It’s been two years since Hugh Laurie’s first album, but finally rabid fans can get their hands on Dr. Gregory House belting the blues while on piano and guitar, backed by the Copper Bottom Band. In fact, Laurie steps side stage on more than a few of Didn’t It Rain’s thirteen tracks, allowing his band members to shine. As such, the album bends from jazz to blues to R&B, and even dips a few notes into tango. Laurie has a love of the Great American Songbook and it is well on display. The first half of Didn’t It Rain will make you boogie while the second half will calm down enough to play in the background on a September, sweet-tea-sipping stroll.
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Gillian Welch is a singer-songwriter with bluegrass and Appalachian influences. Her albums The Harrow and the Harvest, Time (The Revelator), and Hell Among the Yearlings contain dark ballads, deep love, and feel both innovative and old time. If you like the Civil Wars, give Gillian Welch a listen!
Lonesome Wyatt is the Ambrose Bierce of underground country. He plays the kind of music you’d hear while walking down a dirt road headed deep into the woods weaving your way through haints and shadows. When he isn’t touring with Those Poor Bastards, Wyatt’s penning pulp novels to support their albums or working on his side project, Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks. His music is dark, atmospheric, desperate, and pained by life and the people in it. Murder ballads, ghost tales, broken hearts, bad relationships, benders, lost souls – it isn’t exactly uplifting, and yet, this isn’t a man who is weltering in misery. There’s a difference between shouting out wrongs and awfuls and wallowing in them.
Lonesome Wyatt is a mad-eyed architect of exquisitely desperate music. The Library was able to steal some of his time for a short talk about his reading habits and upcoming projects.
Mount Prospect Public Library: What was the last good book you read?
MPPL: Is there any genre or author you refuse to read? Why or why not?
LW: I don’t like to read things about teens or romance unless it’s from the 1950’s or earlier. I’m just not interested.
MPPL: How often do you read? What genres are your go-tos?
MPPL: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that Poe and Lovecraft have been inspirations to you…what other writers (or musicians…or artists) inspire you?
LW: I like the author Robert Lowry a whole bunch. His book The Big Cage really got me going. Also Nightmare Alley, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, and all those classic noir stories are very inspiring. The Silver Surfer 1968 series and the Ghost Rider 1970’s series have a lot of great stuff in them too. That’s what comes to mind right now, but the list of brain expanding and inspiring creations is almost endless.
MPPL: What book could draw you into joining a book club?
LW: I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it would have to have a monster or robot on the cover though.
MPPL: When was the last time you were in a library? Do you think libraries are still important in today’s world?
LW: I go to the library at least once a week. It’s one of my favorite places. You can get almost anything you want to read or watch without having to spend your hard earned dough on it. We always went to the library when I was growing up and I discovered some great things just browsing around. Libraries are full of an endless supply of fertilizer for the imagination. They are immeasurably important.
MPPL: Both books and music are becoming more and more a digital culture. Do you think anything is lost when the physical world gets digitized?
LW: I have absolutely no interest in digital stuff. I can’t understand the appeal. This old goat prefers paperback books and either vinyl records, cassette tapes, or CDs as a last resort.
MPPL: We heard tell that there’s a Halloween album in the works. Tell us more…and is there a novel to go with it?
LW: Some of my favorite albums are those old Halloween ones from the 60’s and 70’s. It’s a real shame that no one makes that kind of stuff anymore. Nothing beats listening to them in the gloom of the basement on a 1978 Fisher Price record player. It’s just perfect. They’re often refreshingly weird and unique.
Anyhow, those old records really moved me and I wanted to try to make something special out of that initial spark of inspiration. This record is like the musical equivalent of a homemade Halloween costume; kind of strange and clunky, but made with real heart. I’m awful fond of the thing. There’s no book with this one. It’s just a collection of stories and songs about monsters and death.
MPPL: What else is upcoming for you and Those Poor Bastards in 2013?
LW: Those Poor Bastards are playing some shows in August, then I’ll be releasing that Halloween album in October, and finally an Edgar Switchblade 7” will arrive in December. It should be a pretty frightening year.
For more information on the fantastic and foreboding art of Lonesome Wyatt, check him out on tour or at his website. Gotta have Lonesome Wyatt in your life right now? Stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk at the Library for Gospel Haunted by Those Poor Bastards or Lonesome Wyatt’s duet album with Rachel Brooke, Bitter Harvest.
Can’t wait for buzzed-about Broadway shows to make their way to the Midwest? Ease that longing with the best new cast recordings of the Great White Way. Kinky Boots won six 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Leading Role (the fabulous Billy Porter), and Best Original Score for composer/lyricist /pop icon Cyndi Lauper. Honors for Best Musical Revival went to Pippin, reimagined with a circus theme and featuring the spellbinding performance of Best Actress in a Leading Role Patina Miller. If jukebox hits are more your flavor, you can’t miss the energetic medleys of Motown: The Musical. Though the stage may be only in your mind, the theater experience will inspire a personal standing ovation.
Martin Scorsese directed George Harrison: Living in the Material World — a fascinating look at George Harrison’s life, focused on the period after he found success with the Fab Four. Displaying personal strife, finding his spiritual self, and the way he expertly created music, this is a must-see for any fan.
The final announcement that the Beatles had officially broken up came by a Paul McCartney press release on April 10, 1970. The break-up didn’t stop the music from spilling out of the Fab Four. George, Ringo, John, and Paul separately soldiered on.
Click here to see albums by each Beatle when they went solo.
Summertime begs a soundtrack that can back both active afternoons and sultry evenings. For a fun, bluesy, energizing mix, try Marcia Ball’s Peace, Love & BBQ. The influence of her Texas/Louisiana upbringing gleams in the pep of her piano and in her soulful singing. Just try to sit still!
Dave Grohl, of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, has made his directorial debut with Sound City, a documentary on the L.A. recording studio where Nirvana made Nevermind – arguably the most groundbreaking album of the ‘90s. Grohl claims that the custom Neve soundboard at Sound City is what helped define Nirvana’s music and gave him his career. Grohl uses archival footage and contemporary interviews with bands who recorded at Sound City, like Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, The Pixies, and Rage Against the Machine. Not only does Grohl chronicle the history of Sound City, he reunites famous musicians like Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney with the Neve in a 24-hour marathon recording session of all new songs.
Rachel Brooke sounds like she could be singing in a barnyard as easily as at rockabilly show. There is something dusty and wild about her voice. Lonesome Wyatt lays out a dark drawl. Together, they created A Bitter Harvest, an album for slow nights and thinking on the could-have-beens.
Post-punk is a rock music genre that can be considered punk’s artsy, more experimental little sister. Eventually, the white noise, synthesizers and moodiness of post-punk turned into new wave, industrial, and alternative rock.
For post-punk albums, click here.