A Slight Departure — Writing about a Philly date or two (or three)

As I am preparing for my trip to the east coast which has morphed from the trip that I had original planned, there are some shows that I would really like to attend in the Philly area. Sadly, I’m not going to be able to make any of them, but I can’t stop thinking about them so I thought I’d give a plug and see if someone else can go see these performers.

First up — David Ford upstairs at World Cafe Live on Friday, May 11th. My flight doesn’t land until 6:30 and I’m only in town to visit my family until Monday morning, so it doesn’t seem right to prioritize this show over them. That said, I really want to go this show, especially because he’s not coming to SF again on this tour so this would be my only opportunity to see him. It seems so perfect, and yet….

There’s one review that describes him as an English Lucinda Williams because he puts everything into every word and note. I can’t argue; he was really impressive both times that I saw him. The first time, my friend Jill invited me to join her to see him at the Hotel Utah. He was amazing. I’m pretty sure the second time was also with my friend Jill at the Hotel Utah; I know it was the Hotel Utah. I think Teri also went to one, if not both of these shows.

The night before I arrive, The Secret Sisters are playing at the Sellersville Theater. I love this theater; I’ve seen some amazing music here and I can only imagine how incredible The Secret Sisters are going to sound in this venue. I really can’t recommend this show enough. If you don’t know The Secret Sisters, you should.

Then there’s Front Country at Bourbon and Branch on Wednesday, May 16th. I will be in NYC (seeing The Seafarer), but if I weren’t I would probably be going to this show. This band is tons of fun and really talented. See my earlier blog post about them for more.

Low Cut Connie at Union Transfer on Thursday, May 17th. They are local for you all, so maybe not as big of a deal when they play, but for me out here on the west coast… I would make a point of this show if I could. They are loads of fun; they have previously been the subject of a blog post or two.

Bishop Briggs on May 18th at Union Transfer. I’ve already written about her here a little bit. I’ve never seen her; I really want to. I thought this was going to be my chance, but now I will be heading to DC via Denver instead of Philly. Don’t ask! It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s happening.

In addition to Bishop Briggs on May 18th, Sweet Spirit is playing Johnny Brenda’s. This band has The Power and they are FUN! Sabrina Ellis is unbelievable — the energy that she expends during her performance. This is a band that I really want to see again.

As a side note, Johnny Brenda’s seems to have an impressive line-up (Givers on May 12th and Margaret Glaspy on May 13th and Damien Jurado on May 20th).

So there you go Philly, that’s some of what JennMarks would do…

Erika Wennerstrom (of Heartless Bastards) at The Chapel Tonight (5/4)

Here it is, Friday, and somehow I’ve managed to write zero blogs this week and to attend zero shows this week. To be fair, the Jade Bird show was sold out and though I probably could have gone and scored tickets the night of, I wasn’t feeling great and decided to just stay home and chill. If Lissie had been playing at The Chapel last night, I probably would have gone, but the Independent felt too far away and I don’t know enough of her material to incent me when I’m feeling lazy (and I haven’t already purchased a ticket).  So here it is on Friday and I realize that I have the opportunity to go see Erika Wennerstrom and since I have no other live music events planned for the near future, it seems like a plan.

I have always enjoyed Heartless Bastards. I’ve seen them a few times at this point; I can think of at least two occasions in Austin and at least two different venues in SF, maybe 3.  I like them; I especially like Erika’s lyrics and her voice.  Doesn’t that make tonight a no-brainer? From what I’ve heard so far, Erika’s solo work sounds like Erika and I like Erika = no-brainer. And yet for some reason, this show also wasn’t on my calendar.

I’ve read and heard a few interviews with her that talk about this music as the product of an ayahuasca retreat. I think she was already talking about this when I saw her (and Heartless Bastards) at The Moody Theatre in October 2015. That said, it was my first night in Austin on that trip and those nights tend to be jam-packed and become a bit of a shit-show (airport pick-up, direct to bar, direct to show, reunion-ing — I’m sure you understand). I have this vague memory of something to do with her outfit and an ayahuasca journey. Regardless… I feel certain that I will enjoy the show tonight, so assuming I get some work done (I’m about to get back to that since I made it a work from home day so that I could get shit done!), maybe I’ll see you tonight!

Mipso Tonight (4/27) at The Freight

Just a note — If Berkeley seems too far for you tonight, you could go see Phoebe Bridgers at Bottom of the Hill and report back on how she was. I’m still a little sad that I can’t go see her tonight, but…

Mipso!!!!  The first time that we saw Mipso was a total accident. It was a Friday or a Saturday night in December and Pat really wanted to go out with the LOLMs (Ladies of Live Music).  To be clear, you do not need to identify as a lady to be a LOLM. So Pat did his research — he checked who was playing at all of the places that we normally go and he came up with two suggestions.  I forget who the first band was (because we weren’t familiar with either of the bands), but the second band was Mipso playing at Brick and Mortar.

I will confess that we were not there for the music per se. We did listen to both bands before we decided, but I think the location of the show weighed into the decision as heavily as the music did. So we met up at Brick & Mortar. We were as far from the stage as we could get and still be inside, and we were chatting, but we did like the music and we enjoyed the show.

Flash forward to Red Wing Roots in July 2016. Mipso was one of the bands performing. At RWR, you see pretty much every band because that’s just how it’s set up. If the band doesn’t totally rock my world, I will ‘watch’ the show from the beer garden. I was front and center for Mipso — no beers for me. I fell in love this second time that I saw them. Yes, they knew it because I may have stalked them a tiny bit.  RWR is good for that! The right amount of beer combined with a very small festival and a lot of familiar faces from prior years is conducive for me behaving ‘badly’. I love the fiddle player, Libby Rodenbough; I’m not sure why but there’s something about her.

In July 2017,  Joseph Terrell (guitar, vocals) was at RWR and joined a few other performers on stage (because RWR is also good for that!), but no Mipso performances. The rest of the band couldn’t be there. Luckily, I had already gotten my fix in SF (Slim’s) before I left for this trip. I also got to see The Barefoot Movement in SF right before the RWR trip (The Back Room). They were a RWR discovery from 2015. They were amazing, playing a string version of Ozzy Osborne’s ‘Crazy Train’ at The Back Room show. If you ever have an opportunity to see The Barefoot Movement, do it! But I digress….

So, Mipso is back in the Bay Area. They are playing at the Mystic in Petaluma on Sunday, April 29th. I meant to post this earlier in the week to try to convince people to go to either of these shows, but the road to hell and good intentions — you know the saying.

Last year, they did a tour with The Lil Smokies and The Brothers Comatose (my favorite local band) and it almost killed me to not go their show at GAMH. If I remember correctly, it was during HSB and it just was NOT a possibility, but it was a hard choice to miss Mipso. (I was able to see The Brothers Comatose at HSB.) I’m very happy to be able to rectify this situation by going to see them tonight and the good news is that they will be playing RWR this summer so I’ll be seeing them again there too!

All this talk about RWR made me go to look at the lineup for this year.  Oh boy! Oh boy! Oh boy!  Did I mention I’m With Her, Trampled by Turtles, Dori Freeman, The Secret Sisters, David Wax Museum, John Moreland, Mipso (duh — did you read this post) and, of course, The Steel Wheels.

Music — it’s what gets me through the week! It’s good to remind myself that there’s always more (especially after the Tuesday night shit-show). So I’ll be waiting for 10 am so I can buy my Wood Brothers tickets for the Sweetwater. I suspect some others will be grabbing their Lake Street Dive tickets (Fillmore) at the same time. I think I’ll take my chances and NOT pay the ridiculous service fees from the Fillmore and hope that I can make it to the box office on Sunday and also make it to Ava’s First Communion party. On my way to work today, I’ll be listening to NPR to hear about what dropped this week. All day long, I’ll be thinking about Mipso and waiting for the day to end and the evening to begin.

Will I see you tonight too?

Tonight (4/21) in Fairfax

So last night, I went to see El Radio Fantastique with my friends Lala and Steve. It was a great evening and I enjoyed all the bands, but the band that made the night for me was actually the second band in the line-up, Rikkha.  They are from Paris and as the singer, Juliette, said ‘not in Texas’. I have no idea how they wound up at Bottom of the Hill, but I am grateful. They were eclectic and fun and funny and naughty. The stories between songs tended to be explaining the french lyrics to the american audience. There were songs about spankings and the cultural sexual barrier between french girls and american boys and so much more. They also had a dancer but only for one song.


So it turns out that they are playing again tonight at Peri’s in Fairfax. I know nothing about Fairfax or this place but if you happen to be looking for an evening of entertainment and you are good with heading to Marin, then DO THIS!

Junk Parlor, who was the opening band at BotH last night, will also be performing. They were a lot of fun as well. With an accordion and a fiddle, how could I not like them? I have to admit it was when Laela Peterson-Stolen the fiddle player, blew on her bow (think blowing on a pistol after it’s been fired) after a song that I was sold. Also, they were described as gypsy junk rockers and how can you not love that? They are local to the Bay so you’ll have another chance to catch them, but not as likely for Rikkha.  So go out tonight and support both of these bands!

El Radio Fantastique Tonight (4/20) at BotH

I don’t have a lot to actually say about this band because I’ve never seen them before and I just started listening to them this morning.  Well, I watched a video a few days ago but really… I just started listening this morning.

I’m going to this show for a variety of reasons. One is because I’m always looking for new music and though I prefer to *not* go out on a Friday night, it is 4/20 and that’s my national holiday so I feel like I have to go out to celebrate. The biggest reason for this show is that I’m going because my friend English Steve invited me to go and I feel I owe him. That doesn’t quite describe it; it’s not ‘owe’… Let me explain.

We were out celebrating Steve’s birthday which is in December and somehow the discussion of resolutions started. I heard Steve say that his resolution was to go see more live music in the coming year and then he went on to refine his resolution to ‘go see more live music with JennMarks’.  Yeah, that happened! So since December (though that one didn’t count because it wasn’t the new year yet), Steve has been choosing one show from my list to attend with me.  In December, it was Chuck Prophet.  In January, it was Dustbowl Revival. In February, it was Front County (with the Morrison brothers as openers) and in March, it was KOLARS. While we were at KOLARS, he suggested El Radio Fantastique for April and I feel like I should let him pick one of the shows this year. I know, my generosity knows no end.  Depending on how tonight goes, I might even let him choose another….




UPDATE:  Sometimes you don’t need to choose… I did go to both shows and I’m still home and sitting in my bed with my laptop by 11 pm.  That’s not a complaint! Not even close to a complaint  The complaint is that I typed up an entire post about the shows tonight and I somehow replaced the update with the original post and lost all of it. Technology and me; sometimes we aren’t friends. Anyway… I’ll come back to this and update it more later, but suffice it to say that it was a good night and you should check out ‘Crazy Cat Lady‘ by Mira Goto.

Okay so the mini-review is this.  Renee and Irish Greg are the bomb. They have taken a music community that they were instrumental in developing through KFOG and moved that community in a new direction with their pop-up (#reneeandirishgregspopup). Check them out and if you like what they do, support them. They are doing good! This was my second performance at the Haight Street Art Center. The first was The Wood Brothers and was truly amazing but I have a very special place in my heart for The Wood Brothers and had had to miss their two performances at the Fillmore. The ‘ticket’ for this show fell into my lap and it was really just perfect in so many ways, but what was really cool about that pop-up was that they also had the artist Emek speak about his rock posters and his process.  His posters are currently on display at the Haight Street Art Center.  This is free and the posters are AMAZING.  You really should go!

So after my two free beers (thank you 21st Amendment), socializing with some of the SF music community, and lots of giggles with my girl, Jill, we went upstairs for the performance. As I said earlier, Mira Goto was a nice surprise and her song ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ brought laughter mixed with tears (or vice versa) to many audience members.  Then The Family Crest took the stage. 7 band members on a little tiny stage; Irish Greg said they had to make the stage bigger for them and even with the expansion, Renee and Irish Greg couldn’t fit on the stage with the band.  The small space eve led to a trombone and flute accident, though luckily there was no damage to the musicians or the instruments. The Family Crest is a band but it’s also a collective of sorts. They often have guest musicians and singers and Liam talked about how when they tour, there are certain people in certain cities who will join them on-stage. I believe he mentioned a sax player in Minnesota, but I might be making that up. He compared it to reuniting with family in his conversation with Renee and Irish Greg. The Family Crest have a big sound; somewhere I read it described as orchestral pop and I can see that. You should check them out; they have a new album.

After the show wrapped, it was early and Brick and Mortar was only a 10 minute walk, so I started walking. I passed a skateboard park on the way and in no time, I was walking into Brick and Mortar. I missed the opening band, though Stephanie in the audience reported that they were good and I should check them out. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name. Lo Moon took the stage shortly after I arrived and they opened with ‘This Is It’ which is the song that’s been getting the radio play that got me to go to this show. This felt like a win and I felt like I could have left at any time after that, but they band was really good. They were moody and a little shoe-gazey, but then they were a little rock-n-roll too and I’m so glad that I went. The show was great; they closed out the set with ‘Real Love’ which is my other ‘known’ of their songs and then there was a short (two song) encore and then I was on my way. The whole evening felt like a win and it was a win that even with transit was probably less than $40.  Three performances, three drinks and a Lyft home to be in bed by 10:30. This is my rock-n-roll lifestyle.  See you Friday night at Bottom of the Hill?

Continue reading “Choices…”

Goodnight, Texas is opening for The Family Crest (from SF) tonight 4/12

… and I can’t go. Deadline tomorrow and there’s no chance that I’ll make it if I go out tonight. As it is, I’m regretting my decision to go to the allergy clinic but I’m already almost a week overdue.

But enough about me and back to the point of this post, you should really seriously consider going to support these two local bands tonight.

Goodnight, Texas has been great every time I’ve seen them. They are a favorite of both Pat and Teri in addition to being one of my local faves.

And then of course, there’s The Family Crest. As you may have seen or heard previously, they were a SXSW discovery my first year. I want to write so much more about this, but I’m out of time if I’m actually going to publish it before the show. I meant to finish it earlier… the road to hell.  Sigh!

Brandi Carlile ACL Taping

There’s so much raw emotion coming from Brandi Carlile and her band. She’s one of those artists that can make the tears stream down my face, even when it’s a happy song. I’m not the only one. As we were leaving I heard a woman talking about not being able to hold back tears during a song and watched a dude shake off a few tears at one point during the show. It a a special thing when artists have the skill to connect emotionally to their audience while telling a story that feels both personal and universal. On top of that her sound is impeccable. I thought The Eye was perfect the first time she introduced the twin brothers who play and sing 3-part harmony in her band, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, and sang the line “you can dance in a hurricane but only if you’re standing in the eye”. It’s hard to believe that it was even better when they re-recorded it, saying a capo was in the wrong place and the first one was an octave too high. I’m left wondering how she makes it look so easy, knowing that there is a struggle behind this perfect seeming person, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to write such gripping lyrics. I’m also grateful for voices like this that stand out and sing about justice in a county that seems like its leaders have forgotten what justice and truth look like. In the end it feels great to stand up and cheer for Brandi Carlile, not only because she is an amazing performer, but also because she represents how great this country can be, with more female leadership, freedom to love who you choose, and wisdom to know we all struggle in our own ways.

The Dustbowl Revival play Starline Social Club tonight, April 8th

I really want to want to go to this show tonight. I know it’s going to be good. Liz on vocals and washboard, Ulf playing trombone, and props like lampshades make this band a true favorite.

The problem is that I have a lot of deadlines this week and am still catching up from my time off in March and also, I’m going to Alonzo King’s ballet at 6, so it’s ambitious to head over to Oakland for a second show. I’m still considering it, but it’s not likely tonight. That shouldn’t stop you, but sometimes I have to work to pay for this rock -n- roll lifestyle. 😢

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