Coming Soon: Handpicked with Under The Big Oak Tree

Under The Big Oak Tree's "Handpicked" concert poster

WHO’S PLAYING?  Under The Big Oak Tree (and guests) (St. Joseph, MO)

WHAT TO EXPECT?  Billed as “Winter Greens” this is another very unique concert that will feature songs related to the winter and the holiday season. The event will be part of the First Saturdays celebration for December in downtown St. Joseph, Missouri. If it is anything like the first installment of the Handpicked series expect an eclectic mix of cover songs and maybe a couple originals.

Under The Big Oak Tree are a local traditional bluegrass band. Their brilliant musicianship has impressed crowds over the last couple years while supporting their self-titled debut album and their latest release “Local Honey.” The 3 piece group features the sweet vocal stylings on Kristin Hamilton who also plays acoustic guitar, stand-up bass player Doug “Sluggo” Ward and multi-instrumentalist Simon Fink.

Like the delightful “Autumn Spirits & Spice” that took place on October 1st (see full review below) earlier this year a special guest is scheduled to help out the hosting group. The group set the bar high with the first installment of the Handpicked series but thoroughly takes on each project with full concentration so expect nothing but the best.

Under The Big Oak Tree sounds like: traditional bluegrass, music you would hear on a Victrola, hot cocoa early in the morning on a cold December Sunday.

WHERE IS IT? The Paradox Theatre, 107 S. 6th Street, St. Joseph, MO 64501

WHEN IS IT?  Saturday, December 3rd, 2016; 2:00pm, FREE to all ages

WHY SHOULD I GO?

  • It’s a family friendly event, no babysitter required
  • It’s at Paradox, they have a pretty good coffee shop too
  • It’s cold outside, come warm yourself up at Paradox
  • It’s short, at likely under an hour it should be over before the kids even lose their patience
  • It’s a FREE show, it’s hard to beat FREE family entertainment
  • This is the second of three installments of the “Handpicked” series
  • It’s a classy event put on by really good people
  • On a Saturday afternoon it shouldn’t conflict with many other plans, it can be a small part of a busy day
  • There will be a gathering of good spirits in a fun environment to enjoy some holiday and winter songs.

You should RSVP on facebook to the event so you don’t forget, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1701819790135151/


Under The Big Oak Tree concert review: Handpicked #1: “Autumn Spirits & Spice” at The Paradox Theatre in St. Joseph, MO on 10/1/16

To help promote the upcoming “Winter Greens” installment of the Handpicked series, here is a look back at the first show from October.

The first of three shows in an extremely ambitious project by St. Joseph, Missouri band Under The Big Oak Tree was nothing short of thrilling. Focusing on “Autumn Spirits & Spice” for the first installment the three piece band took aim at some well known songs originals and some obscure and intriguing covers to fill out their short 40 minute set.

The show would start with a healthy and patient crowd that worked their way through the Paradox Theatre’s coffee shop to find a few rows of seats in front of the impressive stage that lies within the building. As the show time approached the curtain behind the seating was closed creating a cozy environment for the attendees that came in, most of which after enjoying other First Saturday activities in the downtown area. With the curtain closed The Paradox Theatre transformed into a much more intimate environment paving the way for strong show.

The group started with a somber retelling of Kansas City’s own Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear’s “Dead Daffodils” and following it with the Neil Young classic “Harvest Moon.” Taking the harshness of fall head-on they tackled Tom Waits’ beautiful “Last Leaf” with a wonderful take on the resilient song. The best moments of the show were still the band’s originals somehow. Even with the great choices of covers the originals “Farewell Forever Eleanor” and “Deeper In The Wood” easily stole the show.

The mysteriousness of “Farewell Forever Eleanor” is captivating in itself with its classic storytelling but the addition of special guest Lory Lacy would even further raise the bar for the show. Lacy approached the stage to play her flute and helping out with some vocals that brought the song “Deeper In The Wood” an impressive climax. It could easily be measured by the crowd’s intense reaction and applause that the song was the clear high point of the afternoon show. They would close by turning Nick Cave’s “The Willow Garden” green with its Irishness capping off one of the most eclectic 40 minute sets you will likely see.

Under The Big Oak Tree’s Handpicked “Autumn Spirits & Spice” setlist:

  • Dead Daffodils (Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear song)
  • Harvest Moon (Neil Young song)
  • We Are Going To Be Friends (White Stripes song)
  • Last Leaf (Tom Waits song)
  • Bringing In The Sheaves
  • Farewell Forever Eleanor
  • Wind and Rain (Gillian Welch song)
  • Deeper Into The Wood (with Lory Lacy)
  • The Willow Garden (Nick Cave song) (with Lory Lacy)

 

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250 word album review: Ashley Raines – King of Nothin’

ashleyraineskingofnothin

Stars4

The black album cover should tell you a lot about what you need to know about Ashley Raines’ latest release. He has traditionally kept his album cover barren when it comes to his name and album title but this takes it to a new level. The album is titled “King of Nothin'” after all, isn’t this exactly what the cover of it should look like?

The mood of Raines’ music may not be a ton different here but the sound is. After some characteristic acoustic picking on “I Don’t Know What I’d Do Without You” for the short sub 1:00 opening track, a bass line leads the dark and desperate “Good Things Happen To Bad People.” Then up next for the title track things take a bit of a turn. Keyboards coat the song giving it a different ecosystem to exist in. The sound takes center stage on “King of Nothin'” giving it a more produced and refined sound, something that Raines has consciously avoided in the past. Throughout his career Raines has thrived on down and dirty recording that only added to the direct and desolate nature of his music but on this album there is an effort for a cleaner sound. On “Keeps Turning” a simple drum backing drives the song while some relaxed guitar helps the song settle to a calm conclusion. On “Repent” the backbone of the song is once again the keyboards as they hover about in the song.

“King of Nothin'” may be a bit of turn in Raines’ catalog, the mood is mostly consistent with his other work but stylistically it is an interesting shift giving him more dynamics to play with and this album is a great example why that isn’t a bad thing.

Key Tracks: “King of Nothin'” “Keeps Turning” “Good Things Happen To Bad People”

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Album at a glance: Preston Ott & Glass House EP

Preston Ott & Glass House EP

Preston Ott is a lyrical driven singer/songwriter from the Kansas City area. It being very early in his music career it’s difficult not to think he is off to a great start. He writes with the heartbroken verses of Ryan Adams and adds some crunchy guitars that resemble power pop at times. On “This Back and Forth” his voice sounds weathered and worn only adding to the song. A solemn dobro burns on “Broken Hearts and Broken Guitars” as Ott rattles a dark tale while you can hear fingers sliding on strings in the background. On “Grew Up In The Grew” he falls somewhere between Bob Dylan the Old 97’s maintaining a folky sound while still injecting some pop hooks. After just a listen or two to this EP you’ll be convinced Ott is just on his way to making even better music.

Key Track: “This Back and Forth”

  1. Say GoodbyeStraight Into The Earth
  2. This Back and Forth
  3. Grew Up In The Grey
  4. You Can’t Expect Much
  5. Broken Hearts and Broken Guitars
  6. Straight Into The Earth
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Album at a glance: Jerry Forney – Ridin’ The Rails

Jerry Forney - Ridin' The Rails

Jerry Forney lives and breathes the blues but that isn’t all there is to him. You’ll find a fair share of country heart on his latest record “Ridin’ The Rails” as well. On “Down South” Forney throws down a straight forward Nashville romp delivered barbeque blues style. He still shines when letting the blues guitar runs flow like on “Ridin’ The Rails” and the Dire Straits inspired “Cumberland Blues.” He also does a very good job with some traditional covers here of “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” His best interpretation may be the well known “Baby Please Don’t Go” where he takes a lo-fi approach and lets the song settle in a slow groove where it stays. It’s another solid blues record for Forney which should come as a surprise to no one.

Key Track: “Cumberland Blues”

  1. Too Many Women
  2. Baby Please Don’t Go
  3. Cumberland Blues
  4. Long Gone Daddy
  5. Down South
  6. Love in the Hot Afternoon
  7. Missouri Moon
  8. Tequila River
  9. Silverado Blues
  10. Rollin’ and Tumblin’
  11. Ridin’ The Rails
  12. Wayfaring Stranger
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250 word album review: Drive-By Truckers – American Band

Drive-By Truckers - American Band

Stars4

The Drive-By Truckers are at a place in their career where they have built such a solid fan base that they can take some chances. On their 11th proper studio album they do take some chances, maybe not a ton musically but more topically.

It is a modern protest record through and through. The Truckers have always thrived on pulling from history books for their subject matter, now they are pulling from the news of the day. “Surrender Under Protest” is a Rolling Stones romp unlike anything the Truckers have tried. The soaring chorus and angsty lyrics are sure to make it a fan favorite for years. The snarling guitars on “Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn” are sharply unique and when paired with the spitfire lyrics by Patterson Hood it makes for an album highlight. Hood, for the first time since the Jason Isbell era may have outdone writing partner Mike Cooley on this record. Hood’s “Sun Don’t Shine” is depressingly sweet and “Baggage” is a wonderful, wandering tune in all the right ways. Hood also pens “What It Means” which is a clear low point though. The lyrics are brutally straight-forward and lyrics like “There’s no sunlight in our ass’, and our heads are stuck up in it” are far below Hood’s regular musings. Not to say Cooley phones it in, “Protest” is his and so is the vicious send-up “Kinky Hypocrite” and the reflective “Once They Banned Imagine” is pretty strong too.

The record is actually very cohesive considering the subject matter and doesn’t get boring. It is clearly their best album since 2008s “Brighter Than Creation’s Dark.”

Key tracks: “Darkened Flags on the Cusp of Dawn” “Surrender Under Protest” “Sun Don’t Shine”

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Coming Soon: Handpicked with Under The Big Oak Tree

Under The Big Oak Tree's "Handpicked" concert poster

WHO’S PLAYING?  Under The Big Oak Tree (and guests) (St. Joseph, MO)

WHAT TO EXPECT?  Billed as “Autumn Spirits & Spice” this is a very unique, one of a kind concert will feature songs related to the fall. The event will be part of the First Saturdays celebration in Downtown St. Joseph, Missouri.

Under The Big Oak Tree are a local traditional bluegrass band. Their brilliant musicianship has impressed crowds over the last couple years while supporting their self-titled debut album and their latest release “Local Honey.” The 3 piece group features the sweet vocal stylings on Kristin Hamilton who also plays acoustic guitar, stand-up bass player Doug “Sluggo” Ward and multi-instrumentalist Simon Fink.

Special guest Lory Lacy is scheduled to help out the hosting group with a couple songs as well. She is a flutist and classically trained vocalist that should add a lot of variance to the performance.

Under The Big Oak Tree sounds like: traditional bluegrass, music you would hear on a Victrola, your bare feet in the July grass

WHERE IS IT? The Paradox Theatre, 107 S. 6th Street, St. Joseph, MO 64501

WHEN IS IT?  Saturday, October 1st, 2016; 2:00pm, FREE to all ages

WHY SHOULD I GO?

  • It’s a family friendly event, no babysitter required
  • It’s at Paradox, they have a pretty good coffee shop too
  • It’s short, at likely under an hour it should be over before the kids even lose their patience
  • It’s a FREE show, it’s hard to beat FREE family entertainment
  • This is the first of three installments of the “Handpicked” series, to see them all you have to attend this one
  • It’s a classy event put on by really good people
  • There’s a SECOND show at the Tiger’s Den just a block away right after at 3:30 from the rustic roots band Like Rabbits out of Kansas City
  • On a Saturday afternoon it shouldn’t conflict with many other plans, it can be a small part of a busy day

You should RSVP on facebook to the event so you don’t forget, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/534680406727016/

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Vinyl Court: Father John Misty – I Love You Honeybear

Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear

  • Artist: Father John Misty
  • Album: I Love You Honeybear (2015)
  • Purchased at: Hastings (St. Joseph, MO) for $12

This album topped many best of lists in 2015 but I wasn’t ever sure if it was for me. My favorite local record store’s closing sale provided an opportunity to own it so I took a chance. It turns out I should’ve paid full price the day it came out because it is worth it.

Father John Misty is also known as J. Tillman and Joshua Tillman. He has been in tons of bands, most notably The Fleet Foxes who burst out of the indie rock scene in the late 2000s. His brand of softer indie music and deep, intellectual lyrics has made Father John Misty his most successful project yet. You might need a dictionary to follow along with the lyrics but it is actually worth the ride.

With a very very weird album cover, a drawing where a baby Tillman with full beard is breast feeding, you can tell things aren’t so straight forward here. On songs like “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt.” you might learn words like “malaprops” and if you already know that one hats off to you, it’s a good one. This song is a good one too. Alongside other great songs like the slow burning “Bored in the USA” and the dramatic rocker “The Ideal Husband” this album will give you a fresh look at indie rock and what is so great about it. It’s smart music for smart people or just people who like good music.

Rating: B

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