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Singer-Songwriter Ari Hest opened for The Clarks June 13th. Hest brought his band, performing for nearly an hour, just a few days prior to his 30th birthday (June 16th). Hest mentioned he would be back in Pittsburgh this fall. This interview was conducted prior to that concert.
Barb WYEP's Sunday Mix Host (WYEP): Hi Ari! Thanks for taking the time to respond to some questions via email for the WYEP Music Blog!
WYEP: You were in Pittsburgh in March at Club Café, out on the road promoting your newly self released CD “Twelve Mondays”. How did the tour go? Have you reached a comfort level yet with the songs?
AH: The tour was one of the best I've had in a long time. I hadn't been out with a band in a couple of years. I almost forgot how much fun that can be. The long drives from city to city don't seem as long when you're in the right environment. My only regret is that we didn't stay out longer. I think musically we were getting better and better with each show and unfortunately it had to end right when things were really going well. The crowds were great and I was pleasantly surprised at their knowledge of songs from 52, some of which i hadn't played live before we left.
WYEP: Please tell us more about the ‘52’ Project that you embarked on during 2008 which led up to the recording of “Twelve Mondays”. It was quite an ambitious project to write, record, produce and release one new song per week, for 52 weeks in a row and have your fans vote for those that would end up on “Twelve Mondays”.
AH: After leaving Columbia Records I knew I had to do something unique to stick out among the droves of singer/songwriters out there. I've always written a lot of music in my career but was never able to release it as quickly as i would've liked. An album every two years just didn't work for me. When i came up with the idea, i realized it was gonna be very difficult, but something about the challenge appealed to me. So for every monday of 2008, I recorded a new song and released in to subscribers to 52. For $20, anyone was able to get access to these songs as well as comment on them on the website built by my management. Earlier this year the subscribers voted on their favorite 12 songs and those songs appeared on "Twelve Mondays" remixed and, in some cases, re-recorded.
WYEP: You wanted artistic control over your music, so do you have a new sense of freedom now? Will you continue to self-release future recordings?
AH: Definitely. I love the control as I am a control freak. As far as future recordings go, i'm open to seeing what's out there, but right now this system works for me and i have no intention of changing it up.
WYEP:You were on the inaugural Cayamo songwriters cruise in 2008, any chance you will return as a performer in 2010?
AH: I really hope so. I had such a great time in 2008 and was bummed to miss last year's trip. What a great idea that boat is. It's the perfect vacation for music lovers. I wish it were up to me but I know the powers that be want to give some other musicians a chance to play as well, so we'll see.
WYEP: Your next record is being produced by Alex Wong, who co-produced and arranged Vienna Teng’s most recent release “ Inland Territory ”. When can we expect to hear some tracks from this effort? Also how do you have anything left to write about after the ‘52’ Project? You will also be doing some shows with Vienna Teng this summer, will this open up the chance for some collaboration on stage?
AH: The time schedule has not been worked out yet but all i can say is I am truly excited and challenged to be working with such a talented musician as Alex. Vienna and I had our first show together last week and sang a bit on each other's material which was a treat. She's also a tremendous musician that I'm honored to play with each time.
WYEP: The Amphitheatre at Station Square is situated along the Mon River and some railroad tracks. Well, sometimes trains go by during a performance. Do you have any songs to sing about trains?
AH: "Dead End Driving"? "Ride The Brake"? Not exactly train songs but some of the lyrics fit. "The Weight" has a train beat, so hopefully the train will come by while we're playing that one.
WYEP: I’ve always wanted to ask a singer-songwriter what it was like to record someone else’s song, especially when it was a hit for the other artist. You do this amazing version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies “ on “The Green Room Sessions EP”. How did you choose that particular song to cover? It really suits your style.
AH: I didn't plan on it. I happened to hear "Little Lies" earlier that day on the radio and thought it might sound cool given a darker musical mood. It also happened to be around the time I began to do some home recording. Fleetwood Mac is a big influence. I learned to play guitar right around the time "The Dance" came out and it got me to listen to a lot of their previous albums. Incredible songwriters.
WYEP: Thanks for your time!
AH: You got it Barb, thank you again!
Ari Hest belting out his last song 06.13.09 at The Ampitheatre at Station Square:
"Twelve Mondays" - A CD review: http://musicblog.wyep.org/2009/03/27/%e2%80%9ctwelve-mondays%e2%80%9d-%e2%80%93-a-cd-review/
03.17.09 Ari Hest concert review: http://musicblog.wyep.org/2009/03/17/ari-hest/
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
WYEP's Mike Sauter and Brian Siewiorek once again were broadcasting live from the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN! Below is an archive of Mike and Brian's updates from the scene. To see WYEP's Bonnaroo 2009 photo set, go here.
Bonnaroo 2009 Day One Updates:
Mike: Bonnaroo is officially underway! Local TN country rocker Charlie Allen is up 1st, beginning moments ago... [4:49 PM, Thu, 6/11] Mike: Up and coming indie rockers Alberta Cross, a New York based group from the UK, is blasting on one of the medium-sized stages right now. [5:51 PM, Thu, 6/11] Brian: Check out updated photos from Bonnaroo on our flickr feed at wyep.org [6:15 PM, Thu, 6/11] Mike: The NYC 6-piece indie rock band White Rabbits is now on stage. [7:07 PM, Thu, 6/11] Mike: Well, some thunder and lightning have put a damper on some of the festivities. Talk to you tomorrow on air! [9:57 PM, Thu, 6/11] Brian: Currently in a thunderstorm and pouring rain! [10:16 PM, Thu, 6/11] Brian: Catching the late show by Passion Pit. My first (and only) band of the day! [11:32 PM, Thu, 6/11]
Bonnaroo 2009 Day Two Updates:
Mike: It's nice & sunny here at Bonnaroo but everything is crusted with mud. More rain in today's forecast, too. 1st band starts at 1p PGH time. [7:41 AM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Getting ready for the live broadcast at 10am... [8:40 AM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: We're broadcasting live on air and at www.wyep.org until 2p ET. More live updates here after then! [10:12 AM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Today's full of good stuff! David Byrne, Al Green, Lucinda Williams, TV on the Radio, Animal Collective, Phoenix and Public Enemy! [10:46 AM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: The sun is out! For how long? Nobody knows! [11:41 AM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Gomez is on stage, right now playing See the World. [1:09 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Catching the last bit of Gomez on the "which" stage. Why didn't I go see these guys in Pittsburgh last week? [1:15 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: The lead singer of the Dirty Projectors just said, "its amazing to be here!" What I like about Bonnaroo is that the bands love it as mu ... [1:43 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Malian guitarist Vieux Farke Toure just began his set here at Bonnaroo. [2:07 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: David Byrne just joined the Dirty Projectors on stage for a song! [2:19 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Patterson Hond, of the Drive-By Truckers, is doing a set on one of the small stages. [2:30 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: I've seen Animal Collective been both really good and really bad in the past. About to see what they bring to Bonnaroo. [2:36 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Grace Potter just took the stage, getting the crowd clapping along from the word go. [3:19 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Grace Potter just played the title song from her T-Bone Burnett produced next CD, with the chorus 'I got the medicine that everybody wants.' [3:34 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Catching a bit of Bela Fleck playing with the Malian musician Toumani Diabate. Low-key music but well played... [3:51 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Back at Grace Potter- she's winding up her set with Nothing But the Water. [4:19 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Grace Potter just wrapped a terrific and VERY well-received set. She looks happy but ready to pass out. [4:29 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Santigold or Grizzly Bear? Tough choice! [5:01 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: I picked Grizzly Bear, who are excellent! I'm also in the shade. [5:28 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: This Grizzly Bear performance is truly phenominal. [6:04 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Al Green is getting the big show biz introduction right now on the main stage. [6:07 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, Al Green! [6:19 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Wow, Al Green is tearing LOOSE on the title cut from his Lay It Down album. The studio version never sounded this good! [6:24 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Al Green has truly still got it! Its 90 degrees and I have goosebumps! [6:36 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Al Green to security: "we didn't come here to fight, we came here to love!" [6:50 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: I think Al Green just brought this whole place together! [7:14 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Al Green ended his set w/o doing Take Me To the River! Maybe he's saving it for a guest appearance with David Byrne? One can hope... [7:20 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Now watching Lucinda Williams doing Tears of Joy. [7:22 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Talking a pause from the music to watch the Penguins. GO PENS! [8:34 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Thinks David Byrne could be the show to see tonight. Headed there now, keep you posted. [8:52 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: David Byrne is dusting off some deep Talking Heads cuts tonight. [9:20 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: We now interrupt our Bonnaroo updates to say, "Yeah Pens!" [9:43 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Cheers during the "Pittsburgh, PA" line of "Life During Wartime" in Byrne's set. Just like home! [10:01 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: David Byrne is doing "Take Me to the River", no Al Green to be seen. Figured that collaboation was a longshot. [10:15 PM, Fri, 6/12] Brian: Seeing Phoenix now. So far, really great! [11:32 PM, Fri, 6/12] Mike: Femi Kuti is playing with a band of eleven musicians. [12:17 AM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Two words: Phoenix. Awesome. [12:19 AM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Public Enemy is doing Don't Believe the Hype on stage at Bonnaroo. [12:40 AM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Just popped over to check out Femi Kuti and the Positive Force playing to a small, but enthusiastic crowd! [12:41 AM, Sat, 6/13]
Bonnaroo 2009 Day Three Updates:
Brian: Done with the broadcast and heading out into the festival. Lots of good stuff today! [1:21 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Allen Touissant is just taking the stage. [1:56 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Toussaint just played Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley. [2:09 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Allen Toussaint's a class act, a good way to start the day of music. [2:09 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: After hearing Allen Toussaint play Mother-in-Law, just went to see Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3. Robyn's currently playing Arther Kane. [2:23 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Hitchcock is now doing his song Television. He intro'd it by saying it's about the most powerful drug of all. [2:31 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Robyn Hitchcock now, he's here with his band which includes Peter Buck from R.E.M. [2:34 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Digging into back catalog, Robyn Hitchcock is playing Flesh Number One. He acknowledged applause after with 'Thank you, Glorious Vikings!' [2:39 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Peter Buck is playing 12-string electric, backing Robyn Hitchcock on Madonna of the Wasps. [2:43 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Robyn Hitchcock is playing his last song now. I don't think the audience really got his non-sequitur heavy style of humor. [2:56 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Seeing Booker T play the Hammond B3 like no one else can with the Drive By Truckers! [3:09 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Booker T. is on stage, with the Drive-By Truckers as backing band. [3:18 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Booker T & the DBT's are presently doing the classic "Green Onions"! [3:20 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Over at the Raphael Saddiq show now. Soulful and fun! [3:36 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Booker T. said he was going to play Green Onions to a smattering of applause. But as he started it, it turned into a roar of recognition. [3:39 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Most unexpected cover so far! Saadiq is doing The Stooges' "Search and Destroy"! [3:44 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Raphael Saadiq and his band are rocking old-school uniforms: white shirts with skinny black ties. Except for the horn section, which has black shirts, no tie. [3:45 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Hard to see my cell screen thanks to glare from the beating sun, so forgive any typos. Drifted over to hear Rodrigo Y Gabriella. [4:06 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: To mellow it up a bit, I'm now at Bon Iver, who's playing "Skinny Love" right now. [4:11 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Although Rodrigo Y Gabriella can sound like an entire show comprised of guitar soloing, there's no denying the duo's talent. [4:14 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Of Montreal is foiling my plans of catching some of their set before Wilco's by starting late. Oh well. [5:23 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Gov't Mule just did a blistering cover of Helter Skelter, and now they're doing a fairly faithful take on Radiohead's Creep. [5:42 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Gov't Mule has reverted back to their own songbook with Beautifully Broken. [5:50 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Wilco's just about to start! [5:59 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Three songs in and Wilco sounds great on the main stage. They started things off with "wilco (the song)". [6:14 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Looks like Wilco will play long enough for us to see the sunset. They are playing great tonight lots of stuff from the upcoming album. [6:54 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Wilco's Jeff Tweedy: 'Go ahead and boo us. Tonight we have a built-in excuse. You're not booing, you're saying BRUUUCE!' [7:01 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Wilco just did a great dual guitar solo in their song Impossible Germany. Now they're on to California Stars. [7:10 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Elvis Costello was just joined on stage by Allen Toussaint doing Ding-Dong. [7:26 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Wilco's soo good, I do not feel compelled to leave and see Elvis Costello! [7:33 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Elvis Costello just played Radio Sweetheart, Everyday I Write the Book, and the new song Sulphur to Sugarcane. [7:38 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Now Elvis is doing a twangy cover of Velvet Underground's Femme Fatale. Wow. [7:42 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Now Jenny Lewis is singing with Elvis! For a billed 'solo' set, there sure are a lot of surprise guests! [7:44 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Elvis is now doing Peace, Love & Understanding backed by Jenny Lewis and her band. [7:53 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: Caught the last three Costello songs, now the end of the Decemberists! [8:02 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce Springsteen just hit the stage, opening with Badlands. [9:30 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: From Badlands into No Surrender. [9:41 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce dug into My Lucky Day 3rd into the setlist, and is now doing Outlaw Pete. [9:48 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce song 5: Out in the Street. [9:56 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce sound just slightly out of voice. He's now doing Working on a Dream. [10:02 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce is doing his full-on preacher bit during the finale of Working on a Dream. Now playing Seeds. [10:11 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Everybody's getting solos during Johnny 99. [10:16 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce is now playing Youngstown. [10:22 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: The E Street Band just went from a rousing Raise Your Hand to a hilarious--and requested--Santa Claus is Coming to Town. [10:37 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: I find it odd that Springsteen is doing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". Its June Bossman! [10:38 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Next up: a driving take on Growin' Up. [10:44 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: More requests from the audience: Thunder Road. [10:53 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce working the crowd to mixed results on Workin' on a Sunny Day. Now playing: Promised Land. [10:57 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce takes it down a notch for The River. [11:05 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Bruce moved from Kingdom of Days to Radio Nowhere. [11:17 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Now it's Lonesome Day, and it sounds terrific! [11:20 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Lonesome Day gives way seamlessly to The Rising. [11:24 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Born to Run! [11:28 PM, Sat, 6/13] Brian: I just added a ton of pictures from today at Bonnaroo (Including Springsteen!) to wyep's Flickr page. www.flickr.com/photos/wyep [11:35 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: After an encore break, Bruce starts up Stephen Foster's Hard Times. [11:38 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: With a cry of 'isn't there anybody alive out there?' Bruce takes the band into 10th Avenue Freeze Out. [11:45 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Now playing: Land of Hope and Dreams. [11:49 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Concluding--maybe--with American Land. [11:57 PM, Sat, 6/13] Mike: Yes! Bruce continues with Rosalita! [12:04 AM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Now hitting Glory Days. [12:11 AM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: They just keep going! Now it's Dancing in the Dark. [12:16 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Going to check out NIN for a bit, then MGMT, then BED! [12:29 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Nine Inch Nails takes the stage and they are already giving the smoke machines a workout! [1:07 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: So far 2 songs from NIN's debut "Pretty Hate Machine", those songs are 20 years old! [1:23 AM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Ben Harper is rocking the late night crowd at Bonnaroo [1:28 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: NIN is now covering Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans" [1:44 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: MGMT just went on, it's so packed I am nowhere near the stage. Why am I still up? [2:23 AM, Sun, 6/14]
Bonnaroo 2009 Day Four Updates:
Brian: Day four begins... [9:24 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Working on some audio for today's show. Expect backstage performances and interviews from moe., Wilco, The Decemberists, Andrew Bird, etc. [11:01 AM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Should mention that Trent Reznor announced last night at the show that it was their final performance in the United States. [12:34 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: To recap last night late-night, Ben Harper was energetic and well-received, MGMT was PACKED, and 9'' Nails provided the flashy arena-rock. [12:44 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: About to start our final live broadcast from Bonnaroo 2009. We have a ton of interviews & performances to share with you! [12:47 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Overcast and cooler today, hope it doesn't rain again. But I think it might. [1:24 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: On air with live broadcast. Brand new music from Grace Potter in 3p hour, & Wilco in 4p hour! [1:40 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: If you listen closely during Mike's next break, you will hear the insane bass coming from Snoop's soundcheck! [2:25 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Done with the broadcast, now off to some music, Andrew Bird is up. [4:04 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Robert Earl Keen is on stage running through The Road Goes On Forever. [4:19 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Robert Earl Keen is closing out his set with a blistering version of Crossroads, Cream-style. [4:25 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: I'm trying to get my U.S. RDA of R&B by seeing Erykah Badu, playing now on the main stage. [4:45 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Sitting in the grass having a late lunch listening to part of Okkervil River's set. [5:07 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Walking past Merle Haggard's set, he's breaking out "Folsom Prison Blues"... [5:13 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Merle Haggard is covering Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues. The place is so packed I'm getting jostled as I write this! [5:18 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Merle has some rabid fans here! Some guys in the back are harrassing the crew to turn it up to counter Andrew Bird next stage over. [5:24 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Merle Haggard just did Workin' Man Blues. His backing band, The Strangers, are good but I've never seen a more inanimate drummer! [5:31 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Okkervil River is winding down their set with Our Life Is Not a Movie Or Maybe. [5:41 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Last song from Okkervil River, Unless It's Kicks. [5:47 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Merle Haggard taking a crack at Cash's Jackson. [5:50 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Someone just made an announcement: despite being 10 mins. past his start time, Snoop Dogg isn't even on site yet. He's on his way, about 5 miles away, and he'll take the stage as soon as he gets here... [6:14 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Looks like Snoop made it after all! [6:24 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Torn between seeing Neko Case and Band of Horses. Thinking BOH. [6:26 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Band of Horses doing a reverb-free version of "Is There A Ghost?" Right now. [6:51 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Neko Case was a little late, but sounds fantastic! Doing "People Got A Lot of Nerve" right now. [7:06 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Snoop Dogg just performed Sensual Seduction, and now brought Erykah Badu on stage for a song together. [7:07 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Band of Horses is playing No One's Gonna Love You in front of a fairly large crowd. [7:17 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Now back at Band of Horses (it's a short walk). They are doing the hauntingly beautiful "The Funeral". [7:27 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Neko Case just said one of the reasons she happy to be back on "her turf" is so she can go to Chic-fil-A! LOL [7:37 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Weirdest duet. Neko Case singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" with Truimph The Insult Comic Dog and Yoda! [7:47 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Neko Case just did Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth. [8:13 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Now everybody gets 45 minutes off before the big Phish show. [8:13 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Phish has taken the stage, the final performers of Bonnaroo 2009! [8:51 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Phish are into Gotta Jiboo now. [9:00 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Having some dinner as I watch crews tear down the stages. Phish is jamming in the background. [9:47 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Phish just concluded Silent in the Morning to a mighty shower of glowsticks being thrown in the audience. [10:00 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Bruce Springsteen is joining Phish on stage! [10:09 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Springsteen has just taken the stage with Phish! [10:10 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Phish and Bruce Springsteen and playing Mustang Sally, with the entire audience helping out on the 'ride, Sally, ride' parts. [10:13 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Trey & Bruce are doing a dual guitar solo which is stunning. [10:19 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Bruce is staying on with Phish to do a couple more songs, including Glory Days. [10:26 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Trey and Bruce once again doing dueling solos! [10:29 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: I doubt Bruce has ever done a guitar solo like this for "Glory Days" before! [10:30 PM, Sun, 6/14] Brian: Phish is taking a break and so are Mike and I. [10:38 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Phish is back onstage after a lengthy encore. Now playing 46 Days. [11:43 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: Phish is now playing Farmhouse. [11:53 PM, Sun, 6/14] Mike: After another brief break, Phish is back on stage playing Suzie Greenberg. [12:27 AM, Mon, 6/15] Mike: Well, Phish has departed the stage. It looks like Bonnaroo 2009 has drawn to a close. [12:32 AM, Mon, 6/15]
Two decades after their first release and a dozen years since they played Pittsburgh, Toad the Wet Sprocket (TTWS) was warmly welcomed back to the Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead in Munhall stage. Dean Dinning (bass, backing vocals, keyboards), Randy Guss (drums), Todd Nichols (guitar, tambourine, vocals) and Glen Phillips (vocals, guitars), along with Johnny Hawthorn (lapsteel guitar, mandolin, electric guitar) performed a well received 90-minute set, which included a 3-song encore. This was their first show together in awhile and it was not without some opening night glitches. Phillips started on the electric guitar and when he tried to switch to acoustic guitar, he wasn't able to get sound. There was some minor problems at times when he continued to switch between guitars. Phillips also forgot the lyrics at one point to "Nightingale Song" (while the audience continued to sing along) and had to start the song again. Jennifer came out of the audience to "sing" along on "Butterflies". The familiar songs were all there: "All I Want", "Come Back Down", "Fall Down", "Good Intentions" and "Nanci". Phillips commented that his oldest daughter is just a few years younger than he was when he was a teenager writing songs for TTWS. Nichols and Dinning also took turns on lead vocals. The audience was standing for the encore, which included "Come Down" and ended with "Walk On The Ocean" (my personal favorite!). The fact that TTWS can reunite for shows from time to time and still bring a comfort level to the stage after all these decades is commendable. The band members look and sound youthful and still seem to enjoy playing Toad music. "Walk On The Ocean" was a fitting finale, with the strains of "... grow sweeter each season to slowly grow old" echoing in the venue.
Glen Phillips at the 05.02.09 TTWS show:
Opening the show: Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (SK6ERS). This was the first show for the MA based trio, after they spent time recently entertaining the troops. Band members include Stephen Kellogg (lead vocals, guitar, harmonica), with multi-instrumentalists who also provided back-up vocals: Boots Factor (drums, percussion) and Kit Karlson (bass, accordion and tuba, yes tuba). They did an 8-song, 40-minute set. Kellogg reminds me of a cross between Elvis Costello and Glen Phillips. He looks like Costello, sounds vocally like Phillips. "4th of July" is a 3-minute pop hit of their story. "Milwaukee" received the longest applause. Kellogg did an extended version taking us in a rap from the ages of 20, 25, 28, to 30 into a steak house singing Tom Petty songs. Their final song, "Big Easy", involved audience participation with us going round and round in the air with our hands. Kellogg greeted fans and signed CD's in the venue lobby at intermission. I was impressed when Kellogg extended his hand to shake my hand and then signed my CD's. Their new CD, "The Bear", will be released September 8th.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Mr. Barb wanted to see Jonatha Brooke. She’d been on his list of performers he’d always wanted to see live. She was coming to Pittsburgh with Glen Phillips. Mr. Barb assured me I’d like Glen Phillips, knowing I tend to like male singer-songwriters. For some reason I wasn’t really impressed with Phillips.
Mr. Barb said I would know some of the TTWS songs, like “All I Want” or his personal favorite “Fall Down”. In fact yes indeed I did know “All I Want”, one of those songs I remember from my commercial radio days. Okay, we’re on to something here. I put “All I Want” on my personal list of essential songs for WYEP’s 913 Essential Songs countdown. I was listing songs that lead me to discover certain artists . When Phillips sang an acoustic version of “All I Want” in December at the Rex, it was the only song I recognized in his set.
There would be more chances to experience Glen Phillips live. Glen Phillips was one of the many performers on the Cayamo cruise in March. We somehow ended up at all three of his performances and seemed to run into him (okay I did, really I was not stalking him!) in the Garden Café in the mornings. We had attended the late Brandi Carlile show one night and thought gee, before we head to our cabin let’s check out Phillips’ 12:30 a.m. show; never intending to stay for the full set. Well it was 2:15 a.m. before we got back to our cabin. I did recognize another TTWS song “Walk on the Ocean”, which Phillips did in his sets. It has since become my favorite TTWS track. Something about seeing a performer in the early morning hours not remember all the lyrics, bang his head on the microphone several times and talk about zombies left a positive impression on me. After Phillips’ last scheduled performance on the cruise, I was able to get an autograph and a photo with him. I’m generally not outgoing when it comes to approaching performers, so it took a bit of gumption for me to walk up to him and chat about his music.
When I saw TTWS was coming to Munhall, I thought I better take the plunge and attend the show. Glen Phillips was very gracious to agree to an e-mail interview prior to the concert (trust me they are not easy to do, you don’t have the interaction you would if the performer was there in person, face to face). Since March I’ve bought or downloaded as many TTWS and Glen Phillips CD's I could find. I feel kind of weird admitting I’m this late in the game on TTWS music. I didn’t realize that Glen Phillips wrote a lot of the lyrics for TTWS. I was intrigued by the video on Phillips first solo recording, “Abulum”. It gave me a little more insight into Phillips' songwriting process. And I as I kept listening to the music, I kept saying to myself 'oh he did that one on the cruise'. I was putting two and two together. Plus I wanted to be familiar with the music when I finally saw TTWS perform.
So, I felt I really needed to share some insights on my limited exposure to TTWS, first, before getting to the concert review, so you could understand my vantage point. I’ve had to quickly bring myself up to speed on TTWS. Here's a link to my review of the TTWS concert (http://musicblog.wyep.org/2009/05/03/toad-the-wet-sprocket-a-concert-review/)
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Glen Phillips (GP): My pleasure
WYEP: You're doing some solo gigs before joining Toad the Wet Sprocket in Pittsburgh. How do you make the transition, literally overnight in this case, from a solo act to a group?
GP: I like the shift. It keeps me on my toes, and reminds me of what I enjoy about each style.
WYEP: You were on the Cayamo cruise in March with about 30 other singer-songwriters. As a performer on the cruise tell us about some of your experiences:
GP: Uhhh...There was a lot. My favorite moment was eating conch salad at Potter's Cay in Nassau. The next was watching Shawn Colvin play. Or maybe Lyle Lovett.
WYEP: How did you stay awake during your 12:30 am show?
GP: I didn't, really. I think I just managed to channel some kind of dreamstate into a weird extended narrative about zombies. There were supposedly a few songs in there, too.
WYEP: Vienna Teng joined you on stage one night, did you have the opportunity to sit in with any performers?
GP: Sadly, no. Saw some great music, though.
WYEP: During your final show, you did a song you wrote about being present when your father passed away. Can you tell us more about it?
GP: Not right now...It's all in the song, though (Darkest Hour).
WYEP: Who was your favorite performer and/or favorite performance on the cruise?
GP: Hard to say. It was a pretty amazing collection.
Glen Phillips with Barb S. - Cayamo cruise, March 2009WYEP: Luke Bulla joined you on the Cayamo cruise and is also a member of Works Progress Administration. As part of W.P.A. is this your first opportunity to perform at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival? It seems like it will be quite an experience with a "festivarian audience".
GP: It'll be great. I love playing with Luke and the rest of WPA. It's the most fun I've had in ages, if not ever.
WYEP: What was the biggest crowd you ever played for with Toad the Wet Sprocket?
GP: Half a million or so, at the Capitol Mall in DC.
WYEP: Who were some of the memorable acts that Toad the Wet Sprocket played / co-billed with?
GP: My favorite opening act was Geggy Tah. The audience didn't always get it, but I thought they were brilliant. Greg Kurstin (Geggy) recently produced the Lily Allen record and is also half of The Bird and The Bee.
WYEP: As a teenager, you achieved a lot of success with Toad the Wet Sprocket. What was that like, at that young age, to attain that level of fame?
GP: Probably not a good thing. It helps to foster unrealistic expectations and feelings of entitlement. It was also a lot of fun.
WYEP: Boxers or briefs? Another way of asking do you like performing as a solo act or with a group?
GP: Boxer briefs, of course. I like being in a band when it's alive and passionate and full of mutual purpose. I like being solo when I'm alive and passionate and full of purpose.
WYEP: One thing people would be surprised to know about Toad the Wet Sprocket is????
GP: We are all aliens.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
91.3fm WYEP will air two special programs to help celebrate the 90th birthday of legendary folk artist Pete Seeger. Both programs air on 91.3fm WYEP on Sunday, May 3.
Pete Seeger Tribute on “An American Sampler”
Sunday, May 3 from 8 to 10am Ken Batista hosts a two-hour special tribute in song to Pete Seeger, with Seeger’s music, music from his siblings and family, the Clearwater project, and numerous covers. “An American Sampler” is a WYEP program dedicated to traditional and contemporary folk music, airing on Sundays from 7 to 11 am.
“The Protest Singer: An Intimate Conversation with Pete Seeger”
Sunday, May 3: 6 to 7am, rebroadcast from 6 to7pm
WYEP will broadcast a national hour-long special featuring music and an interview with Seeger in honor of his birthday. Seeger discusses his career, being blacklisted, the view from 90, how music can still change the world, and his new book The Protest Singer.