A few concert-going odds and ends from the past couple of weeks:
I saw Joan Shelley open up for Richard Thompson two Fridays ago.
Hearing her voice in that setting, it’s easy to make comparisons to the late great Sandy Denny, with whom Richard played eons ago in Fairport Convention.
I know that’s high praise for folkies, but Joan deserves it. NPR is streaming her new album (produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco) – spend some time with it.
This past Saturday I saw Cincinnati’s own Wussy at the Woodward Theater. They were a bit rusty (they’re taking a break from touring to record), but amazing as always. The sandpaper & silk combination of Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker on vocals is, in a word, beautiful.
Wussy had two local bands opening up. Note to all local bands: if you’d like to attract more fans, maybe try a volume other than “eardrum-piercing.” Seriously, my friend Dave and I could only last 30 seconds with the first band before we retreated outside. You win the volume contest, local band… but ironically you lose a chance to be heard by more people. Wouldn’t you rather have folks up by the stage rather than rushing for the exits or cowering in a corner? TURN IT DOWN! WAY DOWN! (See, you don’t like it when I turn up the volume either, do you? Now you know how the audience feels.)
Thank goodness I had my Earpeace earplugs. If you go to concerts, do your ears a favor and get a pair. A mere $20 will get you the HD version, and they come with their own handy carrying case.
I spent years using those disposable foam factory/construction site earplugs, which muffle all sounds. Earpeace plugs actually filter the sound, so you can enjoy the bands without killing your hearing.
On Monday I saw a great double bill, again at the Woodward. Ron Gallo opened up for Hurray for the Riff Raff. Both were fantastic. Ron’s songwriting and guitar skills are as impressive as his hairdo, and that’s saying something:
Hurray for the Riff Raff is fronted by Alynda Lee Segarra, a self-proclaimed “New Yorican” (i.e. New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent) and pint-sized dynamo. Her new album is The Navigator, and it’s great. The band sounds fantastic in concert too, and Alynda isn’t afraid to speak her mind about all sorts of socio-political topics. She introduce a couple of tunes by saying “this is an immigrant song.” Here’s their performance at SXSW last month.
Ron Gallo and his two other band members even joined Hurray for the Riff Raff on stage for a couple of songs, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s “Living in the City” (here’s a brief clip)…
…and a raucous encore version of a John Lennon tune, “Bring on the Lucie (Freeda People)” (another snippet):
Aaaaand finally (I know, tl:dr)….
… NPR is also streaming an album where artists from Dolly Parton to Pearl Jam cover Brandi Carlile’s The Story. It’s called “Cover Stories” and it’s for a good cause:
The musicians on Cover Stories joined the project, in part, because they believe in the cause Cover Stories benefits – all proceeds go to War Child UK, a non-governmental organization supporting children affected by conflict