Tag Archives: Dolly Parton

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At Brooklyn Steel Whitney Prove Why They Continue to Get Bigger

May 25th, 2017

Whitney – Brooklyn Steel – May 24, 2017


It’s been a whirlwind for Whitney ever since releasing their much-acclaimed debut album, Light Upon the Lake. They’ve visited New York City, crisscrossed the country, made their television debut, toured the rest of the world and returned to NYC—each time passing through an increasingly larger venue, having quickly outgrown almost all of them. For a group that began as a bedroom project, recording songs in the dead of a Chicago winter, the nonstop touring has made a good band even better: It’s been a hell of a first lap.

Last night, Whitney took over Brooklyn Steel, a venue even newer than the band. The show kicked off with a Dolly Parton cover, “Gonna Hurry (As Slow as I Can),” performed by guitarist Max Kakacek and singer Julien Ehrlich on the piano. And although the song takes some serious falsetto chops to sing, Ehrlich might be the only male singer in the world capable of nailing it. The remaining members of the six-piece then came out to perform “Dave’s Song,” It’s a glorious moment when the rest of the band kicks in alongside Ehrlich’s drums. There’s something to be said for singing drummers, and with the frontman’s tender voice, the sticks in his hand added punch to his pleas. The cheery “No Matter Where We Go” featured drum fills trading off with Kakacek’s guitar riffs. And the lovesick “Polly” finished with a piercing Will Miller trumpet solo. The performance streamed live and there were shout-outs to a pair of grandparents watching, including a grandfather, born in Brooklyn, celebrating his birthday.

The momentum shifting instrumental “Red Moon” made room for each instrument to shine, its slowdowns and buildups making way for guitar and trumpet solos. Next came the Lion cover “You’ve Got a Woman.” “It’s always a hard song to play, and we sweat a lot, so don’t take too many Instagram photos,” warned Ehrlich before jumping into it. Whitney played most of Light Upon the Lake before announcing that they’d return. The four-song encore kicked off with a brand-new tune: “It’s about partying too hard,” said Ehrlich by way of introduction. Next came what’s become a tour staple, their cover of NRBQ’s “Magnet,” followed by the theme to The Golden Girls. Ehrlich claimed that he’d have trouble with the lyrics, but the audience enthusiastically helped out, before Whitney closed with “No Woman,” pausing at the end to thank everyone before jumping back into the climactic finish. These songs have been perfected, poised yet again to be a soundtrack for those sunny golden days of summer. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Elizabeth Cook Brings Outlaw Country to The Bowery Ballroom

August 9th, 2016

Country singer Elizabeth Cook is equally known for her terrific songwriting, an incredible voice and her energetic live performances. So it should come as no surprise that she’s been appearing at the Grand Ole Opry for more than 15 years, earning comparisons to Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris in the process. Her most recent album—the first in six years—the blues-inflected Exodus of Venus (stream it below), came out in June to rave reviews. Rolling Stone called it “magnificently entertaining,” American Songwriter made note of “an instantly identifiable voice and music that uses its inherent twang as the bedrock for an often heavy, even dangerous sound,” and PopMatters proclaimed, “Cook’s mostly melancholy music contains rough diamonds whose brilliance needs to be brought out in the cutting.” And with her current tour winding down, Cook (above, performing “Exodus of Venus”) brings a taste of outlaw country to the Big Apple when she plays The Bowery Ballroom tonight. East Nashville singer-songwriter Derek Hoke opens the show.

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A Little Bit Country and a Little Bit Rock and Roll

March 28th, 2013

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – The Bowery Ballroom – March 27, 2013


I spent a little too much time last night trying to figure out exactly what a Grambler is. That’s the name of Nicki Bluhm’s backing band, in town for a boisterous set of soulful honky-tonk last night at The Bowery Ballroom. With their “YouTube sensation” label and their standard rock-band setup—bass, drums, guitar, Rhodes, female lead singer—the name “Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers” felt like it could have been auto-generated.

Perhaps a Grambler is someone who tells a rambling story, but with guitars, as the band did throughout with country-rock songs like “Go Go Go” beefed up with twang-y guitar and Bluhm nicely channeling Dolly Parton. Maybe it’s someone who likes to take risks while crisscrossing the country (gambling while rambling). Or perhaps it’s a husband–and-wife team displaying their emotions bare onstage with powerful duets like Nicki and Tim Bluhm did with “Stick with Me” and “Till I’m Blue.” Or maybe a Grambler is someone carrying on the tradition of Gram Parsons, like when the band brought up pedal-steel player Jon Graboff, who added some much-needed oomph to the early part of the set.

The highlight of the night for me was when the Bluhms sang a lovely duet on Kenny Loggins“Danny’s Song,” with Graboff’s beautiful steel playing accentuating perfectly, capped by a stolen smooch. Things picked up steam from there, the band grambling their way through a high-energy “Jetplane” with multiple slide- and pedal-steel guitar solos and the makings of a full-band jam. The set had a nice balance of covers and originals, older songs and songs yet to be released. The climax of the night was the new “Little Too Late,” a single-ready gem of a song that encapsulates Bluhm’s sound. And in case I still wasn’t clear just what a Grambler is, the encore laid it out: a gorgeous gospel number, “In the Mountains,” sung in three-part harmony around a single microphone followed by the angry-heartbreak rocker “Kill You to Call.” Whatever the definition, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers are the real deal. —A. Stein