Friday, August 26, 2016

Chip and Carrie Reunion Tour

Early rock hit-maker Chip Taylor (Wild Thing, Angel Of the Morning) and Carrie Rodriguez (often mentioned in this blog) were a band back 10-15 years ago and their four records (plus two halves) were fantastic.  About 40 years apart in age, they’d met at a folk festival and Chip instantly realized this was magic.  She played fiddle but then he convinced her to sing and it’s all history from there.

I’d heard back in January or so that they’d be touring this year and hadn’t seen any announcement of a tour until I stumbled across it a few weeks ago.  The closest they were coming was the Iron Horse in Northampton and there was no question but that we were going.  We booked a room for the night at the Quality Inn in Hadley where we’d stayed once in 2014; and as the date got closer we were excited but knew this was going to be a mid-week hassle.  Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained.

Got out to Northampton pretty quickly after picking up Sarah at the West Concord train on Thursday, August 25th.  But it was already 6:00 or so by the time we took a small wrong turn walking on a beautiful summer day in crowded downtown Northampton.  And the Iron Horse was packed when we finally got there for the 7:00 show!  It was set up with all tables and the best we could get was way up in the loft, in the back, but kind of centered on the stage.

This was my first time at the Iron Horse and I found a lot of things wrong with it.  It was small and cramped and dirty-funky.  We were shoved up under the ceiling (we could touch the tin panels) way in the back and the sound was nowhere near “good” back there.  The waitresses were working hard and the food was ok; the beer was cold (Switchback Ale) and food and stuff came on time, and then the band came on and they brought the magic.

Chip played acoustic guitar and harmonica or course, and Carrie stuck to her fiddle and her cowboy boot, which was as good as the shit-kicking heels we’ve seen her use for a percussion instrument lately.  They were accompanied by John Platania on electric guitar.  Here’s the setlist:

Set 1:

  • Keep Your Hat On Jenny
  • Let’s Leave This Town
  • All the Rain
  • Your Name Is On My Lips
  • Oh Set a Light
  • Do Your Part
  • Red Dog Tracks
  • Elzick’s Farewell
  • Angel Of the Morning

Set 2:

  • Sweet Tequila Blues
  • Dirty Little Texas Story
  • Memphis, Texas
  • Don’t Speak In English
  • Big Moon Shinin’
  • Wild Thing
  • We Come Up Shining

These were both very short sets, and the break between them was a little longer than you’d want, though that meant we had time to wait forever in the hot and cramped basement for a turn at the bathroom.

But no more complaints.  This was so worth it!  You’d have to call what they play a little bit of rock, a little bit of folk, a little bit of Texas music, and a lot of … well, magic.  They take their time, they listen to each other, they respond to each other instrumentally like they’re a hive mind of two (or two and a half, Platania was almost there at times).  And they sing together like you can’t believe.

They’d done five shows before this one on the tour, and have been singing off and on for the past 10 years since they released Red Dog Tracks and then split up for their own careers.  But they sounded like they’d been working on these harmonies for years.  Their voices are each wonderful on their own, and they fit together like lovers on a porch swing.  But that analogy doesn't describe the range of what they can do together, from whispers to shouting.  You have to hear these two.

It was futile to stand up and whoop as far back under the ceiling as I was, and there was plenty of that coming from elsewhere in that cramped room.  They ended too soon with their rote cover of Wild Thing, a song Chip *has* to play every time he appears anywhere.  We clapped and clapped while they stood there, then gave us one more drop of the magic with We Come Up Shining.

It was only 9:00 when we got out of there!  If we’d known it was going to be such a short concert we would have planned to head back to Woburn afterwards.  But the Quality Inn was there and we were glad to be able to have a relaxed time for reading and getting ready for bed before our early start the next day.  Actually got Sarah back for the 8:07 train from West Concord!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fighting the Tide in Ipswich

You've gotta time the tide right if you're going to kayak in Plum Island Sound, and I pretty much did yesterday.  I put in at the Ipswich Town Landing, which was already almost full of cars (one was stuck on the launch ramp) by 11:00.  Had an excellent trip out the river, though some of the roaring motorboats had no clue about staying in the channel.  [Overheard from one boat, "It gets shallow on the edges here."  "Then stay in the middle."  Did they ever wonder what those red and black buoys were for?]

By the time I got to the mouth of the river though, I had to really fight the tide to get out into the bay.  The shore South of the river was filled with beach-goers, many of whom had arrived there by boat.  It was a glorious day to be at the beach or on the water and the whole area was a mess of boats and chop, particularly with the current stirring up the water.

And it *was* water!  The drought we've been living through lately has been depressing and I've hesitated to go kayaking on the rivers, since they're so low.  My heart rises when I see full bodies of water, or high tide.  It was wonderful to be out on the ocean and to be reminded that water is neither created nor destroyed, to see the blue goodness flooding the salt marsh.

After struggling out past Castle Hill I turned around and let the tide rip me back to the North, and then, assisted with a few strokes of the paddle, back into the maw of the river.  Made it back to the landing with the tide a little bit before full flood.  Put up quickly and not only were there cars waiting to take my parking place, people with trailers had parked all over the road around there by that point, some in people's yards.  Full day at the shore!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ol' Brown Shoe Early Show

Late afternoon decision to brave the drive to Salem on a Friday night and go hear Ol' Brown Shoe at the Black Lobster.  They were playing the early show (7-10:30) before the reggae band upstairs. and the late evening August weather on the waterfront in Salem was delightful, as well as the music of course.

Drummer Kevin has split for Colorado, and so old drummer Jack Howard filled in, which was quite a treat.  Tim continues to get more and more comfortable with the band, and of course Larry was great!

Stuck around for both sets and some nice conversations with other fans and with the band.  Lots of fun again!  Here's the set list ... note that the second set was cut short to make way for the upstairs band:

I: Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard, Sample in a Jar, Ramble On Rose, I Shot the Sheriff, Samson and Delilah, That's What Love Will Make You Do, Let It Grow > Dancing In the Street, Ramblin' Man > Bertha

II: In the Midnight Hour, Loose Lucy, The Other One, The Weight*, Feelin' Alright, Birds Of a Feather, Sugar Magnolia.

* - Allegra Larson on Vocals

A couple of notes were that I mentioned Me and Julio to JeffL before the set, and he was nice enough to have the band open with it.  Tim did the vocal on Dancing and sang "They're dancing in Beverly" before realizing that we were not in Beverly ... so he corrected with "They're dancing on the bridge."  Note that the patio at the Black Lobster looks up to the superstructure of the bridge between Beverly (where they often play) and Salem, so this was a good catch.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

GGW at BMH One More Time

It’s weird for a Grateful Dead fan to say he gets tired of the same old songs :) … I don’t, but it’s so fun to hear twists on them.  As mentioned before in this blog, it’s great to hear good ol’ GD songs given a facelift by younger musicians like Elana James (Ripple), Dave Alvin (Loser), the entire Songs Of Their Own series, etc.  And leading the charge are JRAD and Golden Gate Wingmen.  So we were very excited to get the chance to go see GGW again at the Brighton Music Hall on Saturday, August 13th.

Brighton was just on the cusp on the annual student invasion, but we were able to grab a fortunate parking space (no ticket this time) on a hot and humid summer day and had a pretty good dinner and some excellent beers in a frosty Sunset Grill.  Then a few doors down to the BMH where this time, even 30 minutes before the doors opened, we were 30th or so in what was rapidly becoming a long line.  Guess the word has gotten out about them!

We wanted to situate ourselves where we could see Jeff Chimenti’s fingering well, but a quick hop around the stage showed no great place, so we settled for second row, behind a couple from Fairfield CT who were on a brief GGW tour (Pawtucket the next night) right in front of the stage.

Had a beer and got a t-shirt and then Sarah came running in with the news that John and Jeff were joining the crowd for a break in the smoking area.  You can believe Dave was out there in a flash and was able to share a few mellow moments with John and Jeff out back.

Then he came back, the guys came on a little late, and they proceeded to rip up the place, which was packed by that point.  There's an excellent recording of it on IA.  Here’s the first set:

  • Nobody Told Me
  • Brown-Eyed Woman
  • Seen Love
  • Just Like a Woman
  • Lazy River Road
  • The Business
  • Loser
  • Feel Like Dynamite

We’d seen the first three songs done by the JK Band at BMH a few months before this (in a different order), but were not really upset by the duplication … John can play BEW every time I see him as far as I’m concerned.  Reed Mathis was obviously a bit high, and though this meant he drifted at times, he was playing and singing with the fierce abandon that’s so captivating about his performances.  Jay Lane was perhaps the player of the day, perhaps the best performance of his I’d seen, and I’d seen some good ones.  So the whole experience was excellent!

Of particular note in that first set were a fantastic vocal by Reed on Just Like a Woman … he’s born to sing Dylan songs; a beautiful, slow, meander through summer down the Lazy River Road; and a crunchy, threatening, desperate, psychedelic cover of one of Garcia’s best songs, Loser.  And then we all grooved into the set break, feeling like dynamite, rocking to Jeff’s milking the organ like Saunders used to do.

We suddenly realized we were standing in a puddle of beer, and when the crowd dispersed a little we saw that the whole Brighton Music Hall was a mess of drunk and high people and their detritus.  Saturday night had come quickly.  Not too long a set break … though it was after 11 by the time they came back on.  Oh well, time for the second set:

  • She Belongs to Me
  • Golden Wings
  • Dark Star >
  • Join Together >
  • Dark Star >
  • Estimated Prophet >
  • Eyes of the World >
  • Touch of Grey

More excellence, starting with another fantastic Dylan song, sung as a duet by Reed and John.  At Christmas buy her a big bass drum!  We were delighted to get an off-the-reservation Dark Star done as differently as you might hope by this fine group of musicians … this was not just a cover.  And to jump into the Who’s Join Together in the middle of it showed their imagination.

But the best moments of the evening were yet to come in the perhaps formulaic combination of Estimated and Eyes.  The two were killed by Reed on wild-eyed prophet and John on blissed-out hippie, and featured amazing combination keyboard work by Jeff and Todd Stoops, a guest from the JK Band.  As mentioned, Touch, the set closer, is a song that doesn’t allow you to stray too far from normalcy, but they tried!

Short break, and then they came back out to encore with Liberty, another best of the best songs.  Lots of fun on a late summer Saturday night.  Home quickly up Everett Street to route 16, and you can bet I was glad to wash the spilled beer off my legs and feet when I got home.  In bed around 2.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hot Tuna Leftover Salmon and Other Fish

Went to the Wilbur on a Sunday night (8/7) to see Leftover Salmon and electric Hot Tuna.  Barry wasn't with Hot Tuna, but Justin Guip was on drums.  They were awesome!

Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA

Serpent Of Dreams
Ode For Billy Dean
I Can't Be Satified
Sea Child
Sleep Song
Bowlegged Woman, Knock Kneed Man
Come Back Baby
99 Year Blues
Good Shepherd
Bar Room Crystal Ball
Water Song
Funky #7

Hit Single #1

Leftover Salmon set included:
Demon In Disguise *

Jorma Kaukonen - guitar, vox
Jack Casady - bass
Justin Guip - drums

*w/ Jorma & Justin sitting in

Supporting act(s):
Leftover Salmon