Scenic City Sounds

Well, this is it. I’m moving to a more limited role here at the Times Free Press and, for better or worse, that means no more MUSICcast and blog.

We lost two greats over the holiday season. Vic Chesnutt took his own life at the age of 45 after a lifelong battle with depression. I was introduced to his music several years ago and he was one of my favorites. The other, arguably more obscure, artist we lost was Rowland S. Howard.

First, Merry Christmas (or whatever it is you celebrate on this day, even if it’s nothing at all). This week’s MUSICcast features Casey Phillips and myself discussing our Top 3 albums of the year. You’ll also hear tracks off those albums. 2009 was a great year in music, as the 00’s were a great decade. Here’s to a new year, decade and happy listening.

Quite simply, 2009 was a year we’d all like to forget. I know I would. The music helped ease the pains, however, of the difficult economic situation, the job uncertainties, the ongoing war etc. On this week’s MUSICcast, I’ll focus on my favorite songs of 2009. A tracklist is available below the link.

Tonight marks the 3rd annual Butch Ross Christmas Show at Market St. Tavern downtown. He’ll be joined by local singer/songwriters for a show “loosely” based on songs from the holiday season. This week’s MUSICcast previews the show and features Butch Ross (and Casey Phillips) in performance. The show is at 8pm. tonight at Market Street Tavern.

The only thing I like about the Holidays is the music. That’s it. I couldn’t care less about Christmas or the Yuletide (what is that?) or trees etc. The music, however, is something I look forward to every year. Some of my favorite songs are about the month of December: The chill in the air, the turning over of a new year, cuddling. And some of my favorites are a little weird and non-traditional. On this week’s MUSICcast, we’ll take a look at music from the mysterious “javier,” a wonderful song from the Sonics, Sally Shapiro’s take on Christmas and more. I hope you enjoy this eclectic mix.

Ah, Thanksgiving. This holiday marks the transition into my least favorite holiday of the year (christmas) and seems somewhat like a non-holiday to celebrate (why shouldn’t we give thanks everyday?) but whatever. I’ll bite. As a music fan, I’ve assembled some of my favorite songs from artists I’m thankful for on this day of thanks. Here’s to Gillian Welch, Bob Dylan, John Hartford and Antony and the Johnsons. Thanks.

Thanks one more time to everyone who participated in the extremely successful FYI Awards on Friday, the 13th. Gratitude is in order for all of the bands and presenters. Thanks so much. On this week’s MUSICast we’ll do a sort of Redux of the show. I’ll be joined by Casey Phillips and we’ll hear some recorded performances from the show.

Firstly, I want to remind you all about the FYI Music Awards taking place tonight at Rhythm & Brews downtown. The show starts at 7pm. Performers include the Distribution, Slim Pickin’s, Roger Alan Wade and more. Tickets are $5 at the door. It should be a blast.

Local dirty-blues artist, Husky Burnette, stopped by Studio ‘99 this week to perform a few new songs and to promote his upcoming album. On this podcast, you’ll hear 5 live songs featuring Burnette on guitar/vocals and Burma Shave on drums/file cabinet. This was a blast to record and is a blast to listen to. Enjoy.

I love Halloween. This MUSICcast reflects that love. I’ve provided a mix of tunes, some scary, some funny that reflect that strange duality of Halloween. I do hope you enjoy it and I hope your Halloween is, at the very least, interesting.

Charlie Sexton is a good guitar player. But that’s not the only reason he’s a member of Bob Dylan’s current band on the NET (never ending tour). Charlie and Bob have “it,” a certain chemistry that electrifies and challenges both performers to be their best. On this week’s MUSICcast, we’ll hear a few selections from some recent shows in the past month. You’ll hear “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Working Man Blues #2.” I hope you enjoy.

This week’s MUSICcast is a mix of several new songs from familiar artists and a couple of songs from artists you’ve never heard before. We’ll kick things off with new music from Built to Spill which is possibly their best work in a decade. The Flaming Lips have a new album out and it’s great, though not every critic agrees. True Widow is an up and coming band that will surely turn some heads. An old favorite in Vic Chesnutt returns with more morose melodies. Finally, the seductive Bebel Gilberto returns with an ace album that is sure to tickle every fancy you need tickled.

This week’s MUSICcast will feature a discussion between Casey Phillips, music writer for the Times Free Press, and myself about the upcoming FYI Music Awards on Nov. 13th at Rhythm & Brews. Voting for the Awards show is taking place from now until Oct. 23 at

We’ve got a few new releases to promote on this week’s MUSICcast and a couple of reissues. First, Yo La Tengo’s new album “Popular Songs” is my pick for album of the year so far. It literally has a bit of everything. I think it’ s the perfect “autumn” album and I think you’ll find something to like about it regardless of your musical tastes. Rain Machine’s self-titled debut is interesting too. The vocals can be a bit off-putting at first, but they quickly grow on you. The beats are infectious. We’ll also hear just one (of about 80 or so ) of the new tracks from the new BIG STAR box set. And finally, we’ll wrap it up with new music from the Mountain Goats, Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and a killer demo recording of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” from the unreleased Nashville Skyline sessions.

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