Category: Live Show Reviews

August 12th, 2002

August 12, 2002 – City Lights Pavilion, Denver
Photos By Scott D. Smith

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August 2nd, 2002

August 2 ,2002, Bluebird Theater, Denver
Photos By Scott D. Smith

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July 31st, 2002

July 31, 2002, Red Rocks
Photos By Scott D. Smith

Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa Carlton Vanessa Carlton Vanessa Carlton Vanessa Carlton

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June 2nd, 2002

Denver, CO, June 1-2 2002

Review and photos by Elizabeth Nitz

funkiphino
Funkiphino

The first day of the CHUN Capitol Hill People’s Fair was warm, smelled like fried food, and teemed with folks seeking good entertainment. One of the favorite acts of the day was local funk/rock band Funkiphino (pronounced “funk if I know”), performing high-energy dance music. They have been a popular cover band in the area for years but have started work on their first set of original songs for an upcoming CD. They were enthusiastically received by perspiring fairgoers.

jockamo

Jockamo

Headlining at the end of the evening was Jockamo, a collection of musicians with diverse backgrounds having more fun than should be allowed playing great Zydeco, reggae, and blues. Jockamo is fronted by veteran vocalist Jeri Yaussi and accordion guru Richard Johnson. Bringing a bit of the rockin’ bayou to Denver, they kept the waning audience in earshot until the end, clapping and ba-hooing for more.

Day two was hotter, smellier, and more crowded. Craft sales were brusque as people came prepared to buy everything from napalm-quality salsa to huge watercolor paintings.

marybeth

Mary Beth Abella

As the sun kept watch directly overhead, Mary Beth Abella and her band took the Cricket stage by storm. Fans shouted from the few patches of shade as they rocked. Mary Beth’s catchy, complex songwriting is a little Alanis with a shred of Shawn Colvin, but darker and subtler. She surrounded herself with talented musicians on electric guitar, drums, and her brother on bass.

wendyn woo

Wendy Woo

By the time Wendy Woo began to play, a very hot, dehydrated crowd had gathered to cheer her on. Hard core fans danced down front while others watched up to a block away. Music from her new release, Gonna Wear Red, sparked many a new fan to talk to the friendly folk rocker after the set and she sold an entire box of CDs.

maggiejack

MaggieJack

Vocalist and percussionist MaggieJack played at the acoustic stage. Their Latin-beat rock was fun and danceable, and lead vocalist Lisa laughed and joked with the audience. Liz Clark also made an appearance at that stage, cramming her band under the tent for a spirited set. She travels between the electric guitar and her keyboard like she’s been doing it all 21 years of her life.

lizclark
Liz Clark

Towards the end of the day, Katelyen Benton and her band, all high school age, impressed the gathered crowd with their talent and energy. From Salida, CO, they make it to Denver once a month in the summer, when school is not in session. Their sophisticated rock sound with reggae and jazz influence shows off Katelyn’s powerful, fearless voice. They played a couple covers to get people in the mood, then launched keyboardist Katelyn’s originals off their album.

katelynbenton

Katelyn Benton

The sunburns and spent cash were worth the fantastic lineup of artists, and from the size of the crowds watching, everyone went away happy. For more information visit www.peoplesfair.com

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May 20th, 2002

May 20,2002, The Paramount Theater, Denver
Photos By Scott D. Smith

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May 11th, 2002

Janis Ian at Swallow Hill May 11, 2002

By Elizabeth Nitz

Janis Ian

After a glowing welcome from Swallow Hill staff, Janis Ian took the stage already strumming a wireless guitar. She started with the haunting, “Stolen Fire,” and the audience was silent as her voice effortlessly filled the room. At the end, she lightened the mood, warning the audience of an impending sing-a-long. Obviously a veteran in front of a crowd, she kept the audience laughing between sad, sweet love songs and biting political commentary.

She told the story of how she went on Howard Stern’s show, and what a sweet, polite guy he was until they went live. Fortunately she was just as quick on the draw and could match him jab for jab. Then she played “Society’s Child,” her 1967 controversial interracial relationship song, to appreciative applause.

She proceeded “Boots Like Emmy Lou’s” with a hilarious story about a discussion with Chet Atkins where he laid out exactly what needed to be in a hit song so she could make a lateral move into the country scene. Winking and including the audience in each pun as she played, she turned her powerful guitar into percussion, lap steel, and fiddle. The raucous applause lasted nearly a minute and she beamed at the crowd.

The slow, introspective “Mary’s Eyes” was written in Ireland while touring with Mary Black. The song did not make it onto her latest CD but has been popular in her shows. She sang the Celtic flavored song with a convincing Irish accent.

She described “The Other Side” as a song written before it had meaning, and as the story of a fallen firefighter unfolded, it was obvious it was “given to her,” as she says, before the events of September 11. Her looping technology allowed her to harmonize with herself in a powerful ending.

She opened the second set with “Jesse,” barely a whisper of a song, and kept the pace slow for the next few songs. Again lightening the mood, the outspoken Jew from New Jersey described a song she wrote with a friend that criticized modern Christianity and dared Amy Grant to record it. Ms. Grant took her up on the offer, recorded “What About The Love” on her album Lead Me On which went platinum, and Janis had a new crowd of young Christians who left each show shell-shocked.

She wound a few more good tales then cut into “At Seventeen.” The applause would not stop as she thanked the audience for the privilege of being able to comfort them in hard times, harbor their dreams, and make magic. She then showed off her technical proficiency and creativity with a long guitar jam in the middle of “Take No Prisoners,” mugging for the photographer and interacting with the front row. Strains of Jimi Hendrix and fancy pedal effects prompted laughter, and at the end the crowd rose to its feet. She hid backstage for a couple seconds then reemerged and triumphantly said, “Some nights you wish you did actually finish high school, but tonight was one of them!”

The sing-a-long turned out to be “These Boots are Made for Walking,” continuing the country theme, and the audience responded enthusiastically. The evening went by very quickly although she played for nearly three hours. She vowed to autograph CDs after the performance, again underscoring how important her fans were to her.

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April 26th, 2002

Catie Curtis with Donna Dean – April 26,2002 – The Borderline – London

Catie Curtis

By Ellen Rawson

There have been times in the past when Catie Curtis has seemed nervous when she performs. Tonight was not one of those evenings. She was into her show right away; for a woman who had taken the train all the way from Glasgow to London that day, she displayed an incredible amount of energy and simply seemed happy to be there.

With long-time musical partner Jimmy Ryan accompanying her on left-handed mandolin (acoustic and electric) and guitar, she started off by playing music from her most recent CD, Your Shirt Looks Good on Me. Although the rhythm sounded a little off here and there on their second song, the album’s title track, Curtis smiled a lot. There wasn’t any hesitancy nor shyness. After that song, she took some time to talk to the audience. Pointing out the sheep on her t-shirt, she announced that it was sheep night at the Borderline, what with her shirt and her opening act,
Donna Dean, hailing from New Zealand, along with seeing a lot of sheep out of the train window during the five-hour ride to London. She quickly pointed out the mystery of the additional microphone on stage. It was reserved for Jen Todd, who had flown in from Seattle (taking a break from her usual work with Laura Love?s band) to ?hang out for a weekend in London.? At various times, Todd would climb onstage from the audience to sing with Curtis.

The songs from the new album are not necessarily the best examples of Curtis’ song-writing skills. However, something about her live arrangements and intimate relationship with the audience brought them to life, particularly on “Love Takes the Best of You”, a song about adoption. Curtis has a way of sort of occasionally speaking while she sings. She’s definitely singing, but it can sound as if she’s speaking the lines from time to time, simply for
emphasis. She also can add a certain lilt to her voice to emphasize important words, such as on
“Falling Silent in the Dark,” an older song requested from one woman to another. “I don’t remember their names,” she admitted with a laugh, but she played it anyway and mentioned how it had been requested via e-mail.

Her apparent honesty while talking to the audience is another aspect of her live show that helps bring her songs to life. She introduced a new song inspired by John Lennon’s “Imagine.” With everything that has happened in the world during the past year, she’s had a hard time listening to that song “without thinking? um ? that he’s naïve,” she admitted with a grin. The audience laughed in response. “But he wasn’t (naïve) he was cynical. He must have written it as a prayer for himself. So here’s my prayer for myself,” she said before launching into lyrics about how her narrator cannot use her imagination anymore. “We take care of ourselves while the rest are weeping,” she confesses. “When I close my eyes and try to see all the people living in this world in peace, all I see is what’s in front of me.” It’s a sober reminder of what we do see in the media or on our streets on a daily basis, but it does offer hope.

She also had fun trying to involve the audience in more light-hearted elements of the show. On the very next song, “Kiss That Counted,” she took her time explaining the sing-along section. She finally advised everyone to follow Jimmy and Jen. “They’ll help you out,” she said with a laugh. Indeed they did. Todd counted with her fingers high in the air to let everyone know when to come in. It was a very up moment, particularly after the previous “heavy” number.


Curtis didn’t play a lot of older songs during the evening. This tour really was meant to promote the new album, but during the encore, she asked what she should play next. A number of people called out for “Magnolia Street.” Curtis nodded. “I heard that one, anything else?” She seemed determined to please her audience, sometimes admitting that she really didn’t remember some of her oldest songs that well. However, she indeed did tackle three older songs for the encore, “Magnolia Street,” “Walk Away,” and “Soulfully.” She did have problems with the words on “Walk Away.” “I’m gonna really try to nail it. I haven’t played it in a while,” she warned everyone ahead of time. They didn’t seem to mind. They were willing to feed her lines and laughed with her when it didn’t go quite right. “That’s supposed to rhyme,” she explained, laughing.

The audience laughed with her. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t always perfect. She played what they wanted to hear, and they appreciated her efforts. It was obvious that Curtis was just as happy with them as they were with her. “This has just been so fun! she exclaimed at the end of the show. If nothing else, it was nice to see Curtis enjoying just being herself while she further endeared herself to her fans.

Opening for Curtis was New Zealand native Donna Dean. At first, it was difficult to tell she was from New Zealand. Her first two songs were country western, and her voice had a decidedly strong twang to it. It wasn’t until she spoke that her native accent was obvious. However, she has a Nashville connection. She recorded an album there last year that will be released in the UK shortly. One song from the new CD, Pictures, heads more towards folk/singer-songwriter territory than country. It felt a little more accessible and just “realer” than her other numbers when she sang, “and nothing else comes close to the pictures in my head.” Her other numbers, however, were country or country rock, bringing across images of old-fashioned Texas honky tonks.

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April 1st, 2002

DJ.ISATOPE – Break Away – April 5, 2002 – Pulsation

By VTEK

DJ.ISATOPE

     One of Colorado’s finest female DJ’s is back with yet another well produced and selected Breaks mix. It’s hard bass lines, progressions and richly textured music make it one of the best works ISATOPE has yet to promote. Mighty tasty tracks make this one a classic. The vinyl selection mostly consist of funky and groovy tunes, full on random beats and high pass filter whooshes. It is brilliant selection of some of the most inspiring tracks of this caliber to be released.
One won’t find catchy Trance tunes on this one, but an array of well-organized Break Beats that will keep you grooving and smiling away throughout the rest of your day! ISATOPE’s talents lay not only in the production aspect by also in playing live sets. Her recent live performance at ColoradoRave.com’s “Pulsation” on April 5, 2002 proved it. Her amazing and mesmerizing two hour set, blew every one away! The club was bumpin’ the ravers screaming in joy and the “groovemasters” getting down to some of the illest Break Beat tunes spun.
When behind decks, not only does she surround herself by the high-tech equipment and pounds of black wax, but massive quantities of deep positive vibe that eventually projects to the crowd. The music is felt not heard. The long term memory at work, selects and encodes your favorite tracks so on your way back home, you can’t resist repeating it in your head. That’s what makes it special and makes one want to come back for more. Break Away (hence thy name), is recommended for those who seek the “freedom” the “escape” and the “isolation” from what mainstream we are a part of. Put on your headphones, turn up the levels, and Break Away to the superb mixing by ISATOPE.

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March 13th, 2002

The Borderline – London- March 13, 2002

Thea Gilmore
By Ellen Rawson

There seem to be so many singer-songwriters out there today. It gets to the point where the cynical may start thinking that they’re a dime a dozen. Some performers do fit into that category, but Thea Gilmore, an up-and-coming British singer-songwriter, has a special spark and flare that sets her apart from the wannabes.

Accompanied by Nigel Stonier on acoustic guitar (Gilmore also played acoustic guitar), she took the floor to applause; she already has a large fan following, particularly after the release of her third full-length CD, Rules for Jokers. Those fans were pleased with her opening choice, “Keep Up.” It’s sometimes hard to believe that she’s only 23 years old, what with the number of CDs she’s released and her adroit lyrics. Her songs are full stories. Occasionally, they seem rather verbose, but in a good way – kind of reminiscent of Bob Dylan. She has stories she needs to tell in a matter of minutes, and she needs to compact a lot of information into that time. Her voice is slightly on the husky side; her range sometimes seems limited, but what she has is full and earnest.

Although her lyrics often are about bitterness in relationships and break-ups (she later joked with the audience that she would play a light, happy song, but she suspected that they weren’t there for that), she’s amazingly fun in terms of between song banter. She and Stonier had just obtained new tuners. “Hence the bending down, squinting thing that Nigel’s perfecting,” she said with a laugh. When explaining that most of the songs performed that night would be from the new album, she joked, while taking some time to tune her guitar, that she’d “try to play them in tune.” Like Richard Thompson, the sense of humor displayed while conversing with the audience nicely juxtaposes the seriousness of her lyrics. When fans called out requests, she joked with them, promising to get to those songs later. “It’s not that time of the night yet. We’ll get to it, I promise,” she said with a laugh. At one point in the evening, she played a song that had been requested the other day, but she couldn’t remember it. She since had relearned “December in New York.”

Gilmore is honest with her audience, just as she’s brutally honest about the conditions she reports in her lyrics. She felt the crowd was a little too quiet at first; she really seemed more at ease when the audience starting calling out requests and yelling out comments. At that point, she was in her element and had fun conversing with her fans. “It’s gonna be a quiet one now,” she announced before her fourth number of night, gentle, dreamy “Holding Your Hand.” It has
a Cowboy Junkies feel to it, and it seemed as if it just wanted more backing vocals. It would be interesting to hear it live with a female back-up singer. Its haunting lyrics (“I’m gonna haunt you/On every knife edge/Every trip/And on every needle tip/I’ll be holding your hand) belie its sweet sound. It’s a dreamy, sensual sound reigned in by a tight control.

“I had the dubious pleasure of making my own video.” The experience, she reported honestly, was “a stupid state of affairs,” she said with a laugh, as she described having to mime “the words to my own song.” However, the video was for her new single (she emphasized it would be released on 25 March), “Fever Beats,” so “anything goes,” she concluded. It’s an interesting choice for a single. It lacks the pop feel against a rock beat of “Straight Up,” the song she’d just sung previously. “Fever Beats,” however, features her usual standard of intelligent lyrics and features her sort of trademark “punk folk” feel. She took a punk song by the Buzzcocks and turned it into a slow romantic ballad, later jokingly calling it “a Manchester folk song.”

She relaxed into a more acoustic folk/rock feel on “Saviours and All.” Gilmore can rock out with the best of them, though. Towards the end of the night, she launched into “Generation Y,” an obvious crowd pleaser from The Lipstick Conspiracies, a previous release. If Gilmore is the spokesperson for her generation, they have great promise. This song is commentary from a new generation that really hasn’t been heard all that much. After serious verses, she contrasts them with a lighter-sounding chorus of “la las,” followed by the serious “Talkin’ about degeneration.” Right after that, she went into another rocker, “This Girl is Taking Bets.” “This is the bouncy one,” she said as she introduced it. Again, there’s a Bob Dylan influence in terms of the lyrics, but it’s Bob Dylan with a better voice and a female perspective on life.

When she reappeared for her encore, she joked about how that whole routine is “bullocks.” “I would have come back anyway. In fact, I’m gonna do two,” she informed us, and then she laughingly confessed that she was “standing just around the corner, stroking my ego.” For that second song, she promised it would be a “nice, happyish one.” “Incidentally,” she continued with a spark in her eyes, “it’s not one of mine.” She then performed a cover of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” Stonier sang along on the choruses, and their voices blended nicely. At this point, her voice found a natural vibrato that just added to the song’s emotion; she showed more range on this closing number.

Gilmore live, particularly with a responsive audience, reflects strong personality and confidence. She is who she is, and her fans like her that way.

Opening for Gilmore was Rebecca Hollweg, a singer-songwriter who shows great promise. Her songs aren’t quite as developed as Gilmore’s, but there’s potential there. Her opening number, ” “, had a “sweet” beat, but it wasn’t saccharine. She seems very polite on stage, but there’s a lot of emotion in her voice. At one point, she mentioned that she was performing her “angry song,” but she didn’t seem that upset – her character seemed more frustrated than angry. Hollweg just seems nice – like the best friend in whom you want to confide. Most of her material came from her recently released CD, June Babies, including “Where Are You Going,” a number that could be a hit were it performed by a more recognizable name. Perhaps Hollweg will reach that point herself one of these days.

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February 11th, 2002

Indigo Girls at the Fox, Boulder CO, February 11, 2002

By Elizabeth Nitz

 Indigo Girls
The evening actually began at seven in the morning February 11th as fans started to line up under the Fox marquee. The cold, empty street became home as sleeping bags, blankets and breakfast were spread out and shared. Many new acquaintances were made and a few old friends were rediscovered as the line built over the hours. As one fan said, “Waiting in line meeting people can be just as fun as the show itself.”

They gathered around one group’s radio as the Indigo Girls were featured on KBCO’s Studio C

at 3:00 in the afternoon. A few people walked around with signs saying, “Desperately need 2 tickets!” The show sold out in minutes. Considering the Girls routinely pack venues of capacities above 10,000 in Colorado, only selling 500 tickets necessarily left some of the most dedicated fans out of the loop.

The doors were opened at 8:00pm and the chilly fans streamed in. Some chose to lean on the railings, some headed towards the raised seats along the wall, and the rest jockeyed for position in front of the stage. The Indigo Girls’ new CD, Become You, played in the background.

Indigo Girls

Ginger from KBCO introduced them at 9:30pm. “This is the first date of this extremely special club tour because they know what great fans we have in Colorado!” The crowd welcomed the Indigo Girls warmly, and they comfortably took the stage. They scanned the adoring crowd, obviously enjoying the sight. “It’s good to be on a club tour,” Amy commented.

To condition everyone to the short length of the set, Emily laughed, “You probably know this is not like a normal show, right?” One fan retorted with, “We’re not a normal group!” “Good answer!” came Emily’s response. They started with a crowd pleaser, Get Out The Map, from their 1997 release Shaming Of The Sun. Amy said, “You guys sing great! Keep on singing.”

Next they played Three Hits, an old song from Rites of Passage (1992) and the audience sang along as commanded.

It was time to introduce new album. Amy used the term “organic” when describing the songwriting as well as the production. They recorded with their familiar live band in the studio and mixed the entire thing in Atlanta. The crowd was surprisingly quiet as they sang a new song Emily wrote, Collecting You, just as tightly as they had sung the older songs but surrounded with fresh energy.

The next song, Yield, was preceded by a minor conference as Amy decided the tune should be sped up. Emily seemed to disagree (“Faster than the record? Faster?”) but gave in. Amy pounded out the new rhythm on her mandolin and the crowd accepted the song enthusiastically, shouting in appropriate places. Amy said at the end, “We’re still learning the songs.”

Emily introduced the next song, Deconstruction, by saying, “This is another new one. Every time I get ready to write songs, I’m like, ‘I’m going to write something different than about love.’ Oh well, whatever. This is about love. There’s animals in it too. I’m really growing!” The audience had a lot to say in return, mostly reassuring that her love songs were what they wanted most. Throughout the ballad, she shrugged off the sad sentiments but her eyes revealed feelings a bit more fresh.

She sang, “We’re sculpted from youth, but chipping away makes me weary, and as for the truth, it seems like we just pick a theory.” The song ended somberly and quietly.

Indigo Girls

The mood was quickly changed as Amy and Emily made fun of someone for dropping her beer, and launched into Gone Again off their 1999 album, Come On Now Social. Amy had a bit of fun with a line she accidentally repeated and grinned at the crowd, eyes wrinkling as she sang. Again she complimented the audience on its singing, pointing out that she could hear emerging third part harmonies.

She’s Saving Me was a very quiet, sad song that few knew. Everyone listened intently. Like faces at a lecture, they focused on Emily’s face and voice, breathy and heavy with emotion. Amy added harmony midway, matching her minimal tone. In unison they raised the chorus’s volume then faded to silence as the lights dimmed. 500 and 2 people did not even breathe for a moment. Emily barely whispered the last verse, then Amy thanked everyone for being so quiet. “We’re not worthy!” shouted one fan during the reverent applause that followed. This song may have been the highlight of the wonderful set.

Amy strapped on a harmonica for the first time in front of a live audience. She confessed she did not know what she was doing, again lightening the mood. “I’m really trying, and I think probably the only way is to screw it up in front of a lot of people, over and over again.” She introduced the title track off the new CD, Become You, as about conversations with the man next door. “It’s all about economics no matter what’s going on. And that applies to the South as well.” Politics and activism inspire much of Amy’s music and this up-tempo song was no exception. “We can’t afford the things you say, we can’t afford the warranty,” she sang. Emily joined her in rare vocal unison, breaking into harmony on just a few occasions. Amy’s harmonica added an interesting new sound to their acoustic signature. “Thanks for putting up with that,” Amy said gratefully.

An audience member requested that they play God Bless America. Emily scoffed. “Why? God bless the whole world!” Neither Indigo Girl is shy about her views. Another of Emily’s songs from Come On Now Social, Cold Beer and Remote Control, prompted harmonies from the audience and Amy smiled genuinely at the sweet sounds. Everyone hushed for the final strains of the guitar, then erupted into applause.

Indigo Girls

Amy’s Moment of Forgiveness has been around for a while and was the most recognized of the new material. People sang and clapped along. Amy thanked the crowd repeatedly, and reminded them of the show’s short length as the artists got hit with requests they could not fill. “It’s just a little promo tour, it’s a baby tour, ” Emily pleaded. “The idea of the whole tour was just to come out, with a short set, work the new songs, and you’re like, ‘No!’. Now you’re going to heckle us?” Emily poured the guilt trip on heavily and the crowd responded with fewer requests but did not entirely let up.

Our Deliverance was the final new song of the evening and brought out a different emotion in Emily. She strummed decisive chords, anger flashing in her eyes as she sang, “Lay down your weapons and love your neighbor as yourself.” The crowd threw fists in the air and cheered in agreement. The song was begun before the events of September 11th and was finished in response to them.

“Wow, you guys are great,” said Amy at the end. Emily thanked the shouting crowd for their support over the years and the two of them left the stage. They returned almost instantly, and the noise never died down. Amy seemed to change her mind about the encore, grabbed a different guitar and proceeded to tune it herself. Giving the crowd what it wanted, Emily explained that they felt the need to lengthen the set slightly. “We’re already violating our own boundaries!”

As Amy played the first chords of Chickenman, an old song from their 1992 Rites of Passage album, she showed off the power of her trademark black guitar and cut loose passionately for the first time all evening. Amy and Emily were nearly drowned out by a multitude of voices very familiar with the song. She encouraged the crowd to clap as Emily picked out a driving solo in the middle. Amy took over again, slowing the song down to almost nothing for a few verses. On cue, audience and performers dove into Bitterroot, which had been played in the middle of Chickenman for years and is now its own song on the new record. Those who knew it could not contain themselves and clapped, stomped or pounded the stage in response to its call-and-response rhythm. The song ended the evening on an upbeat note, and as the crowd dispersed the crew flung set lists and picks at stragglers.

The show was less about attracting new listeners and more about giving the diehard fans an exclusive preview of what is coming. Become You will be in stores March 12, 2002, and can be pre-ordered online or purchased at local and independent record stores.

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January 19th, 2002

A Benefit For Journey: A Young Woman’s Conference, January 19 2002
By Elizabeth Nitz

Women Who Rock

Journey, a Loveland, CO, organization dedicated to giving teenage women a supportive community in which to discover themselves and their abilities, began holding its conference for young women eight years ago. Attendees pay no entrance fees but enjoy workshops and guest speakers on politics, life skills, nutrition, psychology, and the arts. Funds are raised through community events such as the January 19 Women Who Rock concert featuring Wendy Woo (www.wendywoo.com), Liz Barnez (www.lizbarnez.com), and Liz Clark (www.lizclarkmusic.com).

Three young Journey board members gave an introduction to the benefit, the conference, and the musicians. Then one of them picked up a guitar and was welcomed as the opening act, Kate Watkins. From her first sharp chord and powerful vocal note the audience was entranced. The eighteen year old was no novice songwriter. With her punctuative, emotional style she could have been a young Ani Difranco. When the crowd finally quit applauding at the end of her short set, Kate gave a warm introduction to the headliners.

The three women had been on stage together before, and were clearly comfortable with the songwriter-in-the-round arrangement as they argued and laughed about who should start. They decided to begin together with a Bob Marley tune, No Woman No Cry. Wendy Woo took the lead and the others filled in above and below.

Liz Barnez started with an original favorite, Just Another Day, stripped to its roots from its usual full band format. It worked almost better this way because it brought out the rhythm and sensitivity in her guitar work and strong voice. Her other songs the first set included Mind Slippin’ where she showed off her trademark staccato blues guitar style, and the simple, beautiful Child and Mother, played on local radio station KUNC. People applauded with recognition.

Wendy Woo was up next with a new acoustic song called Why, written for her mother after her untimely passing last year. As she sang, “you are the deepest soul,” it became clear that writing songs has been therapy for Wendy. Her second song, Down and Dirty, began so slowly it was hard to recognize. Generally a rousing bar room tune, it became a sad ballad. She held back her powerful voice to a silky whisper. For her final song, Wendy invited Kate Watkins back to the stage. Sundrops, her closest thing to a pop single, became a jam. Liz Clark joined on keyboard, Liz Barnez on the conga, Kate on rhythm guitar, and even the audience helped with the chorus.

Liz Clark, after picking up the guitar, chose instead to play the keyboard for her first ballad, Not the Point. Liz’s strong skills at the piano as well as acoustic guitar distinguish her in the company of these very talented women. The crowd received her enthusiastically. She went with the guitar for her next song, Who’s Your Angel,confessing to hero worshiping Wendy’s distinctive guitar style. The song brought out her sweet voice and commanding guitar talent. Liz ended the first set with Safe in My Car, a fast-paced fun song with a driving beat she pounded out on her guitar.

The second set began with more banter between the women and laughter from the crowd. Liz Barnez is famous for taking requests and changing her set list on the fly and tonight was no exception. She told a tale of growing up in Louisiana and singing in the choir. Her first song was a New Orleans-charged gospel song and by the end of the last chorus the other musicians had added harmony. Her next song was introduced as a new blues number completed with help from a friend, Whiskey Bay. Her final song was a spirited rock song, Falling to Pieces, which quickly became an audience favorite. She sang, “Take me to the water, take me to the well, take me to the slaughter, what the hell,” to loud applause. She indicated the song would be on her next CD.

Wendy chose all new songs when it was her turn. Man Made Lines, another no-holds-barred rock song, was slowed down to show off her skill at writing lyrics, such as, “Man makes curves on the rare occasion he stops work to watch the world.” Liz and Liz joined on her second song, Most of Yesterday, providing a beautiful three-part harmony to this breakup ballad. Her last song, Company of Two, started slowly but built in intensity and percussiveness until Liz Barnez got out her conga and enthusiastic shouts were heard from the crowd.

Liz Clark introduced her first song, Justify, as a self-empowerment song. Her voice had a clear emotional edge as if the feelings were still fresh. Again at the keyboard for her second number, Gemini Girl off her 1999 release Love and War, she displayed her vocal range and driving keyboard skills. She ended on the guitar withOn Your Side, a fast-paced rocker.

They finished with a group song after thanking everyone for benefiting the cause and being good to them. Wendy took the guitar part, Liz Clark the piano, and Liz Barnez sang. They traded verses of John Price’s Angel of Montgomery, made famous by Bonnie Raitt, their completely different voices blending melodiously. This ended a gorgeous night of acoustic local music.

 

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June 21st, 2001

Kate Rusby

By Ellen Rawson

21 June 2001, Princes Hall, Aldershot, England

For more information:  http://www.katerusby.com

“Folk music is dead easy,” proclaimed Kate Rusby towards the end of her first set in Aldershot while promoting her recently released Little Lights CD. Don’t believe her. Mercury-award winner (roughly the British equivalent of a Grammy) Rusby merely makes it look easy.

For a woman who admitted early on that she’d be singing songs “mostly about death,” singer-songwriter Rusby certainly was upbeat.  Accompanied by a strong band of master UK musicians (Mike McGoldrick on flute and whistles, John McCusker on fiddle and cittern, Andy Cutting on accordion, Andy Seward on acoustic bass, and Ian Carr on guitar) to go along with her own voice and guitar, the evening featured a number of traditional songs, Rusby’s own compositions (which have a traditional, albeit pop feel to them), and a couple of carefully chosen covers.

It’s clear that twenty-something Rusby has been exposed to the music business for years.  A regular at folk festivals since she was a child (her father is a sound engineer), she joked about whether or not it’s child abuse to take your children to festivals. In her case, she seems to have grown from such early exposure. Her storytelling ease almost equals her singing. Each song benefits from in-depth introductions and/or commentary, even if the introduction seems tangential to the song’s meaning. Prior to “Let the Cold Wind Blow,” she told an amusing story about hearing continual thumping sounds in her living room and discovering that, in her windy environs, wrens were hitting her living room window. Now, when she sees the wrens coming that way, she opens the window so that they land on the sofa and fly away without hitting the glass. Her cover of Richard Thompson’s “Withered and Dried” strayed to a comment about the state of her garden and how she wished one of the UK’s television gardening shows would pay it a visit. Her rendition of the traditional “Wild Goose” included how, as a child, she shocked her parents by singing a rather bawdy version of it learned by accident at a folk festival. (Her parents later taught her a tamer version.) These digressions, however tangential to the songs’ meanings, were fun, intriguing, and told with the grace of an experienced storyteller.  Rusby’s Yorkshire accent (generally not noticeable when she sings, yet in her speech some Americans initially may have difficulty with it) merely added to her charm.  (While teaching the audience “The Yorkshire Couple,” she laughingly implored everyone to sing “in your best Yorkshire accents and a little louder.”)

Rusby knows how to connect with her audience. A number of songs became sing alongs. While teaching the chorus to “Botany Bay,” she explained that since its words really were just nonsense, “you could sing almost anything.”  She promised to turn her fan on the audience during the second set (the venue was warm), and she joked about the ice cream sold during the break.  (With ice cream, she stated, it’s an intermission and is posh. Without ice cream, it’s just an interval.)  She started the second set by warning everyone not to be surprised if the second half was “dead quick.”  She had ice cream to finish.

Despite all the talk (and joking about having to finish up quickly before her ice cream melted), Rusby paid even more attention to her music than to her stories and conversations. Her voice, combined with the musical accompaniment, created the quality of dancing in waves during “I Courted a Sailor.”  Her voice became melting sugar on “Let the Cold Wind Blow,” as her strong vibrato took hold.  Despite its traditional background, “The Drowned Lovers” maintained a pop feel. “The Fairest of All Yarrow” gave the band yet another chance to show its strength, and Rusby’s voice on that number can be described simply as angelic.

Whether Rusby sings traditional material or her own original songs, all are stories.  She is a storyteller in music, whether singing a cappella or with accompaniment.  She’s young, hip, fun, and relaxed on stage, singing crossover folk music with an earnest, authentic-sounding voice that only can be described as pure.  (Could that be why she named her record label Pure?)  The traditional material she covers sounds new, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between it and her own songs, whether they be the traditional themed “Sweet Bride” or the piece written for the late musician Davy Steele, “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?”

Her cover of Iris DeMent’s “Our Town” was saved for the very end.  “I’m the only musician I know who gets homesick after two days,” Rusby admitted as she introduced it.  Both DeMent and Rusby have distinctive accents; Rusby’s Yorkshire inflection is different than DeMent’s twangy tone, and it helps give the song a more universal quality.  DeMent’s “Our Town” is no longer a town in rural America; it’s in Yorkshire, it’s anywhere, it’s Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.

“Aw, thanks,” Rusby said with a brief blush before launching into an encore.  “Do you want to come tomorrow?  We’re in… High Wycombe,” she stated, after checking on locations with the band.  Such comments may seem trite, but coming from Rusby, they’re without guile. Folk music, whether it be traditional or verging on singer-songwriter status, isn’t dead easy for most performers.  It just seems to come naturally to Kate Rusby.

Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with:

March 16th, 2001

June Tabor

By Ellen Rawson

Folksinger June Tabor is ready to go into the studio to record a new album, one based on the theme of roses.  She’s pretty much been rehearsing the songs live on a late winter/early spring tour of the UK and Belgium.  This latest tour has consisted of songs dealing with roses.  The music comes from different time periods ranging from traditional English folk to German hymns to contemporary pieces.  Or, as she explained, “Welcome to — not for once — an evening about love gone wrong, but an evening about roses — and love gone wrong and gardening gone wrong.”

The first song, “Roses of Picardy,” written in 1912, had an almost music hall yet slow and bluesy feel. Tabor explained it had a special significance for World War I soldiers in that it showed an idealized love worth fighting for.  From Picardy, she moved geographically to the Isle of Jersey and sang “Belle d’Rose” in French.  Tabor later sang two songs in German and discussed the dilemma of singing a song in its original language versus its English translation. One of the German songs was a fifteenth-century German carol that had been sung in her school.  (She confessed she hadn’t sung in her school choir.  “I had a funny voice even then. I used to split octaves.”) She subsequently learned that the English translation left out bits and pieces, “so I’ll sing it to you in its original German.”  She later read aloud a bad translation of a song with words by Goethe and music by Schubert.  The translation had the audience in laughter. Again, Tabor went with the original German.

Whether singing in German, French, or English, Tabor’s voice is that of a lush, red wine.  It’s a velvety voice that takes you right to the song’s characters. It doesn’t matter whether she’s singing Les Barker’s song about Empress Josephine and her love of roses and Napoleon, a contemporary folk/popular love song by Jessica Ruby Simpson that starts “When I first loved you, I was a flower,” or “The Banks of Red Roses,” a traditional Scottish piece regarding, as Tabor termed it, “passion and worse.”  On the traditional “Barbara Ellen,” Tabor’s voice had shades that worked as accompaniment along with her band’s piano, violin, and cello.

On several occasions during the evening, Tabor stood back and turned the stage over to the band: Mark Emerson, Huw Warren, and Richard Bolton.  In keeping with the night’s theme, their instrumentals all were songs with titles concerning roses.

At the end of the show, Tabor thanked the audience for coming, listening, and “laughing at all the right places.”  Her song introductions indeed often were humorous as well as informative (she is quite a storyteller).  However, at times they were sadly topical as evidenced when she referenced foot and mouth disease while introducing “My Rose in June,” a song that she joked had her name all over it.  “Once there were fields filled with sheep — I hope there will be again.”  In typical Tabor fashion, her reference, and indeed the entire show, was subtle yet boldly effective.

Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with:

March 9th, 2001

Renaissance

The Astoria, London, 9 March 2001

By Ellen Rawson

In the past few years, there almost has been a trend of bands from the ’70s and ’80s making comebacks.  Even so, it still was surprising to see an advertisement for Renaissance, the classic art rock band featuring Annie Haslam’s renowned five-octave range. Haslam would be joined by two more Renaissance stalwarts, guitarist Michael Dunford and drummer Terence Sullivan, in addition to keyboardists Mickey Simmonds and Rave Tesar, and bassist David Keyes.

The surprise, however, was welcomed by fans who eagerly queued up outside the Astoria, some of whom had travelled many miles to see a new show from a band that had broken up in the ’80s.  By the time Renaissance took the stage, the Astoria’s floor (standing only) was filling up, and the fans were restless.   The orchestral version of “Prologue” replaced the background music, and the band entered, including Sullivan in an old Renaissance t-shirt.  Haslam, the last to appear, has not strayed from her trademark “no shoes” habit; indeed, she wore tights but no shoes onstage.

An old favorite (and hit in the UK), “Carpet of the Sun,” was up first.  If there had been any questions about Haslam’s voice, they all were answered immediately.  Yes, she still hits all of the high notes in the same effortless manner as twenty years ago. Her vibrato and distinct enunciation are strong as well.  She still “feels” the songs; it’s as if she becomes one with them as she earnestly and animatedly performs.  Haslam herself acknowledged the passing years as she greeted the crowd. “It’s good to be back!” she exclaimed.  “It wasn’t that long, was it?” she asked innocently.  “I see you all look the same,” she said with a grin.

However, perhaps time has taken a little bit of a toll.  “We’d like to carry on with a song from… from…” She had to laugh as she tried to recall the album’s name.  “A Renaissance album,” she finally said as she laughed. Actually, the album was Novella, and the song was “Midas Man,” for which Dunford played a twelve-string guitar in a sort of unplugged version of the song.

“We have a new album that we recorded over the last couple of years,” Haslam revealed.  “It’s not out here yet,” she admitted, explaining that Tuscany had been released in Japan and that they were heading there the next day.   She explained that the title track, “Lady of Tuscany,” was about a musician, Paganini, who’d had an affair with a noblewoman from Tuscany.  The new song started with Haslam gradually vocalising up the scale, along to keyboards and bass.  It featured Haslam at her best — when her voice itself becomes a musical instrument — flute, oboe — as needed. The song’s start was reminiscent of Renaissance from the late ’70s and early ’80s — a rock-oriented narrative piece.  The choruses, however, switched to the early ’70s classically inspired feel.  Somehow, it seemed as if maybe there really hadn’t been that many years between shows.

Haslam introduced “another song from the album you can’t buy yet,” “Dear Landseer,” a number about a Scottish painter commissioned to paint Queen Victoria. Here was where the days when the band performed with a full orchestra were missed.  The keyboards had to fill in as flutes, harps, etc.

Overall, the band seemed to be having fun as they introduced new pieces and played popular older songs including “Northern Lights” and “Mother Russia.”  A number from Haslam’s solo career, “Ananda,” with a bit of an Indian/Middle Eastern feel that gave Haslam the chance to play more with vocal twists and trills, also was in the set list.  When Dunford introduced “Trip to the Fair,” he mentioned that he didn’t think that they’d ever played it live,  Haslam interrupted.

“Excuse me, I have,” she said with a grin, referring to her solo career.  Dunford grinned back.  “*We* haven’t,” he replied.

Closing with the band’s showcase, “Ashes are Burning,” the group certainly left behind the impression that this London show, although a warm-up of sorts for the Japanese gigs, wasn’t merely a “one-off.”  While most of the audience may have been of a “certain” age, its younger members (some with their parents) didn’t look bored.  The new songs are “must haves” for the fans, but who knows?  Maybe they will win over some young converts.  Renaissance’s musicians still have something to say, and Haslam’s voice, twenty years on, still can melt souls, and break and mend hearts simultaneously.

Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with:

November 22nd, 2000

Chris While and Julie Matthews

Chris While and Julie Matthews – Purcell Room, London

22 November 2000

By Ellen Rawson

The saying goes that “if wishes were horses, then dreamers would ride.”  Well, if Chris While and Julie Matthews were “name” acts, their songs would be chart material in the UK and perhaps even the US.  The pair write and perform politically savvy, witty commentary in addition to some of the most heartfelt love songs recorded today (and covered by performers such as Mary Black).

“We’re going back to Australia,” Matthews announced, and she told the story of their first expedition there.  They’d left behind “gales here” and arrived to 45-degree Celsius highs in Perth.  “That’s the setting on my oven!” Matthews exclaimed, joking that she could bake meringues at that temperature.  The introduction became more serious when she mentioned that they’d traveled to Tasmania.  While then picked up the tale, noting how so many London prostitutes in previous centuries had been arrested and shipped to Tasmania.

While there are so many songs, folk songs in particular, about male transports, they “thought we’d do one from a women’s point of view.”  With Matthews on acoustic guitar, While started vocalizing the intro to “10,000 Miles.”  Her voice filled the hall; the Purcell Room, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, is a good-sized venue, and her voice, featuring a sweet vibrato, fits it from wall to wall.  It’s a seemingly effortless flow that’s not overpowering, yet its natural strength and its evocative dramatic qualities are perfect for such an emotional song.   Matthews joined in on harmonies, and her guitar sometimes felt like a drumbeat marching the prisoners along.

Matthews sometimes also draws on British history for her songs.  “Jewel in the Crown,” recorded by Fairport Convention, concerns British imperialism.  While performing in Africa, she noted that it was “never more apparent that British imperialism is alive and well in the world than in Kenya.”  Her audiences generally were filled with British ex-pats, with scarcely a non-white face in the crowd.  Both women started to rock as they as they played acoustic guitars and sang Matthews’ biting, cynical political commentary.

“Every Word We Speak Sounds Like Goodbye” allowed Matthews to move to keyboards while While sang lead vocals.  It’s a deeply felt slow ballad about the end of a relationship.  Although the melody seems simple, it says a lot.  It is the type of song that could be chart material if only While and Matthews were better known or if the “right” name artist covered it.

While invited the audience to sing along on their closing number, “The Freedom Song.”  (Matthews jokingly interjected a requirement of “only if you sing in tune.”)  Matthews taught the crowd the simple chorus (“We’ll know freedom then), and they were off.  Matthews voice, nicely curved with rough edges, blended in well with While’s on the chorus; their vocals sound like liquid silver when they harmonize.  They ended the song with Indigo Girl-like harmonies and earnest optimism joyfully presented to an appreciative audience.

For more information:

http://www.chriswhileandjuliematthews.co.uk

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October 26th, 2000

Eliza Carthy Band

Eliza Carthy Band, 26 October 2000 at La Scala, London

By Ellen Rawson

For more information visit http://www.elizacarthy.com

“We used to do mainly traditional folk,” Eliza Carthy announced towards the end of her recent London gig. “We don’t anymore,” she said with a giggle. “Something got lost along the way.”

Well, perhaps changed is a better word than lost. However, it is true that Carthy, daughter of traditional English folk stalwarts Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, recently released *Angels and Cigarettes*, her first all pop/rock-oriented album ona “big-time” label, Warner Brothers. Carthy has made the transition from traditional folk to pop/rock witha singer-songwriter edge.

After a late start and American singer-songerwriter David Mead’s opening act, Carthy and her band took the stage. Four men and two women backed her on accordion, violin, acoustic guitar, drums, bass guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals. (Carthy herself moved back and forth between violin and keyboards.) She opened with “The Company of Men,” a provocative number from the new album. (With a first line that states “I’ve given blow jobs on couches/to men who didn’t want me anymore,” it not only grabs attention but also makes it clear that Carthy’s show will not highlight traditional folk music.) Unfortunately, the sound system wasn’t quite warmed up yet, what with sudden feedback disrupting what otherwise is a slow, dramatic song.

Carthy didn’t talk much between numbers. She confessed early on that she was trying to save her voice. (At one point she asked if anyone had a lozenge.) “I’ve had laryngitis,” she admitted. “I’m sure I sound pretty husky. I’ll be doing my Tom Waits imitation by the end of the show.” Her voice, albeit a mite deeper than usual, still was it usual velvety self.

To help save her voice, though, most of her introductions were quick and sly one-liners. “This is a song about whispering,” she announced before breaking into the CD’s opening number, “Whispers of Summer.” With a sound slightly reminiscent of The Corrs, Carthy played violin while singing – a feature rarely seen; her voice managed to maintain its strong vibrato the entire time. “Train Song,” a very seductive number, was introduced with a smile as “a song about being a pervert, of which I know nothing.” Violins and accordion gave it a traditional feel, while its rhythm beat out contemporary, luscious notes. Carthy played neither violin nor keyboards for “Whole” (introduced as “a song about holes”) and was able to play the pop star dancing at the microphone with her blue hair swinging and her glittered face shining.

While she mostly performed her own compositions, she also sang a couple of covers. Almost apologetically, she mentioned that this “is a song I didn’t write” before launching into Ben Harper’s “Walk Away”(featured on Red Rice, an earlier album). Her take on the song, while different than Harper’s, was quite effective. Her Yorkshire accent came through on the vocals, the synthesizer was emphasized, and Heather McCloud, her back-up singer, created a nice vocal unison.

She also covered Paul Weller’s “Wildwood,” which allowed her to return to her violin. Like “Walk Away,” it also featured nice work with McCloud. It’s a song that requires a lot of voice, which she had. It’s amazing that she even attempted it with laryngitis. Her vocal qualities on this piece made her short introductions and lack of between-song patter worthwhile.

Carthy’s new sound indeed places a lot of emphasis on her voice, which, even with laryngitis, was up for it. Anyone wishing a traditional folk performance might have been disappointed. (Carthy did perform one traditional song, “Adieu, Adieu,” but even it was a raucous, fun folk-rock number with emphasis on the rock.) She hasn’t lost anything; she’s merely made a change. Now, if only she’d play less smoke-filled venues in the future…

Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with:

October 1st, 2000

Joe’s Production & Grille

Wendy Rubin, CEO, Joe’s Production & Grille, Inc.

by Alex Teitz  

Joe’s Grille was one of the first Internet companies to offer CD production, and distribution over the internet, as early as 1995. Joe’s has worked hard and dedicated itself to the independent artist. Both Joesgrille.com and now Joe’s Blue Plate Special, a college radio program, have worked to make the independent voice heard. FEMMUSIC met the CEO of Joe’s Production and Grille, Inc. recently and asked her a few questions. For more information visit http://www.joesgrille.com

 

FEMMUSIC: What made you decide to start joesgrille.com?

WR: Like most cool things in life. Joe’s was an accident. I was a music/documentary photographer and film maker. I was doing the starving artist thing, doing some CD brokering on the side, trying to raise money for my film projects. Finally, I realized the only way I was going to get money for my art was to make it myself, so I hired my first “employee” in 1995. Once I got further involved in the music industry I realized how unjust a system it is and the mission to change the music industry overtook my film making.

FEMMUSIC: Why should an artist or band use your services?

WR: We keep our word. If we give a delivery date, we keep it. If the CDs don’t ship on time, we’ll cover the extra costs to get the CDs to the gig. It is not an option to not have CDs for a CD release party. We promise the best quality and service and we guarantee satisfaction. No small print. Plus we put our money where our mouth is – all the money we’ve made off of CD manufacturing has gone right back into developing new services for artists, like joesgrille.com or the Joe’s Blue Plate Special radio show. We are setting up a national network for independent artists  (including traditional radio, distribution & promotion) that will give indie artists power in the system that was set up by the majors, for the majors. We believe that there is strength in numbers and if we all work together, we can make a difference. Sounds hokey, I know, but call me Doris Day- I really belive it.

FEMMUSIC: What has been your biggest challenge in running joesgrille.com?

WR: Learning how to run a business. My background was art school, theatre production, film production, photography and sales. Nothing had prepared me for running a business. It actually astonishes me how many people in the business world use business as an excuse for doing or not doing something. “It’s only business” is a phrase I’ve learned to hate. Perhaps I am old school, but I believe in loyalty, keeping your word and that everything I or Joe’s does reflects on me personally.

FEMMUSIC: What was your most memorable experience with Joe’s Grille?

WR: Probably the time we had to get CDs to Telluride in time for Tribal Folk’s CD release party. The manufacturer did not ship the CDs overnight as scheduled, so we had to revert to plan B – a same day ship. The CDs made it from Minneapolis to Denver, however, we couldn’t get them out of Denver airport; they kept getting bumped from the Telluride flight. Meanwhile, UPS had successfully delivered 100 CDs to us in Boulder, so at 6pm, when the shipping company had said there was no way those CDs were getting on the 7:30 pm flight, we grabbed our box of CDs and raced to the airport. I stood in line to buy a ticket on the flight, while our sales rep ran to the gate in an attempt to bribe some poor soul to take the CDs on the plane with them. Despite all the “don’t accept anything from strangers” signs posted at the gate, he was able to talk someone into taking the CDs to Telluride that night. We paid for their rental car, their hotel and a bouquet of flowers, delivered to their home  the next day. Needless to say, the band had their CDs for their release party.

FEMMUSIC: What common mistakes do most artists make when ordering the making of CD’s?

WR: They believe what people tell them. Many companies in this industry promise the world and deliver garbage. When looking for services, be it CD manufacturing, web related promotions, radio promotions, etc. it is wise to spend some time doing due diligence on the company you’re going to work with. If you can, go  meet the people who will be handling your project.  Also, make sure you do an apples to apples price/services comparison. Many companies quote low pricing to get you in the door and then tack on all kinds of charges, like 10% overs, shipping, or extra money if you would like 2 color photos or a design that actually stands out. You do get what you pay for; if price is your most important criteria in choosing a vendor, you’re going to have some quality and service problems.

FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to see changed about the music industry?

WR: That artists can make a living and maintain their integrity. We’re doing our best to provide tools for artists to gain some traction in the industry, from Joe’s Blue Plate Special radio show, which plays on over 200 college stations weekly and has always been free to artists (and free to the stations that play it), to being the first independent CD store online and introducing the “like artist” search in ’96. Also, I would like to see people in the independent industry working together towards change.

FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?  

WR: I think anyone outside of the elite, inner circle is discriminated against. It’s  true that it is a bit of a boys club, but being a woman has been helpful in that regard. I think it’s rare to find a female internet/music CEO and usually that works in my favor. I won’t lie to you-I have had my share of problems because I have breasts instead of a dick, but I think that being a woman usually works in my favor.  

FEMMUSIC: What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

WR: Not to give up. I believe that if you have talent and you are tenacious, you will succeed, eventually.

FEMMUSIC: What does Joe’s Grille have coming up in the future?  

WR: Joesgrille.com is debuting the first of its new online musician services in the Fall. We will be concentrating on touring, networking and aggregate buying. At the end of the year, we will be introducing online fan management service, data marketing and all kinds of other tasty goodies to get a band’s music out to new fans.

Wendy Rubin, CEO, Joe’s Production & Grille, inc.
4919 N. Broadway,
Warehouse 22

Boulder, CO 80304
303-442-1770
303-442-1794 fax

Check out http://www.joesgrille.com indie & import music for independent people & listen for joe’s Blue Plate Special, playing on a college station near you.

Coming in the Fall, featured interviews with: Kid Koala, Amon Tobin, Mix Master Mike, Dick Dale,& Orchestra Morphine.

Posted in Live Show Reviews Tagged with:

October 1st, 2000

The Gossip, The Butchies, and Sleater-Kinney

The Gossip, The Butchies, and Sleater-Kinney

by Jeanne Kalosieh

“It’s time for a new rock n roll age,” sings Sleater-Kinney on their fifth album All Hands on the Bad One.  Yes, indeed.  For those of you that are helping in the revolution (assume that if you’re reading this, you’re included), the line-up for the May 22nd show at New York City’s Irving Plaza was like a tailor-made Lollapalooza.  The Gossip, The Butchies, and super-heroines Sleater-Kinney spanked the mainstream and sent it to bed early.  Play time’s officially over.

Originally from Arkansas, now from Portland, The Gossip is a three-piece band (four-piece, if you include the dancer) lead by “Mama,” a younger, whiter Etta James with a tattoo of an anchor on her left arm.  Wearing a zebra-print tank top and large silver hoop earrings, Mama’s got some moves that would make those Vegas showgirls pay attention.  Asking if there were any “fat ladies” in the house, Mama said it was time to represent.  The Gossip proclaimed their mission: “We want y’all to dance your asses off.” Mama’s resonating soul-stacked voice quickly got the crowd jerking their booty.  Musically, The Gossip can set the stage a’flame with their groovy and shocking brand of rock.

The Butchies are quickly staking their claim in this new rock n roll age.  Alison Martlew, Kaia Wilson, and Melissa York debuted with Are We Not Femme? on Mr. Lady Records.  Their latest release, Population 1975 is turning indie heads.  The recipients of two GLAMA awards (one last year, one this year), this North Carolina trio mixes punk and pop until it explodes.  All that, and they wear matching uniforms that look like those full-body mechanic outfits.

Wilson’s introspective singing and riot-infused screams had the crowd swaying and swirling.  Can’t help but see a little mix of Kurt Cobain and Kim Deal in Wilson’s totally rock n roll stage performance.  Lying on her back with sneakers up in the air and her guitar on her chest, she slowly stood, flicked her tongue out, and played like a rambunctious teenager.  Pulling her guitar to her mouth, she planted a wet one on her instrument, oblivious to what was going on around her.  Beautiful.

But the Butchies have a great sense of humor, thanks largely in part to drummer York.  More than once, she’d emerge from behind her drum set, grab Wilson’s microphone, and spill her goofy guts.  She took a break to recite the lyrics of Journey’s “Faithfully,” while Irivng Plaza nearly pissed itself.

The Butchies have themselves a very good thing.  Go to http://www.mrlady.com/butchies.html for more of the un-femme.

Besides being a very astute band, Sleater-Kinney gets props for always setting up their own equipment.  No swollen egos in the house tonight.

Singers/guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss started off with the first three tracks from their fifth album, All Hands on the Bad One.  “Ballad of the Ladyman,” “Ironclad,” and the title track throttled the smoky air. Brownstein and Tucker interwove their vocals, bounced harmonies off each other and exchanged a wicked grin or two, while Weiss hit hard and kept everything steady.

Tucker’s cries, Brownstein’s incessant pogo-ing, and Weiss’s severity drove the crowd mad.  Overheard in ruckus: “I saw Nine Inch Nails the other night, and the 30,000 fans didn’t have any of this energy!!”  That’s because Trent Reznor doesn’t have the love that Sleater-Kinney has.  And let’s not even talk about style.

Songs from the set included “Call the Doctor,” “Start Together,” “Turn It On,” “Youth Decay,” “End of You,” “The Drama You’ve Been Craving,” “Male Model,” “Little Babies” and “The Professional.”

Sleater-Kinney is the new rock n roll age.  To all the disbeliveers, it’s time to update your files or plan an early retirement.

The Gossip, The Butchies, and Sleater-Kinney are all part of Ladyfest 2000.  For information and festival passes, go to www.ladyfest.org.

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July 20th, 2000

maggiejack

Bluebird Theater July 20, 2000

by Alex Teitz

MaggieJack is a spirited and addictive roots band. On this night they were the opening act of three bands. MaggieJack brought a large following with them, and the Bluebird filled early.

MaggieJack is a four piece band led by Lisa Maestas-Wagner. Maestas-Wagner is also lead vocals, and percussion. At any given time she may be playing congas, bongos, Zambian bass, Djimbe, and an assortment of other instruments. On stage she is ringed with these instruments. Joining Maestas-Wagner is Jason Wagner on guitar, Rick H. on bass. Ryan Ester finishes up the group with a separate percussion set-up as well as saxophone and flute.

MaggieJack’s set is all originals. The songs are environmental and spiritual pieces. They include “Truth” a song of hope highlighted with guitar, “Endangered” with a strong preservation message wrapped in an African beat, and “She Gives Me” that reflects on Mother Earth. MaggieJack’s most popular song is “Homegrown” that is about Maestas-Wagner’s Colorado roots. All of the songs are high energy and driven by percussion combinations that attract the audience more so than any drum kit could ever try. Maestas-Wagner’s vocals are inviting and driven. She does not overshadow the other members. Guitar, flute and saxophone solos appear in surprising places. Those familiar with the band Jaka will find much to like about MaggieJack.

MaggieJack is not an easy classifiable band. Their percussion base is new and refreshing and rarely seen in this market. Their experimentation in sound, lyrics and performance has potential to play in many areas. For more information visit http://www.maggiejack.com

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July 14th, 2000
Paula Cole

Paula Cole

Paula Cole with Jill Sobule – Aggie Theatre; Ft. Collins, CO; July 14, 2000

By Ellen Rawson

“I’m your opening act,” Jill Sobule stated as she matter-of-factly introduced herself and strapped on her tiny guitar. However, it was a false start. “I’m not plugged in!” she cried.

Colorado native Sobule, although promoting her new CD, Pink Pearl, opened with an older piece, “The Jig is Up.” She stopped mid-song to inform the audience that her parents “both went to school here – just to let you know. My dad was a veterinarian,” she added in reference to Colorado State University’s veterinary program. She also intimated that she too might have become a vet had she not spent too many summers cleaning out cages in her father’s office. Luckily for the adoring fans in the crowd, the sharp-edged, witty Sobule went into music instead.

Her cynical humor expressed itself in her second number, “Heroes,” from the new CD. It’s a song about how the people she idolized when she was a kid turned out to be “mean, awful alcoholics.” The audience started laughing with lines such as “Why are all our heroes so imperfect” and evidence including “William Faulkner — drunk and depressed, Dorothy Porter — drunk and depressed.” Sad subject matter? Not with Sobule’s humorous tone.

Sobule was on that night, whether performing new material, her “mini-hit” (as she termed it), “I Kissed a Girl,” ‘80s anthems (she broke into “All the young dudes/carry the news” at one point), or a new, not-yet recorded song about the death penalty with its chorus: “You’d better not kill in Texas; they’d just love to kill you.” The Colorado audience roared with laughter at these lines: “You can get off in Boulder, Colorado, but they’ll fry your ass in Lubbock.” Sobule was delighted at her chance to sing an encore. “I never get encores!” she exclaimed.

Her energy and the crowd’s reaction paved the way for Paula Cole’se ntrance. Cole made her way to center stage in front of a full band including long-time band mates Jay Bellerose on drums and Kevin Barry on guitars, along with Doug Wimbash on bass and Rockiya Diggs on piano, keyboard, violin, and backing vocals. (Cole played piano and keyboards on only a few numbers; she instead focused on her vocals and audience.)

Self-described as a frustrated drummer, Cole’s right arm went wild as if she held a tambourine in it on her opening number, “Happy Home,” from Harbinger, her first release. She followed it with the title track of her latest album, Amen, which expresses Cole’s new-found spirituality. This album, unlike her previous two, has not been a success. In fact, Cole thanked the audience “for supporting us even though there’s nothing on the radio.” “Amen,” however, demonstrates that while Cole is spiritual, she still is as radical as ever. In her list of items for which to say “amen,” she included “Dr. Kevorkian and the right to die” and “the Republican Witch Hunt Crew.”

The set list pretty much revolved between old (mostly songs from her second CD, This Fire) and new material. The new music tends to be more rock-oriented and leaning towards a funkier theme (and in the case of “I Believe in Love,” a twinge towards the ‘70s soul sound). Unfortunately, due perhaps to the sound system, Cole sometimes was overwhelmed by the band. It was difficult to discern the lyrics to the newer songs if you didn’t already know them. Cole’s trademarks cat-like ad libs were prominent, but while they felt earnest, at times they seemed almost over the top. Other than that, she was in good voice. Despite the sound dilemma (there were occasional feedback problems on vocals, particularly on “Carmen”), the audience seemed enamored, and Cole appeared quite pleased with the response. While Cole didn’t talk much with the crowd, she certainly wasn’t shy. Clad in a short slip dress, she was not afraid to exude her sensuality while revealing emotion on stage.

While Cole’s expressive sensuality may not have been startling for the crowd (she did perform “Feelin’ Love,” a rather evocative song from This Fire that also allowed Barry a long solo), she did introduce some surprises. She brought on a guest musician to sing, dance, and play drums for one new number. She became a female Robert Plant as she covered Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” as an encore and made joyful pirouettes onstage in platform shoes. However, her next-to-last encore, “Hitler’s Brothers,” became a rocker in concert and a real crowd pleaser, and the finale, “I Don’t Want to Wait,” helped the crowd mellow out a little and prepare to exit. “Crowds like you make it all worth it!” she exclaimed. “This is what it’s all about.”

Indeed, Cole truly seemed to enjoy herself, and the crowd definitely was appreciative. Despite sound difficulties and changes in her musical style, the hungry audience ate it up. It certainly was worth it to them.

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