Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Marisa Anderson and William Tyler at Acme Records and Music Emporium in Milwaukee on October 22, 2021

Guitarists Marisa Anderson and William Tyler have both performed at Acme numerous times as solo artists, and so it was not an enormous surprise when they brought their duo to the record shop in October of 2021. 

Their album together was on many "years' best" lists for 2021 and that's not much of a surprise either -- it is filled with glorious performances on wonderful tunes. I can only hope they will someday give us another collaboration.

Recording information:

Milwaukee at Acme Records

Marisa Anderson: guitar
William Tyler: guitar

01 Lost Futures
02 Cloud Corner - News About Heaven
03 Haunted by Water
04 Life and Casualty
05 Medley of Dvorak and Foster
06 Edge of the World
07 Hurricane Light
08 Pray for Rain

Source: mono SBD + Beyerdynamic MC930 in ORTF
Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre6 at 24/96
Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct

Recorded with explicit artist permission by Richard Hayes for the blog

Buy their album here


these lossless files can be burned to CDR, if you are into that

highest quality lossy mp3 files possible 

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Handsome Family at Shank Hall in Milwaukee on July 17, 2018

It's hard to believe that the last time that the Handsome Family performed in Milwaukee was at this show from the summer of 2018.

I'm a very big fan of the work of Brett and Rennie Sparks. I think they have written a half dozen songs which will still be on people's minds in a hundred years. Rennie is certainly one of (if not the) best lyricist working today. Her work is rich with unexpected images and rich symbolism. 

The Sparks specialize in a sort of American Gothic version Americana (or alt-country). Like Grant Woods' painting, their songs can at first seem ordinary. But there is often a sinister or absurdly frightening aspect underneath. "Oh, there's a hole in my backyard" is a somewhat normal sort of thing to think. But in the Sparks' hands, the narrator of the song "Bottomless Hole" soon finds himself hurtling down a bottomless hole, forever.

In the years 1993-96 I lived in Chicago and used to see the Handsome Family at venues like the legendary and much-missed Lounge Ax. Shank Hall is not quite as legendary, but their sound system is excellent and no one at the venue bothered me about bringing my recording gear in.

On this set of songs, the Sparks are accompanied by Alex MacMahon and Jason Toth.

Recording information:

Milwaukee, WI at Shank Hall

Brett Sparks: guitar, vocals
Rennie Sparks: banjo, bass, vocals
Alex MacMahon: guitar, baritone guitar, pedal steel
Jason Toth: drums

01 My Sister’s Tiny Hands
02 So Much Wine
03 Stalled
04 Weightless Again
05 Banter - Something Big and Something Little
06 Cathedrals
07 Up Falling Rock Hill
08 The Giant of Illinois
09 The Woman Downstairs
10 Far From Any Road
11 Banter - Roving Bands of Hobos in Albuquerque 
12 Owls
13 Bottomless Hole
14 The Loneliness of Magnets
15 Banter - Who Here Is Afraid of Tunnels
16 In the Air
17 24-hour Store

Microphones: Beyerdynamic MC930 (cardioid) ORTF
Recorder: Sound Devices MixPre 6 at 24/48
Software: Audacity, Fission, xAct


these lossless files can be burned to CDR, if you are into that

highest quality lossy mp3 files possible