Musical Alchemy in RVA-(Pink-Talking-Fish at The National)
I barely had time to make it to The National; rushing down Broad Street to catch my second, Pink Talking Fish, show on March 15 in Richmond, Virginia. I have, in the past, tried my best to stay out of everyone’s way during St. Patties Day weekend. I’m not a drinker and I have found over the years, that many people, who go and see concerts during holidays, do not attend concerts frequently and in plain terms, cannot handle themselves or, their intake of extracurricular substances, such as alcohol. Still I decided to brave the hordes of “Irish for the weekend” and started the festivities with Pink-Talking-Fish. Meeting with a group of close friends and giving PTF another shot.
The scene outside of The National can play out like any urban city environment: people selling goods, stickers, t-shirts, drunks talking wildly, homeless persons asking to “Hold a dollar” and of course, the young kids beating on 5 gallon buckets but it was quiet for the most part. As I arrived at the box office, 22$ was easily procured from my wallet and paid to the young lady at the window who was mysterious and tall. I usually get free tickets to most concerts that I review here at www.jambandpurist.com but I decided to forgo the emails and the sometimes-tedious route of getting media tickets. I enjoyed the same experience as everyone else anyway and found it liberating for the evening.
The house was crammed with the strangest array of individuals, I have seen at a concert in quite some time. The place was literally packed and quite diverse. There were groups of rave kids in neon colored clothes, heady dreadies, deep-fried-spunions, RVA Hipsters with curly mustaches and waxed beards, the old and the crusty alike. Who do I fall in line with this crowd? I’m never sure, as I get older every second and persist in finding distinctive sensibilities. My father and Grandmother continue to wonder why, I never grew out of going to concerts. They can’t fathom how someone can enjoy live music at the ripe old age of 32! (So, I’m Probably old and crusty at this point.)
My last experience with Pink-Talking-Fish was last year at 5 Points Music Sanctuary. This was actually my first show at 5 Points and thus begun my relationship with that venue; my favorite venue in Virginia. So I can never thank them enough for making me get down to Roanoke that night. This show seemed much different than I had previously remembered and with a new guitarist, a larger audience and rising energy, PTF came out strong, I didn’t arrive on time so, I don’t know exactly what they started off with but the set list seems to closely resemble some others on this tour. I wasn’t expecting much more than a fun time from this band and my assertions were essentially correct but what I was most impressed with was the musical abilities of each member.
PTF can fucking play. That’s all there is to it. Each member brings an original energy and unique musical attribute. The keyboard player, Richard James is obviously the leader throwing the keys around like a plaything. The new guitarist, Cal Kehoe would throw his head back in pure ecstasy, while soloing, in and out, of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish songs. The band carefully melds these songs like sonic blacksmiths. Songs from the evening included: “Mike’s Song”, “Breathe”, “Cities”, “Have A Cigar”, “Psycho Killer”, an unexpected, “Martian Monster”, “Weekapaug Groove”, “Stash”, “Punch You In The Eye”, “Wilson” and even, “Roses Are Free” and my favorite, “Careful With That Ax Eugene.”
Reflecting back, I can’t help but think what this band could do with an original catalogue of material. While I enjoy a good cover act, especially with one that captures the spirit of three legendary bands, it’s always hard for me to suspend my belief and actually enjoy myself without, completing comparing it with the real thing. My mind is always critiquing and comparing, contrasting and analyzing; the truth is, I wish I could lose myself completely in the music because PTF warrants my full attention. In the end, I’m still left dreaming, “What could be?”
Jam Band Purist
Artist Spotlight: Brandon “Taz” Neideraur (The Chosen One)
The legend of Taz continues to grow, even as I write this. As it grows, so does his music ability and prowess. Taz is the Chosen One; chosen by the patriarchy of Jam. Chosen by Zambi himself. I have rarely cried from musical experiences but Taz has brought me to tears. Not just because the future of this music is in his hands, its because he can truly play with passion and palpable intensity like none I’ve seen, especially at such a young age. Embodying a much older demeanor and onstage command, Taz has already proven worthy of the title, Chosen One.
Having seen Brandon “Taz” Niederuer numerous times now; sitting in with bands like: The Marcus King Band, Widespread Panic, Spafford, The String Cheese Incident and well…just about every band in the scene, I was completely mind-blown seeing him live in Roanoke, Virginia with his own band. This band featured great musicianship including, Matt Godfrey, whom I met on Jam Cruise this past January and we enjoyed a few shows together. Matt is not only an astounding guitarist but he is also a guitar teacher and the man behind many of the young guitarist out there today. I didn’t know what to expect from this band but they truly bring an amazingly profound experience to the stage; something that seems rare nowadays. Shredding their way through originals and covers alike, I haven’t been this impressed with a band since seeing, The Marcus King Band for the first time, two years ago. While I keep comparing this band to MKB, they sound nothing alike, except for having a phenomenal guitarist at center stage. Taz and Friends are original, highly talented and that’s only the beginning.
Five Points Music Sanctuary was packed to the brim with patrons for this show. I have been quite lucky to see so many amazing shows here in Roanoke, Virginia. Every time I return, I see a show that tops the next but this may be the best I have ever witnessed in the Sanctuary. History was surely made that night. Many teenage girls littered the front row, all waiting, for Taz who is a complete Rock Star at this point. A 16-year-old with a huge blond Afro led the opening band; Taz would jam with him onstage for the Neil Young classic, “Cortez The Killer”, which went on for a little too long. It seemed as though, Taz was holding back a little before his performance. While the local show proved fun, I was still anticipating what Taz would do with his own material.
When the band took the stage, there was an immediate change in energy level and overall excitement in the Sanctuary. This band takes things to another level and I was extremely impressed with Taz’s vocals and original songs. Having never heard Taz sing, in person, this was most surprising; his voice is both soulful and clean. The songs themselves sound mature and focused. I had just listened to Taz’s episode of Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast and learned so much about him. For his age, then 15, now 16, Taz is beyond his years, not only as a guitarist but also as a person. It was great to hang with the band after the show and learn more about them as players and people. Taz and Friends, would cover: The Meters, “People Say”, The Grateful Dead’s “West LA Fade Away”, Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.” And at times, Taz would remind me of Prince. Many of his own songs were reminiscent of that sound, ie: R&B with a lot of soul. Taz is a musical phenom and all around powerhouse not only a guitar but vocally. This seal of approval comes with 5 stars and must see to believe label.
I don’t have anything negative to write about this experience at all. I honestly can’t believe that Taz isn’t selling out bigger venues or at least, headlining his own tour of shows. But then I remember that Taz is only 16 and is still in public school. The future for Taz is unstoppable but not yet defined. I could see Taz gearing more towards Popular music, possibly going for that platinum record which is easily attainable for him. As it stands today, Taz could be included or play in any number of studio sessions with Pop Stars, Hip-Hop Artist and a slew of other acts. Taz would no doubt blow the world away. Or perhaps he could take the true musicians road, practicing his chops, playing and writing all day, everyday. Earning fans one show at a time. Learning Jazz, cutting his teeth nightly, as he seems to do now. The future is in his hands and Taz seems to have some inspiring influences that surround him. I have great faith and belief in the music that pours out of Taz. I wish unsurpassed success for this young man for the rest of his days. May the Jam gods continue to bless you!
Five Points Music Sanctuary and Tyler Godsey, also seem to understand the importance of getting these, up and coming bands, before they blow up. This is one of many reasons I continued to see concerts at this venue and work with them as much, as I can. It was quite a treat to see this show here because I know Taz and friends, will be headlining festivals and even, Jam Cruise, in no time. I was more impressed than I ever thought I’d be. Here’s to many more shows with Taz and friends! Check out the Youtube video below!
Jam Band Purist
What's your favorite Dick's Picks?
JBP: Well, this question could be taken many different ways but I’m going to assume that you mean the collection of Live Grateful Dead albums; which is a great question. I would have to say, Dicks Pick 27 is usually my go to. Not only do they round through many classic but they even cover, The Who’s, “Baba o’ Riley.”
Do you ever get tired of it and just wanna throw it all in?
JBP: Everyday of my life! Specifically concerning my music writing? I always feel like, I am not doing enough or, not getting enough done but I continue to write and see shows. It’s hard writing when your not sure if anyone is even reading. I have taken a step back lately, playing more music and writing a little less. I have to remind myself that 1. I am on my own time schedule 2. Fuck what everyone else wants, thinks or, needs until I get paid. We shall see what the ebb and flow of life brings but music, will always remain the most important thing in my life and writing second.
What do you think of the Zappa hologram tour??
JBP: I have actually discussed this many times on my site and I will quote a few of those here.
“I will admit, I was taken aback and appalled by the holographic announcement but I have since warmed up to the idea after thinking about seeing some original members performing Zappa music; beyond the hologram, just the musical aspect. I have seen hundreds of arguments for and against this tour but after seeing a patent that Frank Zappa himself designed using some sort of optical illusion on stage, I'm willing to give it a shot and if the old band members are in then why not? I will go check it out once and I will give my honest opinion. I will be the first to tell you like it is, if this tour is an abomination, I promise, I will tell you. If I am blown away, I will also tell you. I hold Frank Zappa’s music up to the highest integrity and so I would cover this event with the upmost honesty and truthfulness.”
Best Phish show you've seen? Worst? Favorite song covered by Phish?
JBP: Great question. I am partial to the Merriweather 2014 “Tweezerfest.” I remember looking at my friend and pulling at my hair like a mad man saying, “holy shit. How are they doing this! ” Night 1 at Hampton this last year was phenomenal as well. As for worst, this past summers, Merriweather Night 1 was almost unbearable, I could hear the crowd groaning, as they continued one of the slowest sets I’ve ever heard.
What do you think about the ‘Colorado Big Game Trophy Wook hunters and all the similar groups? I feel as though it is ruining this free spirit mentality associated with this scene regardless of how funny some people act. Do you think this is having any effect on the scene itself? I personally watch how I act to avoid getting bagged and tagged even though I do not have dreads. This subconscious thought sometimes can’t distract from the show and experience, your thoughts?
JBP: I don’t have too many thoughts about this actually. If others are having fun playing the game and no one is getting hurt, go for it. I can recall laughing at a few posts I have seen on social media in the past. I guess, it’s up to the person but you should always ask permission before taking a picture of someone else and then posting it online. Don’t ruin my show and I won’t ruin yours. The golden rule. Beyond that I don’t care what anyone does. Be yourself and have fun always.
Interview with Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon
This year has already been filled with so many musical experiences that I am having a hard time keeping up! Having seen Leftover Salmon numerous times this past year and on Jam Cruise at the beginning of this year, I had the privilege to talk with banjo extraordinaire, Andy Thorn about their upcoming tour: Floydfest, King and Strings, Roosterwalk, Jam Cruise, Boogie at the Broadmoor and so much more.
Check out the full interview below and make sure to catch Leftover Salmon on their upcoming tour! This interview will also be on the first episode of my brand new podcast coming soon! This has been an exciting journey and I look forward to what the future may bring. Thank you all.
JBP: How is the tour going so far?
AT: It’s going great, we’re having a blast. I have a broken leg so, I’m on crutches. That’s the only bummer. Ya know? What are ya gonna do?
JBP: I think I saw that on social media but wasn’t sure if it was something that you were still going through. Are you still able to play?
AT: Yea, I’m not in pain or anything which is great, it’s coming around. I broke my leg on December 20th and I had a gig with Keller Williams that night. I actually made the gig. I had surgery on the night of December 20th and woke up feeling, not so bad. I had an IV of painkillers in my arm at the time so, I did that gig and then I had to skip my Christmas plans to go to North Carolina to play with my old friends, Mandolin Orange and Jon Stickley and all of them. I did end up making the Leftover Salmon New Year’s tour and I did that, another gig with Larry Keel and by the time that was all done, I was in some severe pain. I was just playing the gigs and going to bed afterwards but when the painkillers wore off, I was not doing great.
JBP: So that’s why you weren’t able to attend Jam Cruise?
AT: I had to pull out of Jam Cruise last minute so, the guys, I mean hopefully they had so many amazing people they work with through the years. Matt Flinner is actually known as a mandolin player, is also an incredible banjo player and he has filled in with the band every time they’ve needed someone. So, he knew most of the songs. I’m sure he did a great job.
JBP: I can personally vouch that it was awesome. Brandon “Taz” Niederauer sat in with them for the first set and I literally had tears in my eyes.
AT: Nice, Jon Stickley is one of my best friends since childhood and I know they got to sit-in with him during that set, as well. We grew up playing together. So yea, I was really bummed.
JBP: You joined the band in 2010, what brought you to Leftover and how has that experience helped shape you as a musician?
AT: I actually heard about Leftover Salmon back in North Carolina. So I was a fan before ever joining and I even remember at 14 or 15, I saw Leftover live and they blew me away because they were so much fun. I bought their live record at the show and I remember listening to that shit all the time. I saw them at the Cat's Cradle, I saw them at Ziggys and then by that time, I got into college and I was a music major. I stopped going to so many shows and I had my own band. I ended up gig-less until 2008 when I joined the Emmitt-Nershi Band so, that’s how I got in touch with the band and it just happened naturally because I loved the band and I already knew all the music.
JBP: So you’ve been playing with Leftover for almost 10 years now?
AT: Yeah it’s been quite a while, still having fun. I love it. I love these guys, it’s awesome.
JBP: Are you currently doing any side projects or anything like that?
AT: I am. I have a new solo record coming out. I am actually finishing up right now, as we speak. So, that’s really exciting. That’s me and all my North Carolina friends: Jon Stickley and it’s got the folks from Mandolin Orange, they’re really good friends of mine and then Bob Britt, the fiddle player from Town Mountain. So, I have all those guys and the bass player from Big Fat Gap, Miles Andrews. So, really excited about that.
JBP: Are you still located in North Carolina?
AT: No, I’m in Boulder now. I’ve been out here in Boulder for 10 years. I miss my North Carolina friends but I love this Colorado lifestyle. Which led to me breaking my leg.
JBP: Yeah, how did that happen?
AT: Skiing. I broke my tibia and I had to have surgery. Now, I have a metal rod in my leg. It takes a long time to heal, man.
JBP: So was it worth it? Are you going to get back out there and do it again?
AT: Yeah I mean, I love skiing. I’ll be out there. I’ll get out there the second I can.
JBP: So you guys will be playing FloydFest again this year?
AT: Yeah, that’s one of our favorites. I love it. I remember my scoutmaster had been telling me about the Floyd General store and their musical jam forever. He always wanted me to go up there with him and jam. I finally got up there a couple of years ago and it’s just amazing. We’ve been doing FloydFest for a long time and it’s really fun because I usually fly home to Durham and then I go up there with my family and we just have such a great weekend. It’s a great family atmosphere or a partying atmosphere. Anyone could just have a good time there.
JBP: I completely agree. I went to FloydFest for the first time this past year and saw you guys play with numerous special guest and sit-ins during the Buffalo Mountain Jam.
AT: Yeah the way that this Buffalo Mountain jam naturally happen, the first year, you know, Greg Allman had to cancel because his health was getting bad and they asked us to put together a set with Keller Williams and there you go. So, we ended up pulling all the guests and it became this Buffalo Mountain Jam and now we do it every year and it’s really really fun.
JBP: It has truly become a staple of FloydFest and I look forward to what you guys do this year. You play with a lot of up-and-coming artists. Who are some of your favorites that you have shared the stage with?
AT: Oh man, there are so many. Obviously, Jon Stickley Trio, I mean he is one of my best buddies. I love their stuff. I love Mandolin Orange and I really dig, Billy Strings, whenever he sits in with us, it’s pretty incredible.
JBP: Oh yea man! Billy Strings is crushing it right now. I’ve seen him numerous times.
AT: Yeah and some of the ladies are killing it like, Della Mae are really incredible. I love seeing the ladies play some bluegrass. It’s killer. There’s not enough female representation in this genre. Who else do I love? And then I really like a lot of the indie folk stuff that’s not as bluegrassy and that has been fun to get into.
JBP: Yes, there is all kinds of music to see at some of the festivals you play from bluegrass to Pop-Rock acts like, Greta Van Fleet at FloydFest this past year.
AT: Yeah that was my first time seeing them and it was kind of crazy.
JBP: Wild to say the least. The vote is still out for me. Billy Strings and Marcus King are two of my favorites right now.
AT: Oh man, King and Strings? Did you go to Roosterwalk last year?
JBP: I did and it was a fun time. It was my second year covering that festival.
AT: One of my best friends from college, Johnny Buck runs that festival. We actually used to write songs together. We wrote a song “All That I Can Think” in college that the String Dusters still cover today. I wish Leftover could do FloydFest and Roosterwalk but the competing radius clause does not allow it but I know Johnny has done a great job with Roosterwalk.
JBP:It certainly gets bigger and better every year. This King and Strings thing is really something to see, they are both powerful forces in the future of this music industry. What are some of your favorite places to play besides the ones we previously discussed?
AT: It’s all about the festivals like, Telluride Bluegrass that’s one of the best. I actually get to play a gig up there this year with my band from college, Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band and that's Anders from Greensky, Travis Wolf from The Infamous Stringdusters, Jon Stickley and then me and our friend Robin on mandolin. So, we’ve added Telluride this year that’s a pretty cool project. A lot of these Colorado festivals especially, the small ones are so much fun. Like Yarmony Grass and then just some of the clubs that we play are also fun. Like tonight, we are playing the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Owensboro, Kentucky. I haven’t even been inside yet. I’m about to go check all the music stuff out. We play such a wide range of theaters. We’ll play a rock club one night and then an amazing theater the next. Like the Ryman Auditorium and all these different festivals, it keeps it fresh and fun you know?
JBP: That’s what keeps you going even when you have a broken leg.
AT: Yes, precisely. This fried chicken is going to keep me going tomorrow in Memphis, that’s all I know.
JBP: Tell me about Boogie at the Broadmoor? You’ll be playing with artist like Lukas Nelson and Sam Bush?
AT: Yeah, Lucas has been winning awards left and right for being a part of that movie, “A Star Is Born.” We got to know him on Maui and he is the nicest guy. So, he agreed to do this. I’m sure it would be a lot more expensive to book him now but he is a super cool dude and we always collaborate. So, that’s pretty cool. We have the nitty-gritty dirt band which is, I mean, when I was growing up my mom was playing it all the time so, I know all their songs. That’s going to be really fun. We have a String Dusters side project featuring, Sam Bush, “Bluegrass Generals” that’s going to be pretty out of this world, and then some great local bands. Sam Bush will be there all weekend too.
JBP: And that takes place in Colorado Springs?
AT: It’s at this amazing venue the Broadmoor. It has over 100 years of history. Like, Al Capone used to hang out there and shit. It’s a pretty unreal place. We used to do it at the Stanley Hotel which is famous for “The
Shining” and we sort of grew out of it and needed a bigger place to do the gig. So we are going to give the Broadmoor a shot. It’s going to be really cool.
JBP: Well, that sounds like a wonderful weekend of music, I don’t wanna keep you from exploring the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Thanks for talking with us and I will come say, “Hey” at FloydFest.
AT: For sure man, come say, “Hey.” I hope I didn’t talk too fast, I just drank horchatas at lunch.
Jam Cruise 2019 (The Ultimate Jam Experience)
It’s been one month since my first Jam Cruise and I honestly don’t knew where to begin with this review. Jam Cruise is indescribable and something that has taken sometime to think about. If you go to Jam Cruise and don’t come back changed, then you didn’t do it right! The entire experience is something that can only be topped by pre-booking and doing it all again in 2020. Seeing so much music; 6 days filled with so many bands that it will make your head spin and not to mention, all the collaborations and sit-ins, it’s hard to remember all or write about them here. I guess, I will break them down in different categories and not worry about which day they played. Bare with me, this one is going to get wild!
Miami, Embarkation and Ports
I began my adventure with a few days in Miami. Having never spent anytime there, it was interesting to see the Latin culture that thrives like a bustling, forgotten Spanish city. The people are flashy and money culture is everywhere. I saw more Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s then I have ever dreamed of seeing or wish to see again. The food was unique and the beach was packed with the most beautiful people imaginable. I was excited and nervous to arrive at the Miami Port to embark on the Norwegian Jade. While I didn’t take any illegal or illicit drugs on board the boat, my butt was still puckered like a week old grape, as we all lined up while a dog sniffed our belongings and our person. From there, I explored the boat and got settled. This was my first cruise and I had no expectations. I would spend the next 6 days in music heaven, eating like a king and rubbing elbows with some of my favorite musical artists.
Porting in Belize, Cozumel and Progresso; Belize would be where my real adventure happened. My friends and I decided to take a tour to the Mayan Ruins of Altun-Ha, which was about an hour and thirty minutes away. We barely made it on time to explore these ruins, driving through Belize City and outskirts; learning about the local chickens and bread stores, tasting the local dishes and getting just a small taste for this English speaking Creole country. Cozumel and Progresso both had their charms but with only 8 hours at each port, it was hard to explore much.
All of the music onboard Jam Cruise was insatiable. There was not one band on this lineup that did not impress or entertain. While the new effervescent band Kraungbin, was probably the least exciting performance I saw, they were still technically proficient and after listening back, have a unique sound that just doesn’t do much for me live. Getting that out of the way, all the other performances left me mind blown and some without a mind to be blown. The music would begin with Matador Sounds, with members from The New Mastersounds funkin’ up the boat from the very beginning. For this performance, I found myself walking around every position and angle onboard, checking out each deck, finding new spots to hear the music while, watching the oceans waves crest and peak. I really enjoyed seeing the shows on the deck the most and we were blessed with great weather the entire weekend. There would only be one day that I could really feel the boat rocking and swaying. I would have to compensate walking back and forth, as not to stumble or fall down and I wasn’t even drinking.
Best On The Boat!
I had only vaguely heard of “Sweet Dick” Andy Frasco and his World Saving Podcast before getting on the boat and boy, was I in for one of the wildest experiences of my life. I have never witnessed such an orgy of musicians and wild onstage antics. Andy Frasco may just be the GG Allen of the Jam scene. My first time seeing Frasco on the boat, I was awe struck, jaw to the floor as he crowd surfed across the crowd all the way to the soundboard and back. A Jewish Dionysus who would talk about and ingest numerous substances while onstage, and have the crowd join in. I look forward to seeing Andy Frasco and The UN in Roanoke, Va on March 16th and checking out his new album “Change Of Pace” out now.
Both Kamasi Washington’s sets we’re technically and musically extraordinary. Kamasi is the closest thing we will ever see to legends like, Coltrane of Miles Davis. Kamasi seems to embody their spirit while taking jazz and these sounds to another level, a higher elevated plane. I sat across the table from him while I ate my food. I was much too intimidated to say anything of worth. He sat, stern and emotionless like a mountain. He holds his hands out in front of him, clasping his cane. He looked rough and mean but not a second later, a lady pushing a stroller with a baby comes by and Kamasi’s face lights up as he discuss how cute the baby is with everyone around him, smiling widely. I get up enough nerve then to say, “Great set Kamasi.” He responds with a deep nod.
Jam Cruise Most Valuable Performers:
This is a hard one but I would have to say DeShawn “Dvibes” Alexander followed closely by Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. DeShawn seemed to sit in with everyone on the boat this year and must have been hustling to show up in so many sets. During Andy Frasco’s second set, Dvibes would be lifted into the air, doing a handstand while playing a keyboard solo. This was definitely the most impressive feat on the boat. I think Dvibes should host his own jam on the boat next year as he is already playing with everyone anyway.
Brandon “Taz” Niederauer the 15-year-old guitar sensation, was also everywhere and at one moment while he sat in with Leftover salmon, I cried for the 3rd time at a concert in my life. The cool thing about jam Cruise is that I got to share that with him right after. Taz would sit in with almost everybody on the boat but the most memorable moments were with Spafford, Galactic and the Super Jam. The future of this music and guitar is in great hands. I just saw Taz tonight at 5 Points sanctuary in Roanoke Virginia with his very own band and was blown away! Perhaps Jam Cruise should book his entire band so, we can see what he does on his own.
It’s hard for me to really delve deep into all the amazing music and sit in performances on Jam Cruise 17 but some other stand out performances were from: Turquaz, Galactic, Hot Tuna, Everyone Orchestra, Skerik, The Cleaners featuring Marcus King, Everyone Orchestra, Nth Power played bob Marley, Space Kitchen was most impressive featuring, Marc Brownstein, Danny Mayer and many sit-ins from musicians like, Eric Krasno and Karl Denson. Melvin seals and JGB, Jennifer Hartwicks super jam was absolutely fabulous. Some of the cool experiences that I can share is coming across Melvin Seals talking with some friends about Jerry Garcia and actually being a fly on the wall while he discussed Jerry’s life and habits. Talking with Stanton Moore about New Orleans and my dream of living there one day. Walking around with Dvibes meeting everyone from DJ Williams to Andy Frasco himself. Talking with George Porter Jr and Vince Herman on various occasions. All the staff on board from Veneer our room steward to “washy-washy” made this experience that much better. It would be remiss for me not to at least mention or discuss the numerous accounts of people being jailed of put on house arrest. I personally don’t know any of the circumstances surrounding anyone involved. I did hear that the number of people that got in trouble was higher than usual. All I can say to that is, it’s international travel; be safe, be smart and leave the stuff at home or on an island.
Jam Cruise is a once in a lifetime opportunity, the ultimate Jam experience and musical improv “experience “ The cultivation of the scene and the people surrounding it culminates here and I feel more at home than ever on that boat. It’s taken me quite sometime to get my thoughts focused and delve into my favorites. I will definitely be returning next year to Jam Cruise 18 lineup unseen, because it truly doesn’t get any better than 6 days of music on the open ocean.
See you on the boat,
Jam Cruise Purist
New Year, New Life, New Orleans-(Thoughts on Galactic and more)
As I sauntered down Treme, reminiscing on the last time I had been to this city. While at the same time, dreaming of the past. Envisoning New Orleans in the 1800s. This city can feel like a ghost of your own past, a ghoul of memories, a haunt of time. Zombies or regular people, I can’t tell which, go about their daily tasks. Tourists careen the streets with their gawking expressions. Am I one of those? I don’t feel like a stranger here. I feel at home, an old home. I’ve been here before, in another life, in other lives. I returned to New Orleans only two months after my first visit (in this life.) Having heard Galactic had acquired Tipitina’s, I thought it only suiting to return to see them once again at the world famous venue. My thoughts have been consumed with New Orleans; I dream of it; fleur-de-lis as my eyeballs, penetrating my mind. I would see this symbol, adopted by the entire city, everywhere. Just seeing the fleur-de-lis will instantly remind you of New Orleans the birth place of Jazz but wait, just Jazz? No, I think not. All American music can trace its roots to New Orleans or at the very least, the southern area surrounding it. (Bluegrass may be the only exclusion but their instruments are obviously inspired by African culture ie. the banjo much like New Orleans music.) There is no other city in the entire world I would rather spend my New Years than The Big Easy, NOLA, The Crescent City. Shirts with “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck”, plaster the shops off the streets with tourist traps tempting you with cheap objects. Everyone has a game in New Orleans. Are you willing to play? It’s always better to just have your own game. Cafe Du Monde can still be found coursing through my veins like some leftover virus that beckons for more.
Heading down Tchoupitoulas towards Tipitinas, I found an awesome parking spot right in front of a church with a neon glowing sign; a neon church of Jesus. I came to see Kermit Ruffins, expecting to hear some classic New Orleans songs done in a slurred authentic fashion. The house was packed, sweaty and humid for January. Kermit was obviously having himself a great time, drinking a few and letting other players take the lead. Many of the songs on the set list can be heard on the HBO series Treme like “My Ohh Poo Pah Doo”or “Iko Iko.” Getting to hear Professor Longhairs infamous song, “Tipitina” at Tipitina’s was truly something wondrous as I delve further into New Orleans history and Soul of American music. It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!
I would sample many of the taste of New Orleans throughout my visit: Crawfish everything, etouffee, gumbo and, of course, Po boys. If you can fry it, you can get it in NOLA. I chugged my Cafe Du Monde while casting my gaze upon the foggy Mississippi River, imagining the history it must have seen; the people, the lives, the times. The Mississippi is the background music to the city itself, the mouth of America open for all to hear.
Returning to Tipitina’s for Galactic on New Years Eve, I already felt at home and comfortable with my surroundings. I parked beside the neon Jesus church and talked wildly singing, “Tipitina tra la la” at the top of my lungs until I reached the entrance. Everyone was dressed in their best clothes, looking colorful and eclectic in the New Orleans style. The opening act, Mr. Washington was true blues, polished and refined. His red jacket shone like Dorothy’s slippers as she clicked them together. Mr. Washington would round through numerous blues infused songs and bring out a few unknown guests.
Galactic would come on like a jet plane. My position in the crowd happened to be right in front of the PA speakers; my ears were foolishly unprotected and by the end of the night, my head felt like a bowl of jelly, but in the best way possible. I think I can still here the hum of the PA in my head now, as clear as those horns blaring from the boats on the Missippipi. Galactic was dressed to the nines in black and gold suits. Erica Falls beautiful dress was the disco ball of the evening and her voice shown even brighter than her outfit. Bringing out numerous guests, the original lineup was present and the slew of VIP on the side stage made me wonder who was who? Having just bought Tipitina’s, I felt as though this was a truly special show for Galactic and New Orleans as Tipitina’s gets another shot at redemption. We careened out into the streets after the show was finished; smoke em’ if you got em’, drink when you can. I found my way back to the electric Jesus and back down Tchop, swaddled with thoughts of musical bliss.
I wasn’t done with New Orleans yet and Frenchman street was filled with music that would pour out into the streets like a flood of sound. I could spend the rest of my days on Frenchman and feel satisfied musically and that’s saying a lot. The raw energy, the explosiveness of the music and the wildness of the city, all converge on Frenchman. Juxtaposing Frenchman with Bourbon is like comparing Time Square to The Village. Why even bother with the crowds and the fools? Just head down Frenchman and find yourself in numerous venues with great local talent. In just one night, I saw I 6 bands for free, some not my style but all talented. Frenchman is where names are made and dues are paid. Many of the bands would run out into the streets with their horns bringing in new patrons and always carrying their tip bucket. It’s the way of life in New Orleans, the art of the hustle.
New Orleans feels like home to me. As I write this in Virginia, I am still engulfed with visions and sounds of the city. I will be returning for Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest and perhaps, I may never return and why should I? In my upcoming Jam Cruise review, I will discuss talking with a few members of Galactic about moving here and maybe one day, I will make it happen! Here is to a New Years in New Orleans; A new me, a new dawn, a new horizon, a new dream, a new opportunity, a new life, a new life in an old city.
New Orleans Purist
Jeff Austin Band with Jon Stickley Trio At 5 Points (Up In The Church Where They Do The Boogie)
The final review of 2018 is back home at 5 Points Music Sanctuary in Roanoke Virginia. It’s has been many months since, I made it back down to 5 Points Music Sanctuary and my travels have taken me all over the country. It feels good to be back in a place that truly feels like my home venue. The sanctuary always has a welcoming presence and Roanoke, Virginia is one of the most laid back cities in the country.
Jon Stickley was in fine form this evening, having just seen the trio not too long ago, it was nice to see them trying new songs and changing their style. The more I see, JST, the more I am impressed with Lyndsay and in particular, the song “Price Of Being Nice”, which is reminiscent of dance music with a bluegrass twist. The rousing performance had me excited for Jeff Austin and his band. Having left Yonder Mountain many years back, Jeff has taken his own trajectory and I can honestly say, puts on a much more riveting performance than anything YMSB has been doing as of late. Jeff Austin would tune his mandolin around Tyler Godsey while he spoke about the great things that 5 points is doing for the local community.
“Static State Of Mind” stood out to me as one of the best performances of the evening. Psychedelic-Jam-Grass there is no stopping these guys as they continued shredding all night. Jon Stickley and Lyndsay would join Jeff Austin and his band on stage for two songs; one would feature Jon on vocals. I don’t know why he doesn’t sing more? The second, a John Hartford, song “Up On the Hill Where They Do The Boogie.”
This was honestly one of the best nights of music I have ever witnessed at 5 points. I will be doing some more with 5 points in the future so look out for more reviews from this fantastic venue. Back to our regularly scheduled programs! We have many reviews and shows coming up.
Happy New Year! Bringing in the new year with Galactic at Tipitinas in the best city in the world! 🎉🎶🍌
Dr. John "Walk On Guilded Splinters" at Fat Tuesday's - Fairfax with Garst & Company. Thanks to Ashleigh Chevalier for hosting.
Jon Stickley Trio At Clementines
I have always been impressed with the Jon Stickley Trio from first seeing them at Rooster Walk, two years ago. Playing in my home town, I had to make the show and headed downtown Harrisonburg to Clementines. While the house wasn’t packed, many of the local musicians showed up for the show. The Trios sounds varies from Hard Rock, Folk and Bluegrass to even Surf-type music. A single concertgoer flailed, back and forth, on the dance floor like some earthen, stringless marionette. Clementines is a small bar venue but has some great ambiance with artistic surroundings and a trio with no bass, this band definitely brings a lot of sound.
Jon Stickley Trio uses erupting climaxes and soft landings that lead into Celtic influences that are undeniable. Jenny oozes a Celtic aura that is irresistible while, Jon takes his guitar sounds on the razors edge; beyond what Folk-Celtic music can be. An evolution of this music is taking place and I think, Jon Stickley Trio is at the center of one of these evolving, shifting musical breakers. Check them out on tour near you!
The Marcus King Band laying it down in Charlottesville, Virginia at The Jefferson at The Jefferson Theatre this past week. No full review for this show. We are hoping to cover MKB soon!
Thanks to all of you for your continued support and readership! We have reached 10,000 views this month and its all thanks to you! More Reviews, Interviews and Concert Photos to come. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Dweezil Zappa Welcomes “Nacho De Pepe” At The Beacon Theatre, Hopewell VA
I have been waiting for quite some time to see Dweezil Zappa again. Many of you may not be aware of the family dispute that has seemingly died down. I had somehow found myself involved in this fiasco by writing a review about the upcoming Zappa Hologram Tour. Here, https://www.jambandpurist.com/home/holographic-zappa-the-continuing-saga-of-zappa-vs-zappa I stated my opinion about the upcoming tour and that I had heard, Dweezil, did not get along with some of the members from Zappa’s past bands. Little I did I know that Dweezil was reading my stuff and he personally messaged me via Twitter stating,
“I've got no problem with former members. Unfortunately, I am unable to discuss on Twitter due to current legal discovery rules so I'll leave it at that. You're welcome to reach out for a formal interview.”
I then tried to reach out for an interview on numerous occasions and got no response. Anyway, here at www.jambandpurist.com we tell the truth and the truth is, we absolutely love Dweezil Zappa and everything he does! There is absolutely nothing that could keep me from enjoying Dweezil’s extraordinary guitar work. We only want the best from the remaining Zappa’s and that being said, it looks like the family is trying to work things out. After many updates concerning the lawsuit, Dweezil has seemingly decided to quiet down and didn’t say anything about this at all, sticking to the music. Perhaps, Dweezil, will make an appearance on the hologram tour? I don’t know what will happen but I look forward to the future of the Zappa family. I guess this is also a good time to talk about the recent Bizarre World of Frank Zappa tour reveal from the ZFT. While I have my reservations especially the hologram aspect (see miniature Dio) I will still go see the closest show I can and review it. I look forward to seeing some of the special guests and Zappa band mates having only seen Dweezil and his crew.
With that out of the way, I returned to the Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, Virginia to witness Dweezil and his band play some of the most impossible live music. Hopewell, Virginia is quiet and rural, in juxtaposition to Richmond and the surrounding area. It feels, as though, many people do not even know there is a music venue here. The Beacon Theatre is one of the coolest and cleanest venues in the state. It’s basically a sleeper venue and I think that’s the way the locals like it. The crowd for the show was filled with older Zappa fans who seemed to be reliving the glory days as I long for things I’ll never see.
Opening with, “Andy”, vocalist and multi instrumentalist, Adam Minkoff, was the newest addition to the stage. While it took a few songs to warm up to his style, by the end the first few songs the crowd was impressed and happy to see someone play strange, chaotic synth music before their very eyes. The set list would go on with “Honey Don’t You Want A Man Like Me” and “Fifty-Fifty” both staple Zappa songs within his conceptual continuity.
Possibly my favorite song of the evening was, “Call Any Vegetable”, which was perfectly completed. I haven’t heard a live version like this one; filled with intricate and challenging changes and musical structures. Dweezil and his band do an amazing job of reliving this experience. “Tell Me You Love Me“ was raw and fast. “Absolutely Free” was very interesting live. “Discorporate” like some psychedelic, musical time machine. The next song finds its origins in the name of a stuffed elephant that Moon Unit once had “T’mershi Duween.” (polka version) “Dog Breath Variations” and the subsequent sequence around it, would remind me very much of Eddy and Flo doing their thing onstage. Adam playing keyboard, percussion and guitar while Sheila is always on point with her sax. “Sleep Dirt” was done in an electric-style; Adam taking some lead guitar on this song. I can see why he was chosen for this job. In fact, every member of Dweezil’s band are always phenomenal, that’s why they are up there onstage playing some of the hardest compositions known to man.
“Black Page #1 & #2” came next and I am not sure if these have ever been played live together? Dweezil would show off his Custom Gibson SG guitar with the top 3 strings being fretless for “Torture Never Stops.” The eerie sound of the sliding reminding me of some torture device itself but in the best way possible. “Valley Girl” was unexpected “like for sure, for sure.” Sheila could be seen taking selfies with the band while playing the part of a basic LA girl. I just love “Pygmy Twylite.” Play it fast, slow or, anyway you want, just give it to me. James Santiago, Sheila’s husband would sit-it on guitar and battle Dweezil, going back and forth until the cacophony concluded in a robust crescendo. James was an unknown sit-in performance that was wild and chaotic but with a palpable energy. “Susie Cream Cheese” and “Cocaine Decisions” would see Dweezil adding strange drum patterns and breakdowns, messing with the singers; calling these changes out with his hands. We would later find out it was the theme to “Psycho” as he made the band do this several times more during the show.
“Drowning Witch” has to be one of the hardest songs to perform and with the ritual sacrifice; we all know the how this story ends. “Florentine Pogan” would be played in double-time, which is off putting but one way to skip over 5 minutes and squeeze in another song. “Yellow Snow” was short and went straight into “Uncle Remus” the crowd favorite. “This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Fish Sandwich” but not, Hopewell Virginia. “Keep It Greasy” and ”Joe’s Garage” would end the show but the band would return to rip our flesh once more. Beginning with Adam Minkoff And The Pink Ones, a high pitched doo-wop sound that had Dweezil laughing onstage, this would lead into, “Cheapness”, “Son of Orange County”, (“Two Nickels To Paradise” tease) and “Trouble Everyday.” (“Staying Alive” tease) This all goes out to Nacho de Pepe! I look forward to seeing Dweezil again and I even look forward to seeing the Bizarre World Of Zappa Tour because I just love Zappa that much! Stay Weird!
I will be doing an ask the editor section on www.jambandpurist.com here readers can ask me anything they want and I will respond with my honest opinion. I do this in hopes of not only, letting the readers know more about me but me know more of what the readers like. Feel free to send your questions go email@example.com or go to the website to submit questions. Looking forward to hearing from all of you.
Phish Fall Tour 2018 (Hampton Stays Alive)
Phish can be elusive, evasive and, even hard to catch but when they come anywhere in Virginia, you know the Phish Purist will be there. While I have only witnessed the Mothership take off for three nights in 2013, it was high time the boys returned to keep Hampton alive!
Phish began another Hampton run with “Strawberry Letter 23”, with very little stopping between “Blaze On”; Trey finally letting the guitar take a solo. “Blaze On” is always a welcome song from an album that I don’t find many songs that I truly like but live, they bring something new to each track. Phish would go far out into space after “Blaze On” they transitioned smoothly into, “Divided Sky” which was one for the ages and the crowd would light up the arena with lighters and more phone lights than I expected; technology in the smoking department evident. “Divided Sky” would continue full force with no holding back on this ending; Page bringing it on the keys. “Roggae” while slow, is still filled with improvisation, great transitions, build-ups, twist and, turns. “Sparkle” and “Undermind” were straightforward until the jamming out of “Undermind” into something new; Kurodo somehow using the lights to eat the band. “Meat“ seamlessly fits into this set list and “Rift” was off the charts with energy and exuberance. “Walk Away” ended one of the best first sets, I have heard from this band in quite sometime.
Opening the second set with my favorite Phish song, “Carini” I was too in rapture to comment on much of it. Let’s just say, it’s always my pleasure to witness this insane musical rollercoaster. “Carini” is truly a jam vehicle, trippy and psychedelic. “Sand” seemed to sift, in and out of melodic and dynamic statements. “Sand” was immaculate and “Golden Age” went far out into a nether jam. The Mothership exploded into the sky after “Golden Age” with one of the most impressive and eerie jams I have ever seen Phish perform. They would smoothly transition into “Twist” and “Mountains In The Mist” was one I was unfamiliar with. All of Hampton Coliseum rejoiced during “Meatstick.” “Split Open And Melt” became chaotic yet formulated, diving and distorting into the encore “The Lizards.” The trick was to surrender to the flow, always and forever. Looking ahead to night two, I could see some real jamming the likes of which will only be mentioned about in the Good Book! Trey would point over to my friend and me after the show and had someone deliver us personalized picks. Thanks Trey!
I was excited to get back into the venue and score a poster before finding a solid seat front and center. The sound up front on the rail is always great but the energy can sometimes be negative and very powerful. One woman, during the first nights performance, kept pushing and physically assaulting people who were, “in her face.” I personally prefer to have a great view of the light show and seat for my tuckus. During the pre-show, the crowd would do the wave all across the stadium, excited for the night to began, like a Major League Baseball game but with much less structure.
I had only hoped to hear a, “Funky Llama” one day, as Phish opened with this rare song to begin the evening. I’ve seen “Fuego” about 20 times and while it isn’t my favorite, there is always something to find appealing about it during a live performance. Phish would jam, “Fuego”, quietly transitioning into “Run Away Jim.” After this, the band would huddle up before beginning, “Bug.” This song is a bit slower but has some powerful lyrics. “Mound” picked things up significantly, I have only heard this song a few times live but this song should be played more often; it seems to allow for a lot of fluid and solid transition work. “Tela” is an intricate song but doesn’t get my blood pumping. “46 days” is always solid but this one immediately went into a jam, which was probably my favorite of the night. I could feel a “Fluffhead” coming on and the technical ability of that song alone is outstanding. The energy was through the roof, setting the Mothership off for a nice take off during the second set.
I sat wondering during set break if the Fab Four had blown their wad during the first set until, “First Tube” came out strong with an amazing build-up and crescendo into the much expected “Tweezer” which featured a long effervescent jam that was teetering on the edge of a heavy breakdown but instead slowly moved into “Dirt.” “Backwards Down The Number Line” was straightforward and “No Men In No Mans Land” had legs and was running for it. Two classics come next “Cavern” and “Gotta Jibbo.” “Oh Kee Pa Ceremony” transitioned straight into “Suzy Greenberg”, Page showing off during his solo. Lights flashing reminding me of the old boxing matches; flickering like tiny electric fireworks. Ending with a real tease and a groan heard round the Coliseum, the band would completely skip “Tweezer” and played some weak sauce ending. Oh well… onto night three.
“Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” leads the third and final night of another Phish Hampton run. The Mothership invites us all in early, as the weather was a bit chilly. The Coliseum was packed to the gills and patrons really had to vie for seats this night. Not leaving us wanting more, “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” was on point and had great beginning energy. “Skin It Back” was next and this has been the year of Little Feat for me. “Skin It Back” featured very few mistakes and a rousing climax. “Brian and Robert” was just slow, even if it had my name in it. Thank goodness it was short and totally redeemed by “Timber.” The lights again enveloping the band and rising up like the mast of a ship. “Simple” was wild, with a great transition into a short, “Mexican Cousin.” “Camel Walk” was funky and well done; Trey using hand motions to lead the band into an extensive jam. The funky “Camel Walk” was absolutely the best I’ve ever heard; tight and edgy. “Back On The Train” moved up and down into “Saw It Again” which was hard and dark. Phish really perfecting themselves and letting it all hang out like 90s jam but with more technique and experience.
“Waves” was an appropriate second set opener for being so close to the water. The song would go immediately into jam territory and encapsulated many of the darker moments of the evening. I don’t think I have ever heard “Rise/Come Together”, is it a sexual reference? “Light” was pretty straightforward, slow and methodical but it wasn’t about the song but the improv in between. Coming to a grinding halt they transferred into an alternative jam but then flopped into “The Line” which actually had some ass behind it; I still just don’t like the song. This is where the show seems to take a nosedive. “Wingsuit” was another slow tune that could be good but is this another sexually referenced song? Very theatrical and sounds a lot like Pink Floyd but with more notes. What really threw me for a loop was the “My Pet Cat” when we all thought it would be, “Martian Monster.” “My Pet Cat” was funky but not long enough. “What’s The Use?” What the use in this song? “Possum” was a great closer for the first set but Phish would return for some other song and then take a bow. Many of the patrons were on their way out when the band returned for “YEM” bringing out the trampolines and doing a vocal instrumental at the end.
There is just something about Hampton Coliseum and the history behind the venue itself. Not only has Phish made some historic runs but the Grateful Dead made it famous for changing their name back to The Warlocks after being banned, just to perform here. The sound in Hampton isn’t the best buts it’s loud and the entire venue shakes with intensity. Having an entire GA arena is much different and has its complications but for the most part, if you are nice, you can get anywhere in the venue. This run will be one for the ages and while it’s no, ‘Hampton Comes Alive’ the Coliseum certainly felt vibrant and full of life to me. Friday was by far the best day of the weekend although; Sundays first set was close on its heels. I am always impressed with what Phish can do when they are on and wonder why they can’t capture that every performance? There were times when it felt as though, they were ripping at the seams of time itself; using each other’s sound to tear a hole in our universe. There is something to say about a band that can melt time. Phish can be highly accessible as well, I saw many of the ushers and security people dancing and having a good time; I even witnessed the Hampton PD enjoying themselves and even though the Police aren’t my people, it was cool to witness all walks of life enjoying good music. It felt good to be back in saddle, back on the train and doing it all again with my great friends and Phamily. All my friends go backwards down the number line!
Galactic and Soul Rebels at Tipitina’s, New Orleans (The Heartbeat Of America)
There is something about New Orleans that has always captured my imagination: the history, the culture, the food, the Voodoo. I had yet to make the trek down South and decided it was about time I do so. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, Galactic, was playing at the famous, Tipitina’s, while I was there and the plans solidified. I had no clue what I was in for, from the vomit/ass smell of Bourbon Street to the beignets at Cafe Du Monde but in the end it’s all about Frenchman Street. I arrived in New Orleans after a long drive through the Deep South, stopping in Birmingham and a few other strange areas. Being in New Orleans is like stepping into some mythical land of beads bars. This is where America’s heartbeats. New Orleans is place beyond time and a place where you can feel the energy in every step you take. Every note, every tombstone every shuffle on the streets, seems to add the musicality of this city. You can feel New Orleans in the music and the culture.
Tipitina’s, seems as though, it hasn’t changed much since it’s opening. The logo, a giant hand holding a banana and the silhouette of Professor Longhair in the background, hangs high above the stage. I had to dig deep to find the history of Tipitina’s and the legend that surrounds it. I am not exactly sure which myth is true but I like to think there was a woman named, Tippy Tina, who sold fruit somewhere in the area. The opening act was vocally driven, with two lead female singers. This was a great warm up for Soul Rebels who came on like a category 5 hurricane. In fact, this entire performance was a Hurricane Michael fundraiser and was scheduled at the last minute. I had never seen Soul Rebels live and had a great time clapping and stomping in Tipitina’s to their high-energy, horn heavy, hip-hop funk.
My Air B&B was about 2 blocks from the venue so, I periodically took breaks from the great music to just relax and get my head right. I returned just as Galactic took the stage and was completely lost in this performance. While Galactic didn’t play a late set, it was filled with dynamic funk and guest vocalists. Showing their respects to New Orleans, they would play a fantastic set that was by far the best Galactic show I have ever seen.
This will certainly not be my last time in The Big Easy. I could definitely see myself living in New Orleans, seeing music every night and eating Creole food until my stomach pops. Frenchman Street was filled with amazing musicians and bands every night. Walking into a bar on Frenchman could mean seeing various Neville Brothers just hanging out, sitting in with various bands. The legacy of The Meters is still alive but I didn’t hear any true Voodoo music while I was there. Perhaps all music is laced with Voodoo in New Orleans. I truly hope to catch you all down in New Orleans!
Mad Wallace: 'Hook Line and Sinker' (Album Review)
I was up late one night recently, sifting through my emails and up popped an email from Mad Wallace. I have recently been receiving a lot of album submission for review but with limited time and festival season in full bloom, I hadn't been able to sort through them all. Reading this particular email made me excited and humbled. Fans of the site and looking for some more exposure, Mad Wallace reached out and caught my interest immediately. I had to get a review for their recent album ‘Hook Line And Sinker’ here at www.jambandpurist.com
While the music itself is super important, first impressions are everything and the album cover for 'Hook Line and Sinker' was not only intriguing but one of the coolest I have reviewed thus far. Album art and album cover art itself has gone to the wayside due to digital formatting but I still believe a good image can say a thousand words. Weird and somewhat unearthly, ‘Hook Line and Sinker’s cover art features a luminescent smiling face that can be seen eerily peering behind the hood of a figure, who is fishing by the banks of some unknown celestial water. This imagery coupled with the dynamic sounds within, make this album visual and aesthetically pleasing.
The entire album 'Hook Line and Sinker' was recorded live and sounds very fluid and conceptual adaptable. The sonic sound of this band is somewhere between Jam and Progressive. Jake Sabetta-Guitar/Vocals, Jake Lauer-Drums/Vocals, David Becker-Bass/Vocals and Jamie Rushford-guitar/vocals all bring their own unique style and point of view to this album; working together symbiotically to create something greater than any single member can bring. 'Hook Line and Sinker' never deviates from its intent and purpose, only during Mad Wallace’s appropriate cover of The Allman Brothers classic, “Midnight Rider” do things get heavier and darker. The recording quality of ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ is exceptional and highly developed; sounding full and well-mixed through my home stereo system.
“Waterfront” is a great way to set up this album. The mental picture of the album cover comes to mind and the music itself juxtaposes this image in your head. “Waterfront” lays out a great foundation for what's comes next in this album with smooth yet razor sharp, melodic transposition. “Clover” begins with some intricate guitar work that reminds me of Phish or, even Umphreys Mcgee and is probably my favorite song off of this album. It has the perfect amount of dark and light, sonic levels. The transitions and breakdowns are on point and highly thought out. There is some great scaling and transmogrify work within.
Mad Wallace’s version of “Midnight Rider” was unexpected and original. While I've heard this song covered thousands of times, I have never heard anything as heavy as this. Mad Wallace takes this original ABB classic and turns it in its head, adding elements of Hard and Progressive Rock. I always admire when I band takes chances and tries something new instead of going with a straightforward approach to a cover. Mad Wallace goes all out grunge making this song their own and creating something original.
“Hook”, “Line” and “Sinker” all seem to fit together, as one single composition rather than three individual songs. I really enjoyed these seemingly improvisational and Jam heavy tunes. I would love to have heard some lyrics and as a songwriter, even came up with some words in my head. Instrumental songs like these allow the listener to create their own universe at will and ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ as a whole album is a great beginning for Mad Wallace. I truly enjoyed these songs and see a lot of potential from this Denver based foursome. Mad Wallace will be delivering another studio album this fall and even some videos for fans to enjoy. Look for more of this band here and at http://www.madwallace.com/
In Remembrance of Turk Gaines: An Interview
It's with a heavy heart and thoughtful reflection, that I release this exclusive review with Turk Gaines of D.C. Funk band, Suga Grits. In a tragic turn of events, Turk unfortunately passed away before I could get this out and I want to extend my sincerest well wishes to Turks relatives and the Suga Grits family as a whole. I have decided to publish this review, as is, with the hopes that Turks words shine through and his love for music is clearly evident. I feel fortunate and blessed to have been in contact with Turk even for a short time. Thanks go out to Ragin' Randy for setting this interview up, I wish Turk were here today to read this. While the future of Suga Grits is up in the air, I want to also share their recent album release. Here is where I think Turks voice truly comes out.
Suga Grits sound is filled with Funk, Hip-Hop and Rock Elements, all meshing together to form some high-powered elastic jams. I have been digging these Street Funk volumes the past month and am glad that these recordings will always be available and the voice of Turk lives on within. https://sugagrits.bandcamp.com/album/street-funk-vol-2
Interview with Turk Gaines from Suga Grits:
JBP: Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this out. There are so many things happening in the music world! How and when, did you form Suga Grits and get that interesting name?
Turk Gaines: First, thank you for taking the time to interview me. I am humbled and inspired that you would like to get to know the guys and me. The name comes from an equation we consider to be: (1 part sweet) + (1 part Grit) = Funk. When we were deciding on a name, we were transitioning from another band so, it was easy to agree upon because we sound like the name itself. And we all like grits but some of us don’t like sugar in our grits.
JBP: Are you a native to the D.C. Area?
Turk Gaines: Yes, I am a D.C. native and I attended St. Gabriel’s Catholic school and Holy Comforter St. Cyprian (K-8), as well as, Duke Ellington School of the Arts. (9-12)
JBP: What kinds of music do you take influence from?
Turk Gaines: I am influenced by Funk, Jazz, Go-Go, House, World Beat, and Reggae. I listen to a lot of music. Music has always been an important part of my life. To be able to create something of importance that brings happiness has always been my attraction to music. My influences come from all music that moves me when I hear it, digest it and understand it. If I had to individualize my influences they would be George Duke, Stevie Wonder, J. Dilla, Robert Grasper, and of my band mates, just to name a few. We actually learn a lot from each other.
JBP: You seem to have a lot of Hip-Hop and R&B influence, how has this affected working with real musicians and instruments or how does it translate differently?
Turk Gaines: My Hip-Hop and R & B experience is actually one of my strongest suits. It hasn’t affected working with musicians in a negative way at all and it has actually made musicians gravitate towards me. It helps me become an anchor in the sound, as a whole.
JBP: Do you prefer to play live shows or work within a studio setting?
Turk Gaines: I prefer the stage however I have found a new love for recording. We have taken a rogue approach to completing our music and it’s helping us find our sound. It’s helping us learn how to communicate appropriately with producers and engineers so; we know what we want when we decide to work with other people. A lot of bands don’t take the time to find out who they are whether it’s onstage or in the studio but I love to perform live.
JBP: Is it a collective environment when writing new songs?
Turk Gaines: Some songs are collective and some are pseudo-collective. My chemistry with James and David is different than my chemistry with Dev and David. Different combinations within the band influence the writing itself. It’s amazing because our writing formulas are so varied we haven’t even discovered them all. So hold on to your seats because our song catalogue is going to be epic!
JBP: What are your plans for further endeavors? Taking over the world?
Turk Gaines: We are releasing a single every month this year. We are also releasing 4 videos at the end of summer and beginning of fall. 2 live videos, recorded properly and 2 produced videos, which we are stoked about. We are planning some incredible East Coast and Southern tour runs for winter and spring. We are also writing and recording constantly so… the future is busy.
JBP: What are your thoughts on this new mumble rap craze?
Turk Gaines: The mumble rap craze has its place; it doesn’t bother me because the youth are allowed to like what they want. My parents didn’t like what I listened too and their parents didn’t like what they listen too. If the people like it, leave them alone.
JBP: Wise words. Any crazy stories from touring or live shows?
Turk Gaines: We play a lot of shows but I can remember one night in VA, I will leave the venue anonymous, at the end of the show, there were 2 fights inside the venue and one in the parking lot. I guess we definitely brought “The Funk” that night. This interview could be one giant, “Turk tells all of his road stories” but we will leave that for a different interview.
JBP: Thank you so much for this interview and I wish Suga Grits all the best!
LOCKN’ Music Festival 2018 Review (Dead and Festival)
For the past six summers, I have spent my days counting down to the annual LOCKN’ music festival. This is where it all started for me and where my pursuit as a musical writer became realized. LOCKN’ is always a grand musical experience, filled with constant collaborations and sit-in performances from the Jam worlds biggest acts. This year's festival was one of the smoothest and well-run I have ever been too. After six years, LOCKN’ seems to be listening to its patrons and striving to make every year better than the last.
Thursday’s musical performances included: Umphreys McGee and Lettuce back, to back, to back. These LOCKN’ alumni brought the heat to an otherwise gorgeous evening but before we get to the headliners; The Firecracker Jam, opened up this year and I used them as background while I explored Infinity Downs and the new festival layout. What I did hear from, Firecracker Jam, was high powered and fun. Again, Erin and The Wildfire, cross JBP paths and I was even more impressed with Erin and her band this time around. Having just seen them at Floyd Fest this year, it was interesting to compare both performances. Each set was vivacious and full of magnificent vocal work from Erin Lunsford. If you haven't seen or heard of Erin And The Wildfire, do yourself a favor and check them out.
It was quite a night for Lettuce fans as they came out strong, like a powerhouse of Progressive-Funk-Jam. I stuck around for most of their set but had to skip out on UM and the utilization of the rotating stage. Because I live within an hour of Infinity Downs, I have been driving back-and-forth, sleeping in the comfort and luxury of my own home for the past few years. The ride through the Blue Ridge is peaceful and quiet, the perfect way to decompress after being surrounded by people and loud music. I was able to stream most of the sets that I missed from my phone while I drove home. Thanks to Relix for making that happen. I truly enjoyed Joe Russo's Almost Dead's performance before I passed out in my own bed.
I arrived at LOCKN’ on Friday, ready for a raging night of amazing music. Friday seemed to have the best band schedule of the weekend with collaborations galore and some amazing acts coming together, many for the very first time. This is also where I must remind readers that, “The opinions expressed on this site may differ from their own.” Just keep this in mind while continuing to read below. My 3rd, Ghost Light, show did not disappoint and it was possibly the best I've seen from this band; as they get tighter and better, every time I see them. I look for Ghost Light to continue touring and making more studio albums and new material available soon. If you have a chance to check out, Tom Hamilton and Holly Bowling, on stage together, don't miss out. Band Of Changes was an interesting mix of music with a cast of characters: Russo, Metzger, and Dreiwitz, with addition of some other players I was unfamiliar with. It was more Alt-Rock than Jam but still an interesting sound that brought the audience in early.
Turkuaz is up for one of the best sets of LOCKN’ 2018. I was so impressed with their entire performance and really enjoyed shaking my bones to their Post-Apocalyptic Electro-Funk. I have a hard time describing this band but I sure love their catalog of music. I know they must have been quite hot in those suits onstage. I chilled in the back for, Toots and the Maytals, which was fun, laid-back reggae. Taj Mahal would join the band onstage for a few songs, I think he was playing a ukulele and didn't add much to the overall sound. This was still a fun sit-in and it is good to see Toots back in Virginia. We are all still very sorry for what happened. Thanks for bringing LOCKN’ some true reggae music.
Jason Bonham was definitely the highlight of the, Umphrey's McGee, set Friday and with the addition of Derek Trucks, and even, Taylor Hicks from American Idol fame, were topnotch and outstanding musically. These collaborations will go down as some of the best in LOCKN’ history; still never topping that Mad Dog and Englishmen set. The covers of Led Zeppelin classics like, "When The Levee Breaks", “Good Times, Bad Times”, and “Whole Lotta Love” may remain the best, Led Zeppelin, music I have ever seen live, even beating Robert Plant. This is what makes LOCKN’ so special, the once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences.
P-Funk was one of the wildest, strangest and chaotic musical experiences of my life. I won't lie and say that it didn't have its moments but for the most part it was a complete train wreck, musically and otherwise. From the guy with his ass hanging out to George Clinton falling down, I couldn't keep my eyes off the stage. I was forced to watch some strange. Bird-like dancer with a long nose, sexually provoke the audience. The music was more Hip-Hop oriented with elements of Hard Rock rather than straight Funk that I was used to from Parliament Funkadelic. The entire performance was not lost when the band slimmed down from 15+ people to play “Maggot Brain.” This was one of the best renditions I have ever heard live and they even closed the set with Frank Zappa's "The Slime" which made up for all the nonsense beforehand.
Widespread Panic came out strong with Jimmy Herring lighting up the solos during “Sell, Sell, Sell,” into “Love Tractor.” Dave Schools leading in on the base as the band would develop strong transitions; moving pieces around like a musical game of chess. “Drums” would go on while Margo Price and a horn section was added to the stage. I was all around impressed with Margo and her vocal abilities. She did a good job adding her vocals to WSP staples like, "Up All Night" a song that I am only used to hearing JB sing. Panic and Margo would go on to cover “Honeybee” and pay respects to Aretha Franklin with “Rock Steady” which I still think was not quite the right voice for this song. I was looking through Twitter and saw Margo must have taken some LSD that night and was truly in the spirit of psychedelic music.
Saturday began with, Big Something, the North Carolina band that has been making the rounds in the Jam community for quite some time. I have had the privilege of seeing them perform many times and they always put on a great performance, even in the middle of the afternoon. Big Something will continue to grow their followers and released a new album, ‘The Otherside’ this year. Keller and the Keels, Virginia natives and Bluegrass legends, play all the hits from their album. ‘Grass’ and even covered Pink Floyd's “The Wall.” Keller is always a staple at LOCKN’ and having seen many iterations of his bands, I would just like to see Keller solo at LOCKN’. His improvisational solo sets would fit well within this lineup.
The Foundation Of Funk (basically The Meters) was by far my favorite set from LOCKN’ 2018. All the classic Meters songs were played with the addition of most of Dead and Co including: Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and John Mayer. This would actually be my first time ever seeing John in person and he did not distract from the experience, staying in line while George Porter called the shots. Tedeschi Trucks Band is on another level from any other band out there today. Soulful and Bluesy in one moment and on the verge of a Jazz meltdown in the next, TTB keeps audiences on their toes while delivering solid powerful performances. Covers like, “Whipping Post”, “Little Martha” and “A Song For You” highlighted the first night and I was really looking forward to seeing them again on Sunday.
I know most of you will condemn me for skipping, JRAD on Friday and Lettuce on Saturday but I decided to opt-out for the free Relix stream so I could stay clearheaded for Dead and Company's performance both nights. With an over abundance of Grateful Dead covers afoot, I went into Dead and Company open-minded and ready to have my mind blown. While I have had and still have, apprehensions towards Dead and Company, I had to give them an honest chance, John Mayer included. I wasn't off put by his guitar playing and can't deny his talent on the instrument. Dead and Company would open up with “Hell In A Bucket” which was a straightforward delivery. Bobby seemed in high spirits but the transition into “Scarlet Fire” was sloppy. Oteil would help bring it back with his expert bass playing. This entire set was a bit slow, the song selection seemed like a sing-along, letting the audience add their voices and spirits together. Everything was going fine until John attempted falsetto vocals and I cringed but during “Brown Eyed Women” John's voice sounded much better. Jeff Chimenti shines during his solos and he seems to be the backbone of this band; always smiling and having fun. “Ramble on Rose” was another slow sing-along, Chimenti and John having a lot of musical banter, which I really enjoyed. “Alabama Getaway” was basic but still a lot of fun and not one that I hear much live. “Deal” and a short break had me reflecting on my first Dead and Company show for the rest of the next set. I think Bobby sees his younger self in John and while John Mayer isn't my first or even second choice of guitarist to play Jerry's part but he certainly has Jerry's flares and solos down pat and in the end my opinion is of little consequence. It's good to see people enjoying The Grateful Dead’s music in any setting or format.
Sundays at LOCKN’ are always bittersweet. Spafford basically blew the metaphysical doors off of Infinity Downs. They would play only 4 songs, “Broken Wing”, “Slip and Squander”, “Electric Taco Stand” and “All In.” I bet many Spaffnerds were kicking themselves for missing this scorcher but Sunday was the hottest day on an otherwise perfect weekend of weather. I am always thoroughly impressed with guitarist, Brian Moss and his musical abilities and Red is the kind of Uncle we all wish we had; ready to show you what good music is all about. Spafford deserves a much later set next year if they return to LOCKN’. Keep killin' it! Having never seen The Blues Travelers live, I had a blast checking out John Popper and his crew trying out new songs and playing their radio hit, "Run Around." Popper himself was humorous with witty banter about losing his cell phone and being scared to try new things onstage. I would certainly check The Blues Travelers out again anytime and was surprised how good they were.
Tedeschi Trucks Band would again impress the audience with Jazz laced blues songs. The Indian influence in Derek's guitar playing are evident and when Branford Marsalis would join the stage for “Mahjoun”, a dual of sax versus guitar would begin and end in a cacophony of climactic musical conclusions. Derek Trucks with a rare smile seen across his face. When Eric Krasno joined the stage, I was exuberant. I love when Kraz sits-in and his improvisational technique's are out of this world. He is the ninja of the Jam world. Other notable songs from this set were “Statesboro Blues”, “Alabama (Neil Young)”, “Night Time Is The Right Time” and “Space Captain.”
By the middle of Dead and Company's first set on Sunday, I had forgotten all about John Mayer and was really enjoying his back and forth with Jeff Chimenti. John would inch closer to Bobby, trying to get around the plexiglass barrier that stood between them. Bobby, arms brandished, would shoo him away, taking us all to the gun show that night. The second set opener of “Shakedown Street” was noticeably slower in tempo, so much so, that I was completely thrown off. I don't know who is to blame for this but it was almost comical. John Mayer certainly has all of Jerry's guitar riffs, arpeggios and tone down but I think he may be relying on the envelope filter (Q-Tron) a bit too much. I would've loved to have heard some different guitar tones from time to time. Dead and Company are extremely improvisationally heavy and Jammy, much more melodic with fewer build-ups (crescendos) then I would like. They are chaotic at times, seemingly free-form and can expand into new territory at anytime. When Branford Marsalis took the stage, everything changed and this interpretation of “Eyes Of The World” was possibly the best I have seen live. Oteil really getting the VIP award while Branford and John would go head-to-head in many moments.
The Grateful Dead’s legacy extends well beyond LOCKN’ but it seems as though this festival is at the core of the celebration of the Grateful Deads music and surrounding culture. I feel as though this was LOCKN’s definitive year, as it has reached its maturity. Shapiro and his team really did their best to make this festival comfortable and filled with once-in-a-lifetime musical collaborations. It has been a pleasure being a part of LOCKN’ since it's inception and I look forward to a continued relationship with LOCKN’ and the Virginia community, as a whole. Live music comes and goes but this years LOCKN’ will have me reminiscing for quite some time. If I could only go to one music festival for the rest of my life, it would be LOCKN’. See you next year!
Virginia Is For Live Music,
LOCKN’ Festival Purist
Love Canon 'Cover Story' Album Review-(A Journey Through Music's Greatest Decade)
Being a proud native of Virginia and the musical community here, I have had the pleasure of witnessing Love Canon stroke out many 80s classics; morphing them into the Bluegrass form and a birthing something completely new and original. For the first time Love Canon has released an album of nine covers, which feature notable collaborations from Jerry Douglas, Keller Williams, Eric Krasno and many other staples from the Bluegrass/Jam world. Vocalist and bandleader, Jesse Harper takes the front seat for this album but Jay Starling, Andy Thacker, Darrel Muller and Adam Larrabee, all add their unique sounds to the mix.
'Cover Story' opens up with Billy Joel's "Prelude (Angry Young Man)" into "Things Can Only Get Better." Both of these songs are very well done but perhaps are not the best example of what Love Canon can do but song three, "Kyrie Eleison" leans into the Pop stratosphere of the 80s and Love Canon perfectly blends bluegrass into this genre; seamlessly allowing you to remember the original song but also enjoying something new and fresh.
"Graceland" follows up and it is straightforward Boot kickin' Bluegrass. This is one of my favorite covers on this album. The Paul Simon classic is completely reworked but the spirit of the song remains. "Islands In The Stream" is one of those immediately recognizable and sing able songs, no matter what form it's played in. Jesse Harper's vocals truly stand out in this song, as well as, Adam Larrabees banjo picking. "Solsbury Hill/Ice Caps of Pentatonia-Medley" is by far my favorite cover off of this album 'Cover Story.' I always enjoyed Love Canon covering these songs and have heard them play it on numerous occasions.
"Tempted" and "Driver 8" round out 'Cover Story' and I think this album does a great job of representing what Love Canon can bring to a live performance and also, their musicianship within the studio. The reworking and transmogrification of these classic 80s songs are one-of-a-kind and 'Cover Story' tells the story of not only the songs within but the evolution of the songs themselves and the growth of this great band Love Canon. Check out this album and more here www.lovecanonmusic.com and catch a live show performance sometime, you won't be disappointed.
80s Pop Purist
We had such an amazing time at this years LOCKN' Festival! We are excited to share our Photo Recap of the event and a Full Exclusive Review coming soon! Thanks for the continued support!
Phish-Merriweather Post Pavilion-2018:(Its All About Perspective)
When thinking about what to write here for this Phish run, I find it can be difficult trying to cover different angles and new perspectives. Seriously, you all know the set list, you know what people have said and most of you, can just listen, or were at the show anyway. What I will try to do is just give my opinion and then perhaps delve into why I have formed that opinion and give a basic overview of the show.
Phish returned to the newly renovated Merriweather Post Pavilion this past weekend for two nights. It was good to get back into Merriweather and see what the venue looked like after the collapse. I can say it is a completely different venue. Not only can you see the lighting rig but the entire stage, as well. This is a huge transformation from the previous roof which, has now been risen at least 15 feet from where it once was, making this lawn much more enjoyable. I arrived at the venue Saturday, without a ticket but thanks to my buddy, Jason, who hooked me up, I had one within 5 minutes. I was able to catch some of the sound check outside waiting in line where the foursome noodled through, "My Soul" and experimented with some Indian Raga sounding melody; Trey sounding like he was playing a sitar at times.
After adjusting to the stage setup and finding my friends, the band opened with "Blaze On" and after that, the lull seems to begin...until a welcomed, "46 days." Really, this set is entirely forgettable and the crowd even seemed to whence every time they went into another lackadaisical version of their songs like: "Breath And Burning," "Sugar Shack" and "Joy." Even, "Stash" was lacking the energy and vibrancy, I have previously heard. I had high hopes for the second set with "Sand" sounding eerily like The Doors, "Riders On The Storm." This was a great rendition but it had no gusto and certainly nothing more was notable. "Ghost" and "Mercury" would be the highlights the second set, period. There isn't much else to say about this show besides ending on a strong note with a funky and fun, "Martian Monster," a short, "Golgi Apparatus" and a fast-paced, "Rocky Top." This show was definitely not the worst I've seen but certainly not the best. In the end it's all about perspective.
Night 2: "Well, F**k My Face!"
I was lucky enough to find a great spot on the lawn with my buddy, Alex, from 215music.net and we wore out our feet dancing on the slanted lawn all night. "Llama" would began the second night on the damp Merriweather lawn. The crowd was in an uproar, all expecting a stellar show after last night. Even, Trey, acknowledging the slowness of the previous nights show saying, "Speeding things up a little bit for you." Mikes bass playing shines during “Meat.” “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” was exactly what I needed and is such a quirky and hard song for this band.
The rendition of “Alaska” was the best I've ever heard live and was followed by a much needed and expected, “Tweezer” both Fishman and Page utterly focused on the music. The band letting some of that liveliness out during “Bathtub Gin” and Trey was ripping out some real heavy riffs during “Chalkdust Torture.” “Chalkdust” would go into jam territory extensively, until the end of the first set. I'd say things were off to a great start, especially after the previous nights energy level. I was impressed with, Chris Kuroda, making that light rig dance; lowering it so close to the stage, it looked as though it was swallowing the band and then it would open up like a blossoming flower.
The early, "Tweezer Reprise" had me excited that Phish could do some sort of Tweezerfest: Part II and they would round into “Tweezer Reprise” again, at the end of the set (jamming it during piper, as well) but certainly no repeat of that magical night in 2014. “Twist” and “No Man In No Mans Land” both would see extensive jamming and time warping improvisation. “Piper” would continue that effervescent trend and although, there weren't many powerful moments until, “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” that got me truly excited, it was a laidback psychedelic vibe for the remainder of the evening. “Harry Hood” would see the crowd giving it their all, singing along. The encore lacked any intensity until the final reprise. All in all, a solid Phish show and possibly one of the best of the tour, so far, but I'm sure that will all change come next weekend.
Phish is an American legacy; a phenomena that only happens once a generation. As they evolve and grow older, their music becomes much more refined and methodical. When I listen back to recordings from the 90s, they are raw and full of a spirit that had something to prove. Now they have proved it and are refining it down to the minutest structures they can. Reaching perfection is impossible but endeavoring to do so, is a life's accomplishment. All of these musicians are masterful within their crafts. They are as five ships sailing in unison but each captaining their own vessel of captivating music. The American dream lives on. Don't worry if the show you see is the best or the worst, just go see live music and especially, Phish. You will find something that is truly one of a kind. Have fun at Curveball and don't get washed away!
P.S. Whatever you do, take care of your shoes.
Floydfest 2018 (The Heart and Soul of the Blue Ridge)
Being a Virginia native, I have always heard of Floydfest and it's eclectic lineup of Rock, Bluegrass and even, Alt-Pop-Rock. This year’s lineup caught my eye quite early on and I am so glad to finally be reviewing this festival for blueridgerocks.com Unfortunately, I couldn't make Thursday's events and seeing the lineup of Lukas Nelson and Govt Mule, I kicked myself for missing it. Early Friday, I headed down the Blue Ridge Mountains, taking the scenic route and getting on the parkway, as soon as, I could. The view from this festival is the first thing that comes into my mind when I reminisce about last weekend’s events but the music is the real memory that will last. The one of a kind musical collaboration and improvisations, the late night sets and meeting new friends and old, this is what music festivals are all about. All of these things can be found in abundance at Floydfest. Below are my thoughts and review for the festival.
Friday's Floydfest Favorites
While, there was plenty of music on Friday for patrons to consume, I really just want to start with The Antibalas, who brought their unique and energetic vibe to Floydfest. I always find myself dancing uncontrollably by the end of every one of their sets. I was highly impressed with the sound quality and beauty of the main stage and the venue itself. It was easy to get from stage to stage and there was always music being played somewhere.
Up next, Leftover Salmon was on the Hill Holler Stage. They would play "Liza" and can go from Progressive Jam to Bluegrass, in an instant. "Valley Of The Full Moon" was played while, the full moon shone overhead. Vince Herman got the crowd howling at the moon and the band went into a more Jam-Fusion sound for most of the show but returned to Standard Bluegrass at the end.
I checked out some of Foster The People but decided not to wait around for them to play "Pumped Up Kicks," the only song, I forcibly know from their catalogue. I walked over to see Magnolia Boulevard, with many of the older crowd. Magnolia Boulevard did a great cover of "Fire On The Bayou" a Meters funk classic. The lead vocalist caught my ear and delivered a great performance while the band did their best to keep up.
I checked out about half an hour of Greta Van Fleet, I wasn't entirely impressed but I saw some potential. The crowd seemed to eat them up and I can see why but as a music purist, I see too many blatant derivatives from early rock to be but so intrigued; It's been done before and better. The Broadcast kept me up until all hours of the night with their explosive vocalist Caitlin Krisko. I want to check this band out again and do a full review. I am super impressed with all the female vocalist taking charge at Floydfest 2018.
Saturday's Musical Extraveganza
Erin And The Wildfire, a Charlottesville, Virginia based band, was first on my list to see during Saturday's festivities. Here again, I am always impressed with the rising female vocalist in this scene and Erin is at the top of that list. I was only able to catch a short part of this bands set but what I did see, made me excited for a full review soon.
No BS Brass Band brought a horn heavy sound to Floydfest. I have seen these guys before but they have included several vocalists, which really adds to this bands powerful performance. All the excitement from the horns and all that energy are immediately transferred to the crowd, as they dance and throw their hands to the sky.
Coming out with a quote from Frank Zappa, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” How could I not be entranced by the Infamous Stringdusters, as they immediately tease the Grateful Dead’s "Terrapin Station" but instead transition into Phish’s "Possum" and would continue into "First Tube?" I would honestly rate this set as the best Stringdusters set, I have ever seen and one of the best of the festival. I was excited to see them again on Sunday.
The event of the weekend was by far the Buffalo Jam, which featured Host extraordinaire, Keller William, The Antibalas, Leftover Salmon, and three beautiful vocalist: Erin Lunsford, Caitlin Krisko and Lindsey Lou. This super group would open with Lou Reeds, "Walk On The Wild Side" and continued on into "Wild Horses," the Rolling Stone classic. "War Pigs" was one of the best renditions I have ever witnessed with Vince Herman on vocals, summoning the power of Zambi himself. The Antibalas would take over and perform "Open and Close." Some other highlights from the set were Aretha Franklin "Rock steady" with Caitlin Krisko on vocals. “What it is?" “Come On In My Kitchen" featured blues banjo from Leftover Salmons, Andy Thorn. "No Sugar/New Mother Nature" was a lot of fun with Keller taking the lead and “Superstition” with Erin Lunsford on vocals was funky and vibrant. This was easily one of the most unique and impressive collaborations I have ever seen live and truly a once in a lifetime experience.
I started my day out with Monophonia, an attention-grabbing progressive rock mixture, reminiscent of Zappa and perhaps, King Crimson with thoughtful and comical lyrics. I would like to check this band out again and give them a full review but what I did see was interesting enough to captivate my attention.
Keller Williams Petty Grass featuring the HillBenders was just as I suspected it would be, Tom Petty songs arranged into Bluegrass format and while, I've never been a total Petty fan, it was interesting to hear Keller and the Hellbenders, throw a twist into his catalogue of songs. Keller can basically cover anything and I am ok with it. I even recent looked up some of his other amazing Grateful Dead covers. This man can do it all!
The Travers Brothership, whom I have covered in a previous review from Roanoke Go Outside Festival, where they opened for moe were one of the best performances of the day. Last time, I was unable to gauge a full idea of their sound and abilities but after what I saw at Floydfest, I am sure they will continue to gain followers with there Jams and progressive abilities. They can take their sound to the next level by adding some lyrical and vocal qualities that accentuate their uniqueness.
The Little Smokies, was a bit slow for my taste but they brought a huge crowd to the Main Stage where they played some standard, progressive bluegrass songs. Nothing notable but they had a fun stage presence. The Infamous Stringdusters again, blew me away; going out on a limb, trying new things and manipulating the standards of Bluegrass all together. They have truly grown as individual musicians and band mates. My first Dusters show was New Years 2012 and they grown exponentially since then. I look forward to seeing this band again whenever I can.
Old Crow Medicine Show has truly made quite a career out of one great album of music and they continue to draw a large audience around the country. While, my musical tastes have grown since my last Old Crow Show, it was fun and nostalgic for a short time. It wasn't the most exciting end to the festival but I had to get back home and traverse the Blue Ridge.
The only thing I regret about Floydfest is that I couldn't see all the music! There is truly something for everyone at Floydfest and I have never been to a festival like it. The unique lineup and diverse band schedules keep patrons coming from all over Virginia, the East Coast and Country. The ride up the Blue Ridge parkway alone is worth the journey but once you get to the festival grounds, you are on top of a mountain ridge. I would suggest Floydfest to any musical and festival lover. It is truly one of a kind. The Heart and Soul of the Blue Ridge.
Jam Band Purist
The Peach Music Festival 2018 Review (Jam Juices Overflowing)
It's always a pleasure to gain admission into such prestigious festivals like, The Peach Music Festival, which boasted one of the best lineups of the summer 2018 and that may be, a modest understatement. This year, I had to take the plunge to Montage Mountain, Ski Resort and Water Park very close to Scranton, Pennsylvania. With “The Office” theme song on an endless loop in my head, I anxiously anticipated Friday's stacked lineup but was still bummed about missing one of my favorite Jam acts, The Marcus King Band, and Marcus's various sit-ins, which always highlight his versatility and ability to improvise. For those that got to see Marcus, lucky you! I look forward seeing him, as soon as, musically possible.
Friday Highlights and Montage Musings:
Arriving at the festival location, I had to park off-site and take a shuttle to the venue. This was not the easiest experience, as I was nervous and excited to get into the festivals and see some live music! I suppose I could have bought an onsite parking ticket but seeing as I was covering this event, it's difficult to spend all my hard earned dollars on extra services and fees. No camping pass was provided and no media accommodations were available but the show must go on!
When I arrived within the pavilion area, I was confronted with quite a mess of festivalgoer’s vying for coveted seats within the pavilion. This was a much different festival atmosphere than I was used to but after getting somewhat situated, I attempted to enjoy moe. one of my all time favorite bands. moe. would bring out the Turkuaz horn section for The Bands, "Ophelia." The horns would definitely add some sonic compliments. "Maybe we should have ended on that one," said Rob but out of nowhere they cover Rush’s, "Tom Sawyer;" Rob thrashing the bass with an octave pedal on full blast. I was completely lost in the music and ready for more moe. the following day and had forgotten about the seating fiasco.
Past the lazy river and beyond the lodge, at the Mushroom Stage, The Main Squeeze was my in-between before settling in to catch Leftover Salmon. The Main Squeeze seems heavily influenced by R & B and classic rock. The lead singer had a great stage presence and I was impressed by the guitarist’s full force, Game Of Thrones cover.
Leftover Salmon was up on the Mushroom Stage, which is adjacent to a wave pool, where patrons can cool off and listen to music. I got the opportunity to meet Vince Herman before their show. What a great experience and kind man. Leftover would play many of their original songs, which have lots of energy. I particular liked “Gulf Of Mexico,” “Liza” and “Aquatic Hitchhiker.” Their sound is Bluegrass, mixed with Island (Calypso), Reggae, and throw in some New Orleans Zydeco for a tasty musical gumbo and you will have Leftovers. This band is raw, eerie and danceable, the last few songs were extremely Jammy and improvisational, with very progressive movements.
Phil Lesh and The Terrapin Band, began the night with a solid but easy rendition of "China Cat Sunflower" into “Mr. Charlie" with Midnight North vocalist, Elliott Peck, accentuating the original blues quality of the early Dead. (Pig Pen style) Again, the band followed up with another older catalogued number, "Tennessee Jed." Jason Crosby’s piano playing shines through flawlessly. “New Speedway Boogie” continues this bluesy song selection but they end that musical streak with "Throwing Stones" which turned into a yelling cacophony right until the end, when they progressed into a slower rendition of "He's Gone." Never stopping, they continue into "The Other One" with Phil forgetting the lyrics but that's ok, at 78, he can do that. Grahame Lesh took the lead on the guitar and has grown up humbly and professionally. Taking these songs to a sonically singular level with the addition of a flute (Gotta be Karl Denson) to the song structure and transitioning beautifully into "Bird Song" and then returning again into "The Other One." "Truckin'" was up next and the crowd sang along at the top of their lungs. "The Wheel" and "Sampson and Delilah" rounded out the end of the set with "Sugeree" bringing it home. The audience wanted an encore and the band rejoined onstage for one final song and of course, it's Phil singing "Box Of Rain."
As I was trying to get some water from this giant water tank, in anguish with the thirst of the day, I got caught in a jazz traffic jam with horns and drums blocking my every path. At that moment Umphreys McGee comes on like a panic attack; I get anxiety just thinking about some of their songs. I did my best to make it through but in the end, my nerves can't handle the twist and turns this band brings like, a bi-polar Van Halen on Meth. While I must admit they are talented and present a much more a psychedelic experience than most of the other bands that played during the day sometimes, I just have to call it a night.
Saturday’s Musical Experience (ie; Little Feat and moe.)
Repeating the shuttle process to the festival site and having very little sleep, I continued on to catch Aqueous at the Mushroom Stage. I always have a great time with this band, they have an eclectic sound and span various genres. The Turkuaz horns join the band for the "Power Of Love" by Huey Lewis and The News followed by "The Median" and ending with an extended jam, "Don't Do It." If you haven't checked out Aqueous, reverse this song and do it! They are one of JBP favorites. (pew pew)
Staying at the Mushroom Stage for Ghost Light, I was excited to see my second performance from this very improvisational group. Warming up with Tenacious D’s "F*** Her Gently," The Turkuaz horn section would join them immediately on stage for one of their originals, "If You Want It." Tom Hamilton is the consummate bandleader, calling out the shots and leading the other musicians including: Holly Bowling, Scotty Zwang, Steve Lyons and Riana Mullen into new territories. Their compositions like "Winter War Games" and "Untitled D Riff" are intense in all the right places and can bring some solid blasting Americana Rock. I will always check out Ghost Light, any chance I can and hope they return to 5 Points Music Sanctuary soon.
I tried my best to get a good pavilion seats before the mass exodus of people beginning to descend upon the Main Stage for moe. and Little Feat. This was compacted by the fact that the rain began to come down harder and without proper VIP credentials for the 100 row seating, it was almost impossible to find any room to accommodate reviewing the performance. I was lucky enough to have found a pavilion seat with a giant beam directly blocking my view but at least I was out of the rain for this amazing feat.
This performance was the main reason I had drove 5 hours to Montage Mountain and traversed the Pocono’s at 2:30 AM. Little Feats seminal live album 'Waiting For Columbus' is one of my all time favorite records and with hit after hit, I knew moe. and the remaining members of Little Feat plus The Turkuaz horn section, would knock this one out of the park. The show begins of course, with "Join The Band” which is sung acappela. Jim Laughlin's mallet cat was the first thing that stood out to me as they went into "Fat Man In The Bathtub." Billy Payne taking over, while Al Schnier holding his own, killing on the slide guitar. Both bands kept it coming on strong, recreating these classic songs and revisiting this album. The group of musician began to jam during "Day Or Night." With Rob Barraco and Fred Tackett leading the way, skipping "Mercenary Territory" and going straight for "Spanish Moon." "Willin'" saw the Montage Pavilion singing along with Rob Derhak, arms raised towards the sky. Rearranging “Dixie Chicken,” Billy Payne brought his progressive Fusion piano skills to the table. All and all, it was a fun and solid set but I would have loved to have heard: “Mercenary Territory,” “Sailing Shoes” and “Rocket In My Pocket.” I guess I'll just have to see Little Feat again ASAP!
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead has been gaining a lot of followers within the Dead/Jam community and for good reason. They are constantly morphing, shifting and transitioning into and beyond the cosmic space of The Grateful Dead’s musical catalogue. They begin with "Cats Down Under The Stars" which goes on for, well over 15 minutes until, at the snap of the finger, they switch into "Big River." "Row Jimmy" didn't diverge from the original at all and stayed pretty low-key while "Loser" felt like it could have morphed into anything at anytime. During JRADs second set Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger began dueling on guitars, Russo keeping time and Benevento sweeping across the keys. This band has gone further than any I have I have heard before and I look for them to continue gaining mass appeal with all audiences.
Having to choose between Dark Side Of The Mule and Spafford was almost sacrilegious but I stayed for some of Dark Side Of The Mule (Govt’ Mule covering Pink Floyd, which is kind of self-explanatory) before bracing for the rain and catching Spafford. Spafford has been really gaining a lot of support, as well in this community and it was good to see so many people dancing and braving the rain. The band had some hard times dealing with the weather but they brought the jams, they just played a lot of improvisation and instrumental. The set was filled with jams like, “The Postman,” “Slip and Squander,” “Electric Taco Stand” and “Virtual Bean Dip.” Some serious Spaffnerds that I talked to really enjoyed this set and were talking about how great the improvisation was. As I am not the most familiar with the catalogue, it all sounded like Jams to me and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, I will be checking these guys out again at Lockn’ Music Festival next month.
Sunday: (The Spirit Of The Allman Brothers And Beyond)
The Allman brothers theme is visible throughout this festival but I wasn't sure to what extent this festival actually represents ABB. I can assure you the spirit of the Allman brothers is alive in well at The Peach Music Festival. We may not be in Georgia but these were some juicy musical peaches.
Sunday was filled with Allman Brother songs and many members of the bands iterations, it became a true celebration of their spirit with Dickey Betts closing out the night, Oteil and friends and of course, Waking Up With Warren. It's hard to comment on all the great collaborations but notably, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer would really impress me yet again, sitting in with various musical acts at The Peach Music Festival. While the rain subsided for some of the day, it was still quite a mess at all the stages but I don’t want to get specific here for my Sunday review. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to talk about The Allman Brothers, their legacy and the losses we have all endured over the past few years musically.
My first concert was ABB almost 15 years ago and I haven’t stopped since. It was something that truly changed my life and my outlook on live music. I daresay, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for The Allman Brothers Band. While, I never got to experience Duane or Dickey with Gregg, what I did see was a wonderful iteration of the bands spirit and legacy; Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes intimate keepers of the flame. I did however, get to see Dickey Betts and Great Southern once and while it wasn’t such a grand experience as ABB, it was still great to see a founding member. I was always hung-up on dreams Id never see and after Gregg passed last year, things would never be the same again, I never thought I would see a celebration with that same spirit. Was it that lost forever? Not by a long shot. The Peach is the ultimate commemoration of ABB their formidable legacy will never die. The Peach may be lacking in a few overall technical issues but the music truly shone through. While the logistics were kind of a nightmare due to media limitations and overall expenses, I would return as a patron, as there are always, one of a kind musical collaborations that occur every year. I look for another solid, staked lineup next at The Peach Music Festival.
Eat A Peach,
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.