Monday, March 29, 2010

Upcoming Concerts

Okay all. There are a lot of shows coming up that I highly recommend you check out. Here are a few concerts coming up that I'm definitely planning on attending in SoCal.

Patty Griffin - April 10th at the Wiltern (expect a review from on this one). If you're not familiar with Patty, I recommend dowloading some of her stuff pronto. "Impossible Dream" is my favorite album of hers (particularly the song "Useless Desires"). Yet, there's something to be said about her stripped down debut "Living With Ghosts" (just her and an acoustic guitar). And it really doesn't get much better than the sweet, slow, heart-wrenching song "Rain" from her album "1,000 Kisses." She's currently touring to support her new album, "Downtown Church", which is a collection of gospel songs. If you would like to read my review on this album, click here:

Lilith Fair - touring all summer, but in Los Angeles/Orange County July 10th at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. So, the dates and cities were just recently announced and it looks like they're still trying to figure out who's playing in what city/venue. So far, to be honest, the LA date doesn't look to promising. But i'm hoping they'll beef up the lineup just a little bit. Most of the performers have been announced already. So here is my ideal lineup (and if i have to arrange a little road trip to see all of these bands/ be it). But, of the performers, this is who I would love to see in LA, to make my life and budget a little easier: Colbie Caillat, Court Yard Hounds, Erykah Badu, Gossip, Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Metric, Sara Bareilles, Sheryl Crow, Sugarland, Tegan and Sara (of course), The Bangles, Ingrid Michaelson, Vedera, and maybe a little bit of Ke$ha (don't judge). Who knows if any of them will play in LA, but I'm seriously hoping so...especially Vedera. If not, i'll be hitting up every city each one is playing in until I see them all. (Well...we'll see if that ACTUALLY happens, but it sounds like fun!)

Jenny Lewis (opening for Levon Helm) - August 15th at the Greek. How beautiful will this concert be? The Greek is where I saw Rilo Kiley's very last concert (at least, that's what a lot of people were touting it as, but i'm optimistic that we haven't heard the last of fact...I know we haven't. Here's hoping for at least another RK tour...) So I'm really looking forward to seeing her open for the Levon Helm Band. I've NEVER missed J.Lew when she plays in LA and this will be my 13th time seeing her in concert. Or is it my 14th? Oh hell, I'm starting to lose track. But when I told my dad about Levon Helm playing, he got really excited. So I'm thinking maybe I'll bring him along. He can introduce me to Levon, and I can introduce him to the genius that is Jenny Lewis. This show is sure to be legendary.

Paramore with Tegan and Sara - September 19th at the Honda Center in Anaheim. My head just about exploded when I learned of this joint venture between two of my favorites. I've seen Tegan and Sara several times now, but never in such a big venue, so I'm curious to see how that will play out. And this will be my first time seeing Paramore. Excited!!!

Stay tuned for more concert updates...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

No force of nature can break
Your will to self motivate
She say this face that you see
Is destined for history.

--Michael Jackson

"The Runaways"

Okay, this one's gonna be a bit short, but ever-so-sweet. I just watched the movie touted as the "Joan Jett" flick, "The Runaways." Now, my passion for music doesn't go so far to the point where I would consider myself a 'music snob.' I don't know everything. I don't claim do know everything. I just know what I like. So I'll be honest here, I didn't really know much about the story of The Runaways. I knew they existed. I knew they were Joan Jett's first band, but I couldn't name any other members or any other songs of theirs besides "Cherry Bomb." But I gotta tell ya, I found myself tapping my foot along to the beat of every song in that movie and now I'm interested in buying either the soundtrack or a Runaways album. (I'm not above calling myself a bandwagoner in certain's rare, but it happens.)

I know this is a music blog, but seeing as how this is a music biopic, I think it's fairly relevant. And as far as biopics go, this one was actually pretty decent. (Still doesn't hold a candle to my all-time favorite biopic: "The Buddy Holly Story", but it was still pretty damn good). The plot itself wasn't all that riveting. Just the basic story of their humble beginnings, rise to quasi-fame, and subsequent destruction of the lead singer leading to their breakup. It's not the story that drives the film. It's the performances. And dayum...Dakota Fanning done growed up. After her performance of Cherie Currie, I think it's pretty safe to say she'll be making the transition to more grown up roles a lot more easily than most other child stars.

I was fairly unsure about the fact that Kristen Stewart was playing Joan Jett. Bella Swan? Really? Oh man...this'll be interesting. But now I couldn't possibly imagine anyone but Kristen playing the iconic Joan Jett. She BECAME much to the point where I wasn't watching Kristen playing Joan...I was just watching Joan the 70's...making her way in the "man's world" of rock music. It's kinda scary to think that Lindsay Lohan wanted to play Joan...or so I heard. Thankfully that didn't happen.

I'm sure it was to coincide with the movie's release, but Joan Jett just released a collection called "Joan Jett and the Blackhearts Greatest Hits." It includes songs like "Bad Reputaion," "I Love Rock and Roll," "Crimson and Clover," and interestingly enough "Cherry Bomb." Download it if you want a little bit of badassness.

I know this was kind of a lame post, but seriously...check out the movie. It's pretty decent. And now I'm inspired to write a blog on the best and worst musical biopics of all time. For a later date...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Interview with Natalie Maines and Glenn Frey

The Dixie Chicks and The Eagles? Yes, please!

Ask anyone who knew me in college and they will tell you my favorite band was without a doubt The Dixie Chicks. I had all their albums, knew all their songs, learned them on guitar and sang them at karaoke. I had seen them on every tour they had. Safe to say, I was a huge fan. Still am, of course, but the fact that they haven’t released in album in five years makes it a little difficult to keep them fresh in my mind. But they’re always there and their music is always with me. So as an avid, semi-obsessed fan, when I found out I had a chance to interview Natalie Maines, I immediately jumped at the opportunity, regardless of the fact that I have never had an official sit-down interview with anyone before. A minor detail I would work out later. This was Natalie friggin’ Maines! And to add to it, I was going to interview her side by side with Glenn Frey from the Eagles. Yup, little ol’ me was going to be in the presence of musical greatness. The reason for this interviewed taylor-made for me? The Dixie Chicks and The Eagles are going out on tour together this summer. Man, that’s gonna be one killer show.

So, truth be told, I walked into the interview absolutely terrified. Butterflies and all that. Since this was my very first sit-down interview, I had no idea what to expect. But after walking into the room, I introduce myself, took my seat directly across from them and immediately felt right at home. It ended up being more of a conversation amongst three music lovers than an ‘interview.’ Before the interview started, I told Natalie how I’d never missed a Dixie Chicks concert whenever they were in LA or Orange County. After that, I informed Glenn that the first song I ever learned to play on the guitar was “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles. He said that means I “started out with true greatness.” And then I blushed, feeling a “h’yuck, aw shucks” moment coming on.

I started off the interview asking what brought these two powerhouse acts together and who contacted who. Glenn responded saying that they first reached out to the Chicks and were fans of theirs.

“I’m just glad that it’s THEIR tour. They handle all the decision making and the pre-production sort of stuff. That’s the stuff that can be very taxing. So I love when we get invited on someone else’s tour,” said Natalie.

After asking how the Eagles have influenced her musically, Natalie told me that she grew up listening to the Eagles and that there were very few bands that bridged the gap between kids and adults. The Eagles was one of those bands.

After asking Natalie if she was nervous about returning to the stage after a four-year break from touring, she said she was more excited then anything and not nervous at all. When I asked her about Martie and Emily’s side project, Court Yard Hounds, she replied, “I’ve heard it few times and I think it’s great.” Adding that it was very brave of them to go off on their own, saying that they are the brave ones. “I’m not brave. I’m the big mouth,” she said with a laugh. “Martie and Emily were ready to start recording again and I was just happy to be in sunny California. Crafting and gardening,” she added with another chuckle.

Regarding the Chicks’ return to touring, Glenn stated, “It’s not hard being a Dixie Chick. You guys have done it for so long. Even if you haven’t played for a couple years…it’s just a matter of showing up and doing a little bit of calisthenics with you partners.”
He then went on to talk about what he calls “the circle of fear,” which is where they gather to practice and make sure that everyone is on the same page music-wise. “You just sit there with a couple of acoustic guitars and make sure everyone’s singing the right parts…”
“Kind of like the anti-Grateful Dead,” I interjected.
“Exactly,” he responded.
Though Natalie called that a “scary circle,” I sure would love to be in the middle of it, just taking it all in.

So, the interview continues and I’m kind of surprised at the fact that my voice managed to refrain from cracking.
“Can you tell us what lies in the future for the Dixie Chicks? Are you guys planning on getting back into the recording studio?”
“No plans for that yet. I don’t force anything. I just like things to feel right and let them come together,” replied Natalie.
“So this is more of a comeback tour, right? It isn’t a farewell tour, is it?”
At that, Natalie emphatically assure me, “Oh no, no. Not at all…We have not broken up. We’ve always wanted longevity. We’ve worked really, really, really hard. People think that because you haven’t toured, you’re broken up. But we’ll always be the Dixie Chicks. Right now, there’s no new album, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

Good answer, Natalie. Good answer.

On the subject of bands taking long breaks, Glenn said “You know there may be a little bit of anxiety of ‘are our fans still there? Are they still gonna show up?’ And then they do. And then a really nice sort of reunion between you and your fans.”

So I’m running out of time and running out of tape and I didn’t get to all the questions I wanted to ask, but I quickly inquired what Glenn’s favorite Dixie Chicks song is, to which he replied “Wide Open Spaces.” (The song that started it all for the lovely, harmonizing trio.) When I asked Natalie what her favorite Eagles song was, Glenn interjected with “Oh God, please don’t say ‘Desperado.’ I’m so tired of playing that.”

For those of you who plan on checking out this tour, you might be in for a treat because the idea of the two bands performing something together on stage is definitely not off the table. “We’re talking about it,” says Frey.

Okay, so this interview has gone by way to fast and sadly, had to end. But before I was scooted out the door, I asked Natalie one quick personal question that I simply wanted to know for myself: when the Chicks first started out, they decided to get matching chicken feet tattoos on their feet for every big milestone they reached as a band. So I asked her:
“How many chicken feet tattoos do you have on your foot now?”

“Oh gosh,” she laughed. Well, we’re supposed to have, like, nineteen now, but for now we’ve stopped at six. Man, it hurts. And every time we get a new one, the older ones are faded so we have to get them touched up and it’s kind of painful. Yeah, that was my bright idea.”
Natalie and Glenn couldn’t have been nicer and I couldn’t have asked for a better first interview experience. Finally, after all this time, I got to meet Natalie. This is a woman whose voice would just echo through my mind every time I heard one of their songs. I absolutely love this woman. She’s talented, brassy, and unapologetic yet humble at the same time. And Glenn Frey? He’s nothing short of a legend. I interviewed one of my idols and a legend. I am awesome.

Lyrics of the Day

"If only I could believe that I do deserve something good,
then I could relax and be myself.
Cuz if I fall any harder, I would break in two
I wish the other half was you."

-Mike Comfort

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

"Stick your hands inside of my pockets
Keep them warm while I'm still here...
...Stick your heart inside of my chest
Keep it warm here while we rest
Tell them this love hasn't changed me, hasn't changed me at all."
-Tegan and Sara


So, I wrote this review a couple months ago, but I'm reposting it here simply because this band is incredible. This review is about their new album "Stages." But their previous album, "The Weight of an Empty Room" is just as good. Man, I really hope I can get tickets to Lilith Fair to see them.


I only recently heard Vedera on satellite radio in the car. Their new single “Satisfy” came on and before I changed the station out of habit, I paused once the song started playing. I kept my finger on the button for the next station, but couldn’t bring myself to push it. I was too enthralled with what I was hearing and after the song was over, I immediately went home and started downloading their songs.

Hailing from Kansas City, MO, Vedera formed in 2004. The quartet is fronted by Kristen May whose undeniably captivating voice is part Nina Gordon (of Veruca Salt), part Leigh Nash (of Sixpence None the Richer) with a little bit of Paramore’s Hayley Williams thrown in the mix. But it’s definitely all powerfully effectual and she brings a uniquely soulful force to her voice that sets her apart from the rest. May’s vocals combined with guitarist Brian Little, bassist Jason Douglas, and drummer Drew Little, fuse together to create a vibrant sound and bring impassioned lyrics to life.

Yes, this is a band that’s truly going places this year. They’re already off to a great start. Their song “Satisfy” is currently featured as the iTunes single of the week. They will be performing at this summer’s return of the iconic Lilith Fair and they are playing the Sundance Film Festival’s 2010 ASCAP Music CafĂ©. They are also gearing up for a tour with Jack’s Mannequin next month.

Their new album, Stages, can easily be described as a ‘break-up cd’ upon first listen. From beginning to end, the album is full of heartbreak anthems fleshed out with an edgy indie rock sound. But it’s also so much more than that. There’s a vulnerability to the lyrics that draw you in from the first word sung and don’t let you go until the last song.

On “Satisfy”, as soon as her ethereal and almost impalpable voice hits the atmosphere, this song takes hold and grips you, making nearly impossible to not immediately push the repeat button afterwards. May’s voice also soars while singing the deeply affecting words of “A World Apart” while the poignant lyrics of “Forgive You” ask the simplest question: “How do you say ‘I forgive you’? And how do you know when to choose to, and when to move along?” You can’t get much more relatable to that.

It’s a far cry from the simple and sweet “If You Go”, which one of the love songs on the album, but “Back to the Middle” is yet another song about loss, but also hope, devotion and not wanting to let go now matter how jumbled and blurred life may seem. Granted, this may all be subjective, but what’s fairly obvious is the pain and longing being conveyed in the music. And as odd as it sounds, with a voice like that, it’s easy for the listener can find pleasure in that sort of pain.

On paper, the lyrics read like poetry; someone scorned and searching for some sort of happiness. Aurally, the lyrics leap off the page and seep in. It’s really somewhat difficult to describe, so I suggest finding out for yourself. Stages was released digitally in October of last year, but if you haven’t downloaded it yet, be sure to pick up a copy when it’s released in its physical format, which was released in February.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

"They say California is a recipe for a black hole. I say I've got my best shoes on, I'm ready to go." -Rilo Kiley

The Temper Trap

I caught the Temper Trap concert at the Music Box at Henry Fonda last night in Hollywood. I had only actually become familiar with them after hearing their song "Sweet Disposition" on an episode of my favorite British tv show, "Skins," (a show that introduces me to a lot of new music). I know the song has been around for a while, but I somehow a little late for the party on this one. It's a deeply rich-sounding song that gets in your head and stays there...but in a good way. Though, it's a little difficult to understand the lyrics at first, so I recommend looking those up. After catching the "Sweet" fever, I started listening to more of their songs and fell in love with the quick beats of the music and distinct falsetto of lead singer Dougie Mandagi. The snappy, beat heavy "Fader" and the softer, whimsical "Love Lost" from their 2009 album "Conditions" stood out to me the most. The offbeat, funky, almost psychedelic sound had me hooked. My interest was piqued, so what was I to do next? Watch them live, of course...which we all know is a very different experience than listening to a band on your ipod while at the gym.

So off to the Henry Fonda I went! (A fabulous venue for live bands.) The band took the stage at 10:15 and opened to a screaming, sold out crowd. While it was hard to take my eyes off of lead singer Mandagi as his voice took flight, I found myself mesmerized by the bass player, who was obviously enjoying being on stage having his own little party by swaying heavily to every song.

Mandagi's sweetly powered voice filled the venue. Man, that guy can SING! Yeah, he can hit the high notes, but even when his regular singing voice is put to use, it's just as enthralling. But wait! There's more! The last song before their encore, he busted out his own impressive drumming skills with smoke rising up out of the drum. It was quite the spectacle. They came back out for a two-song encore and the set finished up around 11:05. It may have been a rather short, fifty-minute set, but it was a packed performance well worth the time and money. Sometimes it's the little things about a show that I love the most, like using hand claps, joining their drummer, as percussion.

This was the first stop on their US Tour. If they come to your city, be sure to check out their show. (Maybe look up the lyrics first, if you wanna sing along.)