Friday Desk Clearing: New R.E.M. DVD Set & Bloodshot Anniversary Collection

Just wanted to get the word out on some really cool new collections coming up later this year.

R.E.M. and MTV have a long history together. Enough to fill 6 DVDs, as the upcoming REMTV box set proves. Besides the obvious inclusion of the band’s 2 Unplugged sessions, VH1 Storytellers shows and various appearances (going back to 1983), the set also has live concerts of the group performing in Dallas, Cologne, Athens (Greece) and other locations. Plus there is an all-new documentary and plenty of outtakes. Look for it in store on Nov. 24 (okay, it does have a hefty suggested price of $99.98).


In November, the iconoclastic indie label Bloodshot Records celebrates its 20th anniversary in a suitably unique way – they have gotten 38 acts to cover songs originally released by the label over the years. Among the tracks on the awesome-looking While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records are Blitzen Trapper doing Ryan Adams‘ “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High),” Carolyn Mark covering Alejandro Escovedo‘s “Last To Know,” Andrew Bird & Nora O’Connor performing Robbie Fulks‘ “I’ll Trade You Money For Wine,” The Handsome Family‘s version of the Bottle Rockets‘ “1000 Dollar Car” and William Elliott Whitmore‘s take on “I Wish I Was The Moon” by Neko Case.


Also this fall, look for a couple of Kinks “kollections” in honor of the band’s 50th anniversary. BMG/InGrooves will release the Anthology 1964-1971 anthology, which will contain over 100 songs (including rarities and 25 never before released tracks), and Legacy Recordings has an Oct. 14th release date for a 2-disc Essential Kinks “kompilation.”

R.E.M.’s Georgia brethren Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ will be the subject of their own documentary Scarred But Smarter (life n times of drivin n cryin). that will be released on Nov. 4. It’s nice that this long-running cult band will be some deserved attention. Maybe the film will give a good explanation on all of the various spellings the band name has had over the years.

Another documentary A Place We Have Been To spotlights another batch of Georgia bands, those part of the Elephant 6 Recording Company (Neutral Milk Hotel, Apples in Stereo, Olivia Tremor Control and Of Montreal). This film project is still a work-in-project and fundraising is being done at Pledge Music.

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Go See Hear In L.A. Sept. 23-28 (The Big Star/Dark Star Orchestra edition)

It’s one of those weeks that is filled with conflicts. Want to start your weekend with some rockin’ jams? The Dark Star Orchestra channels the Grateful Dead at the Fonda Theare, while Phish’s Trey Anastasio performs with the L.A Phil at the Bowl and Gov’t Mule headlines the Orpheum. Interested in going to a folk festival on Saturday. While the Santa Monica Pier will host Way Over Yonder (which starts on Friday afternoon) while Long Beach’s Rainbow Lagoon welcomes the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival. While you ponder those choices, let me run down the full week, just to make things more complicated.

Tues. Sept. 23

Lykke Li and Mapei will make music for the mind and the body at the Palladium. Tall Tales and the Silver Lining plays “California gospel pop” at Harvard and Stone with Little Wings also on the bill.

Lera Lynn (Photographed by Ella Rue Photography)

Lera Lynn (Photographed by Ella Rue Photography)

Wed. Sept. 24

Top Show(s): Lera Lynn is a beguiling Americana chanteuse. She just released her new album, The Avenues, and has a show at the Mint. Witty art-punks The Prettiots have a sold out show at the Troubadour tonight and can be found at the Satellite on 9/25.

The Kooks will showcase their new CD Listen at Santa Ana’s Observatory tonight and the Wiltern on the 25th and Scandinavian rockers the Raveonettes land at the El Rey.

Thurs. Sept. 25

Top Show: Ronnie Fauss won me over with his rugged troubadour tunes on his forthcoming CD Built To Break. It should stick in my top ten for 2014. You can check him out at the Hotel Café.

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club pulls into the Echo to play some old school rock ‘n’ roll. Psych-tinged rockers Temples celebrates Rosh Hashanah at the Fonda, while the Mayan hosts the soulful sounds of Allen Stone, with Bad Rabbit opening.

Ronnie Fauss (photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)

Ronnie Fauss (photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)

Fri. Sept. 26

Top Show: Way Over Yonder kicks off its 2-day festival at the Santa Monica Pier. Among the 20+ acts are Jackson Browne, Lucinda Williams, Heartless Bastards, Local Native, Chris Robinson and Wild Reeds.

As I mentioned earlier, Trey Anastasio is at the Bowl with the LA Phil, Dark Star Orchestra lights up the Fonda and Gov’t Mule kicks up a ruckus at the Orpheum. Raucous rockers JEFF The Brotherhood spends the night at the Echo.

Sat. Sept. 27

Top Show(s): Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Aaron Embry, Frank Fairfield, The Americans and Tom Brosseau are all on the Long Beach Folk Revival Festival. Folk legend Gordon Lightfoot plays tonight at the Saban Theatre and the City National Grove of Anaheim on the 28th. Bob Mould has a 2-night stand at the Roxy. An all-star lineup, including members of Big Star, R.E.M., The Bangles, Semisonic, The dB’s, Let’s Active, Galaxie 500 and Yo La Tengo, will perform Big Star’s’ Third and #1 Record at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre to benefit the Autism Think Tank.

Rose’s Pawn Shop comes to the Satellite. George Thorogood & The Destroyers celebrate 40 years together at the Anaheim House of Blues.

Sun. Sept. 28

Top Show(s): Brian Wilson, Norah Jones, Heart’s Ann Wilson and Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips are among those scheduled to salute the music of George Harrison at George Fest. Taking place at the Fonda Theatre, this benefit concert will raise funds for The Jameson Neighborhood Fund. If nothing else, the Pixies, Cat Power and Gogol Bordello will make for an interesting evening at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Grand Ole Echo’s bill features Dan Janisch, Brian Whelan and Phoebe Bridgers.

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Friday Deskclearing: Spain, Afghan Whigs and Hard Working Americans

I wanted to gather up some interesting items that have been gathering in my inbox.

First, let’s dig into the archives. Rhino has assembled a 4-disc boxset that focuses on Captain Beefheart’s work in the early ‘70s. Sun Zoom Spark includes the 3 albums he made between 1970-72 – Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot – as well as 14 previously unreleased tracks from that time period. Due Nov. 11, this collection looks like a great way to explore the avant genius of Don Van Vliet.


Rhino also is celebrating the 21st birthday of the Afghan Whigs breakout album, Gentlemen with Gentlemen at 21. This 2-disc set, due Oct. 28, comes packed with bonus material, including b-sides, a radio session and demos.

Third Man Records and Revenant Records have re-teamed to put out a second boxset celebrating Paramount Records. Scheduled for a Nov. 18 release, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records Volume 2 (1928-1932) is said to focus on the label’s Mississippi blues recordings. The boxset, which comes in an aluminum case inspired by a jet engine, holds 800 tracks and art books and is said to cost $400.

Blues Hall of Famer Billy Boy Arnold has a new CD due on Stony Plain Oct. 21. The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold, produced by Duke Robillard, showcases the harmonica wizard on a set of originals and vintage covers.

Sid Griffin ranks among the pioneers of the current alt. country scene from his work with the Long Ryders. More recently he has led the Coal Porters as well as being a music writer. His just released solo album The Trick Is To Breathe reveals the music historian in him as song titles reference Bobbie Gentry, Elvis Presley and Jimmie Rodgers.

Among my favorite cult acts of the early ‘90s were Rich Hopkins’ bands, The Sidewinders, Sand Rubies and Luminarios, which had a great mix of crunchy rock hooks and twangy desert spacey-ness. I has been off my radar for a while but he is back with a new Luminarios that displays all of Hopkins’ strengths still in full force. The CD, Tombstone is coming out Sept. 30.

Another ‘90s band, Spain, has a new offering, their first U.S. studio release in over a decade. The Josh Haden-led band will put out Sargent Place on Nov. 4; the disc features the last recording by Haden’s dad, the jazz master Charlie Haden.

Jim Ed Brown is a familiar name to country music fans from his days leading the popular band, The Browns. He will release his first solo album in 30 years in January. In Style Again features contributions Vince Gill and Brown’s musical family.

A couple film projects are worth noting. Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me chronicles the music icon’s farewell tour as he battles Alzheimer’s. The film is due this fall and Big Machine is releasing a companion EP that includes what is called Campbell’s final recording, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which was done for the documentary.


Omnivore Recordings has put together another Big Star nugget. Big Star Live In Memphis is a concert film of the band’s Oct. 29, 1994 performance in the group’s hometown of Memphis. This Big Star lineup featured original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens performing with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow of the Posies. It is billed as the only known professionally filmed full concert of the band. Due Nov. 4 (just past its 20th anniversary), it will come out on DVD, CD, LP and digital formats.

The Hard Working Americans (Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Duane Trucks, Chad Staehly and Jesse Aycock) live up to their name by releasing a new live album and live concert documentary, both entitled The First Waltz (a play off of the Band’s classic rock doc The Last Waltz).

The temperature might suggest it’s still summer in L.A., but the folks at New West are thinking about Christmas. They announced their upcoming Americana Christmas CD will be coming out Oct. 14. The 16-track CD features vintage Xmas cuts from Johnny Cash, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, the Band and Dwight Yoakam along with new tracks from Nikki Lane, Valerie June, Corb Lund, Robert Ellis and North Mississippi All-Stars’ Luther Dickinson.


The Living Sisters (Eleni Mandell, Becky Stark, Inara George and Alex Lilly) also are in the holiday spirit with their forthcoming Harmony Is Real: Songs for a Happy Holiday. This festive 12-track CD, coming out Oct 28, holds renditions of Christmas standards like “Jingle Bells” and Little Drummer Boy” along with 8 original holiday season songs.

Earlier this month, Compass Records released Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie. This 2-CD set offers a great way to get introduced to the lovely music of this folk legend. Contributors include Judy Collins, Janis Ian, Robin & Linda Williams and the late Pete Seeger. My favorite track is “Black Water” done by John McCutcheon, Kathy Mattea, Suzy Bogguss and Tim O’Brien

And American Laundromat will be releasing a vinyl version of its I Saved Latin! A Tribute To Wes Anderson in March of next year. The vinyl edition will include the bonus track, “Le Temps De L’Amour” by the French singer Marianne Dissard. The collection has a number of highlights, like Freelance Whales’ “Let Her Dance,” Sara Lov’s “Alone Again Or,” Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s “Ziggy Starbuck” and the Tea Cozies’ “Here Comes My Baby.”


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Jason Isbell Wins Big At The Americana Honors & Awards Show

Just because I’m not in Nashville for this year’s Americana Festival, doesn’t mean I’m ignoring it. And there’s no denying the triumph of Jason Isbell‘s album Southeastern. Sure it’s one thing for it to top my list of the year’s best albums, and it’s another for Isbell to win all the big categories (Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Artist of the Year) at the Americana Honors & Awards show.

Other winners included the Milk Carton Kids for best duo or group, Sturgill Simpson for best emerging artist and Buddy Miller for best instrumentalist. And I don’t have have any big qualms with those choices.

Photo credit: Getty Images for Americana Music

Photo credit: Getty Images for Americana Music

Here is the full list of winners and honorees:

Album of the Year: Southeastern, Jason Isbell, Producer Dave Cobb
Artist of the Year: Jason Isbell
Duo/Group of the Year: The Milk Carton Kids
Song of the Year: “Cover Me Up,” Jason Isbell
Emerging Artist of the Year: Sturgill Simpson
Instrumentalist of the year: Buddy Miller
Spirit of Americana / Free Speech in Music Award co-presented by the Americana Music Association and the First Amendment Center: Jackson Browne
Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist: Flaco Jimenez
Lifetime Achievement for Performance: Taj Mahal
Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriter: Loretta Lynn
President’s Award: Jimmie Rodgers / Award Presented to Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian, MS

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Go See Hear In L.A. Sept. 16-22 (The Kingbees & Littlest Birds edition)

So many shows, so little time – so let’s it to it…

Tues. Sept. 16

Top Show: I don’t know much about the New Zealand duo Tattletale Saints but they really impressed me with their album How Red Is The Blood, which stands up to any Americana that an American band can dish out. They’ll play the Coffee Gallery Backstage with 10 String Symphony.

Of Montreal lands at the Mayan with Springtime Carnivore (aka Greta Morgan) serving as the opener. Radkey, Rise Against and Touché Amoré have a two-night stand at the Wiltern.

Wed. Sept. 17

Top Show(s): Karen O celebrates her recently released, and critically acclaimed, solo debut Crush Songs with 3 nights at the Hollywood Forever’s Masonic Lodge. The Buzzcocks are this week’s entry in the reunited punk rock band front. They’ll be at the Fonda.

Dave Mason has had a long history in rock (most notably as a founding member of Traffic), which he will showcase at the Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine. The young rock outfit Empires plays the Troubadour in front of their major label debut Orphan that is due next week, while Pree plays the Silverlake Lounge.

Thurs. Sept. 18

Top Show(s): The cup runneth over today. The Old Crow Medicine Show continue to be on the top Americana act around, and their live shows are always a delight. You’ll find them at the Wiltern. Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds serve up their rock n’ soul music at the Hotel Café; Chuck Ragan (ex-Hot Water Music) also has a set at there. Blake Mills celebrates his mighty fine new album Heigh Ho at the El Rey. Neutral Milk Hotel and the Breeders offer a blast bacl to the ‘80s college rock era – except that they will be at the Hollywood Bowl, not some beer-sticky club.

The bluesy Davina and the Vagabond headline the Mint while the Littlest Birds bring their folksy tunes to the Mint’s backroom, the Mid-City Music Lounge. The Echo welcomes Meg Myers, Irontom and Bizzy Kiddo. Lovelife plays their smooth tunes at the Roxy. Lynda Kay will do her last gig at the Three Clubs for a while.

Fri. Sept. 19

Top Show: Alice Boman is another talented Swedish import. She’ll perform her spare, stirring music at the Bootleg.

The talented singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson has a show at McCabe’s and the Kennedys play the Coffee Gallery Backstage. The Young Dubliners and King Washington fill the bill at Anaheim’s House of Blues. Bell X1 lands at Largo and you can dig The Dig at the Satellite while The Cerny Brothers return to the Mint. Relive the British Invasion as Gerry and The Pacemakers, Chad & Jeremy, Billy J. Kramer, Mike Pender’s Searchers and Denny Laine rock it old school at the Beverly Hills’ Saban Theater. Candye Kane will belt out her bluesy tunes at San Pedro’s Godmothers; she’ll also be part of the big Make The Music Go Bang festival Saturday at Santa Ana’s Observatory. Rock photographer Deborah Feingold will have a book talk and signing for her photo anthology Music at Book Soup.

Sat. Sept. 20

Top Show(s): Beck will spend the weekend at the Orpheum. Anais Mitchell brings her bracing acoustic music to McCabe’s. X, The Blasters, The Paladins, Lee Rocker, Los Straitjackets, The Avengers, Victoria Williams, The Farmers, James Intveld and Jamie James & The Kingbees are among the rootsy punk rockers on the awesome lineup for the Make The Music Go Bang Festival at Santa Ana’s Observatory.

Joan Jett, Bow Wow Wow, Violent Femmes and Naked Eyes are a few of the “oldies” playing Jack’s 9th Show at the Honda Center. Laidback soft rockers Stephen Bishop, Dan Hill and John Ford Coley are at the Saban Theater.

Sun. Sept. 21

Top Show(s): Andrew Bird, Devendra Banhart and Caetano Veloso form a really intriguing Hollywood Bowl bill. Marcia Ball and Terrance Simien will make the Saban Theatre rock, New Orleans-style.

Blues master Guitar Shorty plays Hermosa Beach’s Sainte Rocke. Meshell Ndegeocello headlines the El Rey.

Mon. Sept. 22

Stu Larsen, who recently was in town on a bill with Passenger and The Once, has a solo set at the Hotel Café. Steve Nieve, Elvis Costello’s long-time keyboardist, has a solo show at Largo. Promising UK singer Pete Molinari will be at School Night at Bardot.

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Go See Hear In L.A. Sept. 10-15 (the Satellites/PassengerEdition)

I don’t have a clever intro this week. Just wanted to get the word out on some great shows. The ones prominent on my list would be Sturgill Simpson at the Troubadour and Charles Bradley at the Santa Monica Pier – I don’t know how to get to both on the same night. The Avett Brothers and Dawes are a terrific bill with Iron & Wine with Glen Hansard not far behind. Well, here is this week’s concert lineup.

Wed. Sept. 10

Top Show(s): The Hollywood Bowl presents two well-matched acts: Iron & Wine and Glen Hansard; they both create smartly-crafted, subtly grand music. The talented Tom Freund treks from Venice to the Mid-City Lounge (behind the Mint) play some of cool tunes. If you haven’t heard his fine new CD, Two Moons, then track it down. Satellites is a Brit-born, Copenhagen-based musician named Johnny Vic who sings in a rich baritone and creates lush rock music that gets compared to the National. He’ll check into the Hotel Café tonight and again on Sept. 17.

Thurs. Sept. 11

Top Show(s): I saw Sturgill Simpson as part of the KCRW/Annenberg Country Music summer series and he delivered a great, if short set. Tonight’s a chance to see him do a full show as he is the main event at the Troubadour. The Band of Heathens will turn the Hotel Café into a Texas roadhouse. I’m still waiting for this excellent group to gain more recognition. A true soul master Charles Bradley headlines at the Santa Monica Pier with King James and the Special Men opening up.

L.A.’s Lily Kershaw has been touring with French/Canadian singer/songwriter Bobby Bazini and they’ll be making a stop at the Mint tonight, while the droll humorist John Hodgman will be performing at Largo.

Fri. Sept 12

Top Show: Veteran roots music eccentric Dan Hicks brings his Hot Licks to McCabe’s.

I was looking for a good clip of “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away” but found this vintage Hot Licks clip from a 1972 Flip Wilson appearance that I couldn’t resist. Check out the dance moves.

Actor Katey Sagal showcases her singing talent when she performs with the Forest Rangers (who serve as the house band on the TV show Sons of Anarchy) Keaton Simons is the night’s opening act. Little Rock’s Knox Hamilton (a band, not a man) will be rocking the Satellite. Listening to their effervescent single “Work It Out” made me think of Freelance Whales – there’s a similar  hooky, shimmery quality to their sound (at least from this song)

NYC’s Slow Magic materializes at the Roxy as they tour behind their new CD How To Run Away. If you are in a driving mood, you can find bluesman Eric Bibb at Ojai’s Matilija Auditorium.

Sat. Sept. 13

Top Show(s): Mark Eitzel fronted the American Music Club during the ‘80s into the early ‘90s before going solo. He hasn’t seemed to be a prolific as he once was and his show at the Echo feels like a rare local gig for him. It’ll definitely be a rare concert at the Greek, where Charles Aznavour, the 90-year-old French music legend, will perform. Passenger, Stu Larsen and The Once team up for a night of melodic music at the sold-out Wiltern.

Lucy Wainwright-Roche has a new CD There’s A Last For Everything due next month so it’s a good guess that she’ll be playing some of those songs at McCabe’s. Dengue Fever has a new EP Girl From The North and a gig at Long Beach’s Federal Underground.

Sun. Sept. 14

Top Show: The Avett Brothers and Dawes offer a marvelous night of rootsy music with plenty of harmonies, hooks and fun at the Shrine Auditorium.

The Grand Ole Echo has a particularly strong bill, featuring David Serby, Amilia K Spicer, Tawny Ellis and Nocona. The Echoplex hosts a benefit for MUSACK (Music Underwriters Service and Concert Klub) with Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker collective. Esteemed folk singer John Gorka shares songs and stories at McCabe’s. He just recently released his 12th album, The Bright Side Of Down. Another top singer/songwriter Steve Poltz stops by the Hotel Café to do a set of his wry music.

Mon. Sept. 15

UK singer Nick Mulvey celebrates the US release of his debut First Mind with a set at School Night at the Bardot.

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Quick Take: Prettiots

As a lover of puns and wordplay, I was partial to a band named Prettiots. However, after listening to their song, “Boys (I Dated In Highschool),” I have to say that they are pretty awesome. The song is like a female version of the old Nails’ gem “88 Lines About 44 Women” if done by the quirky comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates channeling the Runaways. That description will all make sense if you check out this video:

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