1) Anthony DaCosta – Devil’s Won 17-year-old Anthony did this song at the Rockwood Music Hall. He did it again at the Living Room where I saw him with Matt Winters and Marie, and again at Columbia’s Postcrypt where Matt, Sara, and Alison accompanied my first trip there.
– When we saw Anthony at the Living Room he introduced his set by noting that he was done with standardized testing. I’ve gotten to the point where just love his music. The fact that he’s a teenager is almost beside the point. I think sometimes the age shows, but how he can have such a great grasp of songwriting at such a young age baffles me. “Upstate Living” also off of Typical American Tragedy almost made the album instead.
2) Marc Broussard – Home An amazing expression of the joy of making music – especially live when Alison and I saw Marc at the Hiro Ballroom.
– There was a business school student in the political science Intro Stats course who, upon hearing I had lived in Louisiana, asked me if I knew Marc Broussard. I didn’t but soon became familiar with his album, Carencro, which I thought was so-so with the exception of this song. He’s since gone on a more deliberate Soul path which I think is a little generic. He has a great voice but I’m not sure that’s enough.
3) Michael Franti – Ganja Babe I’m not into the ganja myself, but I am into the vibe of this song from Mary Louise Parker’s Weeds.
– “Cinnamon skin be bringin’ sin to my mind!” It doesn’t get any better than that.
4) Silver Jews – Tennessee Bad puns can make great pickup lines and great lyrics. Kelly, Telis, Alison and I thought so at this Bowery Ballroom show.
– Silver Jews hits a certain sweet spot for me. I think the music, and lyrics especially, are beautiful and I can think about them. Also, though, it’s my traveling music. The consistency (and I don’t mean monotony) of the sound allows me to sleep through any car, bus, or plane trip. Also, the line “man enough to be Mr. Mrs. Tennessee” is pretty awesome.
5) Po’ Girl – Til It’s Gone Tanya, Ranadeb, Alison and I saw a CMJ set at the Living Room. The band was more than the sum of its parts on this song.
– The first part of the concert seemed a little off to me. Ali was very soulful and Awna had this great idiosyncratic voice, but they seemed to not recreate the rich sounds of the album until they sang together. That was the first high point where they did achieve this before “Til It’s Gone.” The use of multiple instruments never struck me as necessary during much of the set. It turned out that Tanya had gone to college with the guitarist and they chatted after the show.
6) Red Molly – The Mind of a Soldier Matt, Mark, and I caught Red Molly at the Living Room early this year. This song stuck with me.
– “There’s nothing I can do to fight this devil inside of me.”
7) Alex Battles’ Whiskey Rebellion – Pennsylvania After Alex played the entirety of Johnny Cash’s Live From Folsom Prison, he did a few of his own, including this memorable number. Matt and I approved.
– This was at the Johnny Cash Birthday Bash at Southpaw that Alex Hosts every year. The reproduction was too a tee. They even had the loudspeaker announcements calling out prisoner numbers. Susquehanna Tool and Die Co. opened. I also caught them in studio at the Moonshine Show on WKCR. Cool guys, excellent sense of humor.
8) Red Stick Ramblers – Main Street Blues Matt and I caught the Ramblers at Joe’s Pub and they played this classic from my Louisiana days.
– I saw these guys twice at Joe’s Pub. The other time was with the Wilders. At that second show they were there with the original fiddle player (whose name escapes me now) that I remembered from Baton Rouge.
9) David Massengill – The Eunuch’s Lament Matt, Sandro, Nick, Marie, and I caught this number at Falcon Ridge. Watching Dave McCloskey translate the song into ASL was an equal treat to the song.
– We wonder if he’ll be invited back to the festival next year. This was most definitely not an all ages song (but they seem to run pretty liberal at FRFF) so who knows. Reportedly Dan Bern hasn’t been back since he did “No Missing Link“
10) Solomon Burke – You’re the Kind of Trouble Matt and I saw Adam and Shannon Wright as openers at BB King’s in April. Solomon Burke put this song on his excellent country album, Nashville in 2007.
– I didn’t make clear in the liner notes that they Wrights wrote this song. I think they mentioned that it’s a duet on the album with Patty Loveless, but I can’t be sure.
11) Steve Earle – Way Down in the Hole This theme song from Season 5 of The Wire was part of a memorable show that Alison and I saw Earle do on the Friday night of his Judson Memorial Church run in September.
– This was a tough call for me. He also did Hillbilly Highway and a few other “classic” Steve Earle tunes. In the end I went with Way Down in the Hole for two reasons. First, it helped make up for not including “The Body of An American” which would have been last year’s The Wire feature. Second, I had listened to all of Washington Square Serenade except for this last track. The day before the show I listened to the whole thing. I thought that Rhapsody had somehow messed up and did a double take. I then found out that it was Earle that had been playing Bubbles’s sponsor and felt like an idiot. I still can’t replace the beardless Earle with the bearded one in my head. Well, actually now I can since I just think of the Wire character.
12) John Elliott (The Hereafter) – Feet to the Fire This song by Elliott is killer, but Matt’s version of it at Falcon Ridge will always be my favorite.
– “I’d love to see you making love or killing,” “Everybody’s meaner than a dog.” I love it.
13) Rilo Kiley – With Arms Outstretched Augustine and I caught Jenny Lewis, her very short dress, and the rest of the band at Terminal 5 in June.
– This was the first and only concert that Augustine and I went to before he passed away in September. During the show he was singing along in falsetto to every song–just full of joy and totally in the moment. It was a pretty spot-on example of the way Augustine lived all the time. This is the most vivid, recent memory I have of him and I’m glad for it.
14) Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma Matt, Kelly, Jess, Telis, and I (along with 5,000 Columbia undergrads) bounced off the walls at Terminal 5 for these former Columbia students. I’m not jealous. Not even a little.
– This was as much fun as the best Nous Non Plus show. There’s just something about having a connection to a band that gives great energy during it’s live shows. The only bands that have done this that I haven’t had a connection to were the Old 97’s and the Boss. I know feel guilty for mentioning Springsteen in the same sentence as any other badn.
15) Waco Brothers – Plenty Tough Union Made John Langford and his band brought serious energy to this song at the Highline Ballroom last June.
– Jon Langford’s punk rock roots shine through when he performs live. I almost skipped this show but I’m pretty sure I’ll try to catch them every time they’re in town. Then again I skipped seeing Langford solo at Union Hall earlier this fall so maybe not. I would like to see him to “Nashville Radio” slower than the version below. More like it’s done on the Bloodshot compilation Making Singles, Drinking Doubles.
16) The Hold Steady – Your Little Hoodrat Friend I have Luke to thank for introducing me to this band. Their presence filled Terminal 5 easily.
17) Pat Green – Me and Billy the Kid This Joe Ely song was one of the highlights when Alison and I saw Pat “F@#$*%g” Green at Irving Plaza.
– This show was not as great as the other two I saw, but Pat Green on an off night is still better than most on a good night. One of my favorite moments came after the concert. Now, Pat Green probably drew what was the greatest concentration of Texas fraternity boys in the City that night and after the show they started playing Robert Earl Keene’s “The Road Goes on Forever” which is not what you play when you want Texas fraternity boys to leave your establishment. It is what you play when you want them to dance around kicking beer cans which is what they did. The house music changed to Christmas music and everyone left.
18) Wilco – The Late Greats Their McCarren Pool show was so consistently great that choosing a song was almost arbitrary. Winnie, Andrew and I were blown away.
– I still don’t feel like I deserved to have been to this concert. It was so amazing and I didn’t know enough of the lyrics. I was glad to have caught a McCarren Pool show while they still existed.
19) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Born to Run Best show ever. Flying to Minnesota has never been more worthwhile. Ben and Emma drove many an hour from out of state. Luke and Shata graciously hosted.
We were in the first hundred people who were let into the very front of the floor section which placed us around row 2 or 3. We could have battled up further but that wasn’t the vibe of the show. This was like religious experience. He would wipe is brow with a wet washcloth and then fling its moisture over the crowd. People would reach up to grab the sweat water. A fleck hit my right cheek. I’ll never forget it. Even more momentous was that he winked at Emma which was pretty awesome. This track was almost “Jungleland” which was the standout song of the night (rather a standout among standouts) but it didn’t translate well to the mix I thought. Incidentally, I knew Steve Van Zandt first from his role as Sylvio Dante on the Sopranos so seeing him back to back with Springsteen singing into the same mic took some getting used to.