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Archive for the ‘Kevin Devine’ Category

waljuneSOUNDTRACK: KEVIN DEVINE-“Freddie Gray Blues” (2016).

a1265312378_16This week, Rough Trade and Bank Robber Music released a compilation on bandcamp called Talk – Action = Zero: A Compilation Benefitting Black Lives Matter.   On one day they raised $12,000 for Black Lives Matter, which is pretty fantastic.

The record features 100 songs, a majority of which are previously unreleased and some of which seem to have been written in the past week.

This Kevin Devine song is not new.  In fact, it has been recorded twice.  First with a band on his Instigator album and then reimagined as an acoustic song on his We Are Who We’ve Always Been record.  The acoustic version is included on the compilation and it really allows you to hear these lyrics.

It’s depressing that he wrote this song four years ago after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black American man who was arrested by Baltimore Police for allegedly carrying a switchblade on April 12, 2015.

Gray fell into a coma in the back of a police van and passed away on April 19.  An investigation found that the arresting officers failed to follow safety protocols “through acts of omission” due to the spinal injuries Gray received during the police transport, which led to his death.  The six police officers were not convicted but faced various charges from second degree-murder to manslaughter.

Here it is four years later and the song is just as relevant and fits in this compilation all too well.

The lyrics are straightforward, the melody simple.

I’m talking Freddie Gray blues
I’m talking what happened to you
You were just 25
When they ended your life
When “to serve & protect”
Meant break your leg, snap your neck
Meant to kill you, to sever your spine
No matter what, there’s no good reason why

Devine also speaks from personal experience because of his family’s association with the police:

When I’m talking these killer cop blues
I’m kinda talking my family to you
See, my dad was a cop
And his dad was a cop
And my uncles were cops
And my cousins were cops
I’m partly here because of cops
And I love all those cops
And I know not every cop
Is a racist, murdering cop
But this is bigger than the people I love
The system’s broken
Not breaking
It’s done

And then, like any white person who is an ally, he realizes his position.

I’m talking white privilege blues
I’m talking confession to you
I don’t know what it’s like
To be afraid all my life
Looking over my shoulder
Behind each officer, a coroner
Entrenched inequality
No access, no empathy
Crushed in stacked decks
Institutions & death
This is not my reality
I’m afforded the luxury
Of shaking my head
I shut the screen, go to bed
I can turn off what you never can
And watch it happen again and again (and again and again and again and again, and again).

[READ: June 5, 2020] “Rookie”

I can’t get over how many stories there are about tree-planting, something that I feel like no one in the States ever does but which seems to be a rite of passage in Canada.

Every story talks about how horrible it is.  You can make a lot of money if you can put up with the conditions.  The cold, the backbreaking work, the pressure, living in a trailer or hotel for months.  Although you could make $10,000 in two months if you were good. And, pretty much everyone there let the drugs and drink and sex flow.

There’s always people who thrive and can plant 4,000 trees a day (at 9 cents per tree) called highballers.  While a rookie is lucky to plant 1,000 (which would mean breaking even after camp costs, like food).

In this case the highballers are Skye and Jen who seem to be a couple.  The rookie is Jake and the story is mostly about him.  Jake is a religious twenty-something.  He is God-fearing and serious.  He intended to go tree-planting with his friends from Bible College.  Elmer was the group leader and they would keep tabs on each other to make sure they didn’t smoke, do drugs or have sex.  Jake decided to join up, but by that time, Elmer’s crew was full, so he wound up with another crew in Ontario. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: March 17, 2020] Kevin Devine / Petal / Jaded Hart / Pearla

indexThe Asbury Park Music + Film Festival was scheduled for April 23-26.

There was going to be a lot of Music and movies at various locations throughout Asbury Park.

I actually wasn’t interested in the festival, but I was quite interested in seeing Kevin Devine (especially after his Kenny O’Brien St. Patrick’s Day show was cancelled).

Unsurprisingly, the entire Festival has been postponed, with the intention of rescheduling this summer.

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band was one of my favorite recent shows.  Having seen him with the full band, I was interested to see him solo again (I’ve seen him solo twice).

I have also seen Petal twice before.  The first time she was solo, the second time with a full band.  While I didn’t really need to see her again, she puts on an emotionally charged show and since she and Kevin are mates, I’m sure they would have done something together.

I hadn’t heard of Jaded Hart and when I looked them up, I misspelled the name as Jaded Heart which brought up a German metal band which seemed–incongruous.  Looking up Jaded Hart, though, I can’t find much of anything about them. There’s a musician named Christopher Wilkerson who comes up in the search, but his Jaded Hart is a cover band from the 1990s.  But I’m thinking it’s not that Jaded Hart.

Pearla is a 23 year old singer-songwriter from Brooklyn.  She sings a kind of mildly psychedelic folk pop.

I’m quite curious what the lineup will look like come summer time.

 

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[CANCELLED: March 15, 2020] Kenny O’Brien & The O’Douls / Ramoms

indexMarch was going to be a very busy concert month for me.  This was to be the second of four shows in five nights.  This show was going to be just for me–a night of Kevin Devine performing his Saint Patrick’s Day special with his “Irish” band Kenny O’Brien & The O’Douls.  It promised to be a night of hilarious nonsense and excellent music.  I’m not sure if this show will get rescheduled as it was topical.  But if we can have Christmas in July, why not St. Patrick’s Day in September, when we’ll all need some light-heartedness?

Opening for this show was a band called Ramoms, an all mom parody/tribute band to the Ramones.  It sounds fantastic and I really hope they get paired up with the Kenny O’Brien rescheudled date whether this year or next year on St Patrick’s weekend.

This turned out to be the second of dozens of shows cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus.

Obviously, my main concern is for everyone’s safety, including the bands!

My selfish concern though is that once the shows are rescheduled that all of these shows will be scheduled on the same day!

Let’s hope the rescheduled dates also do some social distancing.

kenny

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2019] Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band

I have seen Kevin Devine twice.  The first time was in 2017 when he opened for Frightened Rabbit.  The second time was earlier this year when he did a brief solo tour with John K. Samson.  The second show was so good–he was so full of energy as a headliner, that I knew I’d see him again.  But I really wanted to see him with The Goddamn Band (hilarious name).

When it was announced that Kevin and the Goddamn Band would be playing a short tour celebrating the tenth anniversary of the 2009 album Brother’s Blood, I bought tickets immediately.  I didn’t even know the album, I just wanted to see the whole band.  And holy cow was it a great choice.

Kevin has a fantastic stage presence–he bonds with the crowd instantly (even when I first saw him as an opening act and had no idea who he was, he just owned the stage).  He invites the audience to sing and the audience does.

And with the whole band, that interaction was even greater.  Kevin joked with the band members, soloed off of them and made the whole show like a party.

The crowd was totally into it–singing along to nearly every song.

It was a fantastic show.

I have since listened to the album a bunch and the songs are really great–but this live show was something amazing.  The band feeds off of each other, making every song bigger, richer, with more noise and jamming.  They clearly love playing with each other and were having a fantastic time. It was wonderful. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2019] An Horse

I feel like I’d heard of An Horse, but didn’t really know all that much about them.  It turns out they are a duo from Australia: Kate Cooper on guitar/vocals and Damon Cox on drums/backing vocals.  They’ve been around for ten years but have only released their third album this year.

I listened to them a bit before the show and liked what I heard.  But I was in no way prepared for how great they would be live.

Kate Cooper is a fantastic front woman.  She is funny, vibrant and she totally rocks.  Damon Cox is a fantastic drummer–playing interesting patterns, using different kinds of mallets and also singing backup.

I have seen a lot of rock duos recently and I’m always impressed with how big they can sound with just two people.  An Horse doesn’t sound big exactly, but they sound totally full.  You never feel like something is missing.  Their songs aren’t especially complex, but the way they both play, it never feels like “only” guitar and drums. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVE EARLE-Transcendental Blues (2000).

I’ve never really liked Steve Earle’s music.  For some reason I always thought of him as a kind of outlaw country.  But the review of this album from Hornby made me want to check it out.  And while there are certainly country music trappings, this is a solid fun rock record.

Earle’s voice isn’t what I thought it was (or wasn’t was it is now)–it’s much softer and much higher than I imagined.  So what’s going on on this record?

“Transcendental Blues” has a great distorted guitar riff running opposite the throbbing bassline.  Earle’s voice sounds like a cross between Dylan, Petty and (anachronistically) Kevin Devine.  “Everyone’s in Love with You” sounds like a rocking R.E.M. song with a very 90s vocal style and even a reverse guitar solo.

“Another Town” sounds like a song that I’ve heard a million times (but I haven’t).  It’s a simple pop song with a crazy catchy melody and it’s barely 2 minutes long.  “I Can’t Wait” slows things down a bit with a real poppy Matthew Sweet-vibe.

“The Boy Who Never Cried” is a dirgey song, slow and story telling.  It has strings with a slightly Middle Eastern feel.

“Steve’s Last Ramble” is a stompin’ song with full on harmonica introduction (which makes it seem even more Dylan).  “The Galway Girl” is a mandolin-based stomper while “Lonelier Than This” is a quiet, sad song.

“Wherever I Go” is only two minutes ling and has a country feel, even though it’s not that different from the other songs.  The guitar solo is totally early Beatles, but the lyrics are pure country:

I could drink corn whisky ’til my brain goes soft
I could run this highway ’til my wheels come off

The harmonica returns on “When I Fall” the start of a trifecta of country songs.  His drawl really comes out here, possibly because of his duet partner (Steve Earle’s sister, Stacey Earle, a country singer in her own right).  It’s a shame this song is so long as it’s my least favorite.

“I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet” is a simple country pop song (the twang remains).  Although “Halo ‘Round the Moon” is a softer song with a gentle shuffle beat.  “Until the Day I Die” continues with the old school country/bluegrass style with a big ol’ banjo intro, close harmonies, and a fiddle solo.  You can imagine a jug solo, hand clappin’ and a hoedown in a live version.

“All of My Life” rocks out again, with some loud bass and distorted guitar, which I desperately needed after those last few songs.

The disc ends with “Over Yonder (Jonathan’ Song).”  From songfacts:

This song is about the execution-by injection of Jonathan Nobles, which Steve Earle witnessed. The alt-country star told Mojo magazine May 2008 about it: “I don’t recommend it. I befriended Jonathan for several months beforehand. Then I saw the execution and later brought his remains to England for burial according to his wishes. But the execution was incredibly toxic to me. It’s hard. You can’t believe it’s really happening. I remember afterwards I thought, ‘did I black out and miss it? I let Jonathan down.’ Then the blank filled in… it was the shock… I realized exactly what I’d seen. I can’t see myself doing it again. I’ve absorbed enough death. And I still work hard against the death penalty.”

So I’m still on the fence about Earle, but I did enjoy this record much more than I thought I would.  Thanks, Nick.

[READ: June 15, 2019] “Alternative Earle”

I am aware of Steve Earle and I really like his lyrics.  I don’t love his music though–too much country in the alt-country.  Although Hornby describes it as Nashville folk and rock n roll hybrid.  But man, his lyrics are great.  I wish I liked him a bit more especially after reading this review.

Hornby is a passionate music lover and anything he likes sounds great when he describes it.

The album in question is Transcendental Blues (and in the photo Earle’s beard is much shorter than it is now).  As of 2000, Earle has been married and divorced six times (to five women–4 and 6 were the same person). In 1994 he was imprisoned for possessing narcotics.  This sentence ending years of heroin addiction. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 10, 2019] Kevin Devine

I saw Kevin Devine open for Frightened Rabbit back in 2017.  I didn’t know his music, but I really enjoyed his solo set.  When I heard that he was doing this tour with John K. Samson I was really excited to see him again.  I had hoped he’d be with His Goddman Band, but it turned out to be solo again.  I kind of assumed it would be with the band because of the new piece of merch (below) which I love but can’t imagine where you’d wear.

But it was excellent to see him not with the Goddamn Band because he was excellent solo.

Devine came out on stage to much applause.  He fiddled with the microphone stand and then said, you should be careful with your applause–what if I spend the whole night just tightening the mic stand.  Which he proceeded to do for another 40 seconds or so to much laughter until he admitted he couldn’t keep up the joke.

Devine played a song or more from nearly all of his nine albums as well as from his new split singles sets. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 10, 2019] Shannen Moser

It’s funny how some artists wind up as opening acts quite often.  In fact, there’s a number of bands that I could have seen many times because they opened for bands that I wanted to see.  I guess I haven’t wound up seeing all that many of these bands for whatever reason, but I do see the same opening bands popping up from time to time–especially if they are local.

A few weeks ago, Shannen Moser was scheduled to open for Girlpool, but I had to miss that show. And now a couple of weeks later, here she is opening for John K. Samson and Kevin Devine.

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 told some amusing stories in between song–amusing stories that often led to rather dark songs.  She sings in a powerful style–with countryish inflections.

There were a few times when she sang so loud that I had to put earplugs in–which I did not need for the other two.  She had a song where she seemed to growl some of the lyrics as well.

It was a treat to hear her really let loose.

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[ATTENDED: December 14, 2018] Petal

Petal is the creation of Kiley Lotz from Scranton, PA.  She has released a few albums and an EP (all on bandcamp).  Her recorded output has a somewhat heavier alternapop sound–there’s some great bass on her records.

She plays quite a lot and I have almost seen her a few times.  I believe that most of her concerts are with a band, although this one was solo.

It turns out that she is also good friends with Carly Comando and Tom Patterson from Slingshot Dakota–Kiley has a special connection to the Lehigh Valley, too.  And she was very happy to support Lehigh Valley Girl Rock.

Lehigh Valley Girls Rock is dedicated to empowering girls and women + trans and nonbinary folks through music and art
We build self-confidence and foster a sense of belonging.
We nurture an inclusive, supportive environment.
We connect people who then develop meaningful friendships.
We inspire community involvement.
We teach acceptance.

There was a raffle before the show and she donated a bunch of stuff to one of the baskets (I didn’t win any of the baskets). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 1, 2017] Kevin Devine

I had heard of Kevin Devine–and his Goddamn Band–but hadn’t actually heard his music.  I knew that he recently toured with Pinegrove as support–a show I wish I’d seen!  But here he was solo.

Devine sang a dozen or so songs.  Each one was catchy and not based on simple chord sequences.  But mostly the focus was on the words.  And I really liked his delivery–powerful and always spot on.  It worked perfectly for a solo acoustic set but i could see it working just as well for a rocking band.

I can’t find a setlist on line, and I don’t know the names of many of his songs, so I don’t have much more to fill in here.

I recall him saying that one of the songs was the title rack of his new album Instigator.  I know he also played at least one song from his band Bad Books. (more…)

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