2019-01-22 13:01:29

2018 - Year in review

2018 came and went with seemingly very little action comnpared to 2019 starting with the promise of 3 new albums, singles, touring and talk of an all-star band. The press is frantically reporting and Twitter and Instagram are lighting up, with none of the previous worries on that account being triggered. Ryan is back! But let's take a closer look at 2018 and see what went down last year.

January


Ryan Adams-produced album by Starcrawler is released


Starcrawler album cover

Sometime in 2017 Ryan produced and recorded debuting L.A. band Starcrawler at the Pax-Am studio. Their album was released in January and the press coverage was quick to latch on to the Ryan Adams producer credit. Like most Pax-Am productions, the production is quick and dirty sounding, with the focus on capturing great performances. The record is a great rock'n'roll record in the spirit of the first The Strokes record, Is This It. Unlike Ryan's previous Willie Nelson, Butch Walker, La Sera and Jenny Lewis productions, which were very much in the vein of Ryan's own universe, this is straying a bit further into sleazy rock'n'roll.

Listen to the first single, I Love L.A. for a taste.


Ryan Adams signature Benson amp is announced


For the past couple of tours Ryan and Todd have been using Benson Amps. In January it was announced that a signature amp was underway. Following on the heels of the Prisoner giveaway guitar, the VHS guitar pedal, the forthcoming signature Fender strat and the Defcon 4 guitar pedal (released in September 2018) this is becoming a theme for Adams, and a great adventure for fans as well.

The amp was first previewed on Instagram and later the same month demo'ed at NAMM. The initial short description went: "Something new. We aren’t manufacturing this yet but here’s the prototype Ryan Adams signature guitar amp! It is essentially a 15W Chimera circuit with Tall Bird style reverb, and a custom bucket brigade chorus/tremolo module from the amazing Chase Bliss Audio. Yes that is a lit up VU meter and it works. Faceplate design by Ryan and Aaron James Draplin
and an unqualified amp tech (Benson Amps)! Check it out at the Chase Bliss booth at #NAMM2018...I think Mason Stoops (Los Angeles session guitarist) will be playing it....mostly 😉"

Ryan Adams signature guitar amp from Benson Amps

The Ryan Adams signature amp, Sorcerer, at NAMM2018

February


Baby I Love You single released for Valentine's Day


The cover for 2018 single Baby I Love You

Out of nowhere Ryan Adams dropped a single for Valentine's Day. It seemed well suited and a fresh breath of air after the extensive Prisoner coverage. That being said, Baby I Love You is an outtake from the Prisoner sessions with Johnny T on drums and Ryan playing everything else. Originally the single was announced as a vinyl release with the b-side Chris (referring to Adams' brother who passed away in late 2017). Perhaps deeming that song too personal at the last minute, the single would eventually contain the b-side Was I Wrong? A Prisoner-outtake that was first debuted in concert in Summer 2016, before being released in late 2017 on the Live from Rough Trade solo live album.

The song Baby I Love You was upbeat and 60s sounding, eliciting a response of "could this be the newly found Beatles infatuation bearing fruit?" from some fans. It being a Prisoner outtake means it was recorded before Ryan's 2017 first publicly announced Beatles-immersion (essentially an album-by-album devouring on his Instagram and Twitter accounts).

The video was directed by Springfield native Brook Linder. Viewers can see Springfield's Pineapple Whip, Commercial Street, a water tower, the street signs for the intersection of Delmar and Kentwood, and several residential shots.

"I grew up in Springfield and have a lot of great friends and memories of being young and having fun there. Ryan’s music reminds me of that, too. It made sense to combine the two," Linder said in an email to the News-Leader. Linder has directed music videos for several artists, including Nine Inch Nails, Beck and Spoon.


Ryan Adams shares update from the recording studio


2017 ended with Ryan sharing pictures of him gardening and doing some lo-fi home recording after the exhaustive and extensive Prisoner world tour. In February he was back to his calling recording with his bandmates.

JamBase reported (essentially referring directly to Ryan's Instagram feed - since deleted): Adams’ most recent studio update notes he was joined by Todd Wisenbaker on guitar, Charlie Stavish on bass and Aaron Ficca on drums, with keyboardist Ben Alleman still set to track his part. A previous update indicated the sessions had produced “7 songs so far.”

March


NME reports the next Ryan Adams album could be on the way very soon


The musician appears to be on a hot streak, with the follow-up to 2017's 'Prisoner' seemingly nearing completion. Ryan Adams has given his fans an update on the progress of his next album, revealing that a total of 11 songs have now been recorded – suggesting that his next LP could be on the way very soon.

“Records are funny creatures sometimes – they wake you up like they can’t wait to just get born,” he wrote in accompaniment to a video of a mixing desk, where snippets of new music could be heard. See the tweet below.

April


Exclaim reports that Ryan Adams Scraps New Album and Throws Away the Tapes


When a fan asked about his new LP and his plans for the rest of the year, he responded that he had "scrapped everything" and added, "The best thing about analog tape is you can literally throw it away and start over."

Evidently the songs he was working on felt stale, and he explained, "I was letting myself fall into those worn out concepts of design & obligation." He's already started work on a new project, although it sounds like this is still in the early stages.

His brother's passing was also making itself felt with Adams tweeting, "I am still broken. He's gone. It hurts to play."

It is very interesting to revisit these tweets now that Big Colors have been announced (for release in April 2019). Both tweets describe his new songs and new direction using metaphors of tantalising colors. It sounds like he is describing a Eureka moment that sent him on a search for new sounds. Sounds he's tying to colors.

Ryan Adams first tweets about the album Big Colors

Ryan Adams second tweet about the album Big Colors

May


Ryan Adams performs The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. in New Orleans


Exile on Bourbon St

Ryan Adams and a handful of his touring band travelled to New Orleans' Saenger Theatre for a one-off concert of the Rolling Stones' classic 1972 album, Exile on Main St. The event was dubbed Exile on Bourbon St. and included an all-star cast of local musical royalty.

Ryan Adams performing in New Orleans

Alongside Adams stood iconic bass-player, musical director, and Rolling Stones producer Don Was. The lineup also featured Cyril Neville of The Neville Brothers, keyboard master John Medeski, funk drummer Terence Higgins, background vocalists Regina and Ann McCrary, and horns star Mark Mullins and the Levee Horns composed of trumpeter Bobby Campo and tenor saxophone genius Alonzo Bowens. Rolling Stones’ saxophonist Karl Denson made a surprise guest appearance on “Rip This Joint.”

Naturally the event was captured by fans on both audio and video, so luckily the one-off was available to the masses in blurry handheld fidelity. Adams would later ask on Twitter, if there was any interest in a release of the rehearsals and show as a live album. Including at least part of the rehearsals make sense, as they could be selected from different takes in a studio-like environment, but also because the band ended up performing only 16 of the album's 18 songs on the night of the show.

Ryan Adams rehearsing for Exile on Bourbon St

Tackling this classic album was a brave choice. Not only because of its iconic status, but also because it captures the best performances of the legendary Rolling Stones in their best sounding line-up ("the Mick Taylor years"). Covering the album with an all-star band thrown together in a few rehearsals would prove daunting, but according to the reviews easily worthwhile. I have yet to hear a pristine recording and would love to hear an official release. Working against it could be the 1989 release (from 2015), which put Ryan on the map as a world class interpreter. To continue down that road after only 1 studio album would probably paint Ryan as a bit of a copy-cat to the public at large. Especially after the surprising and well-deserved positive attention the Taylor Swift album got.



The line-up:
Ryan Adams - vocals, guitar
Don Was - bass
Todd Wisenbaker - vocals, guitar
Regina McCrary - vocals
Ann McCrary - vocals
Terrence Higgins - drums
Cyril Neville - vocals, percussion
Mark Mullins - horns
John Medeski - keyboards
Ben Alleman - vocals, organ
Bobby Campo - trumpet
Alonzo Bowens - tenor saxophone
Karl Denson - saxophone

Ryan appears with finalist Britton Buchanan on The Voice


Ryan Adams appears on The Voice

On the season 14 finale for NBC’s singing competition series “The Voice,” Ryan Adams made a guest appearance. He performed “To Be Without You” with contestant Britton Buchanan, a fellow North Carolina native. Florence and the Machine also appeared on the finale. Earlier in the season a contestant performed Come Pick Me Up, which perhaps explains the finalist choosing a known Prisoner cut to appear with alongside Adams.


Ryan cuts a heavy metal jingle for Colorado station 105.5 Colorado Sound


Gearing up for 2 shows in Salt Lake City, Utah and Red Rocks, Colorado, Ryan devised some seriously odd and funny promotion. For the Colorado show he came up with an irresistable jingle for the Colorado Sound station. With all bets being off, i.e. the path being basically untreaden, he devised a tasty heavy metal piece of rock that was both recognizable, funny and catchy. Tongue in cheek and freewheelin' cool at the same time.


June


Weatherman appearance in Utah


Ryan Adams acts as weatherman for Denver news station

Following the jingle for Colorado next up was a weather-styled gimmick as both weatherman and jingle-composer for Denver TV station Denver7. The style this time around was smooth R&B by way of falsetto Beck (think Debra, Beck's excellent Midnite Vulture Prince pastiche). The station's animator got to work and put a charming little video together, rounding off Ryan's effort nicely.



The song was guaranteed to garner attention in Colorado, and with a 9.500 capacity show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with no tour or album behind it, it made sense with some well directed promotion. Following up the video was an appearance on the news as a guest weatherman. See for yourself and judge how it went.


Ryan and the Unknown Band play their first show in 8 months


Ryan Adams returns to Salt Lake City

Ryan and the band returned to performing like not a day had gone by. Entering the stage early with the intent of delivering a longer set, that's exactly what they proceeded to do. Complete with multiple versions of Fix It and an improvised song about a mysterious door in the venue perhaps leading to the besung Secret Canyon.
The line-up was exactly the same band as for the latter part of the Prisoner tour: Todd, Aaron, Ben and Charlie.


Ryan plays his forth annual show at Red rocks with First Aid Kit guesting


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Ryan returned to Red Rocks for the fourth year in a row. This would be only the second Unknown Band show in 2018 and also the last. The opportunity must've been impossible to turn down for an old rocker.

Co-headlining was the Swedish duo First Aid Kit, who at the time was massively popular and making it big on the back of their third album. They will have been a big sell to a good part of the audience.

The venue itself was as breathtaking and beautiful as ever (how do they always manage such pristine weather, I ask as a Dane from the rainy Northern Europe). First Aid Kit joined Ryan for 2 songs: Oh My Sweet Carolina and Come Pick Me Up. Interestingly enough one of their first singles was called Emmylou (about Emmylou Harris who sings backing vocals on Heartbreaker) and here they essentially stood in her shoes backing Ryan.

Managing 4 years in a row at Red Rocks is no small feet for Ryan, who previously has been touring solo only for some years or not touring at all. Making it happen in 2018, essentially a non-touring year, shows his commitment to this venue, and I suspect we'll see a show here in 2019 as well (with new material!).




Ryan discusses album release plans with fans on Twitter (Prisoner 2 & 3 etc.)




Ryan is no stranger to teasing his fans with the promise of long archived releases, new recordings or upcoming projects. Of course this is a case of an artist being excited about his art and wanting to share that excitement with the fellowship most likely to share his sensibilities, namely his audience.

In various interviews during the Prisoner tour it was mentioned that 70 to 80 songs were recorded for Prisoner, and also that they were ordered in 3 differently themed albums. Additionally there are the Prisoner b-sides, a total of 31 songs released at the beginning of the Prisoner tour. With this in mind it was only natural to consider releasing more Prisoner material following the scrapped 2018 album and with a new one only just begun (what would eventually become Big Colors).

The other 3 projects he considered releasing, describing them as sitting on his shelf, mixed, were a live album with The Stringdusters, a live album of both the rehearsals and the show from New Orleans performing Exile on Main St. and finally the infamous Blackhole album, recorded in 2007.

If nothing else the tweets got Ryan a lot of press and it may even have been the start of the multi-release plan for 2019.

The single About Time is released (by mistake)


Cover for the single About Time

Following the talk of Prisoner 2 & 3 the single About Time slipped out seemingly by mistake. The songs sounds like a Prisoner outtake, though very little is known about its recording or personnel. With a cover complete with a PAX-AM catalogue number it suddenly showed up on Music Millennium's web store, a dodgy, off the map MP3 shop based in Portland, Oregon. It never showed up on iTunes or streaming services, has no mention on the Pax Am site and is not available to buy outside the US. It is a small wonder that it is still available at the time of writing, more than 6 months after the fact.

First glimpse of Ryan's Signature Fender Stratocaster (production model)


Ryan Adams signature Master Blaster stratocaster

Ryan Adams hinted at a collaboration with Fender late 2017 and in June he unveiled a closer look at his signature Stratocaster sharing a video clip showing off his custom guitar, complete with a sparkly black finish and multi-colored detailing.

Dubbed the "Ryan Adams Fender Stratocaster Master Blaster," the instrument that appears in the video is still a production model (in January 2019 Ryan would comment on Twitter that the strat would be ready "around summer" last he heard).

July


In the studio with… Miley Cyrus?


Ryan Adams and Miley Cyrus in the studio
The press was quick to run with the "story" of Ryan and Miley being in the studio together.

Here's how a report from Stereogum went:
"Over the last few weeks, Ryan Adams has been in the studio. We know this because he’s been constantly posting updates about it on on Instagram. He recorded his next project in Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and he took a selfie in front of the building almost every single day that he was there.

We’ve learned some interesting info about whatever Adams has going on next. He recorded 50 songs in total over the couple weeks that he was there — he even shared a long list of tracks, some of them labeled acoustic, some rock, some piano, and even more “unknown.” He cut his hair in the studio. He shared some lyrics to a song he was working on. There was apparently a night where he recorded 19 songs. There’s a manila folder labeled with the phrases “Big Color” and “Power” — double LP titles, maybe?

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that, towards the end of the whole process, he was joined by Miley Cyrus in the studio. It’s unclear exactly in what capacity, but it’s a thing that happened!"

The song list of 50 songs along with most other reports from 2018 was lost when Ryan later deleted his Instagram account (and started another).

Ryan later said of the session with Miley Cyrus: "I don't know what this is we made but it was the best session I ever did."

Miley has been a fan since at least 2013 as this tweet illustrates well:

Former Whiskeytown tour manager releases a book on his adventures with Ryan, Waiting To Derail


Thomas O'Keefe's book Waiting To Derail on Ryan and Whiskeytown

Ryan did not participate in the writing of the book, but has said he is writing a Whiskeytown book of his own.

Author Thomas O'Keefe was the tour manager for Whiskeytown beginning with their first major label tour supporting Strangers Almanac, until their breakup in 2000. The twenty-year veteran of the music industry is currently tour managing Weezer.

Talking to AllMusic the writer said: "I felt it was an important story. I saw the band 174 times, I wasn’t drunk and I have an elephant’s memory and I kept notes. I wanted to get the story together before I got old and forgot it myself."

August


Fun night at Largo with famous friends


Ryan Adams, Lindsey Buckingham, Lena Dunham, Marc Maron and Neil Finn all joined Judd Apatow at Largo for one of his recurring charity shows on August 16. Reports from these shows are usually quite spare other than tweets from the artists themselves. Thus it is unclear whether Ryan actually performed, but he did bring one of his trusty Buck Owens guitar and proceeded to teach Lindsey Buckingham his acoustic version of the Iron Maiden song Wasted Years.

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Juliet, Naked soundtrack is released




The Nick Hornby novel Juliet, Naked about a faded cult singer/songwriter was turned into an excellent little movie in 2018. For the soundtrack the producer solicited original material from 35 different artists over 3 years to gather the right material for the movie's cult figure. Ryan's song 20th Call Of The Day appears on the soundtrack in demo form as well as a version sung by the movie's lead actor, Ethan Hawke.


September


Defcon4 guitar pedal released by Walrus Audio




A year after his first signature guitar pedal comes yet another high-end pedal from an esteemed manufacturer, Walrus Audio.

Yet again the layout is playful and retro with a clear to cult 80s iconography.

Here's the write-up for the pedal on Sweetwater: "With low, mid, and high EQ bands to boost or cut to your tastes, the Walrus Audio Defcon4 pedal is a great way to tailor your tone for any setting. Just a few knob turns brings out the best in any guitar, whether it has humbuckers or single-coil pickups. Guitarists at Sweetwater like using the Defcon4 pedal as a focused boost too — just engage the Launch control for a 10dB boost. Walrus Audio worked closely with Ryan Adams on the look and sound of the Defcon4 preamp/EQ/boost pedal, and the result is a flexible sonic tool that drips with '80s vibe."

October


Social media troubles and subsequent focus on healing


In the beginning of October a few negative interactions on social media got a lot of press and a wounded Ryan retreated from social media and subsequently his concert commitments in Germany. He returned briefly with overly positive messages and commented on suicide and mental health for the World Mental Health day.

November


German festival shows are cancelled


Two German festival shows, booked months earlier, were unceremoniously cancelled without explanation. We now know that the reason is that Ryan was in some sort of rehab taking care of himself and his mental health.

December


60 days sober and year-end updates




Ryan rounded off the year with a status on his healing and a good-bye to 2018:

“2018: you brought me to my knees,” he wrote on his Twitter post. “It turns out that’s where I needed to be: in prayer for everyone here or lost. In these trying times, God bless everyone struggling or on the path to empathy, kindness and recovery.”

Adams also attached a photo showing off his 60-day sobriety token.

He topped off his post with well wishes: “Keep the Faith. & may the Faith keep you. XO.”
2017-08-11 11:36:55

Ryan Adams' first Finnish concert

This week the Prisoner tour is making its way through Scandinavia, hitting both Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Juli from Finland has sent me this great write-up of the first time Ryan played in Finland, way back in November 2002. Read for yourself what went down - and thank you, Juli!

Ryan Adams gave his first appearance in Finland on a cold November night at Savoy Theater, a seated concert hall - an unusual place for a rock ‘n roll show.

Adams started to play at 10 pm, a half an hour late. There was an anxious energy throughout the crowd waiting for the show to begin. On stage, there was a black grand piano, red wine, an ashtray, a harmonica holder, and a guitar.

For the first songs the grand piano was played by two women taking turns. They also sang and played the cello, violin and tambourine. Adams played an acoustic guitar sitting, an electric guitar standing and the grand piano. He walked from one instrument to another between almost every song with a cigarette burning, mostly in the ashtray, nearly all the time. The ashtray was taped on the table with black duct tape. After ripping off the ashtray, Adam looked underneath it and placed it on top of the acoustic guitar.

A man shouted “AMY”. Adams buried his face in his hands, shook his head, poured the rest of the red wine down his throat and mumbled “I should never have done that to her”. His black hair was in front of his face and it was hard to see him. He didn’t say a word between the numbers and felt really distant and inaccessible.

The women accompanying Adams seemed apathetic. They hung their heads like they were about to fall asleep waiting for the part to join in. However, the cello sounded amazing. There was a photographer taking pictures. It was so quiet I could hear him taking pictures during the music all the way to the 19th row and it really annoyed me.

Adams played barely for an hour. I was really confused after that. If that was the end, I would have been disappointed. Even the faster songs were arranged ultra slow and he didn’t say a word to lighten up the mood. Adams was the perfect opposite of Malin, who was opening for him. Luckily, there was more…

We applauded for a really long time before Adams took the stage again. I was thinking to myself that he’s a complete asshole, if he doesn’t come back. But he forgot his cigarettes on the table and he had to return to get them. I wouldn’t have been surprised, if he didn’t. Especially when people were leaving. There was an older couple sitting on my right side, they left. I was all alone.

Ryan took the cigarettes and sat down by the grand piano. He used the black duct tape to tape his mouth shut. Then he noticed he can’t drink or smoke and half opened the tape. He gulped down the wine, filled the glass with the ashes and closed the tape again. He removed the tape, but it got stuck in his fingers. He used it to tape a cigarette on his finger and played the first encore.

For the next song he stood up. He started to play the intro, but stopped. He pulled up his pants and closed the belt instead. I guess we know why it took so long for him to return…

After the song he eventually played, he started talking into the microphone for the first time the whole evening. He made a joke about needing a haircut. Said he looked like a junkie Beatle. He even joked about cutting his wrists with the scissors. That’s some dark humor.

Ryan told us he was really tired after flying in from Cork, Ireland. All he wanted to do was go to a bar and get wasted, but he promised to play as long as he could stay awake. There was nothing else to do anyway, because it was so cold outside. He told a joke about two nuns driving a Volkswagon and their encounter with the Devil “which is bad for nuns,” he explained. I didn’t get the joke but it was still funny. Telling jokes was clearly not his day job. He told about the time he applied to work for McDonalds and being underqualified for the job. He filled in the application backwards so that they had to read it with a mirror. They had been very confused. He wasn’t hired. I started wondering what Ryan would do if he didn’t make music, assuming that he had not died of substance abuse.

Ryan was curious about the man requesting to hear AMY. He said “Who was asking for that song?” and the lighting guy to turn on the lights. He jumped down from the stage, walked up to the man and shook his hand. He promised to play it next and returned to the grand piano. The lights were faded out. Ryan noticed the cool fading and asked the lights to be turned back on. He faded them on and off. “On!” “Off!” “On!” “Off-On!” It was hilarious. Eventually he played the song and it was beautiful.

The encore lasted at least as long as the set and the show was over at half past midnight, way past the venue’s closing time. When Chief, the guitar tech, tried to tell Ryan that time was running out he replied “They can’t make me [stop].”

All songs were slow ballads. They were heartbreakingly beautiful and true. Ryan played songs from Heartbreaker, Gold, and Demolition. In addition, he played Whiskeytown’s “Ballad of Carol Lynn”, The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar”, Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone” and “Freight Train” by Elizabeth Cotten. The newest song he had composed the night before and he had the lyrics in front of him on a piece of paper. He could not sing “Wish You Were Here” to the end without cracking up.

I think Ryan is a brilliant songwriter. Each songs is more beautiful than the last and I have no doubt they were written with his heart on the sleeve. Even if the concert wasn’t exactly entertaining in the traditional sense, it was still good. If you just listen to music passively, it doesn’t make you think or feel anything and your thoughts are somewhere else the minute the music stops. You might feel good for a while, but it’s not stimulating.

This concert was so distracting that I had to stop and think if it was really bad or really good. I think it was superb, because especially before Ryan started to speak, he communicated with the audience only with gestures and you really had to pay attention. Who knew that goofing around with an ashtray and cigarettes can be art. No words were really needed. I got a strong feeling that he really meant what he sang.

Even though Ryan had Jesse opening for him, he was his own opening act in a way. The songs were pretty much the same in the set as in the encore, but the way he took his audience was completely different. You really want to listen to the songs when they are performed by a feeling creature. It was impossible not to feel empathetic. Even if it was a confusing beginning, he eventually won me over. The members of the audience who were left in the end, gave Ryan a standing ovation.

All I can feel is a deep compassion for Ryan and gratitude for making me feeling quite OK myself. I am sold and miss him already.

Helsinki, 15 November 2002

(you can listen to the show here)
2017-06-05 07:00:03

The Ryan Adams best song 2017 survey

By Christopher Bradley

With 3 days left to go in the Group Play, the results have been rolling in. The more the merrier though.

I have attached to this post a snapshot of Group 4, which is 2011-Present.
This is to give everyone an idea of how things are progressing!

Once again, here is a link to the survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9P6XBPL
Please take the time to complete the survey if you start it, As of now I have a 78% completion rate, which is to say, some people do a couple of groups but not all 5.

Also, if you need a refresher on what I am doing, go to either of these links:
http://www.tobeyoung.org/showthread.php?t=32060
http://comepickmeup.org/?p=611


2017-06-03 18:42:22

Review of Ryan Adams at the Greek Theater, Berkeley

By Teenie Smith-Macbeth from ToBeYoung.org

Let me start with this about last night. I wasn't really pumped for this show. I'm getting old and cranky and I find it harder for me these days to have fun at concerts, which sucks because seeing live music has been one of my favorite hobbies since I was 15. The venue is about two hours from home and I had just returned from working on the east coast for two weeks. I wasn't a fan of his last band and was expecting more of the same.

Then the show started and I was pleasantly surprised to hear them open with "Let it Ride" and "Magnolia Mountain". The Let It Ride was solid if unspectacular but the Magnolia Mt had an extended jam, some of which can be seen in the YouTube clip above. Some of that jam fit in really well at the Greek in Berkely as it was home to many grateful dead concerts and Ryan seemed to be channeling into that spirit during various times of the show.



From there we got a tight and fast-paced To Be Young and this new incarnation of his backing band showed they could handle the spacey stuff and the rockers as well.

The next stand out for me was Dirty Rain. Ryan's vocals have never let me down but last night he sounded truly exceptional. He was hitting all of the high notes and then some, adding some additional flourishes and extending vocal phrasings that weren't heard on studio tracks. Dirty Rain was not only a great showcase for Ryan's vocals but for the organ as well, as are all of the songs off of that album that were played. One of my complaints about Ryan's bands since the Cardinals is that I miss the pedal steel dearly. I still was longing for it during certain songs but after searching for the organ in the mix for the first few songs but as the show progressed it blended in well and made me forget that I was missing the pedal steel.

Please forgive my lack of familiarity with the "Unknown Band" member names at this point and my laziness for not going to look them up but I thought they were all great and I hope they can all continue to play together and grow.

Fix It through Do You Still love me were all solid, mainly straightforward renditions. The Prisoner album is still growing on me and I thought all of the songs from it sounded good and they were all warmly received by the crowd. The crowd, btw, was great too.



Back to the crowd. The capacity for this outdoor amphitheater on the Cal-Berkeley campus is listed as 8,500 and besides festivals this was probably the largest crowd that I've personally seen at one of his shows. The floor and seating area were pretty much at capacity by the time Ryan went on and the smaller lawn area on top was fairly full as well. There were no inappropriate comments shouted out during the show, the quiet moments of his solo accosting performances were met with attentive silence rather than uninterested crowd chatter (at least from where I was). Ryan commented a few times about how great a night he was having and how great the crowd was as well. He didn't talk much until the band intros and at one point said that he WASNT going to mess up the show by talking because we were all having such a great time (or words to that effect. It was funny, and the crowd laughed along)

Following "do you still love me" the show really took off for me.



Sweet Illusions. Someone here posted recently how this song live really changes without Cat's harmonies (I'd add cat or whoever) and I totally agree after hearing it last night. Possibly besides the chorus this now seems to be all Ryan on vocals and I really loved it. I don't know how often I've ever seen him do this great song but I don't think it was ever in heavy rotation on his setlists. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Great pace, great vocals, great song, great surprise to hear it.

When the Stars go blue was solid and enjoyable in every way, shape and form. Ashes and Fire, solo, acoustic with him on that solo mic with the white Christmas lights wrapped around the mic stand and just the one overhead light on him is a great way to perform this song. His voice once again was chills inducing (as was the typical N California chilly June evening) but I swear it was his voice bringing the goose bumps. This may have been the song where he mentioned he wasn't going to talk because he was having such a good time. And he was. And we were too. Outstanding performance.



THEN OMFG Peaceful Valley

Let me preface this by saying that what I REALLY ENJOY at a Ryan Adams concert is not necessarily what everyone else loves. And I get that. I think that this Peaceful Valley is probably one of these songs as quite a few in the crowd around me used this song as a bathroom break.

After the first few notes were played my immediate reaction was amazement and brought me right back to the Cardinals Das Haus live recording that I've probably listened way too often. My jaw dropped open and I stared at my friend who was equally amazed at what she was hearing. What unfolded was a smoldering, intense, at times powerful and other times delicate, psychedelic, jamming and possibly the best rendition of Peaceful Valley that I have ever heard in person. Everything that I had been missing at live concerts over the last several years for me came flooding back into my brain and body. If Ryan was sending me a message, the message was that I was wrong. I had doubted that Ryan could ever get back to the highest of highs that I watched him achieve over and over again back with the Cardinals years ago and if he had been eroding my doubts over the first part of the show, him and his band completely obliterated any doubt whatsoever during this one fucking song. I won't bore any of you further with the ramblings of the Deadhead side of my brain, but for any of you who are fans, my friend and I were seriously wondering if Phil Lesh was going to walk on stage and join in as we heard a distinct "other one" jam during peaceful valley as well.

It was amazing and left me speechless.

One problem I did have with the show. With very little banter between songs it was impossible to recover from the previous amazing version of whatever song before getting quickly smacked in the face again with another gem. This was definitely the case here with Dear John as the band finishes the brain-melting Peaceful Valley and goes right into another great version of a song that again I wasn't expecting and always loved hearing live. Again this song, in spite of being on the same "Jacksonville city nights" album as peaceful valley, really showcased the ability of this bands versatility after the crazy PV right before it. Harmonies, pacing, emotion - Dear John was perfect.

For me that five song run from sweet illusions through dear john encompassed all of the amazing versatility that one MIGHT see at a Ryan Adams concert. From a tight, purposeful fun band, to an amazing solo acoustic performance, to an intense rocking, jamming and psychedelic brain-fuck to a haunting, emotional slow song - he and this band have a lot of musical tools for lack of a better word and they had them ALL on display tonight and I think this portion of the show really exemplified that.

I apologize for the Prisoner fans that I'm not able to go into such great detail about the new songs but I liked them all and I definitely took note that the new songs were getting great reactions from the crowd while I mentioned earlier that some songs that stood out for me were bathroom breaks for others.



Doomsday was followed by a beautiful Wonderwall, with the crowd ding some sing along at first but then falling more into attention mode at what was unfolding in front of them.



Everybody Knows sounded great and I especially liked the guitar interplay between Ryan and Todd during one of the musical breaks. I really enjoyed the way they sounded together and frankly I had a hard time finding fault with this band in spite of wanting to before the show started. They won me over for sure.



Invisible Riverside is another favorite of mine as I'm a big fan of the Ashes and Fire album and I was really happy to hear it and again the band didn't disappoint. Right from there again this song ends and I get another smack in the face with the opening notes of Cold Roses. Once again if I had to write up my own RA setlist this would always be on there and this uptempo version with a twist on the signature guitar lick was an exciting version to hear. I was smiling ear to ear as the band chugged right along and tore up this live classic.

Ryan thanked the crowd immensely and mentioned that he was going to play as long as he could but the curfew was fast approaching. New York New York seemed to be the last song until Ryan came back out and finished this truly amazing concert off properly with a great, solo version of Come Pick Me Up (complete with guitar change mid-song, broken string perhaps?, which was almost seamless in spite of the guitar tech not wanting to step into the spotlight ) - the song ended and the crowd gave Ryan the long standing ovation that him and his band deserved. Ryan laid his acoustic down on the stage in the spotlight and started his bows which appropriately went on for a while as it was apparent that both he loved us and we him as well.



Ryan tweeted after the show "Best Audience/Favorite Show Ever". We all know that he is given to hyperbole at times but I have to say that last night certainly restored my faith in Ryan Adams and also reminded me in the biggest and best way possible that even this cranky, jaded old music fan can still go out and have a great time, and that I cannot put a price tag on.

Thank you Ryan, thank you Unknown Band. You guys fucking rocked last night and I hope for everyone's sake that they can bring you 1/10th of the joy and happiness I experienced last night. And I was sober too.

Go to the show. Peace.
2017-06-01 06:11:45

DRA Best Song 2017

Today we have a guest blog entry by Christopher Bradley

Hi, I'm Christopher and lately I have been thinking of embarking on the impossible. To find the best DRA song of them all. I have created a bracket and a system. Music is purely subjective, but this will be a fun way for fans new and old to appreciate Ryan Adams in a new way.

Here is a link to the bracket:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DNax9YqrfDo1to1ucy0U4XlCyLXwkH_80XKHK0e9wKc/edit

Fan art by Matt Garnier

As you can see I have split the vast majority of Ryan's career into 4 distinct regions (categories).
For these categories I want to pull 15 songs from certain albums in each category, for example:

Whiskeytown:
-Faithless Street
-Strangers Almanac
-Pneumonia
-Forever Valentine

Heartbreaker
-Heartbreaker
-Gold
-Love is Hell
-Demolition
-Rock N Roll

Cardinals
-Cold Roses
-Jacksonville City Nights
-Follow the Lights
-Easy Tiger
-29 (in the Cardinals Era)
-Cardinology
-III/IV
-Class Mythology

2011-Present
-Orion (I know it was 2010, but it's hard to place it)
-Ashes & Fire
-1989
-Ryan Adams
-Pax-Am Singles
-Prisoner (with B-Sides?)

My goal is to create 4 separate polls with every song from each album in each poll, run it for a week, and the top 15 vote getters will be seeded as such. Then voting for each round till we have a winner!
The reason I have 15 and not 16 is because, as the vast majority of you will probably note, I left out a lot of unreleased, yet greatly loved material. I would like to make certain selections from the unreleased material as "play-ins."

I would like to leave out Werewolph, Sleazy Handshake, DJ Reggie, etc.

I am going to add a 5th group as the so-called "play-in" group. That will consist of the following unreleased material:

Play-In
-The Suicide Handbook
-48 Hours
-Pinkhearts 1 & 2
-Darkbreaker
-Destroyer
-Fasterpiece
-Let it B Minus
-Swedish Sessions
-Exile on Franklin Street

The top 8 from this group will be a part of a preliminary first round of voting before the actual first round. Two songs will be paired against each other and placed randomly in each "region." Obviously, these wont follow the era system I created, however it creates a nice element of randomness .

******ALSO*******
In the event of a tie in group play, such as 2 songs tied for the 15th seed, a coin flip will be administered with the song that is first alphabetically being heads and the other being tails. If there are 3 or more tied, I will use a random number generator with the same alphabetical law applying to ascertain the order. In the event of a tie during the tournament portion, there will be a coin flip.

************************************************** *******
The Group Play Survey is currently live until June 7 at 11:45 P.M. EST.
Here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PM6XGHZ

************************************************** *******

From there, the field will be set, the tournament round polls will be open for 1-2 days each thereafter to save time.

Group Play: May 31-June 7
Play-In round: June 8-9
First Round: June 10-11
Second Round: June 12
Sweet 16: June 13
Elite 8: June 14
Final Four: June 15
Championship: June 16-17

Expect the polls to be up at some point each morning and closed around 10 or 11 at night, I'm not going to do exact times because my real life is, believe it or not, busy.
2017-05-30 10:15:25

The Prisoner Tour - Goodbye Australia

Fan art by Matt Garnier

A few days ago the tour of New Zealand and Australia ended. The tour has taken its toll on our hero, and he's tweeted he's not sure if he'll be back again. These things are usually something you should take with a grain of salt, and if you look at his history, he's been to Australia in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017. I'm sure the flight is dreadful, and to make matters worse, this time around he had to do a ton of press to try and sell the remaining tickets for Melbourne and Sydney. The subject of not coming back hasn't been raised in the interviews he's done on the tour, and I'm sure when he's done with this tour, has rested, and has a new album he'd like to tour and promote, he'll figure out how to squeeze Australian and New Zealand dates into his itinerary again.

He arrived in New Zealand first to do a single sold out show and a couple of in-depth interviews. First an interview on ABC's The Music Show and later a 40 minute segment on Radio New Zealand's Saturday Morning show with Kim Hill. I wonder why he didn't do more shows in New Zealand or even Auckland, since the show had sold out and it can't be financially sound to fly in band, crew and equipment for that one gig. The biggest surprise in the Auckland show was the cover of Black Hole Sun by the late Chris Cornell's band Soundgarden. Ryan did the vocal in his own style and range and wisely didn't try to mimic Cornell. The band played the song very well, and I would've liked to have seen it on the setlist for the following shows, for them to really flesh out the arrangement (and for more people to hear it). Sadly, it remains a one-off.

Before arriving in Australia Ryan tweeted his fans asking for requests. Plenty of deep cuts were requested as well as regulars on the setlist (which he gladly accepted), and in the end he did a string of rare songs in Byron Bay, of all places. The crowd there was especially rowdy, as the venue is essentially a large pub in a hotel, and as such the rarities seemed to fall on deaf ears, mostly. The few fans who followed Ryan and the band around to all the gigs got treated to Hard Way To Fall (first performance in 11 years!), Friends, Desire, A Kiss Before I Go and The End. Sydney on the other hand got Tightrope, making its first appearance of the proper Prisoner Tour (he'd played it on the promo tour earlier in the year), while the giant Melbourne show got nada in terms of surprises. Every report agreed it was a great show though, with the only objection being to the giant arena itself.

But before we got so far, a happy Ryan arriving in Australia a day early for his gigs put together a secret gig in Brisbane with proceeds going to a local cat charity, Little Paws Kitten Rescue. The venue was a large bar, The Woolly Mammoth, holding upwards of 450 people. The tickets were just $5 and only available at the door. The show surprised people by being a full band show, and then an even bigger surprise was that it went on for nearly 3 hours. The band played on borrowed equipment, and seemed to wrestle with it a bit in the beginning with amp noise throwing a shade on the early part of the concert. But once they got going they went into full jam mode, with extensive jam parts and thus wound up with a 3 hour set on a 26 song setlist.

The jamming was obviously fun for the band and they seemed to struggle with curfews for the rest of the tour. Having booked the up and coming The Middle Kids for the remainder of the tour, they had no choice but to come on after nine and be met with an eleven o'clock curfew in most places. The result was an unusually quiet Ryan who threw his all into performing and eschewed his usual banter and the discipline of improvised songs. The latter is becoming a thing on this tour, with Ryan appearing increasingly professional.

The Prisoner show is now broken into segments by acoustic segments where Ryan will perform unplugged in front of two microphones. This is how he started out when he went solo after Whiskeytown, and he's confident that he will be able to pull it off even in front of an audience of 7.000 as was the case in Melbourne. This gives the show a maximum dynamic between tight band songs, explosive jams, slower almost droning numbers like his current take on When The Stars Go Blue and the solo spots where you can hear a pin drop in the audience. His current take on Prisoner, where he starts off solo and the band comes in towards the end with him switching to electric guitar for raving solo seems to be a highlight of the show with most audiences.

With Ryan saying his goodbyes on Twitter and Instagram and returning for his Californian dates I noticed a string of lovely responses from Australian fans. Most of them along the lines of Thank you so much for coming all this way out here, we know how hard it is and Please don't risk your health - come back when you can. The travelling, performing, flying, planning is clearly doing his head in, provoking one Meniere's attack after the other. I bet most of us would be tired just following him around, and add to that that he takes time to do interviews and tv appearances, sign his merch, rehearse covers and new arrangements of his songs, promote the upcoming shows, as well as his main task of sounchecking, rehearsing and performing one stellar show after the other.

[The stellar artwork for this post is by Matt Garnier who put this together in photoshop.]
2016-08-07 19:40:07

Making a Ryan Adams site: The roadmap - the future of the site

By Michael Niebuhr

Come October I've been making this site for a year and I'm nowhere near finished. There's so much I'd like to add. Now let me say right off the bat, that making this site is an activity that involves standing on the shoulders of giants. A big part of my history with Ryan Adams is listening to the various unreleased stuff and visiting the dedicated fan sites Answering Bell and Ryan Adams Archive (and others). Setlists and info about his whereabouts and releases wasn't easy to find elsewhere. No Facebook groups or Setlist.fm, and YouTube wasn't full of high quality videos. So the sites served the core information to of us fans.

These days a site like this is in competition with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even the man himself, who has had a steady website for many years now, primarily centered around a webshop. There's also lots of Ryan Adams lyrics, chords/tabs and setlists on big sites that cover every artist out there, and finally there's the Internet Archive that has 550+ different recordings of shows. And let's not forget ToBeYoung (the fan forum) and Faithless Street (the other fan forum).

SEO

Between all of this it's easy to disappear on Google, and Google is the way people find the site, right? Not really. The SEO (Search engine optimisation) is a big endeavour to undertake, and I'm just getting into it now. What I immediately discovered is that the site is basically invisible on Google. If you search for Ryan Adams it's not in the first 20 pages of search results (!) and if you search for 'comepickmeup' or 'ryan adams come pick me up' it's not in the first page of results. Hence my advertising for the site on Facebook groups, the forums and Twitter. If people don't know about CPMU and can't even google its existence, the future of the site is pretty dark right?

Mobile optimisation

For a while it's been rough going visiting the site on a mobile phone. I've started doing mobile optimisation, and I think it's looking better. But how does it look on iPad? How does it look on Windows Phone? How does it look in Internet Explorer? Firefox? Chrome? Safari? On a 27" screen? These are things I have to (start to) keep an eye on, so users don't grow tired of the site, because it's frustrating to use. It also means looking at the size of the pages, size of the images, the time it takes to load a page, time it takes to do a "query" (searching for something, i.e. a show, a song, shows with a certain song performed, etc.). And it means continually returning to these areas and to see if something is broken.

Users on the site

Speaking of users, it would be great if it was possible to log in. That would allow the site to remember your preferences. That could be all the shows you've seen. All the recordings you own. All the chords/tabs you often return to. Or want to remember to learn to play. All the reviews, interviews and news you want to read later on a Reading List. It could be a way to review stuff or write on the blog here. It could be a way to do submissions of fan art, merchandise, cover versions, etc.

Fan art

And there's lots of great fan art out there. From drawings to tattoos, to homemade paper dolls, cover versions, murals, pizza menus (!), songs about Ryan Adams (yeah, they exist) and what not. It would be great to have a little "museum" of this stuff to browse. Same goes for:

PAX-AM Pilgrimages

I often see people posting pictures or selfies of themselves in front of the PAX-AM neon sign. I call it PAX-AM Pilgrimages. I'd love to have a gallery of these photos. It's a fun thing that came out of nowhere and now is its own thing.

And what about Adams' own art? Remember the exhibition after The Cardinals? Remember the comic book talk and little bits here and there? Bet there's more. A gallery would be nice.

Line-ups

Former webmaster, taper and superman Joel Swaney has sent me a dump of the entire database of the previous Ryan Adams Archive site (and some Answering Bell and Archive Asylum). There's so much information that needs to be mapped to what's already on this site. What I look forward to the most, is being able to add the lineups for every group behind Ryan since the earliest days. There's so many people that's been in Whiskeytown or the early Ryan-bands and it would be great to be able to click around and see some info and statistics or how this all fits together. I'd also like to be able to click on Neal Casal or Mike Viola and see what they've contributed on, what shows they played at, and what their solo careers look like. That's gonna be great! But there's also info on sessions, early recordings. A treasure trove indeed.

Full discography

Speaking of databases, there's a lot of info from Joel on every release up to about 2011. Info on what was released as an album, a promo, a limited edition, a 7", another 7", a double 7", a cd promo-single, and lots, lots more. As of now the discography on CPMU is pretty big, but eventually it will expand into a monster with 500+ or 1000+ different released items. 500 or 1000, I don't even know (yet). Until this happens Discogs.com is the best place to search. And because they're so good it's gonna be essential to make something better if this undertaking is gonna have any chance of being worthwhile.

Lyrics, Chords & Tabs

Someone wrote and asked me to include chords and tabs the other day. I've thought about it, but figured the info was readily available elsewhere. But it's in line with compiling everything in one place. So it makes sense. It's something I haven't looked into, but I will. Like lyrics I think it's best to embed them from another site, so that the info can be updated without having to re-upload the info to CPMU. Lyrics are embedded from Genius.com. I think it works well. They're not searchable as of right now, and the reason is that they're physically somewhere else than the CPMU database. Something to think about (in the future), and when selecting a strategy for Chords & Tabs.

Statistics

One thing that CPMU can offer, better than most sites, are statistics. It's not taken much advantage of yet, but what song was played most on a tour, from a record, with a certain band, or never played, or not played in 5, 10, 15 years, these things are easy to display when every bit of information is in one database. But I need to make a public "statistics generator" where you can select the exact info you want. Most played in Denmark with Whiskeytown, or Never played in France could be examples of searches you could put togethet on-the-fly.

Sharing

When all this is done it's gonna be important that you can share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or wherever you want to. Searches like mentioned above, show videos, reviews, albums, songs, whatever, it should have a dedicated share button beneath the info so it's easy to share that exact information and link straight back to it.

Facebook has its own rules and technology for sharing to your "feed" or groups, and I'm looking into how I can share specific pages with a photo/thumbnail, proper headline and the right link (so it won't all just show the front page on the link, as it does now). The other services, Twitter and Instagram, are easier, but that could change any day. It's something that needs to work and keep working, so it's an ongoing task.

And all the while I'm still doing...

The timeline

I just introduced it last weekend and just the task of editing the 2016-info took me a long time. I can programmatically select and display every release, show and interview in the database and "populate" the timelines from 1991 to 2016 that way, but it needs some editing of the text, and there's a lot of other stuff to add (events, studio work, collaborations, Twitter feuds and fun stuff, Foggy, videos, commercials). It's gonna be awesome when it's done, that's for sure. But it's something I could finetune forever. Also the many fine details from Headley's and Menconi's books would be nice to add, as well as the session details from Joel Swaney's database.

And I'm still adding

Cover versions

With more than 200 cover versions on CPMU already, and info on what record they're from, by which artist, from what year, there's still another good chunk to add.

Interviews

There's about 40 on the site. I've added the text as well as links to the sources, but there's so many more to find and add. I haven't decided if it's okay to display the interviews. I think I will in the cases where I have to scan physical copies, as no one's gonna be able to track down a copy in any near future. But is it okay to display an interview that's still up on Rolling Stone or SPIN's website? How many more interviews could there be? 100? 200? More? I know there are people out there with clippings. One day it will hopefully all be compiled. Same with the magazine covers of which there were a lot between 1997 and 2003...

The Blog

If you've read this far, thank you, you're too kind. If you're the kind of fan who cares deeply about some detail in the Ryan Adams catalogue, his bands, a particular album, song or sound, or have an idea you'd like to spread in this community, let me know, and maybe a blog post about it would be something you'd like to do.

Technical stuff

I myself need to look into making a backup functionality (so I won't have to do it manually). I need to make thumbnails for a lot of the photos on the site (so the pictures will load faster). The SEO needs work! I need to further redesign a lot of the pages. And I need a logo. Icons. I need feedback on all of the above and the design choices. I need to add hundreds of lyrics. I need more time ;-)

I keep doing this because I want to make a site that I'm proud of (as opposed to for instance starting another site on another topic). I wanna make a site people like and use. That's a reward in itself. A site that deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Ryan Adams Archive or Answering Bell. I'll keep working on it. Wish me luck.
2016-07-22 22:17:46

Ryan Adams & The Shining: Happy 2nd Anniversary

by Michael Niebuhr

Ryan Adams & The Shining together

Charlie, Mike, Freddy & Daniel have been behind Ryan for 2 years today. Charlie and Ryan go way back and Mike and Daniel has some history to. This summer they're coming into their own as The Shining, as the band take on a rockier sound and deliver one quality performance after another. I've yet to read a bad review.

It's easy to get the feeling that they perform the "greatest hits of Ryan Adams" and to a large extent that's what they do. But when you dig a little deeper, there's quite a bit of variety. A total of 135 songs have been played in their short time together. About half of those are one-offs - mostly covers and improvised songs. But a good 70+ songs being shuffled around is not too shabby either. And I love the improvised songs. Especially the later ones from this summer, that seem better than ever. But that's probably due to them being still fresh in my mind.

A lotta love is going round on this tour. Friday Gigi, the sound engineer, got her second Happy Birthday Gigi during the gig in Charlottesville. That's so sweet.

The previous day Mike Viola got some love on Twitter:
Mike Viola gets some Ryan Adams love on Twitter

Old pal Jason Isbell and his wife Amanda Shires opened for Ryan in New York. The meeting was shared and the 3 look up to something:

Amanda Shires, Ryan Adams and Jason Isbell together

Finally here are the band introductions from PromoWest Fest in Columbus, Ohio (July 15th) by way of taper Dewey Cole:

"Thanks for catching our show tonight, you guys.

On the electric guitar all the way from Tulsahoma: Mike Viola. Where is Tulsahoma, Mike?
Mike: It's 20 minutes south of Boston.

And on the bass guitar, you may have seen him on the show Sopranos: Charlie Stavish. He's between seasons.

On the drums. He used to ride dragons for a living. He's like all the members of Merciful Fate in one person (Danish metal band from the 80's): Mr. Frederik Bokkenheuser. Totally appropriate for sad music.

He's siting behind the amplifiers right now, so you can't see him. He's tall, he has the weed and we love him. He's very shy so he doesn't like to get on stage. [Charlie Stavish]

And last but not least. A smile with a twisted pencil moustache if it were a man. A record store that only sold ice cream. If it was a man. A striped shirt that would only wear polkadot socks to my funeral. He's radioactive, he glows in the dark. He's a bad motherfucker. Mr. Daniel Clarke!

My name is Ryan, thanks for coming out. Our crew fucking rules! Our crew rules and you rule!"

If you feel like digging into some of their songs, perhaps some rare performances, then have a look at this list of

every song performed by Ryan Adams & The Shining

2016-07-16 11:13:06

Ryan Adams & The Shining tour making headlines with covers and improvised songs

by Michael Niebuhr

The new Ryan Adams And The Shining logo

It's only a week into the tour and Ryan Adams & The Shining have been making headlines with those amazing two Oasis covers, an improvised song about a spider in Detroit and, perhaps most surprising, a note on a record store door asking Ryan Adams to stay away if he's in a bad mood.

I find it interesting how much more interested the music press is in these fairly blasé offerings from the tour, while the established press, i.e. local papers, are barely even reviewing the shows. A review or two in each city at best.



The Oasis covers are amazing. Ryan picked up a new guitar at Willie's Guitars in Minneapolis that lends itself well to the Oasis sounds and I wonder if that's the impetus for the covers. Someone mentioned that Ryan could hardly play Wonderwall after Noel Gallagher himself had performed it before him. But Wonderwall hasn't been played since the solo show in Mexico last November, so that's hardly an issue. I think the band were just having fun being able to stretch out for an evening, on this mainly festival run of shows at the beginning of the tour, and decided to work up something special for the second and last of the double headers with Noel Gallagher & His High-Flying Birds. An man was it special.



I was literally blown away by the energy of the room and the sound of the band watching those covers for the first time far away from the tour on my trusted laptop. The excitement made the Rolling Stone, Spin, Stereogum, the many Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram and of course YouTube. Several versions were quickly available and the comments were full of praise and excitement (bar one from ex-Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, which got its own share of coverage).

With those two covers the two is truly underway. Eyes on our Ryan as he consistently delivers a well paced rock show, charms the audiences and takes time to be chatty, funny and improvise at least one full song at every gig. The one from last night, Cotton Candy, being the best of the bunch so far. This one stands out because the band beefs it up so well from the beginning and add strong backing vocals in no time. I'm sure the twin-Les Paul-attack doesn't hurt. It's a highlight of the many great improvised songs that just seem to get better and better as they feature more prominently at seemingly every show. There are more than 100 improvised songs in the archives. Someone should sift through them and put together a compilation or two.

The first improvised song this tour to make the headlines was "Ballad of a Detroit Spider". Ryan, ever the animal lover and defender, vowing not to have a spider on Mike's mike stand die on his watch. I was playing it the other morning and my girlfriend commented from the bathroom, "That sounds like Prince". It's way more sloppy than the Purple One ever got, but it's got that Purple Rain spoken narrative I suppose.



One new song, Outward Bound, was premiered on the first night of the tour. It made a second appearance in Detroit and always it's interesting to see it evolve as the band gets a handle on it. It's in the vein of the self-titled album and is most likely from the upcoming album. We haven't got a title or a release date, but with a Steve Colbert show coming up on July 25th perhaps we'll learn more soon. I wonder what they'll play on that show.



No matter what they decide to play on the show the tour has displayed a band coming into its own behind Ryan. The sound is more rocking than ever, and they seem intent on delivering a no-nonsense set devoid of acoustic guitars, even playing old favourites like Oh My Sweet Carolina on solely electric instruments. It still sounds great. The Black Flag t-shirt Ryan was sporting at one show definitely makes sense with the sped-up versions of some songs.

Just a week into the tour and apart from the festival sets being short and basically a "greatest hits" set of the Ryan Adams catalog, we've got our fair share of surprises though we'll undoubtedly be seeing many more.

Taper Dewey Cole caught the whole of the Promowest Fest show on July 15th. Listening to it on the morning of the 16th I'm reminded of the days of old when following a tour from afar was mainly an audio experience. These days the picture is made up of shaky handheld bits and pieces. It's still fun to piece the shows together but having an audio recording this quick is just so much better. Thanks Dewey!

Do yourself a favour and listen to Cotton Candy from the show below!


COTTON CANDY

Just another hot day
Gotta hang out on the bus
Waiting to rock some fucking sad songs
And cool on ‘bus

Nothing else to do
But eat my Coco Puffs
You know I’m getting bored
With all that stuff

Rhymes like a psychedelic in the simple bottle of brandy
Made out of Cotton Fucking Candy (Candy)

Look over there
At those coloured Twizzle Sticks
Coming out of the ground
For no reason

All you people just came out of your apartments
Because you couldn’t watch the Food Network
Now you’re listening to me sing some songs
About being a fucking jerk

Life’s an invisible psychedelic bottle of brandy
Fuck that, give me Cotton Candy (Candy)
Give me Cotton Candy
What are you looking at security guard? (Candy)
What are you gonna do about it?
Give me Cotton Candy (Yeah)
Gimme Cotton Candy