Posts Tagged ‘ M.C. Taylor ’

Hiss Golden Messenger: December 7, 2017 The Bowery Ballroom

December 10, 2017
By

Children are essential to the origin story of Hiss Golden Messenger, and they’ve been a recurring theme in Mike “M.C.” Taylor’s songs since the beginning. Taylor introduced “Drum” on this night by telling the story in full, of a loser (his words) washed up from music, left out of life, sitting in a cabin next to a newborn, wondering about the future. Contemplating his life as he sat next to his newborn son Elijah, Taylor started to make music again. For him that child wasn’t just a literal birth; it was his personal rebirth, too. It was there that he wrote my favorite of all his songs, “Call Him Daylight,” which tackles the ambiguity of forces greater than us (some would view that as “God,” though I don’t think you have to). To that entity he says at one point, “Some call you destroyer, some Daylight.” It’s a fundamental paradox of many world religions — you’re asked to revere god as your creator, but also your ultimate destroyer. Which kept me thinking about children, and this band’s particular choices in 2017.

The righteous anger of musicians (not to mention the rest of us) toward the current regime is hardly news at this point, and it’s been reflected in many, many albums this year. If you follow the man on Twitter, you might expect the same from Taylor. But the latest Hiss Golden Messenger album does perhaps the braver thing, certainly the rarer thing. It’s announced by the title, Hallelujah Anyhow. A child who wakes up alive for the first time tomorrow here in America won’t know the name of anyone in the current administration, won’t harbor rage toward the rich or the indecent or the greedy, won’t know about hate, won’t worry about global warming, won’t fear misogyny or racism, won’t know war. In a child’s eyes the world is all beauty. In a child’s eyes this world is all they’ve known.

Taylor and a stacked band of Triangle locals (Phil Cook, Skylar Gudasz, Darren Jesse, Ryan Gustafson, Mike Lewis, James Wallace, Michael Libramento) brought that ethos to the Bowery Ballroom for this first of two nights, giving us two hours of inclusive, upbeat Hallelujah songs as well as a well-chosen selection of favorites. The past two years have seen this band release not less than three complete albums — the band hit another high point with 2016’s Heart Like A Levee and companion album Vestapol — which has stacked the catalog with new material. If you missed the outstanding Music Hall of Williamsburg show the band did in 2016 (which I unfortunately did) this could well have been your first time hearing many of these songs live. It’s striking how cohesive the Merge-era, bigger-room-oriented material is with itself, but there’s also that constant thread that reaches all the way back to Bad Debt. Compare the two songs that Taylor played as a duo with Cook —  “Drum” (a very old one) and “Caledonia, My Love” (a new one) — and it’s clear that Taylor’s heart remains where it has been, in a purgatory between light and darkness. Each of those songs may have been an outlier on their respective albums, but side by side, they make sense.

Still, this was a positive night, a two-hour “evening with,” and there was plenty of party music to celebrate with, including the band’s semi-regular cover of Sam Cooke’s “Having A Party” and the main set closers “Domino” followed by the already-classic “Southern Grammar.” Having seen these songs performed many times now, by a variety of personnel, I’ve come to appreciate the variations in Taylor’s performances of his work. Songs, too, are a kind of offspring, an evolving gift to a wider world, and Taylor has continued to help these songs grow into new and different entities than what they were. Taylor’s restless tinkering with this music seems almost calculated to keep you in that state, able to see his music as brand-new even if you’ve seen him a dozen or more times before. If you’re lucky you’ll listen long enough that you find yourself, however briefly, like that open-hearted child again, able to say that simple word, hallelujah. You stand there inside the Bowery Ballroom, and it’s the holiday season, it’s New York City, and you’re alive. So hallelujah, anyhow.

I recorded this set with Schoeps MK22 open cardiod microphones mounted at the soundboard, with a feed of the PA mix from the band’s dapper sound engineer Tim. The sound quality is excellent. Enjoy!

Thanks, as always, to Mike Taylor and to Merge Records. 

Download the complete show: [MP3/FLAC/ALAC]

Hiss Golden Messenger
2017-12-07
The Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Schoeps MK22 (at SBD, ORTF)>KCY>Z-PFA + Soundboard (engineer: Tim)>Sound Devices MixPre 6>24/48 WAV>Adobe Audition CC (align, mix down, limiter)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks
01 [intro]
02 Call Him Daylight
03 Biloxi
04 Jenny of the Roses
05 I Am the Song
06 Gulfport You’ve Been On My Mind
07 Say It Like You Mean It
08 Lost Out In the Darkness
09 Tell Her I’m Just Dancing
10 Red Rose Nantahala
11 Heart Like A Levee
12 [banter-the story of HGM]
13 Drum*
14 [banter2]
15 Caledonia, My Love*
16 I’ve Got A Name for the Newborn Child
17 Like A Mirror Loves A Hammer
18 I’m A Raven (Shake Children)
19 Lucia
20 Having A Party [Sam Cooke]
21 Harder Rain
22 Domino
23 [banter3–band intros]
24 Southern Grammar
25 [encore break]
26 Friendship [Pops Staples]

Band:
M.C. Taylor – vocals, guitar
Phil Cook – keyboards, harmonica
Mike Lewis – saxophone
Skylar Gudasz – vocals
James Wallace – organ, percussion
Ryan Gustafson – guitar
Michael Libramento – bass
Darren Jesse – drums

*M.C. Taylor/Phil Cook Duo

PLEASE SUPPORT Hiss Golden Messenger: WebsiteTwitter | Buy Hallelujah Anyhow

Hiss Golden Messenger: June 2, 2015 Music Hall of Williamsburg – FLAC/MP3/Streaming

June 8, 2015
By

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[photos courtesy of P Squared Photography]

Maybe an opening set by Hiss Golden Messenger at Music Hall of Williamsburg doesn’t merit quite the word count I gave April’s homecoming show at Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, NC. But it was the biggest New York stage on which I’ve seen this band, and that makes it another milestone for M.C. Taylor and his fellow travelers. Fresh off a European tour, the band spent this first of two nights in New York opening for the Tallest Man on Earth, but judging the room capacity at the start of this set, HGM was the night’s draw for many of us. This was almost the exact same band we saw back at Haw River — Taylor, bassist Brad Cook, his brother Phil on keys, and Matt McCaughan on drums — minus William Tyler.

Clearly, this team is road-tested and hitting their stride, seeming to have found an even deeper, jammier groove than when we saw them in North Carolina. This sound gels well with the Lateness of Dancers record, so it makes sense that its songs — “Southern Grammar” and “I’m A Raven (Shake Children)” feel like centerpieces on this run. We were also thrilled to hear the new song “Say It Like You Mean It” for the second time. It’s possibly the most “rock” song the band has done to date, and should be a live staple for the foreseeable future. But even at that, it ended up being a Poor Moon song that stole this particular show, as the journeyman sax player Michael Lewis joined the band for the definitive live version of “Blue Country Mystic,” with Lewis adding a new layer to a song whose current live arrangement already feels transformed from its album version. While you’d always prefer to see a band you love as a headliner, I suspect this and some even higher-profile opening slots are going to earn HGM a lot of new fans, and they seem poised and ready to do it.

HGM will remain on the road June and July, touring with My Morning Jacket, hitting festivals, and returning to the general vicinity of NYC on July 25 for a show at Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater. See all the dates here.

Download the complete set: [MP3] | [FLAC]

Stream the complete set:

Hiss Golden Messenger
2015-06-02
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Soundboard [engineer: Nic Cameron] + Schoeps MK41V (at SBD, DFC, PAS)>KC5>CMC6>>Roland R-26>2x16bit/44.1kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, fades, light compression)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.3 (track, amplify, balance)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time 40:19]
01 Call Him Daylight
02 Saturday’s Song
03 [banter1]
04 Say It Like You Mean It [working title]
05 I’ve Got A Name For the Newborn Child
06 [banter2]
07 Blue Country Mystic*
08 I’m A Raven (Shake Children)
09 [banter3]
10 Southern Grammar

* w/ Michael Lewis on saxophone

If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT by buying Hiss Golden Messenger’s records from Paradise of Bachelors and Merge Records, as well as HGM’s online store.

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M.C. Taylor & Friends: January 18, 2015 NARAL NC Benefit, The Pinhook (Durham, NC) – FLAC/MP3/Streaming

February 27, 2015
By

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[Screen shot from this YouTube video by Dan Schram]

DONATE TO NARAL PRO-CHOICE NORTH CAROLINA HERE

M.C. Taylor, aka Hiss Golden Messenger, had a hell of a 2014. Among his accomplishments — signing with Merge Records, who released Lateness of Dancers to critical acclaim; appearing on Letterman; touring the U.S. and Europe extensively; serving as de facto lead vocalist for the Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. tribute shows in honor of Jason Molina; and producing and appearing on Alice Gerrard‘s Grammy-nominated Follow the Music. After being everywhere in 2014, Taylor inaugurated 2015 back on his home turf, with an extravaganza of a show that combined a bunch of his recent activities into one wild ride of an evening. As Hiss Golden Messenger now tours as a full unit, Taylor decided to bill this as “M.C. Taylor and Friends” rather than the band name; the night’s main lineup included some, but not all, of HGM’s touring component. This special show was a benefit for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, who have been leading the ongoing fight for choice in North Carolina.

After kicking off with a couple of Poor Moon classics, the “friends” started to come out in force. Gerrard joined Taylor for three numbers, including a cover of Merle Haggard’s “You Take Me For Granted”. Then it was Phil Cook‘s chance at the vocal mike, a turnabout from his normal role in HGM. The lucky crowd then got a second look at Taylor’s collaboration on the Songs: Ohia / Magnolia Electric Co. material, which was first debuted in the Triangle last January. Magnolia Electric Co.’s Jason Groth came up onstage for those three songs, including perhaps Molina’s finest number, “Final Transmission.” Then it was back to HGM for a bit, until the night’s final number, Taylor’s first known cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” shown on the video above.

This performance was recorded by my friend and prolific Triangle-area recordist Dan Schram, whose video is showing below. Dan kindly provided me the audio files, to which I applied a little additional mastering and mixing “sparkle”. The sound quality is outstanding. We hope you enjoy it, and more importantly, that you will support the cause for which the music was made, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

Download the complete show: [MP3] | [FLAC]

Stream and download individual tracks:

Watch “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” on YouTube:

M.C.Taylor and Friends
2015-01-18
NARAL NC Benefit
The Pinhook
Durham, NC USA

Recorded by Dan Schram
Produced by acidjack

Soundboard + Rode NT5>Tascam DR-680>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, compression, reverb on SBD)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects, imaging)>Audacity 2.0.5 (track, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks
01 [intro]
02 Call Him Daylight [Hiss Golden Messenger]
03 [banter1]
04 Blue Country Mystic [Hiss Golden Messenger]
05 [banter2]
06 Get Up and Do Right [Alice Gerrard]*
07 [banter3]
08 Follow the Music [Alice Gerrard]*
09 You Take Me For Granted [Merle Haggard]*
10 If I Play With Fire [Alice Gerrard]*
11 [banter4]
12 Leave It There [Charles A. Tindley]
13 Ain’t It Sweet [Phil Cook]&
14 [banter5]
15 What Comes After the Blues [Magnolia Electric Co.]^
16 [banter6]
17 Talk To Me Devin, Again [Magnolia Electric Co.]^
18 Farewell Transmission [Songs: Ohia]^
19 [banter7]
20 Southern Grammar [Hiss Golden Messenger]
21 [encore break]
22 Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door [Bob Dylan]

Band:
M.C. Taylor – vocals, guitar
Kyle Keegan – drums
Brad Cook – bass
Matt Douglas – saxophone

* w/ Alice Gerrard – vocals
& w/ Phil Cook – vocals, guitar
^ w/ Jason Groth

If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SUPPORT NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. You can buy Hiss Golden Messenger’s records from Paradise of Bachelors and Merge Records, as well as HGM’s online store.

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