Consider The Source at the Bright Box in Winchester, Virginia
It's always hard for me to describe bands and each one of their unique sounds. I seem to always find myself referencing another genre or band. With Consider The Source, things get even more difficult but I have finally figured out what the bands name is all about. CTS literally wants you, the listener to consider the source of the music they are creating and morphing, combining and transforming. CTS is always unique and sometimes, I just want to give up on trying to define their diverse and obscure sounds references; many I am yet to understand or define myself. But who am I kidding? That's not me.
This would only be my second time seeing CTS live but I knew I was in for a loud and high throttled performance (I brought my ear plugs) positioning myself directly to the side of the stage. I dug in deep and tried to pay close attention to what members was doing, to better understand and acquaint myself with their musical process. I did my best but became lost and in awe of Gabe Marin's guitar rig and pedal board. Surrounded by an arsenal of sounds, Gabe's newest guitar also features a variety of midi pads and controls. I am astounded that he can make any of those noises sound like music; it's as though, he is in a rocket ship, piloting some musical spacecraft. A short list of the sounds I heard from Gabe's guitar: saxophone, xylophone, violin, voice, drums, perhaps an elephant? Somewhere in there I heard the Star Wars theme or was it Gustav Holst's Op 32?
Onto the song selection (or what I can tell you) and JBP impressions. Opening with a long intro that included great slide work, this would be very reminiscent of Indian/Hindi scales mixed with classic blues scales. I'm always immediately impressed with the musicianship from his trio. John Ferrera's stage energy is always palpable and passionate especially within the new song called "It Is Known", which was almost whimsical and far away, with lots of delay and this is where the sax effect on guitar comes in. This song went into a Motown swing, something much different than I've heard from Consider The Source before. There seems to be added space and dynamics but they always return to that high-powered, solo blistering sound. The next song sounded a lot like Primus and had my heart pumping in an eerie cacophony. CTS is not afraid to take chance and try new things with effects, sound combination and ancient musical properties from India and beyond. Touching on world music and progressive hard rock alike, Consider The Source have me considering why this type of high powered music has yet to take off? With electronic and dance acts utilizing the same build ups and effects, I think CTS is a great alternative to the bland single DJ playing loops in some "live" performance.
Organic and wild, both John and Gabe could be seen convulsing in ritualistic unison while violently shaking their instruments. Elements of Greek and Eastern European themes come to my mind. Jeff Mann’s drumming skills are off the chart and keep this band from going too far off the rails. The perfect balance between complete rhythmic destruction and light taps from Shangri-La.
Looking trough my notes, they must have played a song called "Won't You Feel Alienated?" I can't recall because I was too busy watching a sizeable women in vomit green, spasmodically shuttering and disconcertingly screaming at the top of her lungs to the beat. John begins to play so rapidly on his bass solo that she gets confused/tired and suddenly leaves the concert; quite the performance.
Consider The Source can sometimes come out of left field with their original sound and live concert experience but they are always energetic and raw. I certainly won't miss another CTS show in my area and will be delving into their musical catalogue in depth this summer, searching for inspirations and recognitions of classical world compositions. I look for CTS to gain a lot more interest in the coming years and believe many festivals will catch onto this sound. Stay original and always on the cutting edge.
Cosmic Superheroes "Big Star" Album Review
Saving the world one jam at a time, Cosmic Superheroes, has joined forces like musical Avengers to release their newest album, ‘Big Star.’ The North Carolina natives have reached out from their fortress of solitude and Jam Band Purist recently released their title track to the new album. We had a great response, reaching over 1000 views in just a few days. JBP has been working hard to get the best reviews, interviews, newest acts and album critiques that we can and Cosmic Superheroes review is up next. So, put on your capes, its time for the goods.
The opening track to this album, "Wants" is a great example of how to gain interest in the entire album itself from a good first impression. Immediately reminiscent of a more, singer-songwriter sound; lyrics and storytelling seem to be at the forefront of this bands attributes. "Wants" tells a real story and delves into the human psyche concerning the pressure of societal needs and every day life. The keyboard lick from Paul Sanders, keeps this song stuck in your head long after listening.
"Big Star" is a straightforward song with a message about the hypocrisy and duplicity within the Rock 'n' Roll industry. With great vocal harmonies, a great melody and production quality, this title track to 'Big Star' is a great platform for Cosmic Superheroes to spring from. "Lonely" takes our celestial journey back to the 1950s-60s with a very R & B feel and song structure; vocals again taking precedent in this bands sound and song writing techniques. I enjoyed the sound of this one because it harkens back to a much more innocent time in Rock 'n' Roll while juxtaposing the other lyrical songs on this album.
For me it's hard to choose a favorite between, "Moment Of Sugar" and "Sunray" as the best songs on this album but then I hear “What!” and everything changed. Mixed between these two great songs is “Top Of Our Lungs” and will let that song speaks for itself, with great drum work from Bongo John Metcalf and Paul Benner on bass. "Moment Of Sugar" comes just when I think I'm settling in for another vocal driven performance. Cosmic Superheroes completely flips the script and goes full jam mode really bringing the guitar from Brandon Mclean on this one. This is where I really start to understand Cosmic Superheroes sound and get sucked into their cosmic vibration. "Sunray" is a blistering melodic composition that accentuates the guitar and adds a little bit of electro with the keyboard synth. This song goes right along with “Moment Of Sugar” and takes Cosmic Superheroes to another level. I think “Sunray” hits the jam mark a little more than “Moment Of Sugar” but both are equally worthy of praise and show a great creative apperception.
“What!” a short but raw composition, can only be described as high-powered and ephemeral. This song reminded me a lot of Phish, as the guitar takes the lead but this one ends shortly with an echoed “WHAT!” that leaves me wanting a lot more. This is a song that could be taken to extreme jam territory at any moment during a live concert setting. If this song were just a little bit longer, it would hands down be my favorite track from ‘Big Star’ and even, Cosmic Superheroes. "Fiend" returns to the storytelling approach of Cosmic Superheroes as the narrator recounts a lost love relationship and finding themselves, down and out, on the beach somewhere. The album returns to "Big Star" for the conclusion of Cosmic Superheroes sophomore album.
Cosmic Superheroes really impressed me with songs like "What!" and "Sunray." While the singer-songwriting nature and quality of the lyrics are prominent and poignant, I still enjoy the more jam driven compositions. As with many of the bands Jam Band Purist reviews, it's often difficult to compare live performances with recorded ones. I think these songs would really shine during live shows and I hope that Cosmic Superheroes continues to grow and expand their musical diversity in the time to come. Check out the full ‘Big Star’ album at https://www.cosmicsuperheroes.com/ for more. Thanks again for taking the time to read our reviews.
Jonathan Scales Fourchestra Resound At 5 Points
I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived at 5 Points Music Sanctuary to see Jonathan Scales Fourchestra but this trio hit me like a ton of bricks from opening note to close. Let me just start off by saying, I have never seen anyone play the steel drum/pan like that, nothing comes close. Jonathan Scales takes this instrument to another level; a level which most of us are not use to especially at the forefront, leading the band. A mixture of jazz, high-powered funk, and even hip-hop, the rudiments behind each song are much like a classical composition. The skill and musical prowess of each individual member of JSF is comparable to many compositions on a progressive level; reminding me of Stravinsky, Weather Report, Zappa, perhaps even Phish. This band is far beyond some cruise ship steel drum act and should not be taken lightly. (Picture the opposite of the cheesiest version of calypso possible.)
It was a cosmic journey through the scales and many extremely difficult compositions. It was like, sitting down and watching an orchestra play an entire symphony. In the continued recap, I will do my best to explain the songs I can remember. "Focus Poem" which features Bela Fleck on the newest album, is a big influence for Jonathan Scales. The drummer was seen smiling and laughing almost the entire performance. The bassist running lines like Alphonso Johnson. At one point, Jonathan would take off on a solo section showing off his extraordinary skills. It was truly a classical composition on the steel drums and there is no other way to describe it.
"The Trap"written on a napkin in 5 minutes, has stood the test of time and is a wild ride through ups-and-downs of chaotic orchestral changes and progressions. The next song called "Fake Buddha’s Inner Child" was thought out and meticulously structured. This was one of the best performances of the night and I am wondering the story behind this songs title. The stage lights shone down into the steel drums, reflecting off the surface and bouncing back like colored waves against the ceiling, illuminating the sanctuary with an otherworldly glow. A special guest flutist would join the Fourchestra onstage for a selection of wild compositions and solo improvisational performances. The flute seems to be the perfect additional instrument to this ensemble, providing a great backdrop for these obstreperous compositions.
Jonathan took the time to teach the audience his irregular timing and worldview (7x7+6=World Peace) Jonathan was constantly calling out the shots, improvising on the fly and leading the band into new musical territories. From life changes and crazy times come great music. "Cry" from the new album is one of those that are wrought from these difficult experiences. I enjoyed this slower number and look forward to checking out the new album when it's released. It's evident that each one of these guys is just happy to be playing music onstage. "How To Rebuild Your Battleship" was an extremely difficult song but the band played through flawlessly. This one sounded as though it could be used in a film score in some action adventure or even video game.
The night would end with a cover of "Kiss From A Rose" and another well thought out and prepossessing composition. I wouldn't hesitate to see Jonathan Scales Fourchestra again, especially at 5 Points where this kind of music and sound are sacred. I hope that Jonathan and his band continue to amass followers and enlighten the musical world with his knowledge not only the steel drum/pan but composition in general. I could certainly see Jonathan Scales Fourchestra playing any number of late night sets and various music festival across the county.
Jam band Purist is excited to exclusively release Cosmic Superheroes title track "Big Star" from their upcoming album, released on May 18th.
This is the first time JBP has released an exclusive song, so go check Cosmic Superheroes out and give this song a listen via bandcamp. Full album review coming soon!
"Big Star" is a straightforward song with a message about the hypocrisy and duplicity in the Rock 'n' Roll industry. With commendable vocal harmonies, a great melody and compelling production quality, the title track to 'Big Star' is a great platform for Cosmic Superheroes to spring from.
More Coming Soon!
Travelin’ McCourys Heat Up The Lime Kiln in Lexington Virginia
One of the most beautiful outdoors venues in Virginia set in a historic site in Lexington, The Lime Kiln Theatre is a venue that includes a large Kiln used in the turn of the 20th century and the stage itself is situated amongst an earthen rock quarry. The Kiln stage has just been opened up for the first time in 6 years but with the recent renovations the entire Lime Kiln venue and The Bowl is even more beautiful than I remembered from my previous visits. Holding a decent amount of people, the bowl was filled to capacity for this seasons opening performance.
The Travelin' McCourys came out for a great rendition of The Grateful Dead's "Cumberland Blues" before the rain came in and washed the band away but they would return with "Walk Out Of The Rain" about an hour later, skipping the set break and making this a single set performance. The band continued on into a song about John Henry, the railroad laying legend. "Midnight Flyer" kept the train theme rolling down the tracks; bluegrass and trains always go well together. "I Live On A Battlefield" was one of the best performances of the evening; raw and full of emotion. Following this slower song, the McCourys would go into a blistering instrumental number that had the entire bands fingers flying.
Bass player of the year, Alan Bartram singing John Hartford’s "No End Of Love" was harmonious and well done; great songwriting and all around delivery from each player, as they delivered a mix of their own music and exciting covers. Its no wonder these guys all have awards and various honors from musical institutions. "Let Her Go" was next, originally done by Passenger but the Travelin’ McCourys make it their own, with a high-pulsing rhythms and flawless, vocal harmonies.
“Well you only need the light when it's burning low,
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know you love her when you let her go,
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low,
Only hate the road when you're missing home,
Only know you love her when you let her go,
And you let her go”
Going Classic Bluegrass with the next song, the Travelin’ McCourys show why they are one of the best Bluegrass bands around, doing progressive to traditional. Rob McCoury letting those banjo licks roll. Another morbid, John Hartford song "Natural To Be Gone" was deep and juxtaposed the music itself.
Mixing lyrical songs and instrumentals throughout the evening, the crowd was getting the best of both worlds. "The Hardest Heart" exemplified the lyrical accents and prognostication from this group. During the next instrumental tune the band took turns soloing and showing skills on their various accoutrements; Jason Carter and Cody Kilby, both shining throughout these solos and the entire evening.
As Ronnie changed to electric mandolin someone was heard in the audience "Yea! Give It To Me, Ronnie!" as they went into some more Grateful Dead renditions. "If I Had The World To Give" would see Ronnie making that electric sing as he gently melted a string immediately before they went into "Loser" The Travelin McCourys took the vocal cues from the song and accentuated them into beautiful harmonies. Slowing down and speeding up with a taste of "The Other One" crescendos on a par with any jam act, improvisational and defined. Complete transition into another instrumental and back into "Loser" ending the set with "Travelin’."
It is always a pleasure to see these folks play bluegrass live. There is an extreme professionalism and duty to the music that is evident from these performers. Still adhering to traditional values while exploring new and interesting takes on bluegrass music. Check The Travelin’ McCourys out at DelFest at the end of this month.
Down By Downtown Music Festival Headliners moe. (Rises Again In Roanoke)
Roanoke Virginia seems to be calling my name recently, with the announcement of moe. at the beautiful Elmwood Amphitheater in the heart of Star City, many other music fans are being drawn here as well. Down by Downtown Music Festival is an annual music collaboration, unifying various business’s in Roanoke. I was only able to catch a few of the many shows that they had to offer in the downtime area but Travers Brothership from Asheville, North Carolina immediately stood out to me. Opening for the headlining act, they were reminiscent of moe. themselves; a fresh mix of funk and Southern Rock. Playing a groovy, "It's Your Thing" mixed seamlessly with Funkadelics, "Can You Get To That."
Jam Band Purist has a long history with moe. They are one of the first bands that really got me there; you know what I mean, get you THERE! When moe. took the stage, it was as though I was transported back in time to those days long since past. There was a part of me that was never sure I'd see moe. again after Robs cancer battle but boy, does it feel good to be back again. moe. has risen like Lazarus and pushed ever forward, remaining tight and flawless. While their festival sets are never as long, as I would want, I still think the band did a great job exploring many improvisational moments and highlights from their catalog of music.
Opening with a clean and effortless, "Crab Eyes" Al took the lead, as they shredded into "Big World." This combination had Elmwood Park brimming with excitement when they went for jam territory during "Ricky Martin." "Captain America" felt like a joyous reunion between my ears and my heart. Seeing Rob up there singing and doing his thing makes me extremely grateful to still be seeing moe. live. With no set break, the band quickly transitioned into "Montego" a song, which I was not familiar with. The classic "St. Augustine" was next, which collided right into an exhilarating "Tailspin."
"Blue Jeans Pizza" has been one of my favorite moe. songs since my adventure to upstate New York for moe. down 11. This "BJ" would highlight Rob's bass playing, as he remains one of the tightest bassists in the business. A long improvisational intro into "Akimbo" would end the set of music but moe. would encore with "Spine Of A Dog" for a classic but short performance. After the show, I headed over to Martin's downtown for some more music and the party continued with Grass Is Dead, as they completely packed the house for the after party.
Moe.noke seems to be becoming quite a Jam haven for the East Coast and Virginia music community. I am looking forward to the upcoming shows at 5 Points music sanctuary and will be spending more time there whenever I can. Thanks to Down By Downtown, BlueRidgeRocks.com and a special thanks to Meagan Iwaniszek at mirphotoz.com for the amazing photos!
Photo Credit: Meagan Iwaniszek mirphotoz.com
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.