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Live Music Friday – Alex Dezen and Dave Chernis of The Damnwells, live on World Cafe Live

Welcome back to another Live Music Friday here at Burgo’s Blog. Thanks to all the regular readers who were patient while I took my week off from posting… it was much needed, and I think it did me a world of good.
For this week’s Live Music Friday, I decided to post a show from 2005, when Alex Dezen and Dave Chernis of The Damnwells played on World Cafe Live.

Live Music Friday - Alex Dezen and Dave Chernis of The Damnwells, live on World Cafe Live

There are a few reasons that I chose to post an Alex Dezen post today. The first is that I’ve noticed a lot of you are finding my blog searching for Alex Dezen, and in particular the song “Tonight and Forever”… I’m guessing this is as a result of The Damnwells getting a lot of exposure lately, thanks to no less than five of their songs – “Tonight and Forever” included – appearing on the new Ryan Reynolds flick, “Chaos Theory“. That’s really encouraging for a supporter to see, and, in a weird way, I’m really proud and happy for the band. So if you’re one of those people just getting turned onto the group, then I’d really suggest you check out some of my past posts on the band: particularly my post about The Damnwells documentary, Golden Days, which shows the movie’s trailer; my post The Damnwells – A new release and some old love; and a previous Live Music Friday, showcasing Alex Dezen and Angela Dezen performing live at the Hotel Cafe. And finally, there is of course this post, which features a live version of the song, “Tonight and Forever”.

The second reason is that, during my week off from posting, I returned to my roots somewhat
, in order to recharge my batteries. This included copious amounts of Ryan Adams listening, and… you guessed it… Alex Dezen and The Damnwells.

The third reason? It’s, quite frankly, a freakishly beautiful set, featuring both Alex and Dave Chernis, with Dave playing some of the most atmospheric lap steel that I’ve ever heard from him. There’s a bit of nostalgia for me there as well, as in recent times, there have been questions about who exactly The Damnwells are. Whereas it used to have all the band members listed on the group’s Myspace as permanent members, eagle-eyed fans noticed that earlier this year the band’s members section changed to “Alex Dezen – vocal/guitar… often with…“. And going by Alex’s myspace blog, it seems to be that their much rumoured new release might be more of a solo project. As he wrote:

“Back to the record. People have been asking, “Is this a Damnwells record or an Alex solo record?” The answer is: I’m not sure. The Damnwells has always been about my songs with extremely talented musicians and producers collaborating. The personnel have changed, but the essence—one of this week’s vocabulary words for the 7th graders I teach—remains the same. That was always the idea Ted and I had for this band, that it would be a kind of collective, a collaborative vehicle for artists and friends. Dave, Ted, and Steve were the in the shit with me for 7 years. Now they’ve got other things going on, more important things. Are we still friends? Some of us. Will we ever play together again? Does the pope wear a funny hat? Even if some of us aren’t in communication right now, I know we wish we were. So are the Damnwells finished? I think I just answered that question. If you’re still unsure, come down to the Double-Decker fest in Oxford, Mississippi on the 26th, or the Workplay Theater in Birmingham, Alabama on the 27th and see for yourself. Just remember to bring some earplugs and a broken heart. On the stage for this limited engagement will be Ole Dick Dick, Ratty, Jay, and myself. There are some plans in the works for more shows this summer, though who knows if that will happen.”

And really, a large part of my love for this set is that it features both Alex and Dave. Don’t get me wrong; I know that The Damnwells is more than just certain members. As Alex has always said, The Damnwells is more of a collective. But, to me… I’ll always look at the musical connection that Alex and Dave have with much fondness, regardless of whether they play together again or not.

Alex Dezen
Alex Dezen in 2000, before forming The Damnwells (image credit: Heather Conley)

Apart from questions about the band line-up, if we add onto that the fact that Alex has another dream – writing – and it becomes clear that he has a lot going on in his life right now. Back in the above post, he wrote:

“Trekking back in time now just to confuse you, while in Oxford I got a phone call from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.  I had driven myself crazy for the past six months applying to grad schools for fiction writing.  I took the GRE, filled out 15 applications, and worked day and night polishing my writing samples.  A couple nervous breakdowns later, it was all done, all applications were submitted, albeit a few with missing transcripts.

“We’re gonna be accepting you to the program,” Connie Brothers said, “and you left the box that indicates your preference for assistantship blank.  I need to fill it in so you’ll be considered for funding.”

After assuring me this was not a practical joke, I thanked her and called my wife, who subsequently cried with equal parts joy and fear at the prospect of living in Iowa City for the next two years.  It was one degree there a few weeks ago.  Just one.  So, if there are any Damnwells fans in Iowa City, drop me a line.  I’ll be teaching Rhetoric (whatever the hell that is) to freshmen and writing the great American novel.”

All in all… Alex Dezen is – to put it mildly – a multifaceted person; husband, writer, teacher, musician. But that’s the way I like ’em.

And perhaps, for all of those Damnwells fans who are worried that this much feted new album will never come out, or worry about the future of the band itself, I might quote one more passage from Alex’s blog (really, this is just an excuse for me to post more of his writings.. I just love his way with words):

“It’s been a long time, he said.
She didn’t answer but looked right back at him unflinching, even though she desperately wanted to turn away.
Sorry I haven’t been in touch, he said.
She was mad, but that was okay because it was better than being sad.
It’s okay now, she said. There was so much more to say. It was tied in a knot somewhere inside her, refusing to unfurl.
I’ve been making a record, he explained. There’s been some complications, as always, he said, laughing quietly. But it’s almost done.
She laughed with him, pretending to understand.
It sounds really great, he said. I think this is the best one I’ve ever made.
That’s great, she said. When will I get to hear it?
I’d love to play it for you.
He was always saying that. Another promise unfulfilled. She heard another language, though—a language of broken promises to her.
When can I hear it? she asked.
It’s that good, huh? she said, turning her head to the side and smiling with licked lips.

Yeah, he said, and kissed her.”

The fact is, that in the last few years, Alex Dezen has become one of my favourite artists
. Without a doubt. And this set on World Cafe Live perfectly showcases that. Alex’s achingly beautiful way with words, his tales of love and heartbreak… and hope; and his voice that completely sucks you in. Add in the perfect complements of Dave Chernis, and you’re in for one of my favourite sets of The Damnwells.

Anyway, I’ve jabbered on enough about the band. If you’ve stuck with me this long, then you really deserve this set. So let’s just get to the show, shall we?


Listen. Love. Support.

Alex Dezen and Dave Chernis of The Damnwells, live on World Cafe Live, 22 November, 2005

1.) Introduction
2.) Golden Days
3.) Tonight and Forever
4.) Electric Harmony
5.) Kiss Catastrophe
6.) Kung Fu Grip Kiss
7.) I Will Keep the Bad Things From You
8.) The Trade
9.) Louisville
10.) Assholes
11.) I’ll Be Around
12.) Sleepsinging

2008 releases artists digital downloads guitar Live Music Friday live songs music rock gods

Live Music Friday – Coldplay, live at London’s Brixton Academy

So I was all set for a Calexico “Live Music Friday” post today, and then at the last minute, an email came through pointing me towards this NME article, which in turn led me to the BBC Radio 1 site, which – finally – pointed me towards this set: Coldplay, performing live from the Brixton Academy in London.

Given that it was a live set, it was simply too fortuitous a timing to pass up… so I decided to post this set for today’s Live Music Friday.

Coldplay - Live Music Friday

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you might remember me mentioning that I was slightly hesitant to embrace Coldplay’s new album, “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends“, and that it’s lead single, “Violet Hill”, just didn’t hit me where it should have.
That, of course, was based solely on that single. Since then, I’ve managed to listen to the album in its entirety… but I’m still undecided about it. Something tells me that it will be one of those albums that will grow on me over time; but right now, while I think it’s a good album (and great, by other bands’ standards), it doesn’t quite reach the heights that I know Coldplay are capable of.

That said… this live set, featuring both new and old material, is an absolute cracker, and makes me like the new songs all the more.
It’s not surprising, really… Coldplay are a band made for dramatic, passionate live performances. And this, their first live performance in two years, is no exception.

It’s a great set, that finds Chris Martin in a playful mood (once he finally addresses the crowd, before “Viva La Vida”). For example, before the track “Chinese Sleep Chant“, Martin jokes about the fact that the band’s live return had been a free ticket giveaway, with “I know there have been complaints about the ticket price. What can I say, we’re money grabbing whores!“. Or, between “Square One” and “Trouble“, where the band seamlessly switches songs, and there’s this wonderfully surreal moment where he stops and says:

“How seamless was that? How professional was that crossover? You know, if ever… if ever Jonny’s ego grows out of control and the band splits up, and you happen to be on a piano ferry going to Calais or wherever they go, and you see me doing a little piano-turn, you can say, “Chris, I remember when you used to be a pop star, and you did those seamless crossovers between Girls Aloud, and your own beautiful ballads. And I will say thank you so much”

… before… well… seamlessly picking up the tune again. And when the crowd sings along to the outro of “Trouble”, it’s such a powerful moment that Chris Martin comments, “Whoa. What a ferry journey that would be“.
In fact, it’s at moments like that, listening to the majestic sounds Coldplay create here, that it hits me… I have no doubt that the new tunes will eventually become anthems, just as the older material has obviously become.

Finally, make sure you at least listen to the track, “Death Will Never Conquer”; sung by the band’s drummer, Will Champion. It’s awesome to hear him step out from behind the skins and into the spotlight. And “Fix You“? Awesome. That’s all that’s needed to be said.

Enough rambling. The set is below. Listen. Love. Support.

Coldplay, live at London’s Brixton Academy, 16 June 2008

1.) Intro
2.) Life In Technicolour
3.) Violet Hill
4.) Clocks
5.) In My Place
6.) Viva La Vida
7.) Chinese Sleep Chant
8.) God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
9.) 42
10.) Square One
11.) Trouble
12.) Lost!
13.) Strawberry Swing


14.) Interlude
15.) Yellow
16.) Death Will Never Conquer (The Goldrush cover)
17.) Fix You
18.) Lovers In Japan

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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.

Counting Crows - Live Music Friday

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 – 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.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals Live

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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Ryan Adams says goodbye to Foggy…

… and although we’ve heard this before, I think it’s for real this time.

Ryan Adams says goodbye to Foggy…
Ryan Adams says goodbye to Foggy in his latest post…

This follows an earlier post today where Ryan wrote:

“The Sad Truth Is This Blog, It’s What Happens When One Day You Don’t Have That Person You Talk To Everyday Anymore. They Leave. Any You Get Desperate. And Pathetic. And You Don’t Know Who To Talk To. Life Goes On Without You. That Is What This Is. This Is A Horrible Loneliness. I Hate It. I Hate It So Much I Do It Every Fucking Day.”

Ryan’s blog was one of the most creative things to hit the music blogosphere in years. So… again: We’ll miss you Foggy.

(side note: I know it’s been quiet and this is an unacceptable first post after a week away, but things were/are ridiculously busy after my week in Sydney. Regular posting will resume soon… I promise.)


Edit: Well, that didn’t take long. There’s yet another post up, where Ryan posted this 20 minute video. Something tell me this is going to be a lingering goodbye…

Edit #2: Again… that didn’t take long. Ryan’s since deleted the video. Sorry folks.

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Blind Melon are back. And I’m not sure how I feel about this…

Shannon Hoon at Woodstock ‘94
Shannon Hoon with Blind Melon at Woodstock ’94.
After a 12 year hiatus following Shannon’s death, Blind Melon are back.

Blind Melon, possibly one of the most influential bands in my life, are back, and releasing a new album at the end of this month. And I’m not sure how I’m feeling about this…

Shannon Hoon, the original lead singer for Blind Melon, changed my life in ways that few others have. I know that’s a typically melodramatic statement from a music blogger, but it’s true. Shannon, along with Bradley J Nowell played a major part in my formative years. (Aside: Yes, I’m letting my age show here). Shannon’s distinctive voice, and the sheer honesty in his lyrics touched something deep within me, and I was irrevocably changed.
The sad spiral to his death was tragic, but inevitable… I don’t think any of Blind Melon’s fans were surprised when Shannon overdosed in October of 1995; but that doesn’t mean it was any less devastating. It was like watching someone slipping away, just out of your reach. Try as you might, you could only brush their fingertips, but never quite grab their outreached hand.

“I know we can’t all stay here forever
So I want to write my words on the face of today
And they’ll paint it”

– Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon’s “Change”

Blind Melon with Travis Warren
Blind Melon with new lead singer, Travis Warren

Fast-forward 12 years, to 2007. The reformed Blind Melon have picked up a cocky new singer, Texan Travis Warren, and are back in studio. Generally, things are kept pretty quiet, except for this video explaining how they came together, and how things in the studio are going…

The song at the end of that video, “Sometimes”, was only heard in part… but it was enough to intrigue me. It sounded like classic Melon… a wandering, grooving tune, with the gentle static and warm snaps of recording tubes.

Finally, fast-forward to the now, 2008. Now, Blind Melon have released more tunes on their Myspace page in preparation for their new album’s (entitled “For My Friends“) release, on 22 April… their first new release since 1995. And I’m not sure how I feel about it. There’s no denying that Travis is a great vocalist, and he seems able to harmonise with the rest of the band in a way that Shannon always seemed to have trouble doing… purely because of his unique voice. And the songs themselves definitely show promise… though they’re a bit more “safe” than anything I would have pictured old Blind Melon being involved with… far too mainstream radio. But they’re good, nonetheless. Apart from the seemingly pointless track, “Last Laugh”, the rest had me in their palms.

But I’m just not sure I want anything more released under the Blind Melon name. I know that that’s a completely selfish and short-sighted feeling. I know that Blind Melon should carry on… hell, Shannon’s family are well behind it. I know that things can’t stay the same way forever. And I know things change.
But I’m selfish. And seeing Blind Melon perform again just brings up this incredible sadness in me. I’m not saying it always will, and I’m really going to try to get behind this new incarnation of the band… but, even though it’s unfair, these guys are going to have to work a hell of a lot harder than any new band to bring me on-side. They have to contend with Shannon’s ghost and their history, and that’s going to be one tall order.

The more these tracks spin on my player though… the more I think they might just be up to it…

What are your thoughts? Any Blind Melon fans in my readers out there?

Take a listen, and make up your own minds:

Classic Blind Melon
Listen: Blind Melon – Mouthful of Cavities

New Blind Melon
Listen: Blind Melon – Sometimes
Listen: Blind Melon – Wishing Well

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I think I would faint…

Ryan AdamsOasis

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and Oasis are going to be doing a short run of Canadian and American shows together.

From Oasisnet:

Oasisinet are happy to announce that Oasis will be performing a short run of Canadian and US shows with special guest Ryan Adams and the Cardinals prior to their headline appearance at the Virgin Festival Toronto on the 7th September.
The band will play their first live show in over two years at Seattle’s WaMu Theater on the 26th August
before crossing the border to play shows in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

And the Ticketmaster page that broke the news.

You lucky, lucky American and Canadian bastards. My jealousy knows no bounds.

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Ryan Adams is a maniac…

Ryan Adams is a maniac. The output on his blog (mentioned back here… so if you haven’t yet subscribed to his RSS feed, I don’t want to talk to you anymore) is ridiculously fast-flowing. Given the prolific nature of Ryan, this shouldn’t come as a surprise… after all, this is the guy who has, in the last 7 years, released 11 albums; and that’s not including his sterling work with all time greats, Whiskeytown.

Anyway, this is just really a short post to remind you that there are some gems coming up on that blog, if you don’t mind sifting through the 14 entries a day. For example, take this video:

“THURSDAY NIGHT” from Ryan Adams on Vimeo.

As Ryan says of the video:

I spent the afternoon making a movie about things I loved this week, people I love all the time, folks I admire, and my exciting planned excursion out of “Cave of Where Jams Are Born” also known as, “bedroom”/ that’s right folks, that’s where even that black magic comes from. (makes gagging sound, loses more ability to discern reality from fiction, pets Darryl Hanna Robot the cat)

Enjoy. Oh, I made the jam too. did the whole thing. Thanks to my pals for providing the photos. Lovely stuff everyone

So, basically the guy put this – more creativity than I’ve managed to come up with in a month – together in an afternoon. Jam included. A song he wrote to pass the time.

It’s official. The dude just shits creativity, and his bowels are hyperactive. I’m jealous.