A blog for Seattle music lovers of all stripes, from hip-hop and indie rock to jazz and world music.
November 6, 2013 at 1:19 PM
A packed house at Benaroya Hall Tuesday celebrated the alternately raucous and romantic reunion of platinum-haired country sweetheart Emmylou Harris and alt-country Texas bad boy Rodney Crowell, who played in Harris’ Hot Band back in the ‘70s.
It was a sweet night, despite the hall’s amplified sound issues. The accent was on teamwork, not only from the harmonizing principals, but their five countrified assistants, whose blend, drive and mutual empathy reached a level rarely heard outside Nashville.
The two singer-songwriters are on the road promoting their new, knockout album, “Old Yellow Moon” (Nonesuch).
Drenched in classic country and rockabilly, the group hit its stride deep into the set, with the robust twang and Texas shuffle of “Invitation to the Blues” and the infectious backbeat of “Still Learning How to Fly.”
Harris rocked out on the country jangle of “Luxury Liner,” with Australian Jedd Hughes soaring up the neck of his electric guitar. Crowell invoked the winking menace of Jerry Lee Lewis on “I Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” with Chris Tuttle setting his honky-tonk keyboard afire. (more…)
November 6, 2013 at 12:06 PM
It was another night of live performances on NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition, and this time it was up to team members singing for Christina Aguilera and Cee-lo Green to prove they deserve to stay.
Among those singing for their lives Tuesday was Stephanie Johnson, a Tacoma resident. Final voting results (the live rounds are controlled by viewers’ votes) from this week’s round are set to broadcast Thursday.
See where Tuesday’s contestants were able to land on our power rankings and then check out our coverage of Thursday’s show with updated complete rankings to reflect who was able to hold on to a spot.
November 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Emmylou Harris’ soprano is one of the most distinctive voices in the business, which is probably why she has always been in high demand as a duet partner throughout her remarkable career.
Having paired with everyone from Gram Parsons to Mark Knopfler, her most recent collaboration is with country singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell. Crowell and Harris hit the studio last year and released “Old Yellow Moon” in February.
The duo is touring in support of the album and will be at Benaroya Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Expect the old friends (Crowell became a member of Harris’ backing outfit The Hot Band in 1975) to dip into the archives for some old favorites while also highlighting plenty of stuff from “Old Yellow Moon.”
While a lot of people will be looking to hear some older tunes, don’t discount “Old Yellow Moon.” On the whole it’s a worthy effort, but the album does have a couple of weak songs, like the silly “Black Caffeine” and “Bull Rider,” which seems to miss the thematic mark.
When things hit, however, “Old Yellow Moon” becomes truly compelling instead of just tastefully produced. Patti Scialfa’s somber ballad “Spanish Dancer” allows Harris to turn in a powerfully emotional performance, while Crowell’s “Bluebird Wine” lets the pair revisit 1975’s “Pieces of the Sky,” Harris’ eclectic album that first brought them together.
Crowell and Harris have been traveling with a five-piece band and they should be firing on all cylinders at the tail end of their national tour.
British singer-songwriter Richard Thompson opens. He has had his songs recorded by dozens of artists ranging from Elvis Costello to Bonnie Raitt and was acknowledged in 1991 as the best acoustic-guitar player in the world, winning the Orville H. Gibson award.
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, with Richard Thompson, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Benaroya Hall; $125-$200 (866-833-4747 or seattlesymphony.org).
Owen R. Smith, on Twitter @inanedetails
October 28, 2013 at 9:32 AM
By Todd Hamm
Special to The Seattle Times
Conduct an Internet search for “King Dude,” and you’ll be directed to everything from heavy metal and outlaw country music to pictures of rap star Kanye West wearing King Dude-affiliated clothing — and, most recently, an upstart record label called Not Just Religious Music (NJRM).
Four weeks ago, NJRM issued “Born in Blood,” the first of a projected series of seven, 7-inch vinyl/digital recordings to be released over the next year and a half.
The mystery man behind all these disparate projects — and the Elvis-meets-“The Big Lebowski” moniker he projects — is Seattle resident T.J. Cowgill. (more…)
October 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM
David Nail once sang “God Bless America” at a World Series game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, so it would have been forgivable if he had been in a bad mood Wednesday night.
After all, Nail is a Missouri native and his Cardinals had just suffered a blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox in Gaem 1 of the World Series minutes before he took the stage. If he was bothered, he did a good job of not letting it show.
Instead of moping, Nail introduced the Showbox at the Market crowd to his new look (a short-cropped haircut and looking svelte) and some new songs off his upcoming third album, “I’m a Fire.” (more…)
October 22, 2013 at 12:22 PM
He might not be the country star that’s burning brightest these days, but David Nail has a low-key, polished and most importantly pleasing sound. Nail plays the Showbox at the Market Wednesday night in a show that should fill the void between smaller local acts and the huge names like Kenny Chesney that fill stadiums.
Nail has a handful of true hits, including his No. 1 single “Let It Rain,” and he’ll likely dust off that and other favorites from his 2008 debut “I’m About to Come Alive” and 2011′s “The Sound of a Million Dreams.”
He also has a single, “Whatever She’s Got,” working it’s way up the country charts right now. It’s the lead single off his new album, “I’m a Fire,” which is set to be released sometime in 2014. Expect Nail to try out some new tunes at the show.
Soundposts had a chance to talk with Nail before his show. Check out the Q&A after the jump.
October 11, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Whenever I cover a mainstream country show, I always see a handful of folks spill into the aisles to dance along, but it never lasts long. The arena-rock stylings of top-40 country pop just aren’t that conducive to dancing.
Maybe that’s why folks have long made the Little Red Hen the place to go in Seattle for those who want to hear traditional country music and stretch their legs on the dance floor. It was certainly the case Thursday night when Portland honky-tonkers Copper and Coal took the urban roadhouse’s tiny stage. (more…)
September 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Note: This story has been corrected. Kelly Clarkson did not play at the Gorge Amphitheatre Saturday. The show was cancelled at the last minute due to inclement weather.
With little subtlety and barrels of energy, Jason Aldean’s “Night Train 2013” tour steamrolled into the Tacoma Dome Friday night to the delight of a raucous, near-capacity crowd.
Though the concert lost momentum because of an overlong band introduction at the halfway point, things got back on track with a surprise appearance by Kelly Clarkson, who is scheduled to play the Gorge Amphitheatre with Maroon 5 Saturday.
The 90-minute tangle of power chords and screaming guitar solos left the audience ecstatic and somewhat dazed by the time the final cymbal crash faded on “Hicktown,” which closed out the set.
Callers to 100.7 The Wolf after the show were asked to name their favorite moment. “Everything!” one exuberant fan shrieked, stumped when pondering what exactly about the show was fun for her.
Perhaps she had trouble because Aldean provided plenty of moments to choose from. He opened his set with his 2009 hit “Crazy Town,” an aggressive tune driven by propulsive, distorted guitar riffs. It set the tone early as Aldean ripped through rockers “Take A Little Ride,” “Tattoos On This Town” and “When She Says Baby” in rapid succession.
Aldean promised the show would be a mix of everything from his 2005 self-titled debut to plenty of cuts off his latest album, “Night Train,” and he didn’t disappoint. In a six-song span he played at least one song from each of his five albums, culminating with “Night Train,” which this week hit No. 1 on the Billboard country airplay chart.
It was the strongest section of Aldean’s 19-song barrage and covered some of the star’s most appealing hits. “Fly Over States” and “Texas Was You,” two mid-tempo Americana rockers off Aldean’s 2010 megahit “My Kinda Party,” allowed Aldean to use his expressive voice to great effect.
But the real highlight was “Night Train,” which had the crowd singing its rich ear-candy hooks back to Aldean. It translated perfectly live, and just like every other song benefited from Aldean’s choice to have his touring band record his studio albums. They’re a tightknit group that has been together a long time and it shows.
Clarkson joined Aldean for “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” their duet from “My Kinda Party,” and brought the crowd from a simmer back to a boil.
>With rising star Thomas Rhett and veteran Jake Owen, who has four No. 1 singles in the past two years, serving as openers, there was a lot of talent on the Tacoma Dome stage Friday night.
But it is Aldean who remains the benchmark by which the majority of his Nashville colleagues must judge themselves — a megastar with 12 No. 1 singles, signed to a tiny independent label, throwing his kind of party.
September 25, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Jason Aldean shouldn’t be a country superstar. He shouldn’t have 12 No. 1 singles, shouldn’t be selling out football stadiums and baseball parks — or be packing 20,000 fans into the Tacoma Dome on Friday night.
His country music dreams should have ended like so many others do in Nashville, when a Music Row executive slammed the door shut 13 years ago. Except it didn’t happen like that.
Aldean, from Macon, Ga., got a rare second chance and signed to tiny independent label Broken Bow Records in 2004. Now a 36-year-old veteran and star, he’s been repaying the label’s faith in him ever since with five platinum-certified albums, including his latest, “Night Train.”
“For about five years I was trying to get another deal and couldn’t get another record company to touch me,” Aldean said. “I signed with (Broken Bow) knowing it was going to be an uphill climb at that point because they were an independent label and typically in Nashville most independent labels don’t have that kind of success. For whatever reason the stars lined up.”
The stars aligned with Aldean’s self-titled debut in 2005 and went on to hit a fever pitch with 2010’s “My Kinda Party,” which produced three No. 1 hits. He said he tried to not let the monster success of that album affect his thought process when producing “Night Train.”
“We were coming off ‘My Kinda Party,’ which was a huge album,” Aldean said. “I think when you come off a record like that a lot of times it’s easy to put pressure on yourself to match the success of that record. I really didn’t do that. I just wanted to go in and follow that album up with one that was cool and that I’m proud of, and I think we did that.”
“Night Train,” featuring songs written by previous collaborators Neil Thrasher and Wendell Mobley, as well as tourmate Thomas Rhett, is a carefully curated collection of tunes that evokes a little Southern rock and the pop theatrics of Journey. It’s full of the kind of crowd-pleasing, radio-friendly hits that translate best in venues such as the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium, where Aldean recorded a show in April for a DVD set to hit store shelves next month.
“It was probably one of the biggest highlights of my career playing that show, just being from Georgia and growing up a huge Georgia (sports) fan,” Aldean said. “Just being able to go back to my home state and put a show on, on that scale, was pretty incredible.”
Don’t expect anything less Friday night. Jake Owen and the youngster Rhett, 23, open; then comes Aldean, the man who shouldn’t be there.
7:30 p.m. Friday, Tacoma Dome; $37.84-$66.30; (800-745-3000 or Ticketmaster)
September 23, 2013 at 5:18 PM
Western Washington singers have had a generous share of airtime on television’s top vocal competitions in the past few years. With the new season of ”The Voice,” which starts Monday on NBC, the trend continues. Maybe.
In contention in the first round (and maybe beyond) is singer-songwriter Austin Jenckes, a young troubadour from rural Duvall. Part of the Seattle indie scene, Jenckes has put out several albums (including the recent “An American Story,” recorded in Nashville).
Will Jenckes’ unvarnished, heartfelt, country-folk twang wow the jaded judges? Here’s a sampling of his self-penned tunes: http://austinjenckes.bandcamp.com/
Meanwhile, after a rugged year of sinking ratings and judges’ warfare, “American Idol” is on the road auditioning singers for a 2014 season with, hopefully, better judge chemistry.
The unobjectionable country idol Keith Urban will return to the table, as will pop glamour puss Jennifer Lopez. The third, new arbiter is the wild card: Harry Connick Jr., a superior vocalist and piano whiz, a gifted actor, and a tell-it-like-it-is Idol coach in years past. And did I mention what a cut-up Harry is? Maybe he’ll bring new snap, sizzle and musical savvy to the show.
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