Mystery Train

Just heard the Stray Cats’ (yes, Stray Cats, not Brian Setzer) new single “Mystery Train Kept A-Rollin'”—their first new studio work in 13 years.

Delirious fun. These guys not only understand what the old Sun records releases were about, they have the chops to pull ’em off.

Here’s hoping for a US tour (and seats I can afford!)

Walkingbirds Huge West Coast Tour, Part II

More photos of Scott Andrew, this time at the Fox and Goose, a marvelous pub here in Sacramento (when you order a porter, you don’t have to specify a warm glass . . . )

Scott is a dynamic performer who’s comfortable with his role as the (ostensible) center of attention. The full arrangements on his CDs and downloadable MP3s translate well to the informality of a single acoustic guitar and voice. It also helps to have a genuinely witty performer who really likes people and enjoys what he’s doing.

It was pure joy to be able to catch both of Scott’s shows here in Sacramento (and to finally meet him in person.) The family and I are looking forward to The Triumphant Return of Walkingbirds and the possibility of putting together a backing band to perform with Scott.

Thanks for two delightful evenings, Scott. I’d be proud to share the stage with you any time.

Middle Name Torx?

With a voice like a shy child too enthused not to tell his story, Phillip Flathead fills his music with lyrics to match: pleas for a bit of sense in life, and, despite the occasional lonely feeling that ‘the world is so big’, a general belief that, as “Downstream” says, ‘everything is beautiful.’

Phillip FlatheadFlathead’s performance at the Fox and Goose Monday evening was paradoxically joyous. Rarely looking at the audience, occasionally slurring the lyrics into word pictures rather than clearly defined sentences, it could have been a study in angst. Instead, it was like the quiet kid on the playground telling a really funny story, made even funnier by his reserved delivery. At the end of “Love & Medicine” my Best Beloved and I were laughing out loud at the comparisons between the commercial on TV and what’s actually important in life. It’s not easy to skewer something as obvious as commercialism and come off sounding fresh and innocent instead of jaded and pompous.

Phillip FlatheadWith just that wonderful quirky voice and his impressive Guthrie-style playing, PF hammered out the three songs from his demo CD (and one other, “My Best Friend Zen”) with the kind of passion that makes a live show exhilarating.

The three-track demo CD contains “Downstream“, “Hollow Days“, and “Love & Medicine.”

  • Downstream—”Look up towards the sun . . . everyone’s walking on air; and did you know that everything is beautiful all around us?” Opening with languid banjo (how often do you get to write that?) backed by a simple drum and cymbal, “Downstream” feels like one of those Sunday afternoons when everything is done, and all you have to do is lay in the hammock contemplating the clouds over a glass of something cold, watching everything float downstream.
  • Hollow Days—Beautiful cello flows into feelings of emptiness; wishing, as summer turns to fall, that more had been accomplished; that somehow, we had succeeded instead of whatever it that did happen. Reminds me of R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe.
  • Love & Medicine—Sparkling mandolin takes most of the lead in this perky quirky poke at how commercialism sure does squish the good stuff out of life, doesn’t it? I wonder if the hand-clapping percussion was planned, or if the recording engineer just couldn’t keep from joining in? Woody Guthrie would have been proud of this wryly humourous take on how, with “all this love and medicine, all the light from Edison, we’re still walking ’round with darkness in our souls.”

If you live in the Sacramento area, watch for Phillip Flathead. If you live anywhere, watch for his CD “4-Track Mind” in January. And come back here for my review of the full album, just as quick as I can get my hands on it.

Walkingbirds Huge West Coast Tour

Okay, really, it was just Scott Andrew here in Sacramento, but he turned in a spectacular performance which he’ll be repeating at the Fox and Goose tonight.

It was gratifying to see folks (including the other performers) lining up to buy Scott’s new album, “Where I’ve Been.” Good stuff, and a steal at only $5. His CD is available at his site. (Or, if you’re one of the first two people to email me and tell me why you want it, I’ll send you an autographed copy, free! Don’t worry; if this sentence is still here, I’ve probably still got a copy.) Also nice of Dave Baldwin, the evening’s host, to invite Scott back for an extra song and give him the spotlight tonight at F&G.

In the meantime, I got a few shots just in case we don’t see him again soon.