Archive for July, 2013

Friday is Boss’ Day: The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle (Live in Rome)

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2013 by 30daysout

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Sounds like it was a magical night in Rome last night as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s “Wrecking Ball”  tour continues to storm its way across Europe. After a roaring version of “Kitty’s Back,” Bruce broke out side 2 of The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle complete with strings. I have included the rarely played gem, “New York City Serenade,” and “Incident on 57th St.” from last night’s set list that also included “Lucky Town,” “Roulette,” and the underrated, “Bobby Jean.”

Backstreets Magazine

“New York City Serenade” (Live in Rome) by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

“Incident on 57th St.” (Live in Rome) by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Cover Me: “Real World” by Georange

Posted in Bruce Springsteen, Cover Me with tags , , , , , , , on July 9, 2013 by 30daysout

I know “Cover Me” is not a very creative title, but I could care less. It’s the best title for this weekly segment that will feature Bruce Springsteen covers performed by unknown artists. I plan to scour the web looking for the best versions of great Boss tunes. There are so many great musicians out there who are never heard and I plan to use this blog to help some of them find an audience.

I know this is shameless, but up first, is me. I am the lead singer of the Houston rock band, Orange Is In. Back in 2010, I did my first ever solo gig at a place called Bohemeo’s in Southeast Houston. It was a small Mexican restaurant/bar that had a great vibe and great owners. On the setlist that night was “Real World,” an excellent love song from Springsteen’s Human Touch album. While the album version is a little over produced, the acoustic version from the 1990 Christic Institute show is beyond amazing. That is the version I tried to capture on that hot July evening.

Feel free to send links to Springsteen covers you would like to see featured in this weekly post. We welcome all comers.

“Real World” by Bruce Springsteen (1990 Christic Institute Show)

“I Heard It On TV” – Finding More New Music on the Tube

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2013 by 30daysout

By George Kovacik

A couple of years ago I discovered I could find better songs watching television than I could listening to the radio. Songs I would never have come across otherwise are now in power rotation in the car and on the iPod. Songs like “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” by Robert Plant and Band of Joy from the ill-fated, but incredible Starz drama Boss, the gruff “This Life” and the poignant Product Details“John the Revelator” from the excellent Sons of Anarchy, performed by 90s “Sunny 99.1” artist Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers. SOA also introduced me to other gems such as “Alesund” by Sun Kil Moon, “Our Last Flight” by Scala & Kolacny Brothers, the incredible “Mary” by Patty Griffin, “This Charming Life” by Joan Armatrading, “Into Thy Hands” by The Celtic Rangers Family Singers, “Big Fella” by Black 47 and “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me” by the incomparable Richard Thompson.

Before it went off the air, One Tree Hill, contributed “The Sun” by the Naked and the Famous and “Secret Crowds” by Angels and Airwaves. The great Friday Night Lights left us with “Skull and Bones” by A.A. Bondy and “When the Night Comes” by Dan Auerbach among many others. NBC’s Parenthood is a great resource for new music. The Lennings do an outstanding cover of “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease. James Blake covers the Joni Mitchell tune “A Case of You,” and thank you for Donovan’s excellent “Catch the Wind.” The canceled Damages contributed Greg Laswell’s great solo piano version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” while HBO’s Big Love introduced me to “Home” by Engineers.

Who says watching too much TV is a bad thing?

“Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down” (From the Starz drama “Boss”) by Robert Plant and Band of Joy

“This Life” (From “Sons of Anarchy”) by Curtis Stigers and the Forest Rangers

“Alesund” (From “Sons of Anarchy”) by Sun Kil Moon

“Skull & Bones” (From “Friday Night Lights”) by A.A. Bondy

“The Sun” (From “One Tree Hill”) by The Naked and the Famous

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (From “Damages”) by Greg Laswell

“Home” (From “Big Love”) by Engineers

“Mary” (From “Sons of Anarchy”) by Patty Griffin

Happy “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”

Posted in Bruce Springsteen with tags , , on July 4, 2013 by 30daysout

By George Kovacik

Today is a day where we here in the United States celebrate our freedom, eat hot dogs and watch fireworks. Just for you, here is a great summer tune from one of America’s greatest treasures, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. It’s one of the last songs the band ever played with original member, “Phantom” Danny Federici. Have a safe holiday!

“4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Live in Indianapolis, 2008)

CD Review: “That’s It” by The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by 30daysout

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By George Kovacik

My wife and I get 48 hours a year to be together all by ourselves and we usually spend that time around our anniversary in the great city of New Orleans. Our nightly trek usually starts at the legendary Pat O’Brien’s. We enter off of Bourbon St., walk through the crowd, get a blast of hot air from the big fire pit in the middle, and then make our way to the back and order a hurricane (a drink so powerful you only need one). We then stand around for a few minutes and people watch,  and when we are ready to leave, we walk out the back past the long line of people waiting to get into to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the infamous Preservation Hall.

Preservation Hall was founded in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe as a way to preserve New Orleans Jazz. The building in the French Quarter was once a tavern in the War of 1812 and to this day has never received a “facelift.” Even though it has no air conditioning or any other modern day luxury, it’s packed every night by people eager to bop along to music played by some of the finest musicians in the Crescent City.

In the band’s illustrious 50-year history, it has never recorded an album of all original material…until now. That’s It, produced by Jim James of My Morning Jacket and director Ben Jaffe (son of the Hall’s founders) was recorded in the famed venue and is quite a delight.  Drummer Joe Lastie kicks the album into high gear on the album’s first track “That’s It,”  which also features stellar tuba work by Jaffe and a very creative trumpet solo by Mark Braud. “Dear Lord (Give Me Strength) is pure New Orleans dance music with a great gospel vocal. “Sugar Plum” almost sounds like it could have a rap over it like many of the songs on HBO’s Treme’ soundtrack.  “Rattlin’ Bones” has a Dr. John vibe, “I Think I Love You” and “Come With Me,” both sung by the legendary Charlie Gabriel, are as cool as the other side of the pillow, and the sultry “August Nights” is one of those ballads that would have been cool to here Frank Sinatra belt out with the band.

I will have to admit I am not a jazz connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination, but I really love the stuff that comes out of that little old building at 726 St. Peters. This new album, which comes out on Tuesday, is a fun, spirited collection of originals that will have you dancing and wanting to lift up your shirt for some beads. Okay, maybe that last part is just wishful thinking.

“That’s It” (NPR First Stream of entire album)

The Making of “That’s It”

CD Review: “Searching for Sugar Man” by Rodriguez

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by 30daysout

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By George Kovacik

Most of us musicians make albums that, for one reason or another, never seem to find their place in the world. They are filled with songs that we have spent years writing and thousands upon thousands of dollars recording. We think they are the next Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds and we have big dreams of money, girls and everything else that goes along with being a superstar. Back in 1970, Sixto Rodriguez was a singer-songwriter who had these same dreams. Then he made a record.

Rodriguez, as he was billed, put out his first album, Cold Fact, in March 1970 and a year later followed it up with, Coming from Reality. Both albums bombed in the United States, and Rodriguez quit music and worked manual labor jobs in Detroit where he lived at or below the poverty line.  Unbeknownst to him, both albums caught fire in South Africa. His songs became hits with the anti-apartheid movement and he became a hero no one knew anything about. In fact, tall tales circulated about how he had died. One said he shot himself to death on stage, while another said he doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.

In 1997, South African record store owner, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, set out to find out what happened to the elusive Rodriguez and to see if he was still alive. This is where I’m going to leave you hanging. I encourage you to watch the excellent documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, for the rest of the story.  However, I will tell you about the music that makes up the incredible soundtrack.

When you listen to Rodriguez, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t become a huge sensation. He’s a cross between Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. His songs were socially conscious with great melodies. They drew me in the first time I heard them. The catchy “I Wonder” should have been a huge hit. The sad “I Think of You” is a beautiful love song. The psychedelic “Sugar Man” showed his love for more than one kind of mind-altering substance, “Cause” is as brilliant and sad a song as you will ever hear, and his lyrical prowess is firmly on display on the Dylan-esque “This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst (Or, The Establishment Blues).”

The story of Sixto Rodriguez gives all of us musicians hope that there is some kid halfway across the world who cannot wait to get home from school to listen to his iPod and learn one of our guitar licks. I’m sure there is some other guy out there right now trying to find the balding guy on the back cover of the Orange Is In Another Lame Semi-Tragedy CD. I’m right here, buddy. Give me a call.

“I Think of You” – Rodriguez

“Cause” – Rodriguez

“Crucify Your Mind” – Rodriguez (Live on “Late Show with David Letterman)

“I Wonder” – Rodriguez (Live on KEXP)

Live: Barry Manilow, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on July 1, 2013 by 30daysout

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By George Kovacik

In this time of venom-filled abortion debates, Paula Deen’s 30-year old racism, the Trayvon Martin trial, 19 Arizona firefighters losing their lives and other disturbing events, it was nice to spend an pleasant evening outside under the stars with Barry Manilow.  Before an energetic crowd who packed the seats and part of the hill at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, TX (40 miles north of Houston), Manilow broke out the songbook and cranked out hit after hit during his 95 minute set.

“It’s A Miracle” and the disco mix of “Could It Be Magic” kicked off the night and in between that and the dramatic closer “I Write the Songs,” Manilow gave us “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Weekend in New England” (complete with women screaming after the line “when can I touch you” and Manilow responding “I’ve still got it), “This One’s For You,” “Mandy,” which started out with his first appearance on The Midnight Special, a powerful version of “Tryin’ To Get the Feeling,” the showstopper, “Copacabana,” and a new tune from a musical he has written called “Harmony,” which received a thunderous applause.  The night’s most moving ballad was  “I Am Your Child” from his first album. He talked about the cutting of school music programs and encouraged the crowd to get behind one of his passions, the Manilow Music Project, a fund that gathers, fixes and donates musical instruments to school districts around the country.

Manilow has always been a master showman, but to be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting much from the Brooklyn native who turned 70 last week (that should make you feel old). However, he more than proved me wrong. His voice was strong, he moved up and down the stage and he genuinely looked like he was having the time of his life singing songs that still stand up after all these years.

I first saw Manilow at Illinois State University in 1975 when he was just hitting it big. At one point on Sunday he referred to himself as the “Justin Bieber of the 70s.” Somehow I don’t see Biebs sticking around as long as Barry.

“Mandy” (Live 2013)

“This One’s For You” (Live 2013)