back MAY 2010
Raul Midon: May 19th @ Music On Main Street (Woodbridge, NJ)
It's been exactly seven years since I first saw Raul Midon and realized that I was witnessing something extraordinary. I've seen him many times since then and have told hundreds of people about him, so maybe you can imagine the thrill of being able to present to a room full of people in my hometown.
He played a bunch of tunes from his great new release, Synthesis, which was produced by Larry Klein, and some fan favorites spread throughout, finishing the show with a beautiful rendition of the standard For All We Know.
The show had quite a few highlights including Waited All My Life, which he wrote for his wife, and Don't Take it That Way, the single from the new release. (For All We Know)
Before he performed the new reggae tune, Invisible Chains, he demonstrated how he merged a reggae beat with a rock bass line and then challenged himself to learn to play them simultaneously. He then played the tune and it was the most impressive experience in an evening full of impressive moments.
There's no explaining why this guy is not a household word, but it's not from a lack of effort on my part!
Al Stewart: May 12th @ Music On Main Street (Woodbridge, NJ)
The fourth installment of our Spring series featured the man who wrote and recorded The Year of the Cat, one of the best known songs in the history of popular music, as well as the hits Time Passages and On The Border. He played those hits, they sounded great and the crowd loved them, but it was my feeling that this show was so good that I'd have loved it just as much even without the hits. (On The Border)
With his side man Dave Nachmenoff playing great intros, jazzy riffs and backing vocals all night long, they navigated thru an eclectic mix of pop ballads, gypsy jazz and history lessons with songs like Catherine of Oregon, The News From Spain, Night Train to Munich and Palace of Versailles, setting up each song with some background info or an amusing anecdote.
Nachmenoff opened both sets with a couple of his songs backed by a bass player who also joined Dave and Stewart for a handful of tunes in the seconds set. His short sets were very enjoyabe as he's got as good voice is a fantastic guitarist and writes some good tunes. This entire evening was simply a joy to experience.
Moot Davis: May 6th @ The Record Collector (Bordentown, NJ)
I met Moot Davis a few weeks ago at his day job in a car parts warehouse and when he told me he's in a country band I gave him my card and told him to send me his web site. He did, and when I opened it and his music started to play, it sounded so good that my first thought was "Wow, who produced this". It turns out that it was produced by Pete Anderson who's better known for producing K.D. Lang, Jackson Browne and Dwight Yoakam. I also saw that his song Whiskey Town was in the academy award winning film Crash. My next thought was "what the heck is he doing in a warehouse in central New Jersey?"
I've been wanting to check out The Record Collector in Bordentown so when I saw Moot had a gig there I decided to go. When it comes to country music this guy is the real deal, bringing to mind the old time styles of Bob Willis or Hank Williams more so than many of the contemporary "so called" country singers who're actually pop singers who add a fiddle or lap steel.
The set featured tunes from his recent release, Already Moved On, with a few from his self titled debut including the afore mentioned Whiskey Town. I have a hard time believing he'll be working in a warehouse for too much longer, he's just too good. (Whiskey Town)
Peter Gabriel: May 3rd @ Radio City Music Hall w/The New Blood Orchestra
This story starts back when Peter Gabriel got the idea to approach a variety of artists with a "song exchange" proposition where he'd cover one of their songs and they'd cover one of his. They could do his song however they saw fit, but to give them a challenge and make them think outside the box there would be one restriction, no drums or bass. (Red Rain)
For his part, he recorded "Scratch My Back", a collection of songs from his contemporaries like David Bowie, Paul Simon and Randy Newman and some current artist like Arcade Fire, Bon Iver and Radiohead, all arranged for piano and 54 piece orchestra.
This first half of the show was a recreation of the CD song by song with Peter's voice, The New Blood Orchestra conducted by Ben Foster and backing vocals by Ane Brun and Peter's daughter Melanie. The second half of the show was a retrospective including many of his more popular, and a few lesser known tunes, also arranged for orchestra.
Not everything worked for me but when it did it was extraordinary. I wasn't feeling Bowie's Heroes or Lou Reed's Power of The Heart but Bon Iver's Flume was stunningly beautiful and Simon's Boy In The Plastic Bubble also reeled me in. The Arcade Fire's My Body Is a Cage was likely the most powerful piece from the new CD.
Act two didn't have a weak moment except for surprise guest Lou Reed who opened the second set with his version of Solsbury Hill. I'm a big Lou Reed fan but his garage rock version of the song just seemed out of place. Just one man's opinion. (Solsbury Hill)
Hearing Peter's songs arranged for orchestra was a moving experience. It's difficult to even pick highlights but Red Rain, In Your Eyes, Mercy Street, Signal To Noise, San Jacinto and Don't Give Up were all individually worth the price of admission. This was a fantastic experience.
Jesse Malin & The St. Marks Social: May 2 @ Vintage Vinyl
This in-store performance from New York rocker Jesse Malin featured a handful of songs from his new Love It To Life release, including Burn The Bridge, Black Boombox and All the Way From Moscow and a few from previous releases like Queen of the Underworld and Prisoners of Paradise.
This was some good old fashioned, straight forward rock and roll an included a few stories like one about his trip to Russia with Gogol Bordello, which inspired the Moscow tune, and another about finding his new release in a record store in Pittsburgh and buying two copies for himself. He related that experience to the scene in Steve Martin's The Jerk where Martin get's all excited because "the phone book is here, the phone book is here!" Very amusing. (All the Way From Moscow)
The new CD and the new band really rock and are worth investigating.