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Check It Out

Check It Out!: February 20, 2014

Muscle Shoals: Alabama’s Answer To Motown

Original Soundtrack — Muscle Shoals (Republic) — Tucked into the top northwest corner of Alabama, Muscle Shoals might just be another quiet burg in the Deep South were it not for the enormous amount of classic music that’s emerged from Rick Hall’s FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios since the late 1950s. Last year’s stellar documentary Muscle Shoals reflected its importance as not only a music scene as vital as anything in Memphis or Detroit, but a place where the creative process was colorblind despite what racial turmoil may have been going on during the studio’s heyday.

And since it’s all about the music, no surprise that this soundtrack of songs recorded here knocks it out of the park despite only scratching the surface of manna that was recorded at Muscle Shoals. Along with the hit that got the ball rolling for Hall and his merry band of sidemen (Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Spooner Oldham, Pete Carr), Jimmy Hughes’ “Steal Away,” the small slice of classic music recorded in this environs of a tiny Alabama town is mind-boggling. Percy Sledge (“When a Man Loves a Woman”), Aretha Franklin (“I Never Loved a Man [The Way I Loved You])”), Paul Simon (“Kodachrome”), The Staple Singers (“I’ll Take You There”) and Etta James (“Tell Mama”) are just some of the earworms you’ll find here.

Of special note is Wilson Pickett’s hellacious reading of “Hey Jude,” suggested by Duane Allman who played on this recording during his pre-Allman Brothers stint as a Muscle Shoals session cat and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” Now while the latter is a worn out warhorse thanks to classic rock’s insistence airing it incessantly, this arrangement features a more syncopated drum track and is more piano-heavy, giving the song somewhat fresher legs. Capping it off is a stunning reading of Bob Dylan’s “Pressing On” by Alicia Keys that really takes off thanks to the gospel-kissed touch she gives it. An added bonus with this soundtrack is Greg Allman’s brief yet insightful liner notes.


February 21

Westbury

Bob Weir & Ratdog @ NYCB Theatre @ Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.,

7:30 p.m. $62.50, $52. 877-598-8497 www.livenation.com

More of a touring entity than a studio-ready unit, RatDog is the side project that became a main gig for Bob Weir once Jerry Garcia passed away and rendered the Grateful Dead a moot entity. (That is, until Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart decided to create The Other Ones, an outfit that was once called the “ultimate Dead cover band.”) In the past decade plus, Weir has taken to the road with RatDog, intermittently with founding member Rob Wasserman, and aside from the millennial studio release Evening Moods, he’s been content to let his music do the talking in a live setting. This works out just fine for those jonesing Deadheads still going through withdrawal from Jerry and the boys. (Also appearing on Feb. 22)


February 22

Bay Shore

Popa Chubby & Joe Louis Walker

@ the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts,

37 W. Main St. 8 p.m. $40, $35.

631-969-1101 www.boultoncenter.org

This most unusual bill features artists that followed distinctly different paths towards eventually becoming known for playing the blues. Popa Chubby, (aka Ted Horowitz), started out backing Richard Hell and playing CBGB’s on a regular basis before expanding beyond his Cream, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin roots to the land of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. A recent divorce and recovery inspired his latest, last year’s Universal Breakdown Blues. Six-string wielding San Francisco native Joe Louis Walker has been plying his trade since the mid-’60s. One of the genre’s best-kept secrets, JLW has nonetheless recorded with the likes of Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt and B.B King, while undergoing a musical journey that found him delving into psychedelic rock and gospel before returning to his blues roots in the mid-’80s.


February 25

NYC

Delta Rae @ Bowery Ballroom,

6 Delancey St., 7:30 p.m. $20.

866-858-0008

www.boweryballroom.com

Nowadays it seems that bands coming out of the South tend to be more of a family affair (see Kings of Leon). It’s no different with Delta Rae, a North Carolina outfit consisting of siblings Ian, Eric and Brittany Holljes, whose ranks are rounded out by Elizabeth Hopkins, Mike McKee and Grant Emerson. Harmonies and hooks are at the heart of this sextet’s sound with comparisons to Nickel Creek and Fleetwood Mac often being bandied about, particularly after the release of the band’s 2012 debut Carry the Fire. There must be something to the latter comparison as Lindsey Buckingham deigned to appear on “If I Loved You” off that effort. With a new studio album set to drop in the spring, expect some new fare to pop up at this show. With The Falls and Angelica Garcia.


February 25

Huntington

Rock Legend — Donovan: Rare Clips (1964-1970s)

@ Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave. 7:30 p.m.

$10 members. $15 public/includes reception.

631-423-7610 www.cinemaartscentre.org

Since 2009, Bill Shelley has collaborated with Dylan Skolnick to put on a monthly series of rock-related screenings of rare footage. Over time, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, James Brown and Sun Records have all gotten the Rock Legend treatment. Next up is Donovan, British folkie turned rock legend who most recently appeared as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Beatles arrival in the States that was recently held in Manhattan. For this screening, expect to see footage of the soft-spoken Scot singing gems “Universal Soldier,” “Atlantis,” “Catch the Wind,” “Colours” and “Season of the Witch” in different footage taken from television appearances, early live shows and promotional clips.


February 25

NYC

St. Vincent @ Terminal 5, 610 W. 56th St. 8 p.m.

$30 adv. $35 DOS. 212-582-6600 www.terminal5nyc.com

Niece of jazz guitarist Tuck Andress, St. Vincent, (aka Annie Clark), has wowed everyone from critics to fellow iconoclast David Byrne, (who she collaborated with on 2012’s Love This Giant), with her eclectic songwriting acumen and six-string prowess. The ex-member of the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ band, takes her blend of indie rock, cabaret pop and cabaret jazz over to Universal/Republic Records, where her self-titled debut for this major label imprint drops this week.


February 25

NYC

Mayer Hawthorne @ Webster Hall, 125 East 11th St.

6 p.m. $18 adv. $20 DOS. 212-260-4700 www.websterhall.com

While Robin Thicke was busy getting assaulted by Miley Cyrus’ twerking, Mayer Hawthorne has been getting his neo-soul groove on over the span of three albums. Last year’s Where Does This Door Go found him cavorting in the studio with a host of producers including Jack Splash, Pharrell Williams and Greg Wells. The results feature plenty of sly romancing, hooks and R&B-soaked grooves, oftentimes provided by this multi-instrumentalist. At times sounding like a sexier Donald Fagen, Hawthorne travels in the same stylistic neighborhood as John Legend. For more about Hawthorne, see the feature on page 28A of this issue of Long Island Weekly. (Also appearing on Feb. 28 at Warsaw, 261 Driggs Ave., Greenpoint, Brooklyn 718-387-0505 www.warsawconcerts.com)


February 28

NYC

Band of Horses @ Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd St. 8 p.m. $40.

212-307-4100 www.the-townhall-nyc.org

Even though Band of Horses’ last effort, 2012’s Mirage Rock, was more of a Southern Gothic-flavored dream pop-flavored affair, the brand new Acoustic at the Ryman is packed with 10 unplugged versions of songs plucked from the band’s four albums. Recorded at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium over two nights in April of last year, this Town Hall date is one of 13 special acoustic performances tied into the release of this new project. With Sera Cahoone.


February 28

Bay Shore

Tab Benoit w/Tommy Malone of the Subdudes

@ the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts,

37 W. Main St. 8 p.m. $50, $45.

631-969-1101 www.boultoncenter.org   

Louisiana is in the house with this double bill. Tab Benoit is a devoted environmentalist involved in conserving his home state’s wetlands while also happening to be a pretty righteous guitarist. Having worked with a number of fellow natives of the Bayou State including Michael Doucet of Beausoleil, Ivan Neville and the recently-deceased Tabby Thomas, it’s no surprise that Benoit has thrown his musical lot in with Tommy Malone of the Crescent City’s own Subdudes. Malone also has a local Long Island connection with his second release on Northport-based M.C. Records set to come out this April.