Posts Tagged ‘ Mike Taylor ’

Hiss Golden Messenger: December 7, 2017 The Bowery Ballroom

December 10, 2017

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
The Bowery Ballroom
New York, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at
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 )

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]

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

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

February 27, 2015

[Screen shot from this YouTube video by Dan Schram]


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
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 )

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]

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.

Songs: Ohia & Magnolia Electric Co.: Jason Molina Tribute at The Hideout (Chicago, IL) – FLAC/MP3/Full Set Streaming

January 13, 2014

[Photos by acidjack]

An artist who is great does not go quietly. Long after he is gone, his echo will expand into new ears, carry forth his vision and provide inspiration and hope.

Jason Molina was special. I didn’t know him, but you’d have to be tone-deaf to the English language not to recognize the talent in every line he wrote. In the best tradition of song, his sung poetry managed to be both personal and universal. Molina’s words were often dark, but their beauty leavened their ache.

Molina made music under several names, but the two most permanent and best-known were Songs: Ohia, which lasted until a new roster became Magnolia Electric Co. in 2003. While none would dispute that Molina was the animating creative force behind both, he wasn’t alone. In tribute to Molina and his deep well of songs, the members of Magnolia Electric Co. performed a mini-tour this January that sent them to Durham and Asheville, NC, Indianapolis and, finally, Chicago. For the first three dates, Mike “Hiss Golden Messenger” Taylor handled the bulk of lead vocal duties. But this final show of the four-date tour, at The Hideout in Chicago, gave us something else entirely. What we got were more than two hours of Jason’s songs performed by two very serious rock and roll bands that were headless, in a sense, but heartless in none, joined by a cadre of special guests.

For the first set, the Songs: Ohia lineup shared vocal duties among themselves as well as country great Lawrence Peters for two numbers. On a searing rendition of “The Big Game Is Every Night”, Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen (formerly of Silkworm, now of Bottomless Pit) added guitars and vocals. Compared to the sprawling Magnolia Electric Co. set that was to come, the seven song Songs: Ohia set was brief, but it was no less memorable. People remember Molina’s words as nuanced and vulnerable, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t make music that was loud. What you realized as Songs: Ohia closed their set with “The Black Crow”, featuring guitar pyrotechnics that could shake a venue ten times the Hideout’s size, was that Molina’s brand of ragged modern blues could make an emotional impact at any volume.

Magnolia Electric Co. took the stage with the deep melancholy of “Whip-Poor-Will”, followed by Taylor handling vocals on the harder-rocking “Hammer Down”. From there, a host of guest vocalists and players cycled through, including Peters, Midyett and Cohen reprising their earlier roles, plus David Vandervelde and Joseph “Elephant Micah” O’Connell. It quickly became clear that the 80-minute format of the previous shows would be ignored as the band pulled out tune after tune, relying at some points on lyric sheets (“This song’s got a lot of fuckin’ words!” Peters said of “Shenandoah”) but never lacking the passion to honor the material. Perhaps the most Molina-esque vocal turn came from among one of his own bands, drummer Mark Rice, who gave a stunning take on “The Lioness”. That said, making a list of highlights would be impossible, as each new song offered a new take on yet another Molina classic.

The crowd’s largest response came to perhaps Molina’s best-known song (and inarguably one of his best), “Farewell Transmission”. In that song, Molina sings that the real truth about it is that no one gets it right, but we’re all supposed to try. Well, if Jason could have heard his former bandmates and friends on this night, I think he would agree that they got it right. And they proved another piece of truth from that great song, that he will be gone, but not forever. Because the real truth about it is, a great artist like Jason Molina doesn’t die, he just changes shape. In our hearts and minds, he is forever.

I recorded this set with the kind assistance (not to mention outstanding house mix) of The Hideout engineer Joey King, together with Schoeps MK4V microphones. While no recording can quite capture the emotion present in the room, this is certainly an outstanding representation of the sound. I hope you enjoy it. Also, the bulk of the Molina canon is in print or has been reissued in LP and other formats on Secretly Canadian (including the 10th anniversary reissue of the seminal Magnolia Electric Co. record). You owe it to yourself to buy them.

Thanks to Seth Dodson and Joey King of The Hideout, the members of Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs: Ohia, and Mike Taylor.  Please let me know if any of my information about personnel is incorrect or incomplete.

Stream Songs: Ohia playing “The Black Crow”

Stream Magnolia Electric Co. playing “Farewell Transmission”

Download the complete show (both sets): [MP3] | [FLAC]
If either link has stopped working, please use the links below.

Download individual set downloads from the Live Music Archive:
Songs: Ohia: [MP3] | [FLAC]
Magnolia Electric Co.: [MP3] | [FLAC]

Stream the complete Songs: Ohia set:

Stream the complete Magnolia Electric Co. set:


Songs: Ohia
The Hideout
Chicago, IL

Exclusive download hosted at
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Schoeps MK4V>KC5>CMC6 + Soundboard (engineer: Joey King)>>Roland R-26>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.3 (fades, tracking, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time 46:27]
01 Are We Getting Any Closer
02 Constant Change
03 Almost Was Good Enough
04 Just Be Simple *
05 [banter]
06 The Old Black Hen *
07 [banter2]
08 The Big Game Is Every Night $
09 [banter3 – Tribute to Jason]
10 The Black Crow

* with Lawrence Peters on vocals
$ with Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen on vocals/guitar


Magnolia Electric Co.
The Hideout
Chicago, IL

Exclusive download hosted at
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Schoeps MK4V>KC5>CMC6 + Soundboard (engineer: Joey)>>Roland R-26>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.3 (fades, tracking, amplify, balance, downsample, dither)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time 1:37:51]
01 Whip-Poor-Will
02 Hammer Down ^
03 The Dark Don’t Hide It *
04 Talk To Me Devil, Again *
05 [banter]
06 North Star
07 Bowery @
08 O! Grace
09 What Comes After the Blues ^
10 [banter2]
11 Lonesome Valley ^
12 Leave the City
13 Northstar Blues %
14 [banter3]
15 Shenandoah %
16 [banter4]
17 Memphis Moon !
18 [banter5]
19 The Lioness &
20 I’ve Been Riding With the Ghost ^
21 [banter6]
22 John Henry Split My Heart
23 Farewell Transmission %
24 [banter7]
25 Hold On Magnolia ^

*Tim Midgett and Andy Cohen of Bottomless Pit/Silkworm
! with David Vandervelde on vocals
& Mark Rice on vocals
% Lawrence Peters on vocals
^ Mike Taylor on vocals
@ Joe “Elephant Micah” O’Connell on vocals

If you enjoyed this recording, you ought to purchase the music by many of these fine musicians, including Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co., Hiss Golden Messenger, Lawrence Peters, Bottomless Pit, David Vandervelde, and Elephant Micah.


Hiss Golden Messenger: August 17, 2013 Glasslands – FLAC/MP3/Streaming

August 20, 2013

[Photos courtesy of P Squared Photography]

A man can make complicated music these days in a room alone with a machine. Create a symphony out of bits and bytes, a hit single out of a 4/4 beat and an idea. If you look at what’s celebrated most often in music these days it’s one person transcending the limits of money and time and space and the need for bandmates, usually because of his or her skill with a machine. In case you forgot, men alone have been doing that for decades, centuries, eons. Just the machines were simpler.

Hiss Golden Messenger has more words in its name than regular band members. In the studio the band is MC Taylor, former lead singer of beloved San Francisco band The Court & Spark, and longtime collaborator Scott Hirsch, plus the cream of available guest players. On the road, it’s often Taylor alone.

What started it all — a rough-hewn bit of work called Bad Debt — was nothing more than Taylor banging out songs with a guitar and a tape deck in his kitchen, while his baby slept. If it sounds old-fashioned, way more old-fashioned than some wide-eyed impresario making beats with a MacBook Pro and Ableton, well, that’s because it is. Sometimes the best things are the simplest things, the ones made how we used to before everything got too easy. But to hear the deep feeling and rich meaning that Taylor can put into a song with the tools he has, well, the old way starts to look economical. Take the Bad Debt spirit, add a band and unforced, high-quality production, and you’ve got masterpieces like his two primary releases on North Carolina imprint Paradise of Bachelors Poor Moon and this year’s Haw, which are probably my two favorite records of the past two years.

This night’s show at Glasslands — Taylor’s first New York show in four years — brought us back to the Bad Debt days, with Taylor alone at a guitar in front of a room that, with no disrespect to the night’s headliner Daughn Gibson, seemed to include a lot of folks, myself included, who’d come to see him. We were rewarded again and again. Taylor’s typical set-starting song, “Father Sky” found itself replaced with his version of a traditional song, most recently popularized as “When I Was A Young Girl” by Nina Simone. Two new numbers, possibly to appear on an upcoming EP, showed up for the first time I’ve heard them. “Southern Grammar”, streaming below, was particularly breathtaking, continuing Mike’s ongoing lyrical struggles with faith. On stage sitting down in old jeans, a white tank top and a Caterpillar hat, Mike looked like an anachronism, especially on a Saturday night. He didn’t have much for us to look at, gimmicks to parlay into Twitter excitement or iPhone photos. Hiss Golden Messenger had nothing but music, and words. He sang, and the world went still.

This recording is primarily the soundboard feed of engineer Josh Thiel’s house mix, plus a small amount of the house mics for ambiance. The sound is excellent. Enjoy!

Stream “Southern Grammar”

Stream “The Serpent Is Kind (Compared to Man)”

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

Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense. The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission. Please respect our request.


Hiss Golden Messenger
Brooklyn, NY USA

Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper
Recorded and produced by acidjack

Soundboard (engineer: Josh Thiel) + Naiant XR>Sound Devices USBPre2>>Edirol R-44 [OCM]>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (light reverb to SBD)>Izotope Ozone 5 (tape effect)>Audacity (fades, tracking, amplify, balance, downsample)>FLAC ( level 8 )

Tracks [Total Time 38:28]
01 When I Was A Young (Boy) [Nina Simone]
02 [banter1]
03 Blue Country Mystic
04 Call Him Daylight
05 [banter2]
06 O Little Light
07 He Wrote the Book
08 Southern Grammar
09 [banter3]
10 Chapter & Verse
11 The Serpent Is Kind (Compared To Man)
12 [banter4]
13 I’ve Got A Name For The Newborn Child

If you enjoyed this recording, PLEASE SUPPORT Hiss Golden Messenger, like him on Facebook, and purchase Haw and his other releases on digital or vinyl from Paradise of Bachelors [HERE], or all of his releases on vinyl [HERE].

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