 2004)

Anna Ternheim's myspace.
Anna Ternheim's website.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

SXSW Wrap-Up

One week later, the magnitude of the four day music festival is only now beginning to sink in. Yesterday, while listening to Astrid Williamson's CDs that I picked up at her show the week before SXSW, I realized that so much music had come and gone since then, it took me half a CD to figure out who she was, where, and when I'd seen her (all three of her CDs are excellent, btw). Having now (finally) uploaded all the SXSW pictures to Blogger, I'm amazed to have seen and done everything in such a short time and without an advance game plan. That at least five of the shows were among the best live music I've ever seen was an unexpected and thrilling bonus.

New artists I'd never heard before, check. Familiar artists I'd never seen before, check. New types of music I'd not normally seek out, check. Favorite artists doing awesome shows, check. Awesome shows by artists I'd never seen before who have now become favorites, check. Many thanks to Dave from Direct Current for the suggestion to go. Finishing all the blog posts is step one in processing the event. There's still plenty of CDs and DVDs to check out, research to do (who are these utterly amazing guitarists, for one), lots of reading material that there was no time to read in Austin, etc. etc. The above photo is the view of Austin from the 18th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn.

The Statistics

  • This year's SXSW was the 23rd.
  • 1,700 bands from all over the world (including 150 from the UK).
  • 70 venues.
  • Over 3,000 shows including day parties.
  • 12,500 in attendance.
  • For me: 38 bands, 24 venues, over 1,400 photos taken, 167 photos posted.
The Upside
  • Four days of live music.
  • Amount of talent is mind boggling.
  • Set schedule ran like clockwork.
  • Set schedule requires sets last no longer than approximately 45 minutes.
  • Austin is a great music town.
  • Antone's.
  • Waterloo Records.
  • Texas BBQ.
  • Hut's Hamburgers.
  • Mexican food.
  • Amy's ice cream.
  • The weather, a nice break from winter back north.
  • Teetotallers tolerated.
The Downside
  • So much going on, any one person can only scratch the surface.
  • Enormous amount of work required to get the most out of the festival.
  • Set schedule requires sets last no longer than approximately 45 minutes.
  • SXSW published list of daytime events (27 pages worth) lacks RSVP and guest list instructions, exclusion from such gives event an elitist flavor that seems contrary to the spirit of the music (not to mention the price of a badge).
  • SXSW photo policy is severely flawed and was erroneously enforced at some venues (Van Morrison).
  • Photographically, SXSW is like the Olympic Triathlon of bad lighting, both day and night, the only exception being the Bat Bar and Lone Star Lounge which are studios, lit for television.
  • 6th Street kind of creepy after music stops at 2am due to those who don't know when to say when.
Five amazing shows:
  • Mike Farris
  • Jimmy LaFave
  • Amy LaVere
  • Shelby Lynne
  • Sia
Four incredible guitar players:
  • John Inmon (Jimmy LaFave)
  • Audley Freed (Mike Farris)
  • John Jackson (Shelby Lynne)
  • Steve Selvidge (Amy Lavere)
Five great Austin artists:
  • Suzanna Choffel
  • Jimmy LaFave
  • The Mother Truckers
  • Jenny Reynolds
  • Maggie Walters
Alphabetical band list with links to show pages:
Music & More SXSW post navigation:
  • Each daily page includes band list with links to the day's shows in chronological order.
  • Show pages also link forward and back chronologically.
  • Daily pages also link to each other as below.
Ten great band names:
  • Awesome Cool Dudes
  • Clockcleaner
  • Does it Offend You, Yeah?
  • Doghouse Family Jam
  • Girl in a Coma
  • Hello Seahorse!
  • Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jongs
  • Kreamy 'Lectric Santa
  • The Mother Truckers
  • Say No More
  • Soiled Mattress & the Springs
  • The Unsane
Four more cool band names:
  • Patty Hurst Shifter
  • Ringo Deathstar
  • Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
  • Steve E. Nix & the Cute Lepers
Eight band names not likely to see airplay anytime soon:
  • CunninLynguists
  • The Dicks
  • The Dykeenies
  • Fuck Buttons
  • Fucked Up
  • Holy Fuck
  • Psychedelic Horseshit
  • $hit & $hine

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express - Sellersville Theater, 3/19/08

Before reading the following, please start this live version of "Bumpin' on Sunset" from Brian Auger's Live at the Baked Potato DVD/CD.

When F. Scott Fitzgerald said "There are no second acts in American lives," he had apparently never met Brian Auger. While this may not apply based on the technicality that he's actually British, Brian's had quite a few second acts in his career which now spans five decades, but none more satisfying for the audience and most likely for him, both personally and professionally, than the current reincarnation of his Oblivion Express.

Formed in 1995 as a vehicle for Brian to play with his son Karma on drums and his daughter Savannah Grace on vocals, the next generation Express owes it's existence to the dedication of Karma who not only is a world class drummer but he also handles engineering, producing and road management and probably wears other hats as well in the operation of the band. Savannah sounds great singing the Express' repertoire and she just gets better and better with each passing year. Brian is the unquestioned master of the Hammond B-3 organ and his trademark combination of organ and electric piano is instantly recognizable. And even though the live DVD/CD was recorded on the occasion of Brian's 65th birthday, he hasn't lost even a fraction of a step, here is an artist working at the very top of his game.

For this tour, the Augers are joined by Andreas Geck on bass who nailed every song and proved to be quite the virtuoso when it was his turn to solo. The music of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express is so great and this band sounds so great performing it, that any opportunity to hear them is a special event, keyboard jazz doesn't get any better than this.

Here's tonight's setlist:

Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris)
Truth (Alex Ligertwood)
Straight Ahead (Barry Dean)
Season of the Witch (Donovan)
Indian Rope Man (Richie Havens)
Bumpin' on Sunset (Wes Montgomery)
Pavanne (Gabriel Faure, 1856)
Don't Look Away (Dean/Ligertwood/Mullen)
Whenever You're Ready (Auger/Dean)
Light My Fire (the Doors)
Happiness is Just Around the Bend (Auger)
Compared to What (Gene McDaniels)
Brain Damage (Ligertwood/Mills)

"Season of the Witch" seemed slower and sweeter than in the past, with lots of great electric piano soloing. "Bumpin' on Sunset" is always a highlight of the set, slow, gorgeous, and, well...bumpin'. I've seen them every time through since the reformation of the Express and this was the first time to hear "Pavanne" live and it was a real treat. Before and after each set, Brian and Karma hung out in the lobby with the audience, conversing and signing CDs and even a few old vinyl album covers. When one fan asked Brian what he thought of smooth jazz, he replied "Smooth jazz? It's like jazz with it's balls cut off."

Despite some guy yelling for "Up Around the Bend" (hey man, this wasn't a Creedence concert), they did a superb version of "Happiness is Just Around the Bend" with the recent addition of a Brazillian section followed by solos all the way around, with a return to finish, another highlight of every show. "Compared to What" killed, and left the audience begging for an encore, and all went home happy with "Brain Damage".

The current generation Express has recorded two excellent CDs of original material with some excellent cover songs which are updates on songs covered by Brian earlier in his career, and both CDs as well as Live at the Baked Potato, are highly recommended.

Looking in the Eye of the World (2005)

Voices of Other Times (1999)

Live at the Baked Potato DVD/CD (2005)

Brian Auger & the Oblivion Express website.
Brian Auger's myspace.
Karma D. Auger's myspace.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

SXSW - Day Four, Saturday, 3/15/08

South by Southwest 2008 is now history. It's 2:50 am local time here in Austin. Today was a beautiful end to the festival on all counts. Taking it a bit slower today I began by checking out the trade show, Hut's Hamburgers, and Waterloo Records. Then on to the music, saw two artists that I've known through myspace but had never seen before (Hafdis Huld and Brooke Waggoner), a new singer from Britain whose CD just debuted at number one there but is not yet released here (Duffy), saw several previously unknown artists, and the night and the festival ended with a superb set by Brooke at the Hilton Garden Inn 18th floor. Here's today's complete list:

SXSW - Day Four, Saturday
Hut's Hamburgers
Hafdis Huld (Reykjavik, Iceland) 5:30-6:30pm
Duffy (Wales, UK) 8-9pm
Jenn Grant (Halifax, NS) 9-10pm
Look, See, Proof (London, UK) 11pm-Midnight
The Soundtrack of Our Lives (Gothenburg, Sweden) Midnight-1am
Brooke Waggoner (Nashville, TN) 1-2am

In a few hours we'll be out of here. When time allows back home, pictures and descriptions for all the shows will post. In the meantime, before I close it down here, I want to relate one of the many amusing moments of the festival which took place last night. After Abra Moore finished her set at the Hilton Garden Inn 18th floor, we stayed for a little of the next set by Shawn Mullins at 1am. Heading out, we wound up in the elevator with Abra Moore and a couple people who were with her. A few floors down, a security guard got onto the elevator, escorting someone who was either incredibly drunk, retarded, or both. He kept repeating some sort of baby talk sounding phrase, over and over, repeatedly, insistently, and wouldn't stop. Everyone on the elevator was sort of freaked out, and Dave looked over and saw that Abra had a look of sheer terror. She and her crew made an excuse and got off the next time the door opened. We did the same at the following floor. A few minutes later, after finding our way down to the lobby, we noticed that the drunk guy was trying to check in to the hotel and the management was explaining to him that he was in the wrong hotel.

Here are a few more random shots from day four:

The Austin Convention Center.

The Capital reflected in the Thomas Jefferson Rusk State Office Building.

The Capital of Texas.

The Paramount Theater, on Congress.

Sixth Street again, at dusk on day four.

One last shot of Sixth Street.

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Hut's Hamburgers, Austin TX, 3/15/08

Hut's Hamburgers is now in it's 70th year as an Austin institution, serving up great burgers, fries, onion rings, milkshakes and other goodies. Everything at Hut's is fresh and homemade and tastes it.

Hut's is not a fast food stand and there's no drive-through. It's an old fashioned hamburger restaurant, taking you back to the days before there were such things. The classic old style look of the place has been retained and stepping through the door is almost like a step back in time.

One of the many burger choices at Hut's is the Dagburger (above) which is a double cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and American cheese. Fries are fresh cut on site and the onion rings are made from large thick slices of sweet onion.

Hut's is conveniently located on West 6th Street, near Waterloo Records and Whole Foods' flagship store. The staff all wear a t-shirt that has Hut's logo on the front and on the back it says "God Bless Hut's". I'd have to agree.

From the Burger section of Hut's menu:

All burgers cooked medium-well and available on whole wheat buns, or with buffalo meat, chicken breast, or 100% fat free veggie burger.

1. The Allen Freed Burger
homemade hickory sauce

2. Mel's Number 2
mustard, pickles and onions

3. Tuby's Tickler
chili, jalapenos and grated cheese

4. The Wolfman Jack
sour cream, diced green chilis, jack cheese and bacon

5. The Big Bopper
mayo, lettuce and tomato

6. Chubby Chuck's
pickles, onions, grated cheese and hickory sauce

7. Hut's Favorite
mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and American cheese

8. Arnold's Best
guacamole, lettuce, bacon and jack cheese

9. The Alley-Oop
Swiss cheese, grilled onions and 1000 island dressing on grain bread

10. The Fats Domino Burger
Lettuce, chopped tomatoes, pickles, mayo and mustard, jalapenos, onions, grated cheddar cheese and spicy New Orleans seasonings

11. The Dagburger
double meat cheeseburger, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese

12. The Theta Special
dill pickles, mayo, grated cheese and hickory sauce

13. Milner's Mushroom Burger
thick, creamy mushroom sauce and grated cheese

14. Beachboy's Favorite
pineapple, Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce and bell peppers

15. The Sink Burger
lettuce, tomatoes, American cheese with grilled ham and hickory sauce

16. Keller's Classic
lettuce, tomato, 1000 island dressing and grated cheese

17. Ritchie Valens Burger
guacamole, grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, mayo and mustard

18. Mr. Blue
bleu cheese dressing, Swiss cheese, bacon and lettuce

19. Boodieburger
sour cream, mushrooms and Swiss cheese

20. The All-American Buddy Holly Burger
The Works! Mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes and American cheese

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Hafdis Huld - SXSW, Momo's, 3/15/08

Hafdis Huld is an artist who I'd found on myspace long enough ago that I can't remember exactly how I found my way to her page, but the tunes on her player and the photos of her and her native Iceland were always a unique and enjoyable place to visit. It was undoubtedly one of the most unexpected and happy surprises of SXSW to find her here playing the festival.

Backed by a keyboard player and two acoustic guitarists, Hafdis played a nice sampling of her tunes during a late afternoon set at Momo's. With quirky (in a good way) lyrics and fairly simple melodies, Hafdis charmed the audience with songs about ice cream, monsters, ski jumpers, and diamonds on her belly. She introduced "Tomoco" as a single with a video which you can both listen to and watch on her myspace page. Her set included a killer cover version of "Material Girl" backed with banjo, rhythm guitar and xylophone; this was one of the more unusual, interesting and cool versions you could ever hope to hear of this classic Madonna tune.

Her music, her looks (she describes herself as a "Glittery Fairy Princess"), and her cute Icelandic accent combined to captivate the small but appreciative audience; most of whom apparently knew or knew of her and came specifically to see her.

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Duffy - SXSW, Stubbs, 3/15/08

During almost every time slot at SXSW, there are numerous artists who you might want to see, but having missed Duffy's short set earlier in the day, I went with this show over a slew of others in the 8pm time slot, and although I'd not had a chance to previously hear Duffy's new CD, she totally won me over with an excellent show. Live, it sounded like the ultimate in professionally played pop/rock/soul with Duffy's very energetic stage presence and nicely sung vocals. Here's a portion of her opening number, courtesy of youtube user ihavebeenseen.

Here's the setlist:
Warwick Avenue
Stepping Stone
Syrup & Honey
Delayed Devotion
Hanging on too Long

And this is a bit of "Warwick Avenue", also from the same source, the sound on both clips is quite good.

All the songs were drawn from Duffy's debut album, Rockferry except for one, "Tomorrow" which appears on the b-side of Duffy's "Mercy" single.

"Serious" featured a nice solo by guitarist John Green. The rest of the band left the stage for "Syrup & Honey" which Duffy sang accompanied only by Green, very bluesy and soulful. All told it was a great set by Duffy, talent seeming to justify the hype and giving hope that she will be able to transcend it. Picture angles and lighting were good at Stubbs outdoor stage, so enjoy the rest of the photos from Duffy's show, remember to click for a larger view.

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