Sunday, 06 May 2007

I was indisposed the last few days, so it took me a couple extra to actually get this posted.

The last couple times Roger Clyne has come to town, we’ve been blessed with Saturday night shows. This time we were most fortunate in that May 5th was on a Saturday this year and Roger was coming to town. His Cinco de Mayo shows are reported to be something else.

Rogers merch guy was the first opener and he did a great job. He’s got an album of his own and while it’s a bit lighter than Roger’s stuff, it’s still very good. Jason did a bunchk of stuff from the CD and a couple new ones rounded out his 30 minute set.

The second band was a group called Shurman, a 4 piece from California. They’ve toured with Roger before and seem to have a pretty respectable following in their own right. They did about a 60 minute set that tended more toward rock than the Sowthwest twinge of the Peacemakers. I didn’t pick up a CD although I should have.

I don’t know what time Roger and the boys took the stage, but it turned out to be everything I love about an RCPM show.

There were 29 songs on the set list, which I’d guess ran about 2 hours. On paper it reads as follows: Hello New Day, Mexico, Counterclockwise, Noisy Head, Maybe We Should Fall In Love, Tell Yer Momma, Mexican Moonshine, Contraband, Wanted, Bury My Heart at the Trailer Park, World Ain’t Gone Crazy, Banditos, Plenty, Feel Alright, Down Together, Winter In Your Heart, I Don’t Need Another Thrill, Bottom of the Bay, Jack vs. Jose, Wake-Up Call, Andale, Green and Dumb, Junebug In July, Who Let the Goon Squad In, Girly, Mekong, Leaky Little Boat, Lemons, Nada

After the show I got a chance to hang with each of the guys for a few minutes. When I talked to Roger, he asked if there was something I’d like to hear on the set list. Unable to collate the list in my head fast enough, I said “God Gave Me A Gun” which I’d love to hear live. He said they’d see about doing it one of the next couple nights.

I don’t see it as a promise, but it would be cool. We’ll just have to see in Des Moines tomorrow night.

Saturday, 24 September 2005

Greazy Meal’s heyday was in the late 90s and early 00s when they put out a couple CD’s and became the house band at The Cabooze. Since then, the band has dispersed a bit, drawn into careers and day-jobs. One does studio work in California while another lives in Germany. The rest are in the music business in one way or another, either production, studio work or touring with national acts. As you can imagine, getting 8 people together to do a show can be a bit tricky.

I know three of the guys, Jim Anton, Ken Chastain, and Tom Scott from a prior band, Beat the Clock. A friend of mine was their sound man, which is how I first found out about them. They toured the Midwest and the local bar scene in the early 90s. I managed to catch nearly every show they did in the Twin Cities. I came to know the guys decently enough and always loved their stuff, so you’d think I’d have caught their new band too. Such is not the case.

This weekend they did a rare, two-show run at The Fine Line and I was not going to miss it. Greazy Meal always packed the house and got great reviews back when they were playing The Cabooze, so it was bound to be a good show.

I was worried for a while. Saturday night already had too many things to choose from (Sigur Ros, Lavay Smith, Kaki King, my high-school reunion), but it all worked out. Greazy Meal’s first show was Friday night and I had it open.

The opening act was a group called either Wisley or the Willy Wisely Trio (although there were five people on stage,) I heard them referred to as both. He did a good job and I enjoyed his set. Unfortunately the crowd was still pretty thin at that point, so he really didn’t get the response he deserved.

After a quick turnover, Greazy Meal took the stage in front of an enthusiastic audience.

If you’re into the Twin Cities music scene you’ll appreciate their pedigree. Alphabetically there’s Dave Anania on drums, Jim Anton on bass, Tommy Barbarella on keyboard, Ken Chastain on percussion, Julius Collins on vocals, John Fields on guitar, Brian Galagher on sax and flute, and Tom Scott on other sounds and vocals.

Jim, Ken, and Tom were in Beat the Clock, the rest of the guys would join them on stage every so often. That experience pays off in how easily they can share the stage. It helps to create a great vibe that resonates with their 70s and 80s soul/funk/rock sound.

Early in the show I noticed there was a couch on stage. I didn’t understand at first, but it’s called the “Davenport of Love.” Situated immediately in front of the drum kit, audience members are welcome to come on stage and take a turn. Too self-conscious to get up there myself, I’m told you can feel each beat down to your bones.

Right away, and through their whole show, Greazy Meal’s energy fed into the crowd. It created a Friday-night, party atmosphere that felt like it could go all weekend. Alas, after a 2½ hour show, it had to end.

I met Willy Wisley after the show while he was talking to my friend John. I stopped on my way out to say good-night to John and he introduced himself. He came across as a very nice guy, down to earth and very accessible. It’s little things like that that can get someone to check out your band while they may not have before. I know it worked for me and I’m definitely going to check out his music. Based on what I saw on stage, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

Hopefully it won’t be an entire year until Greazy Meal’s next show. Regardless of when it is, you can bet I’ll be there! After all, I need to take my ride on the Davenport of Love.

Saturday, 16 July 2005

I first ran across Esthero when she appeared on a Blue Man Group album, of all things. She did a cool version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” on their release The Complex.

Then, completely by happenstance, I saw her on one of the late-night talk shows. She did the title song from her latest CD, Wikked Lil’ Grrrls. It’s a sassy little number and I liked it immediately, so when I learned she was coming to town, I didn’t think twice about picking up a ticket.

Later I discovered that Mike Doughty from Soul Coughing was going to play the Aquatennial Block Party. At that point I knew it was going to be a busy night. I’d try to see the Doughty show, then hit the Fine Line. The schedule would be tight, but it would all work out.

And work out it did. I saw Doughty and made it to the Fine Line near the end of the first opening act.

The first guy, I didn’t catch his name, but he wasn’t right for the show. He was a singer/songwriter/guitar act that struck me as whiney and a real downer.

The second opening act was a woman named Toya Alexis. I was worried when she took the stage. It was just Alexis and a guy playing acoustic guitar. To my surprise, she turned out to be something else. What an incredible voice!

On one song, I think it was “Baby”, she did about half of it as herself, then briefly as each of several well-known singers like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and Ertha Kitt. There were one or two others, but I don’t remember for sure. It was both hilarious and stunning at the same time.

Then Esthero herself took the stage…with two backup singers and an 8-piece band comprised of a drums, percussion, a flute/saxophone player, trumpet, trombone, bass, guitar (who played with Toya during the opening act), and keyboards.

Based on what I could find on-line, the set list was “Wikked Lil’ Girls,” “Breath from Another,” “OG Bitch,” “Country Livin’,” “Swallow Me,” “Everyday is a Holiday with You,” “If Tha Mood,” “Superheros,” “Bad Boy Clyde,” “Half A World Away,” “Gone,” “My Torture,” “Fastlane,” “We Are In Need of a Musical Revolution,” “Joey,” “Amelia,” and “Wish You Away.” There were a couple other songs too, but I’m not even sure the list above is entirely accurate.

At one point, between songs, Esthero called out a guy because he was just way too loud. “If I can hear you better than I can hear myself, you’re too f’in loud!” Then she strongly suggested he buy her a shot from the bar. Sheepishly, he complied, but Mr. Loudmouth didn’t quiet down much afterward.

After a short break, Esthero and her brother, J, came out to do “Joey” and a new song she hadn’t practiced with the band. Then everyone came back out to do the last couple songs.

After the show, both the dummer and the trombone player took time out to talk for a few minutes. Both were very cool, but couldn’t stay long as they had to pack their own stuff and head to Chicago for a show the next night. When the trombonist saw my camera he asked if I had gotten a couple flash pictures. (I had.) The bell on his horn was painted with an orange, red, and white flame-ish pattern. The rest of the instrument was mostly white rather than a normal yellow-brass color. It took on an unearthly glow when the flash hit it.

Esthero didn’t come out after the show, but her manager or assistant took stuff backstage to get it signed. Some of the other folks waiting got brought back to see Esthero, but I got skipped. I think I’m too introverted and therefor not pushy enough to have gotten a behind-the-scenes meet-and-greet. Clearly it’s something I need to work on.

The tally: 90+ minutes of music, 1 musical discovery (Toya Alexis), 308 pictures, and 1 autograph. All on top of the earlier show. A damn fine night indeed.