Sunday, May 18, 2008

Last night marked the second artist straight from SXSW to show up at Brother Bean. Let me just say that first off. It's incredible (and a testament to the professionalism and devotion to music that Gwen and Bruce, the dynamos behind Bro Bean) that a small venue can bring in acts like Hello Tokyo and, yesterday, Harrisburg area singer-songwriter Greg Koons.

Koons was playing to a small crowd on a rainy, cold Saturday night, but he had an easy comfortable way with the audience, building rapport through his between songs patter, revealing the stories behind his tunes - including a surreal and funny one about an unrequited love between himself and a drive through window girl.

Koons' playing was clean with effective use of his delay/loop pedal to fill out the sound of a solo artist used to paying with a full band. What shines through live, though, is his songwriting and voice. He's got a bit of a Steve Earle sound to him (ballad-y Earle, not Copperhead Road Earle, a distinction that ever must be made in Northwestern Pennsylvania - although really, when have bagpipes ever hurt a song?) - a world weary tinge in his otherwise clear voice that pushes through the emotion of his work without ever slipping into pathos. Love or rather the loss of love shows up a lot on Koons' work; there's a palpable sense of longing in his songs. I'm the first person to bury his head in his hands when a student shows up in my workshop with a poem that uses the word "love" to talk about, well, love. Koons senses, with the skill of a practiced pro, that beyond Top 40, the key is to paint emotional portraits to explain the state of love and a bone deep longing in a fractured world.

"I've got lots of different influences," he told me, "but you know when you see a great pair of pants and you think, those are great pants, but there just not gonna look great on me? Well, I love The Who, Guns and Roses, even Zeppelin, but I know those pants just aren't going to look right on me."

He's an approachable guy, very knowledgeable and amiable. And while his album has been pushed back to a Winter 2009 release date, there's a chance he'll be swinging back through the area in the fall.

Download Greg Koons' "LA Looks Prettier On TV"

Greg Koons next plays with his band The Misbegotten on May, 23 2008 at The Muddy Cup (410 Main Street, Catskills, New York 12414) at 7pm. If you're in the area, you owe it to yourself to check him out.

Did I mention Oil City's Latonia now has a MySpace page?

Venangoland has been updated with a post on Springtime in Venangoland.

I mentioned earlier that I'm taking a pass on American Eagle's New American Music Union, but the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts sounds pretty good:

Andy Warhol's black-and-white film shorts will be put to music at the Byham theater, actors in a Spanish theater group will perform before individual audience members in a labyrinth of rooms and a Slovenia dance group will set Shakespeare's classic love story to music by Radiohead, to name a few of the performances that will run from Oct. 10-25.

The Trib Review lists the entire schedule.

In celebration of International Museum Day, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) will offer a "buy one general admission, get one general admission free" deal on Sunday, May 18. In Pennsylvania's Great Lakes Region, the offer applies to both the Erie Maritime Museum and US Brig Niagara and the Drake Well Museum.

Rock's New Economy: Making Money When CDs Don't Sell

Free and Legal Downloads:

Drive-By Truckers Live at Cats Cradle on May 14, 2008

Santogold "L.E.S Artistes" (mp3) from L.E.S Artistes

Blackstrap"Winning Speech"(mp3) Repulsion (mp3)from Steal My Horses And Run

Finally, I'll leave you with some NWPA love from the Modey Lemon "Become a Monk"(mp3),
Ice Fields (mp3)

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