Archive for Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons

SXSW Ripples: We’ve Heard Some Of This Before

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , on July 26, 2012 by 30daysout

Jimmy Cliff leads the list of SXSW 2012 performers with new music out.

We had a great time at the SXSW event this past March in Austin, we got to meet some fine folks and experience some truly strange times. The coolest thing, though, is all of the music out now that we got a preview of at the conference. Let’s go through some of it:

Jimmy Cliff, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, gave us a taste of his new album Rebirth. It’s his first album in eight years, and certainly a return to form for the reggae master. Produced by Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong, songs like “One More” and “Ship Is Sailing” embraces Cliff’s classic sound while snapping it right up to date. This album is just one great moment after another: from the righteous “World Upside Down,” to the scathing “Children’s Bread,” to the soulful “Cry No More.” Jimmy hits a peak on his cover of The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” which name checks Jimmy Cliff’s own masterpiece The Harder They Come.

YouTube: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff at Waterloo Records

Norah Jones

We kinda fell in love with Norah Jones (again) at SXSW, when we saw her play with her roots-country band The Little Willies. We didn’t get to see her solo showcase, which previewed her new pop album Little Broken Hearts. While the songs explore the hurt and confusion of a fractured relationship, the sound is dark but very rich. Thank Norah’s co-producer/co-writer Danger Mouse and Norah’s own adventurousness for push-the-envelope gems like “Miriam” and “Happy Pills.”

Let’s call out a fresh talent now: Cory Chisel fronted a band he calls the Wandering Sons at a show for the Gram Parsons Foundation, but most of the players were apparently on loan from Cory’s musician friend Brendan Benson. We did like backup singer-keyboardist Adriel Denae, and she’s prominent on Chisel’s new Old Believers. Hailing from Minnesota, Cory has a winning roots-country sound that isn’t afraid to ride rough and rock out.  “Times Won’t Change” was a crowd favorite, and “This Is How It Goes,” which kicks off the album, has a lovely vocal turn from Adriel. Best of the lot are “I’ve Been Accused” and the rousing come-to-meeting stomper “Over Jordan.” Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons are on tour right now, opening for Norah Jones – we strongly suggest you get out and catch this killer ticket.

YouTube: Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons “This Is How It Goes/I’ve Been Accused” on “Late Night With David Letterman”

We took some of Austin’s awesome Hey Cupcake! pastries to PUJOL because they are so cool, they are great rockers and frontman Daniel Pujol helped us get in to see Jack White’s showcase. Be that as it may, PUJOL’s first full-length LP United States of Being is a fine effort, front-loaded with rockers like “DIY2K” and “Providence.” Don’t miss “Black Rabbit,” Daniel’s tribute to his real-life pet, and “Each And Every Day,” which would be a radio hit if such a thing still existed.

YouTube: “Black Rabbit” by PUJOL

We gotta give some love to our friend and SXSW regular Alejandro Escovedo, for his rockin’ new album Big Station. Al played some of the most popular gigs at SXSW this year, nearly shutting down traffic on South Congress when he played in the parking lot of the San Jose Hotel and opening a show at ACL Live for some guy named Springsteen. Also, a shout out to Hacienda, who we saw at the San Jose in 2011; they have a new out too. It’s called Shakedown, and it’s produced by Black Keys guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach.

YouTube: Hacienda sizzle reel for Shakedown

Finally, a couple of faves from past years at SXSW … We caught The Gaslight Anthem under a tent in a parking lot in 2007, and since then they’ve carved out a great rock and roll niche for themselves. Their new album is Handwritten and it’s chock full of rockers (the great “Howl”) and passion (the title cut).

And if you missed our interview with rock royalty Michael Des Barres, you should not pass up on Carnaby Street, his new album. It’s our favorite album of the summer – with the blistering title track, the soul rockin’ “Forgive Me,” and Texas steamy “Hot And Sticky” you can’t go wrong. Mike and his expert band sound a bit like Rod Stewart fronting the Rolling Stones, and on “My Baby Saved My Ass” they manage to out-rock even those geriatric superstars. If you like your rock and roll old school and below the belt, Des Barres is the man for you.

YouTube: “Obsession” by Michael Des Barres at SXSW 2010

SXSW Day One: The Class, and the Craziness

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by 30daysout

Ladies and gentlemen, Eric Burdon!

AUSTIN – There is nothing gradual or tentative about the South by Southwest (SXSW) music conference; you jump in and either start swimming madly or you just drown. We tried to make a schedule for Wednesday, the first full day of the music madness, but it stayed folded in a pocket for the duration. We saw more than one couple frantically flipping through the Austin Chronicle or an official SXSW book (like a large catalog, really) for guidance, and looking more and more drowned by the minute.

Polly Parsons

Just get the sneakers workin’, and we did – to discover a swell group, A Classic Education. With a swirling and darting style reminiscent of the Smiths, this unit charmed a small crowd in a small bar. People came in for the free booze, and they left with sweet melodies ringing in their ears.

We flitted from venue to venue until we decided to make a stand in the parking lot of the colorful San Jose Hotel, to enjoy a musical lineup and help launch the Gram Parsons Foundation. Organized by Gram’s daughter Polly, who is now an Austin resident, the Foundation aims to support musicians and artists worldwide with addiction and recovery services. Wednesday’s party at the ever-popular South by San Jose event was a swell way to announce the Foundation’s good work.

Gram, who envisioned a mix of rock, folk, blues and country as “Cosmic American Music,” surely smiled on the offerings of Poor Moon, comprising Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott (Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls) and brothers Ian and Peter Murray (The Christmas Cards). While certainly adept instrumentally – Wescott and one of the Murrays bounced continuously between xylophone, guitar, keyboards and various percussion – and vocally, Poor Moon’s songs lacked a bit of focus and foundation. While the Fleet Foxes’-styled harmonies were beautiful, we wanted a hook or two to hang our hats on.

Cory Chisel, left, and Brendan Benson

Ask, and ye shall receive: in the form of Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, who came out blistering with a sweet blend of country and rock. Cory has it all: great songs, an engaging style and, in his own words, “the best-looking band anywhere.” From Wisconsin, Chisel’s heartland rock is best spotlighted on his debut album Death Won’t Send A Letter, which he recorded with members of the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather and My Morning Jacket. Cory promises a sophomore release this summer, but in the meantime he and his crack touring unit have captured many hearts early on at SXSW.

Brendan Benson, himself a part-time Raconteur, stepped up next and he delivered with some deft heartland rock. At one point he said “I can’t believe I’m saying this but, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Eric Burdon!” And there he was – former lead singer of the Animals, resplendent in black and white (hair), electrifying the crowd with “When I Was Young.” Burdon’s appearance was like a thumb in a light socket, but at two songs, all too brief.

Eric Burdon

We plunged ahead into the dark, and downtown Austin, only to stumble upon our old buddy and Houston homie Al Staehely and his band the Explosives. Staehely and his brother John (also present in the Explosives) were replacement members of the 1970s version of the seminal California prog/psychedelic rockers Spirit. At age 66, Al is in fine voice and John squeezed out some fiery leads on guitar. After working the crowd into a lather, Al said “let’s do a couple from Spirit” and launched into a rockin’ cover of Randy California’s “I Got A Line On You.”

Al Staehely, who in the daytime is an entertainment lawyer in Houston, told us he had virtually retired from performing in 1985 when his son Christian was born. “I figured I should be a full-time lawyer, and only played at home,” he said. “Really, it was Freddie Krc (former drummer for Jerry Jeff Walker and leader of the Freddie Steady 5) who got me started again. We would do a gig here and there and finally I just jumped back in all the way … it’s a lot of fun.”

What a way to rock us out of the evening. Today, we’re headed over to catch a keynote address by one Mr. Bruce Springsteen, who made his presence known Wednesday by jumping onstage with Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely and Garland Jeffreys for four songs. Later on this evening, Springsteen and the E Street Band will perform at the spankin’ new ACL Live venue, just across the river from the hallowed ground of the old Armadillo World Headquarters where Bruce made his first Austin splash back in 1974.

Nice shoes Al. Wait, are those really shoes?