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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Elder Gigs
by Gregg Shapiro
2003-01-22

This article shared 3511 times since Wed Jan 22, 2003
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Jorma Kaukonen @ Old Town School of Folk Music (773/728-6000) Feb. 15

To make a little extra money, a friend of mine has taken a job keeping senior citizens company. She lives in a gay nineties building (where everyone is either gay or 90) and she enjoys the company of her neighbors. She refers to her job as her 'elder gig.'

I thought that was a fitting title for a column in which I am writing about the elder states-people of rock and roll. The youngest of the Beatles, the late George Harrison would have turned 60 in February of 2003. The songs on his final studio album Brainwashed (Capitol/Dark Horse) sound like a man coming to terms with his impending death. Just listen to 'Stuck Inside A Cloud,' 'Rising Sun,' 'Looking For My Life,' and 'P.2. Vatican Blues' to see what I mean. Co-produced by Harrison, his son Dhani and Jeff Lynne, the album also feels shiny and celebratory, but cautionary. Beginning with the jaunty 'Any Road' and moving through his good-natured cover of 'Devil And The Deep Blue Sea' and the slide-guitar sway of 'Rocking Chair In Hawaii,' Harrison bid us farewell in his own style.

Harrison wasn't the only one to dig into the past for an album in 2002. Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna's Jorma Kaukonen released Blue Country Heart (Columbia), an album of traditional and standard country and bluegrass tunes by Jimmie Rodgers and others. Kaukonen received a Grammy nomination in January of 2003 for this album. Watch the Grammy Awards ceremony Feb. 23 to see if he wins.

Released on the same day as the double-disc hits compilation The Essential Santana, Shaman (Arista) is the eagerly anticipated follow-up to the multi-platinum Grammy honored Supernatural disc by Santana. Making music as a shape-shifting group for more than 30 years, Santana stumbled on a formula for incomparable commercial success in 1999 and continues along the same path with the newest disc. Notable guest performers include Michelle Branch ('The Game Of Love'), Seal ('You Are My Kind'), Macy Gray ('Amore''), Dido ('Feels Like Fire') and Ozomatli ('One Of These Days').

I've liked the sound of Melanie's voice since I first heard her roof-raising peace-and-love spiritual number 'Lay Down Candles In The Rain,' when I was just a kid. I also loved her songs 'Ring The Living Bell' and 'Brand New Key.' That aforementioned song appears in a 'brand new version' on Crazy Love (Pyramid/Orpheus), a delightful and inspired comeback album by the mono-moniker singer/songwriter. Melanie has lost none of the hopeful goofiness that set her apart from her '70s contemporaries, as you can hear on songs such as 'Smile,' 'You Can Find Anything Here,' and 'Poet Is King,' to name a few.

It's hard to believe that the Phil Collins, born in 1951, of art-rockers Genesis is the same Phil Collins of the lifeless and dreary album Testify (Atlantic). It's almost incredible that this is the same man who beat out Aimee Mann for an Academy Award for best song in 2000. Testify sounds like Collins's attempt at making a Sting album. Only the lite lullaby 'Come With Me,' 'Driving Me Crazy' and 'Can't Stop Loving You,' survive the wreckage. Perhaps it would have been wise to call it quits after releasing 1998's …Hits.

Is Life a Cabaret?

Roll over Andrea Marcovicci and tell Laurie Beechman the news. A whole new generation of experimental cabaret performers is shaking things up in the establishment. The members of The World/Inferno Friendship Society might say that life is not so much a cabaret as it is a Klezmer carnival or a ska circus. They might even say that life is a punk rock bowl of punch. But if they ever invite you to a party, like the one they threw on their latest album Just The Best Party (Gern Blandsten Records) you must not hesitate to attend. In fact, you may want to ask if you can bring a guest and you should definitely offer to bring something to munch or to drink. However, if you plan on throwing your own party, be sure and slip Just The Best Party into your CD player and watch what happens. Clear the furniture from the room and allow your guests to sample from the veritable smorgasbord of freaky, feel-good tunes with a cultivated Eastern European accent, such as 'Zen and the Art of Breaking Everything in this Room,' 'My Ancestral Home, New Jersey,' 'Peter Lorre,' 'I Don't Want To Live In A World Without Grudges,' and 'Stay On The Charming Side Of Drunk.'

Gogol Bordello, who has performed at the Whitney Museum in New York, could be The World/Inferno Friendship Society's kissing cousins. Fronted by Kiev-born Eugene Hutz, Gogol Bordello creates a kind of Gypsy soul music on their most recent album Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony (Rubric).

Tin Hat Trio released a couple of albums on Angel Records before putting out their latest, The Rodeo Eroded (Rope a Dope/Atlantic). The Bay Area trio (Carla Kihlstedt on strings, Mark Orton on banjo, dobro and guitar, and Rob Burger on pianos, organ, accordion and harmonica) performs lovely country-cabaret instrumentals such as 'Fear of The South,' 'Happy Hour,' 'O.N.E.O,' and 'Night Of The Skeptic,' that recall old-world musical traditions. Willie Nelson provides the vocals on the band's cover of 'Willow Weep For Me.'

The album Our Latest Catalogue (www.circuscontraption.com) by Circus Contraption suggests an ambience similar to that of Gogol Bordello. Could the three-ring cabaret be the wave of the future? You might think so after hearing irreverent songs such as 'Come To The Circus,' 'Marshmallows and a Holy Bible,' 'The Slaughter Promenade,' and 'Coming Attraction.'

For some Latin-influenced cabaret, take a listen to Lamb Lost In The City (Daemon) by Cordero. Songs such as 'Mia,' 'Scholar,' 'Girando Hasta El Fin,' 'Quando La Vida' and 'Late In The Evening,' distinguish Cordero from the rest of the flock.


This article shared 3511 times since Wed Jan 22, 2003
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