Music Tonight: Smooth, soulful Cincinnati-based vocalist Dion performs at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills. Dion got off to a fast start in his career; after graduating college, he went to a talent showcase hosted by renowned DJ Hi-Tek (another a hometown hero). Dion won the contest/audition and Hi-Tek began to use him on some of the high-profile projects he was working on. He and Tek collaborated on the track "Runnin'," from Game's first album, The Documentary, which brought him to the attention of Game's label, Aftermath, founded by the legendary Dr. Dre (he's also worked with Talib Kweli, Xzibit, 50 Cent and others). But the deal didn't pan out (maybe Dre got distracted by his headphones company). Dion has continued to perform and work on new music; he released a mixtape this year (it came out in Japan on the Japan Entertainment Group label) called The Sample, which you can listen to here and download for free here. The gifted Neo Soul/R&B singer (if you dig D'Angelo and Musiq Soulchild, you'll likely love Dion) performs at 8 p.m. at The Greenwich tonight. Admission is just $3 (free appetizers included!). You can check out a fairly recent interview with Dion from the website boxden.com here. Below, enjoy the track "Let It Go," from Hi-Tek's Hi-Teknology 2 album, featuring Tek, Dion and Talib.
• Jeffrey Lewis (and his band the Junkyard) headlines a strong lineup at Northside club Mayday tonight. Fans of Moldy Peaches will appreciate the NYC native's upbeat, wide-and-wild-eyed, occasionally experimental, often fairly slanted Indie Folk Pop of Lewis' latest album, A Turn in the Dream-Songs (Lewis, in fact, collaborated on a release with the Peaches' Kimya Dawson last year). The new album came out early last month on his longtime label, Rough Trade, which he signed with in 2001. Lewis has been acclaimed far and wide thanks to his eclectic recorded catalog, strong songwriting and even better lyrics, not to mention relentless global touring jaunts. Rolling Stone, NME, NPR and Uncut have all heaped praise on the singer/songwriter, while Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard once said he was his favorite contemporary songwriter, and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker called him the best American lyricist working today. (Click below to hear and download Lewis' new tune, "Cult Boyfriend.") The free show also includes performances by creative, psychedelic one-man-band Emperor X (read a preview from this week's CityBeat here and check out the video for "A Violent Translation of the Concordia Headscarp," from EmpX's recent release, Western Teleport, on Bar/None Records) and intriguing local Indie crew The Yugos (give 'em a listen here). Showtime is 9 p.m.
Momentous Happenings in Music History for November 17
On this day in 1979, the Guinness Book of World Records announced that Swedish Pop group ABBA had officially become the biggest-selling group in the history of the world. The Beatles would eventually reclaim the record (it's estimated they've sold around a billion albums worldwide), but ABBA is still right up there, rivaled only by Queen and Led Zeppelin.
Weirdly enough, today is Guinness World Records Day, when everyone is encouraged to set a new record. (Read more here.) One of the records that has already been broken is reportedly the one for the most ABBA impersonators in one place — damn, that was the one I was going to break!
If Pop is art, then ABBA was a four-headed Andy Warhol. Here's a song that will now be stuck in your head for the rest of the day:
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a Nov. 17 birthday include: Folk Pop heavyweight Gordon Lightfoot (1938); founding member of Folk/Rock trailblazers The Byrds, guitarist/songwriter Gene Clark (1944); club sensation turned Pop star turned reality show star RuPaul (1960); guitarist/singer in still-going-strong former-Teen Pop trio Hanson, Isaac Hanson (1980); and singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Buckley (1966).
It's hard to believe it has been almost 15 years since Buckley died, drowning while taking a swim in the Wolf River in Memphis on May 29, 1997. Buckley was waiting for bandmates to arrive in Tennessee, where he was working on his next album. That release came out posthumously — and incomplete — as My Sweetheart the Drunk.
Buckley sadly only got to finish one full-length album, 1994's Grace, which featured some great material, but was slightly overproduced. In concert, Buckley had a magical aura that unfortunately never was fully exhibited on his records. The closest was his first release as a solo artist, the EP Live at Sin-é, which featured Buckley performing all alone, just his spellbinding, otherworldly vocals and an electric guitar, in front of a tiny crowd in a tiny bar in NYC. Though only four-songs long, it was Buckley's most representative release. The expanded re-release was a gift from the heavens when Columbia put it out in 2003. Instead of the original, all-to-brief 26-and-a-half-minute running time (he had some long tunes!), the "Legacy Edition" came out as a two-and-a-half-hour treasure trove for Buckley's fans, featuring a few songs that showed up on Grace, but also a healthy handful of amazing cover tunes, including his interpretation of songs by Led Zeppelin, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and, most famously, Leonard Cohen. Buckley's arrangement of "Hallelujah" (which also appeared on Grace) became the template for 99% of the versions that have been made over the past 15 years.
I was lucky enough to see Buckley in concert once, when he performed with the Grace band at the old Corryville club/laundromat Sudsy Malone's. The small club show only attracted about a handful of people (Grace had yet to break), but it remains one of my most memorable concert experiences. Not so much for the music (which was pretty great), but for a weird "moment" I had with Buckley.
I'd shown up to the venue a little late (I seem to remember it was snowing, but I spent so much time in that place, often drunk, jumbled facts are inevitable) and as I was paying the paltry cover charge at the front door — which was right where the stage was — I glanced towards the band performing. Buckley was staring at me. Locked in. I thought I was just being stupid/paranoid/perhaps-dead-and-going-to-heaven/hell, but as I walked to the bar, Buckley and my eyes stayed locked together. Finally, he broke into a smirk and I laughed at the same time. My best guess is that he was a little bored/disappointed at the small turnout and was just trying to entertain himself by fucking with me.
When Buckley passed away (under such unusual circumstances), I instantly remembered that 20 seconds or so at Sudsy's. There was something so transcendent and supernatural about Buckley's entire presence; our "moment" was fittingly weird and, especially in hindsight, more than a little spine-tingling, for reasons I'll probably never be able to put my fingers on. I don't believe in ghosts and gods, but when I think of Buckley, I think of him as some kind of angel. (Oddly enough, Buckley was apparently being a total Rock Star prima donna before and after that show.)
Jeff would have been 45 today.