Rickie Lee Jones is one of those artists whose career has been varied enough that listening to one album won’t really give you a sense of the complete artist.
She’s still best known, probably, for the single “Chuck E.’s in Love,” from her self-titled 1979 debut. The song is by far her biggest hit, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, and “Rickie Lee Jones” is by far her biggest album, reaching platinum status with sales of more than a million copies.
Neither is necessarily representative of Jones’ music, though. She’s released 13 studio LPs and an EP over the years, exploring rock, blues, R&B and beatnik jazz on songs that mold her pliable singing voice around themes including autobiography (her 1981 album “Pirates” deals in part with her split from Tom Waits), politics (on 2003’s “The Evening of My Best Day”) and religion (on 2007’s “The Sermon on Exposition Boulevard,” an album as good as anything Jones has released).
The best way to get a complete picture of her as a singer and songwriter is to see her perform April 11 at Infinity Hall. Tickets are $80 and $60.
More anniversaries: Pink Floyd’s 1973 album “Dark Side of the Moon” turned 40 this week, and to celebrate, the Library of Congress added the LP to the National Recording Register, along with 24 other recordings by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel (“The Sound of Silence”), Chubby Checker (“The Twist”) and the Bee Gees, via the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever.”
“Dark Side” is certainly deserving: the album spent 741 weeks on the Billboard charts — that’s more than 14 years — and has sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 million copies in the U.S. alone. The others are certainly worthy, too, though “Dark Side” spent a long time at the top of my list of favorite albums.
The Library of Congress chooses recordings based on their cultural, artistic and historic importance. If you could add any one album or single to the register, what would it be? Maybe something by Michael Jackson? “Thriller” is already on the list, but that wasn’t his only important album. Relive the MJ experience when the tribute act Who’s Bad performs April 13 at Infinity Hall.
It was heartbreaking to hear this morning that Jason Molina had died over the weekend. Molina was a gifted singer and songwriter who fronted the bands Songs: Ohio and Magnolia Electric Co., neither of which was as well known as they should have been.
His talents masked what his record label called “severe alcoholism,” which he battled for most of a decade before dying of organ failure as a result of alcohol consumption. He was just 39. I only saw him perform once, when Magnolia Electric Co. played in New Haven in 2005, not long after releasing their first studio album, “What Comes After the Blues?” In a CD review back then, I wrote that Molina sang “with the quiet fervor of someone who is pretty sure there are no rewards waiting in this life.” Sadly, that turned out to be truer than anyone would ever have wanted.
This has come up before, but Molina’s death is a reminder that the artists we love won’t live forever, even if it seems they’re young enough that they should have years ahead of them. Don’t wait to see them perform, just in case it’s the only chance you have.
This week marks the 27th-annual incarnation of the South by Southwest music festival in Texas, which is often referred to as “spring break for the music industry.” That’s a good description: in that more than 1,300 bands perform on 100 stages around downtown Austin for five nights, it’s not really a festival geared toward the casual music fan. It is, however, a lot of fun.
I’ll be going for the 11th time this year to cover some specific shows for my day job and discover what I can, just for myself: it’s always a preview of what’s going to be happening in the music industry for at least the next six months. If past experience is any guide, that suggests that this year is a promising one for Connecticut acts, which are unusually well represented at the festival. Hartford rockers Bronze Radio Return have an official showcase, and so does motormouthed shoreline rapper Chris Webby. New London singer Daphne Lee Martin is headed to Austin, too, marking her first time performing there during SXSW.
And a bunch of acts from western Massachusetts are going, too, including Erin McKeown, Sun Parade and Jamie Kent & the Options, who put together a river cruise to showcase Northampton-area bands on Saturday afternoon.
Though it’s great heading to a warm city as winter clings to the northeast, there’s no need to go so far to see great local bands: Infinity Hall features plenty of area acts, and with an open-mic night coming up on March 20, there’s a chance to discover someone new and interesting. And if open mics aren’t your style, Texas stalwarts the Flatlanders and Ray Wylie Hubbard are coming to Infinity for performances April 16 and May 2, respectively.
In This Generation: My Life in the Monkees and so much more
Saturday, May 11th • 8:00 pm
Peter Tork will bring to life the roller coaster ride of blistering TV ratings, concert tours, recording sessions, and the 45 off-again on-again years with the group that the late Davy Jones called “The brothers I never had.” He will present unheard of songs as well as the hits we all know and love.
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Friday, May 24th • 8:00 pm
Ray Wylie Hubbard has been the leading figure of the progressive country movement since the 1970s. Among his many hits are “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” and “Drunken Poet’s Dream.” He makes his way to the Infinity Stage in support of his latest album, The Grifter’s Hymnal.
The Gibson Brothers
Sunday, April 27th• 8:00 pm
The Gibson Brothers received the much deserved 2012 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award — the most prestigious honor in bluegrass. Their pitch perfect harmonies and instrumental virtuosity are a perfect match for the acoustically pristine Infinity Hall!
Jasper String Quartet
Sunday, March 24th• 1:30 pm
Infinity Hall and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival are proud to present the Jasper String Quartet. The Jaspers perform classical pieces emotionally significant to its members ranging from Haydn and Beethoven through Berg, Ligeti, and living composers.