Archive | April, 2012

Making the Town Hall Like Home – Colin Hay 4/29/12

29 Apr

It made complete sense that Colin Hay performed at Town Hall in New York City’s Times Square. Town Hall, an intimate theater between Sixth and Broadway, sits around 1,500 people comfortably in warm colors. It is not so much a concert venue, but rather a true theater that fits in with the several Broadway buildings it borders. So, appropriately Colin Hay fit right in with the setting, entertaining the crowd with anecdotes and sprinkled badinage between songs. And, the fact that he performed the show in honor of former Men at Work bandmate Greg Ham who passed away only 10 days ago, just made the night more special for those who had the privilege of seeing the Scottish/Australian acoustic crooner.

What is so striking about a Colin Hay concert is his effortless eloquence. He is a smooth talker and his Australian-influenced brogue gives his words extra power that on Friday resounded through the theater. Hay is the very definition of a troubador, telling his engaging life story through a set list mostly devoted to his chronological development. You felt at home with Hay, like he was one of your buddies and you were sitting around at a backyard barbecue. Strike up the grill, put on some portobello mushrooms (he is a vegetarian like myself), tell stories, and play tunes. It is a comfortable formula, and with it Hay made Town Hall feel like home.

Before Hay came on stage, the crowd was buttered up by acoustic singer/songwriter Ryan Montbleau, who kidded with the audience about his insecurities while diving into his short set of well-developed pieces. The music was creative and refreshing and I will not say more now because Montbleau will be featured on the Music Court within the coming weeks.

Then, with the sounds of “Down Under,” and the voice over by a passionate individual stating that Hay saved his life from washed-down pop music (after he heard Hay’s music on the Garden State soundtrack and the television show Scrubs), Hay walked on stage in a sharp coat and said hello to the audience, immediately engaging in a running dialogue (even though he couldn’t hear well with his ear plugs) that represented up his charm, intelligence, and humor.

Hay told several stories under the roof of the Town Hall in between songs, and some stories (most) worked to set up music. For example he described how he wrote “Beautiful World” while in California detoxing from his Australian-influenced alcoholic ways. He then described how he knew an individual who sang the song out in the Pacific and then was gnawed at by a shark who clearly enjoyed the piece. As Hay said during the show, the person kept singing the song and it was as if the shark said, ‘I may eat you, but, give me a few more verses of that song.”

The stories were well-timed and humorous, but the music was clearly why everyone came to watch Mr. Hay perform (even though his stories could have carried a separate performance in and of itself), and the tunes were wonderful.

Hay toggled between old Solo material, Men at Work music, and work off his newest album Gathering Mercury. The mix included “Who Can it Be Now,” “Send Somebody,” “Maggie,” etc. and then a 4-song conclusion that, like a molten chocolate cake, closed out the night with perfection. This included my favorite Hay piece, “Waiting for my Real Life to Begin” and an excellent, picked version of “Overkill.”

A performance from Maine in 2010. Hay finished off the show with a song he and Ham wrote and it, as anticipated, started a wonderful sing along. Here is “Be Good Johnny.”

Before I post this, I want to post one more story that Hay told that I thought was hilarious. He talked of how he became friends with Paul McCartney when he was performing his solo material in California. Growing up idolizing the Beatles, this was quite extraordinary for Hay. He tells the story of McCartney coming over for dinner and how he had two moments to himself during the night. The first was when McCartney arrived and Hay couldn’t believe Paul McCartney was in his driveway. The second was after dinner, when McCartney took the dishes into the kitchen and started running them under water, sparking the realization that Paul McCartney was doing his dishes.

🙂 – One more for good measure. Here is “Beautiful World”


Weekend Concert Preview – Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

26 Apr

Wrong day and Year!

Don’t worry, I will not make you suffer through the Meatloaf song that shares the name of the title of this post. That’s mean. I actually don’t mind Meatloaf. Yes, he is corny, but he does have a great voice. Great! A completely off-topic opening. Okay, let’s shake it off and get to the main posts.

The purpose of this post is to produce a schedule that I promise I will follow to a tee. I haven’t been great about setting a blogging schedule for myself and following it but I promise to stick to this plan…mostly!

This involves delaying the two-week new band splurge. I will most likely begin this early next week (probably Tuesday). There are a good amount of bands that I will be profiling so make sure to tune in for that. Why should you view the blog prior to this? Concert reviews! Two of them.

Like I said yesterday, I will have the pleasure of seeing former Men At Work crooner Colin Hay tomorrow. I jumped on the opportunity to buy tickets to this New York City show. While Men at Work is what he may be known for (“Down Under” was a huge international hit), Hay has released 11 solo studio albums, the most recentGathering Mercuryin 2011. Through this, he has developed a unique sound that blends 80’s World Music with acoustic easy-listening. It is his voice, though, that is most attractive. Hay’s voice is soothing with great range. He is also a gifted lyricist – laid back and intelligent.

I have to thank Zach Braff for my introduction to Colin Hay. I believe Hay gathered many fans this way. Braff, who knows good acoustic music, featured his music (and him – see video below) on “Scrubs” and his music was disseminated from there. Take a listen to “Overkill” while watching a funny performance from “Scrubs.” Don’t you just love the media age? I know Colin Hay does. The video has more than 3 million views.

The Left Banke follows Sunday which I am very excited about. This reunion should be excellent and I wrote about it a little while ago. Read this and look forward to two concert reviews soon!

Busy Busy Busy

24 Apr

The title says it all. I only have a few moments, but I wanted to alert you all that because of some work business I may not be posting until Thursday. Whenever I post next (unless something wildly unexpected happens on American Idol), I will be embarking on a long stretch of introducing you all to some new bands.

Until then, I leave you with dreams of Friday. And do you know what Friday brings. A date at Town Hall with Mr. Colin Hay!

Liebster Honor and An Admission of Failure — American Idol

23 Apr

I should read more blogs. I would be the first to admit that I do not read enough. One day soon, I am going to need to sit down and sign up for e-mail alerts to some blogs that I enjoy. This does not mean I do not read blogs or follow blogs. I read several blogs and I am thankful to those WordPress bloggers that read my blog. Today, I want to recognize two blog writers who nominated me for a Liebster award.

A Leibster award can be bestowed upon a blog of fewer than 200 followers which the person deems worthy for consideration. I was extremely satisfied to get notice that I was nominated for the award from two blog writers.

A Gripping Life and Is It Possible to See It All

These blogs are among those I read daily. John, of Is It Possible to See It All, also runs The Real Canadian Music Blog which I follow with more fervor because, well, it’s musical. I strongly urge you all to follow these blogs. The variety of content is refreshing and the writing is passionate and humorous. And I promise that from this point further I will make more of an effort to follow and read other blogs.

This, though, was not my admission of failure. For failure we must travel into reality television where my American Idol “favorite” was ousted from the show last week. Yes, Colton Dixon, the skunk-haired alt/punk rocker had two bad back-to-back nights. It started with two uninspiring performances on Tuesday night and concluded with a bottom two appearance and a sharp goodbye. Ouch! For me, it was like what happened with Michigan St. in this year’s March Madness tournament. They were a weak #1 seed but I picked them to go all the way (to be a little different) and they were beaten rather quickly. So it goes.

For my next prediction, I guarantee that all four of these individuals will be in it to the end.

What did I miss? I thought Colton was drawing a straight voting base. What I mean by this is that no other contestant was stealing votes away from him. I was clearly wrong. I see now that Colton was competing with Mr. Calculi, Phil Phillips. Not only did he have kidney stones, but also he sort-of sings like he is always passing stones. I say this in jest. Phillips is talented and drawing votes from the “13-year-old girl population” and the “more sophisticated musically inclined viewers.” I thought Colton had this vote! I was wrong! There is my admission of failure. Let’s move on.

We are at the top 6 and I have reached that point of the American Idol season where I am pretty much sick of every singer. We know their acts. We know their limits (or lack thereof when it comes to vocal wunderkind Jessica Sanchez and preacher Joshua Ledet). We know the judges will be effusively positive. We know Randy Jackson will be unintelligible and then reveal his incredible stock of music knowledge. The performances will not surprise us…except when it comes to the rock n’ roll stoneman Phillips. I have grown to like his grunty modesty. It is certainly much more admirable than Elise Testone’s annoying arrogance.

If I had to make another prediction, I’d say Phillips wins the show now. He is like Casey of last year except better looking and not as jazzy weird. We are obsessed with hipster in the United States and he fits that description well. Who will compete with him? Let’s eliminate some. Hollie Cavanagh needs to go. She is now outclassed by the remaining stock of singers. She will be out this week. Jessica Sanchez will need to overcome the curse of the save to go to the end. No one “saved” by the judges has made it further than two additional rounds (something like this). Now we are looking at Ledet and Laine. I just don’t see gospel winning again, BUT country can win every year and, well, Skylar Laine is a country gal.

The final two should be Sanchez and Ledet if it came to pure singing (which it doesnt), but, if we take into account the way this country votes for American Idol contestants I would not be surprised to see Phillips vs. Laine. The ultimate winner?

This guy:

Jukebox The Ghost New Single “Somebody”

19 Apr

Jukebox the Ghost will not create an uncatchy song. It’s just not in their poppy nature. The Philadelphia-based band who met while attending school at George Washington University, has succeeded in creating indie/pop music that is far from corny. No, the well-read trio blends effervescent hooks and wonderful melodies. Lead vocalist and pianist Ben Thornewill has a magnetic voice and can just flat-out riff on the piano. Tommy Siegel (vocals & guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums) carry the rest of the rhythm, Siegel providing some neat guitar licks and efficient back-up vocals. The band has been rocking since 2006 and show no signs of stopping. How do I know? Well, their new album Safe Travels is coming out June 12.

I’ve written about Jukebox before in a post featuring what I coined at the time “Anthemic Indie” and I do think they still fit in that category if only because their music is so easily singable and it is hard to resist singing out the tunes with them. You can check out that post here.

“Somebody,” a single off of the new album, is now available on iTunes and you can access it by checking out Jukebox’s site here. Let’s take a listen.

The song begins like a slowed down Fitz and the Tantrums piece – kind of rhythmic Motown meets funky indie. Thornewill and Siegel immediately embark on a succesful harmony during the verse which is carried by Kristin’s beat. The chorus takes on its own mold. Originally I thought I could compare it to Ben Folds, but I’m starting to think that the vocal swoons and unique rhythms are just Jukebox the Ghost. The best comparison is the band itself. In six years the band has certainly developed their own sound and it is easy to recognize their brand of pop. The song moves (with some more guitar stylings) and the catchy chorus that sticks.

If the rest of the album plays like “Somebody” we will be in for a good one. There is no reason to doubt it.

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