josh ritter @ cat’s cradle, may 2013

josh ritter & the royal city band @ cat's cradle

josh ritter & the royal city band @ cat's cradle

josh ritter & the royal city band @ cat's cradle

(People searching for the setlist, I hope you come here and find it!)

I am not exactly shy about my feeling regarding Josh Ritter; it is one of my least complicated listener-artist relationships, in that flat out I love his weird ass unconditionally. I believe that rock and roll is a religion, and I believe that you should worship at the feet of Josh Ritter, who brought utter unconditional joy to stage of the Cradle last night, like he has every time I have seen him at the Cradle. It was a deeply melancholy set last night, because the new record of course is about heartbreak, but it was a joyously melancholy one. Josh talked about how his beliefs regarding marriage have changed — there was a comparison to riding a bicycle, which Josh is apparently unable to do, and that he now thinks that marriage is the greatest optimist step that “two mammals” can take — and he went on a long, bizarre, hilarious tirade about Lewis & Clark in the break during “Kathleen”. He alleged that the Cradle was built a thousand years ago. He told us that “Folk Bloodbath” was “a comedy”. He was funny, and happy, and he smiled the whole time, and the crowd loved him and he loved us back. It’s what I always want Josh Ritter shows to be: glorious.

The set feels a little stilted right now, as they try to find the places for the new songs, but the shivering opening of “Idaho” and the odd, lovely placement of “Wings” in Josh’s solo turn were both delightful surprises.

Setlist: Idado / Southern Pacifica / Rumours / Evil Eye / Hopeful / Lillian, Egypt / The Curse / Joy To You Baby / New Lover / Folk Bloodbath / The Temptation Of Adam / Change of Time / Wings / A Certain Light / Rattling Locks / Wolves / Right Moves / Kathleen // Lights / To The Dogs Or Whoever

the felice brothers @ cat's cradle

the felice brothers @ cat's cradle

The Felice Brothers opened, and while the siblings shoot beforehand fell through, they turned out to be the perfect weirdos to open for perfect weirdo Josh Ritter last night. I’ve only seen the Felices twice, both in the fall of 2010, once at Bristol on a huge stage and once at Kings a few weeks after that, and never since the latest record. Ian is such a creepy trainwreck genius, and James is the sexiest accordian player in the world, and Farley is the best thing to ever happen anywhere. They are so much fun to shoot, and such wonderful songwriters, and I need to never forget that.

Full set from last night here.

I feel a little guilty about these shots, because it was apparently a no cameras / credentials only show. Nobody told me not to shoot, though, and I didn’t see it posted anywhere, so I’m really sorry, Josh. I tried to be unobtrusive.

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speakers in code garden party: admiral fallow

speakers in code garden party: admiral fallow

speakers in code garden party: admiral fallow

speakers in code garden party: erin rae & john davey

speakers in code garden party: tip your musicians

speakers in code garden party: an uninvited guest

And then on Sunday, the North Carolina division of Speakers In Code took over the stage that’s immediately in front of Matt and Tracey’s new house (most convenient stage ever), loaded it with a full PA system, plugged the keggerator full of Fullsteam’s summer basil beer (graciously donated by Sean from Fullsteam, who turned up later in the afternoon, surveyed our sad beerless landscape, and hauled a full keg of Fullsteam’s Carver sweet potato lager out of his car) into an outdoor outlet, and threw an indie rock party in the middle of a subdivision.

In case you were wondering, Admiral Fallow’s ‘Isn’t This World Enough??’ is the perfect foot-stomping hand-clapping ragged joyful anthem for watching live music outside on a flawless October Sunday afternoon. (You can watch that video and pretend you were with us on Sunday, because Louis is wearing the same shirt.)

Full set, now featuring more photos of shoes, bugs crawling on Scots, and big blue sky, here.

the lumineers @ local 506

the lumineers @ local 506

the lumineers @ local 506

I wrote about this show for Speakers in Code, so you can read about my feelings there and look at more photos of the Lumineers and excellent openers Kopecky Family Band here. (Or here, where the full set is.)

the lumineers @ local 506

the lumineers @ local 506

kopecky family band @ local 506

kopecky family band @ local 506

kopecky family band @ local 506

shakori hills grassroots festival spring 2012

shakori hills spring 2012: holy ghost tent revival

Muchas gracias to Grant and the Bottom String (although to be fair, Grant pretty much is the Bottom String) for once again allowing me to scoot into the hippie zydeco-jam-band-roots-rock paradise that is Shakori Hills without paying for my ticket; I was out Thursday and Saturday (Sunday’s monsoon precluded my desire to stand in a field, knee deep in mud, and see Lydia Loveless, alas) and the full set is here.

Live music on beautiful spring nights is pure joy.

shakori hills spring 2012: donna the buffalo

shakori hills spring 2012: deep chatham

shakori hills spring 2012: elephant revival

shakori hills spring 2012: red clay ramblers

shakori hills spring 2012: curtis eller

boulder acoustic society @ deep south

boulder acoustic society @ deep south

I had the pleasure of going out to Raleigh to see my favorite klezmerpunkamericana band, Denver’s Boulder Acoustic Society, last night. With a huge sound, a practically punk rhythm section, and an accordian, BAS really, really don’t sound like anyone but themselves. Their set in Raleigh swung from gorgeous bluegrass waltzes to raving klezmerpunk fusions to piano rockers, all of it undercut by their spectacular rhythm section, drummer Scott Aller and upright bassist Neil McCormick, who may just be the best rhythm section working in Americana today. Aller in particular is a monster behind the kit, fierce and driving and subtle, and it’s always been a pleasure to watch him work.

boulder acoustic society @ deep south

BAS is in the process of working on a new album, and the crowd at Deep South last night were treated to a chatty band who are working through new material live on the road, and all of the new stuff they played sounded excellent; some deviations from the sounds of Punchline, their 2009 album that I’m terrifically fond of, keeping the complexity of the musicality on that album while pushing the actual sound of it, and the songwriting, in new directions. BAS is a band where no two songs sound alike, but they all sound like BAS, and that’s a rare quality. The new stuff they’re doing — in particularly a staggering song late in the set that I think is called “Giant”, just absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous — doesn’t sound like the old stuff, but it fits.

boulder acoustic society @ deep south

I was also impressed by how well they worked the crowd; Deep South is a drinker’s bar for a particular set of Raleigh residents, but by the second or third song in their excellent hour and a half (opening! I felt so lucky!) set, they had the majority of the crowd in the palm of their hand, quiet during quiet songs and reactive during noisy ones, and that was only doubly helped by their unplugging mid-set and coming down to the floor with us. I love bands that do that, because even in the small venues where I shoot, it makes the set feel even more intimate. (I love it even better with my f1.4 lens.)

And they sang Two Man Gentleman Band’s “Drip Dryin'” before the start of their set, and I love anyone who loves two man music.

boulder acoustic society @ deep south

I’ve heard people bitch about the rotating color light on the DS stage, but I loved it. Aside from the overbearing reds in some venues that make everyone look sunburnt, I love color in stage photos, and I got a ton of it late night. Clean edges and interesting walls and sharp light; it was a pleasure to shoot there, and BAS were a pleasure to see.

They’re on the road for the rest of the summer and I highly recommend seeing them. Full set from last night is here.

bowerbirds @ motorco

bowerbirds @ motorco

mount moriah @ motorco

A beautiful night full of unearthly music. I hadn’t seen Bowerbirds in a year, and it was thrilling to hear the new stuff they’re writing, bigger and scarier and more lovely than before. Mount Moriah opened in support of their recent debut LP, and were absolutely phenomenal. It’s funny to think that that band name has gone from an indie rock project fronted by Jenks — I saw them once in 2005 in that configuration, when a grad school classmate was drumming for them — to the lovely, startling, heartbreaking songs that they’re writing now and putting behind Heather’s staggering voice.

deserves a quiet night

brett harris @ cat's cradle

Anyone who doesn’t know that I spend a ridiculous amount of time listening to, thinking about, talking about and writing about music really, really hasn’t been paying attention. I will talk about music, and why I love it, and musicians I’m fixating on, and how it makes me feel, with anyone who will listen. That is often y’all, my lovely blog readers, but over the last few months, primarily it has been Pam.

And with anything I love, I will eventually boss people into doing what I want them to do, and what I have been wanting Pam to do is write about music. So I nagged and coaxed and sent helpful editorial comments like this still does not make me want to listen to hardcore, but it is a very good review if you do like hardcore!, and I have finally gotten her reviewing punk history books and hardcore EPs.

And most importantly, telling me stories about R.E.M., a post which made me cry when she posted it.

I love Pam for a host of reasons, starting with the fact that she is the only person in my life who will spend eight consecutive hours watching Frank Turner tour diaries and talking about them on IM with me and moving on to the fact that she has the best adventures in the world and finishing up with the fact that she was willing to take one for the Axis in Chicago over Thanksgiving weekend when they couldn’t be there but people needed punching, but even if you don’t know those things about her, you should be reading what she’s writing because she’s funny and brilliant and superbly perceptive.

And she listens to hardcore EPs so I don’t have to.