Archive for the ‘Strand of Oaks’ Category

[CANCELLED: May 30, 2020] Against Me! / Baroness / Drug Church

indexI had a ticket to see Against Me! on their “2 Nights / 4 Records / 48 Songs,” tour.

I was mostly interested in seeing Dilly Dally who was opening, but I thought it would be interesting to see Against Me! as well. My night was for the White Crosses/Transgender Dysphoria Blues albums.  I actually don’t know those newer albums (I have New Wave), but I was interested in hearing them.

This show seemed like a good opportunity to check them out

But the main reason I wanted to go to this show was for Baroness.

I saw ‎John Baizley play with Strand of Oaks a few years ago and he was a great addition.  I hadn’t heard his band, but I immediately had to check them out.  I really liked them.  Last year I got to see and meet Baroness at an in store performance at Vintage Vinyl, but seeing Baroness acoustic in a record store (as cool as it was) is nothing like seeming them as full band in concert.

Unfortunately their Philly stop was at the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest that had a good line up but sounded like a nightmare, honestly.  But when they set up the rest of their dates, they didn’t do Philly again.

I don’t know Drug Church, but I’ve read that their sound mixes hardcore punk with alternative rock and grunge.  I listened to their song “Avoidarama” (love the name) and I really liked it (it’s far more grunge than hardcore and no screaming vocals).  “Grubby” has a bit more punk elements, and I liked it too.  I hope they tour with them when this gets rescheduled.

This show in Stroudsburg is the closest their were coming and even though they weren’t headlining (double headliner, I guess) it was the best I could do.  I’ve never been to a show in Stroudsburg before and I was curious how the commute there would compare to Philly.  But I’ve heard the Sherman Theater is really nice.

Since this show was at the end of May, I was counting it as a sort of holding out hopes for shows to not get cancelled.  But better safe than sorry.


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[ATTENDED: December 12, 2019] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I got a ticket for the third night, not really knowing what to expect.

It turned out to be a fantastic night of music and togetherness.

I missed the next year but went last year to Winter Classic IV.  Which was also great.

There was no way I was going miss Winter Classic V.  This year I went for the first night of the three.

The other two shows had opening acts announced, but there was none announced for my night.

I didn’t think we’d get an extra long show (Tim doesn’t do extra long shows).  Instead we got a cool improv by his partner for the night, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 12, 2019] Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner

I was pretty excited to go to the fifth Strand of Oaks Winter Classic (this is my third).  I chose the first night of the series because I was going out on Saturday as well. The other two shows had opening acts announced, but there was none announced for my night.

When I arrived, my friend was there up front (of course) and I managed to get up next to her.  She told me that the opening act was going to be Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner.  It was apparently decided just before the show started.

Well, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner was accompanying Tim Showalter for these shows (it was just the two of them during the Strand of Oaks set).  So, I guess it was decided last minute to let Slo-Mo do a twenty minute improv before the main show. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 11, 2019] Baroness

Baroness is, for the most part, the work of John Baizley.  There are others in the band, but there hasn’t really been any consecutive albums with the same lineup.  I first heard of John Baizley on March 10, 2017 when he was brought out as as special guest at a Strand of Oaks concert.

I thought Baizley was great at that show and I really liked his voice.  So I investigated and I discovered the wonder that is the prog metal of Baroness.  Baizley writes beautiful passages and tacks them onto brutally heavy metal.  His voice is a rich baritone and it all works perfectly.  I later found out that all of the art is done by him and that he has crafted some amazing heavy metal covers as well (here’s his art site).

In 2017, Baroness was between albums (their previous one came out in 2015, their new one is coming out in a couple of days).  But I listened to his older records and really liked them a lot.

They have recently toured for this new album, but the two shows they played near me were not ones I wanted to see.  In April they played the Decibel Magazine Metal & Beer Fest which sounded like a terrible thing to go to, quite frankly (even if they were the headliners) –7 bands and all that beer, no thanks.  A few days earlier they were playing Starland Ballroom with Deafheaven.  A double bill I would have liked to see, but I was already seeing Voivod that night.

They announced a tour of the rest of the lands and I was a little bummed.  But then they announced this little acoustic tour to coincide with their new album.  I was planning on getting the album anyway, so to travel to Fords to get that record and to have Baroness play an acoustic show was a no brainer. (more…)

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I’ve seen Strand of Oaks three times, although only once as a full band. Usually I see Tim Showalter’s Winter Spectacles–intimate shows with just him and a partner.  I forget how big the can sound with a full band.

“Weird Ways” opens the set.  I love the moment about two minutes in when the second guitar kicks in.  It seems like the song is going to be one thing but that second guitar changes the texture of the song up until the end.  The end is a catchy coda–synth waves, a big crescendo drums and a sing along “That’s a weird way to say goodbye.”
As Showalter introduced the band’s biggest hit, “Goshen ’97,” he recalled one of his favorite moments from the last decade. “I guess this is the first song of mine I ever heard on the radio, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ll never forget it. So if you know it, help us sing it.” The song describes Showalter’s memories of beginning to make music as a teenager in his hometown of Goshen, Indiana. “I was lonely but I was having fun!” he cried out during every pre-chorus.
I like mid-song when he says “gimme some shred!” and whoever is on guitar totally rocks out.
Up next is the new single “Ruby.”  I love the way he exaggeratedly slows down the chorus–it’s very effective.
Strand of Oaks stretched out many of their selections to make room for jamming and imagining, even though they were only scheduled to play a thirty-minute set. As usual, they made sure to enjoy every moment on stage to the fullest — they never rush. “If you know anything about this band, a half an hour is pretty tough for us to do,” Showalter admitted after fading out the end of “Ruby.” “That’s usually about one song,” he chuckled.
He dedicated “Keys,” to his wife, Sue.  “It’s easy to let your life slip away,” he sang.  The song featured slide guitar at its most melancholy and Showalter’s voice at its most wistful.
He dedicated “Radio Kids” to everyone who stayed up late listening for that song on the radio…pressing record and hoping to hear the name of the band.
They geared up for a set-ending “Hyperspace Blues” which I thought would be a lot longer.  But he was expecting his time to be over, so he kept it brief.  Then there was a surprise.
My favorite moment came after midnight, after Strand of Oaks were already supposed have finished their set. “So, the good folks at NonCOMM said that we can play a little bit longer,” Showalter announced with a grin. “We did this one a few days ago and dedicated this to a very dear friend of mine. Someone who’s changed my life for the better and I’m so happy and I’m so proud of him, and it’s just so good to see him …” He trailed off but then continued, almost broken up, “We’re gonna do this one for my dear friend Bruce Warren — let’s give Bruce Warren a big round of applause. The world’s a better place ’cause you’re here, Bruce, and we love you, so we’re gonna do this one for you. And we’ll burn it a little extra long for NonCOMM.”
“Forever Chords,” burns for twelve minutes.  It starts out slow, with a great tone and Showalter’s aching vocals.  There’s lengthy guitar solos, and pianos solos.  “The problem with living…. is one day you won’t” is not the happiest not to leave on, but the repeated chorus of “you hope it never ends” leaves us with an optimistic jamming moment.
[READ: May 30, 2019] “Revival Road”

Louise Erdrich writes unusual stories that I find very gripping.

This one is about a couple of families who live on Revival Road in rural new Hampshire.

The narrator is a middle aged woman who lives at home with her mother.  There is this wonderful passage:

It is difficult for a woman to admit that she gets along wit her own mother.  Somehow, it seem a form of betrayal.

The narrator is the lover of Kurt Heissman, a local artist.  His wife had died in a car accident many years earlier and he only had his daughter left.  She went to Sarah Lawrence.  She did not like the narrator.

Heissman’s work involved massive pieces of native slate or granite.  Pieces he couldn’t possibly move by himself so he always had a young man living in the guest house as his employee.  He had him stay nearby to be ready the moment that inspiration struck. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I had a really great time.  Then I saw him and his full band later the next year at a bigger venue.  I more or less felt that I didn’t need to go to the winter classic again this year.  But thinking of how much fun it was (and the fact that Carl Broemel was opening) was a huge incentive.  Now I’ve been to one night of his second and fourth Winter Classics.

Showalter came up on stage and Broemel came with him.   Showalter is such a warm and gregarious person and you can see that he is genuinely happy to be there.  He was smiling pretty much for the whole show.

Although I like Strand of Oaks newer album Hard Love, I really like the previous album Heal.  So it was pretty awesome that he played the majority of songs from Heal. In fact. the first three songs were from that album

For a few songs Broemel played lead guitar while Showalter played rhythm and sang.  And the two guitarists took the opportunity to do some great jamming together.  Broemel also played pedal steel (which was really cool) for a couple of songs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Joe Pug

I had no idea who Joe Pug was before this show. In fact, I’ve never heard of him.  So it was quite a surprise to discover that he had Strand of Oaks open for him on a show when Strand of Oaks Pope Killdragon came out.  Since Strand of Oaks has grown in popularity, he was returning the opening slot favor.

Joe Pug sings folks songs and writes string solid lyrics.  His song “Bright Beginnings” was quite lovely.

Of course, the ones I remember best are the funny ones. Like the one he introduces as an opportunity to tell his wife (here he hemmed and hawed about the right way to say this, until someone warned him to be careful).  Finally he revealed that it was a way to tell his wife that he didn’t work in a bank, so money will likely be tight.  It was a delightfully amusing song. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 7, 2018] Carl Broemel

In 2016, I went to see the second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  It was a wonderful night  I wasn’t even that big of a Strand of Oaks fan–I liked the latest album, but that’s all I knew.  The show was terrific and the whole night had a wonderful feeling of warmth and kindness.  Timothy Showalter is a super nice guy and very grateful for his success.

I didn’t think I needed to go again this year, but then I saw that one of the opening acts was Carl Broemel, guitarist for My Morning Jacket.  MMJ have been on my “must see again” list, but they haven’t played anywhere near us for a while.  So this seemed like the next best thing.

I was running late that night and assumed that Joe Pug was the first opener (from the way it was listed).  But when I got there I discovered that Carl was up first and had started already!  Gadzooks. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 10, 2017] Strand of Oaks

Back in December I saw Strand of Oaks at Boot and Saddle.  It was just Tim Showalter and Jason Anderson and they were great.  It was very intimate, it was the third night of a three night stint and everyone was loose and having fun.

At the show, they were selling tickets this March appearance at Union Transfer–which was going to be the whole band.  So I decided to get a ticket that night, for a good comparison.

While waiting for the band to come on, I wound up talking to a bunch of people who were huge fans.  I found out that his previous keyboardist was Eliza Hardy Jones who has since gone solo rather successfully–she was evidently at XPNFest last year, when we were there.  One lady told me that the last time she saw Strand of Oaks, Showalter stage dove right where she was standing (which is where I was standing).  The guy she was with said that last time he saw them, they opened with “Cinnamon Girl,” and they talked about how this was a hometown show and he would go all out–especially since the venue was far more filled than the previous time. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 10, 2017] Twin Limb

I had never heard of Twin Limb when they opened for Strand of Oaks.  So I was pretty surprised to walk in on them setting up and to notice a giant accordion on the left side of the stage.

And then on the right side of the stage, facing the accordion was the drumset.  In between was a guy with a guitar.

Twin Limb is the creation of Maryliz Bender (drums, vocals) and Lacey Guthrie (accordion, vocals).  I’m not sure exactly what they sounded like initially.  But a year or so after they formed, they teamed up with Kevin Ratterman (sampled sounds, guitar) and their sound evidently changed pretty dramatically.

I don’t know what it was before, but it was fantastic when I saw them. (more…)

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