Sounds of the City: Pure pop for now people
This month we are visited by one of the major architects of the singer/songwriter movement, several other distinguished practitioners of his craft, and a trio of youngish performers who harken back to an earlier era of popular music.
Thursday, September 6, at Artpark
Talk about acts needing no introduction: Dylan is, by this point, a national treasure. But what you may not realize if you only pay casual attention to his career is that his live shows of the past decade are full of passion and intensity. They’re not about nostalgia by any means, and one glance at the crowd establishes that his music truly crosses generations in a way few other artists these days can hope to. If you’ve never seen him in concert, now’s your chance; if you have, then you know you’ll be back.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops
Thursday, September 27, at Town Ballroom
(888) 223-6000, townballroom.com
Dylan’s bound to be a fan of the Chocolate Drops, because they share his taste in pop music of a certain vintage—specifically, the banjo-driven African-American string bands of the early twentieth century. Inhabiting the intersection of old-time country, folk, and what was once called “jass,” the trio brings a nearly forgotten genre back to vivid life playing both standards and original material in the old styles. Their secret weapon? The vocals of Rhiannon Giddens, a singer and player who can hold her own against the best R&B singers of the day.
Wednesday, September 19, at Babeville
(888) 223-6000, babevillebuffalo.com
You know him as the voice behind the New Wave oldie “Cruel to Be Kind” and the writer of Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.” And those two accomplishments may well be enough to get you to Asbury Hall, but a far more compelling reason would be the remarkable string of albums Lowe has been responsible for in the second half of his lengthy career, from 1998’s Dig My Mood to last year’s The Old Magic. On all of them, his wit and sense of irony are still strong as ever, but the vocals, melodies, and production offer whole new levels of tenderness and intensity. (Translation: He can still be funny as hell, but watch out—he can choke you up as easily as he can crack you up.) For additional hilarity at Babeville, check out meta-standup Neil Hamburger in the Ninth Ward on Sunday, September 16.
Tuesday, September 25, at Sportsmen’s Tavern
This Buffalo-born singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer first made a splash on the national music scene back in the 1980s through his association with Lucinda Williams. In intervening years, he’s gone solo to much acclaim, honing a sound that is bound to appeal to fans of Williams’s early albums—which, in a perfect world, would be everyone. Delivering story songs in a rough, gruff voice, Morlix is a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll—and an American(a) original. Expect a joyous homecoming.
Indigo Girls with the BPO
Friday, September 28, at Kleinhans
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the recordings Amy Ray and Emily Saliers make, but I’ll say this for them: They know how to put on a show. Blessed with a fervent audience and the savvy to turn that following into a community, they can have the crowd dancing in the aisles one minute and listening intently the next. On their current tour, they’re playing with symphony orchestras, which is bound to present both challenges and whole new opportunities for the acoustic duo.
Also this month
I’ll leave it to my colleague Darwin McPherson to sell you on the touring production of American Idiot, which hits UB’s Center for the Arts the weekend of September 8 and 9. Suffice to say, though, that Green Day fans will want to give it a look-see. (716-645-ARTS, ubcfa.org.)
Regular Spree contributor Ron Ehmke thinks three of the twenty-five best jokes in the history of rock and roll are the work of Nick Lowe.