Archive | November, 2013

All Just to Get to You (with thanks to Hugh)

15 Nov

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Fairly early in Joe Ely‘s sublime set last evening at new Collar City performance space, the Hangar, he launched into an extended yarn about a spur of the moment trip he and a buddy took to see the fall foliage in New England. Without a whole lot of money between them, they somehow managed to hitch rides, including several by train, all the way up to New York City from Amarillo. The trip culminated with the experience of busking on a street corner adjacent to Carnegie Hall. Many years later, while playing a gig inside that hallowed venue with the Flatlanders, he was able to say that this was the second time he had played Carnegie Hall…
Stories such as these are from where great songs are born, and Joe Ely has lived a life that is worthy of some great songs. He shared a clutch of them with a large and appreciative audience, who responded with acclaim and suggestions for song choices. Favorites of this scribe included a couple from the new CD “Satisfied at Last”, the tender but tough “Leo and Leona” and the eulogy by shotgun, “You Can Bet I’m Gone”, classics such as “Letters to Laredo”, “Dallas” and “All Just to Get to You”. Accompanied by obscenely talented Jeff Plankenhorn on Dobro, mandolin and electric guitar, each song matched story-lines with music that only served to enhance each performance. And since I had the pleasure of experiencing it all with my buddy “Jimmy 2 Books”, there was of course another story to the evening, but I will let him tell you that one. All in all a terrific evening of first rate music to kick off what I truly hope will be the establishment of a great relationship between the Ale House, the Hangar, and an audience hungry for evenings like this on a regular basis. If you missed it, don’t make the same mistake twice! And check out this great piece on Joe Ely from Nippertown, who will soon also provide a review of the show that includes the playlist. The tour continues tonight in Maine and tomorrow in Northhampton, MA. 

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Preaching the Gospel

7 Nov

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Elvis Costello traveled to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to deliver a message, and by the end of his 2 hour performance, the sold out audience had received it with unanimous approval! “This is a gospel show”, an oft repeated statement throughout the evening, was Elvis’s way of sharing with us the zeal and passion he has for his chosen craft. That feeling was amplified by the fact that he was clearly inspired by his surroundings, the expertly  restored and acoustically superb Music Hall. He offered selections from every corner of his vast songbook, some tender, some rough and ragged, all delivered with emotional honesty and enthusiasm. Highlights included, “All This Useless Beauty”, “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror, “Hoover Factory”, and a particularly gripping take on “Shipbuilding”. On the raucous side, we were gifted with “Monkey to Man”, “Less than Zero” and a spine tingling re-working of “Watching the Detectives”, complete with looped guitar riffs, underpinning some reverb drenched leads, and a vocal that gave no indication of the song’s vintage. He even pulled off some respectable whistling, none better than during a heartfelt take on Nat King Cole’s “Walking My Baby Back Home”, dedicated to wife Diana Krall. And even this “know nothing about gear” guy was impressed by the guitars he chose, nothing was wasted or overindulgent, song matching sonic. 

I have been blessed with seeing some tremendous live shows this year, and this was without a doubt right up at the top. A gospel show indeed, where the message is received by the ears, the mind and above all the heart. Others apparently agree.