You can read my full review of last night’s Carrie Underwood concert in Charleston, WV at The Charleston Gazette website. An edited version of the review was also featured in today’s print edition of the newspaper.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Carrie Underwood (and certainly not of opening act Hunter Hayes) before the gig, but it turned out to be one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. Both artists put everything they had into every song. The otherwise spectacular stage lighting was terrible for photos and I forgot my camera, but I snapped a few cell pics. And thanks to YouTube, you can see some videos by other concert goers below.
May is going to be a spectacular month for concerts in Charleston, WV…
Country star and former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood will be at the Charleston Civic Center, with opener Hunter Hayes, on Wednesday, May 8th. Look for my review of that concert in next Thursday’s edition of The Charleston Gazette.
Singer-songwriters Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter will perform as a duo during an extended set at a special Mountain Stage at The Clay Center on Sunday, May 19th. Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan is also on the lineup. As an almost lifelong fan of Shawn Colvin, I’m very excited to be reviewing the show for Muruch.
The free Live on the Levee summer concert series will return to Charleston on May 24th. The acts haven’t been announced yet, but I do know Kathy Mattea will perform in June during Festivall week.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, Old Crow Medicine Show will put on a full concert at The Clay Center on Friday, May 24th! OCMS is one of my favorite modern bands, so reviewing their concert for Muruch is also cause for much excitement.
Muruch’s Mid-West reviewer/photographer Jen “Coble” Hopper caught The Joy Formidable’s concert at Notre Dame’s Legends Nightclub last Thursday, April 11th. You can read her thoughts about and see her photographs of the show below…
The Joy Formidable played Legends of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN) on Thursday, April 11th. Their original set date a couple of days earlier was cancelled due to illness, but when the threesome took the stage, they started off playing like champions.
Ritzy took the stage with bright smiles, bouncing around and engaging the crowd as they were treated to songs off of their latest record, Wolf’s Law.
“This Ladder is Ours” looked and sounded amazing as Ritzy and Rhydian donned rockstar poses all over the stage. Don’t be mislead by the sweet vocals and tiny, petite frame: Ritzy dons a guitar like any guitar god, just one of her many talents as the band’s front woman.
Sadly, the magic ended mid-set as Ritzy began to feel faint. The band cancelled the rest of the set so they could get Ritzy to a medic.
The Joy Formidable have a full summer of touring ahead of them, so there are plenty of opportunities to catch them for a full set in their (hopefully healthier) future.
I know I’m dating myself here, but I loved Boyz II Men when I was in middle school. “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye,” “Motown Philly,” “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee,” “Water Runs Dry”…any one of those songs brings back a million adolescent memories. So I was very excited to learn that Boyz II Men will kick off a new summer tour on May 31st.
Unfortunately and shockingly, “The Package” tour also features New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees. Ugh. How did that happen? I know Boyz II Men’s releases in the past decade have received mixed reviews – and rightly so, due to their unnecessarily slick pop production. But their voices are as strong as ever (as proved by their acapella singing during recent tv interviews) and I would still love to hear those harmonies live. I don’t think they belong anywhere near washed up boy bands.
The good news is that Boyz II Men are supposed to be the opening act for every date, so you can see them in concert and leave before the boy bands take the stage.
Boyz II Men “The Package” Tour Dates:
May 31 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
June 1 Uniondale, NY Nassau Coliseum
June 2 Boston, MA TD Garden
June 4 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
June 6 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
June 7 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
June 8 Auburn Hills, MI The Palace of Auburn Hills
June 9 Cleveland, OH Quicken Loans Arena
June 11 Pittsburgh, PA Consol Energy Center
June 13 East Rutherford, NJ Izod Center
June 14 Washington DC Verizon Center
June 15 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center
June 18 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
June 19 Charlotte, NC Time Warner Cable Arena
June 20 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena
June 21 Orlando, FL Amway Center
June 22 Fort Lauderdale, FL BB&T Center
June 25 Cincinnati, OH US Bank Arena
June 27 Houston, TX Toyota Center
June 28 Dallas, TX American Airlines Center
June 29 Oklahoma City, OK Chesapeake Energy
June 30 St. Louis, MO Scottrade Center
July 5 Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center Arena
July 6 Las Vegas, NV Mandalay Bay Events Center
July 7 San Jose, CA HP Pavilion
July 9 Tacoma, WA Tacoma Dome
July 12 Rosemont, IL Allstate Arena
July 13 Minneapolis, MN Target Center
As we first announced here last March, Muruch’s musical mascot Allison Crowe has recorded an all-new, live album of her annual Tidings concert. The album features 19 in-concert performances and previously unreleased audio from Crowe’s popular “Hallelujah” video.
Though Tidings does include some holiday songs, which I’m not into, it has several other great, non-seasonal covers as well as Allison Crowe originals. My personal favorites are her covers of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man (Like I Love You),” the mp3s of which you can download below.
Other highlights include Allison’s renditions of The Beatles’ “Let It Be” and “In My Life” and John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
The album also features a gorgeous, epic, extended, live version of “Disease” (originally featured on Live at Wood Hall and Little Light), which begins with a haunting piano instrumental intro of “Carol of the Bells.” You can stream or download the song via the SoundCloud widget below.
Muruch‘s Vic and Heather popped into Taylor Books on Friday night in search of chai and dessert. The cafe was packed with not a single seat to be found. The cause for the crowd seemed to be the scheduled musician for the night: The Disappearing Man (a.k.a. Brandon Mitchell). To be honest, we initially dismissed what appeared to be the standard local guy-with-guitar schtick and headed back toward the bookshelves instead. We eventually sat on the floor in the travel section, which was close enough to hear the music but private enough to chat.
A few minutes later we were pleasantly shocked when the formerly quiet, unassuming The Disappearing Man suddenly burst into a rousing rendition of Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.” Granted, the song itself is irresistable, but his cover was good enough to have us singing along and floor-dancing. He followed that up with an equally worthy cover of Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.”
Later, as we browsed books, The Disappearing Man spun things in a completely different direction with an acoustic rendering of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” Not only did the crowd sing along, but one very enthusiastic guy jumped up to serve as The Disappearing Man’s backup dancer for the song. You can check out some of The Disappearing Man’s own music below. Even if you don’t like his original music, I recommend catching him live for the covers alone.
Last night’s Mountain Stage featured Carrie Rodriguez, Brooke Waggoner, Trixie Whitley, Iris Dement and Bruce Cockburn. With such a powerhouse lineup, it’s no surprise the show sold out before the doors even opened.
Carrie Rodriguez’ 2008 Mountain Stage set was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended, so I was excited to see her return to my beloved venue. No one woman should be as pretty and gifted as Carrie Rodriguez. Her face and voice are equally gorgeous, her songwriting is top-notch and she’s a multi-instrumental virtuoso. She was accompanied last night by a single guitarist, Luke Jacobs.
Carrie opened with the high energy “Devil in Mind,” playing her violin like a rock guitar. She followed that with the mellow, swaying song “Lake Harriet,” which she called her “ode to the Minnesota man.” The beautiful love song “Get Back in Love,” a tribute to her guitarist’s parents, was the highlight of her set. Carrie asked the Mountain Stage band to join her for her new single, “I Cry For Love,” and ended with the sweet ballad “I Don’t Mind Waiting.”
Carrie Rodriguez’ fifth full-length solo album, Give Me All You Got, will be released January 22, 2013. You can download the new single, “Lake Harriet,” by signing up for Carrie’s email list at her website and watch the video below.
Julie Adams and the Mountain Stage band took a turn covering Ron Sexsmith’s lovely “Speaking With The Angel.”
Brooke Waggoner, a striking redhead in a bright red dress and black boots, took the stage and piano next. I loved Brooke’s sophomore album, Go Easy Little Doves, but had never seen the classically trained singer-pianist in concert before. I had tickets to see her at Mountain Stage in the winter of 2010, but a snow storm canceled the show. I’m so glad Brooke chose to visit earlier in the season this time.
Brooke has one of those rare, flawless voices that sounds exactly the same live as it does recorded. Her voice and melodies have an unusually haunting and delicate quality to them, yet she’s not afraid to add a dark edge to certain songs.
Brooke and her band blasted the stage like it was a rock arena. This girl is going to be a huge star. At least, she should be. She played all new songs from her upcoming album, each more astounding than the last. It was like someone put the best, most impressive elements of Little Earthquakes-era Tori Amos and The Dresden Dolls-era Amanda Palmer into a blender. She was my favorite act of the night and I wish she’d played an extended set.
Brooke Waggoner’s next album, Originator, will be released in early 2013. You can download the first single, “Ink Slinger, at Rolling Stone.
Belgian singer Trixie Whitley had no difficulty following in Brooke’s wake. Trixie is a jack-all-trades kind of artist, having been an actor, dancer, DJ and musician. Her recording resume reads like a Who’s Who of the music industry, with names like Me’shell Ndegeocello, Robert Plant and Marianne Faithfull. Trixie was by far the most entertaining member of Black Dub when I saw them perform at Mountain Stage in 2010 and one of the standout covers on the recent Fleetwood Mac tribute.
Trixie opened with an atmospheric piano melody before picking up an electric guitar for the harder “Gradual Return,” a rock song with almost psychedelic riffs. She switched to an acoustic guitar for a bluesy ballad about a Mexican town, then slid back behind the piano for the love song finale, “I Breath You in My Dreams.” Every song was completely different, yet equally captivating. Trixie’s soulful, versatile voice rivals Adele.
As I posted last month, Trixie is offering a free, legal EP download via Noisetrade (see the end of this review) and her solo debut, Fourth Corner, will be released January 29, 2013.
Strangely, Grammy-winning folk singer Iris Dement was probably the most famous of the performers and the one whose music I was least familiar with. She counts among her fans and collaborators Merle Haggard, John Prine, David Byrne, Natalie Merchant and the Coen Brothers. Her songs have been featured in various television shows and movies, and she herself played a small role in the film Songcatcher. But, to put it politely, her lengthy, dry banter and high pitched whine were not my cup of tea. The older folks in the audience seemed to like it, but I wasn’t the only younger person in the crowd yawning and checking my watch.
Thankfully, Mountain Stage pianist Bob Thompson soothed my frayed nerves with “Stardust.”
Finally, Bruce Cockburn. I’ve seen the Canadian folk master perform at Mountain Stage so many times over the years, I’ve lost count (last night was his 13th time at the venue). But it’s never enough.
As quiet and unassuming as the man is, there is no question that Bruce Cockburn and his music are legendary. I often wonder why Cockburnesque isn’t as overused a musical adjective as Dylanesque, but then I can’t think of any artist that can be compared to Bruce Cockburn. His live performances are even better than his recordings. There’s just something so likable about his humble demeanor and so captivating about his folk songs.
Bruce started with an older instrumental, then played “Call Me Rose” from his most recent album, Small Source of Comfort. He closed with the quaking, gut-renching “Put it in Your Heart.”
Brooke Waggonor and Trixie Whitley were the only performers of the night who didn’t stick around for the group finale. Carrie Rodriguez, Iris Dement and Bruce Cockburn joined host Larry Groce and the Mountain Stage band for a cover of “If I Prove False To Thee.”
“Believe in Spring, believe in love, believe in you, believe in Jazz.” So concludes the tour the force that is Believe in Jazz by Sheila Jordan. Recorded in Switzerland in 2003 during her 75th birthday tour, the album features one hour of great music.
The cornerstone of the set is a ten-minute track incorporating a Native American chant, a cover of “Blackbird” and the wordless wonder “Reel Time.”
A friend of Charlie Parker, Jordan ‘s version of Abbey Lincoln’s “Bird Alone” is an intimate affair. Another highlight of the album is “Everything Happens to Me” on which the lyric is ingeniously updated from “sent an airmail special too” to “sent an email too.”
Jordan has fun on “Where You At” (not a Jennifer Hudson cover!), during which she deviates from the theme to express her love of Swiss chocolate in song, and then sings introductions to her band members – Serge Forté on piano, Gary Brunton on bass, and Karl Jannuska on drums. Each member has a chance to shine on a twelve-minute “The Touch of Your Lips.”
Friday night’s Live on the Levee concert at Charleston’s Haddad Riverfront Park was a blast from the past – the mid-1990′s to be exact. Local bands Mother Nang and Crazy Jane reunited, each having split up over a decade ago.
Opening act Mother Nang was a great surprise with their funky, very ’90s “alternative” rock. Their heyday was a bit before my time, so I was unfamiliar with them before the concert. Their set was energetic, rhythmic and a big hit with the all ages crowd. There was even a tiny mosh pit comprised of one very enthusiastic toddler girl.
Crazy Jane took the stage to a joyous reception from the audience. Punked up in ripped black fishnets and combat boots, lead singer Karan Allen jumped and twirled around the stage as if no time had passed. Though I must admit I enjoyed the set more for nostalgia than the present, Allen’s voice is still impressively strong.
Crazy Jane played several songs from their self-titled album, including my personal favorite, “Amazing.” They also delved into their coffeehouse past with some old tunes from their Common Grounds days.
Like Mother Nang, Crazy Jane’s music seemed to appeal to various generations as children as well as older couples danced infront of the stage and several twenty-something flowerchildren frolicked in the periphery.
I hope we’ll be seeing more of both Mother Nang and Crazy Jane in Charleston. The local music scene is in desperate need of such talent.
Scottish band and Song, By Toad favorite, Meursalt, will perform live at London’s Islington Assembly Hall on Tuesday, November 6th. The band will be accompanied by a full string section called The Pumpkin Seeds. Rob St. John and Withered Hand will also perform. Sounds like a very cool concert to me. Check out the flyer, hear a live version of the new song “Hole” and buy tickets below.