It paid off in spades for any of my fellow protogeezers who made the journey to the Linda Auditorium at WMAC last evening. The Waterboys, in remarkably their Capital District debut, held the capacity crowd in thrall with their audacious recasting of the words of the Irish bard W. B. Yeats. The band, downsized to a trio, featured original members, Mike Scott and Steve Wickham, alongside keyboardist Daniel Mintseris
played numerous selections from the newly released in the U.S. album, “An Appointment with Mr. Yeats“.
If the task of setting such revered words to musical accompaniment was daunting, it never showed during this assured and joyous performance. Mike Scott obviously has an affinity for Yeats words and their possible interpretation and has chosen arrangements that serve to enhance the listening experience. Highlights included a richly romantic “White Birds”, the pointed polemic “September 1913”, and “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, which they cross-pollinated with some Delta blues. Perhaps sensing the crowd was nearing the limits of their patience for unfamiliar material, the lads charged into the classic “Fisherman’s Blues”, which predictably brought numerous hoots and whistles, especially in appreciation of Steve’s fiddling. Then the shouted requests and banter came out and I was once again reminded that I was in an Albany crowd, that invariably feels the need to be part of the show. I was cheered by the band’s choosing to mostly ignore this annoying trait and finish the set on their terms. A churning take on “The Pan Within”, which included a guitar string mishap, prompting Steve to share an impromptu fiddle solo, climaxed in furious fashion, bringing the set to a close. A short encore concluded with a spirited take on the American folk classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”, bringing the journey back home. And while there were surely some grumbles over the scarcity of songs long familiar , no one can challenge the spirit and reverie of this performance, which was grounded in Mike Scott’s desire to share his love of Yeats and his connection to the Irish traditions of words, song and storytelling. This was a show that will likely reside in some top ten lists at years end, and kudos to the promoters, the Linda and their partners WEXT 97.7, for coaxing a full house of music fans out on a Tuesday. We were richly rewarded for that effort.
Simone Dinnerstein and Tift Merritt have been part of a mutual admiration club for several years and have recently joined forces to record an album called “Night” (out now on Sony Masterworks) I have had the pleasure of listening to it, and it is a project that will reveal its treasures slowly over repeated listens. The project has generated a fair amount of buzz and pub, most recently from the NPR program “All Things Considered”. Click on the graphic above for a link to the piece. Info on buying the album can be found here.
Wanna feel old? Take a moment and remember where you were when you first heard the Pixies and now realize that it was likely some 20+ years ago. 25 this week if you were one of those bleeding edge types who picked up Surfer Rosa upon its debut. I didn’t get gobsmacked by them until bit later, but that might have been because we didn’t have a cool radio station like the Current playing that kind of stuff. Or maybe because I had seen them open for a local CT band, a year earlier and thought they kinda sucked. Regardless I got the message eventually. Hope you did as well.
For many of us, there are certain bands or musicians that you are aware of, and figure you would probably really like, if you just got the time to give their music an honest hearing. Jason Molina and his bands Songs: Ohia and The Magnolia Electric Co. were one of those groups for me, and sadly now I will have to listen posthumously. Word has come that bandleader and main scribe for both groups has died after succumbing from complications due to alcohol consumption (ie. abuse) He was only 39, which makes the news doubly tragic. Links to info about Jason and his music can be found here, here and there. We only wish we had paid more attention sooner….
Apparently we aren’t the only folks NOT in Austin this week, judging from this link found on the awe inspiring Largehearted Boy blog.
In case you missed it, I posted a link the other day to a great blog, which is a companion to a terrific new book about the Rolling Stones. The blog has been posting excerpts from the book along with great anecdotes from the co-author, Peter Thomas Fornatale. Today’s post touches on how the Stones viewed the punk rock hype that took England and later America by storm in the late 70’s while they were comfortably ensconced as rock royalty. Check it out and feel free to join the conversation.
My wife likes to say that part of what she likes about being a “grown up” means that you can stay up as late as you want, but you don’t HAVE to. That sentiment sums up my feeling for the as “big as Texas” event taking place in Austin this week. Nevertheless my appetite for musical discovery remains strong, so thanks to fine folks like the gang at NPR Music and EMusic, I can sample many of the bands that will grace the various stages around town, without dealing with the endless lines to get in, overpriced drinks or any number of other things that will only make me feel older than dirt. Now we just need an SXSW Channel on Roku or Apple TV, that shows live feeds of sets throughout. Oh wait, they may have one already! What an age we live in!