What’s Old Is New: Van Morrison, Lou Reed and the Carter Families

The first Velvet Underground album I bought was an odd MGM repackaging of White Light/White Heat. It was cool, mysterious and a little bit frightening for a Midwestern teen. Loaded, however, was my second VU album and the one that made me go “ah-ha!” While it is not the prime Reed/Cale/Morrison/Tucker lineup, it was a glorious melding of downtown NYC grittiness with midtown Brill Building pop. The album contains the band’s “big hits,” “Rock & Roll” and “Sweet Jane” as well as a “sweet nuthin’” ditty like “Who Loves The Sun” and the heartfelt “I Found A Reason.” To commemorate the album’s 45th anniversary, Rhino will unveil a massive 6-disc collection. Besides remastered stereo and mono versions of the album, the box-set also includes two live discs: the classic Live At Max’s Kansas City (recorded on the day Lou Reed left the band) and the previously unreleased May 9, 1970 recording (before Loaded’s release) of a Philadelphia concert taped by a fan on a reel-to-reel player. The Max’s disc includes material from the 2004 Rhino reissue. There is also a 21-track disc of alternative mixes, early versions and song demos, plus an audio=only DVD containing three different high-end Loaded mixes. This is a mega-fully Loaded collection.


If you are a Van Morrison fan, you’ll be experiencing a “sense of wonder” in the next few months. Sony’s Legacy Recordings now has the rights to over 30 Van Morrison albums and will be launching a huge digital release of 33 Morrison records. While there are too many titles to name, the releases span over 40 years, starting with 1965’s The Angry Young Them/Them album going through 2009’s Astral Weeks: Live At The Hollywood Bowl and features a bunch of out-of-print material and stuff that hasn’t been available before on iTunes.

Not everything is included in this Morrison treasury. It hops from the Them albums to St. Dominic’s Preview, skipping over his late 60’s/early 70’s efforts, including his Warner titles. But fear not, Warner Bros. Records will be released remastered, expanded versions of his first (Astral Weeks) and third/final WB (His Band And The Street Choir) records. Each album, which will be available on October 30, will also hold some previously unreleased bonus tracks that show Morrison exploring various arrangements for his songs.


To power pop fans, the name Michael Brown sits among royalty. As a teen, he led Left Banke, known for its hit “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina.” In the mid-70’s, he fronted the band, The Beckies, which received scant recognition then but has become a cult item. Real Gone Music will be giving it a proper CD release on Oct. 9.

Roy Orbison’s MGM years were not his most popular; however, Universal Music Enterprises and Roys Boys (a company run by Orbison’s sons) have partnered up to create a 153-track retrospective of those years to offer a glimpse into the music Orbison was making in the mid-60’s through early ‘70s.


Speaking of career retrospective, the Drive-By Truckers will be releasing a 3-CD (with some other format variation) live set on Oct. 30. Recorded at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium, It’s Great To Be Alive provides a great look at the wealth of wonderful tunes that this band has created over the years.

And I will close with news on documentaries about the Carter Families – not singular but plural. One documentary is America’s Gospel Singers, executive produced by Marty Stuart and featuring appearances by Merle Haggard, Connie Smith and Dan Rather. It examines the long career of the Carter Family that is behind the famous gospel group, the Chuck Wagon Gang. Started by D.P. Carter and his family in 1935, the group is led by the third generations of Carters today. The documentary on this Gospel Music Hall of Fame group will be broadcast on Public Television stations this fall.


The other Carter Family documentary is The Winding Stream — The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music, which looks at the music and legacy of the Carter Family led by A.P. Carter. This documentary, by Beth Harrington, has been an award-winner and festival favorite. Omnivore Recordings will be releasing its soundtrack on Oct. 16 and the CD will feature Carter songs performed by the Carter Family, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, George Jones, John Prine, Carolina Chocolate Drops and the Old 97’s Murry Hammond.

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Go See Hear In L.A. Aug. 26-31 (The Fairground Saints/Jefferson Starship edition)

This week comes swimming in soul music. From veterans like Charles Bradley and Hall & Oates to youngsters like Mayer Hawthorne and Nick Waterhouse. And, expanding the musical definition a little broader: Trombone Shorty, Erykah Badu and Joe Bonamassa’s salute to the “Kings” of the blues and the Ascencia Urban Blues Festival, which benefits Ascencia’s programs for the homeless.

Wed. 8/26

Top Show(s): The Hollywood Bowl gets funky with a terrific triple bill of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires. It’ll be a wild time at the Troubadour when Shooter Jennings hits the stage. Opening for him will be Julie (not Julia) Roberts.

The Aussie psychedelic garage rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, who has a new CD on ATO, appears at the Echo.

Thurs. 8/27

The Waifs

The Waifs

Another Australian band, the Waifs bring their folk/rock tunes to MacArthur Park’s Levitt Pavilion. Sugarland’s Kristian Bush does a solo turn at the Troubadour. Paul Kantner guides the Jefferson Starship (celebrating its 40th anniversary) to the Santa Monica Pier with the local group Purple Mountains Majesties leading up the night.

Fri. 8/28

Top Show(s): Molly Malone’s is the right spot to catch the hooky Irish rock band Pugwash celebrates its new album Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends). Also in a celebratory mood will be the L.A. trio Fairground Saints, who will share their harmony rich, poppy Americana music at McCabe’s; their self-titled debut is a delight to listen to.  I also was really impressed with Christian Lopez’s album Onward (it was produced by currently hot producer Dave Cobb). You can enjoy his brand of country music at Santa Ana’s Constellation Room tonight and the Hotel Café on Saturday night. Moonshine Collective opens both shows.

Longtime SoCal singer/songwriter Karla Bonoff will serenade the audience at Pasadena’s Levitt Pavilion. Melvin Seals & the Jerry Garcia Band will be jamming at the San Juan Capistrano’s Coach House.

Sat. 8/29

Top Show(s): Guitar wizard Joe Bonamassa will rule at the Greek Theater. On his Three Kings Tour, he will be saluting that trinity of blues “kings,” B.B. King, Albert King and Freddie King. Blues lovers can also head to Raleigh Studios for the Ascencia Urban Blues Festival. This day-long concerts features Guitar Shorty, The Americans, Walter Trout and other acts – and the event helps raise funds for the many great programs Ascencia provides for local homeless people.

Guitarist to the stars Waddy Wachtel has a solo gig at the Mint, while singer/songwriter Keaton Simons has a free show at One Colorado in Pasadena. Local soulster Nick Waterhouse performs at the Teragram Ballroom and make sure you get there early to see Pearl Charles’ set.

Sun. 8/30

Top Show(s): Speaking of soul, the Irvine Amphitheater welcomes Hall & Oates with special guest Mayer Hawthorne. KCRW presents an eclectic and interesting bill at the Hollywood Bowl: Erykah Badu, St. Vincent and Moses Sumney.

Mon. 8/31

Top Show: Eliot Sumner performs her slinky synth-pop music at School Night at the Bardot.

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Go See Hear In L.A. Aug. 18-24 (the Los Lonely Boys/Mumford & Sons edition)

Around this time of year, the lyric “won’t be long/til summer’s gone” floats through my head. As I doff my cap to the late, great Phil Lynott, here are the recommended shows for this week.

Tues. 8/18

Top Show(s): Mumford & Sons close out their 2-night stand at the Forum (they are a rather young band to be booked there) with The Vaccines and Jack Garratt opening. A roots rock outfit that has followed the Mumfords’ path to success, American Aquarium surfaces at the Troubadour; get there early to catch The Show Ponies and Runaway Saints. Tinariwen, the desert rock outfit of Tuareg musicians from Mali, come to the Regent Theater, while The Mynabirds have a free show at Amoeba.

Wed. 8/19

Top Show(s): Feel the roar of Jesus and Mary Chain at the Fonda tonight and tomorrow night. The powerhouse Jill Scott headlines the Greek Theater, while the Hollywood Bowl hosts the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club farewell tour.

The Velvet Teen perform at the Satellite and Joy Williams, of the short-lived Civil Wars, talks about her new solo album, and probably sing a song or two, at the Grammy Museum.

Thurs. 8/20

The Vaccines remain in the area to play Santa Ana’s Observatory with Bronco. Performance artist/musician Jesse B. Berlin showcases his just released Glitter Lung downtown at the Ham & Eggs Tavern. The Mynabirds join Ariel Pink at the Santa Monica Pier.

Fri. 8/21

The Austin Americana band Whiskey Shivers warms things up at MacArthur Park’s Levitt Pavilion. Singer/songwriter Marc Cohn comes to the Saban Theatre while Alabama-based troubadour Matthew Mayfield performs a set at the Hotel Café. McCabe’s hosts a folky evening with Ernest Troost, Claudia Russell and Bruce Kaplan. The college rock dinosaur Dinosaur Jr. will raise the decibel levels at the Roxy and you can find Modest Mouse at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Sat. 8/22

Top show(s): Texas power rock trio Los Lonely Boys will make some noise at Marina Del Rey’s Chace Park. Eleni Mandell has a hometown CD release show for the darkly lovely That Dark Lights Up at the Hotel Café. Leon Russell won’t be up on a tightwire but he will be at the Saban Theater.

The Malian singer Vieux Farka Toure has a free show at the Pasadena Levitt Pavilion while country rockers Rose’s Pawn Shop sets up a free show at Pasadena’s One Colorado mall. Folk/blues legend Geoff Muldaur returns to Claremont’s Folk Music Center. Andy Garcia and the CineSon All Stars play Cuban music at the Geffen Playhouse. The FYF Fest takes place tonight and tomorrow. The impressive lineup includes the Jesus and Mary Chain, Morrissey, D’Angelo & The Vanguard, Belle & Sebastian, Laura Marling, Dinosaur Jr., !!! , Tennis, Broncho, Mikal Cronin, Purity Ring, Mac Demarco, Toro Y Moi, Battles, Tobias Jesso Jr., Girlpool and Unknown Mortal Orchestra (you’ll have to divvy up what bands play what days, sorry).

Sun. 8/23

Ben Folds is the special guest of Jeff Garlin at Largo and Americana singer/songwriters Katy Moffatt and Mary Flower share the bill at McCabe’s.

Mon. 8/24

The rootsy singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville stops in at the Coffee Gallery Backstage for a show.

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Must See Video Viewing: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ “S.O.B.”

One of my favorite albums of the year so far is coming out on Friday when Stax/Concord Records releases  Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ debut self-titled album. Stax is an all-important touchstone here as the albums exudes an jubilant soulfulness and a rock ‘n’ roll grittiness that you will be hard-pressed to resist. I had seen Rateliff a couple years ago performing solo acoustic. While he impressed me then, I was totally knocked out by the powerful music found on this full band outing.

Here is the video for the lead single “S.O.B.,” a song that haven’t tired of listening to. It reminds me of Quentin Tartantino in its own way. And as with Tarantino movies, viewer discretion is advised:

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Go See Hear In L.A. Aug 13-16 (The Alabama Shakes/Eagle Rock Gospel Singers edition)

I didn’t forget that I needed to do part two of this week’s recommended shows.

Thurs. 8/13

Top Show(s): The Watkins Family Hour ring in the release of their great debut album with a show at, where else but, Largo. Royce Hall gets a dose of the blues when the legendary Buddy Guy performs there; opening will be the local roots outfit The Record Company. Alabama Shakes and Blake Mills make for a terrific double bill at the Greek Theater.

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers will showcase their just-released debut Heavenly Fire at the Echo. If you are going to the Grace Potter at the Fonda, get there early to check out Rayland Baxter – and let me know what Potter’s new sound is like live. I didn’t really gravitate to what I heard of the CD.

Fri. 8/14

Top Show(s): Jackson Browne just keeps going. I saw him perform last year and he was still at the top of his game. He’ll headline the Greek tonight. Fantastic Negrito (aka Xavier Dphrepaulezz) works up an intriguing sound on his debut EP – it’s sorta of modern twist on the blues. He’ll be part of the Echo Park Rising concert tonight. The local band Cayucas make me think of west coast Vampire Weekend (which isn’t a negative thing). They have a new album Dancing At The Blue Lagoon at their El Rey show.

Singer/songwriter George Ezra, the guy who sings “Budapest,” will be at the Wiltern.

Sat. 8/15

Top Show(s): Jimmy Lafave, who ranks with the best of the Texas troubadours, has a free show at Levitt Pasadena. Rock Hall of Famer Spencer Davis has a show at Malibu’s Casa Escobar. Kacey Chambers is the queen of the Australian country scene. If you haven’t heard her music, listen to any of her CDs (the latest Bittersweet makes for a wonderful listening experience) and check out her El Rey concert.

Kasey Chambers

Kasey Chambers

Joseph Arthur always seems to have a new, unique project to share; find about his latest one – Days Of Surrender (which includes selling his tour van) – at McCabe’s. They’ll be a bit away from “Ventura Highway” but America performs a free show at Pershing Square with the Freddy Jones Band opening. The Cold War Kids headline another free show – this one in Century City by the Annenberg Space for Photography – with Other Lives being the other band on the bill. Keaton Simons will be playing the Hotel Café tonight and next Saturday as well.

Sun. 8/16

Top Show: Freedy Johnston is just a pro singer/songwriter. He’s probably best known for the tune, “Bad Reputation” (no, not the Joan Jett song) and he has a bunch of other well-crafted songs that he’ll be playing at playing at the Hotel Café.

You have probably heard the old ‘60s hit “You Were On My Mind.” You might not know that the band that sang it was the We Five – or that they will be performing at McCabe’s. Also on the bill is a Badfinger tribute band featuring Jeff Alan Ross, a latter day member of the band.

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Trace Turning Twenty

It’s hard to believe that next month marks the 20th anniversary of Son Volt‘s debut disc Trace. But that is the truth. The good news is that Jay Farrar is in a celebratory mood. He will be doing a little touring to commemorate the occasion. Billed as “Jay Farrar Performs Songs Of Trace,” Farrar has enlisted Son Volt’s original pedal steel Eric Haywood and multi-instrumentalist Gary Hunt to play with him on what is now an 8-city tour, with the first show happening appropriately enough at Americana Fest in Nashville on Sept. 20.

Jay Farrar

Jay Farrar

In other exciting Son Volt news, Rhino will be putting out an expanded version of Trace on October 30. The terrific 2-CD set contains Trace, newly remastered, along with 24 previously unreleased tracks. Eight demos will complement Trace‘s tracks on one disc, while the other holds a live performance recorded at New York City’s Bottom Line on Feb. 12, 1996. The live set includes a bulk of Trace, plus several Uncle Tupelo tunes, the Del Reeves song “Looking At The World Through A Windshield” and the Son Volt number “Cemetery Savior,” which appeared on the band’s sophomore effort Straightaways. The CD also features track commentary by Farrar plus an essay by No Depression magazine founder Peter Blackstock.


It all adds up to quite the treasure trove for Americana fans.

and here’s “Tear Stained Eye” as a little traveling music…

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Go See Hear In L.A. Aug 10-12 (The Dustbowl Revivial/Heartworn Highways edition)

I just wanted to quickly ship out information on shows happening the beginning of this week.

Mon. 8/10

Top Show: Pony Boy rides into the Satellite in advance of her new CD Blue Gold. You can check out her sultry new single “Marquee Man” here

Of Monsters and Men stop by the Grammy Museum while Night Beds showcases their much talked about new CD Ivywild at Bardot’s School Night.

Tues. 8/11

Top Show(s): Jackie Greene will talk about his new album Back To Birth at the Grammy Museum tonight and play the Troubadour tomorrow night with Saint John opening. Langhorne Slim has a cool new disc, Change of the Heart. He’ll be at the Troubadour tonight with his band. Rayland Baxter will preview his fine full-length Imaginary Man at the Hotel Cafe tonight. He’ll be opening for Grace Potter at the Fonda Aug. 13-14.

Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter

Meanwhile, down in the OC, Chris Isaak headlines the City National Grove of Anaheim.

Wed. 8/13

Top Show(s): Jason Isbell, riding a wave of acclaim for his latest CD Something More Than Free, headlines the Wiltern with Damien Jurado opening. The Grammy Museum screens the new documentary Heartworn Highways Revisited, featuring folks from the original film (Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Young, and David Allan Coe) along with younger performers like John McCauley (Deer Tick), Jonny Fritz, Robert Ellis, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, and Langhorne Slim. Dustbowl Revivial plays the Aquarium of the Pacific tonight and the Edison on the 13th. The energizing rock ‘n’ soul outfit Vintage Trouble perform at the Fonda tonight and have a free in-store at Amoeba on the 13th; they have a new CD 1 Hopeful Rd. on the way.

and I’m hopeful I will return later on with more show news for the rest of the week.

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