Angry Angry Grrrls: Vanity Theft @ The Knitting Factory

I’m a die-heart feminist. That’s why I was surprised by how distasteful the Vanity Theft show was on February 2.

Dinosaur Bones: 'My Divider' Streets 3/8

Toronto-based Dinosaur Bones are prepping the release of their debut LP, My Divider, on March 8th, 2011 via Dine Alone Records. In advance of the release of the album, the band has made it available for select press. Following the success of their recent Birthright EP, the band received a great deal of accolades in their native Canada. Now comes their return with the next chapter in their story. Dinosaur Bones are giving away the song “Royalty” from the album for free. Click HERE to download.

The ambition of My Divider is easily noticeable. They continue to show their growth as a band with driving tracks like opener “Making Light” and “Sharks in the Sand.” “Highwire Act” and “Point of Pride” show off the band’s penchant for complicated melodies paired with guitar-driven stomps, a la influences like The Walkmen and Chavez. The title track, “My Divider,” closes the album and showcases frontman Ben Fox’s passionate lyrics and assured delivery. As a quintet, Dinosaur Bones’ ranges of influences are widely varied. This yields a sound that is equal parts fuzzed out indie rock and heartfelt emotion, but the cohesion and sensibility are unmistakable.

Dinosaur Bones returned to the studio to record My Divider with Jon Drew (Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up, Arkells). He also recorded and mixed the Birthright EP.

Having already shared stages with the likes of Man Man, Arkels, Handsome Furs, Crystal Antlers and Plants and Animals, the band have rightly earned their place in the indie pop scene of Toronto. Now they bring their sound stateside. They’ll also be touring Canada in April with Tokyo Police Club and will be playing the main stage at the famed Edgefest in Toronto this year, sharing the bill with A Perfect Circle and Rise Against.

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Upcoming North American Tour Dates:

02/10: Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
02/11: Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Gallery
02/12: Washington, DC @ Red Palace
02/15: Hamilton, ON @ The Casbah
02/16: Barrie, ON @ Foxx Lounge
02/17: Peterborough, ON @ Red Dog
02/18: London, ON @ Fanshawe College (Out Back Shack)
02/19: Kitchener, ON @ Starlight
02/20: St. Catherines, ON @ L3 Nightclub
03/18: Austin, TX @ SXSW – Paradise on 6th (10:00pm)
03/30: Kingston, On @ A.J.’s Ale House *
04/01: Guelph, ON @ Peter Clark Hall *
04/02: London, ON @ London Music Hall *
04/03: Barrie, ON @ The Mansion *
04/08: Ottawa, ON @ Capital Music Hall *
04/09: Sudbury, ON @ The Townhouse *
04/12: Thunder Bay, ON @ Crocks *
04/13: Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret *
04/17: Calgary, AB @ Republik *
04/18: Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room *
04/19: Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room *
04/23: Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom *
04/24: Victoria, BC @ Sugar Nightclub *
04/26: Nelson, BC @ The Hume Hotel *
07/09: Toronto, ON @ Edgefest 2011

# = w/ Rich Aucoin
* = w/ Tokyo Police Club

Thomas Dolby's 'Oceana' breaks 20-year silence

Reclusive solo artist Thomas Dolby is preparing to break his 20-year silence with a brand new studio album, A Map of the Floating City, due out this summer. But first, on March 28, Thomas is releasing Oceanea, a three-track EP filled with soaring melodies, intriguing storytelling and vividly cinematic textures. Featuring guest vocals by Eddi Reader, Oceanea sees a return to Dolby’s melodic and atmospheric roots. “The new songs are organic and very personal,” explains Dolby. “The songs on Oceanea are a reflection of my natural home on the windswept English coastline.” These days he writes and records aboard a solar and wind-powered 1930s lifeboat in the garden of his beach house in East Anglia.

Now living back in his native U.K. after 25 successful years in the U.S., Dolby is busy completing A Map of the Floating City, which features appearances by special guest artists Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Eddi Reader, Natalie MacMaster, Bruce Woolley and Imogen Heap. Says Thomas, “This album does not sound electronic at all. I have zero desire to add to the myriad of machine-based, synth-driven grooves out there. What I do best is write songs, tell stories.”

Thomas Dolby’s impressive recording and production career now stretches over 30 years. His commercial breakthrough came with the 1982 release of his very first album, The Golden Age of Wireless, which featured the hit “She Blinded Me With Science.” Go back a year and Dolby’s innovative synthesizer work was already making its mark: Foreigner’s massive hit single “Waiting for a Girl Like You” with its weaving synth intro — Dolby’s work. Cue 1983 and Thomas Dolby is guesting on Def Leppard’s Pyromania album. In the same year he appears as producer for U.S. rap wonders Whodini, who release an absolute B Boy classic with “Magic’s Wand.” 1984 saw the release of Dolby’s second album, the expansive masterwork The Flat Earth, which alongside Talk Talk’s Colour of Spring (1986) raised the artistic bar considerably. The Flat Earth featured Dolby’s biggest single success, “Hyperactive!,” a fine piece of pop-art funk that was originally written for Michael Jackson. (It still sounds like the eccentric English cousin of Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit.”) The 12” released in the U.K. on the collectable Parlophone Odeon label is treasured amongst beat-head DJs.

From 1985-1992, Thomas Dolby released two more albums — collaborating with George Clinton on the bold Aliens Ate My Buick and 1991’s Astronauts and Heretics, which featured Grateful Dead supremo Jerry Garcia alongside Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Budgie. In addition to his solo output, Dolby produced Prefab Sprout (the classic Prefab albums Steve McQueen and Jordan: The Comeback), Joni Mitchell (Dog Eat Dog), appeared with David Bowie at Live Aid, was part of the all-star cast in Roger Waters’ 1990 “The Wall: Live in Berlin” concert, and performed at the Grammys® with Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock.

Dolby quit the music business in the early ’90s and spent many years in Silicon Valley, where he founded tech company Beatnik Inc. and co-invented the polyphonic ringtone synthesizer embedded in more than two billion Nokia mobile phones. In 2001 he became Musical Director of the TED Conference, an annual event in Long Beach, California that attracts some of the world’s foremost thinkers, inventors, and speakers. In this capacity he provides live musical introductions to sessions, sometimes with an eclectic TED House Band, as well as helping secure guest musicians and entertainers for the event. At last year’s conference, Dolby was joined onstage by David Byrne for an inspiring performance of Talking Heads’ “(Nothing But) Flowers.”

Following his involvement in Beatnik Inc., Dolby returned to his musical career and the live arena in 2006. Dates in the U.S., an appearance at O2 in Hyde Park, and a triumphant night at London’s Scala reaffirmed this performer’s importance on the big stage. A 2007 appearance at America’s SXSW festival was followed by a string of further U.K. shows and in 2009 EMI released The Singular Thomas Dolby, which brought together all of Thomas’s great singles on one ace compilation. In 2010 Dolby released Amerikana, a download-only EP exclusive to his online community, The Flat Earth Society. A particular highlight is the richly atmospheric “17 Hills” featuring some virtuoso guitar from Mark Knopfler. Along with Oceanea, these EPs help consolidate Dolby’s fanatical online fan base while previewing music from his upcoming album.

Thomas Dolby has created a further way for fans to get early access to his new material in the shape of an extraordinary social network-based game, The Floating City, to be launched this spring via Facebook, Twitter, and The Flat Earth Society. By building a post-apocalyptic, barter-based trading culture around the objects and places named in Dolby’s songs, solving puzzles related to his lyrics, and discovering clues embedded in unique remixes, players will be able to win a sneak peek of other new songs from the album, as well tickets for a private one-off concert this Summer at which he will perform the new album in its entirety.

Wanda Jackson at the Boulder Theater | 4/1/11

When Wanda Jackson, the justly crowned Queen of Rockabilly, recorded “Let’s Have A Party,” a tune she made into a hit of her own in 1958 even after one-time boyfriend Elvis Presley had released a version of it, her delivery of the chorus wasn’t so much a suggestion as a command. As the title – and, more importantly, the contents -- of her latest album, The Party Ain’t Over, indicates, this feisty septuagenarian artist is as galvanizing as ever. Jackson was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, honored with a long-time-coming, Early Influence accolade for her pivotal role in the evolution of popular music, especially where female artists were concerned. As a teenager in the mid-50s, the diminutive Jackson was the first woman to perform unadulterated rock and roll – and she one-upped the boys defining this new genre, Presley included, with her exhilaratingly forthright approach. The young Jackson, an Oklahoma native, came across as both gritty and glamorous; a playfully suggestive growl to her voice matched the daring, handmade outfits she wore, short skirts and fringed dresses that have inspired would-be bad girls for decades to come. A tireless touring artist for more than 50 years, Jackson continues to win over new, young fans, including guitarist-vocalist-White Stripes founder Jack White.

On this debut for Third Man/Nonesuch Records, produced and arranged by White at his Nashville studio, the spirited Jackson proves that brash rock and roll attitude need not have an age limit. Her trademark growl remains intact on rockers like “Rip It Up” and “Nervous Breakdown;” she opens the set with an echo-laden sneer on a rollicking version of “Shakin’ All Over” and ends it ten songs later with a plaintive take on Jimmie Rodgers’ “Yodel #6,” along the way gamely tackling country, gospel, densely worded Bob Dylan, and a little bit of Tin Pan Alley. Jackson and White are a remarkably simpatico pairing; their collaboration came together quickly, serendipitously. One of Jackson’s colleagues had originally approached White about doing a duet with Jackson for a proposed “Wanda and Friends” disc, but White demurred. Instead, he offered something better, inviting Jackson to cut a single with him for his Third Man label, and that swiftly led this kindred spirits to put together an entire album.

Jackson admits, “I was scared at first because I didn’t know what this young rock star was going to expect of me or ask me to do. I kind of had shaky feet, deciding whether I wanted to do this or not. Of course I knew about him, I have to admit, from the album he did with Loretta Lynn and how successful that was. That certainly got my attention when he said he was interested in doing one with me. So we began sending material to each other; he sent me the things he thought I should do or he wanted me to do, and I sent him some ideas of things I had put aside for recording at a future date. When I finally got to Nashville, he put me at ease immediately. He’s just so laid back and such a cool guy that I found myself wanting to please him, I wanted to do it his way. My husband (Jackson’s manager of 40 years) and I told him, you do this. If you want a suggestion from me, feel free to ask. Otherwise, you make the decisions. That gave him a lot of freedom and I wanted him to have that freedom. And I think that’s what made it so good as an album. As I began singing these songs and listening to the playbacks he made, I realized he wasn’t wanting to change my style of singing at all. He just wanted me to have new, fresher material. And I said, hey I could do this. I can sing like Wanda Jackson. He just wanted more of Wanda than I was used to putting out. And apparently it worked.”

White and Jackson came up with inspired and wide-ranging song choices that reflect Jackson’s long history with country, gospel, and even the big-band music she remembers from her childhood as well as with rock and roll: Harlan Howard’s woozy lament “Busted”; the Andrew Sisters’ kitschy tropical travelogue, “Rum and Coca Cola”, a fitting companion to her own “Fujiyama Mama”; Dylan’s rockabilly fever dream, “Thunder On The Mountain”. They also recorded a cover of contemporary bad-girl Amy Winehouse’s “You Know That I’m No Good,” which White first released as a single in 2009, paired with “Shakin All Over.” The Winehouse song suits her, Jackson says, but she’s careful to draw the line between life and art: “On the one hand, I’m good, on the other hand, I’m bad. That seems to be the image this new generation of fans that I have has given me. It’s like the title of the documentary about my life that recently came out: The Sweet Lady With the Nasty Voice. Maybe that says that I become a different person, a different persona, when I sing those songs. I have a good reputation, always have had, and respect from everyone as a lady, and that pleases me very much. But the young girls think I’m this hard gal that gets her way and storms in. It’s just because of the material I’ve sung and the way I’ve sung it. And that’s okay. That’s cute.

White himself backs Jackson on lead guitar, cutting loose with solos that are as ferocious and fun as Jackson’s vocals; in fact, the entire band that White assembled – including pedal steel, a horn section and backing vocals from singers Ashley Monroe and Karen Elson –is similarly uninhibited, matching Jackson’s and White’s intensity and, just as often, their humor. Though the work is carefully arranged, the resulting tracks feel like one unforgettable after-hours session, with everyone in thrall to the woman at the heart of these tunes. The first song White suggested they cut was “Rip It Up,” one Jackson knows very well from her rockabilly days. As she explains, “It shocked me that he wanted me to do that but that was the first one I recorded. He loves that song and I do too. But I think he did that to put me at ease, let me do something that I’m real familiar with and real comfortable with, and he didn’t have to direct me or any of that. I just reared back and sang it. That got me loosened up and made me comfortable.” Not that White simply wanted to make things easy. On the sultry “You Know I’m No Good,” says Jackson, “We’d get through one take and he’d say, ‘Oh Wanda that was great.’ And I said, ‘Whew, I made it.’ Then he said, ‘Now let’s do one more and let’s push a little more.’ I was getting physically kind of tired and probably kind of got angry but he got the take he wanted. It’s funny how you can come up with what your producers want in the strangest ways.” A little bit of their repartee can be detected at the top of the track, just as the analog tape gets rolling.

The Party Ain’t Over is about stepping out, not summing up, but it does touch on important aspects of Jackson’s life and ever-evolving career. “Teach Me Tonight,” a country-inflected interpretation of the DeCastro Sisters’ hit, partly fulfills Jackson’s desire to cut a 40s-style big-band disc. “Like A Baby,” recorded live in the studio with the whole band, allowed Jackson to revive an obscure, bluesy number from her old buddy Elvis. The Jimmie Rodgers tune is the first song she ever learned as a child; her father taught her the chords on the guitar, she figured out how to sing along while she played, and, like any aspiring vocal star of the era, she taught herself how to yodel, a skill she has clearly maintained over the ensuing decades.

Jackson remains too busy to look back – her legend looms especially large now in Europe and Japan, where she is always in demand as a concert performer – but she does allow herself a moment to reflect: “I can’t think of anyone who could be any luckier or any happier than me. I think it’s a blessing from the Lord. I had wonderful parents who gave up so much so that I could have my dreams come true. I was an only child so I had all the love and attention that anyone could ask for. My mother made my stage clothes and a lot of my street clothes too. Dad traveled with me and drove me to all those early dates so I didn’t have to be alone. You couldn’t ask for more, to make your living doing what you love to do, to sing and travel and entertain people all your life. I can’t think of any life that could be better than that.”

And, as she notes, the party ain’t over.

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Tickets are on sale at Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.bouldertheater.com.

Tickets are On Sale Friday February 11th!

$20 adv / $22.50 dos

Scattered Trees Premiere Live “A Conversation” Video

Today, Chicago’s Scattered Trees premiered their live video for “A Conversation About Death on New Years Eve” on My Old Kentucky Blog. Click here to watch the video on MOKB or check out the video on YouTube. The track is also available as a free Mp3 download HERE (feel free to post and share). The video for “A Conversation” is a glimpse of Scattered Trees’ live performances that the band honed playing around Chicago. The group has also announced a series of new dates, including a new SXSW showcase on March 18th at The Ghost Room as a part of The NAIL/The MuseBox SXSW Day Party.

The band’s upcoming performances lead up to the release of Scattered Trees’ latest record Sympathy, which will be released on April 5th via Roll Call Records/EMI. The album is a focused, deeply personal collection of songs that finds Scattered Trees experimenting with lush multi-part harmonies, constructing dynamic builds, and exploring the intricacies of love and loss. Opening with “Bury the Floors,” lead singer Nate Eiesland sings “It’s the house that I built you to fall / We started to walk then we stood up to crawl / So bury the floors and burn down the walls / to find ourselves by morning.” Driving rock epics like “Four Days Straight” rub shoulders with melancholic elegies like “Where You Came From.” The album’s title track starts with a stripped-down plaintive mandolin, ultimately fading into a slow-burning orchestral groove. Melting into “Five Minutes,” Scattered Trees continues the build until the track bursts forth. The band rounds out the record with the mournful acoustic closer “On Your Side,” a fitting tribute for a deeply heartfelt and therapeutic album.

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Scattered Trees Upcoming Tour Dates:
1/21 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas
2/26 - New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall
3/3 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas
3/5 - Minneaoplis, MN @ Cause
3/18 - Austin, TX @ The Ghost Room (NAIL/The MuseBox SXSW Day Party)

The Saw Doctors at the Boulder Theater - 03.21.11

KGNU & The Boulder Weekly are proud to present The Further Adventures of The Saw Doctors at the Boulder Theater on Monday, March 21st, 2011.


The Saw Doctors are known in Ireland for ridiculously catchy songs and for rocking the road week after week from Galway to Melbourne—and, come March 2011, from New York to Las Vegas. They’ve hopped up countless crowds, including at two inaugurations of Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, with upbeat anthems to everyday people.

A fun-loving reputation precedes the band thanks to their zany hit “I Useta Lover” or the recent sneak Irish radio chart-topper, “Red Cortina A Cappella.” But it belies a more reflective side with deep roots, a side sometimes forgotten even by the group’s biggest fans.

“That one-sided perception of the band haunts us, even in our hometown here in Western Ireland,” chuckles Saw Doctors singer and guitarist Leo Moran. “A few months ago, in a pub here, I sang one of my favorite songs, 'Same Oul Town', the title track of our third album.  It's about a small town in winter, where everyone knows everyone else's business. Another local singer, who has known us forever, came up and told me, 'That's a lovely song; you should record that!'"

Bittersweet portraits of everyday people and the landscape that surrounds them are what the band does best. The Saw Doctors have a Springsteen-like ability to get at the poignant perspectives of ordinary folks: the lovesick pub regular, the guys on the corner, the wise old woman who greeted all comers with a slice of bread and butter.

This ability flows from the roving group’s strong ties to Tuam—and to the lives and stories of the people in it. It’s a town of wits and eccentrics, folks like cartoon artist Squigley McHugh, who humorously sketched the Saw Doctors as superheroes for their stage backdrop. Tuam is known for its gregarious, sometimes overly curious conversationalists. It’s a place where people still pop down to the pub in the afternoon, looking for a pint and a good gossip.

But don’t be surprised if you can’t make out a word: Tuam, explains Moran, has its own secret code, a slang and a love of peculiar turns of phrase incomprehensible to outsiders. “In Tuam, there’s a great interest in language and words. A lot of the Travellers, itinerant Irish traders and tin-smiths, settled around Tuam and had their own language they used while trading. We’ve adopted it as core citizens of the town.”

Tuam’s citizens relish slang and constantly invent new words. Expressions like “Well-Byes,” the greeting of choice among young guys in jogging suits, speak volumes: “you know where you are and you’re from Tuam,” Moran says. Soccer players use local slang when playing against other towns to keep their next moves under wraps (as the band recounts in “All the Way from Tuam”).

Yet words, like the band itself, have a far more winsome side, connecting people with their history and the land. In “Friday Town,” the Anglicized place-names in the chorus hint at a lost Irish past, as Moran sings of people long gone, either overseas to America or to their graves. “When you study the names in Irish, they carry meanings, some feature in the landscape or the memory of something that happened there,” Moran notes. “But all these lovely meanings have been lost. We’re trying to celebrate them, as well as the people who left forever for the States, on an epic, courageous journey.”

More introspective moments still ring with bright guitars, catchy melodies, and upbeat energy, which make The Saw Doctors shows fun, even at their deepest. Sometimes when playing live around Ireland, the exuberant singing from the audience has nearly drowned out the band. The group loves to drop their vocals out altogether, providing only instrumental accompaniment for the chorus of enthusiastic fans, who seem to know every song by heart.

The down-to-earth feel—and the Tuam wit—have universal appeal. “People sometimes say that a song about Tuam or Galway or Ireland won’t matter to people abroad. That’s like telling Bruce Springsteen that he is wasting his time writing about the Jersey Shore,” Moran reflects. “Songs are about sharing feelings and emotions and ideas. If you have ideas and emotions that people can relate to, then it works no matter where you play.”

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Tickets are on sale at Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.bouldertheater.com.

Tickets are On Sale Now!

$20 GA

+ $2 for under 21 ticket buyers

Ellie Goulding Announces North American Tour

UK singer and songwriter Ellie Goulding announced today that she will tour in support of her stateside debut, LIGHTS out March 8th on Cherrytree/Interscope Records. The tour will commence with performances at SXSW and wrap at Coachella in Indio, CA. Currently nominated for two 2011 BRIT Awards (for “British Female Solo Artist” and “British Breakthrough Act”), Goulding is gearing up for the Stateside release of Lights.
“I’m really excited to come to America and visit new places and see new countryside,” she says. “I feel ready to introduce my music and see what people think of it there. I’m hoping they’ll like it and be inspired, the way I was when I first heard certain artists. I want to create that excitement you get when you’ve discovered something special and feel happy to have ever come across it in the first place.”
Having already conquered her native Britain with the best selling debut album of 2010, Lights -- premiering at No. 1 on the U.K. album chart, four hit singles she co-wrote, and a BRIT award -- singer-songwriter Ellie Gouldin is ready to make a similar splash in America with her sparkling electro-folk-pop sound. This past December “Your Song” hit #2 on the charts and #1 on the iTunes Chart.
This past September, Ellie made her maiden voyage to the US in support of her EP, AN INTRODUCTION TO ELLIE GOULDING.  She performed in New York and Los Angeles to rave reviews. The New Yorker called Ellie “the future of music” and the Los Angeles Times raved, “She can reel off some powerful drum and guitar chops and her voice is a serious and sure instrument in person.”
Tickets are on sale Friday, check elliegoulding.com to grab yours!
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TOUR DATES
3/16 - Austin, TX - SXSW
3/17 - Austin, TX - SXSW
3/18 - Austin, TX - SXSW
3/19 - Austin, TX - SXSW
3/22 - Washington,DC - Rock And Roll Hotel
3/23 - Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
3/24 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
3/25 - Philadelphia, PA - World Café Live Downstairs
3/27 - Toronto, ON - Great Hall
3/30 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
3/31 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Café
4/2 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theater
4/3 - Salt Lake City, UT - Avalon Theatre
4/10 - Vancouver, BC - Venue
4/11 - Seattle, WA - Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room
4/13 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
4/14 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop (Popscene)
4/16 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
4/17 - Indio, CA - COACHELLA

Hit by a Train -- the Old 97’s in Boulder

I left the Boulder Theater with both ears ringing thoroughly and my head in a satiated state of buzz, and in fact I was bone sober (as far as intoxicants are concerned).

Pretty Lights Launches New YouTube Channel!

As a thank you to his fans for the ongoing support, Pretty Lights is releasing a free MP3 remix of Kanye West’s new track, “All Of The Lights,” which he debuted on New Year’s Eve at the Congress Theatre in West’s hometown of Chicago. The remix is featured in a New Year’s Eve video on Pretty Lights’ new YouTube Channel. Also found on the new YouTube channel are Pretty Lights remixes of Pink Floyd’s classic “Time,” Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle” and several more.

If you missed the news last week, Pretty Lights Music, Derek Vincent Smiths’ new digital record label, released two new EP’s for free downloads; Break Science’s Further Than Our Eyes Can See, and Paper Diamond’s debut EP, Levitate. The purpose of the label and its innovative model is to supply his fans, and fans of electronic music at large, with the freshest music from the hottest new underground artists.

Check Out The New Pretty Lights YouTube Channel, Featuring Unreleased PL Tracks, Remixes and Mashups!

Download the Pretty Lights Remix of Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights” HERE!

John Prine at the Boulder Theater - 03.25.11

97.3 KBCO & the Daily Camera are proud to present John Prine at the Boulder Theater on Friday, March 25th, 2011.

The first time he got onstage to perform – at a Chicago open mic night – there was absolute silence. Here comes a guy nobody had ever seen, a mailman from nearby Maywood, and the very first songs he ever sings are miracles, songs like “Hello In There” and “Angel from Montgomery.” But this stunned silence spelled disaster to Prine. “They just sat there,” he said. “They didn’t even applaud, they just looked at me. I thought, `Uh oh. This is pretty bad.’ I started shuffling my feet and looking around. And then they started applauding and it was a really great feeling. It was like I found out all of a sudden that I could communicate deep feelings and emotions. And to find that out all at once was amazing.”

That one night changed his life. The club-owner offered him a gig, and from that moment on he quickly became one of Chicago’s most beloved local heroes, a guy who would honor the Windy City with as much love and grace as Studs Terkel and Carl Sandburg. Prine soon befriended another local hero, Steve Goodman, and with Goodman he met the world. Kris Kristofferson heard his songs, helped him land a record deal, and soon everyone knew what Chicago already did, that Prine was the real deal. From that first album on, he came known as a genuine “songwriter’s songwriter,” one of the rare ones who writes the songs other songwriters would sell their souls for.  Evidence of this is the long list of songwriters who have recorded his songs, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, the Everly Brothers, John Denver, Kris Kristofferson, Carly Simon, Ben Harper, Joan Baez, and many others. Even Bob Dylan was stunned. “His stuff is pure Proustian existentialism,” said Bob Dylan.  . “He’s so good,” said Kristofferson, “we’re gonna have to break his fingers.”

Dylan and the rest were simply recognizing that which we have all come to know, that Prine’s songs are so hauntingly evocative of the laughter and tears inherent in the human condition, so purely precise and finely etched, that lines from them linger in our hearts and minds like dreams, separate from the songs. There’s the rodeo poster from “Angel from Montgomery,” the hole in daddy’s arm and the broken radio (from “Sam Stone”), the old trees that just grow stronger (from “Hello In There.”) The kinds of lines you carry around in your pocket, knowing they’re in there when you need them. With a staggering penchant for detail, a proclivity to be both hilarious and deeply serious (and often in the same song), and a visceral embrace  of roots music, he’s  made the kinds of songs nobody ever dreamed of before, or since.

Born on October 10th, 1946 in Maywood, he grew up spinning Roy Acuff and Hank Williams 78s in his dad’s collection, as well as tuning into WJJD to hear Webb Pierce, Lefty Frizell and others “back to back, all night long.” And then a new kind of music arrived: “I was coming of age just as rock and roll was invented,” he said, and along with his country heroes he added Elvis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, and the one he loved the most, Chuck Berry: “Because he told a story in less than three minutes.”

At 14 he started playing guitar and never stopped, starting with old folk tunes taught to him by his brother Dave. After high school he enlisted in the army, and was happy to be stationed in Germany, far from Viet Nam. He spent most of his time in the barracks playing guitar and singing Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams songs with a friend.After the army, he became a mailman, which he loved because he could write songs while walking his familiar route. “It was like a library with no books,” he said.

He haunted the fringes of Chicago open mic nights, mostly at the old Fifth Peg on Armitage in Old Town. Once he summoned up the courage to perform, although terrified, he knew he was home. The rest is singer-songwriter history. It was 1971, the dream of the Sixties was over and Goodman and Prine emerged with a new kind of song, eschewing abstractions to write story songs about real people:  “Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree,” as Dylan put it. Songs with the concrete details and imagery of a novel, but compounded, like Prine’s hero Chuck Berry’s songs, into mini-masterpieces.

After landing his first gig, he went home and wrote more masterpieces that made up his first self-titled debut, released in 1971. It was received with near-unanimous raves: “… absolutely one of the greatest albums ever made,” wrote a hometown paper, “by one of the most creative and evocative songwriters of our time.” There was the recognition then, which has been confirmed by the passage of time, that even among the best, he stood out. “Good songwriters are on the rise,” wrote Rolling Stone, “but John is differently good.”

Fans hungry for meaningful new music discovered him, unconcerned if he was the “new Dylan” or not, as he was often labeled, but drawn to the complex simplicity of his songs, the heady amalgam of sorrow and whimsy. Always seeking to strike a balance in his work, Prine said he wrote funny songs so as to get back to the tragic ones.

He made eight albums on two major labels, including Sweet Revenge, Common Sense, and Bruised Orange. In 1980 he moved to Nashville, and with longtime manager Al Bunetta, formed his own label, Oh Boy Records in 1981. They’ve since released a chain of great records, including 1991’s Grammy-winning The Missing Years, which featured cameos by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. In 2000 he recaptured his own legacy by recording Souvenirs, new recordings of many of his classic songs.

In 1998 he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer centered in his neck. The removal of a tumor and subsequent radiation seems to have eradicated it completely. Although his singing voice was lowered significantly, he faced his illness with the same blend of wistful humor he instills in his songs. In a post-surgery letter to his fans, he wrote, “Hopefully my neck is looking forward to its job of holding my head up above my shoulders.”

Now he’s back with a brand new live album, John Prine: In Person & On Stage, which contains both solo and duet renditions of some of early songs such as “Angel From Montgomery” (here in a breathtaking duet with Emmylou Harris) as well as later classics such as “Unwed Fathers” (with Iris DeMent) and one of the most poignant songs ever from a husband to a wife, “She Is My Everything.”

“If he’s this good this young,” wrote Rolling Stone in 1971, “time should be on his side.” Truer words have rarely been written. Some four decades since his remarkable debut, Prine has stayed at the top of his game, both as a performer and songwriter. Recently honored at the Library of Congress, he has been elevated from the annals of songwriters into the realm of bonafide American treasures.  Poet Laureate Ted Kooser introduced him at the Library of Congress by likening him to Raymond Carver for making “monuments of ordinary lives.” But the greatest testaments to his lasting legacy are the songs themselves. Unlike so many which belong only to the time in which they emerged, his, like the old trees in “Hello In There,” seem to just grow stronger with the passing years.

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Tickets are on sale at Boulder Theater Box Office. Call (303) 786-7030 for tickets by phone.

Tickets are also available through our website @ www.bouldertheater.com.

Tickets are On Sale Saturday, February 5th!

$40 GA / $48.50 Res / $65 Gold Circle