I like to go to concerts. I have been to many, many shows. My first live concert was the Grateful Dead during their “Wake of the Flood” Tour; (so for all you Dead Heads out there that should give you an idea of my age).
That show was at the Spectrum, and a “Grate” show it was. I was a freshman in high school and thought I was the coolest thing. Most other kids in my class didn’t have an older brother taking them to shows.
The Spectrum is, sadly soon 'was', a terrific place to see a concert. And, through the years I have been to plenty. From the Dead to Robin Trower; ELO, (and Ralph I am still positive they were playing along to their album) to The Eagles, the Spectrum was the music Mecca for big shows in Philly.
And, as great as the Spectrum is for shows, as I’ve gotten older I find myself enjoying music in much smaller venues. For a number of reasons; I don’t enjoy fighting my way through crowds. Again a sign of advancing age. The hassle of parking, then dealing with trying to leave afterward. Then there’s the $30 t-shirts -- Don’t get me started.
Anyway, as I was saying, smaller spots are fast becoming my music venues of choice. You get to sit as close as you like, or hang back by the bar and listen. After, you get to meet the artists; and they are grateful to meet their fans. Plus their merch is properly priced. Are you listening Bruce?
That’s exactly where I saw this week’s musician, Jim Bianco, at the Tin Angel; a small club in Old City. Bianco has a voice that fits these settings; which I mean in a good way. Because his smoky vocals brings to mind back rooms and heartbreak.
Bianco infects the tunes on his latest release, “Sing” with a bluesy aspect that fit with a shot and good cigar. Songs like “Get On”, “If Your Momma Knew” and “To Hell with the Devil” have a nice kick back feel with enough edge to make you listen repeatedly.
The title track is a joyous call out to do just that. And the quiet moments are equally moving. “Painkiller” is one of my favorite appeals for love I’ve heard in a decade. Overall this in one cd you won’t regret adding to your collection.
Here’s a link to my personal favorite you can download:
“Somebody’s Gonna Get Hurt” by Jim Bianco
(Right click on the link and choose "Save As.." or "Save Target to Download)
Speaking of smaller venues, a new one that’s been open only a short time is “Blinkin’ Lincoln” in Roxborough. I had the chance to catch Andrew Lipke there this past Friday and I have to say I like the place. From the various portraits of our 16th president to the quality sound system the place is a keeper. So check it out, you’ll get to see some good local artists perform in an intimate setting. And there’s plenty of free parking!