Lucinda Williams with John Mellencamp
Wednesday • Riverbend Music Center
It's hard to fathom now, but there really was a time when Lucinda Williams was not the iconic Americana artist that she is today.
Ten years ago Williams was a cultish singer/songwriter with a two-decade career and only four albums (on almost as many labels) and a largely undeserved reputation for being a studio perfectionist to show for it. Up to that point, Williams' only hits had come when other singer/songwriters covered her songs; Williams copped a songwriting Grammy for Mary Chapin Carpenter's turn on "Passionate Kisses."
Then, in 1998, after an interminable five-year gap between albums, Williams dropped the brilliant, career-defining Car Wheels on a Gravel Road and never looked back. Car Wheels notched significant sales, scored a handful of Grammys, found its way onto critics' Top 10 lists almost universally and made Williams the household name she had deserved to be all along.
Over the past 10 years, Williams has built steadily on the amazing success of Car Wheels but that growth has come at a significant emotional cost. 2001's Essence was largely inspired by the end of her longstanding relationship with bassist Richard Price, 2003's World Without Tears was similarly influenced and last year's West was a sonic scrapbook dedicated to her recently deceased mother and the end of yet another romantic entanglement.
In the meantime, Williams' stable label situation with Lost Highway has given her the confidence to tinker with her sound, as she's branched out to include more and varied elements of Blues, Soul, Rock and Folk into her already engaging Country/Pop palette. For some artists it might sound like a hopeless cliché, but for Lucinda Williams, it's the straight whiskey truth — after a 30-year career in music, her best work may still be ahead of her. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.
Film School at Lite Brite Indie Pop and Film Test with Extra Golden and Light Pollution
Friday • Southgate House
From the very start, Film School could hardly be considered a conventional Indie Rock outfit. Frontman and lone constant Greg Bertens (often ID'd as Krayg Burton) initially fashioned Film School as a duo in the late '90s, then pared it down to just himself and a rotating cast of guest musicians (including future full-timers Nyles Lannon and Jason Ruck as well as former Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg) for Film School's full length debut, 2001's Brilliant Career.
Guitarist Lannon and keyboardist Ruck stuck around for subsequent tours, joined by bassist Justin LaBo and drummer Donny Newenhouse, and Bertens had the makings of a real band. Over the next couple of years, Film School's shoegaze wave of ephemeral Rock earned the band considerable buzz on the West Coast. The band scored a label contract from Beggar's Banquet when reps saw them open for TV on the Radio in London five years ago, leading to their self-titled 2006 sophomore album.
There's been a lot of activity in the Film School camp since the band last rolled through the area, including the theft of their equipment while on tour last year. Most significantly, Lannon, LaBo and Newenhouse all exited the band's ranks, replaced by Dave Dupuis, Lorelei Plotczyk and James Smith, respectively. But even with the new additions, Film School retained its textural psychedelic Space Rock atmosphere.
The new Film School lineup recorded Hideout, veering effortlessly from buzzy Joy Division darkness to Beach Boys-channel-Hawkwind lightness. Film School's recent shows have been ecstatically reviewed as the band's newest members have bonded with Bertens and Ruck to create a formidable and visceral live experience. Film School classes begin soon ... sign up now. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.