Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teach Your Children Well. Offspring of greats do their lineage justice at the Iron Horse as Liam Finn and Harper Simon come to town on 10/31 & 11/3.

Home to at least two generations of fans and performers, the Iron Horse hosts a steady stream of the musical progeny of great artists, many of whom have played the Horse for years; Sean Lennon, Sara Lee Guthrie, Justin Townes Earl, Ben and Sally Taylor, Rufus, Lucy, and Martha Wainwright and /or Roche, Devon Allman, Teddy Thompson, Shooter Jennings, and Jeff Buckley among them. When we book these sons and daughters, we strike a balance between promoting them on their own merits while also making reference to their newsworthy lineage.

Liam Finn, son of Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House, burst onto the musical landscape with the force and presence of an artist twice his age. Recorded with a mixing deck that once belonged to The Who, the New Zealander, in his early 20s, plays nearly every instrument on his first solo release I'll Be Lightning. During his raucous yet intimate live performances Liam utilizes effects pedals to create, sample and loop bass, guitar, drums, vocals and even Theremin. Liam's sound ranges from foggy and intimate to fuzzed-out garage and Elliott Smith-style melodies are often part of the story. On I'll Be Lightning, Liam has translated the shambolic energy of his live show onto vintage 2-inch tape, yielding a studio album of frightening power and endless hooks. “The aesthetic is DIY, leaving the woolly edges,” he explains. His brand new EP, Champagne In Seashells, a collaboration with his live cohort Eliza Jane (daughter of Aussie music legend Jimmy Barnes) is bigger and bolder than its predecessor, revealing new lyrical complexities and pointing in daring new musical directions. The self produced EP was mixed by legendary sonic wizard Tchad Blake (Gomez, Pearl Jam).

Liam and Eliza KILL Neil Young’s Old Man- watch video.

Liam Finn-Second Chance-watch video from I’ll be Lightning

Listen to Liam and Eliza Jane’s new song Plane Crash.

At 37, Harper Simon apparently doesn't mind taking after his pops, Paul, who used to showcase the young, guitar-playing Harper when he was touring on Graceland. Paul co-wrote two tracks on Harper's debut, a friendly album recorded by Bob Johnston – who was behind the board for classic recordings from Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen – backed by a Who’s Who of enduring session greats familiar from countless classics of the Sixties and Seventies, including the likes of Charlie McCoy, Lloyd Green and Hargus “Pig” Robbins. Working with Bob Johnston and all those Nashville session guys from the 60's was completely fascinating and totally satisfying,” says Simon. “Having Lloyd Green at my disposal, the pedal steel player from The Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo LP. I can't tell you how much acid I dropped to that album. Charlie McCoy, Pig Robbins... holy shit. Blonde On Blonde, Nashville Skyline... whoa. I got to work with Al Perkins whose name I knew from Exile On Main Street. Although actually he's not on the album, he's on a bonus track. Gene Chrisman played drums on Aretha's “Natural Woman”... Mike Leech and Gene were ELVIS's rhythm section. Their musicianship was extraordinary, their attitude towards me was so supportive... it was very special.”

In search of a sound that satisfied him, Harper decided to take those basic tracks that he recorded in Nashville to Los Angeles and eventually to New York, and gradually brought in other great players associated with other eras, including a whole new generation of wildly talented musical friends into the mix including Inara George, Petra Haden and Sean Lennon, ultimately mixing the results with Tom Rothrock, known for his work with artists like Beck and Elliot Smith, who all helped bring the shock of the new. Also on board are Steve Gadd (drummer on “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.”), Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello), and Marc Ribot. Sure, it may have taken a village, but the result reflects one man’s wide-ranging sensibility and influences perfectly. For the Iron Horse show Harper’s band will include bass player Jeff Hill (Rufus Wainwright), drummer Russell Simins (Blues Explosion, Catpower) and multi-instrumentalist Gregg Foreman (Catpower).

Here’s Harper Simon performing Nick Drake’s from the morning.

A young Harper and father Paul on Sesame Street- watch video.

Liam Finn and Eliza Jane plus Miracle Fortress (from Montreal), Saturday, October 31st, 7PM at the Iron Horse. Tickets $14 in advance.

Harper Simon (plus local singer/songwriter & Winterpill) Dennis Crommett, Tuesday, November 3rd, 7PM at the Iron Horse. Tickets $10 in advance

Tickets for all IHEG shows are available at the Northampton Box Office. Charge by phone 586-8686. Order online at

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