It is hard for me to believe that we’re more than halfway through June of 2012, and the Fourth of July is fast approaching. Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that we were having cool spring nights…. oh…. wait… that may have been last week. LOL
We started tonight’s set with some live Led Zeppelin, material that they released in 2003. Jimmy Page has been accused of stitching together performances to create recordings of events that didn’t really happen. Maybe it is true, maybe not. But what is true is that Led Zeppelin was a truly great live band, and I do make an effort to play good live music, when I can get it. So we heard a nice live set from How The West Was Won: Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Black Dog, Over The Hills and Far Away, Since I’ve Been Loving You, and Stairway to Heaven.
I tend to not play a lot of what many call “new country”. I prefer country that has fewer pop music influences, a style that is more reflective of its backwoods roots. With that said, there are a few musicians that play a style that is more rooted in an older style of country, a manner of playing that Faron Young or Lefty Frizzell might have been comfortable with. (I think it is no accident that many such musicians have their roots in bluegrass.) One such musician is Marty Stuart. Over the years, while he has done some mainstream country material, his primary emphasis has been on a more rootsier, traditionalist country style, and this is epitomized by his 2010 release Ghost Train. We heard four songs from this lovely, lovely album: Drifting Apart, Bridge Washed Out, Ghost Train Four-Oh-Ten, and I Run To You (a duet with Stuart’s wife Connie Smith).
We then heard a few songs from Rachel Harrington. I stumbled upon her material in the WDBX library a few months ago, and I was rather impressed by her style (more roots-based, like Stuart; not 100% bluegrass – maybe a blend of bluegrass, country and folk). She has a very nice voice, and she puts some very nice instrumentation behind it. We heard four songs from that album, The Bootlegger’s Daughter: Sunshine Girl, Up The River, Untitled (sung a capella, without instrumental backing), and her tasteful cover of the classic gospel song Farther Along.
Franz Schubert wrote the Fantasie in C Major, Op. 15 (popularly known as the Wanderer Fantasy) in 1822. It is considered to be his most technically demanding composition for piano, and Schubert himself had difficulty playing his own composition (he is reported to have said “the devil may play it.”). It was written in four movements, but the movements are played without a break in-between. Franz Lizst wrote several transcriptions of the piece, one for piano and orchestra, and another for four hand piano. Tonight we heard a 1959 recording by Alfred Brendel.
We closed out the show with a recording from last year from As I Lay Dying, their excellent cover of Slayer’s War Ensemble. We then heard a rather creative recording, also from last year, from August Burns Red, their Internal Cannon. We followed that with a set of songs, tongue firmly in cheek, from Stormtroopers of Death (the infamous side project of Scott Ian and Charlie Benante of Anthrax, Dan Lilker of Nuclear Assault, and Billy Milano, who eventually formed M.O.D): Kill Yourself, Pussy Whipped, and United Forces.
Postscript: in doing research for tonight’s blog (remember, I write the blog live while on air), I am saddened to hear of the passing last month (yet another sad departure! May was a really BAD month!) of the great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. He was a special talent – a truly sublime interpreter of song, with clear diction and an understanding of how to phrase the words to bring out the meaning therein. He was just as comfortable singing a recital as he was on the operatic stage, and he was unusual in that he was noted for operatic, concert and recital performances, eventually setting a trend that many modern singers now follow. We shall do a special tribute to him in next week’s show.