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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Kevin Gordon

               When one sets out to walk nine holes of golf on Worthington’s back nine, the quiet fairways stand ready to discuss any news of the day or ideas that may be floating in one’s head. Sure there’s a gathering of wildlife along the way … deer, squirrel, red-tail hawk and groundhog but there’s always room for a little human peace of mind.

                Hmmmm … as one ponders a story lead between “Groundhog Day” and possibly “saving the best for last” why not blend the two together? We all know the weekend really begins on Thursday anyhow.

                Now as if the brilliant spring weather won’t provide enough inspiration, what can one do? Well there’s always the “Groundhog Day” style of entertainment in the area … you know, the same people, singing the same songs in the same delivery, loveable yet predictable.  But folks there is always much more.

                One must also consider the possibility of a chance to view a true artist of impeccable talent … playing in our little ‘Burg this weekend? Ahhh … now the “saving the best for last” storyline is unveiled. And that is exactly what will be happening on Sunday evening April 1st. Folks it is no fool’s joke, unless you allow yourself to become the punch line by missing this exclusive show.

                If you’re like many area resident’s you may not recognize the name, Kevin Gordon.  Now it is certainly true that many great songwriters have toiled behind the scenes creating for others, and Gordon is no exception. However Gordon is certainly not locked away behind the scenes, he’s truly crossing into the exceptional realm as he takes time out of his busy schedule for a special Sunday evening show at the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia located at 1739 St. Mary’s Avenue in Parkersburg.

                 For those of you who have not yet attended a coffeeshop style event at the CHSWV offices, you owe it to yourselves to experience the relaxed and friendly setting. Fans are “up front and personal” with the performing artists, which allows for the true nuances and emotion of their music to shine through. Steve Tuck and his dedicated staff set the tone with a welcome atmosphere, akin to getting to watch a top notch performer in a friends family room.

                Again, you may not know Kevin Gordon, but Rolling Stone magazine does. In fact, Gordon’s latest release was reviewed in the March 15th issue. Even though the cover featured a late pop icon, inside the music lives and Gordon’s latest release received 3 ½ stars … only the Boss received higher accolades within the issue.

                Reviewer Will Hermes starts out his column by proclaiming “great songwriters are a dime a dozen in Nashville, but Kevin Gordon is an anomaly.”  One could even expound on Gordon’s influences of blues, twang, rockabilly, punk, rock and even the seminal L.A. band “X”. A masters degree in poetry certainly doesn’t hurt the creativity of a songwriter either. What’s our phrase now?   How about a “come see with your own eyes”? Is there more that needs said?

Recent Rolling Stone record review.

                If so, Gordon will set you straight as he weaves songs of his southern upbringing, the good, the bad and the ugly.  His music, as is most, is a musical melting pot, of things we both revere and things we wish to explain. And sometimes distance ourselves from.

                Aptly titled “Gloryland”, Gordon’s latest release spans the religious and political ideologies that many northerner’s can merely hope to understand to some elementary degree. But Gordon also understands that music lovers respond to a prompt kick in the ass from time to time, so don’t let the smooth deep southern drawl that penetrates like the midday sun fool ya’.

                So there’s really no excuse for not supporting a great cause while watching a superb songwriter on Sunday evening. It truly boils down to tens bucks for the area kids and an authentic songwriting genius addressing the day head on. And the best part … its only 10 well spent dollars for a 7 p.m. show in one of the finest and truest venues around. Just across the street from Hertz Rental … call 304-485-0650 for more info and be sure to visit http://kg.kevingordon.net/.

 

 

Mikey Jr. schools the crowd!

Party! It’s the only word needed to summarize Friday night’s activity at the 21st Annual Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society’s (www.bjfm.org) Blues Festival. And if you don’t believe me, just ask one of the other several hundred music fans in attendance at Marietta’s Hotel Lafayette ballroom.

For the uninitiated, the word “blues” often conjures up the misconception of down trodden woe-is-me roots music. Sure there is a family tree which encompasses a wide spectrum of feelings and attitudes within the “blues music” family, but when it comes to the BJFM Blues Festival it’s all about the boogie!

Friday night was no exception to this rule as New Jersey’s Mikey Jr. & the Stone Cold Band kicked off the weekend long festivities. Originally billed as a four piece band, Mikey Jr. had a little trick up his sleeve with the addition of guitarist Dean Shot. This set up a powerful three way dynamic between Mikey Jr.’s harmonica, Matt Daniels lead guitar and Shot’s fiery guitar interplay as the three tossed the energy around like the old comical ticking bomb ready to explode.

Well folks something did explode, and it was the wall of sound from the stage. Not only does Mikey Jr. blow a mean harp but he also understands the important fundamental that it’s not his party, it’s everybody’s party! As Mikey Jr. wandered into the crowd to weave a steamy story or two, drummer Adam Strasberg and bassist Jimmy Pritchard provided the groove that made it clear that everyone was going to have fun together and Mikey Jr. let it be well known that he was right there with them.

 

But the party was just getting started, and next up was the Lionel Young Band. Now many of the fans might have been commenting, “I’ve never seen a blues band with an electric violin”, they soon found out just how Young could make it wail. With Andre Mali providing punctuation marks and riffs on trumpet, Young played his violin in every conceivable way. Fiddle, mandolin, electric guitar leads were all emanating from the four strings of the sleek black instrument. The boogie was indeed on!

Lionel Young funky pickin'!

But what’s a low down boogie sound without sax? Dexter Payne nailed down the sound with tasty sax riffs, a little smooth clarinet and a little honk on the harp. Of course this entire idea works because of the unflappable foundation provided by veteran bassist Kim Stone and drummer/vocalist Jay Forrest.

At the end of Young’s set the crowd was still up and ready to boogie. After a sheepish grin towards Mali, Young began strumming the familiar high notes of Prince’s hit song “Kiss” and the dance floor erupted again. As the band grooved through the extended dance version of the song, everyone grinned from ear to ear after being ordained “sexxxxxy motherfuckers” by the man with the funky violin in his hand!   

  

If you’re kicking yourself for missing what is the best guaranteed party of the year in the Mid-Ohio Valley, don’t despair. You have all day Saturday to enjoy the festival. At 12:15 p.m., Mark Doebrich leads area high school music students through traditional & contemporary blues selections as part of the Blues in the Schools “High Schools That Rock” project.

 

At 2:15 veteran solo/acoustic performer Doug MacLeod brings his songwriting expertise, guitar mastery and soulful vocals to the stage.  Appearing on 18 albums as well as writing a column for Blues Review magazine, MacLeod has not only lived the life from a musical viewpoint but also documented the history of this prolific genre.

 

Gospel inspired blues singer CeCe Teneal will take the stage at 3:45 p.m. Teneal’s silky smooth vocals provide an appealing mask for the true power and passion within her heart. With interesting originals and adaptations of some time-tested standards, Teneal’s songs are bound to please the vocal enthusiast as well as the fan of pure gospel based blues.  

 

Hamilton Loomis tears it up!

“If blues, soul, and rock can be said to form a triangle, you’ll find Hamilton Loomis right in the center of it”, says Guitar Player Magazine. At 8 p.m. Loomis and his five piece band get ready to tear the roof off the sucker. The Texas native and his band recently were labeled “a blues-rock-funk-groove-soul band,” by the Houston Chronicle. 

What this means for the festival goer? A second night of high energy music which touches the total spectrum of American music in general, or otherwise, something for everybody to dig! But Loomis is more than just industry magazine or newspaper quotes, as a youngster at age 16 he was able to jam with his idol turned mentor Bo Diddley. But don’t just take it from me, the late great Diddley summed up Loomis’ talents as follows, ““You got to put some seasonin’ in what you’re doin’, and this boy’s got the whole salt shaker!”

 

As if the place won’t be already rocking enough, the finishing roundhouse blow to this undisputed heavyweight blues rockin’  festival will be the unique collaboration of musicians known as Southern Hospitality, which take the stage at 10 p.m. This six piece band from Florida features three versatile and dynamic modern blues performers … all in one band!

Members include Blind Pig recording artist Damon Fowler, fellow guitarist/vocalist JP Soars and piano player extraordinaire/vocalist Victor Wainwright, who came together for an impromptu finale jam one evening after a festival performance, which featured each of their individual bands in the lineup, and the rest is history.

Southern Hospitality kicks out the jams!

Interestingly Southern Hospitality’s first official show was opening for Buddy Guy at the Heritage Music Blues Fest in Wheeling, WV. From there the group has entertained crowds with rockin’ boogie-woogie blues; with each of the three bluesmen getting to showcase their skillset in the blues genre while a top notch rhythm section holds down the groove. Folks here’s your chance to remove “Damn I wish I would’ve gone” from your next week’s vocabulary!

 

  

Musical events have come and gone in the Mid-Ohio Valley over the past several generations. Some legendary performers have graced the stages of long gone Parkersburg-Marietta entertainment venues over the years, leaving an old poster or maybe a black and white tattered photo for the archives along the way.

But there have been a few musical events stand the test of time in our region in recent years. Tonight area music fans will have the opportunity to enjoy one such event. The 21st Annual Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society’s Blues Festival kicks off this evening at the historic Hotel Lafayette in downtown Marietta. Tonight’s 8 p.m. show will feature two high energy bands guaranteed to get your feet moving.

Mikey Jr. & the Stone Cold Blues will get the party started Friday evening with their brand of high energy blues. Hailing from the greater Philadelphia region, Mikey Jr. has built a reputation has one of the hottest harp players around. Mikey Jr. has been drawing comparisons to some legendary harp masters such a Little Walter and Sonny Boy and when teamed with guitar, bass and drums is sure to provide a rollicking even of contemporary blues fun.

 Headlining the Friday evening show will be the Lionel Young Band, winners of the 2011 International Blues Competition Band category. Like most great blues bands, the Lionel Young Band has roots which extend throughout the legendary blues family tree. Young, winner of the 2008 International Blues Challenge Solo/Duo competition has jammed with the likes of Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Tab Benoit, Chris Cain and Bob Margolin just to name a few.

Young is backed by Andre Mali on trumpet, Dexter Payne on sax, clarinet and harp, Ricardo Pena on piano, organ and vocals, Kim Stone on bass and Jay Forrest on drums. Collectively this band is ready for any style of blues anytime anyplace. The bands resume would fill up another page of music who’s who’s!

But ones ears and eyes are the best judges of all and the Lionel young Band has been winning people over whether it’s crisscrossing the U.S. or hitting the high seas as part of a Blues Cruise. With smooth vocals and a powerful sound the Lionel Young Band will impress and still have room to through in a few tricks for the party!

Its Friday night ya’ll know you deserve a good time and there’s no better place to start than the BJFMs Blues Festival baby!

Michael Iafrate

The nice thing about the Adelphia Music Hall’s “Three Band Thursday” (3BT) is that one is never quite sure what they are going to discover. The three dollar cover charge for the end of month event is nice as well. Plus the early start time allows for music aficionados to enjoy a few hours of music on a work night, and maybe just discover a new favorite band along the way.

As expected, most of the time, conscious effort must be given in preparing a weekend show for the performer’s proper musical genre fit, but on the last Thursday of each month that formula can be intriguingly tossed out the window. February’s 3BT was certainly no exception as the Adelphia stage transformed from acoustic songwriter cleverness to modern energy.

The evening opened with three solo acoustic songwriters performing “in the round.” For those unfamiliar with “in the round,” the concept involves the performers seated in a semi-circle onstage and each of them singing one song at a time, taking turns through the lineup. It allows for a fresher presentation of a musical genre which could otherwise run the risk of becoming repetitious.

Former Parkersburg native and current Wheeling resident Michael Iafrate was first in line. Iafrate also performs in Michael Iafrate and the Priesthood, which is currently working on a new album. But on 3BT Iafrate hit the stage in solo form to perform six original songs and one cover.

 “Three of the originals will be on the upcoming Michael Iafrate & the Priesthood album which is tentatively called “Christian Burial”: (the songs were) Horse Birth, No Home, and Come and Die. An acoustic version of Horse Birth appears on my most recent digital EP release “No Matter How Deep the Darkness He Descends Deeper Still,” Iafrate said. Another one from the set, Song of Songs, appears on their first release, 2005’s “O Happy Marriage.”

Of course every original artist has a topic to their songs, some based on fiction and others which are a little more familiar with reality. Maybe the end result is the joy from presenting an original work of music. “I have been kind of excited about “Horse Birth” because it’s the first murder ballad I’ve written and I’m pretty pleased with some of the lines in that song,” Iafrate said. Iafrate also enjoys performing many of his other compositions, which visits the twists and turns of his theological background.

But most every artist explores the work of other artists, both to learn and admire. “I played one cover, Be Here to Love Me by Townes Van Zandt who I’m obsessed with lately,” Iafrate admits.

As for upcoming live shows, Iafrate says that he is spending more time focusing on finishing the recording of their new album. But there are also tunes to be enjoyed while you wait by visiting http://miafrate.catholicanarchy.org.

Parkersburg’s Mike Equality Lutz occupied the number two spot of the “in the round” rotation. Lutz entertained the crowd with six original songs which included Emotional Warfare, How Long, Distance, Preacher Blues, Gods Existence and Ladybug/River of Alcohol.

Mike Equality Lutz

“Some of it was written with a full band in mind,” Lutz said, but as with most songwriters some of his songs were just plainly written to be performed solo. Some may recognize Lutz from his former band Mike Lutz and the Assistance, which was essentially his songs but with a band. Most recently Lutz has been performing with a new group, Nemean Lion. The band named from a creature of Greek mythology rocked the Adelphia Music Hall in February, and provides Lutz with a more collaborative songwriting environment.

What has been the topical focus for Lutz’s songwriting thus far? “My message has always been one of love and heartbreak…but this has changed with the songs I’m yet to debut. I’m moving into more of a social cause/political field of thought,” Lutz said.

Rounding out the trio for the acoustic presentation was John Radcliff of Parkersburg. Music fans will probably recognize the Charleston, WV native from some his previous area musical endeavors both solo and in bands, plus his dashing hair style is also a dead giveaway that John is in the house. Radcliff used the opportunity to debut some new material as well as play a couple songs from his latest CD “Naked Souls.”

“I played two songs from the CD, Naked Souls and My Plastic Lover. The rest of the songs were all written in the last month,” Radcliff said. The brand spankin’ new numbers included Myths and Marbles, Give It Away, Just Right, Book of Blessings andMuse.

John Radcliff

Interestingly, Radcliff has made his news songs a bit of a songwriting experiment by videotaping his performances to not only use as a reference for future recording sessions, but also as a means to gauge the evolution of his songs throughout the creative/songwriting process. But as for final destination of the songs, “The new songs are definitely written for a band sound,” Radcliff said. Hence one can expect even further evolution.

The process will also have a deeper meaning for Radcliff who admits “my first CD was so incredibly self-centered; I want this one to be different.” But this does not denote selfishness from Radcliff but more of a focused effort to address his respective feelings while be able to grow both personally and musically.

“These songs are more about a hopefulness for the future,” Radcliff said. But he adds that he is also finding it hard to not be myself. But one must remember that sometimes the things which we feel are in need of attention may be the same things which make one interesting … whether it is sharing one’s personal achievement or an unguarded fall to the ground.

Of course, Three Band Thursday wouldn’t be complete without a band itself, even if it is in the interesting form of a power duo. 

From a scientific viewpoint, radicals have been known to play an important role in combustion, atmospheric chemistry, polymerization, biochemistry, plasma chemistry and other chemical processes. The Damn Radicals have followed a “less is more” formula and the resulting reaction is near art, while retaining a by-product of un-abandoned energetic mystery. In recent years the “less is more” concept has broken new ground in the live music arena and for good reason in this age of droning loops, samples and computer overdubs.

The Damn Radicals

Consisting of singer/guitarist Luke Schindler and drummer/percussionist Anthony Azzi, The Damn Radicals deconstruct modern music to its purest form. That’s right … a Gibson played through a Fender along with percussive firepower from a set of silver sparkle Ludwigs along with some vocals to tell the whole truth.  Think White Stripes … Black Keys … all of which makes for pretty damn good company.

Azzi and Schindler both attend Marietta College at present and drew a small but faithful gathering of student aged fans for their set. As for their other fellow students, these guys are worth having to stay up an hour later to finish the next day’s assignment. 

The duo powered their way through a set of originals to the delight of the crowd. But it wasn’t all crash and distortion as Schindler went acoustic for a few songs as Azzi added fitting percussion. Damn those Radicals utilized the old sonic switch-a-roo before finishing the set with a crowd pleasing fuzzy kick in the ass.

With a recent release entitled “Faking Friction” to support, with any luck we’ll be seeing a lot more of these Damn Radicals, no matter what the scientific consequences may be!

 

 

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