.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

My Photo
Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Upcoming Shows

7/01 - Elizabeth Wills @ McGonigel's Mucky Duck
7/03 - Bruce Robison @ the Mucky Duck
7/03 - Stoney Larue @ Big Texas (Spring)
7/03 - Sideshow Tramps @ Corner Pub (Conroe)
7/04 - Monte Montgomery @ the Mucky Duck
7/05 - Willie Nelson's Family Picnic @ The Showgrounds
7/05 - Clandestine @ the Mucky Duck
7/05 - Shake Russell @ Dosey Doe Coffee House (Woodlands)
7/06 - Zac Brown @ the Mucky Duck
7/08 - Dana Cooper @ Dosey Doe Coffee House (Woodlands)
7/08 - Beppe Gambetta @ the Mucky Duck
7/10 - Peter Murphy @ Meridian
7/11 - Randy Weeks @ the Mucky Duck
7/11 - James Hand @ Blanco's
7/11 - The Derailers @ Armadillo Palace
7/11 - Opie Hendrix @ Last Concert Cafe
7/12 - Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh @ the Mucky Duck
7/13 - Wine and Alchemy @ the Mucky Duck
7/17 - The McKay Brothers @ Blanco's
7/17 - Brandon Rhyder @ Dosey Doe Coffee House (Woodlands)
7/17 - Bob Schneider @ the Mucky Duck
7/18 - Sean Reefer @ the Old Quarter Acoustic Cafe
7/18 - Hamilton Loomis @ Last Concert Cafe
7/18 - Austin Lounge Lizards @ the Mucky Duck
7/19 - Jack Saunders @ the Mucky Duck
7/19 - Ian Moore @ The Continental Club
7/20 - Joshua Radin @ Warehouse Live
7/21 - Todd Rundgren @ Warehouse Live
7/23 - Phantom Planet @ Warehouse Live
7/24 - Two Tons of Steel @ Big Texas (Clear Lake)
7/24 - Clay Farmer @ Blanco's
7/25 - Miss Leslie & Her Juke-Jointers @ Blanco's
7/25 - Cross Canadian Ragweed @ The Showgrounds
7/26 - Houston Marchman @ Armadillo Palace
7/27 - Texas Johnny Boy & Milton Hopkins @ the Mucky Duck
7/28 - Dear and the Headlights @ Warehouse Live
7/29 - Arthur Yoria @ the Mucky Duck
7/31 - South Austin Jug Band @ the Mucky Duck
7/31 - The Texas Sapphires @ Armadillo Palace
7/31 - Micky & the Motorcars @ Firehouse Saloon


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Tom Traubert's Blues" - Tom Waits

Here is a video of Tom Waits performing "Tom Traubert's Blues (aka Waltzing Matilda)" at Jones Hall in Houston, Texas on June 22nd, 2008. The song is preceded by a monologue featuring Tom's typically offbeat sense of humor.

(Update - This is a better quality video than the one originally posted and really highlights his facial expressions during the performance.)


Tom Waits at Jones Hall

Photo by Mark C. Austin (Photo Source)

Last Sunday night I was fortunate enough to see Tom Waits in concert at Jones Hall.

A Tom Waits tour is rare enough but a tour stop in Houston is an exceedingly rare event. He last played here 27 years ago! As one would expect this show sold out shortly after the tickets went on sale over a month ago.

I knew I was in for a big event but I didn't realize just how big until I arrived at Jones Hall. I arrived two hours early for the show and even then the line to get in was almost a quarter of the way around the building. An up-and-coming singer-songwriter from Austin (whose Houston shows I have attended on occasion) was waiting in line a few places behind me. Even other performers have to make a Tom Waits show!

The people-watching aspect alone was hugely entertaining. There were plenty of "hats and tatts" to be seen as another local blogger has mentioned. The audience featured more beards, hats and tattoos than I have ever seen in one place before. There were also a number of heavily tattooed (and revealingly dressed) ladies in the audience. There were even a few guys who were "Tom Waits lookalikes" who were decked out in three-piece suits complete with Tom's trademark bowler hat.

Once inside I joined another long line for the merch table which featured: cds, a printed chapbook edition of Tom interviewing himself, as well as tour shirts based on photographs of an oil-stain on a Houston sidewalk that Tom took back in 1989. The lines at the bars were also quite long as everyone seemed to be doing their best to get a little hammered before the show.

I then found my way to my seat (which was a pretty good one) in the mezzanine section. This was followed by one of the few minor disappointments of the night. The concert start time was billed as 8pm but the show did not actually start until almost 9pm. This delay resulted in scores of audience members continuously having to leave for the restrooms throughout the show. I was sitting near one of the lobby doors and it was distracting.

I was amazed at how far people had traveled to see this concert. Many people in the audience had driven in from Austin. The couple sitting next to me (who graciously loaned me their binoculars for one song) drove in from San Antonio, the couple next to them had flown in from Canada and the guy sitting in front of me had flown in from Scotland.

When the show finally did start the crowd let out one of the biggest roars I have ever heard at a concert. Here is the set list for the Houston show (courtesy of the Houston Chronicle):

Way Down in the Hole
Falling Down
Dead and Lovely
Lie to Me
Day After Tomorrow
Hoist That Rag
Get Behind the Mule
Cemetery Polka
Trampled Rose
Jesus Gonna Be Here
Lucky Day
Tom Traubert's Blues
House Where Nobody Lives
Innocent When You Dream
Make It Rain
Murder in the Red Barn
Come On Up To the House
Dirt in the Ground
Eyeball Kid

Going Out West
All the World Is Green

I've never been a huge Tom Waits fan though I've enjoyed a number of his songs. My first exposure to his music were his Bone Machine and The Black Rider cds. I have only occasionally listened to his later albums. After seeing him perform live, however, I can see why he has such die-hard fans. Tom, who is approaching his sixties, performed an energetic set stomping up clouds of smoke from the stage floor and employing all of his unique vocal stylings. His band for this tour is comprised of: Larry Taylor on upright bass, Patrick Warren on keyboards, Omar Torrez on guitars, Vincent Henry on woodwinds and Casey Waits (Tom's son) on drums. Tom played guitar as well as piano on a few numbers. Vincent Henry in particular stood out as he was frequently playing with two saxophones strapped across his body.

The highlight and surprise of the night had to be Tom's performance of "Tom Traubert's Blues (Waltzing Mathilda)". I've heard that he almost never plays this song these days. Many in the audience were moved by the performance. One of the persons sitting next to me nearly hyperventilated and then began to softly cry as Tom bellowed out the opening lyrics "Wasted and wounded, it ain't what the moon did, I've got what I paid for now". By the end of the song I was getting a little teary-eyed myself. Unfortunately, the highlight of the show for many was also the occasion for the one major disappointment of the night. Some drunk idiot in the balcony decided to shout out something incoherent during the last verse of the song. Fortunately it was only a short scream and Tom was able to quickly recover and complete the song...but it managed to break the magical spell that had fallen over Jones Hall up to that point.

Another highlight came during "Eyeball Kid" when Tom donned a "mirror-ball" bowler hat. He then turned around a few times which resulted in a lighting display that had laser-like beams of light shooting out from his hat into the audience.

There were a few other minor disappointments. I thought Tom stretched out a few of the songs too long by just simply repeating the chorus over and over and over again. I had the urge to look at my watch once or twice. He's Tom Waits though and he can do whatever he wants...and usually get away with it.

Another disappointment was the continued boorish behaviour of some in the audience. Shouting out requests to the stage to "play some Skynyrd" is a very tired and very unfunny joke...especially when it is directed towards an artist of Wait's caliber.

My personal highlights of the show were: "Lucinda", "November", "Cemetery Polka", "Tom Traubert's Blues", "Innocent When You Dream" (complete with a Tom-led sing-a-long) and "Come On Up To The House".

All in all I thought it was an incredible concert. Probably the best I have been to this year. Hopefully I won't have to wait another 27 years for Tom to come back to Houston again.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Matt the Electrician & Southpaw Jones At Anderson Fair

Photo Sources here and here

Last Friday night I went to hear Matt the Electrician and Southpaw Jones perform over at Anderson Fair.

Both songwriters are based out of Austin and have a gift for writing humorous and witty songs.

They often perform together and make an entertaining duo playing off each others' jokes and observations.

They also are known to encourage audience participation in submitting ideas or titles for songs. In this case they each presented a song especially written for a couple in the audience who had requested that songs be written about them the last time the two singers played at Anderson Fair.

They each played a number of songs from their individual recordings alternating in a song-swap fashion.

Southpaw Jones added the occasional harmonica and keytar accompaniment while Matt played banjo, ukulele and even euphonium on a few songs. You have to love songwriters who mix some "low brass" instruments into their repertoire.

Some of the highlights of their set were: "My Dog", "Hot is Hot", "Change the Subject", "Black Blackness", "Moon Whore", "Army of Kittens" and "Everyman".

You can sample some of the music from their recordings here and here.

Southpaw Jones' website in particular is worth a visit as it's pretty much updated daily with his clever and humorous observations.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Metropolitan Philip Meets With Metropolitan Hilarion

Photo Source

Recently Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America received Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia at the headquarters of the Antiochian Archdiocese in Englewood, New Jersey.

The two hierarchs exchanged greetings and gifts and held a discussion on inter-orthodox Church relations in North America.

More information and photos from the meeting can be found here.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Justin Townes Earle Plays Townes Van Zandt

Here is a video of Justin Townes Earle performing two Townes Van Zandt songs.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Joshua James and Justin Townes Earle at Warehouse Live

Photo Sources here and here

Monday night I went to Warehouse Live to see a concert featuring Joshua James and Justin Townes Earle. The concert drew a small but appreciative audience.

The concert began with an opening set by Lex Land, a young songwriter from Los Angeles. She played a solo acoustic set of some interesting songs. Her set included a few clever pieces using prerecorded samples from a digital loop pedal. Some of the highlights from her set were the songs "Sweet", "Could've Had Me" and "Easy". You can check out more of her music here.

Next up was Justin Townes Earle. Yes, his namesakes include that Townes and that Earle. Those are two very big names to carry as a young and aspiring singer-songwriter. He seems to have a good outlook on it though as referenced by this quote on Townes:

“Anyone who tries to live up to Van Zandt is a fool. I’m honored to carry the name, but if I spent my life trying to live up to it, I’d have a pretty miserable life.” (Source)

and this humorous quote on growing up in the Earle household:

"It's a really hard family to rebel in. I could have become an accountant. Or I could have become a Republican — that would have really pissed him off."

Justin's music is hard to categorize but it has an Americana/Roots kind of sound that reminds me of early Johnny Cash. He also can produce exquisite ballads in the same vein as his father's. His song "Who Am I To Say" from his latest cd is a standout. Justin performed an energetic set...often stomping the stage floor and cajoling the audience to make some more noise and to get up and dance...to which a few hardy souls complied. He played a number of songs from his new cd as well as his previous recording. Some of the highlights of his set included: "The Good Life", "South Georgia Sugar Babe", "Who Am I To Say", "The Ghost of Virginia", "Desolate Angel's Blues", a cover of Lightnin' Hopkins "Automobile Blues", "I Don't Care", a version of Bo Carter's "You're Biscuits Are Big Enough For Me", "Lone Pine Hill" and "Hard Livin'".

Justin concluded his set by playing two songs written by his godfather Townes Van Zandt (now that's a baptism I can only imagine!). He performed the densely worded "Mr. Gold & Mr. Mudd" and Townes' ode to Wrecks Bell "Rex's Blues". So Justin can now be added to the handful of singers who actually know all (of the many) words to "Mr. Gold and Mr. Mudd". You can sample some of his music here.

Joshua James and his band rounded out the evening. Joshua is another young singer-songwriter, originally from Nebraska, who writes beautiful and soulful songs in the indie-folk style. His music also draws from modern rock influences. Joshua has a soft-spoken, almost whispered, vocal delivery. The set was an interesting mix of quieter, folkier songs as well as some harder-edged tunes on which Joshua and the band allowed themselves to "rock out" a little. Some of the highlights of their set included: "FM Radio", "The New Love Song", "Lovers Without Love", "Winter Storm", "Custom Concern", "and "Soul And The Sea". You can check out more of his music here.


Metropolitan Hilarion Meets With Archbishop Demetrios

Photo Source

This was the first meeting between the two hierarchs since Metropolitan Hilarion's enthronement as First Hierarch of ROCOR.

More details of the visit can be found here and here.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ryan Bingham

Photo Source

"Bingham talks and sings with a whiskey-and-cigarette throat that screams hard living. Hard in a way that can make a 25-year-old sound like a 50-year-old Tom Waits." - Texas Music Magazine

"Ryan Bingham is the best songwriter and singer of songs to come along in a long time. He comes right out of the dirt truth of the real human story and makes flat out from-the-heart music...I think Ryan is the legitimate heir to the hard traveling deep knowing likes of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams...Ryan Bingham is a whole other deal. The real one."
- Terry Allen

Last night I went to see Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses in concert over at Warehouse Live.

I have been interested in Bingham's music since hearing him do an on-air performance on Larry Winters' Spare Change show on KPFT last year. This was the first time that I have had an opportunity to hear him in concert...and I believe the first time he has headlined a show in Houston.

There was a full lineup of three opening acts before Ryan and his band took the stage. First up was LL Cooper, followed by Austin Collins and finally The Rustlanders. I arrived towards the end of LL Cooper's set. I thought all of the opening acts sounded pretty good with the exception of the sub par sound system. The system in the "Studio" room at the club was often just blaring loud (louder does not always equal better) with no real balance or mix and rendered most of the vocals unintelligible. The sound got better throughout the night, however, and was definitely improved by the time Bingham and band took the stage.

When Ryan and the Dead Horses finally did start to play the crowd had grown to near capacity and was ready for some hard driving music...and that's exactly what Ryan and the band delivered. They played what can probably best be described as a rowdy set of blues-drenched roadhouse rock with tons of raw energy. Ryan's distinctively raspy voice was well complimented by the smoking guitar and mandolin playing of Corby Schaub, the heavy and hard rocking bass of Elijah Ford, and the strong and steady beats of Matt Smith on drums. Ryan also offered up some surprisingly blazing "slide guitar" playing of his own.

This was one of the most "high energy" performances that I have ever seen. Ryan's voice and music may not be to some critics' liking but his live show is so wildly energetic and just plain old fun that it should win over most of the "doubters".

The set consisted of several songs from his Mescalito cd, a number of new songs from a forthcoming album along with a few well chosen covers. Some of the highlights included: "Sunshine", "Ghost of Travelin Jones", "Boracho Station", "Hard Times", a rocking version of Charlie Daniels' "Sweet Louisiana", "Bread and Water" (complete with a revised and more positive reference to the city of Houston), "Southside of Heaven" (Ryan's "hit" song) and the rousing and well-chosen finale of Townes Van Zandt's "White Freight Liner Blues".

You can check out more of Ryan Bingham's music here and here.

A video of "Southside of Heaven" can be found here.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

125th Anniversary of Christ the Saviour Cathedral

Photo Sources here, here and here

Last Sunday the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow celebrated the 125th anniversary of its consecration.

The Cathedral was originally commissioned by Tsar Alexander I in 1812 as a memorial to the victims of the Napoleonic invasion. In fact Tchaikovsky's famous 1812 Overture was premiered there in 1882. The final construction of the Cathedral was not complete until 1883 when it was consecrated.

In 1931 the Cathedral was destroyed on the orders of Stalin. After the fall of the Soviet Union it was decided to rebuild the Cathedral. Construction began in 1990 and the rebuilt Cathedral was consecrated in 2000.

The 125th anniversary was celebrated with large processions of clergy and faithful as well as a special moleben service led by Patriarch Alexei II.

More photos of the anniversary celebrations can be found here.

A video of some of the processions along with remarks by Patriarch Alexei II can be found here (in Russian).


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Mark Germino at Anderson Fair

Last night I saw Mark Germino in concert at Anderson Fair.

Mark Germino concerts are somewhat rare. After seeing last year's concert at Anderson Fair I decided that his shows are "can't miss". My post on that concert can be found here.

This time around Dustin Welch offered an excellent opening set and also accompanied Mark on banjo and guitar on a number of songs. Dustin has a great voice and is presently recording a new cd. Some of the songs he performed in his opening set included: "One False Move", "Whiskey Priest", "Poor House" and "Don't Tell Em Nothin'".

Mark then took the stage and played another great show. He is one of the best songwriters around but has never really gotten the proper recognition he deserves. The Houston Press music blog recently offered this good post on Mark. I have to echo their sentiments that one should make an effort to search out his difficult to obtain recordings...and that his song "Holy War (Infidel)" is not only THE finest song ever written about the war against Al Qaeda but is also one of the best songs written in this decade.

Mark performed several songs from his previous recordings as well as a large number of unrecorded songs including: "Green Badge" (a song about the Irish Guards) and "Two Horses" (both co-written with Dustin Welch), "Felix Tucker's Biggest Lie", "Finest Brand of Southern Degeneracy", "Holy War (Infidel)", "Exalted Rose", "Drivin' Across America", "Broken Man's Lament" (which Emmylou Harris has recorded on her new cd), the "antique shop" song and "The Greatest Song Ever Written".


Adam Carroll - Rice Birds

Here's a video of Adam Carroll and Michael O'Connor performing Adam's song "Rice Birds".


Adam Carroll

Photo Source

Friday night I saw Adam Carroll perform at Anderson Fair.

I had seen Adam perform before at a couple of song swaps but this was the first time I had seen him play his own show.

Adam was joined on stage by "Scrappy Jud Newcomb" a very accomplished guitarist from Austin.

Adam is a very "down to earth" songwriter. His music and words are always direct, honest and usually humorous. He also has a few songs that reference duck and goose hunting ("Rice Birds" and Errol's Song") which is a big plus in my book. Those two songs always remind me of leaving on pre-dawn hunting trips to cold empty rice fields in southeast Texas with my late father.

This concert was also billed as a cd release for Adam's new cd Old Town Rock N Roll.

Adam played a few songs from his new cd including: "Black Flag Blues", "Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler" and "Hi Fi Love".

He also played several song from his earlier recordings including: "Home Again", "Girl with the Dirty Hair", "Errol's Song", "Sno-Cone Man", "Ol' Milwaukee's Best", "Red Bandanna Blues", "Low in the Mountain", "South of Town", "Blondie and Dagwood", and "Race Car Joe".