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: Women who rock, from newcomer to legend, and more


Add Ingrid Michaelson to the always growing list of indie musicians who have lent their tunes to play in the background of prominent national ad campaigns — at least in this case the original lyrics of the song were unchanged, unlike the Of Montreal Outback Steakhouse fiasco. Michaelson is grabbing a lot of attention with her song “The Way I Am” being used in Old Navy’s national campaign, in addition to other featured songs on the past season of television shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “One Tree Hill.” She is also gaining cred with a very important demographic — the techies — with her innovative use of social networking widgets that could be setting the trend for indie musicians to follow.

Shortly following her return to Madison (after headlining March’s sold-out Hotel Cafe show) headlining a show at the Barrymore on Saturday, June 7, she will be setting out to support the Dave Matthews Band in a number shows of their summer tour. Michaelson seems to be taking all of the attention in stride, however, even when the major labels come a knocking: “I’m definitely having a lot of luck right now; I don’t know that it’s the way it’s going to be for everyone from now on … [I’ve] decided that I wanted to remain independent, so I said no [to the major labels] — and they’ve kind of left me alone,” she recently said in an interview. “I don’t owe anything; I can keep my career going at the pace that I want it to be going.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Wanda Jackson — playing the High Noon Saloon on Wednesday, June 25 with her band the Lustre Kings — has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post and other prominent newspapers over the past few weeks with her new documentary, “The Sweet Lady With the Nasty Voice” for the Smithsonian Channel. The documentary aired this past Sunday and told the 70-year-old rocker Jackson’s story, from dating Elvis Presley in the ’50s to paving the way for future generations of female rock stars with her hard-edged style. Both Michaelson and Jackson’s shows are not to be missed — representing bookends of achievement for women making it in the music industry.

Langhorne Slim, coming to town with his band The War Eagles on Monday, May 26, for a Memorial Day show at the High Noon Saloon, is featured as the lead act for a recent “things to do” roundup for the Capital Times, and also played last month on NPR’s World Cafe.

Stephen Marley, son of the late reggae legend Bob Marley, is currently in the midst of a national tour that will include a stop at the Barrymore on Wednesday, June 11. The show is a benefit for the Ghetto Youths Foundation, and will include the option of a $6 meal deal from Jamerica before the show. Marley’s shows have been noted for their honesty and passion: “I want to make a statement and continue this legacy, this musical legacy with my family,” he recently told a Charleston Post and Courier reporter. “Good music, good message, good vibe.”

Finally, check out the following reviews from recent shows in Madison, to find out what you might have missed:

“Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince of The Kills took to The Annex stage on Saturday night, [May 10] with an unforgettable aural assault of bone trembling rock and roll.” — Dane101

Josh Ritter has a better time on stage (or at least appears to) that 89% of the bands I’ve seen this year. He actually seems to enjoy his work. Refreshing.” — Muzzle of Bees

“Last night’s show at the High Noon Saloon has entered the books amongst my all time favorites for the venue.” — Dooga Dooga

“My favorite part of the show, in fact, was about 5 or 6 songs in when the band departed and it was simply Josh Ritter and an acoustic guitar. It was amazing how intimate he could make the High Noon Saloon feel, even though it was a sold-out and anxious crowd…” — Dane101

“Thursday’s sold-out crowd at the Barrymore Theatre gave KT Tunstall an inkling of what kind of show she was going to have before she and her band ever played a note. ‘With all the seating, I thought you’d be sitting,’ said Tunstall as she scanned the audience that had risen to its feet and would stay there for the next hour and 45 minutes. ‘I’m impressed.'” — The Capital Times

That’s all for now. Have a lovely weekend!

Mad-town Monday Music Tix (Free!)

This show is sold out ..but we love our music fans so here it goes..

This Thursday May 15
True Endeavors & JAM Productions Present:
KT TUNSTALL

k t tunstall
w / special guest
PADDY CASEY
Thursday 7:30 pm @ Barrymore Theatre
608.241.8864
$27 – all ages
Sold out !

5th person to email MJ@TrueEndeavors.com with subject heading “OMG KT” wins!

And also for your blog reading pleasure..we give you this fabulous ticket opportunity..


This Friday May 16
THE VON BONDIES

C’mon C’mon- The Von Bondies Live on Letterman


with
Die! Die! Die!
and Sleeping in the Aviary
Friday 9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon
608.268.1122
$10 adv and dos – 18+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

3rd Person to email me with the subject line “C’mon C’mon wins these tix.

We promise to respect your info.

Shows To See This Week (If you like…)

Friday May 9

If you like Matt Pond PA, Stars, or Iron & Wine try..

MARGOT AND THE NUCLEAR SO AND SO’S with special guests CAMERON McGILL + JENTRI COLELLO

Genre: Rock/ Indie/ Folk

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s is an 8-piece indie-pop/orchestral pop band from Indianapolis, Indiana. The band’s sound, categorized as “chamber pop”, has been compared to the indie rock groups Arcade Fire, The Decemberists, and The Shins.

Quiet As A Mouse- Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s

9:00 pm @ Orpheum Stage Door 608.255.8755 $10 adv $12 dos – all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Friday May 9

If you like Blitzen Trapper, Ryan Adams, or Neko Case then try

THE AVETT BROTHERS with JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD

Genre: Folk Rock

4 Free Avett Brothers Song Downloads

9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $15 adv /$18 dos – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

Presented with Muzzle of Bees

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Saturday May 10

If you like Matt Nathanson, Nicole Atkins, or Ingrid Michaelson try..

Three of Hearts Tour featuring TODD CAREY / ALEXA WILKINSON / JONATHAN CLAY

1 Free Todd Carey Song Download

Saturday 9:30 pm @ Cafe Montmartre 608.255.5900 $8 adv $10 dos – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Saturday May 10

If you like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or The Detroit Cobras try..

THE KILLS with special guests TELEPATHE

Genre: Rock/ Electronic/Indie

Fever- The Kills

NPR.org, April 4, 2008 Article and song of the day

Saturday 9:30 pm @ The Annex 608.256.7750 $12 – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Monday May 12

If you like Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, or Drive-by Truckers try

JAMES MCMURTRY with THE DEDRINGERS

Genre: Rock

James on NPR’s All Things Considered

Monday 8:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $15 adv – 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Wednesday May 14

If you like Ryan Adams, Okkervil River, or Jason Collett try

JOSH RITTER with DAWN LANDES

Genre: Rock/ Indie/ Folk Rock

“Ritter’s off-the-cuff approach intersects with a winning pop melody..the neatly arranged horns, fiddles, and piano play against Ritter’s tumbling lyrics. -Onion AV Club

To the Dogs or Whoever- Josh Ritter

3 Free Josh Ritter Song Downloads

Wednesday 8:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $15 adv – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Thursday May 15

KT TUNSTALL with special guest PADDY CASEY

Thursday 7:30 pm @ Barrymore Theatre 608.241.8864 $27 – all ages

SOLD OUT!

Presented with JAM Productions

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