Tag Archives: Jeff Tweedy

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Up-and-Coming Folkies Kacy & Clayton Play Mercury Lounge Friday

June 23rd, 2017

Canadian cousins singer-songwriter Kacy Anderson and Deep Dark Woods guitarist Clayton Linthicum grew up just a few miles apart in Saskatchewan with a keen interest in British folk music. Initially they began performing together in a local bar, but as the word got out, their stages grew larger. Their debut album, The Day Is Past & Gone (stream it below), arrived in 2013. “We can indeed be very glad for this disc. It’s remarkable to think that Kacy is just 16 and Clayton 19. Let’s hope they get to take this act on the road,” said Exclaim. That’s exactly what they did. And last year, Kacy & Clayton (above, doing “Brunswick Stew” for CKUA FM) returned with their sophomore release, Strange Country (stream it below). “On this set, Kacy & Clayton have melded the rootsy overtones of vintage North American folk-revival albums of the ’60s with the passionate traditionalism of British folk-rock,” offered AllMusic. “Strange Country is a mysteriously and profoundly pleasing piece of work, and if Kacy & Clayton can create a few more albums this strong, they have the potential to be the new heroes of the North American folk community.” Jeff Tweedy was such a fan of the LP that he produced the duo’s upcoming release, The Siren’s Song, out in August. Catch them live tonight at Mercury Lounge. As an added bonus, Nashville singer-songwriter Andrew Combs opens the show.

 

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Son Volt Bring a True Sound to The Bowery Ballroom on Friday Night

April 10th, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017

Son Volt – The Bowery Ballroom – April 7, 2017
The Bowery Ballroom was packed on Friday night as fans eagerly waited for alt-country pioneers Son Volt to take the stage. Jay Farrar and Co. were in town for two sold-out weekend appearances supporting their new album, Notes of Blue, which finds the band mixing their rough-around-the-edges heartland anthems with a more bluesy sound. Opening the show, singer-songwriter Anders Parker eased the crowd into the night with a set of slow-burning ballads and fiery rockers. He said that a new album called The Man Who Fell from Earth arrives this week, describing it as a somber affair with Parker backed by just a pedal-steel guitar and a string trio. But he and his band opted to put some muscle behind the new material live, suitably spreading out the songs with guitar solos reminiscent of Neil Young in all of his ragged glory.

When Jay Farrar walked onstage and stepped up to the microphone to sing, “Today’s world is not my home” in his whiskey-soaked croon there was no mistaking what he meant. Ever since the dissolution of his partnership with Jeff Tweedy in the seminal alt-country band Uncle Tupelo in the mid-’90s, Farrar has been making records with Son Volt that strive for a similar gold standard: records that seem like they’ve been etched into stone and remain timeless if not out of step with the times. The new album was given the lion’s share of the set, but Son Volt managed to weave in some old favorites including the majority of their classic debut album, Trace, which, two years ago, was reissued for its 20th anniversary.

The band’s encore found them reaching deep for some Tupelo classics and Trace’s opening track, “Windfall,” which inspired the biggest crowd sing-along as the chorus “May the wind take your troubles away” rang crystal clear from the choir of flannel-clad fans raising their drinks toward the sky. Just when we thought it was over, and the audience began to thin out, the band returned to the stage for one more encore and played an exuberant cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Happy.” It was a real cherry on top of an already perfect night of rock and roll. —Patrick King | @MrPatKing

Photos courtesy of Marc Millman Photography | www.marcmillmanphotos.com/music

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Wilco Are Reliably Terrific in Closing Out a Four-Night Run

March 23rd, 2017

Wilco – Beacon Theatre – March 22, 2017

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There is plenty of debate these days about what makes America great, but for some things there is no argument, no matter what you believe. There is greatness in American monuments and symbols—Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, rock and roll. Over the past couple of decades, few bands have been able to claim the mantle of the “great American rock band” quite like Wilco have. Last night at the Beacon Theatre, Jeff Tweedy and Co., closing out the last of four sold-out shows, proved that they certainly belong on the Mount Rushmore of present-day American rock bands.

Trees painted on either side and rolling hills behind, the stage evoked a rustic setting, a bucolic countryside scene, even though the band and audience were smack dab on Broadway in one of the busiest cities in the world. Wilco’s sound captured this all-American city mouse/country mouse vibe from the start, alt-country meets explosive rock and roll. Early on, Tweedy’s voice was front and center, the crowd hanging on each syllable, while he sang material from the band’s newest, Schmilcolike “Normal American Kids,” while guitarist Nels Cline danced Garcia-esque licks into the packed venue. A few songs in, however, the band picked up steam, drummer Glenn Kotche and bassist John Stirratt chugging alongside Cline and Tweedy’s guitars, a pair of tractor trailers plowing down the open road of the U.S. Interstate on rockers like “Side with Seeds” and “At Least That’s What You Said.”

A Wilco show is as reliable as another American landmark, Old Faithful. You know the eruption is coming, but that doesn’t it make it any less impressive when it arrives, like clockwork. Wednesday night, as is often the case, the pressure-relief came during “Impossible Germany,” Cline gushing geothermal guitar licks, while the audience looked on in awe. Still, perhaps the set’s all-encompassing highlight may have been “Via Chicago,” Wilco channeling the great American poet, Whitman, very large and containing multitudes, overlapping Tweedy’s own soft-sung poetry with a barbaric yawp of guitars and drums. Before the set ended, they made sure to serve up their version of the all-American diet of meat and potatoes in the form of crowd favorites “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.” The 30-plus-minute double encore was an almost let’s-play-two run-through of the band’s history, songs old and new, including, naturally, “Red-Eyed and Blue.” Preceding the end of the set, Tweedy, who was relatively quiet with the banter all night, said, “We’ve got no time for fucking pessimism.” And it doesn’t get much more American than that. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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Wilco Take Kings Theatre to Space on Friday Night

February 8th, 2016

Wilco – Kings Theatre – February 5, 2016

Wilco - Kings Theatre - February 5, 2016

Wilco should be feeling a whole lot of love from the Empire State this week because the band had one hell of a New York run last week, including four sold-out shows (two in Port Chester’s Capital Theatre, two in Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre) and a performance of  “Random Name Generator” on The Late Show with Stephen ColbertJeff Tweedy even lulled Colbert to sleep with a lullaby. Friday’s show at Kings Theatre was one part Star Wars, one part a selection of fan favorites and one part an acoustic encore, capped off with a moving sing-along tribute to David Bowie to close the inspired performance.

Star Wars, Wilco’s surprise 2015 release, has been crafted into live perfection at this point. The band’s performed the album in its entirety every night of the tour and added some welcomed embellishments to it. The angular riffs of album-opener “More” kicked off the night. “You Satellite” hit the high-water mark of intensity during this part of the set, swirling around an atmosphere of beautifully noisy guitar wails, complete with the band in front of a shape-shifting starry backdrop. It’s hard to understate just how central guitarist Nels Cline has become to Wilco’s live shows. Two moments in particular stuck out as unleash-the-Nels parts of the night, with searing guitar solos on “Impossible Germany” and “Art of Almost” lighting each song on fire.

Although Wilco found their groove long ago and now wholly own it, that doesn’t allow room for complacency. Instead, it seems to have just given them even more permission to rework their songs, revealing new ways to showcase their song craft. If there ever were a mission statement for the band, this has always been it, and as good of a reason as any to see them live again and again. This was especially on display during their acoustic encore, begun with the softly played “Misunderstood,” a song just as striking in its bare-bones form as it is in its noisier studio incarnation. There was something especially fun about the audience quietly and gently singing along to the usually loud and abrasive refrains of “I’d like to thank you all for nothing at all!” “I’m Always in Love” and the always-haunting “A Shot in the Arm” followed, before the show concluded with a beautiful moment, a cover of Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” made even more beautiful by the grandeur of Kings Theatre and every living soul in the venue singing along. What better way to end a night of the Star Wars tour than with a hat tip to an artist who spent his life pulling down songs from the cosmos. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Adela Loconte | adelaloconte.com

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Grow a Pair: Win Free Tickets to See Wilco on 2/6

February 2nd, 2016

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Touring behind their ninth studio album, the acclaimed Star Wars, Wilco return to town this week to play four shows. And while each of them is already sold out, the good news is that The House List is giving away two tickets to see Wilco on Friday night at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn. Don’t already have tickets of your own but still want to go? Try to Grow a Pair. It’s easy. Just fill out the form below, making sure to include your full name, e-mail address, which show you’re trying to win tickets to (Wilco, 2/6) and a brief message explaining who you think will win the Super Bowl. Eddie Bruiser, who might be betting on the game, will notify the winner by Friday.

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Mavis Staples Proves Why She’s a Legend

May 12th, 2014

Mavis Staples – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 9, 2014

Mavis Staples – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 9, 2014
“This is gonna be a good one tonight!” announced Mavis Staples, after the enthusiastic Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd greeted her soulful rendition of “I Like the Things About Me” with rousing cheers on Friday night. The legendary gospel and soul singer and civil-rights activist began singing as a child in her family’s band, the Staple Singers, may be nearly 75 year old, but she still continues to create and perform music that resonates with fans across generations.

Onstage, Staples was indeed a force—her powerful voice rich with emotion on songs like “One True Vine,” from her 2013 Jeff Tweedy–produced album of the same name— punctuating certain lines with a nice, deep growl. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member also revisited hits spanning her fruitful career, giving a spirited and perfectly funky rendition of the ’70s Staple Singers hit “Let’s Do It Again,” and bringing out the night’s opener, Amy Helm (daughter of the Band’s Levon Helm), for a version of “The Weight,” which the Staple Singers performed with the Band for The Last Waltz. Staples and her band also treated the crowd to a version of the ’60s civil-rights anthem “Freedom Highway,” a song inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington.

Staples was rarely without a grin as she performed, enjoying the energy from the crowd and her band, playfully punching the guitarist’s arm and fist-bumping the drummer after impressive solos. And following a performance featuring decades of great music, Staples and Co. had one last song to revisit: “We’re gonna take ya’ll back down memory lane.” But then after scrutinizing the first few rows of the crowd, she jokingly added, “Ya’ll weren’t even born,” as the band launched into the undeniable hit “I’ll Take You There.” Despite what age or year audience members may have been introduced to Mavis Staples’ music, all in attendance would agree the singer is a true legend, sending the band off with joyful applause that the ever-humble Staples replied to with an smile and an appreciative “Shucks.” —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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The Legendary Mavis Staples Comes to Music Hall of Williamsburg

May 8th, 2014

Mavis Staples is many things: a civil-rights icon, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an R&B, gospel and soul legend. Her entrance into the music world began in the 1950s as the lead singer of her family’s band, the Staple Singers, which included her father, the aptly nicknamed Pops, and his four daughters. They became known across the world thanks to hit singles like “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself” and “City in the Sky.” But despite her long career, Staples isn’t content to just rest on her laurels, playing the hits. Instead, she continues to record and tour. Her last two albums, 2010’s You Are Not Alone (stream it below) and 2013’s One True Vine (stream it below), each produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, gained a considerable amount of acclaim. And now she’s back out on the road. See Mavis Staples (above, performing “I’ll Take You There” on Later … with Jools Holland, and below, covering “The Weight” with Wilco and Nick Lowe) play Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night. Her goddaughter, Ollabelle’s Amy Helm, opens the show.

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White Denim Cap Off Stellar Aquarium Drunkard Showcase

October 17th, 2013

Aquarium Drunkard Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 16, 2013


While every night on the NYC live-music scene is a potential party, a night during CMJ takes it to the next level, like an over-the-top wedding reception celebrating the marriage between the music and the fans. Like every good wedding, it’s tradition to have something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. And last night’s Aquarium Drunkard showcase at Mercury Lounge had a healthy dose of each, running the gamut from vintage sounds, new directions and, yes, plenty of blues. It’s good to get to these shows early because you never know what gems you might find. After a tussle with traffic, I made it in time for the last few songs of Jacco Gardner’s set. Hailing from the Netherlands, he is riding the acclaim of his excellent Cabinet of Curiosities album. Gardner finished his set with “Chameleon,” proving to be a one-man wormhole (with backing band), reaching back to another time with gorgeous, lush melodies and a delicious psych folk.

Cotton Jones, from Maryland, came to New York City as a two-piece, frontman Michael Nau playing several solo songs and a few in duet with Whitney McGraw. This was a simple bluesy indie rock sweetened by Nau’s salted-caramel voice, which found perfect confluence with his lyrics, a highlight being “Blood Red Sentimental Blues.” This was easy-chair music: You felt like you could listen to these two sing forever, plus some A+ whistling. But the name of the game was quick turnaround—both the bands and the crowd seemed to swap out every 30 to 40 minutes, no time to get stale. The Zig Zags, blasting a go-fetch-some-earplugs, visceral punk metal at full volume, flipped the room 180 degrees from Cotton Jones. Playing their first NYC gig, the L.A. power trio made their presence felt with kicking music and dry wit: “This song is called ‘Magic.’ It’s about magic.” Riffs beget riffs beget not-bleeping-around riffs, at one point borrowing snippets of the Doors’ “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” to good effect.

Jonathan Rado’s band began their set in fun mode, seeming like the music and the crowd were just side effects of hanging out onstage. But after a couple of songs, the Foxygen frontman’s set got rolling, the music tightening up impressively. The highlight was “Oh, Suzanna!” which was decorated with excellent bass playing and a nice long, stretched-out, free-form bridge that found Rado on both guitar and keys.

White Denim, from Austin, Texas, headlined the showcase. And despite it being their third local show in fewer than four months, the set was from-the-garden fresh and new. Opening with “Pretty Green” off their imminent new album, Corsicana Lemonade, the music felt like it could explode at any moment, bubbling with fizzy energy. And it didn’t take long, the first few tunes like an avalanche sucking up more songs and parts of others until the now-packed venue faced an unstoppable force. Perhaps it was the midnight hour, but more than ever, the band seemed willing to open up things, with the spaces between sung verses a varying parameter with solos, long jams and full-on instrumentals filling the set—each musician pushing the envelope on songs like “Anvil Everything.” It was fitting that this dizzying evening of music from all over the rock and roll map came to a head with White Denim in monster rock-out mode on “I Start to Run” before making a smooth transition into the jungle groove of “River to Consider” and then into the blazing sing-along of “Drug,” bass, guitars and drums overlapping in triumphant glory. With their seamless segues and deft skill, Denim mocked the tight schedule of the early evening, making their 75-minute performance feel almost infinite, as a high-energy “Shake Shake Shake” and the brain-batter instrumental “At the Farm” highlighted the end of the superlative show, capping off a huge evening of music … or just another night of CMJ. —A. Stein

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Heavyweights on the Hudson

July 29th, 2013

My Morning Jacket/Wilco/Bob Dylan – Hoboken Pier A Park – July 26, 2013

(Photo: Eddie Bruiser)

What a view! What a bill! What a night! With a stage bracketed by the Empire State Building on one side and the Freedom Tower on the other—and just about perfect outdoor-concert weather—the AmericanaramA tour landed at Pier A Park in Hoboken, N.J., on Friday night. It was an evening for the skyscrapers of live rock and roll to strut their stuff on the same stage. My Morning Jacket began with “Circuital,” Jim James’s acoustic guitar sounding crisp in the summer air. MMJ are masters of the festival set, providing the perfect balance of fan favorites and special moments while packing enough of them into a limited time slot to make it feel like a much longer show. And so within the first four or five songs, the Jacket seemed to hit a couple dozen different spots and styles: “First Light” with a Flying V guitar, Carl Broemel on sax and funky keys from Bo Koster, “The Way That He Sings” with James belting it out to the crowd, a sweet spaced-out “Off the Record” with scrape-the-sky guitar work, and the steel-and-acoustic guitar summer-sun beauty of “Golden.” The special moments came when Brian Jackson joined in on flute, matching James’s howling on a great drums-and-bass-driven “It Beats 4 U” and adding a groovy R&B feel to the Gil Scott-Heron cover “The Bottle.” The action-packed set ended with opener Ryan Bingham coming back for a perfect sing-along cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic “Don’t Do It,” in the style of the Band, multiple guitars manifesting the sound and energy of a full horn section.

Next up, Wilco, another fest-set vet, performed a set perfectly complementing My Morning Jacket’s. They opened with “Dawned on Me,” Nels Cline on a gigantic double-neck guitar that screamed, “Hey, why waste time with formalities?!” Like MMJ, they covered a wide range within the first few songs: “Misunderstood” heavy on the dynamics, the whole band playing to the perfection of the moment, twangy backdrop to Jeff Tweedy’s vocals on “Forget the Flowers” and a rocking “Handshake Drugs,” aka “Nels Cline Unleashed.” While Tweedy may never be Bob Dylan, songs like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” might make you reconsider. Friday evening, it was literally played for the gorgeous setting sun, a full-color sonic masterpiece with the line “and the city kept blinking” resonating against the Manhattan skyline. Again, the great set got better when they brought out guests, first Warren Haynes for a bluesy “Feed of a Man,” featuring a Godzilla vs. Mothra battle with Cline. (Ironically, Haynes left for the most Allman Brothers-y Wilco tune, “Walken.”) After a let’s-just-rock-out section of “I’m the Man Who Loves You” and “I Got You (At the End of the Century),” they invited Ian Hunter onstage for the end of the set, dedicated to Maxwell’s. The Mott the Hoople frontman led the band through a folkie, “I Wish I Was Your Mother.” The set finished in large, this-is-the-big-city fashion: first Haynes joining with some beautiful playing on a great “California Stars” and then all of My Morning Jacket and Bingham on a fun! wow! cover of “All the Young Dudes.”

Not bad, right? But wait, there’s more! The granddaddy of them all, Bob Dylan and His Band, closed the show. Dylan is still getting it done, the Chrysler Building to the taller and newer high-rises, his voice approaching old bluesman growl. His set featured plenty of newer songs and old classics—plus a cover of “The Weight” with Tweedy, James and the J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf—his band sounding great with a perfect mix of blues and country under a clear night sky. Compared to the opening sets, Dylan took his own pace, a natural gait of a man who’s done a few shows in his time. Personally, I was excited to hear two of my favorite Dylan tunes, “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me.” What a night! —A. Stein

 

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Low and Mike Doughty Come to Music Hall of Williamsburg Tonight

June 19th, 2013

Known for slow-paced instrument-driven music and layered vocals, Low formed in Duluth, Minn., 20 years ago. Their debut album, I Could Live in Hope, came out in 1994 and won over fans thanks to its minimalist sound and its delicate harmonies from husband and wife Alan Sparhawk (vocals and guitar) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals). The two originally teamed up with high school–student John Nichols (bass), who was ultimately replaced by Steve Barrington. Over the years, Low (above, doing “Monkey” live on KEXP FM) have added electronic-music flourishes to their work as they’ve continued to record new material, including this year’s acclaimed Jeff Tweedy–produced The Invisible Way (stream it below), all while remaining known for their live performances.

Mike Doughty—who at one time worked the door at the Knitting Factory—fronted the NYC quartet Soul Coughing in the ’90s. But when they broke up in 2000, he decided to go it alone, releasing his first solo LP, Skittish, which he’d actually recorded four years earlier. Doughty (below, performing “Na Na Nothing,” also for KEXP) has been a busy man ever since, touring, putting out more albums and even finding time to become a blogger and author known for his sense of humor. But currently, he’s on the road with Low. And you can see them both tonight at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

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Wilco Carries a Big Stick

July 26th, 2012

Wilco – Terminal 5 – July 25, 2012


Walk softly and carry a big stick. That’s Wilco in a nutshell. The veterans of that-was-awesome rock shows swept through NYC this week, wrapping up the third of three sold-out shows in the city last night at Terminal 5 with an aw-shucks ease despite delivering two-and-a-half hours of heavy-hitting rock and roll. The band started on that soft side, boldly going quiet with a meditative “One Sunday Morning,” off last year’s The Whole Love. The normally raucous cavern of T5 was almost silent as Wilco layered subtle melodies, with guitarist Nels Cline adding fills that were the sweet-and-sour sips of lemonade on a summer day—which is to say, perfect. They followed this with the first of many “big sticks,” including “The Art of Almost,” which was everything the opener wasn’t: loud, intense, modern.

From there the band fell into their tried and true formula for live-show success—newer songs, older songs, big and bombastic, small and quiet and sometimes all of these at the same time. “At Least That’s What You Said” was an early highlight, with frontman Jeff Tweedy delivering the opening stanzas in his sweet, ragged voice and then Cline and drummer Glenn Kotchke exploding into the anthemic second half. Those in attendance had a veteran feel. Knowing they were in for the long haul, they reserved their energetic applause for the true high moments. Most of these centered around Cline’s superlative guitar playing, beautifully drawling pedal steel on “What’s the World Got in Store” and then an impossibly dizzying solo, fittingly, on “Impossible Germany” that would have tied knots in a lesser guitarist’s fingers. And while the band certainly mixed up the set lists over the course of the three local shows, there’s no reason you wouldn’t want to hear the triumphant two-guitar climax of “Impossible Germany” every night.

Tweedy’s banter was more like meta-banter, asking everyone if they were “doing all right” and then riffing on how canned that was. “That’s all I can offer as a frontman,” he quipped. The show wound down in epic fashion with a cosmic, psychedelic take on “Not for the Season” doused in blue and green lights, a crowd-pleasing “Theologians” and a gong-infused “I’m the Man Who Loves You” leading up to the set-closing cacophony of “Shot in the Arm.” As always, Wilco saved plenty of ammunition for an extended encore, tacking on nine more songs over the course of two well-deserved encores, including favorites like “Passenger Side,” “Casino Queen” and a rather rocking “Kicking Television.” In the end, though, walking softly won the night: Tweedy brought things back down for a show-closing “The Lonely 1.” With Cline back on steel guitar, it matched the perfect quiet beauty of the opening tune, bringing things full circle and almost feeling like they could do it all over again in similarly epic fashion. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com