Sunday, June 14, 2009

Elvis Costello at Regency Park

Elvis Costello brought his ace Americana backup band to the Koka Booth Ampitheatre in Cary tonight to do songs from his latest recording "The Secret, Profane and Sugarcane."
This crack band included the Dobro Ace Jerry Douglas, fiddler deluxe Stuart Duncan and the ever-talented Jim Lauderdale on vocals and guitar. The mostly acoustic set included some unusual covers and some Costello standards along with songs from the new album.

Predominantly material from "Profane" and "King of America" along with plenty of songs from "My Aim is True" stuck in the set as well. The dapper and energetic Mr. Costello set up the songs from the new record with jaw-dropping stories about the not-quite-courtship of Hans Christian Anderson and the Barnum Singing Sensation Jenny Lind set in time around the 1850s. The songs from this song cycle are brutal in content. "Red Cotton" for instance about selling scraps of a red (metaphorically soaked with the blood of antebellum slaves) dress in souvenir lockets. The song "She Handed Me a Mirror" being about the time Hans Christian asked Jenny Lind why she could not return his love (and HCA being so unattractive) she handed him a mirror.
Leave it to Elvis to take songs intended for an opera about a Swedish singing star and convert them into an Americana influenced song cycle.

Set List:

Mystery Train
All Time Doll
Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down
Down Among the Wine and the Spirits
Blame It On Cain
Our Little Angel
Femme Fatale
I Felt the Chill Before the Winter Came
The Delivery Man
The Butcher's Boy
Indoor Fireworks
Hidden Shame
New Unpublished Song
Wicked Wine
Friend of the Devil
She Handed Me a Mirror
Everyday I write the Book
She Was No Good
Chocolate Town
Brilliant Mistake
Red Cotton
The Crooked Line
Red Shoes
Sulfur to Sugarcane
The Race is On
What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding
Changing Partners
Five Small Words (thanks D. Menconi!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

X at the Cats Cradle June 9th 2009

X is still a band to be reckoned with, judging by last night's scorching-hot set at the Cat's Cradle. Billy Zoom still has the Zen calm to go along with his classic metal-flake Gretsch Jet guitar and classic guitar licks (and an eye for the ladies), John Doe sweating profusely, grinding hypnotic rhythms and almost knocking his mic stand down, Exene was calm and aloof center stage as the cacophony of break-neck rhythm droned all about her and enthusiastic fans called her name and sang along. The band sounded as fresh and exciting as they did 27 years ago when I last saw them in Raleigh at the Pier and the punk generation in attendance got a long awaited fresh infusion of the real thing. This band and their music is timeless.

Notable Songs in a terrific set included We're Desparate, This House is Not a Home, Breathless (!), and Los Angeles...

Set list to be posted.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Geez, What Have I Been Up To?

Been to see lots of local bands including a terrifc show by The Old Ceremony at the Cat's Cradle for the release of their new excellent record "Walk on Thin Air." Great moments from this show included the new song "Plate Techtonics" and the old chestnut "Reservations." The Love Language opened up this show and were polished and very enjoyable. Other bands I've seen lately include Wye Oak, who did a super Sunday night show at the Local 506, the quirky and very original Americans in France, and the Raleigh trio Gray Young. At Reebus Fest on Sunday this past week I caught Kenny Roby and the Mercy Filter's tight, melodic, rockin' set in the 90 degree sun. Let's just say it was so good I didn't run for the AC until it was over. Lots of songs from his last release which sound as fresh now as when this great recording came out a couple years ago. There is alot of great local music out there we are so lucky to have such good bands.

Out of town bands I've seen lately include an excellent Tim Easton show at the Berkley Cafe in support of his terrific new recording "Porcupine." All the Tim Easton standards were thrown in for good measure, "Lexington County Jail," "Let Me Be Next to You" among others. Tim did have a nice rhythm section with him that was somewhat remindful of the Crickets of Buddy Holly fame. Another band I've seen recently is Australia's own An Horse. This powerful man/woman duo band kept the rhythms tight and the songs focused. Their single "Postcards" from their first EP was a real highlight.
Also seen at the Local 506 recently were the energetic and superb Pains of Being Pure at Heart. This quintet of rockers from NYC are destined for great things with their atmospheric arrangements and hook-filled choruses.

Photography wise I have been shooting and printing like crazy. Attended a superb lecture by noted local photographer David Simonton titled "Time Served: The Evolution of A Documentary Project." A presentation of David's work photographing the deconstructing Polk Youth Center beside the Raleigh Art Museum. As the buildings deteriorated and nature took over Simonton's skilled photographic eye made gold from them decaying hills. Also I recently bought a superb book called "Celebrating the Negative." No, its not an anti-positive thinking tome. But a cool book filled with images of negatives of famous photographs. You can see how the image was cropped or the fact that alot of them are 4x5 or 8x10 glass plates. Bresson's famous jumping man negative is a fraction of a cropped frame of 35mm. Fascingating stuff....

A taste of the book can be found here...