Ever since the release date for Maggie Rogers’ album Heard It In a Past Life was announced I knew it was going to occupy this space. I was trying to decide which song from it I wanted to talk about in my New Music Friday post, but then I figured why limit myself to a single song when I can just link to the whole album in Spotify. You should really listen to the whole thing because it is wonderful from start to finish. “Light On”, which was my favorite song of 2018, is still my favorite but I really do love everything on it. It’s only January and there’s already a ridiculous amount of new music out there, but it’s entirely possible that Heard It In a Past Life might wind up being my favorite album of 2019. I’m not the only one because she has been getting mad press over this album. It’s seems like I’ve seen interviews with her everywhere.
I always have mixed feelings about artists I love getting so much attention because the more other people love them the more I run into stuff like I talk about below. I obviously love promoting new music and artists I love, but a little piece of me also wants to hold them close and make them mine. The better part of me who wants great things for them and also wants others to experience the joy they create always wins out, but I won’t lie and say I’m not a little pained by how much attention Maggie Rogers is getting right now because I know it means it’s going to be impossible to get tickets to see her concert (it already is) and she’s going to stop playing the small venues I love and start playing the large venues that I don’t. I will only feel marginally bad for feeling this way since based on everything she’s said in interviews and the actual songs on this album I’m pretty sure Maggie Rogers herself has some real mixed feelings about her fame.
I’m really never going to stop kicking myself for not buying tickets to see her at the 9:30 Club in March. It’s in DC and on a Monday and Tuesday night so I talked myself out of it and now I regret it greatly. I have never, ever resold concert tickets for more than I paid for them, so I hate to feed the greedy people and scalpers by buying ridiculously priced resale tickets. I was aghast when I first looked at resale tickets and saw they were going for double face value at $75. Turns out I should have jumped on that because currently the cheapest ones are $175. Apparently I’m not the only one who is obsessed with Maggie Rogers. It’s one thing if I were paying that much money for a concert and the artist is getting at least some tiny portion of it after everybody gets their cut, but I refuse to pay that much and let some greedy person get 10 times more money than anyone actually involved in putting on the show is getting. So I’ll just be over here crying in my pillow that I apparently won’t be seeing Maggie Rogers live again any time soon. I will just console myself with this amazing album.
This morning’s new music Friday features a song so new that it almost really doesn’t even exist yet. Ryan Adams has a new song called “Doylestown Girl” that is off what is apparently the first of three albums he plans to release in 2019. I LOVE Ryan Adams, but even I think that’s a bit much. He’s always been a prolific songwriter, but perhaps we don’t actually need to hear every song that comes out of his head. But I’ve also seen the list of people he’s collaborated on for the first two albums and I’m kind of excited.
On Wednesday Ryan Adams premiered the song on WXPN, the NPR music radio station out of the University of Pennsylvania. We get it here in Baltimore part of the time on some weird radio station that is sometimes a high school radio station, sometimes simulcasting WXPN, and sometimes some third thing that plays real old timey music which I’ve never quite figured out. I love WXPN though and I stream it pretty much all day at work. I figured by now the song would actually have dropped for real and not still just be a WXPN exclusive, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. But WXPN shared on their blog this Soundcloud file someone in Argentina made of the premiere of the song being played on the station. I don’t know how long it will be up before it gets pulled, but here you go. Presumably the song will officially be out in the world sometime soon.
Ok all other bands I’m going to see in concert in 2019, Lake Street Dive has thrown down the gauntlet. You all have a high bar to cross to be as enjoyable as they were.
But allow me to digress for minute because while Lake Street Dive was amazing not everything about the night was, namely the really annoying woman standing in front of me. Apparently Lake Street Dive has a big following among Baby Boomers because there were a lot of older people in the crowd including the couple in front of me who were probably in their mid to late 60s. The woman was already annoying me during the opening act when she kept talking to her husband and taking photos and videos and constantly wooing very loudly. I got to hear about her dream the night before and a running commentary on how many people had liked and commented on her Facebook post. Then she got even more annoying during the set change when she had to talk to every single person standing anywhere near her. If I didn’t know better I would think the Charm City Bluegrass Festival was paying her to promote them because she insisted on telling everyone about it and they needed to go. That is of course in addition to so many other things. I know more about this woman than I know about some of my family members. I know her name, what neighborhood she lives in, that she’s lived in Baltimore City her entire life, that she’s won tickets to the Charm City Bluegrass Festival three years in a row, what she did for New Year’s, that these concert tickets were a Christmas gift from her husband and the drama that went on with him trying to stop her from buying her own tickets and then finally having to tell her he bought them already, that she has a 35 year old daughter and what band played at her wedding, that her daughter is taking her to see Fleetwood Mac and taking her husband to some other concert that I have now since forgotten. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting, but geez lady that is way too much information for me to know about you just because I stood next to you at a concert. She also kept knocking into me all night. I got super excited about halfway through Lake Street Dive’s set when her husband came back with drinks and she said we should leave after we finish these since you have to work in the morning. I was like drink up lady. They did finally start to leave. She was putting her coat on and then Lake Street Dive said we’re going to cover a song by Paul McCartney and I was like NOOOOO, Paul McCartney is like cat nip for Baby Boomers and sure enough she stopped putting on her coat and they stayed for a couple more songs. Then they did finally leave and I got to enjoy the last half hour of the show in peace.
Now on with the show. The opening act was Mikaela Davis. The name didn’t register with me when I looked up who was opening, but once she was out on stage I realized I had seen her before. The harp was a dead giveaway. I don’t know anyone else who plays a harp. The first time I saw her she was opening for Sara Watkins at Rams Head on Stage and she was a solo artist playing the harp. At the time I said she had written some good songs, but that the harp did nothing for me. I guess she decided in order to continue her career as a harpist that did not involve her playing weddings, hotel lobbies, or wherever else harpists actually play music that she was going to need to get an actual band. So this time she did have a backing band. It did help, but for the most part her music is not my thing. At least watching someone play a harp on stage is novel.
Despite the annoying woman and the lackluster opener I still had a great time because Lake Street Dive was fantastic. This was the first time I had seen them headline their own show. I had seen them previously at the Newport Folk Festival and with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as part of the BSO Pulse series. I really enjoyed those shows, but you never get a full sense of a band’s performance when they are squeezed between a million other acts playing 45-60 minutes at a festival. It was nice to finally get to see what they could do under their own auspices.
They are such a fun band. Rachael Price, the lead singer, has this amazing deep, smooth voice and is really dynamic performer. I love their music with its jazz, rock, country, and soul influences. Watching them groove out to it on stage was really enjoyable and of course the whole audience was dancing along as well. They played a good mix of songs from their albums. In addition to the aforementioned Paul McCartney song they also played a couple of other cover songs, which is something I always enjoy at live shows. They added keyboardist Akie Bermiss to the band in 2017, and he sang a very groovy 70’s funk version of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One”. It took me forever to figure out what song it was because of the different genre take on it. I was standing there singing along with the lyrics and think what song is this? It finally came to me. I was wondering what song they were going to end the show with since they had already sang all their big hits by the time their encore came around. It turns out it was with a cover of the song “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I cannot think of a more perfect song for them to cover nor a more perfect band to cover that song. It’s like they were made for each other. It was such a super fun way to end the evening with everyone dancing and singing along. It was a banner way to kick off my 2019 concert season. I hope every show I go to this year is as much fun.
I still don’t really have any brand new music to talk about with the year having just started and all, but I wanted to get things off on the right foot and still have a post the first Friday in 2019. Last night I saw Lake Street Dive in concert and won’t have time to put together a full post about that until some time this weekend, so I thought I would choose one of the songs off their newest album to talk about as sort of a sneak preview of my concert post.
I listen to about 90% of my music while I’m working which means it’s generally in the background and I can’t pay attention to the lyrics. Even when I am in a place where I can be more attentive I still don’t often fully pick up on lyrics because I am a visual and not an auditory learner and I just have a hard time processing them. This is why when I used to have time and also actually had physical CDs that came with lyric booklets and liner notes I would sit down with the new music I acquired and listen to it while looking at the lyrics. I will occasionally pull up lyrics to a song online to listen along, but I definitely do that for a small fraction of the music I listen to.
Anyway, I’ve heard “Shame, Shame, Shame” off of Lake Street Dive’s new album Free Yourself Up any number of times and never parsed what the song was about. At the concert last night Rachel Price intro’ed the song by saying it’s about what happens when things are happening the world that horrify you but that you feel powerless to stop. I identify with that. I felt kind of dumb once I started listening to the lyrics as she was singing last night because it was then very obvious what (and who) it’s about. Now I like it even more.