Monthly Archives: February 2015

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.

Bill Fay, making up for lost time, to release new album April 28

Bill Fay (Photo by Steven Gulick)

Bill Fay (Photo by Steven Gulick)

In 2012, British singer-songwriter Bill Fay reemerged with his first studio album in 41 years.  Luckily, he hasn’t taken four decades to produce a followup.

That album, “Life Is People” was a real statement. It revealed why his work, unknown to most music fans, had been aggressively championed for years by Wilco’s  Jeff Tweedy, and often name-checked by Jim O’Rourke and Nick Cave.

Although his recording career hit the rocks in 1971, Fay never stopped writing songs. So, late in life, he reappeared in public sounding like an assured artist cut from the same cloth as Randy Newman.

His new album, “Who is the Sender?” is slated for release April 28 on Dead Oceans. According to his press material, the album title stems from his relationship with his primary instrument, the piano. He sees himself as a recipient of his art.

Here’s an explanation:

Ask Bill Fay about his relationship with his instrument and he says something revealing, not ”Ever since I learned to play the piano”, but “Ever since the piano taught me…” What the piano taught him was how to connect to one of the great joys of his life. “Music gives,” he says. And he is a grateful receiver. But, it makes him wonder, “Who is the sender?”

Check out  “War Machine,” a lush, gorgeously sad song that is the first tune to be released from from the new album. The video features lyrics and behind-the-scenes shots of the recording sessions in Ray Davies’ Konk Studios in North London.

If even half of the remaining 11 songs are as compelling as this one, “Who Is The Sender?” will be a spectacular piece of art.

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.