Recent tribute albums occupy this week’s Ear Bliss feature as we shine the spotlight on the all-female salute to the revered singer/songwriter Tom Waits, as well as one focusing on the late and great Mose Allison. The collection Come On Up to the House: Women Sings Waits gathers a dozen different and diverse acts, all of the female persuasion, to celebrate the songwriting majesty of Mr. Waits. When he passed in November of 2017, the music world lost a giant in jazz/blues artist Mose Allison. The recent If You’re Going To The City: A Tribute to Mose Allison is an excellent and eclectic salute to the jazz-and-then-some master and joins the Waits tribute in the Ear Bliss spotlight this week. Let’s get to it.
Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits
This past December marked 70 years on the planet for singer and songwriter Tom Waits and during that time he has written some incredible songs and some of which fall into the American Songbook territory. It has been since 2011 that there has been a new album from Waits. Given the dry spell, a tribute recording to his greatness is certainly not a bad way to stem the lack of new music from him in the ensuing years. The folks at Dualtone Records have come up with a beauty with their recent all-female salute to the revered and crusty-voiced bard. Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits gathers together 12 different performers to reinterpret nuggets from the Waits catalogue.
They range from revered types such as Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin, and Rosanne Cash to fresher artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Corinne Bailey Rae, Angie McMahon, and Courtney Marie Andrews. The album was produced by musician and writer Warren Zanes who tapped many of his various female compadres to come onboard and join the fray. Heavy on the ballad side of the Waits song bag, the material spans Mann’s stunning rendition of “Hold On” to “Ol’ 55” beautifully performed by the sister duo of Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer to newcomer Andrews’ terrific version of “Downtown Train.” It is a winning collection of performances where the all-female setting renders a refreshingly different light on the incredible oeuvre of Mr. Waits. Visit www.dualtone.com.
If You’re Going To The City: A Tribute To Mose Allison
Fat Possum Records
The late jazz/blues singer/pianist Mose Allison receives the tribute treatment on the recent collection If You’re Going To The City. How appropriate a Mississippi-based label in Fat Possum Records be behind this homage to their fellow Mississippian (Allison was a native of Tippo, MS). An artist whose songs have been covered by acts ranging from The Who to The Yardbirds to The Clash, this 15-track salute celebrates the wonderfully off-kilter blend of Delta blues and citified jazz bop that infused Allison’s always creative and oft-times quirky songs. The artists on hand are a wide variety of who’s whos from the pop, rock, punk, roots, blues and folk worlds all putting their respective spins on a mix of Allison classics and deeper catalogue material. Taking part are the likes of Taj Mahal, Robbie Fulks and band doing a bluegrass blitzkrieg on “My Brain”, Jackson Browne, The “Tippo All-Stars” featuring Fiona Apple, Ben Harper teaming with Charlie Musselwhite delivering the down-home beauty of “Nightclub”, Chrissie Hynde, Iggy Pop, Bonnie Raitt, Loudon Wainwright III, Richard Thompson, Peter Case, Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin, the duo Anything Mose! featuring Richard Julian and John Chin, Frank Black, and a collaboration between Elvis Costello and Amy Allison, daughter of Mose and a singer/songwriter of merit in her own right, covering “Monsters of the Id” which closes the collection. Mose Allison fan or not, If You’re Going To The City is a collection plenty worthy of ears and for newcomers to Allison’s music, will hopefully spur you on to check out the original article himself. As a side note, both the CD and LP versions of this tribute include a bonus DVD of Paul Bernay’s 2005 documentary on Mose Allison titled ‘Ever Since I Stole the Blues.’ In addition, all proceeds from If You’re Going to the City will be donated to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Such a deal! Visit www.fatpossum.com.
The usual full plate of music is in store at Chan’s Restaurant in Woonsocket (267 Main Street) this weekend. Things kick off on Friday night when the pianist Anthony Geraci brings his Boston Blues All Stars to the house of eggrolls and blues at 8 pm. The following evening Texas guitar ace Jeff Pitchell and his Texas Flood band return to Chan’s to entertain, also starting at 8 pm.
Askew in Providence (150 Chesnutt Street) presents a rockabilly twin bill on Friday evening with The Teledynes and The Soapbox Saints bringing the big bop starting at 9 pm.
The Blackstone River Theatre in Cumberland (549 Broad Street) kicks off its 2020 season with an appearance by the Boston-based Celtic ensemble Fellswater at 8 pm. Over in Pawtucket that same evening at The Met Café (1005 Main Street), long-time favorites Max Creek jam out with doors at 8 and music starting at 9 pm. Also that evening, but down at the Southern end of the state, the always entertaining Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez return to The Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly (39 Railroad Avenue) for a show starting at 8 pm.
Blues for a Sunday afternoon? You can never go wrong with the free show each week at the Narragansett Café in Jamestown (25 Narragansett Avenue) from 4 to 7 pm.
Looking to satisfy that bluegrass itch? Make a B-line to the Wood River Inn in Richmond (1193 Main Street) on Sunday evening at 6 pm for the restaurant’s weekly offering of live bluegrass music your listening and dining pleasure.
Looking into next week, ‘90s alt-rock hitmakers Everclear come to the Greenwich Odeum in Eat Greenwich (59 Main Street) on Thursday evening at 8 pm.
(Dan Ferguson is a freelance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.)