The Sound of September

Local and Live.

by John D

Normally when I sit down to write my monthly column here in B–Metro I choose a soon to be released or recently released album, play it in its entirety, and use it to set the tone. This month is a little different, having received something that might seem anachronistic: A mix tape! Yes, the exclamation is intended. True, if it were a “mix tape” I would not have the first idea were to locate a cassette player (a museum maybe?), but although the medium has changed (now it is just a mp3 “playlist) the intent is still the same. And I am digging it!

Now that my normal method of writing has been tinkered with I am going to write a column more like the previous stewards of this space: A preview of shows for the end of summer/beginning of fall.

Azure Ray (9/4 at Bottletree): Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink met as teenagers at The Alabama School of Fine Arts and while in Birmingham fronted Little Red Rocket. Azure Ray came about as they bounced from city to city eventually ending up in Omaha, Nebraska (home of Saddle Creek Records, their label). Azure Ray broke up in 2004 but began a slow re-forming process in 2008. The fact that Taylor and Fink  go in different directions musically (Taylor leans towards a more airy pop sound while Fink embraces the buzzy electronic sound) does not mean that they do not work well together. Azure Ray’s show at Bottletree just so happens to be the release date of their newest album As Above So Below so expect to hear new material.

Deluna Fest (Pensacola Beach 9/21 – 9/23). Sure, it is a little bit of a drive but what a great way to wrap up the summer festival season. The Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Florence and the Machine, Band of Horses, Guided By Voices, Trampled By Turtles and too many more to list. Deluna Fest has a strong, diverse line up with a variety so there is something for everyone, which is what a music festival should be (in my opinion). Hopefully by the end of September the heat will have broken and cooler weather will make this an even more enjoyable festival.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse with special guests The Alabama Shakes 10/25 at The Tuscaloosa Theater: First let me say that Neil Young was at Woodstock.Then Lynyrd Skynyrd make a veiled reference to him in Sweet Home Alabama. These make him cool, but what makes him great is that he is still performing solid rock and roll and doing it well. Opening up for Young are the Alabama Shakes, whose dirty old school rock and roll sound have garnered them serious attention on the national level.

Allen Stone (10/9 at WorkPlay): If you saw Allen Stone you would never think the kid can sing like he does. Not to say he is a nerd but he does not fit the part of what you would normally think of as a “soul singer”. Stone grew up in a small town (pop. 1500) in rural Washington and learned to sing in his father’s church. The minute he opens his mouth on stage and belts out some amazing bluesy soul you will never look at him the same way. Listen to him on your ipod and you will sing along, tap your toes, and all that… see him live and you will be dancing.

Emmylou Harris and Her Red Dirt Boys (10/17 at The Alys Stephens Center): Emmylou Harris almost defies categorization, and sometimes her music is best described as Emmylou Harris. Harris has more Grammys than she count on both hands (12 to be exact),  and has worked with the likes of  Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Dolly Parton and Roy Orbison. She is as solid a singer songwriter as one can expect and her live shows are something best to experienced rather than described. Add in the fact that she will be performing at one of the more acoustically pleasing venues in Birmingham and this is a show that you will always remember.

Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys (11/15 at WorkPlay). The show was originally scheduled for May, but moved to November due to a scheduling conflict. The 81 year old Stanley, who formed his first band in 1946, is considered one of the elder statesmen of Bluegrass and has had a profound effect on many of today’s stars. A chance to see one of the masters, and one of the people who helped shape the entire genre of bluegrass, should not be passed up.

Other Notable Shows:

Bonnie Raitt

10/7 at The BJCC

The Avett Brothers w/ Grace Potter and The Nocturnals

10/11 at The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater

Charlie Mars

10/4 at WorkPlay

Milo Greene

10/17 at Bottletree

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