Tag’s Reflections on 2008

Our first show in 2008 was Poi Dog Pondering, performing an acoustic set at High Noon, with one of my favorite regional bands, Romantica, opening. Such a great way to start the year

February, the shortest month of the year, was long on pleasant surprises. Basia Bulat’s set at High Noon was so endearing, and her single “In The Night” remained one of my favorite songs of the year. Sara Bareilles played live on The Today Show and then, that same day, flew into Madison for her sold out show at High Noon; her piano-driven set made it obvious there’s a lot more substance to her than the ubiquitous “Love Song,” as catchy as that song is.

Nicole Atkins blew us away with her single, “The Way It Is” from 2007’s Neptune City…it’s an amazing piece of post-modern cabaret and it went down smooth at Café Montmartre. The opener Parlor Mob, with their loving send-up of Led Zep, was a fun contrast. And, speaking of metal tributes of sorts, who can forget Bang Camaro and their cheaper by the dozen approach to old-fashioned cock rock?

February was also the month Matt Costa’s van and trailer went off the road on an Iowa highway on their way to High Noon. Though rolling over three times, the band escaped with only minor injuries. We’re grateful that was the worst of it and look forward to Matt’s return. (Yes, Wisconsin winters are a challenge, so be careful out there folks!)

Trampled by Turtles March 7th at High Noon sold out unexpectedly. From the rush of people going outside to get a cigarette and the people making their way back inside on that frigid night, I joked it was no longer trampled by turtles–I thought I was going to be trampled by human beings!

The Gutter Twins required us to bring in so much additional gear you would have thought that they were playing in from of 3,000 people instead of 300. Predictably, Greg Dulli was cheery and Mark Lanegan was not. The legendary X performed on March 21 at the Barrymore for a very fun show — it was the first time I’d ever seen a grey-haired moshpit.

Jens Lekman played Old Music Hall and demonstrated how the right artist at the right venue can create pure magic, in contrast to the night before with Lewis and Clark at the Annex in which we had the right artist at the wrong venue. Actually, that was also the case with Gary Louris & The Mekons, a great pairing at the Barrymore at the end of March that was dramatically under-attended, possibly due to The Weakerthans and AA Bondy playing the same night at High Noon. It’s tough playing traffic cop. Sometimes there’s no getting around these scheduling conflicts.

→ Free Download: Sounds Familiar – The Weakerthans

April 4th we had Vampire Weekend at High Noon. It sold out weeks in advance, benefiting from cover stories in the national press before their record had even been released. Sometimes we get lucky.

One of the coolest shows of the year was Blitzen Trapper with Fleet Foxes on a Tuesday night early show at High Noon in early April. Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper would go on to receive end of the year acclamations for two of the best albums of the year.

On April 11th we had the first of 2 Bon Iver shows in Madison – this one a sold out show at the Stage Door–another artist that would go on to be on everybody’s top 10 list for 2008.

The New Pornographers with Okkervil River at the Orpheum…how cool was that? The word the day before the show that Neko Case had broken her leg reminded me of other female artists who played the Orpheum in years past with sprained ankles or broken legs, including Feist and Ani DiFranco. But Neko would not be making it until she came back to headline the Forward Fest in September-still the New Pornos/Okkervil show was a blast, with much discussion following as to which band was better. (My vote, diplomatically, was a tie.)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was the first band I’d ever seen that posted strobe warnings for the benefit of those with epilepsy and other conditions whereby they might go into a seizure. VERY INTENSE — enough to make people with “normal physiologies” dizzy and pass out. Dead Meadow played May 5th at High Noon’s fourth anniversary party–great stoner rock show, and True Endeavors supplied free pizza to celebrate the occasion.

Tegan and Sara played Madison a couple of times in years past to relatively small crowds – in May they came back and sold out the Barrymore Theatre. In contrast, Jim White again put on an amazing show at the Stage Door to a very small crowd. Sometimes quality is rewarded with a big show, sometimes not. Fortunately for us, we had our share of sell outs to wrap up the spring season, thanks to The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter at High Noon, and KT Tunstall at the Barrymore.

→ Free Download: Snow Is Gone – Josh Ritter

MJ and I were at the National Conference for Media Reform the first weekend of June. We had the honor and privilege of stage-managing the conference where we rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bill Moyers, Dan Rather, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, Van Jones, Arianna Huffington, and Senator Byron Dorgan. www.freepress.net

June had some unexpectedly strong shows, starting off with the ever-strange, ever-amazing Buckethead. Stephen Marley sold out the Barrymore, and one of 2008’s most anticipated events was the sold out performance at the Overture with The Swell Season-music from the motion picture Once, featuring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. One of the special moments for me of the entire year was when Glen stood way from the mic and busked “Say It To Me Now” with his worn-out guitar and raspy voice, much like he did on that Dublin street in the early part of that amazing film.

→ Free Download: Buckethead- Three Fingers, 2005 Enter the Chicken

Speaking of the Overture, I hope you caught Lyle Lovett’s riveting performance in July – the 13-piece band, which grew to 20+ with the addition of local gospel singers from Alex Gee’s church, made this one of the top shows of the year.

The political hip-hop of Immortal Technique sold out High Noon in July and I was amazed at the number of leftie slogans on t-shirts, evidence that apathy is not a fair way to characterize this demographic. The Hold Steady sold out the Majestic convincingly and unsurprisingly for what many might argue was the best show of the year. Unless you are a Toadies fan, in which case you might make the case for their sold-out show with The Whigs on July 31 at the Annex.

→ Free Download: Chips Ahoy! – The Hold Steady

In August we were blessed to host at the Barrymore none other than She & Him, whose brilliant debut Vol. 1 was Paste magazine’s album of the year. The Onion’s over-the-top snarkiness notwithstanding, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward put out one of the best albums of the year and their performance was wonderful, simply wonderful.

→ Free Download: She and Him- Why do you Let me Stay Here?, Volume 1 2008

We started the fall season with over 60 shows on sale. In reality, there’s just a glut of touring acts on the road these days, mainly because artists cannot make a living making records due to illegal downloads.

Big shows in September included Okkervil River with very special guest The Walkmen at the Barrymore. Both bands released new records that month and both performed amazing sets…without a doubt this was one of the best shows of the year. Australian surfer dude/didgeridoo-playing Xavier Rudd made his first appearance in Madison…his set was perhaps the most unusual of the year. The Dandy Warhols put on a great show to a smallish crowd, leaving us wondering if tough times were ahead.

Sure enough, we had more disappointment with shows like Abigail Washburn, Keller Williams, and Reliant K. It soon became obvious that the economy was going to be a factor. For the first time in all the years that we’ve been in business, it became clear that Madison wasn’t isolated form the recession affecting the rest of the nation.

Part of the problem, as already noted, was the sheer number of shows, all booked before anyone had heard of sub prime. There were 38 shows in the month of October alone. Among those shows, we had standout performances by Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, The Magnetic Fields, Nick Lowe, Pinback, Alejandro Escovedo, Murs, Lucinda Williams, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, finishing up with a sold out Halloween performance by Atmosphere.

→ Free Download: Magnetic Fields- Always Where I Need to be, Live

Can’t forget that Electric 6 and Local H sold out the High Noon unexpectedly. We were able to keep on selling after Local H finished playing and some of their fans left. Electric 6 fans were waiting and were able to get in-we had a packed house all night long

But still business suffered-disappointing turnouts for top notch shows like Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Southern Culture on the Skids, The Kooks, Sonja Kitchell, Dead Confederate, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, Amy Ray, Augustana, Slightly Stoopid, and The Acorn reminded us that we were, yes, in a recession.

In November, the number of shows dropped off a bit, but the quality was sky high. Amos Lee, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Horse Feathers, My Brightest Diamond, Devin The Dude, Subtle, The Rosebuds, Eagles of Death Metal, Deerhunter, Ingrid Michaelson (her second successful appearance at the Barrymore this year),Matt Nathanson, Pelican, Gaslight Anthem, Ladyhawk and Susan Tedeschi all put on memorable shows.

December was an unusually strong month for us, with well-attended and nearly sold out shows by Sharon Jones and Carrie Underwood mixed in with sold out shows by Bon Iver and the BoDeans. Unfortunately, we suffered a cancellation by The Sadies, only our second of the year – Matt Costa in February being the other. We look forward to getting both of them back in 2009.

A word about Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings: we promised you this would be the show of the year and we were not blowing smoke. While it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite among all the many shows we presented, this was certainly up there.

As great as the music has been through thick and thin, we had the great pleasure of serving our community through our fund raising wing, True Community Endeavors. This year, we raised money and awareness for the following organizations: Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund, The Progressive, WORT, Breast Cancer Recovery Foundation, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, AIDS Network, and Liberty Tree.

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Lastly, there was a time in late September, early October, when we weren’t sure we were going to survive the economic downturn. We gradually came to the realization that we were selling concert tickets, not automobiles, and that you don’t need to take out a loan to buy a concert ticket. Indeed, people still have a need for entertainment even in difficult and challenging times, perhaps even more so, whether it’s a distraction from all the bad news or the sense of community and transcendence some glean from a great live performance.

At the end of the year, I’m again profoundly grateful for the privilege of doing what we do at True Endeavors. We look forward to the New Year, particularly January 20 and our new president — that exhale of relief alone seems to have made a difference in the local economy.

Whatever 2009 brings, we’ll be going through it together. With your help and continued support, we’ll be out there doing our best to promote a vibrant and relevant music scene in Madison.

See you at the shows!

Tag Evers

Media Roundup: Who’s Cool and Stuff

Find out what’s going on with your favorite True Endeavors artists since they’ve been through Madison, and learn more about who’s coming to town in the near future!

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The Kills recently premiered their new video for “Tape Song,” filmed while on tour with The Raconteurs (see if you can spot the cameos from Jack White).   And seriously, could Alison Mosshart be any cooler?!

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Speaking of impossibly cool musicians, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club just made “The Effects of 333” their first release on their Abstract Dragon Label.  Download the album here!  The boys in black also report that they’re working on completing a DVD.

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Besides not eating after midnight, what else does The Spinto Band have in common with Gremlins?  Daytrotter knows!

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Fans of Springsteen, The Clash, Lucero, Against Me!, The Dropkick Murphys and The Hold Steady, are sure to get goosebumps after hearing The Gaslight Anthem‘s intense, heartfelt punk-infused rock.  After all, Kerrang! magazine called them “the best new band you’ll hear in 2008.”  Check out I Am Fuel, You Are Friends blogger Heather Browne’s nod to their upcoming Madison show and listen to live mp3s of the band.

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If you got a chance to enjoy the recent Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks show with Blitzen Trapper, you may want to check out their funked out James Gang cover from their St. Louis show.

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The National‘s Matt Berninger spoke to mog.com about everything from touring, band names and Gandhi.

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Rachael Yamagata recently played The High Noon Saloon as part of The Hotel Cafe Tour.  Click here to listen to her duet with Ray LaMontagne, and here to read Rolling Stone’s review of her album, Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart.

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Deerhunter‘s new album, Microcastle, was recently reviewed by the Onion’s A.V. Club.

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Check out Salt Lake Tribune’s interview with Eagles of Death Metal, who just recently rocked a sold out crowd at the High Noon Saloon!

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…and this interview with Craig Finn of The Hold Steady from the Associated Press.

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Live Music Photo Tuesday – Eagles of Death Metal

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The High Noon Saloon was the place to be Sunday night if you were in the mood for some loud, fast, heavy and yes…”sexy” rock and roll. The Eagles of Death Metal (who don’t actually play death metal…for those that haven’t heard) were very fired up, and front-man Jesse Hughes (aka Boots Electric) was in especially good spirits. It seems that EODM cracked Billboard’s Hot 100 for the first time with their new album “Heart On” debuting at #57, and Jesse…not one to believe in coincidences, gave all the credit to being in Madison when it happened. Between that and London England’s The Duke Spirit’s wonderful high energy opening set, the packed house was in a frenzy throughout this phenomenal show. Here are a few photos from EODM’s set.

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 All photos © Copyright 2008 Bryan Gladding

Click HERE for more photos of these and other bands by concert photographer Bryan Gladding (In the Muck Photos)

Email IntheMuck (at) gmail.com for permission to use photos or for booking information.

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This Week’s Shows & Lotsa’ Give-aways

True Endeavors is bringing fans a cornucopia of variety with this week’s shows!  Everything from Americana to hip hop to opera is represented by this diverse group of artists about to grace our town with their talents.  This is not the first time in Madison for many of these artists, so if you missed them that time around, be sure to snag your tickets early before they’re all gone!

Also, check out how, by treating yourself to The Hotel Cafe Tour this Friday, you will be supporting The Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund!

Friday, November 7

AMOS LEE

“Amos Lee is a young singer-songwriter with an adorable look and an adorable voice and some adorable songs. Lee is a soul singer, but his songs are mostly more like AAA-format folk-rock, which makes for an interesting tension.” -PopMatters.com

Genre: Folk, Blues, Soul


Similar to: Norah Jones, Ray LaMontagne, Brett Dennen

with special guest PRISCILLA AHN
8pm Barrymore Theatre 608.241.8864 $25 adv – all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW!

-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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BRIGHTON MA

“Falling somewhere between a drunken Bob Dylan and The Flaming Lips, the band cultivates a crossbreed of psychedelia and folk music that is utterly dynamic.”  – SkopeMag.com

Genre: Indie, Rock, Americana

Brighton, MA

Similar to: Wilco, Sean Hayes,  The Kinks, Bob Dylan
with THE SAPS
9:30pm Cafe Montmartre 608.255.5900 $8 – 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!
-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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Hotel Cafe Tour 2008
RACHAEL YAMAGATA, MEIKO, THAO NGUYEN, JAYMAY, ALICE RUSSELL

“The website for the tour casually summarizes the venture as ‘one bus, one band and a bunch of friends on the road.’ Be glad if they’re coming your way, this ridiculously talented bunch will give you plenty of reasons to love them.” -PasteMagazine.com

Genre: Singer-songwriter, Indie, Pop


Similar to: Fiona Apple, A Fine Frenzy, Regina Spektor, KT Tunstall
9:00 pm (8:00 doors) High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $21 adv – 18+
$1.00 per ticket to benefit The Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund

BUY TICKETS NOW!
-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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Saturday, November 8

CORNMEAL

“The Chicago-based bluegrass band formed as an outlet for area jam band musicians in the late ’90s, including members of Uncle John’s Band, Rebecca’s Statue, and the Dime Store String Band.”- NBCChicago.com

Genre: Bluegrass, Jam band

Cornmeal

Similar to: The Big Wu, Fat Maw Rooney, Railroad Earth

with special guests 56 HOPE ROAD

9:30 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 adv $12 dos — 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND

“Like a magnifying lens to her mind, these songs reveal something of the vast spectrum of music that inspired her to create something monumental, music that elicited the same joy in her as her music brings to us.” -Daytrotter.com

Genre: Indie, Opera, Chamber music, Rock


Similar to: Emily Wells, Des Ark, Dresden Dolls, Bat For Lashes

with special guests CLARE & THE REASONS and MARLA HANSEN
9pm Orpheum Stage Door $12 adv – $14 dos — all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW!
-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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Sunday, November 9
MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD

Genre: Hip Hop, Funk, Rap

“Since his days as a member of the Beatnigs while in his early twenties, Michael Franti grew from an angry young hip-hopper with a political, socially conscious bent (the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Spearhead) to a man who channeled his seriousness, social unease, and desire for change and merged them with his love for music, particularly old-school R&B, soul, and hip-hop.” -Billboard.com


Similar to: State Radio, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Umphrey’s McGee, The Coup
with SOLILLAQUISTS OF SOUND
7:30 pm Barrymore Theatre 608.241.8864 $25 – all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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EAGLES OF DEATH METAL

“Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme are essentially a comedy act, sending up and celebrating that high-Seventies hybrid of garage, glam and ZZ Top: scuzz rock. On their third album, the duo are as danceable as ever, but they’ve tiptoed away from straight musical pastiche, crudding up their blues boogie with low-fi fuzziness and oddball percussion.” -RollingStone.com

Genre: Rock, Pop, Garage


Similar to: The Hives, White Stripes, The Stooges
with THE DUKE SPIRIT
9pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $18 adv $20 dos — 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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Wednesday, November 12
DEVIN THE DUDE

“First with his Houston hip-hop group, Odd Squad, and then by himself he has released a string of great albums devoted to marijuana, sex and — well, that just about covers it. And he only grows more lovable with age, the way shameless rascals often do.” -NYTimes.com

Genre: Rap, Hip Hop


Similar to: Nas, Warren G, Big Moe, Three 6 Mafia

9pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $15 adv $17 dos – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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Thursday, November 13
SUBTLE

“The sextet take glitchy electronics, nerdy psychedelic rock and various forms of hip-hop to create a completely over-the-top concept album–and it works perfectly.” -Alternative Press

Genre: Hip Hop, Experimental, Indie


Similar to: Busdriver, Why?, Anticon, Aesop Rock

with special guests ZACH HILL & PEER PRESSURE performing NECROMANCER!
9pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 adv $12 dos — 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

-To win 2 guest list spots to the show be the first to comment specifically requesting this artist-

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Thank you for supporting live arts!

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