Friday, December 18, 2009

My Year in Music -- Part II

I'm back to complete the list I began two days ago. This all took way too long to put together, so I don't think I'm going to do something similar again. It's really just a way for me to talk about me anyway, and though this is a blog, I usually strive to make it about something more universal. But with this I guess you get to see the kinds of music/bands I like and a little bit about why. So with that, it's on to the top five. Thanks for reading.

5. Patterson Hood – It wasn’t a Rawk Show like his Drive-By Truckers fans are used to, but Patterson had a hell of a performance at the Metro on June 20. Playing songs from his long-awaited solo album, “Murdering Oscar and Other Love Songs,” Hood ripped through a memorable set with his Screwtopians backing band, which featured members of DBT and Centro-matic. I missed seeing DBT this year, but this show helped make up for that. It was a big year for the Truckers, who also released a live CD and a rarities collection. The band just announced it’s switching record labels and releasing a new studio album in the spring. I can’t wait for the Truckers’ return to Chicago.

4. Bruuuuuuce!!! – I’ve seen better Springsteen shows, but the May 12 performance at the United Center may be one I remember for a long time. It may be the last time I see Springsteen perform with the E Street Band. Plenty of speculation points to the “Working on a Dream” Tour being the final full-fledged tour for the man and band whose impact influenced my life more than any other artist. It’s hard to accept for me, but they’re getting old. Clarence had to sit for most of the show this night. Max Weinberg sat out almost half the show, being replaced on drums by his talented son, Jay. Patty wasn’t there. Nothing official has been announced, so I hope I’m wrong about this. I wasn’t able to see them when they returned to the UC in September, the show they played Born to Run in its entirety. I just hope I get another chance.

3. The Duke and the King – Like I said in the first half of this post, I didn’t listen to enough new music to put together a list of the year’s best albums. But I find it hard to believe I’d hear one better than The Duke and the King’s debut CD, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” Simone Felice left the Felice Brothers, the roots-rock band he started with his two younger brothers, to form this band with Robert Burke. The pairing is magic. As I did with Joe Pug, I ask that you really listen to this song – it’s achingly beautiful, as is much of what the album holds. I missed my chance to see them when they came through Chicago the first time. That won’t happen next time.

2. Jon Dee Graham – I first saw Jon Dee when Kristin and I lived in Texas. Though he doesn’t leave his home state all that often, thankfully when he does he usually comes through Chicago. We caught him a couple years ago and remembered a story he told between songs about how bad the food is when he’s out on the road, and how much he misses home-cooked meals and desserts while he’s away from Austin. When we were finally able to see him again, Kristin got in touch with him through Facebook and told him she wanted to bake him a pie. He requested a butter-chess pie, a staple of Texan desserts. So on Nov. 7 Kristin and I showed up, pie in hand, for Jon Dee’s show at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. We met him backstage and he fawned over Kristin, amazed that one of his fans could be so thoughtful.

During the show Jon Dee shared his pie with the audience, even coming out to serve it with Kristin’s help.

He put on an amazing show that night, playing songs from his upcoming new CD. Afterward we stopped backstage to say goodbye. He gave Kristin a big hug and thanked her again. Then he hugged me and said, “You take care of this one.” I’m trying my best to do just that.

1. Slobberbone returns – I’m proof that you don’t need to be as whiskey-soaked as their music is to enjoy Slobberbone. Still, I imagine their live shows would be even more fun with a few belts of Jack. I first saw them in around 2001 at Antone’s in Austin with Kristin. We didn’t see them again until 2005 at the Abbey Pub in Chicago during their farewell tour. Four years later they got back together and played a short reunion tour that included a return to the Abbey on Aug. 13. Kristin and I were there, right up against the stage in front of guitarist Jess Barr (you can hear Kristin singing at about the 1:20 mark in the “Meltdown” video below). Four nights later I drove up to Green Bay with my friend, Andy, to see them again. Both shows were amazing. I hope I don’t have to wait another four years to see them again.

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