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

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+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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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
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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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+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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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+
BUY TICKETS NOW !

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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
BUY TICKETS NOW!

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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 !

This Weeks Shows & Downloads

We’ve got lots of videos, interviews, and songs you can watch or download for your very own.

Enjoy!

Friday June 27

ROSE POLENZANI

Genre: Indie/Folk/Americana

+

MEG HUTCHINSON

Genre: Folk/Acoustic/Pop

The Boston Globe describes her sound as “elegant and free-floating melodies that feel both modern and rooted.

Song for Jeffrey Lucey- Meg Hutchinson

with special guest ROSE COUSINS

Friday, June 27, 6:30 pm early start time High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 – 18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Sunday June 29

PETE FRANCIS (of Dispatch)

Genre: Rock/Folk Rock/Jam Band

In his songs a poetic tension exists between textured imagery and pure improvised rock and roll. The record expresses Francis’ soulful rock, folk and blues influences with layered instrumentation of B-3 organ, lap-steel guitar, mandolin, and a driving rhythm section.

Similar to: Slightly Stoopid, John Butler Trio, Matt Nathanson, & Matt Costa

Shooting Star and the Ambulance- Pete Francis

Pete Francis Interview

with COLOURMUSIC

Genre: Pop/Rock/Experimental

messily refined indie rock..and innovative, yet catchy, melodies that work their way into your head without you even knowing it..wildly inventive shows, and it’s while performing that the band’s vivid personalities come through.

Similar to: The Flaming Lips, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, & Kings of Leon

Circles- Colourmusic

Free Downloads:

Colourmusic- Yes Yes Yes

Colourmusic- Circles

Colourmusic- Calling Your Name

Sunday, June 29, 8pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $10 –

18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Thursday July 3

DEAD CONFEDERATE

Genre: Rock/Psychedelic

Though the band is pinned as producing the same kind of indie rock aesthetic à la My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses, Dead Confederate dabbles in darker shades than their compared predecessors..Dead Confederate echo the Drive-By Truckers’ bittersweet southern rock angst with the smoke-heavy swagger of the Black Angels.

The Rat- Dead confederate

Dead Confederate Interview

Free Download:

Dead Confederate

with special guests ROCK PLAZA CENTRAL

Genre: Folk/Americana

After a pair of glowing reviews from the influential music website Pitchfork they have recently come to prominence as a major indie rock band.

..evocative lyrics and powerful instrumentation..an outstanding fusion of alt-country earnestness and indie rock absurdity. Without any trace of flaunt or deliberateness, this homespun epic proves as casual in tone as it is ambitious in scope… sure to have tears welling and fists aloft in raucous salute.”- Josh Berquist, PopMatters, April 2007

Similar to: Okkervil River, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, M. Ward, The Avett Brothers, & My Morning Jacket

My Children, Be Joyful- Rock Plaza Central

Rock Plaza Central Interview 2007

Free Downloads:

Rock Plaza Central- My Children, Be Joyful, 2006 Are We Not Horses

Rock Plaza Central- We’ve Got a Lot to be Glad For, 2006 Are We Not Horses

Thursday July 3, 9pm High Noon Saloon 608.268-1122 $8 adv $8 dos

18+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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Friday July 4

WORT-FM welcomes

STARS AND STRIPES EXTRAVAGANZA featuring ROBBIE FULKS AND FRIENDS

Genre: Country/Indie/Bluegrass

While most current country music is calculated to form an inoffensive backdrop to the suburban shopping experience, Robbie Fulks writes songs that make you think and feel and quite often laugh out loud.

Similar to: Steve Earle, Neko Case, & Lyle Lovett

Cigarette State- Robbie Fullks

plus ROMANTICA

Genre: Americana/Folk/Pop

With an album on Paste Magazine’s Top 100 of 2007 and comparisons popping up all over the place between singer/songwriter Ben Kyle and both Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams, it probably won’t be too long before you’ll no longer be able to catch these guys in such a cozy venue.

Drink the Night Away- Romantica

Free Downloads:

Romantica- The Dark (with Ryan Adams)

9:30 pm High Noon Saloon 608.268.1122 $15 adv and dos . 21+

BUY TICKETS NOW!

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