Shelby Lynne | KCRW’s “Country In The City” | 7/26/14 [PHOTOS & REVIEW]

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Headlining the second concert of the County In The City concert series, inspired by The Annenberg Space for Photography’s newest exhibit, Country: Portraits of an American Sound,” was Grammy Award winning, country recording artist Shelby Lynne.

I found out about her and her music when she gave her now legendary Grammy Award acceptance speech in 1999 for Best New Artist. “13 years, and 6 albums to get here,” she said. It still gets me everytime.

A prolific recording artist, she has recorded 13 studio albums, and a handful of EPs, her latest effort being a 5 track EP released on December 10, 2013 through her own independent record label Everso Records. With so much music under her belt, her set consisted of music covering her entire career.

Opening her set with the heart-wringer “Your Lies”, then performing the first song she ever wrote, “Leaving”, covering a tune by Dusty Springfield, to performing “Life Is Bad” and “Where I’m From” (off her seminal album “I Am Shelby Lynne”), it was a concert filled with her “greatest hits”, and the crowd ate it up.

Perhaps the most poignant moments of her performance was when she sang songs for the heartbroken. The emotion espoused through her impassioned  lyrics, sung with her seemingly delicate contralto voice, left the audience moved. It may have been the lighting, but I could swear I could even see her eyes well up during several of the songs.

As an added treat, Shelby was able to get Jonathan and Zach of Jamestown Revival to come onstage to join her for the last song of her set (a cover of Neil Young’s “Are You Ready for the Country”). Reading lyrics from an iPhone, it was a light and carefree performance that brought the stellar acts of the evening onto the stage to bid the crowd goodnight.

Set List

  1. Your Lies
  2. Leaving
  3. Life is bad
  4. Easier
  5. I Only Want to Be With You
  6. Gotta Get Back
  7. Why Can’t You
  8. Look’n Up
  9. She Knows
  10. Should’ve Been
  11. Dreamsome
  12. Black Light Blue
  13. Wind
  14. Where I’m From
  15. Call me up
  16. This Road
  17. Walking
  18. Are You Ready for the Country — Neil Young cover with Jamestown Revival

It was a joy being in the pit shooting Shelby. I hope you like the the pics that I snapped. I sure like ’em.

 

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Gregg Allman | KCRW’s “Country In The City” Concert Series | 7/19/14 [REVIEW]

CLICK HERE To Check Out The Blog Entries Of The Other Acts Performing At KCRW’s “Country In the City” Concert Series

Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation
Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation

Headlining the inaugural concert of the County In The City concert series, inspired by The Annenberg Space for Photography’s newest exhibit,Country: Portraits of an American Sound,” was Gregory LeNoir “Gregg” Allman, an American rock and blues singer-songwriter who was the founding member of the The Allman Brothers Band. Inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, and named one of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine, Gregg Allman brought his vast catalog of music to the adoring Century City crowd

Dressed in a jeans, a t-shirt and a leather jacket, Gregg stepped onto the stage with his eight piece band and sat behind his now-trademark Hammond organ, his waist-long pony tail swaying from side to side.

Gregg has had a tough go at it this year. He’s been hospitalized on several occasions due to a variety of ailments (bronchitis, a wrist injury, and other undisclosed health issues) and he did look a bit gaunt to me has he perched himself atop his organ bench. I noticed in between songs that he’d quickly reach for tissues from a box perched on his organ. He even took a break midway through his set, I’m assuming to catch his breath and recharge.

Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation
Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation

He may have been under the weather, but his performance was not noticeably effected by it. With his right foot steady on the organ’s pedal, his left foot vigorously tapped to the beat of each song throughout the set.  His voice still had that soulful blues tenor rasp that got me interested in The Allman Brothers Band in the first place. Was he ill? I doubt anybody really noticed.

Being a fan of his repertoire, I was just thrilled to be able to see him performing live. “Black Hearted Woman/Hot Lanta”. “Melissa”. “Midnight Rider”. Those songs, especially “Melissa”, made my night.

The only letdown for me was when he performed “Whipping Post”. Maybe it was because he wanted to use the full sound of the band, but the arrangement of it was a little to nouveau for my tasted. In my opinion, “Whipping Post” is supposed to be raw and gritty. This version was more sass and flash. The chorus (“Sometimes I feel / Sometimes I feel / Like I’ve been tied / To the whipping post / Tied to the whipping post /Tied to the whipping post  /Good lord I feel like I’m dyin’) is supposed to wail. The arrangement that was performed that night was a bit anticlimactic.

That’s not to say that I did not love his performance. “Whipping Post” aside, I have no other complaints. Any chance to see a rock legend perform is a privilege. Any chance to hear one of the greatest voices in rock and roll live is privilege.  I was privileged just being there.

Set List (actual order might have been slightly different)

  1. STATESBORO
  2. ANGEL
  3. DON’T KEEP ME WONDERING
  4. STORMY MONDAY
  5. AINT WASTING TIME
  6. BULLETS
  7. I FOUND A LOVE
  8. SWEET FEELING
  9. James Brown medley (GA BREAK)
  10. -BAND INTROS-
  11. BLACK HEARTED WOMAN/HOT LANTA
  12. (MEDLEY)
  13. MELISSA
  14. MIDNIGHT RIDER
  15. LOVE LIKE KEROSINE
  16. WHIPPING POST
  17. Encore: ONE WAY OUT

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Sturgill Simpson | KCRW’s “Country In The City” Concert Series | 7/19/14 [REVIEW]

CLICK HERE To Check Out The Blog Entries Of The Other Acts Performing At KCRW’s “Country In the City” Concert Series

Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation
Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Annenberg Foundation

KCRW has once again curated a summer concert series with talent overflowing. Inspired by The Annenberg Space for Photography’s newest exhibit,Country: Portraits of an American Sound,” which will be on display through September 28th, 2014, KCRW’s “Country In The City” Concert Series brings to Los Angeles a country music line-up that any Nashville resident would be proud off.

Kicking off the concert series with Sturgill Simpson, KCRW brought a brand of outlaw country music that has had critics raving since his debut 2013 album, “High Top Mountain”. Since then Sturgill has been going at it hard, touring relentlessly, recording his follow-up album in four days, and releasing “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” in May of 2014, gaining more and more fans along the way.

Perhaps it’s his gruff voice. Perhaps it’s his passionately effective lyrics. Perhaps it’s his unassuming and down-to-earth honestly. Whatever “it” is, it seems to be working.

Sturgill took the stage with his band (Miles Miller on drums, Kevin Black on bass and Laur Joamets on Guitar) and immediately announced to the audience that he was honored to be opening for Gregg Allman. After powering through the first song, he earnestly apologized to the audience for being less than 100%, promising the audience that he was still going to, “hit it hard, and try to get to 90%”.

His “country” humor came out when he introduced “Long White Line,” stating, “This ones for the ladies …. That’s bullshit. It’s all for the ladies”, and afterwards he introduced his band members, noting that his guitar player, who was effortlessly strumming country licks, Laur Joamets, was from Estonia.

“Just keeping it real,” Sturgill smirked with a sly look to his players.

He mixed in a little bluegrass, and some covers. Before playing his cover of Lefty Frizzell’s “I Never Go Around Mirrors” noted that this time last year when he played “the Hotel Cafe, there was 20 people there.” A look of appreciation beamed from his grizzled face as looked into the audience.

He even gave the audience a little history behind several of the tunes. For example, before closing the night with “Railroad of Sin”, he explained that when he was starting his path as a songwriter, his wife said that he had to have a song with a train in it cause every country artist had one. When it was all said and done, and before closing the set with “Railroad of Sin,” he told the audience how lucky they were to have Gregg Allman coming up proclaiming that, “That ain’t no bullshit.”

Happy he was going to have the rest of the evening off, he joked that he and the band usually stayed sober after gigs in order to travel to the next venue … but not tonight.

I certainly hope you had a chance to unwind Sturgill. You deserved it.

(Approximate) Setlist:

  1. Sitting Here Without You
  2. Water In A Well
  3. Long White Line
  4. Poor Rambler (Carter Stanley cover)
  5. Medicine Springs
  6. Life Of Sin
  7. Living The Dream
  8. I Never Go Around Mirrors (Lefty Frizzell cover)
  9. Railroad Of Sin

CLICK HERE To Check Out The Blog Entries Of The Other Acts Performing At KCRW’s “Country In the City” Concert Series