Don’t-Miss Album: Rival Sons’ Hollow Bones

There was a dark period in college when I was a loyal fan of the band H.I.M. I made my own custom Ville Valo t-shirts and ordered overpriced posters from Finland to adorn my dorm room walls. They’ve since released at least five albums I’ve never heard and won’t bother to check out. We could call it a phase of poor taste, or we might say I can be fickle about bands. Both statements are probably accurate.

After several years of quiet adoration I wrote a glowing review of Rival Sons’ 2014 album, and, despite my mercurial nature, I’m equally as enthusiastic today as I was then.

Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday of Rival Sons

Jay Buchanan and Scott Holiday, Rival Sons

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Stop Hatin’ on Valentine’s Day, People

Much of Geoffrey Chaucer’s reputation stems from his magnum opus, the bawdiest of storytelling contests, The Canterbury Tales. Hats off to ol’ Geoff for keeping us awake in 7th grade English class (The Wife of Bath’s Tale?!). But did you know he’s also indirectly responsible for Valentine’s Day as we know it? Chaucer was the first author to associate St. Valentine’s Day with romantic love, and since then it’s evolved into the pink-tinted, flower-filled, saccharin-saturated holiday that some of us anticipate and plenty dread.

If you’re amongst the Love Day naysayers, direct your negativity toward an old dead guy and stop ruining it for the rest of us.

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Foxy Shazam Disbands, Kitty Lemieux Mourns

Mondays have a bad reputation for a reason, and yesterday served as further proof when my favorite Cincinnati-based sextet announced plans for an indefinite hiatus. Foxy Shazam kept up a grueling tour schedule for a decade, and singer Eric Nally—with his masochistic onstage acrobatics and antics—surely deserves a break. But, I have to admit, my selfishness trumps my empathy. This is sad, sad news.

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AURAL FIXATION: Rival Sons

One of my all-time favorite compliments came to me secondhand. A potential employer had asked a colleague to describe me. His answer: “Unflappable.”

I am notoriously levelheaded, sometimes to the point of frustration for people close to me (shout out to my exes!). It’s a blessing and a curse. I easily maintain my composure in what others would consider exasperating situations, but this poise can be misinterpreted as disinterest or dispassion. Let there be no confusion in this case.         I’m aflame. I’m agog. I’m athirst. All for a band called RIVAL SONS.

Me: “Can I be an annoying fan and ask for a photo?” Jay Buchanan of Rival Sons: “No, but you can be a beautiful woman and ask me.” Oh, Jay, you sly devil, you. As if I needed a reason to love you more.

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Muddy Waters and wife Geneva in Chicago, 1951

This 1951 photograph of McKinley Morganfield, A.K.A. Muddy Waters, and wife Geneva was released a couple years ago, but I saw it for the first time today and was floored by its beauty.

Photographer Art Shay on how the image came to be: “Time magazine had sent me to the south side club in which he was performing. I arrived early as usual and there he was, strumming his guitar and cuddling his woman in the hallway. Slivers of dying winter light came down across the pair from some blessed window giving me barely enough natural light. He strummed a greeting using my name letter by letter.”

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AURAL FIXATION: Lawrence Rothman

Tucson is like Phoenix’s less popular but naturally prettier, down-to-earth sister. When it comes to attracting national touring musicians, though, her allure is often all for naught. They’re just bands passing through, not suitors looking for love. I adore Tucson, but sometimes I’m embarrassed for her, especially when good artists decide to grace us with their presence and end up playing to a nearly empty room.

Sadly, this was the case when Lawrence Rothman stopped here on his way to support Little Dragon on tour. There was a crowd of no more than ten people, and I’m pretty sure half were club employees. Despite the poor turnout, Rothman did not disappoint.

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CeDell Davis, Last of the Delta Bluesmen

I’ll never forget the first time I heard CeDell Davis. I was a junior in high school, and I’d made my way to Mississippi for the first of many blues festivals to come. CeDell had a unique style of guitar playing, imposed by a merciless teacher—Polio. Unable to maneuver his crippled hands, he used a butter knife as a slide, creating a beautifully raw and original sound. A stroke has since robbed him of his ability to play guitar, but at 89 years old, he is still living the blues and chasing his dreams.

A photo I took of CeDell Davis at the Sunflower River Blues Festival in Clarksdale, MS, 2000

A photo I took of CeDell Davis at the Sunflower River Blues Festival in Clarksdale, MS, 2000

If you can, help CeDell make a new record by contributing to his Kickstarter campaign. He’s a real-deal Delta bluesman who has paid his dues and deserves your support.