So John Vanderslice, songwriter extraordinaire and friend to the music blogger, released his latest album last week. And what a fine, fine album "Emerald City" is. I might even jump to calling it my favorite of his so far, but that just could be the rush of the new talking... need a little more time to let the sucker settle in.
When I caught J.V. here in Boston back in the Spring, he was touring as a duo, just him, his guitar, and drummer Dave Douglas. Spinanes-style, if you will. But not exactly. In each city, on certain songs, John & Dave invited local fans and musical friends on stage to fill out the band for a bit, pre-arranged team-ups that added bass, maybe some extra vocals, and who knows what else. Here in Boston we were treated to guest bass (and super-cool keys) from T.W. Walsh on a few songs, some excellent dulcimer action from Elijah Wyman on another, a fan named Carson on some vocals, and for the finale, a duet with the wonderful Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, who opened every date on the month-long trip.
I hadn't even planned on recording the show... that night I just wanted to be able to wander about, hang with an old friend; to just relax and not bother with getting good sound. But after a few songs, it was just too enjoyable not to capture, especially given the guest stars and one-time-only versions we were hearing, so I clicked on the mini-disc and let it roll. That explains the not-as-good-as-usual mix below (we were off to the side of the stage), and the fact that the first part of the set is absent, but it's all still well worth sharing (especially for T.W.'s ace keys on "Do You Remember?"). Have at it...
At the end of the set, John says "See you in the Fall...", and the man's no liar... he returns with his full four-piece in late September for two nights at the same room, upstairs at the Middle East. And kudos to John for doing two shows in a small room rather than one night in a larger one, which he could no doubt fill. Whether it was his decision or not, the continued intimacy is appreciated. Get tickets for the shows here and here, or stop by the Middle East box office to avoid the pesky extra fees.
Audio: Stream the entirety of "Emerald City" here. Mp3s: "White Dove", from "Emerald City". There are a truckload more Mp3s available over at John's own site.
For far superior sounding live recordings of "Dear Sara Shu" and "Wild Strawberries" from the same show above, check out Mobile Man Boston.
Video: There's an official video for "Time To Go", and John is also doing a very cool "online tour", where he's sharing a different in-studio performance (each recorded at his own Tiny Telephone) of each song on "Emerald City" through various music blogs, so far hooking up with Stereogum, Gorilla Vs. Bear, Brooklyn Vegan, and You Ain't No Picasso. Hit those links to see John and his band performing four songs so far, and keep an eye here for future ones blog-tour stops. And for more JV video, there's always the handy YouTube search.
And here's some serious coolness, but on the wrong damn side of the country for us East Coast Vanderslice fans: Tomorrow night, Thursday, August 2nd, Aquarium Drunkard will present a "guerrilla-styled free concert" with J.V. performing in the L.A. River Basin. Full details over at the Drunkard.
More of my own photos from the show can be found here.
the post-script to the post... If anyone has an issue with these Mp3s being made available, just let me know (my contact info in the 'nac faq). Live sets recorded with a Sony ECM-719 mic and a Sony MZ-RH10 minidisc, converted to .wav and then edited to 192kbps Mp3s. Files are made available for a limited time, and are not reposted once removed.