Langhorne Slim & The Law

Langhorne Slim & The Law (10:00 PM)

John Moreland (9:15 PM)

The Wild Reeds (8:30 PM)

Tue, August 11, 2015

8:00 pm

$18.00

Sold Out

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Langhorne Slim & The Law - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
Langhorne Slim & The Law
There is nothing like the challenges and camaraderie of the road to inspire a songwriter who thrives upon the emotional energy and exhilaration only travel can deliver. Some singers are devoted to the pursuit of perpetual motion, and Langhorne Slim releases his wild soul in ways that come out of the discipline of live performance.

The 13 songs that compose Langhorne Slim & The Law’s new The Way We Move are road-tested, rollicking and very rock ‘n’ rolling tunes that the songwriter perfected with his loyal band, and come out of the kind of good times and bad experiences that songwriters of Langhorne’s lofty stature can turn into life-affirming rock ‘n’ roll. You could also call what Langhorne Slim does folk music, but then there’s his sly, charming and open-hearted feel for pop music—those summertime melodies that nudge you into a grin even when the song is about something bad.

For Langhorne Slim—Pennsylvania-born self-taught guitarist who moves to Brooklyn at 18, begins feeling out his place in a burgeoning punk-folk scene, wends his way to the West Coast, and finds himself celebrated from Newport to Portland as one of today’s most original singers and songwriters—The Way We Move represents the sound of a band devoted to living in the moment. Riding the success of his 2009 full-length Be Set Free, Langhorne went through some changes over the last three years—he lost his beloved grandfather, who is the subject of the new record’s moving “Song for Sid,” and moved on from a relationship that had lasted five years.

And there was the physical moving—the literal side of the record’s title. Pulling up stakes from his home of two years, Portland, Ore., Langhorne also has been touring non-stop with The Law. As he says, “I’m in a bit of a transitional period—currently, the road will be home. That’s just kind of my spirit, to be slightly restless.” Perfecting their rangy sound out on the endless grey ribbon, Langhorne and The Law— bassist Jeff Ratner, drummer Malachi DeLorenzo and banjo player and keyboardist David Moore—went down to rural Texas in the summer of 2011 to work on new material. With some 30 tunes to consider, the quartet soaked up the Lone Star sunshine and developed arrangements and approaches for Langhorne’s latest batch of songs.

Jeff Ratner had joined the group at the time of Be Set Free, and brought on multi-instrumentalist David Moore not long after. Moore and Ratner go way back, having moved to New York around the same time, and they’ve played together in what Jeff estimates are 15 bands. Langhorne’s association with Malachi is equally deep. As the group played together through tours with the Drive-By Truckers and the Avett Brothers, and made appearances at the Newport Folk Festival and Bonnaroo, their bond became ever stronger, their music more confident. This is what you hear on The Way We Move—forward motion meeting deep cohesion, all in the service of Langhorne’s amazing songs and compelling vocals.

“We wanted Langhorne’s songs to shine, and be as raw as the creatures that we are,” Jeff says of the recording process. The band set up in the Catskill, N.Y. Old Soul Studio, a 100-year-old Greek Revival house retooled for recording. With studio owner Kenny Siegal co-producing, Langhorne & The Law fearlessly ran through an astounding 26 songs in four days, with Langhorne putting finishing touches on new tunes as they recorded. Langhorne says it was an intimate affair in Old Soul, with Moore’s “banjo room” in a coatroom and the piano in the living room.

It comes through on The Way We Move—the live feel of the sessions, which found Langhorne singing along with the band on every track. “Singing with the band that way, it’s almost like I was performing on stage,” he says. Cutting everything live to tape gave the band exactly what they’d been looking for: a super-charged evocation of their raucous, friendly stage performances. Langhorne and Jeff value in music for its rawness, and it doesn’t matter whether that rawness—the insurgent spirit that unites the Clash and Charlie Poole—comes from in punk, country, soul or folk. Langhorne is a fan of Porter Wagoner, Jimmie Rodgers, Waylon Jennings, and early rock ‘n’ roll in general. But there’s nothing referential or detached about the music Langhorne & The Law make. Langhorne writes songs that are yearning, sad, happy, defeated and optimistic, with hints of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll balladry.

“We all love Wu-Tang Clan as much as we love Bowie, or Brazilian psychedelic pop,” Langhorne says. On The Way We Move, David’s probing piano often provides focus for Langhorne’s tales of love and loss. “On the Attack” begins with a delicate, watercolor section that turns into an ingenious variation on a classic soul ballad—Solomon Burke meets punk blues in a smoky folk club. Langhorne addresses it to a current or past love. Similarly, “Past Lives” sports a piano introduction that gives way to a melancholy 6/8 ballad that perfectly supports lyrics about possible past lives and their interaction with the present.

It’s a spirited, inspired slice of real rock ‘n’ roll—exuberance meets hard-won experience in an explosive combination. David’s banjo and Malachi’s walloping drums add up to a new kind of folk music. The music drives, but there’s no loss of subtlety. And when the group lays into the garage-rocking “Fire,” with its funky electric piano and supremely callow lyrics about first kisses and the hot-burning passions of adolescence, it’s clear Langhorne is one of the great rock ‘n’ rollers of our or any time.

Road-tested as the band is, the new music also shows just how far Langhorne Slim has come as a singer. He croons, exults and sings the blues throughout The Way We Move. And there are his lyrics, which are about strange dreams featuring women who want him dead even as he desires them, the pressures of small-town life, ambition, and how much he appreciates his mother’s love and support. That’s all Langhorne and his life—his mother, he says, really was amazingly supportive of his ambitions to become a musician, as was the rest of his family.

It comes through as you listen to his virtuoso demonstration of a singing style that seems alive to every fleeting emotional shade of meaning. Langhorne puts you in mind of John Lennon’s singing from time to time—it’s nothing exact, and Slim doesn’t do much music that is very Lennon- or Beatle-esque, but it’s something in the timbre, and the openness of his vocals. It’s worth repeating here that Langhorne learned Nirvana songs as he began to explore the guitar and songwriting, and Kurt Cobain’s intense singing is another reference point.

But these guys don’t play the reference game, and like to keep it raw. The new record moves in ways that are fresh for Langhorne Slim & The Law, and demonstrates all the ways we can go forward while keeping an eye on the mirror. They’re laying down the law. It’s very American, and when Langhorne Slim contemplates whether or not he fits in to any narrow-cast definition of this country’s music, he replies with a perfect, laconic joke: “I think we fit in most places that would take us.”
John Moreland - (Set time: 9:15 PM)
John Moreland
John Moreland Big Bad Luv

The replay of John Moreland's network television debut is…glorious and affirming and a
sucker punch. He is announced by Stephen Colbert, lights dissolve, and the camera
slowly focuses on the person midway across the unadorned stage, revealing him
beneath muted blue lights.



He is a big man.



Seated, alone, cradling his acoustic guitar.



He looks like nobody who is famous.



Then he begins to sing, to caress the song “Break My Heart Sweetly,” and all that
remains is to whisper, “Oh, my god.”



In Colbert's studio everybody stood, like they were in church.



Big Bad Luv is the record John Moreland made after, after everything in his life
changed. For the better.



He sings in one of those accents from flyover country that's impossible to locate and
implausible to mimic. (Texas, by way of Northern Kentucky, but mostly Tulsa, as it
happens.) He sings directly from his heart, with none of the restraint and filters and
caution the rest of us would apply for public protection. He sings with resolute courage.



He sings.



And writes. Writes with simple eloquence about love and faith and isolation; the human
condition; what every song and poem and novel is about, at the core: Life.



“Break My Heart Sweetly” came from his second solo album, released in 2013 and titled
In the Throes. High on Tulsa Heat, released through Thirty Tigers, landed him on
Colbert's stage (that's the LP Colbert held up). Song placements on “Sons of Anarchy,”
an emerging artist nomination from the Americana Music Association.



Enough sales to compel Moreland to give up his DIY label operation, and sign with 4AD.
“It grew to the point where I couldn't really handle everything myself,” he says. “Even
with a manager and a small team, I came to the conclusion that I'd like to play music
and not worry about the other stuff.”



Enough success to buy a measure of peace, and not more pain. “I expected to just play
in the corner of the bar and have people not really pay attention, make $100, go home
and go to work the next morning, doing something I didn't like,” Moreland says. “So,
yeah, I didn't really expect to be here. But, then, on the other hand, I did. I feel like I'm
good enough to be here. And I've always been confident, even when I probably
shouldn't have been. I knew I was an outsider. I didn't have a lot of faith in the music
industry to let me in. But I guess they have. To some extent. That's what I hoped for, but
I wasn't sure that would be how it worked.”






“In churches learning how to hate yourself/Ain't grace a wretched old thing” he sings,
the song called “Ain't We Gold.” Big Bad Luv is unmistakably a rock 'n' roll record. If,
that is, one understands the term to include Ray Wylie Hubbard, John Hiatt, and Lucero.
Or The Band, maybe. Insistent songs, coming from a voice as elegant as unfinished
barn wood, songs which insist upon their words being heard.



His fourth solo album, not discounting two records with the Black Gold Band and a third
with the Dust Bowl Souls. Nor discounting early excursions into hardcore which were
not youthful indiscretions but crucial training in the emotional honesty of confessional
songwriting. A rock album, to be performed by a rock band. A partial break with the
solitude of solo touring.



“Two or three years ago,” Moreland says, “it would have been impossible to picture
touring with a band. Now that's changed. I think I'll still do some solo or stripped down
shows, but I have the option to bring a band with me if I want. Ultimately it's just what
the songs felt like they should be.”



Big Bad Luv was recorded down in Little Rock, mostly with a crew of Tulsa friends: John
Calvin Abney on piano and guitar, back from Tulsa Heat; Aaron Boehler on bass; Paddy
Ryan on drums; Jared Tyler on dobro. And then Lucero's Rick Steff on piano, which
ended up being the catalyst for completion.



“I always start off writing whatever comes naturally,” Moreland says. “Once I've got
seven or eight of those, then I'll take stock and look at what I've got, figure out what
belongs on a record together, and what might not. Then I'll figure out what kind of songs
I need.”



Three sessions over ten months, sandwiched between touring dates and life. The final
sequence roughly approximating the order in which songs were written. “I chose the
sequence for what I thought worked best musically,” he says, untroubled.



“Quick bursts of recording,” Moreland goes on. Gives off a quick laugh. “It's not like
we're sitting there over-thinking the performances, I'm definitely a fan of just hit record
and play it. But then there's long stretches where I'm not in the studio, when I'm listening
to what I did, asking how do I turn this into a record?”



The key turned out to be Rick Steff's promise to record next week, even though
Moreland didn't have songs, not a one. “I went home and wrote five songs in four days
and finished up,” Moreland says. Another deep, wry laugh.



Big Bad Luv is, at least by comparison…maybe…a happier record? “I don't think I'm
writing songs that are that much different,” Moreland says. “It's always been a positive
thing at heart, even if a song isn't sunshine and rainbows. At the very least my songs
have been a way to exorcise negative feelings so that I can move on. And hopefully
they provide that same experience to listeners. So that's what I'm still doing. I think it's a
positive thing. I think this record, there's definitely a change in attitude, but it's the same
point of view.”



Oh, yeah. And Tchad Blake mixed it. “He's also the only person I've ever worked with
on a record whose name I can drop.”



“Slow down easy, I've been hauling a heavy soul,” he sings, this song titled “Slow Down
Easy.” Carrying it for all of us, but no longer alone.
The Wild Reeds - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
The Wild Reeds
The Wild Reeds have transformed from a three part harmony driven band to a full indie folk rock force that has been sweeping the West Coast. In the past year The Wild Reeds have toured along side artist such as Noah Gundersen and Israel Nash while also making an appearance at festivals such as Newport Folk Festival’s sister of the West, Way Over Yonder, Make Music Pasadena, Echo Park Rising, Claremont Folk Festival, Lightning in a Bottle, and successfully captured large audiences every Monday night in December with their Holiday Residency at The Satellite.

In August 2014 the band released their formal debut album, Blind and Brave, which was produced by Raymond Richards at Red Rockets Glare (Parson Redheads, Honey Honey, Local Natives, Dustbowl Revival). Blind and Brave illustrates the story of the working class, and encourages listeners to genuinely care about the place they inhabit, keep it beautiful, connect with people, and be brave. In everything you do, do it out of love. The album was released with a very special show at the historic Troubadour.

Currently the members of The Wild Reeds hold up the fort all over California, from Koreatown to Highland Park to Hollywood – coming together to rehearse right in the heart of Hollywood. Together they are strong advocates for California, specifically Los Angeles.
Venue Information:
Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069
http://www.troubadour.com/

All lineups and times subject to change