The Year of 100

IMG_5210Since 2004, I’ve been keeping track of all the concerts I’ve attended. To be honest, those early years, there are probably some gaps, because I wasn’t so serious about it. But in the last 5 years or so, I’ve been mildly obsessed with tracking who I’ve seen and where I’ve seen them, and what my “show count” is for the year. The number has always landed somewhere between 50 and 80 – not too shabby for someone who holds down a full-time job that has nothing to do with music.

In August or so of last year, I was doing my monthly update and realized that there was a distinct possibility that I could set a record for myself if I stepped up my concert game a little. The number? 100 live shows. Could I do it? I was pretty sure I could.

Now, there are rules to my madness. For example, festivals only count as one show, no matter how many sets I see during the event. If I did that, I’d be halfway to 100 by the time the Rock Boat was over in January! Plus, at festivals, you end up moving around too much, seeing only part of a set, etc. I only count something as a show if I specifically went there with the purpose of seeing the artist play – so, if I’m hanging out at a bar and there’s a band playing, that doesn’t get counted. You get the idea. Hey, we all have our rules. NPR’s Bob Boilen keeps count, of his shows, too. But he counts every band he sees as a show. So if a show has 3 acts, that’s 3 shows. (For the record, he saw “506 shows” in 2015.)

What this new “goal” did for me was it forced me to broaden my horizons: go see new artists, acts that I didn’t know at all, and others that aren’t typically the type of music that’s up my “power alley.” Some of those new acts I enjoyed, others I didn’t love quite so much, but I listened with an open mind.

And I did hit 100 shows. 101, officially. (You can see my full list here.)  I’m kind of proud of that number. I realize there are people that go to a lot more than I do, but for someone who doesn’t work in the music industry, I think 101 is pretty solid.

There are definitely highlights worth noting. Like that time I flew to Indianapolis to see the OPENING band because it was the only chance I had to see Mighty Oaks on a short U.S. tour (they’re from Berlin). Or that time I forced Rodric to drive to Atlanta and back with me on a weeknight so I could see Alpha Rev. Or going to see The Brothers Landreth on a whim because Stu Larsen had talked about them, not knowing a single note…and falling weak-in-the-knees in love with them. Or driving to Jacksonville to spend a day at the CleanWater Music Festival, put on by Flagship Romance, and being blown away by Israel Nash. The Dirty Guv’nahs farewell shows. There are literally dozens more that I could talk about.

Who did I see the most in 2015? SUSTO takes that title. Saw Justin and his band of compadres 8 times this year. Watching them come into their own and start to get recognized for their incredible talent has been one of the highlights of my year. Furthest traveled? The Rock Boat wins that contest almost every year. But that Mighty Oaks show in Indianapolis was a close second. Most visited venue? The Evening Muse, hands down.

But the most common question I’ve gotten is… What was your favorite? Normally, I have a pretty cut and dry answer to that, but this year, I have a hard time choosing. I mean, any Quiet Hounds show always sits at the top of the list. But that first Brothers Landreth show was pretty phenomenal. Then there was Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who shattered my expectations and made me feel so alive. That Butch Walker show was pretty darn powerful. Then there was the Counting Crows concert…and we all know what they mean to me. My biggest victory was getting Christopher Jak to play a show this year, and my…that man singing could never be short of breathtaking for me. Oh, and Great Peacock…who I barely knew, but went to see to support a friend…completely rocked my world. I think, though, if I had to choose, it would be a tie between The Mighty Oaks at The Deluxe in Indianapolis and be Noah Gundersen at The Visulite Theater in Charlotte. Both of these artists’ music has come to mean so very much to me personally…and seeing both of them was really emotional for very different reasons.

Of course, because I’m an overachiever, I am ready to do it all again in 2016. In fact, I’m going to try to exceed it. So, 2016 is the year of 125. Who wants to join me on my crazy adventure? Keep up and keep me accountable…

Here’s to more live music in 2016!



For My Fellow Counting Crows Fans, A Lovely Cover

There is a small pantheon of songwriters in my world order that is absolutely sacred… I sorta feel like sometimes, you just shouldn’t mess with greatness.  At the very top of that list is Adam Duritz from Counting Crows. There is no other songwriter whose lyrics I identify with more… That said, it’s hard for someone else’s version of a Counting Crows song to grab me immediately. In fact, I can’t really think of one…

But, there’s a first time for everything.

Seven or eight months back, I got switched on to a band from New Zealand called Midnight Youth (see previous blogs here and here ).  Their 2011 album World Comes Calling rocked my world so hard that it made #2 album on the Best of 2011 list. I started following their lead singer, Jeremy Redmore, on Twitter.  He’s fairly interactive there and writes a lot on his own personal blog…which is where I was visiting this evening, listening to a demo he posted from the road.  That’s when I noticed another link on his SoundCloud page that said “Goodnight Elisabeth.”   Clicked and yup, it is indeed a Counting Crows cover.

And it’s really, really freaking good.  Heart wrenching and beautiful – an exceptional take on the original.  I love when an artist can take a song, cover it and maintain the integrity of the original while at the same time making it their own.  Jeremy’s definitely done that on his cover.

Bonus (and this is why I love Twitter!)… Asked him about it on Twitter, and he just made it downloadable for fans!  Ya’ll need to go listen and snatch it up now. Just hit the little down arrow to the right in the player below (you may need to sign in or set up a SoundCloud account).

While you’re at it, check out his band, Midnight Youth.  Guarantee you will love ’em.

Midnight Youth: Web | Facebook | Twitter

The New Music Drought Is Over

Is it just me, or is spring in the air?

I’m sitting in New Jersey right now, looking outside at a beautiful sunny day, and the weather folks are promising temperatures in the 50s today. Winter is definitely in the rearview mirror…And I could not be happier!  Bring on sunshine!  Bring on 80 degrees!

Meteorologists are the only one with bright forecasts these days.  Seems like there’s beaucoup de new music on the horizon in my world.  Lots of my old and new favorites are putting out new music this spring.  Because I love ’em, I’m just going to make a short list here of the new music that’s come out recently or that IS coming out soon… So go pre-order and get your hands on some hot new stuff for spring!

The Sunday Funday Playlist – February 12, 2012

The past week has been an emotional roller coaster for me with my Mom undergoing some pretty serious surgery.  Lots of road miles, lots of listening to the ole iPod in the car…Here are some of the tunes that have been keeping me company.

1.  No Parachute – The Soldier Thread (click to hear a preview in iTunes)
It’s hard for me to pick just one song off of The Soldier Thread’s new EP to put on the Sunday Funday list because I really have been listening to it non-stop since it was released two weeks ago. This is the first track on the little 5-song, and I completely LOVE it.  Unfortunately, it’s not on SoundCloud, so you’ll have to live with the little iTunes preview.

2. Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye

I don’t often listen to the radio, but this week, on short jaunts to and from the office I’ve caught this tune on 106.5 The End a few times, and I completely dig it.  The dude’s voice reminds me a lot of Sting, which probably has a lot to do with it.

3.  Mercy – Counting Crows (Tender Mercies Cover)
There are a handful of musicians/bands that I live for…Counting Crows is one of them.  So when they announced this week that they’re officially releasing a new album (of covers) in April, I got pretty excited.  The first single, “Mercy,” just makes me so happy.  Another one that’s not on SoundCloud…but this one you can pick up for free (at least right now) over at the Counting Crows site.

4.  The Wandering (Acoustic) – Ryan Bingham (click to hear a preview in iTunes)
This one is only appropriate on an awards night.  Despite winning an Oscar for “The Weary Kind,” not enough people know this gorgeous man’s music.  Oh how I love scruffy men with raspy voices.  Ryan’s live performance this year at Amos’ (see Best of 2011 list) has made me a fan for life, so when he announced this week that an acoustic version of “The Wandering” off his album Junky Star, I immediately went and downloaded it.  His voice is just insane.

5.  Lost & Found – Eve 6 (click to hear a preview on iTunes)
I didn’t even know that 90s “heart-in-a-blender” rockers Eve6 had new music out until iTunes alerted me this week and you can bet your happy ass I went and downloaded their new song IMMEDIATELY.  Sometimes, a girl just needs a fun rock n’ roll song to boost her spirits. And this does the trick.  Love, love, love these guys.

*insert squeal* NEW COUNTING CROWS!


It’s like my wildest dream coming true, really.  First Bruce announces a new album and tour, and now Counting Crows?  Within a month of each other?  Someone pass the smelling salts, I may faint from the excitement.

The new album, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) will be released on April 10th.  You can pick up the first single, “Mercy,” from the Counting Crows website right now in exchange for your e-mail address.  According to the band’s blog, it’s 15 songs by other artists redone by Counting Crows.  Artists include Travis, Dawes, Bob Dylan, Pure Prairie League (“Amie” – a song that CC recorded a few years ago) and Big Star (“The Ballad of El Goodo,” which has floated around on several CC bootlegs for years).

“Mercy,” originally by CC band member Dan Vickrey’s other music project Tender Mercies, is a barroom confessional, resplendent with crying guitar riffs and Adam’s whiskey-drenched vocal, begging mercy to follow him.  I love, love, love it.  If it’s a sign of what’s to come on the album, I am going to be a very, very, very happy girl come April!