Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dilly Dilly's MJ Tribute

following the big blood post, i would like to point you in the direction of another cerberus shoal alum- erin "dilly dilly" davidson. i already told you about her excellent debut solo LP, available for free at www.dillydillymusic.com. but i also wanted to show you a video of her michael jackson tribute- a cover of 'the man in the mirror'

in other michael jackson news, i have it on good authority that samuel james will be playing a cover of "billie jean" at Blue on thursday. I'll be there, you should come, too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The "Complete" Big Blood Discography

Big Blood falls for a thousand years....

in the spring of 2005 i woke up from a mid-afternoon nap. i was living in chicago and my truest lover - alicia - was visiting me for the first time. she was in the corner of the room, in white pajamas, painting with water colors. a song was playing. there were children laughing, and the percussion of typewriter taps, and an ethereal voice floating through it all. i felt caught between this world and a strange and beautiful (but somewhat scary) netherworld. writing poetry on fingernails will never pass the time away.

the song was called THE DING. the band was CERBERUS SHOAL.

alicia had heard them on wfmu, but beyond that they were a mystery. it wasn't until 2 years later, when i was about to move to Maine, did i look over the liner notes of THE VIM AND VIGOR OF ALVARIUS B & CERBERUS SHOAL and discover that this enigmatic group was from south portland- and they had an email address.

i emailed co-founder chriss sutherland, told him how much i loved CERBERUS SHOAL (I had since tracked down a few more equally mindblowing albums from their extensive catalog), and was hoping to see them live when i got to portland. however, when chriss emailed me back i was disappointed to read that cerberus shoal had gone to 'sleep', but would be emerging in a new incarnation as FIRE ON FIRE.

nonetheless, the first thing i did when i got to portland was go to all our fine record stores and ask if they had any cerberus shoal albums. i finally ended up at time-lag records- they didn't have any cs records, but they pointed me to some beautifully packaged albums by a band called BIG BLOOD- a side project by Colleen Kinsella and Caleb Mulkerin, formerly of cs (+ their alter egos asian mae and rose philistine).

i bought it for the very reasonable price of $5 and jumped into my car to give it a listen. i was hooked from the beginning.

i could go on and on about the power of big blood's music- how it manages to be gloriously joyous while staring unflinchingly into darkness- but my words could never sum up its majesty. fortunately, caleb and colleen have been so kind to put their "complete" discography online (for free!). they are also amazingly prolific (9 albums in less than 3 years), so it might be hard to know where to start. I definitely suggest listening to the albums all the way through, but if you want a quick shot of big blood directly into the veins, let me recommend the following tracks:

1. the grove is hotter than an ocean's oven
2. so old again
3. she said nothing
4. she sells sanctuary
5. oh country

you can download the albums here.

i put "complete" in parentheses, because i am sure big blood has about four albums worth of unreleased material just sitting around. in fact, they just released a song called 'sick with information' on a fantastic new compilation called LEAVES OF LIFE, that you can purchase on iTunes (it also benefits a good cause). there are also great tracks by local heroes micah blue smaldone, cursillistas, arborea, and denise dill. there are also tracks by national acts like alela diane, larkin grimm, and devendra banhart. check it out!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper LIVE @ One Longfellow Square 6/25

Aly Spaltro played her first solo show as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper since parting ways with TJ Metcalfe on Thursday at One Longfellow Square.

Although Aly admitted to feeling lonely up on stage, she crafted a spellbinding performance that simultaneously dug deep into the past while pointing towards the future.

Highlights of the show included a mash up of two of her oldest songs "Lady Lamb" and "Spine in my Back", achieved through the use of a looping machine and cathartic drumming. She also played the Handsome Animals highlight Mane on its Lion- a song that she introduced as being perfect for a kindergartener to play tambourine on, but she had second thoughts when she came to the line "the run with its sweat, teens with their sex, the ocean with its wet".

The most startling revelation from the night was when she played a slow-downed version of The Nothing (the rap usually sandwiched into the middle of the marching band stomp of Penny Licks) on banjo. I cried.

She closed the show with a new song called Guatemala, again she had to make up for the absence of a bandmate by stretching herself across the stage from looping pedal, to korg, to drum kit.

Aly Spaltro's a one-women army now. She will open up and swallow you whole. But it will feel so nice upon your soul.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

one, two, three, four....

You have to do yourself a favor tomorrow and walk into a world of beauty. This summer has started with rain clouds and band break ups- but the sunshine is now waiting for your embrace.

The divine Ms. Aly Spaltro returns to One Longfellow Square on Thursday as the mystical Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. She has embarked on a solo adventure and wonder awaits all those graced by her visions. Expect looping stations, songs from "For Handsome Animals" that have never been played live (mane on its lion, perhaps?), and pulled heart strings that play a beautiful melody.

Then get prepared to take off your pants as Feel It Robot closes out the night.

It's time to sing in summer.

Take a bittersweet, beautiful look back at the past- courtesy of our friends from [dog] and [pony]:

Now embrace the future!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

dilly dilly's new album available for download!

The Cerberus Siren, Erin Davidson aka dilly dilly has released her much anticipated debut solo LP - Of Art and Intention. She is giving it away for free at www.dillydillymusic.com, but make sure to donate a few bucks so she can work on bringing it out of the internet world and into this land of flesh and blood.

Alicia and I played A loss Alone on the Red Telephone today- one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time, and a fitting- if melancholy- song for Father's Day.

Seriously, get this album immediately. I guarantee you'll be singing Alien Dance Queen for the rest of the summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Maine Man in Chicago

So, Alicia and I went to visit friends and family in Chicago over the weekend. Unfortunately, I lost my camera on the plane and Alicia's camera battery died after she took her first picture- so I have nothing to illustrate this blog post.

Anyway, by coincidence, we happened to visit the Windy City on the same weekend as the Chicago Blues Festival, the largest free blues festival in the world. Samuel James, Portland bluesman extraordinare and Tower of Song alumni, also happened to be playing a set at the prestigious event on Saturday afternoon. So, with friends in tow (and a bottle of wine in our bag), we headed down to Grant Park to see one of our favorite musicians do his thing.

Even though I've seen Sam James perform live close to a dozen times, he never fails to do something to blow my mind (whether he plays a hambone cover of the Ramones' "The KKK Took My Baby Away", explains the origins of One-Eyed Katie, or reveals his love of Steven Seagal)- this time was certainly no exception. Sam James played a set that combined his great originals (Wooooo Rosa, Babydoll), masterful performances of legendary Blues standards (Son House's Death Letter), inventive covers (Leonard Cohen's Tonight Will Be Fine), with his humorous stage banter and a slow strip tease as the day grew hotter.

However, he saved his best, most mind-blowing feat for last with his final song- a cover of John Lee Hooker's Hobo Blues- that involved him playing his guitar practically as if it was a Yo-Yo, dropping it to his lap, then spinning it around, playing the resonator frame with his pick-adorned fingers, and dancing his slide up and down the frets. It truly had to be seen to be believed, but it was one of the most virtuoso (and fun!) guitar performances I've ever seen.

It's great to see incredible Maine musicians spreading their gospel outside our Northern State, and I hope to see more of our gifted citizens out on the road (just as long as they promise to come back).

Check out more of Sam James' music here. He also plays most Thursday nights at Blue.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three Shows Worth Your Time

Alicia and I are heading to Chicago on Thursday, and although we are looking forward to the trip, we will be bummed to miss 3 great shows taking place this weekend.

Tomorrow, Eternal Otter Records' own Johnny Fountain will be opening for This Way at the Empire Dine & Dance. He will be performing solo and will probably pull out some unexpected tunes.

On Friday, head over to SPACE for Tryst Haunt II- sure to be one of the best psychedelic experiences of the summer. Cursillistas will be releasing a limited edition vinyl version of their debut LP (their leader Matt is the force behind l'animaux tryst- who has been chronicling our local music scene on 7" vinyl singles for a few years now). Cursillistas will also be joined by Ian Paige's White Light- one of Tower of Song's first performers. Our friends from the Pine Haven Collective will be constructing their legendary "Shack" inside SPACE, so you can properly chillout and tune in.

You might as well just bring a sleeping bag and pitch tent in the Shack, because there is another great show at SPACE the following night. Bird in the Rafters will be releasing their debut record, Jet Lag, from peapod recordings. They will be joined by Winterpill and local favorites Seymour and Computer at Sea (who just took home an award for Best Electronic Act from the Portland Phoenix's Best Music Poll).

More information about the upcoming SPACE shows here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

News from Eternal Otter Records

It's been awhile since I rapped at ya- but that doesn't mean nothing has been happening down here at the Otters' Den.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper played an absolutely killer opening set at SPACE on May 30th. They have a number of shows coming up in late June, and I'm hoping to release some new recording from them by early Fall.

Johnny Fountain is also busy with shows this summer, including an opening set for Model Airplanes tonight at the Big Easy. He is also working on a new project with Anna's Ghost drummer, Ian Riley. Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you more details about that soon.

Speaking of Anna's Ghost, their self-titled LP will be released on August 7th in both artfully-packaged physical form and via iTunes. They will be playing an Album Release show that night at the Empire. More information to come!

The Panda Bandits, who had their live debut at the Johnny Cash Night in February, are also planning a summer show (or two!). We also intend to invite Blaque Boose back up to Portland, after their great (but sorely under attended) show at the Sylvia Kania Gallery for the Tower of Song Fundraiser.

Tower of Song took a break in June, but will be back in July. We are planning what we hope will turn out to be a very special night of music- so we hope you wander down to Congress Square on the First Friday of July.

In the meantime, you can get your Tower of Song fix over at [dog] and [pony]- who have just debuted Episode 1 of their Tower of Song series from our May Festival. Check it out Here.

That's all for now.

Stay classy, Portland.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Portland Phoenix Best Music Poll Awards Show

Alicia, Johnny, and I were honored to be invited as guest presenters for the Portland Phoenix's Best Music Poll Awards Show at the Asylum on Wednesday, June 3rd.

Introduced as the creative force behind Tower of Song, we got to announce the nominees for Best Pop-Rock Act. We were also ecstatic to announce personal faves, Dominic & The Lucid, as the winner of the category. Dominic has been a great friend to Tower of Song, playing our December '08 show- a performance that significantly raised the profile of our little live music experiment. He also performed at our first Tower of Song fundraiser at Slainte. We love Dominic & the Lucid's Season of the Sun album from last year and look forward to future releases. They are truly deserving of their win.

Listen to Dominic & The Lucid here.

We would also like to extend particular congratulations to Computer at Sea for Best Electronic Act and Fire on Fire for Best Indie Act. We didn't agree with all the results, but we would like to thank the Phoenix for putting on a fun show that did a great job of bringing the music community together.

After the show, we also skipped on down to SPACE and saw an absolutely amazing (but way too short) set by Dilly Dilly. After blowing our minds with her mastery of ukulele, banjo, guitar, loop pedals, voice, and awesomeness, Dilly Dilly announced that she will be releasing her new album ...of art and intention on June 21st for free online. Be sure to check it out- it is awesome!