The Suburban Home Records showcase featuring Two Cow Garage, Jon Snodgrass and Austin Lucas hit Madison on 8/25. An early 6pm show at the High Noon Saloon was attended by a small, but enthusiastic crowd. The format for the evening was different than most showcases, with the musicians playing both collaboratively and solo throughout the evening.
Chicago-based indie label Bloodshot Records has been celebrating its 15th anniversary with a series of free live music showcases across the country. The Bloodshot Beer-B-Que made a stop at the High Noon Saloon in Madison on 8/22 with Justin Townes Earle, Waco Brothers, The Bottle Rockets, Deadstring Brothers, Bobby Bare Jr., Ha Ha Tonka and the Meat Purveyers in tow.
State fairs are not usually hot beds for new music; food on a stick, prize cows and cheesy rides usually come to mind. Alternative rockers Cracker attempted to break that stereotype at the Wisconsin State Fair by playing a healthy dose of new material from their latest album "Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey." David Lowery put it all into perspective. "You know, we were walking around the state fair today and must of heard 'Sweet Home Alabama' at least four times," said David, "I told Johnny (Hickman) that we would have to take it out of the set tonight."
Opening with "Friends", David Lowery and Johnny Hickman delivered a punchy set to about 800 fans on the Cousins Amphitheater stage at the fairgrounds in Milwaukee. Backed by bassist Sal Maida and drummer Frank Funaro, the focus was decidedly on the future, while keeping the state fair crowd happy with Cracker chestnuts like "Low" and "Teen Angst". I especially enjoyed the song Sweet Thistle Pie and Cracker's version of the classic "Shake Some Action" by the Flamin' Groovies.
I also had a rare opportunity to see David & Johnny at a small gathering at a Madison radio station the day before. They played a short acoustic set along with interview breaks, afterward sharing random thoughts about deep fried, chocolate covered stuff on a stick and bringing a hipper image to hog judging at the fair.
It was a great weekend with some of my favorite music, looking forward to having them back again, hopefully in Madison.
Daniel Johnston, the Austin-based cult genius with bipolar disorder, started the night with his guitar strap falling off during the opening bars of the first song. Pausing, to reattach the strap, he calmly stuttered, “Ah… Oh….,” before restarting the opening number again. Really, those first few moments encapsulated the Daniel Johnston persona; the creative genius who lives on the mental edge, delivering soul-searching lyrics, straddling the fine line between serious and sometimes almost nursery-rhyme-like verses. Will it be a genius performance or a train wreck? You be the judge.
Daytrotter.com is one of the most respected indie music sites on the planet. So, when Daytrotter announced the maiden Barnstormer tour of Iowa barns and a Madison attic, we were excited to participate in this unique experience. The Madison gig, featuring four bands, was supposed to start at 6pm, at an old three story house downtown on Henry Street.
Catfish Haven tearing it up in downtown Madison
Earlier in the day, the Barnstormer tour bus petered out in Iowa and the caravan was forced to rent vans for the trip to Madison. Lucky for us that we saw the twitter feed announcing the bus troubles (flat tire), which delayed the start time to about 10pm. A large group of indie music fanatics mingled outside the old house, waiting patiently for the music to begin. The large Henry street attic was on the top floor, complete with unfinished framing for a room, which substituted for a stage.
About 70 people crammed into the space for live music by Catfish Haven, Snowblink, Local Natives and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. The temperature rose as each band played their hearts out. It was a truly cool experience, despite the heat. Band members and the Daytrotter crew were very personable and mixed with the crowd, giving everyone the feeling of a house party with an indie music focus. Barnstormer II is rumoured to be on the drawing board for October and Madison will be on the intinerary. Stay tuned to Rock of the Arts for more details.