Tag Archives: Josh Ritter

Friday Live Wire: Winter Concert Preview 2014

fine folk (& rock, & pop &...)
what  a bunch of fine folk (& rock, & pop &…)

On Monday it was cold, by Wednesday it was nearing 50, and now we’re looking at the chance of snow this weekend. And just when I was ready to talk about how things were “really heating up.”

Oh well. It’s better this way I suppose. More seasonal.

I don’t really mind the colder weather anyhow, though the uncontrollable shivering that starts from the moment I step out the door in the morning and lasts until I’m just minutes away from my destination is a little much. Perhaps that’s more a function of having an aging, rickety car… hmm…

One thing that definitely is heating up in spite of the strange, wintry weather is the schedule of awesome music festivals on tap for the first half of the year. Lineups have recently been announced for big name shows like South by Southwest in March, The New Orleans Jazz Fest in April, and The Governor’s Ball in June, as well as the smaller, not as widely known ones like the Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington state, Shakey Knees in Atlanta, or the Yonder Mountain String Band’s Harvest Music Festival in Ozark, Arkansas. Big or small, these shows all boast impressive lineups.

Of course, if you’re like me, you can’t necessarily afford to jet yourself to a different festival each weekend beginning in March (or, as in the case of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, starting two weeks from now). Lucky for us there’s no shortage of great musical acts coming to towns near us this season, allowing us to save on hefty travel costs and protect us from the temptation of raiding hotel minibars the nation over.

To this end I’ve added a concert calendar page to the site so you can get a taste of what’s coming up on the Boston-area scene and what concerts I’ll be heading to. If you’ve got a concert you’d like to suggest, promote, or go to with someone– let me know, and we’ll be in touch.

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of the shows I’m most looking forward to seeing this season.

1. Swear & Shake – Friday, January 17 @ Great Scott in Allston, MA

I’m tremendously excited to see these guys tonight. They’re a fun little foursome out of Brooklyn whose brand of peppy, genre-bending indie rock has been pounding the pavement of the northeast for the last few years, gaining them a number of followers and admirers. It’s admiration that’s well placed as they’re wonderfully talented songwriters and versatile musicians, emulating, shifting, and combining musical formats from bluegrass to grunge to driving dance pop rock. The track above is from their forthcoming album Ain’t That Lovin’, due out sometime early this year.

2. A Great Big World (w/Secret Someones) – Tuesday, January 28 @ The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA

If 2012 and 2013 were any indication, these guys are on target to have a bang-up 2014 as well. The last two years have seen them playing some shows, putting out a few singles, and catching the interest of Ms. Christina Aguilera, who brought them on NBC’s The Voice to perform one such single, “Say Something,” with them. This subsequently catapulted both track and these two lovable, recent NYU grads into the hearts and minds of TV producers and loving public nationwide (not to mention adding thousands of views to their YouTube channel). They’re also releasing their first full-length album next week. Their music is nothing if not catchy and the messages are universal, making it understandable how their other song “This Is The New Year” got its share of national airtime as well (the track conveniently fits in perfect with a New Year / New Beginning theme, so if you’re still looking for that one last track to put on your New Year 2014 mix… I highly recommend it).

And if that all wasn’t enough to raise my excitement  and anticipation for this show, my friends from Secret Someones are supporting these guys, and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing them at a more big-time Boston venue. What a treat.

3. Josh Ritter – Wednesday, March 5 @ The Somerville Theatre

In March Ritter released The Beast In Its Tracks, arguably his most personal and reflective release to date, dealing as it  does with his recent divorce, the isolation that ensued, and the slow, bumpy road to normalcy, new beginnings, and new love. Then he went out and toured it mercilessly in true Josh Ritter fashion.

Ritter is the consummate performer, and his shows never fail to delight and entertain. I’ve seen him 5 times over the last 3 years— twice last year alone— and each time it’s like seeing him for the first time. Euphoria, love, and compassion— these are the hallmarks of his every show. Touring has always been profound catharsis for him, and is no doubt one of the big reasons that’s he’s now able to face 2014 with open, loving arms and continue sharing his stories with all who wish to be a part of the story with him.

4. Snarky Puppy – Friday, March 14 @ The Berklee Performing Arts Center

As much as I’m looking forward to these other shows, I might be most excited, if not most intrigued and downright curious, to see this group in action. This impressive crew of marvelously talented musicians is known to put on a show that is a full-on hyper-sensory experience. With that in mind, although you can probably get a decent taste of by listening to the track above, you really need to see it to believe it.

Just think: if they can fill your computer speakers with such beautiful grace and form— imagine it live. In my mind, I’m already at the show, cheering in uncontrollable gratitude and ovation.

5. Milk Carton Kids – Wednesday, April 30 @ Brighton Music Hall

Still want a little more? That can be arranged. Comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers are well placed, even if the “Kids” themselves would have you believe they don’t know what you’re talking about. Comparisons aside, these guys are ridiculously talented flatpickers in their own right. Both of their albums are lovely stories, concise yet vivid tales accompanied by dueling arpeggios and galloping runs. Just two balladeers, their instruments, and their delicately wavering voices. It’s a performance that’s perfectly suited for the intimate atmosphere that a small venue like the Brighton Music Hall provides.

Still want a little more? Check out the full playlist of samples from the bands I’ll be seeing, and check out the calendar itself for a look at what else is coming to town.

above photos courtesy of (clockwise from top left): swearandshake.com, ianaxel.tumblr.com, joshritter.com, snarkypuppy.com, and glidemagazine.com.
photo collage courtesy of fotor.com

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Monday Mixtape: Front Row Seats Everytime

What I love about live recordings is how intimate they are. Here you get the wonderful opportunity to experience a band or artist’s music in a live setting that can be reproduced anytime you want. It’s like being in front row center every evening without the expensive cover fees, and if it’s a live recording of a high-profile act like the Stones or the Boss you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.

The best live albums, like the best live shows, are the ones that extend a band’s talent in the way they experiment with the delivery of their repertoire and in the way they interact with their audience on both a visual and sonic level. There’s a reason lots of spectacularly popular pop artists seldom put out a live album: heavy on the visual spectacle, light on sonic depth.

These, therefore, are decidedly not of that vein of performance. They’re as good on the ears as no doubt they are in person.

1. John Mayer – Gravity
Where The Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles – Columbia, 2008

If this one sounds familiar, then yes, you got me. I used it on a list from last week. Okay, so no points for originality on my part, but this song deserves to be on a list such as this. The proof is most undeniably in those guitar solos in the way they build and swell with each passing moment, made brighter and carried higher by a fantastic arrangement of backing brass and vocals. Please. Put this one on and forget all else for awhile. Your moment of zen awaits.

2. Theresa Andersson – Oh Mary
Live at Le Petit (DVD) – Basin Street Records, 2010

For every rule there’s always an outlier, in this case it’s a clip that makes the case for the “seeing is believing” crowd. Whatever the case, Andersson’s bluesy cover of the traditional folk song is awesome. Multi-instrumentalist, lover of loops, and fancy footwork to boot. Continue reading Monday Mixtape: Front Row Seats Everytime

Media Notes: The Search for the Perfect Sound

What is the perfect sound? It can be said to be many things, but in the end it’s purely subjective. I’m not sure myself how I would identify what the perfect sound is, but there are definitely the times when I know I’m hearing something special– something genuine. Let’s call it a Great Sound.

Those moments when you hear something that moves you deeply or stops you in your tracks. Those moments when something deep within you stirs, not just the daily jitters or every so often impulsive pangs of fancy but something deeper, meatier, almost tangible moments of holistic emotional release.

It doesn’t need to have words– it doesn’t have to be a song at all– and it doesn’t matter if it’s new or old. It just has to mean something. Moments of Great Sound can help us to understand what the perfect sound is and what it means to us.

Here’re a few Great Sounds that have been accompanying me lately.

1. Josh Ritter – Change of Time

2. Laura Viers – Secret Someones

3. Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac – Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song)

4. Seth Avett – Stand By Me

5. John Mayer – Gravity

What about you- what are some Great Sounds that have been making the heavy rotation lists in your head lately? I’d love to know.

Monday Mixtape – Off to a Good Start

And just like that we’re in September. Even though I haven’t done all too much in that time, I feel the summer has been a whirlwind and that I’ve had hardly enough time to catch my breath.

All silly, minced cliches aside, it’s been a busy August. I took in some baseball, some great outdoors, and, of course, some good music. In particular, I saw one of my favorite artists, Josh Ritter. It was a fantastic show, and I’ll be sharing more about it later on, but for now I wanted to check in with a simple mix tape of melodies that have been taking repetitive paseos through my brain lately and popping up on heavy rotation on my Spotify and iTunes playlists.

I think I’ll call it my “Fall Good Vibes Kick-off Mix.” Continue reading Monday Mixtape – Off to a Good Start