Thursday, December 25

Happy Holidays!

Rudolph (click here), a present from Bob

Sunday, December 21

Jonathan in France / Europe in 2009

Here's the advert for Brest / Britany show.
I've also seen shows in Lille and Strasbourg in the following days.
Other countries ? (nothing in England for now)


Thursday, December 18

The "other" new Jojo

Munster, from Spain issued "Qué Venimos Sino A Caer?"
with a different cover than French issue on APC, there's also a vinyl edition, limited to 500 copies

Happy X-mas everybody

Tuesday, December 9

Treats for all!

I don't know about anyone else, but my finals for college are next week, and I'm swamped with work. So for all of you who feel my pain, for whatever reason, I bring you treats.

Jim Harrington of The Concert Blog went to see Jonathan on December 7th, and wrote a tiny review, also asking if anyone out there could explain why they loved Jonathan so.

I just got home from seeing Jonathan Richman at the Great American Music Hall on Sunday night (Dec. 7). It was my second time seeing the singer-songwriter-guitarist (and his ever-present buddy-sidekick-drummer Tommy Larkins) in 2008. That’s not unusual (at least not for me).

I see Jonathan and Tommy at least once a year, usually more. I think my record is catching them a half-dozen times in a single year. And I would have seen them more that year, if I’d had the chance.

read the rest here

Another reviewlet of the 5th concert over at Boomvang:

Mitch and I got to go see Jonathan Richman on Friday night thanks to the babysitting prowess of our friend's Seth and Elise. It was a great concert. I felt like the universe gave me a small gift when Jonathan opened with some song about suffering that I had never heard before that had a chorus about how you can't avoid suffering and you can't refuse defeat because then Prozac wins and you become a really annoying falsely happy person. It was a message that found fertile ground in my current mood so I was happy to have the universe (through Jonathan) affirm that it is o.k. to be bummed out sometimes and that you should embrace your sadness sometimes.

The rest over here

Lastly, I bring an interview! This is from the live concert DVD "Take Me To The Plaza", which I recommend oh-so-highly. There are 2 parts, and I hope you enjoy my tiny gifts to you, and have a splendid week. Monday, I should return with a review of the Friday concert in Olympia.

Saturday, December 6

Of Haiku and Matter

I found the best little reviewlet on Concert Haikus (which, incidentally, I think is the coolest idea for a blog ever) from the El Rey show:

There are few people
In this world that I love half
As much as this man

And, submitted for your approval. The time: February 1984. The place: Matter magazine. Jonathan Richman interviewed in a small rock and roll magazine, lovingly brought to us by Swan Fungus.

While Richman, with seven LPs under his belt, has managed to build up a fiercely loyal core of fans in the past eight years or so, the larger public has remained ignorant of his uncompromising, highly idiosyncratic work. For many first-time listeners, Richman's unusual vocal style is an obstacle. Some might go so far as to say that the guy can't sing.

"That would make me feel sad inside, " says Richman. "I don't see myself as a talker: I see myself as a singer. A singer sings melodies. A song is something that's gotta be sung. So, I just sing 'em and write 'em."

Read the rest here. (It's a picture scan of the magazine. The rest of the issue is at the earlier link)

Wednesday, December 3

And so it begins...

The December tour began last night, and I hope those of you who are able are getting out there! I, personally, am dragging 3 of my long-suffering friends 10 hours over snow drifts and mountains to go see him in Washington. To mark this festive occasion at the beginning of a festive season, I bring you pictures from the last tour, courtesy of tantrum_dan's flickr.

Sunday, November 16

Jonathan Richman on Space Ghost

Years ago, in a land far away known as the Cartoon Network, there was a satirical talk show called Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Jonathan was on the show in 1995, and I managed to chase down the episode, which I lovingly present to you now in these two youtube videos. Please enjoy!

Part the first:

Part the second:

Wednesday, November 12

Jonathan Richman and the '80s interview

I found this interview and snippets of a live performance through bedazzled, and decided to upload it to Youtube for those of you who lack the time, patience, ability, or desire to download it to your computer.

It's a clip from the old MTV show "The Cutting Edge", and features a few parts of live songs by Jonathan, namely "Corner Store, "My Jeans", and "When I dance", performed with the crew Jonathan was calling his Modern Lovers at the time. It's from 1986, (When I reflect on the fact that I was born that year, I remember just exactly how long Jonathan has managed to keep us all entertained) and is about two minutes longer than the clip of the same show that has been on Youtube for a while. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11

I'm So Confused promo

Howdy Jojo fans,
Sorry , nothing new, but I just won (ebay) this Jojo promo with 2 x-tra songs.
Anyone ever heard that song "Time Stopped When We Held hands".
All the best,

Saturday, November 1

December Tour Dates

A number of dates have been announced for December: -

Tuesday, 2nd Dec San Diego, CA (The Casbah)
Wednesday, 3rd Dec Los Angeles, CA (El Rey Theatre)
Thursday, 4th Dec Long Beach, CA (Di Piazza’s Lava Lounge)
Friday, 5th Dec Ventura, CA (Majestic Ventura Theatre)
Sunday, 7th Dec San Francisco, CA (Great American Music Hall)
Monday, 8th Dec Mill Valley, CA (142 Throckmorton Theatre)
Tuesday, 9th Dec Sacramento, CA (Blue Lamp)
Thursday, 11th Dec Seattle, WA (The Triple Door)
Friday, 12th Dec Olympia, WA (Capitol Theater Backstage)
Saturday, 13th Dec Eugene, OR (Sam Bond’s Garage)

(If ayone comes across any others, let us know and we'll post them here)

And as usual - Always confirm with the venue before travelling

Tuesday, October 28

Champaign, IL: October 25, 2008

Jonathan played to a small crowd in Champaign, but the show didn't suffer any for it. William Gillespie and C.D. Scoggins were lucky enough to attend, and kind enough to write a review that's longer than the paragraphs I'm used to stumbling upon.

A goateed man with a guitar case walked out onto the bar floor and announced, "They said we can play now so we're going to play. We ain't going to play loud so come on up." About 25 people wandered up to the stage as Jonathan strapped on a guitar and his band—his drummer Tommy—climbed behind the drum kit.

Richman was lanky, lean and seemingly boneless as he played guitar. It struck me that he didn't need a guitar strap; he was so in shape that he could hold his guitar up during songs. His eyes, beady and sparkly black, appeared to knowingly penetrate the audience. Opening with "Let Her Go into the Darkness" (from the soundtrack to There's Something About Mary), Richman quickly engaged the crowd. As someone more familiar with his early 1970s material with the Modern Lovers, I was astounded that the 57-year-old's smooth and trembling voice hadn't changed one bit. It had not been ravaged by the alcohol and nicotine abuse that befalls so many older artists. I'd heard somewhere that Richman was a pretty sober guy. Tonight, it showed: His physical appearance and vocals were pristine. So let that be a lesson to all those wrinkly, bloated classic-rock fossils who croak through their high notes at ill-advised reunion shows: Clean living pays off.

He looked worried at times, and other times he would smile as if a private thought had relieved him for a moment of his sorrow. He seems so proud when he plays a real rock lick—a simple, tough melody—he grins like a kid, eyes still a bit worried that he might not pull it off again. He has a restless, multilingual, self-deprecating intelligence and an open heart. I sense a sadness that his music is a struggle against.

Read the rest at Smile Politely.

Friday, October 24

It's not all "I'm a Little Dinosaur"

Steve Rosen of CityBeat wrote a great article on the oft-ignored depth of Jonathan's music. He makes note of Jonathan's cutesy stuff, and how fans of the original Modern Lovers always felt cheated that Jonathan stopped being angry at the world and started noticing bugs. But most of the article brings up examples of Jonathan's stuff that is hardly surface or silly, but often gets overlooked. Jonathan, I think at least, has merit as a poet, and I've actually used him in serious business papers for my professors before. Well played, Mr. Rosen.

Richman has developed a sizable and underappreciated repertoire of songs expressing an adult’s wise, thoughtful and poetic take on love and the passage of time. They often still manage to connect with his memories of childhood, which gives them an extraordinary perspective that few singer-songwriters can manage.

Richman’s oft-recorded “That Summer Feeling” is an example. It’s lyrically playful in listing alluring, enticing images associated with summer — and thus, symbolically, with one’s prime. But he keeps stepping out of the mood to caution, in that choked-back voice of his, “That summer feeling is going to haunt you one day in your life.”

The Surrender album, one of his best, includes “My Little Girl’s Got a Full Time Daddy Now” and the extraordinary “Floatin’ ” (“I had a dream about floatin’/ Out there on a raft in the ocean/ My my family far behind/ Why are they so hard to find?”).

The lovely “Springtime in New York,” from the Her Mystery album that came out right after 9/11, remarkably takes us through the stages of a couple’s relationship with spare but lucid observations about the East Village in spring.

On his latest album, this year’s excellent Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild, Richman moves from manchild to solemn grown son in a short but emotionally open song about spending time with his dying mother, “As My Mother Lay Lying.”

Playing acoustic guitar at his gentlest, he brings far more honesty and unsentimental courage to the subject of familial mortality than just about any songwriter. Yet at the same time, sad as it is, the song is also written with powerful clarity and a hard-earned sense of acceptance. It is, hard to believe, beautiful.

Read the rest over at CityBeat

Chapel Hill, NC: Oct 10, 2008

Dogsinasweater posted their review of Jonathan's show at the Local 506, and found it impossible not to enjoy himself.

If you haven't guessed by now, I enjoyed the hell out of this gig. I've seen a lot of Jonathan over the years, and this might have been my favorite time. He may not have played all of my favorite songs (I was really hoping for “Ice Cream Man” and/or “Down In Bermuda”), there may have been a bunch if old, asshole fans screaming at the man like he was a performing monkey, and it might have been hot as shit because the air conditioning system was turned off since they play at such a low volume, but I had a smile on my face the whole time. The man is a real treasure, a joy to watch perform, and more of the kids playing music today should look towards him for inspiration on how to carry yourself on a stage.

Read the rest at dogsinasweater.

Wednesday, October 22

Reviewlet and pictures

K.A. Laity saw Jonathan at Club Helsinki last week, and wrote this short little review of the experience:

Richman and his drummer came out and set up their equipment themselves. The troubadour extraordinaire -- he was just an endless delight, playful and fun and story telling and hopping off the tiny stage to step out into the tiny audience and sing right to us. He started with "No One was like Vermeer" and sang in French, Spanish, Italian as the mood struck him. He was meandering all over and playing with the microphone when it didn't work. Richman's songs are like flash fiction pieces you realise as he's singing about the Marx Bros or why he doesn't have a cell phone and never will or summer and winter and New England and the smell of the school bus in junior high ("2% cigarettes from those guys who sit in the back, 30% wool, 30% ice and snow and the rest..."). A lively intelligence and curiosity provide his restless muse. It's a treat to see a performer like this. He rocks, he swings.

read the rest at Wombat's World.

I've also had the good fortune of stumbling across some great pictures from this tour. The one right above me comes from the Charlotte show and can be found, with some others, on ACTortorici's flickr.

I am also fond of jenny alva's pictures from the Parish. This happens to be my personal favorite, but feel free to peruse them yourself.

My favorite, thus far at least, have to come from Savannah. Geoff L Johnson came out with some absolutely fantastic photos of the Savannah show. Savannah Smiles indeed. I am jealous of his photographic ability, to say the least. Run, don't walk, to see the rest of his photos from the concert, over at his website, Geoff L Johnson.

Thursday, October 16

New York, NY: October 14th, 2008

I hesitate to say 'There's Something about Jonathan', since, to the best of my knowledge, he has never been actively pursued by several men willing to commit fraud and espionage to win his love. But as cliché as the phrase has become, nothing else seems to fit quite right. I have long noted that seeing Jonathan live has an effect on people; previously casual or indifferent followers become wide-eyed adherents from the moment he begins to sing. It seems as though Jonathan has done it again, as Sur la Route Encore writes of the Jonathan Richman experience at The Society for Ethical Culture.

I attended the very entertaining Jonathan Richman show on a gorgeous Tuesday evening at the Concert Hall of the Society for Ethical Culture. While certainly well-aware and appreciative of his musical history, I was previously a casual listener. I wasn't in the group of Jonathan Richman afficionados. Or, at least, I wasn't until last night.

Wow, just wow. The Concert Hall was a perfect setting for this show - intimate, personal, intense. Jonathan's unique style and the intensity of his life philosophy shone through in a show fully appreciated by his many long-time fans. Even if his set consisted almost entirely of his last three albums ("it has to be fresh"). The crowd was just fully engaged with Jonathan and holding tight to his every lyrical dabbling and spontaneous styling.

Specific highlights of the show for me (other than, of course, the deeply evocative lyrics and the intensity of his delivery) were his polylingual extensions in Let Her Go and Vampire Girls; the intensity while singing without a microphone in Springtime in New York; storytelling in The Lovers Are Here and They're Full of Sweat; and the joyous rendition of I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar (which, as the last song in the main set, continued on and on (3 or 4 restarts) as the crowd continued its adorative clapping). "Do you want to hear it? You have no choice" was his twice-used lead-in when transitioning from English into romance languages. Conveniently, I am near-fluent in French and Spanish (as was much of the crowd, apparently, based on their reactions to specific lyrics), and joining Jonathan in using greater linguistic range to expand the expression of human experience added immensely to the show.

Es Como El Pan and When We Refuse to Suffer are my favorite songs from "Because Her Beauty...", and I loved the expanded lyrics in both (e.g. "that's when the homeowner's association wins and your purple and yellow paint job is the loser"). But the show was strong from first note to last (and quite the last, ending with the deeply personal "As my Mother Lay Lying").

I just wasn't prepared for how much I would enjoy this performance.

Ah, who could be? Read the rest, and the set list, over at Sur la Route Encore.

Pictures by Boulevard007, over at Williamsboard

Philadelphia, PA: October 12th, 200

The Inquirer wrote up a small review of the Philadelphia show at First Unitarian Church. Sam Adams writes:

Few musicians take as much unfettered glee in the sheer act of performance as Jonathan Richman. At the First Unitarian Church on Sunday night, Richman frequently stepped away from the microphone and put down his guitar to dance. As his body twisted and bucked (the crowd was particularly fond of his sweeping high kicks), his eyes were wide and distant, as if he'd been swept away by his own songs.

Read the rest at

Jonathan and Ernie Brooks

In 1998, Jonathan and Ernie played together again in NYC for Joey Ramone's birthday party. This video shows the two friends, backed by Tom Larkins, literally reinventing "girlfen" and "roadrunner". Jonathan is laughing while leading this "power trio'', (remember Cream, ... or Zuba).
Ernie is blonking his electric bass while Jonathan is getting "string effects" from his acoustic guitar.
"Roadrunner" is a song I have asked several times on request to Jonathan at his concerts but he never took my request. Here is a chance to get a relatively recent - 10 years - renddition of this eternal song.
Jonathan does not consider it as a classic though : " Louie Louie" is a classic, "Gloria" is a classic , "Roadrunner" is not a classic!!"
See how Jonathan is wrong because "Roadrunner" is thee classic from the 70's.

Tuesday, October 14

Jonathan Sings! (On TV)

A great TV performance of "You're Crazy for Taking the Bus" from Jonathan. It's from Late Night with Conan O'Brien, but I am unsure of the year. I always love these clips from Conan, the idea of a totally uninitiated audience having Jonathan sprung on them. Sure enough, by the end of the song, the crowd is completely with him. It's great stuff.

In the vein of flashbacks from "Jonathan Goes Country", here's Jonathan playing "Since She Started to Ride" in Charlottesville at the Gravity lounge last Saturday, October 11th.

Friday, October 3

Dallas, TX :October 2, 2008

For that lucky half of the U.S., Jonathan is kicking off his east coast fall tour in Texas, and Pete Freedman of the Dallas Observer wrote a review of last night's show at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios in Dallas. Picture also courtesy of Pete Freedman.

Imagine, for a moment, that you're not in Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios. The concrete floors and walls and overall bare bones concert environment are out of mind.

Instead, you're in a living room.

Maybe it's your house. Maybe it's a friend's house. Either way, you're comfortable, relaxed.

And then in walks a buddy's cousin, or uncle. His name is Jonathan, and he's quirky, animated, eccentric and, most of all, entertaining (I mean, c'mon, he refers to himself in third person). Jonathan then pulls out a guitar and starts an impromptu troubadour set. It's hilarious, poignant and thought-provoking, all at once.

You're at a loss for words. This is one of the most entertaining things you've ever seen.

Read the rest over at the DC9 at night music blog

One of the things I love about this review are the little notes at the end. For example: By The Way: One of Richman's quirks is that he sings songs in various other languages--only, as he admitted to the audience at RGRS, he rarely takes the literal translative meanings to heart. He'd rather project his own meaning onto the words, he said, "because, well, [he] made them up."

End of the road Festival 2008

In his BLog "Stereo Sanctity", Ben has reviewed the End of the road Festival which was held at the Larmer Tree Gardens in beautiful North Dorset inthe UK. Among a large amount of artists featuring Mercury Rev, Billy Childish and others, British Sea Power did a complete set of Jonathan covers. Here is the "Stereo Sanctity" report about the event but the report on the full festival can be found "here".

Speaking of which, perhaps the best moment of the whole festival goes as follows; after midnight on the Saturday, and we’re all a bit flagging energy-wise (well, I am anyway), looking for something fun to keep us going… so we’re crammed into this packed tent where apparently some kinda (clearly not very) secret musical happening is going to be a-transpiring. So, hey, apparently it’s some guys from British Sea Power and some of their pals and, with no disrespect intended to them as a band, this does not really fill me with faith in imminent good times… BUT, they take the stage, and they say, hello, we’re going to be playing a set of Jonathan Richman covers. And they do!

You know that feeling, when you’re in a situation of some kind – in this case, an unknown musical unit setting up to play - and you think ‘who knows, maybe something fun will happen here – prob’ly not, but you never know’, and then the universe knocks you flat by presenting you with something so, so, so, so, so much more fun than you could possibly have expected? Like, the absolute PERFECT thing you want to happen at that moment? – well it was a bit like that. They mostly did stuff of the first couple of post-Modern Lovers solo records – ‘New England’ and ‘Ice Cream Man’ and ‘Government Center’ and ‘The New Teller’ and ‘Important In Your Life’ and ‘Abominable Snowman In the Market’ and ‘Martian Martians’, as well as ‘Cornerstore’ and ‘The Girl Stands Up To Me Now’ from later in the great man’s career, and probably a bunch of others, I forget. ‘I’m A Little Airplane’ went down a storm too – I mean, it’s never really been a favourite of mine on record, but the appeal of getting drunk and yelling along at the top of your voice to a song that mostly goes “WANGITY-WANG!, WANGITY-WANG!” is never to be underestimated. And, moving from the ridiculous back to the sublime as only Jonathan can, they did ‘The Morning Of Our Lives’, absolutely note/word perfect to the version on ‘Modern Lovers Live’! I could have wept. I think I probably did. I think I might weep again now, just writing about it.

Go and do whatever you do, British Sea Power guys – even if you release twenty six albums of fascist speeches and reversed dog barks, I’ll love you forever for pulling this one out of the hat.

Ben Haggar

Thanks are due to Ben for having kindly given the authorization to reproduce his text and to my friend JC Brochard for having pointed out this review.

Monday, September 29

Flyer for the High Dive, Champaign, IL - 25th Oct 08

Here's a Flyer for one of the upcoming shows.

If anyone happens to come across other flyers, let us know about them, or send us a scan, and we'll get them added to Jojoblog.

tour update Autumn 2008

Update: visit High Road Touring for more USA dates October 1-29, 2008

A number of new dates have been added for October 2008

Please let us know if you find out more dates!

we'll change tour info in the sidebar soon

Wed 1 Oct Austin, TX (The Parish)
Thu 2 Oct Denton TX (Rubber Gloves)
Fri 3 Oct Memphis, TN (Hi-Tone Cafe)
Sat 4 Oct Huntsville, AL (Flying Monkey Arts Centre)
Sun 5 Oct Pensacola FL (Sluggo's)
Mon 6 Oct Gainesville FL (Common Grounds)
Tue 7 Oct Tampa FL (Skipper's Smokehouse)
Wed 8 Oct Savannah, GA (Savannah Smiles)
Thurs 9 Oct Charlotte, NC (The Evening Muse)
Fri 10 Oct Chapel Hill NC (Local 506)
Sat 11 Oct Charlottesville VA (Gravity Lounge)
Sun 12 Oct Philadelphia PA (First Unitarian Church)
Tue 14 Oct New York NY (The Concert Hall)
Wed 15 Oct Great Barrington, MA (Club Helsinki)
Thurs 16 Oct Northampton, MA (Pearl Street, downstairs)
Fri 17 Oct Somerville MA (Somerville Theatre)
Sat 18 Oct Portland, ME (SPACE Gallery)
Sun 19 Oct Albany, NY (Valentine's)
Tues 21 Oct Rochester, NY (The Bug Jar)
Wed 22 Oct Millvale PA (Mr. Small's Theatre)
Thurs 23 Oct Athens, OH (Donkey Coffee)
Fri 24 Oct Newport KY (The Southgate House)
Sat 25 Oct Champaign, IL (High Dive)
Sun 26 Oct St. Louis, MO (Off Broadway)
Mon 27 Oct Iowa City, IA (The Picador)
Tues 28 Oct Ames, IA (The Maintenance Shop)
Thurs 29 Oct Lawrence, KS (The Bottleneck)

Confirm with venue before making travel plans

Tuesday, September 16

This Romance Will Be Different For Me

A great video from a performance in Spain, apparently for Radio 3.

Also this one, I Was Dancing In a Lesbian Bar and El Joven Se Estremece, from the same show.

The one strange thing about watching these, for me, is how quiet the crowd is. Nobody's laughing, nobody's getting into it, they just watch and clap politely at the end of every song. It kind of reminds me of when I took my best friend's cousin to a Jonathan show. I'm so used to the crowd being totally into what Jonathan's doing, it kind of floored me. Especially for Lesbian Bar. "Why does this seem so strange to me? OH GOD NOBODY IS SINGING ALONG". Tough crowd.

Sunday, September 14

Live at Central Park SummerStage '00 Download

Boxing Duck! has a great live recording from 2000 available for download, the sound quality is absolutely brilliant as is the setlist, which contains three unreleased (I think, please correct me if I'm wrong) songs: Silent Treatment, Barcelona and I'm Not Obsessed With Her (lyrics can be found on JojoBlog here.

You can find the download links here. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 7

Jojo new 7" cover

Courtesy of Juno records - click on the pix to enlarge

RICHMAN, Jonathan - You Can Have A Cell Phone That's Ok But Not For Me (Front Cover)

RICHMAN, Jonathan - You Can Have A Cell Phone That's Ok But Not For Me (Back Cover)

Tuesday, August 5

New single

There is a pre-order at Amazon for a new single. It has two songs: "You Can Have A Cellphone Thats OK But Not For Me" and a new version of " When We Refuse To Suffer". It will be released on September 9, 2008.

Interview with Jonathan and Tommy

Uploaded from the bonus disc of "There's Something About Mary", this is maybe my favorite interview with Jonathan. I love how it includes Tommy, the seemingly random questions, the way Jonathan is too squirrely to stay in frame - I love all of it.

Youtube rejected me on the first try because it was too long, but fear not, I moved to Google video, it should work now. Be patient, the first three minutes are mostly people saying how lovely and original and prolific he is - things we already know. Or maybe it's just because I'm 21 (almost 22!) and impatient.

This will be my third try. If it works, no one will be more surprised than me :)

Sunday, August 3

Noah and the Whale

Here's a couple of Noah and the Whale videos, a band that some of you here might like, they list Jonathan as one of their influences...

They've recently been getting a lot of airplay on Radio 1, and in about a weeks time their first LP comes out; it's available here for pre-order at only £6.99 (including postage - in the UK).

And to find out more about them, have a look here:

Wednesday, July 30


Uploaded for your pleasure, from Follow My Voice, a fantastic documentary about the Wig in a Box album. This clip is the interview and documentary bit about Jonathan:

Sunday, July 13

starving hearts
Jonathan Richman by Jeffery Simpson

Lunchbucket, thank you for sharing the experience you had in Vancouver. It's unfortunate that your parents' first Jonathan Richman concert was in such a chaotic setting and I hope it won't put them off attending another one. Jonathan is a seasoned professional when it comes to unruly mobs and that's part of what makes him so remarkable — his ability to maintain his equanimity and focus. I'm sure that he has seen just about every kind of turnout during his nonstop touring over the years and lots of times he doesn't connect with everyone, and not everyone present will be a fan. But the ones who are potentially on his wavelength are the ones he performs for, whether they be few or many, and I have been to quite a few of his shows that began with disrespectful audiences and ended with everyone under his spell. I can't recall hearing of a single instance when he actually left a performance because the house was being difficult although in the situation you describe it's easy to see why any performer would be tempted. His is a class act all the way and his commitment to his following is a part of his commitment to his art and craft. He has said that "he promised himself that if it ever became work instead of fun he'd quit that day. And... if it ever does, he will." (his words, referring to himself in the third person)

There's still magic for him in making a spark with a crowd and let's hope that there always will be, right up to the time someday when everyone's finally dignified and old together.

video: Jeffery Simpson

Saturday, July 12

Richards on Richards, July 2 2008

I recently went to a concert the Richards on Richards concert in Vancouver BC, Canada to see Jonathan Richman. I was excited to finally take my parents to a concert with an artist they had never seen live, particularly because I had seen him a couple years before and it was one of the best shows I've been to. I was really appalled by what we ended up witnessing.

Jonathan is always sublime, but his fans in Vancouver are a drunken disrespectful lot. My parents watched slews of girls chugging beer, yelling his name in between songs, and then talking loudly to each other when he started to play. People in the audience who weren't incoherently drunk were shouting out either "ice cream man" or "Vampire Girl", as if he were a performing monkey. As if he'd FORGOTTEN his number one hits. They were relentless. When he came back for an encore, people were screaming his name and all the songs they wanted him to play. He threatened to leave twice, but nobody heard him. He looked out at them very sadly, and began to play his first song.

When he finished, they yelled at him louder still. He tried to talk, but stopped, because nobody was listening. Tommy went and stood by the door, but Jonathan stayed there, holding his guitar, and waiting for people to be quiet. We sat there for three minutes watching his sad face, listening to the yelling and screaming. It didn't die down. He started in on a sad quiet song about sitting at his mother's deathbed and learning from watching her. Everyone was still talking. A group of girls by the side of the stage were trying to get Tommy to talk to them DURING THE SONG. I felt so sick. How can people who love his music and identify with him be such simple minded self absorbed jerks?

In any case, it was a beautiful song. I love hearing his new stuff because it's never disappointing, and it's always catchy and fun on its first listen. The old stuff is fine, and he always plays it differently, making it fun to listen to as well, but if I wanted to hear Pablo Picasso the same way as it is on the CD, I'd have stayed at home.

The highlight of the night? One of the classy girls trying to get with Tommy jumped up on the stage mid concert, and mid song, to leave a message for Jonathan at his feet. After he finished playing, he read the message to himself for a while. He went up to the mic and said, "it seems we have a request." He then sang a song about people wanting love and attention, and how much some people crave it, and how superficial that want can be, etc. The girl turned to her friends and said, "That's weird. All I wrote on it was my number!"


Tuesday, July 8

Review: The Aladdin Theater, Portland, Oregon, July 5th, 2008

I Know Why The Aged Hippie Sings

The concert was the entire reason for going on this trip. Because clearly, driving 13.5 hours total to see Jonathan Richman wasn't quite enough, so we had to up it to 20 hours and change. I called my sister the day I found out Jonathan was playing in Portland. I had taken her to the show in Salt Lake City, and now she love love loved Jonathan even more than I prayed for. (Okay, that was the first and last terrible Jonathan pun.) So I phoned her up

Randi: Kelsey, Jonathan is playing in Portland! Do you want to go?
Kelsey: Why do you ask such stupid questions? Of course!!

I am a firm believer that all it takes to get one of your friends from lukewarm to love is to take them to one of Jonathan's shows. There's something about him that makes you think that he's playing just for you, and whether you enjoy it or not is the most important thing on his mind. My friend Cathy has always put up with my appreciation of Jonathan, and has come to like him herself. I figured if I could con her into coming along on this trip, she would love him. I knew it would be true.

So that is how we all wound up standing in front of the Aladdin Theater on a Saturday night, waiting for the doors to open. We had not gotten there as early as I would have liked to, and I knew we weren't going to get front row seats. I was trying desperately not to let it harsh my mellow. 5 minutes before the doors opened, I saw someone familiar walking by the line. It was Tommy, and by the signs of the line, I was the only one who noticed him hanging out. As it turns out, I am, in fact, a chicken, and did not say a word to him, but merely gawked in my pathetic excitement. This also lends creedence to the deeply held belief of family and friends that, if I ever got to meet Jonathan, I would do something clever and eloquent like throw up on his shoes. *eyeroll*

The doors opened, and we rushed into the theater, ending up with 4th row. One thing about the Aladdin: there are actual seats. I am not so sure I'm with this for a Jonathan concert. We tried to rock out during "lesbian bar", but there's only so much you can do in a seat. But we were close enough that our view of the stage was excellent, so i was excited. In the viewings category, I noticed Jonathan backstage with a group of people.

Cathy: Who's that chick with him?
Randi: It looks like...oh holy hell, that's his wife.

She walked out one of the side doors and down the aisle. General consensus: she's cute. So is the tiny dog she was carrying with her.

It is at this point in the review that the concert actually starts. Jonathan was his own opener, and you could feel the love in the room as he walked out on stage. He could have sung "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and we all would have been right there with him. As it turns, out that was not his first choice, and he instead opened with "Let Her Go Into The Darkness". During the concert, we got to hear "Here Come the Martian Martians", with verses that I'd never heard before, about the Martians watching Mtv and listening to the radio. Jonathan warned us that

Here come the Martian Martians/ They're just like me or you/ if you insult their taste in music/ you're gonna hurt their feelings too
However, the best line of the song was undoubtably:

Now their underwear are sagging/ how much more can we take?/ now they dance just like Madonna/ and that Justin Timberlake

the crowd met that line with an appreciative roar of laughter, and Jonathan beamed. He couldn't have asked for a better crowd, and seemed to realize that, as he was in the best mood I have ever seen him in. We hung on his every word, even when he played songs in French, Spanish, and Italian that not everyone knew. he had a sense of humor about even this, while singing "El Joven Se Estremece", he joked, while singing the chorus, "Everybody!"

He sang "Lesbian Bar", and the whole audience sang along, dancing in their chairs as best they could. Cathy turned to me, smiling brightly and said "He's great!" She smiled for the rest of the concert, watching Jonathan with as much joy as I did.

Jonathan gave us a monologue on how "Our parents meant the best for us, with those sterile suburbs with the manicured lawns. They wanted the best for the next generation". But in his case, he wanted the hubbub of the city, the smell of the diesel, and went right into the 'The World Was Showing Its Hand". He also had a discussion with the young man inside his head before "Couples must Fight"

Young Jonathan: Jonathan, me and my girlfriend never fight, we've been dating about 3 years now, and we never fight, isn't that great?
Old Jonathan: Well, you see, young man. *Dramatically puts his hand on his chin and thinks* In my experience, not fighting is a sign of...deeper problems. Perhaps you're the exception! But in my experience, couples must fight.

As far as new songs, he pulled out "Older Girl", which I absolutely love, and if anyone has any sort of recording of it, please indulge me. The song is funny and a little sad, about how even the ice and snow were telling him he was just too young for that older girl, and all he could think to say to her were the things 14 year old boys say to 15 year old girls. He also played the song that he played at the Makeout room, which I'm guessing is called "Stultified". You can see it here, it's the second song, the first one is "Es Como El Pan". He played a song about how he can barely say goodbye to his wife sometimes, and how he loves the way she decorates and basically everything she does. It was unbelievably adorable, and I have no clue what it was called.

He led the entire crowd in a rendition of "The Cellphone Song", which is great no matter how many times I hear it. When he asked himself what he was going to do when there were no more payphones, his answer was a simple "Well...I don't know!"

When it came time for the concert to wrap up, the entire crowd protested with a sad "AWWWWWW". despite the fact that he played for a good hour and a half. He played 3 encores, and then, picking up a note someone had put on the stage, sang Happy Birthday to a member of the audience. Then he left the stage, and we were all left basking in the glow of another fantastic Jonathan concert.

Afterwards, we went to VooDoo Doughnut, where I had a doughnut with Tang on. It was delicious, but the best part of the whole evening was when Cathy turned to me as we left the theater and said "I really hope he's playing when we go to San Francisco. Or we could crash in Seattle or Denver to go see him too!" Oh Jonathan, you've done it yet again.

Set List (Maybe not complete, and certainly not in order)
Let Her Go Into the Darkness
Es Como El Pan
Couples Must Fight
Time Has Been Going By So Fast
Here Come the Martian Martians
Stultified (?)
Sometimes we can barely say Goodbye (?)
I was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar
Egyptian Reggae
El Joven Se Estremece
The Lovers are Here
Les Printemps De Amoreux
This Romance Will Be Different For Me
Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild
Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eyeshadow
Not So Much To Be Loved As To Love
En Che Mondo Viviamo
He Gave Us The Wine
The World Was Showing Its Hand
Older Girl
The Cellphone Song
No One Was Like Vermeer
Happy Birthday

More pictures at my flickr

Monday, July 7

Interview #22 :Glenn MERCER from the FEELIES

The Feelies, a mythical band is often in many friends of mine top 10 list for best bands which ever existed. They lasted gloriously a bit more than 15 years splitting in 1991 after having released 4 albums which were as vital to rock as those from the Velvet Underground a decade before. Johan Kugelberg writes in Ugly Things #26 : "(...)White soul : if black folks have Solomon Burke, James Brown and Wilson Pickett, us white folks can consider the troika of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, the Feelies and Penguin Café Orchestra".

All the Feelies members, but Bill Million, kept on playing music in other projects after the end of the band, for information about the band and its musicians go to: the night of the living Feelies (
On July 4th in NYC, the band reunited for a concert at Battery Park after warming up gigs had been going on the previous days at Maxwell's in Hoboken, where the Feelies played a lot in the past.

Glenn Mercer is one of the 2 guitar players of the Feelies, a band which had also two drummers and a girl bass player. I have to admit that Glenn is one of my heroes, I have followed his career since the very first Feelies album and last year he released "wheels in motion" a beautiful CD which had that distinctive Feelies touch. Just before the Feelies reunion show, Glenn agreed to answer my questions, he kept on posting as the band was rehearsing. I would like to thank him now for the care he took sending me his answers day after day.
"Crazy rythms" the first LP, in the middle of the picture Bill and Glenn, 30 years ago...

- When your first LP (“Crazy rythms”) was released in Europe in 1980 on Stiff records it was a shock for a lot of us. We had found a sequel to the line initiated by the Velvets and followed by the Modern Lovers. And those crazy rhythms sounded so fresh and natural. Something new was obviously starting. So had the velvets and the Lovers really influenced you?

Yes, we were influenced by the Velvet Underground and the Modern Lovers, as well as the musicians who had influenced them like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly through the Beatles, Stones and Who, then, later, MC-5, Stooges, Alice Cooper, T-Rex, NY Dolls (the list goes on).

- Your sound was original based on what I used to call duelling guitars - you and Bill - but your trademark was the speeding up of the rhythm along one song. I loved that concept and when “the good earth” came out after all those years of waiting it was just fabulous because these constant accelerations were everywhere to be heard on the album. Could you comment on that ?

We always tried to take an 'organic' approach when arranging a song, the idea being to allow for the natural dynamic of the material to develop, so the song would follow a path that would, hopefully, take the listener on a journey. In other words, during the course of the song, it might develop from one place to another by the end, through the interaction of the parts. I prefer to think of the guitars as being 'woven' together, rather than 'duelling' with each other.

Feelies ad in1991

- Now to come to Jonathan, did you ever see the Modern Lovers on stage ? If you had that luck, what are the memories you keep from that time ?

How did you become familiar with Jonathan Richman’s music ?

I was fortunate enough to have seen the original line-up of the Modern Lovers, with John Felice on guitar, when Jonathan didn't play any guitar, he only sang. They were the opening band for the New York Dolls on New Year's Eve in 1972. I had read an interview with him in Interview Magazine and was intrigued by his point of view about performing, but that didn't prepare me for the intensity of the show - they blew the Dolls away, which was hard to do because the Dolls were the 'hip' band of the moment.

Jonathan was wearing a cardigan sweater and, needless to say, looked rather shocking in the midst of the 'glam-rock' crowd. I was impressed that such a plain looking group could seem more outrageous than the band wearing make-up and glitter. At that moment, the distinction was clear to me, and it was like the 'changing-of-the-guard'.

- The Feelies have covered some of Jonathan’s songs. It is funny because as time went on you were covering older and older songs starting with “Egyptian reggae”, then it was “Roadrunner” and eventually “I wanna sleep in your arms”. Is there a reason for that ?

July 4th Battery park, l-r, Glenn and Bill Milion, © Jason Bergman

We didn't plan it that way. We started doing "Egyptian Reggae" in the Willies (our instrumental side-project) and first played "Roadrunner" when we ran out of songs during an extended series of encores one night. I remember that Brenda wasn't too familiar with the song and seemed a little reluctant to play it 'on-the-spot'. We explained that it was just two chords and she agreed to play it. But we had forgotten to mention the part that stops when Jonathan sings "Roadrunner once, etc.", but she fell in place pretty quick. I think we decided to play "Sleep in Your Arms" because the other two had always gone well with the audience. We also felt that the earlier Modern Lovers material fit our sound more than the later and solo stuff.

- Were all members of the band fans of Jonathan’s or the choice of these covers were more individual ones ?

We never talked that much about the Modern Lovers or Jonathan Richman. If I remember right, it was Stan who suggested doing a cover of "Sleep in Your Arms", so I think he's a fan. Bill was also at the Lovers/Dolls show and I know he was as impressed as I was by the performance. I'm pretty sure that everyone liked the Modern Lovers, I never heard anyone say anything negative about them.

Brenda Sauter , © J. Bergman

- Of course “Roadrunner” with its Bo Didley/Sister Ray beat suited you perfectly, a road song which can be speeded up as well. Could you tell us about that particular song ?

I consider Roadrunner to be a classic car/driving song on one level, and also one of the few good songs about the Rock and Roll genre itself. It's hard to write a rock&roll song about rock&roll, but Jonathan is able to pull it off because of his sincerity and passion for the art-form. The heavily-syncopated rhythm is almost like a 'boogie-beat' in it's relentless drive. It's got a great, catchy chorus that begs you to sing along (you don't have to be a good singer to join in). Another great thing is how he improvises the words at the end in an almost rap-like manner to drive the point home.

- Speaking of covers you were also often covering Patti Smith’s “dancin’ barefoot”. Did you know the riff had been ripped off “Karen” from the Go Betweens, Patti admitted it eventually. My point is you should try to cover “Karen” it is a real gem of a song.

I hadn't heard the song "Karen" before. It came out prior to "Dancing Barefoot"?

"Karen" was released in May 78 as the b-side of the Go-Betweens first single. Patti wrote the lyrics of "dancin' barefoot" towards the end of 78 and it was recorded for Wave in 79.

- Are you familiar with Jonathan’s music evolution ? what do you think of it ?

I'm most familiar with Jonathan's early stuff, especially the Modern Lovers and his early solo work. As far as the evolution, I appreciate the sound of his songs with a rocking band like the Modern Lovers, but I also get the appeal of the stripped-down, low-key, approach. I think the gtr/voc./perc. line-up that he's used most recently is perfect for him now. I really liked his performance in the film 'Something About Mary'. He seems relaxed, direct and sincere.

- You had a substantial following in Europe as still does Jonathan. Do you think your music and his have something to which Europeans can relate to and which is less obvious in the US ?

That's hard for me to determine. I guess having the distance of the geographical and cultural divides provides a different perspective, as seen from the outside. There's also an inherent novelty attached to something foreign. I can't say I feel as if the Feelies are any more appreciated 'abroad' than in the U.S.

- What would be your favourite Jonathan song ?

It's probably "Roadrunner", the obvious choice. I also really like "She Cracked". I guess it's kind of a toss-up between those two.

- I have the impression that being from New Jersey was the same kind of inspiration to your music than Jonathan being from New England. What is the quality you find on these East coast states ?

I'm not sure if that connection to 'place' is related to the East Coast as much as it is a connection to our past in relation to our environment. I've always felt my 'roots' were firmly planted in this area and the types of sounds I'm surrounded by have been an influence. I also feel strongly affected by the changing seasons and the various weather variables, as opposed to a more constant climate. That might be another factor.

- Would you have any anecdote related to Jonathan ?

I went to the Modern Lovers/N.Y.Dolls show with a friend, and when the M.C. came out to introduce Jonathan and the band, my friend said "Hey, that's my cousin". So, after the show, he invited us backstage to hang-out awhile.

I thought about approaching Jonathan to tell him how much I enjoyed the set, but he seemed to be in some sort of trance, so I left him alone.

- Now let’s come to the Feelies reunion, the musical event of the year for me. How did you manage to bring Bill back after he had resigned from music for 15 years?

Not much, really. We just asked him. We had been considering a reunion for a few years. The timing just worked out.

- You are sharing the bill of the Battery Park festival with Sonic Youth, how do you feel about it ?

Since the past few nights have been so incredible, and the show is tomorrow, I'm really excited about it.

- How are the rehearsals going? Are you enjoying playing together again?

Rehearsals went great. We work real hard and get things done. We worked on about 33 songs, so there's a lot to choose from.

Rehearsing in June 2008, l-R, Brenda, Glenn, Dave, Bill and Stan

- Is there any project of a tour in the US or over to Europe ?

We have no plans that are worked out. We've all agreed to play more, but not likely to tour at this point..