I had been hearing about Pink-Talking-Fish for sometime; the mash-up of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish was quite appealing to me, as I am a huge fan of all three bands and know almost every song in each catalog. Cover shows can be disappointing but my anxious thoughts were replaced by hopeful anticipation of new, interesting combinations of songs from each band. Pink Talking Fish did not disappoint, delivering a unique blend of material. The real surprise of the night was arriving to 5 Points Music Sanctuary in Roanoke, Virginia.
This venue is one of the coolest I have been to in a long time. 5 Points is a renovated church, where the spirit of music can truly be felt. While it wasn't Sunday, it sure felt like it to me. The sound was crisp, clear and perfect; the light show illuminated the venue like an alter to the music gods themselves. The staff and security were all super friendly and helpful. I was interested to learn more about this music sanctuary. They offer outstanding music programs not only to the local Roanoke community, the local music scene, and the Virginia music scene as a whole. I fully support 5 Points in their endeavors and will gladly come back to one of their upcoming shows. If you are a Virginia resident or even a band looking for an awesome venue to play, 5 Points is a must see.
Pink Talking Fish opened up with a "Wedge" that had a lot of energy but was still a little rough around the edges. They quickly transitioned into "Have A Cigar" the Pink Floyd classic, which had the entire crowd on their feet. The solos and changes were all exact. A thread of originality ran throughout the entire set and into “Girlfriend Is Better," which is possibly my favorite Talking Heads song ever. The set list and play-by-play can be found below. The first set was good. I wasn't sure about "Famous Mockingbird" or "Colonel Forbin." Perhaps the Gamehenge canon is better left to the boys but I have no issues spreading the word of THE BOOK, especially in such a holy place. "Take Me To The River" felt very spiritual as the lights shone brilliantly throughout the sanctuary.
The second set was high powered with a significant boost in energy from the band. Their crescendos/build ups were bristling with raw energy and improvisation, taking PTF to the next level. "Run Like Hell" was jammed out beyond proportions and the rest of the set was a heady alchemical combination of classic Talking Heads and Pink Floyd songs, mixed professionally with Phish.
Setlist: Wedge, Have a Cigar, Girlfriend is Better, Col Forbin, Time>Fly Famous Mockinbird, Take Me To The River, Sheep>Down With Dieses>Sheep, Life During Wartime. Run Like Hell, Making Flippy FLoppy, Free>Us and Them, Pulled Up The Roots>Waves, What A Day That Was, First Tube.
I would love to see PTF expand their improvisational techniques and take this even further into unknown territory; developing their changes within each song to segue into each other is also a very important part in making this endeavor even more interesting. Great musicianship all around from guitarist, Dave Brunyak and keyboardist Richard James, keeping the backbeat is Zack Burwick and Eric Gould on bass. Let's be realistic, none of these songs are easy to play and PTF does a fine job presenting them in a fun and original way. I am sure I will be catching PTF again in the future and of course, I will be returning to 5 Points every chance I get.
Any time spent with music is time well spent,
Jam Band Purist
Carey Frank, interim keyboardist for Tedeschi Trucks Band and other various projects has released his album 'Something To Remember Him By.' I was recently sent a copy to review and was introduced to Carey's musical style and got to ask him some questions. From Tedeschi Trucks Band to playing at Disney, Carey is a rising talent not only in the Jam world but the music business, as a whole.
I had no idea what to expect when I put on 'Something To Remember Him By' and was surprised to hear Jazz standards and exceptionally skilled keyboard and guitar work. With guitarist Bruce Forman, Carey lays down, not only the melody but also the bass lines on the Hammond Organ. I had to think twice when I heard it at first to make sure that there wasn't a bassist sitting in.
Carey and Bruce work seamlessly together as a symbiotic team. Carey, much like an octopus behind the keys, leads the way while Bruce, sprinkles a mix of Jazz and Rock progressions with exceptional phrasing. This album is extremely listenable and expresses the eclectic style that Carey produces. We talked about improvisation, studio vs. live performance and various other experiences in the interview below.
JBP-What have been some of your most thrilling experiences working as a musician?
CF-Of course my work with Tedeschi Trucks Band has been one of the most thrilling experiences. I’ve been listening to Derek Trucks for years. One of the first albums I stole from my mom’s collection was actually a Derek Trucks Band album. Also getting to hang a lot with Dr. Lonnie Smith is pretty thrilling. Living in LA, I'm always running into musical idols. And before I moved to LA, I lived in Orlando, FL and worked at Walt Disney World theme parks and that was its own thrilling experience. I’m a huge Disney nut so I was in heaven.
JBP-In your personal music style, do you use a lot of improvisation?
CF-Totally! If I really need to, I can play specific parts the exact same way every time, like I did when I worked at Walt Disney World and the few other pop gigs I've done, but it's really hard for me to play the same thing twice. Even a familiar song/melody is played a bit different and improvised every time. It's like telling a story to someone...you never say it the same way. Even if you say the exact same words and sentences, you may phrase it differently, emphasize different words, use different dynamics...I love working off the audience. That always really influences the way I improvise from night to night.
JBP-What's it like working with some of the jam band world’s biggest acts? (TTB-Hot Tuna)
CF-Once you get over the star struck feeling, it's like playing with any other great band. It's so fun to play in bands that allow each member to do their own thing and take musical chances. And I really love the audiences! There is so much positive energy and all they want to do is hear good music and feel good energy which really makes any musician play his or her best.
JBP-I can tell from your album ‘Something To Remember Him By’ that you are influenced by jazz, but what other music has inspired you in your career?
CF-I grew up listening to jazz, of course, but also have always loved rock, movie soundtracks, classical music...I specifically listened to a lot of Billy Joel, Beatles, Disney movie soundtracks, John Williams, Queen, John Mayer, Debussy...
JBP-The album is just you and Bruce Forman on guitar, but it feels like there is a lot more going on. Did you play the bass lines and melody?
CF-I played bass using the Hammond organ. It's a mix of using foot pedals and my left hand. That's the great thing about that instrument. It can be so soft and subtle and fill in those nice spaces or it can be the big powerhouse showoff instrument taking the place of a full 12-piece horn section in addition to taking over the bassist’s spot. One of the many goals of this album was to fool the listener into forgetting there was no drummer or bassist.
JBP-Do you prefer studio work vs. live performances? How has each furthered your career as a musician?
CF-I'd love to do more studio work. Both are really different mindsets and I love both but, right now, the majority of my work is playing live which means a lot of late nights and hauling a lot of heavy organs and keyboards and amps all over town. A big thing that helped my career was when I started bringing a GoPro to a handful of my gigs and posting my solos on social media. That's how I've become more well known and how I've gotten some bigger gigs.
JBP-Any recent projects that you would like to promote besides the album? What's next?
CF-My band, Strangers On a Saturday Night, has a new album coming out on February 14th and we’re doing a show that night at The Blue Whale in Downtown LA. It's an organ trio featuring me, Will Brahm and Jamey Tate, and vocalist Jane Monheit sang on a few tracks. Another organ trio I'm in, The White Blinds, just got signed to F Spot Records and we will be in the studio next month and releasing our album over the summer. I'm part of many different groups around town and always posting about where I'm playing and any new music I'm releasing on my Website and Facebook!
JBP-Is there a story behind the album’s title?
CF-As you know, the album is dedicated to my grandfather and singer, Don Cornell. Bruce played his 1938 Gibson L5 on the album and all of the tracks (except for one original composition I dedicated to my grandmother Iris) were songs my grandfather used to sing and record regularly. Don had an album entitled "Something To Remember Me By" so I thought it best to title mine "Something To Remember Him By."
JBP-Being on the road, I'm sure you have seen some pretty wild stuff; any crazy experiences you’ve been dying to share?
CF-Honestly, I haven’t seen many crazy things on the road. It’s not usually what it’s like in the movies. There were a few times when I lived in Orlando that I played at a nudist colony, which was pretty crazy and what you might expect. Also, one time I was touring with Lucy Woodward and we had a night off so the band went to see a movie. At some point during the movie, I put my popcorn on the empty seat next to me then, 10 minutes later, the guy sitting on the next seat over started eating my popcorn. Lucy and I couldn’t stop laughing during the rest of the movie. Other than that, the crazy experiences are getting to perform with some of my longtime idols.
-Thanks to Carey for letting me into his musical world for a little bit and chatting about some of his experiences. You can check out Carey's newest album "Something To Remember Him By" at http://www.careyfrank.com/ and https://soundcloud.com/carey-frank/sets/something-to-remember-him-by/s-lOwHm or Spotify.
Jam Band Purist
I can still recall, sitting in my hotel room, singing Del McCoury‘s version of “Nashville Cats” last year when I visited Nashville for the first time. It is somewhat serendipitous that the next band I would see in Nashville was The Travelin’ McCourys. My last time in Music City I hung around Broadway and the tourist areas, which were filled with out-of-towners and pop-centric country music. This time I decide to take a more local approach and catch some live bluegrass at 3rd & Lindsley.
This evening’s performance would be The Travelin’ McCourys first show of 2018 and they seemed to dust their strings off quickly, opening with “Cumberland Blues,” which was authentic high-powered bluegrass, traditional but intense and always on the edge of a jam. This band is filled with fine musicians from Ronnie McCoury and brother, 2015 banjo player of the year, Rob McCoury to fiddler, Jason Carter and bassist, Alan Bartram.
The only noticeable difference in their stage presence is the lack of Del, and use of more than one mic. Ronnie takes over and does a fine job leading the band, while at the same time keeping the McCoury stage persona alive. There were moments on stage when I was reminded of his father.
The Travelin’ McCourys are a razor sharp bluegrass band; progressive yet, not extreme in the use of effects on their instruments; still hard-hitting bluegrass that leaves air to breathe. Mixing traditions like classical, jazz, blues, folk and rock aspects with bluegrass, following in the innovate tradition of their namesake.
The Travelin’ Mccourys would go on to cover David Grisman and a slew of Grateful Dead songs including: “Loser,” “Loose Lucy,” and “If I Had The World To Give,” with Ronnie’s son joining the band on guitar, truly making this a family affair. Vocally and musically, The McCourys make these songs their own; improvisational, tight, and impressive. Closing with “Freedom Blues” and back-to-back solos from all the members on stage.
The sound was immaculate inside 3rd & Lindsley, and it was easily one of the coolest venues I have been to in Nashville. This being only my second time in Nashville, I am so glad I had the opportunity to cover this show. I was happy to be reminded of how great bluegrass can be, especially in Music City, where one must cultivate their own musical experience.
Catch The Travelin’ McCourys on tour now.
When deciding what to do for New Year’s Eve, the choice was simple: Widespread Panic or The Marcus King Band. Having spent the last few years with WSP, it was time for a change. This year, I thought it would be fun to ring in 2018 with one of my new favorite bands.
The Marcus King Band blows me away every time I see them. If you haven’t seen them, make it your New Year’s resolution. I braved the frigid cold and headed to the Baltimore Soundstage for a New Year’s filled with amazing music and great friends.
I saw supporting act Peoples Blues of Richmond, for the first time, this summer at the Marcus King Family Reunion Festival. It was one of the best times I had all year. I was only able to catch a few songs then, so I wasn’t able to write a full review.
My first impression of PBR’s opening set was that they are very heavy and loud. (They make a lot of noise for a 3-piece.) Their sound is very much like the Black Angels at times, while integrating Grunge and Punk Rock aesthetics with Irish-Folk (like Flogging Molly). Wielding his Gibson SG like a primitive barbaric weapon, the guitar solos were impressive. Seeming to be straight out of the Jimi Hendrix songbook, they would even cover “Manic Depression,” solidifying this impression.
PBR is an eclectic and original band with comedic overtones and vagabond lyricism that accentuates the underbelly of American society itself. I preferred their high-energy, blues trio stuff: heavy, fast and to the point. The Baltimore Soundstage itself was an adequate venue for this performance with decent sound but the employees and staff were lacking in kindness and that goes a long way, especially on New Year's Eve.
As soon as The Marcus King Band took the stage, all of 2017’s troubles and worries seemed to melt away. I was completely lost in the music and from that point, had no sense of time or space. The band came out swinging with a high-energy live performance that included a genre shattering set list. “Good Man,” “Ain’t Nothing Wrong,” and “Dear Prudence” highlighted the beginning of the show. MKB is on-point in every aspect musically, each player bringing their best to the stage and leaving it in the audience’s memories. At one point, a gentleman beside me began to tear up because the music was so profound. This was his first MKB show, and this is the true power of music.
The Marcus King Band pushes the limits of improvisation with a ferocious intensity, like a lion released from its cage in the depths of some Gladiatorial arena. Accentuating every stop and break within each musical change, progression and divergence. Each member has grown closer together and as a musical unit. This band has matured exponentially since I first saw them at Rooster Walk Music Festival this past summer. Learning some great new tunes and the addition of keyboardist DeShawn (D’vibes) Alexander have pushed the intensity of this bands sound even further. I cannot think of a better musician to join this band. Marcus and DeShawn have a musical connection that is palpable and that juxtaposes each other’s unique musical abilities.
The Marcus King Band would cover numerous Allman Brothers songs including “Dreams” and “One Way Out.” The crescendos and build-ups are on par with any of the hard-hitting Jam bands in the scene today. They can take you to that moment where you feel like the roof could explode off the entire building. Marcus would serenade the audience with a few acoustic solo tunes, including a brand new song that I’d like to hear again. The band returned to the stage for “Rita Is Gone” and then began one of the greatest medleys I have ever heard in my entire life.
As many of you may know, I am an extreme Frank Zappa fan, and it just so happens, so is Marcus. When last we met, we discussed the possibility of MKB covering some Zappa, and I was pleasantly surprised when Marcus pointed my way and began this medley with Zappa’s “Eat That Question” from the seminal album, ‘The Grand Wazoo.’ Serendipitously, one of my favorite Zappa albums which I’ve had on heavy rotation for the past few months. This medley would go on to include Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick," Black Sabbath‘s “War Pigs” and even the short hook from Salt-N-Pepa‘s “Push It.” I am still blown away by that Zappa cover and want to personally thank Marcus and the entire band for starting my 2018 off with such a perfect song selection. When I woke up New Year’s Day, I thought it was only proper that I pay my respects by visiting the Zappa statue/bust on Frank Zappa Way in Baltimore. I truly hope that MKB keeps “Eat That Question” in their repertoire from here on out.
The Marcus King Band would close out the night with “Virginia” bringing in 2018 with one of my favorite songs from this band. MKB has quickly climbed the Jam Band ladder for me and are competing with some of my favorites with raw, energetic, and pure improvisational live performances. In 2017, I made it my mission to see almost every up-and-coming Jam Band in the scene. Marcus King takes the number one spot easily; he and his band have more musical competency and improvisational qualities than any other band out there. I am extremely glad I decided to see them this New Year’s Eve. This may become an ongoing tradition, but let’s hope that MKB decides to play somewhere in the South next year. I’m already ready for warmer weather.
Happy New Year!
–Jam Band Purist
WARNING: The views and opinions expressed on this site may not be in conjecture with your own. Be Advised
Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.