Twang Rock News: Louisville legend Tim Krekel dies, New Charlie Robison album rocks, U2 gets loud, Ryan Bingham coming to Indy

Though not a name familiar to many music fans in Indianapolis, Tim Krekel is one you should have known about. Krekel died of cancer Wednesday afternoon at his Louisville home.  He was a great roots-rock artist, melodic but crunchy guitar player, and put out some great records. He was 58. 

Louisville Americana music legend Tim Krekel passed away Wednesday
Louisville Americana music legend Tim Krekel passed away Wednesday

A Louisville native, Krekel’s career started in local clubs before he was a teenager and eventually gained him a spot in Jimmy Buffet’s band.

His 1986 album, Over The Fence, with his band The Sluggers, was called by Rolling Stone “roots-based guitar band that matters”. The Louisville Courier-Journal said “Krekel
work(ed) the roots-rock territory with an authority gained from 25 years in the business”.

The Italian record company, Appaloosa Records, released his Out Of The Corner in 1991. It received a four star rating from CD Review, which also touted Tim as “One of American Rock ‘N Roll’s great unknowns.” By 1991, Tim had acquired a dedicated following in the U.S. and in Europe.

He moved back to Louisville in 1993 and started a new band. Tim Krekel & the Groovebillys first release, L&N, became the best-selling record in Louisville–outselling national releases. The band’s next release, 1999’s Underground, hit number one in local sales its first week.

His last full-length record was 2007’s Soul Season.

 Monday night  (6.22.09) U2 began rehearsing for their U2360 World Tour.   They are set up at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Spain, where they will open the tour on June 30. Among the highlights included “The Unforgettable Fire” played live for the first time since 1990. Absent were songs from the band’s first 3 albums, as well as all of their 1990s albums with the exception of “Ultraviolet”.
Monday’s Set:
Get On Your Boots
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Drowning Man
In A Little While
Angel Of Harlem / Suspicious Minds (snippet)
Unknown Caller
The Unforgettable Fire
City Of Blinding Lights
Where The Streets Have No Name
Ultra Violet
With Or Without You
Crazy Tonight
No Line On The Horizon
Moment Of Surrender

Ryan Bingham Coming to Radio Radio
Ryan’s early self-released albums were brought to the attention of Nashville heavyweight Lost Highway Records, who signed Bingham and issued his major-label debut, Mescalito in 2007. Now, Bingham has teamed with that record’s producer, Marc Ford (ex- Black Crowes guitarist), to make 2009’s Roadhouse Sun, and is coming to Indianapolis in July to support the record with a show at Radio Radio.
Indianapolis Songwriters Cafe Presents  Ryan Bingham and The Dead Horses w/ special guest Jesse Dayton at Radio Radio on Friday, July 10th @ 9pm

New Charlie Robison Album – “Beautiful Day” – released Tuesday (6.23.09)
Interview excerpt from
“If I give it to someone while I’m driving or something, people that maybe don’t know me real well will go through it and be like, “Man, I would have never, ever thought that you’d be into this stuff.” I consider myself a country artist, I consider myself a rock artist, I consider myself an Americana artist.
Read entire interview here
“I was … I keep going back to influences, but how would you classify him? I think being somewhat unclassifiable is probably the greatest compliment I could get as a musician. So I kind of like that, and I certainly can’t classify myself, because I never know what’s coming out next.” 

Indiana Album Review: Shelby Kelley – “Alone”

I live in Indianapolis.  I love Indiana rock and roll.  Hoosier albums come my way a lot; through stories and review I write  for NUVO, and through unsolicited packages.   To call much of it Mellencamp infused and influenced would be far too simplistic. But much of the really good music from Indiana does contain  “Scarecrow” and “Lonesome Jubilee” echoes, even if only faintly heard. But there is usually some Petty.  It has Seger.  I even hear R.E.M influences in a lot of it.  Oh, and add some country shit too.  Maybe Cheap Trick, but then I think any great rock band that has come of age after 1981 is influenced in some way by Cheap Trick. – it’s one of my idiosyncrasies.  Whatever.  I can’t help it.   I could go on, but the more I think about it, the more I think I may be wrong.  There are those bands, but also weird, sensational, inspired surprises that come from the best Indiana artists, hidden – or not – in their music.

shelbykelley_albumShelby Kelley is probably known best in Indianapolis as a member of Creepin’ Charley and the Boneyard Orchestra, but here steps out on his own for a raw-but-clean solo album.

With the appropriately named “Alone”, Kelley gives us an acoustic guitar-based, Americana album, featuring Kelly’s voice, guitar and occasional harmonica as the only instruments. He strips down the garage rock of his Creepin’ Charley band, and crafts an intimate-yet-rocking solo record that showcases his folk rock side

Standing somewhere between Tom Petty and Robert Earl Keen, the record proves inviting and engaging, though the lyrics, despite some good lines, are always fighting to keep up with Kelley’s terrific rhythm guitar. If you are going to make a record as simple and basic as “Alone”, listeners need both memorable melodies and meaningful lyrics. There is no crash-bam-boom drums or gritty guitar solos to provide rescue. When Kelley’s music and lyrics do connect (“Based on a True Story”, “End of It All”, “Down This Road”), listener patience is rewarded.

“I Know” opens the record in a Petty “Free Fallin’ feel, with lyrics peering, from an outsider viewpoint, into the soul of girl’s lost innocence, while “Down This Road” is a country-tinged rocker, hinting that Kelley may have some Joe Ely cassettes at home. Kelley’s hard strumming rhythm guitar makes the tune one of the best on the album. The sweet harmonica solo in the middle is all the more powerful because of the sparse use of instruments on the record.

“End Of It All ” carries the record into the rough pop-rock hooks and Springsteen themes at which Kelley excels.

Kelley’s channels Pretender-era Jackson Browne on “Wish Upon Wish”, letting his voice become the leader; his California rock sound no more evident than here.

Part of the success of the record comes from the clarity-plus-fullness sound. Recorded without much evident reverb, there’s immediacy to the sound that helps pull a listener’s ears into the album. Recorded at Stable Studios in Spencer, Indiana and engineered by Michael Osborne, the production gives the album a sound much like a Kelley live solo show.

A bit less successful is “Camelot is Burning”. Not as pop-influenced as other songs, and tougher to instantly like, Kelley and Osborne add a bit of processing to the guitar, giving the song a different feel than the rest of the songs on the album. And the breakdown before each chorus effectively builds musical tension and becomes the tunes’ hook. Similar to “Dead End Skies” later it the record, they are two of the album’s songs that take more than one or two listens to find their heart

“Based on a True Story” ends the eight-song album with a powerful flourish. Again into Robert Earl Keen/Todd Snider territory, taking his shot at the story-song “Road Goes on Forever” template, it is one that works well for Kelley.

It’s the consistent energy and in-the-room sound produced from Shelby Kelley’s gut-grabbing three-chord guitar playing that gives “Alone” the needed push. It makes the full-yet-simple guitar and vocals record worthy of a listen for fans of Americana singer-songwriters.

Phish and Bruce Springsteen live at Bonnaroo 2009 – Glory Days

Springsteen headlined the Saturday night  (6.13) Bonnaroo Concert, with a 3-hour set.  Phish then played two sets on Sunday night (6.14) to close the festival, and brought Bruce out for three songs – “Mustang” Sally”,  and Springsteen’s “Bobby Jean” and “Glory Days” – to close the first set.  Here is “Glory Days”.  The song is a bit rushed and nothing special UNTIL around the 4:00 mark of the video.  The song takes off with a  twin guitar duel, and Trey then blowing any minds that were left after three days of music….

Concert Review: Bodeans Rock and Roll the Vogue – Again

another Bodeans show in Indy - another rock and roll blowout
another Bodeans show in Indy - another rock and roll blowout

While there are no guarantees in rock and roll, a BoDeans show at the Vogue is something that rarely fails to inspire an audience with the joy of rock and roll. And there’s always a little bit of muted pain too, because just below the surface of many of Kurt Nuemann’s and Sammy Llanas’ songs are bits of melancholy, rejection and loss.

And because this is a band that may deserve a little more success than the music business has given them.

The two singer/songwriters, who are the BoDeans, pulled into Indianapolis on Friday night, and had, by the end the 16-song, 110-minute show, given the mostly 40-something roots rock fans a reminder of where the buzz started for the band. The songs and music off of the band’s 1986 debut album “Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams” carried the most musical weight and lyrical resonance, and the bands performance helped remind why that album deserved it’s remastering and re-release earlier this year.

Opening with the ethereal “Pretty Ghost” from 2008’s “Still “album, the band proceeded to then knock out two from 1993’s “Go Slow Down”, with the blending of the singer’s voices shining on “Idaho” and then getting the audience bouncing with “Texas Ride Song”, highlighting Bukka Allen’s accordion playing. He was featured prominently on that instrument throughout the evening, giving a uniqueness of sound to add to the harmonies and Kurt’s’s guitar playing, always a integral part of the gig.

After “Everyday”, from their new record, came a surprising early set inclusion of one the band’s regular show closers. “Good Work”, from 1989’s “Home” with it’s Chuck Berry riff and breakneck pace was the first spot for the band to get sweaty and dirty, hear the drums crashing, and crank both the crowd and band energy levels.

Subtly, the sound mix was short of great. While the band would end up trumping what Lucinda Williams had done with her encore three days earlier at the same venue, her house sound mix was superior to the less distinct and at times boomy sound on Friday; simply not as crisp for the BoDeans, though never bad enough to hinder the performance. I moved around to numerous spots in the theatre, searching for a “best” spot. To the right of the soundboard proved to be as good as it got. Within 15 rows of the stage, the volume coupled with band and crowd energy was also a good position, making up for nuances not in the mix.

From LHSD, Sammy introduced “Still the Night” by asking how many had seen them before (big cheer), thanked the audience for being their “little family on the road” and promptly jumped into the song that never fails to get a BoDeans crowd excited. Smartly, they dropped in a lyrical and musical snippet from “Hey Pretty Girl”, from their 1996 “Blend” effort, and was a sweet little teaser for hardcore fans who picked up on it. By the end of the song, the band was again chugging hard, something they did throughout the night – extending the songs, not with noodling, but finding another rock and roll gear.

“She’s a Runaway”, also from the first album, was recast at half speed, as Sammy, who began the song slapping his palm on his acoustic guitar strings, told the audience after playing it that “sometimes Mary needs a new dress”.

Following the sweet harmony showcase of “Stay On”, it was again back to the first record for “Fadaway” and then the sugary melody of “First Time” from their new record – It’s a pretty pop song, memorable in it’s simplicity.

After the slow dance version of “Naked”, they played “Feed the Fire”. The rocker from “Go Slow Down” is usually overshadowed by the same album’s more familiar upbeat burner “Closer to Free”, but on this night provided a podium for the band to drop pieces of classic rock songs onto the end of it. “Gimme Shelter”, “In the Midnight Hour”, “Gloria”, “Light My Fire” and Sly Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher” found places on the back end. The aforementioned “Closer to Free” closed the set, giving the 600 or so at the Vogue a pairing to keep them wanting more.

Unlike Williams’ trio of encore songs that had fallen a bit flat, the BoDeans used their set coda to do what Sly Stone wanted.

“Misery”, one that sits in it’s groove and burns, kept the connection between band and crowd working, with a spot-on audience effort, shouting back on the call-and-response chorus.

“You Don’t Get Much”, from the excellent “Home” record started with Kurt’s best Edge/U2 channeling (the group had opened for U2 ‘s stadium tour before recording the album) and ended with Kurt and Sammy facing each other at center stage, then heading to stand on the front monitors. They did the same with “Good Things”, shredding the song as they finished, and again six inches from each other’s face before talking, smiling and finally simultaneously jumping up and down to the beat to bring the tune to a crashing finale.

Sam and Kurt and the rest of the band were having obvious fun, sweaty and grinning at the end. It’s what we have come to expect from the BoDeans. They delivered again.

BoDeans Try to Recover Lost Opportunity

BoDeans have made Indianapolis one of their favorite stops
BoDeans have made Indianapolis one of their favorite stops

There’s a moment, early in every show, when the BoDeans connect with the crowd. It might be during the slow chorus of “You Don’t Get Much.” Or the refrain, “I might never, no never let go – whoa-oh” from “Still the Night.” But sometime during the first few minutes of every BoDeans show I’ve been to, fans will start to sing loudly. And that’s when I know the rest of the night is going to be good.

The BoDeans – the band that made Waukesha, Wis., famous – are songwriters Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas. Always known for performing a soul-stirring rock and roll show, they had a fluke hit song (“Closer to Free”) in 1995 before being derailed by a lawsuit in the middle of what would be their only real shot at bigger things. Still trying to make up for lost opportunity, they were back in Indy for a show at the Vogue June 12.

“We have played a lot of shows all these years at the Vogue. And always had a lot of just crazy, crazy packed houses full of people – always had a good time,” Neumann, on the phone from Austin, Texas, says when asked about Indianapolis. “And I think of [drummer] Kenny [Aronoff], because he played a lot of shows with us and he is from there.”

Out from under struggles against management and record companies, Neumann says they have been making an effort to release more music and push forward. The band has become a part of the eclectic Austin music community after spending 30 years in Waukesha. Through the move and all the legal tumult, the band has never stopped performing, but it has been more difficult to find the time and resources to record albums.

“We spent about eight years where management kind of sat and didn’t do much. We went through a big fiasco around 2004,” Nuemann remembers. “We had been dropped by Warner around 1998. My perspective was, ‘Let’s go get another label.’ But the management kind of went on hiatus and we could never get them to work again, though we were going into the studio to make demos because we kept hearing they weren’t good enough.

“It got to a point I finally said to Sam that we were going to have to take things in our own hands. We knew there was going to be big litigation, but we had to go through it to break free and start releasing stuff again.”

The band’s first album, Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, was recently re-released. The re-mastered version with bonus tracks helps to put the band’s legacy in perspective.

“The record had always had a lot of warmth and not many people heard it on vinyl because they were buying CDs by then. I just wanted to take another shot at it,” Neumann says.

T-Bone Burnett, mostly unknown at the time, produced the album, long before he became one of the top-shelf producers in rock music.

“I think he likes us because of the authenticity of sound. We also seem to have a common sense of humor,” Neumann says. “There are a handful of people out there who go up on stage and sing songs. And it’s not about a bunch of frills or not about image at all. The BoDeans have been kind of an imageless band – by choice really. We just want it to be about the music. We are not necessarily going to bring a lot of attention to him.”

The re-release is paired with a concert video, recorded in 1985 at the legendary First Avenue in Minneapolis just weeks before the band signed to Slash records.

“These people contacted us, and had found a bunch of footage down in the basement of First Avenue from a concert we had done in 1985,” he says. “It was right around that time we were talking to the labels and talking about hooking up with T-Bone.”

While the extended hiatus in the late ’90s prevented some projects from being realized, since 2002, the band has released a live album, two studio albums and a live acoustic record through their Web site. The album, Still, released in 2008, reunited the band with Burnett.

“I think we will be remembered for our singing and harmonies and the sound we created together. It was one of the things that defined us and when you heard it you knew it was us,” Nuemann says. “And the live shows were also important, because of the energy we tried to create. So that would be a great thing to be remembered for too.”