May 3, 2010

All I know is I feel better when I sing (burdens are lifted from me)

rawlings welch

I’ll be traveling soon to California for the rest of this week, to celebrate the life and mourn the loss of my uncle who passed away this weekend. He had been sick for a while, but it still came as a shock.

Uncle Lew spent time in the Coast Guard when he was younger, on an ice-breaker ship up near Iceland. I remember the exotic excitement when he’d come home from a time at sea. One of my favorite pictures from when I was little is me standing in his giant boots with his blue sailor’s cap perched huge on my head. I’m laughing. The last time I saw Lew was this summer, when I returned from my own ocean voyage on a sailing ship. His eyes lit up as we talked about what it feels like out on the open seas. I saw in his eyes a vibrant spark that belied the man lying in the hospital bed. Even after all, tonight, I’m glad he’s free.

There’s a song I keep listening to these days. Last time I was in CA it was for happier circumstances, and I made it to Golden Gate Park to see these two harmonize in the sunshine under the eucalyptus trees.

David Rawlings and Gillian Welch were woven together musically somewhere before time began. This cover reinvents old (Neil Young) and new (Bright Eyes), from their recent Daytrotter session, and when Gillian’s harmonies come in, the effect is so bittersweet, warming up the edges of Conor Oberst’s sharp original to shades of sepia. All I know is I feel better when I sing.

Method Acting/Cortez The Killer – Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Method Acting – Bright Eyes

I’ll see Rawlings at Telluride Bluegrass Festival next month, and I have been hearing nothing but good things about his newest album A Friend of A Friend, where you can find a studio version of this same cover, as well as the song he co-write with Ryan Adams, “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High),” and wonderful new songs. It’s good thinking music, good ale-sippin’ music.

February 19, 2010

I know you want to, I just don’t believe that you will

one jug of wine

Shiny news from the good folks at Saddle Creek this morning:

Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst) and Nena Dinova have teamed up again to record four new songs for the expanded reissue of their 2004 collaboration One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels.

The original six track release from ’04 will be augmented by these four new songs, and released on Saddle Creek on March 23. You can preorder it here. Details:

“Dividing the songwriting duties, the original tracks were recorded by Conor Oberst and Jake Bellows in basements of houses on quiet, leafy streets in Omaha in the fall of 2003. Those tracks were mixed, tweaked, and sprinkled with magic dust by famed producer-in-residence Mike Mogis at his Presto! Studios in Lincoln, Nebraska. The groups reconvened in the fall of 2009 to write and record four new tracks at Mogis’s renowned ARC Studios in Omaha for the reissue.”

Here’s what they sound like:

June 3, 2008

Got forty-fives to play at night :: M Ward / Jim James / Conor Oberst live in 2004

This earthy, warm, rich bootleg is from a shared evening of music that included sets from M. Ward, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.

Billed as the “Monsters of Folk” tour, after individual sets it closes with a six-song jam session where they all play together and sometimes (like for the closing Dylan cover) take turns with the verses. The sound quality here is sparkling and pristine with some choice song selections in the mix. Any of their single sets would be a treat in its own right; together they blow my mind a little bit.

Notable track: that Willie Nelson cover! “Always on My Mind” is one of my favorite sad songs as is, but with Jim James taking the lead vocals it aches and ebbs in a new way. There are so many wonderfully melancholy songs in this bunch – in addition to the lonesome starter of “Fuel for Fire,” the way M. Ward’s voice cracks on Undertaker (“Ah, but if you’re gonna leeeeeeaaaaave, you better call the undertaker, take me under undertaker, take me home“) is practically the sound of a heart breaking.

Feb 20, 2004, Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis

Fuel For Fire
Duet for Guitars #3
Let’s Dance (Bowie cover)
O’Brien/O’Brien’s Nocturne
Vincent O’Brien
Outta My Head

One In The Same
Like It Should (unreleased?)
I Can’t Wait (unreleased?)
Where To Begin (from the Elizabethtown sdtrk)
How Could I Know (b-side from Off The Record)
The Bear
Bermuda Highway

Train Under Water
Going for the Gold (from the Oh Holy Fools comp)
Soon You Will Be Leaving Your Man
A Celebration Upon Completion
We Are Nowhere And It’s Now
Landlocked Blues (oh how I love this song)
Waste of Paint

Seashell Tale (M Ward song)
Always On My Mind (Willie Nelson cover)
Laura Laurent (Bright Eyes song)
At Dawn (MMJ song)
At The Bottom Of Everything (Bright Eyes song)
Girl Of The North Country (Bob Dylan cover)

(re-upped, the individual links are removed)

(Note: Mike Mogis and Nick White also performed at this show)

[thanks to
the original taper]

March 12, 2008

The Felice Brothers & Conor Oberst :: “Walls” (Tom Petty)

Bruce loves The Felice Brothers just as much as I do, and I found this cover he posted to be jubilant and electrifying.

I cannot help but smile wide at the loose, rough joy they exude in their musical jam (even if Conor is dressed kinda like he just stumbled in from post-work happy hour karaoke):

That is live music at its absolute best.

August 10, 2007

New contest: Win the Hottest State soundtrack, and read the book you lazy summer slacker

I am generally a really upbeat person but I can’t help myself — I truly despise heat coupled with humidity. This is why it is good that I don’t live in, say, Georgia or West Virginia because I would be the most grumpy person you know all through the month of August. Plus my hair would be very frizzy.

I am rambling about hot weather as a seamless tie-in to my newest contest: two lucky winners will win a soundtrack+book prize pack for the upcoming Ethan Hawke film The Hottest State. My first listens have been very enjoyable – it’s a fairly mellow and eclectic collection, and features the superb songwriting of new Fuel-favorite Jesse Harris. When forming the concept for the film adaptation, Hawke and Harris delved into the collection of 80+ songs that Harris had penned over the years, and then enlisted a dream team of folks like M. Ward, Feist, Bright Eyes, Cat Power, Black Keys, Willie Nelson, and Emmylou Harris to record them. You can stream the entire record here and then pop over to see the full tracklisting on their MySpace.

The movie is based on Hawke’s book (I didn’t know he wrote), so the two winners will each get a CD soundtrack plus the book for good end-of-summer reading as you lay by the pool and perfect that tan that will have to sustain you as the last vestiges of summer slip away.

So depressing, I know, stop it.

I’ll pick TWO random winners from all entrants by next Friday August 17th. If you’d like to win, please leave me a way to contact you (or promise to check here to see if you won, and then email me if you do) and answer this question:
What is one of your favorite hot weather/summertime memories? Random, funny, serious, whatever – it just has to effectively include that “hot” business. Godspeed.

From the soundtrack:
If You Ever Slip – The Black Keys
It Will Stay With Us – Jesse Harris

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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