NOVEMBER 2007           back

Vanessa Carlton (w/Graham Colton opening): Nov 20th at Joe's Pub

In 2002Vanessa Carlton released her debut CD "Be Not Nobody" which spawned the big commercial hit A Thousand Miles and garnered her three Grammy nominations as well as a substantial number of mostly young devotees (one 24 year old fan flew here from France to see this show and the next show in Washington D.C.) .

Graham Colton has just released his debut CD which includes the current hit Best Days, which was featured on ABC's October Road and is being downloaded off iTunes at a staggering rate. His touring with Kelly Clarkson has also been instrumental in cultivating a dedicated young following for his music.

Both have good voices and radio-friendly material and seem destined for pop stardom. Both are also not generally the type of artist that would normally be of interest to me, but when artists of a certain stature choose to play an intimate venue like Joe's Pub, I can't help but become intrigued. 

The show opened with Graham Colton performing a very short solo acoustic set, rare for the pop rocker, which included a few songs from the CD, including, of course, Best Days, and an impressive cover of Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down. He's got a strong voice and I have to admit I enjoyed his set.

Before the show he was chatting with friends at the bar and two teenage girls sitting in front of me were beside themselves with excitement. I told them to go over, wait for a break in the conversation and then introduce themselves and tell him what they think about his music. They did exactly that and he proceeded to chat with them, and a couple of other young fans, for several minutes before heading back stage. He scored points with me, and the girl's dad who was there as the designated driver, for being so gracious.

Vanessa's set was dominated by material from her new CD Heroes &Thieves including the title cut, Hands On Me, My Best and Home. In between the new material she performed some older tunes like Who's To Say and C'est la Vie from her previous CD Harmonium. She also performed a song called All Is Well and said maybe it was a mistake that this song didn't make the CD. Well, it was a big mistake because even though she forgot the lyrics, blamed on the cold pill that she had mentioned earlier, and had to segue into White Houses which is also from Harmonium, it was hauntingly beautiful and my favorite song of the show.  (Heros & Thieves)

She has a very girlish voice which took a few minutes getting used to but it is a good voice and her songs are well crafted. The voice might actually be an advantage with her younger fans who can get the sense that she sounds like them. She was accompanied by only her piano and a single violin which was an effective presentation of her songs many of which have lush orchestrations on the CD's. She was also very personable on stage telling stories and song background.

I don't know if I'll ever see these artists again, but I suspect they'll both be around for quite some time and I'll always be able to say that I saw them at Joe's Pub. Pretty cool for an old guy.

Andrea Tierra: November 20th at Cornelia Street Cafe

After the Vanessa Carlton show at Joe's Pub, the timing was perfect for me to walk several blocks across 4th street to see Colombian singer Andrea Tierra at The Cornelia Street Cafe. I've been following the career of her husband, Latin jazz harpist Edmar Castaneda, for a couple of  years and had seen her perform with his trio in the past. 

She has a CD in the works which is slated to be called Melodia Verde and was backed in the studio and at this show by Dave Silliman on drums, Sam Sadigursky on sax, flute and clarinet and her husband on harp.

Her music is a blend of Latin jazz and traditional folk tunes, including some originals, which she explains in English and sings in Spanish. Her emotive delivery and her contralto voice are very compelling. My favorite song this time, as well as the last time, was Mediterraneo. I suspect you'll hear more on her later and I look forward the end result of her studio effort. (See Mediterraneo)

 

Shelby Lynn: November 15th at Hiro Ballroom

I've been wanting to get to the Hiro Ballroom and when I saw country and pop singer Shelby Lynn would be there, it seemed the perfect opportunity. I didn't know if she had a new CD, or what exactly to expect, I just knew that when I saw her a few years ago at Joe's Pub it was a great show.

So it was a delightful surprise to find out that the show would be material from her forthcoming CD of songs associated with Dusty Springfield. You know the songs, Look Of Love, I Only Want To be With You and Just A Little Lovin', being some of the most familiar.

My favorites of the show were Randy Newman's I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore and Tony Jo White's country tune Willie Laura Mae Jones. Her band  captured that soulful "laid back" lounge feel of Burt Bacharach and fused it with Shelby's country roots for an end result that was smooth and melodic. Very satisfying.

I read on Shelby's "myspace" page that the project was suggested to her by Barry Manilow. She went on to say that no one could do these songs like Dusty but that her goal was just to sing a collection of songs that everybody loves to hear. Shelby might not be Dusty Springfield, but she is Shelby Lynn and that's not nothing. I can't think of anyone better suited for this project. I suspect the CD will be a big success.

I should add that the Hiro was a beautiful and intimate venue with Japanese decor including red silk walls, paper lanterns and Japanese art. Expect to see me there again.

 

Marc Cohn: Nov 14th at Highline Ballroom

 When I mention the name Marc Cohn, I often get a blank stare until I say "Walking In Memphis" at which point, almost without exception, I get the knowing nod of recognition. The hit song from the early '90's has so insinuated itself into pop culture that it's difficult to find anyone who's not familiar with the tune even if the artist's name is still somewhat obscure.

He released three CD's in the '90's, all of which I still listen to today, and then entered a long period where no new material was coming. Then, about two years ago, he was the victim of a carjacking attempt that left him with a bullet lodged in his skull. That experience understandably opened the flood gates and a rush of new material led to his first new CD in about nine years and it just might possibly be his best work to date.

Instead of a dark work that you might expect after his traumatic experience, his new CD "Join The Parade" is a celebration of life. The title cut is a joyous call to get off the sidelines and enjoy life. Dance Back From The Grave is not so much about what Katrina did to New Orleans but of the people of that city whose funerals have traditionally danced to the graveyard but who will now pick up their tambourines and horns and dance their way back from the near demise of their precious hometown. It's downright inspirational.

The show included the usual suspects from the previous three CD's including, among others, 29 Ways, Girl of Mysterious Sorrow and, of course, Walking In Memphis. Marc actually only sang about half the lyrics of Memphis before the audience enthusiastically and deftly took over the vocal chores. In between the familiar tunes were various selections from the new CD, all of which were a thrill for me to hear performed as I've recently been loving the CD on a daily basis. (One Safe Place)

Among the new tunes performed were Listening To Levon, which Marc described as an homage to Levon Helm, an apology to a teenage girl and the story of the moment he realized he was supposed to be a musician. The song is a great story. Some other new material included Dance Back, The Calling, Let Me Be Your Witness and If I Were An Angel. We had the rare treat (?) of Marc playing drums on that last song. He actually did a fine job. See for yourself:

The band included Marc's long time impressive guitarist, Shane Fontayne, and drummer, Joe Bonadio, (now he's a drummer!), who I've met several times in the past from his touring with the amazing Martin Sexton. Opening act Amy Correia also did a fine job contributing backup vocals for Marc and company.

Marc is appearing again this weekend in New Jersey. This show left me with such a sense of satisfaction and well being that it's a distinct possibility that I'll go to that show as well.