For her latest album, “Mental Illness”, Aimee Mann stripped her music down to the bare essentials and created a collection of music that hides seriously mournful themes behind agrarian harmonies. It’s a beautiful combination and, once you scratch below the surface, you realize that Aimee is struggling with her own demons. During the introduction to her new, gorgeous song “Rollercoasters” at Woodland Park Zoo, she said the song is “if John Denver is too edgy for you.”
While her newest recording is stripped down to her songwriting core, she’s beefed up her live show with a solid, mostly acoustic quartet. Paul Bryan played bass while beautifully harmonizing with Aimee throughout. Jaimie Edwards brought strings to the table with his keyboards adding a subtle depth to the sound.
Her one-hour set was evenly divided between new and old. Moth & Flame to Labrador to Drive Forever. Aimee introduced some levity when describing “Goose Snowcone” as being a song inspired by a photo of a cat she knew with a white face a cone around its head.
One of her most uplifting tunes, “Save Me” came towards the end before she brought out Ted Leo, her bandmate in The Both. Ted turned the volume up with his electric guitar finishing out the set with “Goodbye Caroline” and “Long Shot”. The audience was quiet and contemplative throughout the show giving her lyrical nuances the respect they deserve.
Opening the evening was the enigmatic Rhiannon Giddens, pouring her heart into an hour set of Americana ranging from old-time music to Cajun to Jig. Her set was the story of the American South and, having grown up in Georgia, I felt like I was home again.
She killed the crowd with an amazing rendition of Odetta’s “Jack of Diamonds” before bringing her sister out for an acapella gospel straight from the church stage. She ended her set with Staple Singers “Freedom Highway”. Her voice is a wonderful thing and she used it to great effect throughout. She’s not bad on the fiddle, either. Overall, this was a totally enjoyable evening of music.
The Posies put on a great show last night at The Neptune with a really raucous set.
If you are not familiar with this band, you should definitely check them out. Finn Andrews is the son of original XTC member and Shriekback founder Barry Andrews. The Veils have an amazing sound. Highly recommended.
John Doe, former singer of the L.A. punk band X, rocked out at KEXP today with guitarist Jesse Dayton. He played five songs from his new album for a live video feed on Cheryl’s show. Great time! I wanted to take the band’s picture under the new KEXP sign on the side of the building, but a) they were in a hurry and b) the sign is way up high so there’s no real way to get the band close up with the image. So… I tried out the new Photoshop Smart Masking and, hey, it worked really well. A bit of blending and here you go.
I was lucky enough to photograph one of my all-time favorite bands today, The Posies, at KEXP’s Gathering Space. What a great show it was!
Had the great pleasure to photograph legendary drummer Michael Shrieve at KEXP yesterday. If you get a chance, check out the archived interview on KEXP.ORG. Michael told some great stories as well as demonstrated some of the rich history of funk drumming. Really interesting.
Michael Shrieve is an American drummer, percussionist, and later, an electronic music composer. He is best known as the drummer in Santana, playing on their first eight albums from 1969 through 1974. His performance at the 1969 Woodstock festival, when he was 20 years old, made him one of the youngest musicians to perform at the festival. Shrieve’s drum solo during an extended version of “Soul Sacrifice” in the Woodstock film has been described as “electrifying”.
Damien Jurado, a humble, sincere singer/songwriter from Seattle, opened for Jason Isbell last night at The Moore Theatre. Jason Isbell, if you don’t know him, is an outstanding songwriter from Alabama who begain as a member of the Drive-by Truckers. His music is firmly grounded in the Muscle Shoals tradition. If you haven’t heard him, you should definitely check out his music.