Archive for August, 2010

in performance: raul malo/brigid kaelin

raul malo.

raul malo.

We’re not ones to reduce anyone down to a cultural stereotype. But on the basis of his solo acoustic performance at last night’s taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Kentucky Theatre, the rap sheet on Raul Malo reads something like this: Miami born ex-country singer of Cuban parents interprets songs either written or popularized by Roy Orbison, Enrico Caruso, Jesse Winchester, Rodney Crowell and himself.

OK, did we leave anything out? With Malo, you can’t always tell. Possessed with a clear, booming tenor voice and a seemingly boundless sense of musical adventure, the former frontman for country renegades The Mavericks streamlined those influences into a sketchpad-style set that let just enough of his vocal potency out of the bag to astound the capacity crowd.

Sure, hearing the title track to Malo’s 2009 album Lucky One without its bright, horn-driven sass or Every Little Thing About You minus the sinuous Cuban strut can leave an audience without a full appreciation of the singer’s vast stylistic cunning. But the solo setting simply put those tunes in line with the country solemnity summoned during Crowell’s ‘Til I Gain Control Again (from Malo’s upcoming Sinners & Saints album) and Winchester’s O What a Thrill (from The Mavericks’ career-making third album, What a Crying Shame).

But going Neapolitan on the crowd with the operatic staple O Sole Mio? Who saw that coming? Malo sang it all with unassuming clarity and, frankly, modesty.

As an encore, he embraced the most obvious vocal spirit that inhabits his music: Roy Orbison. But his version of Don Gibson’s (I’d Be) A Legend in My Time (cut for Orbsion’s 1961 debut album, Roy Orbison Sings Lonely and Blue) was a curve ball. Far from Orbison’s most recognized work, it contained no mammoth vocal crests or pop crescendos for Malo to ride. It was, at heart, a country lament sung without undue pathos or grandstanding. While he possessed enough vocal ammo to belt the song into next year, Malo sang with a reserved dignity that would have done ol’ Roy proud indeed.

Louisvillian Brigid Kaelin nicely augmented the program with witty and literate pop exercises (Future Mr. Used-to-Be, Whiskey in My Faucet) and instrumentation on keyboards, accordion and, in the case of a brief recitation of My Old Kentucky Home, musical saw that provided the set with abundant home-crafted color.

in performance: maroon 5/kris allen

maroon 5. clockwise from left: james valentine, jesse carmichael, matt flynn, mickey madden and adam levine

maroon 5. clockwise from left: james valentine, jesse carmichael, matt flynn, mickey madden and adam levine

“You’re so far away,” yelled Adam Levine to the back grandstand area at Applebee’s Park last night. The lead singer of pop-soul rockers Maroon 5 wasn’t kidding. The set up had the hitmaking Los Angeles band playing in what would normally be the outfield on a game night, allowing for a massive general admission standing area in front of the stage. But that also meant a big ol’ ocean of empty separated the field crowd from those that had paid as much as $68 is sit far away in the seats.

Levine would have none of it. As the band slid into the easy pop stride of Won’t Go Home Without You, he urged anyone stuck in the seats to “join the party” on the field. And so they did. And so the Applebee’s Park crews allowed for the move without a hint of incident. And so the performance continued with what was essentially one joyous crowd at the band’s feet as opposed to two geographically divided factions.

Unfortunately that was about the most momentous thing surrounding Maroon 5′s performance and Levine’s concert management skills. It wasn’t a bad show, really, just one fueled by such standardized pop-soul mechanics that nothing – outside of the audience migration – seemed edgy or spontaneous.

Levine let loose with clean falsetto crooning, which helped move around otherwise stagnant pop pieces like If I Never See Your Face Again. Other tunes borrowed from soul-pop’s past to gain some legging, as in the way bits of Sly and the Family Stone’s If You Want Me To Stay were slipped into The Sun or the insertion of the 1985 Tina Turner hit What’s Love Got To Do With It into the 2002 Maroon 5 nugget, Secret. At one point, Levine bowed to R&B inspiration entirely with a complete lounge-like cover of Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You.

The later interpretation began a lengthy sit-down, semi-acoustic set that sounded fine on its own musical merit. But the segment dragged noticeably due to Levine’s lengthy between tune banter. A convoluted diatribe on the types of bugs the California band has encountered during its Southern shows this summer followed the Keys cover. Similarly, She Will be Loved was prefaced by a seemingly endless and aimless spoken intro. Fortunately, the electric crack of Wake Up Call was exactly that, a high octane reminder that Maroon 5, when pressed, can get down to guitar rock essentials.

kris allen.

kris allen.

Formulaic as Maroon 5 often sounded, the band sounded positively adventuresome compared to opening act Kris Allen. The season 8 winner of American Idol served up a 40 minute set of polite intentions, save for telling the crowd “hey, there is hope for you” after a sullen cover of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror elicited a level of response his performance otherwise lacked.

Covers by The Script mingled in Allen’s set with originals like Is It Over and a dreadfully pedestrian take on The Beatles’ Come Together to form a paint-by-numbers set that allowed very little of Allen’s own artistic identity to emerge.

British Euro-pop belter VV Brown and Florida pop-rockers Miggs kicked off the evening with workmanlike sets devoted to radio-savvy dance workouts like Serial Heartbreaker (Brown) and tight but often lyrically inventive guitar meditations (Miggs).

Maryland Healthcare Briefs: December 19, 2008

The Daily Record (Baltimore) December 19, 2008 | Report Jane Lipscomb, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, has been honored with the university’s 2008 Founders Day Research Lecturer Award. Lipscomb is internationally known for her work in occupational and environmental science. She focuses on the impact of unsafe work environments and long hours on health care and human service providers.

Mercy Medical Center’s Center for Restorative Therapies received a HealthStream Research Excellence Through Insight Award For Overall Outpatient Satisfaction in the Large Hospital Category (250 or more beds). Mercy’s Surgery Center at Weinberg was also honored. The awards are for patient, employee, physician and consumer studies.

Vapotherm announced that Nick Macmillan has joined the company as manager of its home care segment. Macmillan will be responsible for developing and managing the company’s expansion of respiratory therapy products that address chronic and sleep disorders. He has been in the health care management and respiratory industry for more than 25 years.

St. Agnes Hospital’s Breast Center has been awarded the 2008 Terese Lasser Memorial Award from the American Cancer Society. The award was presented to three employees from the Breast Center: Mary Capano, Doris Lindenmuth and Kevin LaMartina. It was created in honor of Terese Lasser, who began Reach to Recovery in 1952 following her own breast cancer experience. site maryland general hospital

Marian C. Callaway has been named director of marketing and public relations for Maryland General Hospital. Callaway brings over 25 years of experience in marketing, public relations, advertising and event planning. Prior to joining Maryland General, she held marketing/communications positions in a number of corporate and nonprofit organizations.

Catherine J. Boyne, president of Gilchrist Hospice Care and a vice president with GBMC HealthCare, has been appointed chairperson of the State Advisory Council on Quality Care at the End of Life. Boyne has served as president of Gilchrist Hospice Care, a GBMC HealthCare subsidiary and the largest hospice organization in the state of Maryland, since 1998.

Upper Chesapeake Health announced that Adele Wilzack and Dr. Faheem Younus will serve on its boards of directors. Wilzack is president of Health Facilities Association of Maryland. Younus is the chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and medical director of the Department of Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Control for Upper Chesapeake Health.

MedHelp Inc., a medical management specialist firm in Baltimore, recently hired Ronetta Fields, Randie Mezger and Ron Burr Jr. as A/ R specialists. Fields previously worked for Kernan Physical Therapy- Kernan Hospital. Burr specialized in dental outpatient surgery at Kernan Hospital. Mezger formerly worked for Radiologix.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research has awarded 2008 V Scholar grants and translational grants to researchers across the United States. One of the recipients is Dr. Josh Lauring of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. His focus is on developing potential therapeutic targets for breast cancer.

Dr. Sidney Gottlieb has been named medical director of St. Joseph Cardiovascular Associates, a group of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons who specialize in the treatment of heart disease at St. Joseph Medical Center. Gottlieb is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular diseases. Most recently, he served as director of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto. see here maryland general hospital

Three Johns Hopkins University researchers have been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine: Dr. Harry C. Dietz, Dr. Lisa A. Cooper and Nancy Kass. Cooper is a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Kass is the deputy director for public health at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.

Laurel Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department received the HealthStream Research Excellence Through Insight Award for Most Improved Overall Emergency Department Satisfaction. Laurel Regional Hospital is a full-service community hospital serving northern Prince George’s County and Montgomery, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, with 146 beds and 670 employees.

St. Agnes Hospital has promoted Octavia Rector from weekend team leader to nurse manager for labor and delivery. Rector will be responsible for the daily operations of the birthing center. Additional responsibilities include providing mentoring for new staff and continued collaboration with the physician team, including maternal fetal medicine.

The Institute of Medicine awarded the 2008 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Award in Mental Health to Paul R. McHugh, M.D., the University Distinguished Service professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and professor of mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He led the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins for nearly a quarter of a century.

Two Upper Chesapeake Health physicians were inducted into the American College of Surgeons. Board-certified general surgeons Maryam Jaberi, M.D. and Sung B. Kim, M.D. will become Fellows in the college. Jaberi specializes in all surgical procedures. Kim specializes in minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgery.

St. Agnes Hospital and the St. Agnes Foundation honored two physicians at the 46th annual Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Medical Staff Recognition Dinner. Dr. Michael Burke was awarded The Seton Founders’ Award. Dr. Paul McClelland is the first recipient of The Bayley Award.

Mercy Medical Center has welcomed Timothy G. Doyle, M.D., and Jason E. Goodman, M.D., to its clinical staff. Doyle has managed an internal medicine practice located in Towson for the past 12 years. Also, Ruth Y. Peng, M.D., joined the Department of Pathology. Peng is a member of the College of American Pathologists.

Report

in performance: phil lee with tom mason

phil lee

phil lee. photo by deone jahnke.

“Looks like we’ll clear about 72 bucks tonight,” commented Phil Lee after serenading a modest outdoor crowd last night at the Millville Community Center with a bordertown parable called Just Some Girl. “Hey, it adds up.”

OK, so he is far from being the biggest breadwinner in Nashville. But the stylistically versed, lyrically learned and immensely quick-witted Lee had his own musical riches to show off. Over the course of a two hour performance set against an evening of spectacular late August cool, Lee offered social snapshots that referenced folk icon Woody Guthrie (27 Mexicans) and tragic narratives that echoed the efficient storytelling of John Prine (Sonny George).

Accompanied by Nashville guitarist and songwriter Tom Mason, the evening also managed to touch on elements of Cajun flavored polka (Les Debris Ils Sont Blancs), Blood on the Tracks-era Bob Dylan (Let There Be Love Tonight) and even Merseybeat-era pop (We Cannot Be Friends Anymore). And for those thinking Lee’s songs couldn’t stretch beyond the Nashville norm, the concert managed to reference such cross generational classicists as Jimmy Durante (“I know he’s not actively looking for material”) Kenny Chesney and Charles Dickens.

But what ignited and unified such a glossary of varied pop indicators was the effortless performance authority Lee displayed. He could summon tunes that quickly sank in tragic tailspins one minute before flipping the concert’s temperament with songs of brilliant whimsy the next.

In one instance, late into the evening’s second set, Lee responded to the between-song departure of two audience members by playing “a little traveling music” – specifically, a few bars of a spry shuffle that kicked into motion out of nowhere before receding back into the mist once the patrons were gone. It was a thrilling moment of vaudeville-like spontaneity.

Mason proved to be equally resourceful. His musical cunning was showcased by the slide-savvy resonator guitar colors that played off of Lee’s Dylan-esque harmonica breaks during Neon Tombstone. Similarly, Mason’s keen character studies were detailed during Chano Pazo’s Shoes. Pulled from his new Alchemy album, the song detailed the shooting death of Dizzy Gillespie percussionist Pazo at the hands of a bookie. Both songs and styles added greatly to a concert rooted in Nashville-style rambles but fortified with the kinds of compositional smarts that nearly circled the globe.

Treats are in store at big chains [Correction 2/9/12] ; Small businesses’ goods showcased

The Boston Globe (Boston, MA) January 28, 2012 | Gail Waterhouse Target’s mascot, Bullseye the dog, is about to get a lot happier.

Starting in May, Polka Dog Bakery, with retail locations in the South End and Jamaica Plain, will be selling an exclusive line of products at Target stores across the country.

The display will be part of The Shops at Target collection, an initiative that will bring in five small businesses from across the country to sell their products in stores and on Target.com for six weeks.

“This is actually a first for Target,” said spokeswoman Erin Conroy. “We love to give our guests the thrill of discovery, and we think they’ll really be pleasantly surprised by this.” Big chains often are criticized for hurting local merchants, but now Target Corp. and Walmart Stores Inc. are reaching out to small businesses to form partnerships. The strategy comes at a time when consumers are paying attention to where their products come from and are buying locally produced goods.

The National Retail Federation said that overall holiday sales were up 4.1 percent in 2011, compared with the previous year, but independent retailers reported a holiday sales increase of 6.7 percent, according to a survey released this week by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit involved in community development. web site homemade dog treats

Ani Collum, an analyst at consultancy firm Retail Concepts, said chains are teaming up with local merchants “to capitalize on this movement and be more relevant to consumers and what they care about, which is local stores.” In a way, “they’re shedding this big box image,” she said.

Collum thinks other large retailers will be quick to create similar campaigns. “It’ll be something that’ll be a trend in the industry,” she said. “I’m not sure how long it’ll be, but other stores will jump on the bandwagon.” Michelle Long, president of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a nonprofit that works with local business organizations, said megastores partnering with small businesses is a small step, but not big enough to make long-term change in the retail world.

“To me it’s kind of like Starbucks selling a little bit of fair trade coffee,” she said. “They’re good steps. I’d rather see fair trade coffee than not. What we really need is to keep going here.” Target said it plans another display of small businesses later in 2012, and more in 2013 if these collections are successful.

The Minneapolis retailer isn’t the only big box store that is looking to team up with small businesses. Walmart launched its “Get on the Shelf” contest last week as a way to reach out to small and medium businesses. Contestants upload videos of a product they want to sell at Walmart, and the public will vote on the winners. The top three will have their items sold on Walmart.com, and one grand prize winner will also get his or her product on the shelves of Walmart stores.

“It’s a way to help businesses find a way into Walmart,” said Chris Bolte, vice president of Walmart Labs, a unit that works with social media and mobile devices to promote e-commerce. go to web site homemade dog treats

One of the challenges of showcasing products from small businesses is that they can’t make enough products to fill orders for big chains. But Walmart plans to handle the entire manufacturing process for contest winners, as will Target for its initiative.

Polka Dog Bakery started working with Target a year ago, after one of its merchandise buyers noticed the shop while looking for new products for the chain.

Owners Rob Van Sickle and Deb Gregg-Suchman worked closely with Target designers to create a new line of 26 products that includes dog treats, with names like The Big Dig Cheese Biscuits and General Bow Wow’s Chicken Biscuits, and accessories like toys and bowls.

“We’ve never done our own colors or toys before,” Gregg-Suchman said. “It’s been an exciting experience.” The bakery, which opened in 2002, got its name from Van Sickle and Gregg-Suchman’s dog Pearl, a street dog from Puerto Rico that they adopted. Pearl was missing an eye and shook her head back and forth to greet people, resulting in what looked like the dog doing the polka.

After spoiling their dog with decadent homemade treats for years, Van Sickle and Gregg-Suchman decided to expand to the space on Shawmut Avenue to offer their goods to other South End dog lovers, and expanded again to a location in Jamaica Plain in 2009.

Now their products are set to go into 1,767 Targets.

“We like the idea of bringing Polka Dog to all these different places across the country,” Gregg-Suchman said. “Being able to share our vision with the assistance of Target in a unique way, to have that national presence, is very exciting for us.” Gail Waterhouse can be reached at gail.waterhouse@globe.com.

28target.ART Gail Waterhouse

summer album of the week 08/28/10

grateful dead: blues for allah (released august 1975)

grateful dead: blues for allah (released august 1975)

On its third and final album as a fully independent band, the Grateful Dead looked inward on Blues for Allah by covering multiple musical bases. It served up bright, trippy Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter gems like Franklin’s Tower, Help on the Way and Crazy Fingers that would become staples of the band’s live shows for the rest of its working life. There was also a blatant and quite credible stab at a radio single in Bob Weir and John Barlow’s The Music Never Stopped. But the jackpot was the title track, a three-piece suite that morphed from an Eastern-inspired chant to a bluesy American wail before heading abroad again. Factor in a level of musicianship that was stylistically broad but atypically lean, along with cover art by Philip Garris that was as exact and animated as the music, and you had what still stands as the Grateful Dead’s last truly great studio work.

number 3 for maroon 5

maroon 5: matt flynn, mickey madden, adam levine, jesse carmichael and james valentine.

maroon 5: matt flynn, mickey madden, adam levine, jesse carmichael and james valentine.

Take one of today’s most commercially visible pop groups, set it to work on a new album with an internationally acclaimed producer versed in everything from heavy metal to cosmopolitan country and then send the band on the road before the recording even hits stores.

That outlines the newest chapter in the pop star saga of Maroon 5, which returns to Lexington to play Applebee’s Park on Saturday.

The story begins, or rather picks up, in the wake of the band’s 2007 It Won’t Be Soon Before Long album. The recording slickly avoided the dreaded “sophomore slump” by heartily following the multi-platinum sales of the debut Maroon 5 album, 2002′s Songs About Jane, with five radio hits and domestic sales that topped the two million mark.

So what was the mood like? Was recording a third album after two top-selling predecessors as tough as cutting a second record after an insanely popular debut?

“We were really geared up to go in the studio without all that sophomore slump pressure,” said Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine. “But, really, every time you make a record, you kind of feel like everything is on the line. You certainly don’t want it to be like, ‘Well, this is the record where we were no longer relevant.’ So there’s always that pressure there every time. And we always feel it. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t.”

So to fortify Maroon 5′s winning streak on the pop charts, the band traveled to Switzerland last year and recorded its third album with the celebrated producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Among Lange’s many clients and accomplishments: AC/DC (Highway to Hell and Back in Black), Def Leppard (High ‘N Dry and Pyromania), Foreigner (4), The Cars (Heartbeat City), Nickelback (Dark Horse) and former wife Shania Twain (Come on Over and Up!).

“We were so intrigued to work with Mutt because he’s got such a legendary reputation. In some ways, he is one of the producers that perhaps the average lay person wouldn’t know by name. But within the music industry, he’s tremendously well-respected.

“In meeting Mutt, we found him to be such a down to earth guy. He was instrumental in looking at all of the material we had and weeding out the things that weren’t 100%.

“Making pop records, after all, is not an exact science. You have to listen for all of these vibes to find out what will work or what will make people prick up their ears if they’re scanning through the radio. That takes a special kind of awareness. Mutt’s got a heightened sense of that awareness.”

Maroon 5 is keeping much of the new album, titled Hands All Over, under wraps until its release on Sept. 21 (an advance copy, in fact, was not made available for listening for this story). But the record has already made itself known on radio with its first single, Misery. Despite the title, the song is as bouncy, slick and tight as any pop hit the band has created. A second single, Give a Little More, should also reach radio ahead of the album.

But the biggest surprise on Hands All Over is likely to be the finale track, Out of Goodbyes. The song teams Maroon 5 with the immensely popular country-pop vocal trio Lady Antebellum.

“That one kind of came out of left field, just because we didn’t really expect to write a country song,” Valentine said. “That wasn’t the plan at all. But the song came about pretty organically. Jesse (Carmichael, Maroon 5′s keyboardist) and I were strumming guitars outside of the studio one day. We were recording over the summer, so it was beautiful outside. Jesse came up with this lick and we started developing it. Then Mutt walked by and said, ‘That’s great. Let’s go in and record that and build something around it.

“Adam (Levine, the band’s vocalist) came into the studio later. He usually slept in. After hearing the melody, he started singing to it and we had the song. But after he wrote the lyrics, it sounded like it was calling for this call and answer type of thing. So we started to think about who we could have sing on it. Lady Antebellum was interested, so we sent the song to them and they put their vocals on it.

“We still haven’t even met them face to face. I guess that’s what you call a real 21st century collaboration.”

With the album done and buzz around its release building, Maroon 5 returned to the road this summer. So far, the band is only playing three or so songs from the new album. But aside from Misery, that’s still music its fans have never heard. But such risk only seems to add to Maroon 5′s continual love of performing live.

“From the first time I played in front of people – I was probably 15 at the time – I just got this indescribable buzz from being onstage that lasted for days. So we’ve become kind of addicted to that.

“It’s just that the dosage always needs to be higher when the size of the audience gets bigger. But when you think about it, that’s still a pretty healthy addiction.”

Maroon 5 performs at 7 p.m Saturday at Applebee’s Park, 207 Legends Lane. Tickets are. $48, $58, $68. Call: (859) 422-7867.

40 years ago on the isle of wight

It has often been referred to as the British Woodstock, a mammoth sized music summit designed with the high intentions of defining a generation’s artistic and social identity.

For many, the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival did exactly that, but in ways no one, least of all its audience or organizers, could have foreseen.

Four decades ago this very day, the event got underway. Unlike Woodstock, the Isle of Wight Festival entered its third year in 1970 having already triggered excitement enough to draw 6-digit attendance figures and ample animosity, especially among the locals in what has been termed “a haven of the yachting set.” Relocated at the 11th hour to the hillside East Afton Farm following residential protests , the festival notoriety’s bloomed along with its audience. The turnout was generally quoted at 600,000, though many estimates went higher.

Like Woodstock, the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival is best viewed today as a timepiece of a rapidly imploding counterculture. Attendees tore down gates and crashed the largest pop party of its generation, insuring a financial collapse that was all but inevitable in the first place. There were no melees, no riots. But the vibe wasn’t there.

By 1970, the idealism of the late ‘60s has vanished along with the decade itself. It was a greyer, meaner time. At Woodstock, promoters welcomed gate crashers to the party. At Isle of Wight, emcees openly branded patrons as “pigs.” American songstress Joni Mitchell cut to the chase, dismissing the crowd as “tourists.” 

jimi hendrix at the 1970 isle of wight festival.

jimi hendrix at the isle of wight festival.

The music, of course, was glorious. It reflected the dark energy of the times (in a very literal sense, during a dimly lit evening set by The Doors), mirrored the intensity of Woodstock’s greatest moments (with a volcanic set by The Who, still at the height of its powers) and introduced a new legion of artists that would carve out stylistic turf of their own throughout the decade ahead (Rory Gallagher, Free, Jethro Tull).

For some, Isle of Wight was a beginning. Prog-pop eccentrics Emerson, Lake & Palmer played what was only its second gig as a band there. For others, it was a farewell. A mere 18 days after his performance, Jimi Hendrix died.

A mountain of recordings have surfaced from Isle of Wight, much of it within the last few years. Complete DVD festival sets by The Who, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Miles Davis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and, most recently, Leonard Cohen are available.

Two video documents serve as essential viewing/listening. The first is Message to Love, a remarkable documentary filled with sublime performances and often deflating insight into the festival’s set-up and the collapsing generation it was designed for.

The second is Wild Blue Angel, which chronicles Hendrix’s performance. The guitarist sounds technically ragged throughout. But stylistically, it’s an amazing set that suggests a powerful rhythmic shift away from the flash and fire of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and a growing fascination with jazz and funk. Clearly, Hendrix’s creative drive never faded during his final weeks.

The Isle of Wight Festival has been resurrected in recent years and lives today as a comparatively modest-sized gathering. This year it was held in June with Paul McCartney headlining. But for a vivid glimpse into an altogether different pop mood, search out any of the eight available DVD recordings of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, an event that encapsulates a generational spirit that was fading almost as fast as the late summer nights that surrounded it.

looking to fall: natasha’s

california guitar trio: hideyo moriya, paul richards, bert lams.

california guitar trio: hideyo moriya, paul richards and bert lams.

Next up as we scan local concert halls and venues for great fall music is Natasha’s Bistro at 112 Esplanade. A bit of a Lexington institution, the eatery has made major strides over the past two years in becoming a seriously competitive and recognized performance hub for theatre and music.

This year alone, Natasha’s has played host to James McMurtry, Chuck Prophet, Peter Case, The Hot Club of Cowtown and more in its ultra intimate and listener friendly confines.

Full a full look at its nightly entertainment lineup, visit www.beetnik.com or call (859) 259-2754. But here are a few highlights heading to Natasha’s in the months ahead.

All are recommended. But the shows marked with *** are considered by The Musical Box to be not-to-miss performances.     

+ Aug. 31: Hoots and Hellmouth – The return of the Philadelphia based band with a knack for acoustic based, front porch inspired jams. Earthy foot stomping melodies enforce the deceptively tight vocal harmonies that fuel the band’s big hearted Americana sound.

+ Sept. 12: Rangda – The finale act of WRFL’s second annual Boomslang festival may be named after a murderous Balinese demon. But for Boomslang purposes, Rangda is an all-star indie psychedelic collective made up of Sir Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano.   

+ Sept. 16: California Guitar Trio with Ben Lacy – Finally, a full evening with the ever inventive CGT, a group that performs surf music, Japanese folk tunes, movie themes, prog rock covers and arresting originals solely on three acoustic guitars. Lexington’s own guitar great Ben Lacy will open. ***

+ Sept. 17: Vandaveer – A return outing with former Lexingtonian Mark Charles Heidinger, who rides the waves of folk and acoustic psychedelia as the ever industrious Vandeveer. Influences run from Dylan to (Nick) Drake. But his sound is wholly original.

randall bramblett

randall bramblett

+ Sept. 25: Randall Bramblett – Simply put, one of the greatest but least appreciated Southern songwriters of our generation. Bramblett is a masterful and immensely literate writer as well as a sublime instrumentalist who has recorded and toured with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Steve Winwood and Chuck Leavell. ***

 

+ Oct. 1: Phil Lee and Tommy Womack – Wow. Nashville scribe Lee disappears for what seems like decades and now makes his second regional appearance in six weeks. Womack has long been a local favorite with shows alongside (or as part of) Government Cheese, Daddy, Todd Snider and more.

+ Oct. 11: Malcolm Holcombe – Holcombe is a real sleeper act. A versed North Carolina songwriter, his tunes echo plaintive country and folk sentiments. But stylistically, he continually surprises, shuffling between folk, blues, swing styles and much more

mindy smith

mindy smith

+ Nov. 14: Mindy Smith – At long last, we finally have a night with this extraordinary Americana stylist. Initially, her music leaned to country and even Christian inspirations. They still do to a degree. But her fine 2009 album Stupid Love blurs the genres for a sampler of worldly and world weary songs. ***

critic’s pick 138

If there is a single instance on the new four-disc anthology So Many Roads that defines the sound and progressive spirit of British blues titan John Mayall, it would involve the three brilliant minutes making up the 1967 instrumental The Super Natural.

It’s a spacious, trippy tune that introduced the world to the extraordinary guitarist Peter Green, who also penned the composition. The Super Natural is based less on the blues and more on an open, mournful lyricism that would later become a template for bands like Santana.

That’s just one of the doors Mayall opened by bridging the essence of the blues with a then-contemporary sense of rock and soul adventure. So Many Roads only focuses on the first decade of a journey that continues today with Mayall, at age 77, still touring as a blues warhorse. But those 10 critical years summarize Mayall’s many stylistic innovations, the vast number of stellar musicians (like Green) he introduced and the drive it took to create one of the most persevering voices in British blues music.

Much of the first disc celebrates the seminal 1965 edition of Mayall’s Bluesbreakers band with Eric Clapton. Its sound is heavily traditional with Clapton’s guitar lines matching the churchy organ foundations set down by Mayall. The spirits – and the very tunes, in fact – of Otis Rush and T-Bone Walker are summoned on these sessions and serve as permeating inspirations for Mayall originals like Telephone Blues.

The guitar chair rotated between several colossus players during those years. Clapton made way for Green who quickly departed with the Bluebreakers rhythm section of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood to form Fleetwood Mac. That led to a fruitful year-long tenure by future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor. His stay is highlighted on So Many Roads by the chant-like Eastern lilt of Fly Tomorrow – one of four tunes taken from the seminal 1968 album Blues from Laurel Canyon.

After Taylor bolted, Mayall reshaped his sound dramatically. He tossed (for a time) drums, downshifted the guitar sound to spotlight the acoustic finger picking of Jon Mark and allowed the reeds on Johnny Almond to provide the more earthshaking solos in an otherwise heady, meditative sound. California, originally from the 1969 live album The Turning Point best reflects this period. An unreleased Sleeping By Her Side from the Fillmore East concerts compiled for The Turning Point (with Almond on flute) is an exquisite bonus.

And that’s simply the highlight reel. The rest of this vital primer should be considered essential listening for anyone with an ear for how American blues were worshipped and then reshaped by a resourceful enthusiast from across the pond.

summer album of the week 08/21/10

van morrison: into the music (released august 1979)

van morrison: into the music (released august 1979)

Picking up on the momentum established less than a year earlier by Wavelength, Into the Music finds Van Morrison at a sunny crossroads. The opening Bright Side of the Road and Full Force Gale presents rapturous pop with a hearty gospel undertow while And the Healing Has Begun and Angeliou surrender to more amorous spiritualism. And then there is the closing You Know What They’re Writing About, an epic Keats-ian come-on tacked onto a cover of It’s All in the Game that presents Morrison at his most poetically evocative. Like so many great Morrison recordings, Into the Music is also a cross-continental journey that continually leaps between Celtic inspiration and American R&B impulses with a supporting cast of diverse musical giants (Ry Cooder, Zakir Hussain, Robin Williamson) that nicely uphold the boundary-crossing mission. A complete underdog of a Morrison album full of summery wonder and a suggestion of the impending autumn.

trombone shorty on letterman tonight

trombone shorty on the trumpet.

trombone shorty on the trumpet.

This just in… For a vibrant preview of one of the highlight acts playing the Spotlight Lexington festival in September, tune in or record The Late Show with David Letterman tonight. They will be re-running a program from earlier this month featuring new generation New Orleans groove merchant Trombone Shorty.

A versed trombonist (obviously) and trumpeter, Shorty – known in real life as Troy Andrews – merges New Orleans jazz tradition with modern funk, hip hop and pop. He was also featured in several episodes of the acclaimed HBO series Treme, a drama set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

If his current Backatown album is any indication, we will be in for quite the celebration when Shorty and his Orleans Avenue band play a free 7:30 p.m. performance downtown for Spotlight Lexington on Sunday evening, Sept. 26.

The Late Show with David Letterman airs tonight at 11:35 p.m. on NBC (WLEX-TV).

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