Skyline Sessions – Better Late than Never!

So, as many of you know, when I’m lucky enough to host musicians for the intimate house shows, we try and do a quick 1 to 2 take video, in the style of La Blogtheque and the Ballard Sessions before us. My incredibly talented cousin Dan put the finishing touches on our last four, and I’m so, so excited to share them with all of you.

I’m so blessed to be able to host these shows, and even more grateful for these videos as a reminder of how perfect each of these nights are. So, to you I give:

#6 and #9 – Simon Balto

Simon really is an unbelievable talent, his layered folk ballads are reminiscent of Baez and Dylan, Guthrie and Prine. There is a deeply satisfying component to each of his songs – a reminder of home, woodsmoke, and the first traces of your breath as winter begins to settle. We filmed ‘Foothills”, a brand new, and exceptionally beautiful song as well as ‘The Cut’ off of Simon’s tremendous album “The Roads that Make Men Weary” (skip to 1:00 if you don’t want the endearing mess up at the beginning).

#7 – Luray

Luray, the project of Shannon Carey (sister to S. Carey) – is a really beautiful foray into ambient Americana. Delicate banjo and soft, subtle vocals wrap you up and wash over you. I can’t get enough of her debut album “The Wilder”. This track, ‘Lullaby’ is from that record, and we filmed it late at night after her beautiful show with Mike Noyce.

#8 – Kris Orlowski

I’ve long been a fan of Kris’ enchanting folk-pop, and this new song ‘Carolina’ has everything I love about Kris, with little traces of an almost Ryan Adams – esque sound woven in. I really love this one, and enjoyed watching 200 some odd people spellbound watching this one when Kris opened up for Noah Gundersen the next night. Don’t sleep on his new album, coming out soon. It’s going to be excellent.

Hopefully we’ll be announcing a few new shows soon, and have some videos to go with them. Subscribe to our channel on Youtube, check back on Facebook, and come make some new friends with us as the weather gets warmer. Love you all!

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Saturday Morning.

So, it’s been a bit since I’ve done a proper post. I’ve been running around in circles trying to set up some new shows, do some work on the blog itself, make everything prettier, you know the drill. Because of that, there’s a lot of music that has been in my ears nonstop, and I thought I should probably do my job and share all of the things I’ve been loving lately with you!

First, I’m really obsessed with the work that SerialBox does, and this video from a few months ago with Madi Diaz is a really perfect blend of folk/pop/blues sensibilities that has been a favorite way for me to start my mornings.

Noah Gundersen released his first full-length album a few weeks ago, entitled ‘Ledges’, and it’s almost certainly going to be one of, if not my favorite album of the year. The way Noah commands your attention, every note, every breath – it’s something you don’t find very often. Noah and his sister Abby filmed this White Session a few weeks ago, and well, not surprisingly, it’s stunning.

 

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of S. Carey (and his sister, who performs as Luray). The first single from the new S. Carey album is entitled “Fire-scene”, and the song itself, as well as the video released along with it, is absolutely beautiful. There is a winding, delicate sense of melody and care in Sean’s music that I find myself coming back to incredibly frequently.

 

Well, everything Gregory Alan Isakov does is close to perfect, and everything Kevin Ihle films is wonderful – so this version of “Amsterdam” before his show in Colorado is unsurprisingly excellent.

 

I posted another Ballard Session with Bea Troxel a while back, but I thought I should post this one too. Something about her voice, her songwriting, just catches my heart in my throat, and it’s so, so perfect.

 

Speaking of bands that can do no wrong, this video from TYPHOON performing “Caesar/Reed Road” in Boston reminds me how much I can’t wait to see them at some point on their upcoming/current tour. Such a tremendous live show.

 

Alright. Enough links. For now.

For those who missed my last post – I have the wonderful opportunity to host a Music Means Family show with the incredible Kris Orlowski (who’s opening for the sold out Noah Gundersen show) and a set from the talented Gia Margaret. We’re going to be cozying in on Tuesday, March 4th at 7:30, over at 914 California. 10 dollar suggested donation, BYOB, a chance to make new friends. I’d love to see you there. Check out this video from Kris below – and enjoy your Saturday!

These Nights are so Beautiful

Two nights ago, I found myself surrounded by new friends, listening to Mike Noyce and Luray play songs old and new, and watching a spellbound group hear stunning, stripped down versions of the songs off of Luray’s incredible album ‘The Wilder’.

I can’t say enough how much I treasure these evenings, and how much I want all of you to be able to come and share in these moments, and become part of the family. It really is a unique way to experience music, and to meet people who care deeply about incredible music.

Come on over to Facebook to see more pictures from the evening, but I thought I’d share a few with you here.

Mike Noyce

Mike Noyce

Mike Noyce (Photo by Leo Rosen)

Luray

I can’t express how grateful I am – each of those shows are so special, and Mike and Shannon (Luray) were so kind and such exceptional performers.

So, are you jealous yet? Sad you didn’t make it out to this one? Thinking you should grab a bottle (or 6) of something you like to drink, and head to the next one?

Well, guess what? You’re in luck! I’m very, very excited to announce House Show #12, featuring Kris Orlowski, whose charming and expansive folk-pop has captivated me for quite a while, with an opening set from Chicago local Gia Margaret. We’ll be opening up the space at 7:30, and music will start at 8. Make sure to be there by 8! BYOB, Suggested Donation ($12+). 914 N. California. I promise you it will be a perfect way to usher in the beginnings of spring. RSVP at musicmeansfamily@gmail.com or on the Facebook event page.

See you there!

Upcoming!

So those of you who check in on Facebook (which if you don’t you should) – know that I’ve announced a couple of house shows. I wanted to make sure you all knew they were coming up, as well. Also – I’ve added a page with some general info and FAQs about these house shows in general – click the link at the top of the page!

On January 30th, I’ll be hosting the talented local songwriter Simon Balto, with an opening set from friend and Chicago native Hanna Ashbrook. Simon’s new album has guided me through these cold winter months so far, and I would guess will be a frequent listen through those ahead. This one (as well as the other two I’m writing about) will be at 914 N. California. Doors at 8. Show at 8:30ish. All the usual rules apply – BYOB, Suggested Donation. Come hang out, spend some time meeting new people who love music as much as you.

On February 6th, we’ll welcome the very talented Chris Kasper, with Music Means Family alumnus Ty Maxon. Chris has toured with Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers, and many more, and is a huge talent. I really hope you’ll be here to enjoy this one with me. 914 N. California. Doors at 7:30. BYOB. Suggested Donation. Etc.

On February 16th, I am very, very excited to announce a house show with an artist who released one of my ten favorite albums of last year. Luray, the incredible project from Shannon Carey, will be in Chicago playing a very special solo show. Opening for her will be Mike Noyce, of Bon Iver. Doors at 7:30. Music at 8ish. Same rules as all the other shows, BYOB, Suggested Donation. Please make it out for this one!

My 10 Favorite Albums – 2013.

Over the past week, I’ve read through the flood of lists from major music blogs/publications – making a purported attempt at objectively ranking the “best” albums of the year. I can’t say that I believe in those lists, as I have no idea how you can objectively rate music, at least to a level of specificity that you can differentiate between much of the best music released over a 12 month span.

WIth that in mind, I do love taking stock of the year that’s past, and making a list of my 10 favorite albums of that time. Not only is it in hopes that you find an incredible album that you might have missed, but it gives me an excuse to dig back through so much incredible music. So, before you dig in, please note that these are in no particular order, and that the videos I include for each are just a teaser – please go investigate these albums, be it via Spotify, Pandora, or torrents – then go buy the ones that you connect with (hopefully all 10!).

1. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

I can’t say enough words about how much this album meant to me this year. An expansion of the incredible sonic depth and breadth of High Violet, with the bite of Boxer – I have listened to this album countless times this year. Favorite Track(s): “I Need My Girl”

2. Typhoon – White Lighter

Kyle Morton and the rest of the Typhoon gang created an album that’s not only vulnerable, expansive, and tremendous – but they managed to do it while staying true to all the little subtleties that made me fall in love with them in the first place. Favorite Track(s): “Prosthetic Love” and “Morton’s Fork”

3. Dessa – Parts of Speech

I love pretty much everything Dessa does. Her command of the English language, her rhythmic sensibility, the musicianship of the artists she works with. This album was wonderful, front to back. Favorite Track(s): “The Man I Knew”

4. Caroline Smith – Half About Being a Woman

Caroline Smith, former folk songstress, current purveyor of explosively beautiful indie r&b/soul. Caroline, with trust bassist Jesse Schuster in tow, and a whole slew of talented characters – really created a timeless album. Favorite Track(s): “Child of Moving On” and “Half About Being a Woman”

5. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Three words. Song for Zula. That song drew me in, the stunning continuity, well crafted songs, and the fact that this is an A+ road trip album guarantee it a spot here. Favorite Track(s): “Song For Zula”

6. Courtney Marie Andrews – On My Page

I’ve written about Courtney a thousand times on this blog. This is my favorite folk album of the year. So many hints of Joni Mitchell, with the subtle, simmering energy of Joan Baez. Absolutely in love with this one. Favorite Track(s): “500 Nights” and “Woman of Many Colors”

7. Volcano Choir – Repave

Justin Vernon continues to explore sonic boundaries – with a very talented cast of characters behind him. Repave explores more territory vocally than Bon Iver’s eponymous album, and I found myself entranced by this one all autumn. Favorite Track(s): “Comrade” and “Dancepack”

8. Luray – The Wilder

Luray is the project of Shannon Carey (sister of Bon Iver’s Sean Carey). Similar to Sean, and his solo project, Luray is a beautiful exploration of ambient, banjo-laden folk/americana, and it is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. Take the time and listen to this one. Favorite Track(s): “Tidalground” and “The Wilder”

9. Pickwick – Can’t Talk Medicine

I know, it came out really early this year. But Pickwick put out an album I’ve never set down for more than a week at a time all year. This is just a big, awesome, fantastic record. Let the video speak for me. Favorite Track(s): “Hacienda Motel” and “Halls of Columbia”

10. The Avett Brothers – Magpie and the Dandelion

I wasn’t that impressed by last year’s Avett Brothers album – but Magpie and the Dandelion reminded me why they’re one of my favorite bands. They went back to a lot of what worked so well about I and Love and You – a simpler, more melodic approach, interrupted by their signature folk-punk sound. Favorite Track(s): “Morning Song” and “Souls Like The Wheels”

Special Mentions:

Hey Marseilles – Lines We Trace

Night Beds – Country Sleep

Josh Ritter – The Beast in it’s Tracks

At the end of the year, I look back, and really, my takeaway is that more and more incredible music comes out each year – and it’s all about finding what you connect to. What makes your heart beat faster? What makes your breath catch? Hopefully this list gives you something new to add to that list.

Much love y’all!

December.

I love December. It’s a time to take stock of the year that is coming to an end, and of the possibilities that are approaching in the new year. Also, whiskey, Christmas, fireplaces, and all the love you can muster.

I’m going to be working on a few things this month – I’m hoping to get a Winter mix, and some year-end lists of stuff headed your way, as well as a bunch of announcements about House Shows for the coming year. In the meantime, I wanted to throw some videos, songs, etc. your way – because I find I really need a certain kind of music to keep my heart beating right in these winter months.

The first one is an incredible video of Bea Troxel, a songwriter out of Nashville. Again, a perfect video shot by Eratosthenes.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Frightened Rabbit. This Mahogany Session they did of ‘Holy’ is excellent.

Courtney Marie Andrews is incredible. Also, one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. This song is beautiful.

And, one more Ballard Session. This is full of chills.

 

I’ll be posting lots soon – hope these warm you on the first of December!

Feeling Grateful

As I look back on the past year, and even the past decade, I find so many things to be grateful for. As I think about the moments, the adventures, and the people, there are so many songs I connect to those events, a soundtrack, if you will.

So I thought I’d make a playlist. 50 of my favorites from the last 10 years or so. Hit shuffle, and enjoy.

So grateful. Thank you all.