TWINS Cover “I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)” Bonus B-Side For Square America

Photo by Michael Roeder

Photo by Michael Roeder

It’s no secret that the guys in Cedar Falls band TWINS are fans of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds and owe a little of their guitar pop swagger to the groundwork Lowe and Edmunds laid down in their various projects as solo artists, together in Rockpile and their production work for just about everyone in the late 70’s and early 80’s (Lowe’s work with Elvis Costello is my favorite period of his).

As a tribute, TWINS have recorded a cover of “I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)” a song that has been a part of every wedding reception I’ve ever attended. This cover is a bonus download for anyone who pre-orders the new TWINS album Square America which drops on July 1st! Be sure to catch TWINS with Volcano Boys at The Mill on 7/1 for the Square America release show! $8 Cover. Deets HERE.

You can read my review of Square America at Little Village Magazine.

A bit of trivia: Nick Lowe wrote “I Knew The Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)” and the version we usually hear is his 1984 recording. That studio version has Huey Lewis and the News as the backing band, with Mr. Lewis providing the distinctive harmonica honking. The version that TWINS have done is closer to the sped-up one that Dave Edmunds recorded in 1977.

CHECK IT OUT:

Pre-order Square America at Maximum Ames!

Check out TWINS first Daytrotter Session. There will be a new one coming!

(Upcoming Show) Pieta Brown with Bo Ramsey at CSPS Saturday 5/14/16

Bo and Pieta - CSPS 10-14

Bo Ramsey and Pieta Brown at CSPS 10/4/2014

Some of the most special shows I’ve seen at CSPS have been the ones with Pieta Brown. Though Cedar Rapids isn’t her home turf, I feel like in some ways CSPS has become a 2nd home for her– she seems really comfortable with the crowd which is a mixture of Cedar Rapids and Iowa Citians and is capable of giving a very intimate show in the big space.

She’s returning this Saturday night, May 14th with Bo Ramsey opening with a special solo show and then joining her for her set. This show is a CD release show for her self-released EP of outtakes from her album Paradise Outlaw. I reviewed the CD titled appropriately enough Drifters for Little Village Magazine, saying “Although Pieta Brown thinks that the songs on Drifters have “many rough edges,” they provide a picture of what a double album might have been like. She offers these songs as an experiment, launching her own “underground” label imprint, Lustre Records. I’m looking forward to more collections of songs from her archives — Drifters is a great start!”

We’re getting a treat with Bo Ramsey opening for Pieta as he doesn’t do many solo shows. His last show was opening for Pieta at the Englert. I can’t remember the last time Bo played solo in Cedar Rapids!

The show is at 8PM, Saturday night and the tickets are $17 in advance and $21 at the door. Bring some extra cash or plastic to pick up the Drifters CD and to try out the regional beers and wine at The Carlo Bar. Ticket and show information are at the Legion Arts website.

(Upcoming Show) Play B-Sides “Top 20” Artist Charlie Parr at Daytrotter Studios Grand Opening – Saturday 1/23

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As part of the week of Grand Opening celebrations for the Brand Spankin’ New Daytrotter HQ in Davenport, Duluth, MN country blues aficionado Charlie Parr is playing a “Four O’Clock Rock” matinee show! Parr’s new album Stumpjumper made my list of “Top 20 of 2015.” Produced by another of my Top 20 recipients Phil Cook, it gives Parr’s signature boogie a much-deserved fleshing out.

The new digs for Daytrotter are a big upgrade over the old location in Rock Island– with its climate control issues and its control and live room dating back to its original use as a TV studio– but that was part of its charm, certainly. The expanded facility now has a live venue in it and I’m sure they brought some of the mojo from the old location with them. I bet that minifridge stocked with PBR is somewhere in the new space.

Charlie will be hitting the stage at 4PM– doors are at 3PM– on Saturday, January 23rd. Tickets are a reasonable $8, and while you’re there you can try out their selection of Daytrotter Pale Ale beer brewed by Exile Brewery. The new location is at Renwick Building at 324 Brady St. next to the Davenport Public Library.

Get your presale tickets HERE.

Listen to Charlie Parr’s latest Daytrotter.com session, which includes songs from Stumpjumping.

Here is Charlie Parr performing my favorite song “Over The Red Cedar” from Stumpjumping.

(Upcoming Show) The Pines Return to CSPS Thanksgiving Weekend 11/28 – New Album Details

The Pines at csps

To add to the things we’re thankful for this year, The Pines are making a return to CSPS Thanksgiving Weekend! The combination of the soft atmospheric folk of this band and the passionate, attentive crowds and the huge ambience of the room (and frankly, well stocked selection of handcrafted beers and local wines) always makes for a memorable not-to-miss show.

This show is on the heels of the announcement of their new album Above the Prairie, due out February 5th on Red House Records. This is their first new album since the brilliant Dark So Gold in 2012. In the interim, the band released a digital single of “The Highwayman” in 2013,  and earlier this year they released an EP of covers titled Pasture: Folk Songs.

Above The Prairie includes help from the extended Ramsey and Brown families with contributions from Greg Brown, Iris DeMent, Pieta Brown and Bo Ramsey, who also co-produced the album with The Pines. The first listen we’re getting from the new album is “Aerial Ocean” with Benson Ramsey on lead vocals, it has all of the trademark nuances of The Pines– the chimey clean picking, the washes of synths, but owes a lot to classic Dire Straits. But, they always kind of had that same vibe as mellow Mark Knopfler as well as JJ Cale.

So, grab a quick sandwich of leftover turkey and dressing on your way out the door to CSPS Saturday night to see The Pines. I can’t think of a better way to cap off the weekend.

The Pines with opener Ryne Doughty

Details at LegionArts.org

Sat Nov 28 2015 – 8:00 pm • CSPS Hall
$16 advance | $19 door

Above The Prairie tracklist:
Aerial Ocean
There in Spirit
Lost Nation
Hanging From the Earth
Here
Where Something Wild Still Grows
Sleepy Hollow
Villisca
Come What Is
Time Dreams feat. John Trudell & Quiltman

New EP From Pieta Brown Collects Paradise Outlaw Outtakes, Remix by Justin Vernon

Pieta Brown Drifters Cover

This week Pieta Brown announced a new EP for sale. Titled Drifters, it is a collection of outtakes from the sessions for Brown’s 2014 album Paradise Outlaw. Recorded at Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon’s studio April Base, Paradise Outlaw was another new spin on the ethereal folk sound Brown has crafted over six albums. Paradise Outlaw really seemed to capture the spirit of the sessions at April Base- like friends gathering around the campfire in the woods telling stories and singing songs. Crazy-talented friends who were writing songs at that campfire, but you get the idea. I exchanged emails with April Base engineer BJ Burton back in September 2014 about those sessions for the review I wrote for Little Village, but ran out of space, so I didn’t use it. Here’s what he said about those sessions.

…There are times when I catch myself smiling in the control room because I realize that I’m working with the best in the world. Working on Pieta’s record was one of those times. I wanted to capture the entire vibe of the session, and let each musician bleed into one another. More than any other record that has come out of April Base to date, Paradise Outlaw captures what the live room is capable of manifesting.

The six-track Drifters EP is released on Brown’s new, in her words, “underground label” Lustre Records and is currently only available from her website and from her at shows– tonight’s show at the Englert in Iowa City with Iris DeMent is the first opportunity to buy it directly from her at a show. Helping Brown out on the EP is Outlaw session sidemen Bo Ramsey, Jon Penner, Michael Rossetto, JT Bates and David Mansfield. Greg Brown, Constie Brown and Iris DeMent show family support on “Goin’ Up The Country.” The EP also includes a remix of the instrumental track “Little Swainson” by Justin Vernon and BJ Burton which was sacrificed when the album changed from being a double to a single.

Brown’s liner notes sum up her motivation for releasing the tracks,

After many sweet inquiries at shows from fans about the songs Goin’ Up The Country, Drifter, and Just Slip Away I decided to go back and listen to the outtakes. In spite of many rough edges, I could hear and feel the openness of the session and the music coming through. Offered now with love and hope for more musical experiments everywhere. x pieta

Drifters is available today via Pieta Brown’s website for $15 (which includes U.S. shipping) HERE. You can purchase most of her other releases here as well, including the fantastic vinyl pressing of One And All.

Tracklisting:

1. Goin’ Up The Country
2. Parataxis Blues
3. Drifter
4. Why Now
5. Little Swainson (Remix)
6. Just Slip Away

(Upcoming Show) JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound Bring Their Powerhouse R&B Show to CSPS 11/13/15

JC-Brooks-&-The-Uptown-Sound

One of my favorite albums of 2013 was JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound‘s third album Howl. I was already a fan of the band and their cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” was a smart, if calculated play to get some attention from the Indie Rock crowd.

But for me, the more sparse, stripped down– both musically and emotionally– approach of Howl was eye-opening. The album is reminiscent of 80’s soul like Fine Young Cannibals or Terence Trent D’Arby and maybe a little like The Smiths at times (particularly the guitars). The video for “Rouse Yourself” is really great with Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson in it.

JC and band have been in the studio recently working on their fourth album. Brooks told me that they would be performing some of the new songs on their upcoming live dates, which includes a stop in Cedar Rapids at CSPS in New Bohemia on Friday night! This will be the first time I’m seeing the band live, and I can’t think of a better place to catch them. Beautiful, big, room with a cozy bar on the side with great beer on tap and wine. If you haven’t been to CSPS yet this would be a great first show!

Details at Legion Arts Website

Fri Nov 13 2015 – 8:00 pm • CSPS Hall
$16 advance | $19 door

(Upcoming Release) Pre-Order New Lissie Album “My Wild West” Out 2/12/2016 – New Video

LissieMyWildWestalbumcover

Lissie has been playing a few new songs on her fall tour dates which come from her upcoming album My Wild West, which she announced today will be out on 2/12/2016. She’s already put a number of pre-order packages up on her online store which include orange vinyl, CD, a signed poster or a teeshirt and combinations of these. My Wild West represents the first full-length release on Lissie’s own Lionboy imprint which was also the home for her last EP of covers Cryin’ To You. The last couple of shows that I caught she was reenforcing the point that she is completely independent now, and really if anyone can pull this off with her collected base of fans worldwide, she should.

As part of the announcement today, she debuted a video for a new song from My Wild West, “Hero.” I had already heard two songs during the fall tour– one called “Ojai” which is the farewell song to her former home. She’s moving to NE Iowa! The other song is “Sun Keeps Rising” which is a tribute to her late aunt and is a gorgeous song I can’t wait to hear fleshed out on the album.

The video for “Hero” is pretty fun– made from footage shot by the filmmaker back in 1983! If you pre-order the new album, you get this song as a digital download.

Two Faces of Iowa Electronic Music: Jack Lion With Maids At CSPS – Friday 10/23

Friday, October 23rd CSPS/Legion Arts will be presenting a show I’m really excited about– two Iowa bands with their roots in electronic music– but both taking it to different places.

MAIDS-15

The opening band, MAIDS, calls themselves “Midwest Disco” and although the music certainly leans to a clubby disco sound, I’m not sure that “Midwest” adds any discernible spin to their music. Danny Heggen and Mickey Davis make something between Postal Service and Four Tet with the occasional Scissor Sister in for dance floor leanings. Midwestern, certainly, since they’re both from Des Moines but for electronic pop it holds its own against anything spun in a dusky, crowded club outside the rows of corn here.

 

Jack+Lion+High+Res

The headliner Jack Lion is one of my favorite bands out of Iowa in the past few years and I’m VERY excited to be able to see them at CSPS as I think they’ll be able to really take advantage of the beautiful acoustics and general vibe of the attentive and warmly supportive crowds.  Jack Lion is a jazz trio of trumpet, bass and drums that fuses electronic and ambient creating some really engaging and immersive soundscapes. They’ve released two EP’s so far “JAC” and “K L” and are working on a third (“ION” presumably). I wrote a review of the JAC EP for Little Village last year comparing it favorably to Kieran Hebden of Four Tet’s side project with jazz drummer Steve Reid. When I listen to Jack Lion, I can’t help but think about the experimental directions Miles Davis took and I’d like to think that he might have taken his music in this same direction.

“Miles Ahead” indeed.

Here are the deets– Jack Lion with MAIDS:

  • Fri Oct 23 2015 – 8:00 pm • CSPS Hall
  • $10 advance | $13 door
  • Details and Ticket Information at Legion Arts Website

Lissie Announces “Road to RAGBRAI” Solo Tour – Teases New Song “Sun Keeps Risin’

ragbrai
For the uninitiated, RAGBRAI is the “Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.” Each year thousands of bicycle riders take a week at the end of July and ride across Iowa. This has been going on for 42 years in 2015. From Lissie’s website:

I’ve always wanted to do (RAGBRAI), so I will be doing the ride in the middle of the tour. Having grown up just across the river in Illinois, Iowa is a gorgeous state that I love! So to make it a reality I’ll be going back to my roots in more ways than one. I started in music playing acoustic guitar and singing from the heart, so it’s only fitting that I sing my way back to the heartland solo! I hope that you can all join me at a show leading up to, on the ride or at one of the gigs after.

So, she’s doing a run of dates with Tyler Lyle leading up to and following RAGBRAI. What we don’t know is if she might be busting out her guitar on the ride! Even if she doesn’t, these shows promise to be really special and intimate affairs.

Along with this announcement, she teased a new song titled “Sun Keeps Risin'” which is slated for her new album which is slated for January of 2016.

 

Here are the dates of the solo tour with links to where to get tickets.

July 11 – Los Angeles @ Troubadour (Sold Out)
July 12San Francisco @ The Chapel
July 14Salt Lake City @ Urban Lounge
July 15Denver @ Bluebird Theater
July 16Omaha @ The Waiting Room
July 27Chicago @ Lincoln Hall

August 4Milwaukee @ Turner Hall Ballroom
August 5Minneapolis @ Varsity Theater
August 7Nashville @ 3rd & Lindsley
August 8Atlanta @ Terminal West
August 9New Orleans @ The Parish at House of Blues
August 11Austin @ The Parish

(Upcoming Show) Nellie McKay at CSPS in Cedar Rapids Tuesday 4/28/15


Nellie McKay is in a lot of ways an artist from a different time. Compared to what is generally regarded as “pop music” currently, popular music from the 50’s/60’s and even the 70’s seemed to cut a much wider swath through genres. Jazz, Rock, Country, Folk and American Songbook. In that same spirit Nellie McKay has not been content staying in one genre– even per album in most cases.

For McKay’s sixth album titled My Weekly Reader, she opted to dive into the rich catalog of 60’s pop and rock and create an album of covers that demonstrates her incredible musical chops and catalog knowledge as well as presents the songs with her unique and smart sense of subtle irony and humor. While I really appreciate her original music more, the opportunity to see her dive into covers (as she did on her album of Doris Day covers Normal as Blueberry Pie) also reveals her influences.

And I haven’t even mentioned her stints on Broadway and film!

McKay is bringing her solo show back to Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, April 28th. She was here in September of 2012 (which is where the picture above was taken). Her shows are a lot of fun– she’s a great artist, musician and wonderful singer. Her adopted stage personae at first seems a little scatterbrained, but she uses that disarming “aw-shucks” delivery to make some sharp and thoughtful commentary about everything from veganism to feminism to current politics. When she performed last time, she improvised a cute song about Iowa.

She was interviewed recently on NBC 4 in New York City about her new album:

She is a performer who continues to impress me and we are fortunate that she chooses the big stage at CSPS to bring her show. Don’t sleep on this!

Tickets are $21 in advance and $26 at the door. The show is at 7PM. More information at the Legion Arts website!

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