Indiana Americana: Bobbie Lancaster previews new album; live version of “What You Do to Me”

Bobbie Lancaster’s new album “What You Do To Me” is out in the next few weeks, and she played live at WFHB (Bloomington) last weekend as part of their community radio fundraising. She forwarded me song she performed, and we share it courtesy of the fine music folks at WFHB (you can contribute@ 812.323.1200 – or visit their website They are a great little radio station).

Lancaster has one of the great Americana voices in Indiana and this debut solo album sounds like it will be terrific. This is a tasty acoustic version of the title cut.

Lala is Good as Gone

Lala is done. Will cease operations for existing members as well. One of the great ways to hears new albums goes away. Even if you didn’t know it was coming, it was a service too good to be long for this digital life…

The Apple-owned service is no longer accepting new users and, according to a message on its website, come May 31 it will cease operations for existing members as well.

The Roots of Rock History / April 25-May 1

Cheap Trick doing the Beatles, Elvis Costello covering Nazareth, Springsteen climbs a wall, and U2 bombs.

April 25
Just days after completing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1967, The Beatles lay down tracks for “Magical Mystery Tour” at Abbey Road studios in London.

Cheap Trick version of a classic tune from “Abbey Road” – just because we can…:

April 26
ABC’s telecast of “U2: A Year in POP” in 1997 becomes the lowest-rated prime-time program in the history of major network television.

Here’s what part of that broadcast looked like, with Dennis Hopper doing narration:

April 27
Ray Stevens
releases what would be his biggest hit, “The Streak”. The novelty tune would make it to the top of the US charts next month.

April 28
Blondie brings a touch of New Wave to the Hot 100 when “Heart Of Glass” reaches #1 in 1979.

April 29
Aretha Franklin releases “Respect” in 1969, her soon-to-be signature tune.

April 30
Elvis Presley records “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957. The song will go on to top the US Best Sellers list, the Hot 100, the R&B chart and even the Country and Western chart. It will also become the first single to enter the UK chart at #1.

In 1964,The Beatles receive $140,000 for the rights to having their pictures included in packages of bubble gum in the USA.

After playing Memphis during a southern tour in 1976, Bruce Springsteen climbs the fence at Graceland in an attempt to see Elvis Presley. Security guards stop him and he is escorted off the grounds.

Twiggs Lyndon, the road manager for the Allman Brothers Band, is arrested in 1970 for murder after he stabbed a club manager during an argument over a contract. At the ensuing trial, Lyndon’s lawyers will argue that he had been temporarily insane at the time of the incident and that touring with the Allman Brothers would drive anyone insane. Incredibly, Lyndon will be acquitted.

Then there’s the case of 51 year-old Darrell Sweet, drummer of Nazareth, best remembered for their 1976 hit “Love Hurts”. He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1999 before a show in New Albany, Ind., when he began feeling ill and within minutes went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed to the New Albany Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris performing “Love Hurts”:

May 1
In 1955, Leonard Chess signs Chuck Berry to a recording contract after he came highly recommended by Muddy Waters.


Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side of the Moon” finally drops off the US albums chart in 1988, after a run of 725 weeks (almost 14 years).

Hear Four New Songs from Upcoming Hold Steady Album

Heaven Is Whenever, the new album from the Hold Steady can be heard – at least some of it – on the web. Four songs from the record are online: “Hurricane J”, “Rock Problems”, “The Weekenders” and, “Barely Breathing”.

 Stream it at Stereogum

The album comes out May 4, and the band rocks “The Colbert Report” on May 13.

Now without longtime keyboard player, Franz Nicolay, The Hold Steady will slightly tilt how they have sounded for the past half-decade. Nicolay announced he was leaving at the end of January, believing his ideas were a bit, shall we say, stifled?

He gave a majestic, elegant layer of sound to The Hold Steady, and was an important ingredient in their musical soup – I would argue as important as the spoken-sung vocals or the snarling guitars.   Irreplaceable?  Probably not.  Judging from the new music, they’ll be fine.  But different, subtly or more.

For the man who’s always seemed to be either the subliminal genius or annoying little brother in the band, he is on his own, with his solo debut album “Major General”. Nicolay, famous for the Rollie Fingers-like moustache, Roy Bittan sound, and the near-bombastic (for a sideman) stage manner, told Paste Magazine that “(The Hold Steady) have their one big idea — making literate, wordy lyrics over big anthemic rock — and the last two records were about as good as I felt like I could do with that idea.”

“I told the band I’d be leaving in early September, and played my last show with them in Minneapolis around Thanksgiving” he wrote on his website.

Nicolay says he took part in recording sessions for the band’s new album last September, but his parts were re-recorded by another keyboardist.

He talks of banjos and tap dancing in most of the interviews I read online, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Album Review : BoDeans – “Mr Sad Clown”

Recorded in Austin, with lead BoDeans Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas playing everything (except for some horns brought in at the end), Mr. Sad Clown highlights harmonies and exemplifies the band’s ability to write music that is ultimately likable and hummable. No, this one is not a classic for their catalog I didn’t have that expectation, though I would have liked a little of the rock band rawness their live show brings. There is a controlled element to this effort. What they do best live is blend the beauty of their vocal sound with the push of a band that is more greasy than glossy. That’s not this record. What we get hereis a piece of studio work which trades musical looseness for a chance to highlight the sound of two voices who have aged pretty damn well.

Some of those aforementioned horns come in midway through “Stay,” the first cut on the record, and help make a good opener memorable.

There are 15 tracks, and the best combine raggedness with the benefits of more studio patience. “Say Goodbye” grabs like a key cut off one of their early albums. Agospel organ appears early in the song, and the music pumps along behind a chugging bass and some sweet-yet-rough BoDean harmony. Same for “Don’t Fall Down”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on their T-Bone Burnett-produced debut album Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams.

“Headed for the End of the World” could be the best track: It has the urgency and ringing guitar that propels their best songs, like classics “Good Things” or “Runaway”.

Buried near the end of the record, “Feel Lil’ Love” rocks like Cheap Trick. We even get some Smashing Pumpkins (!) influence on “Back Then”.

Throughout the album, there are embellishments found via the freedom of tinkering on their own production: a buried alien keyboard here, glockenspiel-type chiming there, and a variety of guitar styles, including some Duane Eddy twang and a Chuck Berry guitar distortion. Neumann has always been a loud roots-rock guitarist, and that gift pops up in needed spots to lend saw crunch throughout the record

Ballads like “If…” and “Easy Love” take more effort because of their pace, but Sammy’s voice on each has a beautiful yearning. Album closer “Gone X 3” is haunting.

After many years of battling a record company for independence, the band has become downright prolific, with three albums and a couple live releases in less than a decade. When I interviewed Neumann before an Indianapolis appearance last year, he mentioned that more frequent releases was a goal.

There’s nothing wrong with a new BoDeans release. We know they probably aren’t going to make radical departures in sound and tone. We get what we expect, and that’s a good thing. And then we will probably get the opportunity to see them live at The Vogue, where the best songs will findtheir potential, and the rawness and energy that ultimately make the BoDeans viable and memorable will make a return.