Bass Player, WAMI Nominee 2019
I really enjoy reading these and learning a little bit about what inspires other artists. Imagine my surprise when Ann asked me, a bass player, to put a list together. Haha!!! Well I’m flattered and a huge fan of what The Avenue does for our community so here goes.
For years I focused on bass players and how they contributed to a song. I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with a number of talented songwriters, such as Kurt Gunn, that have tuned me into the whole song and not just my role as a bass player.
I’m going to second Kurt Gunn’s mention of Counting Crows August and everything after. I loved the imagery and sincerity in the writing. Matt Malley had such a cool stripped down bass tone that really became a signature part of the sound of the band. Years later this is the exact sound I would try to emulate on Kurt’s Underneath and Ballad of the Unknown Picker and Singer albums.
Elvis Costello, “Poison Moon”
This is a song that’s always been close by for me. I love all Elvis but this is the one. Kind of like “Life by the Drop” for Stevie Ray. There’s a vulnerability to the lyrics but more importantly you can hear the experience in the voice and it makes the song.
Dawes – all of it! Just saw them in Oshkosh (at The Howard). Again, the sincerity in the writing and if you watch Taylor Goldsmith sing the lyrics it just pulls you into the song. “Crack the Case" just floored me but there are so many!
Lord Huron – “Cursed” and “She Lit a Fire”. Randomly came across this band and loved the sound/harmonies/production. When I started really listening I was surprised by lyrics that hit pretty close to home at the time. Mark of a good writer.
Jason Isbel – started playing “Outfit” years ago with Paul Hanna and was blown away by the song. I love “Vampires” and “Cover Me Up” just wrecks me. This guy is crazy good.
Mark Knopfler/Emmylou Harris, “I Dug up a Diamond”
Have been a Knopfler/Dire Straits fan for as long as I can remember. “Brothers in Arms” live from the Mandela concert might be my favorite thing on the internet. This song with Emmylou’s amazing voice just blows my mind.
Van Morrison, “Into the Mystic” and “And it Stoned Me”
Yup. Just find a couch and turn it up. Definitely whole album on vinyl.
I get to play/record with some pretty great people. These are some of my favorite songs that I will always listen to.
Kurt Gunn – “Michigan and Lake,” “Plan of Attack,” SCENES FROM A SMALL TOWN IN MAINE
Paul Hanna – "I’m Sorry,” “American Beauty,” “New Morning”
The Chocolateers – the entire Thank You album
Tom Thiel – “Where Your Heart Is.” Yeah. That’s good.
She adds the beautiful harmonies (and a fun dose of “sass”) to Kurt Gunn full band performances and she’s “The Girl” in Gunn and The Girl duo. She’s a good friend to The Avenue and this week she’s sharing what’s playing at her house. There’s some great stuff in here! Take a listen, try something new and learn a little more about what influences Amanda James.
Betty Davis – “Hanging Out”
Not to be confused with the actress, Bette Davis, Betty Davis was briefly married to Miles Davis and actually introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone. Released 3 LPs in the early 70s and decided fame wasn’t for her. “Hanging Out” is a song released by Columbia records in the 2016 and is probably the most radio friendly of her releases.
Three Dog Night – “Liar”
Peter, Paul & Mary – “If I Had My Way” and “No Easy Walk to Freedom”
These are two influential songs that you can listen to while watching the news.
Crosby Stills & Nash – “Helplessly Hoping”
Elvis Costello w/Natalie Bergman (Wild Belle) – “This Year’s Girl”
Using Costellos original 1978 vocals he re-released this song for the second season of “The Duece” (HBO)
Lou Christie – “Lightning Strike”
Alt J – “Something Good, Every Other Freckle”
Arum Rae – “Warranty Queen”
Esme Patterson – “Louder than Sound” and “Valentine”
Both off her 2014 album, Woman to Woman, these tracks are two of my favorite.
Shakey Graves w/ Esme Patterson – “Be a Big-Time Nashville Star”
Shovels & Rope – “Hollowpoint Blues”
Lera Lynn – “Gasoline”
There are multiple tracks I love on her 2014 album, this currently being my favorite.
There is something I like going on in Australia/New Zealand these last couple years. These last artists are all from that area, and from what I can tell aren’t affiliated with each other.
Gin Wigmore – “Kill of the Night”
She had an opening act for someone in Green Bay these last couple years. They cancelled and she ended up playing an amazing 3 hour set to fill!
Georgia Fair – “Fiery Night”
Matt Corby – “Brother”
George Ogilvie – “Foreign Hands”
This week we launched a new feature: Song of the Day, highlighting new, emerging, or new to us artists, as well as new songs from Avenue favorites. Avenue listeners have a big appetite for new music and every weekday over the noon hour (about 12:30) we will try to feed that passion. And to introduce you to the project, this week’s Listening Room is a playlist including the first batch of new music featured in Song of the Day. You can click the links below to sample. And, we’ve also created a Spotify playlist,91.1 The Avenue: Song of the Day, where we will compile all the featured songs. Tune in Monday through Friday around 12:30pm for your new music fix. Song of the Day is sponsored by August Haven – bringing you tomorrow’s classics today.
Our friend Weston Mueller of Listening Party brings us this week’s batch of fresh songs. You’ll know Listening Party from The Avenue and our VOICES 2018 sampler cd. If you haven’t caught one of their shows, put that on your to-do list STAT! Find out more at listeningpartymusic.com For now, put your ears on this!
Some warm tunes for the coldest time of year. These songs are filled with grit and emotion, packed with lyrical greatness. Enjoy
Christopher Gold is a Kentucky-born songwriter living in Wisconsin. Together with his band The New Old Things he has written and recorded folk songs, country songs, rock & roll songs, and everything in between citing a love for songwriters like Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and anybody else whose work begins with paper and pen. That’s the official word.
Unofficially, yet well-known, Christopher is one the hardest working, prolific, thinking, funny, and big-hearted people you’ll come across. And his music is good, too. And he’s right here. Go see him. Go to christophergold.com to learn about all things Christopher Gold including shows and latest music.
We asked him for his latest playlist…and in Christopher Gold fashion, he took the assignment in his own direction. Because Christopher Gold loves everything about records, and maybe you do too. So, this week we offer a “visual” Listening Room. And as long as we’re talkin’ art, Christopher Gold and The New Old Things artwork is by Oliver Gold. Seems fitting.
And now for something completely different…
I love records. I’m on the move as much as or more than most people so I have a use for mp3s and CDs and all that, but I love records. I love talking about them, I love hunting them down, I even love organizing them. As for how many I have, I like to paraphrase the Jerry Seinfeld quote about his cars, “I have enough that if I told you how many you wouldn’t say, ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’”
I enjoy the sound of a record more than an mp3. I enjoy being at a record store more than being on Spotify. I enjoy sorting records on a shelf more than scrolling through titles on my phone. But for me one of the biggest points in the “records vs. any other medium” debate is the artwork.
I love these big 12x12 works of art. I love knowing or theorizing how this particular imagery is meant to interact with or increase the impact of these particular songs. I love learning who did it. I love comparing the various covers through an artists’ history to see if I can spot a theme. Did they use the same artist throughout? Did they evolve from minimal to complex? Did they use the same font every time? I obsess about these things and every other little detail about a record.
When I decided I wanted to write about album art, two bands immediately came to mind. Neither band is hugely popular, and both are probably not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love them and their album covers are perfect examples of what I’m talking about here.
The first band is The Builders and The Butchers. They are originally from Portland and, though they are somewhat dormant these days, they are one of the most unique and exciting bands in my collection. It would be lazy to just call them a folk rock band. Yes, they often hit the stage with acoustic guitars and banjos and mandolins, but they also have 2 drummers playing pieced-together kits made of mismatched drums and whatever else seemed to be lying around. There are horns, melodicas, distortion, and shouted backing vocals. They play percussive, minimalist songs that verge on gospel territory, melodic sea shanties, creepy murder ballads, and crashing rock songs about the devil. What’s not to like about that?
Each of their album covers was done by a guy named Lukas Ketner and they are wonderfully complex and eye catching and creepy and funny and a perfect complement to the music. Ketner, among other things, also did a graphic novel called “Witch Doctor” that I love for all of the same reasons.
The other band that springs to mind when I think of great album covers is mewithoutYou. Hailing from Philladelphia, mewithoutYou has been part of my life for 17 years. In that time they have released 7 albums combining hardcore, rock, punk, folk, psychedelia, shoegaze, indie rock, and post-hardcore all somehow held together by the talking/singing/screaming of frontman Aaron Weiss. I struggle to think of a older band for comparison, but I can name a couple of younger bands that likely wouldn’t exist without them. On the 15 year anniversary tour my wife and I drove 7 hours to see the show and would’ve driven longer if we had to to see them.
They are also another band that has used the same artist for each of their albums. Each time I rush to the record store on release day to buy their latest album I am greeted by a painting by Russian artist Vasily Kafanov. No band name, no album title, just a painting. Each one is different than the last, but feels somehow familiar at the same time. Kafanov has become yet another thing to look forward to when they release a record, and that is the kind of Russian involvement I can get behind.
I have a great fear that the days of album art are fading, but it will always matter to me. It may be on the decline, but there are still a lot of artists out there putting a lot of thought into their album covers and I’m happy to have a bunch of them on my shelf. Enough that if you heard the exact number you wouldn’t say, “Yeah, that makes sense.”
What are you listening to?
This week’s treats for your ears come courtesy of local singer/songwriter, Kurt Gunn. Dive in, discover something new, or rediscover an already familiar tune through his lens.
And speaking of rediscovering familiar songs through the lens of Kurt Gunn, check out a Kurt’s COVERS COUNTDOWN TO SPRING project on Soundcloud. Kurt covers favorite songs and is releasing one a week to help get us to spring! Seriously soooooooo good!
Kurt has new music coming out March 9. Album release event happens at Rock Garden Studio details here https://www.facebook.com/events/2265774333703749/
Now here’s what Kurt’s listening to…
Matthew Davies – Check him out on Bandcamp or with his band Thriftones. He also has a new album dropping any week now. I’ve shared a couple shows with Matthew now, and his songwriting is incredible. I’m a huge fan, and you should be too.
Nicholas Raymond – “Light And Sounds And Colors Collide.” I first heard this song on the Voices Of The Avenue CD. This is one of the standout tracks on that disc. I listen to this song daily.
For those of you that still listen to whole albums, here are a few you can go straight through on.
Death Cab For Cutie – PLANS
Warren Zevon – EXCITABLE BOY
Butch Walker – AFRAID OF GHOSTS (produced by Ryan Adams, and you can tell!)
Steve Earle – GUITAR TOWN (“My Old Friend The Blues” and “Someday” standout tracks)
Here are some of my personal favorites...
Lyle Lovett – “Nobody Knows Me”
This was the song my wife and I danced to at our wedding.
Theo Katzman – “Plain Jane Heroin”
Was introduced to this band by Sam Luna, thankful for that!
Jackson C Frank – “Blues They Run The Game”
Counting Crows have a great version of this song too.
Bob Dylan – "Baby Let Me Follow You Down”
This is the song that made me want to play guitar...still can’t play this song on guitar.
Bonnie Raitt – “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
If you’re into Bon Iver, he has a pretty great version of this song, but Bonnie’s is better.
Counting Crows – “Raining In Baltimore”
Speaking of Bonnie Raitt, Adam Duritz had originally written this song to give to her, but producer T Bone Burnett said no way you’re doing that! Thank God, because this is my favorite Crows song.
The Byrds – “Mr. Spaceman”
When I first discovered my parents’ record collection, I wore this puppy out!)
Cat Power – “The Greatest”
First discovered Cat Power through Austin City Limits, this is the song that made me a fan.
Damien Rice – “Trusty And True”
First heard this song on a great YouTube video of Damien Rice performing in a hotel lobby. Great stripped down impromptu concert, – the drummer, Earl Harvin is amazing.
Geri X – “Wishin’ You Were Here”
Geri comes through these parts a couple times a year for Mile/Steelbridge/Dark Songs, etc. Get out and see her when she does. Another great song I listen to a lot of her’s is “You’re Half Mine.”
Glen Hansard – “Way Back In The Way Back When”
Pretty much anything Glenn Hansard does is amazing.
What are you listening to?
This week’s playlist comes courtesy of Green Bay singer/songwriter Tae Popour. You may have seen her at one of several local music venues or as one of the performers at Mile of Music’s New Year’s Eve show. Once you see her you won’t forget her. At just 20 years old, Tae is a powerhouse. She’s got a voice that can absolutely nail an Amy Winehouse or Janis Joplin tune. Her style and her original music is fierce, fearless and honest. Go see one of her sets, we think you’ll be blown away.
Learn more about Tae and check her performance schedule at taemusic.com
Avenue staff and friends offered these holiday selections – and just like The Avenue’s playlist, there’s a wide variety. Merry Christmas and happy listening from everyone at The Avenue. Let it play.
Tis the season for Christmas music and if you’re a fan of Mile of Music here’s a playlist (links included) of holiday inspired tunes made entirely of artists who have played at the Mile. Thanks to Drew Hahn for compiling this list of new-to-our-ears seasonal tunes. Enjoy! You can also find all these tunes on Spotify – Jingle On The Mile presented by The Drew Hahn Show.
(click the title to listen!)
The complete playlist on spotify
Joshua Hester is one-third of Listening Party, the alternative folk trio out of Milwaukee whose music has found a home on The Avenue. Joshua’s the guy on the right side of the stage unassumingly, yet very skillfully, handling guitar, mandolin and bass duties. During a live set you’ll see those skills take center stage when he loops a solo arrangement. We wanted to know what Joshua was listening to that might have influenced him.
Listening Party is a band you definitely want to see live – for more information and show dates visit https://www.listeningpartymusic.com or follow them on Facebook.
Check out “Train” from Listening Party’s most recent album LESS IS MORE
Radiohead/Thom Yorke – THE KING OF LIMBS
Beginning with my early teens, Radiohead has been in my heavy rotation, to the point where I did not listen to much else. I have this way of obsessing over a musical influence, dissecting the puzzle, reading and learning each phrase, note, and part. There is a particular aspect of Yorke’s music that speaks to me; abject despair and relentless optimism, both working in tandem.
The album, THE KING OF LIMBS resonated with me most of all during a time of much emotional duress. Out of the whole piece, “Separator” was the song that I fixated on. The syncopated drums, a dreamy soundscape lined bottom and top with perfect layers of bass and keys/guitars. The haunting vocal lines of Yorke telling a story of perpetual discomfort and progress, begging to be let out of the dream.
Lord Huron – STRANGE TRAILS
Another amazing album.
When I first heard the song “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron, it struck me. That ethereal chorus warbling in the background, the arpeggiating guitar and shuffling drum beat. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you.’” I read that line and got goosebumps.
Then there’s “Fool for Love.” The ballad of a man fighting for the woman he loves against the aptly named Big Jim and losing everything in the process. Embracing his failure, we see a fallen warrior regretting but one thing: leaving his opponent alive. The song closes with the lines “I stare into the endless sky, and the sorry tale of my life goes by. I drift into the great unknown, and I really don’t know where I’m going.”
Punch Brothers – WHO’S FEELING YOUNG NOW?
The opening piece of this record, “Movement and Location” speaks volumes. It’s a song that came about when Chris Thile and Noam Pikelny were discussing the pitching technique of former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux. It’s percussive, ambient, and driving. The unerring thump of the bass with Chris Thile’s unique percussive mandolin playing immediately catches my breath in my throat, regardless of how many listens I get in.
Pair that with the tracks “Flippen,” “Patchwork Girlfriend,” their cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A,” this album clearly exhibits a new genre of music, dubbed “progressive bluegrass.” It’s just a perfect personification of that term and has enchanted me since the first listen.
What are you listening to?
Listening to something cool?
Tell us about it. We may feature you on The Listening Room!