Tag Archives: Donovan

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Christopher Owens Lets His Music Talk for Him

January 23rd, 2013

Christopher Owens – The Bowery Ballroom – January 22, 2013


Maybe you’ve heard the fable of one Christopher Owens. Reared in the Children of God cult and later “rescued” by Texan oil tycoon Stanley Marsh III, Owens now resides in San Francisco, where he formed the recently disbanded Girls. As if his fortunes weren’t promising enough, he was announced as the face of the Yves Saint Laurent spring/summer campaign. And although he’s concluded his work with Girls, Owens’ solo album, Lysandre, remains confessional, telling the story of a French woman he fell in love with while on tour with his former band.

Playing his latest album completely in order last night, Owens shuffled onto the stage at The Bowery Ballroom with a band of seven. Parking himself in a seat, he wore a suit and tie for the occasion. As those in attendance held their breath for Owens’ first words, his simple “hey” would set the tone for the night. There was little chitchat, and in its place were the repetitive chords of “Lysandre’s Theme.” Bouncing from reflective narrative with “A Broken Heart” to upbeat “Here We Go Again,” Owens let his songs do the talking. He earnestly sang, “What if everybody just thinks I’m a phony/What if nobody ever gets it/Well, some people never get anything/And I shouldn’t care what people think” on “Love Is in the Ear of the Listener.” In response, onlookers offered shouts of encouragement. Singing pensively about the dissolution of his French romance on “Everywhere You Knew,” a lone lighter was raised in the crowd.

For the encore, Owens and Co. returned for a set of covers starting with the first song he ever learned to play, Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” followed by Donovan’s “Lalena.” With the freezing temperatures, Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics “Where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me” from “The Boxer” were quite appropriate. Topping it off, Owens resurrected the Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me” and Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Flowers were passed to the front row and Owens pulled out his iPod to record the audience’s applause. This was a memorable evening for him as well as those who braved the arctic chill to hear him. —Sharlene Chiu

 

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A Young Talent on the Rise

January 15th, 2013

Jake Bugg – The Bowery Ballroom – January 14, 2013


With the start of the New Year, I like to scour for new artists and inevitably ask my pals on the other side of the pond for recommendations. And my music-loving Brit threw out Jake Bugg, who she’d recently seen live. She described Bugg as a young chap, at the tender age of 18, who sounds like Bob Dylan. Curiously though, in a recent interview in The Telegraph, he stated, “Bob Dylan’s cool, you know, he’s great, but he’s not a major influence.” Bugg cites Donovan, the Beatles, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix instead. Needless to say, I was interested.

It was a first for me to see absolutely no merchandise out before heading up the stairs of The Bowery Ballroom to witness the Nottingham wunderkind. Bugg’s self-titled debut album has not yet been released in the United States, but you couldn’t tell from Monday’s sold-out crowd. He descended onto the stage wearing a Fred Perry track jacket zipped up all the way and started with the rollicking “Kentucky,” which had onlookers stomping along from the start. He didn’t say much between songs except to express gratitude and to make brief introductions. Instead, Bugg let his music speak for him. Offering a small description for “Trouble Town” as a song about where he was from, he strummed his acoustic guitar while fans cheered and chanted the song’s title.

Upon its conclusion, a female attendee screamed, “My boyfriend,” which elicited an echo effect amongst female and male fans. After shredding on an electric guitar like his idol Hendrix on “Ballad of Mr. Jones,” Bugg took the stage solo for “Someone Told Me,” the oldie “Country Song” and “Simple as This,” which all brilliantly showcased his reedy voice against delicate guitar plucks. Fans perked up for the clap-happy “Two Fingers,” Johnny Cash–influenced “Taste It” and “Lightning Bolt,” which sounded like a more-rocking Moldy Peaches track. Saving the best for the last, Bugg encored with his first live performance of “Broken” and a cover of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” But no one left with any blues—only admiration and awe for this young talent only beginning to spark. —Sharlene Chiu