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No Country For Old Americana: Shakey Graves at Union Transfer

Shakey Graves | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Shakey Graves | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Alejandro Rose-Garcia is a man of simple pleasures. He hoisted the can of Coors Light and toasted the crowd, throwing back a long sip. “I guess I should be drinking something a bit more locale-specific,” he chuckles. A few minutes earlier, he walked out onto the stage, wearing a black hoodie and looking like he just woke up from a nap, and set up his own guitars and kick drum. There’s lots of girls screaming, but he doesn’t acknowledge it—not yet, anyways—busying himself with cables on the stage. No muss, no fuss, no cowboy hat, and no stagehands. Shakey Graves was in the house. Wednesday night at Union Transfer, Graves proved he’s out to change the Americana game. Continue reading →

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Listen To It: mewithoutYou set it off at The Depot

mewithoutYou | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
mewithoutYou | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

It’s funny, you know? They say “all circles end where they begin,” but sometimes you never really perceive life that way. I used to live in Central PA—not exactly a mecca for concerts. The first time I saw mewithoutYou was at a dive bar in York called The Depot, two or three years back. After that experience, I found myself road-tripping increasingly more and more often to Philadelphia or DC to see them. Living in Philly now, I can catch a mewithoutYou hometown show two or three times a year, but when I heard they were playing the Depot again, I knew I just had to be there again. So I grabbed The Key’s John Vettese and Rachel Del Sordo and we shipped out to York for the gig. Last night, I went full-circle. Continue reading →

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Singer-Songwriter Bliss: Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer played World Cafe Live at the Queen

Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

The live pairing of the singular talents of Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer this past Saturday at World Café Live at The Queen was nothing short of sublime. Part of a small tour of the East Coast, Gauthier and Moorer traded songs and anecdotes. Only their voices and guitars separated them from the respectable upstairs audience. But their sense of lyric and melody removed this barrier, making it a most intimate and rewarding artistic affair. Continue reading →

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SXSW Dispatch: Partying with NPR Music, TV On the Radio, Stromae and more

TV On the Radio | Photo by John Vettese
TV On the Radio | Photo by John Vettese

At SXSW, the word “party” can mean just about anything: singer songwriters strumming in the courtyard of a bistro, pyschedelic bummer-rockers playing off of the sixth street chaos, a DJ spinning to a crowd of ten somewhere on the other side of the highway. For its annual opening night party at Stubb’s, NPR Music defined “party” very literally; every one of the eclectic array of artists exuded energy and cheer, and got the packed-in crowd moving in a big way. Continue reading →

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As Comfortable as Home: Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform at the Keswick Theater

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“When I first heard Jessica sing this song, there was a spark,” Seth Avett said while sitting at the piano to the far right of the Keswick Theatre’s stage. He talked about when he realized their this common love for Elliott Smith had to become a project, and how he kept coming back to Jessica Lea Mayfield singing “Twilight” as the push to keep up with it over the years.

Conveying a sense of home, Avett and Mayfield performed in front of a kitchen backdrop on Saturday evening, complete with a working kettle, refrigerator, vacuum, shelves of teas and cereals, and a table placed to hold Seth’s various guitars. Touching on a bit more than cherished Elliott Smith tunes, the two musicians intertwined some of Smith’s influences along with their own works for the set. Continue reading →

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Take His Side: Will Butler at Boot & Saddle

Will Butler | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Will Butler | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. You are now entering… The Twilight Zone.” And that’s kinda what stepping into Boot & Saddle to see Will Butler on Friday night felt like: an entirely other dimension.

Imagine a parallel life in which everyone’s favorite indie darlings never came to be. Maybe Win Butler was never born, or maybe he and Regine Chassange just worked out all their angst in therapy instead of starting Arcade Fire, but either way, the biggest little band in the world doesn’t exist here. No “Wake Up” becoming the anthem of a generation, no “Suburbs” or precious “Who the fuck is Arcade Fire?” moments when that same won the Grammy in 2011—nothing. Well, nothing except for some punk named Will Butler just making music and playing rock ‘n’ roll shows, just for the hell of it. Continue reading →

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Take Me to Church: Hozier sanctifies the Electric Factory

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

I’m trying to be more poptimistic this year. Those that know me, or regularly read my pieces here, or follow me on the consuming void that is Twitter know of my general disdain for popular music. So it’s with the spirit of diversity in mind that I found myself standing in a packed, sold-out crowd on Saturday night at the Electric Factory, getting churched by the one and only Hozier. Continue reading →

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Gang of Four shows the TLA What Happens Next

Gang of Four | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Gang of Four | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Wednesday night at TLA, the singular punk oddities Gang of Four played the second night of their US tour in support of their eighth LP, What Happens Next. It is an aptly titled record as there is only one original member in the band, Andy Gill, after lead vocalist Jon King left the band in 2013. When mixed with songs from throughout their career that began in 1977, the new album’s material fit in place quite well. And the crowd that filled in nicely after a sparse beginning was quite rapturous in their applause for Gang of Four. Continue reading →
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Ariel Pink sparkled at Union Transfer

Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

If the first things you noticed about Ariel Pink were his royal blue-spiked heels, you were about to get doused in glitter. The rest of Union Transfer probably saw his messy bun, bouncing as he walked, as they watched from a distance. “We are Ariel Pink, and this is White Freckles,” he said as a frantic guitar began. Immediately there was glitter. A mosh pit of fans psyched off his new release, pom pom, began jumping and tossing entire jugs of glitter over the crowd.

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The Chris Robinson Brotherhood jams at The TLA

Chris Robinson Brotherhood | Photo by Tom Beck
Chris Robinson Brotherhood | Photo by Tom Beck

In the midst of the tragic breakup of The Black Crowes, two great things happened. The first of which is Trigger Hippy, a band who played the XPoNential Festival last Summer and consists of Crowes guitarist Jackie Greene and drummer Steve Gorman. The other is the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, which incorporates the Crowes’ lead singer as frontman / guitarist. (Technically, the Brotherhood started in 2011 as a side project, before The Black Crowes broke up).

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood took the stage Sunday night at the TLA on South Street, and put on a trippy set reminiscent of a Grateful Dead from the mid ’70s. Continue reading →