It's hard to believe, but this year marks the 20th anniversary of the band Wilco. They've recently announced plans to celebrate the anniversary with a pair of releases, including the first-ever best of compilation from the group and also a collection of rarities that they say, "We're pretty sure you're gonna love."
They're also on the road playing a few shows to celebrate the milestone and as if that wasn't enough, frontman and creative mastermind Jeff Tweedy will release his solo debut under the banner of Tweedy on September 23rd.
Here's a sampling from the Tweedy album, a tune called "Summer Noon."
Wilco was in town this past Thursday (September 4th) for a rare Cleveland area show at the Akron Civic Theatre. It was Wilco's first area appearance since their show at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium in February of 2008. Their return was long overdue and it was great to have them back!
Our good friend Amy Weiser was there with her camera to capture scenes from a great night of music in Akron. Check out the gallery of photos below!
Three albums out of quite a few which have been part of the percolating music mix in my world lately...and I just had to stop by and saw a few words.
First up - the Chickenfoot album...don't be confused by the 'Chickenfoot III' title - they're simply so advanced that they skipped ahead title-wise for their second album together, which continues the nice forward momentum that they established collectively with album #1.
I had the chance to spend 15 minutes talking to Michael Anthony (be still, my super-inner Van Halen geek!) about the 'Foot and you can read the results of our chat here.
Wilco. Album is called 'The Whole Love' and there's a whole lot to love about it, no matter what era of Wilco you're a fan of. There's some YHF kinda stuff, some 'Sky Blue Sky' type stuff....'Being There?' Maybe that's a stretch. Still, I found it to be a rather pleasant listen and it's already made more impact with me musically than the previous album did.
Related: Vinyl hounds reading this right now, you can surf over to Pop Market to get the new Wilco album plus 'A.M.' and 'Being There,' all on high quality vinyl at a special price for all three. Each album comes with a CD version of the album for on-the-go listening. You've got about 15 hours to pull the trigger!
Nirvana. Of course, you're probably aware that the super-hella-deluxe version of 'Nevermind' came out today in celebration of the album's 20th anniversary. With all of the songs that I've played/heard at various radio stations over the past 15 years, I'll admit that it's been quite a while since I've tracked through the entire album.
Today, I sat through all four CDs of the new 'Nevermind' set and my reaction: wow, that's a lot of Nirvana for anybody to sit through in one sitting...no matter how much of a fan you are! (But don't get me wrong, it's a very cool set.) I did see parts of the included concert film over the weekend on VH-1 and in my opinion, THAT might be worth the price of the set alone....for my money, I like the performance/feel better than the previously released 'Live at Reading' DVD.
Just some random musical thoughts....what are yours?
(Oh yeah, Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon' reissue = awesome. Need to get my hands on the ultra-deluxe set of that!)
So....do you want to take your Saturday to the next level?
The fine folks at Camp Wilco are streaming their new album today for 24 hours.
While 'Wilco (The Album)' didn't completely knock my socks off, it's grown on me since it was released.
Listening to the new album, I'm liking and actually, really enjoying what I'm hearing. And vinyl lovers will enjoy that the album stream is made up to look like a spinning vinyl record, apparently with the track splits on the label accurately divided to represent how they will be on the real thing when it comes out on black wax.
Hear 'The Whole Love' here.
Pre-order the deluxe edition (to be released on September 27th) right here.
While I appreciate the fine gesture from Wilco, streaming the new album so far in advance of the actual release, what I'd really love is a Cleveland tour date. We've been waiting patiently...so how about it?
The Phish boys have released a unique video (read: weird) to promote their upcoming summer tour (which will stop in the Cleveland area at Blossom Music Center on June 4th). At first, I thought the album cover for the latest Wilco album might have come to life as I watched the opening moments of the video. Tour dates and ticket purchase information can be found here. The price of each ticket purchased this summer will include a live mixed soundboard download of the show that you're attending via LivePhish.com. Groovy.
For those of you that inexplicably haven't been to your favorite local indie record store since Record Store Day last year, guess what? It's time to do it all again!
This Saturday, music fans will once again congregate at record stores throughout the United States and the UK to celebrate Record Store Day, with a number of limited/exclusive releases to choose from to celebrate the occasion. For a complete list of the exclusive titles available, check out the official Record Store Day website.
Add Wilco to the list of artists/celebrities doing their part to assist with fund raising for Haiti relief. In exchange for a suggested donation of $15, fans can download two newly available soundboard Wilco shows for free via the official site.
We have just posted two shows for free download on Wilcoworld, all we ask that you do in return, is make a minimum donation of $15 to one of the organizations listed below.
Both organizations ask that you donate to their Emergency Relief Funds which allows them to spend the money on situations such as Haiti, but, not expressly limited to Haiti.
The shows are:
In exchange for the free music, we ask that you make a minimum donation of $15 to one of the organizations listed above if you are able.
Today's post had the original title of The Chair That Saved The Trip. I had my initial moment of chair lacking regret on Thursday night at the B-52's show, and the feeling intensified when I got to Bonnaroo on Friday afternoon and saw tons of people relaxing in folding chairs while I was baking in the sun.
"Wuss" is what you're thinking or even saying out loud right now. Stop that. Don't be cruel. That's my job.
A morning trip to the local Wal-Mart resulted in the best 10 dollar purchase I've made to date, and the chair was mine.
We had an easier trip in to the Bonnaroo grounds yesterday that was happily void of any drug task force car searches (for us anyway,) and we got to wave to our friend selling the bananas. With chair strapped to my back like Rambo (okay, not even close) I made my way into Bonnaroo with my trusty rock and roll road warriors Brian and Adam by my side.
And then as before, I ditched those guys and thought that once again the lineup at That Tent was a good place to be for the afternoon. I made the effort for today to step out of my usual comfort zone and skip seeing bands that I've already seen (and bands that I LOVE) in favor of checking out artists that I had never seen.
This means that Govt. Mule and Wilco were not on today's agenda.
In their place, a wide variety of music from Allen Toussaint, Raphael Saadiq, Jenny Lewis, and Elvis Costello performing a special solo set.
Seeing a legend like Toussaint to start off the day was musically educational food for my music loving brain. Like a big ol' plate of gumbo, I ate it up, and that's one of the best things about Bonnaroo, is that you have the opportunity to feed your head all weekend long with both music and cultural experiences that are limitless in oppportunity.
I had been looking forward to seeing Raphael Saddiq, an artist with a body of work that would make quite a few of his peers jealous. Many of you probably heard Saddiq for the first time (without even knowing it) as a member of 80s/90s R&B soulsters Tony! Toni! Tone!, a project that registered a number of hits, including "Little Walter" and "Feels Good" which came across my radio many times while growing up. After a brief detour with the Lucy Pearl project, Saddiq moved into producing, and has worked with a number of artists from Whitney Houston to the Bee Gees.
Saddiq is currently enjoying just being an artist, playing the music that he loves, and gave back to the crowd at Bonnaroo, commenting that "my last record was not a radio record. Truth be told, I made all of my records for me. I was fortunate enough to have you enjoy those records. Thanks for that." The statement felt as real and honest as Saddiq's performance, which got the Bonnaroo crowd jamming from the moment he hit the stage. Yet another artist that I had to add to my list of folks that I need to pick up music from.
Next up was Jenny Lewis, an artist that I've gotten a ton of education about thanks to Jose and Kelly at Sensory Overload who have schooled me nicely regarding Lewis's work both solo and with indie rock darlings Rilo Kiley. Performing a solo set at Bonnaroo, Lewis turned out a set that was one of my easy favorites for the weekend. She's got such a charming voice that will suck you right in, and I think she's got a lot of musical similarity to what I want to love about Neko Case, but unlike Case, she's got better songs.
Now for the hard choice of the day, that was in reality, the easiest - choosing Elvis Costello over Wilco. Costello, like David Byrne, was on my list of legends that I hadn't seen yet, but I've always been a fan. Having seen Wilco three times last year, I figured that I would survive missing them at Bonnaroo to check out Elvis Costello. I knew that there was the possibility that Costello could drop an oddball setlist, but I also knew that the chances were good that he would play it safe for the Bonnaroo crowd. And really, he did a little bit of both, mixing newer tracks (including a brand new unreleased track) with favorites ("Watching The Detectives," "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," Radio, Radio") and after joining Lewis during her set for "Carpetbaggers," Lewis returned the favor joining Costello mid-set for a number of tracks. Joined by a band for the last few songs of the set, Costello, Lewis, and Toussaint wrapped up with an all-star run-through of "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding."
Costello's Bonnaroo set wasn't a complete replacement for the 90's Nautica Stage date in Cleveland that I still kick myself for missing, but it was a lot of fun.
With Costello's set wrapping up, we made our way over to the main stage for the headlining set from some guy named Bruce Springsteen that I think I might have mentioned once or twice here on the blog. He was playing with this young group of hipsters that call themselves The E. Street Band, and they actually could play their instruments pretty well.
Who am I kidding, you know how big of a Bruce fan I am. You know that of the very impressive Bonnaroo lineup, Bruce was definitely front and center on my dance card of stuff that I couldn't wait to check out. With the insanity of the current tour, sign requests, and general setlist tomfoolery, I was interested to see how Bruce would play at Bonnaroo. Would the crowd be a Bruce crowd? I very quickly got my answer, as I started to hear plenty of "Bruuuuuces" from the surrounding crowd, and the first crowd request/sign of the night was right behind me.
A group of 11 music fans had made their way from Boston, driving nearly 20 hours straight through to get to Bonnaroo. Armed with the sign above, they were ready and waiting for Springsteen's set, and I had to know - "did you guys come for Bruce?" "Nah, man - we came for EVERYTHING." With eyes that were definitely more than a bit "baked," I had to dig a little bit deeper with these guys, and came to find out that one guy had seen Springsteen one time, another in the bunch had seen Bruce five times, and I stopped the quizzing right there - Springsteen rookies, these guys were not. Another lesson to show that you can't judge a book by its stoned out cover. Good guys, fun to hang with during the show.
Here's another example of why you shouldn't judge: Two shirtless jock a-hole types come up beside me, of the type usually accompanied by mass amounts of sweat dripping on you as they go past, or rub against you in their travels. Thankfully, it's cooled off enough that the sweat was left behind several stages and bands ago. The one has clearly had a little bit more to drink than he should have, and is negotiating hard that they should move up even closer. The more level-headed of the two notes that really, "I think we've done about as well as we're going to do - we're pretty close."
"Dude, we can just push our way through to the front!"
"But dude, that would be a total dick move!"
I have to smile at the guy when he says that, and he gives me a smiling yet frustrated look. As a bonus, these guys haven't stepped in front of me to block my view for the entire show. These guys are alright with me.
As for me, I've managed to grab a pretty good spot in the center of the action, just slightly behind the pit area. I'm happy. I've achieved my goal of actually being able to "see" Bruce Springsteen at Bonnaroo.
We're about a half hour away from the scheduled show time, and as it happens, Bruce will take the stage at about 9:26pm tonight, nearly reaching his usual "stroll on stage a half hour late" start time at a normal show. It's The Boss, and we'll wait for the Boss.
photo courtesy of Metromix Louisville
"Badlands" is the opener - pretty standard stuff, but I like it....into "No Surrender" - YES! Is there anybody a-live at the Bonnaroo! Now THIS is why I came to Bonnaroo - Bruce never fails to nail me early with a certain song - "No Surrender" is tonight's track that is one for me personally that whenever I hear it, it always takes me back to 1984 where I am a kid discovering Springsteen's music for the first time.
"My Lucky Day" is up next, off of Working On A Dream, and actually has evolved positively in the live setting. Working On A Dream is my least favorite of the Springsteen catalog to date, and while there are moments on the album, "My Lucky Day" hasn't been one of them. I really enjoyed this one.
Now, comes the first ballsy move of the night from Springsteen: An audible for "Outlaw Pete," which I would see later on the printed setlist, but Springsteen must have been feeling confident, because he moved it up from its scheduled slot. I now know what I'll be doing for the next 8+ minutes, and it sounds fine. I'm seeing some interesting sign requests in the crowd - "Light of Day," "NYC Serenade," "Quarter to Three," but I am feeling bad for the person that made the sign for "Working On A Dream." Pretty sure you didn't need to make a sign for that one, but thanks for the support!
In fact, that "request" is fulfilled thanks to the setlist a couple of songs later, after an easy winner, "Out In The Street."
Finally got a chance to hear the emotional trio of "Seeds," "Johnny 99," and "Youngstown." All three are just as powerful as you've been hearing from reviews on the tour, particularly "Seeds," which knocked me on my ass. The only time I've heard this one prior to tonight is via many spins of my beloved Live 1975-1985 box set. Never live. It's pretty cool that all Springsteen fans are getting a chance to hear "Seeds" on this tour, I just wish that it was a random setlist pick, and not a necessary statement of these current hard economic conditions.
We've now reached the "sign request" portion of the show, and the band is running through an extended instrumental lead-in for "Raise Your Hand" as Springsteen collects signs from the audience - the most entertaining sign of the night that I see is "It's Hard To Be A Saint at The Bonnaroo!"
A lifesize "Santa Claus" sign prompts a bit of mock protest from Springsteen, "It is two hundred and fif-ty-nine days until Christmas....is everybody being good out there? You're not takin' the brown acid!" I thought that this was my first "Santa," but my friend Tony very quickly reminded me that we got "Santa" at the December 2002 date in Columbus. Oh yeah. I must have been taking the brown acid that night.
Two more sign requests come one after another in the form of "Growin Up," "I saw it in there somewhere," Springsteen quips, and "Thunder Road."
A few songs later, I was surprised to see Jay Weinberg behind the kit - because I thought that he was on tour with his band for the next two weeks. While I thought that he was in Cleveland on Saturday night playing a show at a venue that is a short distance from my house, he's actually there on Sunday night, which leaves him free to rock it up with Bruce and the boys on a Saturday night at Bonnaroo in front of 80 thousand people.
And he makes it look so damn easy.
I was glad to get a chance to see him play, and I wasn't disappointed by what I saw. The kid is a monster behind the kit, and brings an audible difference to the band's sound with his playing. I feel like it took him a couple of songs to settle in with "Radio Nowhere" and "Lonesome Day," but from that point, he was on the money. As it was, Weinberg was driving the bus for the most intensely rockin' version of "Lonesome Day" I've ever heard. It's very inspiring to watch how much the band visually seems to enjoy playing with Jay, and he looks like he is on top of the world.
Overall, this wasn't the best Springsteen show I've ever seen - "Santa" was a definite nugget, and there were a lot of the "Springsteen fan favorites" that I enjoy hearing - "Thunder Road," "Growin' Up," etc; all in one show, but there weren't really a lot of jawdropping moments like "Kitty's Back," "Incident," "Lost In The Flood," etc. And maybe I'm a bit greedy, having seen two out of those three during what was allegedly a disappointing show in Cincinnati last year.
It was a smart show, and probably the kind that Springsteen needed to play at Bonnaroo, but it left me wanting/needing to catch another show on this tour. Which probably would have been on my agenda anyway. It was a fun show - I heard a lot of my Springsteen favorites, and also got the longest show I've seen personally, clocking in at nearly three hours. YES!
I was surprised by the lack of special guests - I felt sure that Alejandro Escovedo (who played earlier that day) would be an automatic, or perhaps Elvis Costello, but we did get one special guest - Robert Smigel and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog who made a couple of brief vocal appearances during Springsteen's set, adding "vocals" to "Waitin' On A Sunny Day," and "American Land."
Nice to see Nils Lofgren moving around just like the old Nils did after a double hip replacement - he was all smiles, all night long. And Clarence Clemons looked and sounded better than I've seen him in a long time.
And there it was, Springsteen had played his first performance at Bonnaroo, and I began to make my way back through the sea of people to meet up with Brian and Adam for Nine Inch Nails to close out the night - a task that took me nearly 30 minutes to accomplish, working my way from the main stage back to the Which Stage where NIN would be performing.
I'm completely cashed out at this point, and grabbed my chair back from Adam and Brian who had it for safe keeping, and watched the NIN set from a distance. We caught NIN at a good point, just having wrapped up the NIN/JA tour a few days earlier, fully primed and ready to show the Bonnaroo crowd how it was done.
There's no question that they should have been on the main stage, instead of the Which Stage, which was considerably smaller, but they made good use of their allotted time with a mega-crowd pleaser of a setlist featuring stuff like rarities "I'm Afraid of Americans," (recorded by David Bowie originally,) and "Burn" back to back, and also Broken album track "Gave Up," just to name a few. And late in the set, a special guest appearance by the members of Dillinger Escape Plan for "Wish." The two bands performed the track together previously earlier this year in Perth:
Cashed out, three weary music lovers left Bonnaroo and headed back to the hotel to rest up for one more day on the farm....
I can't imagine that there are any Wilco fans that haven't nabbed the new concert film Ashes of American Flags that is out on DVD right now as part of an exclusive one week release at indie retailers to celebrate Record Store Day, prior to a regular scheduled release on April 28th at all major retailers.
But if you haven't gotten it, you'll really want to grab it this week. Anyone that purchases the DVD will receive access to downloads of all 20 live tracks contained on Ashes of American Flags. There is no time limit on this special bonus.
Here's the exclusive kicker: This week only (until 4/27) your DVD purchase will also grant you access to downloads of the full show from 2/27/08 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. That's 48 total live tracks PLUS an amazing documentary/concert film, which was well worth the $16.99 that I paid for my copy of Ashes of American Flags.
For me personally, the D.C. show has personal favorites "Handshake Drugs," "California Stars," AND "Via Chicago." Score!
Accessing the Washington D.C. download can be a little bit tricky to figure out - I would suggest that you should check out the how-to rundown thanks to the fine folks over at Via Chicago.
Ashes of American Flags was directed by Brendan Canty and Christoph Green. The pair are the brains behind the Burn To Shine performance series (which captured Wilco performing "Muzzle of Bees") and have one previous Wilco-related project under their belt with the Jeff Tweedy Sunken Treasure DVD release.
The footage is really stunning - Ashes is the kind of project that should put Canty and Green in the same sentence with Jonathan Demme and others that have captured and created similar concert documentaries. Shot at five different venues, Tweedy and Wilco are captured onstage in a variety of settings, both in front of audiences, and also a couple of soundcheck performances, all blended together with vividly picturesque scenery of life on the road, and lots of interview footage with the band. It was a thrill to see Wilco crammed on the stage at the legendary Tipitina's in New Orleans, with the Total Pros horn section stuffed in the balcony above the stage, inches away from the fans sitting nearby.
Any chance that one has to see Nels Cline play guitar is a chance that should be pounced on. During my time trading DAT tapes in the early 90s, I got my first exposure to Nels via a fellow named Gary on the DAT-heads mailing list. When Gary wasn't pushing stereo equipment on the masses, he was offering up Nels shows to anyone and everyone that would listen. There certainly wasn't a mad clamor for Nels material on this particular list, but he kept offering every Nels show that he could get his hands on.
It looks like Gary got the last laugh - it turns out that that Nels fellow really did have something special going on, and Wilco recognized that and nabbed him to play lead guitar, a position that he has been in since early 2004. Cline has plenty of accolades that have been heaped in his direction, including being named one of Rolling Stone's Top 20 New Guitar Gods...an honor that is better late than never!
Ashes of American Flags offers you the chance to experience for yourself, what I feel to be the definitive lineup of Wilco - Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Pat Sansone, Nels Cline, Glenn Kotche, and Mikael Jorgenson. In a short time period, Wilco have risen to the number three slot on artists/bands that I've seen the most, right behind Bruce Springsteen and Blue Rodeo. Unquestionably, they are one of my favorite bands touring right now. Having seen Wilco three times last year during the Sky Blue Sky touring cycle, I can tell you that Ashes is definitely very representative of the tour. The film clocks in at a tad past 80 minutes, and all song performances are complete and uncut. Even better, the cuts/transitions from one camera angle to another are extremely well-crafted and won't give you a seizure while you're watching it.
Wilco, Canty, and Green have certainly captured a concert, but have also delivered something that is a "film" in the fine tradition of some of my favorite great rock films like Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads, Heart of Gold by Neil Young, the newly added The Last Waltz by The Band, and U2's Rattle and Hum.
Ashes feels like a classic that I'll be watching for years to come, and is a great gift to Wilco fans, and an even better intro flick for anyone that might be Wilco-curious.
Wilco - Wishful Thinking (live performance from the Ashes DVD)
Here's a great interview with Ashes director Brendan Canty about the film.