Win one of our ebay auctions?
For faster service pay online!
Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 93
Rick Wood's Concert Diary - Vol. 93
5/8/10 Adam Reichmann, The Ranch House. Ray, Noah and I showed up early enough to hang out and catch up with people before the music started up…about 40 people out to hear this solo performance from former front man from the local band, Nadine. Set one mixed old favorites (“Here To Amuse You”, “Twilight”, “Angela”…Adam on loping Lennonesque keyboards and “Closer”) with a couple of newer songs and an obscure Springsteen cover (I didn’t recognize it). His vocals varied in range from song-to-song; sometimes in a high falsetto (ala the self-titled Neil Young album) and others in a lower tone. I’ve always liked Adam’s warm and tuneful songs; it had been years since I had heard some of these.
I talked with a bunch of interesting people during the longer-than-usual break. Set two scattered more familiar songs (“Lead The Way”, “This Time She’s Listening To Her Heart”, “All Things Considered”…the latter is a personal favorite). Somewhere in the set, Dave (tonight’s host) played bass on a couple of songs (Adam on electric guitar). The ever-catchy “Back To My Senses” stood out. Toward the end, we heard the wistful original “Sleep With The Radio On” and a nice little cover of Tom Petty’s “The Waiting”.
As is the pattern, a handful of us (including Adam) hung around the fire out back for a good, long while after the music ended. The highlight of the late-night proceedings was watching Dave’s twelve-year-old feed a mouse to his snake.
5/13/10 Midwest Mayhem, The City Museum. This is the annual blow-out party for members of KDHX. The place was packed (lots of familiar faces) when I got there a little before 9PM…so much so that there was an impossibly long beer line at all of the bars on all of the different levels of this vast museum/playground. I ended up opting for the bar at The Cabin Inn where Kevin Buckley was playing over in the corner (but was drowned out by the crowd). By the time I got to the front of the line at the bar (a fifteen minute ordeal), I bought six PBRs in a cardboard holder just to avoid going back.
I gave away beers to friends (and one stranger) while standing near the giant concrete whale in the back of the room where The Bottlerockets were playing. Through the dense crowd, crappy concrete acoustics and talkative party atmosphere, I vaguely remember seeing just the top of Brian Henneman’s cowboy hat and hearing echoy, distorted versions of “Indianapolis”, “I Fell Down” and “Every Kind Of Everything”. Before their set ended, I had already retreated to that outdoor area by the ball pit where things were calm enough to talk among a few friends with a little elbow room. I wandered back inside when The Brothers Lazaroff were playing, only to find that the sound was still bad and the room was still uncomfortably crowded. I ended up having a great time tonight, but it wasn’t about the music.
5/14/10 Magic City, The Fox Hole. Nancy and I showed up early to get dinner and talk before the music started up…friends/relatives of Dave and Angela accounted for over half of the crowd. Dave’s band, Waterloo opened the show. Front man Mark Ray is in town for a few days and put together the first show by these guys in years. Just like I remember, they opened with a slow-burn before building up and working in to something more punchy. Mark’s singing is gentle and even. The songs usually start off fairly slow before evolving into some engaging two-guitar (Mark and Chris Grabau) rock. A new one was built on a refreshingly atypical drum pattern. Dave Melson puts a lot into his playing and it comes out in his body language. Somewhere in the middle of the set, I walked Nancy out to her car right as Walt and Jeanne Anne showed up.
The crowd thinned considerably before Magic City went on. This local five-piece (d, g/lap steel, Anne on bass, Adam on keys and Larry on guitar & vocals) opened with Alex Chilton’s* “Don’t Lie To Me”. The next song (“Poison”?) reminded me of Dream Syndicate- all hard, and dark with deep, half-spoken vocals and searing guitar/slide guitar/keyboard interplay. The general tone is very big, bold and theatrical. Larry sang a slow, dramatic one (“Only Love Can Save Us Now”?). Another included the line, “She was easy, I was hard”. Tonight’s set had more impact with me than the one other time I had seen them.
5/16/10 The Knitters, The Old Rock House. I showed up shortly after the doors opened at around 8…making a mad dash through the rain to the club. Beer and friends took care of the hour until show time- it was actually nice that there was no opening act on a Sunday night. Our little crew found some space up front near the stage right as John Doe and Dave Alvin started things off with a couple of songs in acoustic/electric duo mode. “Silver Wings” never fails to hit that spot with me. I heard Merle’s original first, but for me, this is the definitive version: JD’s stark, plaintive vocals and Dave’s well-placed electric leads accentuate the lonely tone of the story told through imagery in song. John pointed out that the steady rain that we could all see out the long wall of windows added some gloomy visuals to the sad songs.
From there, they welcomed the rest of the band to the stage: Exene Cervenka on vocals, DJ Bonebrake on a spare stand-up drum kit and Johnny Bartel on stand-up bass. As much as I love this band, things didn’t quite click with me the two other times I saw them, but things were different tonight. Attribute it to the size of the room or the fact that the band was all in top form and early into their tour, but they played and sang with a spark and punch that wasn’t there the last time around.
John’s vocals were a bit distorted in the mix, while Exene’s could have been brought up a touch, but the instrumentation was mixed just about perfect and the band was on. Dave Alvin’s lead guitar ranged from some deep-toned rumbling to up-tempo chicken-pickin’ with many points in between. DJ Bonebrake puts a lot of effort and energy into his spare, stand-up drum kit; he beams with an enthusiasm that gives a glimpse into the general harmony among these musicians who have played together, off and on for over thirty years.
Song selection covered most of the songs from their two albums: “Poor Little Critter”, “Walking Cane”, “Give Me Flowers While I'm Living”, “Skin Deep Town”, “Poor Old Heartsick Me” (always a personal favorite), “I’ll Go Down Swinging”, “Baby Out Of Jail” as well as George Jones’ “Something To Brag About”. They also did a handful of X songs: “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”, “The New World”, “Burning House Of Love” and “In This House That I Call Home”. They always seem to save “Wrecking Ball” and “Rock Island Line” for the end of their set; each starts slow before building in speed and intensity, ending with a chaotic crescendo.
5/22/10 The Orange Peels, Off Broadway. This west coast indie pop band rarely travels this far east, but a family wedding for the husband/wife nucleus of the band seemed like a nice enough excuse for the whole band to fly into St. Louis for this one-off show. I arranged to be the unofficial host of the other two members of the band…John, Gabe and I spent some time record shopping before grabbing dinner at Iron Barley.
We got to the club right before The Boorays went on. My pat-answer from my vague memory from twenty years ago was that this long-defunct local band did some kind of surf instrumental thing. After listening closer (20 years later) it’s apparent that that they were much more about the pop songs- verses/choruses/aching vocals. I really came to know/appreciate this about front man, Mark Stephens as a member of his next band, The Highway Matrons.
There were maybe 50 or 60 people in the room when The Orange Peels went on. This way-too-late account suffers from limited familiarity of the band and weeks gone by. My vague memory is that front man Allen Clapp writes and sings some quirky pop songs while John Moreman and Jill Pries (Allen’s wife) lay on some inventive guitar and bass.
John, Gabe and I made it back to the house a little after 1AM where we had one last beer out on the patio before calling it a night. The next morning Nancy and I took them to breakfast before they headed to the airport.
6/1/10 Eilen Jewel, Off Broadway. I spent the early part of the evening at my nine-year-old’s baseball game and didn’t make it to the club until around ten…maybe 60 people out on a Tuesday; not bad. The band went on relatively early, so I only caught the last half-hour or so…not too different from times before: “Shakin’ All Over” and “I You See Me Stealin” stood out. I stopped off at CBGB’s for a nightcap with Nim, PK and Aicha.
6/5/10 RFT showcase, Washington Ave. I was all set to have a quiet evening at home when Dave and Angela called around 9 to see if I wanted a ride down to hear Adam play at Flamingo Bowl… “maybe; are you planning on staying out late?” Dave replied that they wanted to make it a relatively early evening and the plan was on. We got downtown right as Adam Reichmann started up his solo acoustic set. Nothing outrageously different than when he played that house concert a few weeks ago: “Sleep With The Radio On”, “Here To Amuse You”, “This Time She’s Listening To Her Heart”, etc.
As this set played out, a handful of friends showed up. I was the oldest one in our group, which probably made me the oldest guy in the bar. Adam’s tuneful, confessional songs (delivered in his higher-register voice) reminds me of Matthew Sweet at times. It will be fun to hear his songs fleshed out by a full band again (apparently, he’s putting another band together).
Shortly after Adam finished up, Dave and Angela headed home while I threw my lot in with a crew of about eight friends still looking to hear more music. Roy was vaguely the leader of our bunch, with his little pocket schedule…the rest of us filed in behind, along for the ride. It felt like we were down on Sixth Street during SXSW as we squeezed through the dense press of young hipsters, determined to check out some hip, new bands that most of us had never heard of before.
Our next stop was LOLA, where we heard Teresajenee …she sang all smooth and soulful with a hint of hip-hop. The full band did a funk/soul thing. It was a refreshing field trip into a genre of music that I don’t hear very often (especially from local musicians). Soon enough, we all trekked down to some other club on Washington Ave where Stalin was playing. Tim Rakel’s deep, gruff, unintelligible singing is the most notable feature of this somewhat quirky quartet that plays, dark, dour rock. Their cover of TVZ’s “Lungs” spliced in the trademark riff from Sabbath’s “Iron Man”. Early in the set, Roy caught up with me in the beer line and made sure that we bought several pints of dark, hearty ale for our crew.
It took a while to round up everyone out on the sidewalk, but once everyone was accounted for, we made a brief stop in to one of those trendy Wash Ave bars to check out Mohawk vs. Heezy (I think). Roy being the leader and all, came up with a plan: if he concluded that the band wasn’t worth staying for, he would hold up his lighter and that would be our signal to leave the bar and reassemble out on the sidewalk to come up with another plan. This lighter trick was employed within five minutes, and soon enough, we were all back out on the sidewalk.
From there, I steered our group in to Hair Of The Dog to hear the last little bit of the set by Bob Reuter…There was a pretty good crowd in this smallish-sized club as Bob and band closed things out with a ragged rattle (I think the song was “Jefferson Davis”, but it was a long time ago).
Then off to Rue 13 to hear Flaming Death Trap. I thought the front man’s voice was similar to Miles Of Wire’s Raphael Maurice. We made it back to LOLA to hear the closing set by Lamar Harris. Lamar has a big stage presence and big band (b, g, d, k ,v, v, sax, trumpet). The only song I recognized was Sly’s “If You Want Me To Stay”. Another funky, groove-based song reminded me of “Peg” by Steely Dan. Between the blur of the night and the time-lag in getting around to writing this, many of the details have been lost, but the evening was more about the overall swirl of friends/strangers/bands than about the particulars. I caught a ride home from John, arriving around 2:30.