With a career spanning three decades and eleven studio albums, The Reverend Horton Heat has set the standard for rockabilly music. Texas born singer-songwriter Jim Heath worked behind the scenes as a sound guy for many bands in Dallas before he decided to step into the spotlight and start his own band in 1985. When Heath decided on a name for the band he simply dropped the “H” from his last name and chose to pay homage to famous rockabilly legend Johnny Horton. Once he recruited a few talented artists, the band moved to Seattle and in 1990 their first album, Smoke ‘em If You Got ‘em, was released on Sub Pop. As with any long-running band, members come and go. The current lineup includes Heath and upright bass player Jimbo Wallace, who has been with the band since 1989, and drummer Scott Churilla. Their music has achieved wide commercial success and has been featured in several video games over the years. Guitar Hero Smash Hits even showcased their famous track “Psychobilly Freakout.”
The music lounge was cranked to 11 for the Reverend Horton Heat’s set here today. The place was a packed house, with at least two dozen people crammed standing in the back. But every single person glad they were there - Jim and the crew threw down a vicious set of rockabilly brilliance here today. The three-piece is as tight as it gets, with each speeding number done with perfection only outdone by the energy. Plus, the band does not shy on showmanship. For the band’s 1993 classic “The Devil’s Chasing Me”, Jimbo Wallace laid his bass down on its side and played sideways while Jim Heath ripped out a 3 minute solo on top of it. For the slow six burner “Loaded Gun”, each guitar signature only seemed to further accentuate the drunken simmer at hand. Even twenty years later, all of the classics sound as brilliantly effective as ever, mixing a sensual mixture of devilish intention and danceable sensation. But the new numbers sounded just as good - “Smell of Gasoline” from the band’s 2014 Rev made for a ripping opener with a great hook. Jim and the boys proved their place at the top of the rockabilly food chain. There’s no doubt they’ll be rocking the Starbucks stage to the ground later tonight.
Shovels and Rope // photo by Matthew B. Thompson (view set)
KEXP has our TV eye set for this week in late night television. Set your DVR, TiVo, or just drink some coffee to stay awake for these musical guest performances on your favorite talk shows. Here are the highlights:
Monday, September 1st:
The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon: Jack White (R)
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Bob Mould (R)
Tuesday, September 2nd:
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Wiz Khalifa
Last Call with Carson Daly: The Crystal Method, Milagres (R)
Wednesday, September 3rd:
Late Show with David Letterman: The New Pornographers
Last Call with Carson Daly: Lucius (R)
Conan: Shovels & Rope
Ellen: Ray LaMontagne (R)
Thursday, September 4th:
Late Show with David Letterman: Alt-J
Friday, September 5th:
Late Show with David Letterman: Kevin Drew
The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon: Fences featuring Macklemore
Tavis Smiley: Chuck D
Saturday, September 6th:
Austin City Limits: Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell
Coinciding with the rise in popularity and influence of American roots music, a new generation of songwriters has cropped up to transcend the stories and culture that inspired their predecessors and paint pictures of modern American life. At the forefront of this new chapter is Hurray For The Riff Raff leader Alynda Lee Segarra, whose songs use traditional instrumentation to describe a modern picture of America. Raised in the Bronx, Segarra left home at the age of 17, opting to hop freight trains around the country in order to see the world. Upon meeting fellow nomadic musicians, Segarra decided to pursue music while continuing to travel, and by 2008, she had found a musical home in New Orleans and formed Hurray For The Riff Raff as her primary musical outlet. After four self- or independent-released albums, this year’s Small Town Heroes brought the band into a larger spotlight, and in a time where myriad cultural and racial issues are being brought to national attention, there’s no better time for a songwriter like Segarra – a queer-identifying feminist – to tell those stories in her music.
Segarra opened the set by herself, with the beautifully reserved “The New SF Bay Blues”. Segarra is as commanding as be in the reserved music lounge context. Her pained lyrics and soaring voice combine to make for a powerful experience. But when her bandmates joined her for the upbeat “Blue Ridge Mountain”, the vibe really came alive. The band’s third track was an instrumental jam complete with crowd interaction where appropriate. Throughout their set, Hurray for the Riff Raff kept the energy up and the crowd engaged - an excellent way to continue the day’s festivities.
With a voice nurtured by her Tennessee church roots, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Valerie June skillfully combines gospel, folk, bluegrass, and a bevy of other genres in her music. Known for her distinct voice, June was determined to succeed as a solo artist and taught herself to play guitar, ukelele, and banjo. She’s been active since 2006, self-releasing three albums and eventually began a Kickstarter to fund her first studio release, Pushin’ Against a Stone. The album, released through Concord Music Group, was produced by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Kevin Augunas (Florence + The Machine, Edward Sharpe).
Live in the music lounge, surrounded by an armada of stringed instruments, with jangling percussive instruments at her feet for stomping, Valerie June’s spirit seems to emanate from another time. Introducing songs like “Twined and Twisted”, she talks about the dreams that inspired them, and how the melodies sang to her and not the other way around. For “Workin Woman Blues”, she nodded to her grandmother who just turned 89, and described a setting where she hoped to be surrounded by the other women who have worked so hard over the years in her family to celebrate the power and the collective joy therein. Every song for Valerie June is a story - a melody set to the scene of a specific time and place, where June happily brings her audience with each change of an instrument. Down to earth, playing her set as if from the center of a living room full of loved friends, she also carries an air of solidarity, as if each song is a journal entry of a story later to be shared with the world. June started off Monday’s music lounge action with a deeply effective and beautiful set.
Surprise! While you’re enjoying your Labor Day weekend, rock n’ roll rabblerouser Ryan Adams shared the full stream of his new self-titled 14th album -- his first in three years. The album hits the streets September 9th via PaxAm Records in conjunction with Columbia, but you can listen to it now at NPR Music. Adams hits the Paramount Theatre on Monday, October 6th. [NPR Music]
Legendary San Diego post-punk outfit Drive Like Jehu called it quits in 1995, but reunited over the weekend for one night only at San Diego’s Balboa Park. No, it wasn’t for charity, and it’s reportedly not the beginning of more reunion shows: the band say they did it for the chance to perform with the giant Balboa Park organ. Watch footage from the reunion below: [Pitchfork]
It’s hard to believe it’ll be our final day broadcasting from the Music Lounge, and we’ve got another wonderful line-up, including soulful sweetheart Valerie June; New Orleans-based Americana group Hurray for the Riff Raff; legendary psychobilly trio The Reverend Horton Heat, beloved Barsuk-band Nada Surf; and Seattle’s own psychrockers Rose Windows.
Listen to these live sessions all day long as KEXP broadcasts from the Bumbershoot Music Lounge!
12:00 PM - Valerie June
1:15 PM - Hurray for the Riff Raff
2:30 PM - The Reverend Horton Heat
3:45 PM - Nada Surf
5:30 PM - Rose Windows
Bumbershoot 2014 kicked off Saturday in spectacular fashion. Variable weather didn’t prevent the thousands upon thousands of music fans from flooding Seattle Center throughout the day and celebrating the brilliant and eclectic mixture of art on display today. From cool, R&B grooves of Donnie and Joe Emerson to the hip-hop veteran showcase of the Wu-Tang Clan, Saturday couldn’t have started the weekend off to a better start.
photo by Dave Lichterman
Capitol Hill garage rock favorites Dude York jumped on the Pavilion stage early in the day to get the party started right. After an entertaining soundcheck (conversation topics included a battle between Twix and Nutrageous and 30 second cover songs abounded, including Kanye’s “Bound 2″), the band said hello to their sizable crowd and proceeded to rip mercilessly through a 40 minute set. Much of the band’s fantastic Dehumanize made it into the setlist, including “Cannibal” and “Eighth Grade”. For a young band, it’s amazing how well the Capitol Hill three piece has their stage presence down. Peter rips through one guitar line after another before dueling instruments with Claire, both with mock glam rock expressions on their faces before cracking up and trying to get it together again. Meanwhile, Andrew just blasts through one caveman battering after another, always with a smile (and at this particular show, wearing official Disney 101 Dalmatians jeans - did you even know that was a thing?). Altogether, Dude York got Bumbershoot started off right. The Capitol Hill band continue to prove themselves as one of the most exciting and refreshing acts Seattle has. Read More »
Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Morning Show with DJ John Richards, is “Hollow” by Alex G, from the 2014 album DSU on Orchid Tapes.
What’s better than hearing local music at a local festival? One of Seattle’s most definitive contemporary indie acts, The Head and the Heart, are known for playing an infectious live set. Between the hand-clapping and the harmonies, they’re a hometown favorite not to be missed live. The band, signed to Sub Pop Records, released their second album, Let’s Be Still, last year, following their popular self-titled debut (it was one of Sub Pop’s top selling debuts!). These folk darlings are loved for their country-tinged folk-pop, which, admittedly, is pretty hard to resist. Since their goal has been to make their records sound like they do live, you know they’ll charm the audience at today’s performance in the KEXP Bumbershoot Music Lounge.