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Monday, Dec 8, 2014
Attending moe.’s Big Lebowski show after Phish’s Halloween bonanza was akin to doubling down after hitting the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll jackpot, except that the odds heavily favored those willing to gamble the rest of their evening.

There’s always been something special about catching a rock ‘n’ roll show in Las Vegas, something to do with how Sin City’s reputation for gambling and debauchery enhances the vibe surrounding a show. This draws music lovers from around the country for many of the tours that come through, making a Vegas show akin to a national convention. The Grateful Dead used to fill the 40,000-capacity Silver Bowl in the early ‘90s and there was no doubt that only a minority in attendance were locals.


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Monday, Dec 8, 2014
The Barr Brothers pooled a wide variety of musical influences, like desert rhythms and Icelandic dreamscapes, to create some of the most eclectic folk rock around.

Singer and guitarist Brad Barr and his brother Andrew on drums and banjo, as The Barr Brothers released their second album Sleeping Operator in October. The band, which also consists of harpist Sarah Page, organist Andres Vial and bassist Mishka Stein, have been on tour almost nonstop since early November promoting it. And their NYC stop brought them to the Bowery Ballroom for a sold-out Friday night show.


Their friend Leif Vollebekk opened for them, though I missed most of his set, and later on joined the Barrs on stage for a few songs. I had little familiarity with Vollebekk, but his sparsely folk album North Americana has earned scattered praise on the internet and he did maintain the attention of the crowd filling in the venue.


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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
ALO knew this was a special night and threw down one funky song after another, as is their trademark, keeping the dance party grooving for some three plus hours on a night that no one wanted to end.

There are certain nights in a band’s touring year that will stand out due to the particular circumstances surrounding the show, whether it be the setting or the timing or sometimes both. Santa Barbara was already bracing for one of the town’s biggest shows in recent memory when Phish announced their fall tour would stop for two nights at the beautiful Santa Barbara Bowl on October 21-22. The ante was upped when it was later announced that Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe would play a matching pair of “official Phish aftershow parties” at the SoHo club downtown.


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Thursday, Nov 6, 2014
Tits of Clay and Hedwig co-creator Stephen Trask paid tribute to the passing of Lou Reed with a performance of Transformer.

October 27th, 2014 marked the first anniversary of Lou Reed’s death, a milestone that surprisingly went by with little fanfare beyond Facebook tribute posts and a touching video from Reed’s Velvet Underground colleague John Cale. New Yorkers, however, were fortunate enough to celebrate in style with Hedwig and the Angry Itch co-creator Stephen Trask and Tits of Clay, Hedwig’s Broadway house band. An early show at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge saw the band and Trask running through the whole of Reed’s 1972 masterpiece, Transformer, before pulling out some Velvet Underground classics for the encore.


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Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014
First Aid Kit put out their beautiful and bittersweet Stay Gold this year and it's helped them draw bigger audiences including their even bigger and more golden CMJ show at the start of their Fall tour.

Swedish folk sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg of First Aid Kit had played New York City earlier this year at a sold-out show at Webster Hall. They had also played Webster Hall during CMJ in 2012 at a sold-out show supporting their album The Lion’s Roar but this year, during CMJ, the duo moved across town for a show at the larger Hammerstein Ballroom. This year saw the release of their third album Stay Gold a bittersweet work that I’ve listened to frequently. Having missed the earlier show, I had to catch them this go around and they did not disappoint. Their opener was Oklahoma singer-songwriter, 28-year-old Samantha Crain, another folk rocker that was a good match for First Aid Kit as the front row fans watched and listened to her very appreciatively.


First Aid Kit were accompanied by a drummer and a string quartet to bring their Stay Gold and older material to life on stage and their intimate, bittersweet songs drew the audience in. The intimacy of the show was enhanced by the confession that Johanna doesn’t like the time between songs, though it allows her to share jokes, like the one about a scarecrow winning the Nobel Prize. As they performed, through “Cedar Lane” and “My Silver Lining”, two of my Stay Gold favorites, as well as a cover of Jack White’s “Love Interruption”, an acoustic “Ghost Town” and into the closer “Emmylou”, the sisters beautiful voices shone with the finesse and beauty of folk singers more than twice their age.


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