Little Lies and Massive Dreams

My name is Bear. I play in a band called Talking About Commas and live and work in Providence, RI. I like music.
Free Hit Counter
Free Counter

Aug 25, 2011

With a hurricance coming to the east coast how about some Typhoon?

This band is so good I can't stand it. I caught Typhoon a couple weeks ago at the Newport Folk Fest and have been devouring everything i can find on them since - youtube videos, NPR concert downloads and their latest releases on Spotify. You may think that 13 people is too much - even Letterman cracked that joke (Watch them on the Late Show here) - but the cacophony of drums, guitars, strings, horns and vocals works so well with Kyle Morton's songs it's unfair. The Portland Oregon collective may still have day jobs and probably can't sustain a grueling tour schedule with so many people so hopefully they'll blow up and sell a million records and be out on the road again soon. But until then catch them when you can, it's really worth it.

Typhoon | A Take Away Show from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

Jul 22, 2011

Brad Barr is so good it hurts

Just found this on youtube. "Sarah Through the Wall", the first song he plays before he starts doing some bluesy improv is one of my favorite guitar pieces of all time. ALL TIME!!! I caught the Slip at the Met in Pawtucket last weekend but I didn't really take notes for a review because it was a hometown show and I was with a bunch of friends and in party mode. Once some good video surfaces I'll post that with some show insight, setlist and download links and all that stuff. In the mean time enjoy this.....


So after reading Bob Lefsetz's multiple emails regarding how glorious Spotify is, I got one of his invites for a 6 month free trial. It's fucking awesome. I've been using lastfm and pandora for years but this takes the cake. The free version runs on desktops only and has a couple ads but you can listen to any artist and song you want (provided they are on Spotify). The paid plan gets you no ads and the ability to stream on your phone and even download up the 3,000 songs for off air play.

I'm still going to buy cds and have an ipod because I like the mobility of an ipod without draining my cell battery and CDs sound the best, obvs. When riding in a car it's just the best sound ever. However Spotify lets you hear songs and artists you may not know if you want to spend money on the album. So far I'm just searching for bands that are playing at this year's Newport folkfest to see who to check out that I dont already like - Civil Wars is the best new discovery so far - it doesn't have everyone (notably Gillian Welch or Delta Spirit but it does have Talking About Commas!!!) but hey it is free. It's social too, your facebook friends pop up and you can see what they've been listening to. They create playlists and you create playlists and send them out into the ether for others to discover. here's my first; I call it "Mellow Mood". Enjoy....

Mellow Mood (you have to have spotify to listen to it)

1. Million Dollar Bill - Middle Brother
2. Holocene - Bon Iver
3. Love Me tenderly - Felice Brothers
4. So Well - Dawes
5. Ghost Woman Blues - the Low Anthem
6. Breach - The Tower and the Fool
7. Dear Puppeteer - Nathan Moore
8. A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key) - Bright Eyes
9. Poison & Wine - The Civil Wars
10. Shame Shame - Dr Dog
11. Dear Avery - the Decemberists
12. Joelle - Surprise me mr Davis
13. Movin Away - My Morning Jacket

Apr 1, 2011

Grace Potters brings her brand of Vermont Rock to Lil Rhody

In July of 2006 I was at the High Sierra Music Festival in Northern California. As is always the case in the 4 day long mid-sized festy, word travels fast among concertgoers and word began to spread about a young band from Vermont that you HAD to see (at High Sierra, most bands play multiple times so the first performance usually creates buzz for the second; particularly for unknown bands). Her name was Grace Potter and her band was the Nocturnals. At that point no one in California knew them. I remember seeing them at the “Vaudeville Tent” with about 50 other people and being blown away by not only her showmanship, but vocal prowess and her keyboard chops, she plays a Hammond B3! Potter and her cohorts also write great bluesy, rock infused soul songs and kick serious ass on stage. Last weekend I caught them for the second time.

As I stated before I only saw them once, years ago, and don’t have any albums. My girlfriend is a fan so I got us tickets and checked out their first ever headlining set in Providence (the previous night they sold out the 2500+ House of Blues in Boston). The show started with a couple tracks from the band’s eponymous album, also its most recent, but also mixed in a bunch of older tunes. They didn’t play the two songs I knew the best (“Toothbrush and a Table” and “Nothing but the water”) but we got some great jams and fun covers to boot.

Grace Potter is a natural front woman, she rocked a glitzy, sequenced outfit while dancing around the stage, hair a-blazin and hands a-clappin. She bounced between her front of stage mic and stage left organ set up all night, often in the same song. The crowd was broader in age than I expected but was also littered with groups of young woman singing every word. I wonder if these same girls seek out the Kesha’s and Gaga’s of the world as well or if Grace hold a more musically sophisticated and less pop savvy crowd?

Highlights of the night for me were the reggae tinged pop of “Goodbye Kiss”, the expansive blues “2:22” and hugely climactic “Medicine” that closed the show. Along with the originals the band offered a trio of cover songs, of which “Crazy on You” by Heart seemed to be the best fit. Oddly enough, Heart reminds me of my dad and when the song started I could picture him driving down the road belting Ann Wilson’s famous chorus at the top of his lungs. Overall the Nocturnal are a tight, fun band that seem to love being on stage and clearly cater to the crowd, a nice change from the many bands that take themselves too seriously.

openers: Blues and Lasers
Venue info:
parking: free parking on the street if you can find it or there are $10 lots throughout downtown Providence
layout: Theatre with a GA Floor and Seated Balcony
beer sitch: 3 bars with cocktails, wine and beers. $5 for a Sierra Nevada. $6.50 for a Vodka cocktail.
capacity: 2000 (probably 2/3 full)

Set List: Hot Summer Night, Joey, Goodbye Kiss, Big White Gate, 2:22, Oasis, Some Kind of Ride, One Short Night, Foolin Myself, Elvis Presley Blues (Gillian Welch cover), Benny Yurco guitar solo > Crazy On You (Heart Cover), Only Love, Sweet Hands, Paris (Ooh La La)
E: White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane cover), Medicine
click on song titles for YouTube videos

Video of "Some Kind of Ride"

Feb 28, 2011

Acoustic/Electric Trey

For the latest ”TAB” tour this February, Phish front man Trey Anastasio has gone back to the original format he had of one acoustic set and one electric set on his first solo tour in 1999. Last weekend at the House of Blues in Boston I caught the third show of the tour.

The biggest difference from normal Trey tours is obviously the return of the acoustic set. Previously, random acoustic engagements (Newport Folk, Bonnaroo, 10klakes) contained a set littered with simple strummy tunes like "Bouncin", "Sample in a Jar", "Water in the Sky" (he normally plays Phish songs acoustically). This tour he has been challenging himself with first attempts at rather difficult Phish songs and the HOB show was no different. First ever acoustic takes on songs like "Its Ice" and "Carini" were a nice surprise. He also tackled a couple “Page” songs, most notably "Lawn Boy" which contained the original jazzy feel complete with sax solo. At the end of his set he played the craptastic “Let me Lie” which starts out like a 5th graders first stab at lyric writing but ends with a pretty, layered culmination that sparkled with the backing vocals of Natalie Cressman and Jen Hartswick. The first set closed with a fun but sloppy “Hey ya” which just wasn’t as cool as it was on paper. How can you bail on the "To all the Beyonce's and Lucy Lui's" part?

The electric set gave us more energy but also a slew of predictable blues numbers and Trey's characteristic jam pop sleepers. The horns are the only thing that makes songs like "Valentine", "Ether Sunday", and "Sweet Dreams Melinda" tolerable. Highlights for me were the smoking hot "First Tube" through the "Magilla"/ "Black Dog" encore complete with Jen hartswick belting Plant’s classic vocal lines. Jams of the night were the contained yet dancy "Gotta Jibboo" and the expansive "Simple twist up Dave". If you are going to a Trey show to see a band on top of its game and in need of face melting than save your money for Phish, but if you want a fun, danceable twist on Big red’s trademark gleeful licks than you’ll have a great time.

openers: none
Venue info:
parking: free parking on the street is pretty easy as long as the Sox arent playing at home.
layout: square, club type room with GA floor and 1st balcony, seats in 2nd blacony
capacity: 2425 (sold out)

SET LIST: (links go to youtube videos)
Set 1: Sample in a Jar, Punch You In the Eye, Strange Design, AC/DC Bag, It's Ice, Bathtub Gin, Carini, Dog Faced Boy, Shine a Light, Sleep Again, Wilson, Chalk Dust Torture, Backwards Down the Number Line, Lawn Boy, Let Me Lie, Hey Ya

Set 2: I Done Done It > Valentine, In the Wee Wee Hours > Gotta Jibboo, Sweet Dreams Melinda, Burn That Bridge, Simple Twist Up Dave, Small Axe, Ooh Child, Tuesday, Ocelot, Ether Sunday, First Tube

Encore: Magilla, Black Dog

Video of "Carini" Acoustic

Feb 16, 2011

Bloodbuzz Ohio

I've heard of the National but have never heard them before (at least knowingly - "indie" bands are all over commercials these days). So yesterday I saw a video of my buddy's band Big Light playing a song called "Bloodbuzz Ohio" at a Halloween gig they did last fall at the Las Tortugas festival in Yosemite. I was immediately taken aback. This song was fantastic. I googled the name in hopes to find lyrics and I discover that it's actually a song by The National. How did I not know this already? I guess they are just one of those bands that get lumped in to a lot of discussions I have and have read about, but have never checked out, oddly enough. No time like the present right?

I think I may have some sort of musical OCD because when I hear a new song that reaches me like this one does I cannot not listen to it. I've watched youtube videos of the band playing "BloodBuzz Ohio", downloaded their newest album High Violet, and have already learned how to play and sing it myself. just devoured. The last time a song did this to me was last summer when I heard Dawes' "That Western Skyline". It makes me feel alive...

Anywho, I share this story with you because in the wake of the Arcade Fire winning "Album of the Year" (which I'm ecstatic about) and reading about how awful the recording industry is suffering and giant corporate chains (like Borders, Tower records, etc) are going bankrupt; music by the people and for the people is flourishing. Clearly there are some people that don't "get it" (quite hilariously represented on and still equate album sales with talent or don't search hard enough for quality music. But it's there, it's here. In a world where the Black Eyed Peas play on our biggest stage and 6 idiots from Jersey Shore are among Hollywood's elite; it's nice to know that the world is starting to become hip (pun intended) to the real artists. The ones that play music (or make films or "vandalize" public walls etc) because they HAVE to. NOT because they can make a quick buck or walk down a red carpet. I'm a musician - I don't make shit for money (in the words of the National "I still owe money to the money to the money I owe") but I wake up everyday grateful that I am able to do what I love for a living and I wouldn't change it for anything.

I stumbled upon the video below of a woman singing her interpretation of "BloodBuzz Ohio" with an ukulele (should it be "a" or "an" ukulele? an sounds weird but looks correct). I don't know who she is or what her deal is but i do know that she "gets it" and that brings a smile to my face.

Jan 7, 2011

Hey Phish, "Welcome tah Wustah, dawlah twuntee fiave"

Phish 3.0's first shows at the Worcester Centrum (now the DCU Center) proved a nice warm up to NYE in NYC but the band obviously saved the big stuff for MSG. However, I went on night 2 and had a blast. I can't over analyze Phish shows anymore because it gives me a headache. There are always imperfections and slow/new numbers that don't stand out but overall this band kills it on a nightly basis.

The first set was book-ended by new songs from Joy but in between we got a huge bust out - a cover of Taj Mahal's "She Caught the Katy (And Left me a Mule to Ride)" (first since 1998) - solid versions of "Stash" and "Wolfman's Brother" and a hilarious beginning to "Alaska" complete with Trey playing a Sarah Palin doll in to the mic. The doll was loaded with vocal samples of pure Palinisms like “We eat therefore we hunt it”, “pretty relevant important stuff, to me anyway” and “yeah quit makin things up”. The band's vocals were a little off due to Trey's hoarse voice but musically, they were dead on.

The second set started with a nice "Carini" but it never entered the major key jam realm as it has the past year. A nice "Back on the Train" > "Limb by Limb" heated things up before the cool down mid second set, which was eventually saved by "Harry Hood". And what a "Hood" it was. Atypical to most "Hood's" this one featured strong band interplay and bouncy, staccato rhythmic jamming before cruising back in to the climax we all know and love. A solid yet uneventful "Bug" closed the show before a great encore of the Rolling Stone's Exile on Main St classic “Shine a Light” which ushered the almost capacity crowd in to the cold night with warm hearts and big smiles.

Venue Info:

beer sitch:
$7 Miller Lite's
Street parking if you get there right at 6pm (when the 2hour limit stops) or Garages/Lots for $20+
Arena, end stage
14,900 (95% capacity)

Set List from
Set 1: Kill Devil Falls, My Mind's Got a Mind of its Own, Alaska[1], She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride, Wolfman's Brother, Pigtail[2], Stash, Bouncing Around the Room > Rift, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Birdwatcher[3]

Set 2: Carini > Backwards Down the Number Line > Back on the Train[4] -> Limb By Limb > The Wedge > Frankie Says > Albuquerque, Harry Hood > Bug

Encore: Shine a Light

[1] Trey used a device that played Sarah Palin quotes. [2] Debut. [3] Phish Debut. [4] Streets of Cairo tease from Trey.
Notes: She Caught the Katy was last performed on July 21, 1998 (323 shows). Trey used a device that played Sarah Palin quotes during Alaska and after the debut of Pigtail. This show also featured the Phish debut of Birdwatcher. Back on the Train featured a Streets of Cairo tease from Trey.