Frank Turner: Town Hall 15 October 2019

by Carene Lydia Lopez on November 30, 2019

Frank Turner at Town Hall? That did not seem to make sense. Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls is a band that you stand for while they rock out. But since it was Frank Turner, I wanted to go anyway.

As usual, I had a seat in the last row of the balcony. It’s a small enough space that it is still a good seat and I can stand if I want to. While waiting for the opening act, I was making a mental note of the music playing – Lucinda Williams, Dar Williams, and then realized that all the music on the sound system was women. Interesting choice. I did not know anything about Turner’s latest album, so I did not realize the significance of this until later.

Opening act was Kayleigh Goldsworthy playing an acoustic and electric guitar, for which she said she knew a few chords. To me, she sounded like all the indie girls with guitars out there. There was nothing that stood out. My favorite song of her set was a cover of the Concrete Blonde song “Joey.” Kevin Devine joined her for two songs, including one of his own, “Margaret Reed O’Shaughnessy.” It was cute when he applauded after one of the songs because he was carried away with Goldsworthy. Her parents met when her mother auditioned for her father’s band and they were in a band together until Goldsworthy was in HS.

Her setlist is here on setlist.fm.

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Frank Turner came out and sat in a chair to perform. There was a table next to him and a curtain behind him. He played songs from his latest album, No Man’s Land, which is entirely about different women in history but most of them are not historical figures. They are women that did something unusual for women of their time or something happened to them. (If you click on his website, you can click on the cards and get bios on these women.)

“The Graveyard of the Outcast Dead” is about a church that ran a prostitution ring. But they buried the women in a mass grave because the church would not bury them in consecrated ground. People knew the grave existed but did not know where. When they were extending the Underground it was discovered and that land is now a memorial to all those women.

At this point I glanced over to the side and saw that there was a signer for the deaf.

“Nica” was a Rothschild, who heard “’Round Midnight” and fell in love with jazz. She once took a drug rap for Monk. Turner featured a scat solo in the song, which he apologized for. I thought it was okay but he should not make a habit of that. In “A Perfect Wife,” a woman from Alabama leads a very sad life until about halfway through the song we find out that she became a serial killer. “The Death of Dora Hand” featured a guitar solo and Turner told us he sucks at guitar solos, so he needed encouragement from us. Plus, if we were clapping we would not be able to hear the solo. The applause during his solo was one of the loudest of the night. “Sister Rosetta” is about exactly who you think it is about. Turner wanted to give her respect because she has been written out of the script. Turner sends songs to his mother for her to okay. The day he sent her “Rosemary Jane” he had forgotten it was Mother’s Day, so his mother thought the song was for her for the holiday.

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After a short break, the Sleeping Souls came out and they were all seated also, keeping with the acoustic feel of the show. This was show #2402 (Turner always posts and usually announces how many shows he has done). He told us that there would be songs about unhappy love because he used to be crap at love and how he pours his heart into these songs but life goes on and then you have to explain to your current partner about the old song. He took one old song, “Reasons Not to be an Idiot,” and played like it in a rockabilly style. Before “Tell Tale Signs” he said he is homesick on the road and has wanderlust when he is home. “One Foot Before the Other” is about death. He moved to London when he was 18yo and had a crappy telesales job. He would walk around desolate areas wearing a trench coat with Camus sticking out of the pocket just in case he met a woman. “The Way I Tend to Be” is about calling his ex when he should not have. He wrote an entire album about that relationship and then he moved forward and wrote an apology song, “Never My Intention to Hurt You.”

Since he was about to be 40yo, there was “Love Forty Down.” It may be a bad score in tennis but the game is not over yet. Turner moved to the keyboards to sing “There She Is,” which was written for his now wife when they were on vacation in Italy. She got up before he had finished the song and he made her leave so he could finish it and present it to her.

When the band went into “Photosynthesis,” the entire audience got up as one and sang along. Then we sang “Recovery,” “I Still Believe,” and Turner and the Sleeping Souls left us with “Be More Kind.”

Frank Turner said all he ever wanted to be was an entertainer. The story is not over and he would be back.

Setlist is here on setlist.fm.

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Cory Branan: City Vineyard 17 November 2019

by Carene Lydia Lopez on November 29, 2019

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Another wonderful night with Cory Branan, this time at City Vineyard, City Winery’s younger, smaller, and intimate sibling on Pier 26 on the Hudson River.

And another wonderful opener. Darrin Bradbury is a Jersey boy, who just got a major label record deal (produced by Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids). Cory told us later that he was staying with Bradbury’s parents (Bradbury is now based in Nashville) during this East coast leg of his tour with them driving to and from gigs from northern New Jersey. Bradbury is engaging, funny, fun, and folky and country-ish. His lyrics can be funny but not as dark as Cory as can be. He started with a song he wrote called “The Wedding Song,” so that people do not ask him to play weddings. The song was basically “love sucks.” Titles or song lyrics that followed – “Hell’s More or Less the Same,” “Strange Bird,” “Has anyone seen my old Kentucky home?” “Newark” (performed with apologies to Delaware), “I was born in a busted world,” and “Field notes from a college town.” The lights in the room went on and off so it was totally dark at one point, which was a wtf? moment for both Bradbury and us. “Double XY Top Left” is a new song with a line about flying cars falling from the sky because the sun was in the driver’s eyes. The audience started laughing hard, which made Bradbury crack up. We have all thought about flying cars but how many of us have thought about the cars crashing into each other and hitting pedestrians? “This Too Shall Pass” had the lyric, “You’ve got a heart that’s heavy like a suitcase at the airport that you wish you could leave behind.”

Bradbury’s parents were in the audience and he said he got being a jackass from his mother, who had graduated from clown college 35 years ago and had worked for Barnum & Bailey.

Another song was about the upper Midwest. He complained about the Great Lakes and how not all lakes can be great. Some are doing the best they can and those are the ones you can relate to. The song “Ethan” was about his brother who was a junkie and Bradbury said, “I don’t know how we go back to funny after that.” But we did and he told us, “If you close your eyes, you can go back in time,” and did “Dawn is a Daisy” and “Life is Hard,” the ballad of Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, and Daffy Duck.

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Cory, as he is wont to do, started with some new songs, which meant not on an album yet, so some I recognized from the last time I saw him and others were new to me. I have described Cory’s on-stage presence so many times before that I do not have any more adjectives for him. He is funny and dark. Like Ben Nichols sings, “Cory Branan’s got an evil streak; And a way with words that’ll bring you to your knees; Oh, he can play the wildest shows and he can sing so sweet.” Cory’s guitar playing is masterful and fast and he plucks the strings like he wants to break them off and then he will sweetly slide his fingers down the neck. One of the new songs, “One Happy New Year,” is about a couple who had 3-1/2 minutes of marital bliss.

Cory said when asked how he writes songs now that he is happy (he has two happy kids and a happy healthy wife), he says he writes them the same. Out of sheer terror that the happiness will end. A divorce song had the line, “I spend the rest of my life dying to find that look I lost.”

He then got to the familiar songs like “Tall Green Grass,” where he strained for a note and said, “Damn, I smoke too much!” and “Prettiest Waitress in Memphis.”

He told us that at almost 45yo (He is having a birthday party in Memphis that I am going to miss even though I will be in Memphis that weekend for Lucero’s Christmas party. Cory’s party is Sunday night when I will be flying out.) and has bought a van from Amanda Shires, who is on the bus now – she’s not going back to van life. He took out the seats and bought a mattress and a subzero sleeping bag. Since he is not young, this is not so good. But he found out that if you get a Planet Fitness membership for $18, you can park in their lot (no one checks the lots during the night) and shower in the morning and get a $3 massage.

Another new song with the line, “When in Rome, when in Memphis, when in Asbury Park,” which sounds like it may be called “Incarcerated Heart,” had a very Bruce Springsteen sound to it.

Because of the small stage and you have to walk through the audience to get to and from it, there was no formal encore. Bradbury joined him for John Prine’s “That’s the Way the World Goes Round” and one of them told the story of how someone kept asking Prine to sing the “Happy Enchilada” song and Prine did not know what they were talking about since he does not have a happy enchilada song and then they sang the last verse and chorus substituting the words “happy enchilada” where that audience member was hearing that mondegreen. Then they sang “One Hit Wonder” together as a ballad.

After the show I told Bradbury how much I had enjoyed his set and would be following him from now on. And I mentioned to Cory that he would not remember me, and then he said he did remember my face, but the last time I saw him I mentioned that he should play City Winery and he said he did not like their spaces because they were too big and we both now agreed that City Vineyard was perfect for him.

Someone beat me to putting up the setlist on setlist.fm (I did make a few corrections because I know my notes were accurate).

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Little Shop of Horrors: Westside Theatre 21 November 2019

November 29, 2019

When we found out that Groffsauce (Jonathan Groff) would be starring in an off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Westside Theatre, rtb and I were there. The Westside Theater only holds 270 people upstairs, so the tickets were selling quickly and we were able to get seats but not together. rtb got […]

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Motown: The Sound of Young America: LBJ Presidential Library and Greatest Hits: The Briscoe Center’s Music Collections 27 November 2019

November 28, 2019

meli and I did not spend much time in the Presidential Library exhibits and only looked around on the first floor (she has been before). It is only the second Presidential Library that I have been to but we were there to see Motown: The Sound of Young America. It was a small exhibit but […]

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Harriet: UT Austin 25 November 2019

November 26, 2019

Everyone should be familiar with a lot of the story. If not, shame on you for not paying attention in your history class. We do learn more about Harriet Tubman than we are taught in school. She saved over 70 slaves. She led an army unit during the Civil War and saved about 750 more. […]

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Western Stars: AMC Empire 25 3 November 2019

November 11, 2019

peg suggested seeing Western Stars and I was all in because I am a big Bruce Springsteen fan and I thought this should be a movie seen on a big screen with big sound. I did not read anything about it beforehand, so all I knew was that it was a kind of concert film […]

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The Homeless Gospel Choir: Saint Vitus Bar 3 November 2019

November 11, 2019

Last summer I saw The Homeless Gospel Choir (Derek Zanetti) open for Frank Turner (Lucero also opened for Turner on that tour). He was this adorable guy, playing folk punk rock on an acoustic guitar (fast and loud), and would introduce each song with “This is a protest song.” I could not wait for him […]

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Phoenix: Day Seven 25 October 2019

October 26, 2019

My last day. My flight did not leave until 8:40pm, so Denise and I planned to go to the Arizona State Fair, which was one of the top items on my to-do list. She had a job in Scottsdale and I was going with her so we could leave right from there. When the alarm […]

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Phoenix: Day Six 24 October 2019

October 25, 2019

Another long work day for my sister so I spent the day relaxing, doing some work, watching TV, and writing. After a bit, I realized that I did not get any cake – in fact no dessert at all – on my birthday. On top of that, my office, which does once a month birthday […]

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Phoenix: Day Five 23 October 2019

October 24, 2019

Denise had a long day at work but we had made plans to go to a rodeo that they do twice a week at a Cave Creek bar, Buffalo Chip Saloon. They have two shows (7:30pm and 9:30pm) and we were going to the later show since she would not be home until about 9pm. […]

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