• Tommy Emmanuel @ Hatfield Hall, Terre Haute, IN

    3 Oct 2009, 20:57

    Still a little stunned today. Honestly the most omnipotent guitar playing I've ever heard or ever expect to hear. Jazz, blues, country, rock all pretty much reduced to their common denominators and then recombined to form something greater than the sum of its parts. In particular 'Initiation', the piece inspired by and dedicated to the Indigenous Australians, was frighteningly intense at time. There were some older people in the front row who had to get out of their seats and go to the back of the hall.

    And to think it all went down at a venue literally just across the swamp from my house. Gloat, gloat, gloat.
  • Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys @ Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Bloomington, IN…

    7 Mar 2009, 17:04

    Maybe I should see a doctor, when I close my eyes I can still see the spots burned into my retinas by the house lights reflecting off those luminous white hats and I swear I'm hearing fiddles where there shouldn't ought to be any fiddles.

    So anyway: Vibrant show, packed house, adulation, the White Dove, unique voice, three generations of Stanleys, Oh Death, tributes to Carter, Room at the Top of the Stairs, appropriately corny jokes and horsing around, Orange Blossom Special, raucous standing ovations, three encores, Pretty Polly.
  • Jandek @ the Harrison Center for the Arts, Indianapolis - 12/9/06

    10 Dic 2006, 15:37

    So, who knows what to expect from a Jandek perfomance? The only live disc I have is Glasgow Sunday and I honestly expected this concert to sound nothing like that, I wasn't wrong. If the Glasgow show was the Jandek Power Trio then the Indianapolis show was the Jandek Jazz Quintet. That's Jandek on guitar/vocals, a drummer, a bassist, a flautist/xylophonist, and a female vocalist/violinist.

    Though I list the venue as the august-sounding "Harrison Center for the Arts", that's how it's billed, the concert was actually held in the sanctuary of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church. From the second row the acoustics were phenomenal.

    It was interesting to see Jandek the man live, even though he was ten feet from me he didn't give away much more than a picture on the internet. He smiled once, very briefly, and may have said five or six words to his band but never acknowledged or even really looked at the audience. Pale as a ghost and dressed all in black with a black fedora, he looks like some sort of icy cold assassin from a classic film noir movie.

    Now to describe the sound... uh, well, first of all don't let the relatively orchestra-like dimensions of the band fool you the music is pure Jandek. It's kind of hard to imagine him renting practice space somewhere and barking out orders like a drill instructor, but if he had they couldn't have sounded any more like an extension of him. The drummer in particular had the Jandek-time down.

    Atonal and chaotic. Those are the markedly insufficient buzzwords usually used to describe Jandek, right? It was all of that but it was also sonorous and mesmerizing. I don't wear a watch and I literally had no idea how long I'd been in there until I saw the clock in my car: it was two hours, if asked to guess I would have said four. Jandek-time screwing with my head.

    I'd be a liar if I said I recognized any of the songs, a lot of them sounded like his obliquely worded blues moans about lost love. He did sing one with a more narrative structure about, to paraphrase broadly: loving a girl / not wanting to marry her because of his career / riding away on a motorcycle and not looking back / hearing they gave the baby to a lawyer / sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to work in a factory and have a family. It was pretty chilling and bluesy.

    Then there's the female singer. I liked her, especially since Jandek focused on his axe a little more when she sang, though it was weird to hear someone else mouthing his lyrics. I have a feeling she could have let go a little more on other material, but was sort of forcing herself into his stop/start phrasing. In any case the songs she sang were some of the best and her violin really added a layer of texture when she wasn't singing.

    What else to say? It was real wild and if Corwood ever puts out 'Indianapolis Saturday' I highly recommend it. One more thing, this morning I bought a ticket to his Atlanta show in February, even though for me it means a twelve hour bus ride each way.

    Twelve hour bus ride... almost sounds like a Jandek lyric, "I had a twelve hour bus riiiide to get to youuuuu!"

  • Sonny Rollins @ the Krannert Center, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana -…

    7 Nov 2006, 23:48

    Overwhelming, cathartic, and absolutely mind-expanding! The program refers to him as "the unsurpassed jazz immortal, Sonny Rollins," and nobody alive is in a position to disagree. He's not just resting on his laurels either, the seventy-six year-old Saxophone Colossus brings it!

    I've got some of his recent studio albums and to be frank they're solid but not spectacular. His live shows though are another matter entirely. I've seen him twice now and both times he burned me to the ground. I seriously would have had tears in my eyes if I wasn't such a rugged, meat-eating son-of-a-bitch.

    (NOTE: 'Sonny, Please' is his brand new album, which I don't have, recorded with this band and it might well cook.)

    I'll address the visual impact of the man first, if I may, because he cuts quite a figure. Both times I've seen him he was dressed the same in shades, a loose-fitting black shirt, and bright red pants. With the snowy white hair and beard he looks something like a djinni that came billowing out of a rusty old horn to grant the audience their musical wishes.

    Then he starts to play. The Krannert Center is none to intimate but he and the band *fill* the place with sound. It's those long, knotty, circular, lines of improvisation he plays that I like. It's almost mathematical (a beautiful sort of math) the way he weaves smaller lines and quotes from other songs together into a circular pattern and then plays them all off each other endlessly. He really digs down deep in every solo too. In both shows his set-list included classic Sonny tunes, new originals, and wild improvisations on old European folk songs or showtunes. In Champaign-Urbana he played: Salvador; Serenade; Why Was I Born?; They Say It's Wonderful; Global Warming; Sonny, Please; and Don't Stop the Carnival.

    The band is as scratch as you'd expect. Sonny's nephew Curtis Anderson plays trombone and could easily lead a band of his own; but c'mon, if Sonny Rollins was your uncle wouldn't you stick by his side as long as humanly possible? The rhythm section is: Bob Cranshaw, bass; Bobby Broom, guitar; Victor Lewis, drums; and Kimati Dinizulu percussion.

    So, essentially what I'm saying is don't hesitate in buying tickets for Sonny the next time he's in your area. This definitely isn't some elder statesman doing it for the nostalgic old folks, he's got as much to say as anyone working in music today.

    Sonny Rollins
    Without A Song: The 9/11 Concert