Archive for July, 2011

critic’s pick 186

To say one should approach an ancient prog rock enterprise like Yes with trepidation goes without saying. Even if you were a die-hard fan that found ‘70s opuses like Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer as appealing as classics like Fragile and Close to the Edge, there is no denying that much of the pop mainstream has long ago dismissed Yes as a pack of cosmic blowhards.

So why is it that out of all the midsummer releases to come my way, Yes’ new Fly From Here has earned the most spins? Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was a sense of guilty pleasure. Or just maybe Yes still has a few celestial tricks up its collective sleeve.

Much of the album’s magic, curiously, is provided from two artists that rescued the band from oblivion at the dawn of the ‘80s – Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. Former the mainstay members of the great British pop band The Buggles (of Video Killed the Radio Star fame), the duo was hastily recruited as vocalist and keyboardist after the departures of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman to cut 1980’s Drama – an album that was a commercial bust but a major sleeper among fans.

Horn went on to become one of the top pop producers of the ‘80s whose hits included the 90125 album by a reconstituted Yes in 1983 and its career-redefining hit Owner of a Lonely Heart.

Fly From Here, primarily due to Downes involvement as much as Horn’s production, favors Drama far more than the pop-friendly 90125. Downes is at the helm of the orchestral flair behind the five-part title tune, which covers half of the album. But the music is honestly arresting, a balance of minor key melodies and the intriguing give-and-take between Downes and still-vital Yes men Steve Howe (on guitar) and Alan White (on drums).

Horn gives the resulting sound a grand but not overbearing sheen that still allows room for musical pause – namely Solitaire, a classically-inclined acoustic guitar interlude from Howe.

That leaves us with new Yes vocalist Benoit David, a Jon Anderson sound-a-like recruited from a Canadian Yes cover band. Seriously. The actual reasons for Anderson’s departure/dismissal from Yes have taken on soap operatic proportions that we will bypass here. Wisely, though, David chooses to sound likes himself on Fly From Here by exhibiting more of mid-range tenor than what Yes is usually associated with.

But during refrains in the album-closing Into the Storm, David’s singing soars upward to where you would swear Anderson had crashed the party. It seems somehow fitting, though, that the founding voice of the Yes legacy would at least be referenced on this unexpectedly infectious and satisfying midsummer comeback.

cinderella story

cinderella: fred coury, tom keifer, jeff labar and eric brittingham. photo by gene ambo.

cinderella today: fred coury, tom keifer, jeff labar and eric brittingham. photo by gene ambo.

Big hair band. Glam rock. Pop metal. These were the labels your everyday teased hair, mascara wearing, spandex clad rockers had to contend with in that Twilight Zone of rock ‘n’ roll – the mid ‘80s.

They ignited TV (thanks to the still-young age of music videos), they filled concert halls and, in many instances, soared up the pop charts. And the succession of bands that adopted such a modus operandi lined up like a row of dominoes: Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, Twisted Sister and so forth.

Some cleaned up (Bon Jovi), some toughened up (Motley Crue) and a lot simply faded away as the ‘80s drew to a close. And then there was one band out of Philadelphia that quietly stuck to its guns as it very loudly rocked the house. Its name was Cinderella and tonight, it returns to Lexington for its first performance in close to two decades with its hitmaking mid-80s lineup intact.

For Jeff LaBar, Cinderella’s longstanding lead guitarist, celebrating the 25th anniversary this summer of Cinderella’s hit debut album Night Songs is a little surreal but not entirely unexpected.

“If you interviewed me back in the ’80s and asked me ‘Now that you have a hit record out, now that you made it, what would your goal be?’, I would say my goal would be to still be doing this, to be in a supergroup like Aerosmith, 25 years from now.’

“I don’t know if the supergroup tag applies. But we’re still all the same guys doing the same thing 25 years later.”

Well, I didn’t interview LaBar back in the ‘80s. But I did speak with Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer prior to a March 1987 performance the band gave at Rupp Arena when it opened Bon Jovi. Here is what he had to say then about yet another label that was being tossed at Cinderella – heavy metal.

“Yeah, everyone does kind of stick us in that category. We’re really more of a rock ‘n’ roll band. We have a heavy sound that is somewhat blues influenced. But it’s all rock ‘n’ roll.”

Nearly a quarter of a century later, LaBar concurs.

“The funny thing is that at the time, what we did was actually called rock ‘n’ roll. All of these terms you hear about came later. ‘Hair metal’ and ‘glam’ – we didn’t get called any of that at the time. We were a rock band.

“I guess we could have been labeled heavy metal. But then Metallica and Anthrax came out and it was like, ‘Now, that’s heavy metal.’ We were a hard rock band. So, no, I don’t care for the ‘hair metal’ label. I don’t care for any of the labels that came out later. But I accept them.”

It was actually one of the biggest of the big hair bands, a young Bon Jovi, that helped Cinderella find its way. Leader Jon Bon Jovi was already a rising star when he first caught a show by the then-unknown Philly band.

“He saw us in a club a few years back in Philadelphia,” Keifer said in 1987. “He liked the band a lot. Basically, he went back to Polygram Records (Bon Jovi’s label at the time), told them about our band and then helped set up some showcases for the label guys to come down and see us.”

By the time the two bands played Rupp that spring, each were riding the success of breakthrough recordings – Bon Jovi with Slippery When Wet (its third album) and Cinderella with Night Songs.

While the cover photo of the latter had Keifer, LaBar, bassist Eric Brittingham and drummer Fred Coury in full glammed-out regalia, subsequent albums like 1988’s Long Cold Winter and 1990’s Heartbreak Station shifted the music more to the blues while maintaining a pop-friendly, guitar-dominate base.

“I grew up mostly on the British rock of the ‘70s,” LaBar said. “I grew up on (Led) Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and even some of the keyboard-dominate bands like Genesis and Yes. Me and Tom grew up about five minutes from each other, although we didn’t know each other as kids. He comes more from the music of the (Rolling) Stones, Kiss and Alice Cooper.

“So people talk about ‘80s bands and the genres Cinderella comes from. Well, it was these bluesier bands from the ‘70s like Zeppelin that we set out to be like. We got labeled as glam because everyone kept referring to the cover of the first album. By the second record, we stopped teasing our hair and stopped wearing makeup and spandex.”

What doesn’t irk LaBar are the many ‘80s bands Cinderella is commonly associated with. The reason is simple: the members of those groups are his pals. But that hardly means the guitarist feels Cinderella – be it in 1986 or in 2011 – can’t stand out from the pack.

“Obviously, we get lumped in with the Motley Crues, the Poisons, the Bon Jovis and even bands like Warrant and Firehouse. And that’s great. They’re all friends of mine. I just think we’re still a little bit different.”

Cinderella with John Corabi and Superunknown perform at 9 tonight at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. Tickets are $28. Call (859) 368-8871.

in performance: mary chapin carpenter

mary chapin carpenter

mary chapin carpenter

“I just played three upbeat, positive songs,” observed Mary Chapin Carpenter during the initial stages of an immensely appealing Opera House performance last night. “I can’t let that trend continue.”

Ah, yes – the lure of despondency. It pulls in so many artists that have experienced even a brush with folk tradition that they can’t help but laugh when their songs hurt. That’s not to suggest Carpenter’s 95 minute performance was a downer. Backed by an ultra-tasteful five member band, the concert laid low during the dark moments and modestly rocked out when the mood turned celebratory. Carpenter, in fact, spent the first half of her show detailing mostly recent songs that unfolded in regal quiet and restraint. And, yes, some of those works got to be a little grim

After opening with A Keeper for Every Flame, Beautiful Racket and On and On It Goes (the “upbeat” troika), Carpenter settled into the tune that broke the “trend.” It was Houston, a tale of heavy departure and distant hope from the singer-songsmith’s underrated 2007 album The Calling. “Never knew a promise that didn’t break in two,” Carpenter sang with a hushed calm. “Once we get to Houston, maybe one will come true.”

There were other moving songs of journeying, as well. Grand Central Station (from 2004’s Between Here and Gone) outlined shorter, more routine travels with an eye for New York detail that recalled the ‘60s songs of Paul Simon. And the lovely Mrs. Hemingway (an historical snapshot from last year’s fine The Age of Miracles) outlined a cross-continental voyage of pure but temporary romance that brought, along with the more literally minded We Traveled So Far (also from Miracles), the performance safely back home.

The more electric minded hits that forged out of a healthy career for Carpenter on the country charts during the ‘90s made up the bulk of the show’s last half. For Passionate Kisses, Carpenter strapped on a Rickenbacker and rocked convincingly with the tune’s poppish stride while longtime guitarist John Jennings cooked up some wiry slide guitar breaks over drummer Vinnie Santoro’s sturdy backbeat on I Feel Lucky.

I Take My Chances, an assertive affirmation that remains one of Carpenter’s finest ‘90s hits, was served as a second encore. It concluded a performance that danced assuredly on both sides of despondency. The merry side, many would say, won out. But those quiet moments of uncertain travel that dominated the other side sure were enticing. No wonder so many writers are so drawn into its depths.

Shutterfly Release iPhone App

Wireless News April 14, 2009

Wireless News 04-14-2009 Shutterfly Release iPhone App Type: News

Shutterfly, an Internet-based social expression and personal publishing service, introduced Shutterfly for iPhone, a new free photo sharing iPhone App that it said gives customers the power to upload, view and share their Shutterfly photos while on-the-go. see here shutterfly coupon codes

The application, also compatible with the iPod Touch, is available free of charge at the Apple App Store.

The Shutterfly iPhone App allows customers mobile access to their favorite photos. After a download, customers can sign in and view their Shutterfly albums on their iPhone. Photos taken on the iPhone can be uploaded to the customer’s Shutterfly account and stored for free, at full resolution. Additionally, users can create a new Shutterfly account directly from their iPhone.

“At Shutterfly, our goal is to give our customers access to their most treasured images so they can share their memories wherever they are,” said Peter Elarde, chief marketing officer of Shutterfly. “With our free photo sharing iPhone App, we are simplifying the mobile photo experience, while adding something no one else can – the ability to share these memories in award-winning photo books, cards and photo gifts, or on a personalized Shutterfly website.” go to website shutterfly coupon codes

Because Shutterfly’s iPhone App automatically uploads photos to a registered Shutterfly account, it allows customers to instantly post photos to their personalized Shutterfly Share site for friends and family to see. Photo uploads happen automatically in the background, permitting the user to take and upload multiple photos at once. As with all accounts, Shutterfly offers free, unlimited storage, stores images at full resolution and does not delete images.

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summer album of the week 07/16/11

yes: going for the one (released july 1977)

yes: going for the one (released july 1977)

One would have thought commercially visible prog rock as defined by bands like Yes would have fossilized by the time punk reared its safety-pinned head during the summer of 1977. Yet that’s when the established Yes lineup of Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White released four atypically streamlined songs and the epic Awaken on an album that stands as an enchanting and, dare we say, enlightened prog classic. In short, Yes went for the one that summer and got it

Seahawks could add touch of gray to logo, 3rd jersey; Seahawks; New logo, to be unveiled Tuesday, features gray stripe.(Sports)

The Seattle Times (Seattle, WA) March 30, 2012 Byline: Danny O’Neil; Seattle Times staff reporter There is a bit of a gray area when it comes to the Seahawks’ new logo, and that’s not just because the team’s new uniforms won’t be unveiled until Tuesday in New York.

A Seahawks logo featuring what appeared to be a gray lower stripe behind the bird’s head appeared on two recent segments on the NFL’s television network. It was reminiscent of the silver stripe that was part of the franchise’s original logo. That logo was changed in 2002 when the franchise changed uniforms. That’s when the Seahawks went from silver helmets to blue, and the logo was altered to include two blue stripes behind the bird’s head.

This year, the Seahawks are one of two teams expected to change their logos. The Carolina Panthers were the other, and they have already released the image of their new logo.

The Seahawks’ new logo will be released Tuesday as part of Nike’s introduction of new NFL uniforms. Nike has replaced Reebok as the NFL’s uniform provider.

The Seahawks’ new uniform is expected to have a third, alternate jersey that will be gray, according to a source. This jersey would be a third option to the blue, which is typically worn at home, and the white shirts often worn on the road. go to website new nfl uniforms go to site new nfl uniforms

The team has not released anything regarding the new uniforms nor a new logo nor commented on it. In fact, the whole thing is a pretty closely guarded secret with precautions taken to make sure pictures don’t leak out.

However, the NFL Network featured what might have been Seattle’s new logo in two different segments during its programming this week, one titled “State of the Franchise” and the other called “On the Clock.” Each segment began with a graphic featuring a Seahawks logo with what appeared to be a light lower stripe behind the bird’s head. When the segment shifted to the NFL Network studio, the Seahawks logo featured behind the anchor did not have a lighter lower stripe. Rather, it was the logo the team has used the previous 10 years with two different shades of blue stripes.

Did the league’s network give an unofficial glimpse of the Seahawks’ new logo? We won’t know for sure until next week.

Notes * Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove will sign with the Green Bay Packers, according to a statement on his Twitter account. Hargrove, 28, signed with Seattle three days before the regular-season opener in 2011, and became a mainstay in Seattle’s third-down pass rush. He appeared in 15 games, had three sacks and recorded a safety in New York when he tackled a Giants running back in the end zone. Seattle’s acquisition of Jason Jones in free agency gave the Seahawks a versatile lineman who will step into that role in the nickel defense.

* The Seahawks announced a five-year deal with Q13 FOX (KCPQ) to broadcast Seattle’s four exhibition games in high definition. The Seahawks and the station will also collaborate on a program that will air Sundays during the NFL season.

Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or

On Twitter @dannyoneil

the connections of mary chapin carpenter

mary chapin carpenter

mary chapin carpenter. photo by russ harrington.

Mary Chapin Carpenter probably never realized it at the time, but her autumn 2009 performance at Equus Run Vineyards was in many ways a milestone.

It was the singer-songsmith’s first Lexington-area show in nearly 17 years, one of her first performances of any kind after recovering from a life threatening pulmonary embolism and one of her final concert outings before going into recording sessions for her Grammy nominated The Age of Miracles album.

Obviously, the record chose her recovery over her Lexington absence as an inspiration. But anyone who thinks the album turned into one sustained reflection on mortality needs to give it another spin. Certainly, there are echoes of her health ordeal told in mildly masked affirmations like Iceland. But on the album-closing The Way I Feel, Carpenter stares down her demons, re-embraces life and tears down the highway with Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down blasting from the car radio.

“Perhaps because I did have this sort of enforced hiatus imposed on me, I never realized what can go away,” said Carpenter, who performs Saturday at the Opera House. “You can lose your sense of identity and purpose. You can lose the things that just make you tick. And to be able to return to a life that gave me that identity and purpose is wonderful.

“I feel so fortunate. And without, as they say, ‘getting all Oprah’ on you, I feel like everyday I experience these moments of gratitude that are intense. Sometimes they just stop me in my tracks.”

For nearly 25 years, Carpenter’s songs of love, life, fortitude and, yes, despair, have maintained a strong fanbase that cuts across genre-specific lines. 1991’s Down at the Twist and Shout (a collaboration with the masterful Cajun band Beausoleil) and 1993’s Passionate Kisses (one of Carpenter’s few recorded cover tunes; it was penned by Lucinda Williams) were robust and celebratory, while 1992’s I Feel Lucky was a more obvious nod to Carpenter’s country following (although all three singles were Top 5 country hits).

But albums like 1994’s Stones in the Road, 2001’s Time * Sex * Love and even The Age of Miracles, blurred stylistic edges. Their songs reached beyond country into modernized folk and were written and delivered with conversational candor.

In a review of a January concert at Lincoln Center, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, “The music of Ms. Carpenter is an unclassifiable hybrid of pop, folk and country that she performs in the low, steady voice of someone confiding her thoughts in a journal.”

“I leave the marketing to my manager and the record company,” Carpenter said with a laugh. “It’s certainly not something I could ever get a handle on. I mean, I can look out into the audience every night and sort of see the faces to make some sort of general presumption as to what the demographic is. But I don’t think I really want to. I guess I’m just not that interested in the science of it all.

“To me, it’s all about connections. Music is the ultimate bait and the ultimate reward. It’s the most wonderful thing to be able to share these stories with people and to feel this connection, to feel how these songs resonate with people. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t find it deeply meaningful.”

Sometimes that connection may be born out of another time and place, like Carpenter’s brilliant 1990 snapshot of a song Halley Comes to Jackson. In other instances, it comes from the deepest well of her own experiences.

“There is a new song I’ve been playing. I haven’t recorded it yet, but it speaks to these things you’re talking about. And it came out of a lot of pain. It came out of a horrendous divorce for me. It’s like, when you go through something like that, the only way you can really get back is to try and remember what makes you whole.

“It doesn’t require a lot to be happy. But you have to figure out what those little things are and treasure them.”

Mary Chapin Carpenter performs at 7:30 p.m. July 16 at the Lexington Opera House, 401 West Short St. Tickets are $48.50 and $55.50. Call (859) 233-3535 or (800) 745-3000 or go to

guy clark: "stuff that works"

guy clark. photo by senor mcguire.

guy clark. photo by senor mcguire.

Among the songs featured on Guy Clark’s forthcoming Songs and Stories album is a plain speaking but soft spoken reflection titled Stuff That Works. It’s a tune he has been performing for years, an ode to the simple, trusted things in life – an old blue shirt, a worn pair of work boots, a dependable friend.

“The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall” is how Clark sums up the subject matter in the song’s conversational chorus.

While he is immensely too modest to ever do so, Clark, 69, ought to count his own music among the “stuff” he sings about. For close to four decades, the West Texas native has been a mentoring force for such Lone Star disciples as Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett while the list of artists that have recorded his songs ranges from such Americana royalty as Rodney Crowell to such modern country celebrities as Kenny Chesney.

But the last thing Clark would dream of crowing about is his artistic prowess. A featured performer this weekend at Somerset’s Master Musician Festival (he performs tonight with Earle playing on Saturday), Clark views songwriting in often workmanlike terms.

“It’s just nice to be able to see people do good work,” Clark said of the artists who have interpreted his songs. “And it’s nice to think you had something to do with it. And I don’t mean it came by preaching to them. It came through them listening. Even today, I will help anybody I can who has something to say.”

Born in Monahans, Texas (“I just tell people I’m from West Texas”), Clark relocated to Nashville in the early ‘70s. He admitted that Lone Star inspirations are “ingrained” in him. But his early years were also spent absorbing numerous folk, country and blues sounds.

“Growing up in Texas, we would go see (blues legends) Mance Lipscomb and Lightnin’ Hopkins. The thing about those guys is that they wrote their own songs. That was pretty inspiring. And then I met Townes.”

Townes. Townes Van Zandt. A songwriter of epic influence, especially among Texas-bred artists, Van Zandt was a close friend and contemporary of Clark. Van Zandt, who died on New Years Day 1997, even shared the stage of his final Lexington concert with Clark at the Kentucky Theatre in 1994.

“When I met Townes, he had only written two songs. But what I really liked about him was just his use of the English language. It was pretty much flawless.”

Clark features one of Van Zandt’s most popular works If I Needed You on both Songs and Stories (by way of a concert version) and 2009’s Somedays the Song Writes You (in a studio recording). The Songs and Stories rendition comes with an introduction that details two characters, Loop and Lil, that figured into a verse often omitted by the numerous artists that have recorded the song. Loop and Lil, as it turns out, were parakeets Van Zandt often carried with him in coat pockets.

“Don Williams and Emmylou (Harris) did a duet of that and put it out as a single, but they left out that verse. I don’t think anybody quite got it until I explained it to them.”

Clark’s own songwriting skills have not dimmed through the years, although he often collaborates with other writers on his newer songs. Sometimes the Song Writes You contains two splendid examples, The Guitar (“if it sounds spooky, it’s supposed to”) and The Coat (“that one is kind of worldly, or maybe world-weary is more like it”).

Among the artists that took to Sometimes the Song Writes You was country megastar Kenny Chesney, who cut one of the record’s finest songs, Hemingway’s Whiskey, as the title tune to his newest album.

“That’s money in the bank, right there,” Clark said with a laugh. “But really it’s nice to have anybody cover my songs.

“I love writing them. It’s hard work. Everyday, I get up, come in here (a studio in his home) and go, ‘OK. Now what?’

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years and sometimes you think you’ve had all the good ideas you’re going to have. But I know there is always something new out there. That’s what keeps me doing this.

“Songwriting is something you never get through. You never get to be the best there is. You never get finished. There is always one more song.”

Guy Clark performs at 8:30 p.m. Friday as part of the Master Musicians Festival at Somerset Community College, 808 Monticello St. in Somerset. Gates opens at 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20, $25 (Friday); $25, $30 (Saturday) and $35, $45 (both days). For more information and a complete performance schedule go to


Capitol Hill Press Releases December 11, 1997 00-00-0000 December 11, 1997 Contact: Kimberley Bannerman (202) 224-2523 SENATOR COLLINS TO ATTEND THE RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY AT EASTERN MAINE MEDICAL FOR THE CANCER CARE OF MAINE WASHINGTON, D.C., – Senator Collins will be speaking at a reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the now integrated cancer patient facility at Eastern Maine Medical Center to honor CancerCare of Maine. This new facility will provide much needed services to cancer patients throughout northern, eastern and central Maine. this web site eastern maine medical center

The event will held at the Webber Building at Eastern Maine Medical Center on December 14, 1997 and will commence at 1:15 p.m.

The press are invited to attend.


jesse james rides again

jackyl: roman glick, jesse james dupree, chris worley and jeff worley.

jackyl: roman glick, jesse james dupree, chris worley and jeff worley.

As the 20th anniversary of his band Jackyl approaches, the career of Jesse James Dupree seems all the more improbable.

For starters, the hard rocking Jackyl has maintained a viable and visible commercial profile over the decades, especially as a live act, despite the fact that its recent recordings have failed to match the platinum and gold selling status of albums like 1992’s Jackyl and 1994’s Push Comes to Shove.

Then there is the matter of the artistic life Dupree lives outside of his band’s louder than life tunes. For two seasons, he has been featured in the Tru-TV reality series Full Throttle Saloon which chronicles the daily doings of one of Sturgis, South Dakota’s most notorious biker bars.

Finally, there is the recent introduction of Dupree’s Outlaw Beer, which should put Dupree’s name in just about every bar that can’t manage to book Jackyl for a gig.

All in all, these activities have make Dupree into one of rock’s less likely entrepreneurs.

“There has never been anybody around to tell me I can’t do all these things,” said Dupree, who will perform with Jackyl at Buster’s on Thursday. “And that’s not just for me. That goes for anybody reading this interview. The reality is anybody can do anything they want. That’s the beautiful thing about where we live.

“In my case, my career was never by design. It was never, ‘Hey, I’m going to do a bunch of different stuff.’ It was a case where all of these things came up one-by-one. And these were things that I was passionate about. If you want to do a TV series, you can. If you want to put out a line of liquor, then put out a line of liquor. The point is to go do your thing. Life is too short to sit around and over think it.”

The foundation of Dupree’s rock ‘n’roll enterprise remains Jackyl. The Georgia-bred band roared onto the charts in the early ‘90s with a boisterous, bar-savvy rock sound built around guitar-dominate hooks and Dupree’s tireless vocal wail. Among its most beloved early hits was The Lumberjack, which culminates onstage with Dupree revving up a chainsaw. The song remains an encore staple of Jackyl’s shows to this day.

Jackyl hasn’t scored a significant hit single or album since Locked and Loaded and Cut the Crap, respectively, tore up the charts in 1998. But its appeal as a touring band has never significantly waned.

“The people’s passion for rock ‘n’ roll never went away,” Dupree said. “What has diminished, though, is the fact that audiences are now spread out over so many different mediums. They’ve got 100 satellite channels in their car. They’ve got iPods and the internet and youtube. It’s just become a lot harder to reach the masses. That’s the biggest travesty of what technology has brought on.

“But is some ways, you can use it to reach your fanbase, whether through facebook or whatever. That, along with whatever radio play you can get, helps. But the audiences are still spread out over the mediums.

“We’re fortunate, though, thanks to the consistency in which we do things. People know when we hit the stage, everything is just on. For them, it’s not just about coming to see a show. It’s about coming to be part of a show. They are onstage as much as we are in the sense that they give to us as much as we give to them.”

While the title of Jackyl’s most recent album, 2010’s When Moonshine and Dynamite Collide, might point to such performance combustibility, it was actually borrowed from a documentary on bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin.

“I adopted the title. Jimmy Martin always used to say, “I don’t need a critic or somebody in Nashville to tell me whether or not I’m a star.’ He was basically saying that he didn’t need anyone in Nashville to validate him. It was always the people who came to his shows that did that. And that’s true of Jackyl, too. We’ve always marched to our own drum from our own private Idaho. And we still pack out places on the road with people who come out to have a good time.”

Dupree puts that practice into very visible motion on Full Throttle Saloon, which will begin its third season later this year. For Dupree, the show is an attempt to showcase the biker charm that has defined the Sturgis community for years.

“It’s about a piece of America that a lot of people knew was out there but didn’t have luxury to witness it. A lot of folks know about Sturgis, but just don’t have the means of making a trip to South Dakota. So the show kind of lets them have some of the Sturgis experience.”

Does that mean that Dupree plans to unleash a little of that Sturgis biker drive when Jackyl plays Buster’s?

“Oh, yeah. We anticipate remodeling the place.”

Jackyl performs at 9 p.m. July 14 at Buster’s Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. Tickets are $12 advance, $15 day of show. Call (859) 368-8871 or go to

kenny baker, 1926-2011

kenny baker

kenny baker

By all accounts, Kenny Baker was one feisty customer.

“Ornery and irascible, cheerful and charming,” summed up Ranger Doug Green of Riders in the Sky in the liner notes to Baker’s 1977 album Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe.

Indeed it was through the great Monroe that Baker came to prominence. The fiddler has been credited for playing with Monroe longer than any member of his Bluegrass Boys band (over 16 years). But the two split on bad terms in 1984. It took them over a decade to reconcile.

A native of the Eastern Kentucky town of Jenkins, Baker died late last week following a stroke. He was 85.

Baker was just as much of a firecracker on record. While his longbow sound was perfected with Monroe, the 1971 solo album A Baker’s Dozen (featuring a young Sam Bush on mandolin) was one of the fiddler’s most ferocious blasts of pure bluegrass tradition. His merry playing on Ragtime Annie, in particular, is nothing short of transportive in its sense of old time authority

But as the distance from Monroe and his sound became greater, the scope of Baker’s music expanded. Swing and even jazz elements surfaced in tunes like Windy City Rag (a tune cut by an 18-year old Alison Krauss on her Two Highways album in 1989). And as the years progressed, more and more players cited Baker as an inspiration.

I saw Baker play only once. He was featured alongside Josh Graves Jr. and Dean Osborne at the J.D. Crowe Bluegrass Festival in 2004. It was a resolute performance with Baker playing with stonefaced confidence and a tone that reverted back to the old timey sound of his Monroe days. It was the voice of a learned elder playing with such unassuming ease that he hardly seemed aware of being in an environment as formal as a concert setting.

Recommended listening is the aforementioned A Baker’s Dozen, an absolutely blazing session of traditional string music with Baker and playing off (and often against) clawhammer banjoist Butch Robbins in rustic fashion. Readily available on CD (it was re-issued by the County label in 2004), the recording captures the restless, jubilant magic of a true Kentucky original.

critic’s pick 185

The subtitle of A Scarcity of Miracles, a wonderful, summery diversion of an album, is “A King Crimson ProjeKct.” That signals the stewardship of guitarist Robert Fripp, founder and longtime helmsman of the longstanding but ever-changing, prog-minded band King Crimson. But “ProjeKct” is also Fripp’s term for Crimson splinter groups that independently investigate compositional, improvisational and instrumental ideas that might be brought to the table when the mighty Crimson reconvenes. The ProjeKct ensembles were active primarily in the late ‘90s during a period leading up to the recording of Crimson’s beastly The ConstruKction of Light.

A Scarcity of Miracles is an altogether different ProjeKct. With Crimson seemingly in indefinite limbo, Fripp teamed with fellow British guitarist Jakko M. Jakszyk, a one-time member of a Crimson tribute group made up mostly of Crimson alumni (The  21st Century Schizoid Band). Described as “a meeting with no expectations” by Fripp in the album’s liner notes, the songs and sessions that became Miracles gradually added the support of the three Crimson vets: saxophonist Mel Collins (an early ‘70s member), bassist Tony Levin (an early ‘80s and mid ’90s member that rejoined for a 2008 tour) and Porcupine Tree drummer Gavin Harrison (who also signed up in 2008).

The resulting music meets expectations only in that is unexpected.

First off, discard the often severe guitar overtones Crimson summoned over the past decade. Miracles bears a tone and mood that is altogether gentler. You hear it in the soft focus demeanor of Jakszyk’s singing, the noticeably calmer direction Collins takes on soprano saxophone (his instrument of choice on Miracles) and the ambience Fripp creates with his “soundscapes” (processed, celestial guitar sounds that mimic keyboards).

Levin, a bassist who can seemingly fit into any niche, responds with long elastic lines that color and orchestrate the songs rather than fill out the bottom ends normally occupied by more conventional bass players. Drummer Harrison, who is accustomed to playing in far harder and heavier settings, responds nicely with similar dexterity.

The album opening title tune defines the ensemble mood – a restrained yet lush setting full of neat melodic charm, generous “soundscaping” and the appealing tug of soprano sax. But things really get cooking on This House, which is introduced by soundscapes and a wordless wail from Jakszyk that recalls former Fripp accomplice David Sylvian in temperament. A more defined guitar fuzz from Fripp that echoes his masterful ‘70s voyages with Brian Eno weaves in and out of the fabric as soprano sax chirps, the wails turn to words and the rhythm section modestly chimes in.

All of the music here operates within similar, dream-like atmospheres that provide Miracles with challenging but immensely inviting summertime charm.

summer album of the week 07/09/11

zz top: tres hombres (released july 1973)

zz top: tres hombres (released july 1973)

Long before they had Legs or were Sharp Dressed Men, the musketeers known as ZZ Top made up the ultimate Texas combo with a positively wicked Southern blues-soul streak. To this day, Tres Hombres is packed with staples that still fuel the band’s live shows, from the Slim Harpo-inspired boogie hit La Grange to the blues medley of Waitin’ for the Bus and Jesus Just Left Chicago. But dig deeper into the scorching slow blues of Hot, Blue and Righteous and the Lone Star guitar groove of Master of Sparks and ZZ Top’s finest hour fully ignites.

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