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

Shows This Week & Free Downloads

Summer has rolled in as tour buses roll away but we’ve got a couple of good ones for you this week..

Monday May 26

If you’re in to The Avett Brothers or Okkervil River check out..

True Endeavors and Muzzle of Bees present: LANGHORNE SLIM AND THE WAR EAGLES with THE BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS

“I’m not sure that there’s’ any other kind, but the songs I write are love songs. Some are literal, about specific events, people and relationships in my life; a form of therapy, self-help for the flowers and the crap along the road of life.” -Langhorne Slim

//www.splendidezine.com/features/langhorne/langhorneq3.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

4 Free Langhorne Slim Song Downloads:

Langhorne Slim- English Tea, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Langhorne Slim- By the Time the Sun Comes Down, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Langhorne Slim- She’s Gone, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Langhorne Slim- Restless, 2006 Unreleased Daytrotter Sessions

Daytrotter

8:00 pm @ High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 adv – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

___________

Thursday May 29

If you’re in to Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, or Steve Earle you also like (trust me)..

THE EVERYBODYFIELDS with special guests MARTHA BERNER & KATIE SAWICKI

“..deeply rooted in americana, bluegrass, and classic country..Here you still find the slow, sad sounds of halfway there, but there is a new strength to the sound, a vein of rock and punk that is so well hidden, you don’t even know it’s there” -LastFM

Everythings OK- The Everybodyfields

Interview- The Everybodyfields

2 Free Everybodyfields Song Downloads:

The Everybodyfields- So Good, 2007 Live at The Grey Eagle

The Everybodyfields- Nubbins, 2007 Live at The Grey Eagle

8:30 pm (8pm doors) @ Cafe Montmartre 608.255.5900 $10 at the door / $10 adv – 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

———————-

We don’t have any nationally touring shows for you this weekend but there is some good stuff going on around town..

This Friday May 23 some of our local faves including PALE YOUNG GENTLEMEN, SLEEPING IN THE AVIARY, and others are hosting a Whatfor CD Release Party at the High Noon Saloon- 10:00 PM , $5 cover, 21 +

This Friday is also the monthly IQ party if you are more in the mood for a DJ. Local hostess Liz Tymus is throwing the Marquee Pre-Party from 9PM-11PM and dance party 11PM-2AM at the Majestic, 18+.

Saturday May 24 offers up a variety of Latin and African based music including El Clan Destino- the Afro Cuban project of local bassist Nick Moran. The benefit for African Youth Outreach at Cafe Montmartre costs $10 per adult, $7 for students with a current ID, 9PM, 21+

What are you up to this week? Tell us what else you recommend!

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!

_________

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

____________

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!

____________

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!

___________

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!

____________

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!

____________

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

____________

New Pornographers benefit AIDS Network

Tomorrow evening, Monday, April 21, Madison music fans will be in for a treat when the “power-poppy” New Pornographers — featuring Kathryn Calder, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Todd Fancey, Carl Newman and Blaine Thurier — play the Orpheum Theater. The Pornographers are touring in support of Challengers, an album that the group consciously made with a more organic, less synthetic sound in mind, bringing in a full string section.

The band, whose name was derived from a Japanese film titled “The Pornographers” and has drawn comparisons to a Jimmy Swaggart quote calling rock and roll “the new pornography,” will unfortunately be without the accompaniment of the iconic redhead Neko Case, as reported by Madison’s own Muzzle of Bees. Case reportedly took a bad fall while on tour in Washington, DC, and despite attempting to play the following the two shows, has chosen to leave the tour and recuperate from her injuries. Nevertheless, the show is sure to be a memorable one, as the Pornos are accompanied by the also-wildly-talented Okkervil River as their openers.

Monday’s show will also serve as a benefit for the Wisconsin AIDS Network, with $1.00 from every ticket sold going to the Madison-based office. AIDS Network’s mission is to provide support, education and opportunities for well being to everyone touched by HIV/AIDS in south central Wisconsin and has been providing care and prevention services to the area since 1985. As the media’s focus has often shifted the focus of HIV/AIDS news coverage to focus on the African continent, where the disease has reached epidemic levels, many may not be aware that HIV continues to pose a threat to national and local public health.

“For Prevention, our biggest obstacle is complacency,” said Shawn Neal of AIDS Network. “When we go out and talk about HIV & AIDS within communities, many members of high risk communities [including but not limited to men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users] do not see themselves as being at risk. They know HIV exists, but don’t believe they could become infected.

“Those who have survived the 1980’s and early 1990’s when HIV infection was at its peak have now become relaxed in being safe. There isn’t that fear anymore of becoming infected. It’s easier to educate someone about HIV who doesn’t know about it and is concerned, then to change the already belief by many that it happens to ‘those’ people that they don’t associate with.”

AIDS Network has also encountered the recent stress of funding cuts limiting the scope of services they can offer to the over 350 clients they serve. Recently, the Emergency Financial Aid (EFA) program was cut entirely. EFA provided essential transportation or grocery vouchers for the organization’s clients, most of whom live in poverty. Without the program, clients face hardship in being able to get to medical appointments and to meet basic needs such as food, heat and electricity.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on south central Wisconsin (view recent, statewide statistics here) reaches far beyond the lives of AIDS Network’s 350 clients, including an estimated 800 HIV-diagnosed individuals in the area who don’t utilize AIDS Network’s services and even more individuals who are currently HIV positive without knowing so. These were numbers that Neal found to be particularly of note when asked to address skeptical readers:

“A person who tested positive for HIV didn’t believe all his or her life that he or she would be HIV positive one day. The dangerous thing someone can do is be ignorant that HIV is in his or her community, among his or her friends and/or is always in front of their face even if they claim to not see it. I meet people all the time that say they don’t know anyone who is HIV positive as they stand beside someone who happens to be positive. HIV is a virus that people are still discriminated against for having and so is still very undercover.”

If you’d like to help a very worthy cause in addition to some kick-ass music, be sure to come out to the Orpheum on Monday evening. Tickets are still available for $22 in advance or $25 on the day of the show.

– Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern

Shows To See This Week (Plus Free Tix)

Grab your neighbors, cousins, and mailman! Come out to celebrate spring (we lived!) with some great musicians this week..

Tonight Friday April 18!

THE GOURDS w/ special guest PATRICK SWEENY- SOLO

“..the Gourds have also moved past bluegrass as an endpoint and have begun using it as a base for forays into other sounds and styles..the Gourds have more than a few tricks up their sleeves. For them, being underestimated just means they can surprise you more.” -Pitchfork

Cover of Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice- The Gourds

9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $10 adv – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

____________

This Monday April 21

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS ( featuring: Kathryn Calder, Neko Case, John Collins, Kurt Dahle, Todd Fancey, Carl Newman, and Blaine Thurier ) w/ special guests OKKERVIL RIVER

Challengers- The New Pornographers

8:00 pm @ Orpheum Theater 255-6005 $22 adv/ $25 dos – all ages, TICKETS STILL LEFT SO BUY THEM NOW- BEFORE THEY ARE OUT! $1.00 per ticket to benefit AIDS Network

____________

Tuesday April 22

MAC LETHAL, THE ROTTEN AMERICAN PIE TOUR featuring special guests GRIEVES + F STOKES TEF MAN of the L.O.S.T S.O.U.L.S and DJ SKU

“Fitting perfectly articulated rhymes to efficiently catchy beats in an accent as Middle American as canned peaches, he’s a contemporary cross between a folk singer and a stand-up comic.” -Rolling Stone

9:30 pm @ High Noon Saloon 268-1122 $10 adv – 18+ BUY TICKETS NOW!

____________

This Wednesday April 23

A Solo Performance by COLIN MELOY of The Decemberists w /special guest LAURA GIBSON

“Without a full band around him, Meloy projects his voice and lets his guitar sparkle and chime, doing greater justice to his ear for folk-y essentials.” -Onion AV Club

O Valencia, on Letterman- Colin Meloy with The Decemberists

7:30 pm @ Barrymore Theatre 241-8864 $20 adv – all ages BUY TICKETS NOW! $1.00 per ticket to benefit Liberty Tree

Win 2 tix to this show by being the 3rd person to email me, MJ@TrueEndeavors.com, with the subject heading “Colin Meloy is Mine”. I’ll shoot you an email back if you’re our winner!

____________