I don’t have to tell you about 2020 – you were there, too. Usually, at the end of the year, I spend December choosing some photos to repost for good vibes and great memories, but this year I didn’t take a single photograph of a live show. Yeah. So, I am going to post a few photos from 2019 that did not see that light of day then, just for fun. I am keeping the cameras warm for 2021 because hope springs eternal.
There was a lot of excellent music released this year. We published 188 reviews in 2020, a lot more than we thought we would. There are so many “Best of 2020” lists out there that I decided not to do one for FFMB. Instead, I am throwing up a couple of covers from albums we didn’t review this year that were really good – just couldn’t get to everything. We’ll try to do better in 2021.
Thanks to everybody involved with Flying Fiddlesticks Music Blog and the Shardik Media Cabal. Deep gratitude and thanks to all the bands, record labels, venues, publicists, and promoters keeping music alive for all of us.
We’re still here and we are carrying on in 2021. See you out there.
Clutch is doing another livestream on December 18th aptly titled Live from the Doom Saloon Volume III. To get the word out, they released a video of the band playing four songs in that space.
Neil Fallon introduced the songs, and the first two are well known from getting attention of late, “Motherless Child” and “Run, John Barleycorn, Run.” Then they played “Wishbone” from Elephant Riders. I did not see that one coming. The big news, though, was the last song, a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Lord of this World,” and it flat out smoked. Fallon said they were doing it just for fun, and the fan reception has been overwhelmingly positive. During the livestream, the attendee counter hit a high of about 2,200, but by the next day there had been more than 35,000 views. Word must have gotten out. I hope this song lands in their regular rotation when touring starts up again.
You can watch a recording of the event at the YouTube link below, and the poster for the upcoming livestream is down below that.
Clutch collects the singles they have been releasing over the past several months in Weathermaker Vault Series, Volume 1.
The idea behind doing this at all is to release fan favorites and songs that the band has played live a lot over the years because they have evolved as time has passed. These new studio versions are closer to the way you hear the songs when you see Clutch in concert, and several of the songs are covers that were not released on studio albums. In some cases, they differences on the re-records are small, but in others the comparison between the original recordings and the new ones show that the differences really stand out.
The album has ten songs on it, nine of which has already been released as digital singles: 1. Passive Restraints, 2. Electric Worry, 3. Run, John Barleycorn, Run, 4. Evil, 5. Fortunate Son, 6. Algo Ha Cambiado, 7. Spacegrass, 8. Precious and Grace, 9. Smoke Banshee, and 10. Willie Nelson.
On “Passive Restraints,” Randy Blythe of Lamb of God joins the band and creates an amazing synergy. “Electric Worry” has a slightly more stripped down sound here (and no harmonica) like, again, it is on concert – always one of my favorites. “Run, John Barleycorn, Run” was only previously available on a split from some years back. “Evil” and “Fortunate Son” are fantastic covers of those legendary songs, and “Algo Ha Cambiado” is a briefer version than the one that appears on Strange Cousins from the West. “Spacegrass” gets an extended treatment, and “Precious and Grace” is a ZZ Top cover. “Smoke Banshee,” another one of my personal favorites (that is a long list when we are talking about Clutch songs), never sounded better, and on “Willie Nelson,” we find out he “only smokes killer weed.”
Should you buy this? Of course. If you are a Clutch fan, you want all these songs together, even if the singles are floating out there separately somewhere. If you are a collector, you will want to look for the vinyl (or even the CD) as it’ll be a hot sold out item almost immediately. And if you like music, this is great music. C’mon. It’s Clutch.
The full album drops on Friday, November 27th. You can order the CD all over, at Amazon and whatnot, and the digital in the usual places. There is a vinyl version at the Clutch merch site (link below) that should be available soon to order. Highly recommended.
The first Live at the Doom Saloon livestream a couple months back had Clutch plus three other bands (Crowbar, Saul, and Blacktop Mojo) playing short sets. This time, Clutch is playing a full set of fourteen songs. The set list was chosen by fans as part of a tie-in promotion leading up to the show.
The Doom Saloon (Clutch’s rehearsal space) has gotten an upgrade with new cameras and some lights. The editing (directing, I guess is a better way to put it since it happened live) does make a big difference in the way spectators experience the performance, switching from one camera to another and having close-ups camera movement and whatnot. It looks smoother and you get a better look and the band while they perform. In the end it is the music that matters most and this band never disappoints.
I have been to a lot of Clutch shows, but I have never seen these songs played together before, or any set very close to it. Lots of rarities. They played for about 60 minutes. Here is the setlist.
1. How To Shake Hands
2. Power Player
3. Rock and Roll Outlaw
4. Far Country
5. Smoke Banshee
6. What Would A Wookie Do?
7. Mice And Gods
8. Profits Of Doom
9. Ghoul Wrangler
10. King of Arizona
11. (In The Wake Of) The Swollen Goat
12. Your Love Is Incarceration
As with the previous livestream, $2 from each t-shirt sold will go to the Clutch road crew. The event also supports ILF, the Innocent Lives Foundation – check them out here, https://www.innocentlivesfoundation.org/.
The T-Shirt Inventory Project 2020 has been a lot of fun. There are still other shirts lying around here that didn’t catch a wave. I wouldn’t call them a wave, exactly. Let’s call them a tide. An ebb tide. Here are a few shirts that did not appear in the eight waves that came before.
And just in case you are interested, here are direct links to each wave so you can check out the shirts that rolled ashore.
With live in-person music events on an indefinite hiatus, streaming events are becoming more common. Clutch has been holding short livestreams for a few weeks nowfrom their rehearsal space, the Doom Saloon. Yesterday they cranked it up a notch by holding a three-hour concert event through the LiveFrom Events platform with Saul, Blacktop Mojo, and Crowbar as openers. It was not the same as being there in person, of course, but it was a lot fun.
The started about 25 minutes late, just like a regular concert. Before each band, some promotional material was run, interviews or merchandise links or release announcements, that sort of thing. And then the bands each played from their respective remote places.
Saul was first up. Their music is melodic and guitar-driven, reminiscent of Breaking Benjamin. A quartet from Iowa, Saul has been gaining momentum in the last couple years. They clocked a solid 30 minute set to break open the afternoon, playing their hits and closing with “Brother,” their best known song. The production was topnotch on their end – Saul was the only band using more than one camera, and they even had a light show.
The feed headed south to Fort Worth Sound Studios in Texas for the next show. Blacktop Mojo creates a heavy sound that is a blend of bluesy southern rock and grungy riffs. The band has a new EP coming out Friday called Static, and they played a couple songs from it. You can look forward to raucous live sets from these five when we can all get back together again. As a bonus, you can count on some fancy footwork from the lead singer Matt James. They closed their set with “Come Get Your Coat,” from their recent album Under The Sun, and it was a great send off.
Before the next band took to stage, the promoter ran several ads. Not surprising, and after all, at a show or especially a festival we are always bombarded with vendors selling things. It didn’t run too long and it gave me a chance to grab another beer.
The penultimate band was New Orleans’ renowned veteran skull crushers Crowbar. Broadcasting from what looked like an underground bunker, founder and frontman Kirk Windstein was in fine form. The band brought some sludge and doom to the show, with the occasional nod to a classic Motörhead style. The first two bands were new to me, but I have seen Crowbar a number of times and so I was really looking forward to this performance. The band definitely delivered the monster riffs and the menacing vocals we were all hoping for.
The headliner was next, and leading up to Clutch’s performance, the “Willie Nelson” video was played. Then we heard the familiar lead-in that always means Clutch is about to hit the stage: “If I ever get my hands on a dollar again, I’m gonna squeeze on it until the eagle grin.” Ah, the memories.
Playing from the Doom Saloon itself, this performance looked very much like the shorter livestreams Clutch has been broadcasting except this was a full set, 14 songs. Here is the list:
“Who Wants to Rock?”
“Pure Rock Fury”
“The Incomparable Mr. Flannery”
“Unto The Breach”
“The House That Peterbilt”
“A Shotgun Named Marcus”
“In Walks Barbarella”
It was so great to see Clutch perform their usual mix of fan favorites and rarities. Well, to be fair, for fans all the songs are favorites. They sounded and looked great. I hope there will be more of these coming up – they certainly do seem to be well received by fans thirsty for live music. Neil Fallon mentioned that the livestream was being broadcast at Chilkoot Charlie’s in Anchorage, Alaska. That’s some reach for you right there. Koot’s! I really miss that place … but I digress. Other bands have announced similar streaming concerts, and a lot of musicians have been doing what they can to reach listeners over the past three months. There will probably be even more innovations the longer this all drags on, but those people who say live in person is music is gone for good are wrong. As soon as it works, we are all going to be out there again. Until then, we’ll keep supporting music as much as we can.
Part of the proceeds from this livestreaming event will go to the Angel Flight West charity (see the link below). And there is a limited Minotaur t-shirt you can buy for only a day or two more (link also below). What is special about it besides its cool design is that some of the proceeds from the shirt sales will go to the Clutch crew who have been idled by the current situation.
Finally, check out the platform, LiveFrom Events. A recording of the entire show is available to watch for a couple days in case you missed it – or if you bought the livestream access, you can watch the show again. Overall this event went really well. There was delay at the beginning, and the chat feature locked up for me most of the time, but I was watching and listening to the music anyway so that wasn’t a problem as far as I am concerned. I would definitely watch another LiveFrom event.
Another kickin’ livestream from Clutch today, this time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their album Clutch, and to make an announcement.
As usual, they played three songs during the livestream, which ran a little less than fifteen minutes this time. Appropriately, all three songs were from the Clutch album: “Big News I,” “Big News II,” and “Animal Farm.” I got to it all late and had to watch a recording (you can watch it too from the link below). An hour after the broadcast, 20,000+ views had been had. They are still getting a solid response from the fans for these short livestreams.
So what’s the big news? On May 27th there will be a livestream with Clutch and three other bands: Crowbar, Blacktop Mojo, and Saul. The live concert is called Live from the Doom Saloon, Volume 1, and part of the proceeds will go to charity, including to Angel Flight. There is a $9 cover charge, and the virtual doors fling open at 3:50PM Eastern time at the link below. So get a few beers lined up and tune in for some great music on the 27th. I will definitely be there.
It’s Thursday at three in the afternoon and Clutch pops up suddenly with another live stream, this time unannounced. I don’t usually like surprises but this was a good one.
They played three songs again with no repeats from the first two streams: “Sucker for the Witch” from Psychic Warfare, “Passive Restraints” from that EP, and “Smoke Banshee” from Pure Rock Fury. That last one is a teaser for a new studio recording of the song that shows up tomorrow on Spotify.
There were 3,563 people watching as the livestream ended, a considerably smaller number than the other streams, but that was obviously because Sneak Attack was entirely unannounced. Well, not entirely – they mentioned last time that they might do this. Two hours after this one ended, more than 20,000 people had viewed it. So far, as of now, the first one has 132,000 views and the second one has 107,000 views. People are liking it, I’d say.
Another great show. Subscribe to Clutch’s YouTube channel, and opt in for notifications if you want to know when these streams are happening.
It is Clutch Week at the T-Shirt Inventory Project. It is a complete coincidence that Clutch started doing livestream performances from their rehearsal space, The Doom Saloon, this week as well. I hope you are watching those on YouTube and I hope you are wearing Clutch shirts while you do it.
Clutch gave us another 16-minute livestream today from the Doom Saloon. I loved it and so did the 8,909 other people who watched live, I bet.
The three songs this Thursday afternoon were “Noble Savage,” “The Face,” and “Earth Rocker.” They are streaming these live performances through a standard laptop camera for the video, but the audio is improved and not the just the laptop mic. Neil Fallon said that they are planning on getting more cameras and making further upgrades as they work through this early experimental stage but that streaming equipment is hard to come by just now because of the understandably high demand.
The big news from today’s live stream comes in three parts. First, they are going to keep doing these and they are working on the schedule. It is best to subscribe on YouTube and click the notifications icon to find out when new ones are happening. Second, they might do some of these completely unannounced – this one was announced yesterday on social media. And third, they have tentatively planned to keep doing streams (live shows, etc.) even after the in-person shows start up again. After all, once they figure out how best to do it, there’s no real reason not to continue on with them once the world comes back.