black cab sessions // bon iver, fleet foxes, my morning jacket etc…

i was poking around the huge archive of black cab sessions on their website, and thought i might as well share a few of my favorites. i recommend spending some time looking through their sessions…

my morning jacket (this one is so cool)…

bon iver…

fleet foxes…


seasick steve…


wy’east // have you slapped your knees lately?

if you haven’t, i think it’s about time. it’s been too long since i’ve done a bluegrass post…thankfully i came across portland’s wy’east…a bluegrass band worthy of my precious words (kidding).

the band consists of matthew bean (guitar), jack dwyer (mandolin), gordon keepers (bass), billy failing (banjo) and katey dwyer (fiddle). true to their bluegrassy-ness, they all contribute to the vocals. wy’east recently released their debut EP and i’m quite impressed. good bluegrass music isn’t easy to make…there’s a lot going on, and it’s all going on very quickly. not to mention the importance of nailing some striking harmonies. i’d argue that wy’east got it done on their debut.

the group was nice enough to offer you the download below, so please return the favor and spread the word by ‘liking’ them on facebook here, getting to know them on myspace here and downloading the full EP (name your own price) here.

hope to hear more from these folks in the near future. if you’re in oregon, i can just about guarantee they’re a hoot live…

download // wy’east – long gone

mon monarch // reading this is WELL worth your time…

…for a few reasons. reason number one (since you’re all a bunch of free-loading little…) is that there’s free music involved. reason number two, related to reason number one, is that the previously mentioned free music is REALLY good. no bullshit…it is. reason number three is just that y’all love reading this blog, regardless of topic. listen as you read on…

mon monarch consists of chuck e. costa (if you think you’ve heard that name before, you probably have…he’s shared the stage with some pretty heavy folkers), eric dawson tate and colin meyer. per this neat little website, the three hauled their equipment to a lake-side cabin in upstate new york and spent a week recording waterproof matches. this is very well done folk music…perfectly placed harmonies, rising & relaxing strings and soft piano building into percussion…and back down again.

that’s really all i’m going to say, the music should be speaking for itself about now. by the way, it was borderline impossible to pick a song to post…the album as a whole is a must have. which brings me back to my number one reason that reading this was worth your time…chuck not only gave the green light for me to offer you this track (download below), but if you follow this link, the trio will allow you to download the entire album. for free. it’s not even a name-your-own-price, i feel guilty for typing zero dollars into the little box type of situation. straight up free.

thanks chuck. thanks eric. thanks colin.

download // mon monarch – restless heart

KF speaks // horse feathers @ schubas

since i’m an idiot and bought tickets to an amazing show in chicago on a day that i would be in denver, KF is going to jump in with a review of last night’s horse feathers show at schubas. listen while reading, then download this track at the bottom.

i’ll now turn it over to KF…

once in a blue moon, you hear a band and you instantly know that it’s going to change the way you listen to music. i don’t mean change your life…i’m not THAT weird…but when every sound and every detail becomes more and more palpable, not just for them, but for any music you try to compare them to…that’s a heavy experience. it’s almost like a great band becomes a sense-enhancing superhero-like weapon. yikes. ANYWAY…portland-based horse feathers was, and still is, one of those bands for me. i first heard them about this time last year courtesy of BLA, who has been gracious enough to let me write a little sumpin’ sumpin’ here.

i’d argue that listening to horse feathers is best when done live, kinda like i did last night at schubas in chicago. what a great, warm venue to experience the intricate melodies blending with the rich, swelling vocals of justin ringle, who was joined by violinist nathan crockett, cellist catherine odell, and multi-instrumentalist sam cooper. their performance was intimate yet booming, humble yet confident and engaging as heck. most noticeable for me when watching them live was the persistence from ringle in perfecting his delivery of every word – or no words at all. purposefully placed pauses, brought back to life by xylophones, a pump organ (!!), cello/violin duos, mandolins and a saw (yes, a saw) reminded me that their music is so good, it doesn’t need vocals…but golly, are those vocals sweet. if i could pick any soundtrack to a fall or spring roadtrip across the country, anything done by horse feathers is what i’d pick. and i don’t care if that was random, because its true.

before the show, i bought their second album, thistled spring, directly from sam cooper (mandolin player/multi-instrumentalist). sam was kind enough to chit chat with me for a bit about his colorado roots, crossword puzzles and the cedar cultural center in minneapolis, where they had played the night before (and an all-around kick ass city). he was particularly kind enough to hook you up with a free download of the track that you’re (hopefully) listening to right now, ‘belly of june’ from thistled spring. it’s exactly what you need as the weather gets colder…imagine you’re anywhere but in a snow-globed big city like chicago, and you should be fine.

also worth mentioning was the opening act, anais mitchell. wow…this lady’s got pipes and guitar skills to match. she was a treat to listen to and had a friend come in to help out, which added an extra layer of cool, calm and collected acoustic excellence. well done ladies, well done…

download // horse feathers – belly of june

horse feather’s myspace page

anais mitchell’s myspace page

see lissie. see lissie play. play lissie, play…

sorry…two posts in one day, deal with it. i know that a bunch of people here in chicago (lady) were bummed when lissie’s lincoln hall show was canceled due to illness, so i wanted to share a really sweet live buzz session that was recently posted. just drink PBR out of a red solo cup and pretend like you’re there (no, lincoln hall doesn’t actually sell PBR in red solo cups, but they should)…

click the link below to see five killer videos…don’t skip over ‘everywhere i go’, a track from her debut album, catching a tiger. actually, don’t skip over any of ’em…

lissie: live at the troubadour (live buzz session)

chicago shows // november & december

*update // J passed on word that the black keys just added a 12.30 show at aragon…if you missed out on the first round, tix (pre-sale) go on sale here tomorrow…

if you’re in chicago for the holidays, why not spend ’em with some of these fine people?

11.4 // horse feathers @ schubas (ten bucks)

11.6 // junip (jose gonzalez) @ lincoln hall (fifteen bucks)

11.10 // dawes @ lincoln hall (fifteen bucks)

11.10 // the moondoggies @ schubas (eight bucks)

11.16 // shearwater & damien jurado @ lincoln hall (fourteen bucks)

11.19 // futurebirds & jonny corndawg @ schubas (eight bucks)

11.24 // joshua radin @ the vic (twenty one fifty)

12.4 // delta spirit @ metro (fifteen bucks)

12.5 // broken bells @ the vic (twenty nine bucks)

12.11, 12.12 // punch brothers @ lincoln hall (twenty two bucks)

12.12 // jill andrews @ schubas (ten bucks)

12.30 // the black keys @ aragon (show just added…thanks J…tix on sale friday 11.5)

donovan woods answers my questions (and gives you free music)

an apparently bored donovan woods (amazing folk singer from toronto) took a couple minutes out of his not particularly busy day to answer a few questions for yours truly…a pretty kind gesture given the fact that, well…i’m not a very big deal (yet).

his most recent album, the widowmaker, is really good…you know it’s true because i bolded, italicized and underlined that word. fantastic songwriting, simple, catchy melodies and some smooth female backing vocals. this one’s more than worth your hard earned cash…pick it up on iTunes.

here’s a track to listen to while you read the banter…this one’s called ‘only ones in the world’ (a song that didn’t quite make it onto the album…download it @ the bottom of this post)…

vnr // assuming you’ve spent some time playing down here, how would you compare the music scene (specifically the folk / indie-folk scene) in canada with the scene here in the states? seems like more and more of the great new stuff i find comes from the friendly folks up north…

dw // i’ve not played in the US too many times, mostly in michigan (i was born very near there) and a couple of times in new york. so i’m not really the man to compare the two. but what seems to work in canada is the fact that everyone ends up, essentially, in the same cities. everyone seems to know everyone and, it seems to me, no one is really compelled towards becoming “famous” (RE: canadian famous) because we all know someone who became “famous” and it looked kind of shitty. so folks seem to focus on writing good songs and try not to worry about the rest. i hope that’s the case. i think it is.

vnr // if you can pick a few, who are your favorite artists / bands at the moment? (yes, the purpose of that question is to gain material for this blog)

dw // i love land of talk, i like joe pug. my guitar player (and friend!) introduced me to a band called mardeen and they are really great. their record is called “read less minds”. its full of really great and exciting melodies, particularly their song “pretty smart”. mostly, i listen to a lot of kanye west. a lot.

vnr // are songs & lyrics always popping into your head? i often wonder how songwriters these days organize their thoughts on the go. cell phone? iPad? spiral notebook chained to your belt?

dw // songs and lyrics don’t really pop into my head. not often, anyway. sometimes i’ll think of a title of a song and work from there. sometimes songs will just occur naturally when i’m fiddling on a guitar. occasionally, i’ll sing melodies into my phone to remember them. those don’t often turn out very well, though. most of my good songs come quickly, all at once, without much thought. i don’t often feel like writing and i go long stretches without coming up with anything good. so, i just wait, have faith in my brain and eventually there’s something i’d like to write about.

vnr // since the advertising industry pays my bills, i’m curious to know what your marketing advice would be to independent musicians trying to spread the word. how have you promoted your work over the past few years? social networks? shows? friends? witty, intelligent music bloggers?

dw // music bloggers have certainly helped me. most of the success i had with my first record was directly attributable to blogs. i do a little of the social networking stuff, as much as i can stand. i play as many shows as i can stand (not very many, not enough). i love writing and recording songs so that’s what i focus on. and that’s the advice i pass on; try your hardest to write good really songs. you can do all the online bullshit you want, but if they click your link and the song isn’t extraordinary, who cares? (unless of course you’re wonderfully good-looking or something). my experience has been that if you work hard on your craft and actually write songs, lovable songs that mean things, the rest of that crap will essentially take care of itself. fingers crossed.

vnr // john mayer recently broke taylor swift’s heart. on scale from 1 to 10, how much do you care?

dw // isn’t john mayer like 35? how old is she? that’s fucked up. that guy is weird. seems like i care 10.

head over to donovan’s myspace page to hear more of his music. also, check out the video of the week-ish page up top for a sweet bonus vid of a track from the widowmaker

download // donovan woods – only ones in the world