I am a musician. I don’t mean I play music or that I really really like music. I mean that music is ingrained in my soul. The space between my atoms vibrates, resonates, and is amplified through my bones and flows in my blood. Musical expression has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember and it continues to be now. I used to be in a ska-reggae band and a punk band for a little bit, but now I write dirt rock music, an amalgamation of folk rock, my Texas roots, and the punk/grunge frustration that has, along with me, become more focused and mature. I have a bunch of songs (that you all will hear soon) with my “band” (just me), David Glass and the Half-Empties. Maybe one day you’ll see my playing live in your city and you can think back to this moment reflectively.
The following venues are pretty much my dream venues, but they are also damn fine venues that have seen a lot of exceptional musicians. My intention here is to encourage you to track down the performances of your favorite musician or band and see if they’ve played there. I think you’ll enjoy it.
a THE Seattle-based radio station that you should be listening to. Thy have some pretty intimate sets in their Seattle studio and the studio in Iceland as well as fuller, larger performances that as equally high-quality. I also really enjoy the interviews that happen between songs. The questions are deeper than most and offer a refreshing perspective on the artists and their music. They have their own YouTube channel with a lot of their shows on it, which include some of my favorites like The Lumineers, Dr. Dog, Florence and the Machine and lots more. Here’s one for you:
NPR Tiny Desk Concerts
I tend to watch Tiny Desk performances every day before work. They are only about 10-15 minutes long at both extremes, but they pack a lot of glorious stuff into that short amount of time. KEXP and Tiny Desk are actually the two venues that inspired this post, which should give you an idea of how awesome I think they are. Tiny Desk Concerts are really cool because you get that stripped down, streamlined version of songs that already awesome which is something I usually enjoy. The crew also does an excellent job of interviewing with meaningful questions and getting some solid info from the bands. Artists range from indie rock icons The Decemberists, to newer bands like Phox and St. James and the Broken Bones, and even some hip-hop stars like T-Pain and Macklemore. All around good stuff. Here Tallest Man on Earth, one of the first Tiny Desks I ever watched.
Austin City Limits
Enough said. ACL has been around forever and is undoubtedly part of the reason why Austin is the Live Music Capital of the WORLD. Yeah, I said it. Of the World. Here’s an oldie but goodie:
That’s Willie Nelson on the ACL pilot, October 1974.
I’ve seen a bunch of shows at Stubb’s and I will continue to go there until one of us quits for good. There is something really special about the layout, location and history of Stubb’s and it really adds to the overall greatness of the experience. Most of the videos you’ll find on YouTube are from people’s phones and whatnot, but definitely get out there and see a show if you ever have the chance.
As far as I can find, Backseat Jukebox is in Houston and hasn’t put anything out in a while. The stuff they do have is awesome. I put two of my favorites on here because they really embody the experience and show you how, well, the bands are just riding around in the back of a van or car or something playing their music. I like it a lot.
The excerpt from the About Us section of the Sleepover Shows website speaks volumes:
“As well as posting interviews and news, we also film acoustic or stripped down versions performed by bands that we love as they make their way through Boston. Though it started as something we did when bands needed a place to crash on the night of their shows, we now film the sessions before or after a show and let the bands find their own ways home.
Basically, we try to use our spaces as creatively as we can. We’ve filmed in the back seats of cars, on top of playground equipment, in doorways and alleys, in bathtubs and stairwells. We try our best to get the bands to take their music outside of the confines of the studio and have some fun.
And that’s the point: to capture some great music that maybe isn’t always as polished, but shows these artists having a good time doing what they love. We’re doing what we love too, and hope you enjoy the videos!
Here’s mewithoutYou, my favorite band of all time.
I first stumble on eTown on the way to work one day about five years ago. The San Antonio College radio station was playing one of their broadcasts and it sucked me right in. What was cool about that show was that it introduced me to Cloud Cult, which since then has been ranked pretty high on my list of favorite bands. ETown is based in Boulder, Colorado and they have performances in their solar powered venue. They also do a lot of educational programs and community engagement/outreach. Awesome.
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, known by his professional name John Peel is one of the greatest supporters of independent music in its history. He hosted a radio show on BBC Radio and invited bands and artists to record “Peel Sessions” from 1967 to 2004. These performances are some of the most intense and emotional that I’ve heard and once again they provide the audience with an alternate version of a familiar song that oftentimes outshines the original. Wikipedia has a list of bands that recorded with him here so there’s probably a pretty good chance that you’ll find something you like. Of the top of my head, my top three favorite Peel Sessions would be Joy Division, Interpol, and Clouddead, which I’ve included below:
Weathervane isn’t so much a venue as a non-profit community out of Philadelphia that unites a wide collection of independent musicians. They have a project called Shaking Through that will have highlight individual musicians or brings together people from different bands to do collaborations. Scott McMicken from Dr. Dog curated one of the very first ones and it happened to include the guys from mewithoutYou and a bunch of other amazing bands from the Philadelphia area. I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW AND EXPERIENCE THIS FANTASTIC MUSICAL EXPERIENCE! I tried to summarize it but there are too many people and bands to mention and it makes me too excited to write. So check it out.
I hope you enjoy these musical adventures! Please feel free to comment with your own recommendations and make sure to follow for more goodness.