TBT: Mumford & Sons, Wakarusa 2010

I’ve had “Little Lion Man” playing on repeat in my car for two days. I am not ashamed of disclosing that. And this morning, that song, and maybe the nice and humid morning drive to work, reminded me of the Mumford & Sons set at Wakarusa 2010 (aka the best lineup that Wakarusa has and, most likely, will ever have). Man, the memory of that show still makes me so happy. I watched the show alone after shooting the first three songs. I made my way to the front row and then… bliss. That was a nice crowd, everyone was letting me go in front of them when seeing how I was struggling to see over their heads (I’m 5’2″). This is what I wrote about the set:

Mumford & Sons @ Wakarusa 2011
The set began with “Sigh No More” and the crowd roared. It was the perfect set, balanced with beloved hits and new songs like “Bellow My Feet,” “Lover of the Light,” and “Lovers Eyes.” Bringing it to the grand closing with “The Cave.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one on cloud nine at that point. I’m still smiling. I’m positive this set brought the biggest crowd to the main stage. Mumford, Winston, Lovett, and Dwane, along with other supporting musicians, did an excellent job that day. The intimate lyrics and their love for their music made the Wakarusa stop an unforgettable show.

Mumford & Sons @ Wakarusa 2011
Mumford & Sons @ Wakarusa 2011
Mumford & Sons @ Wakarusa 2011
Mumford & Sons @ Wakarusa 2011

TBT: Radio Show Days

The recent posts by @Bernard_Oliver got me thinking about my college days. Back in the day, I also had the honor of hosting a variety of radio shows. My time with KDUR will always have a special place in my heart.

I started with a weekly radio show my first semester of college. As a lowly freshman with no experience and not majoring in communications, I was able to score the prime spot of 3-6am on Monday mornings. Yep, you read that correctly, three o’clock to six o’clock in the morning on Mondays. I had class at 9:00am on Mondays, so it was a great semester. The class was Biology, and my professor (who I really enjoyed) had the most monotone voice. I am not entirely sure how I passed that class.

The first iteration of the show was called “The Second Invasion” and was dedicated to the second wave of Brit Pop/Rock. Other than bands like the Manic Street Preachers  and Oasis, I played songs from the likes of Spacehog and Drugstore:

Spacehog with “Mungo City” off of The Chinese Album:

Drugstore with “El President” featuring Thom Yorke of Radiohead off of White Magic for Lovers:

During this first year, I also debuted what would become a staple throughout four of my five years on the radio. As a fan of hip-hop and rap, a friend of mine and I created “The Suburban Ghetto”. These special edition shows would take place the week of Finals. These shows featured hip-hop and rap and our theories about the unsolved murder of Tupac Shakur.

One of the  tracks we played frequently was Harlem World (featuring Ma$e) with “I Really Like It”:

Tupac was (and is) one of the most talented lyricists of all time. He words still have influence on me. Still to this day, when I hear someone rap, I compare them to Tupac. Few rappers can tell a story like he could. Here is “Staring Through the Rearview”:

We also played songs that represented the  roots of hip-hop. To this day I’ve not see a hip-hop group that could do what Tribe Called Quest did. “Award Tour” from Midnight Marauders has always been my favorite Tribe track:

During the first year of “The Second Invasion” and into the first half of the second year, “Millennium Liberation” I always started every show (except for “Suburban Ghetto”) with a track from the art-techno band, The KLF. The KLF helped introduce me to the world of Electronic music, as well as British pop. I thank goodness for the internet because as an American, I would never have known the how much  good and bizarre things that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty brought into this world as the KLF, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, the Timelords, the K Foundation and the JAMS. If you do not know this group, you really owe it to yourself to investigate. Because they have played such an important role in the development of my musical tastes,  I couldn’t pick just one song.

“Justified & Ancient” (ft. Tammy Wynette) aka “Stand by the JAMS”:

I really cannot begin to explain the feeling  that rushes through me listening to this song. This group paved the way for every band who created an image  that was mean to distract listeners from who the band really was. Entrenched in mythology from  from pseudo-occult traditions to Dr. Who, the KLF created an image that was different from anything else. Their art endeavors including burning 1 million quid to throwing sheep blood on an audience at the Brit Awards, showed that the KLF was years ahead of their time.

“America: What Time is Love” (as opposed to the original, “What Time is Love”:


Stay tuned for future posts about the Radio Show Days.




TBT: The Sound of Sunshine Review

This write up is from September 2010, and I thought it also needed to be posted today. I’m still savoring Franti’s “All People” so the review will come in the next few days.

Have you HEARD The Sound of Sunshine yet? If your answer is no, you have to go listen to it right now. You can do so here.

Are you back yet? Did you open it in another window and have it playing at the moment? OK, good. As you might guess, this a must-buy album.

Michael Franti & Spearhead hit the Top 40 nation with his single “Say Hey” from his last album All Rebel Rockers. From the moment that song became a hit, Franti & Spearhead took flight. Talk about seizing the moment! I remember reading about him in a CA newspaper about a year ago, he was asked about working on new material and he said something along the lines of “…Our single ‘Say Hey’ is now in the Top 40. Since that’s blowing up, we’re trying to stay out on the road.”

Turns out, they didn’t need to stop performing to create a new album. In fact, that’s exactly what they needed to keep doing. A lot of the songs in The Sound of Sunshine were completed on the road. Franti & Spearhead spent their winter as the opening act for John Mayer‘s Battle Studies tour. Perhaps the opportunity to perform for so many Mayer-lovers did a world of good, introducing Franti to many that otherwise wouldn’t be found as part of his audience.

This album is awesome. It’s full of hits. I started listening to it and after singing along with the already familiar title track, I went into the other songs and one by one they filled me up with pure happiness. Music can make you feel so good! Or as Franti puts it “Music can somehow lift us all up out of our most difficult moments in life to unimaginable heights.” With this album, you’ll want to memorize the lyrics instantly. Love songs, feel-good music, dance tunes, call them what you want. The positive lyrics and fun melodies in this album can make anyone feel better at the end of a rough day.

Granted, there are a couple of recycled lines in some of the songs, but you’ll only notice if you’re familiar with Franti’s music. The album has another sure hit for Franti containing “Hey” in the title– three times. “Love Don’t Wait”? Sing it to me, baby! I’m all over this album. There’s even a sunset version of the title track, it’s called “The Sound of Sunshine Going Down.” And makes a lovely alternate version to the fun hit.

This album is going to the top. A little less reggae and a little less rock than we’ve ever heard coming from Franti, while still keeping the essence of his message intact.

Go get this album now. I just did.

P.S. This review had nothing to do with my special affinity for barefoot rock stars.

TBT: Michael Franti & Spearhead @ The Village, 2010

I wrote this review in October 2010. Franti & Spearhead just released a new album this week, so I thought this is appropriate for Throwback Thursday this week.

Michael Franti & Spearhead @ The Village

With fresh new material, a lot of energy, and a growing fan base, Michael Franti & Spearhead are making the most of the moment. On Friday, Oct. 1, Franti & Spearhead had their first show in Little Rock, AR at The Village.

Franti & Spearhead really know how to put on a show. The venue wasn’t completely full, but it felt like it after the show started out with “Love Don’t Wait,” from the band’s latest studio production, The Sound of Sunshine.

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TBT: John Mayer @ BOK Center, Tulsa, 2010

I’m about to share some new John Mayer music, so I thought I’d share this for Throwback Thursday before I get judged! Ha! Read it, will you?

John Mayer @ BOK Center

I love John Clayton Mayer.

I’ve liked his music ever since I first heard him on the radio, but I didn’t fall in love with him as a musician until I had the chance to see him live on Feb. 1, 2007. In fact, before that show in 2007, I had no idea he was such great guitarist. That show elevated him to a completely new level for me. It was not just about cute lyrics and beautiful break-up songs anymore. It was about his passion for music and his glorious guitar riffs (oh yes, I said glorious.)

I knew he was playing in Tulsa on Sept. 3, but I wasn’t planning to attend the show. At least I wasn’t, until I saw the live broadcast of his Sept. 1 show at Colorado’s Red Rocks. That’s when I remembered how great he is and realized how much I’d regret it if I missed out on the Tulsa show. After all, it was just a two-hour drive and a ticket that wasn’t in my budget. But I had to do it. So I bought my ticket the day before the show and got on the road after leaving work on Friday.
John Mayer @ BOK Center
Lucky for me, the BOK Center performance wasn’t sold out. The opening act was Owl City. Which was not impressive at all, but everyone did stand up for their hit “Fireflies.” I was fine with sitting down for their entire set. After all, I wasn’t there to see them. When the schedule of shows for Mayer’s Summer tour came out, I thought it listed Train as the supporting act. I would have been a lot happier with Train. Or with Michael Franti & Spearhead, the supporting act for the winter part of Mayer’s Battle Studies tour.
John Mayer @ BOK Center
Mayer’s set started out with “Vultures,” from his Continuum album. Which he introduced with riffs from The Band‘s “Chest Fever.” He followed it with the Mayer classics “Clarity” and “No Such Thing.” The entire arena was singing along with these songs, including me. The next song is when I started to fly, because he played “Ain’t No Sunshine” with a reggae-flavored intro and a guitar solo that made me melt. Need I say more?

Later in the show he played The Rolling Stone‘s “Beast of Burden” along with “Perfectly Lonely,” from his latest album, Battle Studies. After that winner combination and an instrumental jam session, which rightfully earned drummer Keith Carlock a prolonged ovation, the show went into a mini-acoustic set. With Bob Dylan‘s “Don’t Think it Twice, It’s Alright” and “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” Mayer kept everyone in the audience happy.
John Mayer @ BOK Center
The 7-piece band accompanying Mayer is an impressive one. In addition to Carlock, the band is made up by David Ryan Harris (guitar), Robbie McIntosh (guitar), Sean Hurley (bass), Bob Reynolds (saxophone, flute), Bryan Lipps (trumpet), and Charlie Wilson (keyboards). Each of them had a moment to shine during the show. Like Wilson during “Who Says.” Despite listening to that song (it was the first single of Battle Studies) so many times before, this was the first time I noticed the delicate piano notes in its middle. Those notes really glue the song together. And now when I listen to that song I wait for them — so much soul in just a couple of notes.

Mayer ended with “Edge of Desire” as encore while a video compilation from the winter part of the tour played on the screen behind him. It was perfect. I got out of the BOK Center with the biggest smile, wishing I wasn’t alone, but still so high from the amazing musical evening I had just experienced. I was blown away, as I’m sure you would be, if you get to one of his shows.

The set was a great mixed of old and new favorites. Here’s the setlist of the night. Just in case you want to make a play list, like I did.
Chest Fever/Vultures, Clarity, No Such Thing, Ain’t No Sunshine, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, Beast of Burden/Perfectly Lonely, Waiting on the World to Change, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Your Body Is A Wonderland, Gravity, Can’t Find My Way Home/Who Says, Why Georgia, Heartbreak Warfare, Do You Know Me, Half of My Heart/Don’t Stop Believing, Encore: Edge of Desire
John Mayer @ BOK Center
And here are a few of my favorite photos of the night (they’re all from that perfect encore) in black/white.

TBT: The Giving Tree Band @ George’s, 2012

Last week for Throw Back Thursday, I posted the review for the first Giving Tree Band show I attended. This week, I wanted to share the second time I caught them live. Enjoy:

The Giving Tree Band @ George's Majestic
This is a late post, but I promise you it’s worth the wait. At the end of April, one of my favorite Bluegrass/Americana band made a stop in Fayetteville, AR at George’s Majestic Lounge. It had been close to two years since I first experienced The Giving Tree Band live. It had been way too long.
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TBT: First Annual Fayetteville Roots Festival

For Throw Back Thursday you get the review I posted at the other music blog in 2010 after the first Fayetteville Roots Festival. The fest has only gotten bigger and better. It’s so awesome. I’m sure @DocMurda would LOVE it. Enjoy:

FRF Final Jam
The First Annual Fayetteville Roots Festival on August 29th was set to take place at Greenhouse Grille, but after a water main broke at Greenhouse Grille the festival was moved to George’s Majestic Lounge. Hats off to the festival organizers and to George’s management and staff, because the evening ran smoothly, as if everything that happened was part of the plan.

The music-filled evening went better than I expected. I left George’s that night with a couple of new albums for my collection, after being blown away by some of the performances. I know I’m not alone when I say that this festival definitely has all the right components to become a Fayetteville classic; from the award-winning artists, to the welcoming audience, and a community coming together in case there’s a water main that breaks at the very last minute.
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TBT: Imagine Dragons – Continued Silence EP, February 2012

The second Throwback Thursday post today is the review I wrote for Imagine Dragons first release after signing for Interscope Records. Here it is:

Do you remember I told you about Imagine Dragons last year? They turned out to be my #1 music discovery of 2011.

They signed to Interscope Records at the end of 2011 and started recording new material right away. And as an awesome Valentine’s present, their new EP was released yesterday. Continued Silence EP is, in one word, epic. You have to listen to it. It contains a re-release of “It’s Time” and five new songs. I got it last night and it had me hooked after the first full-listen.

There is something about Imagine Dragons’ poetic lyrics in combination with their anthemic melodies, that make songs like “Demons” raise all the hairs in your arms. It’s hard to pick favorites from the new songs. So far, I’ve five-stared three out of the five. The other two have four stars. There’s not even a good place to start to listen to them, just hit play.

The first notes of “Radioactive” will probably give you that feeling you get when you’re about to experience something incredible. When I listened to the iTunes preview of that song, I thought it was a bit too on the electronic side for my taste. But the first full listen of the song erased that lame preview impression. You see, Imagine Dragons create complex songs. There are layers to their songs, there are intros and high points, there are resolutions, there are story lines, there are waves of melodies and vocals that hit you from different directions. This is all good. No, not good. It’s great. It’s what keeps their fans loyal. I first noticed this quality when I heard “Cover Up” for the first time (from their Imagine Dragons EP).

When I heard they’ll play at SXSW in March, I knew this was it. They will most likely explode in the music world after that performance. And it’s about time, because they have all the right elements to make it happen. Their stage presence is powerful, their lyrics are catchy and poetic, the music makes you want to move around and it makes your soul want to pop out of your body. If you think I’m exaggerating, just go catch their live performance.

Just do me a favor. If you’re at work, wait until you get home to your quality speakers before you listen to them. Laptop or PC speakers just won’t do it. Also, if you have never listened to Imagine Dragons before, start with their new EP. Don’t try to listen to all their music at once, because it might cause some kind of awesome-induced attack and I don’t want to be responsible for anything like that.

TBT: Imagine Dragons @ Club Madrid, September 2011

Happy birthday, America! For today’s edition of Throwback Thursday I bring you a couple of Imagine Dragons post I published in the last couple of years. I’m still high on awesomeness from the ID show I attended last week (and still owe you that write up) so I thought these posts were appropriate for today. This post was originally posted in September 2011 after a show in Las Vegas. Look, Dan with no mohawk-mullet! Enjoy:

Imagine Dragons @ Club Madrid
All photos by B “Café con Leche” Gutierrez

On Friday, Sept. 16, Imagine Dragons played a show at Club Madrid at Sunset Station in Las Vegas. The show was part of the afterparty for the 107.9FM listeners appreciation show that featured Lit. The Dragons were at home in Vegas, and looking around the crowd, it was clear that Club Madrid was full of fans and friends and not tourists. Everybody knew the songs and sang along, clapped at the right times, jumped and danced through the whole show.

Imagine Dragons @ Club Madrid
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