This week in the Listening Room we catch up with another one of our very talented, local singer/songwriters, Nicholas Raymond. Raymond first caught the attention of audiences as the drummer and singer for Traveling Suitcase. He most recently released Summer Shoes as a solo project and has been touring in support of that. He stopped in Avenue studios recently to talk music and influences and a couple of songs from that album. We loved getting to know Nicholas a little better by learning what music influenced him.
Check out Nicholas Raymond’s music for yourself here www.nicholasraymond.bandcamp.com and on The Avenue.
“It took me a really long long time to pick a few key records. These are the albums that are always my go-to.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sex Sugar Magik
“My first memory of the curiosity of music was seeing the “Give It Away” music video. I was 4 and would dance around the living room in my underwear with my blanket pretending I was in the band and full of attitude with Anthony Kiedis. A few years later I stole the tape cassette out of my older brother’s room. I remember riding my bike around the neighborhood, blaring it as loud as my Fischer Price tape player would go. The album has amazing dynamics and I swear the compression on the snare drum on that record subconsciously made me a heavy hitting drummer to this day.
Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give It Away” https://youtu.be/Mr_uHJPUlO8
Incubus – Morning View
Freshman year of high school was when I really dove into the album Morning View. I’d say this band has shifted with every decade of my life since then. I originally fell in love with Incubus when seeing them perform a song live on television for Ozzfest for their record Science. Years later I have a memory of being at a summer festival and the song “Pardon Me” from Make Yourself played on a radio by the ferris wheel and I was mesmerized when I learned it was Incubus. I was struck by how different a band could sound and I found myself dedicating all of my free time to becoming a better drummer. I wanted to be in a band like Incubus, or any band really.
Then I heard “Wish You Were Here” sitting in the kitchen and thought THIS band was going to be my new favorite band. Much to my surprise, it was Incubus. This band is always changing and trying new things. Sometimes it takes me a few listens when they release new material. I couldn’t ask for more out of art, something that inspires change and can make you uncomfortable because it’s new.
For me Morning View was made at the peak of the band really finding a voice for themselves in a big industry. They all lived in a house on the beach together and made this record in that house. Much like my first pick was made with Red Hot Chili Peppers. Man I love these bands so much I'm in tears because of how grateful I am that they truly made me the musician I am.
Incubus “Wish You Were Here” https://youtu.be/8295rOMvtQI
Queens of The Stone Age – Villains
Last, but not least, out of the 20 years of alternative rock filling my mind & soul, this band is my favorite and each record is a coming of age musically and lyrically.
Josh Homme is a songwriting machine to me. I love the way he makes things dirty, haunting and intelligent. I dream of catching a gig with a pro like this. It’d be like going to Harvard or Yale.
Queens of The Stone Age went from hole-in-the-wall dive bars to packing out arenas and making records with people who produce Lady Gaga albums. Hence why I think Villains is so awesome. They went with someone who turned their already super unique recording techniques into a new dimension of sounds. The thing I enjoy about Queens is all of their riffs are catchy and they feel like the best rock & roll dance moves you could ever bring to the floor. When you get hit with tracks like “Fortress” and “Villains of Circumstance” and goosebumps go down your back and your heart hurts a little. In this record Josh talks to his children and family. Being a pro is tasking, the amount of miles Homme has put into his craft is insane. Lines like “Miss you now what’s come over me? We’re hostages of geography” reminding everyone it’s not easy to work as hard as he does.
Queens Of The Stone Age is my favorite band to watch live and I dream of coming close to hitting any ripples they’ve influenced.
There is so much more that moves me and fills me with passion for music. These records are ones I pick over and over. Thank you to these artists for paving such a cool road to try and keep up with… For setting people free and bringing all different humans together all over the world for decades to share a concert and a moment.
Queens of The Stone Age “Villains of Circumstance” https://youtu.be/fsqhJcGbaEI
A unique singer/songwriter from Appleton, Chris Jourdan picked up a guitar at age 18, fell in love and began to harness the power of music. Formerly the frontman for Wisconsin jam band The Wandering Foolz, as a solo artist, Chris puts on high-energy acoustic performances. Described by some as John Mayer meets Pearl Jam with incredibly busy but not invasive guitar playing.
Here’s Jourdan’s “Downtown (Scratch the Surface)” https://youtu.be/rIe-pCfLZYc
“I've always followed my ears whilst finding my way through this wonderful musical landscape that is before me. With a little help of my friends as well, I've found a vast variety of music sustains my interests. After all, I'm a mere human with a set of emotions...and the music I decide to put into my ears tends to follow. But, if I must whittle it down, here are my two favorite bands that you might not know about. I picked these bands due to my emotional attachment to them. In the darkest times in my life we've shared moments. Also in the funnest and brightest times too. Though we are not in the same room very often, their music has journeyed my soul and I am thankful.
“One of the bands I just cannot get enough of is an amazing rock band out of Japan. They go by the name One OK Rock. My close friend and drummer Alex first brought their music to me. I heard a couple songs and the it brought me back to my youth. It was loud in all the best ways. The chugging yet precise guitar riffs that were so incredibly catchy, they were almost lyrical. The One OK Rock sound features extremely tight, almost progressive drumming alongside easy to digest bass lines.
“Of course, to complete this for me they had to have an amazing vocalist, and they do in Taka Moriuchi. This guy is an absolute powerhouse. Vocal range that will bring you to tears at moments in songs like “Heartache,” or make you shout along in the song “Decision.” Both songs can be found in their first all-English release 35. It defines what Pop-Rock should be.
“They have mixed both Japanese and English lyrics into their music on most other releases. I believe this has created a conversation in which both Japanese and American audiences are curious about what the other is saying. They are literally one of the biggest bands in the world. Google image search their show at Yokahama Arena and you'll see what I mean. Pay attention to One OK Rock!
See Crowds for One OK Rock at Yokohama https://goo.gl/images/QMKujt
One OK Rock “Decision” https://youtu.be/j4sEvo4ojq8
Next we venture to Chicago and the one and only Umphrey’s McGee. With an extremely versatile setlist and an ensemble of beyond-stellar players, these guys will surely deliver something you love if you give them long enough. I’m shy to admit the number of times I’ve seen them...my friends will tell you it’s more than a lot!
“One of the first things I’ll tell you is hang on to your pants. These guys are all in! Hands down, they have one of the best light shows in the business! And... If you have enough time you'll hear them hitting on multiple styles of music like they own them all. It'll have you moving without a doubt.
“They shine strong with the song “Glory.” I’ve shed some tears during this song. I urge you to listen to the many versions they have put out of this beautiful song. To me, it feels like the guitar is shedding tears as he plays it. This song alone can carry me through some hard times.
“If you wanna really hear them open up, check out the song “Divisions” which is harder to come by these days but is absolutely epic, and well defines what the band is capable of. This band can take a song, cover it, and make it their own. Check them doing “Africa” by TOTO, or my personal favorite, “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. They also do a stellar version of “Shine on you Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd. Check out their version from Red Rocks and you won’t be able turn it off. I strongly encourage you to peel yourself off your devices and go see them live the next chance you get. They really care about you coming. But if you can’t make it they offer their concerts live as they happen for a small cost in HD from folks such as tourgigs.com and nugs.net. Don't miss it!
Umphrey’s McGee “Glory/Bridgeless” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ43IwF-oWk&feature=share
Umphrey’s McGee “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=998TzVK7pQ4&feature=share
“I appreciate you taking some time to see what’s in my jukebox! Now go put it in yours!”
Avenue Programming Director
It’s Rob’s job to listen to music, and he listens to a lot of it. He’s been busy adding a lot of new music to the Avenue’s playlist recently. What’s caught his attention? Well, you can tell by tuning in to The Avenue, but here are some recent stand outs.
“I continue to be blown away by how much new and original music comes from this community. Several local artists have released new albums over the summer. Kurt Gunn’s Long Drive to Nowhere is fantastic from beginning to end. On first play, I remarked that most of the songs were hits, or should be. You’ll hear several cuts right here on The Avenue.
“Nicholas Raymond recently stopped in Avenue studios and gave live performances of a couple cuts off of his newly released solo effort, Summer Shoes. Raymond’s vocal range is really impressive and enjoyed his observations about the creative process. Local audiences know him as part of Traveling Suitcase. Check out “Lights and Sounds and Colors Collide,” “Fang,” and “Ms. Conception.” Listen here: https://nicholasraymond.bandcamp.com/album/summer-shoes
“I’m loving the latest releases from Dead Horses’ My Mother the Moon, Kyle Megna and The Monsoons’ The Great Divide, Listening’s Party Less is More, Feed The Dog’s Tenderloin, and Adriel Denae’s self titled solo debut. All of these local favorites have had a place on The Avenue playlist and it’s great to be able to go deeper with them. And speaking of local favorites – I’m also very excited to add new tracks from J-Council including “Careful” and “Never” which showcase Jon Wheelock’s signature soulful groove.
“As for Mile of Music artists, I’ve enjoyed spending more time listening to Smooth Hound Smith, the new Bascom Hill release West Wind Girl, and discovering more music from Girl Blue.
Smooth Hound Smith “California Sway” https://youtu.be/krW2jT_tsCI
“As for national acts, I keep coming back to the latest releases from Randy Newman, Brandi Carlisle, Ray Lamontagne and John Prine. You may notice Mary Black showing up on The Avenue’s playlist. I’ve been a fan of hers for some time and as big as she is in Ireland, she should be more well known here. She’s timeless – if you haven’t heard her before check her out. I had the opportunity to meet her a while ago and found her to be as authentic as her music.
Mary Black “Carolina Rua” https://youtu.be/UOS_DxyBPRQ
“And of course, as a long time fan of the Cowboy Junkies I eagerly dug into their new album All That Reckoning and it doesn’t disappoint… it’s understated and haunting as always.
Cowboy Junkies “All That Reckoning Pt. 1” https://youtu.be/bLUVYVkAyOE
The Right Now
The Right Now has made a few stops in the Appleton area including Mile of Music 6. The 7-piece Chicago based band has a pop-meets-soul soul sound that will get you up and dancing! Their latest release “Starlight” caught the attention of NPR’s Sound Opinions who hailed Berecz’s performance as “stronger...than Adele” while others dubbed the songs “insanely infectious and incredibly well crafted.”
You can check that out for yourself here: The Right Now's “Too Late” video.
Learn more at therightnow.com
Teddy Pendergrass “Love TKO”
The Right Now has a long history with this song. Musically, it’s a pretty direct influence on us –smooth, sultry, midtempo, and straddling the line between 70s and 80s R&B…that's one of our happy places. Teddy’s voice is so smooth but conveys such urgency, and I think that’s true of our own Stefanie Berecz too. For a long time, it was the unofficial anthem of The Right Now’s tour van – we’d be loading out of a venue and one of us would sing out “Think I better let it go…” and it was a vocal free-for-all from that point on. Listening back, it’s fun to hear all the ideas we stole from this song...those rhythm hits underneath the “looks like another love TKO” line have definitely shown up in a TRN song or two.
Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real “Fool Me Once”
I don’t know if anyone watching The Right Now would associate us with any kind of country music, but we all value the power of a good singer singing a well-written song. That’s basically what it’s all about. There are a billion examples out there, but lately Chris (guitar) and Brendan (keyboards, bandleader) have been digging into this 2017 album from Lukas Nelson. Some songs, like this one, are right-down-the-middle country-rock tunes, and others are deeper and more complex, but if “Fool Me Once” doesn’t grab you by the guts, then I don’t know what will. The refrain is “Fool me once, shame on you, I'll be gone,” and Lukas sings it with such swagger – but it’s really a scaredy-cat song, basically saying “I’ve been hurt before and I’ll run at the first sign of trouble.” How do you pull off so much bravado singing that?? I dig the patience and restraint in the guitar lines. It doesn't hurt that Lukas is Willie Nelson’s son. You can hear the Willie influences, but Lukas is his own man and he sounds great.
Chaka Khan “Like Sugar”
Oh yes, some Chaka. We’ve been covering her for 10 years now – she’s a Chicago hometown hero and just so, so, so underrated. Her new single is based on a simple pentatonic groove, with plenty of triangle percussion (and those of you who’ve seen our live show know that we love some triangle!) Stefanie points out how it’s similar to our track “Hooked.” (https://youtu.be/eLQfr6VKMx4) Chaka’s greatness isn’t on full display here, but her imagination and openness to new sounds are easy to hear. This track is like sugar....so sweet! And the video is just a delight. And from our guitarist, Chris: “I've learned to trust Chaka. When I spot a record of hers that I don’t recognize, I buy it with implicit trust, and have yet to be disappointed. TAKE A CHANCE!”
If you’ve attended last year’s Christmas on The Avenue concert or Uncovered Too in June, you’ve seen and heard her perform with her father, Steve March-Tormé. And just like her father, she has plenty of opinions on music! To mark back-to-school week, we thought we’d check in with a school-aged member of The Avenue family, Miss Ruby March-Tormé, and find out what music has caught her attention.
“Aw, sweet!! I’ve got my own Listening Room! Being the youngest here, my music choices tend to be newer songs, though I do love a lot of older music too, thanks to my dad. It’s also stuff you don’t usually hear on the radio. Almost all of the stuff that I listen to is musical theater, simply because it’s one of my biggest passions. I love how the songs really tell a story and you can tell the actors are feeling what they’re singing. I think that’s one of the greatest things about the genre."
“We’ll start off with the most popular of my faves: Dear Evan Hansen, by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul. It’s a musical about a kid named Evan Hansen, who has a social anxiety disorder that makes it hard for him to connect with his peers. Evan learns that a boy in his class recently committed suicide, and through a misunderstanding, the boy’s family thinks that Evan was his only friend. Evan goes along with the lie, and the story continues. It sounds dark, but it’s surprisingly uplifting. If you’re going to listen to it, make sure you have tissues nearby because YOU WILL CRY. We went to see it on Broadway last summer and there wasn’t a single dry face in the audience. On top of that, the music is stunningly gorgeous and all the actors are incredibly talented. (It won SIX Tonys in 2017!) My personal favorite song is “You Will Be Found,” which ends the first act."
You Will Be Found https://youtu.be/mSfH2AuhXfw
“Another musical I’m in love with is Be More Chill by Joe Iconis. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. It had a two-month Off-Off-Broadway run and a cast album in 2015, but two fans took to social media and spread it like the plague. Now it’s as popular as “Dear Evan Hansen!” The musical is about a boy named Jeremy, an awkward high schooler with a crush on a cute girl named Christine. Jeremy takes a pill called the SQUIP, a quantum supercomputer that implants itself into Jeremy’s brain and tells him how to be more chill (pun intended) and win over Christine. Wacky! It’s geared more towards teenagers and millennials than Dear Evan Hansen, but it’s definitely still worth checking out. The music is of course phenomenal, and totally worth your time. My favorite songs are “I Love Play Rehearsal” and “Michael in the Bathroom.”
Michael in the Bathroom https://youtu.be/Dj1P-5Ey4dU
“My current favorite is – surprise! – not a musical. It’s an album comprised of musical theater songs! Two-Player Game, by George Salazar and Joe Iconis (Name sound familiar? Joe wrote “Be More Chill!”) contains songs written by Joe, and sung by George (although, Joe sometimes sings, too...there might also be some kazoo action). George played Michael, Jeremy’s best friend, in Be More Chill, and his singing in this album is equally, if not more, incredible. My current favorites are “Broadway, Here I Come!” and “The Answer.” First time listening to them, I was so excited I can only express it through keysmashes: ASJDFJHBIJADIHWSJIFKJD!! Be sure to check them out!"
Broadway, Here I Come! https://youtu.be/UPXYg3SfDVk
“My fourth and final (for now...) recommendation is Little Windows, by Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones. I’m normally ix-nay on country music, but I can’t help but love this adorable album. The songs are frustratingly catchy, with great harmonies and clever lyrics. It’s easily the most lighthearted and blissfully simple of my selections. One of my favorite songs is “Make a Wish on Me.” If you prefer more modern pop tunes, this is the album for you."
Make a Wish on Me https://youtu.be/4ds-kuXrpqI
Executive Director Fox Valley Warming Shelter
If you attend live music in the Valley, it’s likely Scott was in the crowd. Not only is he one of the regulars at live music, he is the Executive Director at the Fox Valley Warming Shelter and hosts several music-filled benefits for the local non-profit. He shares some of his listening habits with us ahead of Mile of Music 6.
I've always loved live music, but over the last couple years I’ve been seduced by the Mile of Music and the Fox Cities’ burgeoning original music scene. Some of our local artists (Kurt Gunn, Stephanie Tschech, Kyle Megna) are as talented as anyone you’ll see on the Grammy’s. Some people turn on their TV and watch a movie three or four nights a week. I’m more likely to drive five minutes to a local venue and hear one of our great local or national touring artists. With so much music locally, I rarely drive to Milwaukee or Madison to see an expensive show anymore.
What's on your turntable?
Since I got my first stereo at the age of 12, I’ve always had a turntable. For most of the next 41 years, the Beatles’ White Album has been close at hand.
There are 30 songs on this album and I know most of the words to all of ’em. My favorites might be “Blackbird,” “Dear Prudence,” “Cry Baby Cry” and “Mother Nature’s Son.” I’ve played “Birthday” for people at least two dozen times since I got the album as a Christmas present in 1978. Matt Rosensweig warned me that “Revolution #9” is horrible… unless you listen to it with headphones. “Bungalow Bill,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “Piggies” are three of the funniest songs ever written and, in the days of mix cassettes, I inserted “Why Don't We Do it In the Road” right after Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” more times that I care to admit. “I Will” was the song I told my 8th grade girlfriend was ours. “Helter Skelter” is one of the greatest hard rock songs ever written and when I hear “Savoy Truffle,” I picture George Harrison eating loads of candy with Eric Clapton, who plays lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” You'd never know McCartney was from Liverpool if all you heard was “Rocky Racoon.” “Honey Pie” evokes a 1930s night club. In 30 years, I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than a month without listening to this record on my turntable. “Ob-La Di, Ob-La Da,” life goes on with the White Album, John, Paul, George and Ringo’s collection of songs that most influenced my life, musically and otherwise.
Paul McCartney has always been my favorite Beatle and I’ve enjoyed following his career to this day. Only McCartney could get away with releasing a single called “Come Onto Me” at the age of 76.
Paul McCartney “Come Onto Me”
What’s your favorite digital medium?
Other than researching bands on youtube or websites, I don’t use digital media. I don’t have music on my phone or computer.
What are you listening to in the car?
I listen to The Avenue a lot because of the uncanny variety of genres and the commercial free format. I also have a stack of CDs to listen to when I’m driving. Right now I’m listening to the Foo Fighters’ self titled release from 1995, I Love You Honeybear by Father John Misty, 19-year old Genevieve Heyward’s debut, “It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening” and the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman.
remember loving how unlike Nirvana the guitars sounded on the first Foo Fighters’ record. A lot of people say Dave Grohl is a musical genius. I can’t argue with that.
Foo Fighters “Big Me”
Nicholas Raymond introduced me to Father John Misty and I’ll never forgive him for that. It’s Elton John if Bernie Taupin and Sid Vicious were collaborating on lyrics.
Father John Misty “I Love You Honeybear”
Genevieve Heyward is a coy but charismatic bright light from Lake Geneva who belts out original songs in the spirit of Carole King and The Beatles. The first time I saw her, a few weeks after her Mile of Music debut last year, I was a bit awestruck when I found out she was only 18. Over the past year, she has improved her guitar skills and toured extensively on her own and with Mike Wheeler. Both of them will be Mile 6 next month. Her voice echoes with the maturity of a seasoned crooner and songs like “Singing Bridge,” “We’re Not Okay” and, especially, “Mona Lisa,” showcase her songwriting ability and vocal range. Her 2017 debut is titled It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening. The truth is we all are.
Genevieve Heyward “It’s Not Like Anyone’s Listening”
My wife Mary and I bought the Greatest Showman soundtrack CD because we wanted the song “This is Me” for our daughter Jenna’s graduation slideshow in June. We all loved the movie and our daughter sang the song with her high school choir this year. “Never Enough” is another great track from the CD.
Mile of Music 6 is Aug. 2-5. Do you have any recommendations?
Writing about bands to see at the Mile of Music has become almost as fun as actually attending the festival. As Mary Willems says, I like to drink from the fire hose, listening to every minute of music from the Wednesday night First Songs show to the last note played on Sunday night. A few years ago, I decided to review and recommend three bands a day for 15 days and post them on Facebook. I’m in middle of that process right now. Here are a few of my top picks this year.
Lizzie No 10-year old Lizzie Quinlan started playing the harp in her New York church choir and discovered Boy Dylan much earlier than Elizabeth Cotton. But instead of discarding her early influences, she kept discovering them. The 27-year-old (who performs as Lizzie No) now plays guitar, along with the harp, and has become an exceptional singer and songwriter. Her 2017 debut, Hard Won champions her emergence as a strong, self-determined woman. When she sings, “There’s no telling our shapes apart when the killing season starts,” her spoken word vocal twists into an eerie, but subtle, make-racism-wrong again message.
Learn more http://www.lizzieno.com
Andrew Leahy and the Homestead Looking at his flowing blonde locks, you’d never guess this young man survived a 12-hour brain tumor surgery a couple years ago. When I chatted with him at Mile 5, he admitted he hit the road again much earlier than the doctor advised. In the fall of 2016, he subsequently released the Homestead’s debut, Skyline in Central Time. On “When the Hinges Give,” the Virginia native recounts how he and his wife processed his diagnosis. “So if we burn to the wax / We’ll make the most of the heat / And keep the devil knocking like it’s Halloween / Until the hinges give in, and we’re a bottle deep / Singing one last song about the things we keep.” Musically, Leahey channels Tom Petty with less snarl and more velvet. In concert, his vocals puncture perfectly through the band’s raucous guitar bursts in songs that reflect Leahey’s storied journey from choral music to glowing praise from Rolling Stone Magazine.
Learn more at http://andrewleaheymusic.com
The Crane Wives Acoustic folk swashbucklers, The Crane Wives swoop back into Appleton for their fourth Mile appearance in five years. While I pick and choose which bands to see a fourth or fifth time, I will always be married to all four of the Crane Wives. Emilee Petersmark and Kate Pillsbury lead the quartet known for waggish harmonies, pensive lyrics and gutty, dynamic performances. Make sure to listen to “Unraveling.”
Learn more here http://www.thecranewives.com/
Calliope Musicals In the scheme of things, Carrie Fussell’s green arm pit hair didn’t even stand out. That was my impression after seeing Calliope Musicals grind out a dozen delightful tunes eliciting a sea of stunned but joyful faces at last year’s Mile concert. Equal parts clown party and free-to-be me TED Talk, the award-winning six-piece band from Austin performs hippy-infused psychedelic pop/folk tunes that build to a frenzy. At one point last year, Fussell floated off her carousel into the Washington Square crowd and grabbed an unsuspecting soul mate for a 25-second skip and a dance. National Public Radio calls their shows “a spectacle of concentrated celebration.” Don't miss this party. Listen to “Party Master and the Space Brigade.”
You can learn more at www.calliopemusicals.com/
Mammal Dap Ebullient keyboards and pinpoint drums propel this four-piece instrumental band in a blissful feast for the ears. Only the second instrumental only performing band in the history of the festival (Steelism played Mile 3), Mammal Dap comes from Northhampton, MA, home to Mile favorites The Sun Parade and local music luminary Taylor Greenwood. They’ve been honing their craft since their 2015 debut, Rockmeir. A friend told me a Mammal Dap is an understated fist pump. Watch these virtuoso mammals rock.
Find out more at mammaldap.com/
Favorite album of all time?
Apart from McCartney and the Beatles, I might say U2, The Unforgettable Fire. I still remember listening to most of those songs for the first time in a steamy, non-air conditioned apartment the year after I graduated from college. “MLK” and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” inspired my passion for diversity, inclusion and advocacy around those issues.
See you at the next show!
The Belle Weather
Eric Cox is one half of the Wisconsin indie-duo The Belle Weather. Equal parts modern folk and indie rock – their music is a fusion of inspired anthems and the art of simple storytelling. The Belle Weather will be playing Mile of Music 6, and are part of The Avenue’s Spotlight on The Mile series. Check avenueradio.com for a complete schedule.
Eric spends a lot of time behind the wheel and he talks about the music that keeps him company while he drives to gigs. He offers up lots of good listening. And speaking of good listening - you can catch The Belle Weather at The Stoneyard on July 15. For full live schedule and more about the band go to https://www.thebelleweather.com
The Belle Weather - “Unbound” https://youtu.be/v1x1yo5fqVk
I take the back roads and side streets home from work every day. I slow down on yellow lights, hoping to catch the red. I don’t mind traffic jams (unless I’m on my way to a gig!). At the end of any trip – long or short – I typically end up sitting in my driveway, listening until the very last note of whatever song is playing. I’ll take any opportunity I can find to add another song to my day…
I logged over 28,000 miles on the road last year – the majority of which were traveled with a car full of guitars and amplifiers. Music is a constant presence in my life. I’ve always been an “album listener.” I’m not a fan of playlists, compilations, or “Greatest Hits.” I love being able to spend an hour or so with an artist in their time and space, and an album captures that in a very unique way.
Here is what I’m listening to at the moment…
On the turntable at home is Brandi Carlile’s new album, By the Way, I Forgive You. It’s a stunningly personal collection of songs, and a fine addition to the stellar collection of albums she’s released to date. I was fortunate to catch her first album in rotation at a music store about 13 years ago – her voice caught my ear immediately. Since that time, I’ve see her live more than any other artist. My wife and I even drove out to Red Rocks to see her on the Firewatcher’s Daughter tour in 2015. She’s on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of musicians! I absolutely love her voice, her sound, and her songwriting.
Brandi Carlile - “The Joke” https://www.youtube.com/user/BrandiCarlile
Last weekend, I saw Brandi Carlile play shows in Chicago and Milwaukee. The opening act both nights was a duo called The Secret Sisters. I purchased their new album, You Don’t Own Me Anymore, and that is playing on my phone at the moment. The Sisters’ close harmonies are incredible. Beautiful. Haunting. Ethereal. The richness of their intertwined voices tangles spectacularly with their dark, melancholy songs and biting lyrics. It’s an experience. My favorite track at the moment is murder ballad called “Mississippi.”
The Secret Sisters - “Mississippi" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkfFNVtlquI
When music first became universally digital, I struggled with trying to keep everything organized in one place. My brain likes things tidy. It’s been an exercise in futility, to say the least! Over time, I’ve come to enjoy having different music in different places. It’s expanded my listening… the turntable… my phone… my iPod…the cd player in my car…
On the Cd Player, at the moment, Milwaukee singer/songwriter Micah Olsan’s latest EP, Open Space. We’ve had the great pleasure of sharing a stage with Micah quite a few times over the years, and I’ve loved his music from the first time we heard him with Micah Olsan & The Many. His latest release is a solo effort, and these are some of his finest songs to date. He really lets his creativity and songwriting chops shine on this EP! My favorite is a track called “Dollar,” which gets stuck in my head (in the best possible way!) for weeks at a time.
Micha Olsan - “Dollar" https://www.micaholsan.com/music
Finally, the iPod. This is my “go-to” device for road trips. 120 gigs of mile-grinding sonic bliss. My most recent spin has been Less Is More from Milwaukee/Appleton folk trio Listening Party. I love their music. Their latest single, “Bones,” is a hit waiting to happen.
Listening Party - “Bones” https://soundcloud.com/listeningpartymusic/sets/less-is-more
I also have some standards that get me through the less inspiring trips. If I know I have a long day of work ahead of me (my days start at 12 hours and get longer from there), I’ll start the day with Lisa Hannigan’s latest album, At Swim. Her voice is absolutely breathtaking, and at the very least I’ll have that to carry my morning! If I need a dose of reality and brilliant songwriting, I head toward anything by Jason Isbell. He might just be the best songwriter of our generation. On late night trips after shows when I’m fighting to stay awake, my remedy is The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists. It is perhaps the most creative album since Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and it’s engaging in a way that always gets me home.
I could go on for ages, perhaps I already have! There is so much great music in the world. The art of staying young is to keep searching, and discovering, and learning. I love to travel the roads with music I know, but there is nothing quite as exciting as hearing a new song that absolutely floors you on the first listen. I keep searching. I fully intend to be an embarrassing old man still attending rock concerts with the kids someday. In fact, I intend to play shows until my fingers won’t move and my voice won’t make a sound! I hope teleportation has a good sound system. I will probably choose to take the long way home!
If you’re a frequent live music attendee in our area, chances are good that you have seen Mike Underwood at the drum set. An extremely versatile and talented percussionist, Mike plays over 300 shows a year with an array of different ensembles – Jazz, Blues, Rock, R&B, Soca, Orchestral, Latin, and more. He’s a member of Kyle Megna and The Monsoons, Jazz Orgy, and, if you’ve attended any Avenue show with Steve March-Tormé, Mike is part of the all-star band.
Mike is part of a handful of local musicians working hard to keep jazz alive and cool in the Valley. If you’d like to support the scene, you can find Mike performing at any of these weekly jazz gigs.
Sunday Nights - Fletch’s in Oshkosh 9pm
Tuesday Nights - Cena in Appleton 8pm
Wednesday Nights - Becket’s in Oshkosh 7:30pm
Visit mikeunderwoodmusic.com to learn more.
We figured that a guy like this would be listening to some really interesting music, and Mike didn’t disappoint.
“First off I get really excited about exotic grooves and music from other countries.
“Anitta is a Brazilian singer that I learned about from an Uber driver while on tour in Florida. I can’t get enough of her!"
Anitta “Indecente” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbN7lbjOUho
“In spirit of Uncovered Too and people absolutely killing cover songs and making them their own, here is PJ Morton featuring YEBBA coving a Bee Gees song “How Deep is Your Love.” I dare you to listen to it only once!"
PJ Morton “How Deep is Your Love” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2F9pL06IC8k
I would be remiss to not include Harry Connick Jr., he helped me fall in love with jazz as a little boy. This song says everything about jazz not having to be stuffy, boring or too intellectual.”
Harry Connick Jr. “(I Could Only) Whisper Your Name” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYj6PCTTdic
A girl from Canada who sings jazz in French on a rooftop in Paris? Oui, still vous plait! Emillie-Claire Barlow has become one of my favorite singers of all time. “C’est si Bon”…It’s so good.
Emillie-Claire Barlow “C’est si Bon” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsJb4C8ghV0
Ric Reynolds plays lead guitar for Baba Ghanooj, a band familiar to local audiences. If karaoke is your thing, you may recognize him as a member of the band at Deja Vu in Appleton as part of their Tuesday night Live Band Karaoke. But perhaps his favorite resume line item would be as father and occasional band mate of Hillary Reynolds. And, you can find him playing as part of Steve March-Tormé’s all-star band for Uncovered Too on June 28 at The Meyer Theatre. We caught up with him to find out what he listens to when he’s not doing any of the above.
“As a child of the ‘70s, the music in heavy rotation for me is greatly weighted toward that era, along with the groundbreaking efforts that influenced it. It’s what essentially taught me how to play—from the Beatles opening my eyes on Sullivan in February 1964 to picking up my older brother’s bass (sans permission) and playing along to Peter Cetera’s melodic lines on Chicago II, or trying to imitate the intricate stylings of James Taylor’s acoustic.
“Scrolling through my phone I find myself constantly returning to Steely Dan, Beach Boys, Beatles, Chicago, James Taylor, CSN (with and without Brother Neil—who is also frequented solo), The Who, Traffic, Grateful Dead, Yes—you get the picture.
"I haven’t adopted the modern method of music consumption, that is, throw on some streaming service and just let it roll. I still prefer to hear complete works where possible. How can you not listen to the entire Pet Sounds album? Abbey Road (side 2, anyway) must be heard in its entirety. Or Steely Dan’s Katy Lied? No mystery I’m seldom appointed DJ at parties.”
Pet Sounds https://youtu.be/T0spkrwl9Qk
Abbey Road https://youtu.be/X4RQ3HX9jKg
Katy Lied https://youtu.be/QkFkkNaYvhQ
“The only terrestrial radio music I hear these days is on The Avenue—the other stations are not listenable to me. Plus, you have my daughter [Hillary Reynolds] on somewhat regular rotation and I still swell with a father’s pride when I hear her on the radio.
“When I got remarried in 2006, my lovely wife rekindled some dormant artists (Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell—and also brought some new stuff to my life, mostly in the classic country realm, along with Elvis.
“Having said all that, I quickly jotted down some of my favorite albums. The list is fleeting; it could change tomorrow, but the genre is pretty consistent.”
Beach Boys Pet Sounds and SMiLE
Steely Dan Katy Lied, Aja
Beatles Rubber Soul and Abbey Road
The Who Tommy
Neil Young After the Gold Rush
Chicago II, V
James Taylor One Man Dog
Frank Zappa One Size Fits All
CSN&Y Four Way Street
Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die
Grateful Dead American Beauty
Jacob Wood is a member of Listening Party, an alternative folk trio out of Milwaukee whose music has found a home on The Avenue. The group is in the Fox Valley and Green Bay often and their shows never disappoint! You’ll find lots to love in the story-driven songwriting, skilled musicianship, and just seeing how much fun these guys have on stage. Jacob contributes lively keyboard and vocals. And he shared his music influences with The Avenue.
For more information and show dates https://www.listeningpartymusic.com or follow them on Facebook.
Check out “Train” from Listening Party’s most recent album Less is More https://youtu.be/ANMoRX5IUlM
My dad always had a Tom Petty cassette in his truck and I remember loving to flip it over when one side was done. The first Tom Petty album I was introduced to was Full Moon Fever shortly followed by Wildflowers. Wildflowers taught me a lot about a complex simplicity in word choice, harmony and melody selection, an art truly tough to master. Even as an adult Tom’s albums have influenced me and grown on me. Damn the Torpedoes and Highway Companion are near and dear to the repertoire.”
Tom Petty "Wildflowers” https://youtu.be/AldoDm2bV04
“Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin and as Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. McMahon’s pop/punk style of piano playing made the instrument cool and indy during my development as a player. He approaches pop piano lines and electronic keys to mold a very unique singer songwriter, piano-driven sound. I’ve always found it helpful to play and sing these songs as you’re often challenged with a difficult piano line and a complex singing rhythm which makes you better at both.”
Andrew McMahon “I Woke up in a Car” https://youtu.be/Eh2o28A3RIQ
“Vampire Weekend – I fell in love with Vampire Weekend while I was in college studying music. What caught me was their debut album, self-titled, Vampire Weekend which was seemingly genre-less, covering classical, rock/pop/punk and African influences. A modern day Paul Simon with popped collars embracing the peppy music theory nerdom. This band also taught me a lot about instrumentation and layering as they are masterful in this regard.”
Vampire Weekend A-Punk https://youtu.be/Qr4zaCBL5BI