Saturday, February 10, 2018

Paul Edelman Solos At Richmond’s Tin Pan


There’s a long tradition of a solo performer; an artist with an instrument and a voice that combines with poetry to cast a spell over an audience. Paul Edelman is an artist who is very much in that vein. While he’s been working as a small band, The Jangling Sparrows, lately, when his drummer came down with the flu that’s creeping its way across the country, he packed his guitar, put his foot in the road and travelled from Asheville to Richmond by himself to play a show for a small but very appreciative audience.  
It was a quiet opening. There was just a chair, amp, monitor and a single microphone on the stage. No pedals, no extraneous chords, nothing that could get between Edelman and his audience. Many in the audience were unfamiliar with his work, but trusted someone telling him how good he was, or maybe just trusted that if he were playing The Tin Pan, it had to be worthwhile to see what he had to offer.
What Edelman has to offer is a wonderful evening of music and more than a few stories. He went through a delightful set of songs for the next two hours and had stories to go with just about each. He’s a very personable performer and hopefully we will progress from cult figure to wider acceptance.
He started the show off with an older song, Highway Doesn’t Know, from his solo album Stranger Things And Truer Words album. It was a lovely song and it set the mood for a quiet evening of musical storytelling. He followed up with another song from the same album, Ballad Of Lizzie Mainford, that dealt with the emotions of a woman leaving home.
After that second song, he mentioned his CDs, but he was clearly not comfortable doing so; he even remarked that he had “never gotten the hang of pimping himself on stage.” Let me just comment that for many performers, appearances don’t pay all the bills, and with the limited payments that online services provide, an artist selling CDs and other merchandise often makes the difference from being a fulltime artist, and a part-timer with a day job.
After that, Edelman played a song he deemed his “personal Dock Of The Bay,” a meditation on where he grew up, Burning A Hole. He followed up with a song that hasn’t been released yet, Rabbit Hole. He would pepper the rest of the night with new songs that have yet to released, and it was a real pleasure to listen to music that was still in early stages.
From there he played a nice classical style intro to Chase It Down, then revisited his childhood memories for the collage song, Daddy Says, and the song Hidden River.
The next song was written about a friend’s wedding, and again it hasn’t been recorded. It hasn’t even been titled yet, although I am calling it Old Friends Catching Up (Sparkle And Flicker), until it gets a name. From the impetus of a wedding, he began to examine the theme of growing older with Eyes Of A Stranger and A Year Is Still A Long Time.
Afterwards he asked if everyone was okay. He could actually play some dance tunes if we wanted them. He was told in no uncertain times that we were enjoying this musical journey and he could proceed as he saw fit. Edelman then took a second to demonstrate two of his favorite chords to play and indeed they went well together. Don’t ask me what they were, I’m not a guitar player and couldn’t explain what he was showing.
It sounded good, though…
He went back to exploring themes dealing with growing older, Somebody Again led to New Wheels and Great American Limbo. He followed up with a ghost story of a number, Old Red Song and a creepy tune, Label’s All Mine, that’s not yet recorded.
Up until this point, Edelman has only played original tunes, but he took a break with Love Please Come Home that was originally performed by The Stanley Brothers. He showed off some fancy picking on this number. He followed that with Trouble Is A Stray before playing another brand new song, not yet titled, that is a love song for his wife. I’m calling it Moonlight until it gets a final name. Gorgeous song, hurry up and record it!
The next song, Anyhow, also hasn’t been recorded, and was followed by an older song written by a friend of his, The Blue Route (Who Leaves The Lonely People Alone). The latter song sounded to me as if someone had put together two of John Prine’s best, Sam Stone and Hello In There. It’s a powerful song, and I hope to track down the original recording soon.
The country sounding, Space In Between The Notes followed, and then another country sounding song, Chopping Onions. Not Chopping Broccoli that Dana Carvey made famous, something entirely different.
At this point, Edelman was well over 90-minutes into the show when he played Blame The Sky and That’s All Night. Since it was a school and work night, he lost a couple of audience members, but he thanked them for coming out and finished up with two more numbers, I Lied Because I Love You and closed with his one political statement, Go To Hell John Wilkes Booth.
Edelman is a wonderful and personable performer. His voice is strong and expressive and his playing is tight and covers several different styles. As much as I enjoyed this evening, I will be interested to see what he does with the rest of the Jangling Sparrows, as I found their album 140 Nickels to be one of the best I’ve heard this year.  

If you are a fan of Roots/Americana music, or just of good songwriting, Paul Edelman is a performer that needs to be on your radar. You can find him on Facebook or https://janglingsparrows.com/. Take the journey, you’ll be glad you did!

(All photos taken at The Tin Pan by Jessica Wood. Used by permission.)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Time For The Blues ~~ February 10, 2018

We’re back! After bouts with the flu and other upheavals too many to mention here, Henry and I are back at full strength, and hope you are as well. We hope you will join us this Saturday night at 11 eastern for a great show featuring music from a couple of artists who rolled through town recently, some new music, and we remember an old friend that we recently lost.

First up, we’re going to sample a few tracks from Tinsley Ellis’ latest album, Winning Hand, which marks his return to the Alligator label. It’s no secret that we’re both big fans of this hard working, hard driving blues rocker and we’re delighted to see that he’s back on Alligator. I’ve been following Ellis for a number of years now, and caught him several times live in the area. Unfortunately, I had to miss his recent performance at The Capital Ale House due to that nasty flu, but I heard it was one of the best shows of the year so far.

Not only do we have three songs from Winning Hand to share with you, but we’re also going to reach way back to another one of his releases from Alligator, Trouble Time, so you can compare the evolution of his sound.

Speaking of The Capital Ale House, the night after Ellis was there, Popa Chubby blew through town. Two amazing blues guitarists and performers back to back, thank you Capital Ale House for bringing these artists to town. Chubby has just released a new CD, Two Dogs, and he’s out of the road promoting it and pretty much burning down every place he plays.

We’re glad to bring you this new album, as it features some of his strongest work to date.

You know we’re not through yet. Our new selection contains work from two female artists who will be featured on later shows: Ghalia Vauthier, a Belgian who teams up with Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys on a fantastic album, Let The Demons Out; and Heather Newman, normally the bass player for the great Nick Schnebelen, on her debut album, Burn Me Alive. Those two albums are available on Ruf and VizzTone respectively.

How impressive are they? I actually paid full price for Ghalia’s album and actually got in touch with Ruf Records’ American office to tell them how great the album was. I can’t say that I had anything to do with it, but the company then upgraded their marketing push so that other producers could share her work.

Another “new” release actually dates back to the 1970’s. The era of CB Radios, disco, and punk, also saw the first release from Johnny Nicholas. Nicholas released one album in 1978, Too Many Bad Habits, on Blind Pig Records. Shortly after that, he joined the group Asleep At The Wheel and his solo record went out of print. I had always heard how good the album was, but had never owned a copy myself. Imagine my surprise when one showed up in my mailbox complete with other recordings that were made at the same time.

After 40 years of languishing in a vault somewhere, we are so happy to share one of the songs from the album with you. Enjoy.

Lastly, Henry and I faced a very difficult Christmas. The entire WCVE family was dealt a terrible blow when we suddenly lost our colleague, George Maida. George has been a fixture of the station for over three decades and been a friend/brother to Henry and me for many years. When I came to work at WCVE some almost 24 years ago, George was one of the first two people I met and he made me feel welcome.

Our offices were always near each other, either next door or across the hall and there were many continuing discussions on a variety of topics including movies, conspiracy thoughts, television, religion, food, cats, and of course, music. George was a great champion of local music, a passion that Henry and I also share, and it was always fun as we tried to scoop each other with new finds.

Up until his passing, George’s program, The Electric Croude preceded ours. The Croude was his true love and he poured himself into every show, mixing musical genres like an alchemist and creating new sonic landscapes every week. You never knew what direction his program would take, it might be Anglo-Celtic, or progressive, or Brazillian folk, or even the Go-Go’s and it would all be accompanied by his ever faithful companion Hermie The Wistful Cricket.

The station has remembered George with a moving memorial service, and the local roots music community has done the same with a concert that featured several of George’s friends, and even a selection of music he wrote and performed. Now, it’s our turn. As Henry likes to remind me, he’s got New Orleans in his blood and “we don’t mourn, we celebrate!” So, we’re going to celebrate with a few good memories and three songs that connect us with our good friend and brother, George Francis Maida.

We’ve got everything all laid out and ready to go, all we need is you and a few hundred of your closest friends. You know how to find us, point your browser to http://ideastations.org/radio or join us on one of the Idea Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagship, 88.9 WCVE-FM, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!



 (Photo of George Maida by Marshall Lloyd. Used by permission.)


                                                            

Monday, February 5, 2018

Albert Castiglia Plays The Capital Ale House

It’s always a pleasure to catch Albert Castiglia when he plays live. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him perform on several occasions and when he steps into the spotlight with his hard-rocking style, the audience goes wild. If you’re looking for some quiet rocking chair blues, you’re not going to find it here, but if you like your music with the sharpness of a straight razor, you’ve definitely come to the right place!
Castiglia, along with his regular band, Jimmy Pritchard on bass and Brian Menendez on drums, stopped by The Capital Ale House as he neared the end of his current tour, where he electrified a near capacity audience with a set of high energy blues. Supporting his latest album on Ruf Records, Up All Night, he played several songs from that album, some from previous albums, and just about every request the audience yelled up to him.
Starting out with some songs off the new album, including Woman Don’t Lie and the title track to warm up the audience, many of whom were long time fans, he then told the story of recording the album with producer Mike Zito who wrote a couple of tunes, including one that got Castiglia into trouble with a member of the British press.
First up was Hoodoo On Me, a fun song that’s been getting some solid airplay, followed by the song that a British journalist described as “misogynistic,” Quit Your Bitchin’.
Personally, I don’t buy it. I like the song, it’s funny and by telling the story of the one-person backlash, it endears Castiglia to those few audience members that don’t know he’s a smile-and-a-wink style of performer.
From there he played the song that got the first dancers of the evening out on the floor, Let The Big Dog Eat. Luther Allison’s Drowning At The Bottom followed and the first request of the night, Goin’ Down Slow.
Some performers just invite requests and Castiglia is one of those performers. While he might reject some requests as not really right for the band (ie Freebird, come on, get original) or put the request off to a later portion of the show, he does honor most requests for his music.
From there he segued in to Unhappy House Of Blues and the tender love ballad, Put Some Stank On It. Next up was another request, Celebration, which received a great deal of applause from the audience.
At this point it was obvious that we were enjoying a heaping dose of Spaghetti Blues as Castiglia was throwing everything up on the wall just to see what would stick. My better half referred to it as Screaming Lobster Pot Blues, but somehow I think Spaghetti fits the Italian Castiglia better…
From here he answered a request for some Junior Wells by paying tribute to the man who hired Castiglia as a full-time performer and put him on some of the bigger stages. It’s easy to see that he still has great affection for Wells and told a couple of stories that, at least for a few seconds, brought the man back to life. Castiglia responded with one of Wells’ biggest hits, Messin’ With The Kid.
He followed up with Don’t Let ‘Em Fool Ya and then paid tribute to the recently passed Eddie Shaw with the Magic Sam hit Just A Little Bit. Shaw was the well-respected saxophonist who worked with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters as well as Magic Sam. On a personal note, I once had the pleasure of emceeing a show he performed at a Richmond Summer Concert, and truly enjoyed being able to hang out with this remarkable man.
It was time to bring the performance to a close and he finished up with his take on performers searching for fame above substance, Get Your Ass In The Van. The applause was long and loud and afterwards, almost every audience member dropped by to shake hands, thank him for being there, and more than a few needed some of his CDs, and what better place to pick them up?
Prior to Castiglia taking the stage, local blues rockers The Syndicators opened up the audience with nine quick songs in a tight 45-minute set. They mixed in songs from artists like Jonny Lang, Buddy Guy, and Robert Johnson with some serious rock and roll and even some Psychobilly for fun. It was my first time catching The Syndicators live, and I’m looking forward to seeing them do a full set in the near future.
Any chance you get to see either of these power trios, grab it. You will definitely have a great time!