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Concert Reviews

Black Oak Arkansas at the Peachtree Tavern with Bigfoot and Six Shot Revival

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A few weeks ago my editor emailed me with a request:  “Would I take pictures of Black Oak Arkansas on January 21 at the Peachtree Tavern?”  I wrote back and said “sure”, but in the back of my mind, I am wondering “I’m the metal reviewer, who the heck is Black Oak Arkansas?”

So, I did a little research and discovered Black Oak Arkansas started the southern rock movement back in the 60’s.  Today, they are revered by many southern rock bands.  They have over 20 albums and still tour.  Singer James “Jim Dandy” Mangrum isn’t jumping in the air doing splits anymore, but he sure can talk about some crazy stuff on stage.  It was a musically educational evening with Bigfoot & Six Shot Revival opening the show.

First up was southern/stoner rockers Bigfoot, who are another band that has emerged from the Artimus Piledriver break up in 2005.  Jim Hall and Micheal Faulkner enlisted Kevin Watford, Jim Wright, and Jett Bryant to complete the bands lineup.  I looked for some of their tunes on the web and couldn’t find anything. No reviews, no music, a short bio (which didn’t tell me much). Bigfoot needs to up their online presence so fans have something to go off of when they visit their Facebook page. They put on a good show, but fans have nothing to check out or follow online after the show.  On stage I thought these guys were great.  The singer Jett started out a little subdued, but then he jumped off the stage singing tunes to the crowd on his knees at times. His bandmates aren’t rocking quite as wild as Jett, but are just as passionate.  Hair whirling around, bodies grooving, guitarist Jim 1 and Jim 2 chugging out riffs, bass player Micheal grooving on, and drummer Kevin is pounding his guts out on his drums.  A great performance by the newcomers.

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The second band to play was Six Shot Revival.  These guys never fail to satisfy on stage. Every time I watch this band I get lost in their performance, and forget I am supposed to be taking pics.  I love the little dance Marc Phillips does on stage.  Marc might want to consider a cordless mic to prevent from entangling himself in his microphones cord.  His enthusiasm never ceases on stage. Six Shot Revival took a break from their set, and let their drummer Ben Thomas pound out a great drum solo. I believe he is the only drummer I know that smiles the whole time he pounding on his drums!  Six Shot continued with their set, and it was like they never stopped.  Six Shot’s guitarist are ripping out chords and solos. Bassist Steve Morrison is grooving on the bass while doing one of his cool bass stances and bobbing his head around.  Flat out a great Atlanta band.

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The headliner of the night was Black Oak Arkansas.  Again, I have never heard of these guys till a few weeks earlier.  Never in my life have a seen a front like James “Jim Dandy” Mangrum.  I guess after being in band for 20 years plus, one would have some really interesting stories.  It’s rare these days that a singer will talk about the next song for 10 minutes explaining what the song is about.  Was it boring?  No, it was quite entertaining to hear James talk.  I never seen anyone play a washboard either?!  Was cool though!  The music, BOA being the ones that started the southern rock movement, was jamming.  These guys rocked, and I’ll admit I was a little scared at first with their interesting outfits and crazy stories.  I went online and watched some of their old live footage, and BOA hasn’t changed much performance wise.  Guitarist, Hal McCormack tore up the show with his shredding rock solos, George Hughen jammed on the bass dancing around and singing backup vocals, and drummer Johnnie Bolin is rocking it on the drums.  Guitarist George Hughen stayed out of the stage lighting.  I could not see him very well unless he was singing back vocals.  Towards the end of the show I did see him rock with James a bit.  Of course, James “Jim Dandy” sang some great tunes with his unique raspy singing style.  Great show all around.

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On a side note, the Peachtree Tavern is one of the smokiest clubs in Atlanta.  Both times I have been there to photograph, I have gotten a sinus infection.  I personally will never go to this club to see a band, unless my editor “really” needs me there, and I can’t imagine that the nasty air quality doesn’t keep others away as well, which is a shame – it’s a cool room in a good location.

Concert Reviews

Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad

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Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.

Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”

Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.

The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.

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Concert Reviews

Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair

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The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.

What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.

Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.

Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.”  The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.

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Concert Reviews

Years & Years at Royale Boston

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During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.

Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.

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