March 2014

Today's Cool Kids pick is by a Nashville americana group named Old Crow Medicine Show. Old Crow Medicine Show has been around since the late 90's and can be popularly recognized as the group who brought to life an old Bob Dylan bootleg, "Wagon Wheel."

"Let it Alone," today's Cool Kids song choice comes from the 2006 album Big Iron World and relays a message important for people of all ages. The group tells listeners to mind their own business when it comes to other people's problems. It's the safe thing to do! Here's the song:

Cool Kids airs every weekday morning at 8:15 AM. If you have a Cool Kids suggestion send Joey a message!

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin!

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy:

Future Islands. "Seasons (Waiting on You)" - If you haven't already seen the video of Future Islands performing this song on Letterman a couple weeks ago, go ahead and do that now:

Now then. One of the things about this video and its viral success is that folks -- including Letterman -- are taken aback by Sam Herring's dance moves, his frantic energy, his chest-pounding and pointing and all that. Here's the thing: That's what he does. For every song. Anytime he performs live. What's more, he writes pointed, poetic lyrics (he is, as it turns out, a fan of the late Pittsburgh poet Jack Gilbert), and delivers them sincerely.

Pattern is Movement, "The River" - I'd been waiting five years for a new album from this Philadelphia duo. Weird time-signature stuff, chamber-pop leanings and great vocals color this new self-titled release, much like their previous album; think Dirty Projectors, but a little more minimalist.

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Mervis!

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott.

Jimmer Podrasky, "She Has Good Records" - Jimmer wrote this song back in the late '70s when he formed The Rave-Ups here at CMU. He obviously had the Ramones on his mind, maybe even a little Phil Spector. The Rave-Ups never recorded it, but Jimmer, based in LA, has revived it for his first solo album, "The Would-Be Plans," and first new music in 24 years.

The Show, "One More Night" - Here's a Pittsburgh band that could fool you into thinking their Brits. The Show, which just released the new album "Until you know what it's like to stand where there is no ground ," takes its cues from bands like Oasis and The Verve and pours its love into the Britpop sound.

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh’s finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs!

In case you missed it here’s what he played with commentary by Justin:

Vaadat Charigim, "Haolam Avad Mizman" - (העולם אבד מזמן) That's right folks, this song is in Hebrew. The band's name means 'Exceptions Committee,' and they are one of just a few Israeli indie bands in recent years to launch a US tour, which will begin at SXSW later this month. Their sound is dark, shadowy guitar rock that reminds me of The Cure, but the press have already taken a liking to 'Israeli Shoegaze.'

Jonathan Wilson - Love to Love - This old soul is a singer-songwriter with quite a CV, considering you've probably never heard of him. He's played with folks from the Grateful Dead and CSNY, as well as Jackson Browne, Benmont Tench and others. A few of those famous friends show up here, on his new album Fanfare.

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh’s finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady!

In case you missed it here’s what he played with commentary by Scott.

Deleted Scenes, "Songs of Leaving Behind" - Art-rock band - in the avant-garde, not pretentious prog- sense -- debuts this closing track off their "Lithium Burn" album due out April 15. It's atmospheric, shape-shifting goodness, with fits of frazzle that float back to a spot of temporary serenity. After sifting through spasms of chaos and drama you symbolically reach the pleasing payoff -- a simple, lyrical declaration: "I will love you till the end of time."

Ashley Riley, "All the Pretty Things" - SoundCloud calls her "roots pop" (is that really a genre?). To me, Ashley Riley is part of the refreshing new stable of country artists a la Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe who are less Pop Gloss, and more Patty Griffin. This is the Illinois artist's title track from her enjoyable Feb. 18 release.

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Gary Clark Jr is considered to be the savior/renaissance man of blues music.  He hails from Austin, Texas and has been playing guitar since age 12.  He earned recognition early on from playing gigs at Antone’s music club in Austin (the same place that launched the career of blues icon Stevie Ray Vaughn).  Clark has landed spots on countless music festivals and played sold out shows nation-wide.   With such an impressive resume it was hard to believe that he was going to be playing Mr. Smalls Theater, which also sold out (duh right?).That was the question each fan in line including myself had.  What grace of god (or whomever you fancy) allowed Gary Clark Jr to play a small intimate club show when he was literally playing the TD Garden in Boston two days earlier?  Whatever it was, we were all pumped and ready for a night of the blues.

There was no national act supporting Gary Clark Jr, so Pittsburgh’s own Grand Piano (pictured below) opened.

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I had heard a few songs by these guys before, but never saw them.  To put it simple, Grand Piano blew the crowd away.  Their sound was like nothing I’d ever heard; they used a sax, trumpet, and steel guitar on top of the traditional guitar, drum, and bass.  I couldn’t get over how much the drummer and horns set the pace for each song.  Grand Piano was also very modest about their opening spot, thanking the crowd and club numerous times.  They were corky and joked with each other on stage in between songs but were completely business while playing, it was treat.  After Grand Piano left the stage everybody started to huddle towards the front.  It was time for Gary Clark Jr!

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He came out and just gave a smile and a hello before busting right into a cover of Robert Perry’s “Catfish Blues.” Gary Clark Jr continued to play homage to the pioneers of blues by covering BB Kings “3 O’clock Blues,” Albert Kings’ “Pretty Woman (Can’t Make You Love Me), and The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Third Stone from the Sun.”

Gary Clark Jr’s choice of covers told a lot about him, his music, and the way he plays.  He is commonly compared to the late Jimi Hendrix because of his ability to shred the guitar and jam for seemingly endless amounts of time (which is a good thing, we appreciate a good jam here at WTMO).  You could really tell that he and his backing band had great chemistry.  That being said, not a single track sounded like an original recording verbatim, each song was basically a jam.

Gary Clark Jr is also compared to BB King in the sense that he “feels” his guitar when he plays.  While playing he would commonly make these faces that almost looked like he was in pain.  However, said made faces occurred while some of the most soothing music was being played.  Gary Clark Jr wasn’t just in tune with the audience he was pouring his heart and soul out on the stage. To hear the classics being played with neo blues twist was like a full circle experience for all those in attendance.  It was almost as if Mr. Clark was trying to serenade the crowd with this guitar.

Before heading off the stage the first time, he highlighted the hits from his latest and critically acclaimed release Blak and Blu and played both the title track and “Bright Lights.”

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Now we all know about “the encore.”  The band exits on a high note and more importantly leaves the crowd wanting more.  Gary Clark Jr added a little zazz to this encore.  He came out alone and with an attached harmonica (pictured above) and proceeded to play his cover of Leroy Carr’s “In the Evening (When the Sun Goes Down).  The band proceeded to rejoin him on stage as he wrapped up and closed the show out with “You Saved Me” and fan favorite “Numb.”

This was certainly a special concert; Pittsburgh and a few other cities do not know how lucky they are to see Gary Clark Jr perform in a small intimate club.  Next time he comes around on tour I guarantee it will be at a venue with five maybe even ten times the crowd capacity, the demand will be too high for venue like Mr. Smalls.  So if you consider yourself a fan of blues and you already haven’t listened to Gary Clark Jr, DO IT!  You’ll thank yourself.  And more importantly stick around and check out our blog for other show reviews and previews, interviews, and much more!

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Today's Cool Kids artist, Angelique Kidjo, is characterized by Time Magazine as "Africa's premier diva". She is a Beninoise singer-songwriter, social activist and brings upbeat tunes that kids and parents alike will get a kick out of. The pure energy that Kidjo gives off makes it borderline impossible to not feel the good vibes, even in this polar vortex.

"Kelele" is the ninth track off of the 2010 album, Oyo, and tells the story of Angelique Kidjo combining influences of traditional Benin music, 60's and 70's soul and even Bollywood. Check out the song below!

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