Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our Next Story Is Up: "A House Burning"

(C) Krawiec/Flickr

The upstart podcast No Extra Words has decided to feature our flash fiction, "A House Burning." We want y'all to listen to it, and to let us feel the love (or the hatred, but we think you'll feel the love instead).

Check out the posting here. Cool quote, huh?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Providence is a Banjo-Lovin' Town"

The Dave Rawlings Special: Bitta heat, bitta cool, cowboy hat. All folk. All photos (c) Matthew Keefer
...and led us to the weekend, which we hit/ Just like a freight train. Got there early/ We couldn't wait... for Gillian Welch and headlining collaborator, Dave Rawlings. The Dave Rawlings Machine, comprised of Welch, Willy Watson, Paul Kowert and, of course, Mr. Rawlings himself, were joined by Miss. Brittany Haas to tour for his sophomore solo, Nashville Obsolete, which we're totally digging right now. You likely will dig it, too.
Welcome to the Machine. (L to R) Kowert, Welch, Watson.
You know why we say that? Because it's restrained, pared-down folksy country, the kind that you might hear around the barn on an off night. Acoustic, down-to-earth, simple; a fresh breath. Mr. Rawlings + Machine opened on "The Weekend" and about half the show came off of Nashville Obsolete grooves; but the highlights? This lass' fiddle:
Fiddle me this, fiddle me that. Brittany Haas.

Arco or pizzicato (that's bowing or plucking), the girl knows her folkin' grooves. Boston-based, she was well at home with the Machine on Saturday.

Another highlight? Dave Rawlings, a few songs in: "I bet you were all waiting for me to pick up this banjo... They say [Providence]'s a banjo-lovin' town." He was not wrong.

And another, you say? Rawlings: "We're all waiting to hear a dirty song." Turns to Willy Watson. "Keep it real greasy."
Watson sings a cover of "Keep it Clean." (Ultimate dad joke; g thx dav rawlings)

And that was the first half...


If we had to compliment Dave Rawlings and crew on anything, it would be on their ability to read a crowd. Providence, ourselves included, was in a mood to sing. SING. And the second part of the show was just that. A bit of "Sweet Tooth" via Rawlings and Welch; some of "This Land Is Your Land", and certainly Rawlings had it pegged: "It's startin' to sound like a folk concert in here." Watson got some sing-along in him, too (and some pipes! Clear, country and emotive) and for the record, we clearly should've caught him at the Newport Folk Fest on multiple occasions.

If we were to compliment Rawlings further, it would be this: the man knows how to please a crowd. Visibly exhausted during the encore, Rawlings caved into the raucous crowd, the barn-stomping and unified clapping aching to have more. Like we said, he caved in to one more, exasperated and flattered, though he had to give it over to Watson for "Midnight Special." It was a demanding crowd, yes, and as a performer of experience and wisdom, Rawlings knew it was his place to give in to that one demand.

The Man With No Eyes. Willy Watson.

Our verdict? We well-enjoyed ourselves, and though we kind of hate live reviews (you don't get to see the performers after the fact) we're going to suggest y'all amble on down next time they're in town. Gillian Welch nails it year after year at the Newport Folk Fest, and so did Dave Rawlings on Saturday. And pre-review of Nashville Obsolete - he sung our song! He sung "Pilgrim (You Can't Go Home)"!

Hope you made it this time, and we'll catch y'all at the next one *spits tobaccy*

The Oh Hellos "Met" Providence - Get It??

We'll admit it: The Oh Hellos is one of our favorite discoveries to come out of the Newport Folk Fest ('14, if you recall). A large, overwhelming nontet with two drummers, the brother/sister duo of Maggie and Tyler Heath seem to come naturally into singable, joyous melody, and at Providence last week...
Well, we'll get to that. But first things first. (Photos (C) Bera Dunau)

A Cereus Bright in the dark night. (L to R) Tyler Anthony and Evan Ford.
Cereus Bright caught us off-guard. Lovely harmonies, the quintet puts out. Their sound was beautifully balanced, and their drummer - sigh - their drummer! Don't tell Luke Bowers this, but we want to marry his beats, each and every of the subtle and dense hits he taps on the 'set. We chatted up Ford and fellow Matt, Matt Nelson (bass) before the show, picking both their brains about touring and bathing, and in addition to being good folk, Cereus Bright's performance that night definitely got us hummin' along. All the way through the set, to their last one, the eponymous "Cereus Bright," which was a stunning, gorgeous ballad that channeled... perhaps Fleet Foxes a bit? We picked up their two EPs, and while we definitely recommend their live work to their studio, a little birdie told us a full-length is on the way Spring '16. Which we are certain to cover.

If y'all is curious, check out their site for a free download. Again, unbelievable balance and talent, which we're hoping gets the full treatment next year. Congrats, gents.

We haven't a whole lot to say about the first opener, Friends and Family - Cereus was number 2 on the bill - other than F+F's vocals were washed out by the rest of the sound. But they were clearly inspired by Typhoon, playing even a cover ("Common Sentiments") and being friends with the Portland, OR band. So it's difficult to say! Hence, the not saying a lot (sorry guys and lady!)

And the Oh Hellos themselves...

We can sum them up this way:
"I think I'm in love with her."
"She's cute," us.
"Her voice."
-Bera Dunau
The voice to sink a thousand hearts. (L to R) Josh Heinlein (?) Maggie, Tyler
Miss Maggie's voice has a gentle country lilt to it, the kind of lilt that seems to reminisce a bit of Ireland; gentle, confident, capable. Tyler's voice doesn't have that kind of lilt to it, but together, with his calm gentleness, the harmonies the Oh Hellos produce are fresh, uplifting, even when their songs grasp about in the darkness, subject-wise. Add to that two percussionists, an accordion, and a couple of crazy banjoists (who were dancing so hard we could only get blurry photos like this:
Like The Flash - just impossible to catch.
Bad? Yes, we know.) and you suddenly have a stage presence that is unlikely to be met by the majority of national bands on our radar - those Rolling Stones darlings included. The Oh Hellos were - and certainly are - an act to catch live. And if you can't, be sure to hop on over to their site, as their songwriting is as beautiful and melodic as this guy above is crazy.

That was weak, we know. We're still recovering from the intense awesomeness that was the past week. But still, thank y'all for stopping by, but do come back, cause even though our weekend started early, Dave Rawlings came out one of these nights...

We had to fit in another photo. Had to.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

+ Rawlings Make For A Folkin' Weekend

"The best country singers die in the back of classic cars" - Rawlings and Gillian Welch and Impala, Chevrolet.
Higher Ground, S Burlington, VT. Thurs. 11-12-15, doors 7pm, show 8pm. $30 adv, $35 day of.
State Theatre, Portland, ME. Fri. 11-13-15, doors 7pm, show 8pm. $37.50.
Lupo's, Providence, RI. Sat. 11-13-15, doors 7pm. $32-$39.50
Wilbur Theatre, Boston, MA. Mon. 11-16-15, 8pm. $34.50.

You've always liked Dave Rawlings. You just haven't known it. He's the male-half to Gillian Welch (check out everything from Time (The Revelator) to The Harrow and the Harvest) and everything the two touch is blissful earnest country. Now take your always-scintillating Welch-Rawlings duo, add a bit of Punch (Paul Kowert) and toss in a bit of Willie (Watson), and you've got... a mean four-cylinder-drive Machine. A... Dave Rawlings Machine, as it were. We've been hooked up on Mr. Rawlings' second full-length solo, Nashville Obsolete, and we have to say - between these old folkies and the Oh Hellos, it's gonna be a busy weekend. C'mon, check out this one. Hits what you didn't know you needed hit, right? We're antsy to get ourselves into this show, and hopefully all y'all will be, too. Just don't trust that old Impala to get you there; musicians like Rawlings and Welch don't come every generation.
Hitchhike instead. They'd appreciate that. See y'all in Providence.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Oh Hellos "Hello" New England

Tyler and Maggie Heath + band (+ waterfall). Photo (C) Laurie Heath.
The Met, Providence, RI. Thurs. 11-12-15, 7pm. $15 adv, $17 day of.
Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA. Fri. 11-13-15, doors 7pm, show 8pm. $15 adv.

A glorious return to the East Coast cometh a band with a sound like a tidal force. Having left us jaw-gaping at Newport in 2014 (do excuse the poor sound quality), siblings Maggie and Tyler Heath (with about a dozen other musicians) have been on a tear with their sophomore Dear Wormwood. We will admit this: we adore their folksy harmonies. We adore their exuberance, their bright energy. And we adore their music, fully and completely.
And did you know you can still pick it up for free? (Don't be a dingo, though; slide them a few bucks for this 5 out of 5 kinda album. Even their Christmas EP is fantastic.)
What to expect: pure, unmitigated joy. Emanating from your every pore. We hope to see y'all there a couple Thursdays from now. Like the famous Austrian said, "We'll be bahck." And with photos. (Schwarzeneggar didn't say that, though.)