Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Record Crate: Divorcee Rockers and Can Bangers

Mark Olson at Chelsea's, Baton Rouge, LA, 2/23/2008

I believe in love everlasting and all, but it must be said that a divorce can sometimes push a singer-songwriter's material over the hump of familiar patterns. Former Jayhawk Mark Olson seems, at least on record and on stage at Chelsea's this past Saturday, no worse for wear after his parting with Victoria Williams in 2006. Traveling as a trio featuring a violinist and percussionist/pianist, Olson delivered the lush, bittersweet material from his solo debut, The Salvation Blues, with grace.

Granted, he plays it rather public radio-safe (he could dub his touring group "Mark Olson and Viewers Like You") and a djembe is no substitute for the delicate brushed percussion on the album, but Olson has found a confident voice for his mature art. While chances of reforming The Creekdippers with Williams seem slim, other former Jayhawk Gary Louris appears on Salvation, and Olson did manage a rather luminous version of his former band's "Blue" at the show. Here's hoping for a reunion on that front.

But the grown-folks entertainment doesn't stop there. The world-class Bang on a Can All-Stars is staging one of their legendary marathons from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the LSU Union Theater. This is a remarkable treat for our city, and if you have an ear for adventurous music, this is a very rare opportunity to see a group of this caliber. The legendary Arlo Guthrie finishes his two-night run at the Manship on Wednesday, followed by renowned jazz pianist Kenny Barron on Thursday.

This week's Record Crate is brought to you by the letters F, U, N, and K, courtesy of Erykah Badu's irresistibly groovy new psychedelic soul masterpiece, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War), sliding into stores this week. Link

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