can you dig it? yes, sir, I can.

Last night, the House of Blues Boston hosted the joint Cyndi Lauper-Dr. John tour, and there was much rejoicing. I went for Dr. John, who is among my favorite musicians, expecting Cyndi Lauper to just be a nice bonus. I was confused about how their sounds went together, but I had faith. And, well. Apparently Cyndi Lauper sings the blues now. And it is pretty fabulous.

Dr. John was the opener, technically, but he and his band were up there for at least an hour, more like an hour and a half, playing the best of cajun rock n roll. As per usual with him, his band was amazing, from the drummer to the trombone player, and it really didn’t seem like they were there as “Dr. John’s band” but as “the band that Dr. John is a part of.” A group of virtuosos.

Dressed to the nines, of course, Dr. John walked and danced stiffly but his fingers still fly. Truly amazing to listen to.

He and Cyndi did a couple of duets at the end of his set, one of which (Wang Dang Doodle) Cyndi didn’t know very well, but it was a fun finale. A pair of powerhouses.

And then Cyndi came back for her set, and wow that woman is a rock star.

I don’t even know where to start. She’s just a straight-up motherfucking rock star. Head-to-toe leather; wild, partially-pink hair; badass attitude. And then she started singing the blues and I was like WHOA.

She never stopped moving, dancing around the stage with more energy than most of the audience, interacting with her band and just full-on rocking out. She sang some upbeat songs, some slow songs, some things I’d never heard and classics like Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads.” She kept coming down to the front row and at one point she scolded someone who was holding a video camera mere inches from her face, telling him he was going miss the show.

The woman just has presence. And talent. You wouldn’t think, listening to her classic hits, that she has such a deep, bluesy range but oh God she does. Some of the notes she hit were jaw-dropping.

Even her own band seemed to be in awe of her, and she introduced some of them as having been with her for decades. They kept shaking their heads and just had looks on their faces like, “damn.” It was kind of touching.

However, while the music was good there was a lot of logistical mis-management, for which I blame the House of Blues. The show was advertised as starting at 7, doors at 6. According to security managing the massive line, the show was in fact “supposed to” start at 8, doors at 7, it had been advertised wrong. “Supposed to,” huh? Even yesterday they were tweeting the “wrong” time. Get it together, HOB.

So everyone was there super-early and kind of cranky by the time we were let inside. Also, I had to stand in line next to a running bus for a while, which smelled awesome let me tell you. But the good Doctor started promptly at 8 and the annoyance quickly evaporated because really you can’t be unhappy listening to that man play.

There were also some sound/mic problems, the most egregious being when they didn’t turn on one of Cyndi’s instruments and she was kneeling by the board trying to figure it out herself. (Which she did. I assume when you’ve been doing this as long as she has, those boards aren’t as much of a mystery as they are to, say, me.) So. I expect better of a venue like the House of Blues. Maybe pay less attention to the flat-screen TVs and more to working the mics properly?

But overall it was a fabulous show. Two stars doing what they do best—rocking our collective face off.

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RIP, Mr. Leiber

Jerry Leiber died yesterday at the age of 78.

Let me preface this post by saying I was obsessed with The Coasters when I was a kid. OBSESSED. I had a two-tape compilation of all their songs (including from when some of them were The Robins) that I listened to over and over and over and over. I can still sing most of their greatest and lesser hits word-for-word (and will do so with very little prompting).

And to be obsessed with The Coasters was to be obsessed with the two men behind their music: Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

I can’t even list all of the songs I loved. Yakety Yak, Charlie Brown, Little Egypt (for all the silliness), Searchin’, Along Came Jones, Smokey Joe’s Cafe (for The Robins), Down in Mexico, Poison Ivy. I guess they also arranged Hound Dog for Elvis, which I didn’t actually know until I started reading the obits. All catchy, mostly peppy songs, a beautiful partnership between Stoller’s music and Leiber’s lyrics.

Every time I had a chore to do, I’d bounce along to Yakety Yak. Every day that ended in Y, my brother and I would harmonize on Along Came Jones. (well, he did. I can’t sing.) Leiber and Stoller and the artists they influenced were the sounds of my childhood.

So rest in peace, Mr. Leiber, and thank you for all the happy memories.

Here are a few of my Coasters favorites:

Charlie Brown (I don’t really understand this video but it’s FAB)

Along Came Jones

Poison Ivy (maybe my favorite?)

he lives in New York City

You may remember in a previous post I mentioned Sxip Shirey and my favorite of his songs, lamenting the quality of the video. Well, yesterday he put out a much better video of the song. Hooray!

Evelyn Evelyn was Amazing Amazing

So. You may remember that Amanda Fucking Palmer gave me a ticket (I’m still pretending that it was a personal gift) to the world premiere show of her new project, Evelyn Eveyln. So it only seems fair to repay her kindness by telling you all how AWESOME the show was.

And it was pretty awesome.

(Quick aside: if you don’t know what Evelyn Evelyn is, they are conjoined twins from Kansas who play music. Any resemblance they have to Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley in a big dress is purely coincidental.)

the elusive twins

The show was at Club Oberon in Cambridge, Mass, where I had never been. I really like the venue, though, it’s small and seems casual, though that may have just been the crowd. Since I get most of my musical experiences at the House of Blues, I really liked the coziness of Oberon. And a brief word on the crowd: I have never seen such a diverse band of misfits as I have at that show. It was spectacular. There were young people, old people, fathers and daughters, people in corsets and people in jeans. Two girls came dressed as Evelyn and Evelyn. I’ve never felt so completely at home in a crowd.

Jason Webley opened the show, and he is a fanfuckingtastic performer. He got the crowd going immediately (“I need you to pretend I just did something awesome so I can get you to help me with the next song… good! good!”) and by the end of his short set had the entire crowd spinning in circles with their fingers in the air. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I liked his music (I think I did) because he is such a good show. Loved it.

And with the crowd ramped up from spinning and singing, Amanda Palmer made her entrance.

Let’s be honest, Evelyn Evelyn wouldn’t be able to go on tour if Amanda Fucking Palmer weren’t Amanda Fucking Palmer. Someone proposed marriage to her as she sat at her piano. I thought about it (hey, we’re in Massachusetts). She’s an amazing human being and an amazing performer and an amazing performance. I always forget that there are people who don’t know who she is, because she is such an important artist in my sphere.

But sometimes I get caught up in the excitement of Amanda Fucking Palmer being Amanda Fucking Palmer, and I forget how truly stunning her voice is. Watching her sing, especially from like 5 feet away, is entrancing. Perhaps she sold her soul to the devil to get that voice—I really don’t know. But I’d be okay with that explanation. And the woman knows how to work a crowd.

AFP was then joined by Jason and the third performer of the evening, a man named Sxip Shirey. (It will be easier if you pretend it’s spelled “skip.”) They played “Electric Blanket” (accompanied by Sxip on some random bell contraption) and then AFP and Jason disappeared and it was time for Sxip to perform.

Sxip Shirey was the surprise of my evening. I’d never heard of him and had no idea what to expect, but now I’m in love. He’s part circus, part musician, part storyteller, part hair, and all awesome. He’s one of those “makes music with random stuff” guys, and his tools included bells, a train whistle, a police siren, a harmonica (on which he appeared to be beatboxing) and some foot-pedal-thing that did strange and amazing things to his microphone.

This is not the greatest video, but it’s my favorite song that he played:

His new CD went on sale yesterday. BUY IT!

So then after a brief break the twins came on.

The twins are pretty amazing.

It’s really kind of difficult to describe the show. It was part story/play (Sxip was the ringmaster-type, blatantly exploiting the twins), part cabaret, part puppet show. Each twin played one half of an instrument—they each played one hand of a piano, or one hand of the guitar, or ukulele, or accordion. (The accordion may have actually been all Jason the Left Twin, I wasn’t at a great angle.) It’s been years since I’ve played music, but that seems really difficult. The music is the sort of oddball thing you would expect from people who are pretending to be conjoined twins a band discovered by Amanda F. Palmer and Jason Webley. Each song is really a different genre, but it all seems to tie together pretty well. And the show is great. It feels very circus-freaky: “come into my tent and see this great freak of nature!”

There were a lot of little things that made the show even more genius. For instance, the “waiting for the show to start” music consisted of lots of songs about sisters (that Eurythmics song) and being close and being apart—and at least one song that was by Evelyn Evelyn. (I only remember Happy Birthday, but I think there might have been more.) It was brilliant.

Some things didn’t go quite so well, of course, since it was the first time this show had ever been performed. Jason seemed to have some trouble remembering some of the Evelyn Evelyn lyrics, and AFP kept almost cracking up, but as she said during her set, “anything that goes wrong tonight we can just call ‘charming.'” (That is a very rough paraphrase.) The show seemed to end slightly too mellow (this was pointed out by a couple of people in the Q&A session at the end) especially because they’d teased us by playing the opening to “Poker Face.” And there were a few tech issues. But everything was just opening-night kinks, which will probably be fixed over the course of the next few performances.

But still.

The entire thing was amazing.

I’m pretty sure the show is sold out, like, everywhere, but I hereby give you permission to find someone with a ticket and murder and/or maim him/her. Sometimes art is worth it.

AND

SHE ANNOUNCED AT THE END

They’re ending their tour HERE in BOSTON in JUNE at my favorite venue the House of Blues! Tickets aren’t on sale yet, but stay tuned. They’ve promised that it will be total extravaganza and that they’ll have perfected the show (possibly making it entirely different) and I am super super excited.

SO

There is my very very long review of the first ever show by Evelyn Evelyn. Thanks again, AFP.

EVELYN EVELYN WOOOOO

HOMG

I never win things. Never ever ever.

But today.

On twitter, Amanda Fucking Palmer held a contest—she’d choose two random people who retweeted her next tweet, and those people would win tickets to the upcoming Evelyn Evelyn concert at Oberon in Harvard Square.

And I entered.

And I won.

I honestly stared at my username for a full minute, slightly dazed, sure I was reading it wrong. But no. I gave AFP my name, and now I’m on the guest list for Monday 12th, and SHE PROMISED TO HUG ME AND I’M HOLDING HER TO IT.

I am so. Fucking. Excited.

(and if you happen to go, say hi! I have red glasses and a leafy tattoo on my back. I will probably be somewhat intoxicated, which means I’ll be your friend instantly.)