Earlier this evening I had a unique concert experience that I wanted to share with you for just a quick minute. While this website is largely devoted to a lot of the best that new music has to offer, it’s extremely important to fully understand that such things wouldn’t even exist without everything that’s come before. Pay attention to and respect the old so you can best interpret and enjoy the new. For example, The Beatles have and will continue to influence bands for the foreseeable future. I never turn down the chance to listen to something widely regarded as classic, because it presents an opportunity to learn and even in some respects continue to discover new music no matter how old it might actually be. Which brings me to Mavis Staples. As a lifelong Chicagoan who loves and is passionate about music, you can’t reasonably ignore Staples and the Staples Singers, who helped popularize gospel, soul and R&B music in the 50s, 60s and beyond. They broke and bent most labels applied to them, and though the family band is no more, Mavis soldiers on and even experienced a bit of a career revival these last few years with a couple of albums produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Tweedy was just one of the 20 or so special guests from the world of music who all showed up at the Auditorium Theatre earlier tonight for a big 75th birthday celebration for Mavis. The roster was one superstar after another, from the past up until present day. For every Buddy Miller, Aaron Neville and Bonnie Raitt there was a Glen Hansard, Grace Potter or Win Butler & Regine Chassagne from Arcade Fire. While things certainly skewed towards the older crowd, and there weren’t a whole lot of people under 40 who attended (besides myself of course), the night was filled with great moments worthy of noting. While many of the guests such as Emmylou Harris, Gregg Allman and Michael McDonald sang or performed classic Staples songs, some artists chose to play some traditionals or cover others who cite Staples and The Staples Singers as influences. Widespread Panic covered the Stephen Stills classic “For What It’s Worth,” which got the crowd excited and up on their feet. Patty Griffin, Ryan Bingham, Grace Potter and Emmylou Harris collaborated on a cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” that was positively transcendent. And Win and Regine from Arcade Fire brought the funk by performing the Talking Heads cut “Slippery People” with Staples herself, and it was a song that David Byrne actually wrote with the Staples Singers in mind. For the encore, all of the guests came out together and did a rousing version of The Band’s “The Weight,” which the Staples Singers actually performed in the concert film The Last Waltz. Was it wonderful? You bet it was. I’m not a fan of all the artists and friends of Mavis who came out and played, but at the very least I walked away with a greater respect for some of them. It was all in service to one woman and her amazing catalog, which is just a really nice thing to do. There will be a DVD coming out at some point in the next year or two with the full concert on it, and I encourage you to keep an eye out for it, as it’s just the sort of thing that will increase your musical education. Also helpful is today’s Pick Your Poison, which features some good downloads from The Black Ryder, Colleen Green, Party of One and Royale, among others. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream cuts from Alasdair Roberts, American Wrestlers, Cheatahs, Disclosure, Flying Lotus, A Place to Bury Strangers and Wu-Tang Clan.

ARMANI – $laves

Arthur Caves – Asylum

The Black Ryder – Santaria

Colleen Green – Pay Attention

Colostrum – Heart of Gold

Long Faces – Leave It There

The Maytags – Anthem

Party of One – Watch While the Heads Roll

Royale – Close to the Vest

Timbah – Return of the Samurai


Alasdair Roberts – Artless One

American Wrestlers – I Can Do No Wrong

Cheatahs – Controller

Disclosure – Follow (ft. Mary J. Blige)

Flying Lotus – Medication Meditation (ft. Krayzie Bone)

A Place to Bury Strangers – Straight

Wu-Tang Clan – Necklace