Kernia / Adrianne Lenker

Adrianne Lenker is a friend of mine and she’s fucking brilliant.

Brilliant: Not a word I use for things like food I just ate or colors that match really well. I typically save it for geniuses, extraordinary ideas and songs like Kerina. Check her web stuff and videos and see for yourself.

Duo with Buck –

Neil Young: Waging Heavy Peace

I was excited to read this and in the end I’m glad I did but it was sort of a chore.

neilyoungbookNow please don’t take offense Neil, if you’re reading this, but it reads a lot like the journal of a 15 year old (as I’m sure much of my blog does). The prose and style is sort of cool because it gives you some insight into the thought process of this occasionally brilliant musician. The read itself is very disjointed and fragmented in parts, making it a  bit hard to follow and often unclear whether he had an editor cleaning up after him.

At times he digs a little too far into his day-to-day whatevers. He tended to hyper-focus on some of life’s trivialities, delving into minute details and dragging it all on and out for too long. For instance there’s pages where he just goes on and on about how cool his dog is and other sections about some of his friends that most readers probably have zero interest in. I suppose it’s all great stuff for helping us to understand that Mr. Young is just a mortal but it’s not the fodder we want. Those of us who excitedly who picked that book up were looking forward to a wealth of stories about how his songs were made, crazy escapades from the road and what it’s like behind the scenes with greats like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. Well at least that’s what I was looking for and that’s what you can usually expect from most any bio for a musician or band.

Don’t get me wrong there are definitely some amazing yawns.  My favorite, being an obsessive songwriter myself, is about the day he was sick with the flu or something and wrote Cinnamon Girl, Down By The River and Cowgirls in the Sand. What!? That’s unfucking real! Pardon my “fuck” word but seriously…  that’s maybe the best writing streak in the history of everything, ever.

youngyoungMy guess is that it doesn’t really matter whether you deem his ramblings good or bad and it probably never will. Neil Young has always done what Neil Young wants to do and this book is no exception. We would not have the immense and varied catalog of music he has left in his wake if he wasn’t such a stubborn bastard. He is also an honest and caring bastard who stays completely true to his artistic vision and to those he loves and respects. He’s a good guy and deserves a little forgiveness for publishing a good chunk of mental free-associations.

The book is 512 pages; a pretty hefty read. Had someone chopped it up and kept only the more interesting stuff it would easily have weighed in under 300 pages.  That being said if he decides to put out another book (and I kinda hope he does ) I’d happily read it; boring ramblings and all. *((see below for follow-up))

Waging Heavy Peace; Neil Young talked a lot but didn’t say too much.  There’s still a lot of mystery left for me; I guess I have somewhat of a tolerance for listening to genius’ talk about nothing.

Here’s another good read on the man. The Rolling Stone Files. It’s basically complied articles and interviews from over the years.

FOLLOW UP** – So shortly after writing this I came upon news that he has in fact released another book A Memoir; Life and Cars – Cool.

A Satisfied Mind / Jeff Buckley

When Jeff Buckley covered a song it was like a doctor giving someone a heart transplant.  The difference is that usually  the patient was better off after the surgery. I guess the most obvious obvious example is Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Here’s an amazing version of Jeff Buckley playing Satisfied Mind, a song I was surprised to learn isn’t included in the public domain as a traditional (wiki article link). This video is from an open-mic shortly before he blew up into the almost mythical figure  he soon became.

Here’s the first version I heard from Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, an album of personal demos and rough recordings released after his untimely death in 1998.

Zach Jones & Ben Balmer each have an album on deck: Help em’ out.

I’ve talked to some people who are burned out on the whole Pledgemusic/Kickstarter thing and I totally get it. I can name three projects I’ve supported that well past the two year point nothing ever came of; they basically just got my money. Not really what I had in mind.

Some artists do give crowd-funding a bad name but please don’t let that stop you from helping those who deserve it. The upfront costs of recording an album are staggering and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think there’s a better way for fan to directly support the musicians they love. I’ve also heard other people say “well why don’t work and save up the money?”…. hummmm. Yeah go work somewhere and QUICKLY save up 10-15k all the while writing, and preforming… It doesn’t work that way for musicians who if you haven’t noticed are not highly motivated by making money. I want the talented artists I listen to be making more music not flipping burgers and taking your order. Long story long, here’s two worthy projects with open hats; one from each of my homes.

Zach Jones who I have helped I think two or three times, consistently runs the tightest crowd-funding projects I’ve ever supported; plus the music in the end is always stellar and fresh. He’s constantly pushing his limits as a performer and writer; as all true artists do (or should). I’ll support pretty much anything he decides to do.

This other feller; Ben Balmer, I met one night while playing a songwriters night here in Austin and I was immediately impressed with his voice, depth of lyrics, guitar chops and unique song style. I’ve traded MANY cd’s with MANY artists and I’ll always give a listen but very few of these records have had much effect on me. Ben’s album though I loved from the first song; it stayed in my vans CD player for many weeks. He’s one of the rare artists not content to recycle the same songs and sounds like so many wannabes do; he’s not afraid to take chance and make something new and real.…/296066705/new-songs-new-record

As an added bonus both of these guys are two of the nicest, compassionate, helping dudes you’ll ever meet. Hook em’ up wouldja?

Neighbor Song – Lake Street Dive

I just adore this song and have since I first heard them play it live at One Longfellow Square in Portland Maine to a packed 200 (!) seat house. (2014 was their break-out year; they won’t be playing little venues anymore… yayforthemBUTbooforus…)

Check em’ out if you haven’t already –

LSDI have a certain affinity for songs that come out of left field. A song like this is a breath of fresh air. Where so many artists are content to recycle the same themes and phrases of those directly before them Lake Street Dive crafts unique songs removed from the “same-ol’-samle-ol'” Their hard-earned musical talents combined with their love of music and their imaginations make for some of the coolest song arrangements out there.

have a listen here-

Here’s a live video of the tune too-

Neighbor song was written by upright-bass player Bridget Kearney about what it’s like living in NYC.

I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs
Their love is rattling my tables and my chairs
Keeping me awake
The love they make it’s keeping me awake
While I’m just trying to get some sleep on the ground floor
I don’t mind my neighbor making love upstairs
Cause I was once the lover making all my neighbors scared
you and me thundering the floorboards with our power and our force
While they’re just trying to get some sleep on the ground floor
I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs
Their love is amplifying all of my despair
Cause I was once a lover now I have to listen to my neighbors
Making love upstairs from down on the ground floor
from down on the ground floor
from down on the ground floor
In this city all the humans live in layers
I got people down the hall and down the stairs
We all move in and out and live our lives in stacks and rows and pairs
And try to find someone with whom we can share it
I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs
Wish I didn’t have to be so well informed of their affairs
But if I have to hear them doing something, at least they’re having fun
Sometimes I forget that all of us are just human
Cause we’re all stacked in rows and columns
And if one of them should fall on me
My neighbors making love upstairs would crush me
I’m down on the ground floor

Jesse Dee – An amazing soul singer/songwriter from Boston

About a year ago I saw this fella and two band mates open for Dave Gutter of the Rustic Overtones and Evan Casas to a fairly empty Big Easy in Portland Maine.  I was floored by his voice, guitar skills, song arrangements and passion for the music.

I grabbed his CD that night, Bittersweet Batch, and I still find myself playing it from time to time. To me a great record is one that I’m continuously drawn to spin through no conscience decision of my own. With all the amazing albums that come out ever year it’s surprising how little I actually get attached to something new, it takes a lot I think.  I’d even consider adding it to my small but growing vinyl collection if it’s even available in that old timey format.  It would have a home next to recent buys Ray LaMontagne Trouble, Dr. Dog Fate, and pretty much every Iron and Wine record.  Vinyl is final as they say.

Seriously, take a few and check em out and if he’s playing your neighborhood, go.  If you’re disappointed I’ll buy you a beer or two and try to calmly explain why your opinion is wrong.

Opening for the Wood Brothers

On September 28, 2009 I had the honer of opening for one of my favorite acts, The Wood Brothers. It was “money sauce” as my roommate James would say.  Of course it was a slightly surreal feeling opening a show for a band I continuously and almost exclusively listened to and raved about for the two or three years previous.

This here is a video clip from the show of a yet unreleased song, “Dreamed”.  Singing harmony is Amanda Gervasi.  I have been helping her with her debut record At Sixes and Sevens for over a year, be looking for it this July.

Dr. Dog

Amazing performance at Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine. Even more blown away by these guys after seeing them live. Hear their music at