Wilco Summer 2009 REVIEW – Wappingers Falls, NY: Saturday, 7/18/2009

Originally posted 2009-07-19 02:14:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the Set List, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

As you walk in the gates at a Wilco concert this summer, your ticket is scanned and you are handed a free tour program.

That’s right; I said “FREE.”

And this is no cheap artifact thrown together for the sake of it.  This is a 34 page program, printed and bound as professionally as any other band’s tour program for which you would probably spend in the ballpark (pun intended) of $15 to $20.  Inside, you’ll find exclusive band photographs, the “Wilco Top 5-a-go-go” (a set of “Top 5” lists from the band members), interviews with Jeff Tweedy and Derek Welch (who designed the Wilco toys and the Nudie suits you see in the artwork for the new album), reproduced handwritten lyrics for “Country Disappeared,” a brief word from Glenn Kotche about a custom aspect of his drumset, a scorecard listing all the Wilco songs across the x-axis and all the locations for the summer tour down the y-axis, cartoons, and more…

I think you get the idea.

Although I didn’t know it when I entered the gates Saturday at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls for my first Wilco concert, this is precisely the type of show the band was about to put on: one jam-packed with more effort, creative energy, and ability to impress than I ever thought possible.

Over two and a half hours — and that’s AFTER Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band left the stage — Wilco played a full set with two encores that added up to 29 songs.  The band entered by simply strolling through a gate on the first base line, walking across the outfield, and running up the steps to launch immediately into a rocking version of “Wilco (the song),” the opening track from their new album.

Throughout the night, Jeff Tweedy and the boys of Wilco played predominantly from their most recent four albums (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, A Ghost is Born, Sky Blue Sky, and Wilco (the album) – six songs a piece, except for Sky Blue Sky‘s five), but they also played three songs from their third album Summerteeth and dusted off one each from their 1995 debut album A.M. (CLICK HERE to read a review of A.M.), its 1996 followup Being There, and the first Mermaid Avenue.

The first 22 songs — the main set — came at a rapid pace, as the band members somehow maintained the same soaring level of enthusiasm for recreating some of their best songs, as well as some deeper album cuts, onstage with either note-for-note perfection compared to the studio versions (“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” “Shot in the Arm,” & “Walken”) or by introducing interesting new rythyms, riffs, and other interesting aspects to their interpretations (“War on War,” “Too Far Apart,” & the by-now-classic concert version of “I’m the Man Who Loves You”).

Throughout the night, Tweedy interacted with the crowd in his characteristic way, the night’s main topics being the mosquitoes that were swarming the stage — “Does anyone have any DEET?” he asked — and the glow sticks that were being tossed around amongst the audience members at the foot of the stage — he mimed a set of “try to hit me, I dare you!” arm motions during one song, causing a volley of glow sticks to shower the stage, showing off the audience’s profoundly poor coordination.

“You guys have really bad aim,” Tweedy laughed at the end of the song.  That prompted a few more glow sticks to be launched in his direction, but he managed to duck each of them.

The first encore only included two songs, but it stretched on for more than twenty minutes.  The first song, “Poor Places,” was a heartfelt rendition of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘s penultimate track.  It was followed by a scorching, more than full-length version of A Ghost is Born‘s “Spiders (Kidsmoke).”  The latter is one of the songs that showed off the considerable talent and electric stylings of the three guitarists — Tweedy, the incredible Nels Cline (who truly brought a distinctive guitar style to the band when he joined in early 2004), and Pat Sansone (who was really unleashed in the second encore when he engaged in a volley of solos that passed between him and Cline as though they were firing automatic weapons).

The encore ended with Tweedy calling for the audience to clap to the beat, raising their arms above their heads.  As the instrumentation dropped away, he issued a challenge; apparently, the Brooklyn, New York crowd at Keyspan Park couldn’t keep up the beat after the band stopped playing.  Instead, they sped up rapidly.

For a brief moment after they stopped playing, I thought this crowd would fare better… but it was not to be so.  The members of Wilco motioned for the crowd to slow down and Tweedy started laughing as they went back to their instruments for the final riff of “Spiders.”

“You guys were good,” he politely exaggerated after the song ended.

When they left the stage for the second time, I thought for certain that the show had ended.  After all, they had played 24 songs and it had been two hours since they took the stage at 8:30pm.

And yet they still returned for more!

The second encore kicked off with an upbeat rendition of “The Late Greats” that had the entire crowd moving — from foot-tapping to full-out dancing — and smiling.  Next came the first single off the new album, “You Never Know,” complete with note-for-note perfect George Harrison-esque slide guitar by Cline.

“You have time for a couple more?” Tweedy asked, to which he received the deafening screams of the crowd.

When they kick-started “Heavy Metal Drummer,” you would have thought this was Lynyrd Skynyrd about to play “Freebird” for the response that issued forth from the audience.  They played a great version, but nothing could have prepared me for their interpretation of “Hoodoo Voodoo.”  With lyrics that Woody Guthrie wrote for his children but was never able to record, this track appeared as one of the Tweedy leads on Mermaid Avenue. I’ve always liked this song, but I’ve never loved it the way I did for those five minutes they played it, complete with a new driving guitar riff, pitch-perfect vocals by Tweedy as though we were in the studio with him back in 1998, and outstanding guitar work by Cline and Sansone.

Even though Tweedy had only asked the crowd if they had time for “a couple more,” Wilco launched into one final song.  By this time, the concert had to end at some point.  “I’m A Wheel” was just as good a song to close with as any that remained unplayed from their catalog.

As the song ended, Tweedy said a brief farewell, and Wilco turned on the crowd and exited from whence they had come.

Walking to my car, I realized that this is a fifteen year old band that is somehow in their prime now.  I’m so accustomed to seeing bands that have been playing for decades, that I forget sometimes that it is a different experience to attend the concert of a band that still has something to prove to history — namely that they deserve a place in the memories of rock music fans for all time.  I entered Dutchess stadium a big fan of the band, but tonight, Wilco had me convinced that they deserve that aforementioned place.

All in all, this was by far the best $42 I have ever spent.  If you have the opportunity, get out there and see this band at the peak of their game (ballpark pun, this time, NOT intended…).

“Walter Johnson” (Jonathan Richman A Cappella Cover) – OPENING DAY DOUBLE HEADER 1 of 2

Originally posted 2009-04-06 22:51:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Jonathan Richman lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hey there, sports fans!  Welcome to yet another “Chris Moore Monday” here at the Laptop Sessions new music video blog.  Today, as you may already know, is the opening day for the 2009 season of the New York Mets.  Ah, America’s favorite pastime…

Baseball!

Because I couldn’t be home in time to watch the first Mets regular season game, I decided to celebrate by learning and recording not one but two cover songs tonight.  This is the first video, inspired by an encounter with one of my colleagues.  At the end of school on Friday, he stopped by my room and said simply, “Listen to Walter Johnson before opening day.”  All I could think to say was, “Is that a song or a person?”  Sure enough, it’s a song.  He smiled as he replied and repeated that I should listen to it before opening day.  So, as suggested, I looked it up on YouTube early this morning and found the Jonathan Richman song “Walter Johnson.”  It’s an a cappella performance from his 1995 album You Must Ask the Heart.

A search of Wikipedia produced a brief biography and a picture of Richman with a guitar and prominent eighties-era Tom Selleck chest hair.  I don’t know what I expected, but it was certainly interesting to put a face to the singer of this unique song.

Truth be told, I have no real idea what possessed me to record a version of “Walter Johnson.”  There’s something about recording your own version of a song that forces you to become intimate, if only temporarily, with a track.  In this case, I don’t have any plans to buy any Richman albums in the near future, so I figured it would be a long time before I heard “Walter Johnson” again.  Being that it was opening day, it only seemed appropriate that I would pay tribute to Walter Johnson by singing my own version of the song.

I hope you enjoy it.  Feel free, of course, to laugh as you wish.  The “bum ba bum ba bum” parts are pretty funny — at least, they were to me at first.   But, really, this is the perfect day to sing this song!

And this is only the first of two baseball-related tunes I’ve carved out for you today.  Tune into the next one, “Joe DiMaggio Done It Again,” coming very shortly (watch it!)…

“Walter Johnson” by Jonathan Richman – Lyrics

Originally posted 2009-04-06 19:35:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For a Jonathan Richman cover video, CLICK HERE!

“Walter Johnson”
Jonathan Richman

I’m a gonna tell you if you don’t know…
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum
About a great ball player from a long time ago.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum

A hero to me; I ain’t puttin’ you on, son.
I now tell the story of baseball’s Walter Johnson.

All through baseball he was loved and respected.
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson?
Well, it was never detected.

When pitchers throw their pitch to scare…
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum
They’ll almost hit that opposing player, whoa…
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum

Walter Johnson wouldn’t do that, not even just a little.
He kept that baseball right down the middle.

And all through baseball he was loved and respected.
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson?
Well, it was never detected.

Well, when the Washington nine was a-gwyne to win…
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum
Walter would ease up a little on the opposition.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum

The other teammates, they just didn’t get it.
They said, “Hey there, Walter, how come you let him hit it?”
Walter told them with his gentle smile.
Said, “Boys, this game’s no fun if you don’t get a hit once in a while.”

And all through baseball he was loved and respected.
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson?
Well, it was never detected.

Well, a record’s just a record in a book that’s just a book.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum
Walter Johnson never gave the opposing team so much as a dirty look.
Bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum ba bum

And a season’s just a season in a game that’s just a game.
And Walter Johnson cared about people more than he cared about fame.

So, all through baseball he was loved and respected.
Was there bitterness in Walter Johnson?
Well, it was never detected.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (Norworth/Von Tilzer Cover)

Originally posted 2010-04-05 20:55:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

What a day! To begin with, it’s a beautiful day for an opening day baseball game at CitiField, made even more beautiful by their 7-1 win over the Marlins. This extends their opening day winning streak to five years in a row, thanks to Johan Santana’s spot-on start and an all-around excellent performance by the first incarnation of the 2010 Mets. I say “first” because, after last season, you never know how the lineup will shift and change.

I rushed home right after my faculty meeting ended today, in time to catch the final three innings. Although I had planned to continue my tribute to the music of Breaking Bad, I was simply too excited about opening day to not tie that in to my Monday post instead. Thus, I looked up the roots of the classic baseball anthem “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Apparently, it was first conceived as a set of lyrics by vaudeville star Jack Norworth. Later, it became a Tin Pan Alley tune after Albert Von Tilzer set Norworth’s words to music. Ironically, neither writer would see their first baseball game for decades to come.

Modern listeners — myself included until I researched this song today — are familiar with the chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which is typically played during the seventh inning stretch as an audience chorale. I listened to broadcaster Edward Meeker’s phonograph recording on YouTube and was surprised to hear the two verses.

Of course, I couldn’t resist learning this song!

And, of course, there was no easily accessible, accurate version available online.

After searching multiple sites, I was able to find a set of chords based on the original composition (but only for the chorus) and a .PDF of the original sheet music. I used the latter to type the lyrics, and I referred to the former to start my transcription. I found another source of chords that had some errors, but I was able to pick up some subtle chord changes that I added. I also found an entirely incorrect version (with errors in chords AND lyrics). Now that I’ve finished transcribing the verses, I’m happy to add this complete version to the Laptop Sessions blog for your reference. If you notice any change that I missed, please comment below — I’ve come a long way since I began learning songs for these sessions, but my ear for this sort of work is still far from perfect.

So, on that note, I’m going to leave you to watch tonight’s video. I’ve written a lot for the blog this weekend, so I think that less is moore… (If you’re looking for other baseball-related videos, though, you can search above for my two from last season: “Walter Johnson” and “Joe Dimaggio Done It Again.”)

See you next session!