The Month of May

I took the month of May off and didn’t do any music reviews during that time, with one exception, Parabola West and their album, Stars Will Light The Way. I had begun that review in April and worked on it for five days in May before posting it. Apart from that one blog, I did many other things to keep my life moving forward and enjoyable. I didn’t stop listening to music, reading about it, or going to live events. Read on to find out what I did to fill my days during May.

May 9 found us, Valerie, Joel and myself, listening to James Taylor & His All-Star Band with special guest Jackson Browne live and in person, thanks to seats shared by very dear friends/family who couldn’t make the show. This was a special night because it isn’t often that all three of us attend a concert together. I have to admit that I entered the arena with low expectations. I mused that both of these gentlemen are getting on in years, and I hadn’t listened to any new content from them since Sweet Baby James was Running On Empty. I was ecstatic from the moment Jackson Browne started his set until the encore finished and the house lights went on. These guys and their bands blew my expectations out of the arena. It was an impressive bunch of A-list musicians in their bands; I googled it. Jackson Browne as an opener, can you imagine that? His name was at the top of the tour poster back in the day. I don’t see him as an opening act, more of a complementary artist who shared the bill with James Taylor. They also shared a few songs as they played together. Jackson Browne played a set of new music with enough hits to keep the senior citizens’ attention focused on the show. James Taylor was bouncing around the stage, dancing with the band as he spun music that spanned his career and plenty of songs he had a hand in writing.
The music was fabulous, and the set design and integration were impressive. Jackson Brown had good set lighting and splash boards, and it was a good layout but not extravagant. James Taylor had an outstanding amount of stage lighting, splash boars, video feeds and practical effects. A highlight of the show was the two of them singing Running on Empty and a graphic of a highway on the back screen. Good stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed the show and left the stadium with a new respect for Jackson Browne and James Taylor.

I’m still ploughing through “C” in my album listening adventure. Carman, Some-O-Dat. Carman has talent, but I find that he sounds too glib, leaning closer to a novelty act than a serious musician. A good voice and a cleanly produced album all the same.

The Carpenter’s, Singles 1974-1978. Hummable tunes crafted for the top ten market, not my thing but there is no denying they were very good at what they were doing.

So, now we enter into some flashback listening, starting with Wilf Carter singing Jimmie Rogers and a K-tel with 24 of Wilf’s songs. I grew up listening to this music, my Dad sang some of these songs, and we listened to CFCW, where we heard more in this vein. And it is a rich vein, Wilf Carter may not resonate with people these days, but I still enjoy listening to him. There is no shortage of Wilf Carter music, with 500 songs and 40 LPs to his credit. Wilf Carter is significant to modern music history but is most likely a stranger to the majority of people listening to music nowadays.

We have the Carter family following closely on the heels of good old Wilf Carter. Our library has an extensive quantity of The Carter Family, and I pulled out the first album with a bit of dread thinking about overdosing on Carter albums. That heaviness was short-lived and what started as a burden soon became a most enjoyable couple of days as I relished the deep catalogue we have. I confess that I did not listen to every album; there are many crossover songs, so I skipped some of the albums. Much like Wilf Carter, I suspect The Carter Family would evade most current playlists, which is a shame because The Carter Family were very influential; people should know the forces that shaped what they listen to today.

It is a short walk from The Carter Family to the Cash Family. Johnny Cash married June, the daughter of Maybelle Carter, one of the original Carter family members. I can’t remember not listening to Johnny Cash. I don’t have a bottomless supply of him on vinyl, but I have a good cross section of his career, and it was a good career. Few musicians command the respect that Johnny Cash does. During his career, he touched many genres of music and closed out his career with a flourish. To conclude the Carter/Cash segment, there is a single album by Rosanne Cash, the daughter of Johnny Cash from a previous marriage. Since it was first released, the album Kings Record Shop has been a go-to listen for me.

Resuming our listening in the letter C, we have Jim Croce. He was an icon in his short life and made some excellent ear candy—a storyteller in the best sense of that genre. On the night of my high school grad I ended up at a guys apartment and we listened to this album, seared into my brain permanently.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds took longer to listen to than an average record. I kept going back and listening to it again and again. That was especially true on the album No More Shall We Part, a deserted island record for me. I think a lot of my attraction to this album is the references to his addiction and subsequent recovery. Nick Cave is also a good storyteller, but his stories are often more challenging to understand but worth the effort of trying nonetheless.

In the brave new world of streaming music, I found The Devon Lamar Organ Trio, Cold As Weiss. I played that a few times and will probably listen to it a few more. Yves Jarvis was a new find for me, and I heard a couple of his recordings. Local boy makes good, St. Arnaud and his album, The Cost of Living, was a good listen and getting to see him live again sealed the deal. Othered Vol. 1 was good for several listens.

I’ll close out my music from May with an event that was a bucket list highlight. We flew to Vancouver to see mewithoutYou in concert, and it was worth the trip. mewithoutYou is a band that we came close to seeing twice, and for one reason or another, we missed, so when they announced their final concert series, we had to get on board with that. We have their entire catalogue in one music format or another, and some of them show up in more than one format. Seeing them live was a great experience; they are top-notch entertainers who know how to hold an audience in rapt. Aaron Weiss, the lead singer, has a unique phrasing between spoken word singing and something close to a growl or an emotional cry out. You have to hear it to understand it. The whole band were consummate musicians, and it made for an enjoyable evening in Vancouver. As a bonus we were able to visit with some family while in town.

So, there we have it. From James Taylor to mewithoutYou, May was an excellent month for music. I didn’t do any blogs during the month to keep my focus on my personal playlists, which was fun. I listened to a lot of good music. Now I return to WeatheredMusic with a fresh perspective and a clean palate for the summer listening season.

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