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Posts Tagged ‘blues traveler’

She took the stage in a red dress, with a deep v-neck, gathers through the hips and a swingy skirt which perfectly grabbed her and held her up for admiration. Her blonde curls fell saucily around her face, her wide mouth curled, and when she leveled her sultry gaze at us from across those cheekbones, we all willingly surrendered. Sing for us, Joan. Tease us and rock us, show us what you’ve got because we know you’ll dole out as much as we can handle. 

What a voice this woman has–not forgetting that her label is Womanly Hips, since the power of her gravelly tone is only amplified by the way she undulates on stage. Joan is a woman of a certain age, who sings covers of Motown standards, makes Grateful Dead songs her own (“Brokedown Palace”), and refuses to relinquish Rock & Roll, neither in her covers nor in her original pieces. 

I’ve seen Joan Osborne perform maybe half a dozen times, the first being as the opening act for Blues Traveler at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, CA in 1997. Her set was great, but what really convinced me was when she joined BT on stage and sang “Slow Change” with them (I am actually listening to the recording of the performance right now). Hearing that song interpreted by the gradual build of her vocals, I understood it in a way I hadn’t before, such is the power of her voice.

I’ve also heard her at Irving Plaza, which was pure, sexy rock–she was still singing for a younger crowd. But last night (October 25th), I was surrounded by couples in their late 40’s and early 50’s who looked like they spent their time listening to NPR, reading The New Yorker, and renewing their membership to the Met. People were drinking red wine out of actual stemmed glasses. I knew going into it that this concert would not be one of those transcendent dancing experiences, but neither did I expect to be standing next to Marrieds with bald spots, kids in college, and trousers jeans. 

Of course, none of it mattered. We all were wooed by Red Dress Joan, regardless of our demographics. She opened with her cover of “How Sweet It Is,” which sashays slowly forward, eschewing the chipper excitement I usually associate with that song. She performed many of her new songs, which have a strong sense of place (that place being New York City).* Each song told a little story, usually of the joy of finding or returning to a perfect love, which she located with descriptions and names of places. I loved this lyric from “Sweeter than the Rest,” when she sings “I am crossing Brooklyn Ferry, with the clouds to my west.” And I found myself smiling with the sense of scene when she crooned at us, “In a gypsy cab / on the Brooklyn Bridge at sunrise / we are going home / and the lust is burning in your eyes” (from “To the One I Love”). 

For those of you not as aware of Joan’s charms, and discography, you’ll most likely recognize her radio hit “What If God Was One of Us.” This isn’t even one of my favorite songs of hers, and didn’t expect her to play it–it’s certainly not why I bought a ticket. But, play it she did, smartly tweaking its nose to keep it interesting for us (and I’m sure, for herself, too). She closed the show with my favorite “Only You Know and I Know.” Thanks, darlin’. 

And then she was gone, the hem of her dress flipping flirtatiously at us as she slipped offstage, leaving us to head back out into the city, the city she’d just sung about so eloquently and seductively. 

*I think her new album, Little Wild One, would make an excellent companion piece to Steve Earle’s most recent effort, Washington Square Serenade, which is just as equally anchored by New York City imagery and appreciation. In fact, I’d love to hear the two of them sing a duet; it would be a powerful blend of voice, style and energy.

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Or, the Post Series Formerly Known as Elipses. Massive public mortification, people. For all of us. You’re educated (right?). I’m educated. How is it possible that I’ve written ten “Elipses” posts over the last ten months and no one’s pointed out to me that I’ve been misspelling the damn word the entire time? It’s spelled: ee double-ell eye pee ess eye ess.

Lots of odds and ends to pull together here, I’ve been hoarding links for two weeks now… Title Nine has clearly drunk the Kool Aid as served up by the web marketing gurus, and has built a social network of sorts on its e-commerce site. I, of course, link its “Best of the Blogs” feature. Oh, and Husband already has my list for Christmas presents… For an excellent analysis of the debacle that was the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, a philosophical chat on what constitutes an elite in any given race, and some unapologetic opinion-expressing, visit Races Like a Girl… Adam Nagourney stated the obvious in the New York Times last week, “From years of traveling around the country covering political campaigns, I have discovered that jogging can be one of the great ways to explore a city. It is a way to go sightseeing and to discover hidden paths or neighborhoods.” It took him years to discover this? In the era of MapMyRun.com and RunthePlanet.com, this article, which highlights Indianapolis (Indianapolis? WTF!), made me squirm with embarassment for Adam. But perhaps my real quibble is his liberal and clueless use of the word “jogging“… My friend and running buddy LS is racing the NYC Marathon to raise money for her passion project, the International HUG (Help Uganda Grow) Foundation. iHUG sets out to educate Ugandan children, and improve their health and standard of living through community development. To help LS improve the lives of some really cute, sweet African kids, you should CLICK HERE to donate (note “LS” in the notes/memo field). Or, visit the foundation’s site and learn how you can volunteer stateside…If you’d like to win a free copy of the most worthy film Run for Your Life, about Fred Lebow and the development of the New York City Marathon, go to this bulletin board to post your memories/thoughts/goals about the race. All entries must be posted by November 1… For those of you who enjoyed my post about the Blues Traveler concert, click here to see some photos from the show, taken by one of Husband’s friends… Everyone’s/Everything’s gotta have a blog, even the New York City Marathon. Have I jumped the shark?… Now is the moment for Liz Robbins’ book A Race Like No Other, as marathon madness heats up here in my epicenter of a city. On November 1st, she’ll be inteviewed on the NPR show “Only a Game,” and she will be appearing at various bookstores around the Tri-State and Denver areas this week and later in November. Apparently, the author’s been blogging (hm, great idea!), too. Definitely check out the review posted at 5th Sun, and you can also watch a video, embedded here for you…

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It’s music week, boys and girls, which means live shows three days in a row, late nights, dancing, beer, and unrepentant joy. Every October at least two (it’s been as many as five) of our favorite bands swoop through town, and we go to every single show, since these bands don’t fuck around: they’ve got a different set list for us every night. Amen, brother. 

Last night was one for old times’ sake, Blues Traveler. I thought I’d already seen them at every possible venue in this city over the years, but they found a new one to add to my list, the Highline Ballroom all the way over in Chelsea. 

I had mixed feelings about going to this show. The last time I’d seen the band three years ago, it seemed like they were just dialing it in, with lazy set lists to boot. I didn’t want to walk away from yet another Traveler gig feeling like the glory days were dead and buried (even though they are). But, honestly, there’s no way I could pass on a BT show–they’ve given me too many happy memories over the 12+ years I’ve been going to their shows (I met Husband at the 7/3/98 show at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado, for example). Plus there’s always that tantalizing chance that they’ll pull out something really great from the vault and just bring us back, back to our years of optimism and spontaneity. 

And so. They took the stage at 10 PM and got right to it, opening with “Sweet Talking Hippie.” I’d been sitting at a table in the balcony with Husband and some of his taper friends, but as soon as I heard the opening chords of “Hippie,” there was NO WAY I could remain seated. In about, ooh, three seconds I was downstairs, shimmying my way towards the center of the crowd. 

These days, I feel most like myself when I’m wearing running shorts, a technical tee and sneakers. But back in the day, I was most at home like this: dressed in jeans, little tee, Puma’s, a beer in hand, facing the stage, chin tilted up, chest catching the reverberation from the drums and bass guitar. I knew exactly what to do, what was expected of me, I understood their language. I still do, of course, but the resultant joy feels more like a revisiting rather than a discovery. 

After “Hippie,” they segued right into “Stand,” another personal favorite–the beat plows forward, Popper’s harp and Chan’s guitar jangle and whine over the bass in a touch-and-go that makes my neck itch with pleasure, and the lyrics are profound and true. It’s quite possible I laughed with happiness–how did they know? Who told them I’d be so pleased if they played this song? Wow and Thank You. 

Some listening was bittersweet, a couple of their songs have strong connections to discrete moments lived with specific people. “But Anyway” is perhaps the best song they’ve ever written, perfect in so many ways; and the atmospheric “Regarding Steven” rips my heart out with its sense of regret-laden wonder. 

Those tunes I never expected to hear–“What’s for Breakfast?” And “Trina Magna” just blew me away; they are, respectively, an antsy growl of satisfaction and a sometimes-tinkly, sometimes-fierce cry of life. 

One thing Blues Traveler always does is rock the encore, and for that I respect them. They could return to stage, rush through a perfunctory “Hook,” blow us a kiss, and be gone. Other bands do that. While not their Greatest Encore Ever (here I trust Husband will post in the comments his thoughts on the G.E.E.), BT definitely worked for us, breaking out the classic, effervescent “Gina,” and we even had the semi-expected treat of Chris Barron from the Spin Doctors sitting in on vocals for their trademark cover of “Joker.”

Most definitely, this show was worth me missing my bedtime by nearly four hours. Heck, it’s worth a lot more than that–this is one for the memory bank. 

Next up: two nights of Galactic at Irving Plaza. In this case, I have no doubt their performances will be fabulous. Can’t wait! 

Before I forget: I ran 4 miles yesterday morning, two easy Sunnyside loops, for recovery from Wednesday’s speed workout. Today’s a rest day–in every sense of the word.

Setlist:
Sweet Talking Hippie>
Stand
Runaround
How You Remember It
Defense & Desire>
Jam*>
Mulling It Over*
But Anyway
100 Years**
Back in the Day
Chan solo>
Carolina Blues>
DSNYC>
You Reach Me>
Drums>
DSNYC
I Want You to Want Me
Orange in the Sun (a new tune, I think that’s what it’s called)
Trina Magna>
Regarding Steven>
Trina Magna
You, Me and Everything
Hook>
What’s For Breakfast
 
E: Gina
    Joker***
 
*-w/ Faloo on vocals/scat. She was Indian, and basically jammed with her voice in traditional style true to her heritage. Very cool stuff.
**-John on acoustic guitar
***-w/ Chris Barron and Lisa Bouchelle on vocals

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