Uh Oh, Rock n’ Roll!

J Roddy Walston and the Business at the Double Door in Chicago, 3/30/2012

Almost immediately after booking our tickets to Jeff Tweedy at the Vic last weekend, we realized that one of our recent favs, J Roddy Walston and the Business, would be playing on Friday night as well. The only logical thing to do? Buy tickets and hope that sucker started late. I’m sure you’ll all be happy to know that this plan worked out extremely well for us. Tweedy ended right around 10:30, we hopped in a cab and were firmly planted in the packed, excited crowd at the Double Door by 11, with only 15 minutes or so to spare before the boys started rocking. What a good decision we made!

Beginning the set with album opener “Don’t Break the Needle” immediately got the crowd in a frenzy and it was clear that this was going to be a fist-pumping, pogoing, sweaty good time for all. The best part about the show was that all of the new songs that were played had as good of a reaction as the sing-alongs that everyone was already familiar with, making for one of the most consistenty high-energy shows in recent memory for the DedMels crew. I wasn’t able to grab a setlist because there weren’t many onstage to be found, so I don’t know the names of the new stuff, but it was ALL GOOD. Seriously, it was. Even when J. Roddy himself remarked that he knows people don’t wanna hear new songs, you had to feel like that wasn’t the case on this night. Highlights from the first album were closer “Used to Did,” “I Don’t Wanna Hear It,” and “Brave Man’s Death,” but really even picking those out from the rest isn’t necessary. Every song was awesome and the crowd ate up the entire set. If these guys are coming to your town, SEE THEM.

We got to meet the whole band after the show and pick up a record, which I suggest you do as well. Thanks for putting on such a great rock show boys, can’t wait for next time!

Album Preview: Stars and Satellites

Trampled By Turtles are back with Stars and Satellites, their latest offering of progressive punk infused bluegrass folk (yes their sound is unique, see them live for proof), a follow up to 2010’s popular Palomino due out April 10th via Thirty Tigers.

Stream a complete preview of the album here, via Paste Magazine.

At first listen Stars and Satellites is a bit more relaxed and tame than what we’ve come to expect from TBT’s signature frenetic live show energy, the band stating they wanted to step out of their comfort zone for a recording session that was completed in a northern Minnesota cabin last fall. Regardless, I have no doubt several of these tunes will make the transition nicely to their 2012 tour; the tracks ‘Walt Whitman’ and ‘Alone’ are already earning multiple spins at DedMels HQ.

Armed with new material to road test, TBT are set to visit DedMels country twice in the next few months: April 18th at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston and July 29th at the Newport Folk Fest, where their breakout set last summer garnered the 2nd loudest ovation of the entire weekend (Middle Brother lives forever) bringing festival producer Jay Sweet to the stage with the question “Do I even have to ask?” before the boys came out for a much deserved encore, not disappointing with a distinctive take on The Pixies classic, “Where Is My Mind?”

As a fellow Minnesota native it is great to see these five Midwesterners continue to grow their sound and fan base, advancing from college parties at UMD to selling out clubs nationwide and landing slots at marquee festivals such as Bonaroo, Sasquatch and Coachella. They plan to hit nearly every corner of the country with this tour, giving you ample opportunity to catch their vibrant live show. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


The Wind Blew Us Back…

Jeff Tweedy – Youth Scholarship Benefits, The Vic Theater, Chicago 2012

When we first saw the news on the boards that Jeff Tweedy would again be holding his annual Benefit for Youth Scholarships at the Vic Theatre in Chicago in early Spring, a rush of excitement ran through DedMels HQ and many “I HAVE to be there this time!” exclamations were exchanged. The shows have long been favorites of the die-hard fans and though we’ve experienced most of them through bootlegs, the general thought was that this wouldn’t cut it this year. Tickets went on sale, tickets were sold out, tears were shed, tickets popped back up again, and when all was said and done we were the proud owners of enough seats to send the DedMels crew off to Chicago for a much-needed return visit. I in particular had revenge to seek on the Vic since I was shut out of the Pearl Jam show there back in 2007 (have you ever seen a grown man pout like a baby for a week straight?).

The shows did not disappoint. Being total newbs to these shows, we somewhat expected it to be standing room only GA with a few reserved rows of seating up front. When we got in we realized we would have to find a different way to accomodate us and our local friends/family/tourguides. We were lucky enough to find a spot right next to the soundboard that was standing room and where we would all fit. Though things got a little noisy due to the barflies at certain times, overall it worked out quite well for us. The premise of these shows, in which all proceeds go to charity, is that the first thirty people in line get to pick the songs Jeff plays that night, so essentially he doesn’t know what he is going to play until he arrives at the venue.

The setlist was great, opening with the unexpected “Dawned on Me”, ending with “Dreamer In My Dreams” and featuring many favorites and surprise numbers along the way. Some Tweedy solo favorites that showed up this night were the Uncle Tupelo songs “New Madrid,” and “Gun,” as well as the little-played Big Star cover “Thirteen.” Some of the cooler surprises were a version of “Art of Almost,” on the album a beast of a song featuring perhaps Nels Cline’s finest guitar work, here stripped to it’s barest form. You couldn’t help but want to be a fly on the wall when he brings these songs to the band, just so you could them all in this form at least once. Other Wilco favorites that were played included “Wishful Thinking,” “Forget the Flowers,” and “Airline to Heaven.” After the show on Friday night we headed over to the Double Door for a very, very rocking show from J Roddy Walston and the Business. But we’ll save that for another post. After the show Jeff’s longtime sound man gave us the handwritten setlist, which includes the names of everyone who requested the songs so Jeff could give them personal shout-outs.

Being experienced pros by the second night, we all ended up with great seats right up front by showing up early and settling in quickly. Of the two nights, this one really took the top prize for us, based on the setlist, our seats, and the overall vibe of the evening. From the minute he took the stage with the 1-2-3 punch of “Whole Love,” “You Are Not Alone,” and “How to Fight Loneliness,” it seemed like things were going to be really great on night two. Well, they were. The show never really slowed down from there, with a perfect mix of unbelievable songs and hilarious Tweedy banter (was this guy a comedian in another life?). Highlights for me were a solo “Bull Black Nova,” “Hell is Chrome,” and a lifelong DedMels’ favorite, “Summerteeth.” (What’s up, 2piece?)

Overall, it was an unbelievable way to spend a weekend in Chicago and one that will keep us coming back as long as the big guy is willing to strap on an acoustic guitar and play some songs for the kids.

Once the bootlegs come out (there were a few tapers spotted in our vicinity both nights), we will put them up here for your enjoyment. For now, you can check out the setlists below and dream about what they will sound like!

– mitch

Night One Handwritten Setlist, Thanks to Jeff's Sound Guy!

Night One 3/30/12
Setlist: Dawned On Me, Wishful Thinking, Not For the Season, The Community Song x 2, Message From Mid-Bar, Art of Almost, New Madrid, Box Full of Letters, In a Future Age, Reservations, Born Alone, Passenger Side, Wait Up, Henry and the H-Bombs (Mott the Hopple cover), Thirteen (Big Star cover), Forget The Flowers, Sunloathe, I Wish My Baby Was Born, At My Window Sad And Lonely, I’ll Fight, Standing O, Just A Kid, Gun, Pecan Pie, ELT, Airline To Heaven
Encore: A Shot in the Arm, Walken, Dreamer In My Dreams

Night Two 3/31/12
Setlist: Whole Love, You Are Not Alone, How To Fight Loneliness, The Community Song x2, Bull Black Nova, Too Far Apart, Wherever, I Can’t Keep From Talking, Hell Is Chrome, Open Mind, Summer Teeth, She’s A Jar, Someday Soon, Pick Up The Change, Blue-Eyed Soul, When You Wake Up Feeling Old, Handshake Drugs, So Much Wine (The Handsome Family cover), Strangers (The Kinks cover), At Least That’s What You Said, Down In The Willow Garden, Capitol City, Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard, Watch Me Fall, Candyfloss, Hesitating Beauty, Heavy Metal Drummer
Encore: The Thanks I Get, Hoodoo Voodoo, Casino Queen, Acuff-Rose

Midweek Breather


packed house on comm ave for vasquez and co.


It’s been a crazy start to this last week of March at DedMels HQ. An unforgettable night with Mr Bruce Springsteen and a second go around in as many months with the boys from Delta Spirit on a Monday/Tuesday would be enough for most, but this weekend also brings a visit to Chicago for two Jeff Tweedy solo shows and a late night engagement with J Roddy Walston and the Business for good measure. Our coworkers at our ‘real’ jobs officially have labeled us insane. Little do they know about our plans to take over the world with DedMels, one patchy concert review at a time.


jake clemons on the big screen among the garden banners, fillin in for the big man.

Stay tuned for additional photos and reviews from our epic week to close out March. In the meantime I recommend the following behind the scenes video of Eric Mayers, My Morning Jacket’s tour manager. The video follows a hectic Mayers as he preps for their 1st ever sellout gig at historic Madison Square Garden last December. The video gives great perspective on what goes on behind the scenes to put together such a great show. It’s not all whiskey and cocaine all the time. Some of the time, but not all the time.


Talk to you soon.




i wouldn't complain if i got to see delta spirit on a monthly basis for the remainder of 2012.

Eddie and Pete, two of the greats

Stumbled on this Letterman performance today of Pete Townshend feat. Eddie Vedder. If you had to select two people to have a beer with and talk music, life, politics, fuck anything, wouldn’t these two have to be in the top 5?

Snapshot In Time: March 2012

A big part of why I love the idea of this blog is that 30 years from now, when we are old and grey and can’t remember what we had for breakfast let alone what we were listening to in our 20’s, we will be able to revisit the pages of DedMels to read through the varied musical moments that captured our attention at specific times in our lives. To be able to say to a younger generation, “I saw Middle Brother at the Newport Folk Fest back in 2011,” while watching McCauley/Vasquez/Goldsmith/Corndawg perform a reunion tour in 2030.

The following are a few of the bands that are in heavy rotation currently @ DedMels HQ, a collection that will allow us to look back on Spring 2012 with great pride. At a time when we are witnessing immense change all around us, these acts continue to show that no matter what, rock n roll is alive and stronger than ever.

The Black Keys- Everything the blues/garage rock duo from Akron touch these days seems to turn to gold. Their latest offering, El Camino, has guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney headlining arenas across the country, culminating a decade’s worth of progress from the early days of playing basement parties in Ohio. Any concerns of whether they could fill a 20,000 capacity venue was quickly squashed early on at their March 7th stop at the Garden, where droves of underage college kids and older rockers alike shouted along to show opener “Howlin’ For You” (from their Grammy-winning 2010 LP, Brothers.) They went on to rip through a string of hits, new and old, culminating in a 3-song encore set with a gigantic disco ball as the backdrop. Somehow it fit the scene perfectly. If you have a chance to catch these guys on their current tour I highly recommend it, a shining example of what arena rock should sound like.

The Black Keys are a can't miss.

Alabama Shakes- Soulful rock n roll from the deep south, the hard charging Brittany Howard and Co burst on the scene last summer and haven’t looked back. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the level of buzz generated from a band that hasn’t even released an album yet (debut Boy and Girls due out April 9th via Rough Trade Records). Aquarium Drunkard’s Justin Gage gets credit for posting “You Ain’t Alone” on his blog last year calling it “a slice of the real.” From there, according to their bio, “literally overnight, all hell broke loose.” They have been on the road nonstop since last summer when Drive By Truckers invited them to open a few dates, from there selling out venues coast to coast and overseas. Their breakneck 2012 schedule has them rolling through the Paradise next month and Newport Folk Fest this summer. Listen to them steal the show at last week’s SXSW here, via NPR- http://www.npr.org/event/music/148530119/alabama-shakes-live-in-concert-sxsw-2012

Diamond Rugs- This past year has seen John McCauley really make a leap into the hearts of DedMels HQ, to the point that when Mitch decided it was time to propose to his longtime girlfriend last winter, he decided to do it before a Deer Tick show in Brooklyn on New Years Eve. Diamond Rugs is his latest super-group project while taking a quick break from the Deer Tick crew. With members of Black Lips, Dead Confederate, Deer Tick, Six Finger Satellite and Los Lobos, their sound reeks of booze, cigarettes and a rockin’ good time. The group got together last summer in Nashville and cut a record in just 10 days, a testament to the level of professionalism and undeniable chemistry that exudes through this group of hardened partiers.

The lovebirds with John McCauley, post Deer Tick NYE party 2011

The fact this accomplished group of musicians were able to find the time to come together and make a record is an amazing feat in itself. Here’s hoping some tour dates get announced soon. In anticipation of their self-titled debut record out April 24 via Partisan Records, have a listen to their single “Gimme A Beer,” from what very well could be the best album of 2012.

Delta Spirit – Mitch already provided a spot on write up here about our recent NYC weekend with the SoCal-bred group, but with an upcoming show at the Paradise I would be remiss not to add a few notes myself. The Brooklyn transplants continue to advance their sound to far reaching levels of awesomeness. Their self-titled third record released last week on Rounder has sparked some inevitable debate among the DedMel’s community, however I commend the boys for ambitiously pushing an expanded sound which has evolved organically through the past few years of constant touring and songwriting. And if I had to guess, opening a handful of dates for My Morning Jacket last year, one of DedMel’s favorites, no doubt influenced this sonic exploration. Listen to an acoustic version of their new hit “California” below, and if you are in the New England area I hope you have tickets to the sold out show on the 27th.


I hope this gives you a pulse of what is going on this spring in our world. If I missed something I would love to hear from you, and to round out a top 6 for Spring 2012 read Mitch’s take on Dr Dog’s “Be The Void” and Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball.” Here’s hoping Summer 2012 has the same level of excitement.

See you out there


Wrecking Ball : The Boss Is Back (And You’re Gonna Be in Trouble)

DedMels Review — 9/10

The Boss is back, and he’s pissed… well, you know, as far as filthy-rich mainstream rock gods go. With Wrecking Ball, Bruce rails against economic and social injustice with some of the heaviest lyrics of his career but music that you can play at your upcoming St. Patty’s Parade party in South Boston.

Let’s come right out and say it, the formula works. He’s done it before with one of his biggest albums (and songs) Born in the U.S.A., and he uses it again here to great advantage. From the opening drums and chords of first song and single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” it’s apparent that Bruce is back in the mode of social commentary as party anthem. Just as “Born in the U.S.A.” was dolled up from it’s early version (I believe originally intended for Nebraska, if you can imagine that), it’s easy to see how this song was probably developed from a venom-spitting acoustic number into an easy crowd-rocker for the E Street Band. And throughout the album, Springsteen proves there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that.

Some early standouts include “Jack Of All Trades,” with quintessential Springsteen lyrics about a hard-working man waiting for the next job to come along, and a solo from Tom Morello that starts off all “Tuesday’s Gone”-ish before transforming into one of his typical, if reserved, space shots. The next song, “Death to My Hometown,” presents the tale of how it doesn’t necessarily take a natural disaster or terrorist act to transform the “Hometown” that Bruce has sung about famously before. Set to an Irish-folk/march melody, the song about corporate greed flat-out rocks and has some of the best lyrics on Wrecking Ball.

Springsteen wrote a batch of songs here that lend themselves to huge choruses of background vocals, all while making you feel like you’re listening to a collection of protest songs from the 50s and 60s. Even the more relatively stripped-down “We Are Alive” adds a horn section, and though “Rocky Ground” has a melody similar to Springsteen’s own “My City of Ruins,” there are certainly elements here (loops! rapping?!) on Wrecking Ball that likely even the most die-hard Bruce fan hasn’t heard on one of his records before. It’s refreshing to see a guy that could easily coast on his past laurels still impassioned enough by music to lay down something as exciting as this album to tape.

And if you can watch this video from Jimmy Fallon’s show last week and not have at least some desire to see the Boss when he rolls through your city, then we probably don’t have a lot in common.

Because My Love Is Strong : Delta Spirit Pub Crawl / Public Assembly Show

The best things in life are free, and sometimes they involve rushing out of work to get on a Fung Wah bus on a crisp Friday evening in late-February in order to be in NYC for an unforgettable weekend. The forward-thinking and kind lads of Delta Spirit had a great idea for fans looking to hear their new album before it gets released on March 13th through Rounder Records. This came in the form of a Saturday afternoon pub crawl around a few spots in Brooklyn before an invite-only show at Public Assembly, in which fans would get to hear a few tracks from the new album at each bar and then a select few (hundred) would be rewarded for sticking it out with a live show by the band in the early evening.

My girlfriend and myself asked (begged) for tickets from the band through their Facebook page and were lucky enough to both win, meaning MLK had a spot and we had one extra (eventually offered to some nice ticketless people also on the pub crawl who were able to get in).

It was apparent from the first stop at the Manhattan Inn that things were going to get fun on a sunny (and, for 30 seconds, snowy) afternoon in Brooklyn. As a very over-worked bartender poured $3 Brooklyn Brewery beers for the crowd rolling in, the band began to arrive as well and we were all treated to the first three songs from their new self-titled album. Starting with “Empty House,” a different but exciting new sound from the band is apparent from the start. Following that with “Tear It Up” and “California” sets a great tone for the album and was very exciting for three bleary-eyed travelers without a clue of what to expect from the next few hours.

MLK did his part at dba by holding the amp while tickets and other swag were handed out and the mid-section of the album was played, including new fav “Otherside.”

MLK Loves Amps

MLK Does His Civic Duty

We had a great time at the next spot, The Lovin’ Cup, where we got to meet several of the band members and watched them give a toast (and whatever tickets to the show were left) to the excited crowd. We also heard the rest of the excellent album, and played piano in the bathroom.

We also wore shades indoors.

The Boys Rocked.

The highlight of the day and our weekend in NY was the show at Public Assembly, where the band absolutely killed a set of favs and new songs. Highlights included “White Table”, “Bushwick Blues”, and set opener “Empty House,” my new favorite Delta Spirit song. Upon taking the stage, singer Matt Vasquez announced, “This has been like the funnest day ever,” and he wasn’t far off. Between the crawl and the show (and the rest of our weekend) we had an unbelievable time. Thanks again boys. Watch a quick video of the day’s events below, and pick up the album 3/13/12.
– Mitch

Be The Void : Weirder, Funkier, and Dr. Doggier Than Ever

I think it was maybe about half way through my third time listening to “Warrior Man” when the light bulb went off.  Appearing late in the album’s 12-song tracklist, the song kind of sums up the whole record – the boys are back, and they’re letting their freak flag fly, as the saying goes.

The beauty of the latest Dr. Dog album, out this Tuesday, Feb. 7th (a nice early birthday present for my 30th), is that it takes a few listens to really sink in.  While their last album Shame, Shame was packed with songs that were likeable upon the first listen, Be the Void encompasses all sides of Dr. Dog that fans have grown to love, even if it takes some spins to fully get it.

The story goes that Jim James (who contributes vocals on the title track to Shame, Shame) got Dr. Dog their “break” by inviting them to tour with My Morning Jacket after hearing their self-released album Toothbrush after a show one night, and upon listening to this album you can’t help but think that James would be proud.  From the opening notes of the loose-grooving first track, “Lonesome”, you can tell that this will be a somewhat more informal affair than the previous effort.  Toby Leaman’s vocal’s are perfect, and the rest of the band helps him out with background chants and responses that make the listener feel like they’re hearing the band play in their living room.  The song flows right into first single, “That Old Black Hole”, with Scott McMicken this time taking lead vocal duties.  This follows the now almost-Dr. Dog Tradition of alternating lead-singer tracks in the album order. In fact, Be the Void follows this pattern throughout the record, with Leaman taking the odd-numbered tracks and McMicken the even-numbered.

Other highlights include the repeated chorus in “Heavy Light” and the sha-la-la’s of “Big Girl.”  Probably the best two-song combo of the album though is McMicken’s “Over Here, Over There” into Leaman’s “Warrior Man”, two tracks that seem to almost sum up the complete Dr. Dog experience in under nine minutes.  They’re catchy, they’re imaginative, and they’re fun as hell. Though it is early in the game, Be the Void is an early 2012 favorite.

Show Preview – Justin Townes Earle @ Royale Boston 12/10/11

I love music festivals for a variety of reasons. Summer weather, endless libations, chances of running into a burgeoning rock star (Jonathan Russell from The Head and The Heart) at the beer tent; if you can’t find a good time at a music festival chances are I do not have time for you.

This past July spotlighted another great reason- being introduced to a new musician for the very first time. Nothing beats stumbling upon a new sound or band you’ve never or rarely heard, only for them to leap into your daily playlist shortly thereafter. I will always remember seeing Kings of Leon and Morning Jacket open for Pearl Jam @ Lollapalooza 2007 and knew right away they would become 2 of my favorite bands. I listened to Aha Shake Heartbreak approximately 134 times start to finish backpacking Australia that fall. Caleb Followill if you are reading this, please get it together. Jim James, I love you.

On Sunday of the 2011 Newport Folk Fest, after some unfortunate crossovers on set times, I had 2 must-see acts: Trampled By Turtles and Middle Brother (read Mitch’s take on Middle Brother’s epic show here). Sandwiched in between these sets was Justin Townes Earle, someone admittedly my uncle Tank had recommended earlier in the year but I had yet to check out. I knew he had famous family lineage but that was about it. Having already secured 5th row seats for Middle Bro we were going to see who this JTE was whether we liked it or not.

His bio online states, “He’s Nashville North, all set up in lower Manhattan now, just like his hero Woody Guthrie, with twang and charm intact.” And as it turns out, JTE is a nasty guitar player with whiskey driven / road tested lyrics to boot. With a backing steel guitar and stand up bass we were treated to a great 1-hour set, enough for me to drive to Philly over Labor Day to catch him play with Dr Dog, and for his latest release Harlem River Blues to be in my steady listening rotation ever since.

Check out his Americana Music Awards Song of the year here, and purchase tickets to his Saturday show in Boston here. July weather is long gone but here’s hoping I run into JTE for a Budweiser after the show.