Friday, August 27, 2010

The Nine Pound Hammer

Some talented young players tackling a difficult, and old, tune. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review: Arcade Fire @ MSG | Aug. 4/5

By Shanna Farrell
cas:ev contributor

The Talking Heads. Modest Mouse. Arcade Fire. These are three of my favorite bands. These are the only three bands I would not mind watching play a practically identical show two nights in a row. Last week, at Madison Square Garden, I got to experience this with Arcade Fire.

Did I start off on the wrong foot? Let me back up. I caught the Arcade Fire train after it had pulled out of the station. I only really got into them about two years ago (I went on a little musical hiatus awhile back and refused to listen to anything new). Many of my friends have seen them live before this current tour, but I hadn’t. When I found out they were touring in support of The Suburbs, I was ecstatic. Though I am not a huge fan of stadium shows, I bought my ticket for their first night at MSG during a pre-sale. Those tickets sold out quickly, and the band decided to add a second date that would be broadcast live. As I mentioned, I ended up in attendance for both of these shows.

Both nights began with Owen Pallet, formerly of Arcade Fire, playing a captivating set on his violin. I grew up playing the violin and worked at a high-end fine instrument auction house (price some good violins on eBay to get an idea), but I hadn't heard anything like this, especially live. He was humble, humorous and engaging. After Pallet, Spoon took the stage. This was my first time seeing Spoon live, and they put on a solid show both nights. I don’t have much more to say about Spoon …

After Spoon’s set was over, crew members crawled all over the stage preparing for Arcade Fire’s production. A floor-to-ceiling screen was revealed directly behind the stage. In front of this screen, another projection screen was in place, resembling the size and shape that of a football scoreboard. A double riser was erected as an elevated platform for two drum kits, a drum machine, a piano, and a keyboard. This was one of the most elaborate scenes I have witnessed.

As the lights lowered, a low rumble began and the crowd exploded in cheers and applause. Led by Regine Chassagne, the members of Arcade Fire took the stage. The nine performers opened their set with “Ready to Start”, appropriately. The room was on fire and the band was on. Chassagne won my “Rock Star of the Night” award for her energy and her musical chops. She bounced around the stage from instrument to instrument, never missing a beat. Much to the rest of the band’s credit, most of them also switched instruments throughtout the show. The two drum kits were used frequently and were electrifying. During “Rebellion”, the keyboardist grabbed a snare drum, took to the front of the stage, and started beating in time. He broke his stick but kept thumping the snare with the flat of his palm. Also during “Rebellion”, I knew that I had to be at their second show.

The first night, Win Butler stayed put on the stage. He spoke little, but when he did, he was met with full support. He mentioned Partners in Health, a medical organization founded by Paul Farmer who has clinic in real Haiti. (Sidenote: This organization really is incredible. I read one of Paul Farmer’s books a year ago and it was fantastic.) He also managed to make the entire crowd “boo," and me laugh. He pointed out his favorite place in the general admission pit, citing that this was the spot were Kareem Abdul Jabar blocked a shot that caused the Houston Rockets to win the playoffs against The Knicks. Needless to say, New Yorkers were none too pleased to hear this shoutout, but I thought it was funny. I was also impressed by the “boos” he received. They played for three hours and ended with a three song encore, “Tunnels”, “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, and “Wake Up”. It was one of the best shows I have been privy to.

I managed to “wrangle” a ticket and had high hopes for the second night. I wanted them to play “Neon Bible” and “Lenin”, but was in for a surprise- they played the very same songs as the night before save one. And in the same order. The camera was on them and they were working hard. It became clear that the first night was practice and the show didn’t have the same ease and effortlessness the previous show had. There was a camera rig floating over the general admission pit and technical difficulties, resulting in “Mountains Beyond Mountains” to be cut off and then played from the top. At one point, Butler jumped to the seated side of the stage and precariously walked on a handrail. He also walked through the crowd once and fell into the pit while playing his guitar several times. At the very end, confetti rained down on the crowd. While there were hundreds of people packed into MSG, it was not sold out, as the night before had been. Though it was a great show, I left feeling slightly disappointed. I wanted something that they did not give me. Just because the production value was higher during round two, it was not necessarily better.

All that said, those two nights provided some of the best music I have heard in a really long time. Arcade Fire is a band for the ages folks, and if you get a chance to see them live, take it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Courtesy of Phosphorescent's MySpace page

"Can I Sleep In Your Arms" by PHOSPHORESCENT

I discovered the Brooklyn-based band Phosphorescent recently and have since been returning to their MySpace page whenever I get the chance. Largely influenced by country singer songwriters like Willie Nelson (their second album is a collection of Willie Nelson covers named To Willie), lead singer Matthew Houck sings in highs and lows that cull up old Blue Eyes himself, and will carry you right away like a pedal-steel breeze.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Eddie Vedder track, "Better Days" on Eat Pray Love Soundtrack

New Eddie Vedder track, "Better Days" to be on Eat Pray Love Soundtrack

I saw "Eat, Pray, Love" in theaters last night. It was entirely too long but provided some savory views of exotic foods and locales. Perhaps the best part of the movie was the soundtrack, featuring some really chill Brazilian music, Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" and "Harvest Moon," as well as a new Eddie Vedder cut that he purportedly wrote for the film.

It's a great tune with some nice Indian flavor too it, enjoy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: My Morning Jacket @ Essex Junction, Friday, Aug. 20

"From the depths of Lake Champlain, to the shores of fair Vermont, we sang ye these songs." Courtesy of

In the words of Jim James, a.k.a. Yim Yames, (queue spooky Twilight Zone voice): "All signs point to Essex Junction."
It was an epic late-summer affair at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, Vt. last night.
For all intents and purposes, your standard county fairgrounds, the stage was set behind the large dirt track, grandstands and expo barns on the Midway Lawn, where the magic went down.
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals were a late add as opener. However, despite feeling good about getting an early start to our trip, we got stuck in a major traffic jam just short of the Vermont border for more than two hours and missed it completely. It was a one-car crash that resulted in only injuries, but backed up the busy thoroughfare into Vermont for more than three histeria-inducing hours! We turned around an hour into the gridlock, found an alternate route and, by the grace of God, made it to the fairgrounds just in time to have a beer before MMJ came on.
After driving 2 plus hours through rolling farmland and the scents it provided, we came over the crest of a hill and saw the lights of Essex Junction. It was a welcome site.
We arrived to find a crowd of about 1,500 friendly, flannel-clad 20-somethings moseying about the beer tent and lawn. Puffs of sweet smoke rose into the cool, crisp night, illuminated by a bright, three-quarters moon.
And did they ever come on.
My recollection of the set list is spotty. In my haste to make sure I heard the opener, I left my camera and note pad in the car. Thanks to a "Strict No Re-Entry Policy," I was left to my memory, which was of little use when I was so at the mercy of what I was seeing in front of me.
The space-cadet glow of the stage with the moon over head, mountains all around and Jim James advising the light guy to "Dim the lights, Marcus. ... Make it dark in here."
When they weren't crafting a spacey ambiance jam, they played their echo-induced rock with thunderous pulse, all exclaimed by Jim James' exalting howl.
Thankfully, I have some help with the set list thanks to a photo the band released on their site that shows the set list pinned on the wall near a ferris wheel (haha). But, I'm quite sure they strayed from the list. Unless I was on another planet (possible), they skipped over "Honest Man" "Easy Morning Rebel" and "Highly Suspicious." In their place were some extended jams, great segues, and amicable banter from James.
"It could be the 1950's, it could be the 1960's, it could be the year 3000 -- but it's right now."
Those words, the sights, the sounds, the smells ... This experience will stick with me for a very long time. Nothing short of magical.

Set list (prelim.)

Rollin Back>
Way He Sings
It Beats 4 U
Honest Man
I'm Amazed
Carried Away
Smokin' From Shootin>
Run Thru
If You Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 2
End of Lay Low

Wordless Chorus (Jim James wearing cape)
Off The Record
I'm Amazed
Steam Engine
One Big Holiday

I'm hoping a recording and more photos surface from this magical show. If they do, I will post them here.

- Cheers

From Luke's phone. Without it, I would still be driving in circles. Thanks Luke!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review: Gov't Mule Honor Garcia, Lennon at Electric Central Park Gig --

Review: Gov't Mule Honor Garcia, Lennon at Electric Central Park Gig --

When it comes to rock acts today, Gov't Mule is no doubt one of the best.

Rising (harmoniously) out of the shadow of the Allman Brothers as a side project, the original Mule trio of Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and Matt Abts laid the groundwork for a blues rock sound that influenced many of today's best rock acts.

Love him or hate him, Warren Haynes is one of most respected musicians of our time. He tours relentlessly with Mule and the Allman Brothers, spent time on the road with The Dead, and fills his calendar with charity gigs and collaborations with other musicians.

Warren and company constantly pay respect to the legendary bands that influenced them and it is hard to find a show where they aren't covering Zeppelin, Floyd, Grateful Dead or The Beatles. Better yet, they revisit their songs with a passion that summons these great spirits (in the words of David Fricke).

Enjoy Fricke's review, it gave me goosebumps.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New My Morning Jacket: "Circuital" LIVE

This video of MMJ performing their new tune "Circuital" has surfaced on the wicky wide web via You Ain't No Picasso site, which is always scooping MMJ news.

I will be heading out to Essex Junction Friday to see My Morning Jacket at the Midway Lawn at Champlain Valley Expo. According to their site, it is a fundraising event for the Combat Paper Project.

Will definitely produce something for my blog so stay posted.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Allman Bros. return this fall!

With a lot of help from road warrior Warren Haynes and young gun Derek Trucks, The Allman Brothers Band have done a great job of keeping their sound fresh for a new generation of fans. However, for the past decade, Gregg Allman's health has dictated the Allman Brothers' touring schedule. Updates on the band's site keep fans like me informed on his stints in and out of the hospital.
I knew the recent hiatus was due to his health, but I've learned that he had a liver transplant, pulled through it well, and the band will be returning to the road in November with a three-night stint at the Orpheum Theater in Boston.

I've had the priveledge of seeing the Allmans more than any other band -- even way back when the Ramblin' Man himself, Dickey Betts, was still in the band -- and I look forward to the opportunity to see them again soon. Stay well Gregg.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monarch chair

I bought this new backpacking chair the other day and thought I would post a little review in case anyone out there was thinking about buying it.

It's called the Monarch chair, made by ALITE. It's pros: super lightweight, packs down to "burrito" size, it's cool looking, and balancing on the two legs can be fun. The cons: It's smaller than it looks in photos, it's not cheap (mine had a $59 price tag on it), and, balancing on two legs can suck (especially after a few drinks).

I bought it as an alternative to the mountain chair that Cane Creek popularized years ago and is now duplicated by EMS and Thermarest. They are both very low-profile, but the Monarch chair gets you off the ground, which can be handy if it's wet.

After getting a chance to use it at a concert last night, John Mayer at SPAC (masterful playing and good backing band almost made up for the awkward banter), I can say I am happy but not totally satisfied with the chair. I would still recommend the Thermarest chair as an alternative in its class. I figure for the avid camper, the Thermarest is more versatile. It can be used as added support along with a sleeping pad or can be used as a pillow, and can also be a back saver when spending long periods of time in a canoe. I don't think the Monarch chair would do well in a canoe.

So there you have it. Hope that helps make your decision easier.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Avalanche Pass

Some pics from a recent hike into Avalanche Pass from the famed Adirondack Loj in Keene Valley.
I haven't been to many national parks, but the one in my corner of the world ain't bad.
I would say I am an outdoors-ey person. I don't have to hike every high peak in a 100-mile radius to feel content being outside. It's just about getting away from the hustle and bustle and heading into the mountains to wet a line or go for a day hike.
It really is a different world out there; beyond the bright lights and off the grid. Rules and laws that we abide by every day don't apply. Spend any length of time outdoors and you learn that it has its own, primitive constitution and survival depends on a lot more than iPhones and mocha lattes.
There is a delicate balance in the wilderness that is far more advanced than the latest smart phone. In fact, it's perfect - and it doesn't need batteries to function!
This delicate balance is easily disturbed, as we have learned, by oil spills and other manmade disasters (not getting into global warming and CFCs here). This is the reality that we, the human race, has to live with and often ignore.
Now, I'm not a conservationist or an ambassador of the wild. I don't always walk the walk, but I do respect the outdoors and would like to see it preserved. What does this mean? I would say less development, more reclamation of old properties, an end to processed foods and mono-crop planting, and a return to slow food and neighborhood markets that sell local goods and services.
All this being said, you might notice more outdoor-related posts on cas:ev relating to conservation, notable environmental issues in the Adirondacks and beyond, and some links to outdoor gear (who doesn't love outdoor gear?).
I'll start by directing you to an outdoor company out of Steamboat Springs I learned of recently. Big Agnes makes handmade equipment that I've heard great things about. Check out the site here.


Friday, August 6, 2010

My Morning Jacket in the studio/Newport Folk

Rolling Stone reports that My Morning Jacket is back in Nashville recording their follow-up to 2008's Evil Urges!
They have performed some of their new material live the past year, including "Friends Again."
I have been living on the John Prine tribute album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows that MMJ contributed to. John Prine welcomed James as well as other contributors to that album on stage with him for his set at the Newport Folk Festival last week. Listen to it here (Thanks to!)
Yim Yames also performed an intimate solo set (with some help from Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore) Listen to that set, in full, here.

The Yim Yames Newport Folk Fest set list:

His Masters
Look At You
Tonight I Want To Celebrate With You
Bermuda Highway
Summer Never Ends (John Callahan, to whom James dedicated the show to)
It Beats 4 U
Wonderful Man
Bring Me Li'l Water Sylvie (Leadbelly)
Morning Of My Life (Bee Gees)
Where To Begin
Smokin’ From Shootin' (with Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Now I'm Ready To Start

Tonight's Arcade Fire show at Madison Square Garden will be webcast on YouTube at 10 p.m. HERE.

The show is the second in a two-night stand. Last night, the band touched heavily on their brand new release Suburbs and also played songs from their first two records, Neon Bible (2007) and Funeral (2004).

Last night's set list (courtesy of

1. Ready to Start
2. Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)
3. No Cars Go
4. Haïti
5. Half Light II (No Celebration)
6. Rococo
7. The Suburbs
8. The Suburbs (Continued)
9. Crown of Love
10. Intervention
11. We Used to Wait
12. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
13. Rebellion (Lies)
14. Month of May
15. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
16. Keep the Car Running
17. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
18. Wake Up


My friend and regular cas:ev contributer Shanna Farrell was at the show. She is trying to 'wrangle up' a ticket for tonight as well. Please join me in wishing her luck.

She is working on an account of her experience and will be posted here as soon as I recieve it. From the sounds of it, it was the show of the century.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Jameson & The Sordid Seeds

Jameson & The Sordid Seeds, led by frontman Brent Jameson.

Normally, I'm the one reaching out to bands. But recently, a publicist from the Whitefish, Montana-based band, Jameson & the Sordid Seeds, reached out to me and turned me on to J&SS's brand of reggae/blues.

He mentioned their song "Brotherman" was featured on a recent Relix Magazine compilation CD packaged with the magazine. Years ago, a Relix compilation introduced me to some bands that would come to be favorites of mine. So I thought I would spread the love by introducing you to J&SS.

Now, there are a lot of bands who find their niche 'Americanizing' Bob Marley's Kingston vibes. Some achieve this sound better than others. From Sublime to Disptatch to OAR, to some newcomers like John Brown's Body and Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad and many others.

When I heard J&SS, those bands came to mind, but tried to pick up the subtle ways J&SS stood apart. I found a definite strength in front man Brent Jameson's vocals. According to J&SS's MySpace page, Jameson "put his struggles with addiction behind him several years ago and began pursuing music with a newfound vigor." You can definately hear the truth and passion in songs like "For Your Love." In others, his voice blends in with the steel drum, horns and keys to form a soothing mix that I could only compare to singer Mike Mattison of the Derek Trucks Band.

Don't want the summer to fade away? Check out Jameson & The Sordid Seeds. They will put you right where you want to be.