Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stoney LaRue. The acoustic show @ Joe's

True Texas music fans knew they could not miss this special show at Joe's bar in Chicago September 28Th. It was actually really a gathering of friends who know just how special an acoustic show is with one of the most genuine entertainers in the business. Joe's bar went all out to make this an intimate evening for some serious lyrical listening as acoustic is the best way to "Hear" the music of Stoney LaRue. Tables and chairs were lined up in rows and couches were set on stage with candlelight at each table. stoney was mingling with friends before the show not up in the VIP but on the floor with everyone else. After Chicago's Sue Hughey and her talented band made up of a lead guitarist and a percussionist with Sue singing her creative and original songs were done, Electric instruments were removed from the stage and Stoney casually walked on stage with his Gibson J-200. Stoney greeted the crowd and tuned up and asked his "Friends" to request their favorite songs. Someone shouted out from the left side near the stage wanting to hear "Straight Faced Clown" which Stoney seemed to welcome as his first song of the night. Someone who yelled out the next song was asked by Stoney where he was from and he replied "Michigan" and being from Michigan myself i was proud to hear that some people in Michigan know good music. The song he requested was "Train to Sanity" but Stoney chose to do "Fine lines" instead. He then chose "Box #10) by Jim Croce saying it was one of the first songs he learned and "Texas Moon" was his next choice. By this time the shots of Jagerbombs were being delivered and consumed on stage and everyone was really loosening up, people were taking their turns sitting on the couches on stage and Stoney even took time to pose on stage with a fan while her friend took a photo. he then played "Down in Flames" asking if anyone was familiar with Brandon Jenkins who co wrote the song with Stoney and then he performed "Till the Morning Comes" which was also co written with Brandon. One of his most requested songs "One Chord Song" followed that along with a Jason Boland co write with the song "Shot Full of Holes" about an inmates life compared to being like a street sign that is shot full of holes. Stoney then announced that Tonight he is singing the National Anthem at the Chicago Cubs baseball game at Wrigley field so he sang a song about baseball. The next request was for steel heart which is actually "Crystal Eyes" and then "Feet Don't Touch the Ground" followed by a song about "cash crops" called "Idabel Blues" to which after that Stoney took a short break.
Returning to the stage he did his best rendition of "Blue eyes Crying in the Rain" in his best Willie Nelson voice, which he does very convincingly. Then the song "Sitting Here in Limbo" which has been done by the Grateful Dead and Jimmy Cliff. Someone then shouted out "Long Black Veil" by Johnny Cash and Stoney had to sip some water before tackling the vocals on that one.
Stoney then said that soon he is releasing a new CD that will be all acoustic and that only the packaging needs to be finished yet so look for that soon. Next he performed a heartbreaking version of the Gary Stewart classic "Empty Glass" and then called on everyone to listen to the powerful message contained in the song "Make it to the Mountains" by the "Hillbilly Hendrix" Mr. Randy Crouch. After over two hours the show was capped off with the Mike Hosty of the Oklahoma band Hosty Duo's song "Oklahoma Breakdown" stoney then walked off stage and into the crowd to say hi and pose for more photos. My friends and i got a chance to talk with him and he remembered me and my friend Rob (who helped me out with photography at country fever in Pryor Oklahoma back in June) from the last show at Joe's and my friend Brett (from the local band 9Th St. Bridge) talked with him about writing songs. If you ever get a chance to see Stoney, especially for an acoustic show don't hesitate to go. I got to relax and enjoy this show, usually i am fighting the crowds to get my shots. This time i took notes and really listened to the songs. Click on the title of this post to view more photos. Also go to my other site "Secondary AMP" to watch the video of Stoney singing the National Anthem. The link is to the right at the top of the page here. Go to my other site "Secondary AMP" to see the new CD.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jason Boland & The Stragglers @ Joe's

Real country music was in the house on Friday with Jason Boland & The Stragglers headlining a show opened by No Justice and Charlie Robison. After having a show scheduled earlier in the year that did not work out they came back and unbridled the hell ponies this time. Jason & The Stragglers were happy to be back at Joe's and were complimented by a very rowdy and beer fueled group of fans. People were two stepping around the outside of the of the crowd and later they were dancing in the middle of the floor too. The Stragglers, Jason's band consists of Grant Tracy on bass, Brad Rice on drums, Noah Jeffries on fiddle and mandolin and Roger Ray on Pedal steel and dobro as well as electric guitar. Every song from "Pearl snaps" to "Comal County Blue" was played along with a cover of the song "Tulsa Time" written by Danny Flowers, guitar player for fellow Oklahoman Don Williams who along with Eric Clapton's version made the song famous. Jason Boland & The Stragglers paid tribute to Don Williams at Cains Ballroom in Tulsa the night before along with a stellar line up of Texas and Oklahoma musicians and bands. Jason is going to release a live record in 2010 that Will be recorded at various locations around the mountainous west like the Musicfest in Steamboat Colorado and Laramie Wyoming was also mentioned. The title of the live record is still be decided upon with some wanting it to be called "High in the Rockies" or "Live from the Rockies" either way it will be a great document of how the bands sound has evolved since the "Live at Billy Bob's" record came out. Jason and the band hung out with the crowd after the show signing every last autograph asked of him even after playing a two hour show and having to be on their way to the Flatland Jam in Altamont Illinois afterwards. Click on the title to this post to view more photos from the show.

Charlie Robison @ joe's

After No Justice Charlie Robison took the stage. Charlie has returned to the airwaves and the stage after releasing his first album "Beautiful Day" in five years. After going through a divorce from his wife (Dixie chick's Emily Erwin) his latest album deals with that process. Charlie chose to for go writing a bitter depressing monologue about it all and instead this album is pretty upbeat and optimistic and full of reflection, using his wry sense of humor to take the edge off or add to it. Charlie has been a fixture and well loved writer and musician for years in Texas, born in Houston and growing up in Bandera he released his first album named after the town he grew up in back in 1996. Charlie produced "Beautiful Day" himself and wrote six of the ten songs. The other four are written by Keith Gattis, Bobby Bare Jr. and Charles Bracco. The last song is a cover of one of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs "Racing in the Streets" which he does justice too but he did not try to make much different which to me is a good thing.
Charlie performed quite a few songs off the latest record including the title cut and also the songs "Nothing Better To Do", "Reconsider" and "Down Again" and also some older hits like "Barlight" and "Life of the party" to which his keyboard player brought out the accordion to accompany the song. Charlie's band is made up of veterans of the Texas and Nashville music scene and i was really impressed as was No Justice guitar player Cody Patton with his guitar player. The guitar parts on the studio version of "Beautiful Day" were done by the exceptional guitar player Charlie Sexton. Click on this post to view more photos.

No Justice @ Joes bar

Stillwater Oklahoma's No Justice started off a night of great Texas and Oklahoma music opening for Charlie Robison and Jason Boland & The Stragglers. No Justice has been building a loyal following during the last five years releasing two studio albums and one live record recorded at Billy Bob's Texas on Smith Entertainment records. No Justice has seen their songs ascend the Texas Music Chart and are aspiring to break out of the local and regional scene and trying to go national by tapping into the talent Nashville has to offer. Longtime guitarist and vocalist Brandon Jackson has left the band on good terms to pursue music on his own and has been replaced just recently by former Clint Osmus & The Bushmills guitarist Cody Patton. Cody seemed like he was still trying to feel comfortable on stage with a new band and although he is not quite as flamboyant as Brandon the rest of the band is very happy with what he has brought so far. Cody will be a contributing musician on the new record slated for an early 2010 release. They played two new songs, all their familiar hits and even a cover of "Lightning Crashes" by Live. Click on the title to this post to view more photos.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Randy Rogers band @ Joe's

As a fan of Country music in general with more disdain for what Nashville is calling Country music these days (its not all bad, i just like mine with some substance and integrity) i began to search out other forms of Country music years ago. When i saw Dierks Bentley was sporting a T-shirt with the words "The Randy Rogers Band" on it i knew i could trust him to steer me in the right direction, after all he also is a proud owner of more than a few Cross Canadian Ragweed shirts. A Randy Rogers show is full of energy from the first note played and the crowd at Joe's is always enthusiastic to give feedback to fuel the fire.
Randy and the band are hardcore country music fans in the old tradition of Waylon and Willie as well as some of their contemporaries who either influence them or emulate them and lead guitarist Geoffrey Hill brings an alternative rock influence to the group. Randy reveres Texas song crafters such as Guy Clark and Radney Foster and he has had the honor of working with both (Radney also produced the last three discs) and quite a few more. Bass player and harmony vocalist (everyone in the band sings harmony) Jon Richardson writes also and usually contributes a few songs to each record. Anyone who has seen the band live knows what fiddle player Brady Black brings to the show, talking to Brady after the show he said he has been playing fiddle since about the age of twelve and out of curiosity i asked how old the fiddle is that he plays on stage he said it dates back to 1759.
The Randy Rogers Band's latest self titled release has been a huge hit for them but the time has come to begin working an a new album. The band played three new songs that have been coming together and beginning to take life as possible tracks on an upcoming new CD. The new songs "Interstate" and "Holding onto Letting Go" are getting more comfortable for them each time they play them and i really liked hearing them. I cant remember the name of the third song but i will update this when i get the info. All of them have some really great hooks and melodies. Click on the title of this post to view more photos.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Charlie Shafter & The Gnomes @ Joe's

Soon after the opening set by Ernie Hendrickson, Charlie Shafter and his band the Gnomes minus their drummer took the stage. From the first note he sings Charlie's voice stands out to me but it still has that rough edge to it most Texas singers seem to have. Although Charlie calls Texas home now he is originally from Illinois or at least that's what i have been told. Since Charlie's website states that he and the band are "four marginally educated ant farmers from Duluth, Minnesota" i don't know who to trust on that. I do know that i really like Charlie's latest album "17Th & Chicago" on Smith Entertainment records. If i had to describe his music i would say it is a cross between older Wilco and the mellower side of Dave Matthews with a little of The Band evident also and since Charlie has been known to cover a few songs by the band it seems that they are also an influence. Charlie Shafter & the Gnomes played to a crowd that was just starting to become assembled for the Randy Rogers band later that night and as the crowd became larger Charlie's music began to pick up in energy. Even though he did not have a drummer along which i am not sure why (he was not at the next show in Riverton, Illinois either) the sound was still full and rich with the help of Clayton Freeman on backing vocals and upright bass and rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Adam Cline. Click on the title of this post to view more photos.

Ernie Hendrickson @ Joe's

Americana music is a genre label that some people don't understand, i think it scares some people. Its not as defined a word like say Country music is but Country music in itself has so many styles and Americana has country and many other styles like blues and Rock. I am not sure where i am going with this but i do know that once you hear the music of Ernie Hendrickson you know that it is not just Country, its not just Folk music or Rock but a mix of all of those and more, it has a sound that is "Classic American" that appeals to anyone who has ever liked a Bob Dylan song or James Taylor and just about any singer and songwriter that was on the radio in the seventies. Ernie and his band opened up for Texas musicians Charlie Shafter & the Gnomes and The Randy Rogers band Friday September 18Th in Chicago. Ernie's latest record which is due out on October 13Th captures that sound in part thanks to the opportunity for him to work with Bo Ramsey who is a guitar player with some of the best Americana artists around, Lucinda Williams and Greg Brown. Bo produced the up coming album entitled "Walking With Angels" which is Ernie's second album. Starting with his teen years in Rockford Illinois Ernie honed his music skills in various bands until deciding to go it on his own. Ernie's website features photography by one of my favorite photographers, Jim Herrington who has an amazing portfolio of images of musical icons. Click on the title of this post to view more photos from this show.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jack Ingram @ Joe's bar

When i arrived at Joe's i pulled into a parking space near the tour bus and looked up and there was Jack Ingram talking on the phone after finishing up a run through the streets of Chicago. I waited until he was not busy and introduced my self and asked if he would mind signing my hat, he politely did and i told him i saw Hayes Carll step off the bus earlier while i was waiting for him. Jack asked "Did you get him to sign your hat too? you should" and i replied that i didn't want to bother him as it looked like he was heading inside to do a sound check. Later while i was waiting for a phone call Hayes came back and i talked to him for a few minutes. Hayes was only along for the ride and was not there to play any songs. Later that night i came back in time to catch Steel Magnolia opening the show and then soon after Jack and his Beat Up Ford band took the stage.
Jack kicked the show off with an energetic "Mustang Burn" and kept that level going for quite a few songs before going into a few slow songs like "Flutter" and his version of "Lips of an Angel" by the band Hinder. Jack Ingram is one of the best showmen in the business and engages the crowd with eye contact and hand shakes. During Jack's recent world record attempt, which he did set (he now holds the record for the most radio interviews done in one day previously held by the band Fall Out Boy) he stated on air that "Joe's bar is the coolest bar in America" and it was streamed live on CMT. At one point he even went crowd surfing which is a first for me to see at Joe's. He involved the crowd by having us sing the background to "Barbie Doll" co written with Todd Snider, Jack re recorded it on his new "Big Dreams & High Hopes" release with Dierks Bentley and a host of Nashville who's who of modern country music. During "Barefoot & Crazy" boots and shoes were passed up to Jack and he tried to sign them all during the song and even balanced his Cowboy boots on the Mic stand. Jack's Beat Up Ford band is top notch and his lead guitar player "Frenchie" as he is known is a true rock star showman. After the show Jack came back to meet fans and talk with everyone upstairs even though he had to leave on the bus by 1:45 am for a 10 am sound check in another state. Click on the title to this post to view more photos of the show.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Steel Magnolia @ Joe's bar

The latest season of CMT's Can You Duet came to an end in August and the duo consisting of Megan Linsey and Josh Jones who call themselves Steel Magnolia opened up for Jack Ingram at Joe's bar in Chicago. Steel Magnolia were signed to Scott Borchetta's label Big Machine records who was also one of the judges of the show. The label also has Jack Ingram and a young singer and songwriter maybe you have heard of, Taylor Swift. Megan is a former karaoke host at the Buck wild saloon which is across from the Wild horse saloon in Nashville since moving from New Orleans and Josh Jones stopped in one night and after requesting a song, they hit it off and began dating.
Josh was running out of luck trying to make it in Los Angeles and returned to his Midwestern roots (he is from Charleston Illinois) and moved to Nashville. Megan has a great voice with a good bluesy streak to it and Josh is pretty adept on the acoustic guitar. You can hear in their harmonies that they have had time to sing together before being talked into auditioning for the show. Their first single "Keep on loving you" which by the way is not a cover of the REO Speedwagon song is on radio now and they performed it and even a Waylon Jennings song. The place was packed for Jack and the audience was very receptive to Steel Magnolia even without a band behind them. Click on the title of this post to view more photos from the show.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

David Nail @ Joe's

Last time David Nail played at Joe's bar in Chicago he opened up for the Lost Trailers on May 29Th with an acoustic set before his debut album came out (David has actually been around for about ten years and had an album that was going to be released back in 2002) and gave a strong performance with songs like "I'm About to Come Alive" (First done by the band Train) and his single "Red Light" with just his acoustic guitar. On Friday September 4Th he headlined and brought along his whole band. I have been listening to his new album since it came out on August 18Th and its one of my favorite Nashville releases this year. The self titled album produced by Frank Lidell who also works with Miranda Lambert also includes a duet with Miranda and songs that were co-written by Kenny Chesney and Gary LeVox of Rascal Flatts. David also had a hand in writing five songs himself too and hopes to release "Strangers on a Train" as his next single. The album opens up with a great country & southern soul song called "Mississippi" with a beautiful piano accompaniment by Chuck Leavell and stays solid all the way through to the last note. David's debut is full of soulful vocal delivery and an air of maturity in the lyrics. There are none of the stereotypical mainstream themes that run rampant in Nashville country music like tractors, pick up trucks and chewing tobacco. Instead the songs are about contemplating your own mistakes, longing to be somewhere else and a relationship that ends "At a red light in the sunshine on a Sunday" David has an intensity on stage that matches the quality of his music but he still seemed like he was having fun with his band and is enjoying his newly married life. Click on the title to this post to view more photos.

The Carter Twins @ Joe's

Twin brothers Josh and Zach Carter opened the show up on Friday September 4Th for David Nail. I reviewed their show a few months ago the last time they played at Joe's with the Eli Young band so i wont write about things i mentioned the first time. The Carter Twins have their debut album coming soon, i thought it was supposed to be out in August. They wrote over 8o songs with different songwriters including a few with Lady Antebellum. The Carter Twins are the first group signed to CMT's new label and artist development group CMT music. The Carter Twins worked with producer Frank Rogers on their debut and he has produced all of Brad Paisley and Josh Turner's albums. Click on the title to this post to view more photos from the show at Joe's bar.