Exile on Main Street: Music at Sundance Day 2, with The Fray
The day started with an interview with Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones about his radio show, â€œJonesyâ€™s Jukebox,â€ which has resurfaced on the internet at www.iamrogue.com after five years on the now-defunct Indie 103.1-FM in Los Angeles. Heâ€™d come to Sundance to broadcast his show live Saturday and Sunday although he confessed he hated the cold and, therefore, hated being here since it has not stopped snowing for four days. Although he kept me waiting for 45 minutes while he ate his breakfast, once we started our chat, he couldnâ€™t have been more gracious, forthcoming or funny. Read the interview here.
Later, I returned to ASCAPâ€™s Music CafÃ© on Main Street, which is ground zero for music at Sundance. Yes, there are acts playing all over town: both Joan Jett and John Legend are playing tonight at events, but the CafÃ© is a must stop. Todayâ€™s first two acts, Sonos and Colin Devlin were the first two performers yesterdayâ€”ASCAP gives each artist two slots, usually on consecutive days, in order to maximize getting in front of directors and music supervisors. Plus, while the artists are making connections at ASCAP, many of them use the Music Cafe appearance as a starting-off point while at Sundance to play private events and to network throughout the festival.
I chatted with Devlin who is headed back to Ireland next week where heâ€™s up for best Irish male at the Meteor Music awards, the Emerald Isleâ€™s equivalent of the Grammys. I recommend his new solo album, â€œDiplomacy of One,â€ and especially the gorgeous song, â€œThe Heart Wonâ€™t Be Denied.â€
Next I interviewed Brendan Benson, who has become one of my new faves. I was familiar with his work as part of the Raconteurs, but not as familiar with his solo material. The kick-off song, â€œA Whole Lot Better,â€ to his fourth solo album, â€œMy Old Familiar Friend,â€ is a perfect slice of power pop. Iâ€™ll post the interview sometime this week. We talked about everything from how he expects the impending birth of his first child to affect his songwriting to if we can expect a new Raconteurs album.
Benson and his crack band are touring in February. I canâ€™t recommend them highly enough.
NextÂ I interviewed Isaac Slade, lead singer for the Fray. Look for that interview on Sunday including a scoop about the bandâ€™s next album. Since we were at Sundance, I asked both Benson and Slade what was the last movie theyâ€™d seen. Oddly enough, they both answered â€œThe Invention of Lying.â€ Slade was excited to be playing ASCAPâ€™s Music CafÃ© because for as much success as the Fray has had with song placements in television, he said the band would love to work with a director on a project from the ground up and hoped Sundance was the place to help get those conversations going.
By the time the Fray hit the stage, ASCAPâ€™s Music CafÃ© was packed. The minute the band started its first song, people held their iPhones up in the air in a mass move to be the first to post the performance on YouTube. Opening with â€œHappiness,â€ the Fray moved through a tight set before an adoring crowd, many of whom were singing along to every word. Aware that there were many folks out on the sidewalk who couldnâ€™t get into the club, at one point, Slade shouted hello to those standing in the freezing weather and turned a speaker toward the window so they could get a better listen. As they launched into â€œYou Found Me,â€ the woman beside me declared it the â€œbest song ever.â€ In concert, the bandâ€™s music comes across as much more muscular than on record and with much more heft, especially when Slade pounds the piano as on â€œFair Fight.â€ By the time the Fray played â€œHow to Save a Life,â€ they turned the chorus over to the crowd, who sang it perfectly. After eight songs, the Fray finished its set, although it was clear that the audience would have lapped up more music.