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Live Music Friday – G Love & Special Sauce, live at the Belly-Up Tavern, 2006

Welcome back to another Live Music Friday here at For today’s post, I thought we would get a little motown. A little funky. A little bluesy. A little… well… everything, with a show from G Love & Special Sauce.

One of my favourite live shows of 2008 so far has been a night spent with G Love & Special Sauce at the Tivoli. My first time seeing G Love, he was everything I had hoped for. Magnetic, playful, soulful and plain ol’ fun, it was a great night. After hoping to see him for over a decade, you might have thought the event itself could easily have been an anti-climax… in reality, however, it was anything but.

G Love performing live at The Tivoli

G Love really is, to me, an old-school musician. As I said in my last entry:

G Love is, to me, one of the most complete musicians of my era. While his brand of blues and funk sometimes seems interminable to those who need their songs packaged into 3:30 min format, to me G Love hearkens back to a time when a blues man knew what he was talking about. When a blues man paid his respects to those who came before him, but produced more than homage; an innovator. And someone slightly out of step with time. All this may not seem obvious when seeing G Love from the outside; after all, he’s an easy-going guy, who’s songs often deal with frivolous topics. But I think underneath that there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience. In short, a hip, hip cat. And that’s G Love to a tee.

And really, that “completeness” is shown off in the set I’ve decided to post today, which showcases G Love & Special Sauce performing live at the Belly-Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California, in 2006. As Garrett says in the set, when introducing the tune “Walk On”:

“Sometimes I feel like a little city, and sometimes I feel a little country… And right now, I’m feeling a little country”.

And ultimately, that statement exemplifies this show; there’s some rock, a whole lot of blues and soul, a pinch of reggae, some hip hop, and some folk thrown in for good measure with the Bob Dylan cover of “The Times They Are A-Changin'”.

In short: It’s music. So enjoy.

Listen. Love. Support.

G Love & Special Sauce, live at the Belly-Up Tavern, 1/18/2006 (Set 1)

1.) Rapping Beats
2.) Don’t Drop It
3.) Ain’t No Turning Back
4.) Let’s Make Love Tonight
5.) Can’t Go Back To Jersey
6.) Baby’s Got Sauce
7.) This Ain’t Livin’
8.) Steppin’ Stone
9.) I-76

G Love & Special Sauce, live at the Belly-Up Tavern, 1/18/2006 (Set 2)

10.) Times They Are A-Changing
11.) Willow Tree
12.) Rainbow
13.) Walk On
14.) Chuck Dub
15.) Give It To You (Chuck Dub)
16.) Booty Call
17.) Cold Beverages (Gold Digger)
18.) Drums (Cold Beverages)

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Live Music Friday – Counting Crows Live on WXPN/World Cafe Friday

Possibly the post that I receive the most emails about on this blog was my past post about the Counting Crows performance on WXPN’s World Cafe Friday.
I don’t think that a a single week has gone by, since that post was published, where I don’t get an email asking me for the rest of the tracks to that performance.

Now that “Live Music Friday” has been instituted on this blog, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take care of all those emails in one go… so today, I’ll be posting the entire set of Counting Crows, live on WXPN/World Cafe.

As much as I get elitist music snob feedback whenever I feature Counting Crows on this blog, I stand by my statement that, for many of us, Counting Crows pretty much played the soundtrack of our lives. Seriously. Recovering the Satellites, and August and Everything After contained songs that – I think, at that stage of my life, for the very first first time – seemed to me as though they were written specifically with you in mind.So when the news came out that the band were set to release their fifth-studio album, “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings“, earlier this year, I was desperately hoping for it to bring back those feelings of years gone past. However, as my two past posts indicated, I was hesitant to hold out too much hope for fear of disappointment.

(Side note: Once I finally received my full copy of the double-album, I was… ambivalent. Which is a terrible thing to say about a band like Counting Crows. But, really, it was an album that was good, but not great.)

This set, however, is the set that got me excited about the album.
It’s a set that exemplifies why Counting Crows are one of the greatest live acts around – their ability to make each show a truly personal experience for each person in the audience.
In this set, Counting Crows walked the crowd through the album, with eight songs performed from “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings”. And, before each tune, Adam Duritz introduces the track with an in-depth commentary about the story behind the song. You really have to listen to the entire set to get that magic of hearing Adam explain the birth and life of each song… but here’s a sample taste of his introduction to “Washington Square”:

“And I moved “Washington Square” to this place right here, because following that would be this song “Le Ballet d’Or”, which is about looking back on your life and realising, “If I’d just done things a little differently, this could all have been a lot different”. As the song starts out, uh… “Wasted time running scared, when all the love needs is to be believed in“… which is an obvious thing to say, but not a simple thing to do.
Or the second verse is, “Wasted time running scared, all that I need is something like a summer, and I know you need somebody just like I do“.
And he goes through the seasons in that song, it’s kind of a companion song to “Omaha” in a way, that he’s looking at his life in these different ways and seeing all these places where… God, it didn’t have to go as wrong as it did, it’s just that… if I’d just been able to see it a little differently, I could have done things a little differently. And he kind of comes to the conclusion that, it’s time to stop being the way I’ve been, and to do something totally different.

And the song after that is called, “On A Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago”, which I wrote in Amsterdam the week after “Accidentally in Love”. At the time, written about, “What if this wonderful thing that’s going on in my life were to.. fall apart and drift away?”.
Uh, and years later, after it actually did… uh, it becomes this really… it was a sad song about the possibilities of something so beautiful, and how fragile it is to hold something that beautiful in your hand, but in the years later of course, it becomes a truly, truly sad thing to have lost something that meant that much to you. And it’s funny, a friend of mine commented to me the other night, she said, “You know, this album… the healthier you get, the sadder it gets”, and I was like, “Oh…”.

And I think that’s because madness is like numbness. And you retreat from the world. And the healthier you get, the better you are, the more you can feel… and feeling is just, you know… it can go either way. You can feel good, you can feel bad.”

And really… who doesn’t an intro like that speak to? Seriously. Listen. Love. Support.

Counting Crows, Live on WXPN/World Cafe Friday, 8 February 2008

1.) 1492
2.) Hanging Tree
3.) Insignificant
4.) Cowboys
5.) When I Dream of Michelangelo
6.) You Can’t Count On Me
7.) Washington Square
8.) Come Around

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Live Music Friday – Howie Day live at The House of Blues. (Or, I’m in mourning. I missed the Howie Day gig.)

I’m in serious mourning here. Somehow, the fact that Howie Day was in Brisbane – or even Australia, for that matter – opening for Whitley completely flew under my radar, and I only found out after it was too late. To put this into perspective, Howie Day is one of my ultimate “hope and pray to see live” musos… and to this date I haven’t managed to accomplish that feat.

My pain is only intensified by the fact that some work colleagues went to see Whitley, and then – get this – DID NOT EVEN BOTHER TO GO WATCH THE OPENING ACTS. Sigh. Can you say, “Philistines”? I can.

Howie Day performing live. Sigh… for now I’ll need to content myself with a Live Music Friday.
Pic: Javier Izquerdo

Anyway… I found it highly coincidental that I only found this out yesterday, while I was putting together a Live Music Friday post. And considering that Howie’s known for his live performances, I found it only fitting that I commiserate my misery by posting a Howie show.

I have many live Howie Day shows. In fact, I can unequivocally say that Howie Day is the reason I got into tracking down rare live shows. Anyone who has seen the 30-minute DVD that was attached to his “Madrigals EP” release can attest to what a force he is live. Looping guitar lines and vocals through his trusty POD6, performing percussion on the body of his guitar and laying down some fat bass lines, Howie Day manages to string all the elements together in loops and build up to a full sound – all while performing solo – that far eclipses even that of a full band.

It’s something that has to be seen to be believed, so I highly recommend that you get the Madrigals (Bonus DVD) set. It truly is the quintessential Howie. Here’s actually a taster, that I see someone has uploaded to Youtube. Best watch this fast, as I doubt they had permission to upload this from that DVD.

Howie Day performing “Bunnies” live.

In the last few years, Howie’s moved away from this solo looping and more towards performing with a full band. While it’s an understandable development, I know that many fans hope that one day he returns to his roots full-time.

This performance is from 2001, at a Howie/John Mayer performance at the House of Blues. At times Howie sounds like a younger Mitch Hedberg; considering this was before his trip to rehab, however, this isn’t too surprising. The sound quality on this recording isn’t great; the lows bottom out, and it needs more treble. In addition to that, it includes perhaps the clumsiest outro on “Ghost” to “Beams of Light” that I’ve ever heard Howie perform.

So after all this derision, why am I posting this show, of the many that I have of Howie?

Because it finds Howie at his most passionate. It finds Howie at his most personal. It finds Howie at his most cathartic. Listen to “She Says”, and you’ll know what I mean. But the main reason?

Because it has that song. That moment. The moment when Howie and John get up on stage together. Fans will know which one I’m talking about.
Howie Day and John Mayer performing a killer version of “Sorry, So Sorry”. And while that track seemed to make it’s way around the internet a few years ago, the show in it’s entirety is a bit of a rarity. So I post it here for the true fans, who want to add it to their collection.

I’ve also posted a remastered version of “Sorry, So Sorry” as a separate download, for those who need better sound quality (albeit only slightly).

Oh. And if Howie, or his publicists come across this post, please know that I’m sorry for missing the gig. Now come back to Brisbane soon, ok? I’d pretty much resigned myself to never seeing him play live when I lived in South Africa, and now that I’m in a country that he actually visited and simply didn’t know about the gig… well, it’s killing me. So come back. Seriously.

Listen. Love. Support.

Howie Day, Live at the House of Blues, 22/6/2001

1.) After You
2.) Morning After
3.) Ghost
4.) Buzzing (Africa)
5.) Madrigals
6.) Sorry, So Sorry (with John Mayer)
7.) She Says (One)

Extra:Sorry, So Sorry (with John Mayer) (remastered version)

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Live Music Friday – Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, live on NPR’s World Cafe

Just so that everyone knows, my iPod has officially given up the ghost, completely and utterly without warning. With most of my music on there, this is severely going to impact posting, and – quite frankly, more importantly – completely bums me out. Anyone want to start a “donate to help Matthew buy another iPod as he’s already in mountains of debt” fund? Oh wait, I already did… a shameless cry for help, yes, I know, but a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do…

Help a brother out, and keep the tunes flowing, would you? Click the donate button to help sponsor through Paypal. Every cent helps…

Anyway. Welcome back to another Live Music Friday. For today’s post, I thought I’d fall back on the always sublime Ryan Adams and the Cardinals.

Last year, in 2007, I was finally lucky enough to see Ryan Adams & The Cardinals perform live at The Tivoli, in Brisbane… and it was everything I had hoped it would be. The band are unbelievably tight, and despite Ryan’s well-known cantakerous exterior, he really does have this magical ability to pull you right into the song, taking you along to ride the melody and lyrics beside him.

This set is also from 2007, from a performance on the always wonderful NPR’s World Cafe (which also gave us the wonderful Counting Crows performance featured here).

The show finds Ryan at his sardonic best, with sarcastic observations peppered between the songs.
If nothing else, make sure that you listen to the tracks “I Taught Myself To Grow Old”, with Ryan’s voice soaring at it’s heart-breaking best, and a lovely slower version of the normally manic “Let It Ride”. While it’s a short set-list, and lacks for the regular “Magnolia Mountain” and “Wildflowers”, it’s a powerful set nonetheless. And don’t worry… I have a much longer Ryan Adams show that I’m sure I’ll post in the future, with a 10 minute version of “Magnolia Mountain”, so no fear there.
Something about this show, however, just connects with me. It’s a Ryan Adams quality – and a very distinctive one at that – that when I hear him live, it hits me like a shovel to the chest. It’s a very personal connection, and one that no other artist has managed to come close to, for me at least (save for Alex Dezen of The Damnwells, who is nipping at Ryan’s heels for my adulation).

I suppose that that was really a long-winded way of saying: “Ryan’s music makes my world a better place. It describes that bit that is simply out of the reach of words“. And while that’s a terribly trite comment to read on a music blog, it’s true nonetheless.

I hope it does the same for you.

Ryan Adams and The Cardinals, Live on World Cafe, 15 June 2007

1.) Introduction
2.) Two
3.) I Taught Myself To Grow Old
4.) Winding Wheel
5.) I See Monsters
6.) Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard
7.) Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.
8.) Nightbirds
9.) Let It Ride
10.) Blue Hotel

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Live Music Friday – Bob Schneider at Antone’s, 2002

Time for another Live Music Friday! Following on from our Alex & Angela Dezen post here, and The National Black Sessions post here, today we’ll be following up with a Bob Schneider show from 2002.

Bob Schneider, live at Antones, 2002

Bob Schneider… always an electrifying live show…

Bob Schneider is, quite possibly, one of my favourite singer-songwriters of the last decade.
The man’s writing is… prolific, to say the least. In fact, I recall reading an interview with him once, where the interviewer asked him how it was possible to produce – consistently – so many hit tunes. To which Bob replied something to the effect that, if you’re in the habit of writing at least two songs a day, every day, you’re bound to strike it lucky occasionally.
While that answer is typical of Schneider, trying to shrug off the accolades with an easy smile, it really is needless modesty that underplays the brilliance of Schneider’s poetic, hauntingly beautiful songs. He truly is – in my eyes, at least – nothing less than a lyrical genius.

Anyone who has heard more than one song of his will be impressed with his versatility; some songs are witty, whimsical and naughty; stuffed with double-entendres and straight-forward raunchiness… most often these are the songs that come about as a result of his playing with his sometime band, “The Scabs”.
Other times, the songs are remorseful; chilling; unsettling; winsome and things of pure, unsullied beauty. It’s when Bob enters his more contemplative mode that he truly shines, for me. Really, it’s perfection.

This set, a show from December of 2002 at Antone’s in Schneider’s hometown of Austin, Texas, is perhaps one of my favourites of the many live shows I have of his. There’s a nice interplay between the flippant songs, and the more serious fare that makes for a nice entry point to Bob’s music. And the fact that he’s playing with long-time collaborator, Mitch Watkins, only sweetens the deal. It’s a long set, at 33 songs, so make sure you’re comfortable.

If nothing else, please make sure you listen to the track “Queen UK”. Please. As someone who used to play in a band, it breaks my heart every time I hear it.

The only thing that could have made the set better, for me? Including “King of the World”, “Tokyo” or “Gold in the Sunset” in the setlist. Still, you can’t have everything I suppose…

Listen. Love. Support.

Bob Schneider & Mitch Watkins, Live at Antone’s, 7 December 2002

1.) Intro
2.) Horses and Ponies
3.) Blood
4.) Round and Round
5.) Queen UK
6.) Down The Dark Stairs
7.) Cornflakes and Sodium Pentathol
8.) Pencil Me In
9.) Somewhere Over The Rainbow
10.) Spacesuit
11.) Captain Kirk
12.) The Other Side
13.) “Booger”
14.) Devil Was My Only Son
15.) Jingy
16.) Metal and Steel
17.) Cashville, TN
18.) Let It Go
19.) Losing You
20.) “One in ten chance”
21.) Batman
22.) Big Blue Sea
23.) Honeybomb
24.) 2002
25.) Sideshow Tornado
26.) All I Want For Christmas Is My Methadone
27.) Montana
28.) World Exploded Into Love
29.) Good Life
30.) If I Only Had A Brain
31.) Jimmy The Trucker
32.) Spend Some Time
33.) C’mon Baby

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Live Music Friday – The National Black Sessions

Wow. That week went fast. I can’t believe it’s time for another Live Music Friday. Following on from our Alex & Angela Dezen/Damnwells post here, I thought that today we’d feature a show from The National.

The National Black Sessions

The National (image credit: David Greenwald)

Aah, those Frenchmen. I swear, whether it’s my favourite La Blogotheque videos or something else, they seem to get some truly great live music out of international groups. The Black Sessions are a perfect example of thisbroadcast on the French radio station France Inter, and recorded in front of a live audience, the sessions sometimes lack the intimacy that you get when listening to a rough tapers version of a show; but they make up for that in the clarity of the audio. You can learn more about The Black Sessions here, but you better have a firm grasp of French if you want to get anything out of it.

One of my favourite Black Session shows was that of The National, who appeared on the show in 2005, to promote their then upcoming album, Alligator. The National, at that time, were truly blowing up while still remaining somewhat under the radar; and it shows in this set. A blistering set, it features perhaps my favourite rendition of “Cherry Tree” (which featured on their 2004 album of the same name) ever… when you hear Matt Berninger repeating the mantra of “Loose lips sink ships” over and over again, in that manic tone? Man… it sends shivers down my spine.

As a side note, in 2007, The National did another show for the same station, entitled “The National White Sessions”, promoting their album “The Boxer“. But that’s a post for another day…

The National Black Sessions (live 2005)

1.) All The Wine
2.) Secret Meeting
3.) Driver Surprise Me
4.) Lit Up
5.) Cherry Tree
6.) Baby, We’ll Be Fine
7.) Geese
8.) City Middle
9.) Looking For Astronauts
10.) Mr November
11.) Daughters Of The Soho Riots
12.) Abel
13.) Wasp Nest

The National Black Sessions 2005 .zip file

Next time on Live Music Friday? Well, you’ll just have to tune in to find out… but at the moment, the two front-runners are Bob Schneider and Ryan Adams. If there are any preferences, drop a line below and let me know.

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Live Music Friday – Alex Dezen of The Damnwells, Live at Hotel Cafe

Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a large collection of live shows of my favourite artists… thank god for all those tapers out there who share their wealth with those of us who can’t make it to the show! When I was living in South Africa, those tapers pretty much managed to get through the many winters when large acts simply wouldn’t visit our shores.
So I thought it was time that I shared the wealth. And that leads us to this, the inaugeral “Live Music Friday“. When time allows, Friday posts here will become a regular live music post. Now, I’m not going to lie… the likes of Ryan Adams, Howie Day and Bob Schneider will probably be popping up more than once in this series of posts. But for today, I thought we’d start with…

Alex & Angela Dezen at the Hotel Cafe, 2007

Alex Dezen of The Damnwells & Angela Dezen.

It’s official. Following Damnwells posts here and here, I’m obsessed. And I’m ok with that. The music of The Damnwells really is that rare breed, where I find that — even years after initially hearing them — my love of their music hasn’t waned in the slightest. And that’s a rare form of staying power.
There are quite a few live recordings of Alex and The Damnwells around, and some with better sound quality than this one. But this is possibly my favourite, simply because of the dynamic that Alex Dezen shares with his wife, Angela… who is not only an actress, but an amazing singer. Side note – how jealous can one guy make me? There is a real tenderness in these songs that simply hits you like a steam-train.

I stumbled across a recent video that they posted on Youtube, of them performing the song, “Like It Is”, in front of a glowing Christmas tree, where that exact tenderness is so immediately apparent…

Alex and Angela Dezen performing “Like It Is” live.

From the moment Alex opens his voice in that video, my heart absolutely breaks. And when Angela comes in? Man… I know this is an awful thing for a music blogger to write, but I simply don’t have words for it. It awakens a yearning in me that I never knew existed.

And that’s how it is with this live show. Alex Dezen, with Angela, creates beauty. If nothing else, make sure you listen to their version of “Bastard of Midnight“. If it doesn’t stop you in your tracks, then I’m not sure we have much more to talk about.

Anyway… here’s the set-list. I’ve included individual files below, and then a handy .zip of the entire show below that.

Alex and Angela Dezen Live at the Hotel Cafe, 14 October 2007

1. Dandelion
2. Chatter 1
3. Bastard of Midnight
4. Kung Fu Grip Kiss
5. Chatter 2
6. Jesus Could Be Right
7. Chatter 3
8. Chatter 4
9. Say
10. Chatter 5
11. Closer Than We Are
13. Chatter 6
14. Like It Is
15. Chatter 7
16. Golden Days

Alex Dezen Live at Hotel Cafe 14/10/07 .zip file

And now for the links… The Damnwells website can be found here, their Myspace here — and I would suggest checking out Alex’s blog there — and Angela has a website here. Linkage galore!

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