Archive for the ‘Kathleen Edwards’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 24, 2022] Kathleen Edwards

Back in 2019 Kathleen Edwards came out of “retirement” after spending five years running a coffee house in Stittsville, Ottawa called Quitters.  She has since sold Quitters and it is now something else.

She announced a few shows in 2019 and then a small tour in 2021.  I hoofed it into New York City to see what I imagined would be my only time seeing her.  (She was also opening for Jason Isbell, but I didn’t want to see her as an opener nor did I want to see Jason Isbell).

But then she announced a full tour in 2022!  A few years ago I thought I’d never see her live and here we are and I’ve now seen her three times in under a year.

What was also pretty interesting was that this band line up was almost entirely different from the last time (which had been different from the first time).

The first time it was a five piece with two guitars (and a keyboard), bass and drums.  The second time it was drums, bass, pedal steel guitar and violin/keyboard.  So no lead guitar (all leads were on the pedal steel).  For this third show there was no bass or drums.  So, we had the same two “new” members from the show just a month earlier: Aaron Goldstein on pedal steel and Kinley Dowling who played keys and violin.  And we were once again joined by Colin Cripps (her ex-husband).  He played with her back in the old days and also when I saw her in NYC, but not a month earlier). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 22, 2022] Matt Sucich

I thought that Matt Sucich was going to open for Kathleen Edwards in Haddon Heights.  But he joined her tour right after that show.  And so we saw him for this SOPAC show.

Despite how easy it is to get to SOAPC, the parking area was nuts, so we walked in in the middle of his first or second song.

We also had the terrible realization that the seats (which were moveable and placed in specifically for this show were REALLY close to us.  It made for a remarkably uncomfortable set in the otherwise normally really comfy SOPAC.

Sucich has a really pleasant folksinger style with a soothing deep-ish voice and a simple playing and lyrical style.

Midway through the set as I was enjoying him quite a bit he said one of the few things that will turn me against a singer.  he said that his new album had backing vocals by Adam Duritz and that he had just been on tour with Counting Crows.  There may be no band that I hate across the board as much as Counting Crows (mostly because of Duritz’ voice).  So this was not good news to me.  Although since Duritz didn’t appear, it wasn’t the disaster it could have been.

At some point he had made a joke about himself and the audience applauded and it became a regular thing that he would say this same thing about himself and we would all applaud.  It made for a warm and fun set.  Later on when he sang with Kathleen, he really won me over and all memory of Duritz was forgotten.

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[ATTENDED: August 24, 2022] Kathleen Edwards

Back in 2019 Kathleen Edwards came out of “retirement” after spending five years running a coffee house in Stittsville, Ottawa called Quitters.  She has since sold Quitters and it is now something else.

She announced a few shows in 2019 and then a small tour in 2021.  I hoofed it into New York City to see what I imagined would be my only time seeing her.  (She was also opening for Jason Isbell, but I didn’t want to see her as an opener nor did I want to see Jason Isbell).

But then she announced a full tour in 2022!  I bought a ticket for her at SOPAC (I had hoofed it all the way to NYC and then she decided to play a place 40 min from my house!).  But she also announced a free show (FREE!) in Haddon Heights, NJ.  A place I’d never been and which I feared was too far away.

It’s a bit of a drive but not really worse than going to Philly and you avoid most of the Philly traffic. Plus, the venue turned out to be lovely.  A lot of people have played this summer concert series so I’ll be keeping an eye out for what’s going on next summer.

I probably could have sat on the lawn, but I decided to take the amphitheater seating that was provided  I relaxed in the full, but not packed crowd.  (I was concerned that no one would be there, but it was nicely crowded).

Kathleen came out on stage with a different set up than last time.  Last time it was guitar bass and drums, with the guitarist being Colin Cripps her ex-husband.  For this show she had a bassist Ryan Gavel and drummer Peter von Althen (same drummer different bassist) but she also had pedal steel guitar player Aaron Goldstein and Kinley Dowling who played keys and violin.  She said she was so thankful to finally have a woman on tour with her and that it brought a whole new energy to the show and the tour bus.

She told a funny story about how Aaron and Ryan were at the Toronto airport for six hours the day before but had missed their flight and had to fly into town early this morning–Aaron Goldstein a man with endless patience for your border services.  She also said that she forgot to introduce Aaron the other night and his whole family was in the audience.

I didn’t expect a hugely different set.  In fact, I didn’t know what to expect for a free show.  With people who were quite possibly there because they lived nearby and it was free.

She started with more or less the same few songs that she did in 2021, in a slightly re-arranged order. But they sounded different with this line up.  The electric guitar was gone and instead there were violin solos and a lot of pedal steel.  The pedal steel on “Options Open” changed the feel of the song but added some real depth.  As did Dowling’s backing vocals.

She seemed to think that there were not many fans there for he, but the crowd knew her stuff quite well, with a nice response for “Change the Sheets” (one of my faves) and “Hockey Skates.”  The new song “Glenfern” had a soaring violin riff which was a fun change.

Last time she told stories about some of the songs.  This time the stories were different, which was fun.  And nice to know she’s not on a script at all the shows.  She explained the origin of “One More Song the Radio won’t Like” as being a song she had to write to make her record a little longer.  She played it because someone said it was his birthday and he requested it.  She had come out to play a brief acoustic solo set (although Goldstein stayed for some lap steel accompaniment).  She also played “Empty Threat” in this style.

The band came back out and she played three different songs in the middle of the set which was fun.  She told us “Mercury” really won over people at rock festivals because it opens: “Want to go get high?/ Mercury is parked outside.”  I also enjoyed hearing “A Soft Place to Land” from Voyageur.

She then introduced Hard on Everyone with a lengthy story explaining that she had been living with someone who seemed to be angry and hard all the time–he was hard on things and things were always breaking.  She listened to a podcast called “Dirty John” and said “oh my fucking god, this is about me.”  She hoped that anyone in a similar situation could get out of it.  It really put a spin on this song that is dark but insanely catchy.  The song built and totally rocked by the end with a wicked solo from Goldstein.

She also later jokingly apologized for cursing so much at a family event.

She ended the set with “6’O’Clock News,” another fantastic song from her debut (this is the 20th anniversary of that album, Failer).

She left and the emcee for the night came out to say hat it was early enough that he was sure Kathleen would give us one more song.

She did, she came back out and played “Asking for Flowers,” a song I’ve always loved.

I really hoped she’d play “I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory,” and indeed someone did shout it out as a request, but she didn’t hear him.

This set was wonderful and it got me even more psyched to see her in a few weeks with S.

2022 SOPAC 2022 Summer Concert, NJ 2021 LPR, NYC
Simple Math ¥ Simple Math ¥ Options Open ¥
Options Open ¥ Options Open ¥ In State ⇐
In State Change the Sheets Simple Math ¥
Hockey Skates Hockey Skates Change the Sheets √
Birds on a Feeder ¥ Who Rescued Who ¥ Six O’Clock News ⊕
Glenfern ¥ Glenfern ¥ Birds on a Feeder ¥
Who Rescued Who ¥ One More Song the Radio Won’t Like ⊕ (solo w/ lap steel) Goodnight, California ∇
Evangeline (Emmylous Harris cover) Empty Threat √ (solo with lap steel) Empty Threat (solo acoustic) √
Mercury Mercury ⊕ Who Rescued Who (solo with mandolin) ¥
Hard on Everyone ¥ Fools Ride ¥ Glenfern ¥
Six O’Clock News ⊕ A Soft Place to Land √ Copied Keys ⇐
Asking for Flowers Hard on Everyone ¥ The Logical Song (Supertramp cover)
encore Six O’Clock News ⊕ Hockey Skates ⊕
Goodnight, California encore Hard on Everyone ¥
Moneytalks (AC/DC cover) (partial) Asking for Flowers encore
Comes a Time (Neil Young cover) Asking for Flowers ∇
Back to Me ⇐

⊕= Failer (2002)
⇐ = Back to Me (2005)
∇ = Asking for Flowers (2008)
√ = Voyageur (2012)
¥ = Total Freedom (2020)

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[ATTENDED: August 24, 2022] Shannen Moser

It’s funny how some artists wind up as opening acts quite often.  Shannen Moser has been listed as an opening act for several band that I was interested in seeing.  She’s also been on two Champagne Jams from The Front Bottoms.  This is only my second time seeing her though and I’m not sure when she was announced as the opener for Kathleen Edwards, because I didn’t find out until a couple of days beforehand.

Shannen is from Berks County, PA.  She plays a simple kind of open-tuned guitar (such that a capo is all you need to make a chord sound good).  Some of her songs have a finger-picking section as well.

Her lyrics are personal and often pointed.

She received a nice round of applause for saying that she played with Bernie Sanders a few days earlier at his Rally with Bernie Sanders in Philadelphia to fight back against corporate greed. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2021] Kathleen Edwards

I’ve enjoyed Kathleen Edwards’ music for years.  Her album Voyageur is just stunning.

But when that album came out back in 2012, I wasn’t really going to many shows.   It wasn’t until a few years later that I got the concert bug again and put Kathleen on my “gotta see” list.

But Kathleen had other ideas.  After Voyageur, she took a break from music.  In 2014, she launched a coffee house in Stittsville, Ottawa called Quitters.  And it seemed like she might never play again (even though she said she would).  So I left her on my “maybe, someday” list.

Then in 2019, she played the WXPNFest (the same weekend that we were going to the Newport Folk Festival–I was a wee bit surprised she didn’t play Newport too).  I kind of assumed that it was a one-off return and that would be that.

But an album soon followed.  And then earlier this year it was announced that she was playing The Met Philly.  But as an opening act for Jason Isbell, who I did not want to see.  [It’s one thing going to a show for the opening act, but it’s another if you don’t actually like the headline].  So, again, I was out of luck.

But then she announced a show in New York City at Le Poisson Rouge.  And even though LPR is hugely inconvenient for me and it cost extra in tolls and parking, I’m so glad I went to the LPR show rather than the other two.  If for no other reason than the other two shows were all of 9 songs while this one was 16.  And the LPR crowd were there to see her!  And they sang along, and she was pretty tickled with us all. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2021] Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill

I had not heard of Mick Flannery or Susan O’Neill.  When I saw the listing I wasn’t even sure if they were together or separate.  Well, it was almost both.

I hardly ever go to NYC for shows because it’s so much more of a hassle than Philly.  I had to leave quite early and then had to get a parking garage.  But I arrived in time to get a drink and settle in just as Mick Flannery came out.

He sat at a keyboard and sang.  He has a pretty strong Irish accent when he sings, and he had overtones of Van Morrison.  He’s been releasing music since 2007 and is apparently a pretty big deal:

Mick Flannery is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed songwriters and singers. The award-winning, double-platinum selling artist has released six studio albums, three of which reaching No. 1 status.

Maybe since Van Morrison is sort of embracing the anti-vax lifestyle, Mick Flannery can fill in those shoes.

He sang two songs by himself and then he called Susan O’Neill up to the stage. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MDOU MOCTAR-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #213 (May 24, 2021).

Mdou Moctar has been getting some well deserved recognition lately.  It’s pretty great to see a Nigerian performer, who plays distinctly Nigerian style music making an impression on American audiences.

Of course, since I’m contrary, I’m more attracted to Moctar’s drummer who is playing a calabash–in this case red object that looks like a turtle shell and makes a remarkable range of sounds.  But really the focus should be on Moctar’s guitar playing.

Get ready for some fiery desert guitar-shredding, Saharan style, with the music of Mdou Moctar. Producer and American bassist Mikey Coltun told me that “the concert was filmed outside of the house we were all staying at in Niamey, Niger, in November/December 2020.” He continued, “As with any sort of musical happenings in the region, once some music is blasted, that’s an invitation for anyone to come join, sing, clap, dance, and just come together as a community. We wanted to present the Tiny Desk exactly like this, from when we started playing to finally the energy growing with fans crowded around filming on their cell phones and passing around Tuareg tea.”

And so, the four musicians, seated on a blanket (designed with oversized roses) with amps on either side, start playing with no fanfare.

The (home) concert starts off with Mahamadou Souleymane, a.k.a. Mdou Moctar, playing a melodic line on acoustic guitar, with Ahmoudou Madassane on rhythm guitar, Souleymane Ibrahim playing percussion on a calabash, and Mikey Coulton on his Fender Mustang bass on the song “Ya Habibti” from the album Afrique Victime. It’s an album of songs dealing with intense subjects close to Mdou Moctar’s heart: colonialism, exploitation, inequality, but also love.

The song almost feels like a drone because the bass and rhythm pretty much never change throughout.  The drumming is muted–effective but never sharp.  And Moctar’s voice and lead guitar work is subtle.  I’m sure since I don’t understand what he’s singing (which sounds pretty intense), I find his voice very soothing.

“Tala Tannam” follows in the same pattern–except the bass is even less mobile and the way Moctar sings it feels like a lullaby.  The best part is watching Ibrahim and Coltun clearly enjoying themselves–smiling to each other and even hugging at one point.  It’s hard to know how long these songs are as they seems to just go until they stop, but this one does have a deliberate ending.  It’s when he puts down his acoustic and grabs the electric guitar.

You can hear the real musical fire on the last song, the roughly 7-minute psych-rock title track to Afrique Victime. “Africa is a victim of so many crimes,” Mdou Moctar sings in French. “If we stay silent, it will be the end of us.” Silence is not something in Mdou Moctar’s vocabulary.

Moctar’s soloing was subtle on the other songs, but you can really here it standing out with this sharp electric guitar sound.  It’s nice to watch his fingers fly around the neck. There’s some guitar god moments in the soloing–including some finger tapping–but having him seated and equal with everyone else, the solos never seem showoffy.  I also like the way the song speeds up incrementally as it goes–mostly notable by how fast Ibrahim is suddenly hitting the calabash.

[READ: June 10, 2021] Losing the Girl

This final book of the trilogy was a little disappointing for me.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I feel like there wasn’t enough resolution for anyone.

The book opens on Nigel.  Claudia has shown up to tutor him in math.  He is so smitten he writes a poem that he submits for class.  He calls it “Teacher” and his teacher assumes it is about her.  I can’t even believe that he would submit a poem with the line “teach me how to make puppy love turn into doggy style”  (Nigel is so clueless).

Next we see Brett at his mother’s funeral.  Johanna tries to comfort him but he blows her off demanding to know why she didn’t tell him about her and Paula.  They smooth things over and she asks if his father knows that his mother died.  He says no, he hasn’t talked to his father in a long time.  Jo says her mother might know how to get in touch with him.

The next section is about Darren.  He is by himself remembering how his father hurt his mother and how he doesn’t want to repeat the cycle. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATHLEEN EDWARDS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #211 (May 19, 2021).

Kathleen Edwards is a wonderful songwriter with a fantastic voice.  I discovered her from her 2008 album Asking For Flowers.

She put out one more record and then disappeared.

Struggling with depression, Kathleen Edwards opened a coffee shop called Quitters Coffee and lived a very different life.  A handful of years later, in 2017, she was invited to Nashville by Maren Morris to write some songs. That Nashville visit sparked a new beginning and eventually the 2020 album Total Freedom, which birthed the four songs you hear in this Tiny Desk concert.

So Kathleen Edwards is back with a wonderful new album.

On this Tiny desk she is joined by Todd Lombardo and Justin Schipper on dobro (that slide guitar looking thing).

Kathleen’s voice sounds great and on “Glenfern.”

From a house in East Nashville, Kathleen Edwards sings about how thankful she is for those early aughts when she was praised with awards, television appearances, touring to packed venues — even if the tour bus with the bed in back was “total crap.” As she continues to sing “Glenfern,” the opening track to her first album in eight years as well as this Tiny Desk (home) concert, she remembers her former husband and collaborator.

After the first song she introduces the band and says I can’t sing through a mask so after this we’re going straight to to the COVID clinic.

Kathleen Edwards seems happy playing these new songs.  They can be songs of sadness, sometimes filled with seething, such as “Ashes to Ashes,” but she’s also grateful for her everlasting love for a four-legged creature and the little catalpa tree where it’s buried.

There’s some beautiful interplay of guitars in this song.  It’s amazing how great her voice sounds with no accompaniment, no effects.  And afterwards she tells a delightful story about catalpa trees–I just passed one on a dog walk yesterday and absolutely want to try to grow my own this year.

“Hard On Everyone” is the song that’s been getting some airplay around here.  It’s so catchy, I love it.  And the lyrics are pointed and spot on.  when the song is over she and Todd bump elbows and their guitars bump for a nice resounding thump.

I would love to see Kathleen Edwards live.  She played one of her first shows after retiring at XPN Fest, unfortunately that was the year we went to Newport Folk Festival.  Now I see she’s coming around again, but she’s opening for Jason Isbell, and I don’t want to see him, so I’ll have to hope she finds a smaller club to headline.

[READ: June 10, 2021] Losing the Girl

T. brought this book home from school and I though the cover looked pretty neat.  When I looked inside I really liked the crazy drawing style(s) of it (S. did not like it at all).

The book opens on Nigel Jones, a boy with dreadlocks (his profile is always great, and MariNaomi uses these dreadlocks to express Nigels’ mood in clever ways).  The book also uses simple things like arrows to convey movement in a panel, which I liked.  One of the early ones shows a city block.  We just saw Nigel get off a bus and the arrows and a tiny figure on a skateboard show which way he is going.  This effect is used very well at a party later as we see the crowd move about the room in a static picture.

It’s through Nigel that we learn that nobody’s phones are working–this is a steady concern and a minor (or major) irritant throughout the story.   We also learn that a girl, Claudia Jones, (no relation) has been missing for three days.  Everyone has speculations about what happened to her.

Nigel lives with his mom (his dad has moved out) and Nigel is not too happy about the new arrangements–just because your parents separate doesn’t mean they fight less.  In school the next day Nigel tells a joke to Emily.  I found it very funny but Emily doesn’t seem to.  She asks if that’s his way of flirting with her.  A lightbulb goes off and he says yes (he’s had a crush on her for years).  She agrees to meet him at the bleachers later. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: KATE DAVIS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #59 (August 4, 2020).

I hadn’t heard of Kate Davis before this Home Concert.

Her songs are simple and straightforward with a real timeless quality.  She reminds me a lot of Kathleen Edwards.  Turns out that she also co-wrote Sharon van Etten’s “Seventeen.”

Like so many artists, Kate Davis was to be on tour during the spring and summer of 2020. She was scheduled to play a concert at my desk in May. Sitting by her desk at home, Kate Davis is marking time by writing new music….  She’s an extraordinary lyricist. Her 2019 album, Trophy, was a sharply worded collection of songs, many about growing up and a powerful tune about her father’s death.

“Cloud” has a great melody throughout, and the chorus is great–with her falsetto moment an unexpected bonus.  The slow middle section is also a really nice surprise.

“Open Heart,” the second song performed for her Tiny Desk (home) concert, is about a broken heart. It’s a subject tackled by many, but her lyrical prowess sets the scene in the hospital, where the doctor cuts her open, sees her critical condition, and takes out her broken heart. She sings, “Put the pieces back together, looks like it’s been shattered by a bad love,” later adding, “You’d rather feel this pain than have a broken heart.”

This song features another great delivery as she sings the lyric high but then adds a lower almost spoken word during the bridge “deep…breath.”  The song builds and builds to the end and I love that the chugging guitar chords ends with a slightly-off-ringing note that adds a cool amount of dissonance to a song about a broken heart.

I guess these songs sound different on the record since the blurb says:

Hearing these songs stripped to their essence–just Kate Davis and her guitar–exposes her charm and wit.

“I Like Myself” is a finger-picked style of playing–sounding quite different from the other songs.  The lyrics are very thoughtful:

I kind of like myself
Cause she likes me
And since I think the world of her
And she of me
Then I’m exactly who and where I want to be
Who and where I want to be

“Ride or Die,” was written before quarantine and its perspective has changed since.  The chord structure and vocal melody is unusual and very cool.    I especially like the way she adds a really slow section in the middle–a picked melody (of more unusual chords). This is my favorite of her songs and I’m looking forward top hearing more.

Davis looks at the camera a lot during this performance–making her seem very confident, which I gather she is.

[READ: August 1, 2020] “Dalton’s Box”

I loved this story.  It was fast and colloquial.  It was funny and dark and I want to read more stories like it.

The story is basically a conversation between two brothers.  The one brother asks if the other remembers Mick Dalton.  He does.

A few months back, Dalton won the Lottery.  Not a huge amount though, about 3,000 quid.  And Dalton, who is usually in trouble for some petty crime or another, says he’s going to invest it.

That means a get rich quick(ish) scheme selling contraband.  But this time Dalton is smart, you see.  He’;s going to sell contraband Marlboro cigarettes (I have no idea how that’s going to work). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 27, 2020] Sarah Harmer

I don’t remember when I first heard Sarah Harmer.

I think it was back in 2000 with her first album You Were Here.  (She has an album that she recorded before it but it wasn’t officially released until later).

You Were Here had the song “Basement Apt.” which was a reasonably big hit.  I also checked out her previous band Weeping Tile who are unjustly overlooked.

Harmer put out consistently great records, including I’m a Mountain, a bluegrass album that is totally awesome.  It took her five years to release the next album, Oh Little Fire, because she became an environmental activist and performed music mostly in guest roles.

Now it’s been ten years since Fire and she is back with a new album called Are You Gone.

She told us that this was the second night of her tour–a warm up for the big times in Canada.  Sarah had a four piece band with her.  She introduced them twice and I couldn’t make out a single name in the bunch.  But I was able to look them up. (more…)

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