Music (457)

Once there was a way to get back home and I think some of us may have found the path on Paul McCartney’s “Got Back” tour. The legend’s first road trek since 2019 is scheduled to include a second show at Fenway Park in Boston as this issue hits the stands.

My attendance at the Orlando show on May 28 was an out-of-the-blue gift from my former morning show partners on “The Mike and Mike Show.”

Mike Elliott and his wife, Kat Walls, live in Orlando where they produce the fabulously successful podcast “The Box of Oddities.”

The news came through a Saturday morning phone call in late February.

“Hey, guess who’s coming to Orlando in May and guess who’s going to be there to see him?” they teased.

We talked about how it had been almost exactly 20 years since we’d seen Paul together in Boston and we dreamed about the songs we hoped to hear him perform in Orlando.

When reality upstages the dream you know you’re at a McCartney show.

One of the most recognizable voices in rock and roll has just released an album that fans of the band with whom he’s most closely associated should seek out immediately.

Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles says his seventh solo record “Day by Day” is an eclectic collection of songs that came together organically. He had the songs, the studio, some A-list friends happy to pitch in, and he had the time to write and record during the lockdown and subsequent quiet spell that allowed this record to gel.

Schmit says he recorded the 12 songs on “Day by Day” at his home studio, “Mooselodge,” with the Santa Monica mountains as a backdrop.

Guests include Lindsey Buckingham, John Fogerty, Jackson Browne, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Benmont Tench, Jim Keltner, John McFee, Matt Jardine and Chris Farmer.

My big takeaway from “Day by Day” is that it sounds like a classic record. The songs, the performances and the production are uniformly superb.

It would appear that The Eagles are content to live on as a live entity only which is a shame when they have a gifted songwriter like Schmit in the band. For my money, “Day by Day” is a much better album than the band’s last effort, “Long Road Out of Eden,” from 2007.

I interviewed Timothy B. Schmit for this story and for my morning radio show on BIG 104 FM.

Fresh off an April tour with Bonnie Raitt, legendary band NRBQ has announced two June concerts in Maine that will undoubtedly go down as unique and unpredictable evenings for audience and band alike.

Operating without a prepared list of songs but drawing from a body of work made up of many hundreds of possibilities dating back to the 1960s, the group says they’ll give the audience what they need, first at Jonathan’s in Ogunquit on Sunday, June 5, then at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath on Friday, June 10.

Led by co-founder Terry Adams, NRBQ has existed in some form since 1965; their 23 studio albums, including the recently released “Dragnet,” represent an extraordinary framework of original genre-jumping riches encompassing rock and roll, rockabilly, country, swing, jazz, blues, pop, boogie-woogie and any combination thereof.

The current iteration of the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet has been intact since 2015 and includes Adams, guitarist Scott Ligon, bassist Casey McDonough and drummer John Perrin.

Ligon has been playing with Terry Adams since 2007, first as a member of Adams’s “Rock and Roll Quartet.” When the bandleader felt that his musicians were worthy of carrying on the NRBQ legacy, he reinstated the band name that had been idle since a 2004 cancer scare had necessitated a break for successful treatment.

“I wanted Terry to be in a situation where he feels comfortable playing any song he’s ever written and I knew that going in,” Ligon told The Maine Edge during an interview. “But sometimes I do get surprised by what he calls for onstage. It could be something we haven’t played for five years.”

Robin Trower has always been a singular guitarist easily identifiable through his tone and choice of notes. He’s not alone in that domain when you consider the work of players like Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix to cite a few obvious examples, but the list isn’t extensive.

Trower’s instantly recognizable guitar is all over his new record, “No More Worlds to Conquer,” which the musician says was nearly complete at the outset of the pandemic. During the lockdown period, Trower says he put the record back on the lift for some fine-tuning that he believes ended up making for a better album.

Music fans first came to know Robin Trower as a member of Procol Harum, a band he joined shortly after the release of their signature hit “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” After five albums with Procol Harum, Trower launched a band under his own name.

His 1974 album “Bridge of Sighs” with its haunting title track proved to be his career breakthrough, and while it remains his commercial apex, Trower’s consistent output since, including his work on “No More Worlds to Conquer,” is indication that he’s an even better guitarist today.

“No More Worlds to Conquer” features Trower on guitar and bass, with longtime live collaborators Richard Watts on vocals and Chris Taggart on drums.

The human element plays a key role in the music of Dominic Lavoie. His seventh full-length LP, “Flux” is an alluring and remarkably varied set of original songs full of human moments created by Lavoie over a five-month period while toiling away in his “Shabby Load” recording studio in Portland.

Lavoie’s music encompasses multiple genres but is rooted in the real sounds that have always inspired him. The songs on “Flux” encompass psychedelia, pop, rock and folk, and play out like a dream that you don’t want to end. It’s a galaxy away from technical perfection and a better record for it. These songs, and songs within songs, are full of cool sounds and textures captured the old-fashioned way with analog tape.

Technology’s quantum leap in the digital age has made it possible for musicians to create sonically flawless music without limits but “Flux” doesn’t fit that approach. Lavoie probably could have recorded these songs faster and cheaper using Pro Tools or an equivalent digital audio workstation, but what he might have saved in time and expense would have been lost in feeling.

“It’s not a perfect science,” Lavoie says of his preferred recording method. “It still has little glitches, but I think those glitches add to the flavor of the whole thing.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has announced its 2022 class, representing what the organization’s president and CEO says is one of the most diverse groups of inductees they’ve ever seen.

The Hall’s Class of 2022 is represented by 11 artists and producers and three non-performing industry professionals who will each be ushered into the hall during ceremonies scheduled for this fall in Los Angeles.

I have a vivid memory of the first time I heard a song by rockabilly missionaries The Stray Cats. It was early on during my first semester at college, an impressionable time when new students often have strangely conflicted feelings of freedom and uncertainty. Music was an anchor then as it is today and my dorm neighbor, Elliot, who lived directly across the hall, was my conduit to the newest sounds coming down the pike.

With a few notable exceptions, it seemed that most of the new songs that made it to commercial radio in 1982 were either slickly produced dance tracks or cloying treacly ballads. The bulk of my modest record collection didn’t fit those confines which made me appreciate it all the more.

One morning before my first class of the day, Elliot was holding court with an open door and a stack of 45s. “Come check this out,” he said, “It’s gonna be big.”

Elliot dropped the stylus on “Rock This Town” by The Stray Cats, and I was smitten by its swinging energy and authority. Compared to its contemporary charting brethren, “Rock This Town” offered 204 seconds of unrelenting authenticity and I had to know more.

Seeing The Stray Cats on MTV sealed the deal. They were elegant gangsters with pompadours, a nod to their original ‘50s and ‘60s heroes, but it wasn’t merely a gimmick or a throwback. These guys seemed to be serious period-correct students of the rockabilly era on a mission to bring the art form forward at a time when many artists and bands, even some classic rockers, looked and sounded like they’d dropped out of a dystopian novel.

I recently had the good fortune to connect with Stray Cats drummer “Slim Jim” Phantom to talk about his band’s fledgling pre-fame days for my radio show on BIG 104 FM.

“Slim Jim” Phantom is one of rock’s great storytellers, and man, does he have stories. The first two seasons of his “Rockabilly Confidential” Spotify podcast feature vividly recalled true tales drawn from four decades of adventures with The Stray Cats, from the earliest shows up to the band’s recent triumphant 40th anniversary tour.

Phantom’s “Rockabilly Rave-up,” where he tells the stories behind the songs, airs each Sunday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on SiriusXM Ch. 21, Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

The Stray Cats formed in 1979 and paid their dues playing long nights in corner bars for about a year before pulling a Jimi Hendrix move and heading to England with the hope of getting noticed. There, “Slim Jim” Phantom, along with guitarist Brian Setzer and stand-up bassist Lee Rocker, caught the attention of some London heavyweights who took it upon themselves to spread the word about these homeless American rockabilly cats that put on the wildest show imaginable. I’ll let Jim tell you about it.

There’s a scene from the new documentary film ‘Sheryl,’ from filmmaker Amy Harris, about the life and music of nine-time Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow where the artist expresses a profound truth that applies to each of us.

“It’s always hard to look back and talk about who you were because it’s only who you think you were,” she says.

As we become further removed from moments in time, those memories become distorted as changes and challenges keep hurling us into a new reality. That notion is one of the reasons why Crow says she reconsidered her initial reaction of a proposed documentary.

“I (first) said ‘Absolutely not,’” Crow says of her response to her manager when approached with the idea of a film early on during the pandemic quarantine. “I was so not interested and it took a while for me to come around to it,” she says.

In reflection, Crow says she thought of the many documentaries that had left an indelible mark on her.

This is one of those weeks when I wish for twice the available space to tell you about the literal profusion of great new LPs that have recently materialized.

This edition of Sound Bites focuses on the latest from four artists you may know including three veteran music-makers offering their first new sounds in years.

It’s only a matter of time before the Maine-based music-making siblings known as the Oshima Brothers find the outside world knocking on their door. The duo’s astonishing new album “Dark Nights Golden Days” provides further testament that the self-contained two-headed creativity factory of Sean and Jamie Oshima is bound for glory.

“Dark Nights Golden Days” is the second full-length release from the Oshimas, who wrote, recorded, produced and arranged the music, and played nearly every instrument.

The brothers take an equitable approach to creating their songs, as well as the visuals that accompany them. Saying that most of their songs originate from a place of inspiration, Sean starts writing while Jamie begins building the music.

“As things go along, we start intertwining those things,” Sean Oshima says. “By the end, we’ve invested an equal share.”

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