Tag Archives: Little Feat

Iron and Wine at Bonnaroo 2008

I really like Iron and Wine. I have loved the direction in which they’ve grown, fleshing out their sound and increasingly embracing grooviness. Woman King was my favorite until The Shepherd’s Dog, and there’s nothing more exciting than knowing one of your favorite active bands is cranking out ever-better discs [buy them!].

A lovely little review exultingly examines the change in Beam’s sound:

“Basically a one-man band until this release, Beam left his four-track machine behind in his bedroom and expanded his music to include polyrhythmic textures, percussive flourishes, and multicultural influences. Nothing too radical here, but if you’re familiar with the hushed intimacy of his earlier work, it’s significant.”

The author likens Iron and Wine’s shift to the change in Paul Simon’s career ushered in by Graceland. The comparison is too forced, but the article is endearing nonetheless. I mean, what (beyond over-exuberance) can be faulted in sentences such as this: “At its best, Iron & Wine’s music feels magically haunted like a Southern Gothic musicbox found in an attic that chimes intimate secrets into your ear.”

Now that I’ve established I’m a fan, I can safely say I hated seeing Iron and Wine live at Bonnaroo. They sounded good, all eight musicians. Sam was crooning, she was harmonizing and plucking her violin strings, the xylophone was hyping the beat, the trap set and auxiliary percussion balanced their contributions perfectly, et cetera, et cetera, as Yul Brynner pontificated. They even jammed out the riffs, as is appropriate for Bonnaroo.

But it was uninspiring. When I see a band live, I need the lead singer to acknowledge the audience exists. Make eye contact just once. Crack a smile or a joke better than the bitchy:

“Last time we were here, you guys danced like crazy when we played fast and shut the hell up when we played a quiet one,” Mr. Beam said from the stage after a few songs. “Are you going to do that again?” [from this lame NYTimes review]

It’s a festival, dudes; at least look up from your perfectionism and try to have a good time once in a while. Us audience members want to have a good time or at least be transfixed as we were for the similarly contemplative set by José González. Instead, I and my compatriots felt alienated and fidgety. In fact, two-thirds of us voted with our feet and left our primo spot center stage to catch Little Feat or Ben Folds.

I was seriously considering traveling four hours each way to see Iron and Wine earlier in the year. I’m glad now I didn’t spend the ticket and gas money. I love live music more than most things in life, but for this band I will be henceforth content to hear the songs, in all their brilliance, on disc or (for the live jams) online. If that appeals to  you, check this MPR show or the umpteen downloadble concerts.

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Bonnaroo Muxtape

To check out the Muxtape phenomenon, where anyone can upload up to twelve songs for the listening enjoyment of the cyberworld at large, I made a mix of songs by artists who will be performing at Bonnaroo Music Festival. See the complete list of bands from which I chose here.

Listen to the Stella Splice Bonnaroo Muxtape

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Nobody’s Baby 2:28 100 Days, 100 Nights 2007
Little Feat – That’s A Pretty Good Love 4:49 Ain’t Had Enough Fun 1995
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Rich Woman 4:05 Raising Sand 2007
Levon Helm – False Hearted Lover Blues 3:30 Dirt Farmer 2007
Drive-By Truckers – Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife 3:06 Brighter Than Creation’s Dark 2008
My Morning Jacket – Golden 4:58 12.1.06 @ the electric factory, philadelphia 2006
The Swell Season – Into the Mystic (Van Morrison cover) 5:05 NPR 2007
Jack Johnson – Rodeo Clowns 2:52 Live From Bonnaroo 2002
Rogue Wave – Lake Michigan 3:48 Asleep at Heaven’s Gate 2007
Iron and Wine – White Tooth Man 3:57 The Shepard’s Dog 2007
José González – Down the Line 3:11 In Our Nature 2007
CRS (Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Pharrell) – Us Placers 3:54 2007

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Gene Wooten

A recent restorative roadrip, which took me through the Bible Belt, rekindled my faith in the medium of radio. Toggling back and forth between radio and CDs, one must have been a very good boy or girl to tune in a classic R&B station or perhaps a classic rock channel in a singer-songwriter mood. But lucky me, I had the good fortune to catch a couple of great community radio shows.

One was on St. Louis’ KDHX hosted by a blues aficionado who wove great stories into his set (stream here). That night he spun records that probably only exist in his collection, and it was special to get to listen to those blues artists from the 1930s.

The other was Vanderbilt’s student radio station, WRVU, which provided a bluegrass soundtrack for a goodly stretch of interstate. The show’s guest host was focusing on covers. He played down-home versions of People Get Ready / One Love (original Bob Marley And The Wailers), Sailin’ Shoes (original Little Feat), and Day Tripper (original The Beatles). Day Tripper was covered by Gene Wooten on the dobro.

Wooten won a grammy for The Great Dobro Sessions, on which you can hear this particular cover. Listen to a clip here, but if it doesn’t work in Firefox, don’t download a plug-in, just use Explorer instead … or you could just buy it. This song re-enchanted radio listening for me for a time, and that’s worth a listen.

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Filed under Covers, Radio