This Land is Your Music Show #3 at The Mill in Iowa City 11/19/09 (review)

Pieta Brown
Thursday night, November 19th, was the last of the three shows that comprised Pieta Brown‘s Artist-in-Residence at the Mill Restaurant in Iowa City. Each show had different opening acts and gallery exhibits, and Pieta used these shows to try out different performance configurations. The first show was a solo acoustic show, the second was a duo show with Bo Ramsey, and this show was a full-band show. The band, dubbed “Skyrocket” was Bo Ramsey on guitar, Steve Hayes on drums and Jon Penner on bass. Effectively this her “Dream #9” band with a swap of drummers from Jim Viner to Hayes. The opening act was Dustin Busch, whose photographs were in the gallery and who joined Pieta on stage as well for the first show. The gallery for this show was an installation of Sandy Dyas’s photographs.

I was looking forward to this show because I really enjoyed seeing Pieta with a full band back in June and this is as close to her records as she can sound live. I think she has really come into her own as a songwriter, musician and performer since her self-titled debut in 2002. Certainly her solo, duo and trio performances are the style that is associated with her, but fronting a band on stage is a new mode for her, and one I hope to see more of because, frankly, I like the drive of the drums behind her songs. Talking to her after the show about it, I get the idea that she doesn’t want to put too much focus on the full-band configuration over the other forms. She isn’t going to tour the full band, I’d say– if only because of the complicated logistics and economics of touring a full band.

Dustin Busch

Dustin Busch aka “Dusty B” opened the show with a solo acoustic set. Dustin’s set was comprised of covers and original songs which showcased his “hill-country” blues style. Dustin’s amazing slide guitar style was coupled with a characteristicly mush-mouthed vocal delivery which reminded me of R.L. Burnside or T-Model Ford. He had a microphone pointed at his feet so that his foot stomping could be picked up. I was really impressed with the set– I’d like to see him play again sometime when he’s in the area. I had a great conversation with him after the show about old blues artists– its clear his passion is in this as he possesses a pretty encyclopedic knowledge of this topic. I could have talked to him for hours! I managed to capture his set-closer which was an instrumental cover of Al Murphy’s “Quail is a Pretty Bird” with my iPhone which you can see below. This song is typically a fiddle tune, but Dustin transforms it for guitar.

Pieta Brown & Skyrocket

Because the stage was occupied by more people, it left less room for the neat stage props, so Stan Crocker created a new set incorporating some of the original props, but included a steer skull and an interesting blanket of lights you can see in the above picture. I wish I would have gotten a wide-angle shot without the band– it was really cool.

Pieta brought out her new Reverend Flatroc electric in Rock Orange, although in these pictures under the red lights it appears that the guitar matches the pink in Pieta’s outfit. She was playing it through a Fender Silverfaced Twin Reverb, which according to an interview with Nick Stika I read with Bo Ramsey in Premier Guitar, is actually modded to a blackface circuitry. This means that it is a later Fender tube-based amp from the CBS period, but has been modified to the same circuitry a pre-CBS “blackface” spec. (sorry about the guitar gear geek stuff…).

Bo Ramsey, Jon Penner, Pieta Brown

The set was great, and included a run of songs that were very suited to the full-band experience. It was pretty evident that the Bo/Steve/Jon backing band was a good choice– they play together very frequently and it shows how easily they can be dropped into a setting like this. The crowd started warming up to the band and some people started dancing. I’ve said it before– I really like hearing Pieta with a full band– the energy is palpable and infectious.

Pieta was her typical humble and gracious self– thanking people for coming out and thanking the Mill for letting her try her “experiment” and stated that she hoped to be able to do this again.

Sandy Dyas Exhibit in Back Gallery

This show’s art exhibit was one that I was really looking forward to– the Sandy Dyas installation. She utilized the backroom to its fullest with a sort of “mini” installation of her “Heaven & Earth” exhibit which will open at Simpson College in Indianola, IA on January 11th and will run through February 5th. She is using the walls as a larger canvas– if you will– where she is hanging photographs in groupings in relation to each other– the juxtaposition of which offers an interpretation of the subjects wider than the individual photos. Graphic arts is about the use of space, and this exhibit will be an interesting and compelling exercise.

Sandy Dyas Exhibit in Back Gallery

After it was all said and done, these shows accomplished what Pieta set out to do– she got an opportunity to work out some of her material in different stage settings– a sort of warm-up to the touring she will be doing in support of her Shimmer EP and the upcoming full length this year on Red House. She also used these shows as a way to show the community of artists that exists in Eastern Iowa. I moved back to Eastern Iowa to follow a career opportunity, but I was also very excited to come back to the area to see the music and arts scene I grew up around. I hope that Pieta attempts another series of shows like this– there are a lot more artists and musicians who could benefit from the exposure Pieta could bring to them in this setting.

Pieta Brown and Skyrocket Setlist:

Rollin’ and Tumblin’
In My Mind I Was Talkin’ to Loretta
You’re My Lover Now
I Don’t Want To Come Down
Rollin’ Down The Track
Bad News
West Monroe
Hey Run
Lovin’ You Still
Still Runnin’
How Many Times
Faller
Red Apple Juice
Looking the World Over (Memphis Minnie cover)

Dustin Busch Performing “Quail is a Pretty Bird”

Pieta Brown and Skyrocket performing “Hey Run”

Click Here to see my full flickr set of pictures from the show.

Click Here to read my review of the first This Land Is Your Music show on 11/5/09

Click Here to read my review of the second This Land Is Your Music show on 11/12/09

This Land is Your Music Show #2 at The Mill in Iowa City 11/12/09 (review)

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Last week I posted about the first of the three This Land is Your Music shows at The Mill Restaurant in Iowa City featuring Pieta Brown and selected regional artists. Last week’s show featured Pieta in a solo acoustic setting. This week’s show featured Pieta in her most common live configuration– in a duo with Bo Ramsey. This was a show I was really looking forward to as it also had Bo as the opening act as a solo acoustic performance, which I hadn’t seen before!

As much as I look back fondly on the bar-rocking Sliders days of Bo, it is really interesting to see the “gentleman bluesman” identity Bo has adopted in the last decade or so. Seeing Bo on stage sitting down with his acoustic guitar in trademark attire of suit, boots and straw hat recalls at once both Hank Williams and Robert Johnson.
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Bo’s music translates favorably to an acoustic setting and his guitar technique and chops are just as impressive as his electric ones. The song selection for his set spanned his entire career dipping back to the 80’s with “Back No More” and “I Don’t Know.” He pulled out “555 x 2”  from Down to Bastrop which drew a favorable crowd reaction. We were also treated to his cover of “Sitting On Top of the World”  he recorded for his blues “tribute” album Stranger Blues and my personal favorite from last year’s Fragile, “Buffalo to Jericho.”

Bo also performed two new songs– both of them co-written with Pieta Brown. “No Place Like Home” and “Going Back.” “Going Back” is a chanted lament for a simpler time with the repeated phrase “I’m Going Back.” Both songs are good– I’d heard them when Bo played the Mill back at the end of October. Hopefully this means he’s working on another album of material!

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After a very short break where Pieta and Bo huddled in the corner going over the setlist they would play– they started into their set. It’s impressive to think that Pieta and Bo have been performing like this since the beginning of her career dating back to her first record around 2002. Bo as a sideman is a generational tradition started with Bo and Greg Brown and it’s an effective if economical way to perform. It is clearly a comfortable arrangement for both Bo and Pieta and neither of them really overshadow the other.

The set didn’t have much duplicates from last week except for three songs– the new “Faller” which is based on her meeting Tom Petty, “Calling All Angels,” and “Bad News.” The rest of the songs were a good mix of new and old and some choice covers. We also got a new track from the Shimmer EP– “Diamonds in the Sky” which she introduced by saying it was the first time playing it outside her bedroom.

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The highlight of the night, however, was when she called Dave Moore up to the stage to perform five songs with them. He stuck to harmonica for most of the songs adding incendiary licks to “Are You Free”– I wish I would have recorded that! He switched to accordion for the Hank Williams song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

In the backroom gallery was work by Codi Josephson who runs Home Ec Workshop in Iowa City. She showed a collection of print-on-fabric pieces that looked pretty cool. You can see the exhibit in the flickr picture set.

This Thursday, 11/19 is the final show in the series and will have Pieta Brown fronting a full band made up of members of Bo’s band. Having seen her fronting a full band before, I urge anyone who can make it to come out! The first two shows were fairly low-key, but with a drummer there is a good chance people will be out shaking it on the dance floor. The opening act will be Dustin Busch, and the gallery exhibit will be from Sandy Dyas and will be an installation of her photographs– I think it will be based on her “Heaven and Earth” installation at Cornell College. Doors are at 7PM, show is promptly at 8PM and admission is $10– the proceeds of which go to support Public Radio, KCCK, and the Friends of Hickory Hill.

Bo’s Setlist:
Sitting On Top Of The World (Big Bill Broonzy cover)
No Place Like Home*
Going Back*
Tell Me Now
555 x 2
Back No More
Buffalo to Jericho
I Don’t Know

Pieta’s Setlist”
How Many Times
Prayer of Roses*
Even When
Loving You Still
Rollin’ Down the Tracks
Bad News
Faller
I’m Going Away Blues (w/Dave Moore) (Frank Stokes cover)
Are You Free (w/Dave Moore)
Diamonds In The Sky (w/Dave Moore)
I Don’t Want to Come Down (w/Dave Moore)
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (w/Dave Moore) (Hank Williams cover)
Calling All Angels
I’m Over You
Red Apple Juice (standard)

Click Here to visit the Mill Restaurant Website

Click Here to read my review of the first This Land is Your Music show on 11/5/09

Click Here to read my review of the third This Land is Your Music show on 11/19/09

Click Here to view the flickr picture set.

This Land is Your Music Show at The Mill in Iowa City 11/5/09 (review)

Stage Lighting by Stan Crocker

In the middle of her solo performance at The Mill in Iowa City Thursday night, Pieta said to the small crowd, “It’s like I’m playing to you in my living room!” Pieta was referring to the small crowd on Thursday night, but the stage was adorned with a chair and nightstand as well as lamps and an old dress form giving the stage a homey touch with lighting designed by Stan Crocker, who has done a lot of lighting design for TV shows like CMT’s Crossroads.

Last night was the first night of a three-week artist-in-residency at the Mill Restaurant in Iowa City of Pieta Brown. As stated earlier, the This Land Is Your Music series is showcasing Pieta Brown’s music but also includes other musicians from the area as well as other artists. Pieta stated in an interview with Ben Kieffer on IPR’s The Exchange that she wanted to take the opportunity to try out her music– new music and old in different configurations– solo, duo and full-band. She feels that The Mill was is a good place for her to try out new material which will be drawn from her new EP on Red House Shimmer, as well as songs that she is recording for her next full-length to come out next spring.

Last night’s show featured Pieta performing solo with Bo Ramsey’s son Alex Ramsey opening. In the back-room gallery the art of Pieta’s sister Zoe Brown and photographs by Dustin Busch were on exhibit. A last-minute addition to the lineup were three writers from the University of Iowa International Writing Program reading their short stories.

Alex Ramsey

Alex Ramsey has contributed his keyboard skills to a number of Eastern Iowa music releases including a two records from the Pines as well as the last couple of Bo Ramsey albums but to date he hasn’t had much exposure as a solo artist.  I made the very incorrect assumption that Alex, like his brother Benson would provide a sound that draws from the folk and country blues that is identified with so many artists from our area. Alex played a set of original piano-driven music that reminded me at times of Radiohead’s piano-focused songs but I would also compare it to the late Epic Soundtracks. It’s the slightly off-kilter but soulful vocal combined with the piano that brought me back to 1991’s Rise Above. Alex’s set was a combination of vocal and instrumental songs– most of which were described as works-in-progress. Alex performed three covers– one by Dr. Dog– “Livin’ A Dream,” a relatively obscure John Lennon track “Mr. Hyde’s Gone (Don’t Be Afraid)” which I think is only included on the Anthology box as a home demo, and he wrapped up his set with “Waltz (Better Than Fine)” by Fiona Apple. He said during the show that he wished he had a CD he could sell us– I do, too!

International Writers Program Short Story Reading

Following Alex was three participants in the International Writing Program reading their own short stories. I wasn’t able to catch their names, but one of them was Maxine Case from South Africa who read her short story “Homing Pigeons” (exerpt here). Another writer was Garcia Groyon from the Philippines. I can’t identify the first writer from the pictures. I think it was pretty cool that they were able to participate– it reminded me of the incredible resource the U of I writing program is.

Pieta Brown

Up next was Pieta who set out to do a solo set, but ended up adding in some special guests towards the end of it. I’d never seen her perform solo before, so it was a treat to hear how her guitar work changes to fill in the missing guitar parts typically provided by Bo Ramsey. She’s not a flashy lead guitarist, but I was impressed with her ability to drop in a arpeggiated chord or two to round the songs out. “New songs and new guitars– probably not an advisable combination” she quipped at one point– apparently she had all new guitars in tow. The last time I saw her she mentioned that she was getting her own Reverend Flatroc, so this time the guitar was here. In a pretty butterscotchish color apparently called “Rock Orange.”

Pieta Brown

The set was a pretty good mix recent songs, older songs and new songs as she set out to do. Curiously, she only did one song from her upcoming EP Shimmer– “You’re My Lover Now”– which seems to be the “single” if there was one. Of course, the Shimmer songs were recorded back in March and she said that she just got back from recording songs for her full length, so possibly these are fresher to her. She told me that she doesn’t really hit the stage with a setlist in mind. Three of the songs were from her self-released Flight Time EP with just one track from Remember the Sun and her arrangement of the traditional “Little Sparrow” from her I Never Told EP. She dropped in her version of the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” and “Calling All Angels” which she did as part of her KCRW session back in 2007.

We were blessed with some new songs that all sound like they have some potential in the studio. “The Other Way Around” and “It Wasn’t That” were new songs to me. She also did “Faller” which I had heard when she did her show at the Mill with a full band back in June.

Pieta Brown and Dustin Busch

After the first nine songs she decided to invite her sister Constie Brown up to sing on “Remember the Sun” and “Just” and then she invited Dustin Busch up to the stage to provide some slide guitar to “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” and “Harry’s Blues.” Pieta said that her original plan was to play all of the instruments she had on stage by herself as she handed Dustin the Flatroc and a slide. She added that growing up music was always about getting people together to play. Dustin quickly adapted to the guitar and provided some nice accompaniment to Pieta. I’m looking forward to seeing his opening set at the This Land Is Your Music show on 11/19.

Zoe Brown Exhibit

The backroom gallery was the back area of the restaurant that could be closed off and I think is sometimes used as a “backstage” area for bands. In its capacity of art gallery it was able to have some lighting to show the paintings of Zoe Brown and the photos of Dustin Busch. The gallery seemed to enjoy a pretty constant flow of people.

I like Zoe’s paintings quite a bit– you can see more of them in my slideshow below or at the flickr.com set. She’s not afraid of big expanses of color. Dustin’s double-exposureish photos were pretty cool, too. I would have liked to see more of them and maybe larger.

Ultimately, I think this is a really cool thing that Pieta is trying to put together. The idea is pure– bring the regional art together in celebration and give back. I think in our Internet-enabled era where we find our art and culture on a nearly boundless territory we often forget that there are artists in our own backyard that are worth supporting.

If you are available on either of the next two Thursday nights– 11/12 and 11/19– make the effort to come out. These are guaranteed to be loose, fun shows as Pieta considers the Mill to be her home turf.

The 11/12 show has Bo Ramsey opening and supporting her in her set with a gallery of Codi Josephson’s work. The 11/19 show will have Dustin Busch opening with Pieta fronting a full band that, billed as “Skyrocket,” I believe will have Jon Penner, Steve Hayes and Al Shares (I think). The gallery on the 19th will be a installation of photographs of Iowa photographer and supporter of the local scene Sandy Dyas.

The cover is $10 will proceeds going to support Iowa Public Radio, KCCK, and the Friends of Hickory Hill. Doors are at 7PM with the show starting at 8PM.

Pieta’s Setlist:

West Monroe
Other Way Around*
Bad News
Faller*
It Wasn’t That*
Calling All Angels
Little Sparrow
Gravel Road Blues (Joe Price Cover)
You’re My Lover Now
Remember the Sun (with Constie Brown)
Just (with Constie Brown)
Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (with Dustin Busch)
Harry’s Blues (with Dustin Busch) (Mississippi Fred McDowell Cover)

*new songs

Here is some video I shot with my iPhone:

Alex Ramsey performs “Waltz (Better Than Fine)”

Here is a link to my flickr.com photoset of the show

Here is a slideshow of the pictures

Click Here to go to The Mill Restaurant Calendar for the details on the show.

Click Here to read my review of the 11/12 This Land is Your Music Show.

Click Here to read my review of the 11/19 This Land is Your Music Show.

This Land is Your Music Residency at the Mill Update

As previously announced, November brings a special “songwriter in residence” at The Mill in Iowa City by Pieta Brown called “This Land is Your Music : Pieta Brown & Friends” which is a series of three shows on November 5, 12, and 19 which is described as “celebrating Music, Land & Community.” Each of the shows will center around Pieta’s music with her playing in solo, duo (with Bo Ramsey) and in a full band configuration. In addition to her set, there will be an opening act and there will be an exhibit in the “back room” at The Mill featuring the art of a local artist.

The shows start at 8PM, and are $10 with the proceeds going to support The Friends of Hickory Hill Park, public radio station KCCK, and public radio station KUNI (which is now part of Iowa Public Radio).

Here is the breakdown of the shows:

November 5th: Pieta Brown solo with opening act Alex Ramsey. Alex is one of Bo’s sons and brother of Benson Ramsey of The Pines. Alex has provided piano to the last couple of Bo Ramsey releases as well as The Pines. The exhibit will feature artwork by Zoe Brown, who is Pieta’s sister and provided the artwork for Pieta’s last EP Flight Time. The exhibit will also feature art by Dustin Busch. Dustin is an Iowa City stallwart having been playing solo and also part of Kelly Pardekooper’s Devil’s House Band.

November 12th: Pieta Brown with Bo Ramsey, with Bo Ramsey solo opening. This will be interesting as I’ve never seen Bo as a solo performer. I have a bootleg from a couple of years ago where he was touring with Greg Brown and he opened solo and it was really cool. The exhibit will feature art by Codi Josephson who runs Home-Ec Workshop in Iowa City. This will probably be the CD release show for Pieta’s new EP Shimmer produced by Don Was, which comes out that Tuesday, 11/10.

November 19th: Pieta Brown and Skyrocket, with Dusty B. (aka Dustin Busch) opening. Dustin Busch is a former Iowa City musician who is currently the guitarist in the Tucson group The 17th Street Band. The exhibit will be a collage of work by local photographer Sandy Dyas. Sandy’s book “Down to the River” is a collection of pictures of Eastern Iowa musicians including Bo Ramsey, Pieta Brown, Kelly Pardekooper, Greg Brown and others. The book comes with a CD of songs from these artists and is well worth seeking out.

Any way you look at this, this is a really cool event and it is wonderful that Pieta is giving back to the community that fostered her career. If you have the opportunity to see any of these shows, by all means, don’t miss it!

Click Here to visit the Mill calendar which will have information on how to purchase tickets.

Click Here to pre-order Pieta’s new album Shimmer.

Pieta Brown Announces Three-Week Residency at Iowa City Mill: This Land is Your Music

Pieta Brown live in Iowa City
Pieta Brown and The Iowa City Mill have announced a three-week residency in November called “This Land Is Your Music” and will have Pieta exploring her catalog in various solo and band configurations as well as showcasing local musicians.

The shows will take place the first three Thursdays in November: 11/5, 11/12, and 11/19 and will start at 8PM. The tickets will be $10.

As the daughter of Greg Brown, Pieta grew up surrounded by the fertile and tight-knit Eastern Iowa music scene. It was this scene that gave Pieta the launching pad to her career and these shows are a way for her to give tribute. I think this is a really cool thing for her to do.

Of course, on 11/10 Red House Records will be releasing Pieta’s first EP for that label, and I’m sure the 11/12 show will be a sort of record release party.

Also, it’s worth noting that The Pines will be playing a show at the Mill on Friday 11/20– do you suppose we’ll see some Pines showing up for the 11/19 show? We can hope!

The other acts that will be playing have not been announced, but I will update this as I get details.

Click Here for the Iowa City Mill Calendar

Click Here for Pieta Brown’s Website

Pieta Brown Signs With Red House, New EP Produced by Don Was Due November 10

When I saw Bo Ramsey and the Mystery Lights at the Mill back in May, Pieta was kind of hanging back in the shadows of the dark bar and helping her sister sell some Bo Ramsey merchandise. After the show was over I took the opportunity to ask her about her record label situation. After being signed to One Little Indian for her last album, the brilliant Remember the Sun from 2007 the follow-up Flight Time EP was released on T-Records, which incidentally is the label she used to release her 2003 EP I Never Told.

(BTW: This EP was impossibly out-of-print and apparently Pieta found another box of these recently and you can buy them on CDBaby— get one while you can!)

Her simple answer was that she was “in limbo.” It certainly occurred to me that aside from the extensive touring and appearances she was making over the last couple of years, that she still wasn’t getting the exposure she deserved for that album.

It was announced today via her MySpace page that she has now signed to Twin Cities folk label Red House Records— which is also the label home for Greg Brown and The Pines. So, it is kind of a family reunion of sorts! All they’d need to do is sign Bo Ramsey and it would be complete!

Also as part of this announcement, we find out that she has a new 7-track EP titled Shimmer coming out on November 10th on Red House and is produced by uber-producer Don Was, who has produced acclaimed albums from Bob Dylan (Under the Red Sky), Bonnie Raitt (Her Grammy-winningest run– 1989’s Nick of Time (3 Grammies), 1991’s Luck of the Draw (3 Grammies), 1994’s Longing In Their Hearts (2 Grammies)) and The Rolling Stones (their last notable output in my opinion– 1994’s Voodoo Lounge, 1995’s Stripped, and 1997’s Bridges to Babylon).

All of this seems to me to be a formula for success, frankly. Switching to a label that is more geared to handle her music, and hiring on a big-gun producer who has worked with artists like her. I hope that Bo Ramsey will still be a big part of this recording even if he isn’t at the helm for this one. He certainly knows his way around a Grammy-winner in the studio, too– just look at his work with Lucinda Williams!

Click Here to visit Pieta’s MySpace Page

Click Here to visit Pieta’s Website

Click Here to visit Red House Records website

Pieta Brown & Dream #9 at the Mill in Iowa City 6-12-09 (review)

Pieta Brown Live at the Mill Iowa City Poster

As I reported earlier, Pieta Brown assembled a band to shake up her live performances, which are typically a duo (usually with Bo Ramsey on guitars). This makes for a very intimate performance and Pieta’s music and vocals undeniably shine in this setup, but it’s been my opinion for a while that she should perform in a band setting to more closely approximate her albums. So, I was naturally very interested to see this lineup at the Mill. I wasn’t too concerned about the success of this, since Dream #9 is made up of regular sidemen– Bo Ramsey on lead guitar and Jon Penner on bass. Dream #9 also has Jim Viner on drums. Jim has worked with Bo and Jon frequently, and Jim is also on Pieta’s new self-released EP Flight Time with Bo and Jon.

Friday night was rainy, and the prospects of subjecting my gear to certain watery peril was eating away at my resolve it seemed. Eventually with the coaxing of my wife I made a late departure from Cedar Rapids. The show started at 8PM, and the opening act– Parlour Suite— came with good online reviews, but my late departure meant I would miss most– if not all of their set. Indeed, I walked in at 8:45 and they were just wrapping up their set.

I ran into Jim Viner and his wife Katy eating at one of the booths so I got the lowdown on the Daytrotter session. Jim finished his chicken strips and made for the stage and I ended up sitting with Katy most of the night– when I wasn’t out shooting pictures anyway.

Pieta Brown and Dream #9 at The Mill

One of the first surprising things about this band lineup is that Pieta is playing electric guitar, too! I sort expected that she’d rock the acoustic, and leave the electric up to Bo. She concentrated on two guitars– a black Gibson SG with a P-90 pickup, and a Reverend Flatroc with a Bigsby. I recognized both of these guitars as being Bo’s. I saw that SG for the first time at Bo’s last gig at the Mill. The Reverend is one he’s had for a while, and is a unique guitar in that Reverend didn’t make many with the Bigsby, and in fact isn’t a standard option. After the show I asked Pieta about the guitars and she said that the guitars she wanted to play hadn’t arrived. She said that she has a Reverend Flatroc coming as well as a white Fender Telecaster! Those will be very complimentary to Bo’s guitars since one of his primary axes is a Telecaster Deluxe, too. Pieta said that she used to play electric guitar out when she lived in Tulsa and had a band– a fact I hadn’t heard before.

Bo Ramsey of Dream #9

Jim Viner of Dream #9

Jon Penner of Dream #9

Dream #9 is made up of seasoned musicians and are able to pull together a show on-the-fly with little prep. Effectively this band has only been playing Pieta’s songs for a couple of days– but they all found the pocket in Pieta’s songs perfectly.

Pieta Brown live in Iowa City

The show was a quick hour-and-a-half single set. The Mill wraps their shows up pretty early– the show was over by 11PM. So, don’t worry about going to mid-week shows here– you should still be in bed in time for work the next day provided you behave yourself! I was surprised about the low turn out. I guess the rain kept folks home– like it almost did for me.

The set was made up of a nice selection from all of Pieta’s albums and included some new songs that I assume are under consideration for a new album. All of Pieta’s songs benefit from the country-blues sound that I equate with Bo Ramsey and his projects. It gives the songs a similar feel and recognizable to her albums– all of which Bo helped produce. I would have liked to hear more songs from the new EP, but I suspect that as the band plays together more there will be variation in the set list. It was pretty clear that having the two Iowa shows was giving the group the home-court advantage to work out any kinks that might exist with this new arrangement.

Bo Ramsey and Pieta Brown

I really like Pieta fronting a band like this– it draws natural comparisons to other strong female artists like Lucinda Williams or maybe even Chrissy Hynde of the Pretenders. A good, structured driving rhythm really shows the strength of the songs– and not for a lack of intimacy where needed. On the song “Even When” from the Flight Time EP the band shows knows how to carry a gentle song, too.

Listening to the band and Pieta talking after the show it was clear that they were satisfied with the results, so hopefully we’ll start seeing more Dream #9-fueled shows in the future!

The band did record a Daytrotter show on Thursday, so I hope that session gets released in the near future.

Setlist (1 hour 27 minutes):

Sunrise Highway #44
In My Mind I Was Talking to Loretta
Rollin’ and Tumbin’
You’re My Lover Now
Rollin’ Down The Track
Bad News
Loving You Still
807
How Many Times Do I Hear Myself Say These Things
Faller (introduced as a new song)
West Monroe
I’m Going Away Blues (Frank Stokes cover)
Hey Run
Even When
Fourth of July
Over You
Remember The Sun
Are You Free

Click Here to visit Pieta Brown’s website.

Click Here to visit Pieta Brown’s MySpace Page

Pieta Brown Announces “Dream #9” Band and Upcoming Shows

In an e-mail announcement yesterday, Pieta Brown announced that she is creating a band to tour with her that she’s calling “Dream #9.” She says she formed the band to “expand the sonic landscape of her songs in a live setting.” Indeed, Pieta has successfully been touring in relatively stripped-down combos for her entire career– mostly, just as a duo of Bo Ramsey and her, and recently with Jon Penner.

I have been really impressed with Pieta’s last couple of albums and her new EP Flight Time, but I have admittedly been not very motivated to see her live, because I wanted to hear the songs with drums.

Dream #9 is made up of players who have worked with her live and in the studio– a pretty intuitive move, really. On guitar will be Bo Ramsey, of course, who is her constant touring partner and also produced all of her albums. On bass will be Jon Penner who has been working with Bo and Pieta for the last couple of years. On drums will be Jim Viner, who has worked with Bo, Jon and Pieta as well and, up until last year, was the drummer for the Diplomats of Solid Sound. Jon and Jim were in Bo’s band when I saw them for Springville Fun Days in 2006. Here is a picture of Bo, Jim and Jon from that show:

Dream #9

I haven’t had a chance to ask, but I wonder if “Dream #9” is a reference to the John Lennon song “#9 Dream?”

The first two shows with Dream #9 are Thursday, June 11th at the Redstone Room in Davenport, and Friday, June 12th at the Mill in Iowa City. Tickets for both shows are $10.

Additionally, Pieta and Dream #9 are scheduled to record a Daytrotter session on June 11th. This will be the second time Pieta and Bo have done a Daytrotter session– the last one was in 2008.

Click Here to visit Pieta Brown’s website

Click Here to visit Pieta Brown’s MySpace Page

Click Here to visit Pieta Brown on Facebook

Click Here to purchase Pieta Brown’s Flight Time EP.

B-Sides in the Bins #43 – Record Store Day 4/18/2009

Record Store Day Crawl #1 for Record Store Day 2009 went mostly without a hitch and certainly I look forward to next year! My friends Erik and Alex were my companions for the trip which made for a pretty great day.

The plan was to hit the two record stores in Dubuque and the one in Iowa City since those were the closest to Cedar Rapids. I had originally hoped to hit Zzz Records in Des Moines, but that would have made for a very long day. I had called the three stores last week to see which of the special release items they were planning to get. Only Mike at Moondog Music was able to give the the full list as he had gotten most of his ordered inventoried already, the other two stores hadn’t gotten theirs, yet. Based on the reported opening times of the stores, I decided to hit CD’s 4 Change in Dubuque first since they were going to open at 10AM, followed by Moondog Music at 11AM and then we’d beat it to Iowa City to hit Real Records and hopefully be wrapped up before 4PM.

I got up early and picked up Erik and Alex. We hit Croissant du Jour to get coffees and French pastries for the road. We made it to CD’s 4 Change at 9:30AM and hung around for a bit to see if they’d open. 10AM rolled around and no sign of anyone opening. So, we walked over to Uncle Ike’s Music which was kitty-corner from the record store. When I lived in Dubuque in the 90’s I spent a lot of time at Uncle Ike’s when they were downtown. The store was pretty busy for early on Saturday morning and they had a very impressive collection of guitars at great prices. Erik picked up some patch cables and Alex bought a neat Oscar Schmidt OU2 ukulele while we waited. Ike’s had a pretty interesting collection of used Stratocasters including A white ’85 MIJ with black head and locking nut for $369, and this pristine ’94 40th Anniversary for $899, complete with 40th badging.

We headed back over to CD’s 4 Change and at that time someone pulled up and opened the store. I asked about the special orders for today, and they had a very small collection of items. The owner stated that he didn’t order any of the major label releases and didn’t order any of the Sub Pop either. He didn’t get any of the Thrill Jockey Records Toreism 12″s. He had the Pavement Live LP as well as the Touch and Go Jesus Lizard Inch 7″ box set, and had both of the Sonic Youth split singles. Not a great showing of those releases, but he was having a $2-off of all new vinyl, which was great, and Erik bought a slug of records as they have an impressive new vinyl release selection. Erik was able to pick up The Sea and Cake Everybody album, which was cool as it has been out-of-print for a couple of years. I would have picked up the SY singles, but I knew that Mike at Moondog had them for $1 cheaper.

Flipping through the new and used LP’s I found a bunch of interesting pieces, and if I wasn’t trying to stay under a budget that needed to include the exclusive releases I would have picked up some of these: a still sealed Ventures Walk Don’t Run on United Artists! ($50, even with the $2 off, it was a bit too pricey for me), R.E.M. Reckoning and Life’s Rich Pageant for $8 and $10. I don’t have these on vinyl today, but I’m holding out for ones with better covers, The Moody Blues Days of Future Past for $2– Minty cover and LP with plastic inner sleeve. It’s a later pressing under PolyGram. I just about bought it, but do I need a fourth copy of this? They also had the Beastie Boys 2 LP reissue of Check Your Head, which I’d like to pick up at some point. They also had Pink Floyd The Wall and The Final Cut for over $10 apiece. I have neither of these, and would have snagged The Wall if it weren’t for the scratch on one of the LP’s. I had briefly considered picking up some Ryan Adams vinyl– they had Demolition and Gold which would have been $10.99 during their sale.
Moondog Music
We departed for Moondog Music while the sky started spitting. We never did get the real rain that was predicted– just enough to piss you off and make it muggy. We stopped in around 11:30ish and although Mike wasn’t in yet, he had a bag prepared with “MIKE (CEDAR RAPIDS)” written on it with all of the pieces that we discussed on the phone as well as a bunch of really cool freebies! Talk about service! We flipped through the used and new vinyl in the store, Moondog has a great selection of new vinyl as well. I’m beginning to think I need to make some runs to Dubuque just to go record shopping. In the bins: The new crazy reissue of Beck’s Odelay in a box set with 4 LP’s for $99. I’d love to have this piece in my collection but it didn’t fit in my budget. Here is what I picked up at Moondog Music:

Various Artists – Records Toreism (12″, Thrill Jockey 12.30, 2009) ($12.99) Gorgeous hand-screened cover, four tracks from TJ artists old and new. Brand new Tortoise track “High Class Slim Came Floatin’ In” from the upcoming Beacons of Ancestorship album, “Window” by Mountains is unreleased as well as the Double Dagger track “Stagger Lee” and the Trans Am track “Wounded Monkey.” This is the first Thrill Jockey appearance of recent signings White Hills with “Eye to Eye” which was previously on a tour-only CD-R called Abstractions and Mutations. Included in the sleeve with the record are two photocopied booklets. The first little booklet is a manifesto of sorts called “Recordstoreism” on visiting your record store frequently and is apparently an anti-iPod perspective as well with iPod-and-crossbones logos and “..knock down to the Pod Peddlers!! Zombies tethered to headphones. Wandering Wastrels whose auditory corridors are clogged with wax.” The second booklet called “Whatisinstore” is emblazoned with a bunch of indie record store names inside of which are essays by artists and store workers alike about record stores. I think I found most of the stores I’ve been to: Jazz Record Mart, Cheapo’s, Electric Fetus, Moondog Records (s.i.c.),  Hard Boiled, Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Reckless Records, The Record Collector, Mad City Music Exchange, Treehouse Records, Zzz Records, Newbury Comics… They included Rolling Stones, but I didn’t see any Thrill Jockey at their store when I was there last month. I didn’t see Real or CD’s 4 Change on there. Maybe you can special order TJ there. A very cool piece very much in the spirit of the day.

Tom Waits – Live Glitter & Doom Tour 2008 (7″, Anti- Records 87018-7, 2009) ($5.98) I don’t really collect Tom Waits, but this was a pretty neat release. “Lucinda / Ain’t Going Down To The Well” from Atlanta, backed by “Bottom of the World” from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Bob Dylan – “Dreamin’ Of You” / “Down Along the Cove” (7″ Columbia 8697-50225-7, 2009)($6.98) “Dreamin’ of You” is from last year’s great Tell-Tale Signs – Bootleg Series Volume 8 release. It was the lead off track that was sort of a single. Produced by Lanois as part of the Time Out of Mind sessions. “Down Along the Cove” is a John Wesley Harding track that Dylan did for his 2004 Bonnaroo appearance. This track previously appeared on the Bonnaroo 2004 compilation CD. Includes a photo of Dylan.

Whiskeytown – “San Antone” / “The Great Divide” (7″ Geffen B00128170-21, 2009)($5.98) “Limited Edition Produced Exclusively for Record Store Day 2009” – two unreleased tracks from Ryan Adams’s pre-solo, pre-Cardinals band Whiskeytown. These are two tracks from the Baseball Park sessions that would make up Whiskeytown’s first album Faithless Street in 1995. When Faithless Street was reissued in 1998 by Outpost, it included Baseball Park tracks which were produced by Chris Stamey (from the dB’s). These two tracks were not part of those. Really nice hard sleeve that reproduces the Faithless Street cover photograph taken by Ryan.

The Sonik Youth / Beck – “Pay No Mind” / “Green Light” (7″ Matador OLE 865-7, 2009)($5.98) Limited edition (2500) split single. Sonic Youth covers “Pay No Mind” from Beck’s Mellow Gold, and Beck covers “Green Light” from Sonic Youth’s EVOL album.

Iron & Wine – Norfolk 6/20/05 (CD, Sub Pop SPCD 839, 2009)($7.99) Super-cute CD made to look like a mini-Sub Pop singles club release. Iron & Wine live during their 2005 tour after the release of Woman King EP. A sticker on the wrap mentions the upcoming release Around the Well, which will be a compilation of B-Sides and Rarities due out May 19th and will be followed by a tour. The cover art also mentions playedlastnight.com which is a place where you can purchase shows by Iron & Wine as well as The Swell Season.

The Jesus Lizard – INCH (8 x 7″, Touch and Go tg347, 2009)($29.99) Limited, numbered edition (256 / 2000) I will admit that I haven’t been a big fan of The Jesus Lizard, but will readily admit their influence on a lot of bands that I’ve listened to. Touch and Go records created this amazing “box set” of all of the singles release during The Jesus Lizard’s time on Touch and Go. All of the singles have been out-of-print for over six years, apparently. The singles have been remastered by Bob Westin and include reproductions of the original sleeves and are included in this really great clear plastic package that houses them, or could be used to display them as it has metal eyelets at the top. Gorgeous, if bittersweet release from Touch and Go as this will be one of the last new releases from the label until economic times improve. They are hoping to do reissues of the Jesus Lizard LP catalog in August, too.

In addition to the releases I purchased, Moondog included a recycled bag from WEA made of 60% post industrial and consumer recycled content full of freebies which included:

Various Artists – Happy Birthday to Me – SP20 – Terminal Sales Vol 3 (CD, SubPop SPCD 779, 2008) ($0) Super-cool CD celebrating 20 years of Sub Pop Records. Comes in a neat gatefold sleeve. 18 tracks of Sub Pop artists including Mudhoney, Wolf Parade, No Age, Blitzen Trapper, Flight of the Conchords, as well as a birthday card we are supposed to fill out and mail to Sub Pop and an SP20 sticker taboot!

Various Artists – Bloodshot Catalog Sampler (CD, Bloodshot Records, 2008)($0) Compilation of artists on Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot is the home of Jay Farrar of Son Volt, Sally Timms, Kelly Hogan, Split Lip Rayfield and Andre Williams among others. Bloodshot is also handling the vinyl reissue of  Ryan Adams’s Heartbreaker. Reissued as a 2 LP gatefold! Home of Dexter Romweber Duo and Ha Ha Tonka, too.

Various Artists – Live Your Life with Verve (CD, Verve Music Group VERR01591-2, 2008)($0) A compilation of artists on the Verve label(s). Includes the Diplo remix of Mariena Shaw’s “California Soul” which was on the Verve Remixed 4 compilation. “California Soul” was included in Brainfreeze by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, too.

Beat Union – Disconnected (CD, Science Records 426428-2, 2008)($0) Pop-Punk outfit from the UK. Disconnected is their debut release under the band’s new moniker as Beat Union. They used to be called Shortcut to Newark. This release was produced by Goldfinger frontman John Feldman. I haven’t listened to this, yet. If it rocks, I’ll review it.

“You Think You Really Know Me – The Gary Wilson Story” (DVD + CD, Plexifilm 032, 2008)($0) Wow, this is a pretty cool freebie. In 1977 Gary Wilson recorded a crazy outsider-art experimental album and effectively dropped off the face of the recording industry. A bunch of noted artists including Beck start talking about him and the renewed interest in him causes folks to look for him. This is the documentary about his return to recording and includes the seminal You Think You Really Know Me album. He apparently recorded an album for Stones Throw in 2004 as well.

Other goodies in the bag included a Touch and Go Records sticker, a Bloodshot Records Sticker, a drink coaster promoting the Oasis album Dig Out Your Soul, a sticker promoting the Hank III record Damn Right, Rebel Proud, a rolled poster for Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky album, a folded poster for Mogwai’s The Hawk Is Howling album, and a temporary tattoo that says “Jesus Loves Scott H. Biram” with praying hands that is a Bloodshot Records promo for Scott H. Biram. Also got the Dec ’08/Dec ’09 Paste Magazine.

What a very cool collection of freebies! Thanks Moondog Music!

From there we headed to Kennedy Mall to get burgers and beers at the Mining Company. Still the great burgers and fries I remembered from the 90’s. Our hunger sated, we made the hour-and-a-half drive to Iowa City for the Real Records stop. We listened to the Iron & Wine CD on the way there.

Real! CD's and Records

I hadn’t been to Real since it’s coming back in business. Real! originally opened in 1986, and I remember frequenting it along with The Record Collector and BJ’s back then. Sadly, BJ’s is gone, and Real! was gone for a while, too. It’s been back for three years (I think) under new management by Craig Kessler, who is also a DJ on the Jazz station KCCK-FM.

Real is now abutted with a book store, which is pretty cool. When we stopped there I didn’t spend any time in the book store, but certainly will next time I’m in town. The store itself is jam-packed with product, but has a laid-back cozy kind of feel. Lots of new and used vinyl and CDs. Craig still had some of the Record Store day exclusives in although he said a lot of it was already bought. He had the Talking Heads 77 180g vinyl as well as the Jane’s Addiction vinyl reissues of Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual (which aren’t really exclusive, but were released Saturday), and had the Columbia 7″es for Dylan and Springsteen as well as the Rhino 7″es making this the only place I saw these. Here’s what I picked up:

MC5 – “Kick Out The Jams” / “Motor City Is Burning” (7″, Rhino Entertainment R-21481, 2009) ($5.99) Very cool reissue of the seminal 1969 MC5 single on Elektra for “Kick Out The Jams.” Notable for the use of word “motherf*uckers” in the intro shout. The flipside is a cover of the John Lee Hooker song “Motor City is Burning.” According to the Wikipedia article on the MC5, there was a single for radio that replaced the intro explitive with “brothers and sisters.”

New Order – “Temptation” / “Hurt” (7″, Rhino Entertainment R-21479, 2009)($5.99) Another cool reissue from Rhino. This is a repressing of New Order’s 1982 Factory Records single for “Temptation” and “Hurt” (aka Fac63) This represents the first time this single has been released domestically in the US. The notable fact being that New Order used different mixes for every version of a release, so any version released in the US could be different from the UK versions. I have the original Fac63 12″ which is die stamped, so this is a nice companion to that.

Pieta Brown – Flight Time (CD, T Records, 2008)($11.99) Not a Record Store Day exclusive. Kind of pricey for a 7-track EP, but I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to pick this one up since Pieta’s touring schedule doesn’t seem to mesh with my life schedule. This EP is a really good companion to her last album Remember the Sun. This is self-released. I wonder what this means about future releases? One Little Indian seems to be staying up-to-date on her touring schedule, so that implies a current relationship.

While I was flipping though the bins, I found a copy of the out-of-print Mountains vinyl for $16.99 which I was tempted to pick up. They also had the last Sea & Cake album Car Alarm and the Human Bell LP. So, this is a good place to pick up Thrill Jockey releases. Craig was playing the relatively obscure Miles Davis Big Fun album. I’d never heard of it, but recognized it as Davis. The release had been regarded at it’s 1974 release as being a filler release. The sessions were recorded in 1969, 1970 and 1972. These session included quite a few jazz heavyweights: Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin and Ron Carter amongst the large list of performers. The version he was playing was a Japanese Sony version of the original album. In 2000 it was re-released with other sessions recorded between Bitches Brew and Tribute to Jack Johnson expanding the release to a 2 CD version. So, this particular visit did what a record store visit should do– educate! I’ve already done some looking into Big Fun and will probably at least download it, and keep an eye out for a vinyl version.

So, all-in-all a sucessful day! I’m glad I got to do this run and big thanks to Erik and Alex for coming along and making it much more fun than it would have been by myself. Stay tuned for next year’s Record Store Day Crawl!

B-Sides in the Bins #36 – Cedar Rapids, Half-Price Books 11/7/08

I needed to hit GNC for the last night of Gold Card Days for Sherry, so I stopped in at Half-Price Books. A fairly productive stop– found some essentials.

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town (LP, Columbia JC 35318, 1978) ($2.98) Cool! Decent copies of the Springsteen catalog are tough to find. Next to The River, this is my favorite Springsteen record. slight cover wear, sleeve in tact as well as the lyric sheet. Vinyl impressively minty. I got into Springsteen pretty heavily after Born in the USA. I bought everything on cassette. Never bought any Springsteen on CD. So, it’s a bit strange to be picking this up on vinyl. I suppose Sony/BMG has already started pressing Bruce’s catalog in 180g vinyl. (apparently not?)

Bruce Springsteen – The River (2 LP, Columbia PC2 36854, 1980) ($3.98) My other big favorite from The Boss. I think The River is the blueprint for what would be the most-identifiable Springsteen sound with the hard-working E Street Band on board.  The River shows all the different sides to Springsteen from the out-and-out rocker of “Cadillac Ranch”  to the FM-ready “Hungry Heart” and the melancholy of “The River.” (I always wondered if the couple in the song “The River” actually drowned themselves?) Dad bought this on cassette back when it was new and I remember that we went through a couple of copies of it. It’s a little-known fact that 60-minute cassette and 90-minute cassettes use the same amount of tape. The 90’s are just stretched thinner than the 60’s. This needed to be done because otherwise the tape wouldn’t fit in the shell and be too heavy for most cassette decks. Unfortunately, this caused the double-length cassette to be prone to breaking. The River was a double-length album on cassette since it was 2 LP’s. The cover of this copy has some edge wear and sleeve wear which is very typical of copies of this album. Unfortunately, this wasn’t pressed as a gatefold, so both records are sandwiched precariously into one sleeve. The inside record sleeves which serve as the inside art are in tact as well as a slightly tear-stained lyric sheet. The vinyl is in great shape. I’ve seen some sealed copies of this show up on eBay, so this will be one I’ll want to upgrade.

Mickey Jupp – “Old Rock ‘N’ Roller” b/w “S.P.Y.” (7″ Stiff Records BUY-36, 1978)($0.98) I didn’t know who Mickey Jupp was before I picked this up. This single was notable in that it is on Stiff Records– one time home of British notables as Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe among others. Also it has the paper sleeve intact (“If it means Everything to Everyone… It Must be a Stiff” “Today’s Sound Today”). In addition to that, the A side was produced by Nick Lowe. I’m considering putting this out on eBay, but it is a pretty cool piece, so I may just keep it. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it, but it would appear to be from his Wiki article that his signing to Stiff Records was as a result of a resurgence of interest in “Pub Rock” in the 70’s.

Pieta Brown – Remember the Sun (CD, One Little Indian OLI782, 2007) ($5.98) I had this in mp3 but I wanted to own this on CD. This is a fantastic album, and certainly Pieta’s best so far in my opinion. Produced by Bo Ramsey and has that signature sound. I listen to this album quite a bit and is a good companion to Bo’s new album Fragile.

Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger (CD, Lost Highway B0009130-02, 2007) ($6.98) I have this on vinyl and mp3, but I couldn’t pass this up. Apparently Half-Price got in a bunch of sealed, new copies of Easy Tiger and are selling them for– wait for it– HALF PRICE! 😉 This is my favorite Ryan Adams album, but Cardinology is catching up quickly.

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