donovan's brain - The I-94 Bar
Hot Tuna - Rialto, Septermber 10
Veteran duo in electric mode with drummer. As heavy as it gets. Jack and Jorma playing with the same fire they had 50+ years ago. At the climax of one of the extended jams, Jack pogoed across the stage. We got right up to the front of the small venue for full effect.
Tom Rush - Ellen Theater, Bozeman, August 31
An unexpected visit by first division folk singer does not disappoint. At 79 years, he still has his voice and nimble fingers. Funny too. 2+ hour show. He manages to avoid playing any of his signature tunes.
Jeff Tweedy - Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)
Well written and very funny. Tweedy weaves a compelling story about his childhood, bands and years of prescription drug addiction. Plenty of insight into the workings of Wilco and his songwriting. One of the best musician-penned memoirs I’ve read.
So Good I Can’t Take It- Aug 2 Ellen Theater Bozeman
Kirk Leclaire document’s the Montana music scene of the' 70s and '80s. Jeff Ament and Steve Albini figure large in the story. I get some face time too, though I only just make it into the time frame. Donovan’s Brain music is featured. A great story of small town misfits tearing it up and terrorizing the locals. A universal story that can be enjoyed even if you didn’t grow up in Montana. A Donovan’s Brain MK 1 reunion followed the screening.
Paul McCartney - Egypt Station
Solid album with some stand out tracks. A good repeated listen
Chocolate Watchband + Young Fresh Fellows @ Tractor Tavern Seattle Dec 2
Scott McCaughey's first YFF gig since his stroke last year. Good enough reason to take the trip. Kaz insisted she needed to see Chocolate Watchband after hearing me talk about them for the last 37 years. 51 since I last saw the proper Watchband. A couple of later line ups were name only. YFF tore the roof off. CWB were more than a recreation. Original drummer Gary A still hit them hard. New album they were previewing is also surprisingly good. A good time was had.
Beatles - Beatles reissue, remix
The remix sounds like the best new band album of the year. It's familiar, yet very different feel too. Gilding the lily, but just fine. It's the Escher Demos and session tracks that are the revelations. Well worth the price of admission. Detailed note in the hard cover book explain the session material. There is a 5.1 mix which I have no way to listen to. The BluRay also has the remix and the original mono mix in high def. Mono still kills.
Guided By Voices - Space Gun + Ogre’s Trumpet
Always hard to keep up with a band that manages two albums a year. Space Gun shows the current band are gonna keep cranking out great material. The live album, Ogre's Trumpet is easily the best live GbV album, yet. Recorded in 2017.
An unlikely pairing or a reckless act of inspiration? The contrasts on this split LP couldn’t be more obvious, but somehow the partnership works brilliantly.
Fraudband is an Australian duo (drums and guitar) that plays stark and evocative instrumentals, while Donovan’s Brain is a long-running American collective with roots in psychedelic West Coast and paisley pop. This LP, which you can buy on either side of the Pacific, gives each a toehold in the other’s musical market. As is often the way in these digital times, the vinyl comes with a download code for six extra tracks, all of them as good as the 10 LP cuts.
Half the Fraudband contribution comes from a CD release called “Blinkered vision and blurred horizons”, the rest of which ended up on a Bevis Frond split album. The Donovan’s Brain stuff is drawn from a seemingly bottomless well of material, pieced together by leader Ron Sanchez.
One definition of a convolution is “a twist”, and there are more of those in the history of Donovan’s Brain than Donald Trump’s Twitter stream.
Starting as a garage band in 1986 - playing Thunders and Stooges covers - the Brain has evolved into a shape-shifting, back woods psychedelic musical collective, with nine albums and 26 past or present members. “Convolutions” covers 1991-2017 and generously spans three discs. That’s 49 songs and a touch under four hours of music.
The only constant in the Donovan’s Brain story is Ron Sanchez, a musician, radio host, restauranteur and producer who relocated many years ago from the US West Coast to the bucolic and relatively remote location of Bozeman, Montana.