Austin City Limits: Friday, September 26, 2008

When I arrived on Friday the first thing I heard as I approached the entrance was Willie’s daughter, Paula Nelson, and her band covering Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.” I listened in passing to a few from swing gurus, Asleep at the Wheel, on my way to see Christopher Deny.

The first full set I listened to was the good looking group from Austin who call themselves What Made Milwaukee Famous (WMMF). They started with “Blood, Sweat, & Fears,” the first track off their latest album, What Doesn’t Kill Us. They also did “Cheap Wine,” my personal favorite off that album. Delta Spirit was scheduled to perform later that day and WMMF announced them as their ‘good buddies’ and did a cover of Delta’s “Trash Can.” They then played their own “Resistance St.” and of course “Sultan,” their album single. I wanted to hear “Self-Destruct.” I didn’t. Oh well. Frontman Jason Davis had to apologize for being ‘a sweaty f*@#ing mess’ as he stopped singing mid-song and walked away to get a towel to wipe it from his eyes. It was HOT outside!

On my way to see Vampire Weekend I saw a guy with a shirt that said “Beer is Food” and I laughed. Vampire Weekend opened with “Mansard Roof,” the first track to their debut self-titled album. They dance funny. Chris Baio, the bass player, may have been developing some signature moves. In his white cut-off jean shorts no less. Frontman, Ezra Koenig, stole the show with his intensity and obscure vocals. Not to mention the fact that he is absolutely adorable in his own way. Yes, I called that a fact. I’m not going to raddle off the setlist. When you have only one album you pretty much do them all. They brought the Austin String Quartet out for a few numbers including “The Kid’s Don’t Stand a Chance” and “M79.”

Up next on my agenda was soul singer Jamie Lidell. First let me just say that he made me laugh when he came on-stage wearing black and white chef-like pants and Jerry Lee Lewis-like white-top loafers. I stood by the VIP entrance and it occurred to me that all I really need to do is invest in a big fancy camera and pretend I’m a freelance photographer to get right up close at these venues. Anyway, Lidell was great. Very entertaining. He has a song called “Another Day” that has been stuck in my head for the past two days now. It’s the first track on his 2008 album, Jim.

I had heard of the California natives, Delta Spirit, probably because they toured with the band Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah! I stuck around to hear “Strange Vine” and “People C’mon” from their debut, Ode To Sunshine. At that point I had to get something to eat because I realized that I had not done that all day. Music makes me forget about everything else.

M. Ward is an artist that I briefly explored in 2003 for Transfiguration of Vincent, and again this year after the formation of She & Him (his duo with actress Zooey Deschanel) and the release of their Volume One in March. I missed everything in between. My favorite from his set was “Sad, Sad Song” from the 2003 album.

I was waiting in line for Jamie Lidell’s autograph and listening to Patti Griffin performing on a nearby stage.

Mates of State was my second Barsuk Records band for the day, the first being WMMF. I really enjoyed the song “Goods (All In Your Head)” but I missed “The Re-arranger” which is the one song I really wanted to hear. I probably missed it because I left early to get closer for Jenny Lewis. Probably a well worth it sacrifice. I have a piece of trivia for those of you who watch the television series Weeds. The producers decided to air a different version of the theme song “Little Boxes” every week for the past two seasons. They have used over 30 artists or groups and Mates of State prepared a version for an episode during the third season.

I was in the WaMu tent for Jenny Lewis. This was the only venue with a tent and I was thankful for that because even that late in the afternoon it was still hotter than the devil outside. Anyway, her band came on first then she timidly walked on-stage wearing a vintage denim jumpsuit and sat at the keyboard. She started with “Rise Up With Fists!!” from her 2006 Rabbit Furr Coat with the Watson Twins. I need to get her new solo album, Acid Tongue, because she had a lot of new stuff I was not familiar with. That album came out last Tuesday, September 23, 2008. She played “Bad Man’s World” and “See Fernando” from the new release.

I caught “Famous” and “Small Town Kid” by American country music group, Eli Young Band.

I promised my friend Ty that I would go see N*E*R*D for him. I watched from a distance because I couldn’t even get close enough to take a picture. Pharrell would be the name of the frontman. Yes, he’s very entertaining…and easy on the eyes. They played a song called, “It’s Almost Over Now” from I don’t know what album then they did “Sooner or Later” and “You Know What” off the new June album, Seeing Sounds.

In 2003 I was introduced to a band called G. Love & Special Sauce and I had yet to see them live. This is a hip-hop blues ensemble from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Frontman, Garrett Dutton, is a small but amazing man. They performed for a good hour and then brought reggae hip-hop group, Slightly Stoopid, up for the last song which I did not know. I do, however, want to list for you the songs they played that I did know. By the way, they had an interpreter. You may know that this guy sings fast. It would be like interpreting “One Week” by Barnaked Ladies. She must have learned all the songs because there is no way she could just listen and repeat.

1. Parasite- Electric Mile, 2001
2. Booty Call- The Hustle, 2005
3. Baby’s Got Sauce- G. Love & Special Sauce, 1994
4. Holla!- Lemonade, 2006
5. Who’s Got the Weed- Superhero Brother, 2008
6. Peace, Love, and Happiness- Superhero Brother, 2008
7. Stepping Stones- Yeah, It’s That Easy, 1997

The Mars Volta ended the night. That’s pretty much all I have to say about that. I thought it was a weak ending. They are too wild for me I guess. I like the song “Ouroboros” from their latest January 29, 2008 album, The bedlam in Goliath. They played that song and then I left.

On Friday I made an executive decision to skip Jakob Dylan and the Gold Mountain Rebels to see Vampire Weekend. To my surprise Jakob Dylan was scheduled to play after festival hours on Saturday at Antones on 6th street. So, of course, I went. The opening band was called Back Door Slam, a young blues- rock trio from the U.K. Both were great and Jakob Dylan is funny. I am now listening to his new album, Seeing Things.

Amos Lee Concert Review

I have the Best Buy salesman to thank for approaching me while I was browsing and introducing me to Amos Lee three years ago when his debut self-titled album was released. I saw him last night at the Meridian in Houston. He started with the first track off this debut album, “Keep It Lose, Keep It Tight.” He followed it up with the title track for his second album, “Supply and Demand.” When he played “Bottom of the Barrel” it sounded like a piano bar rendition, but that’s just my opinion. After all, that one got one of the best applause of the night. It was also completely different than the album version. I’m all for changing things up, if everything sounds exactly the same live as it does on recorded releases I begin to question the talent of the artist. However, this one was so modified that I had a hard time even singing along.

I really enjoyed the nice ballad entitled “Kid” from his latest album The Last Days at the Lodge. He also played “Jails and Bombs” off this record and he sounded like Robin Thick. It was the same sort of high pitched improvish vocal. In fact, this song got me thinking of a whole slew of other artists. First I thought, ‘it sounds Marvin Gaye – Al Green-ish.’ Then I heard the electric piano and the song “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations entered my thoughts.

In case you didn’t know, Amos Lee sings “Sweat Pea” which is the song from the AT & T Wireless commercial where the little girl puts her stuffed monkey in her dad’s briefcase. Her dad then uses his phone to take scenic pictures with the monkey in the foreground and sends them to his little girl while he’s away on a business trip. He played this song for us too.

I also love the song “Black River” from his first album. I was hoping he would surprise us and bring Priscilla Ahn on-stage to duet with him since she typically provides harmonizing vocals for it. He didn’t. Oh well. He played a huge set, 19 songs to be exact. The encore then had 4 songs starting with “Better Day” which he did solo. The last song of the encore was a cover of a song that I think is titled “Caramelize Me Baby” or maybe it’s just called “Caramel.” Anyway, I didn’t know it and I don’t know who sings it but I liked it. The opening act, Mutlu, sang it while Amos and the band accompanied him. By the way, Mutlu played a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amor” during his set which was interesting and entertaining.

Overall the performance had an engaging, yet mellow, folk-soul vibe. It was low-key enough to make me feel like I was at a slow dance all night. You can catch him performing “Freedom” on Connan O’Brian this Friday, September 26th, 2008. I’ll leave you with “Shout Out Loud” off of Supply and Demand. There are no videos available yet for his new album.

Hurricane Ike

Why I was complacent about Hurricane Ike causing any real damage is puzzling to me now. I only really started to worry when I left work on Thursday around noon and saw several businesses and households boarding up windows.

Now, in the aftermath I am saddened by the massive destruction and devastation to Galveston and surrounding areas. I watched the mayor of Galveston tell her residents, “Do not come home. You cannot live here.”

We have just started returning to work and almost normalcy in Houston. Several people will not return for days or weeks and the same goes for electricity and water in most homes and apartments. The University of Houston lost 20-30% of its trees and there is a huge amount of structural and water damage all around Houston.

Surprisingly, I worked on Sunday and Monday at my second job; Kona Grill in the Houston Galleria. People were lined up outside the door waiting because we were one of the only places to open. I had to tell my guests I could not serve them water or even ice as it was unsafe to consume. We were serving bottled water, bottled tea, and canned soda. People waited for a long time and ordered from a very limited menu and nobody fussed. They were just so thankful we were able to serve them.

Today I will be volunteering at a POD behind the Robertson football stadium at the University of Houston passing out water, ice, and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).

Below is a compilation of photographs taken in Galveston the morning after Ike. The music accompanying this video is “Kokopelli Wind” performed by Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai from the album Inner Voices from Canyon Record Productions.

"J. Smith" by Travis

“J. Smith” is the first single from Travis’ new album, Ode to J. Smith. The album will be released on September 29, 2008 but this song was released on the EP on June 30, 2008. The band recorded at RAK Studios in London. The trivia fact here is that the RAK is where The Kooks recorded their latest and that is why KONK‘s double disk version includes the second disk titled RAK.

Kate Voegele Concert Review

I went to Warehouse Live Friday night for yet another concert. This one was very very small. The show was on the small stage with the rest of the warehouse closed off. The merch table was planted in the small room as well and we were pushed through the back entrance by the bathrooms. Anyway, there were two opening acts, which were not advertised. The first one, Josh Hoge, was a pretty funny guy and he had a great set of pipes. His album came out today, September 9, 2008. If you click on his name it will route you to his website and the song “Stay Away” will play for you. He sang this song live. It was good live. The album version…umm…I dunno. He said he’s done some work with Nick Carter and, dare I say, it sounds like a short lived boy band hit. He did a Bill Withers cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine” that I thought was great. Josh Hoge is one for a lot of vocal gymnastics but I think it works well for him.

Next to the stage was the Matt White Band. Matt White seems like a pretty cool guy, for a Dylan of 90210 look-a-like. He grew up in Houston and the band now lives in Austin. I think Matt White needs to ditch his band. He seems like a Ferras to me. Well, I take that back. Markus the drummer from Germany should stay. Especially if he wears fitted Gap jeans. I guess the only band member I had a problem with was Lee the bass player. And really the only thing that bothered me about Lee was the way he curled his lips and mouthed the lyrics. It was like watching John Mayer. Anyway, enough of my snide observations. They have an album called Best Days. This song, “Love,” is off that album.

“Love” is featured in a commercial for McDonalds and a new advertisement for the Gap. I couldn’t find the Gap ad but here’s the McDonald’s commercial. Also, make sure you tune into Jay Leno on September 19th to see the guys perform.

Ok, let’s talk about Kate. She came out wearing a blue sleeved baseball T and a hat over her eyes like Ingrid Michaelson. She started with “I Get It” and then moved on to “Chicago.” She never had much to say between songs except “Thank you Houston.” During “Top of the World” I noticed that her guitar player looks like Jon from Switchfoot. At least his haircut does. Then I thought I saw him mouth to her “I love you.” Are you dating your guitar player Kate? They both have rings on that special finger. Then again, she has one on every finger to go with her plethora of bracelets. She did a band introduction and they played a funky little “Billie Jean” teaser and I came to the conclusion that I LOVE her band. And Quinn, the lucky man who sells her merchandise and switches out her guitars.

She played her new single featured on the Team USA soundtrack to the 2008 Olympics called “Lift Me Up.” This song really showcased her AMAZING vocal capability. And she’s only 20. My thought went from “Yeah, she’s really good” to “YEAH, SHE’S GOOD!”

She also did a cover of “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. She informed us that the song was written about Dave Coulier of Full House and that she couldn’t possibly emulate how “pissed off” Alanis was. So, Kate just does her own spin-off version of it.

She finished her set and walked off stage and even though they never do encores at Warehouse Live I knew there had to be one because, for all the little One Tree Hill fans, she did not do the one song everyone knows and loves, “Kindly Unspoken.” I also knew that there was a good chance she would do a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and she hadn’t done that yet either. So, she came back onstage and first did “Hallelujah.” The surprise was that she brought Amy Kuney on stage to duet with her. If you go back to my May 23, 2008 post you can hear Amy’s song “All Downhill from Here” off her debut album. She, then, officially ended with “Only Fooling Myself.” All in all, I can’t explain to you how great I think her voice is. The best way I can tell you is by saying that, when I tried to think about who else I have seen live that sang as well as she did, Martina McBride came to mind.

1. I Get It
2. Chicago
3. Top of the World
4. Don’t Look Away
5. I Won’t Disagree
6. Devil in Me
7. Wish You Were
8. No Good
9. Lift Me Up (2008 Team USA Olympic Soundtrack)
10. You Oughta Know (Alanis Morrissette cover)
11. One Way or Another


1. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
2. Kindly Unspoken
3. Only Fooling Myself

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Concert Review

I went to the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tour on Friday August 29, 2008 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. It was the last show of a three month tour starting at Van Andel in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ending at The Woodlands, Texas.

Steve Winwood was the opening act. Remember the song “Higher Love?” Yeah, he sings that. He got us all riled up and ready for Mr. Petty with his “Gimme Some Lovin’.” When they were through he and his band linked hands and bowed in front of the crowd. I thought it was nice because I’ve never seen a band do that on stage before. I guess it’s what the old-timers do.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers took the stage shortly after with “You Wreck Me.” I know the setlist because whenever I’m at a concert I jot down the songs as they play them. I’ll list them in order for ya’ at the bottom of this post. After the first song he addressed the crowd but didn’t have much to say. He mentioned that this was the last night of the tour and that he had a big long setlist so he was going to just get right to it. He played just one song off of Highway Companion from 2006. It was the first radio single “Saving Grace.” I was hoping to hear at least one more from that album but it’s ok Tom I’m not too disappointed. When he played it everyone sat down. Now, that confused me a little bit. I thought, “What’s wrong? Didn’t y’all bother to listen to his latest album? (Wow, I am officially a Texan. Saying y’all is one thing, but I just typed it!!)

Actually, I have to correct myself here. Highway Companion is not Tom Petty’s latest album. He is in a new band now called Mudcrutch and they released an album on April 28, 2008. He produced it with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell. They did not play any songs off this album.

Tangent…do you think Tom Petty has gray hair? I mean, it still looks the same as it does on the Damn the Torpedoes LP from 1979, and every other album cover for that matter. It’s long, straight, and I guess a dirty reddish-blond color. I think it would be cool if Tom Petty wore his hair long, straight, and totally gray.

Anyway, where was I? On “A Face in the Crowd” we heard an excellent piano solo. After that they played “Honey Bee” and someone spilled beer on me. Some old lady behind me trying to get her husbands attention and, in doing so, she kicked over her beer cup. Oh well, worse things have happened. After “Honey Bee” he played “Learning To Fly” and as soon as he started I had a small stroke because that is my favorite Tom Petty song EVER. However, I was waiting for “…around the clouds, what goes up, must come down.” Did you forget your own lyrics Tom Petty? Remember the chorus changes? “Don’t Come Around Here No More” had strobe lighting and a huge jam session. Speaking of lighting, they had great stage effects. They must have had someone recording from all angles because they had several suspended screens showing clips from the performance and somehow looping it to playback what was just done. It was neat!

Towards the middle of the set I had, what I think were, several high school students behind me for a while shouting “Refugee” like it was the only song they wanted to hear. Wouldn’t ya know it; “Refugee” was the last song they played before the encore. The kids were happy. By the way, throughout the entire show Tom Petty would put his arms up in the air after a song, or even during a song, begging for attention. I thought, “What are you doing old man? I don’t feel like applauding you yet, the song is not over.”

During the encore he did a cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” He dragged it out like a big long story and was saying stuff like “…I asked her out and she said no. She said she could never date a man like me. And I said, ‘honey don’t you know, I work for a living. I’m in a rock and roll band’…” When he said, “The wind blew her name…” that’s when he had the crowd join in echoing “gloria” after the song spells out “G-L-O-R-I-A.”

“American Girl” was a strong way to end the encore but by that time I was booking it up the hill to get out before the heard. I didn’t leave without a T-shirt though. I’m a sucker for over-priced tour T’s. We were also stopped at the exit to allow the bus to pass. They didn’t open the gates to let the mob out until Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers passed in the tour bus. What?! You mean they were already off stage and on the bus leaving by the time I bought my shirt and made it to the gate? Those old men move fast!

1. You Wreck Me
2. Listen To her Heart
3. I Won’t Back Down
4. Even The Losers
5. Free Fallin’
6. Mary Jane’s Last Dance
7. End Of The Line (from Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Harrison, and Orbison)
8. Breakdown
9. Saving Grace
10. Face In The Crowd
11. Honey Bee
12. Learning To Fly
13. Don’t Come Around Here No More
14. Refugee


1. Runnin’ Down A Dream
2. Gloria (Van Morrison cover)
3. American Girl