I haven't seen enough live shows or heard enough CDs released in 2009 to do a "best of" year in review. But by merging them into one category, I'm able to come up with a top 10 list, My Year in Music. It took me longer than expected to compile this, so I had to split it into two posts. And now I don't have to worry about coming up with something for tomorrow's post.
10. Scotland Yard Gospel Choir – This Bloodshot Records band was poised to take off in 2009. I saw them with Kristin at the Taste of Chicago on June 27. They were playing songs from a new CD that was released in September. As they hit the road for that tour amid rising critical acclaim, their van blew a tire on an Indiana interstate. Several members were severely injured and the tour was called off. They are still rehabbing. But let's hope they hit the stage again soon. A really great band.
Meat Puppets for the first time. They were old, they were loud, they were enthusiastic. The crowd was young, loud and even more enthusiastic. I wasn't up to joining the mosh pit up front, so I slid over to the side room and watched most of the show from behind glass. It did nothing to diminish the energy. I was completely enthralled, both from the band and the fact it was happening in my hometown. Afterward as I walked down Superior Street with my friend, Mark, he joked, "Just a typical Wednesday night in Duluth." Ummm, not from what I remembered.
8. Steve Earl’s release, “Townes” – Townes Van Zandt died New Year's Day 1997 after years of substance abuse as a virtual unknown in mainstream America. But Townes was an amazing songwriter who influenced some remarkable artists, including Earle. Earle once said, "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." To keep his mentor/friend's memory alive, Earle released a 15-track CD this summer of Townes songs. Give it a listen sometime. And please if you don't know who Townes Van Zandt is, do some research. It's worth it.
7. Gaslight Anthem – I found out about them, bought their latest CD, "The '59 Sound," and saw them live at Bottom Lounge all within a couple weeks last spring. I'm like that when I find something new I like. I obsess. And a band so clearly influenced by Springsteen is obviously going to rate pretty highly for me.
6. Discovering Joe Pug – Ranking a step higher for me was finding out about this Chicago songwriter. He, too, is burdoned with comparisons. This time it's to Bob Dylan, which is clear to see in this video. Do me a favor and really listen to the song and lyrics. I'm drawn to songwriters, and Joe Pug is one of the best out there right now.