It’s that magical time of year when you may show up at one of any of your (or our) must-see shows and find a bass player wearing a Santa costume or hear the band play their best bluegrass rendition of Let It Snow or spy many-a-drummer with sleighbells in lieu of tambo. None of these have happened to us yet, btw, but there’s still time for hoping. And hoping is exactly what we’ll be doing ahead of this week’s shows.
We’re never not excited (double-negative alert) to see Darlingside when they stop through the city, and apparently the city agrees. Their Friday show is sold out, so if you happen to be in the ‘hood and want to take a shot at shimmying in, stop by and try your luck.
And if you want to do more than just hope for some happenstance holiday tunes this week, they’re actually guaranteed at The Gregory Brothers’ annual Christmas show, which happens Monday at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2.
Check out more below:
Thursday, December 12
8:00 p.m. — Cass McCombs at Bowery Ballroom
Sunday, December 15
10:00 p.m. — Annie Bethancourt at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1
Monday, December 16
8:30 p.m. — The Gregory Brothers’ Christmas Show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2
A few months back, our friend Jonah Tolchin gave us a heads up on Poor Old Shine, a young roots band from Mansfield, CT that formed at UConn a few years back and has since gained steam through lively performances around the Northeast. Last month, the band released its self-titled debut (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) featuring a mix of soulful poppy-roots songs that fall somewhere near The Avett Bros. While I haven’t been too hot on the Avetts as of late, this is good pop and I like these guys a lot.
While the album’s opener, “Weeds or Wildflowers,” has received the most attention to date, I’m a fan of the band’s quieter numbers like “Ghosts Next Door” and “The Hurry All Around.”
Brooklyn-based gentle folker Land of Leland (a.k.a. Justin Keller) has been building a Christmas EP for the last few years, releasing one fine new track each year. Tonight he releases his rendition of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” – the 16th century German carol (originally “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen”) converted to English in the late 1800s.
The collection, Christmas Time (Bandcamp), now consists of five songs including my favorite: “The Friendly Beasts.” Most of the songs feature Keller on banjo and all of them carry the same signature LoL (no pun) gentle Bon Iver-esque vocal style.
Stream it here.
Bright Eyes released A Christmas Album (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) over a decade ago to raise money for a Nebraska AIDS charity. Last month the band the band reissued the album (including on vinyl), which consists of eleven traditional Christmas songs – nearly all of which are pretty quiet and mellow. Major props on the song selection for this gem that has stood the test of time.
And new this year, Nick Lowe (a.k.a. the headmaster of British rock) recently released Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family (Amazon MP3 & Spotify). The album mostly consists of originals, but (as I’ve stated before, I’m pretty classic on Christmas songs) also includes some ROCKIN spins on “Children Go Where I Send Thee” and “Silent Night.” Lowe performs with Iron & Wine and Calexico at The Beacon Theater Tuesday night.
Check out the full playlist here! NOTE: Playing it on shuffle is recommended.
SPOTIFY PLAYLIST: a very grassy Christmas (2013)
Greg Liszt, banjoist for the Boston-based bluegrass band The Deadly Gentlemen, also happens to be the man who filmed a video of Brooklyn’s Lake Street Dive covering The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” That video, which was recorded on the sidewalk outside of Liszt’s house in the Boston neighborhood of Brighton, hit YouTube in May of last year, was tweeted by a few celebrities and went viral.
On Tuesday, Liszt posted a damn fine little ditty he wrote that was inspired by Lake Street Dive. The song, “All My Friends Blew Up On the Internet,” features his bandmate Stash Wyslouch on guitar and Joy Kills Sorrow‘s Jacob Jolliff on mandolin and vocals. The three live together with a slew of other musicians in that same house where Liszt shot the Lake Street Dive video. While Jolliff has his fair share of creds – Berklee’s first full-scholarship mandolin student and the 2012 National Mandolin Champion – he had not sung in years and even then he sang bluegrass, not poppy songs like this one. But Liszt told him that the song was perfect for his voice and got him excited about it. Recorded in just a few takes after a ton of drinks with heaps of the bands’ friends at an Irish pub down the street from the house, it’s golden and pretty hilarious.
Check out the video below (along with Lake Street Dive’s rendition of “I Want You Back”) or catch the song live at the 1st Annual Deadly Gentlemen’s Ball on January 25, 2014 at the Sinclair in Harvard Square. The Ball features performances by The Deadly Gentlemen, Joy Kills Sorrow, Della Mae, and Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge (of Punch Brothers) and should be a pretty incredible evening. You can also catch Jolliff on another side project in a Pacific Northwest tour with Darol Anger and others over the next couple weeks.
Last night The Recording Academy announced nominations for the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards and Sarah Jarosz made the list…twice. While she trails Jay Z with nine nominations and Justin Timberlake with seven, Jarosz’s album Build Me Up From Bones is up for Best Folk Album and the album’s title track is up for Best American Roots Song.
Jarosz is up against strong old-timers like Steve Earle, Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott, Edie Brickell & Steve Martin and Allen Toussaint for Best Song. For best album, she will battle Guy Clarke, Milk Carton Kids and The Greencards.
Other gcb favorites on the list include Della Mae and Del McCoury Band for Best Bluegrass Album. Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale, Mavis Staples and Allen Toussaint are up for Best Americana Album.
The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards will be held on “GRAMMY Sunday,” Jan. 26, 2014, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and once again will be broadcast live on CBS from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
We’re getting to that time of year when the album release train slows down, so it’s a good time to look back at some of the stuff that we were too busy with our day jobs to cover earlier this year. Two bands from the Southeast are on that list.
Mount Moriah, a band that we first saw on tour with Horse Feathers last year, released Miracle Temple (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) in February just as I was shipping off to Australia. The album is definitely a shift to a less grassy side of the spectrum, but “Connecticut to Carolina” – one of the quieter songs on the album – is one that I’ve been digging lately.
Knoxville’s indie mountain band, The Black Lillies, won the attention of critics all around with its 2009 debut, Whiskey Angel. In March, the band released its fourth record Runway Freeway Blues (Amazon MP3 & Spotify) and released a phenomenal single called “The Fall.” While I love that one, I caught this live recording of “All This Living” from a session at CD Baby and think it might take the taco.