No April Fool’s Jokes Here
Sorry, just a roundup of the week’s best five shows.
Does anyone “celebrate” April Fool’s Day anymore? If anyone still does, does anyone else—this might be more to the point—find it all that amusing? Both questions could be classified as rhetorical…but the answer to the latter is surely “No.”
So, while I try to fill every Rock Roundup with fun and jocularity, there will be no fake recommendations here, no exploding cigars, in honor of Fools Day. You might not agree if you don’t happen to like any of the recommended shows, but caveat emptor is the Roundup’s guiding principle on every day of the year.
Wednesday, April 2
Don Williams at Riverside Theater
“Gentle Giant” is not the coolest nickname a country singer can acquire, but it behooves all of us to remember that Don Williams got it during the 1970s, when there were three or maybe five comforting presences like Williams for every maverick like Willie Nelson.
The guy had a special gentleness about him, and country-music audiences showed their appreciation by giving him Top Ten hits from 1974 to 1991. In the couple of decades since, Williams has occasionally toyed with retirement but has never stayed away too long.
His latest album, this year’s Reflections, applies the gentle-giant approach to songwriters like Townes Van Zandt and Merle Haggard, with pleasingly soothing results.
Wednesday, April 2
Typhoon at Turner Hall Ballroom
An indie-rock collective with 11 members? Why, that sounds like something from that TV series “Portlandia”…or like a concept that almost any open-minded musician has either pondered and discarded or pondered, organized, executed and then discarded.
Typhoon actually comes from Portland, so that fits with my barely baked theories, but the group defies me by having existed in some form since 2005! Plus, while bandleader and lead singer Kyle Morton sounds a little too much like Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz, Typhoon’s latest album, last year’s White Lighter, is often quite lovely and not too precious.
In my favor, the accompanying clip is from NPR.
Experience Hendrix 2014 Tour – Show 2 at Riverside Theater
In mid-March, the latest incarnation of the Experience Hendrix Tour sold out the Riverside, in part because of the staying power of Jimi Hendrix’s brief, brilliant discography and in part because the lineup was packed with a wide range (age, genre, ethnicity) of guitarists.
The follow-up extravaganza has many notables from the first date—Frank Zappa’s son Dweezil Zappa, pure-toned Texas guitar slinger Eric Johnson, Aerosmith second fiddle Brad Whitford—plus bluesman Taj Mahal and the six-string player from the Doors, Robbie Krieger.
Special mention goes to another more-than-slight return, Chris Layton, the former Stevie Ray Vaughan drummer who, at the first show, spent the most time onstage and worked the hardest.
A taste of the original:
Friday, April 4
St. Vincent at Turner Hall Ballroom
“People are chaotic quiddities living in one cave each,” English novelist Martin Amis once wrote. “They pass the hours in amorous grudge and playback and thought experiment. At the campfire they put the usual fraction on exhibit, and listen to their own silent gibber about how they’re feeling and how they’re going down.”
The music Annie Clark has made under the St. Vincent moniker suggests agreement with and approval of Amis’s assessment. But, like her pal David Byrne (with whom she made Love This Giant in 2012), she embraces human oddity—and not just her own—as if it were the most beautiful thing about the species.
Her latest album, this year’s St. Vincent, makes an entrancing case that she, Byrne, and Amis are correct. She probably has a pretty cool cave, too.
Sunday, April 6
John Sieger & Greg Koch at Shank Hall
If John Sieger’s not careful, his second wind could also be counted as his third and fourth winds. He has not only reunited his 1980s band Semi-Twang in 2009 and thus far made two solid-rock albums from the endeavor; he has also been writing (or saving up) enough songs that he can practically hand ‘em out on the street. (Sieger loves the craft of song-writing so much he now writes a column on classic songs for TCD.)
Local guitar hero and fellow Wisconsin native Greg Koch has been helping Sieger write even more songs, ten of which appeared on Koch’s highly collaborative 2013 disc, Plays Well With Others. To mark the April 1 release of Sieger’s own selection of the co-writes, “A Walk in the Park,” Koch is joining Sieger onstage just as he did in the studio.
Here are the two looking frightfully spry on a morning show last summer: