Tag Archives: savannah

Interview: Steady as she goes

The Hold Steady in Savannah: “Everybody’s invited to this party”

still holding

(The Guide, 5/20/10) Brooklyn-based rock outfit the Hold Steady has been fitted with the title of “America’s bar band,” thanks mostly to their raucous, salutatory guitar jams, which are evocative both of the epic narrative arcs of Bruce Springsteen and the simple rock fundamentalism of Thin Lizzy.

But the title is slightly inaccurate for several reasons. First, the band these days is too much of a big deal to be stuck playing the grimy pubs evoked by their music. But mostly they just don’t spend that much time in bars anymore, since some of its members, such as guitarist Tad Kubler, now have young children (even if his 5-year-old daughter does like to come on tour occasionally).

The Hold Steady earlier this month released its fifth studio album, “Heaven is Whenever.” It’s a payoff of sorts, one that hits on the themes of reward and struggle — something the band sees firsthand as gets lauded by indie sites like Pitchfork while seeing its albums on the featured rack at Target.

“I think that the one thing that we strive for and really enjoy is to become a bigger band,” Kubler said by phone last week. “I always felt that we’re very inclusive. Everybody’s invited to this party. I think people are quick to write us off as cool kids or hipsters or whatever people refer to people who live in Brooklyn as. That’s the opposite of what we’re about.” Continue reading

Interview: Lewis Black: backer and blacker

(The Guide 4/1) Did Lewis Black, the frazzled and perpetually angry “Daily Show” commentator and comedian with a liberal bent but an intolerance for foolishness of all varieties, realize he had booked a show next door to the home territory of Joe Wilson, whose outburst at the president last year made him a frequent target of late-night mockery?

“Perfect,” Black said when this was brought to his attention during a phone interview. “That explains the ticket sales.”
Black is making his first-ever appearance in Savannah on Thursday, though his broad appeal and track record as the frustrated, indignant Greek chorus to the nonstop drama that is the nation’s political and cultural ridiculousness gives little doubt he will have trouble filling the Johnny Mercer Theatre.

Lewis Black

When: 8 p.m. April 3

Where: Johnny Mercer Theatre, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah.

Tickets: $35-$55

Information: 912-651-6556, 800-351-7469, www.savannahcivic.com

In fact, Black has gone from an exasperated mouthpiece for informed discontent with his “Back in Black” segment on “The Daily Show” and occasional Comedy Central specials to something resembling a mainstream comedian. He’s now got two HBO specials under his belt, as well as a series of movies and voice-over roles, a “Law and Order” role, a History Channel special, various commercials, several books and a stint on the 2007 USO tour with Robin Williams and Kid Rock. Continue reading


Lives 1-7, expended

REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin: “When we play live, it’s a riot”

(The Guide, 3/12) The upside to being a band that’s persevered for more than three decades is that you can play anywhere from Mexico City to Savannah and draw a lively crowd.

The downside is that styles and trends change quickly, and your fans tend to best remember your early days. REO Speedwagon lead singer Kevin Cronin, for instance, is often asked to sign copies of the band’s 1979 album “Nine Lives,” the cover of which features the group clad in tight black spandex and leather, with tail-wearing vixens hanging on them and a black panther on a chain in the foreground.

“At the time it was considered cool,” Cronin said with a chuckle in a phone interview last week. “It definitely wasn’t who I was, that’s for sure.”

REO Speedwagon, Edwin McCain

When: 8 p.m. March 13

Where: Johnny Mercer Theatre, 301 W. Oglethorpe Ave., Savannah.

Tickets: $45-$55

Information: 912-651-6566, http://www.savannahcivic.com Continue reading

Interview: Keller Williams freeks out

Keller Williams 2.0: The singer has become a ‘Once a Week Freek’

(From The Guide, 3/5/10) Keller Williams’ last local show was his 2008 New Year’s Eve gig at the Shoreline Ballroom on Hilton Head Island. The musician — known as a one-man jam band for his ability to play and loop different instruments — put together a three-pronged show that featured a regular set, an all-request set and a bonus set of “grunge-grass,” his name for bluegrass versions of ’90s hits from Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and the like.

And even though Williams is of the genus of musicians who treats every show like a unique moment meant to be shared by tapers, you won’t find the Hilton Head appearance in the vast pantheon of his music online.

“I was thinking about releasing it, but got talked out of it due to all the licensing issues that have happened to Pearl Jam and Nirvana,” he said. “They keep that stuff pretty close to the chest. But I might sneak it in in my ‘Once a Week Freek.’ ”

Keller Williams

When: 9 p.m. March 6

Where: Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St., Savannah

Tickets: $20 in advance, $23 at the door

Information: 912-233-1192, www.livewiremusichall.com Continue reading

A love letter to Neko Case

what you have to write when you don’t get to interview Neko Case. With a hat tip to Nubs Remsberg for his mentioned contribution.

Red-headed woman: A love letter to Neko Case

(From The Guide, 4/3/09)

In describing Neko Case, her soulful twang-tinged tunes, her rise to the top of the modern world of alt-country and her membership in the Canadian ultra-supergroup the New Pornographers, I’m drawn, of course, to Greek mythology. A friend and devoted Neko fan describes it like this: “Neko is Circe, or maybe one of the Sirens. We’re all Odysseus tied to the mast of the ship while Neko stands on the shore, singing lovely, gentle songs to lure us back to her island, where we will all be shipwrecked and die. But what a great death it would be.”

You can judge for yourself tonight when Case stops at Savannah’s Trustees Theater as part of the Savannah Music Festival.

Neko Case, Crooked Fingers

When: 7 p.m. April 3

Where: Trustees Theatre, 216 E. Broughton St., Savannah

Tickets: $20-$30

Information: 912-525-5050, savannahmusicfestival.org
Case’s voice asserts her place in that vaunted sorority of indie-rock musicians whose vocals are the important weapons in their arsenal (see also Cat Power). And it’s that voice that lets Case break out of the pack as a member of the New Pornographers, the Canadian maximalist indie-popsters, a group that specializes in big, catchy choruses, competing instrument hooks and back-and-forth alternating vocalists.

But Case’s solo career stands in contrast. She has produced a handful of albums over the past decade that brim with throwbacks to rock-infused country romps (I’m talking Loretta Lynn and Whiskeytown, not Gretchen Wilson and Kenny Chesney). Her tones are reserved and measured, her songs deep and personal, sometimes spacious. Occasionally she picks up a clip-clop energetic pace, boosted by warbling mandolins and banjos.

Her latest album, “Middle Cyclone,” released earlier this month, is a windstorm of Case’s interior monologue and personal causes — usually animal rights and environmentalism. “People Got a Lotta Nerve,” with its chorus, “I’m a man-eater, and still you’re surprised when I eat you,” sounds like a self-reprobation over destructive tendencies, but in reality, it’s a defense of caged animals. “I’m An Animal,” conversely, defends her own mammalian instincts.

Case is at her best when she rides the line between rock and traditional folk and country. Her live album, 2004’s “The Tigers Have Spoken,” is the best example of this; high-energy tracks such as “Loretta” and “Soulful Shade of Blue” would sound equally at home in a Texas county fair as they would in a cramped Brooklyn club, and the slower-paced cover of “Wayfaring Stranger” shows her dexterity in recalling bluegrass roots. In all instances, though, she draws the listener into comfortable anachronisms that even Odysseus couldn’t resist.

Ani DiFranco: “political songs and happy songs don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

Sigh. Another cool show near Hilton Head scheduled after I left the place. At least I got my lifetime allotment of Eagles cover bands out of the way.

Change has come to Ani DiFranco

By Tim Donnelly • Special to the Guide

Change is in the air in Washington, D.C.

Yes, there’s the skinny guy in the big house making decisions now. But two miles down the road, Ani DiFranco also is feeling a lot different these days.

Her first daughter turned two on Inauguration Day, and her songs are now channeling positive themes after years of frustration — and occasionally outright anger — at the government, cultural conformity and struggles over love and identity. The feminist icon, neo-folk hero and owner of her own label, Righteous Babe Records, has released more than 20 albums over two decades, and her fan base has stuck with her even as her music has evolved and grown up.

“I was already on a personal mission to write my joy into music more,” DiFranco said by phone from the back room of Washington’s 9:30 Club, where she performed last weekend. “Now, as it turns out, political songs and happy songs don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

Ani DiFranco

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Where: Trustees Theatre, 216 E. Broughton St., Savannah

Tickets: $36

Information: 912-525-5050, tickets.scadboxoffice.com
Q. You’ve been successful for a long time. Have you seen your fans change over the years as you have?

A. It’s hard to articulate specifically, but it’s just parallel to me. Having spent so much of my evolutionary years on stage, I sort of play the role of reflecting those lessons we learn along the way, the changes that befall us. I think there is always a new contingent of mostly young women who come along and connect with all these songs written by a young woman with those experiences, that experience of becoming yourself and sort of elbowing out a room for yourself in this world.

Q With having your daughter (in 2007), you spent a lot more time than usual between your previous album and last year’s “Red Letter Year.” Did that allow you to do anything different with the final product?

A. Yeah — time, the final frontier. Who knew (laughs)? I’ve always made records really quickly because I’ve always done everything really quickly. ‘Go, go, go,’ that’s my scene. The baby has slowed me down quite a bit. It’s just what the doctor ordered for me — having more time to develop more perspective. It’s more kind of ambitious production than I usually have on a record. I feel more solid about it — having not plowed through in the moment.

Q. Does that mean you’ll be taking more time with future albums?

A. Yeah – it’s definitely a lesson to be learned, one of the many my kid has taught me so far. Slow down, look before you leap.

Q. Do you think the new era of leadership in the country will affect your song writing?

A. Oh man, it feels so different. It’s a total atmospheric change if you ask me. It’s a great atmosphere, all over the world. I just got back from tour of Australia, and, you know, people everywhere are psyched. Obama’s election was a victory for democracy, the very concept. It was a victory for the people versus the corporate elite, the oil tycoons.

There’s nothing more that I want to do than support those who are doing good in the world. I think we get caught in sort of trying to fight the great evil, slay the great dragon. That’s kind of beating your head against the wall. For the left, it’s more important to lift each other up, support each other with our causes. It’s great these days to have sort of momentum to contribute to, momentum in a positive direction.