Musical Muses: The Faces Behind The Songs

Sure everyone remembers the songwriters—and why shouldn’t they?  Those talented artists paint pictures with sound, composing poetry to move us, body and soul.  However, as monumental as their sonic creations may be, songwriters would be nothing without the inspiration of those whose lives serendipitously intersected their own.  So who are these immortal characters lucky enough to live forever in song?  Read on to meet some of music’s most memorable muses.

Angela Bowie inspired The Rolling Stones’ “Angie.”

Angela Bowie

Everywhere I look I see your eyes/There ain’t a woman that comes close to you/Come on baby, dry your eyes/But Angie, Angie, ain’t it good to be alive?/Angie, Angie, they can’t say we never tried…

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Hip Hop: A Vehicle for Positive Change (plus ticket giveaway!)

We recently posted an editorial criticizing the negative cultural effects of gangsta rap’s bravado and glamorization of thug life (“The Game’s Game Is Lame”).  There are, however, always two sides of the coin.  With that in mind, we wanted to draw some attention to the ways rap and hip hop are acting as a positive force in society.  Additionally, we’re giving reader a chance to win tickets to see a high-quality hip hop performance from Del The Funky Homosapien!

Read on for just a few of how hip hop is making the world a better place…

This Week’s Shows- All You’ll Need

Need a break but lamenting the price of gas and the tumbling economy?  No need to leave town- experience the world through your local music venues.  This week in Madison offers up country, bluegrass, jam band, acoustic, americana, ska, reggae ,pop-punk, indie, folk, hip-hop, alternative, and surf from all reaches of the world.  Feel better?  Thought so.

Friday, October 17

YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND

Genre: Country, Bluegrass, Jam Band

“With little radio support, Yonder Mountain has become one of the fastest rising touring bands in the country, its fanbase having ballooned over the past five years through steady gigging and high-profile festival sets, all of which are full of improv and none of which feature the same set list.” -yondermountain.com

Similar to: The String Cheese Incident, Railroad Earth, Phish, Old Crow Medicine Show

9:00pm @ Orpheum Theatre  (608.255.6005)   Tickets $25 adv $30 dos — all ages

BUY TICKETS NOW !

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Saturday, October 18
An Evening with PERT ‘ NEAR SANDSTONE 

Genre:  Acoustic, Americana, Bluegrass

“They call themselves a ‘new-timey string band,’ but if you see them in action you would say they’re a steamroller of energy. Pert’ Near Sandstone plays bluegrass, both original and traditional, but they bring the old music to a young audience with their enthusiasm, tight harmonies and class.” -Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole, Minnesota Public Radio

Similar to: Twin-A, Will Bernard, The Goondocks

9:30pm @ Cafe Montmartre  (608.255.5900) $8 – 21+
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Sunday, October 19
SLIGHTLY STOOPID 

Genre: Ska, Reggae, Pop-Punk

Similar to: 311, Sublime, Fishbone

and B FOUNDATION with OUTLAW NATION  8:00 pm @ Barrymore Theatre (608.241.8864) $20 adv $25 dos – all ages
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JENNIFER O’CONNOR 

Genre:  Indie, Folk

“Over the past 6 years, Jennifer’s gotten scary good at this sort of thing, so much so that most other contenders for the hypothetical Nobel prize for Witty Pop Songs W/ Heart are either former members of this label’s roster (we’re thinking Manning/Phair/Daniel but if you wanna nominate someone more contemporary, please go right ahead) or they’ve already been embalmed in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.” -highroadtouring.com

Similar to: Elliott Smith,, Kathleen Edwards, Liz Phair, Kimya Dawson

with PATCHWORK 9:00pm @ Cafe Montmartre (608.255.5900)  $8 adv, $8 dos – 21+
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Monday, October 20
MURS 

Genre: Rap, Hip-Hop

“He may not have either the Democratic or Republican nomination, but California indie-hip-hop mainstay Murs (an acronym for “Making Underground Raw Shit”) is throwing his hat into the election ring with his seventh solo album and major-label debut, Murs For President, out tomorrow on Warner Bros. Murs For President finds the underground-rapper-gone-big-time retaining his verbose and engaging flow while sticking to the soulful, jazzy beats that have marked his best records, notably 2004’s Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition.” – SPIN

Similar to: Aesop Rock, Atmosphere. Brother Ali

with KIDZ IN THE HALL  9pm @ High Noon Saloon (608.268.1122)  $14 adv $16 dos – 18+
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MISSY HIGGINS

Genre: Pop, Alternative, Rock

“It wasn’t just that Missy Higgins played piano, or that she was barefoot. It was that she was, in her approach, doing what [Carole] King did in the 1970s: shunting aside any notions of how she ‘should’ look or what she “should” sound like, and focusing instead on strong melodies and earnest lyrics.” – Jon Gilbertson, JS Online

Similar to: Katie Melua, Norah Jones, Ingrid Michaelson, Kate Nash

with special guest JOSHUA RADIN 8:00pm @ Majestic Theatre (608.255.0901)  $16 – $23 – all ages
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Tuesday, October 21

THE EXPENDABLES 

Genre: Rock, Reggae, Surf

“Anyone who’s ever been to an Expendables show knows what Weers is getting at. To say that the band goes all out is a severe understatement. By the end of every performance, the band appears physically deflated–drenched in sweat, hoarse and half-drunk. But that’s the Expendables: balls to the wall, no exceptions.” -Garrett Wheeler, metrosatacruz.com

Similar to: The Aggrolites, Sublime, Pepper

with special guests OPM and REBULATION  8:00pm @ The Annex  (608.256.7750)  $12 adv $14 dos – 18+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

Interview: Murder By Death

When you have a voice that sounds like a resurrected Johnny Cash dabbling in the forces of evil with Glenn Danzig, no one really expects songs about girls, cars and endless summers to come rolling off of your tongue. Indeed, Murder By Death’s Adam Turla is well-accustomed to narrating stories through song with heavier themes – sin, guilt, revenge, and (of course) death, just to name a few. However, the band’s most recent full-length release, Red of Tooth and Claw, is much more than an assortment of direction-less tragedy. Murder By Death bring the spirit of centuries old Americana to life with haunting, ragged tinged tales that instantly provoke brutal self-reflection. In anticipation of their Friday show at the Annex, Turla recently took the time to answer several questions about the band’s inspiration, and the art of storytelling.

Tell me about how you all found each other and created the band.

We were drinking buddies at college in Bloomington, Indiana – thought it would be fun to have a different kind of band.

What were your musical experiences growing up?

I took blues/jazz studies from 13-16 and occasionally played live in a group with my teacher in Detroit. Sarah [Balliet, cello/keys] went to high school at a youth performing arts school in Kentucky, and Dagan [Thogerson, percussion] and Matt [Armstrong, bass] were always looking to be in rock bands.

What inspired you to start writing?

A lack of anyone else I knew writing original stuff. Same reason I started singing.

There’s a line in “Boy Decide” that goes, “You’re too old to fuck around and too young to die.” Did you relate to this stuck-in-the-middle kind of existence before making the decision to seriously pursue music?

We never actually made a decision to seriously pursue music. It kind of just happened, and suddenly it was our lives. Sarah actually came to Indiana University with the intention of going to the music school here (one of the best in the country) and then decided she didn’t want a music career…ironically, two months later, she joined the band that gave her one.

That line from “Boy Decide” is very reminiscent of topics like aimless youth, societal dissatisfaction and moments of significant personal choice that were popular with beat poets. Is literature a big influence for you? If so, who are some of the writers you admire?

Literature is a huge influence and interest of mine. When I was 15 the beat poets were of major to interest to me with themes of Buddhism (which I went to college to study), and travel. My favorite authors have been pretty steady for the last 5 years, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

How did Tent Show Records come about?

A strange record deal that involved having our own label that was paid for by someone else. It worked and didn’t work—we didn’t have time to run a label for anything but our own bands and didn’t want to sign a band and then not have time to work hard for them.

How do your songs usually evolve from initial idea to finished piece?

I write the melody and lyrics all in my head and then eventually show it to the band who make it real.

How much of your own life are you comfortable injecting into your music?

Some, but like my favorite authors I like to fictionalize some of it and wrap a shroud of mystery around some of the stories.

Why do you think music is such an effective vehicle for the stories you create?

Brevity. I have more trouble writing long passages.

There’s a Greil Marcus quote that says, “It is a sure sign that a culture has reached a dead end when it is no longer intrigued by its myths.” Taking this into consideration, it seems that your band is doing all that it can to perpetuate American culture. What attracts you to the mythology and romanticism of old America?

Exactly what you are suggesting – fear of a dead end in culture. With 500 channels on cable, entire neighborhoods of boorish taupe monstrosities, and Paris Hilton a major news figure, I try to give people a little more credit for the kind of material they can take in. We create stories that attempt to have a meaning, rather than temporary entertainment.

Your lyrics frequently describe themes of physical suffering and a kind of dark emotional desperation that isn’t always easy to find in modern music, but they’re common in old traditional folk and blues. Do you think our generation is at all affected by the more “sanitized” content in popular modern art, music and literature?

Maybe. I think giving people only media that is easy to swallow is practically criminal. Ok ha maybe not that bad. But luckily there will always be an ebb and flow of intelligent trends in order to counteract the inane.

Lots of your songs (like “The Big Sleep” for example) seem to hint at religious prophecy. Do you look to religious texts as models of powerful storytelling?

The greatest, most insanely improbable stories are our religious stories. They illustrate peoples’ fears and hopes.

Do you ever worry that the excitement of your music takes away from the power of your words, or does it alternately serve to amplify their affect?

We attempt to have the music evoke the tone of the lyrics – we spend a lot of time trying to create an interplay.

Tell me about recording Red of Tooth and Claw. How did that experience compare to the recording of your other albums?

We were very practiced and just blew through the 3 weeks. The producer Trina Shoemaker was a badass – we just went in, played 2 or 3 takes and it sounded great. It was a very organic recording with few little edits.

What do you enjoy about performing live?

Everything.

What is the most important thing you try to achieve when sharing your music with a crowd?

Not fucking up because my mind wanders.
Murder By Death will be in town on Friday the 29th for their 9:30 pm show at the Annex. Madison’s own National Beekeepers Society and Crane Your Swan Neck open the show.
-Shelley Peckham

Murder By Death- Brother

If you are on our home page and would like to leave a comment, click on the title of the blog and then scroll down to the comments box

August 27, 2008

An Interview with We Are Scientists

https://i0.wp.com/www.showclix.com/event_pictures/We-Are-Scientists.jpg

The first thing you need to know about We Are Scientists is that they are not, in fact, scientists. Shock! Horror! Yes, it’s true. In sharp contrast to rock and roll tradition, this Brooklyn-based indie outfit’s tour bus is devoid of any chemical experiments (for all we know).

“We have no affiliation with the field of science. I think we’re as happy about that as the field of science is,” bassist Chris Cain jokes.

The trio of Cain, Keith Murray (lead vocals and guitar), and Michael Tapper (drums) became We Are Scientists after graduating from college at the tail end of the ‘90s. Initially, the band was conceived with little more intent than to be a way to pass time. Cain acknowledges that their success in music came somewhat unexpectedly.

“I listened to music when I was younger, but it wasn’t really a passion for me, I wouldn’t say,” he admits. “I didn’t play any instruments until we started this band. Keith, on the other hand, has been playing guitar since he was twelve, I think. His parents forced him to take up guitar because his older sister had played the guitar her parents bought her for three months and then cast it aside, and they decided that somebody had to play that guitar.”

However modest their early motivations were, it quickly became apparent that they had more musical talent than they had given themselves credit for. After gaining popularity playing live gigs around Berkley, CA, the band released their debut album, With Love and Squalor in 2005 to much acclaim from the British press. As to why they rose to success so quickly in the UK while remaining relatively unknown in the states is a mystery to the band.

“I think our style of music is more mainstream in the UK,” explains Cain. “Beyond that, I think it’s just a bit of a crapshoot, I would say, really. I think there’s work involved in success anywhere—in music I mean. For us things started to take off in the UK, so we really just pushed it. We toured there really consistently for almost the entire first year, and sort of neglected the US where things didn’t take off as quickly. I don’t know, I think the UK gave us the initial spark, combined with our willingness to apply a solid year of hard work to seal the deal. Here, we’ve just never really felt that we’ve been in the same position.”

Now a duo following the departure of Tapper last year, Murray and Cain are carrying on, touring in support of their sophomore release, Brain Thrust Mastery. Heavy on 80’s post-punk and pop influence, the album is sure to bring to mind hints of modern artists as well. The urgent savagery of The Strokes, the witty charm of Kaiser Chiefs and the glossy dance-friendly euphoria of The Killers are present in high quantity. We Are Scientists explained that they wanted Brain Thrust Mastery to be an album that was “difficult to define, but easy to absorb.” Mission accomplished. Their myriad of musical influences and unique personalities addresses the former desire, and their pop sensibility and relatable lyrics satisfies the latter.

“Certainly I think our lyrics usually tend to deal with interpersonal relationships–often romantic, but not always. That’s really what every song’s pretty much about. It’s not the same incidents being retread over and over again, but there’s that theme.”

Despite their undeniably hip sound, the members of We Are Scientists haven’t been able to shake the “geek rock” label that journalists seem to love to affix to their descriptions. Cain, with the band’s signature good sense of humor, assured me that they don’t mind.

“I think it’s a label that, to be honest that we have sort of secretly fostered. It’s little more than a marketing angle…really we’re more the sort of jock, frat boy-type dudes, but I think that doesn’t fly very well in indie rock. It’s not really what the fans are looking for, so as the band started to take off, we sort of finessed it. Tossed on some glasses, dropped about 50 pounds of muscle and beefed up our vocabularies a little bit.”

Arguably just as entertaining as the music itself is the band’s website, where Murray and Cain offer responses to queries of advice from fans and review everything from the quality of a public restroom’s sink (“You’ve never felt manual vertigo till you’ve held your hands out there over the basin of the sink in the public toilet at the Ekko in Utrecht.”) to Cain’s moustache (“My mustache, were it a sandwich, would be a club. Were it a plane, it would be a MiG-28.”), which offers fans a rare opportunity to appreciate the band members’ personalities underneath the veil of their sound.

“I think it changes the way people digest the art if they know something about the creator,” Cain considers. “I don’t think it’s necessarily better. I don’t know if it’s even good. It’s certainly different, but I think that any art that’s published, one should be able to appreciate it without any knowledge of the author or creator. In the case of pop music, it does feel like there’s a strong urge for people to know something about the musicians. But I guess it’s unlike painting, for example. Music involves performance as well as composition, so it stands to reason that the personalities of these people onstage who are performing live for you have an image and voice you’re familiar with. I don’t know….music is a weird situation. I kind of think that in a painter or a dancer or in literature the artist should be irrelevant. That’s not to say that we aren’t curious about them, but I guess in music there’s something inherently legitimate about the inquiries of the artists.”

So what should concert-goers expect when We Are Scientists hit the stage at the High Noon Saloon this Wednesday night?

“They can expect a lot of magic tricks, and I don’t mean that in a glorified way,” Cain deadpans. “I just mean that we literally do a lot of card tricks and coin tricks onstage, which not everybody does. That’s a trick we picked up from Jimmy Buffet, actually—a rather unlikely source for an indie rock band, but it worked for him and frankly it works for us. They’re going to see a lot of synchronized dance, which is a tradition that goes back to the golden era of musicals and cinema, and also vaudeville.”

In addition to picking a card—any card, and shaking those jazz hands like nobody’s business, rumor has it that We Are Scientists will also be setting aside a decent amount of time to perform their unique brand of fun, indie “geek rock” that you won’t want to miss. Oxford Collapse and Brighton MA open the 8:00 show.
-Shelley Peckham

This Week’s Shows: Downloads, Videos, Reviews, oh my

It’s a full week around these parts, you can enjoy your Pitchfork and get the good stuff at home too..Bottomless Pit, Immortal Technique, The Hold Steady, Colour Revolt, Bob Log III, and Scott Biram all grace our city in the coming days, check it out.

Friday July 18

BOTTOMLESS PIT (featuring former members of Silkworm)

Genre: Rock/ Dub/ Folk Rock

May Sound Like: Yeasayer, Frog Eyes, Times New Viking, Evangelicals, Phosphorescent

“..edgy post-punk hooks and understated vocals” -Three Imaginary Girls


bottomless pit

Free downlaod:

Bottomless Pit- The Cardinal Moments

with special guests THE KADANE BROTHERS (Bedhead, The New Year) and EL VALIENTE

9:30 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $8 adv $10 dos

21+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Sunday July 20

WORT-FM welcomes The 3rd World Tour IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE

Genre: Hip-Hop

Similar to: Dead Prez, Non Phixion, Atmosphere, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Black Star

“..a Hip hop MC and political activist, he is of Afro-Peruvian descent and raised in Harlem, New York. The views expressed in his lyrics are largely a mixture of commentary on issues such as poverty, religion, and racism..” –immortal-technique.com

Immortal Technique- Dance with the Devil

with special guests DJ G.I. JOE, POISON PEN, THE CIRCLE, DJ ARCH

9pm doors 8pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $14 adv $16 dos

18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Monday July 21

True Endeavors and ACG present

THE HOLD STEADY

Genre: Rock

Pairs well with: The National, TV on the Radio, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sonic Youth

“The Hold Steady might just be the best bar band in America. With its riff-heavy mixture of classic rock and Craig Finn’s lyrically dense storytelling, the group crafts intricately detailed musical universes that have already made it a critical darling and fan favorite.” -NPR

The Hold Steady- 2005 Interview

with special guests THE LOVED ONES

8:00 pm Majestic Theatre 608.255.0901 $16.50 adv $18.50 dos

all ages BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Tuesday July 22

COLOUR REVOLT

Genre: Indie/ Rock

They might enjoy: Pedro the Lion, Minus the Bear, Sufjan Stevens, As Tall as Lions

Colour Revolt- Interview

Free Download:

Colour Revolt- Naked and Red, 2008 Plunder, Beg, and Curse

with special guests JAVELINS and THE FELIX CULPA

8pm The Annex 608.256.7750 $8 adv and dos

18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Wednesday July 23

WORT-FM Hillgrass Bluebilly presents BOB LOG III + SCOTT H BIRAM

Genre: Blues/ Punk (Heads up: lyrics at the show will be of a “dirty blues” nature and may be offensive to some)

Also on this ipod: blues, blues, blues, and some Stray Cats

“..an American lo-fi punk blues musician, singer and songwriter who performs as a one man band. During performances, Log wears a blue full-body jumpsuit and a bubble-mask motorcycle helmet wired with a telephone microphone which allows him to devote his hands and feet to guitar and drums, respectively…” -Wikipedia

Bob Log III- Make You Say Wow

with special guest LEFT LANE CRUISER

9:00 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10

18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

This Week in Shows

Sunday June 22
SMOKING POPES

“With a singer (Josh Caterer) who can make the most melancholic, fretting passage seem like a whistling, carefree, Willie Wonka-kissed day..and a band who is gleeful, but not in a churlish-youthful way, Smoking Popes are one of the most deceptively pleasant-sounding bands going.” -Artistdirect.com

I Know You Love Me- Smoking Popes

with
FRISBIE
8pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122
$10 adv $12 dos – 18+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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Sunday June 22
COTTON JONES BASKET RIDE

‘”Fruits Are Overflowing” extended the ’60s vibe, using a somber, Doors-like intro that escalated into a soulful duet between Nau and McGraw.”- WashingtonPost.com

cotton jones basket ride

with
PALE YOUNG GENTLEMEN
8pm Cafe Montmartre 608.255.5900
$7 at the door / $7 adv – 21+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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Wednesday June 25
WANDA JACKSON & THE LUSTRE KINGS

The Queen of Rock -N- Roll then..

and now (still rocking!)


8pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122
$15 adv $17 dos – 21+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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Friday June 27

If you like: Chris Pureka, Erin McKeown, or Kris Delmhorst check out..

ROSE POLENZANI

rose polenzani

“Rose is a singer-songwriter out of the hot Boston coffeehouse/alt-country/folk/americana scene. Her music is characterized by her beautiful voice, acoustic guitar, and powerful lyrics.” – Last.fm

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MEG HUTCHINSON

Come Up Full- Meg Hutchinson

“…A master of introspective ballads filled with understated yearning and an exquisite sense of metaphor.” -Performing Songwriter
with special guest
ROSE COUSINS
6:30 pm early start time High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122
$10 – 18+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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