Take Your Giant Music Festival and Shove It

2015 just might be the year the major music festivals lost their collective souls.

The lineups for Coachella and Bonnaroo have been released, and they both absolutely suck. Seriously, Coachella is only four hours away and I could probably a finagle a free ticket, and I still won't go. Shoot, I wouldn't go if it was in Glendale.

Now, some music writers would get all deep into the lineup on why it's bad, but forget all that noise, I'm going to start from the top. How are you trying to sell me on Drake being a good headliner for Coachella?

Just look through the amazing headliners that fest has pulled -- Rage Against the Machine, Jay Z, Daft Punk, and Bjork just to name a few -- and putting Drake into that club seems like bad practice.

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Courtney Barnett's Slacker Sound Masks Her Sly Observations on Life

Categories: Folk You!

Tajette O'Halloran
Courtney Barnett just writes the songs, man.

Courtney Barnett tends to find her songs in places no one else is looking.

The Melbourne, Australia, singer-songwriter collects subject matter like a curio shop, her words turning the inexplicable or the mundane into fully formed commentaries and poignant observations on some of life's biggest questions.

The plain, the everyday, the too-weird, and the not-weird-enough all find their way from Barnett's notebooks into songs that are too pure, too honest to turn away from.

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Boy & Bear and Run River North Headline an International Folk Show at Marquee

Categories: Folk You!

Boy & Bear

Not often do you see an Australian folk-rock band and a Korean folk band on the same bill. It's actually very rare you see a Korean folk band at all. While both Boy & Bear and Run River North come from different backgrounds and musical influences, they're currently touring together to share tunes drenched in strings and kick drums and luscious harmonies.

Boy & Bear's sophomore release, Harlequin Dream, shot to number one on the Billboard charts, landing them a performance spot on Conan in July. The album front-to-back captures stories about parenthood, uncertainty, and being a rock star. However, it's their single "Southern Sun" that really skyrocketed them into rotations on indie radio and launched them on a worldwide tour.

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Veteran Songwriter Bruce Cockburn Fires Vocal Rockets

Categories: Folk You!

Courtesy of Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn has to be the most hot-cold songwriter operating today. On one hand, there are songs about sunrises, horses running across golden plains, the mysteries of life, and spiritual awakening. And on the other, Cockburn fires off songs about narco-politics, human rights, religious flaws, and environmental degradation, offering such poignant lyrics as "If I had a rocket launcher, some son of a bitch would die."

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Back from the Brink, Rocky 
Votolato Moves Forward Again

Categories: Folk You!

Bjorn Lexius
Rocky Votolato

Rocky Votolato is a guy on the shore skipping stones across the water. Part craft, part amusement, the circumspect Seattle songwriter's success and happiness has ebbed and flowed like the tide, something he's gradually grown more accustomed to, though it's not always been a smooth ride. Finally firmly at peace, he's enjoying that purgatorial moment between albums.

"Most of the songs are there, but I'm still writing the last few, and I have a couple different offers from labels to work with them," he says about weighing his options. "I'm in a real open space again. These songs are extremely intimate and they're just kind of happening on their own. That's really the best thing and it feels much better than being burned out or feeling overexposed."

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Dax Riggs Brings His Demons to Scottsdale

Danin Drahos
Dax Riggs

Demon tied to a chair in my brain/ black bird a-tapping on the window pane/ sittin' and smilin' at a stray dog in the rain/ demon tied to a chair in my brain.

With these haunting, bluesy lyrics, Dax Riggs opens with on the first track of his 2007 album We Sing of Only Blood or Love, introducing his then-new solo project to fans and gaining the respect of those who had him pegged as just a heavy metal guru. The song, aptly titled "Demon Tied to a Chair In My Brain," certainly picks up pace from there and serves as a perfect prelude into the blues-based album that ranges from slow to fast; filled with dark imagery, soothing tones and even the blood-pumping growls that Riggs has been associated with since his sludgy heavy metal outfit of the early '90s, Acid Bath.

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Justin Moody, Corey R-J, A Cloud for Climbing, and Old Hours - Axiom - 3/22/14

Photos by K.C. Libman
Singer-songwriter Justin Moody at Axiom on Saturday night.

Justin Moody, Corey R-J, A Cloud For Climbing, & Old Hours

Peoria is not the first suburb that comes to mind when Phoenicians think live music -- hell, it's not even likely to be the fourth or fifth suburb for that matter. However, nestled behind a string of fluorescent-lit dealerships just off of Bell Road and the 101 hides Axiom, a less-than-likely venue that played host last night to Valley folk darlings Justin Moody and Old Hours, electronic solo act A Cloud For Climbing and Massachusetts' Corey R-J.

While the lineup felt thematic in terms of genre, it ended up being an eclectic mix whose small attendance was more a reflection of the locale than the talent.

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Singer-Songwriter Justin Moody Doesn't Make Pretty Things

K.C. Libman
Justin Moody is scheduled to perform on Saturday, March 22, at Axiom in Peoria.
Justin Moody writes songs. They sit firmly in the folk vein -- dark, self-deprecating tales that are often vicious to their characters, capturing the excruciating eye for detail that only a storyteller can see.

Justin Moody also lives in a one bedroom apartment on the edge of Arcadia, a space cluttered with vinyl, acoustic guitars of varying vintages and requisite musical memorabilia hanging on the walls. Despite the trappings of a musician's life around him, there's a sense of transition within him, whether it's his restless chain smoking of Camel Lights as we sit on the tailgate of his white Ford Ranger or his inability to sit still when playing new songs from his upcoming record.

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Feeding America Benefit Concert - Crescent Ballroom - 7/25/2013

Lauren Wise
Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special
On Thursday night at Crescent Ballroom, the vibe was even more feel-good and positive than usual. Sure, it was a roster chock-full of locally loved acts -- Flamenco por la Vida, Sara Robinson & The Midnight Special, The Senators, and Dry River Yacht Club -- that attracted an impressively large crowd for a Thursday evening. But the main focus of the show was that it was also a chance to help fight hunger in Arizona.

It was time to watch a great show for an even better cause. Benefiting Feeding America and United Food Bank, and sponsored by Fourpeaks Brewery, the concert attendees arrived with non-perishables in tow. They were directed to the back of the venue, where they received promo materials from United Food Bank, and receive a raffle ticket for each food item you donated.

United Food Bank is a driving force in fighting hunger, distributing almost 46,000 meals daily, and can provide five meals with just $1. By the time I donated my bag of four non-perishable items, they had already collected about 160 pounds of food.

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The Balcony Scene to Make Phoenix Debut at Crescent Ballroom

K.C. Libman
Justin Moody of The Balcony Scene
Folk musicians, for the most part, have it rough. Blindly thrust into the Dylan-esque pantheon, the overarching image of a folk-based singer-songwriter is that of the introspective introvert who shyly picks at an acoustic guitar before gracefully exiting whatever forum he holds. Yet when you're young and influenced by the croonings of Damian Jurado and David Bazan, both exceptionally dynamic musicians in their own right, you're bound to take a different approach to such a storied genre.

Justin Moody, operating under the moniker The Balcony Scene, is such an example, having recently returned to his native Arcadia after spending the majority of his teens in Prescott. Breaking out of the coffee shop mentality for the first time, Moody is making his biggest debut yet with Tempe powerhouses Dust Jacket, Instructions and Sundressed on Tuesday at Crescent Ballroom.

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