We present part 2 in our series of posts regarding the Best of 2011. Here's Bart Darnell with his take on what happened last year in chronological order. His list of favorite albums is located at the bottom of the post. Enjoy! - Scott Allen
Wow, where did the year go? I'm going to make an attempt to remember all the awesomeness that happened musically this year. 2011 sure was a great year to be a music fan. In the interest of this not being especially long, I am going to just list everything that I remember and not go into too much detail about the events. All you need to know is that everything listed below was completely amazing. Here goes...
The year pretty much got kicked into high gear with Marshall Crenshaw and The Bottle Rockets at Off Broadway. A trip out to Vegas included going to see Social Distortion/Lucero/Chuck Ragan at The House Of Blues. Ben Folds rocked the Pageant. February brought Less Than Jake to Pop's and Johnathan Richman to Off Broadway.
Spring started to creep in and along with warmer weather, brought along shows from Two Cow Garage, Will Hoge, and Sebadoh. The Beale St. Music Festival (part of Memphis in May) was a whirlwind of terrific music. The Flaming Lips, Amy LaVere, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lucinda Williams, The Coug, Cee Lo, Wilco, and Lucero were just some of the highlights for me. May continued on with great shows from Ted Leo, Will Johnson, and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit.
Twangfest rolled around in June. Kentucky Knife Fight, Elizabeth Cook, Hayes Carll, Cumberland Gap, Robbie Fulks, Marah, Steve Wynn, and the Baseball Project all delivered. I got to meet Mike Mills! Sadly, June also saw the passing of Clarence Clemons. I spent the night listening to the Boss and having a few brews in honor of the Big Man. The first week of July was truly epic with shows from Elvis Costello, Centro-Matic, and Dave Alvin! Amy LaVere played an amazing show at Off Broadway in August. As summer started to fade, I got to take my brother to see Gillian Welch at the Pageant for his birthday.
October 2011 was about as perfect a month as any could ever be. The Cards made the postseason by the skin of their teeth. Wilco rocked the newly re-opened Peabody Opera House. Tom Russell played Off Broadway on the night that the Cards finished off the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLDS. The next night, he played another great show at Turner Hall in Mt. Olive, IL. Matthew Sweet played the Duck Room and treated the crowd to his masterpiece, Girlfriend, in its entirety. (How can it really be the 20 year anniversary of that record? We're getting old!) The next night, Robbie Fulks and Willy Porter wowed the crowd at Off Broadway, and the Cards dispatched of the Brewers in the NLCS. Fittingly, I was running sound at The Tap Room for Fred Friction and the Trophy Mules when the Redbirds clinched their 11th title.
The year started to wind down with shows from Joshua Black Wilkins and the Jayhawks in November. December saw Jason Isbell and John Prine play at the Touhill. Lucero rocked Off Broadway. Sadly, Warren Hellman, founder of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, passed away on December 18th. Cory Branan and Dave Hause combined their super powers at Cicero's. The last big show of the year was, of course, from Lucero. Their annual Christmas show at Minglewood Hall, this year with Amy LaVere, was the perfect finish to 2011.
Off Broadway continued their domination of being the best venue in town. Congrats to Steve and his crew for their ongoing excellence! Was sad to see FSFU come to an end. Was really sad to hear that R.E.M. were retiring. Jeff gave me my first fix of R.E.M. and they are the reason I met and became friends with Scott. You could say, this blog is a product of that band. Really wish I could have got at least one more live show from them though. Big congrats to Jamal McLaughlin for starting the Foot In The Door local showcases at the Wildey Theater in Edwardsville, IL. The three showcases featured great local bands and performers including, The Highway Companion, Vanilla Beans, Belleview, Explosive Space Modulator, Robin Bettonville Hileman, Greg Silsby, The Flatwheel Band, Bruiser Queen, Super Fun Yeah Yeah Rocketship, and I Have A Bomb. Keep the fires burning sir! Listen Up Nite was another great local showcase of local singer-songwriters that was held at the Focal Point. Fred Friction, John Krane, Dana Anderson, Steve Chosich, Dave Werner, Jesse Irwin, and Katie Jones were just some of the amazing talent that graced the stage at Listen Up Nites. Of course, I can't forget to mention the fantastical day of hanging with my buds during this years Record Store Day. It was a great day of live music, tasty beers, and records, records, records! Scott, Jeff, and I all got to start being part of the record spins at The Royale on a monthly basis. Thank you Scott for getting us in there!
I got to run/provide sound for the following bands/artists this year. Thank you all for allowing me to be part of what you do and to continue to get better at it. Here's the list: The Trophy Mules, The Scapegoats, Joshua Black Wilkins, Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, The Reflectacles, Fred Friction, Trigger 5, Prairie Rehab, Katie and the Curs, Pistol Pete and the Country Stank, Dibiase (though I didn't really have to do anything), The Great Crusades, The Plane Austers, an almost full lineup of Suede Chain (!!!), and Dana Anderson. Big thanks again to Jamal for letting me be involved with the sound for the third installment of Foot In The Door. (Big thanks to Jeff and Josh for helping out that night as well!)
I know I'm forgetting a lot of other stuff. But in the interest of wrapping this up, 2011 was a great year. 2012 has a lot to live up to. Here's just a few of the things I'm looking forward to in the 2012. New Lucero record and tour. New Springsteen record and tour. Craig Finn at Off Broadway. Hopefully a new Franklin Felix record. (Hurry up Jeff! Just kidding sir. No seriously, hurry up!) Frank Turner at Off Broadway. Lots of apparent activity from Hot Water Music. New John Krane record? Todd Snider at The Sheldon. Promise Ring reunion show in Chicago. New Cory Branan record. Hanging with buds at Record Store Day. 2012, let's do this...
Here's a list of the records that spun heavily in my collection from 2011 in no particular order:
- Tom Russell - Mesabi
- Hayes Carll - KMAG YOYO (& Other American Stories)
- Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
- Chuck Ragan - Covering Ground
- Centro-Matic - Candidate Waltz
- Will Johnson - Little Raider (EP)
- Braid - Closer To Closed (EP)
- Dave Alvin - Eleven Eleven
- Glossary - Long Live All Of Us
- Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Here We Rest
- Amy LaVere - Stranger Me
- Title Tracks - In Blank
- Dave Hause - Resolutions
- The Horrible Crowes - Elsie
- The Blind Eyes - With A Bang
- Joshua Black Wilkins - The Girlfriend Sessions
Happy New Year everyone!