Sleepy Sun - Live in Concert

Last night, I saw Sleepy Sun perform at Brick and Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco.

It was my second time seeing the band live. My first time was this past August at First City Festival in Monterey, where they played the last set of the night on the intimate Cypress stage and blew my mind.

As soon as I heard they would be playing in San Francisco, I put it on my calendar and began counting down the days.

The guys from Santa Cruz did not disappoint. From start to finish, it was a near flawless set, balancing loud and soft, combining psychedelia with head banging rock.

I now own all the Sleepy Sun albums. (My favorite is also their latest: Maui Tears.) But that's not enough to satisfy my desire to hear more. So I looked for some Sleepy Sun shows on Archive.org's Live Music Archive. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any.

Then I did! It turns out that there are three shows on the site. For some reason, they've been mis-categorized as "community audio."

So here they are, for your listening pleasure:

Here is their most recent, and in my opinion, best show:

An Open Letter to Lucinda Williams

A friend recently wrote this letter in response to a Lucinda Williams ticket giveaway at Slim's in San Francisco. (She won the tickets, in case you were wondering.) Anyone who knows and loves Lucinda will enjoy reading this.
From: "Leah"
Date: Sep 28, 2014 1:10 AM
Subject: Lucinda Williams Super Fan
To: info@slimspresents.com

To the Slims crew,

There is no musician that I love more religiously than Lucinda Williams. I've followed her from festival to festival and seen her over a dozen times in the last ten years. Part of why she is so amazing is that she's an unpredictable perfectionist which can make for some memorable experiences.

Like the wind blowing away her sheet music at Austin City Limits, followed by a good old fashioned, only Lucinda can get away with it, meltdown.

Or the first time I heard her play Blessed at the Mountain Winery when she started, messed up, and started over -- which meant she blew past the hard stop time and had the plug pulled on her performance.

Or the time that she told the audience that Vince Gill had just died. After hearing the gasps of the crowd, her bass player came over and gently reminded her that it was Vic Chesnutt not Vince Gill.

But my all time favorite moment was about eight years ago at the Fillmore. I had managed to work my way right up to the stage so she was only a few feet from me. She was wearing a plain white button up blouse and as she played, the strap of her guitar kept working one of the buttons loose. In between songs she'd button it up, and when the song was over it would be unbuttoned again. It was the kind of wardrobe irritation that folks deal with all the time... Not obvious, just annoying. And watching her work her way through the set, fixing it each time, humanized her to me. In that moment, I connected with the person that lives a life offstage, as opposed to just admiring the phenomenal artist and performer that makes music that I love.

I definitely want these tickets to see what I'm sure will be an amazing performance. But I also want them because I'd love another chance to have a moment like that.

Sincerely
Leah

First City Festival 2014

Maybe it was the location. Or the crowd. Or the vibe. Or the fact I got to meet members of The Black Angels and Capital Cities. Whatever it was, the inaugural First City Festival in Monterey was my favorite festival in 2013.

This year's festival promises to be something special, too.

Check back here or follow me on Twitter: @festivalfreak or Instagram: @festivalfreak for updates.

In the meantime, enjoy this Rdio playlist featuring all 37 artists who will be playing this weekend in Monterey.

Festival Freak Summer 2014 Mixtape

I've discovered too much good new music the last few months to fit on a CD, so I've decided to make a mix for the modern age on Rdio. (In the past, this mix would have lived on MOG or Lala, alas those excellent music streaming services were bought and shuttered by Beats and Apple, respectively.)

This mixtape features tracks by Allen Stone, Nick Waterhouse, White Denim, Beck, Jeff Buckley, Joseph Arthur, WATERS, The War on Drugs, Caveman, A Million Billion Dying Suns, Blitzen Trapper, City and Colour, Broken Bells, Sam Roberts Band, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Ray LaMontagne, Sturgill Simpson, First Aid Kit, Arctic Monkeys, Spoon, Typhoon, Kurt Vile, Washed Out, Toro y Moi, Foxygen, Foals, Elbow, Damon Albarn, Wye Oak, The Clientele, Neil Finn, World Party, and Syd Arthur.

Nearly every one of these 34 tracks is off an album released in the last 12 months. Most were released this year. Most are by artists I've seen recently at Bonnaroo, Stern Grove, Phono Del Sol, The Chapel, Brick and Mortar Music Hall, The Independent, The Regency Ballroom, The Fox in Oakland, or Great American Music Hall. (Notable exceptions include tracks by Jeff Buckley and The Clientele.)

If you're interested in getting this mixtape in some other medium, hit me up on Twitter: @FestivalFreak.

Enjoy the music!

Sturgill Simpson Makes Classic Country Sound Cool

I can't say I've ever discovered an artist because of a headline on Salon.com, but that's exactly the case with Sturgill Simpson. The headline?

Sturgill Simpson is the Radiohead of country music:
Simpson's masterful new album may be the first truly modern country LP

Marissa Moss writes for Salon:

“Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” is a masterful work of musical experimentation, but it’s not revivalist: actually, it’s future-forward. Sure, it can be tempting to label it vintage-goes-bizarre, particularly the minute those pedal steel vamps swivel like a Southern version of a Rod Serling soundtrack – you’re traveling through another dimension, alright, and it’s nowhere near Music Row. But what it really is, if you strip away all the noise, is a truly modern offering. Sturgill Simpson isn’t the second coming of Waylon Jennings. He’s more likely on the path to becoming country music’s Radiohead.

Having listened to “Metamodern Sounds" a few times now, I can say that Marissa Moss overstates things a bit with the Radiohead comparison. In fact, if you check out the studio set Simpson performed at KEXP back in October 2013...

... it's hard to see Simpson as anything but the second coming of Waylon Jennings. And I mean that as a huge compliment.

So why the Radiohead comparison? Perhaps it's the lead track on the album, "Turtles All The Way Down." It's probably the trippiest country song I've ever heard.

Regardless, Moss's piece is well worth reading and Simpson's latest record is well worth listening to.

Thanks, Marissa and Salon, for getting my attention. And thanks Sturgill, for making classic country sound cool again.

2014 Phono del Sol Music Festival

I'm excited about catching Wye Oak, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, and A Million Billion Dying Suns at today's 4th Annual Phono del Sol Music Festival in Potrero del Sol Park.

The music starts at 12:30pm and runs until 6:30pm. In addition to some great music, there will be all the things you've come to expect at Bay Area gatherings: food trucks, craft beers, and hipsters.

Tickets are still available: $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

In the meantime, get psyched by listening to this Phono Del Sol mixtape on Rdio: