Category Archives: Concerts

INTERVIEW: Suzy Bogguss: ‘I’m still out there playing’

Suzy Bogguss

Suzy Bogguss

Country singer brings her eclectic sound to Daryl’s House on Saturday

If you even half paid attention to country music in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the name Suzy Bogguss will surely ring a bell.

She was on fire, releasing one platinum and three gold albums, along with six top 10 country singles. She was named top new female vocalist of 1988 by the Academy of Country Music, and won the Country Music Association‘s Horizon Award in 1992.

After taking a few years off after the birth of her son, Ben, in 1995, Bogguss returned with a decidedly folkier, indie approach to her craft. It’s kept her flying a little farther under the radar of mainstream country music, but hasn’t prevented her from having a decent career of touring and recording.

After Ben’s birth, “I was only doing about 40 to 45 shows a year when he was in his younger years,” Bogguss tells Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?  “Now I’m really having to rebuild a lot and just let people know I’m still out there playing… I never really went away.”

On Saturday (March 28), her tour brings her to the Hudson Valley, where she’ll play at Daryl’s House, rocker Daryl Hall’s club in Pawling, New York.

It’s a good thing she didn’t disappear. Her latest album, “Lucky,” is a collection of 11 well-chosen and beautifully performed versions of songs by honky-tonk legend Merle Haggard, one of the originators of the swinging Bakersfield Sound.

Casual listeners may know Haggard best for the 1969 hit “Okie From Muskogee.” Bogguss’ collection omits that tune, and yet it’s still crammed with familiar numbers, including “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “If We Make It Through December,” and “The Bottle Let Me Down.”

‘I like where I’m at in my life’

At age 58, Bogguss sounds like an artist who’s enjoying her career more than ever, even side of being an independent artist who has to lug her equipment around without a road crew

“In my head, I still look like I’m 21 doin’ that,” she says. “But then I think about how ridiculous it must look to see a 58-year-old woman schlepping her gear around like a teenager. I think that’s probably pretty funny to some people, but for me, it just feels like, ‘Hey, that’s what I do.’

“I’m a working musician. We schlep our stuff through the airport. Sometimes I actually find myself with a giddy, stupid smile on my face walking through the airport with my guitar on my back going, ‘Yeah, I got a good job,'” she adds with a laugh.

“I like my freedom. I like where I’m at in my life. I like playing these smaller places,” she explains.

“I know what I’m doing, I choose my own gigs, I make my own choices, and I really like that a lot.”

‘Glad I’m not doin’ that anymore’

She says she’s reminded that she doesn’t miss her days of mainstream country stardom when she watches the ABC prime time soap opera “Nashville.”

“It doesn’t compare to the life that I have now, but it does compare to the life that I had in the ’90s. A lot of that stuff is true, especially when you get to the drama of record labels, and publishers, and just the everyday ‘I need to think of something that will make me be in the public’s eye.’ Like, ‘Here’s a new recipe for dip,’ you know. ‘What can I do to get people to look at me right now,”’ she says.

“That gets old, that really gets old — especially people coming to your house and showing you racks of clothes and sticking makeup brushes in your face every second. I feel for them when I see that stuff on the show. I go, ‘Oh, I’m glad I’m not doin’ that anymore.'”

Always eclectic

While she’s always been what she calls an “eclectic” country artist, making an all-Merle album was a bit of a risk, but one that was probably inevitable. It certainly got fan financial support, with 964 backers kicking in at total of $75,211 on the album’s Kickstarter campaign, which had a goal of $50,000.

But she admits that some fans have been a little leery of the idea of her doing Haggard songs.

“Some of my fans are going, ‘Honky-tonk music, that’s not what we’re used to from you.’ But then when they hear it, they’re like, Oh, that’s a Suzy Bogguss record, not a Merle Haggard record. Sometimes you have to get over those little perception hurdles. But, all in all, once they hear it, they’re delighted,” she explains.

deeper connection to Haggard

Her own connection to Haggard deepened as a result of making the album.

“My first song that actually got on the charts was a Merle Haggard song. It’s called “Somewhere Between,” and that was my first album title on Capitol. So I already had an affinity for him from my youth,” she says, adding that the process of making the album gave her a deeper appreciation for Haggard’s music.

“Listen to what an amazing craftsman this guy is,” she says. “I think I came out just thinking, wow, before, I always thought Merle Haggard has a gift, he can just sit down and write these songs that sound like this happened to him last night and it’s real easy for him.

“But as I got into arranging the songs, and these melodies and stuff, I was like, this is not easy stuff. He has worked his ass off to hone these things down to where there’s not one extra word in there.

“Half the time he didn’t even sing the chorus twice. He would just go, ‘OK, here’s a 2-minute song that’s gonna break your heart. Listen to this.'”

Album of originals up next

The experience also challenged her to do more songwriting herself, with husband Doug Crider.

“We took all of January off and we’ve been writing like crazy,” she says.  “I really got inspired by doing these Merle arrangements to go back and really hone my songwriting chops again. I will probably go back in at the end of the year and cut an album of all originals.”

IF YOU GO
  • What: Suzy Bogguss, with Craig Smith on guitar and Charlie Chadwick on bass
  • When: 9 p.m., Saturday, March 28 (doors at 7:30)
  • Where: Daryl’s House, 130 Route 22, Pawling, NY 12564
  • Tickets and info: $25 standing, $45 seated, available online by tapping or clicking here or calling 845-289-0185

 

 

 

 

 

Speed the Plough takes over Union Hall next Friday

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Speed the Plough play live. It’s not that the band hasn’t been playing — while STP doesn’t mount major tours, there have been several gigs in the area since that appearance in May at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. Scheduling just hasn’t worked out for me.

So I’m looking forward to seeing them at Brooklyn’s Union Hall on Friday, March 20 — and making sure the scheduling works out this time.

The New Jersey chamber pop family band will be joined by two other notable outfits: the indie super group Heroes of Toolik and Jersey-rooted Deena & the Laughing Boys.

STP and its rhythmic, classically informed pop has been part of my musical life for a long time. I can’t explain that much better than in did in a blurb I was honored to have included in the band’s 2014 retrospective album “The Plough & the Stars”:

In this crazy, uncertain world, there are precious few constants. Speed the Plough is one of them. I feel like I’ve known this band forever, even if I didn’t really discover it until 1996 … It may never displace death or taxes as one of life’s certainties, but the world is a better place with Speed the Plough giving those two a run for the money.

The lineup has changed considerably over the years, but Toni and John Baumgartner have been there all along. And there’s usually been a Demeski (first Feelies drummer Stan Demeski, whose wife Janet is John Baumgartner’s sister, and now their son John) and, for a time, another member of the Feelies, Brenda Sauter, and her husband, Rich Barnes.

Heroes of Toolik is a band that hasn’t been on my radar before, and I can’t imagine why, given its heritage. But it’s there now, for keeps, and should be on your radar, too. It has quite a heritage, drawing its notable members from a bunch of important indie bands: Arad Evans, on guitar and voice, has performed with avant garde icons Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca; Peter Zummo, on trombone, with the Lounge Lizards; Ernie Brooks, on bass, was in the Modern Lovers; drummer Billy Ficca fropm Television and the Washington Squares; and fiddler Jennifer Coates from Jenny Get Around. The band’s sound has a lot in common with STP, as this clip demonstrates.

Deena Shoshkes is somebody I’ve been planning to write about for awhile. She may be best known as a founder of Eighties indie band the Cucumbers, which was a mainstay of the Hoboken scene centered on Maxwell’s. Her second solo album, “Rock River,” was released just last yea. It’s a delightful collection of 12 tunes  that continues the joyful, almost childlike sound that the Cucumbers created. For a sample of her latest album, tap or click here.

Doors open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 8:30, on Friday, March 20, at Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Brooklyn. Admission is $10, with tickets available online by tapping or clicking here. Call 718-638-4400 or email info@unionhallny.com for more information.

Dinosaur Eyelids: Good band, kinda dumb name

Dinosaur Eyelids at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Facebook)

Dinosaur Eyelids at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Facebook)

The only reason I heard of the band Dinosaur Eyelids is because somebody from the band took the time to write and ask me to give a listen to the band’s new album.

I politely said I’d see what I could do. Eventually the album, “Bypass to Nowhere,” showed up in CD form in my mailbox. That was the first clue that this band was an anomaly of sorts: Savvy enough to mine the Internet for place to seek a friendly ear and a kind word, but still sending out CDs. (The band has rectified this a bit, as the album is now online and available for purchase on Bandcamp. Tap or click here to get it.)

I loaded the album on my phone and intended to listen to it, but I kept skipping it. Weeks later, I finally decided to give it a listen.

I’m surprised, pleased, and maybe a little puzzled by what I heard. You should check them out.

Dinosaur Eyelids (an odd band name IMHO — although that’s not a bar to quality, given the example of For Squirrels, which is still one of my personal tragic favorites) is a New Brunswick, New Jersey, band that sounds like it’s from another time. they’ve been at it since 2009. Apparently they’ve been taking it seriously, and they’re good at what they do.

Here’s how the band describes its influences on its Facebook page: “Ween, The Stooges, Wilco, Nirvana, The Replacements, Soundgarden, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, The Who, Kyuss, Neil Young.” While most of those influences are evident, none dominates. Instead, Dinosaur Eyelids has managed to process those influences into a sound that’s at once familiar and original.

The album is filled with memorable tunes, crisp guitar work, marginally bad singing (but to good and intriguing effect) on a set of songs that draw from decades of rock without ever mimicking any one era.

Dinosaur Eyelids doesn’t have a lot of shows booked at the moment. Aside from a gig in Philadelphia on March 20, its first New York show for the year is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, at The Fifth Estate, 506 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn. The ‘Lids are capping off a four-band evening that also features Territorial Breed A Tribute to Nirvana, Caramel Mask, and Long Gone West.  The show starts at 8 p.m, with the ‘Lids up at 11. Admission is $10. For more information, call the club at 718-840-0089 or check out the website by tapping or clicking here.

 

Looking for a hot time on a cold night? Check out Amy Lynn & The Gunshow on Wednesday (Video)

Amy Lynn & The Gunshow blasts into 54 Below at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Amy Lynn & The Gunshow blasts into 54 Below at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Amy Lynn & The Gunshow is a band I’ve been trying to catch life for ages, but every time they have a gig, it seems I’m already booked somewhere else.

Hot dam, that’s finally changing — on Wednesday night, Feb. 25, when Amy Lynn Hamlin and her six cohorts (including her husband — sorry, she’s taken! — Alex Hamlin on sax) hit the stage at Manhattan’s 54 Below for a late show.

The band’s tagline is “Horns, Soul & Sass.” And, judging from the excellent debut album, “Don’t Trip on the Glitter,” available on Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and most other online music sellers, that sums it up perfectly.

Amy Lynn may not be able to change the weather, but her powerful, sultry singing will definitely raise your temperature during the show.

Don’t take my word for it. Sample her sound with a free download of “Chandelier,” a killer cover of Sia’s song. It’s just Amy Lynn and Alex on this track,  and it’s excellent. Tap or click here for more info on that.

It sounds like Amy Lynn has some surprises in store for the 54 Below crowd, so be ready for anything. She’s been looking for some special tunes to cover and says James Jackson Jr. and LaDonna Burns (aka The Black-Ups) are appearing on the bill, too.

The show isn’t sold out yet, but seats are going fast. Prices start at $35 (the $25 seats are gone). But you can save $5 on the cover by using code GUN5. Tap or click here to buy ticket now. You won’t regret it.

54 Below, a supper club with a $25 per person minimum in addition to the cover charge, is in the cellar below Studio 54 at 254 West 54th Street, Manhattan. Call 646-476-3551 for information.

3 shows you shouldn’t miss: Jessy Carolina, Matthew E. White, The Cowsills 50th Anniversary

Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess in Washington Square Park in June 2012. (© 2012, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess in Washington Square Park in June 2012. (© 2012, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

I’m trying something new by posting info from time to time about upcoming shows that are really worth checking out. (If I get really organized, I’ll try to do this on a regular basis — at least once a month.) I’m keeping them short, but I’m including info and links so you can pursue these opportunities with ease.

1. Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton (© 2012, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton (© 2012, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

If you read the Village Voice, you probably saw the recent cover story about the authentic young bluesman Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton. I first saw Paxton as a member of Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess (known at the time by the much funnier name the Bill Murray Experience). It was — and still is — a great band, and Paxton was only one of many memorable things about it. While Paxton is getting a helluva a lot of exposure as a solo artist, he’s still listed as a member of JC&THM. (Oddly, the Voice piece doesn’t even mention his association with the group, which I’ve seen at small venues like the Cupping Room Cafe and in Washington Square Park. Also, the Voice cover photo is flopped, making Blind Boy appear to be a left-handed player when he’s most assuredly right-handed. I’m not sure I can blame the Voice for the flop, though, since another photo that appears to be from the same shoot is on Blind Boy’s Facebook page, depicting him as a left-handed banjo player. And given that it has the photographer’s credit on the image, it must have been the shooter’s choice.)

Jessy Carolina and Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton in 2010, when the band was still known as The Bill Murray Experience (© 2010 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jessy Carolina and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton in 2010, when the band was still known as The Bill Murray Experience. (© 2010 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

If Paxton appears with the band at Terra Blues on Feb. 28, I’ll be thrilled, but I won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t. He’s a prodigious talent, but he’s just one of the band’s great talents. The band plays old-timey American pop and jazz and does it well. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this band, so I’m really looking forward to this show. (I realize now that the six-string banjo he’s playing in my photos will offend purists, but I’m guessing that was for convenience, as he also plays the more traditional five-string model, though I’m not sure whether he has a four-string version.)

Jessy Carolina & The Hot Mess play at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, at Terra Blues, 149 Bleecker Street, Manhattan. The club charges an entrance fee that lets you stay all night. Table reservations are available from 6-8 p.m. After that, it’s first-come, first-seated. For more info about making a reservation, tap or click here.

BLOG BONUS: If you want to be sure to see Paxton in action, you can do it on Friday, April 17, at the 7th Annual Brooklyn Folk Festival. Tap or click here for more information on that three-day program.

2. Matthew E. White

This mellow singer-songwriter is a native of Richmond, Virginia. He made a big splash in 2012 with his first album as a leader, “Big Inner.” He’s got a great baritone voice and a sort of happy stoner affect, which adds a dreamlike aspect to his musical storytelling.

His new album, “Fresh Blood,” drops on March 10. But he’s having an album release show at BRIC House (next door to the BAM Harvey Theater) a week earlier, on March 3. Last I checked, tickets were still available. He’s performing with a 30-piece orchestra, which should really show off his work in a whole new way. I’ve listened to the new album once already, and it’s at least as strong as the last one. So this is going to be a great show.

Here’s a video of a song from the new album:

The show is at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, in the BRIC House Ballroom, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn. Tickets are $18 in advance, $22 on day of show. For info and tickets, tap or click here.

3. The Cowsills 50th Anniversary Reunion

This one’s a real nostalgia trip — imaginary nostalgia, I guess, for someone like me, who never saw The Cowsills back in the day. (I have seen Susan Cowsill a number of times, solo and in the wonderful Continental Drifters, however, so it’s not as if I have no Cowsills experience whatsoever.)

The band’s first hit  “The Rain, The Park & Other Things,” was on the 1967 debut album. The Cowsills also inspired TV’s “The Partridge Family.”

The Cowsills are scheduled to play a 50th Anniversary reunion show at the Cutting Room in NYC in April.

Two of the original performing Cowsills are dead (Barry died during Katrina, and Bill died of an illness around the same time), but this lineup of 7 still has 5 members with the family name, plus drummer Russ Broussard, who’s performed with Susan Cowsill for years and married her after her divorce from Peter Holsapple.

The Cowsills perform at 7 p.m. (doors at 6) on Saturday, April 11, at The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street, Manhattan. Tickets are $30, plus a $20 food-drink minimum. For more info and tickets, tap or click here.

Blues legend Joe Lewis Walker plays Daryl’s House in Pawling on Saturday

"Hornet's Nest," the latest album from blues legend Joe Louis Walker  packs a sting.

“Hornet’s Nest,” the latest album from blues legend Joe Louis Walker packs a sting.

If you’re looking for a way to heat up the coldest winter weekend in decades, Daryl Hall and the crew at Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y., have just the thing for you on Saturday night: Joe Louis Walker.

The 65-year-old Walker has an explosive, urgent style of playing and singing that makes him one of the most exciting blues players working today. And it’s no surprise, give he’s been at it since first picking up a guitar at age 8 — or so the story goes.

Walker isn’t one of the originators of the style, but he learned by working with some of the very best in blues, jazz, and rock — Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Thelonius Monk. and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few — and makes the most of his lessons.

Walker’s at his best when he’s playing pedal-to-the-metal electric blues, as on “Hornet’s Nest,” the title track of his latest album — his 24th release — which drops on Alligator Records on Feb. 25. His voice and guitar snarl in the best possible way on that outstanding track. “All I Wanted to Do,” on the other hand, is a loping, horn-filled showcase that sounds original and classic all at once. In “Don’t Let Go,” he mines a vein tradition that inspired artists like Elvis Presley so many years ago.

Like the hard-working bluesman that he is, he’s superb when he sounds like he’s sweating his way through numbers that bring his gritty, dangerous voice to the front. When he dials the vocals back a bit, as on “Ride On, Baby,” his strongest qualities begin to disappear, making him sound less distinctive. But even then, Walker’s energy and enthusiasm shine through

Walker, a 2013 inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame, is a real musical treasure. Daryl’s House (the former site of the Towne Crier) is a comfortable, homey place that should be a perfect showcase for Walker’s prodigious gifts. Catch him there if you can.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Joe Louis Walker in concert

WHEN: 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21

WHERE: Daryl’s House, 130 Route 22, Pawling, N.Y.; 845-289-0185

TICKETS: $20, www.darylshouseclub.com

Freedy Johnston, a songwriter’s songwriter, brings his well-crafted songs to Hastings on Saturday

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Throughout his 25-year career, singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston has developed a loyal following with his finely detailed story songs. His compositions tend to be filled with dark, broken characters, set to lithe, almost jaunty melodies — and are always highly original.

The title tune from his latest album, last fall’s “Neon Repairman,” breaks that tradition a bit because it sounds so familiar. It evokes Jimmy Webb’s 1968 classic “Wichita Lineman.”

I got a chance to talk to Johnston recently for The Journal News/lohud.com in advance of his show on Saturday night at The Purple Crayon in Hastings-on-Hudson. You can read it by tapping or clicking here.