An opportunity came up to sit down and chat with New Orleans natives, The Revivalists, at Forecastle Festival 2015, so I took it. What a great bunch of guys who – like all other NOLA-based musicians – wear their passion for their music like a heart on their sleeve.
Exactly four minutes and twenty seconds is all it took for them to convey that.
Write drunk. Edit sober.
That’s a debated Hemingway’esque philosophy to writing, and pretty much the context and tactic I used to write this preview under, so consider yourself forewarned, to some extent.
Speaking of writing under the influence, and in honor of Louisville-native Hunter S. Thompson, I figured I’d adopt a tried-and-true gonzo spirit for my 7th edition of coverage of Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, taking place this Friday, July 17 thru Sunday, July 19 at Waterfront Park in Louisville, Kentucky.
Now in it’s 14th year, Forecastle Festival takes place over what would’ve been Thompson’s 77th birthday on July 18, and there should be plenty of reminders throughout the festival of this man’s contributions to the world of journalism and Louisville culture.
Originating in 2002 as a humble grassroots neighborhood celebration of music, activism and culture, Forecastle Festival has now morphed into a corporate-controlled, mammoth-sized festival that has all the usual bells and whistles of mega festivals alike: big-name artists, big-dollar sponsors, big-time ticket prices, big-congregations of festivalgoers, and big-hoorah good times. You get what you pay for, I suppose.
As for the big-name artists, Forecastle-regulars and Louisville-natives, My Morning Jacket, will headline along with British-crooner Sam Smith, and hippie jam band-favorite Widespread Panic. Rounding out the other big-name Kentucky artists, you’ve got Cage The Elephant and Houndmouth set to perform, along with a host of other lesser and better known artists of the like. A full schedule of all performing artists, of course, can be found at Lineup.ForecastleFest.com.
Carrying on with its activism element for existence, Forecastle made one of their biggest activism strides to date by announcing this year’s festival will run on a 100% pollution free electricity. For every kWh of electricity used, a kWh will be produced and put on the grid by a pollution-free, renewable source, according to the press release.
“Forecastle Festival was built on the premise of environmental responsibility and for years we’ve worked to be as sustainable as possible through conservation, recycling, composting and the use biodiesel fuel,” said Forecastle Founder and Captain, JK McKnight. “The partnership is a huge leap forward, positioning us as one of the most sustainable, ecologically-focused events in the nation.”
So, ironically, one of the nation’s cleanest and smallest carbon footprint festivals will take place on the banks of one of the nation’s dirtiest rivers. Maybe some of that activism can be channeled into a future plan to do something to clean up the Ohio River. Moving on…
Can’t we all just get along, man?
The answer to that question through the Forecastle lens, is a resounding “Yes, man! We can!.”
Of all the years I’ve attended this festival, not once have I ever witnessed so much as even verbal dispute, let alone a physical one, amongst festivalgoers. Everyone really does just get along no matter how much fear and loathing takes place.
In a day and age where news headlines rarely report on thousands and thousands of people flocking to a shared space to just get along, this really is something to be proud of.
Even the local police and law enforcement just usually end up sitting around on their fancy four wheelers, just watching, not having to even worry about getting their uniforms dirty. And even being seemingly tolerant to those who are obviously under the influence of whatever-the-fuck. Imagine that.
Other fairly predictable and typical Forecastle features that will most likely take place this weekend:
- Louisville’s Mayor will likely show up in VIP at some point – and be un-Mayor-like – for the weekend. He may even bring on My Morning Jacket to the stage since he is quite a well known fan of the band and festival.
- The Hunter S. Thompson 10’ human-powered mannequin will make another appearance to much audience appeasement and selfie-induced antics.
- There is, once again, the Gonzo Bar, a tribute bar to H.S.T., and the Bourbon Lodge which showcases Kentucky-bred bourbon and libation culture. You know, so you can achieve an authentic Kentucky buzz.
- Artists of the non-musical type, will start various creative projects on Friday, finishing by Sunday, sometimes with the help of random passerbyers.
- And, of course, My Morning Jacket will most likely give their next version of their greatest set ever, I’m sure. These guys always pull out something weird and unpredictable for their hometown’s biggest gig. Remember in 2012 when they sang George Michael’s “I’m Never Gonna Dance Again” while both throwing and singing “bananas” to the crowd?
Yeah, it’s like that.
So, in the immortal words of Hunter S. Thompson, and the final suggestion I made in my 2014 Forecastle Festival review, just “buy the ticket, take the ride.”
— This preview also published at PerformerMag.com
by My Morning Jacket
Produced by: Jim James & Tucker Martine
On their 7th studio production Louisville-based My Morning Jacket continues to masterfully hone their tradition of album production by being that band who doesn’t conform to the music business. Nor their own previous endeavors of recording an album, for that matter. Which is rather typical of them at this point.
Venturing to remote Stinson Beach, in Northern California – once called home by Jerry Garcia – they isolated themselves in the Panoramic House with essentially only each other, a beach, the stars and the moon. For front man Jim James, a sudden and debilitating back injury would also be a catalyst for his song writing and recording experience. Just like any environment typically has on it’s occupants, the emotional output recorded was befitting of their environment.
Many of the songs were born out of assembling different song fragments and ideas from each band member, blended together with advanced recording tactics. Unlike that of 2011’s Circuital.
The euphoric and mesmerizing dark rhythms of “Spring (Among the Living)” and “Tropics (Erase Traces)” tantalizes the senses, while “Only Memories Remain” and “Thin Line” showcases the soulful crooning James is still cable of, even if it’s lying flat on his back while nursing an injury.
Other critics, writers, so-called journalists or clucking hens with a blog will rave and jabber about this being the band’s best recorded effort to date; but I say they’re missing the point entirely if that’s what they really feel is important to say. This band doesn’t enter the studio with the goal to outdo or out-perform their last album. They’re just evolving. They don’t care about writing a hit song. Hit songs are for the music business, and the business is bad.
On top of that, they came away with so much new material that another installment of The Waterfall, or perhaps something else, is due out before year’s end.
MMJ is about experiencing and conveying raw human emotion by giving birth to music that arouses a curiosity within themselves, and their listeners, to search for the answers to life’s mysteries. Presumably with some of those catalysts being isolationism and the controlled intake and indulgence of substances yet-to-be-known. You know, kinda how Pink Floyd gave birth to Dark Side Of The Moon.
Welcome to the dark side of My Morning Jacket, which happens to be referred to as The Waterfall.
— This review also published at PerformerMag.com
“March is a month without mercy for rabid basketball fans. There is no such thing as a ‘gentleman gambler’ when the Big Dance rolls around. All sheep will be fleeced, all fools will be punished severely… There are no Rules when the deal goes down in the final weeks of March. Even your good friends will turn into monsters.”
My pathetic excuse for the tardiness of this post is that I FINALLY said goodbye to my hometown of Louisville (but NOT Louisville Basketball) and moved to an undisclosed location, adjacent to a large body of water, deep within ACC territory. Still, varying, yet annoying shades of blue everywhere I go.
But, right before my Louisville-Sayonara, I flocked to one of our nation’s music-meccas, Austin, Texas back in October 2014. Yep, over 75,000 people and myself, every day, crammed our way into every muddy, beer-laden, smoked-out crevice where it was necessary to see your artist of choice. And then you got random, so-called journalists like myself, approximately 200 of us, looking for something to drink, interview and write about. Astonishing, right?
No f**king Willie, though. Maybe next time…
At least Performer Magazine’s October 2014 edition got my review out in a timely manner...
(FOR THE RECORD: I have no f**king clue why the photographer shot exactly the opposite of what I intended to see and write about. Oh yeah, because it wasn’t one of my preferred photographers…)
ICYMI: Highlights From Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014
“The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” So it goes according to the age-old song lyric, once written by June Hershey back in the 1940’s. As for weekend two of the Austin City Limits music festival, the saying was more figurative, than literal, as overcast and rain hindered the view of the big Texan sky, keeping most of the focus on the stars that graced one of eight stages at the sold out, mud-haven, mammoth-sized music festival that drew roughly 75,000 people each day. Stars or no stars, not even Outkast’s Big Boi could resist the urge of getting their large crowd from chanting Hershey’s old time sing-a-long, during a mid-set break. He started it, and the audience finished it with true Texan pride. Of course, just about anything a musician chants through a microphone – requiring some sort of audience response – is met with thunderous applause and raucous reception. Kind of like when Eminem, during his own set, un-shockingly asked his endless sea of fans, “How many of you out there are fucked up?”Followed by; “How many of you out there are fucked in the head?” Followed by “How many of you are both fucked up and fucked in the head?”Would you believe that literally everyone in attendance responded louder and louder as the questioning progressed? Of course. This is Eminem we’re talking about. Nonetheless, give Slim Shady the credit for drawing the biggest crowd and giving the biggest, most aww-inspiring performance of anyone at the festival, hands-down. Pearl Jam was easily a not-so-distant second in terms of performance and crowd size, with frontman Eddie Vedder also regularly dialoguing with his audience in somewhat of a more rationale and humbled demeanor, but still, nonetheless, glorifying and encouraging the festival-goers choice intoxicant. His own being a bottle of wine. Outkast, Pearl Jam and Eminem, all with career’s stemming from the 90’s, and having an arsenal of songs to draw from, raced through extensive hit-laden set lists that were nearly two hours each. Beck, Jimmy Cliff, The Replacements and Lorde all, too, had blazing sets worth recognizing. Although ACL seems to be known for its plethora of sounds and styles from artists of varying levels of clout and success, it is, from the perspective of this first-time virgin eye, a festival that caters to the big stars. Deep in the heart of Texas. photos by Ralph Arvesen
Posted in Live Performance Reviews, National Bands | Tagged ACL, Austin, Austin City Limitis, Beck, Eminem, jason ashcraft, Jimmy Cliff, Lorde, Outkast, Pearl Jam, The Replacements, TX, Willie Nelson, Zilker Park | Leave a Comment »
Forecastle Festival did it again. It grew in both size and clout. Swelling from 30,000+ in 2012, to nearly doubling that figure this year, with just over 60,000 who flocked to the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky. Unified by music, art and activism (amongst other things), something is definitely happening here that transcends other festivals like it across the country. What exactly that is, is still annually defining itself, but nonetheless, it’s evolving and happening rather quickly.
However you see it, by the first time virgin eye, or as one of the Forecastle faithful, it’s just one big gleeful, heartfelt celebration by tens of thousands of people casting their differences aside, and sharing a lot of things together. Conversation. Beer. Bourbon. Moonshine. Food. Left & right-handed smoke-ables. Each other’s significant other. Art. Activism. Everything.
Everyone rushing around to take in the sights and sounds of a 60+ musical artist roster equally diverse.
That said, onto the music. Only a few I’ll make record of. Where to start?
With Kentucky, of course. You know, because I’m not freaking biased or anything. In my show notes for Dwight Yoakam’s performance, I half-drunkly only scribbled “Holy Shit.” Either because of the performance or the number of moonshines he inspired me to consume during it. Perhaps both. Mister Yoakam is a legend here in Kentucly. He’s the closest thing to a real-life living and breathing rock n’ roll honky tonk juke box, if there ever was one. Both his sound and his style is iconic in the world of music. Only Yoakam can end his career spanning set with a blistering cover of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” and make the random virgin-eared bystander believe he wrote that damn song himself. Yep, call me biased, but if you were there that night, then you know it’s true.
Even Jack White felt so obliged to acknowledge Dwight Yoakam’s musical reputation by dedicating a cover of Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” to the denim-diamond-cladded Kentucky icon of Rock n’ Roll Country. Of course, with Jack’s routine dark twist that only he could belt out in his own rhythmic fashion. In addition to his own solo material, there were heavy doses of past projects; the White Stripes and Raconteurs, a handful of covers, all delivered in pure rock n’ roll perfection, with a necessary dose of bizarro.
Outkast can probably take credit for officially drawing the largest crowd to surround any stage over the entire weekend, as they literally ripped everyone a new, yet familiar, hip-hop asshole. Yes, that was a bonafied compliment for the Atlanta-based alternative trio who enjoyed the largest and most diverse fan-base, blurring the age spectrum. Generation X & Y, along with the Millennials, just couldn’t get enough and all were equally entertained to a brazen 90+ minute set spanning a 20+ year catalogue.
Seattle-based Band of Horses turned in a set that was as mesmerizing as it was entertaining. Frontman Ben Bridwell has a voice that will transcend his band into the ages. That voice embodies the range of emotions and intensity you experience while seeing them live. The downright tight musicianship coupled with stellar songwriting will someday justify their headlining of these festival’s of the like. Period.
The Replacements, who brought an endless buffet of Gibson guitars, also showed they had shit tons of eagerness to perform again, this time with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong to fill on some rhythm responsibilities.
“God, please write this set for us,” lead vocalist Paul Westerberg pleaded upon claiming the mic and stage. Ask, and ye shall receive, shall we say, for a summation of everything thereafter. Only one cover was logged, which came by way of Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene.”
Swamp-blues rockers JJ Grey & Mofro also gave a raucous rock n’ roll performance that was message-filled and loose, shall we say.Ole’ JJ himself occasionally took mid-song instrumental breaks to share what was on his mind with his ever-endearing fan base who praised every word that was uttered from his lips. The most memorable of the night came by way of their set’s closer “Everything Good is Bad.”
Ray LaMontagne’s psychedelic southern circus of sounds started calmly, but built with intensity and a recognizable progression thanks to a highly talented and multi-tasking band. Ray’s natural vocal rasp is not only immediately recognizable, but grants him his own sound and give’s a meaningful feeling to his music.
Louisville’s current hip-hop ambassador, Jalin Roze, amassed what was probably the largest crowd at the Port Stage saw all weekend. The up and coming Roze broke the norm of his fellow hip-hop compadres, and came with a full live band, brass, strings and keys included. Throw in his masterful manipulation of the English language without butchering it, and you’ll understand that this kid is well on his way. Somewhere.
Even Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer, apparently taking the weekend off to join the army of forecastle’s growing citizen journalists, took to the Twitter-sphere to document his Forecastle experience. Way to go Mayor on getting in the photo pit, apparently, too. Or were you in VIP all day?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that on Friday, July 18th, marked what would have been the 77th birthday of Louisville native Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, who was recognized in a sort of mild manner overall, but whose 15’ tall human-powered puppet made it’s return from last year. It’s both a crowd pleaser and selfie-inducer.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that – as we consider what Forecastle is and what it will be – good ole’ Hunter once infamously proclaimed, “When the going get’s weird, the weird turn pro.”
In toady’s world, indeed it’s weird. And it’s safe to assume the continued evolution of something like Forecastle is a bit of living proof HST’s proclamation of such, wasn’t just another one of his many rage and substance-laden rants. He was right, again. It’s happening everywhere, geographically, but it’s also happening here with a little more intensity. Right here in Louisville, Kentucky. America’s midwestern heartland. Exactly where his own ideologies first formed. Seemingly ironic.
That said, and jumping ahead to Forecastle 2015, Hunter would’ve probably just said, “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”
— This review also published at PerformerMag.com
Black Stone Cherry
Produced by: Joe Barresi www.BlackStoneCherry.com
Much like they did when they first formed in 2001, Kentucky’s Black Stone Cherry has recorded an album that essentially reiterates their stylistic roots as a band. Hard. Southern. Rock-n-roll. Maybe in that order, and maybe their best recorded effort ever. Considering they are probably Southern Rock’s unofficial-official torch-bearers.
However, somewhat unlike their youthful formative elementary days, Magic Mountain’s topics are a bit more college’y, highlighted by moments of verbal sultry bluntness more so than their previous three releases. Perhaps so blatantly, that we can go ahead and officially add “stoner-rock” to their growing list of genre identifiers.
The opening track, “Holding On To Letting Go,” sets a fast pace that rarely slows down throughout the album. Between the first single, “Me and Mary Jane,” or other tunes like “Peace Pipe” or the album’s title cut, there are enough marijuana-friendly references for this recording collection to be a modern day Cheech and Chong movie soundtrack. Where C&C go to Kentucky. Theoretically.
Of course, a Black Stone(d) Cherry album is never really complete until, in prideful anthemic-fashion, there’s a song which glorifies their home state of Kentucky. A place they’re not ashamed from being. The tune this time is “Hollywood In Kentucky” where the guys proclaim that “KFC would still be Kentucky Fried Chicken” and where “you get your ass kicked if you talk about my mother.”
And that song closes out with an instrumental guitar-fueled bluegrass’ish jam session.
Key Tracks: “Me and Mary Jane” “Dance Girl” “Fiesta Del Fuego” “Hollywood In Kentucky”
This review also published at PerformerMag.com and in Performer Magazine’s July 2014 issue.
In the world of music festivals, everything changes. Eventually. And Louisville’s annual mammoth-sized music, art and activism mecca, Forecastle Festival, now in its 11th year, is no exception. The festival will once again take place on Louisville’s Waterfront Park, from July 12-14.
What started as a small neighborhood gathering in Louisville’s Tyler Park in 2002 has evolved into one of the Midwest’s largest platforms for musicians, artists and activists alike with tens of thousands flocking to the banks of the Ohio River every summer.
Last year the Forecastle founder JK McKnight, announced a partnership with Bonnaroo producer, AC Entertainment.
“One of the biggest assets AC Entertainment brings to the table is experience, and the relationships that go along with that,” McKnight explains. “In addition, a laser-like focus heavily on festivals, which is different than concerts. Festivals are brands, and have to be approached in a different way.”
That approach has lead to a number of expected changes with the core management shift to AC. The most obvious – perhaps only to the Forecastle-faithful – is the music roster, which is a bit lighter on Louisville area artists as compared to year’s past.
“We’re always going to have a local and regional stage. I think that’s never going to change,” McKnight adds.
“But yes, it’s (Louisville & Kentucky musicians) always been a part of the festival and I imagine it always will be. It’s part of our DNA. I think as the festival grows and expands, we’ll be able to use more real estate, which could open up more opportunity,” says McKnight.
“This year I’ve put together a list of probably 15 to 20 local artists that I thought were really special and deserving of an opportunity like this. These were artists that were really out there, touring constantly, pushing the envelope, building their brand. You can look at numbers and statistics, and see them growing in the market. People are responding, which is what we want to see. We want something that catches our eye. If we see other people responding to it, that’s important. The festival’s not about our personal music tastes. I think that’s a misconception,” McKnight candidly commented.
A few of those carefully selected artists hailing from the Louisville area include; the musically unclassifiable My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, the up-and-coming folk-jammers Houndmouth, retro-rockers The Pass, the bluegrass-americana sounds of 23 String Band, and the alt-country up-comers A Lion Named Roar.
As for the Forecastle headliners, festival-goers will enjoy Robert Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters (which’ll hopefully turn into a Led Zeppelin affair), The Black Keys, The Avett Brothers, The Flaming Lips, The String Cheese Incident, Outkast’s Big Boi, and Alabama Shakes just to name a few.
Forecastle is also expanding beyond the festival’s official grounds with a number of late night after-party concerts at Louisville Palace and aboard the Belle of Louisville.
“Every year, the late night component of the festival is always something that we think about throughout the whole year,” McKnight explains. “Obviously, this year with String Cheese doing the Saturday night at the Palace, which is the first year of its kind that the Palace has ever done. But yeah, the Belle of Louisville is an iconic venue. I don’t see us ever quitting that tradition of trying to do shows on the Belle. It’s a lot of fun!”
Posted in Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Previews, National Bands, Upcoming shows | Tagged AC Entertainment, Avett Brothers, Big Boi, Flaming Lips, Forecastle, forecastle festival, jason ashcraft, JK McKnight, louisville, Robert Plant, String Cheese Incident, The Black Keys | Leave a Comment »
Regions of Light and Sound of God
by Jim James
Produced by: Jim James
If you’ve ever listened to any My Morning Jacket album you may have wondered where all that diverse musical inspiration originates from. A singular source or more of a collective effort from all band members?
This album- perhaps – suggestively answers that question as MMJ’s bearded-frontman perfectly fuses prodigious sounds of classical, alternative rock, folk, funk, soul and jazz into a singular cohesion of climatic musical joy. Just like many MMJ albums have done.
The piano-lead opener, “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U)” emanates James’ curiosity of life and his ability to harmonize vowels to a progressive funky bass rhythm.
The album’s first single, “Know Til Now,” is a trippy 6+ minute jam who’s random arrangement reminisces MMJ’s “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt.2” and is equally contagious to all the senses.
There’s also the sensual crooning on “A New Life” which starts one way and ends another way, the smooth and sultry progression of “Actress” and the uplifting instrumental “Exploding” which provides depth.
Any song on this album – to the untrained ear – could easily be mistaken as a new MMJ song. And although that’s not really the case, it was, however, crafted by the one musical wizard behind all of them.
– Jason Ashcraft
* This album review will also appear in Performer Magazine’s February 2013 issue and at PerformerMag.com
Posted in Kentucky Music, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Previews, Music Reviews, National Bands, New Releases | Tagged jason ashcraft, Jim James, My Morning Jacket, regions of light and sound of god | 1 Comment »
In this exclusive interview from the historic Old Seelbach Bar inside Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, cello-rocker Ben Sollee shared “a few honest words” about the making of his new album Half Made Man, those whom he collaborated with to make it, musicians who he’d still like to collaborate with in the future, and his views on the Presidential race and what’s at stake.
Click here to download the digital issue of Performer Magazine December 2012 issue.
Or you can watch the interview in its entirety here.
Or read it….
It’s a quiet, warm Saturday afternoon in downtown Louisville…
…and the lobby of the city’s most iconic display of Southern grandeur, The Seelbach Hotel, is bustling with road-worn and seemingly infrequent visitors stirring about.
One of those visitors is Lexington-native Ben Sollee, one of Kentucky’s up-and-coming “musical” displays of Southern grandeur. A classically trained cellist, Sollee is a one-man orchestra, who owns his instrument and is known for playing it with a combination of passion and grace. He has managed to breed a whole new style of playing his centuries-old instrument, where the end result is a little rock and roll, a little soulful, a little bluegrassy, a little jazzy, very modern, and all Americana.
In 2007, Sollee was lauded by NPR’s Morning Edition as one of the “Top Ten Unknown Artists of the Year.” After that, he officially began exporting himself nationwide and into the spotlight. He’s played Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival and in 2009, landed one of his tunes on Showtime’s series Weeds.
When Sollee wants to jam onstage, while on tour or while recording a new album, he collaborates with everyone from My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel and Jim James, to Daniel Martin Moore to Bella Fleck to Abigail Washburn. Broemel and Washburn joined Sollee on his latest release, Half-Made Man, released through his label, Tin Ear Records. He raised the funds to record it from a public-sourced fan base.
Sitting down in The Old Seelbach Bar, Sollee candidly opens up about his music and life – from the how and why he creates songs and his top picks for collaborations – to his bike tours and political activism.
You’ve just released Half-Made Man, which you’ve said is your most personal album to date. What makes it so personal?
“Well, the goal of the record was to create a collection of self-portraits. So the songs do that in various ways by capturing the pieces of my personality, whether it’s the part that likes to fix things, or the part that’s impatient or the fatherly side of me. And to capture those in a really intimate and raw way, I invited some wonderful musicians to cut it with in the studio.”
Yeah, you had quite a few guest musicians join you. So tell me about the process of choosing them, and how they contributed to the artistic process.
“Many of the musicians are folks that I’ve played music with and that I really respected their distinct character as musicians…”
Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket?
“He came in and did a lot of the guitar work that you hear. Alana Rocklin is a tremendous R&B, jazz and hip-hop bass player [who] just came in and just covered all the bases. And Jordan Ellis, who is a percussionist, and who I’ve been playing with for a while.
Then we had a fiddler come in named Jeremy Kittel, and he’s from a real diverse background, everything from Scottish fiddling to a contemporary classical musical ensemble. So, the thing about the ensemble is that we didn’t have to try very hard to create a unique sound, because there was already a unique collection of people.”
You also had, as I understand it, a guy who is quickly becoming popular in the recording scene here in Louisville, Kevin Ratterman. He’s also worked with My Morning Jacket and Wax Fang, and helped with your production, as well?
“I think ‘becoming popular’ might even be a little bit of an understatement. Kevin Ratterman, for the last decade has had his finger on what the Louisville rock sound has become – a lot of the sounds you hear coming out, whether it be Cheyenne Marie Mize or My Morning Jacket’s new record, or Wax Fang. You know all those things are being put out and recorded by Kevin because he’s got this big heart and unending search for ‘the sound.’”
Yeah, he’s definitely getting to all the musicians that have ‘the sound.’
“That’s because he cares. It’s not necessarily because he has a fancy studio or even because of his rates. It’s because if you want to work with somebody – at this point if we’re going to spend all this time, money and energy recording a record – we want it to be with somebody who gives a damn.”
Speaking of the money, you had a different approach to recording this in terms of how you funded it. Tell us a little bit about that and how that came about.
“Well, the funding for this record was crowd-sourced through a platform called Pledge Music.”
Truly public music?
[laughing] “I guess so. And this project wouldn’t even be possible without that kind of support. So I think it’s fascinating, this relationship that’s developing.”
Your music has historically had an activism aspect to it, such as your bike tours. Is there anything in the future that’s gonna keep that part of you alive and how are you going to do it?
“Well for me, my music always comes from a very personal place, and what I consider a very sincere expression. And in that way, all the things I care about as a person come to the surface. And I try to express them through the songs and through activities around the shows and through organizations I work with and various other projects. And I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. I’m not going to stop caring about those folks. How I can tie in and help those organizations will change as my business grows. And more opportunities, if anything. For the bike tours, we’re really trying to do about a third of our touring each year by bicycle.”
Where are you biking to and from this year?
“We biked from the Newport Folk Festival, where we had a really wonderful bunch of shows. And we rode our bikes up the coast to a bunch of shows in Portland, Maine. It wasn’t a tremendously long tour, but it was a beautiful tour.”
How many miles would you say?
“It was about 300 or so up the coast.”
And you actually had the cello strapped to your back?
“The cello actually goes on the side of the bicycle. It’s a utility bike on the side of the frame.”
So tell me about some of the other artists out there who you’d still like to share a stage or studio with.
“Oh, gosh, there are so many of them. There are folks like Paul Simon who I’d love to work with. There are folks like Ani DiFranco I’d like to work with. There are a tremendous amount of jazz artists I’d like to work with. The list is endless…”
Tin Ear Records
Produced by Ben Sollee
Available: September 25, 2012
Kentucky cellist transforms pop-rock with his jazz, folk, Americana-bluegrass roots
When reviewing an album there is always a tendency – as a writer – to draw comparison to some other artist’s recording. You want to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what he or she should expect before buying the album.
On Sollee’s fourth studio endeavor, that’s a tough task to do. Ben Sollee sounds exactly like – himself — which is to say that Sollee, in an otherwise endlessly diverse indie music-sphere, has truly pioneered his own Alt- Americana style of music.
Which he is now releasing on his own label of Tin Ear Records.
Catapulting from his classically trained cellist roots, Sollee blends elements of pop-rock, jazz, R&B, and bluegrass for a harmoniously groove-a-licious and pop-rockish departure from 2011‘s Inclusions.
Joining him as guests on the album are My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel on guitar, Turtle Island Quartet’s Jeremy Kittel on fiddle, Alana Rocklin on bass, Jordan Ellis on percussion and Vocalist Abigail Washburn.
Songs I remember most were the melodic grooves in “DIY,” the heartfelt prowess on “Unfinished” and the candid assertions from “Get Off Your Knees.”
The album peaks on “The Pursuit of Happiness,” a vocally arousing and storytelling, rock-n-roll rhythmic monster of a song whose messaging is just just as commanding as its chord progressions.
Even though this album is named “Half-Made Man,” Sollee proves once again how his self-defined musical mystique is nothing other than “wholly” made.
** This review will also published at Performer Mag.com and Performer Magazine’s October 2012 issue, and, perhaps, another publication.
Posted in Kentucky Music, Music Reviews, National Bands, New Releases | Tagged Abigail Washburn, album review, Americana, Ben Sollee, ben sollee half made man, Carl Broemel, Do it yourself, half made man | Leave a Comment »
You wanna know what Forecastle Festival is like? Ok. It’s a little something like this: Music. Art(ists). Ecology. Louisville-lovers. Dirty hippie dudes. Dirty hippie dames. Beardos. Rollie Fingers’ staches. Dreadlocks. Tye-dye. Bassheads. Potheads. River-bathers. Burlesque performances. Tree-huggers. Socialists. Liberals. Journalists. Hacky-sack circles. Sweaty people drinking PBR. Sweaty people making out. Sweaty people drinking PBRs and making out. Teenage make-shift obstacle hurdlers. Pervasive Mary Jane aromas. Muhammad Ali portraits in the head. The Mayor in VIP.
Yep, this is how it went down on the banks of the Ohio River when more than 35,000 people jumbled together to celebrate Louisville, right below its own skyline in Waterfront Park. And, yes, this was a city government-endorsed event as Mayor Fischer was present to once again welcome My Morning Jacket with Forecastle Festival founder JK McKnight. Whereas some city governments shun music festivals like these, Louisville’s embraces it.
Things have really evolved culturally in this town over the last couple decades, and Forecastle just may be one, if not the main, instigator of said evolution. It’s living, breathing, naked proof that people from many different backgrounds, beliefs and races can coexist together in a way that promotes unity, cultural awareness, activism and freedom with music as the unifying stimulus.
With music being one of the biggest aspects of the festival, here is the rundown of the artists ranked from best to worst in my own opinion.
My Morning Jacket
I don’t have a clue where to freaking begin here. Why? Because last May 2011, when the band released Circuital at Louisville’s Palace Theatre I said that MMJ gave the greatest performance they could ever give. Now here I am, again, both eating my words and again saying, “MMJ gave the greatest performance they could ever give at Forecastle.” Not to mention the best performance – by far – of the entire damn festival. Exactly as they planned to.
In a recent interview with MMJ bassist Two-Tone Tommy, he promised that “surprises” were in store, and the first came only two songs in when the big brass backing of Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined them for a crowd-pleasing version of “Holdin’ Onto Black Metal.”
Keeping the set eclectic, they played songs from virtually their entire discography, opening with “The Dark” and busting out mesmerizing versions of “The Bear,” “Anytime,” “Smoking From Shooting,” “Steam Engine,” and crowd favorites, including“Wordless Chorus” and an Andrew Bird-accompanied version of “Gideon.”
They also logged killer covers of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity,” The Band’s “It Makes No Difference,” and an encore performance of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” in which Jim delivered a message from George Michael himself, while tossing bananas to the audience and hilariously adjusting the lyrics to suit the occasion.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that cover perpetuated the sale of a few more George Michaels’ albums on iTunes post-show from all those youngins, who were wondering what the hell they just heard. Hey kids, just like Jim mentioned during a mid-song instrumental break, “George Michaels gets a lot of shit, but he is a fucking genius.” Truer words never spoken.
Once the banana tossing concluded, and with Forecastle’s First-mate saluting the audience from side-stage, former MMJ guitarist Johnny Quaid (of Ravenna Colt) emerged from backstage to play a rambunctious version of “One Big Holiday.” With that, the stage came alive as human-propelled animal and fish props became part of the stage show and provided the last of many “holy shit” moments for the evening.
Now here is a band with a lot of charisma and a seemingly bright future ahead of them — that is — if they keep giving performances like they did at Forecastle. Make no mistake folks, lead singer Alex Kandel is the star in this band as she danced, headbanged and pushed her way around stage with fellow bandmates, flipping her hair from one side to the next every five steps.
I guess Guitarist Tony Smith figured he, too, needed to get a little wicked, electing to jump offstage and crowd-surf till he was dropped. He quickly jumped back to his feet and climbed back onstage to carry on.
The Bowling Green, Kentuckians logged rowdy live performances of “Get Burned,” “Get It Daddy” and “Proper Taste,” all from their debut album Celebrasion. If these little young Kentucky lads are to have some more big shows in their future, then all they gotta do is keep doing what they did at Forecastle. Their crowd was one of the biggest of the smaller two stages. Next time, they should get a bigger stage because I’m betting they will hold their own on a stage of any size.
Kentucky’s cello-rocker Ben Sollee is a one-man orchestra onstage. Offstage, he’s a seemingly passive, small-framed guy, who almost looks like a scientist or a high school math teacher. But don’t be fooled, because he once again shattered that subtle image the moment he took stage and masterfully blended elements of classical and out-right jamming styles of sound from his cello. He adds in some soulful vocals and sometimes plays with vicious intent and a lot of passion.
Not even a 10-minute late start due to a technical glitch slowed him down on his Sunday evening performance, nor did it decrease the size of his audience, which eagerly awaited him to start plucking and strumming that cello with his bow. Once he started, Sollee quickly captured his audience with his passion in both personality and showmanship. His one-hour set flew by, and I found myself having to cut-out about 15 minutes early to see another equally impressive band getting ready to start.
“Hat’s off to My Morning Jacket for their great taste in music!” says Clutch lead singer Neil Fallon, who selfishly joked at mid-set about their invitation to play. But he’s right, especially if you’re fan of good ole’ dirty and stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll, which is a music style that’s not the norm at Forecastle.
Filling the Boom Stage’s lawn with a couple thousand people, Clutch played cuts from their entire catalog. Opening with “Gravel Road” and closing with “One Eye Dollar,” Clutch delivered a set that spanned their 20-year career in music, including high-energy versions of their more popular hits like “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” and “Electric Worry,” yet strangely left out “The Mob Goes Wild.” Damn. Maybe next time.
These Afrobeat and funk pioneers were probably one of the most under-anticipated acts playing in the entire festival. These guys have been playing together for decades but added a hip international flair unlike previous years. Although they’ve been jamming out since the ‘60s, this was only their second trip to the U.S.
About an equal amount of time was shared between instrumental play and the soulful French-African vocals of lead singer Amenoudji Joseph Vicky, who spoke to the audience during and in-between songs.
After his performance, I actually had the chance to speak with Vicky on things like the meaning of his music, who some of his musical influences are, and even got a little political, quizzing him on his thoughts on President Obama and our country’s political system.
Speaking in his native French tongue and with a little help from Poly Rythmo’s interpreter and U.S. Manager, Elodie, Vicky was candid and entertaining to listen to. I just wish he had broken out a peace pipe on me. Oh well.
This is one band I hadn’t actually planned on seeing, but that I just happened to stumble upon while waiting to see Cabin at the next stage over. I gotta say I’m definitely glad I did, because the guys were totally balls-out rock ‘n’ roll with enough energy radiating off the stage to keep their audience growing through the set.
Now I didn’t recognize any of their original music, but they belted out one mean cover of The Who’s “Teenage Wasteland,” which stopped a few would-be passerbys dead in their tracks as they made their way to the stage.
One of several Louisville-based indie rock acts took the stage on a muggy Sunday evening to a rather shy and undersized crowd. Lead singer Noah Hewett-Ball has a calm, cool and collected demeanor onstage that seems to carry over with most of their music as a band.
One of their more catchy tunes they played, “A Lie Worth Believing,” just happened to bring out cello extraordinaire, Ben Sollee, for a little eclectic addition to an already catchy song. Much to the modest crowd’s appeasement, Keyboard and Violinist Sarah Beth Welder wasn’t shy about admitting that “I got to knock something off my bucket list by playing with Ben Sollee.”
The country punk rockers make their Forecastle return, this time with less bugs up in their grills. Yep, the last time they played Forecastle in 2010 Lucero was swarmed by big river flies that spoiled their performance a little. Not this time, though, instead they were swarmed with a steady fan base.
Frontman Ben Nichols’ gritty and countryfied vocals charmed the couple thousand fans, who weren’t in short supply of being fond for alt-southern sounds that makes Lucero iconic.
Promoting their latest album Women & Work, Nichols and band jammed out the title track to an eager audience. And it wouldn’t be a true Lucero show if they didn’t play “Nights Like These” and “Kiss the Bottle,” which Nichols refers to as his “jaw breaking song.”
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
The pride of New Orlean’s zydeco-jazz music culture stormed into Louisville — almost literally. Staying true to Preservation Hall’s reputation of never hosting a performance in the rain, the day’s storms cleared out of Louisville just in time. Some things never change, I guess.
Just as everyone anticipated, Jim James took the stage for a cabaret-like sing-a-long with Bourbon Street’s brass kings. And somehow at the end of that boisterous performance, James was holding a broken mic stand. Figure that one out for me.
Who would’ve ever known that frontman Johnny Quaid actually had something more exciting in store than his own band’s performance at Forecastle? Not even me. Just a few hours after a bit of a mundane performance with his band Ravenna Colt, Quaid joined his former bandmates in My Morning Jacket onstage for what had to be the highlight of his night.
Ravenna Colt has some decent songs, thanks to Quaid’s obvious ear for sound, but their presentation needs some work. Many of their songs don’t warrant an energetic performance; the band just didn’t seem to be inspired by the music they were playing.
“South of Ohio” is one song they played that warrants a feather in his hat, but a bleak crowd seemed to detract from the performance.
From Bruce Springsteen to Outkast to Black Sabbath, etc., etc. All laced with a steady backbeat. Ok, this guy reminded me of this loud-mouth, yet like-able, drunken club DJ that I used to work with in college in Richmond, Ky.
This dude pressed a damn button every so often on his laptop, yelled through his microphone “How y’all doing?” a few times and then staggered around like a boozed up ADHD patient all night — sometimes being away from his “instrument” for extended periods of time. Sure, he was a fun guy who “breaks out the jams” and entertains the chemically induced masses. But let’s be clear; I never considered this drunken bastard “talented.” Know what I mean?
It’s safe to say that this year’s Forecastle Festival topped everyone’s expectations, even my own. I admit that one of my first worries with all the amped up hype was that there would be an equally amped up Police force and security team ready to spoil the fun. As it turned out, however, and much to everyone’s appreciation, that wasn’t the case. They were seemingly respectful of the fans.
I mean, let’s face it; you can’t have the police dragging away a bunch of teenage and 20-something potheads for passing around doobies. Not when the Mayor just came off stage from amping them up and hanging out in VIP. That wouldn’t look good, now would it?
In all seriousness, well done LMPD and Axis Security! You see? You guys still brought home the same amount of pay, maintained the safety of all festival-goers and didn’t have to break a sweat or someone’s arm while doing it. Hopefully, you guys now realize that all those pot-smoking, music-junkie hippie kids aren’t really interested in bringing harm to anyone or anything. Nah. All they really want to do is get another polish sausage to suffice their munchies, dance in circles to a My Morning Jacket or Dr. Dog song, and maybe learn how to burn a few less fossil fuels in their daily lives. So, thank you for allowing this to happen. Peacefully.
Posted in Interviews, jason ashcraft, Kentucky Music, Live Performance Reviews, Louisville Bands, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Reviews, National Bands, Politics, Rhetoric, Uncategorized | Tagged Ben Sollee, cabin, Clutch, forecastle festival, girltalk, jason ashcraft, Louisville Kentucky, Lucero, MMJ, moon taxi, My Morning Jacket, orchestre poly rythmo, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, ravenna colt, Sleeper Agent, waterfront park | Leave a Comment »
Leading up to their Forecastle Festival performance on Friday the 13th, founding members of Kentucky’s Sleeper Agent, Alex Kandel (vocals) and Tony Smith (lead guitar) chatted with me on a few things like their influences, what they think of other Kentucky musicians, Alex’s recent nomination into the latest Rolling Stone readers poll, and what their new album holds.
Jason Ashcraft: I’m here with Kentucky’s own Sleeper Agent, Tony and Alex, how are you all doing today?
Tony Smith: Pretty good
Alex Kandel: Yeah, we’re doing good.
Excellent. So here we are at Forecastle Festival 2012, and it’s Friday the 13th. Any superstitions?
Tony: (laughing) No!
Alex: No, we’ll watch a horror movie I guess. We’re big horror movie fans as a band.
Horror movie fans?
Does that have any influence on your music by chance?
Tony: Only on stuff like “Be My Monster”
Alex: Yeah, I guess. Then there is our publishing thing called “Sleep-away Camp” which is named after one of favorite movies.
You guys have been a really up-and-coming band after only being together for just a couple of years, so tell me about your musical influences and your chemical influences?
Tony: Uh, a lot of beer.
Alex: (laughing) Caffeine.
Tony: Musically, if you’d ask me two years ago it’d be totally different….
Alex: Constantly changing. Right now? I mean I will always be influenced by The Ronettes.
And you also have a likeness for Fiona Apple, who I believe was the first concert you ever went to?
Alex: Um, yeah it was THE first concert I ever went to. It was like, I didn’t actually know it till I found a journal entry from that time. (laughing) But, it’s kind of funny how things work out.
So I like to focus on a lot of Kentucky artists. And since you guys are amongst that group now, I’ve got a list here of other Kentucky based artists. I’m gonna call their names out and the first word that comes to mind when I say their name, just tell me what it is. Whatever your first reaction is.
Tony: This could be dangerous.
So let’s start off with My Morning Jacket.
Alex: Epic, yeah that’s the word.
Tony: What happened?
Alex: (laughing) They’re great.
Tony: They’re great guys, but after their second album they kind of disappeared.
Black Stone Cherry.
Alex: I don’t know. I’ve met them a few times. They were really nice.
Cage The Elephant
Tony: Family (laughing).
Tony: Up there.
Days of the New
Tony: Unheard of.
Alex: No idea who that is.
Tony: I was going to say that actually.
Good to know. Welcome to the Kentucky music family so to speak.
So, Alex. Turning the attention to you for a moment. You were recently nominated in Rolling Stone’s latest readers’ poll “Women Who Rock.” So, tell me. Why do you rock?
Alex: (smiling) Because I’m actually in a “rock” band. Which, you know, some of the other contestants aren’t. I got that going for me. And because I live in a van, and just like play shows all the time and there is no smoking mirror. I’m just working my ass off.
Tony: You’ve gotten injured several times.
Alex: Oh, I have scars.
Oh, scars. Scars are good.
Alex: (pointing to a scar on her upper forehead) Can you see it? From a guitar.
Yeah. What happened there?
Alex: (smiling and laughing) I broke Tony’s guitar with my head.
That is totally awesome! If you don’t “rock” for that alone, then I don’t know who does.
In your own words, you know, with a lot of bands it takes them a long time to get where you guys have already gone. Why do you think its happened so quickly for you guys?
Tony: Well, technically it took us nine years to get here. So what this is, is the dregs of all the other projects plus Alex (laughing). So just nine years of non-stop work.
Alex: Yeah, they’re is a lot that goes into it too, and you have to be the right sound, with the right path. Our first record was just good timing and the right people believing in us at the right time. A lot of factors go into what makes us a band. It has nothing to do with what we make alone. It has everything to do with what people hear it, and every fan that bought our record and came to our shows.
Cool. Well looking forward to hearing you play here at Forecastle Festival. And I just caught wind that you guys are writing a new record already. Any thoughts or anything you’d like to share with that?
Tony: I’m really excited.
Alex: Even though I’m just hearing the songs in their very early stages where they’re just infants, it’s really cool to know that I am already proud of this record.
Release date yet? Do you even know?
Alex: I have no idea.
Would you say your music is evolving? Are you experimenting? Or staying with your same root sound?
Tony: Yeah, the first album was more of a sketch. This one is more of a painting.
** This interview is also posted at LouisvilleKY.com
Posted in Interviews, jason ashcraft, Kentucky Music, Louisville Bands, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, National Bands, New Releases, Uncategorized | Tagged Alex Kandel, Black Stone Cherry, forecastle festival, jason ashcraft, Kentucky, Nappy Roots, Rolling Stone, Ronettes, Sleeper Agent | 1 Comment »
There’s a lot going on these days in the life of My Morning Jacket bassist Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship. When you’re a member of one of the music industry’s most popular live alternative rock-n-roll bands, you tend to not have too much time for things other than music and your career.
With MMJ’s focus on curating Louisville’s Forecastle Festival, the boys are looking at music with a different focus; through their Louisville-lenses, so to speak, more so than other shows they play.
It’s hard to believe that back in 2002 Forecastle Festival started as a small group of local musicians who gathered in Louisville’s Tyler Park for one day of music and community celebration. Now, 10 years later, founder JK McKnight has morphed that little neighborhood gathering into the Midwest’s largest music, art and activism mecca, and now has tapped the area’s biggest musical export in My Morning Jacket not only headlining, but helping plan the event.
Forecastle Festival now boasts more than three stages with a combination of both national and Louisville-area musicians of all music and genre types. Throw in dozens of vendors, sponsors, artists and keynote activism speakers, and all of the sudden you see what I mean when I say “morph.”
Last summer’s “Halfway to Forecastle” event was a show that McKnight conceived on-the-fly to merely hold over the Forecastle faithful while he formed a partnership with AC Entertainment, the company that just happens to produce a little festival in southern Tennessee called Bonnaroo.
“The partnership has been great. AC Entertainment has brought of wealth of knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, and commitment to programming excellence. Everyday is a new adventure, and I’m really glad to be part of the team,” McKnight said.
So with his big guns a blazin’, and a hell of a lot more production power behind him, McKnight has now recruited Louisville’s biggest musical export, and Bonnaroo-four-hour-marathon-set-festival-favorite, My Morning Jacket, to help select the show’s artist roster and a few other details.
I had the chance to talk with My Morning Jacket bassist Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship on this year’s event and how the band has played a role in the show’s “curation.”
So, I’m here with Two-Tone Tommy Blankenship of My Morning Jacket, who is one of the official curators of the Forecastle Festival. Right, Tommy?
So what does that entail doing? What are you doing to building Forecastle to what it’s going to be?
I think the biggest thing was throwing out names of bands, kinda like our dream list of some of the artists we wanted to see this year. As well helping plan a lot of the charities and who was going to be involved with charities. The food vendors, retail vendors. All of it was just kind of just suggestions as you know with the curation.
So does that mean we will see a lot of local Louisville businesses and local Kentucky and Louisville-based bands on the bill?
Exactly. Yeah, we wanted to really focus on – since there are so many national acts that are already coming in – was to have a dedicated local stage that would really shine a spotlight on what makes the city so special. Especially just having both – the festival as a 10-year anniversary and it felt like something we’ve always wanted to do at all of our shows. Like have the local village, you know? Like have the spotlight on the city itself, because there are so many people traveling in from out of town. Just trying to put the spotlight on everything we love about the city.
Of course Forecastle has a reputation for already doing that. That being said though, who are some of the artists you guys hand-picked and are really looking forward to seeing?
Geez, they’re are like so many. Dr. Dog, Washed Out, Andrew Bird, Wilco. I mean literally, everyday, there is somebody…
(And all-of-the-sudden my dogs start barking in the background. Tommy and I laugh it off for about 5 seconds until it quiets down again.)
Who are some of the artists that you guys hand-picked that are like local and independent who are trying to make their way and this show is going to be a big effort for them to do that?
A big one for me is Cabin. I don’t know, do you remember Shane Thomas that we went to school with?
Yeah, I think so. And I’ve seen Cabin before, and they were good!
Yeah, yeah, they’re amazing. Yeah Cabin, Lydia Burrell, John that used to play in the band (MMJ) is in Ravenna Colt now and they’re playing.
Yeah, yeah I know The Ravenna Colt, and they’re good.
Yeah, they’re amazing. Wax Fang. I mean like pretty much everybody that was invited was pretty much on our list. Like, a lot of the local artists that are coming in.
In terms of your guy’s own performance, on that Saturday night is when you’re playing, is that correct?
Yeah, Saturday night.
So, I’m not going to ask you for details or anything, but is there any surprises coming? A simple yes or no will do.
Ahh, yes. For sure.
Awesome. And – without giving it away – what can we expect?
Without giving it away…
Without giving it away?
(laughs, again, because my dog interrupts one more time with the barking)
“Oh, yeah! It will be a different experience over any shows that we’ve done this year or last year.”
Good to know. Something to look forward to. Awesome.
What would you say is your favorite thing about Louisville and our whole Kentucky-music stomping ground is or what is your favorite thing about our city?
I think – and this might seem like a limitation in a way – what I always loved about growing up in the area, and what I still love about it, is that is has an identity all on its own. I think that it really pushes young artists to find their own voice and their own sound, and really make things happen. Because it really isn’t a destination scene. It isn’t like you said, Chicago or any of the big cities that are around. Or even Indy in a way. It just doesn’t have that…like people aren’t moving to Louisville to start bands.
Yeah, you’re saying that we’re a very homegrown music scene.
Yeah, for sure. It’s kind of insular. I think they’re aren’t a lot of opportunities to play outside of the city; it’s not like if you make a name for yourself in Louisville that will carry you through a bunch of other cities or, you know, get you on a bunch of other cities and festivals and stuff.
Right, right. So what’s your advice to young musicians here in town who are trying to get where you guys are going with your own career?
I mean, it’s gonna sound kind of clichéd, but as long you just put the work into it, you know, more than anything else. I mean obviously, it’s just passion. It’s having the passion, putting the work into it and not expecting a whole lot in return. Like work and work and work, and don’t expect a whole lot, and then I think you’ll have the biggest reward that way.
So, circling back to you guys. Jim (James) just recently announced that he was doing a solo project, which is pretty cool, and of course Carl (Broemel) has done his own thing. Do you think that all the side project work that other members do will contribute to a MMJ hiatus?
Yeah, man I feel like this is the main gig for all of us. And being able to have the freedom in the band to go and do these other projects – it’s like when you come back to it – for all of us, we have this deeper appreciation for our dynamic, the way we work, how easy it is. And then you’re learning something when you walk away from the band who is been in these other playgrounds, these other sandboxes. You get to experience things with other people; then you can kind of bring that experience back with you into this familiar family setting.
So it’s definitely something that fuels your diversity because from one album to the next you guys are never the same.
(laughing) Right, right, yeah. Yeah.
That’s good. So it’s turned into a positive and not a negative is what you’re saying?
Awesome. Do you have any side projects or solo things you’re planning on your own?
Ummmm, nothing so far. No, no.
Yeah, that’s cool. Just kind of enjoying life and living the American dream? Living the dream…
(laughing) Exactly, right. Life is good.
So, let me ask you this, closing out here; you guys have been nominated for a Grammy on several occasions. How important is it for you personally or as a band to eventually bring one home?
Ah, for me, you know, just being nominated is mind blowing and it’s unbelievable. It’s such a rewarding feeling, that whether we win or lose, to have that recognition to have the nomination is way more than I could have ever dreamed or hoped for.
That’s good. So, what’s next for My Morning Jacket?
After this tour and after Forecastle Festival, is there a new album in the works?
Nah, you know, we’re just focusing on touring for the rest of the year and then hopefully come next spring we’ll start getting into song-writing and studio work.
My Morning Jacket / Bassnectar / Wilco / Girltalk / Clutch / Lucero / Neko Case / plus many more…
Friday, July 13 – Sunday, July 15
Louisville’s Waterfront Park
$57.50 – $350
Listen to the full unedited audio interview:
** This interview and preview also posted at LouisvilleKY.com
Posted in Interviews, jason ashcraft, Kentucky Music, Louisville Bands, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Previews, National Bands, Upcoming shows | Tagged AC Entertainment, Andrew Bird, Dr. Dog, forecastle festival, jason ashcraft, Kentucky, louisville, MMJ, My Morning Jacket, tom blakenship | 1 Comment »
How exactly do you sum up a city whose unorthodox culture has bred an equally diverse music scene? Like this: Louisville is named after King Louis XVI, the beheaded French tyrant, whose concrete likeness still graces the city square. It’s a city that manufactures the wooden weapons for America’s greatest pastime. It’s also the host the world’s most decadent and depraved equine sporting event, The Kentucky Derby, which also brings through some of the year’s best live shows.
It’s a city that gave birth to a man simply known as “The Greatest” and another one simply known as “Gonzo.” From Muhammad Ali to My Morning Jacket, Darrell Griffith to Days of the New, Rick Pitino to Nappy Roots or Hunter S. Thompson to, umm, FLAW, this is Louisville.
HEADLINERS MUSIC HALL
1386 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40206
— The city’s best room sound-wise, it also plays host to many of the nation’s best touring acts that frequent Louisville.
THE MONKEY WRENCH
1025 Barret Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204
— Part tribute to Louisville’s art scene and Hunter S. Thompson, this bar hosts a crazy array of musicians and patrons with a multitude of personalities, just like HST would’ve probably expected.
THE RUDYARD KIPLING
422 West Oak St.
Louisville, KY 40203
— One of the longer established live music joints, “The Rud” as many locals call it, is still frequented by a number of long-time area favorites.
1017 E. Broadway
Louisville, KY 40204
— A small downtown club that hosts one-man bands to five-man bands (comfortably) and has made itself known for supporting the local indie music scene.
2100 South Preston St.
Louisville, KY 40217
— On the northern fringe of Germantown, you’ll find this hip little bar where loud rock and roll and PBR reign supreme. Usually.
*Venues to avoid: Phoenix Hill Tavern, Jim Porter’s, 3rd Street Dive & Wick’s Pizza
2600 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40211
— Somehow, this little record store stays open with virtually no website or digital storefront for its patrons. Just the brick and mortar on Broadway.
2003 Highland Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204
— Known for hard-to-find vinyl, this low-key landmark has survived the digital age while staying true to its nostalgic business model.
1610 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40205
— This specialty shop boasts a wide selection of strings and is frequented by many touring artists who’ve got a gig in the Highlands.
UNCLE SAM’S JAMMS
1209 Durrett Ln.
Louisville, KY 40213
— Owner Jeff Gomez and company provide a full-service repair and support department for musicians in addition to new and used equipment sales.
301 East Main Street, Suite 201
Louisville, KY 40202
— Founded by Congressman John Yarmuth in 1989, this little weekly alternative pub still reigns supreme for music lovers of the weird and other liberal radicals of all sorts.
619 S. Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40202
— As one of Louisville’s only thriving radio stations, this little public FM station has built a reputation for supporting the independent music scene. It’s a refreshing alternative to what’s traditionally been dominated by the corporate Clear Channel radio market.
To download the digital version of this issue, click the Performer cover below:
If there ever were a need to record an album that glorifies the art of southern-urban-suburban living in good ole’ Louisville, Kentucky coupled with mass consumption of various chemical substances, then this would be that album.
On their 3rd album (the first being Universal Motown Records), the VilleBillies continue perfecting their original sound of recording boozy, beat-laden, twangy, honest hip-hop music straight from their heart and minds. And they definitely didn’t forget to work on elevating their other nostalgic trait: Louisville-celebrity-living-ness. Or something to that effect.
Appetite for Dysfunction’s first single and track No. 4 “Talk to Me,” a dark, yet catchy tune was released on Youtube in November 2010. Yep, 2010.
Other killer tracks is the twangy-wangy guitar rock n’ roll jam “Pure to the Grain,” and the smooth beats and groove laid on “Rear View.” There’s also the eerie piano & guitar playing on “Pride Aside,” which is candidly humble lyrically speaking. The harmonica and banjo makes its first appearance on “O’Death,” a song that has a backwoods, porch-stomping, celtic feel to it. “Just Yesterday” is something that resembles a ballad, something that hasn’t been a VB regularity, but you’d never know it after listening to it.
Closing out in style, they end with a Weird Al-like parody of “Talk To Me,” dubbed “Tuck to Me” where the lyrics are virtually dumb, sometimes redundant and non-fitting to the rhythm. The VilleBillies. Essentially fucking around while still recording their album and making fun of their own antics. Imagine that. Surprising, I know.
2. Pure to the Grain
3. Worth the Fight
4. Talk to Me
5. Rear View
6. Rocket Queen
8. Side Show
9. Pride Aside
10. The Biz
11. Same Ol’ People
13. So Goes the Scarecrow
14. Movin On
15. Just Yesterday
16. Tuck to Me
** This review will also soon be published on LouisvilleKY.com
“Thank you buddy!” Cornell quickly replied while trying to eyeball his affectionate fan.
“So, what do you guys want to hear?” Cornell asked.
And somewhere muddled in the flurry of audience requests that ensued, I’m pretty sure Cornell developed most of his setlist at that given moment that he would perform over the next couple hours.
Cornell’s been sporting a Jesus Christ look lately with a fairly long dark beard and stringy shoulder-length dark hair. It’s kind of a different look for him. Regardless, the grammy award winning Soundgarden/Audioslave founder and frontman spent the next two and a half hours treating fans to his hit-filled “Songbook” collection from a wildly successful 25+ year career in music.
I can’t really decide which moment or what song stole the night or was liked by the audience the best. There was just to many solid performances given by Cornell, with each of them rivaling in showmanship and vocal vertex.
From the opening song, which I thought was some sort of tribute to Elvis Costello (but actually was a cover of Nick Lowe’s Peace, Love & Understanding), to a flawless depiction of “Seasons,” or the heart-felt and smooth crooning of “Sunshower,” to when he hit his vocal pinnacle on “Fell On Black Days,” to the unyielding performance of “Hunger Strike” that evoked a standing ovation from the crowd, Cornell’s enthusiasm for playing never once faded.
Believe it or not, a fight that broke out by some good ole’ redneck boys (this is still Kentucky, you know) during a performance of “Like A Stone.” What a bad song to fight to I may add. Must have been over a girl I’m guessing. Even Cornell had to stop playing because of the audience’s noticeable distraction and the security waving flashlights.
“You’re interrupting my song, dudes. Just relax and sit down,” Cornell jokingly, yet seriously requested.
And right after the rest of the audience graciously applauded Cornell for calling out the feuding fans, he picked right back up where the fight stopped the song, and finished gracefully.
A dedication to a performance of “Wide Awake” was extended to Hurricane Katrina victims, which was pretty noble.
Not forgetting this night was the 31st anniversary of John Lennon’s murder – even to the hour – Cornell belted out his acclaimed version of “Imagine,” which evoked an eery silence during the song. I kind of wished he had someone on piano for that song. It was beautiful and well-timed nonetheless.
Cornell closed with a blistering take “Blow Up the Outside World,” (my personal favorite Soundgarden tune) leaving his guitar on the floor as he walked off stage waving. The guitar strings kept emitting a low and wavy hum from his last and final strum which left a sense of euphoria to his exit. Several people were still singing the song’s chorus, including myself, as we all began filing out to the street.
What a damn good show.
*Photos by Jason Ashcraft
**This review also published at Louisville.com
In what could’ve been a pretty laid back night for all concert-goers this past Sunday at Iroquois Amphitheater, actually turned ugly for a few unlucky fans at the hands of an overtly domineering security staff. More on that later. Onto the music first.
Louisville’s Elephant Room and VilleBillies received the opening nods for Sublime with Rome in one of the biggest summer concerts the city has hosted this year. Iroquois Amphitheater was packed to near capacity and swarming with teenagers to the 40 something year-old crowd. This seemed to be a pretty typical demographic for these artists collectively. Not to mention plenty of Sublime-heads, if you will, with their Sublime T-shirts, and their other random attributes they adorned proudly. Overall, the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed.
Elephant Room, who lead off, gave one stellar stage show in terms of personal performance by each member of the group. Lead vocalists Chase Myers & Josh Bennett marched from one side of the stage to the next and wasn’t shy to keep the crowd involved either. Although no one song they played really stood out, they definitely carried their weight in performance and showmanship. Now all they have to do is craft a few memorable songs and they should be on their way. Keep an eye out on these guys.
The VilleBillies. So what can be said about them that’s not already been published before? Nothing. They’re solid. Period. It’s like going and seeing a My Morning Jacket concert. It’s always going to be awesome, and somewhat unlike the one before it. Both their songs and performance are perfect for their style of music.
It’s literally a living act of stupidity on behalf of the national recording industry that the VilleBillies don’t have a MMJ-like record deal by now. Actually, I do have one complaint on their stage show. Where the f**k was Big Bird?
So now we have Sublime with Rome coming up and the crowd inside the amphitheater was brewing with anticipation moments before they took the stage.
Chants of “Sublime, Sublime, Sublime” were screamed in unison by the crowd. About ten seconds later the Long Beach trio appeared from backstage rushing to their instruments. They quickly opened with canny version of “Panic,” the first single off their new album Yours Truly.
They quickly turned to playing old-school Sublime songs like ”Crazy Fool,” “Wrong Way” “Smoke Two Joints” and “Santeria,” amongst others. If your eyes were closed, at times, you could have easily believed that it was Nowell up there playing those authentic Sublime jams, but obviously it’s not. Rome held his own to say the least.
Even newer songs written with Ramirez did not necessarily reinvent Sublime’s signature reggae/ska style of sound that fans have come to both appreciate and anticipate.
Replacing a lead singer and keeping the band’s name in tact is a hard thing to pull off. Think about it. Gary Cherone for Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth in Van Halen. John Corabi for Vince Neil in Motley Crue. Brian Johnson for Bon Scott in AC/DC. Both success and failures have came from change-outs like this over the years.
But, Rome Ramirez, although uniquely different from Nowell, was impressive all around. If the measure by which a singer’s replacement is an ability to carry on the signature sound of the replaced singer, Ramirez is hitting the nail on the head with a sledge hammer.
Stop reading here if your only interest was the actual concert review. That part is over. Let’s get back to the “overtly domineering security staff” statement I made earlier. Let me first point out that I am the second person in the local media to mention something about the security and incident which took place onstage with a fan. Thank you Mudd from 93.1 The Fox for opening the door on this subject on your radio show Monday morning.
Now, I will proceed with kicking it in and blowing the whistle on event security.
At mid-set during Sublime’s performance this skinny young guy attempts to dance his way onto the stage. It’s obvious that not just anyone can be permitted to go onstage while a band is performing. I get that. But this 200+ pound security guard elects to get this kid in some type of headlock or choke-hold, and then viciously dragged him offstage like he was in some kind of wrestling match with a wild animal. The kid was dancing. Not fighting. Dancing.
This guy didn’t appear to be charging the band with any type of intent or endangering anyones safety in the course of his actions. He was dancing, having his moment. Yes, in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s not an excuse to take him out in the violent manner which the security guard elected to.
Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be an isolated incident, rather just the tip of an iceberg. There were actually security guards who were overly obsessive about trying to bust pot smoking teenagers (because they are just jeopardizing everyone’s safety). And then there were a couple security guys at the gate who felt it was necessary confiscate a photographer’s camera (who had media credentials) and then copping attitude about the incident instead of apologizing for their mistake.
What is it with concert security guards these days where they feel they are entitled to be raging assholes to everyone they encounter?
To those security guards: Please remember what your real job is to do. To ensure the safety of everyone attending the concert. That’s it. Ensure their “safety.”
Ensuring safety DOES NOT include beating up dancing hippie kids half your weight who are living in the moment and having a good time. It’s NOT preventing the media from doing our job by confiscating our cameras when we have proper media credentials. It’s NOT chasing around high-school pot smokers like they are some kind of terrorist. Nobody’s safety was at stake in these situations. If you want to continue to act like a COP, then quit your security job and go apply with LMPD.
Never forget why all of us have our jobs in the music business to begin with: Because of the fans. Yep, those 150-pound evil teenage pot-smoking dancing kids with funny clothes and long hair are the enablers of all our jobs in this business. If fans didn’t purchase concert tickets or buy albums, then the promoters wouldn’t have a reason to organize the concerts, and bands wouldn’t have a concert to get hired to play at, and us members of the media wouldn’t have a show to write or broadcast about. And, yes, you mister security guard would also be less employed if it weren’t for these fans too. So quit beating up those who enable you to earn an income, okay? It’s not cool and nobody else does that. Capish?
** This review is also posted at Louisville.com
Posted in Bitching, Kentucky Music, Live Performance Reviews, Louisville Bands, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Reviews, National Bands, Rhetoric | Tagged Elephant Room, Iroquois Amphitheater, jason ashcraft, Rome, Rome Ramirez, Sublime, Sublime with Rome, VilleBillies | Leave a Comment »
After nearly a decade and a half, a My Morning Jacket concert is rapidly becoming that of legend in the world of music. Yes, that’s right, legend. Virtually every time they claim the stage, they have something up their sleeve that will soon leave their fans’ heads spinning. Last night’s performance at Louisville’s Palace Theater, the official launching of their new album Circuital, did just that. Multiple times over, I might add, and all of it streamed on the internet live on YouTube and Vevo for anyone willing to logon.
They promised the night would be full of surprises, and the first surprise came with the raising of the stage’s curtain and MMJ, not Erykah Badu, appearing in front of an elaborate giant “Circuital” eye from the album’s cover art as the stage backdrop. The audience erupted into a chaotic frenzy as the first note chimed from Bo Koster’s keyboard, and they went right into the opening track from Circuital, “Victory Dance.” Just like on the album, they followed with a majestic version of the title track “Circuital” and all of a sudden it seemed as though a live run through the entire album was in store. But that quickly dissipated once they followed up with Z’s “Off The Record.”
Certainly more cuts from other albums would follow, and that they did with a heartfelt version of “Gideon” and “Mageetah,” a candid performance of “I’m Amazed,” an aw-inspiring version of “Smokin’ From Shootin,” and both versions of “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream.”
Even Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer couldn’t help but make an appearance, declaring MMJ as “the world’s greatest band” and announcing that through an online poll the song fans most wanted to hear was “Steam Engine.” The performance that followed of the song was mesmerizing to say the least.
A host of other guest musicians joined MMJ onstage throughout the night including Wax Fang’s Kevin Ratterman, who aided in percussion on several songs, Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore who joined in on “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” and of course, Erykah Badu who added some soul to “Wordless Chorus” and “The Day Is Coming.” MMJ also performed two of Badu’s songs, “Twinkle,” and “Tyrone” which was highlighted by Jim James bowing down before Badu while she stroked his hair, and James simultaneously blistering out one wicked guitar solo. The onstage drama was intense and this proved to be the pinnacle of the night.
Over the years MMJ has given some amazing performances and played some of the world’s most storied venues. From Coachella to Bonaroo, Madison Square Garden to Boston Symphony Hall, and Saturday Night Live to David Letterman, MMJ has done it all. And although I’ve not attended one of those performances I can confidently say that last night’s 3+ hour performance at Louisville’s Palace Theater had to be their most legendary yet. In one night they transformed Louisville’s Palace Theater into their own makeshift commune, played virtually every song off their new album “Circuital” and basically every other hit from their previous discography.
They ignited the crowd to the point where nobody ever really sat in their seats and instead spent the entire night dancing wherever they could muster a move, raising the temperature inside the Palace to something that felt like a sauna. After the concert ended, fans were high-fiving, hugging and cheering all the way out the door and onto 4th Street. At that moment I realized what MMJ had done. They hadn’t just released a new album or just given another legendary performance. Nope. They unified our city of Louisville while the world was watching.
* Photos by Jason Ashcraft & Zach Everson
*Videos courtesy of American Express “Unstaged”
** This review also posted at Louisville.com
Posted in jason ashcraft, Kentucky Music, Live Performance Reviews, Louisville Bands, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Reviews, Music Videos, National Bands, New Releases, Uncategorized | Tagged Ben Sollee, Circuital, Daniel Martin Moore, Erykah Badu, jason ashcraft, Jim James, Kevin Ratterman, MMJ, My Morning Jacket, The Palace Theater, Wax Fang | 1 Comment »
One thing you can always expect from a new My Morning Jacket album is a redefining of all their previous work’s styles. On their sixth installment, Circuital, they continue to raise their own bar with more Pink Floyd-like experimentation of their sound, and this time opting to record in a Highlands’ church gymnasium instead of a traditional recording studio.
The opener, “Victory Dance,” starts somewhat creepy with the onset of Bo Koster’s gothic-like working of the keys, dare I say Nine-Inch-Nails’ish instrumentally, perhaps an immediate indication of how the Church’s surroundings influenced this album’s creative direction. James’ mellow vocals greets quickly, Two Tone Tommy lays in a dark and steady rhythm section, and Carl Broemel incorporates some fuzzed out guitars. All of the sudden, your lost in their canticle.
Six minutes later the opener fades right into the beginning of the title track “Circuital,” a 7+ minute epic song which shows their more whimsical and melodic side of song writing. Drummer Patrick Hallahan finally is able to turn loose a little on this song. Logging plenty of instrumental showcases for each member, James’ paramount tenor decrees how they are “ending up in the same place that we started out.”
An emotional roller coaster begins to take shape on “The Day is Coming,” another darker, more mysterious melody that Koster’s keyboards instrumentally take the lead on. Two Tone Tommy is impressive again on setting the rhythm.
Circling back once again to their musical past, “Wonderful (The Way I Feel)” is straight out of any album’s past with the slow and subtle sounds of James’ vocals and his acoustic guitar the focus.
“Outta My System” offers candid admissions from James lyrically (“they told me not to smoke drugs, but I wouldn’t listen…”) along with a dominant string section that keeps building on the climatic arc of the album. Your attention still firmly in place.
“Holdin‘ On To Black Metal” offers the album’s wildest climax, with a young female choir joining James during the song’s chorus in a jaunty manner.
The back half of the album carries through, still solid MMJ song-crafting, but not as easy to get lost in like the first half of the album. The album’s closer, “Movin Away,” yet another song that Koster’s keys establishes the melody for, also has some impressive steel guitar work by Broemel, while James’ cardinal aria soothes. Yet again, My Morning Jacket astounds.
Interview with Bo Koster on 5-26-2011
Circuital Track List:
1. Victory Dance
3. The Day Is Coming
4. Wonderful (The Way I Feel)
5. Outta My System
6. Holdin’ On To Black Metal
7. First Light
8. You Wanna Freak Out
9. Slow Slow Tune
10. Movin’ Away
** This album review is also published at Louisville.com
Posted in Interviews, jason ashcraft, Kentucky Music, Louisville Bands, Louisville Music, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Reviews, National Bands, New Releases, Upcoming shows | Tagged ATO Records, Circuital, jason ashcraft, Jim James, louisville.com, MMJ, Music, My Morning Jacket, Outta My System, Patrick Hallahan, Tucker Martine | Leave a Comment »
The Deftones are no strangers to Louisville. In fact, they make their way through our city at least once per year, and most recently on Friday, May 27th at Expo 5.
Also performing that night was Dillinger Escape Plan. I never offer any more coherent words on my review than the band has to offer during their set. That being said, I’ve only got 3 words for you: Obnoxious. Incomprehensible. Sketchy.
Now for those of you who’ve never seen a Deftones show before, you missed out on one of the most fervent live performers in metal music today. And, might I add, whose lyrics you can actually comprehend. For those of you who did catch them this past Friday, I’m sure your ears are still ringing from their raucous, nearly 3 hour performance. The sound was as loud as I’ve ever experienced it in Expo 5, and although rather intense, it was balanced almost perfect. The powerful guitar chords that are central to the Deftones sound ignited the jam-packed venue and fueled the audiences‘ intent to crowd surf and sustain what looked like a pretty chaotic slam-dance circle, something virtually every Deftones show never seems to go without.
Hardcore Deftones’ fans couldn’t have been more pleased as the band took their time playing through one hit song after another from a compilation of six albums going back to 1995. They played everything from “Engine #9” to “My Own Summer” to “Digital Bath” to “Change (In the House of Flies)” to “Minerva” – which brought the crowd singing in unison with lead vocalist Chino Moreno to – and “You’ve Seen The Butcher” just to name a few. The encore song came with “7 Words,” one more track from their debut platinum album Adrenaline.
Once the sound went null, the Deftones cleared the stage, and lights came on, the audience was a little reluctant to leave. I think some of them probably thought their was going to be yet another encore song, because believe it or not, their were still a few songs Deftones left on the table like “Around The Fur” and “Back To School.” But, hey, not many bands who perform as intensely as Deftones have the endurance to play 2+ hour sets, so we should cut them some slack, I suppose. Not to worry though, because between the Deftones’ substantial local fan-base, and local concert promoter Terry Harper, a Louisville hiatus is not likely to happen anytime soon. Bet on it.
Interview with Frank Delgado of Deftones on 5-27-2011
Photos by JasonAshcraft
** This review also posted at Louisville.com
Posted in Bitching, Interviews, jason ashcraft, Live Performance Reviews, Music Reviews, National Bands, Uncategorized | Tagged Adrenaline (album), Change (In the House of Flies), chino moreno, ChinoMoreno, deftones, Digital Bath, DillingerEscapePlan, Expo 5, Expo Five, Frank Delgado, jason ashcraft, Louisville Concerts, Terry Harper, the dillinger escape plan | Leave a Comment »
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by Black Stone Cherry
Produced by: Howard Benson
In Stores: May 31, 2011
Kentucky-natives Black Stone Cherry has taken their shirts off for their junior release via Roadrunner Records. While extending their traditional heart-felt southern style of rock n’ roll, they’ve finally flexed their lyrical muscle with occasional salaciousness and plenty of blunt statements. After five years of canvassing the U.S., Canada & Europe with bands like Black Label Society, Buckcherry, Nickelback, Def Leppard and Hinder, Black Stone Cherry now shows some of their tour-mates semblance.
On “White Trash Millionaire” you’ll hear some Zakk Wylde-esque guitar chops and bold Buckcherry-ish lyrical decrees like “…Ain’t got much and I don’t care, count your cash and kiss my ass, this whole damn world gonna know I been here, I got two zig-zags and you know I’ll share…”
Their once southern-darling adolescence begins to bolt with songs like “Let Me See You Shake,” and “Blame It On The Boom Boom”, where BSC firmly plants their flag of sexual appreciation for the opposite sex.
They also introduce their first recorded cover song of Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” with plenty of their own influence added, and do manage to stay true to their polite Kentucky-boy roots on “Like I Roll,” where you get heart-felt admissions of “…I roll to the hills of my old Kentucky home, back to the place where my heart belongs…”
**This review also posted at Louisville.com
Posted in jason ashcraft, Kentucky Music, Music Previews, Music Reviews, National Bands, New Releases, Southern Rock | Tagged Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Black Label Society, Black Stone Cherry, Def Leppard, Howard Benson, jason ashcraft, Kentucky, Roadrunner Records, Zakk Wylde |
Leading up to Buckcherry’s concert on February 9th at Expo 5, lead singer Josh Todd chatted with LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com’s Jason Ashcraft. Check out what he had to say about sex, tattoos, and — of course — Buckcherry’s upcoming trip to the Bluegrass state.
Ok this is Jason Ashcraft with LouisvilleScuttlebutt.com, and I am here with Josh Todd from Buckcherry. How are you doing Josh?
Todd: Whats up man I’m great.
How are things out in L.A.?
It’s a nice day today but it has been raining like crazy here, which is kinda unusual for LA but we definitely needed the water.
Well it’s a frozen tundra here in Louisville so no good news there. But I’ll tell you what. Lets go ahead and get this interview started on a good foot here. Josh, you got a choice here; you’ve got Sarah Palin, Paula Dean Buffet, and Lady Gaga. You gotta f**k one, marry one, and kill one, GO!
Oh wow, umm, let’s see, I’d definitely like to f**k Sarah Palin, so let’s do that. And then uh…marry one and kill one?
Yeah, you gotta kill one and marry one and you got Paula Dean Buffet and Lady Gaga left.
Whose Paula Dean Buffet?
(laughing) She’s a big fat ugly cook actually. I thought you might know her.
(laughing) Alright let’s kill her and I’ll marry Lady Gaga.
(laughing) Ok. So you know you’re coming to Louisville on February 9th, is there anything that stands out in your mind about Louisville, when you think about Louisville, Kentucky?
Anything that stands out in my mind? Umm, nah, you know we haven’t been there for a while I don’t think. You know, it’s all the same for us, you know? When we get on stage it doesn’t really matter where we are at. We just like to give the audience their money’s worth, you know? That’s what Buckcherry is all about its kinda what we base our reputation on is our live shows. So we’re just gonna come and bring it, you know? This is a great rock n’ roll tour. We haven’t headlined for a while so we’re really excited. We’ve got 5 records to pick our song selection from. I spent a lot of time when we got back from Europe, actually it was a year last year, really constructing a cool headlining set and I think everyone’s really gonna be happy.
Anything that stands out in your mind about the state of Kentucky?
The state of Kentucky?
Anything that stands out in my mind? No.
Yeah, we export a lot of things. Some of probably which you have consumed. Any brown liquor that you like from Kentucky?
(laughing) Uh not that I can think of. Like certain kinds of moonshine or something? I dunno know. What are you talking about?
Bourbon, I was trying to get you to pick out your favorite bourbon. But maybe you’re not a bourbon drinker.
I’m not a bourbon drinker.
No? Well were going to have to make you a bourbon drinker when you’re in Kentucky on February 9th.
Ok, well there will be a lot of Jaegermeister there because it is the Jaegermeister music tour and…
That is true.
…and so I think that will be flowing like water.
(laughing) Well, you’ve kinda of already touched a little bit on my next question, but I’ll go ahead and ask it anyway just in case you have some extra things you want to add. Tell me a little bit about what the fans should expect when they come to see you guys on February 9th at Expo 5. Especially if they’ve never seen you before.
High energy. Low IQ. Really.
High energy, low IQ? Good answer. (laughing) Alright.
Next question I’ve got is I was wondering if the song “Crazy Bitch”, which was one of your – I think is your only song you’ve had nominated for a Grammy – was that written about any one person in particular? And if so, who?
It was actually our second song nominated for a Grammy. “Lit Up” got nominated on our first record.
No, “Crazy Bitch” isn’t about anybody in particular. But I can tell you how the whole idea was sparked. I was driving around LA, it was way back when the Paris Hilton sex tape had just came out. And I was just listening to the radio just kinda laughing in my truck thinking, ‘how funny it was that somebody could really launch their entertainment career off of a homemade porno.’ And then I started reminiscing about all the crazy broads I had been with from about 18 to 25. I couldn’t really attract a sane girl, so I just started singing this chorus in my truck and I remember I called Pete because I didn’t wanna forget it. So I sang it on his machine. I sang the chorus to him and I told him how I wanted the music to go and and he came up with the music and it just we wrote that song really fast, and then it just sat around for a few years before it got onto a record.
So you wrote that a long time before 15 actually came out is what you’re saying?
Well the majority of it. It wasn’t complete and ready to be on a record. I mean we still had to finish the ending but the majority of the song was written for a while, yeah.
Ok. Definitely, probably a song – I mean you’ve got quite a few songs obviously out there that made you just really well known – but I think that’s (“Crazy Bitch”) probably one that kinda pushed you over the edge in terms of getting you into the main stream market.
It definitely helped, but then “Sorry” came a long and out did “Crazy Bitch.” Which a lot of people don’t think about. But yeah, it really helped us get back into the lime-light which is something we needed.
So what has been your greatest memory or accomplishment so far with Buckcherry?
You know I think it’s coming back against-all-odds on 15 and selling over a million copies in a climate where you know people weren’t selling rock records like that. And really believing in what we were because everybody had kinda counted us out the industry turned their backs on us nobody would sign us in the states. A lot of things went down during that time and we just had to believe in ourselves. And it all kinda happened organically it was really, the people who loved us then were there, and they made it all happen on the internet and on the radio. I’m just grateful for a second shot but you know having that come back and making it happen the way we did was something, and the best form of revenge.
Alright. Next thing I got here is I’d like to know – you guys have toured with a lot of musicians and bands over the years – tell me, say, your top 2 that have been some of your favorite musicians and bands to tour with?
Wow! Well the number one would be AC/DC. You know, we got to do 6 shows with them and that was a rock-n-roll fantasy come true, you know. They’re so amazing. Those guys are just the kings of rock n roll. It was really just an amazing experience. Those guys were really humble and sweet to us. It couldn’t have been more than….. it was more than I could’ve asked for. I sat on the couch next to Angus and talked to him about his career while his wife made us tea, you know? It was like, it was the coolest thing ever. And let’s see, Aerosmith was a big one we got to do a couple shows with them. One of them was the millennium new year’s show in Osaka, Japan ill never forget that. Meeting James Brown at Woodstock 99′ was a big highlight for us. We played with Iggy Pop at the Detriot state theater. We loved that, ya know? There are just so many the list just goes on and on.
Gotcha. Good response on what you did provide though, so thanks.
Alright. Next one I got here is; your bassist Jimmy Ashherst, was recently featured in a book called “Sex Tips From Rock Stars” what kind of tips can you offer?
About what? Sex?
I don’t know, huh….well, like, what is the question?
Well I was feeding off the fact that your bassist Jimmy Ashherst was featured in a book that was recently published called “Sex Tips From Rock Stars” and I was just trying to see if you had any tips or anything that you could offer.
Always wear a condom.
(laughing) Always wear a condom? Good.
(laughing) Doesn’t matter how hot the chick is; wear a condom, that’s how you ‘keep the power.’
(laughing) Excellent, excellent.
Alright, the next question I got here is; what is going to be your next tattoo and where is it going to go?
My next tattoo? I’m getting tattooed actually in a week. I’m gonna get my legs…..I got some tattoos on my legs, but I’m gonna start sleeving-up my legs. I’m doing ,like, I’m doing background stuff like wind bars and stuff like that, you know? Cherry blossoms and stuff like Japanese art. It’s going on my legs!
Yep, good stuff. You got a tattoo artist you’d like to throw some props out to?
Kevin Quinn, Los Angeles, California. He’s amazing and he’s been tattooing for over 20 years. He’s done the majority of all my work and the majority of a lot of everybody else in Buckcherry. The list goes on and on and he is incredible. He’s very private so you know, you gotta search for him, but he’s out there on the internet. You can find him, I think its KevinQuinn.org and if you wanna get a great tattoo that’s the guy to go see.
Excellent. Alright last thing, well one of the last things I got here. I’ve got 2 more actually. What, if anything, is there left that you want to accomplish as a musician?
I wanna be a worldwide arena-rock band, you know? I wanna be able to play arenas worldwide, headline them, and put the asses in the seats. That’s really the goal, and that’s what were trying to accomplish, you know? It’s very difficult, as you know, in this climate. People aren’t selling records like they used to. You have to really, really work hard out there on the road to make it happen, so that’s what we’re doing.
Has your iTunes sales and your digital sales been comparable to your actual tangible CD sales?
You know, it’s starting to even out more now. But it used to be only like the digital sales used to be only like 10 percent of our sales, but now it’s becoming harder and harder to actually go out and buy a physical CD. There’s only like a few places now like Bestbuy, Wal-Mart, and Target, you know? And some of those, from what I understand, Wal Mart is downsizing their music section and Target as well ,so you know, it’s a big drag.
Yeah. Yeah, the world is a changing for sure.
So you got any last words, anything you wanna just put out there that I can publicize?
Yeah! Come to the Jaegermeister Music Tour, you know? It’s gonna rock and were gonna have a lot of fun. There’s a lot of other great bands on the bill other than us and its gonna be a ‘great bang for your buck!’
Excellent. Josh, I really appreciate the time you’ve spent here. We’re looking forward to seeing you, and I know that I can confidently say – with knowing a lot of Louisville’s music scene – that I think it’s gonna be a great show and we’ll be looking forward to seeing you guys here on February 9th. Thanks a lot and good luck to you.
Alright buddy. bye bye.
This review is also posted at Louisville.com
Posted in Interviews, Louisville, Kentucky, Music Previews, National Bands, Rhetoric, Southern Rock, Uncategorized, Upcoming shows | Tagged Buckcherry, Concerts, Expo 5, February 9, jason ashcraft, Josh Todd, Music |