July 14, 2017

Concert #805 - Paula Cole at McCabe's Guitar Shop (July 7, 2017)

I must confess that I stopped following Paula Cole's career in the late nineties, so last Friday I went to McCabe's expecting something in the vein of her early hits. Well, I got to hear her early hits, but unexpectedly, I also got my first exposure to Paula's vocal acrobatics that instantly brought to mind Yma Sumac's multi-octave voice. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of such extreme vocal deliveries, but witnessing her singing in a live setting wasn't the end of the world either. Moreover, the concert had many thoroughly enjoyable moments, so that when the show ended, I was one of those who stood up to give the three musicians on the stage a well-deserved standing ovation.

Paula came out with guitarist Chris Bruce and drummer/percussionist Jay Bellerose, two musicians who were nothing short of fabulous. Their interplay, with or without Paula's piano, produced some of the evening's finest moments. I was particularly impressed with Jay's tasteful style of playing, he is truly one of the best drummers I have ever seen.

Paula Cole at McCabe's
Paula kicked off her set with three covers - I really liked her rendition of "Ode To Billy Joe", delivered pretty much in a traditional way. Her self-penned songs, among which I only knew "Where Have All The Cowboys Gone" and "I Don't Want To Wait", sounded a bit uneven to these ears, but one of them, "Feelin' Love" was an absolute knockout, even at first blush.

The concert ended the way it started, with a few covers, namely Prince's "When Doves Cry" and Dolly Parton's "Jolene". Both sounded great.

Paula Cole at McCabe's
Jay Bellerose at McCabe's
The set list
Chris Bruce, Paula Cole & Jay Bellerose at McCabe's
The stage
The piano
Paula Cole merchandise

June 30, 2017

Concert #804 - The Barefoot Movement at McCabe's Guitar Shop (June 24, 2017)

The Barefoot Movement deserve a lot better than just a few bullet items in lieu of a more extensive write-up, but right now bullet items is all I have time for.
  • The band's line-up: Noah Wall (vocals, fiddle, banjo), Tommy Norris (mandolin, vocals), Alex Conerly (guitar, vocals) and Katie Blomarz (upright bass, vocals).
  •  This was my first encounter with the band and I truly hope that our paths will intersect again in the future.
  • The Barefoot Movement are an exceptionally likeable band - Saturday night they delighted me with two generous sets that amounted to almost two hours of music.
  • I enjoyed the band's high energy, good humor and most of all, their great music.
  • Their set included lots of self-penned songs, augmented with a few interesting covers.
  •  Some of the covers they played: the traditional "Wade In The Water", "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" from the repertoire of Steely Dan, Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" and "Fire", Jimi Hendrix's old gem.
  • The band also delivered a rousing medley consisting of the unlikely pairing of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" and "I Get Around", the mega-hit of the Beach Boys.
  • The band's original songs sounded quite good to me, even at first blush.
The evening kicked-off with one of the briefest opening sets ever, two songs in all, delivered by Dan Hannaford, an Australian singer-songwriter currently recording in Los Angeles. Both "You Can't Preach Peace With A Gun In Your Hand" and "High Horse" can be described as melodically simple, but their message, forcefully delivered by Dan, will be hard to forget. I will definitely be looking for the studio recordings of this talented musician.
Here are a few photos I took before, during and after the concert:

Noah, Katie & Alex at McCabe's
Noah Wall at McCabe's
Tommy & Noah at McCabe's
The bare feet of the Barefoot Movement
Dan Hannaford at McCabe's
Set list #1

Set list #2
The stage

June 27, 2017

Concert #803 - The Dustbowl Revival at the Scripps College (June 19, 2017)

My busy life prevents me from writing a full review of the concert, so instead, here are a few random comments:
  • The revivalists came out with their well-established octet formation, as pictured above
  • A surprisingly large crowd was at hand 
  • The weather was absolutely divine
  • The band played two generous sets that amounted to almost two hours of music
  • The band's performance was very well received by the crowd
  • Their set list borrowed heavily from their just-released new album
  • "Dan's Jam" and "John The Revelator" were two of the very few "oldies" that they played
  • Some of their best new numbers: "Gonna Fix You", "Honey I Love You", "Call My Name"
  • This was my fourteenth time to see the band live
Now let a few photos do the talking:

Some of the revivalists at the Scripps College
The Dustbowl Revival at the Scripps College
The Dustbowl Revival at the Scripps College
Liz Beebe & Zach Lupetin at the Scripps College
Ulf Bjorlin & Matt Rubin
Zach Lupetin
Liz Beebe
The Dustbowl Revival at the Scripps College
The crowd during intermission
The merch table

May 23, 2017

Concert #802 - Jackshit at McCabe's Guitar Shop (May 21, 2017)

Even though this was my thirty-seventh time to see Jackshit in concert, I'm a totally normal person (or so I think), but clearly, I'm not able to control this primal instinct of mine, this inner voice that keeps telling me "Go, Gabe go" every time my favorite band is announced to play at McCabe's. So Sunday evening I went again and I'm super-happy that I did, as the Boys from Cochtotan delivered a set that was two-hours long, possibly their longest set ever at McCabe's and once again I was amazed by the talents of these incredible musicians.

Sunday's show was not radically different from the many others I have covered on this blog, so let me just throw out a few random thoughts that, I hope, summarize the show:

  • The band played many of the songs that form the backbone of their repertoire: "Christine's Tune", "Ghost Riders In The Sky", "Drinkin' Or Drivin'", "Long Black Veil", "2x4", "Pretty Polly", etc.
  • There was no "Bull Rider"
  • For the first time ever, Johnny Horton's "I'm Comin' Home" was not the closing number of the set, but we still got to hear it, as the band's one-song encore.
  • Recent additions to the band's repertoire: David Bowie's "Ashes To Ashes", The Sweet Inspirations' "Chained", Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning", Wynn Stewart's "Big, Big Love", the Band's "Time To Kill" and "Goddamn Lonely Love" from the repertoire of the Drive-By Truckers.

  • Shorty's bird-calling skills have remained undiminished over the years.
  • Beau's guitar playing on "You'd Better Get Right" was out of this world.
  • "Ugly And Slouchy" and its incredible Rock & Roll Medley is the embodiment of what Jackshit is all about: variety, intensity, humor and most of all, fantastic musicianship.
  • The band did not bring out any unannounced guests, which they quite often do. 
  • Courtesy of Wayne Griffith, the veteran sound engineer at McCabe's, we once again enjoyed the perfect sound my favorite venue is known for.
Val McCallum at McCabe's
Davey Faragher at McCabe's
Pete Thomas at McCabe's
The set list
Val McCallum feeling the music at McCabe's

One of the many pleasures of attending concerts at McCabe's is meeting folks with whom I share common musical interests. Sunday night I bumped again into Stacey and Cindy, two exceptionally friendly ladies, whom I had met once before, also at McCabe's.

Music fans Stacey & Cindy
The stage
Val's guitars

May 21, 2017

Concert #801 - Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton at McCabe's Guitar Shop (May 12, 2017)

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton ... what a talent! It's hard to believe, but this musician is only twenty-eight years old, yet he can mesmerize a crowd with songs few folks have ever heard and may never hear again. What's his secret, one might ask? Well, he is a good singer and a top-notch multi-instrumentalist who also happens to be funny, warm and friendly. Being the embodiment of likeability will certainly help any musician, but ultimately it's the music that carries the day and that's where Jerron excels. I have seen many other multi-instrumentalists in action, but few have impressed me as much as Jerron did. It's not only that he switches from one instrument to another with the greatest of ease - this guy can make each of those instruments sound like they come from an era that predates his existence by many decades. Indeed, throughout his performance last weekend at McCabe's, Jerron exuded a sense of genuineness that one would not expect from someone of his age.

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton at McCabe's
Kicking off the evening with "Michigan Water Blues", Jerron delivered a generous set that clocked in at exactly two hours. There was no predetermined set list, but he knew exactly when to switch, back and forth, between his guitar, banjo, harmonica, fiddle and piano. I can't name too many of the songs he played, as they were mostly obscure blues and ragtime songs from, I suppose, the pre-World War II era. "The Very Thought Of You" and "Alabama Bound" were among the handful of numbers that I did recognize and they all sounded great.

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton at McCabe's
Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton at McCabe's
Jerron is not endowed with a huge thunderous voice, but he can certainly add a lot of nuance to everything he sings, with the end result sounding truly genuine to these ears. Then there was the humor ... it was absolutely amazing to see how much laughter this young musician was able to generate from the very moment he took the stage. And he saved his best for last, the hilarious set-ending medley consisting of "When An Ugly Woman Tells You No" and "I Ain't Got Nobody", and old song I first heard with Louis Prima. Needless to say, Jerron received a warm and well-deserved standing ovation. I went home extremely happy and I know that I'll be back for more.

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton at McCabe's
The stage