Monday, November 23, 2009

Live Music Week ENCORE: Pearl Jam on 'Austin City Limits'

Whether you wanted one more or not, Cleveland, you're getting one more!

Pearl Jam performed last weekend on the iconic PBS program 'Austin City Limits' this past weekend. Actually, the performance was filmed last August when Pearl Jam was in town headlining this year's Austin City Limits Festival (which is where the picture above is from), but the episode aired this weekend.
Pearl Jam played for a full hour at the historic venue recently designated a rock and roll landmark by the R&R Hall of Fame. Their setlist, which ranged from mellow acoustic tunes to explosive rock, included songs off of their new album Backspacer including Just Breathe and Fix It, oldies such as Porch and Lukin, and one of my personal favorites Red Mosquito (w/ Ben Harper).
Watch the full episode on the PBS website here.
Seriously, that's it for Live Music Week. You've been a great audience. Drive safe! (Lights come up, cue exit music)
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Live Music Week: Hodgepodge

We have reached the end of Live Music Week. What a long, strange trip it's been. For my encore performance I am featuring a random mixture of a bunch of performances.

First, K'naan. If you aren't familiar with K'naan, he is a Somali-born rapper who fills his songs with his unique outlook on the world, and the troubles of his home country, all to soul, pop, reggae, and even rock beats (Metalica guitarist Kirk Hammet guests on his new album Troubadour). Here K'naan performs three songs, stripped down and unplugged as a part of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts. Watch it here.

Next up, Blakroc, a new collaboration between Akron's own The Black Keys and some talented MCs including Mos Def, RZA, Jim Jones, Nikki Wray, Billy Danze, Raekwon, and others. The combination of The Black Keys dirty blues sound works well with these artists. Their album "drops" on Nov. 27. Here is the first single from it, Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)-featuring Mos Def and Jim Jones. Yes, I realize I'm cheating here a little. The song itself is not a live performance, but the video is ... kind of. Just roll with it.

Blakroc: Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) Ft. Mos Def and Jim Jones from Jonah Schwartz on Vimeo.

Finally, a little something from Beck's Record Club. This is a little experimental project that Beck and his friends are doing. I'll let him explain:

"Record Club is an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day. The album chosen to be reinterpreted is used as a framework. Nothing is rehearsed or arranged ahead of time. A track is posted once a week. As you will hear, some of the songs are rough renditions, often first takes that document what happened over the course of a day as opposed to a polished rendering. There is no intention to 'add to' the original work or attempt to recreate the power of the original recording. Only to play music and document what happens. And those who aren't familiar with the albums in question will hopefully look for the songs in their definitive versions."

So again, I'm kind of cheating, but these songs are recorded live and then released. It's almost like a live performance. Last week the Club started their third album: Skip Spence's 'Oar.' I'll be honest, I know nothing about that album, but now I want to check it out. The album was recorded by Beck and Wilco along with special guests including Feist and Jamie Lidell. Check out the Beck's Record Club website to listen to the songs and watch video of the recording sessions. There are two songs from the album posted to date. If you wish to hear the album in order, scroll down to the second post and work your way up.

And that concludes Live Music Week. What did you think? Did I leave out something big? If so, leave a comment and share it with everyone.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Live Music Week: The Avett Brothers

There are some bands that are just better live. Sure, they produce regular studio albums, but they really only exist to give the band new stuff to play on tour; the songs don't achieve perfection until they are played in concert. Bands like Dave Matthews Band (who happen to be the musical act on SNL this upcoming weekend), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and The Grateful Dead are the easiest examples of bands like this, but non jam bands fit into this category too. Which artists do you like much better live?

One such band that I'm really into right now is The Avett Brothers. While not the coolest band to admit to liking, this folk/rock/country collaboration between two North Carolina brothers produce solid studio recordings that come to life when performed live. That's a rarity for a semi-mellow folk band that borders on the wussy, but the Avett Brothers' enthusiasm and powerful voices put them in unique category of folk artists who can rock.

Full disclosure: I've never seen the Avett Brothers in person, although they tour constantly. They last came to Northeast Ohio last June when they played the Akron Civic Theatre. At that time I had only discovered them a few months prior, and didn't know enough to go see them live. I will not be making that mistake again when they come to the Cleveland House of Blues on Feb. 27, 2010 (purchase tickets here)as they tour on their new album I and Love and You (produced by uber-producer Rick Rubin).

Enough talking. Below are four separate Avett Brother performances/concerts. Give them a listen yourself and let me know what you think.

First up, to continue the Live Music Week theme of late night TV performances, The Avett Brothers played on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last night (without The Roots)performing one of their more upbeat songs "Slight Figure of Speech":

Here they perform "The Perfect Space" on They perform three more songs from their new CD during this session, which you can view here.

NPR invited them to perform in their office as a part of their Tiny Desk Concert series, which features small intimate performances recorded in one of their offices. The 3 song performance caused NPR's Bob Boilen to ask Scott Avett, "Did you swallow an amplifier as a child?"
You can watch here.

Finally,The Avett Brothers performed an hour long set at the Newport Folk Festival last summer. NPR said of the concert:

"Without fail, the enthusiastic roots-rock band generated massive volume onstage at Newport. The Avetts brought their emotionally charged and frenetic live show to the Fort Stage at Folk Festival 50 less than two months before the release of I and Love and You, stomping and hollering through a set of old and new songs."

Listen to the full concert here. Read more!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Live Music Week: The Roots & Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

I enjoy watching live music, both in person and on TV. So, as a part of Live Music Week, allow me to share with you several performances from The Roots.

The musical performance is often my favorite part of the late night talk shows. Lately some of the best and most diverse musical performances have been on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," which has the good fortune of having hip-hop band The Roots as their house band.

LNWJF definitly does not squander the talent of The Roots, allowing them to often perform as a backing band to the evening's musical guests. As a band The Roots are very good at weaving in and out between musical genres, and usually elevate musical performances that otherwise might put you to sleep at 1:30 am. Want proof?

Last week The Roots backed up hip-hop MC Wale. As hip-hop artists this performance is right in The Roots wheelhouse. I like Wale, but don't really care for this song. (This video will probably go away after 10 days. Sorry for any ads you have to watch before any of these performances)

To see the diverse talents of The Roots get to play with on display, check out the 3 performances below featuring The Roots and 3 very different artists.

Have you discovered any new music via late night television? What performances should we be checking out?

To prove that The Roots are more than just a run of the mill hip-hop band, look no further than this performance with musical icon Paul Simon.

If you find the Paul Simon performance surprisingly cool, yet odd, you haven't seen anything yet. Check out The Roots, 70's singer songwriter Christopher Cross, and a VERY special guest sing the 'hit' "Ride Like the Wind." Then be sure to e-mail this post to your dad.

Finally, The Roots perform with one of my favorites as a child, 'Weird Al' Yankovic as he sings the darkly funny song "Good Old Days".

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live Music Week: Wilco in Amsterdam

It's Live Music Week here at Pot Kettle Blue. Why? Because I can make it any week I want, that's why! Plus, I've come across a lot of cool live music over the past few days that I want to share with you.

First up: Wilco live from the Paradiso in Amsterdam

If you've never seen Wilco perform live, you're missing out. They are consistently considered one of the best touring bands around right now. They are a group of very skilled musicians that know how to bring it. I've seen them 10 times in different venues across the US and they have yet to disappoint me.

They are touring Europe right now and THIS AFTERNOON @ 2:45 they are streaming their concert from Amsterdam live. I repeat: THIS AFTERNOON, MONDAY NOV. 16 @ 2:45 PM EST (ignore the time on the poster above. They changed the start time).

I'm not sure if the concert will be archived after the fact. If so, I will update this post. Either way, click here to spend the end of your work day rocking out (Quicktime required).

If you give it a listen be sure to stop back here and let us know what you thought of it. Enjoy!
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Adventures in Product Placement: 30 Rock

Something is starting to annoy me with product placing in comedies. There are three ways a comedy can integrate product placement into their program:
  1. Make the product a central plot point
  2. Have the product around constantly but make no mention of it
  3. Ironically over "promote" the product so the audience is well aware it is product placement

It is this third method that's getting old. It's originally was a humorous meta commentary on the commercial business of television.

In this type of comedic placement, both the characters in the show, breaking the fourth wall, AND the audience watching them are aware there is product placement being done. Although it's not "cool," there's nothing the show can do to stop it, so let's all take a moment to laugh at how crazy it is (while also making sure to actually promote the product), and poke fun at how commercial it is by looking into the camera and spouting tag lines.

The "hit" NBC comedy '30 Rock' is largely considered to be the originator of this method. They have been doing it so often since their show debuted three years ago, that they get accused of ironically promoting products even when they aren't. Three years ago it was funny. But like all jokes, they become less and less funny the 8th, 9th, and 10th times.

This became evident to me during the 11/5 episode of '30 Rock.' During this episode Alec Baldwin's character Jack has to participate in a teleconference due to a bed bug infestation. Cisco Systems provides the equipment to make the teleconference happen:

Did you catch that? Wasn't it funny, clever, and ironic? Maybe in 2007, but now it's become an easy joke. And if it becomes an easy joke, it's an unfunny joke, which makes it not a joke at all, which makes it an actual commercial in the middle of a scripted program.

Now I'm not saying '30 Rock' should stop using product placement to defer costs (and yes, in the credits of the show, you can clearly see "promotional consideration provided by Cisco Systems"). I just want them to stop making a joke out of it. Can't there just be a Cisco Systems teleconference without talking about it? Simply having the logo on the monitor briefly is enough. I've already noticed the product. I've been well aware of Cisco Systems products, including this teleconference system, in other programs including "24", "Chuck","House", and "CSI," and they never made one mention of the product they are using.

It was funny the first 6 times, now stop going for the cheap laugh, we're expecting it.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Is it still funny?

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

12th Annual MicroBrew Extravaganza

Have any plans this weekend? If not, you better get to it, it's almost Friday. You don't want to be the only person home alone watching George Lopez try to host a talk show.

Instead, I think you should join me at the 12th Annual MicroBrew Extravaganza. This is THE fundraising event of the year for the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland. Every year I hear of tales of MicroBrew's past by those who attend and those who wish they had attended. A ticket will get you instant access to live music and dancing, a catered buffet, and all the fine microbrew beer you can drink.

This year's event is at Massimo da Milano on W25th St. Tickets are still available: $55 or 2 for $100 (tax deductible donation). Remember, all proceeds go towards the Free Clinic. Purchase your tickets here and I hope to see you there (otherwise, enjoy George Lopez, loser).

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hey! Welcome Back! How Was Your Summer?

Sooooo .... just like my buddy Calvin here, I lost track of time over the summer. My "summer break" from the blog accidentally lasted longer than I expected. I'm going to blame the weather. It's tough to recognize that summer is over in Cleveland when it's sunny and 70 like it was this past weekend.

So now that I've been gone long enough to have lost my entire audience, I am back from the dead! I have a laundry list of topics to talk about, and sorry Simpsons fans, it will probably not involve anything in Springfield. I never intended this blog to become a Simpsons fan site. I was simply posting random facts on days that I didn't have time to write anything substantial. A few dozen posts later, and I'm receiving 800 hits a day from Scotland so 2 arguing towns can determine who can claim to be the birthplace of Groundskeeper Willie. I like the Simpsons as much as the next guy, but that was never the audience I intended to attract. So I'm going to tone the Simpsons posts down a little.

There is a lot of other cool stuff I want to share with you this week though, including the best music of 2009 debate, adventures in product placement, and Christmas Ale. In the meantime, play around with "Let Them Sing it For You." It's a fun way to send a message by stitching together random song lyrics. It's like sending a musical ransom note, instead of spending all that valuable time cutting out magazine letters. Feel free to e-mail me one @ Stay tuned.

P.S. How did you spend your summer vacation?

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