You can finally see Vienna Teng’s mesmeric cover/mashup of “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in this newly released video of her live performance on Mountain Stage last year. And in case you missed my rave review of that concert, you can read it in this post.
If you can’t attend this week’s Mountain Stage concert in person, you can watch the show live on the Mountain Stage Webcast this Sunday, February 16th at 7pm EST. Scheduled to perform are Lake Street Dive, Willie Sugarcapps, Shonna Tucker, The Steel Wheels, and Gregory Alan Isakov.
A couple of Charleston venues are offering free admission to the public to bring some joy into the lives of locals suffering through the WV American Water ban/Freedom Industries chemical spill/licorice-scented toxic tap water extravaganza.
The Clay Center is offering “Pay What You Wish” (including free) admission to their museum gallery January 18th through February 14th. Clay Center CEO Judy Wellington said: “This is our way of giving something positive and enjoyable to our community, after the stressful week everyone has had.“
Sunday night’s Mountain Stage concert featuring Bettye LaVette, David Broza, Matrimony, Declan O’Rourke and Noah Gundersen will also be free. Mountain Stage is general admission and often quickly sold out even when they charge, so I recommend getting there early if you want a seat. Host Larry Groce’s announcement for the event emphasizes what a gem Mountain Stage is to the local community: “After the water disruption and the extreme weather, we all need a chance to re-boot and I think an evening of good music seems like a fine way to do it.“
Vienna Teng is the kind of musical genius who can really do no wrong. I own and love all of her albums and had the privilege of witnessing two of her astounding live performances at Mountain Stage. Unfortunately, I think my opinion of her new album, Aims, suffers (only partially) from falling in the shadow of the brillance that preceded it. There are still flashes of genius, just not as many as I expected.
I love the first half of the album – especially the soaring pop opener “Level Up,” the claphappy, quasi-rap “In The 99″ and the exquisite, electro-choral masterpiece “The Hymn of Acxiom.” I also like the finale “Goodnight New York.”
The rest of the album, though, is far too slick, stylized, radio-friendly, mostly computerized pop for my taste and seems a waste for such a talented singer-songwriter. The fault lies in the production and mixing, not the songs themselves. “Landsailor,” for example, was beautiful when Vienna recently performed it at Mountain Stage, but is flattened down on the recording. “The Hymn of Acxiom” is also smoothed out more than necessary (Vienna’s voice is best when unrestrained), but is a strong and interesting enough song to withstand the extra studio polish.
Other than the four tracks mentioned above, Aims just doesn’t captivate me as intensely as its predecessors did – particularly the moody Dreaming Through the Noise and the ethereal, elegant, astonishingly excellent Inland Territory. Though perhaps comparing Vienna to herself is unfair, she still outshines the rest of the music industry.