Before ultimately growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, singer-songwriter Foy Vance spent five years in the American Bible Belt with his dad, a traveling minister. And so he’s as equally influenced by Otis Redding and Nina Simone as he is the Belfast Cowboy, Van Morrison—Vance’s music a winning mash-up of blues, soul, jazz, rock and British folk. After fronting several bands, Vance (above, performing “She Burns”) finally put out his debut solo full-length, Hope (stream it below), which AllMusic notes is “as optimistic and mood-lifting as its title suggests,” in 2007. He’s since remained busy and in demand, releasing a slew of EPs and touring with the likes of Ed Sheeran. His third long-player, The Wild Swan (stream it below), out last year, was produced by Elton John and Sheeran and earned the musician comparisons to Bruce Springsteen. “The Wild Swan finds Vance offering up another master class in contemporary, Emerald Isle–infused roots rock,” says AllMusic. And like Springsteen’s catalog, Foy Vance’s music is best experienced live. Sunday’s show is already sold out, but you can catch him live on Monday at Roulette.
Tag Archives: Otis Redding
Like someone out of a CCR song, soul singer Durand Jones was born on the bayou in New Orleans and raised in rural Louisiana. Influenced by the likes of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Al Green, he sang so much at home that his grandmother forced him to join their church’s choir. Eventually Durand decamped to Bloomington, Ind., for college and began collaborating with Aaron Frazer (drums) and Blake Rhein (guitar), writing and recording numbers about “the party, political and social consciousness, and love songs,” Durand told the Something Else. The first Durand Jones & the Indications album, a self-titled EP (stream it below), arrived in 2016. It hearkens “back to a time when soul was recorded, performed and (if possible) heard live. Their music is markedly different from most stuff of its ilk coming out today in that, if there is some electronic wizardry going on under the hood, it’s kept very far away from the musical performance—it’s the kind of thing which should be completely reproducible live, all performed and no sampling or remixing,” according to PopMatters. Winding down their summer tour, Durand Jones & the Indications (above doing “Smile” for Spectra Sonic Sound Sessions) stop in New York City next week to play Mercury Lounge on Monday and Rough Trade NYC on Tuesday.
Tags: Aaron Frazer, Al Green, Blake Rhein, Brooklyn, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Durand Jones & the Indications, Live Music, Lower East Side, Mercury Lounge, Music, New York City, Otis Redding, Preview, Rough Trade NYC, Sam Cooke, Video, Williamsburg
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Sturgill Simpson – Beacon Theatre – September 19, 2015
In this era of social media, it seems like every day is some weird, made-up holiday. Over the weekend, I think we “celebrated” National Cheeseburger Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. After taking in Sturgill Simpson’s rollicking set at the Beacon Theatre, I believe everyone was ready to declare Saturday Cosmic Country Day, with Simpson the patron saint. Having just recently won Artist of the Year and Song of the Year at the Americana Awards, Simpson was more than ready to make the leap to the Broadway stage as the lights went down and a kind-of-spacey ambient music filled the room, the band silhouetted against the red curtain and the crowd rearing to go. As the curtain went up, the music took shape into “Some Days,” everyone in the audience hopped to their feet and a marathon evening of outlaw country revival was underway.
During the first couple of songs it wasn’t hard to make the connection to those Beacon Theatre stalwarts, the Allman Brothers Band, with Simpson’s crack band stretching the bounds of their intergalactic country with sharp rock and roll climbs, guitarist Laur Joamets delighting with his skillful and passionate playing. “Life of Sin” played the piano and organ off each other as Simpson howled, “Sex is cheap and talk is overrated,” as the crowd hollered and danced along. After the barn-blazer opening, the band cooled down and let Simpson and his sweet glazed-donut voice take over. On songs like “Water in a Well,” he simply filled the room with his vocals, perhaps a sly wink when singing, “Someday if I’m on a big stage.” During these quieter moments, the audience soaked it up in silence.
The set bounced around between the rowdy and the soulful, with the highlights in those spaces in between where the perfect balance of Simpson’s singing and the band’s playing scratched every itch. Emotional passages from Simpson made way for longer jam-outs for the band, Joamets adding that cosmic twang and awe-inspiring licks as the band played along. It’s no surprise that the biggest cheers of the night came when the whole band was introduced. At several points, the set seemed to be drawing to a close, like after a milking-it, soulful organ-fueled cover of “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” made famous by Otis Redding, or the tripped-out, crowd-pleasing “Turtles All the Way Down” or the late-set section of covers of old-school country from Lefty Frizzell and Terry Allen. But each time, Simpson and Co. threw another shovel of coal on the fire and kept on chugging. Finally, after almost two hours, they finished with “Listening to the Rain,” the band dropping into their rock-out cover of T. Rex’s “The Motivator,” a bit of Americana garage rock just in case the audience hadn’t gotten the memo yet about what holiday it was.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Allman Brothers Band, Beacon Theatre, Laur Joamets, Lefty Frizzell, Live Music, Music, Otis Redding, Review, Sturgill Simpson, T. Rex, Terry Allen
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Sturgill Simpson – Music Hall of Williamsburg – February 12, 2015
Without notice, a new honky-tonk opened on a stretch of N. 6th in Williamsburg near
the East River. Or maybe it just felt that way last night as the Music Hall hostedt to a rollicking set of country music courtesy of Sturgill Simpson and his excellent band. The room was as packed as it’s ever been, the crowd was hitched up and ready to go, and Simpson seemed larger than life onstage, delivering a dominating performance from start to finish. His sound owes much to the outlaw country greats of yore—Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash quickly come to mind—but Simpson proved throughout the show that his is an evolved country for the modern day.
To listen to Simpson sing songs from his best-in-genre 2014 release, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, is to listen to someone born to play this kind of music. His voice was like a fine Kentucky bourbon with a blend of flavors deserving of its own language to describe: oaky with hints of smoke and cinnamon, maybe. The set built like a good whiskey buzz, the aroma, the bite of the first sip on songs like “Long White Line” and “Voices,” the taste turning into a warm sensation in the belly. With each succeeding song, the sensation moved to the head and then a whole-body experience, alternating between soulful introspection and shoe-stomping fun. Much of that giddy feeling was due to Simpson’s stellar backing band, led by Laur Joamets on guitar, who seemed to contain all of country guitar playing in his single Telecaster. He impressively alternated between lightning-fast picking, beautiful slow-and-steady slide guitar, which often took on shades of a steel guitar, and then swirling galactic twang.
As the show built a head of steam, the crowd followed along in their gleeful whiskey drunk, chattering and jostling back and forth to the bar became dancing, whooping and hollering. The second half of the show was an avalanche of superlative country music. “It Ain’t All Flowers” had the packed house shouting along before opening up into one of several belt-hitching rock-out jams that seamlessly transitioned into the quieter “The Promise.” Next, “Railroad of Sin” reached the night’s most frenetic moment, with Joamets, Simpson, Kevin Black on bass and Miles Miller on drums as a locomotive in danger of hopping off the tracks, the dance floor exploding with a manic energy. After a triumphant, cathartic take on his self-professed favorite song on the new album, “Just Let Go,” Simpson’s voice as strong as it had been all night, the show closed with a crowd-pleasing sing-along on “Turtles All The Way Down,” leaving everyone feeling boozy and elated and wondering if there was still time for one more shot before hitting the road. The band obliged the thunderous ovation with two fingers of Simpson spirits, a soulful crooning of “I’d Have to Be Crazy” (“for the ladies”), his voice nearly channeling Otis Redding, and finally a cover of the Osborne Brothers’ “Listening to the Rain,” which opened into a full-fledged T. Rex cover before looping back around to finish out in didn’t-think-it-could-be-topped fashion. Simpson and Co. exited the stage to more raucous applause and then, the strangest thing, that new honky-tonk disappeared. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Johnny Cash, Kevin Black, Laur Joamets, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Miles Miller, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Osborne Brothers, Otis Redding, Review, Sturgill Simpson, T. Rex, Waylon Jennings
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For more than 10 years, Har Mar Superstar (above, performing “Lady You Shot Me” on French television) has been known for his onstage antics—whether it’s slowly stripping or break dancing or even doing both at the same time—at his sex-charged energetic live shows. But what’s most noticeable about him is that he’s a supremely talented singer and songwriter, aptly evident on his fifth album, last year’s Bye Bye 17 (stream it below). According to Filter, Har Mar’s “silken, Otis Redding–reminiscent vocals anchor funky, horn-driven R&B beats that match the swagger of Motown.” Emerging from the anti-folk scene, comedy-rock outfit the Pizza Underground—Macaulay Culkin (kazoo, percussion and vocals), Austin Kilham (tambourine and vocals), Deenah Vollmer (percussion and vocals), Matt Colbourn (guitar and vocals) and Phoebe Kreutz (glockenspiel and vocals)—do parody versions of Velvet Underground material with pizza-themed song names and lyrics. The New York City five-piece has been out on the road with Har Mar Superstar, and they all return home, alongside singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Toby Goodshank, to play The Bowery Ballroom tonight.
Tags: Austin Kilham, Bowery Ballroom, Deenah Vollmer, Har Mar Superstar, Macaulay Culkin, Matt Colbourn, Otis Redding, Phoebe Kreutz, Preview, the Pizza Underground, Toby Goodshank, Velvet Underground, Video
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St. Paul and the Broken Bones
Last night at The Bowery Ballroom a giant-sized cover of St. Paul & the Broken Bones’ new album, Half the City, hung behind the six-piece band as they performed. Plenty of other groups have gone with this decorating scheme before, but when these guys do, it’s like a proclamation: this music, this band and, most specifically, this frontman, Paul Janeway, are giant-sized, larger than life. Like other singers, Janeway sings, “Yeah,” but when he does it, he sings, “Yeaaaaaaaah” from somewhere deep within—a soulful growl with its own gravitational field, pulling whoops and whistles from the sold-out crowd due purely to the laws of nature. Like other frontmen, Janeway declared, “We’re gonna have a good time tonight,” but this wasn’t just wishful thinking or rock and roll cliché. No, he said it because it was as true as the sun rising in the East. To witness Janeway singing, howling and dancing demonstratively across the stage was to watch someone doing exactly what he was born to do. And what a sight it is.
Hailing from Birmingham, Ala., Janeway and the excellent Broken Bones—horns, guitar, organ, bass, drums—play an old-fashioned soul revue with a Southern blues-rock grit. As these shows must, things started with the band warming up, vamping on an instrumental groove before Janeway bounded onstage. The set whirled through the new album with sweaty, high-octane energy. The up-tempo songs, like the title track, were great, the band laying down dance riffs while Janeway channeled every great soul singer you can think of, from JB to Aretha to Otis and beyond, the sound swallowing the room completely. The slower numbers, like “Broken Bones & Pocket Change,” were even better; Janeway’s passionate yowl of a voice joined by the Broken Bones to build and build and finally crest, sweeping away the audience in the process. He joked that because they only had 40 minutes of original material they had to play some covers. (Take note, other bands with only 40 minutes of material!)
The mid-set take on Sam Cooke’s “Shake” was a brass-heavy revelation. But it was the two-song encore that pushed the show over the top, beginnng with a uniquely soulful take on Wings’ “Let Me Roll It,” featuring the best and longest guitar solo of the night. Occasionally you spend a show thinking, “Man, he’d really kill some Otis Redding,” only to then be treated to a “hell yeah!” show-closing take on Redding’s version of “Try a Little Tenderness.” This was St. Paul and the Broken Bones at their finest, the cover they were born to play as their own. Two false endings built the energy to a manic state, doubling the intensity each time, those 40 minutes of material easily stretching into 80 because when St. Paul is onstage everything is that much bigger, giant-sized, larger than life. —A. Stein
Jamie Lidell – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 13, 2013
With a genre-transcending style, Brit Jamie Lidell has been making music for almost a decade. His mastery of loops and rhythmic beatboxing creates sonically charged material that brings a large helping of soul and provides an irresistible need to dance. It’s no wonder that Target used his track “A Little Bit More” for its Spring/Summer 2007 ad campaigns. And touring in support of his latest, a self-titled album, he played a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday evening.
Turning an assortment of dials to illuminate the room with lasers and strobe lights, Lidell resembled the Wizard of Oz in a trench coat. Appropriately, his set began with the new LP’s opening track, “I’m Selfish,” behind what looked like a command center of music-production gadgetry. Indulging longtime fans with oldie “A Little Bit More,” Lidell exclaimed how great it was to be back in New York City before treating the crowd to “The City,” from his debut album, Multiply. He took a trip down memory lane with the title track from his 2010 release, “Compass,” afterward colorfully describing how it had been sampled in Lil Wayne’s “Back to You.”
Returning to his newer material, Lidell displayed his musical range, going from the pounding beats of “What a Shame” to the smooth R&B sex call of “She Needs Me.” He cranked up the bass so high for “When I Come Back Around” that Music Hall literally reverberated to its rafters. For the encore, Lidell enlisted fans in the front row to take the microphone for the catchy chorus as he crooned—worthy of Otis Redding—the career-defining single “Multiply.” The evening then closed with everyone from the floor to the balcony singing along to “Big Love.” The love in the room was undoubtedly mutual. —Sharlene Chiu
Alabama Shakes – Terminal 5 – October 4, 2012
Alabama Shakes are something of a paradox: At last night’s sold-out show at Terminal 5, they performed with the ease and assuredness of a veteran band, although they’re only a couple of years removed from forming during high school in Athens, Ala. And although the speed at which their popularity has grown (debut album Boys & Girls only came out just six months ago) may be something of a rare feat in the music world, it’s probably not that surprising to fans of the band’s roots-y, dynamic music, delivered with ferocity and conviction by velvet-voiced frontwoman Brittany Howard.
After getting onstage, the band wasted no time. “Goin’ to the Party” led right into “Hang Loose,” followed by “Hold On”—just letting the momentum build. As Howard sang, the crowd repeatedly burst into applause whenever she delivered an especially meaningful statement. But hey, when you hear that killer voice sing things like, “All them girls might wanna rip us apart / If they wanna fight, they done fucked with the wrong heart” (“Be Mine”), well, you’ve pretty much got to believe her.
As Alabama Shakes moved from the slow-building, bluesy vibe of “On Your Way” to the fiery, soulful intensity of new song “Always Alright” and on to Otis Redding–level passion on “Boys & Girls,” the songs upheld a sense of being wise, well-worn and lived in. Chalk it up to the sheer talent and chemistry of the musicians, or perhaps we’re hearing something more: a type of authenticity that comes only with youth. Whatever phenomenon may have led to the power of Alabama Shakes’ sound, it’s certainly a treat to watch the band perform. A most beguiling paradox. —Alena Kastin
Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com
Tags: Alabama Shakes, Ben Tanner, Boys & Girls, Brittany Howard, Heath Fogg, Mercury Lounge, Otis Redding, Photos, Review, Steve Johnson, Terminal 5, The Bowery Presents Live, Zac Cockrell
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Michael Kiwanuka – Webster Hall – September 18, 2012
Throwback is the perfect definition for British soul artist Michael Kiwanuka, who has cited influences from Bill Withers to Otis Redding. His delicate guitar strums brightened a rather stormy Tuesday evening and for the Webster Hall crowd that braved the rain and wind, Kiwanuka was in fine form. Stepping onstage, he welcomed the audience with “I’ll Get Along” and followed up with “Tell Me a Tale,” which he described “as a tune you might know.” Taking up his acoustic guitar for the latter, the rhythm section came in with a percussion-heavy interlude. Kiwanuka played largely from his debut album, Home Again, enamoring his fans with “Bones.” The single is a gospel-y, upbeat tune with underhanded morose lyrics—truly a sad-song-makes-me-happy tune.
At the middle of his set, Kiwanuka drew attention to the night’s date, the anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death. As a dedication, he covered “May This Be Love (Waterfall)” with his guitarist in character, donning a feather necklace and fringed guitar strap. Trading in the electric for the acoustic, the singer-songwriter played recent single “I’m Getting Ready” and stripped down the band to just his bassist, Pete Randall, for “Rest,” a country-twinged, heartache-y song showcasing Kiwanuka’s vocals. And although “Home Again” had some ringing feedback, he mollified it with soothing lyrics: “Movin’ on / So I’ll close my eyes / Won’t look behind.”
The end of the evening really brought out Kiwanuka’s gems with a new song, “If You Dare,” reminiscent of the Temptations’ downtempo swagger mixed with the first few chords of Redding’s “Sittin’ On (The Dock of the Bay).” Coincidentally (or not), he continued with a cover of Redding’s “I Don’t Know.” The audience joined in, clapping and singing along, “I just don’t know oh oh.” For the encore, Kiwanuka and Randall concluded the evening with “Lasan,” originally a collaboration with Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Kiwanuka hoped it would send the onlookers “softly and soulfully into the night.” It certainly did. —Sharlene Chiu
(Michael Kiwanuka plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday.)
Tags: Bill Withers, Dan Auerbach, Home Again, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Kiwanuka, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Otis Redding, Pete Randall, the Black Keys, the Temptations
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The TV show The Voice isn’t actually about Michael Kiwanuka, but it probably should be. Because his bluesy, soulful voice, which has earned him heady comparisons to Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Van Morrison, is his calling card. Kiwanuka (above, doing “I’m Getting Ready” on Later … with Jools Holland) grew up in North London with a thing for bands like Nirvana and Radiohead. Despite later becoming a session guitarist, he still did work of his own. The authentic, raw demos eventually caught the attention of Communion, which released his two EPs. Then things got progressively bigger: Adele invited the 24-year-old out on tour with her last year as she was ruling the music world. Then in January, BBC named the singer-songwriter the Sound of 2012 by the . And a few months later, he put out his debut studio album, Home Again (stream it below). It’s worth mentioning that despite talk of him having an old soul and the comparisons to legends of the past, Kiwanuka and his music are authentic and not just some retro throwback. “It would be easy to dismiss this all as a clever piece of calculated marketing,” says The Independent, “were it not for a soulful maturity in his voice that belies his age.” And, of course, the best way to hear that voice is live: Tonight at Webster Hall and on Friday at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Tags: Adele, Bill Withers, Communion, Home Again, Michael Kiwanuka, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Nirvana, Otis Redding, Preview, radiohead, Sound of 2012, Van Morrison, Video, Webster Hall
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