|Poster art by Frank Germano @ Man On Fire Design|
Another October, another cross-country plane ride to the once mythical city of New York for what has become my favorite musical thing, The Outlaw Roadshow. Just two years ago New York City, to me, was like a magical far away place, a place oft thought about, but never really meant much. But now, now New York City is something completely different, New York City is part of my life. New York City is Outlaw Roadshow territory. And for three days in October, New York City is home.
It's come to be expected that Ryan Spaulding (of Ryan's Smashing Life,) Adam Duritz (of Counting Crows) and their team of amazing Outlaws, will give the fans one heck of a three day musical party down at the Bowery Electric, with this year being no exception.
The line up included old friends, new friends, and unknown friends.
CHRISTIAN MCNEILL & SEAMONSTERS
CHRISTOPHER PAUL STELLING
LE ROXY PRO
HALLELUJAH THE HILLS
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER
ARCHIE POWELL & THE EXPORTS
THE GROWNUP NOISE
SONIC COW GRUNT
Some of the unknowns surprised me. Some I liked, some I didn't, But not everyone will like everything, right? What matters is I gave them a chance. I was thrilled to see some old favorites in the line up. Though most of them I had seen only seven months prior at SXSW in Austin, it had been seven long months since I'd seen them. The Outlaw Roadshow has become more than just a music showcase, more than just a mini music festival. The Outlaw Roadshow is a musical family reunion. Days began with friends leaping over railings to give you nearly-knock-you-over hugs, and scanning the crowded club each night I saw some of the same familiar faces, faces I'd seen the year before, faces I didn't know the names to, faces I knew and couldn't wait to see. The faces of Outlaws.
For me this year is was really the old favorites who were the highlight of each day. While I enjoyed several of the "new" bands, there really weren't any that I had to rush home and re-listen to as soon as possible (except maybe for the Longwalls, I really enjoyed them.)
Following Tallahassee was a long time Roadshow favorite, Golden Bloom. Well, really it was Shawn Fogel of Golden Bloom, backed by Scott Thompson and Matt Raskopf of Tallahassee. Fogel is one of the best song writers out there right now. His catchy, poppy songs are laden with feeling, depth and thought provoking images.
Fogel played several songs from the new record Golden Bloom is working on. Two of these songs are in my current favorite song rotation: Circles Round My Mind and Books You Never Read (I saw Fogel do a solo show Friday afternoon at Rockwood Music Hall. He played Books You Never Read on the piano. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. It seriously nearly made me cry (sure, it was mostly the lyrics really hitting me, but still.)) Their set ended with an on-the-floor acoustic Outlaw sing-a-long of Searching For Sunlight. Always good times when an Outlaw sing-a-long happens.
Boom Forest played a haunting, echo-y set. J.P. Roney, aside from being one good lookin' dude (yeah, I said it,) writes some amazing songs. I was immediately sucked into his set, it was one you almost couldn't get away from.
|K Philips and DTP|
Friday's line up held the Outlaw band who over the last two years has become one of my personal favorites, like listen to them pretty much all the frickin' time favorites. Also, the band is led by one of my favorite human people, Dan Nicklin, the band Oldjack.
Another Outlaw alum from Boston, Oldjack brings classic rock and soul in the form of a seven piece band. Oldjack's set was one of the strongest they had never played. Nicklin was on fire, and back-up singer Kelly Davis was in top form. The set included classic Oldjack and several tracks from their new record, What is Home to You?
The highlight of the set, for me anyway, was just as the band is going into the song Lonely Alone, Nicklin gestured to me and said, "This is for you, Jen." Great moment. So yeah. If anyone asks, Lonely Alone is my song.
Friday's show also included great sets from Hallelujah the Hills, The Silks and another favorite of mine, Air Traffic Controller. Another Boston band, Air Traffic Controller's brand of catchy, jubilant pop filled the Bowery Electric with an undeniable energy. Mixing new and old, The House, What You do to my Soul and If You Build it, Hurry, Hurry, You Know Me, and The Work, Air Traffic Controller had the whole room the whole set. I really loved the new stuff, and am looking forward to their new album (release date unknown.)
|Air Traffic Controller|
Mean Creek is probably the most hard rock/punk band I'll ever listen to. Nothing against that genre of music, I'm just not that big a fan. But Mean Creek, well you have to experience Mean Creek to get Mean Creek. They have a fresh intensity about them, When they get going, you'd better watch out, they will rock your socks right off. Their whole set was incendiary from start to finish.Also playing a mix of new and old, highlights of Mean Creek's set were My Madeline, Johnny Allen and Young & Wild.
The last show of the night was a solo set upstairs from Nakia. I didn't catch all of his set, but I did get to hear most of his cover of Counting Crows' Raining in Baltimore, and that, my friends, was awesome.
But, probably the best set of the night was that from Sonic Cow Grunt, who for those in the Outlaw loop, is a fragmented version of Counting Crows, this year only David Immergluck, Dan Vickrey and Adam Duritz.
Like I had the two years before, I had claimed my spot directly in front, and just to the right, of the stage earlier in the day (coz I'm that kind of crazy.) This was my idea of musical nirvana. It's no secret that Counting Crows are my favorite band, and being about to see them play literally less than two feet away from me is amazing. It's kinda like we're all singing together (especially during Rain King when the whole room was singing along together. That was a moment.) I didn't grab the set list that night, so I don't remember what order they played these songs, I'm pretty sure they played The Ballad of El Goodo, Scarecrow, Four White Stallions, Sullivan Street, High Life, Earthquake Driver, God of Ocean Tides, Richard Manuel is Dead, Washington Square, and Rain King.
Also, Dan is a pretty funny dude. Or at least he was that night. They told good stories, made us laugh, maybe even made us cry.
Their closing number was a cover. Probably the most touching and surprising cover ever. A cover of a song written by a friend and fellow Outlaw. Adam didn't say whose song it was in the introduction, that "he'll figure it out when we play it.." Well, he did. A few bars into the song, which turned out to be Kat's Song (What I can't Have) by K Phillips. K was about 5 or 6 people away from me. The look on his face as Adam, Dan, and Immy (accompanied by Nakia on keys) played/sang that song was that of sheer disbelief and happiness combined. K is a great guy and a great songwriter. That must have been utterly amazing for him. I can't think of a better person to have the Crows cover their song. Finally K was able to get up on stage and sing with them. The moment was magical. The air of the room was full of Outlaw love.
After saying my goodbyes to my Outlaw family at the Bowery Electric, I headed out to Dan Nicklin's
South by Northeast showcase, For Liberty's Sake, at Carroll Place. Oldjack was playing again and I had to see them one last time before it was all over. Again, that set was amazing. Oldjack is one of the best live bands out there right now, well, one of the best bands in general.
Once again, New York treated me well. I had the most amazing time, but then I always do. Seeing all my Outlaw friends and hearing the music that had over the last two and a half years completely changed by life, has become one of my favorite things. The Outlaw Roadshow feels like home. Seeing an Outlaw band feels like home. I feel honored and blessed to be able to call these people my friends, and to say that this is my life; my music life.
Thank you to Ryan, Adam and everyone involved in making the Outlaw Roadshow what it is. Until next time, Outlaws!