Tuesday, May 31, 2016

So You Can't Get a Ticket to the Newport Folk Fest...

Lookin' for these? Rare tickets (from 2015)
It's the annual hot spot for music-philes: the Newport Folk Fest. But, tragically, tickets are sold out. What's a Flight of the Conchords fan to do?

-If you can't get in, there are Aftershows in downtown Newport. Even though it's often for one musician, Newport is notorious for having several guests from the Festival. The Aftershows are often a mini-Folk Fest in and of themselves (with Deer Tick a frequent flier). To do: follow Newport Folk Festival on Facebook/Twitter, or sign up for their mailing list (www.newportfolk.org). Keep in mind, seating is very limited at these venues, and these tickets often sell out within a day of being announced.

Find me a ticket:
1. Online: Resale sites such as Stubhub.com and Ticketnetwork.com still list tickets… often at scalper prices. These sites are online marketplaces for people to sell their tickets, and often come with certain guarantees and protections. However, there are usually restrictions and time limits, so pay attention. And just because it's on the internet doesn't make Rando-Joes-Free-Tix.com safe.

2. Newportfolk.org: The Newport Folk Fest website has their own fan-to-fan resale link. These tickets are thankfully at face-value, and verified through Ticketmaster. However, you might need to watch this site like a hawk to find tickets, as even here they are sold out.

3. Craigslist: The netherworld of the internet, Craigslist still has a few tickets available, though from what we've seen, they're offered to the highest bidder. Even Ebay.com offers some tickets, but as we're exceptionally jaded, we advise having a chance to see the tickets in-person before shacking over your hard-earned green. As always, be wary, don't give your information away, and try to do your transactions in person (in a public place!).

4. On site: While this is not the most recommended way, there are often people near Fort Adams who are trying to unload their extra tickets. While you can't get into Fort Adams State Park without a ticket, there is perennially that guy who's pacing about next to the cars trying to hawk his wares. Again, not the most recommended way.

5. National Public Radio: For those luckless souls who cannot get in, NPR does a fantastic job in streaming several of the sets at Newport the same day. Pop off your flip-flops, get a wine cooler and some friends, and kick back in your air-conditioned apartment. The Newport Folk Festival's YouTube channel even puts up videos of a few of the sets, but this is usually well after the festival.

6. Get a yacht: Or a friend with a yacht. For those especially desperate, the main stage of the Folk Fest is by the water, so if you don't mind somewhat inferior sound quality and definitely inferior stageview, you can float by and catch many of the main acts come July weekend.

7. Pray to the household gods: While the Newport Folk Fest often gives away signed materials (such as a sweet Roger Waters-signed record), sometimes local businesses or radio stations may offer a giveaway. But the last time we confirmed a giveaway was when Alex and Ani sponsored the 'Fest in 2012, so Vegas odds of another giveaway this summer are 1:375,000; odds of YOU getting these tickets are 1:28,740,659. Still, worth following the Folk Fest's social media and paying attention.

8. Or know a local: You see, I know this guy who works for the local tent company...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Green River Festival: Best Deal in Town (or New England)

Greenfield, MA: July 8-10, 2016. $120 for two and a half days of music. Pure. Unadulterated. Music. And it's a quite good lineup. Very good. Exceptionally good.

Check it HERE.

So we suspect you might've missed those early bird tickets. No matter, this is still an excellent price (especially if you don't feel like getting scalped for the Newport Folk Festival). But here's who we've come to talk about:

Kearney and Davis and funky shades. (c) not us
We've been talking mostly about the Saturday lineup, because we're most familiar with those artists, but on Sunday comes this lass (and gent): Bridget Kearney and Benjamin Lazar Davis. Oh yeah, you say, Bridget Kernie, and good ole Benji. *looks of utter confusion*

Don't worry, we'll help - Kearney is the bassist for Lake Street Dive. And on their latest full-length Side Pony, Kearney pens almost all the songs we love the most off it ("How Good it Feels, "Hell Yeah," and this brilliant, brilliant pop gem), even our favorite "Seventeen" off their 2014 Bad Self Portraits. So in summation, she's one of our favorite current songwriters.

The duo have an easily google-able EP that we strongly suggest you check out. But more than that, we suggest you check them out live, which we most certainly intend to do. At Green River Fest. Again, Sunday July 10. And check out all the other bands, because this lineup is to kill for.

Or at least it's to pay $120 and not go to jail for. Yeah. We'd advise that. Catch you in a month and a half!

Monday, May 9, 2016

All Grooves, No Pain on The Suffers Debut

The Suffers - Self-Titled
Rhyme and Reason
-out now
3.5 / 5

Let's cut to the chase, not run around and make you suffer with our writing: we like The Suffers. We want to love them, yes, but we think we just like them. That this Houston, TX ten-some is so young is something of an anomaly, as they produce fine, original classic soul a la Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (seemingly embodied in the form of Suffers lead singer, Kam Franklin). And to cut past the chase - is that an expression, even? - we're going to say this: The Suffers is going to be a band we'll keep an eye on.

There, we got that out of the way. Now let's look at the music.

These songs are written well, and performed well, to boot. We caught the large band at last year's Newport Folk Fest, and we knew we had to get in touch. Released early in '16, their self-titled debut album, while crafted well, executed well, it's missing something that their live show definitely had. Spontaneity, you might ask? Something more like grit, we're going to say. We love that these young musicians are taking such a difficult, nigh impossible genre to add to - conquered by such titans such as Aretha, Etta James, Diana Ross, let alone the many male legendary singers - that it's a near-insurmountable task to jump right in. But jump they did. However, that grit still... this band plays very, very clean. Very precise. And yes, Ms. Kam Franklin has pipes (see our favs "Midtown" or "Gwan") but we think this band just needs to mature a bit more. We think that's about it. We could spend all this time comparing them to the greats within the genre, but how fruitful would that be? - and besides, we think they're going to be fantastic, stunning in a couple more albums.

So then, that 3.5 / 5 up there. We're not quite feeling this album as a needed go-to, but we're going to say this: if you're impatient to get in on some new classic soul, look no further. These guys (and gal) are likely going to be the real deal. Get in on the ground floor, and catch them live while it's still easy. Recommended.

And you gotta catch them on Soundcloud. You gotta.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Come Bring a Friend to Andy Shauf's "Party"

Andy Shauf - The Party
Anti Records
- out May 20
4 / 5

We have a strange relationship with Saskatchewan-ian Andy Shauf. We're going to be honest: we caught a bit of his set at the Newport Folk Fest a year or two back, and we were entirely not blown away. Kind of underwhelmed.

And so his fourth album, The Party, almost feels the same.

But hear us out, because we believe the studio is his element. The Party is a concept album, a large cast of characters thrown together, each given a slice of the life of a house party. What seems underwhelming is here actually the quiet, silent eye of an observer giving insightful glimpses of the couple fighting and almost making up ("Quite Like You"), the awkward and somewhat gawky girl ("Early to the Party"), the bumbling, angry drunk ("Alexander All Alone"). These characters are lyrically well-painted, full, believable. Sonically, these tracks come from the voice of the introvert, taking everything in, and so they don't dance and delight; they don't rock and roll; but that's not what they should do. They breathe. They conjure, they craft, and these tracks even find a steady rhythm for those who appreciate the stumbling, softspoken rhythms of a humanity looking for a place to be accepted. These choruses don't shout, but they insinuate themselves in some of the deeper, softer parts of your consciousness.

What almost seems underwhelming, here, is that these tracks are so mellow, so understated, that it's easy to pass by a gem like this. But pick it up, give it at least a couple spins, and join the wallflower as he observes this pastiche of modern American socializing. Highly recommended.