Usually, the “City” in Sarcasm And The City refers to the towns in and around Orange and LA Counties.  You know, the beach cities.  Without the snow and tornadoes.

Who knew that life — with good music — existed beyond southern California?  My good friend BAMS recently got hitched and moved to Kansas, and sent this review of a Joshua Radin show she recently attended.  I’m beyond jealous, as Laura Jansen opened for him.  The two of us saw her a few years ago and I got to catch her recently at a Christmas show in LA.  But Mr. Radin?  I’ve never been able to catch his sweet voice live.  Yet.  But BAMS has.  Here’s her take.

DISCLAIMER: I’m no expert when it comes to the intricacies of music and such.  However, I do love me some singer songwriters – my favorites being Katie Herzig, Tyrone Wells, Jay Nash, Meiko and Joshua Radin.  So when I noticed that JRad (as me and SATC affectionately call him) was playing a show at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS, (along with Laura Jansen and Cary Brothers) I was beside myself with giddiness.

Laura took the stage first, and I was excited to see her again!  She captivated us right off the bat with her infectious smile, strong, soulful voice and storytelling (between sips of whiskey from her red party cup.) Keepin it klassy Laura.  I like it!  I was really impressed with the range of her vocals and was a little bummed when, on songs like Wicked World, her strong keyboard playing somewhat overpowered her beautiful voice and distracted from the witty lyrics. BUT, she more than made up for that with songs like Bells, the title track from her new album, and her cover of Kings of Leon‘s Use Somebody. In these songs, the piano took the backseat and her amazing vocals were showcased.  Her US debut album, Bells, drops March 22.  I’ve marked my calendar so I can be first in line (or first online?) to get it.  You should too!

I’d never heard of Cary Brothers, but after reading his Wiki page, I feel like I should have.  Oops.  I’m also embarrassed to admit that, for some reason, I had decided in my head that Cary Brothers would be two banjo playing brothers who would take the stage barefoot and play some foot stompin bluegrassy music.  You can imagine my confusion when only one guy, Cary Brothers, walked up to the mic.  Oops time infinity. I’ve probably just lost all singer/songwriter lover street cred in your mind huh?  His first song he sang sans band.  Once his band joined him, the music mostly drowned out his vocals and I couldn’t understand the lyrics unless it was one of the rare moments when he was belting it out.  I should point out that his band in and of itself was fantastic, but I was bummed about not being able to understand the words since the main thrill I get out of going to concerts is hearing the emotion and creativity of the lyrics.  I’m going to chalk the quiet vocals up to the acoustics of the venue (or perhaps I’m just hard of hearing at the ripe old age of 28) because I’m listening to some music from his album right now and he sounds fab!  I’m moving to the Nashville area soon (which is where Cary hails from), and I want to give him another listen so I’m going to keep an eye out for an acoustic performance by Cary (but not his barefoot brother(s)…won’t make that mistake again).

And then it was time for [swoon] Joshua Radin [/swoon].  The bottom level of the venue near the stage was standing room and the top was a balcony with seats.  We were in the balcony, but the chicks near the stage were all atwitter when he sauntered out, and I’m surprised there wasn’t any panty throwing.  From what I counted, he played at least 15 songs (a couple of which Carey and Laura joined him on) so we got a mighty good dose of JRad.  His interaction with the audience made the concert a lot of fun (might have had something to do with the whiskey he was drinking from the red party cup…how come I didn’t get my mitts on some of that?) My two favorite moments were at the beginning and end.  He started with No Envy No Fear and, at times, he was standing a few feet to the side of the mic and belting the song out at the top of his lungs so that those of us all the way up in the second floor balcony could hear him just fine.  AMAZING!!! He almost lulled us to sleep with his breathy crooning one moment and then snapped us out of our daydreaming with the power of his voice the next moment. I haven’t really noticed this back and forth between soft and strong vocals on his albums so it was a nice little surprise to experience the range and power of his voice in person.  My other fav moment was when he sang a cover of Sam Cooke‘s Bring it on Home.  HOLY COW CRAP!! JRad’s got some soul!!!  For most of the song, he was again standing well away from the mic and singing his heart out in a husky, bluesy manner that left me wanting more more more.   I think we need to start a “Joshua Radin needs to record a blues/soul album” petition on Facebook. Who’s with me?

Pre-order Laura Jansen: Bells

Buy Cary Brothers: Under Control

Buy Joshua Radin: The Rock And The Tide – mp3CD