A Few of the Best...

A Few of the Best...
JJ Grey, Lindsey Buckingham, Eddie Vedder, Richard Thompson

Monday, July 20, 2009

William Topley Concert Report - Mauch Chunk Opera House (Jim Thorpe, PA)

So those of us who were there last Saturday, July 18 were of course wondering why this great talent isn't recognized more on the east coast. I was so honored to finally get to see this soulful Brit and his great group. Showing such wonderful British manners, Topley thanked the Opera House sponsors, not once, but five times over the course of the evening, for bringing him to Jim Thorpe, showing unexpected grace and gratitude for this small audience of perhaps 50 people. The group, a woman singing harmonies, his lead guitarist and Topley were as tight and together as a group could be. No woman could sing with this guy and not have a strong set of pipes, and she's fabulous. His lead guitarist was a treasure. The three of them sang everything from his most recent wonderful CD Water Taxi, and many songs from previous albums.

The two 'standout' things about William Topley are his voice, and the incredible melodies he sings. Topley has a range that takes him from 'growling' to 'howling' when he sings. That made me fall in love with his sound straight off when I first heard him four years ago.

Watching him sing last Saturday, I was thinking about the kind of crushingly romantic lyrics he writes about women and love. It's the closest thing to Dylan's kind of passionate poetry I've heard yet. As a rock and roll loving woman, it makes me melt.

The CD Feasting With Panthers was my first taste of William Topley. Yikes. I'll provide a snapshot of several of Topley's CD's, but this remains by far my favorite, and it blew me out of the water right from the get-go. He's got the blues thing down, and he sounds like he grew up on the bayou playing guitar as a youngster. (How do these Brits do it???) There's a lot of 'growling' and 'howling' on this stunning CD. I Can't Wait has an angry-about-love reprise "...I know it's bad, but if I can't have you, anyone will do!". He delivers it so well. Los Largos is possibly the most musically brilliant piece he's ever done...ever. There's a dreamy set of melodic transitions and key changes, with Spanish dialogue behind it while he intones "I want to hold you by my side, I want to make you laugh, I want to make you cry", and the unforgettably 'cool' (my favorite) growled reprise, "What you gotta do to get ahead these days it seems, you gotta rock Manhattan and Staten, the Bronx, Jamaica and Queens". Do not miss this particular CD.

Other CD highlights for Topley include:
  • Sea Fever - Song of a Seabird, Sophia, I Don't Wanna Go Uptown, Drink Called love
  • Black River - The Ring (listen to him growl), Drink Called Love, Black River, You Don't Love Me Anymore (great harmonies)
  • Spanish Wells - Ten Ten (more growling!),Walk Like I Do
Topley grew up in Britain, and is heavily influenced by Van Morrison, The Stones, Sting, Dire Straits ... but more than anything, the best of American soul and southern rock. Go to his website and listen to the sound bytes there, the first of which right now is 'Sixteen'.

That's it for now. I wanted to report on this artist and his concert in Jim Thorpe (good concerts there by the way, and great place to visit during the day!). Let's try to get him back to the east coast soon! As I'd mentioned, the next entries will be about Daniel Lanois and Papa Mali ... two artists well worth reviewing.

Over and out,

Free Fallin' Kristin

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Moment of Silence for Jacko...

The inimitable Michael Jackson has left us. I don't own a piece of his music, but that's probably about to change. What I DO know is that ANYTIME I've heard most of his better known songs, I've been movin', dancin' and singin'. 'Thriller' alone was electrifying, and the video itself was a historical event. A couple of memories struck me in the last 24 hours, looking back on Jack-o. The first is learning years ago that the late, and very great Fred Astaire, not long before he died, gave a monumental nod to Michael's dancing skills, describing him as the only person as good as he (Fred) was. Damn! Fred, we were seeing it too.

The other memory I have is of a night around 10 years ago watching TV in a hotel on a business trip. Flipping around, I found Michael Jackson kicking off what might have been (not sure here) his last 'Return Tour'. By then he had no place in my musical consciousness, except 'talented, strange and getting stranger'. Jackson came out onstage, postured completely still, centerstage, with the hat and signature glove, and proceeded to THRILL me for the next hour or so. I'd expected to flip away from the show, not be more than passingly interested, and not want to be gawking at this odd man with almost no bone structure left in his multiple-plastic-surgery-re-arranged face. What I 'saw' instead was a performance that left me cheering alone in my hotel room. The artfulness with which he incorporated the use of his hat to shade his face, in conjunction with clever dance steps to keep him from frontally facing the audience ... ALL THE WHILE dancing and singing with his renowned energy and magic, that I was hypnotized. Later on I found fellow non-pop-music world friends who'd also seen this performance, as overjoyed to see it as I was. I'll never forget it.
Jacko, you were a weird and at times sad guy, but you left us a cultural pop legacy that reached around the world. You were part of this great country's stars. Thanks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sonia Dada & the Late Rory Gallagher

Sonia Dada has been on my list of favorites for years now. I first heard them coming home from work in my car, on Philadelphia's 88.5 WXPN. I bought and owned their music by that evening. Side note: in that same car ride I also heard cuts from Lindsey Buckingham's then-new CD, 'Out of the Cradle', which I also owned by that night! We'll talk about the great Lindsey in another post.

I've seen Sonia Dada 3 times in the Philly area. People don't sit down, even if there are seats. They are a rockin' gospel-blues music genre group, based in Chicago. One day in 1990, songwriter-guitarist Dan Pritzker got off a subway train and heard the three-part harmonies of Michael Scott, Paris Delane and Sam Hogan. Pritzker had already been working with a group with long time friends, guitarist Dave Resnik, drummer Hank Guaglianone and bassist Erik Scott. The three singers joined the quartet, and Sonia Dada had a new lineup with keyboardist Chris "Hambone" Cameron.

The CD I heard that night in the car was '' A Day At The Beach". Yowza. It's still one of my favorite sounds, and they are GREAT live...really great. Get yourself to iTunes or Amazon and listen to some of the cuts. In fact, go to YouTube and listen to Screamin' John. It's great for openers (sold me!), but the whole album is killer. Sail Away, Crazy Jane and Lester's Methadone Clinic are masterpieces. If music had not become so crushingly competitive, these guys would be headliners ... my opinion of course! They're stars in my book, anyway. Look 'em up or comment here.

Rory Gallagher. Man, I don't even remember when I stumbled across him. He died in the '90's, sadly of liver failure and you-guessed-it, a fatal love affair with alcohol. What an insane GIFT to the music world was this guy! Eric Clapton apparently once stated that Gallagher gave him a whole new understanding of the blues. The best albums are the live ones, if you can get them. My first 'hard listen' was on a business trip by car, and I remember driving across a big bridge to our state capitol, and listening to As the Crow Flies. I almost went off the road with excitement. This guy probably outdid Springsteen onstage for frenetic, insane dedication to kicking out the jams for his audience. Some of the great albums: "The Irish Tour" (As the Crow Flies is on this), "The BBC Concert", and "Stage Struck". Go to YouTube and watch him play Goin' to My Home Town (give this a good 50 seconds of intro to KICK IN to the good stuff...love it!), Cradle Rock, Messin' With the Kid (give this 50 seconds of intro too), Bullfrog Blues (great googely-moogley as Frank Zappa used to say!!!!), Rory Gallagher and Stevie Ray Vaughan ... oh and much, much more.

What a terrible, terrible loss to the music world that Rory isn't with us anymore. One of his songs I listen to, Too Much Alcohol, portends with creepy accuracy, this artist's demise. Our boy apparently drank with the same dedication that he so passionately played his music onstage.

That's it for today. I could write forever about the music I love, and hence the title to this blog.

Next time: we'll talk about Papa Mali and Daniel Lanois. Over and out ...

Free Fallin' Kristin

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Blues Discoveries

It always stuns me when I browse musicians I like, and follow the 'if you like so-and-so, look at these artists'. So I was following Walter Trout the other day (now there's a treasure), and discovered a couple of pretty awesome people -- Albert Castiglia (Walkin' Blues, Hurricane Blues), and Aynsley Lister (holy mother of good slide blues...Aeroplane Blues, Running Out on Me, Sugar Low, As the Crow Flies).

Post comments if you can about these guys!

This is a short post today, but upcoming will be posts about Sonia Dada and the ever-ever astounding and late Rory Gallagher from Ireland. Teaser: Listen to Rory doing 'As the Crow Flies' to get your ya-yas on!


Free Fallin' Kristin

PS William Topley is STILL performing in Jim Thorpe, PA July 18. Go to his website and just listen...the guy has a rich blues and soul vibe, and I love him.

Free Fallin' Kristin

Friday, June 12, 2009

William Topley! Playing in Jim Thorpe PA - yay!!!!

William Topley! Playing in Jim Thorpe July 18

This wonderful Brit sounds like he grew up on the bayou along the Mississippi. How do the Brits do that???? Anyway, he's wonderful. I never would have discovered him, if it weren't for volunteering at WXPN a few years ago. Volunteers are allowed to look over sample and demo CD's to take home, as a 'thank you' for their efforts on a fund raising shift. I plucked out a CD entitled 'Feasting With Panthers'. Whoa! Outstanding...the whole thing.

So I got interested and started looking him up. This guy deserves WAY more attention. Check out his website for some of the music (plays right off the bat).

If anyone's going to Jim Thorpe for this, say 'hey'. This should be a great concert and I'm thrilled to see him around here.

More later!

Free Fallin' Kristin

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Music Schedules Are Out!

This is my first blog entry. Tune in, local PennJerDel music lovers!

Every year I go through the same thing. The summer concert schedules come out, and I start trying to talk people into going to events with me. This is like herding cats!!!! Can I go my myself? Sure. Half the fun is, sharing the fun, the comments, and the whole experience with other music lovers. Your music friends come and go. Sometimes you have a built-in 'music buddy', and sometimes they go off into another world, and either don't have time, or lose interest.

In April-May for instance, my annual pilgrimage to New Orleans and JazzFest happens. For a while years ago, we had a whole group. Little by little it dwindled, until the year before last, I pretty much went by myself. You do meet people there, and sometimes make plans to hook up later at selected events. You can stay in touch long after that, which is cool.

But one of the things I started thinking about this year was starting a blog to find people in the Philly area (Jersey and Delaware of course!) who love this stuff, follow music, and maybe go to JazzFest folks. This year in New Orleans I did spot a number of Philly peeps at the fairgrounds, and it's great to greet one another. But it would be wonderful to kind of have a group of people with whom one had discussed the upcoming schedule, who's playing, write musical reviews, and other cool things to look for in New Orleans.

So back to the subject at hand: the 2009 summer concert events. This is purely through my eyes, and reflecting my taste, but here goes with what I thought looked WELL worth paying attention to:

May 29 - (Trocadero, Philly)
JJ Grey & Karl Denson's Tiny Universe - OK, this one's over, but wow...what a great show I missed. Did anyone out there see this? I've seen JJ Grey at the World Cafe, and this is a musician's musician!!!! I've also seen him at JazzFest in New Orleans. Ditto Karl Denson. Grey is tight, cool, sophisticated, and way not-boring. Denson is a little jazzier but kind of fits the same description.

June 12 - Appel Farm
Subdudes - Who doesn't love these guys? I saw them in New Orleans 2 years ago. They love 'em there, and we love 'em anywhere. I think they are from NOLA, correct me if I'm wrong. But the locals there certainly love them.

June 19 - Longwood Gardens
Boz Scaggs - I was listening to Scaggs in the '70's. What a treasure. What a cool musician.

July 26 - Pocono Blues Festival Day 2 (Jack Frost) WHAT A DAY!
Ruthie Foster - holy cow, has anyone seen this all-girl band from Austin? I confess to being a tad sexist with women in the rock world, because most of them don't rock enough for me, nor do they play instruments with outstandintg skill (small handful: Chrissie Hynde-Pretenders, Bonnie Raitt, Anne McCue-awesome Aussie girl who plays with Lucinda Williams a lot, and my list of women sort of peters out there). I saw Ruthie Foster in the Blues Tent at JazzFest in 2008. Yikes! Brought the house down with her Blues-Rock laced with gospel revue. Yowza. Austin be proud!
Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials - Looked them up and sampled them on iTunes. Yes!!!!
Buckwheat Zydeco - don't need to explain this do I?
Harrison Kennedy & Fruteland Jackson - also looked them up in iTunes. Yes!!!
Chris Thomas King - didn't know him, listened on iTunes. Yes! Yes! Yes!!!!!!

So that's it for now. I'm really interested in hearing from music lovers, finding out who's going to some of these events, finding out who's new and noteworthy out there in the funky-rock-blues world, or who wants to go to JazzFest and share 'buzz' and information, and just exchange music info.


August 6 - Longwood Gardens
Rufus Wainright - WXPN made much of Wainright about 10 years ago with the release of Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk. It's not usually my kind of music, but I liked it a lot. Then, I had the pleasure of seeing him live at Appel Farm a few years ago. Blew everyone right out of their socks. A mindblowing concert, and what fun it was to experience him onstage. I'll be going to this one.