Saturday, April 23, 2016

Joshua Davis, Zak Bunce

The band(s): Joshua Davis, Zak Bunce

The venue: Gopherwood Concerts 

Date: April 23, 2016

When Joshua Davis was on The Voice, I didn't know who he was and I didn't really care. I didn't watch The Voice and all I knew was everyone on Facebook was blathering on and on about him. It wasn't until I heard him cover Bridge Over Troubled Water that I finally realized what I was missing out on.

That was the only performance of his on The Voice that I heard. The next time I heard Joshua Davis it was when he recorded a stunning rendition of MSU Shadows. I have not historically enjoyed the Alma Mater but Joshua Davis totally won me over to it. Still, I never really sought out any more of his music.

So when a few months ago, my mom asked me if I'd be interested in seeing Joshua Davis live in my hometown, I thought "what the heck!" I knew he had a nice voice and the concert was on my birthday weekend so it seemed like a good idea.

Boy was it!

After my dear and wonderful 90 year old grandmother hauled herself up three flights of stairs for the show, I thought "this had better be fricking spectacular." I wasn't disappointed.

Zak Bunce opened. Years ago I saw Zak when he was singing with Kung Fu Rodeo but his short solo set was more memorable, I think. He opened with a cover of "Down Under" by Men at Work and closed with a "Purple Rain". He was a hit. Clearly a very talented individual and I'd be interested in hearing more of him. I especially loved his cover of Cry Love by John Hiatt (available here).

Joshua Davis came out, just him and his guitar (well, a few guitars, you know how these musicians are). I have to say, having only heard him really twice before, I was skeptical that he would be quite AS good as he was in the recordings that I heard. But he was better. When I heard Bridge Over Troubled Water on YouTube or however I saw it, I was deeply moved by his performance. Tonight, when he played Fields of Gold live in front of me, I wanted to throw myself on the ground. It was phenomenal. It was significantly better even than the Voice performance linked here.

I'm looking forward to FINALLY looking up all of Joshua Davis' music and hopefully catching him this summer with his band Steppin' In It when they play in the LowellArts Summer Concert Series.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday: My 30/30 Playlist (Part 3 of 3)

Tomorrow is my birthday. I haven't been nearly as preoccupied with it as I usually am, but I am going to take the time to compile the 30 songs for 30 years playlist that I shared song-by-song on Facebook when I turned 30. It's a pretty good playlist. I'm just going to share it exactly as I posted it on FB.  

30/30 Playlist #22 Mr Brightside by the Killers

 The Killers - Mr Brightside - Album Version + Lyrics

I bought Hot Fuss and the disc didn't leave my CD player for months. It was just SO GOOD. I honestly had a hard time choosing a song from it to put on my playlist. I don't really have a story to go with my love of the Killers. They just make my ears happy.

"Coming out of my cage,
And I've been doing just fine,
Gotta gotta be down,
Because I want it all"

Runners up: Midnight Show, Smile Like You Mean It

30/30 Playlist #23 If You Don't, Don't by Jimmy Eat World
I didn't find this album until they re-released it as a self-titled album (rather than the original Bleed American). This was another disc that I lived and breathed for ages. What to say about Jimmy Eat World? The lyrics are awesome, the sound is perfect, they put on a great lives show. What more do you need? 

30/30 Playlist #24 The Sound Of Settling by Death Cab for Cutie

I hate to be the person who is all like, "Oh, I listened to Death Cab way back when..." but I am that person. I started listening to Death Cab about a million years ago back when half of their songs were so slow they felt like they were going backwards. And I loved them. And I love the subtle and not-so-subtle ways their sound changes over time while still managing to sound like them.

This is one of those songs that speaks to me in sound and lyric and it reminds me of the year before I moved to Chicago. I don't think this is my favorite DCFC song but it's one that's stuck with me over time.

"My brain's repeating: If you've got an impulse, let it out.
But they never make it past my mouth."

p.s. their song "What Sarah Said" is featured on my unpublished "songs that consistently make me cry" playlist.

30/30 Playlist #25 The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon & Garfunkel

This is sort of a dual meaning entry that takes me to very specific moments in my life. This is at once me flying across town on my bicycle, listening to the Garden State soundtrack as I tried to figure out my life in the summer of 2005 and also standing shin-deep in horse track mud in the New Orleans sun, seeing Simon & Garfunkel live in 2010. It's fond reminiscence and echos of distant and not-so-distant past heartache. And it's just beautiful.

"I've got nothing to do today but smile."

30/30 Playlist #26 I Spy by Guster

Sarah introduced me to Guster (via "Two Points for Honesty") in 2005(ish). I'd heard of Guster before, even was an usher at one of their concerts, but I didn't fall in love with them until I listened to the Lost and Gone Forever album. "I Spy" was my favorite song on the album from the first time I heard it. I can hear why in the way he sings "I've been so damn tired" -- it really resonates with how tired I've felt in my life. Which probably doesn't make any sense to anyone but me.

Other favorite Guster songs: Demons, This Could All Be Yours Someday, Careful, Come Downstairs and Say Hello. And most of the rest of their catalog.

"There is something I've been meaning to do
I am dying to tell you
I've been so damn sad."

30/30 Playlist #27 Slow Pony Home by the Weepies

I don't know what to say about this song. I love it (and many of the Weepies' songs) so much that it's hard to share it with other people because it feels like it's a part of me. It's hard to explain a strong emotional attachment to specific music so I'll just post the link. You'll like them or you won't.

I can remember when I first saw you
You said in my photograph I looked more far away
I laughed and smiled and didn't say
"I am a bit afraid to be here."

Runners up: Painting by Chagall, The World Spins Madly On, Nobody Knows Me At All

30/30 Playlist #28 Cat in Sunshine by The Lucksmiths

I fricking love the Lucksmiths. Straight up. I love their clever and sometimes funny lyrics. I love the lead singer's accent. And I love this song.

"And when you're near I feel like D-Day is here
All those songs about burning houses are giving me ideas
If I hear those words once more, I'll pour the petrol on the floor
And I'll watch the flames caress your door"

Also go listen to: English Murder Mystery, Untidy Towns, World Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Murder

30/30 Playlist #29 That's Some Dream by Good Old War

I've been to a lot of concerts, which means I've seen a lot of opening bands. It's rare for me to walk out of a show even remembering the name of the opening act, let alone hastily downloading all of their songs because they were so awesome. But that's Good Old War.

"There's a time in our lives
we start again on writing our part
as the story goes on, it's the rule that we remember our lines

I know everyone would want me to say
that I'm not afraid to be alone

I'm gonna live I'm alright,
I'm gonna die it's alright, I'm okay"

30/30 Playlist #30 All I Ever Wanted by the Airborne Toxic Event

 All I Ever Wanted

When I first heard this song last fall, it was just... love.

When I think of Airborne, I think of how I survived last fall. I think of how much of my life and my plans and my sense of who I was was demolished. And I heard this song (and some of their other ones) and felt deeply, viscerally, that I would not only be okay, but I could be great. They're like putting on warm clothes straight out of the dryer on a cold morning. Then as I learned their catalog I would be surprised by lyrics, sounds that fit precisely how I was feeling or how I hoped to feel some day.

For a writer, I'm pretty terrible at putting how I feel into words. Possibly because I'm trying to dance around the fact that these guys are the best thing since sliced bread. Since Culver's custard. Since the best thing you can think of ever.

I can't list a runner up or other suggestions because you should really try on all of their stuff. That being said, the Live at Walt Disney version of "Innocence" is absolutely gorgeous, while the studio album version is simply fantastic.

And so that's that! That's the end of my playlist. Of course I didn't cover every song or artist that was meaningful to me but I hope I hit the high points and gave you a little glimpse into who I am and who I've been in the last 30 years.

"All I can think is that it must be a kind of rebellion,
To arm your fears like soldiers and slay them..."

Throwback Thursday: My 30/30 Playlist (Part 2 of 3)

Tomorrow is my birthday. I haven't been nearly as preoccupied with it as I usually am, but I am going to take the time to compile the 30 songs for 30 years playlist that I shared song-by-song on Facebook when I turned 30. It's a pretty good playlist. I'm just going to share it exactly as I posted it on FB.  

30/30 Playlist #11 - Now and Then by Susanna Hoffs

This song reminds me of so many moments with Abby, Aimee and Amanda that I couldn't possibly recount them all. We were inseparable, just like the girls in Now and Then. Corny, yes. But true just the same.

"Lookin' in your eyes was like a mirror
Every single joy and fear
All for one and one for all
Yeah, we did it all."

30/30 Playlist #12 - Painters by Jewel

A song about beauty and tragedy. Pretty much right up my alley. Jewel was also a part of my singer/songwriter phase. This was one of my audition songs for the University of Miami music school.

"So they sat down and they made a drawing of their love
They made it an art to live by..."

30/30 Playlist #13 As Long as it Matters by the Gin Blossoms

Oh how I adored the Gin Blossoms. I even learned a little of this one on the guitar (which is a much bigger deal than it sounds, given my ineptitude at guitar playing). It sings to me in that way that only your favorite songs can. 
This song reminds me of a lot of times in my life but nothing quite more than riding in the back of the big blue station wagon, excited as all hell to have just purchased a used copy of the Gin Blossoms latest album on a trip up to Traverse City. 

"I'm like a broken record That you can play Repeating as if it matters Everything I want to say"

30/30 Playlist #14 Tearin' Up My Heart by *NSYNC

I'm a pretty cool person. Down to earth, quiet, sensible. I always have been. Except where *NSYNC was concerned. I lost my mind for these guys. I bought their European albums. I cut out their pictures, wrote them letters, and knew their whole life stories. I was a crazy person.

Truth be told, I still totally love listening to them and every October I pull out their Christmas album to kick off the holiday season. I picked this song out of their whole catalog because it was one that got me hooked.

"Baby I don't understand
just why we can't be lovers"

Me neither, JC. Me neither.

Runners up? How could I possible choose? 

30/30 Playlist #15 If Only by Hanson

It's funny, going through this list and listening to all this pop music I loved in high school and getting just as into it as I was before. How could I not jump around my apartment singing along to Hanson and *NSYNC?

I always felt bad for Hanson, for releasing Mmmbop as their first single because they cut themselves off from a bunch of people who would never take them seriously no matter what kind of music they put out after that. Personally, I liked Mmmbop, but it wasn't my favorite. This one though, is one of my favorites.

30/30 Playlist #17 Sunrays and Saturdays by Vertical Horizon

At the same time that I was rocking out to metal, I was (re)discovering the joys of sappy acoustic music. I don't think Vertical Horizon would like to be thought of as sappy but that's how I will always view them because of this song (also, Angel Without Wings).

This song reminds me of Megan's dorm room, Leigh and Liz, listening to Leigh read Rapture of Canaan to us. We were young and hopeful. It's weird to think that this kind of romantic side of me coexisted with the angrier, Static-X-ier, side of me but that's the way it was.

It also reminds me of this fall and describes a sort of zen post-breakup place that I think everyone would like to experience but is actually very difficult to maintain.

"I'll take my records
You can have your books
I'm sorry I never read them
But it says so much about us"

30/30 Playlist #18 Yellow by Coldplay

 Coldplay - Yellow

This song reminds me of walking across campus and the way the sunlight would illuminate the leaves as they fluttered down from the trees. It reminds me of the way I always felt just slightly separate from the world around me. 

30/30 Playlist #19 I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine by Beth Orton

Another one that I don't have a lot of commentary for. It just takes me back to ye olde college days. A pretty but depressing song from a time in my life where everything felt dramatic and tragic and beautiful.

"Every day is just like the day before
All alone, a million miles from shore
All of my dreams I dreamed with you
Now they will die and never come true"

30/30 Playlist #20 Another Lonely Day by Ben Harper

Another song that I learned to sort of play on the guitar!

I love Ben Harper. This song is so quiet and simple and honest that I can hear it and feel it in my heart. I like songs like that.

"I'd rather walk alone
than chase you around
I'd rather fall myself
than let you drag me down"

Throwback Thursday: My 30/30 Playlist (Part 1 of 3)

Tomorrow is my birthday. I haven't been nearly as preoccupied with it as I usually am, but I am going to take the time to compile the 30 songs for 30 years playlist that I shared song-by-song on Facebook when I turned 30. It's a pretty good playlist. I'm just going to share it exactly as I posted it on FB.  

30/30 Playlist #1 - Glory of Love by Bette Midler

Bette Midler - Glory of Love - From "Beaches" - Full Version

In honor of my looming 30th birthday, I've decided to compile a list of 30 songs that I've loved, related to or that just remind me of certain times in my life. I'll post one every day.

I don't know when my mom picked up a copy of the Beaches soundtrack but I was pretty young. When I got my little hands on it, I adored every single song on it. Here's one that gets to me every time I hear it.

"You've got to laugh a little, cry a little
Until the clouds roll by a little
That's the story of,
That's the glory of love"

30/30 Playlist #2 - Palisades Park by Freddie Cannon

It was hard to pick a song from "Fun Rock", the 4 album set that I rocked out to as a child. When I looked up the track list, there were a lot of contenders but this one made the cut. Why? I'm not sure. I guess because I remember it made me feel hopeful that there would be fun and adventure and love when I grew up.

I also remember Mom recording the records onto cassettes and how careful I had to be to not jump around and make the records skip. I seem to also remember that I was trying to memorize my times tables while that was happening.

(Here's a link to the album, if you're interested:

30/30 Playlist #3 - Sullivan Street by Counting Crows

I distinctly remember buying a copy of August and Everything After on cassette at the mall. I don't remember why I did (I guess I just loved Mr. Jones) but it was the first album to really burrow its way into my heart and stay there.

I thought this album was tragic and beautiful and perfect. It spoke to my soul. What can I say? I was an angsty 11 year old (back then I just thought I was "deep").

"I'm almost drowning in her sea
She's nearly crawling on her knees
It's almost everything I need."

Runners up: Anna Begins, Rain King

30/30 Playlist #4 - If I Wanted To by Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge was the first person that I knew was gay, understood what that meant, and thought "Who the F cares?" In the shadow of her lyrics and rich voice it seemed unimportant. Of course, Yes I Am dropped when I was 11, so I didn't really get the politics of all that. I was just drawn to the honest emotion on this album and wished that I could rock out like she did. I still do.

Runner up: Silent Legacy, which I liked when I bought the album but didn't appreciate until much later.

30/30 Playlist #5 All I Really Want by Alanis Morissette

Jagged Little Pill came out in 1995. I was 13 and I was angry and Alanis Morissette got it. She captured the loneliness, the feeling of not being good enough and I felt like if I could be like her, I could demand the attention that I needed and maybe not be happy but at least less isolated. But I couldn't be like her, so instead I just sang along to her CD at the top of my voice and drove my parents crazy, I'm sure.

"And all I really want is some patience
A way to calm the angry voice
And all I really want is deliverance"

Runners up: Perfect, Not the Doctor"

30/30 Playlist #6 When All the Stars Were Falling by Lisa Loeb

Oh how I wanted to sing like Lisa Loeb. And how adorable was she in the video for Stay? Those glasses!

I was attached to Tails (1995) as much as any other album but there's not much of a story behind it. I aspired to the kind of balance and I found in her songs, the pretty, peaceful sound of them, and love (see Sandalwood).

Runner up: Snow Day

"i could be restful, i could be someone's home,
if i fell down"

30/30 Playlist #7 - Love Song for a Savior by Jars of Clay

I got into Jars of Clay before I became fully immersed in the Baptist church and I still enjoy them to this day. They have a couple of good songs on their self-titled album (1995) that I thought about posting but I think this one embodies the early Christian era of my life the best.

Runners up: Art in Me, Boy on a String

30/30 Playlist #8 - Lumina by Joan Osborne

Not a lot to comment on with this song. I just love(d) it.

"Here is the place, now is the time
Let's invent the kiss"

Runners up: Spiderwebs, St Theresa

30/30 Playlist #9 - Lost in the Supermarket by the Clash

I've been listening to the Clash off and on for my entire life and I can pick different songs of that remind me of different stages of my life. Since my playlist timeline is still roughly in high school, Lost in the Supermarket it is. The other option was Bankrobber.

"I came in here for a special offer - guaranteed personality."

30/30 Playlist #10 - It's Too Late by Carole King

This song reminds me of a few times in my life. High school, when I just loved Carole King and before I realized I didn't have the ambition or talent to be a successful singer-songwriter. It reminds me of karaoke. It reminds me of breakups. It's perhaps not my favorite song from Tapestry but it is the song that has stuck by me most through the years.

Runners up: So Far Away, Tapestry