Thursday, May 31, 2007

Anne McCue -- "Koala Motel"

Theresa and I finally got to see Anne McCue perform May 11, 2007, and it was worth the wait. We had tix for Valentine's Day but she was snowed in and canceled. Serious bummer when your Valentine's Day vibe is a no show. Uh huh. We made out somehow. *wink*

We were offered tix to a Scott Miller and the Commonwealth opener instead. Scott ... he's an okay performer and a great conversationalist. He's a little bit country and a lot boring, if you ask me, but maybe I've seen too many Pittsburgh homeboys and gals up there strumming their tales with as much acumen. Ech ... maybe. I dunno. He's alright. I like him as a human being. Now ... headliner Miss Anne McCue ... well, that's another story!

Man, can that woman wail on the guitar! She's an awesome musician. One of the tracks (I Want You Back) features Lucinda Williams which sounds great. Her drummer had to fill in for Lucinda's vocals at the show and joked that he probably wasn't drunk enough yet (guess either Lucinda fell off the wagon or he doesn't know she's sober these days). Driving Down Alverado was worth the price of admission. Truly.

Her fingers fly across the frets and her hair hides her expressionless expressions ... as she powers through it with musical dexterity rarely seen in a female guitar player. I was absolutely blown away, as was the crowd that had gathered to see Scott Miller and the Commonwealth. We were two of the few she greeted to sign her CD that had actually come to see HER perform. She seemed amused when she questioned first Theresa and then me about finding her by mistake. We reassured her that we were there to see HER. The rest were converts, I'm sure. Maggots.

She is an absolute master of the guitar and does this unbelievable lap steel guitar gig that had people asking what the hell the instrument was. Classic moment. For sure. The woman three tables back shouting out "what is THAT?!"

Whatever stringed instrument is laid before her, she plays it well. On Hellfire Raiser, you seriously could have heard a pin drop. She is not a great vocal performer. Not by any stretch. But her guitar virtuoso has to be witnessed in person to be believed. Honestly. She is waaaaay up there with the greats. And screw that asshat that questioned who she was on her My Space video of her Jimi Hendrix cover Machine Gun. She ain't no singer ... but MAN ... can that GIRL PLAY!

If you want to learn more about Anne McCue (and you should) check these sites out: her web site: or her My Space page. This is a guitar player to watch. She'll crop up on tons of songs. Just you wait and see.
Patty Griffin -- "Children Running Through"

First off, the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh is an excellent venue so I was REALLY excited to see Patty play there again. Second, her sound man was awful. But ... it WAS Patty after all ... and thank God for that! This woman CAN SING like few others live.

She came out, quietly, and sat down at the (poorly tuned) piano to begin her set and successfully crooned out two incredible tunes (set list below). Her fans love her so much. It's evident in the quiet envelope of her first two acoustic choices and it gave her a chance to show off her pipes. Much appreciated.

There were numerous posts to the Mad Mission fan board following the show but none of them commented on the crappola sound. I wasn't surprised because Patty fans are of the rabid variety that lean toward the "glass is half full" reviews. I still have some semblance of "well, .... okay" left in me to be objective. And I have to add, for those of you trying to figure out if you want to go see her as a newbie with little to no previous adoration embedded, she puts on one hell of a great solo artist show and she was nominated twice for a Grammy. Okay? And ... her voice is like pure velvet streaming down your back.

That said. Onto the other stuff.

Her set included:

J'irai La Voir Un Jour - solo/piano
First Star - solo/piano
Get Yourself Another Fool (Sam Cooke song)
Stay on the Ride
Trapeze (no Emmy Lou Harris but it lovely, nonetheless)
Useless Desires
Burgundy Shoes - piano
Kite Song - piano
As Cold as it Gets - solo
Mary - solo
Be Careful - Patty & Doug
When it Don't Come Easy
No Bad News
Love Throw a Line
Heavenly Day
I Don't Ever Give
Up Up to the Mountain - Patty vocals/Doug guitar Truth #2

Sweet Lorraine
Getting Ready

Personally, because I am such a crazy, rabid, nutball, off-the-charts "Flaming Red" CD fan, I love the harder rocking stuff on this new effort. The Heavenly Day song is ... um ... so, so for me. It's beautiful to hear her sing it live -- there is NO questioning THAT -- but it might have been a better second single off of this CD. Just my opinion. Burgundy Shoes is an absolute RINGER for the soft rock stations -- push THAT instead. Once again, my humble opinion. America needs some home comfort right now. That's an ace in the hole. Total Americana.

Her band totally rocked out on Truth #2 and No Bad News! It was a joy to watch her turn her back to us and fully engage with some hard strumming. WHEW! Man, she rocked those two and left us wanting more. Me, at least. *grin* The best part of the hard rockin' portion was watching Doug .... play a white wash bucket with his sticks ... the bucket flew off five feet in the air at the end. AWESOME!

Thank goodness that Dave Matthews' ATO Record label picked her up after that debacle with the Silver Bell CD. We are better human beings for having listened to her art. And how exciting is this? In 2007, the Atlantic Theater Company will produce "10 Million Miles," a musical based on the music of Patty Griffin, with book by Keith Bunin, directed by Michael Mayer. I mean ... really ... a TRIBUTE to her craft. It should be, if it's done right, awesome. It opens June 14th Off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company at The Linda Gross Theater (336 West 20th Street).

If you want to find out more about Patty or listen to her stuff, check out: her Mad Mission posting board for emails on her shows; her own site; or her My Space page. Enjoy! Bad sound men, be damned! Patty girl? You ROCK!
G. Love & Special Sauce -- "Lemonade"

Philadelphia native Garrett Dutton III, born a day after me nearly a decade later, offered up some tantalizing mixes that got the crowd movin' and groovin' at Mr. Smalls Theater April 11, 2007. This guy puts the punctuation on all of the right high notes with his gritty pseudo-rapping and harmonica wailing. Everything that comes out of the microphone is slurred to the point of no return for 40-somethings ... but you get the gist of it.

The place was packed and we hung out in the back bar, far from the swaying masses and drunken loan Harley dude off to the right. This guy could barely stand, let alone sing, and SING (loudly), he did. It was an interesting mix of young and old, hardcore biker dudes, and preppy frat dudes. *note to self: only two african americans spotted ... interesting. Theresa and I stood out like sore thumbs. We simply didn't fit the demographic but that didn't dull my enthusiasm for singing along with "My Baby's Got Sauce" and "Rodeo Clowns," his hit featuring Jack Johnson which I love, love, love ... no sauce, please.

The "G." in G. Love stands for "Good" and good, they are. No mystery there. The band, which started out in 1994, is now known for its live shows and I have to say, having seen him twice (once in Austin at the Austin City Limits Festival and once in Pittsburgh in a packed indoor show), he delivers. He has this great way of connecting with the audience and engaging them in the show. The band is really rocking and backs him superbly. You can't help but shout, "You CAN'T GO BACK to Jersey" when the full band is grooving away. And you know? You just can't. Go back to Jersey, that is.

Check out more information about G. Love & Special Sauce at their My Space page or their Fan Site page and, for God's sake, check them out live in your home town!