SOLD OUT - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with Special Guest Wicked Chief
Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 7:00pm doors / 8:00pm show
This show is sold out - no tickets will be available for sale at the door
It has been 10 years since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah started, and they're about to release their fourth record, Only Run. Like the previous three, CYHSY will market and distribute the album independently. From the get go, this ethos struck a chord with fans, but it was merely an extension of lead singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth's core belief: "The general rule is to be appreciative of your audience," he recently told Fast Company magazine. "If you can organize and are motivated, you should approach fans directly."
So, 10 years later, while much has changed, many things aren't so different now. For instance, Ounsworth has spent all of 2014 thus far crisscrossing the United States playing living room shows. He still needs that direct connection with fans; it validates his vision of how art should work and confirms his belief in the music.
Before taking to the road, Ounsworth poured himself into the making of Only Run. Like the band's fateful first album, it's an artist's singular vision. Once again, Ounsworth crafted the songs himself before bringing them to the studio for completion and the album is further proof that CYHSY thrives because of a strong sense of identity. Fostered from his love of uncompromising songwriters (e.g. John Cale, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Tom Waits), Ounsworth believes in an artist's creative control. "Some people seem surprised when you shift gears aesthetically between records, but to me that's the point," he says. "We have a responsibility as musicians to take chances." Ounsworth continues, "There is a reason I have all of Tom Waits' albums, for example. I believe in him."
Only Run aims to loosely document Ounsworth's observations of his life in music over the last 10 years. "Lately, I've been assaulted by news, both distant and near, that suggests a certain sense of frustration," he says. "But Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-the entire concept of the band, the name itself-is about balancing optimism in the face of overwhelming odds. I'm coming around to this myself - finding that renewed sense of optimism."
(Early Show) An Evening With Slaid Cleaves
Friday, July 25, 2014 - 6:00pm doors / 7:00pm show
Slaid Cleaves spins stories with a novelist's eye and a poet's heart. Twenty years into his career, the celebrated songwriter's Still Fighting the War spotlights an artist in peak form. Cleaves' seamless new collection delivers vivid snapshots as wildly cinematic as they are carefully chiseled. Dress William Faulkner with faded jeans and a worn six-string for a good idea. "Slaid's a craftsman," says Terri Hendrix, who sings harmony on "Texas Love Song." "He goes about his songs like a woodworker."
Accordingly, Cleaves' earthy narratives stand oak strong. "Men go off to war for a hundred reasons/But they all come home with the same demons," he sings on the album's title track. "Some you can keep at bay for a while/Some will pin you to the floor/You've been home for a couple of years now, buddy/But you're still fighting the war." Few writers frame bruised souls as clearly. Fewer still deliver a punch with such striking immediacy.
"I started 'Still Fighting the War' four years ago and originally each verse was a separate character," Cleaves explains. "Each verse was about getting swindled. One was about the economy, one was about a returning veteran, one was about a broken-up couple. It was too cumbersome, so I focused in on the soldier. The key that made it all work came as I was talking to my friend and occasional co-writer, Ron Coy. A troubled Vietnam vet buddy of his had recently passed away. Ron said, 'All this time, it was like he was still fighting the war.' I knew instantly that was the perfect way to summarize the song."
Cleaves delivers equal measures of hope and resignation throughout this 2013 release as life lessons slide subtly through side doors. "Normally when I start writing a new batch, a theme starts to emerge after three or four songs," says Cleaves, who built an unlikely success story from scratch after moving to Austin, Texas, from Maine two decades ago. "This time around I thought, I'm just gonna write where the muse takes me and each song will be its own thing. So I ended up with a CD that has a bit more variety on it compared to my previous releases. Half the songs are about struggle and perseverance and half are all over the place, some tongue-in-cheek stuff, a gospel song, a Texas pride song."
Witness deft wordplay on the latter: "Your wit's as sharp as a prickly pear/The sun shines in your golden hair/Your smile hits me right in the solar plexus," Cleaves sings with a wink in "Texas Love Song." "Skin as soft as early morning rain/Temper like a Gulf Coast hurricane/I love you even more than I love Texas." "Originally, the phrase was 'I love you almost as much as I love Texas,'" Cleaves says, "because that's about as far as a true proud Texan will go. Then I realized that if I committed the sin of saying 'I love you even more than I love Texas,' it trips off the tongue better. It was a fun little challenge to come up with so many rhymes for 'Texas.'"
Of course, Cleaves conquered the task. Longtime fans expect nothing less. After all, Still Fighting the War follows the razor sharp songwriter's undeniable hat trick - Broke Down (2000), Wishbones (2004) and Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (2009) - that established him as a singular storyteller. His golden key: effortlessly shading dark with light. Cue Cleaves' excellent double-disc Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge for inarguable evidence ("Drinkin' Days," "Wishbones," "Horseshoe Lounge").
"You get a lot of the man behind the lyrics," Hendrix says. "What you see with Slaid is what you get: He doesn't have the eyes of a cynic. He has optimism about him through a realistic gaze and writes with a wise voice." The Kerrville Folk Festival recognized those intangible qualities long ago when Cleaves won its hallowed New Folk award in 1992. He's doubled down ever since with literate story songs exponentially more mature and meaningful.
Consider one other new high water mark. "But they figured it out/And shipped the elbow grease/Down to Mexico/And off to the Chinese," Cleaves sings on the haunting meditation "Rust Belt Fields." "And I learned a little something 'bout how things are/No one remembers your name just for working hard." Childhood friend Rod Picott co-wrote those potent lines - the duo has split pages on several indelible blue-collar vignettes over the years ("Broke Down," "Sinner's Prayer," "Bring It On," "Black T-shirt").
"Slaid is my favorite co-writer," says Picott, who also co-wrote the new album's standout "Welding Burns." "He's a smart writer with a gift for wringing the most out of a melody. Slaid understands that the song has to rule. He's patient and unwavering in his pursuit of the best." Cleaves humbly accepts the praise. "Despite the odds, through persistence and good fortune I've carved out a niche for myself," he says. "You could say I have a 'Whim of Iron.'"
(Late Show) An Evening With Jester Jenkins (Former Front Man of Old E Allstars)
Friday, July 25, 2014 - 10:00pm doors / 10:30pm show
Killer vocals, life stories and a soulful percussive base are a few of the elements that set Jester Jenkins a part from most other acts in the Mid Atlantic Region and East Coast.
Borne from the passion and soul of a gregarious blues singer in Pittsburgh, PA, Jester Jenkins has performed in front of live audiences in the mid-Atlantic region from the time he was 12 years old. A three piece rock powerhouse in high school turned to an 8 piece funk band and performances included the hottest venues throughout Pittsburgh, college campuses throughout the region and festivals all over. And now, elements of blues, soul and rock have forged a new brand of acoustic Rock & Soul, A.K.A Jester Jenkins
(Early Show) Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virgina Benefit Concert featuring Amanda DiGregory (Acoustic), My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure, The Jellyrox, Best Friend Fight and Switch Kids
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 6:00pm doors / 7:00pm show
Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia Benefit Concert. Proceeds collected will go to our local Make-A-Wish Foundation® chapter, located in Pittsburgh. Music features Matt Fuchs and Amanda DiGregory (acoustic), My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure, The Jellyrox (electronica from Matt Langston of Eleventryseven), Best Friend Fight, and The Switch Kids. Cover $10.
& Ticket Giveaways
- Sun 08/10 Kris Roe of The Ataris (The Ataris Acoustic Tour)
- Wed 09/04 S. Carey / Califone
- Sun 09/14 Sean Rowe
- Tue 09/16 Brendan James
- Wed 09/17 The Pearls / Naked Arcade / Kate Clark
- Sat 09/20 The Bumper Jacksons
- Thu 09/25 Marc Scibilia / The Bros. Landreth
- Sun 09/28 Dom Flemons
- Thu 10/02 Peter Case
- Sat 10/04 Joe Grushecky & the HouseRockers
- Thu 10/09 Sons Of Bill
- Wed 11/05 Jay Nash
- The Semi-Supervillains
- (Early Show) Great Ancient Trees
- (Late Show) Andy Picarro
- AcoustiCafe will return NEXT MONDAY, July 14
- A Sunny Day in Glasgow
- The Cordovas Featuring Joe Firstman
- (Early Show) An Evening With Caravan of Thieves
- (Late Show) Valkyrie
- (Early Show) Grey's Fool CD Release Party
- (Late Show) The Tillers
- (Early Show) '360 Degrees of R&B & Soul' featuring Jazz Garcelle
- (Late Show) Sephus Lee (CD Release)
- The Brothers Comatose
- AcoustiCafe Open Stage
- SOLD OUT - An Evening With JOHNNYSWIM
- Jeremy Caywood
- The Shift
- Long Live Woody Guthrie!
- (Early Show) Nick Barilla EP Release Show
- (Late Show) Kopecky Family Band
- AcoustiCafe Open Stage
- SOLD OUT - Matthew Sweet Rock Show
- Gas House Gorillas
- SOLD OUT - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
- (Early Show) An Evening With Slaid Cleaves
- (Late Show) An Evening With Jester Jenkins (Former Front Man of Old E Allstars)
- (Early Show) Make-A-Wish of Greater Pennsylvania and West Virgina Benefit Concert
- (Late Show) Gasoline Genes
- AcoustiCafe Open Stage
- Lukas Nelson & P.O.T.R.
- Briar Rabbit