Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cross Canadian Ragweed @ Joe's bar.

After Seth James was done with his set, Cross Canadian Ragweed came out to a packed in and sold out Joe's bar in Chicago and again had ole blue eyes, Frank Sinatra's "My Kind of Town, Chicago is" playing over the house sound system before taking the stage and ripping into "Don't Need You" from their self titled CD known as the "Purple" album. They played about half of the songs on their latest release "Happiness and all the Other Things" including "Drag" and bass player Jeremy Plato's version of the Stephen Bruton song "To Find My Love" that Jeremy sings. They also did the songs "Overtable" and the Overture also called "Blackrose" and then went into their tribute to Betty Page with the song "Pretty Lady" before going back to some old songs. After playing older favorites like "42 Miles" and "Brooklyn Kid" inspired by their friend Robert Hanson, they played quite a few older songs and there were the usual obnoxious guys in the crowd that seem to be at every show yelling out to the band to play "Carney Man" and "Boys from Oklahoma" and usually they will not play it unless they feel like it but this time they did. I was quick to judge the guys that were so insistent on getting them to play those two songs but sometimes you learn that maybe you should not be so quick to do that because later i talked to them outside and they told me they were heading to Iraq two days later.
Cody Canada, Cross Canadian Ragweed's lead singer and guitarist split the set up by doing a short acoustic set with the songs "Carry Me Home" and a surprising cover of "It Ain't Easy Being Me" by Chris Knight, plus a few more. The show went on with some more older material like "Late Last Night" by Todd Snider and "Wanna Rock & Roll" by Ray Wylie Hubbard. Seth James and Geoff Queen came out and joined them for the last song before the night was over and Seth and Cody had to catch a plane to perform an acoustic show in New Braunfels the next day. I am writing this one day before seeing Cross Canadian Ragweed again tomorrow night at the Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan so look for a write up on that soon too. More color photos. More black & white photos.

Seth James @ Joe's

Texas guitarist and singer songwriter extraordinaire Seth James has been touring off and on with his friends Cross Canadian Ragweed and opened for them at Joe's bar in Chicago Saturday November 21st. Seth has a firm grasp of the blues mixed in with his Texas style country and rock. Raised just North of Abilene in a musical family he began by learning piano and trumpet but was drawn to the guitar in high school. Honing his skills while working part time in a local music store, he soon moved to Austin and has since released three albums full of rock and blues riffs set to his introspective song lyrics. With a sound comparable to Doyle Bramhall and a very adept backing band that although has changed over the years are always are right there to back up his explosive expressions he creates on the guitar. Seth's latest release is "That Kind of Man" which is earning him critical acclaim and an ever expanding fan base and thanks to exposure from opening guys like Cross Canadian Ragweed that fan base is growing much faster. Over the Summer Seth sat in with Ray Wylie Hubbard as his lead guitarist and it was the first time i had seen him although i had heard about him before then, i was very impressed with his natural blues playing ability. His latest album has a great variety of material that stays with the rock and country genres but not many artists have the underlying base of the blues in their music the way that Seth does. The crowd at Joe's bar was very receptive to him and the show was sold out. Seth took the stage playing the perfect choice of song to open a Ragweed show with "Two for Tuesday in America" off his current album. The songs lyrics have the line "I'm in love with this road, i'm in love with this car, I'm in love with the radio station that's playing me some CCR" which i have to think is a shout out to KNBT in New Braunfels Texas and Cross Canadian Ragweed (not Creedence) that station plays a lot of CCR as well as a non stop variety of Americana music (including Seth) from bands and musicians around the country. Seth also played two of my favorites from "That Kind of Man" like "Slow Roll" and "Again" that unfortunately were missing the beautiful harmonies of his wife Jessica Murray who did not make the trip up out of Texas. He included material from his past two albums also and later sat in with Ragweed at the end of their set. View more photos of the show by clicking here. Photos

Justin Moore @ The Intersection

Thursday night November 19th The Intersection played host to its second sold out country music show for the second Thursday in a row with Justin Moore headlining a concert openend by two local bands, Small Town Son and Gunnar Nyland with a regional act from Louisiana, Williams-Riley. Justin Moore took the stage with a Jack Daniels bottle in hand to a fired up crowd ready to party. Justin is from Poyen Arkansas and has seemed to just appear on the Nashville country music scene from out of no where but has actually been working at it for a few years. He is signed to Valory records which is an off shoot of Big Machine Records, the independent Nashville label run by Scott Borchetta who signed Taylor Swift. Justin's self titled debut album which had his songs chosen by fans via social networking sites such as Myspace and iLike has had one single chart in 2008 and two more this year including the Randy Houser penned song "Back That Thing Up"and with uptempo songs about breaking out and then returning to where he's from with "Small Town Son" and how he likes to party in the "Backwoods" which is his latest single making him seem to run in the same style of song writing and the same crowd of fans to me as say Eric Church, which makes for good rowdy music in concert but doesn't offer much as far as serious substance is concerned. The novelty of the digitally released song "I Could Kick Your Ass" further brings the whole country boy posuer style into play. His songs are anthematic fodder for the light beer drinking college crowd but i have to admit he does know how to entertain and show everyone a good time. His band is solid and his flamboyant lead guitarist knows how to bust out a rockstar pose with a rockstar solo to go with it. I could have done without the twenty minute guitar solos at the end and thought the show was entirely to loud but i walked away neither disliking him or his music but feeling entertained at least. There is no denying that Justin's songs are resonating with fans and also the media, garnering some positive reviews from outlets such as the Washington Post but also some mixed reviews from others. Justin has been invited to join the "American Saturday Night" tour beginning next year with Brad Paisley.  View more photos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Luke Bryan @ The Intersection

West Michigan country radio station WBCT B93 and the Intersection teamed up as usual to bring Luke Bryan to the stage with a sold out show in Grand Rapids. Luke released his latest album "Doin My Thing" on October 6th of this year with the lead off single "Do I" which was written with Lady Antebellum members Dave Haywood and Charles Kelly and features Hillary Scott on backing vocals. Luke has a solid band to back him up and i have to say that Kristy Jo is one of my favorite fiddle and mandolin players. Luke played a few songs off his new album like "Welcome to the Farm" and "Drinkin Beer and Wastin Bullets" which is fast becoming a new fan favorite. A surprising cover of One Republic's "Apologize" and also Billy Currington's hit "Good Directions" which was actually written by Luke were included as well as all his hits from his debut album too. The Leesburg Georgia native had a hand in writing 8 of the 11 songs on "Doin My Thing" which is on Capitol records. Opening the show were The Clayton Anderson band and Fast Ryde as well as Frankie Ballard featured below.      Want to see more just   Click here to see more photos.

Frankie Ballard opens for Luke Bryan

Thursday night at the Intersection in Grand Rapids Michigan ended up becoming a sold out show to welcome back Battle Creek Michigan native Frankie Ballard. The Clayton Anderson band who also play at Joe's in Chicago about six or seven times a year started the night off along with Nashville's Fast Ryde.
The line to get in stretched down the street nearly all the way to the Woods lounge about a hundred yards away. Frankie took the stage around 9pm with his long time friends and band mates Bill Justice on drums, Eddie Robinson on rhythm guitar and Jarrod Sturgis on bass. Frankie played a solid set of southern rock with Eddie providing some mean slide guitar and he played some new songs he's been working on that will be included on his Warner Brothers Nashville records debut album. Luke Bryan also called Frankie out on stage to close out the show with Luke's band. Dont forget that Frankie is playing a Christmas show on December 5th at Kalamazoo's State Theater. Yes there will be a few Christmas songs here and there but it will be a good time and Frankie is going to rock. Tickets are on sale, its all ages so if youv'e missed him in the past because he was rocking out in a bar, now you have no excuse, so get the family together and come support our local musicians Shelagh Brown and Jordan Lunardini and Frankie Ballard.
I did not show up for this show until about a few minutes before Frankie went on stage which is why i do not have anything to post here about Clayton or Fast Ryde. Click here for More photos from the show.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Wade Bowen @ Joe's bar

When i heard that Wade Bowen was returning to Joe's bar in Chicago i knew i had to go and the fact that Radney Foster was the opener and Wade was headlining this time was the seal on the deal. Wade and his band joined Radney on stage for a rocked up version of the title track to Radney's latest album "Revival" which they rehearsed only briefly during the afternoon's sound check. After a short break Wade and the band came back to the stage to a pounding kick drum beat by Brooks Robinson that further got the crowd excited before the first song. Wade has added a keyboard player named Ross Smith and the rest of the band with Gary Wooten on Lead guitar, Matt Miller on Rhythm guitar, Caleb Jones on bass and Brooks Robinson on drums sounds tighter every time. Wade has some serious songs but that doesn't mean everyone wasn't having a good time on stage. The crowd was small, maybe because it was a Thursday night show, but i talked to Brooks after ward and he reminded me that "Its the quality of the crowd, not the quantity" and this show did have a quality crowd who knew every word, not only of Wade's songs but also most of Radney's.
For those who have seen a Wade Bowen show over the last year or so you will hopefully recall a time when Wade has taken a hat from where it hangs near the drum rack and has spoken of a soldier from Waco Texas named Doug Matthy's, Waco is also Wade's hometown. Wade and his band have proudly displayed a Boonie hat belonging to Doug who is an Army soldier who Wade's father heard about from Doug's wife and has kept it with him on stage every night praying for a safe return for Doug and his platoon from Iraq. Right before singing his song "If We Ever Make It Home" Wade would talk about Doug and his platoon. Well about two months ago Doug surprised Wade with an emotional return walking on stage at Gilley's in Dallas. Although the band knew this would happen, Wade did not and it was something unforgettable and overwhelming for everyone in attendance. Sincere moments like these are just another reason why i love this music and this community of musicians and fans involved in it. Its good to hear this story finally came full circle and with great news. Thank you to my friend Crystal for her great photos from that show.
Wade very recently announced plans for a live album to be recorded this month (November 21st) at Billy Bob's in Ft. Worth Texas and it will be great to get the songs they play from Wade's latest album "If We Ever Make It Home" recorded live, the energy in these songs is amazing with Gary Wooten's aggressive guitar playing and unique tone and Brooks's energetic drumming. Brooks Robinson has been drumming for Wade for just about the beginning and has an a rock style influenced by everyone from John Bonham to Tommy Lee, and makes for some great photo ops with his showman ship, unfortunately i did not get anything usable from this show of him. Wade and Radney came out and signed autographs after each of their shows and talked with fans before heading out to another venue. Click this link to view a video of Wade singing his latest single "Trouble"  My other site

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Radney Foster @ Joe's

If your old enough to remember the big hit song "Nobody Wins" that was released in 1992 by Radney on his first solo album, or you go back further and remember the duo known as Foster & Lloyd then i am sure you recognize the name Radney Foster. If you are relatively new to country music then maybe you have not heard of Radney but chances are you have heard his songs and did not know it. Radney has written some pretty big hits for Sara Evans "A Real Fine Place To Start" and Keith Urban's hit "Raining On Sunday" and one that Dierks Bentley covered on his Greatest hits album called "Sweet and Wild"
Radney is still writing and recording great music on his own and his latest recording "Revival" has to be one of his best and most personal albums he's ever done. Radney has gone through a lot in the last year, celebrating his fiftieth birthday as well as the unfortunate loss of his father and the return of his son who was living in France. The album "Revival" which is on Radney's own label "Devil's River" is a permeating statement to overcoming heartbreak and personal loss and pulling your self up and back on your feet with a good mix of ballads and gospel style upbeat songs. The most poignant songs on the album to me are the ballads such as the one recounting how he feared punishment as a child from his father and tying that in with being beside his hospital bed before he passed a way using the lyric "I Know You Can Hear Me" to relate the story. Then there is the song "Made Peace With God That Day" about having to wait in the waiting room at the hospital while doctors were treating his two year old son and praying he will be able to take him home. Many songs in country music circles have been written about soldiers and the fighting in the Middle East but none have approached it from the angle Radney has with the song "Angel Flight" which is written with Darden Smith after an inspiring conversation with a member of the National Guard. They wrote it from the perspective of a pilot of a C-130 Hercules aircraft that has the unfortunate duty of returning fallen American soldiers back to United States soil. Darius Rucker sings harmony and Proceeds from the song are donated to a charity that helps families of fallen soldiers. Serious subjects yes, but there are some fun songs here that are of a much lighter subject matter too. Radney performed a few of those at Joe's too like the song "Trouble Tonight" about going out and stirring up a bit of mischief all in good fun and the title track to his latest release "Revival" which he performed with Wade Bowen and his band as the last song before Wade returned to play his set. Radney also played a few older songs like the ones i mentioned he's had major country music stars cover as well as some of my favorites like "Texas in 1880" and "Half Of My Mistakes" as well as "Nobody Wins" and although he did not have his band "The Confessions" along, hearing these songs done acoustic made them even more personal and emotional. Click this link My other site to view a video my friend Rob shot of Radney performing "I Know You Can Hear Me" from this show at Joe's.