The Columbi-Arts & Music Show launches on WUSC 90.5 FM!

Hello Jasper Fans,

I just wanted to let you know about a new weekly radio show I'm launching this fall on our town's wonderful college radio station, WUSC 90.5 FM. The show is called The Columbi-Arts & Music Show (check us out on Facebook here) and will be broadcasting on Thursdays from 2-4pm each week. Each week I plan to talk about (and play music from) upcoming music shows as well as promote upcoming art gallery happenings, film screenings, dance performances, theater productions, etc. We'll be having special guests and DJs, live (mostly acoustic) performances in the studio, and will do our best to show off all this city has to offer.

So, if you like, please tune in, contact me with any arts-related events you have coming up, and enjoy having an anything-goes college radio station that dedicates 2 hours each week to talking about what's going on in the arts community.

Tomorrow will be our first show--tune in at 2 if you can!

Thanks,

-K. Petersen kpetersen@jaspercolumbia.com

 

 

Record Review: Rev. Marv Ward - I Should Know Better

While we here at Jasper have been doing (what we believe to be) a great job covering a wide variety of arts activities throughout our fair city, one thing that has been lacking has been more frequent updates on the amazing quality and variety of local music releases over the last 10 months or so we’ve been active, which is something we’d like to change, starting with a rather under-appreciated aspect of the Columbia’s music scene: the blues.

While not the most blues-associated city in the world, Columbia definitely has a few blues-related things to be proud of: Word of Mouth Production’s annual blues festival in MLK Park, weekly jam sessions at Mac on Main’s, and Clair de Lune’s Blues Moon radio show on WUSC, just to name a few. Another highlight of the scene is Rev. Marv Ward, a longtime blues guitarist and songwriter who plays continually around the city. Earlier this year he released I Should  Know Better, just his third solo album since he started out professionally as a songwriter in the 70s. Ward got his start early as a guitar player in a variety of blues and rock and roll bands, and over the years has shared stages with the likes of John Hammond, Dave Van Ronk, Big Bill Morganfield (son of the great Muddy Waters), and Aerosmith, and this collection actually includes unrecorded songs from throughout his long musical career.

Despite the star power of his past, these days Ward is more comfortable hanging with a talented group of local musicians. Recorded at the venerable Jam Room, Ward’s core backing band for the record included longtime scene members bassist Mike Mahoney and Vic Scaricamazza on the drums, along with frequent contributions from harmonica player Mike Fore, slide guitarist Rusty Davis, and mandolin from Steve Bennett. Ward also makes harmony singers Jenn McCallister and May Kirby central to the record’s sound, particularly on the girl group/beach music-heavy tune “Ridin’ on the Daydream.” Two other musical kindred spirits from the scene, Bentz Kirby (Alien Carnival) and David Hane (Devils in Disguise), trade verses on the final cut, the classic country-inspired “Tennessee Whiskey.”

The record opens with four tunes that are in the center of Ward’s wheelhouse, all of which make use of classic blues structures and the veteran guitarist’s effortless lead work. Ward’s approach has always been a laid-back mish-mash of styles, but here he seems to square in on a John Hiatt-meets-Muddy Waters vibe that fits perfectly with his more conservative blues tunes. The second half of the record, as if to apologize for the more straightforward (although uniformly strong)   opening, sees Ward stretching his legs quite a bit. The title cut takes a Buddy Holly rhythm and far more overt R&B vibe than anything that came before it, and from there Ward includes a trio of English folk and Celtic-influenced tunes (“Wallflower,” “Dance of Kindred Spirits,” and “Come Down to the River”), the California country-rock of “Virginia,” and the aforementioned “Ridin’ on the Daydream” and “Tennessee Whiskey.” Ward even throws in a twist on a classic blues conceit with his boomer-come-hither tune “Come Over,” which takes the genre’s love of ridiculous metaphors (“if you got the cheese, baby, I got the wine”) into near-Spinal Tap territory.  Even if you are tempted to laugh, though, the song is saved by a ridiculously good hard rock riff and the fact that Ward can, well, play.

In fact, throughout the record (and despite the numerous guest instrumentalists and vocalists), Ward’s consistency as a vocalist, guitar player, and songwriter never falters. His playing rarely lets you forget he is a blues player at heart, but traces of such unlikely influences as Jerry Garcia and Neil Young seem to pop up, even though he tends to more concise and structured solos than either. As a songwriter, his rather humble approach to the long legacy of the styles he works with balances originality and homage in a way that many contemporary blues musicians often find difficult.

Having said all that, the most important thing to remember about Ward’s record is that it’s been made largely a document of the songs he likes to write and perform, and for the relatively small audience of South Carolinians who either already know his music well or who tend to gravitate to more laid-back roots music styles anyway. That it is so often remarkable is almost beside the point—which really makes it all the more remarkable.

- Kyle Petersen

Contact Kyle at KPetersen@JasperColumbia.com

 

 

Jasper Issue 2 Release Event Music & David Adedokun

We here at Jasper are super-stoked that David Adedokun, a local singer/songwriter who often goes under the name The Daylight Hours, is headlining, and curating, the musical performances at the release of Vol. 1, No. 2 of our magazine.

As long time fans of David A., we want to tell you exactly why you should be excited too.

While it’s been awhile since we’ve heard new tunes from Mr. A (although we hear he has a bunch of new ones he’s ready to play on Tuesday), his 2007 debut How To Make A Mess of Things was, in fact, a stunning display of lyrical prowess and pop sensibility that we still count as one of our all-time favorite local releases. The songs on the record are performed by a stripped down-yet-emphatic backing band that largely leave the spotlight for Adedokun’s soaring voice, strong melodies and clear-headed (and occasionally cynical) meditations on relationships, true love, faith, and (on the closing “Old #7”) the bottle.

Mr. A has the local indie-pop act Dead Surf and singer/songwriter Dylan Dickerson opening up for him inside 701 Whaley, with Tom Hall & the Plowboys taking over the outdoors deck.

Come celebrate some great music in addition to all the great art covered in Jasper Magazine, No. 2!

 

-- Kyle Petersen

 

(Kyle Petersen is the Music Editor for Jasper -- The Word on Columbia Arts. Read more of Kyle's work at www.jaspercolumbia.net.)

New Local Music: The Unawares – When The Trees Are Empty

Okay, okay—it’s not really “new” (the record came out in February), but we here at Jasper just got rolling, so you’ll have to forgive us for reaching back a bit. The Unawares are a three-piece rock band fronted by guitarist/singer John Watkins and backed by bassist James Wallace and drummer Rhett Berger. And these guys have a very particular, and awesome, notion of what rock and roll should be.

Actually, you know that band Jack Black supposedly joins in High Fidelity? The Unawares are what that band would have sounded like in real life. These guys synthesize a whole host of elitist-record-clerk favorites from the 1980s, most notably groups like the Pixies, Guided by Voices, and the Meat Puppets. And, hey, there’s really nothing wrong with that. In fact, it sounds pretty great—delightfully odd rock tunes full of crunchy guitars, indecipherable-yet-catchy vocals, and an emphasis on keeping it short but sweet (3 out of 15 songs break the 3:00 mark) can really pay some strong dividends. The group has released two full-lengths and an EP prior to this, but it seems like When The Trees are Empty has finally captured the “big” rock potential of this garage punk three-piece, kind of like the way New Day Rising did for Husker Du. The band has always had succinct little rock fancies that hit you over the head and disappear shortly thereafter, but this time you kind of get the feeling that these tunes would work just as well in the outdoor theater or hip concert hall as  in the sweaty barroom clubs and dives that this kind of music is normally found it. Kudos to Chris Wenner, who records the band’s records and provides the magical glue that re-creates their live sound on tape.

Anyway, aside from all my musings, Columbia really should (and often does) count itself lucky to have a rock and roll band of the style and caliber as The Unawares. Check out the band’s website here: http://theunawares.com/index.

http://youtu.be/rXkmQIJWEjs

-- Kyle Petersen

(Kyle Petersen is the music editor for Jasper Magazine. Read his most recent article on Josh Roberts and the Hinges in Jasper Magazine Volume 1, Number 1 at www.jaspercolumbia.com.)

New (formerly) Local Music: Hannah Miller - O Black River

 

Although singer/songwriter Hannah Miller began her music career in Columbia, she recently left the Capitol City in the hopes of breaking it big in Nashville. Still, we here at Jasper tend to hang on to our ex-pats, cheering on their careers and welcoming their new output and hometown returns. We hated missing her record release party last Friday (a surfeit of wonderful arts options that night!), especially because her new record is absolutely amazing.

Recorded with the help of top-notch producer Neilson Hubbard, who has worked with the likes of such accomplished singer/songwriters as Matthew Ryan and Garrison Starr, O Black River’s 6 songs are easily the finest of Miller’s recorded output. While she has had great production work in the past on 2008’s Into the Black (Mitch Dane) and last year’s Journey to the Moon EP (Ian Fitchuk and Justin Loucks), this time the sound fits the songs like a glove. From the muted trumpet playing on “To the Swift” to the foreboding drums and ominous guitar riffs on “Bleed Out,” Hubbard matches each tune with a full-but-not-overbearing accompaniment that shows a care and attentiveness fitting the song rather than just coloring in the white space—which is one of the hardest things to avoid when trying to flesh out solo performer-oriented folk-pop tunes.

Hannah Miller O Black River

Even more fortunately, Miller has evolved into a first-rate songwriter, and every song here deserves attention. Beginning with the gospel-inflected title track, Miller also shows off her mastery of the slinky pop in “To the Swift” and “Elijah,” introspective balladry on “Elijah” and “Refuge,” and gets damn near indie rock on the throbbing “Bleed Out.” She’s always had a penchant of unorthodox genre mixing, but it has never come across so effortlessly natural until now.

So, while Miller sounds quite happy in the Music City, we can only hope that she remembers where she came from and that she comes back often—and we encourage you to support an artist who has been so thoroughly dedicated to her craft that we might soon be talking about her in national rather than local terms.

You can find more information about Hannah Miller’s music @ hannahmillermusic.com.

- K. Petersen

(Kyle Petersen is the Music Editor for Jasper Magazine -- contact him at kpetersen@jaspercolumbia.com)

 

American Whiskey Brother Gun Plow Revue Preview

Sometimes the best places to go see live music are the least likeliest of venues. Case in point in the crazy Southern soiree going down in Rosewood Sunday—over a half dozen acts associated with a practice space off of S. Edisto are going to be throwing down starting at 3 in the afternoon. Performances will be both inside and outside the space, with a down-home atmosphere that will see Plowboy leader Tom Hall grilling burgers, a keg of beer being tapped, and a donation jar getting passed to help raise money for the performers (suggested donation is $5).

Groups like Say Brother and the Plowboys will play rollicking acoustic music that fits right in with the lazy Sunday vibe of the day, while singer/songwriters Noah Brock and Will Pittman will also be playing in between full band sets. Whiskey Tango Revue will be delivering some of its rough-hewn outlaw country (the group has just put out their debut full-length, Seersucker Soldiers, and should have some copies for sale), while some of Jasper’s buddies in American Gun will be trying out some Afghan Whigs covers in preparation for their cover show on Oct. 15th, in addition to some of their more roots rock-oriented material.

The party will also feature one of the first live performances by the new Columbia band The Fishing Journal, fronted by ex-Death Becomes Even the Maiden drummer Chris Powell and featuring some energetic, Superchunck-inspired tunes. These are the kind of bands that everyone can love, and the loose vibes and casual atmosphere should make this humble musical bash the place to be this Sunday.

-- Kyle Petersen

Columbia IS a music town! There - we said it.

Magnetic Flowers

Despite what people may tell you, most weekends in this town have so many opportunities for good live music, sometimes you are forced into a tough decision.

 

Case in point is this Saturday, when indie folk and rock fans have the opportunity to catch Say Brother, Kemp Ridley, and Ned Durrett & the Kindley Gents at The White Mule, or head over to the Art Bar for Magnetic Flowers, Elonzo, Sea Wolf Mutiny, and Famous Thieves. And while we have some serious love for the folks over at The White Mule, we’d tend to recommend the Art Bar show.

 

First off, headliners Magnetic Flowers are teetering on the edge of an extended hiatus/break-up, so it’s hard to say how many more times you are going to get to see these guys—and they have been one of the most exciting bands in Columbia over the last few years, with an energetic live show and some highly literate indie-folk-pop songwriting married to hyper-melodic and complex arrangements that throw keyboards, guitars, and an onslaught of separate vocal parts on the wall to see what sticks. Their last record, 2009’s What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About, featured a delightfully cathartic re-working of “I’ll Fly Away,” a tune that riffed on the form of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and such literary-informed song titles like “Southern Baptist Gothic” and “Books and Bad Poetry.” Hear Southern Baptist Gothic here. Plus, one of the most achingly beautiful songs about growing up Jasper has ever heard. Listen to Northern Lights here.

 

And even if that isn’t enough, they are supported by the Rock Hill band Elonzo, whose dreamy brand of indie folk takes a laidback, front porch-meets-chamber music approach to its subtly Southern songcraft, and Sea Wolf Mutiny, a darker, more prog-influenced folk-rock outfit whose mix of influences include The Decemberists, Flaming Lips, Band of Horses, and Mumford & Sons, for starters. Jasper doesn’t know Famous Thieves well yet but, in company like this, it’s probably safe to assume you are going to have 4 awesome bands for a cover of $5—just one of many examples this weekend that prove that Columbia is, in fact, a music town!

- Kyle Petersen

 Elonzo

Please visit our website at

www.jaspercolumbia.com

Jasper Magazine - The WORD on Columbia Arts

debuts in print on September 15th, 2011

 

Josh Roberts and the Hinges @ 5 Points Pub This Saturday Night

 Josh Roberts and the Hinges

We here at Jasper are pretty excited about featuring Mr. Roberts in Volume 1, Number of 1 of our magazine, as well as having him be the special musical guest at our release party, but we couldn’t resist telling you that he’s playing with his full band tonight at the newly re-instated 5 Points Pub.

Roberts calls his music “rock and roll with the roots showing,” which roughly translates (at least for this band) as electric guitar explorations that recall some of the best rock music of the 60s and 70s, with amble forays into blues, country and old-school folk. The best part is. According to Roberts when “every fifth song or so, we’ll [The Hinges] dive off a cliff and see where it takes us.”

Anytime these guys are in town, the possibility exists for seeing not just the best local show all year, but the best rock show all year period. So get it out.

Check out his website, www.joshrobertsandthehinges.com

- K. Petersen

Jasper Goes Punk Rock with Kid Anthem

So, if there is anything Jasper gets more disappointed about than people ragging on Columbia’s art and music scene, it’s when he himself misses something great about it. Case in point is the local punk rock band Kid Anthem’s debut EP, which was released back in October of last year. It’s possible he even heard about the band, but had a unfair knee-jerk reaction against a genre that seems fraught with easy musical crutches of speed and shouting, with an emphasis on sloppiness over tunes.

This was totally not the case with Kid Anthem. Featuring a slate of experienced scene member and a modus operandi that leans more towards anthemic than anarchic, Kid Anthem cherry picks from the best of the punk and alt. rock tradition. Jasper hears echoes of Bad Brains, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Superchunk, and lots of other bands that we don’t know enough about to name check. Big guitars and propulsive drumming dominate these songs courtesy of Eric McCord (Pop 39)and Chris Shirah (Burns Out Bright, Ye Mighty!) respectively, but there are also some surprisingly wicked bass lines weaving in and out of these songs (played by Thank God drummer Troy Thames) too. Throw in some dedicated background vocals giving the group a touch of Phil Specter pop, and it becomes clear that this is a group taking the term “power trio” seriously.

Even after a couple of listens, Jasper was amazed at the way the group seems to even-handily divide time between big choruses and hooks with moments where the band opens up some space and plays with one  another.   Some people are always going to be a little turned off by punk rock. But if you have an open mind and want to hear a band right here in town taking the musicality of punk rock quite seriously, check out the EP here. It’s free!

-- Kyle Petersen