Bootleg Nation

Fresh Boots – 08/25/06

It has been a slow week for bootlegs here.  I did manage to set up my second actual, physical trade in as many weeks.  With broadband and bittorrent, it is a rare thing, indeed that I actually trade boots anymore.

Nancy, if you are reading this, I’ve got one more disk to burn and then the package will go in the mail.

I did download one small little bootleg last night and without further ado…

Ryan Adams
WFMU Radio
New York NY

This is a little radio promo Ryan did a few years back, when he was still with Whiskeytown.  It’s just Ryan and Eric Ambel on acoustic guitar.    From a quick listen, it is a nice laid back gig, like most radio show dealies, with Ryan throwing off jokes as much as songs.

That’s it really.  Not a lot of action to report this week.  Stay tuned next week when I should reap the benefits of the trade.

Oh, and here’s the super brief set list.

Sittin Around
Me & My Ticket
Involuntary Tears

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Fresh Boots | Leave a comment

Bootleg Review: REM – 06/09/84

I have somewhere around 1,000 CDs in my bootleg collection. I usually get one or two new shows a week. I simply don’t have the time to listen to all of this music. Because of this, a lot of bootlegs get lost in the cracks.

From time to time when I am fingering my way through my collection I am completely surprised by something. Either I have forgotten that I owned a certain bootleg or the music contained therein, while previously dismissed, kicks the tongue to the back of my head.

One of the great things about this series is that I am forced to look closer at music I may have previously ignored. I am a musical creature of habit. Even though I have thousands of CDs in my collection, there are maybe a few dozen that actually get any type of heavy rotation.

It’s not that I’m opposed to new music, for there is plenty of that that rolls across my eardrums every week, but for certain moods or events I have a select set of music that meets my needs. When I’m feeling sad or introspective I grab Willie Nelson’s Stardust. Or if I want something a little off kilter that makes me smile I’ll grab some Wilco. In the mood? How about Norah Jones.

This rotation changes over time. New stuff finds its way in, while other music slips away to collect dust until I rediscover it.

With Bootleg Nation I’m continually walking outside my normal musical boundaries to find something different. One of my initial goals in this series was to show the diversity that can be found in the bootleg community. It’s not just a bunch of hippie, jam-band music, but jazz, folk, punk and every other genre you can think of.

Capital Theatre
Passaic, NJ

My first full length memory of REM is coming out of play practice in the eighth grade. It was well into dark and I was looking for my brother amongst all the headlights. Moment later he rolled up in hi K-Car and as I opened the door “Stand” blaringly filled up the night air. I jumped in singing along at the top of my lungs.

I was not a popular kid in junior high and by singing along with such a cool song I felt that, I too, was cool. As by simply knowing the music, it’s popularity might somehow rub off on me. It was a perfect moment and I savored every minute of it.

It didn’t last, of course, the next day I went to school and I was the same pimply faced shy kid. No one had even noticed, or cared that I dug REM.

Dig I did that band, for many years. They were one of my first true musical loves and I remained faithful up until a few years ago when they become so maudlin as to nauseate.

I’ve had this show now for many months and not given it much attention. When I would see it I would skip past it feeling it wasn’t worth any more listens. Thinking about that now I’m not sure if this is because of a general distaste I have for the band, or because I have another bootleg from 1995 that’s not very good at all. Whatever the reasons, I haven’t given it a spin in a long time.

Actually listening to it now, I don’t think I ever gave it a spin. The music is completely new to me, so it must have been something that was acquired and immediately put into my collection.

What a shame because the music contained here is as fresh and vital as it must have been when it was originally performed some 22 years ago. Wow, if that doesn’t make me feel old.

This is a band on a mission; they are on fire playing like Greek Gods before the Vestal Virgins. This is well before they become the biggest rock band on the planet, and a few years before “alternative” became an overused buzz word. This is indie rock at its finest.

They open with a sweet cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” which isn’t as pretty as the Velvet’s version but a lot more tight than REM’s drunken version on Dead Letter Office. Anytime you hear a band cover the Velvet’s first thing, you know you’re in for a good night.

Like a lot of early REM, the music is heavy on the lower end, and light on the high end levels. Mike Mill’s bass trudges, and thumps along like a Chihuahua on sugar tablets, while Peter Buck’s guitar slithers like a snake. Michael Stipe’s vocals are as muddled as ever, but it all assimilates into a growling, beautiful piece of rock music.

Highlights include a howling “Hyena” that reverberates into my jowls and“Gardening at Night” for the ages.

It is a great bootleg, and one that I’m knocked out to have found again, for the first time.

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Bootleg Review | Leave a comment

Fresh Boots – 08/18/06

In the legal bootleg community there are few things worse than seeing overpriced illegal bootlegs lining a music shops rows.  These bootlegs are usually overpriced of poor quality (both terms of sound and production value) and prey on poor saps who haven’t had the good fortune to realize that there are bountiful, high quality bootlegs available for free on the internet and via more traditional trades.

One way many legal bootleggers fight back is by getting a copy of these illegal bootlegs and making as many free copies available as they possibly can, thus liberating them from the bounds of illegal slavery.

Often these liberated bootlegs contain music not circulating in the general trading pools and so fresh music moves among us.  Unfortunately the illegal seller aren’t generally as precise as the traders and so source information is scarce and often there is not real way to get a precise date as they are often only labeled via the year and perhaps city it was recorded in.

Tom Waits
Live In Hamburg 1977
‘Everytime I Hear This Melody…’
(Liberated Bootleg)

I am perpetually fascinated by Tom Waits.  I have many friends who rate him very highly, but I can never really get past that voice.  It is rough, gruff, and scratchy as crap.  It’s just a pain to listen to most times.  I do recognize that he is a marvelous songwriter, and at certain times I can manage to get past that agonizing voice, but mostly he remains an enigma.  I continue to buy his albums and download bootlegs hoping to find that sparkle, that magic that will take hold and make me see the Tom Waits light.

I’ve honestly not listened to this bootleg more than a few seconds, and I hate to say that it will probably find a restful place in my collections and not be listened to for a very long time.  With so many other shows calling my name throughout the day, his scratchy voice rarely rises above, I am afraid.

Keller Williams with the String Cheese Incident
10,000 Lakes FestivalDetroit Lakes, MNSource:  FOB DPA4023 > V3 > D8
Transfer:  DA20mkII > VXPocket V2 > Vegas > CD Wave > FLA

Keller Williams is another anomaly to me.  He gets quite a bit of praise within the bootleg community (or at least the Deadhead section of that community) yet mostly I find him rather annoying.

I do dig his latest bluegrass release, Grass, and one fine, freaky live version of the Dead’s “Franlin’s Tower.”

I think the problem for me lies in the fact that Williams often performs as a solo artist – just his voice and a guitar.  To help create some depth to his person he has a complicated little piece of machinery that can record a length of music and loop it back over and over again.  In this manner he can create layers and depth to his live performance without the need of other musicians.  But to me it often sounds to mechanical and synthesized.

Again, I have not had the time to listen to any of this particular show.  I am hoping that the String Cheese Incident will eliminate the problem of the solo looping performance and create a wonderful show.  I am very much a fan of the Cheese with their new grass/ stylings and fully expect they shall elevate Mr. Williams to new heights.

August 19, 2006 Posted by | Fresh Boots | Leave a comment

Bootleg Review: Jimmy Cliff – 12/17/01

jimmy cliff 4Before I begin talking about Jimmy Cliff I must first admit I know none to very little about reggae music. Sure, I’ve got Bob Marley’s greatest hits package, Legend, and do dig it from time to time. That live version of “No Woman No Cry” is a marvel to hear. I’ve got a couple of other Marley bootlegs that are also quite awesome. But other than those, I’m pretty useless when it comes to Jamaican music.This is most probably because of the sheer crappiness of the non-Marley reggae music I’ve heard. Anytime I’ve heard reggae music being played on the radio or some city festival somewhere it’s all heard like generic, worthless garbage. It all has the same monotonous, rhythmic beat that makes everyone in the near vicinity move up and down like ducks on a pond. It’s just inane and annoying.

I realize that’s not particularly fair to reggae music. It would be like writing off pop music after listening to nothing but Top 40 radio, or 70’s rock from the Classic Rock stations that play the same four Led Zeppelin songs over and over again.

I only happen to have this Jimmy Cliff bootleg due to Nick Hornby’s book, High Fidelity (or maybe it was the movie) where the main character notes he would like Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” played at his funeral. I quickly found a copy of the song and came to realize he was right – that is one danged fine song to go out on.

From the single I put myself on a bootleg vine for this very recording.

Recher Theatre
Towson, MD
Coming into this bootleg I thought “Many Rivers to Cross” was the only song I knew of Jimmy Cliff, he quickly finds fault in that belief, running through a stream of familiar songs.I have multiple recordings from a series of shows in the early 90’s with Jerry Garcia and David Grisman playing “Sitting in Limbo.” I dug the song enough to include it on a Christmastime mix tape for my wife, and never even knew who wrote it. Cliff shows me who is master of that song and performs it beautifully.
Later he brings rises up for “Many Rivers to Cross” and brings it to the people on a hymn. It lifts and praises this beast called man as we journey to our final destinations. He then tears through a version of “The Harder They Come” that leaps and roars across the land.

Coming but three months after the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers there is both a somber and angry political tone attached to many of the songs. His song “Terror,” written specifically about those attacks, speaks out against both the acts of terror by Osama Bin Laden and the retribution from the USA. Terror, he says, comes from every side, and must end for there to be peace.

With other songs he finds hope. With “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” he’s sees the beauty in all people. Covering Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” he seems to point to a brighter future for us all.

And with that I think I’ll go back to the record bin and find some more reggae music. For if this is the sound of Jamaica I need to do some exploring.

Set List:
Samba Reggae
Sitting in Limbo
You Can Get It If You Really Want
The World Is Yours
Many Rivers To Cross
No Problems, Only Solutions
Wonderful World, Beautiful People
I Want, I Do, I Get
The Harder They Come
I Can See Clearly Now
War in Jerusalem
Black Magic

August 17, 2006 Posted by | Bootleg Review | Leave a comment

Fresh Boots – 08/11/06

This will hopefully be the first in a weekly series here at Bootleg Nation where I bring information on the new bootlegs I have acquired during the week. It will surely change and mutate as I get a better idea of what I want here.

One of the main problems with this column from the beginning is going to be the simple fact that I rarely listen to a bootleg when I first get it. Most of them stay on my hard drive for weeks before I burn them to CD. Even ones I get via vines and trades usually wind up sitting on a shelf for a long while. I simply have too many bootlegs to listen to. So, unless it is something I’ve really been looking forward to, they generally won’t get more than a precursory listen.

So, I’ll try to give a little background to the band and particular show. We’ll see how it turns out.

Ryan Adams – 08/01/06

I’ve been a fan of Ryan Adams since his big 9/11 hits, “New York, New York.” Yes, I know it wasn’t about 9/11, but came out at the same time as the terrorist attacks, and featured the New York skyline in the video.

Well, I can’t really say that song made me a fan, either. I liked the song, but it didn’t make me check him out any further. I did take note when I saw on various specials featuring Willie Nelson and Elton John. It wasn’t until the Duke de Mondo started raving wildly about Mr. Adams that I began to take a real listen. What I found I love, mostly.

Adams has this ability to constantly be on the verge of either brilliance or being totally fucked up. Often he finds bits of both within the same moment. He is amazingly prolific, probably to a fault. He released three albums in 2005 (four if you consider Cold Roses was a double album.) For all his proficiency, a little self editing would do him a lot of good. He could have easily consolidated his four disks last year into two stupendous ones, instead of four mostly good ones.

Live he often faces similar crises. I’ve got a couple of shows that would easily be placed in my top bootlegs ever category, while others fall apart before they ever get started with winding, erratic behavior and performance.

This particular show is a great sounding soundboard with the Cardinals. His work with the Cardinals has been the most consistent, in my opinion. Not only do they take him away from the tuneless, whispering ballads he is so often fond of, but they elevate his performance into a rocking, Grateful Deadesque rapture.

Speaking of the Dead, they cover two Dead tunes here (He’s Gone and Wharf Rat) seemingly for the late Jerry Garcia’s birthday, but they have been known to cover quite a few Dead songs during the last tour.

Robinella and the CC String Band
05/31/04 and 05/21/05

Robinella was a local favorite when I lived in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. She’s actually from Maryville, TN which is where my pop is from and where my grandma still lives.

She’s something akin to Ella Fitzgerald meets Loretta Lynn. She has a beautiful, lilting voice set with a cute country voice. The band, like the name implies, is nothing but strings. They play country ballads (and that’s old school country not this new pop-y crap) jazzy affairs, and lots of good olde timey string music. The songs verge on saccharine a little too often, but they make up for it with pristine musicianship and down home country charm.

I really haven’t listened to these disks more than just a moment to inspect their sound quality so I can’t talk to their performances. The first show is from a bluegrass festival in Manore, TN and the second is from a radio show that plays a lot of their studio stuff, a few live in the station songs and a lot of interviewing. Sounds like good stuff.

Full set lists and information below:

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals
Ryman Auditorium
Nashville, TN.

***16bit Source***

Source: SBD > Tascam CD-RW402 (Coax Out) > SD 722 @ 24/44.1
Transfer: SD 722 > HDD > Wavelab 5.01a (MBit+ Dither/Fades) > CDWave > FLAC (6)
Taped, Transferred & Seeded by Martin Medley.

Peacefull Valley
Blue Hotel
Shakedown On 9th Street
What Sin
Dear Chicago
Kiss Before I Go
Rip Off
Let it Ride
Please Do Not Let Me Go
Beautiful Sorta
The End
He’s Gone (Happy Birthday Jerry!)
Sweet Carolina
Wish You Were Here
Magnolia Mountain//
Two Hearts
To Be Young
Wharf Rat
Robinella and the CC String Band
The Sequoyah Museum
Vonore, TN

Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl
Mornin’ Dove
Sunday Afternoon
Oh So Sexy
White Lightning
Dress Me Up, Dress Me Down
Tennessee Saturday Night
Honey Honey Bee
Man Over
Whippin’ Wind
Marie Laveau
Quiet Whiskey
Blanket For My Soul


WRQK Studios
Madisonville, TN
Man Over (CD version)
Little Boy (live in the studio)
Turn Me On (CD version)
I Fall In Love As Much As I Can (live in the studio)
Hold To God’s Unchanging Hand (live in the studio)

An hour long radio show including interviews & music from Robinella plus, music from local artists Blue Moon Rising, Uncle Lightning & Willie Waits.

August 11, 2006 Posted by | Fresh Boots | Leave a comment

Bootleg Review: Lyle Lovett – 01/27/92

lyle-lovett-live.jpgI really had planned on a Lyle Lovett Bootleg Review before I knew that I’d be seeing and reviewing him for an actually attended live concert, I promise.

Lyle Lovett is, perhaps, best known for his short-lived marriage to superstar Julia Roberts. When they wed many folks were asking, “how could she marry him?” but to partially quote marketing material from Say Anything, to know Lyle Lovett is to love him.

Recently while trying to compose a list of my all time favorite bands in response to Eric Berlins, I kept coming back to Lyle. He isn’t a poet like Dylan, or a pop craftsman like Lennon/McCartney but he definitely has something that elevates him above just about everyone else. To me anyways.

His lyrics have a way of being both hilarious and poignant at the same time. In person he has a dry, rye delivery that makes even the most mundane of stories beautifully humorous.

His style has changed a lot over the years from straight-ahead Nashville country to Texas swing to the more stylings of today. He’s a bit like Willie Nelson in his ability to write songs that hold true to whoever is singing them.

Guthrie Theater
Minneapolis, MN
This is one of my favorite all-time bootlegs. The sound is absolutely perfect. It makes me feel like Lyle is in my living room, playing for my friends. The music is lovely, and Lyle chats it up as if he is at a family reunion instead of in front of a paying audience.

He is playing with a scaled down version of his Large Band. The horns have been nixed, the back up singers are gone, all that’s left is Lyle on acoustic guitar, drums, acoustic bass and cello. Similar to Nirvana on Unplugged, this spare style highlights Lyle’s beautiful songwriting ability.

It was recorded a few months before the release of Joshua, Judges, Ruth so all the material here is more than a decade old. Yet it still sounds vital and refreshing. It helps that much of what is played is new material, so classic songs like “Church” and “The Last Time” are revitalized with an audience laughing for the first time at the jokes.

In fact, “The Last Time” is a great example of lyrics that provoke both a sense of humor and depth. It starts out with,

“I went to a funeral
Lord it made me happy
Seeing all those people
I ain’t seen
Since the last time
Somebody died.”

Immediately, there is the ironic humor of being happy going to a funeral and yet the understanding of truth lying behind how we often don’t see those we love unless something serious happens.

If I have a complaint on this disk at all, it is that during “You Can’t Resist It” he allows his musicians time to solo, spoiling an otherwise wonderful song. I’m all for good soloing, but there is only so much cello bongo soloing I can take. But this is but a few minutes of two disks full of nearly perfect music.

The sound here is pristine. I don’t have any conclusive source material, but it’s as close to sitting on stage as you’re going to get with a bootleg.

August 6, 2006 Posted by | Bootleg Review | 1 Comment

Concert Review – Lyle Lovett: July 28, 2006

lyle-and-hagen.jpgFor many a month, my father and I were planning a vacation to the Glacier National Park in Montana and parts of Canada. Being the generous, family loving man that he is, my father invited my two siblings. As with all plans that involve numerous people, hammering out the details proved quite difficult.

Timing was the hitch. The sister and her husband reside most of the year in Shanghai, China, visiting the states for a few weeks out of the year. This summer they were already planning a multi-state trek to visit friends, family and tour with Pearl Jam for several weeks. Finding time for me and the Glacier was proving problematic.

In the end they cancelled for fear of total exhaustion. The father figure then cancelled because he chooses not to miss seeing his daughter for the tall trees and the bald eagles. I cancelled because father had planned to pay.

My anniversary plans were ruined because I had planned on using the Glacier trip as the anniversary present. For what wife wouldn’t love to celebrate four years of marriage with a 7 day 2,000 mile road trip with her in-laws? With the trip cancelled, I had to actually come up with a real plan.

A little research found that Lyle Lovett would be doing a free concert in St. Louis. Praising myself for finding something quickly that would be on the way to my folks in Oklahoma, thrill the wife, and be cheap, I quickly booked a hotel room and let the wife in on my beautiful plans.

The concert was right on the river underneath the St. Louis Arch. A beautiful setting if there ever was one. After walking around downtown we debated on whether to branch out and see some of the gardens on the other side of the city, or stay close so that we might get a good seat. Knowing it was a free concert we expected the area to be pretty much packed.

Deciding to stay close we crept back to the motel for a nap. Afterwards with nothing else to do we headed in the direction of the Arch. They had begun to set up a perimeter around the stage area so we ducked in quick as to not have our bags dug through and our camera discovered.

lyle-bluegrass.jpgIt was still a good three hours until Lyle was scheduled to perform. We found some shade (which lowered the temperature to a moderate 95 degrees) and tried to enjoy ourselves.

We sped up time by ordering too expensive and too hot pizza, hastily made lemonade with the sugar still undisolved at the bottom, and by making laps past the merchandise booths and kiddie playground. Finally we buckled down and found a seat on the arch steps. The heat was excruciating. The wait was intolerable.

After two hours the time neared. The Large Band minus Lyle performed a rousing version of “She Makes Me Feel Good.” Without Lyle’s lead, but with the back up singers’ punctuations, the song took on a jazzy, New Orleans style improv.

Too quickly the performers left and the sound check was over. Then the rains came.

Two hours standing in the freaking heat and we’re going to get rained out. Many ran for cover, but I refused. No way was I going to lose my seat after getting fried like a worm on Sunday.

The rains let up and soon enough Lyle came out to play.

The show started softly with just Lyle with an acoustic guitar and a John Hagen on cello playing the tender ballad “Don’t Cry a Tear,” and then a cowboy song that I’d never heard before.

Slowly the rest of the band came out, adding new members after each song. The effect was quite dramatic as the number of performers increased and the music took on an increasingly bigger sound and feel.

The performers truly showcased Lyle’s different styles as a songwriter. The back up singers added a gospel feel, the horns brought in jazz and swing, and the mandolin player from the Chieftains brought old style bluegrass along. Lyle was at home in all of these settings.

The between song banter was priceless. As with many of his songs, Lyle has a dry, wry delivery that elevates everything that comes out of his mouth. At one point he decided, for whatever reason, that a portion of his audience was of the Lutheran faith. After discussing this idea for a bit he threw out this little nugget:

“Do you know why Lutherans are against pre-marital sex?
They think it will lead to dancing.”

Late in the set he introduced the entire band, then for his own introduction spoke, “I’m the guy who sits next to you,” which is the first line of the song “Here I Am” to which the band promptly joined in for a marvelous, souped up rendition.

As is the way things go for my concert attending, the audience wasn’t always into what was happening onstage. There was quite of bit of rambling chit chat going on when a middle aged lady walking past noticed what must have been a long lost friend. With a squeal usually reserved for pigs at a trough, she ran up the steps hugged said friend and they both began to reminisce with great volume.

There was no attempt at moving someplace where there chatter might not annoy. In fact, the first lady kind of pushed the innocent fellow sitting nearby out of her way. The squealing and the loudness continued for two songs when lady # 1 finally left.
Not but minutes later the young man sitting next to me received a phone call on his cellular and chatted through yet another song. Having seen that he can get away with loudness he began discussing the concert in progress with the lady next to him.

“That sounds like Scott Joplin on the piano.”

I know it is a free concert and all, but if you want to hang out and talk, go the freak somewhere else!

Moving closer to the front to get away from the chatter we found ourselves amongst more chatter, but at least the volume was loud enough there to drown it out.

The Large Band cooked something hot that night. The backup singers, especially Francine Reed, have toured with Lyle for years and are well greased in his tunage. On songs like “(That’s Right) You’re Not From Texas” and “Church” they swing and fly like a well oiled locomotive.

As I complain about the audience I must also say many were quite enthusiastic as well. There was much white-boy country boogy-ing going on and we all enjoyed Lyle allowing the audience to finish “Here I Am” by shouting “make it a cheeseburger.”

The concert employed two people to sign for the hearing impaired. It was a beautiful thing watching a kind looking young lady perform what may have been the world’s greatest air cello performance during John Hagen’s extended solo.

The show ended without an encore and an apology from Lyle for not being able to play longer due to a city ordinance. The band left the stage to a beautiful, if short, fireworks display over the river.

Cost of a free concert:
$120 per night hotel
$3.00 per gallon of gasoline
$15 average cost of five meals dined out
$8.00 seat cushion to fend off wife’s fanny from hard Arch steps
$4.00 drinks at the concert
$300 in total.

It was worth every penny.

Set list:
Don’t Cry a Tear
Old Cowboys Sang??
This Traveling Around
I Will Rise Up
It Could Be All Downhill From Here
(That’s Right) You’re Not From Texas
I’ve Been to Memphis
The Last Time
Cute as a Bug
My Baby Don’t Tolerate
San Antonio Girl
That Old Train??
I Live in My Own Mind
Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down
Down the Old Plank Road
More Pretty Girls
If I Had a Boat
Give Back My Heart
Here I Am
What Do You Do
Sugar in My Bowl
Cello Solo
I’m Going to Wait
Here I Am (Instrumental)

August 3, 2006 Posted by | Concert Review | Leave a comment