Shear/Shazar: The best show at SXSW was in NYC
AUSTIN — South By Southwest came to an end early Sunday with a glamorous clamor.
The festival’s last night offered big-name performances to suit almost any taste, an embarrassment of riches in an town with an already-swarming musical slate.
Prince played bandleader with a 22-piece ensemble supporting him on classics such as Purple Rain at the club La Zona Rosa.
At the same time, a few blocks away, Justin Timberlake commanded an intimate stage of his own at the at the Coppertank Events Center. Earlier in the evening, rock legend John Fogerty played a set at Austin City Limits Live’s Moody Theater. And Vampire Weekend played Stubb’s BBQ; Haim opened for the band and will do so again on Vampire Weekend’s tour beginning in May.
NEW YORK CITY -JULY 16– There’s a slight chance that I’m biased. Maybe I’ve waited so long to hear new Shear, and have become super e-friendly with the Shazar of Woodstock, that my senses have been flooded with all things Jules and Pal. Or more likely, in spite of my two posts in as many months (here and here) on said marital unit, there could be something I see and hear that you don’t. In a few simple, easy to understand words: Jules Shear and his wife Pal Shazar have written and recorded an album of songs (simply titled Shear/Shazar) that rival some of his finest work, is a perfected union of melody, lyric and execution, and takes it’s place right next to one of the all-time greatest duet albums ever recorded: Between Us.
So what could possibly be better than a new album? Seeing these two together on stage. And I didn’t even have to travel to Austin to see them. You know, basic music-biz common sense might dictate that when an artist who is loved by critics, has a catalog of hits written for others, hasn’t had a record out for a bunch of years and wants to re-enter the game, SXSW is the best possible springboard for press, publicity and buzz. On the other hand…
Twas the night before St. Patricks Day…and Katz’s Deli was swarming with folks lining up for corned beef sandwiches as some sort of a Hassidic-Irish ritual that those of us from off the island might find hard to understand. My son, planning to join me at The Living Room, a small venue of great renown, had to cancel out as he is yet to turn twenty-one; so by myself I drove and parked within a block of the front door on Ludlow. If that wasn’t a good sign of what was to come, sitting at a table for four by myself, alone on a Saturday night, might have appeared desperate until I received a message on the cell phone that Dennis and Brenda were coming to join me. Turning around in my seat, there they were. Old friends and business partners back from the days when people still bought music, transplants from California like me and Jules Shear fans as well. Fellow travelers marching side by side, together sharing the magic. (Dennis took the pic I put up on top.)
Originally planned as both a CD release party and a taping for the Sirius/XM From The Living Room To The Loft series, we learned after the show that there was a glitch with the technology and the concert wasn’t recorded the way it was planned. Pity. It was a solid and tight set, with a few mis-steps that only enhanced the sense we were all sharing a typical night over at Jules and Pal’s place. For a couple that’s been together for decades…they met when she worked the box office at LA’s Troubadour in seventy-five…they are playful with each other in a way that makes you feel there is a lot of love, warmth and respect between them. Reminds me of Hepburn and Bogart in The African Queen. All that was missing were the dogs.
They effortlessly played the ten new songs from the album, Pal treated us to Leslie Gore’s “It’s My Party” and they just nailed Roger Miller’s “Husbands and Wives” that Jules originally covered on Sayin’ Hello To The Folks. With Jules’ unique guitar approach that I understand technically but still can’t wrap my head around sonically how he creates those beautiful tones, and help on keyboards and guitar from Russ (please pardon that I don’t have his last name at hand…but he’s tall, slender and has very long silver hair. The kind of guy other men with male pattern baldness hate or envy), the music just snapped, crackled and popped from the stage.
A little Gracie Allen to his George Burns, it’s hard not to smile and laugh along with Pal at her observations and stories, and a simple request for a “beer with no additives” can charm the room. Jules, who one might suspect could play the “seen it, done it, been there” role, was both warm and engaging. There is light in his eyes and I’ll venture that he is enjoying this new stone on the path.
P.S. Should you find yourself in Malmo Sweden this week, on March 21 to be exact, Pal is doing a show with a very special guest named Shear.
Visit Jules and Pal’s website for news, upcoming dates and you can buy an autographed CD here too.
The “One More Heartbreak” video was created by a fan and artist…Sherry Wallace…who creates incredible video soundtracks to lots of songs, and many from Jules. Click here for her You Tube page.