Download The Swell Season Live In Concert

Seattle’s way hip KEXP radio station has made the The Swell Season performance from their October VIP Club Concert Series available for download on NPR’s website.  Listen to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform an intimate, stipped down live set of songs including “Falling Slowly,” (the breakout hit from their breakout film, Once) and a gorgeous cover of Tim Buckley’s jazzy folk number,”Buzzin’ Fly.”

post to facebook    Digg it    Stumble It!       add to del.icio.us       add to furl    Add to Blinkslist    seed the vine    add to simpy

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.

~~~

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: DiFranco returns

This just in: Queen of indie, feminism and indie feminists Ani DiFranco has announced a return to the isthmus as part of her fall tour. DiFranco will appear at the Wisconsin Union Theater on Sunday, October 5, with tickets going on sale this morning, Friday, June 20, at 11:30 AM. The new mother, who is currently working on her latest release, Red Letter Year, last appeared in Madison in October 2006. Given the timing of the show, one day short of a month before this year’s presidential election, the concert should provide an excellent outlet for those of you who wish Dennis Kucinich was still in the candidate pool. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see a truly inspiring, Grammy Award-winning artist.

Ani DiFranco comes to Madison October 5
If you’re craving some gold ole’ female singer-songwriting, but can’t hold onto your (ironically striped, polka-dotted, argyle or perhaps even mismatching) socks until the fall, consider checking out Australian performer Missy Higgins, who will be coming to the Majestic Theatre on Thursday, July 10. Higgins has taken the down-under by storm, recently winning multiple ARIA Awards (the Australian equivalent of the Grammys). Check out this interview from LiveDaily to learn more about the talented musician.

Also freshly announced in the past week was The Dandy Warhols‘ soiree at the Barrymore, scheduled for Wednesday, September 10, in support of the physical release of …Earth to the Dandy Warhols…, the band’s latest offering, which was digitally released in May. Tickets for the show, which will also feature openers Darker My Love and The Upsidedown, go on sale tomorrow, Saturday, June 21. To read more about the band’s brave step into the digital age, check out this interview from Wired earlier this week.

As always, stay tuned to the True Endeavors concert calendar and TrueEndeavors.com to keep up-to-date on all of the latest concert announcements, which also included Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, Ralph’s World and several others this past week.

Finally, if you weren’t unable to snag tickets to the sold-out Swell Season (i.e. Once stars Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova and Hansard’s band, the Frames) show this past Monday, check out some of the links to catch a glimpse of what you missed, including a link to purchasing information for an audio download of the entire show from PlayedLastNight.com.

Media Roundup: Tegan and Sara rock Coachella, and more!

Coachella, the mother of all alternative music festivals, took place this past weekend, and even if you weren’t fortunate enough to take in the cornucopia of sounds from the California deserts, a number of outlets are providing extensive video, audio and blogging coverage. In addition to the headline-grabbing indie coronation of Prince and the chilling comeback performance of Portishead, a number of performers coming soon to Madison also made their mark.

Tegan and Sara, performing at the Barrymore next Tuesday, May 6, first gained a moment in the spotlight three years ago on a small stage of Coachella and performed on a larger stage at this year’s festival. The Canadian twins continue to gain notoriety on a larger scale for their quirky stage banter and emotional songwriting, blogging a number of entries from the festival for RollingStone.com. Tegan and Sara are also just off the heels of an impressive performance last week of their current anthem, “The Con” on the Tonight Show, viewable below:

Taking a break from the midst of a tour that is selling out nearly every theater it touches, The Swell Season (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) also performed an alluring set; a preview of what’s to come when the duo plays the Overture Center on Monday, June 16. The “Once” stars were recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle discussing their newfound fame. Recent acts passing through town this spring, including Man Man, Vampire Weekend, Stars and Jens Lekman also played the festival.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are currently touring around the globe and have been grabbing headlines from a decision earlier this year to part ways with its record label, RCA. They are currently going it alone, looking toward independent release options in the near future. BRMC will be hitting the High Noon Saloon with guests The Duke Spirit on Saturday, May 3.

Performing at the Annex the Sunday night following BRMC, Ra Ra Riot will be splitting a bill with The Little Ones for a $10 show — likely the last time Madison music fans will be able to see the up-and-coming indie-string-pop troupe, recently interviewed on GrooveShark.com, in such an intimate venue.

In other news, we are happy to announce that Madison fave Lyle Lovett will be passing through down this summer — on Sunday, July 13, at Overture Hall. The Capitol Times wrote a nice preview of the show, for which tickets went on sale this past Saturday.

Finally, in case you missed a few of the recent shows in Madison, here’s a few reviews to find out what you missed:

“[Colin] Meloy charmed a modest but enraptured crowd at the Barrymore Theater Wednesday night with his quirk, his humor and his unbelievable solo chops.” — Wisconsin State Journal

“Decemberists shows are giddily geeky affairs, full of high-energy, literary-minded rock songs that draw the audience in with singalongs and other audience participation bits. By comparison, Meloy’s solo shows are less of a three-ring circus and more of a friendly conversation between singer and his audience.” — The Capitol Times

The [New] Pornographers nearly had that show stolen right out from under them by opening act Okkervil River, which played a flat-out amazing hourlong opening set. The Pornographers have been touring with the Austin roots-rock group for about two weeks, and you have to think that following that every night forces Newman and company to raise their game even higher.” — The Capitol Times

“This was my first time hearing material from Challengers live, which really cemented my appreciation for that record. I’ll concede the stage looks a little bare bones sans Neko [Case] and Dan, but that didn’t stop the band from putting on a great power pop rock show.” — Muzzle of Bees

And that’s it for now. Tickets for many of the shows mentioned above are still available from TrueEndeavors.com. See you at the shows!

Indie music 1, Walt Disney Co. 0

A major victory of indie musician over corporate conglomerate came in an unexpected form last evening at the 80th Annual Academy Awards, where Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the coveted golden statuette in the Best Song category for “Falling Slowly,” a song featured in the film Once. The announcement came following an evening that seemed to be preemptively trumpeting a win for one of three nominated songs from the Disney blockbuster, Enchanted, whose lavish production numbers dwarfed Hansard and Irglova’s pensive performance in terms of glitz and glam — with ornate set designs, a full choir and large dancing troupes. Not to mention that ABC, the network airing the Oscar broadcast, is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

[Update 3/3/08: Hansard and Irglova’s performance has been removed from YouTube due to copyright restrictions. Enjoy, instead, the duo’s performance from the Letterman show circa September 10, 2007.]

The irony was not lost on Irglova, whose acceptance speech provided one of the evening’s few heartstring-pulling moments. “This is such a big deal, not only for us, but for all other independent musicians and artists that spend most of their time struggling, and this, the fact that we’re standing here tonight, the fact that we’re able to hold this [award], it’s just to prove no matter how far your dreams are, it’s possible.”

“Fair play to those who dare to dream and don’t give up,” Irglova continued. “This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are.”

Irglova’s words, as well as Hansard’s equally moving speech minutes before, transported my thoughts back to a show at the Barrymore five years before, when I was fortunate enough to witness Hansard’s band The Frames open for fellow Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice and his band. That evening of raw and organic passion through sound represented a personal “tipping point” to me as a teenaged, budding music fanatic. The energy of live music shows shortly became something that I could not live without, and to witness indie artists receiving the accolades that they deserve for creating art with this degree of power was a refreshing surprise during an otherwise dull evening.

On the heels of their launch onto the television screens of living rooms across America, Irglova and Hansard are about to embark on a national tour, arriving in Madison at Overture Hall for a True Endeavors and Jam Productions show on Monday, June 16. Tickets for the sure-to-be-spectacular evening of music go on sale this Saturday, March 1. Meanwhile, be on the lookout for other artists coming to town in the coming months that inspire you to think, feel and challenge the status quo at trueendeavors.com.

–Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern