The Hold Steady at Chelsea's last Thursday night was what rock 'n' roll is supposed to feel like: invigorating, inspiring, even a little exhausting. Tearing through the finest moments of their four-album catalog, they justified in my mind all the raving I've done about them to all who will listen. If you're like me and tend to get a little evangelical about the things that excite you, you always hope. I still feel a sting of when, back in the late 1990s, I coerced Righteous Buddha's Dave Hinson out of seeing Rev. Horton Heat at The Varsity to witness the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Bayou listlessly lounge around a table on the stage without even plugging in their instruments. We are still good friends, Dave and me, but I suspect that amazingly bummer show has in some ways tarnished my reputation with him to this day. So, I'm glad The Hold Steady delivered.
Another artists that always delivers is my favorite female vocalist Susan Cowsill. I discovered her not through The Cowsills, the family band act that served as the inspiration for The Partridge Family, but through The Continental Drifters' amazing 1999 album Vermillion, snapped up during a bored lunch break at the library. Cowsill's voice has a peculiar sun-dappled melancholy about it that I can only compare to a young Lucinda Williams, except that Cowsill has better chops.
ed: here she is doing "Drunken Angel"
Her 2006 solo album Just Believe It documents the loss of both the city she called home and her brother Barry to Katrina with devastating heaviness, but in it there is also tremendous resolution to survive. With her busy schedule, she still helms the "Covered in Vinyl" nights at Carrollton Station in New Orleans, where the band does a classic album in its entirety (I'd like to nominate Appetite for Destruction if it hasn't been done yet) and has dates set with The Cowsills down the line. She will be appearing in the intimate confines of the Red Dragon (still at its Government Street location) on Friday night.
One of my favorite local groups Terror of the Sea is sadly playing their final show on Friday night at the Spanish Moon before its members scatter to grad school and beyond, and well, so long and good luck. Bands are not meant to last forever, I guess. A passing I will not take lightly, should it come to that, is that of the Compact Disc Store, which is looking for a new owner. As the city's only surviving comprehensive record store, it's a link that I and many other music obsessives need to the not-so-distant past of flipping through stacks of records, looking for the perfect record. So if you have some investment capitol and a well-worn copy of High Fidelity sitting around, head over to Jefferson and Capital Heights and keep the dream alive.