Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Saw Rodney Crowell at the Duck Room Last Night

by Steve Pick

I can't believe I've never seen Rodney Crowell before his appearance in town last night. I know he played the Sheldon a year or so ago, and I missed that show, but I don't think he'd ever been here in all the years I've been following him (since sometime in the mid-eighties, when he was a bonafide country hitmaker).

In a refutation to those who believe nothing ever happens in St. Louis, there was a solid choice of two terrific songwriter/performers in town last night. I opted for Crowell over Lindsey Buckingham (playing down the street at the Pageant) as much because I'd never seen him before as any other reason, but ultimately, I think I made the right choice because I gained new insights into Crowell's craft.

I knew the guy could write songs - the evidence has been solid enough for years, and his two early 00's masterpieces (The Houston Kid and Fate's Right Hand) are among the strongest albums of this decade. But, watching him live, and concentrating on the way his melodies are built around the simple but brilliant little guitar figures, I realized Rodney Crowell has a lot more skill than I'd even thought. Throw in the fact that his lyrics are insightful, emotionally powerful, and packed with perfectly selected detail, and you've got a heck of a lot to admire.

His band is billed as the Rodney Crowell Acoustic Trio, and it featured opening act (which I missed because I didn't bother to read the advertisement which said this was an early show) Will Kimbrough on lead guitar, accordion, banjo, and very light keyboards, and Jenny Scheinman on fiddle, mandolin and keyboards. Kimbrough turned out to be the perfect foil for Crowell - he loves to play beautiful guitar parts with a minimum of notes, and his slide technique was breathtaking in its simplicity. Scheinman positively stole the show with her fiddle solos. Again, there was no flashy technique on display, merely elegant, carefully constructed, dynamically rich melodies which captured the emotions in the songs. Kimbrough and Sheinman also combined beautifully with Crowell to achieve all sorts of perfect vocal harmonies.

Interestingly enough, Crowell played very few songs from his newest album, Sex and Gasoline, concentrating mostly on the classics I mentioned above, as well as a couple of old numbers from his Emmylou Harris days, and the crowd pleasing "It's Hard to Kiss the Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long." Two new, as-yet-unrecorded songs were among the strongest he played all night, leading me to think next year he'll come up with his best record in five years. In the meantime, I'll be remembering this show for a long time, I think.

Here's a very recent solo performance of one of my fave Rodney Crowell songs, "Earthbound." Enjoy.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Exciting News About Euclid Records

We're gonna be jump-starting a new series of live in-store performances followed up by the release of limited-edition 45 rpm singles recorded right here at Euclid Records. Each release will be strictly limited to 300 copies, and $1 for each one pressed will be donated to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund (NOMRF) to benefit musicians displaced or suffering loss of equipment in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Steve Wynn, the legendary rock artist who led the Dream Syndicate in the 1980s, and who has since released nearly two dozen albums as a solo artist, will be the first performer participating in this series. Wynn, who will be playing with his backing band the Miracle Three the evening of Nov. 15 at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp, will perform at 3 pm in Euclid Records on the beautiful hard-wood stage built for live appearances. The performance will be recorded live, and one or two songs will be chosen by the artist to be released on the 7” single.

Each release will be in a special package with the label and matching back sleeve designed by famed graphic designer Art Chantry. Chantry is considered to be the godfather of independent rock graphics, designing posters and album art since the early 1990s. There will be unique 7 x 7” prints, signed and numbered by various graphic artists such as Art Chantry, Gary Houston, Guy Burwell, and more, suitable for framing or keeping as a front cover to the single.

The 45s will be sold exclusively through our website(www.euclidrecords.com and that of NOMRF (www.nomrf.org). Pricing will vary, as individual packages will each contain unique elements such as colored vinyl, etched vinyl, or other possibilities.

Euclid Records is committed to helping rebuild the lives and livelihoods of people and musicians in New Orleans who lost so much in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This is also an effort to expose great artists to a generation which doesn’t know how much fun it is to shop in record stores. Artists will be chosen from as wide a range of musical styles and genres as are carried in Euclid Records, which is to say from just about any kind of music you can name.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Props to the Whistleman

by Joe Schwab

Rahsaan Roland Kirk personified unique, energetic, spiritual brilliance throughout his 30 plus years on the jazz scene. Obviously his unique style of multi-reeding is the first thing you think of with Roland’s music, but his style on each instrument was original and fresh. Each stop of his career built the senses of this blind musician, as he stretched his sound from a straight forward Post-Bop style to an edgier free style using vamps rooted in both African and Indian music. Using his rhythm section to set the vamp, he was able to play the part of a big band as well as soloist all while using the stritch to set a wonderful drone sound, much like an Indian Raga. His multi-reed playing not to mention his skills on nose whistle, slide whistle, harmonica, the manzello, and brass instruments he modified with reed mouthpieces, made him the “must see” Jazz act throughout the 60’s and 70’s. The videos below will testify to that!

A few years ago I received a call from Mrs. Edith Kirk, the former Mrs. Roland Kirk, to come to her current home of Kansas City to look at the record collection of the late saxophonist. This gave me a great insight into the man and his musical influences. Stocked primarily with jazz from Louis Armstrong to Charles Mingus, the collection also consisted of soul and gospel which became such a vital part of his later repertoire. Also the classical music of 20th Century composers such as Karl Stockhausen mixed in with the dozens of Charles Mingus records showed his love for experimental music which was well documented in the last 10+ years of his career. Here’s a picture of the Verve record from the 1967 recording “Now, Please Don’t You Cry, Beautiful Edith”. I’m a record dealer, I can read spines at a glance, and most of the records in this picture have graced the racks here at Euclid Records over the past few years.

Here is a photo I took of Edith the day I bought the records. I was loading the records at the time, hence the empty third shelve.

All this came back to me as I was scouring YouTube for vintage jazz clips as I do on a regular basis. Here are a couple videos of Roland that I guarantee will blow your minds. The first is from 1975. This was from a PBS Soundstage performance that featured Down Beat award winners of the year. Check out the amazing Rhythm Section of McCoy Tyner, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.

On this clip, Roland is more in his element with his touring band. Filmed in 1969 at a concert in Switzerland he sends out a spiritual message using Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s classic Pop masterpiece “I Say a Little Prayer For You”. Enjoy.

Obviously we have tons of Kirk vinyl and CD’s available, check ‘em out here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Morning Gospel Throwdown | The Gospel Redeemers

by Jen Eide

Here's Clara Walker fronting the Gospel Redeemers. Watching this amazing performance you can clearly tell that the woman has tapped into something beyond herself and the music is coming through her. Unfortunately, there is almost no information available on these remarkable performers--the Gospel Redeemers recorded three 45s on Savoy's gospel imprint (Regent), and apparently put out a few albums, which I assume were independently released on Clara Walker's own label.

Despite the existence of reference books that chronicle the history of African-American Gospel, the lack of information available on a vast number of performers--including the Gospel Redeemers--is astounding. Fortunately, Robert Darden (a former Billboard writer and current journalism professor) at Baylor University is doing something about that. Darden is the founder of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, which aims to digitize every gospel recording made between 1940 and 1980. Now, that's a pretty tall order, but this is a project that ultimately will be as important in scope as the Alan Lomax field recordings. There's a really fascinating interview with Darden on Fresh Air last year which ends with him saying emphatically "if you've got Black gospel music, I'm at Baylor University and I will take care of you." Here's a man that is passionate about preserving a really important part of musical history. Crate diggers unite, and help the man out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Colourmusic Live at Euclid Records Tomorrow @ 6 p.m.!!!

It's finally that time. Colourmusic will be stomping the Euclid Records stage tomorrow! They'll go on at 6 p.m. This is also the day they're debut album, f, monday, orange, february, venus, lunatic, 1 or 13, is released on World's Fair. We'll have plenty of copies here for you, loyal customers. For more infor already posted, check this previous announcement.