Music: The Civil Wars

I’ve spent a lot of this past week partially day dreaming about the near future, dreaming up different lives and different places to live in. Not that I am not happy here, I certainly don’t want to leave NYC, not right now anyway, but sometimes when I am too restless to write stories about escape, I just tend to dream them up instead, usually accompanied by a specific soundtrack that drives these dreams.

I randomly downloaded The Civil Wars eponymous second album last Tuesday, just after it was released. I listened to it for the first time while I was relaxing on the beach, waves and seagulls in the distance, music right in my ears, nothing else to distract me from the melodies and the lyrics. I fell for the harmonies and the simple beauty of the songs, and the words pierced my heartstrings. Apparently The Civil Wars already have an award-winning first album called Barton Hollow (released in 2011), but I had never heard of them before this week. Not that this matter, I’m now a fan, and their first album is just as beautiful as the second.

The Civil Wars are Joy Williams and John Paul White who met at a songwriting session in Nashville in 2008. They must have realised their potential as a duo because this collaboration lead to a few EPs, a first album, a lot of touring, and then a second album this month. I have read that they are no longer collaborating due to some types of differences, which is quite a pity, because they really work well together. Nevertheless, I love their music. From some research that I have done they have been categorized as Country, Folk, Indie Folk and Americana – as always I don’t really like to categorise music into one simple genre, so I would say that they cover all of them. Music that focuses mainly on both Joy and John Paul’s voices which sing about relationships, love, and the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with relationships, accompanied by guitars that follow and lead the harmonies.

If you like singer-songwriter duos you definitely need to listen to The Civil Wars. Start with The One That Got Away and Eavesdrop, or just listen to the entire album. It’s worth your time. Now I am going to go back to dreaming about other places and other lives…

Let me in the wall, You've built around, We can light a match, And burn it down, Let me hold your hand, And dance 'round and 'round the flames, In front of us, Dust to dust

Adventures: Memphis and Nashville

There honestly is nothing better than taking a few days off, packing a small bag and flying out to a different city, not knowing what to expect except that it is all going to be an adventure. The two and a half days I spent in Memphis deserve a short story in themselves, one that I need to spend more time writing based on all of the random notes and photos that I took, and all of the impressions that I came away with. In the meantime the photos are all up (see full set HERE) and continue to crack me up every time I look at them because they pretty much all have a story behind them. I absolutely adored Nashville and definitely need to go back and spend a lot more time there. There is no way that you can go to all of the honky tonks and listen to all of the music in a night and half a day. Outside of NYC it is definitely a place I could consider living (although the lack of an ocean nearby could be a problem).

Anyway, I feel like we did so much in so little time... Found an Irish pub two steps away from the hostel in midtown Memphis, befriended the bartender Alan, whose phrase "you guys don't exist outside of here, but in here you exist" pretty much said it all. Powers and Guinness and Magners and a photography tour along the empty Sunday night streets of Memphis... Assigned hostel chores and milk that we were not allowed to touch because it "belonged to Brad", a cab driver who not only offered to find us any drug or alcohol we wanted but also invited us to eat telapia at his house... An amazing tour of Graceland followed by a spontaneous decision to rent a car and drive the 200+ miles to Nashville... Country music radio stations and truck rest stops and finally Nashville, where music reigns everywhere. A room in the wonderful Downtown Hostel, drinks in different bars, bands playing everywhere you go... A 90's grunge cover band who totally looked and sounded the part, country singers, one brilliant guy on a street corner, making up songs as he played, a shot glass snuck out of the bar in the hostel and left undrunk... Empty bars with musicians playing at noon (do they ever really stop?), more street musicians, cowboy boots for sale, blossoming trees, lunch in a New Orleans bar where a man named Fritz played a beautiful rendition of Fire and Rain... Back to Memphis on stand by after missing my flight, making it back to New York at 11pm, wishing I could hop straight back on a plane back to Memphis. There is so much more to it than all of the above though...

Oh... And you can still smoke in bars in Tennessee. Brilliant.

Another link to all of the photos I took below.

In the GhettoNo idea what was for saleMemphis Drum ShopSoul Fish CafeMidtown Memphis cross streetsThe place where murder may happen
Tadhg in MemphisBig BirdThe CountSchool wall paintingsChoicesClimbing up the bridge
Photographing the fake buildingsFake bridge buildingsTadhgI love MemphisDeserted Memphis streetToad Hall Antiques
Skid marks on the roadXanadu guitar stuffCar tableI ate lunch in this carGraceland shopRandom Graceland visitors
Memphis & Nashville, a set on Flickr.

The Ettes (and who the fuck is Imelda May anyway?!)

I have heard of The Ettes before. I own a couple of their albums and enjoy listening to them. I have however never heard of Imelda May. Or I hadn't until last night anyway...
It was my fourth and last shift of the week at the bar, and I was feeling a little tired and fragile, just chatting away to my friend in an otherwise empty bar, when in walked three lovely people who proceeded to tell me the story of their night. They happened to be The Ettes, and instead of performing in Boston as they were supposed to that night, were having a drink at 200 Orchard. I mean, I love my work, and love working in one of my favourite bars in NYC, but I don't think I would have chosen drinking there instead of playing a gig...
So after serving them few drinks and introducing ourselves, it appears that The Ettes had been asked to support Imelda May on her US tour. Just fresh off another tour, they packed up there gear, rented a van and set out on the road again. Along the way from Nashville to Boston, a small interview was posted HERE. A little tongue in cheek, a little playful, but nothing harmful at all... But apparently Imelda May didn't appreciate it and kicked them off the tour. Yes, kicked them off the tour while they were already in Connecticut, having driven all the way from Nashville that day for the first gig.

Coco (Lindsay) explained that the journalist had taken her out of context, and basically changed her words so they sounded like she was telling Imelda to watch her back, but even so, the article just sounds playful! Was it really worth actually kicking them off her tour? What was she worried about? That they would actually be better than her and literally blow her off the stage?! Who gets scared of a little fun competition? Don't you actually want to have a good support band to warm up the crowd before you go on? And also, does she Google herself everyday and scrutinize every article that says something about her? Because this tiny article would never have been noticed if she didn't! And how many people actually bought tickets for the shows because they wanted to see The Ettes? What are Imelda's team going to do about that?!

Sometimes I just wonder what happened to rock n roll. Who cares about image? It's all about the bloody music... Or apparently it isn't for some musicians...

To me it all sounds like a big pile of terrible PR BS on the part of Imelda May and her team. Having had the pleasure to actually meet the members of The Ettes, and talk to them for a few hours, I found that they are the most lovely, down to earth and interesting people, and obviously never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings. They just wanted to play their music for their fans.

I just had to write about this as it made me so angry last night. I hope The Ettes get back to Nashville safely, are able to get some of the money they spent on all of this back, and are able to forget all of this crap. They didn't deserve this to happen to them. Even the journalist who wrote the article is mortified as he never meant it to be taken that way... I guess some "stars" think way too highly of themselves.

I still don't know who Imelda May is and really don't have any need to find out.

I hope they make it back to NYC soon - they were an absolute pleasure to meet and talk to, and made me want to visit Nashville even more now!