Tag Archive | Live Show Reviews

Blake Morgan Debuts New CD at NYC’s The Cutting Room

Blake Morgan Diamonds in the Dark Cover

Armed with only his acoustic guitar and a soaring vocal range, singer/songwriter Blake Morgan celebrated the July 30th release of his latest CD, Diamonds in the Dark, with an engaging set played to a packed house at Manhattan’s Cutting Room.

While the unplugged set was missing the lusher aspects of Diamonds in the Dark’s expanded instrumentation, Morgan’s delivery and on stage charisma did each song full justice. This CD is really fantastic! Morgan’s adept guitar playing fondly recalls that of the late great George Harrison, while his voice varies between comparison to the adult contemporary mellowness of hit-maker Duncan Sheik and top-shelf Seventies pop greats such as Andrew Gold. And what’s not to like about that?

Morgan draws his subject matter from his past romantic relationships, and while the songs are obviously deeply personal, he keeps the message universal and accessible. Tuesday’s set featured nine cuts from the just-released Diamonds, including a few of my favorites like the opening number, “Haunt Me,” “Best Bad Idea” and “I Can Hear You Say.” I enjoyed Blake’s humorous between-song banter (where he revealed many of the details behind each song) and it was a fun evening for all! Diamonds in the Dark is available now wherever fine music is procured, and you can find out more about Blake by visiting This Link. See the set list below!

Cutting Room Set List

Haunt Me
Black Into Blue
Suspicious Bliss
Water Water Everywhere
Best Bad Idea
Don’t Want To Let You Go
I Can Hear You Say
We Left Off
So Scared And Happy

Robert Plant & The Band of Joy at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom

Photos by Geoffrey Dicker

A one-night-only performance by former Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant and his new group, The Band of Joy (which sold out NYC’s Bowery Ballroom through Ticketmaster in, literally, fewer than 60 seconds) was indeed a joyous performance: one that, for me, ranks among the most vibrant and emotionally satisfying live shows I’ve seen, ever. While Plant and his band proved beyond doubt that they can rock out, this wasn’t what you’d call a “Rock Show,” nor was it the kind of music I’d assume your average Led Zeppelin fan would find easily accessible. Still, Plant’s latest gig fits him like a second skin and the 500 or so people lucky enough to cram themselves inside the very packed venue were clearly enthralled.

Robert Plant and the Band of Joy performed a smooth mix of impeccably written standards and select favorites from Plant’s catalog, dipping into compatible genres from Americana to Country, Blues to Roots and even a little Gospel. Opening with a cover of Low’s “Monkey,” Plant found his groove and never let it go. Through a set that included cuts from the Band of Joy CD, several re-worked Led Zeppelin classics and songs from Plant’s recordings with The Honey Drippers and his recent Grammy winning disc with Alison Krauss, it was mesmerizing to watch this legendary vocalist take things down to a solo vocal only to have the band explode around him a split second later. Unbelievable.

At age 62, Plant’s voice remains untouchable and the band is truly phenomenal – each a gifted and well known musician individually, together they create a new and beautiful sound. Whether it was Buddy Miller’s outstanding work on both the six and twelve string guitar’s, Darrell Scott’s ringing mandolin, banjo, steel guitar or six-string, Patty Griffin’s larger than life vocals, Byron House’s versatile bass rhythms  and Marco Giovoni’s perfectly nuanced drums, there was something to be amazed at continuously.  It was also great to see Plant retreat to the rear of the stage and provide background vocals while Darrell Scott, who has an amazing voice, sang lead front and center, or wailing on the harmonica as Buddy Miller took the lead. You really got the feeling you were witnessing very special musical relationships evolving. This is a tour not to be missed.

Sunday night’s one hour and forty-five minute set was comprised of the following songs:

Monkey / House of Cards / Please Read the Letter / Misty Mountain Hop / Rich Woman / Trouble / 12 Gates to the City / Kings Horses / Satisfied Mind / Move Up / Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down / Central Two O Nine / Angel Dance / Houses of the Holy / Down to the Sea / Tall Cool One / Gallows Pole


Harms Swift Way / Rock and Roll / Goodnight

Thanks again to Rounder Records and Ken Weinstein of Big Hassle for the hot guest list action! You can buy or download the Band of Joy album now, as it was just released today!

I Like To Rock (Part 1, The Metal Years)

cmi music mararthon 2005 graphic

It’s CMJ week here in New York City and that means…well not much to me, actually. I’m bypassing the convention/panels/parties/endless-showcases-of-lame-bands -enjoying-their-five-seconds-of pre-fame this year in favor of attending just a few choice shows. Last night was my designated “Night of Rock,” despite the fact that my Quest for Rock Action meant I would miss the debut of Survivor: Guatemala. Sometimes we must make sacrifices in order to rock.

The first event on my evening’s agenda involved a pitstop at downtown hard rock landmark, Don Hill’s, where Munsey from Skateboard Marketing was holding his own version of a Metal Mania Party, featuring a performance by my favorite band of scary guys with facial hair, Fear Factory.

Burton Bell Fear Factory
Burton Bell of Fear Factory

This is a picture of Fear Factory singer Burton Bell. He is my very favorite heavy metal front man at the moment. Though Burton is not traditionally “hot” in the pop star sense — being kind of scary looking on stage — he is nevertheless unbelievable sexy, outrageously charismatic and has the best voice for the kind of somewhat melodic aggro metal Fear Factory does. I also love his tattoos. Burt, like me, is an Aquarius and that is probably why we get along. We had Mexican food together once, but that is another story.

It was so crazy to see Fear Factory in a teeny tiny club like Don Hill’s because they play huge venues like Roseland these days, and that ‘s part of the reason their set was so mind blowing. They were so tight and so loud and so fucking metal. My ears still hurt. Have you heard their new CD, Transgression? It just rules; a perfect mix of eat-your-face-off aggressive metal and heavy melodic rock. They remind me what Nine Inch Nails could be if Trent had any balls and wasn’t completely self-absorbed. Before their set, I had the chance to talk to Raymond Herrera, FF’s drummer, who I’ve interviewed a couple of times for Modern Drummer Magazine. He is amazing and completely hilarious to talk to.

Munsey’s party was a total blast because I also met up with some of my metal scene friends who I had not seen since winter, or in some cases over year or more, such as Jon Paris, Liz Ciavarella, Felix Sebacious, Rachel Martinez and Steve Prue. It was rad.

Next I jetted over to the Continental for the Liquor and Poker label showcase featuring two of my favorite bands in the Universe:

Crash Kelly Band
Crash Kelly

Black Halos Band

and The Black Halos

And I will get to that part the evening soon, but now I have to catch a train . . .more later involving much rocking, very cute rocker boys and lots of hugging and sweatiness.