Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Merle Haggard: He Is What He Is

I Am What I Am--Merle Haggard--"What kind of music do you usually have here," asks Elwood Blues, in the 1980s movie The Blues Brothers.  "Oh, we got both kinds," says the waitress.  "We got country AND western."  That's what I Am What I Am is--both country AND western.  More specifically it reflects the Bakersfield Sound,  from Bakersfield, CA.  This is plain, down home C & W with few, if any, studio enhancements.  Mr. Haggard's voice is right up front, clearly articulating the lyrics so you don't miss his points.  The recording is dressed up a bit--with trumpet, piano, fiddle, backing vocals from his wife, and more--so this is far from rustic.  If you like Tom Russell, Dave Alvin or Gram Parsons but haven't listened much to Merle, I Am What I Am may be a fine introduction.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Other Dylan

Women and Country-Jakob Dylan--Yes, he's one of Bob's kids, and, no, he doesn't sound exactly like dad (to the relief of many).  Or maybe he does a little.  More like a cross between his dad and Mark Knopfler.  And no, he's probably not going to be the "voice of his generation" like dad.  But he did make a darn good record with boutique roots producer T-Bone Burnett, with whom he worked as a member of The Wallflowers.  If you liked T-Bone's production of the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant pairing CD, Raising Sand, then you'll probably like Women and Country. Low-key rootsy hipness,  perfect for a hot summer day driving in your car with the AC on, or when you're sipping a latte at Starbucks.  The songs are likeable, hummable, not exactly memorable at first. But they grow on you. A CD worth listening to!  Narrows history fans: Narrows alum Marc Ribot contributes guitar work. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Soul'd Out

It was blue-eyed soul night, and another sold-out show night, at the Narrows Friday as Englishman James Hunter brought his band and a sackful of catchy tunes that sounded like they could have been recorded in 1959 or yesterday.

If you're unfamiliar with his work, just stop by the Ruby Tuesday's in South Attleboro. Your humble blogger swears that he hears something from James Hunter in the soundtrack piped through the restaurant every visit.

A young fellow originally from Arlington, MA, Jesse Dee, opened the show doing his version of the retro soul man. After his set, audience members were asking us to have him headline his own show.

Nice job, Jesse (he's pictured right).

Friday, June 18, 2010

Like It Loud. Like It Blue.

 A loud, bluesy Friday night at the Narrows, that started acoustic with master blues picker Mark T. Small, playing some Charlie Patton, some Robert Johnson, some Mark T. Small.  Then the air got electric with Coco Montoya (above) and his group, sporting a new CD.

All kicked off a blues weekend that features Ronnie Earl on Saturday night.  Blues fans--take note! James Cotton, Taj Mahal, Savoy Brown, Jimmy Vaughn and Johnny Winter coming up in the months ahead!

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Jesse Winchester Kind of NIght

A lovely Friday night at the Narrows.  The weather kind of understated.  

The performer, Jesse Winchester, kind of understated, too.  Except with fabulous songs.

Kevin Connolly, who recently played the Kerrville Folk Festival, was the opener and received a more than enthusiastic response.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Wolfa Guffa Cares

Midnight Souvenirs--Peter Wolf--The former J. Geils frontman is working hard for the money. This is a finely crafted recording that shows, despite decades on stage and in the studio, the Wolfa Guffa Mamma Tuffa still cares.  For example: he wrote more than half the tracks with song doctor Will Jennings--which may bother some purists (Hell, Jennings wrote with freakin' Barry Manilow!  But, hey, with Clapton too.) I suspect he wanted the best and was willing to bring in the talent.  It paid off--the tunes are the absolute bedrock of this CD.  

Lots of Narrows connections, including a duet with Narrows alum Shelby Lynne on the opener, "Tragedy" (the photo was taken of Wolf at the Narrows' Shelby Lynne concert in November, 2008); Narrows alums Kris Delmhorst and Catherine Russell sing back up, and the CD was co-produced by Kenny White, who's performed at the Narrows as Cheryl Wheeler's pianist.  And Narrows fave Chuck Prophet helped in the writing chores for "Overnight Lows," lest I forget.  

Midnight Souvenirs deserves the light of day.  Nice job.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Slim News and More

Narrows alum Watermelon Slim has released a new CD. It's called Ringers, and you can read a write up here.  That's him in the photo at the Narrows in 2008.

In other news:

--Jimmie Vaughan is debuting at the Narrows in October. 

--A second show has been added to Richard Thompson's late summer return to the Narrows.

--Should be up on the website any minute now: the Narrows will be holding a golf tournament! 

--Speaking of golf, Seth Walker, who played the Narrows Saturday night, is a huge fan of the game.  Word was he was slated to hit the links before his Sunday show in Boston.

--Nice recent article about the Narrows in the Herald News. Read it here.

Let the Four Winds Blow!

There was a tornado watch or warning or something Saturday night.

But the Seth Walker show blew some cool blues into the atmosphere and the show went on as scheduled!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Bettye LaVette Interpretations Machine Rolls On!

Narrows fave Bettye LaVette seems to be everywhere--doing a Tiny Desk concert on NPR, getting her new CD "Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook" reviewed in Entertainment Weekly etc.

It's paying off: She's debuting at #56 on Billboard's Top 200.  She debuts at #1 on Billboard's Blues Chart.

No more Bettye who?  Congrats to the new Queen of Soul!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Storyteller

Tom Russell brought his songs, his stories, his reflections, and his hot recent CD Blood and Candle Smoke to the Narrows Thursday night.

If you missed the show, you can watch him on Letterman here.