I was recently contacted by Magic Music, a Colorado based band originally from the 1970s, dubbed, "Colorado's First Jam Band" to check out their album and write a review. I wasn't quite sure what to think, I had never done an album review before and the name Magic Music, seemed a bit corny but I received the album and was pleasantly surprised. I then reached out to a few friends in Colorado to see if there was news of this band. A few said they had heard of Magic Music and one of my friends had even listened to a recent NPR interview done with one of the band members. I listened to the album, ceremoniously, like I did when I was younger, sitting down and really consuming the music, not just listening to it but becoming it.
Magic Music had never recorded a full album during their six-year stint as a live-touring act. When they reunited, they began work on their first album that came out in August 2016. The self-titled album begins with, "Bring the Morning Down." In the first few seconds of the song, the listener is whisked away by the flutes introduction; suddenly transported, walking down a garden path on a warm spring day. The flute is an instrument that is missing in today's popular and even Jam music. With bands like, Jethro Tull and Marshall Tucker Band adding this instrument in the 1970s, helped popularize and leave a lasting memory on popular music. I have always enjoyed the mystical sound that only a flute can bring and I think we need more of it.
The lyrics to "Bring the Morning Down" and throughout this entire album are extremely catchy. I find myself humming many of these tunes. While I visited the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico this past month, I took the Magic Music album with me and I would find myself lost, not only in the ancient ruins of the Mayan people but the music itself. I found this album to be great for traveling.
When I listen to this album, I get a true Jam-Grass feel. In the 1970s there was no genre like Jam-Grass, this band seems to be a pioneer for that sound. There are a few rockin' moments within the Magic Music album that stand out but mostly its pretty laid-back and lighthearted.
I was a little leery at first about the name Magic Music, and I wasn't sure that it fit the Jam band scene but after thinking about it and listening to the album many times, Magic Music works perfectly. Not only does the name match the sound of the band but the magical quality of the music as well. Many 70s bands had much worse names. The 1970s was a time filled with record label bullshit and faux rock over production. It was probably a smart move for these guys to go back to the mountains but I am glad they have decided to give it another go, because this album and their songs seem to be innovators of the Jam-Grass genre itself.
Magic Music takes influences from traditional folk and Irish jigs and mixes them with great vocal harmonies, reminiscent of Crosby Stills and Nash. The song, "Bright Sun Bright Rain" really accentuates these influences. Their sound is very familiar to me and has taken on a life of its own. "Mole Stumble," is the perfect song to wake up to and start your day with. One of my favorite tracks from Magic Music is, "Gandy Dancer;" the deep chords in the beginning of the track really give way to the lightness and progression of the song. This song sounds like Jam-Grass to me, much like Railroad Earth, or even Yonder Mountain String Band. “Carolina Wind” breezes deep and thoughtful chord structures into the album and is a great transition piece, much like a sea shanty or sailor’s tune. It reminds me of my time near the Outer Banks of North Carolina. “Flat Brush Jig” and “El Dorado Canyon” both are slower songs on the album and seem to have a more jam/improvisational quality but all of these songs are very well worked out. I would be highly interested in seeing all of these songs performed live and given the Jam treatment. The musicianship of the band members is top notch and I am sure they are prone to jamming out and extending the songs on stage. “Sundance” takes its direction from Irish folk vibes and with somewhat cheesy lyrics but I am brace the cheese. “A Cossack’s Song” takes on a different feel than the rest of the album, more of an ethereal sound, like Pink Floyd, but with added vocal harmonies. “Old Man Das” is a great instrumental addition to this album and reminds me of traditional Bluegrass. “Hayin” has a funky blues sound that shows off the chops of each player. I really enjoyed this one because it gets funkier than the rest of the album. “The Cosmic Jingle” closes up the album on a thoughtful note but it left me wanting more.
“Magic Music was born from the spirit of youth,” recalls founding member Will Luckey. “There is an unmatched freedom that is generated by a group of young guys reaching into their imagination, creating, and realizing thoughtful musical ideas without boundaries.”
“It was truly the power of music that brought us together, " Daniels said an all access music interview. "It was those songs, and when we are playing them live, I close my eyes and I hear the parts that the different people are playing, and singing the harmonies: I could be 18 years or older again. It's a true Time Machine." From All Access Interview Music.allaccess.com
This statement can be seen throughout Magic Music's entire album and I have always said, “Live music is like time travel.” And I think that fits with all music in general, not just live music. Music is one of the only things that came transport me to the time when I first heard that song or even a particular occasion in my life, music is one of the ways I remember.
This album is profound and very well recorded. With special guest performances by: Sam Bush, the Doobie Brothers John Mcfee, Little Feat’s, Bill Payne and violinist, Scarlet Rivera. Magic Music band needs to be heard. While there are other bands doing Jam-Grass, Bluegrass, Irish folk, no one does it quite like Magic Music. The vocal harmonies really shine like no other band out there right now. I am extremely impressed by this album and a few of the songs within have become part of the soundtrack to my life. I wake up some mornings and throw on Magic Music to get my day started; with such positive and uplifting songs and lyrics, it’s hard not to stay upbeat.
I hope this review helps spread the word about Magic Music and I would love to catch this band live sometime soon. There is so much more to this story, from interviews to videos and even an upcoming documentary. You can check all this and more out at magicmusicband.com and the album is on Spotify right now.
This is actually my first album review and I want to thank Magic Music and their marketing team for the copy of their album and allowing me to review it. I had more fun than I thought I would and I even made my own musical memories within the songs. I wish Magic Music the best in all of their future musical endeavors.
Jam Band Purist
I have always been obsessed with rhythm; that driving rhythm that comes from all music, from all over the world. That beat is the heart of all humans, the dance of all our spirits. That beat is in us all and we can all understand it, it is a language of love and life. I found a new beat that gets my heart pumping and my soul shining.
I hadn't heard much about the Antibalas before this show but I had heard them when they did the backing for FELA on Broadway, a musical based on Afro-beat innovator, Fela Kuti and I knew I had to see them as soon as possible. My love for Afro-beat and world music, in general, has only grown over the years. I have every Fela and Manu Dibango album there is and their sound has influenced me in so many ways. They are only a few bands out there even capable of making music like this nowadays and the Antibalas is the top echelon. From the first few beats, I knew this band was exactly what I needed and had been looking for. I had never been able to see any Afro-beat live and I was not disappointed, rather I was entranced.
Washington D.C. seems at turmoil with itself, like a hungry beast lurking in the darkness, waiting to consume us all, and gnaw at the bones. For some god-forsaken reason we parked in a federal building. After a thorough inspection of our car and airport like security, we were permitted to park the car in the parking deck for 15$, Thanks so much. Let's just leave it at; government employees can be the rudest people on our planet, the bureaucracy and the politics aside, if you are unhappy with your current employment, do all in your power to find something new. This is only one of many reasons why I stay away from D.C. most of the time. I've had some shows planned up there for the future but this experience has me thinking that it may be too much trouble to get in and out of the city. D.C. must go on without the Jam Band Purist, at least for a while; I'm sure it will be fine.
This was my first time attending a show at the Hamilton and I had no idea what to expect. The workers and staff were very friendly and extremely nice but I would have upgraded to seats had I known the layout was like the Copacabana or something. I wasn't sure if I had walked into a comedy club or restaurant. The standing room was literally in the aisles, with a super small strip in front of the stage. I tried to stay upfront for the show but was immediately squeezed out by annoying debutantes and bobbling bureaucrats. I stayed in the back all night, getting bumped about by staff and patrons alike. The Hamilton is not conducive to a concert environment. The sound was impeccable and all credit goes to the soundman for keeping up with so many instruments but I felt jolted from my experience many times throughout the night. The Hamilton could be a great medium sized venue. I don't go to live music to sit down and have dinner, especially not with the Antibalas getting down so hard. I go to shows to dance and let out some of my pent up energy. The Hamilton may be having an identity crisis. Dinner theatre was not what I had in mind.
Afro-beat-funk-jazz is the ultimate Jam music; it's fluid and ready to move anywhere, at anytime. Afro-beat is full of improvisation, while still adhering to the traditional jazz standards in which it is rooted. Much like American Jam bands, Afro-beat is a blend of different types of music and cultural influence from Northern Africa and while you don't really think of them as Jam bands, they totally embody everything I love about Jam music. The fact is there aren't many bands in America capable of doing what the Antibalas are doing. The Antibalas also seemed to lead the charge with current events and political statements, mixed into their lyrical content, which is one of the important aesthetics taken from traditional Afro-beat developers.
I very rarely go to a show where I am not constantly taking notes on my phone for my reviews. I watched the Antibalas not only transfixed by songs like, "Dirty Money" or "Rat Race" but I couldn't stop dancing to the music, as if I was a madman. The intensity with which the Antibalas bring forth, is unlike any other band I have ever seen and you'd be hard-pressed to find a band doing Afro-beat with such perfection.
As the night progressed, I was continually blown away by the sound and musicianship of the Antibalas, minus the constant barrage of employees and wait staff, I don't think I stopped dancing until the last song was over. I met with some of the band members after the show and they were gracious and polite. To be quite honest, I think they might be one of my new favorite bands. I haven't stopped listening to them on Spotify since the show and I am anxiously anticipating their next tour. Hopefully I will be able to see them in a larger venue with adequate boogie space. More when I see them again…
Jam Band Purist
Zoso-A Led Zeppelin Experience (Led Zeppelin Minus The Cocaine)
I have been hearing about Zoso-a Tribute to Led Zeppelin, for almost a decade now. I have always loved Led Zeppelin from the first time I heard "Rock 'n' Roll." I have had the chance to see Robert Plant at Lockn' festival and although interesting, it wasn't the same for me. Zoso, much like any cover band, will never come close to comparing with the real thing. All we can do is dream and ponder, or hope that the "cover band" is more like DSO or Russo- Bustle in your Hedgerow and they take it upon themselves to make the music more than it already is.
My first thoughts on Zoso were with the crowd; this eclectic group seemed more heavy metal than flower child and many seemed like they had never been to any live shows at all. They seemed the types to really love listening to classic rock on FM radio and sing along with every popular song, no deep cuts. Their concert etiquette was lacking to non-existent. The crowd was a show all itself. All of middle earth was represented here: giants, dwarfish creatures and even orcs. I guess I was really hoping they played songs relating to Lord of the Rings. I have also never seen so many doo-rags on older white men then at this show; I thought I was in the hood or something. One couple proved conclusively that no one should ever try to dance to "Immigrant Song" with a partner.
The singer or foe Robert Plant, came out wearing an opened, half-kimono, stomach jiggling like a belly dancer, freshly shaven... all the way down. I couldn't look at him without laughing hysterically but by the time they got to "Houses of the Holy" and "No Quarter," I was getting into the music; closing my eyes and drifting away but I could do that at home with headphones.
To be honest, the lead singer sounded better then Robert Plant in most of the live shows from the late-70s but Jimmy Fage had nowhere near the chops that were needed. Who screws up the solo in "Stairway to Heaven?" The terrible wig didn't help either but boy, do I wish I had a pair of those wizard pants!
All in all, it was great to hear Led Zeppelin's music played live and minus the cocaine. Musically, Zoso is so-so but on point and they do a fairly good job of imitating and only imitating, Led Zeppelin. But some bands are better left on record.
Respectfully and Honestly,
"Spafford 'Turn Down The Lights' plays intimate show in Virginia."2/12/17 | The Southern | Charlottesville, VA
One thing I have learned over the years about the Jam scene is that bands come and go, as fast as they appear, POOF... they are gone. A band may seem poised to take over the Jam scene one minute and then breaking up the next. I had been hearing so much about Spafford this year, the new, breakout Jam act; I had to give them a chance in a live setting as soon as I could. Spafford's first tour across the country brought them to The Southern in Charlottesville, Virginia. I opted out of their recent Richmond show, where they opened for Umphreys McGee, for this much smaller, more intimate setting with Spafford as headliner. At first, I wasn't sure what to think about the name Spafford; it sounds so similar to a local Virginia high school, Stafford that it throws me off. Not being so put off by the name, the music shines through, and in the end, I guess it doesn't matter what they call themselves as long as they jam and jam they did.
Spafford began their performance in an easy and fluid-like manner, seemingly ready to take the music anywhere, at anytime. I was immediately impressed with their sound quality, which was very professional and much larger than the room they were playing for. The professional sound quality of this live mix was the best I've ever heard in such a small venue. It pays to have all the right equipment and a team of people that have the knowledge to use it. Within the first 15 minutes, I could already tell that I was getting my $10 worth tonight. The band seemed off in their own world, noodling around for a few songs, never reaching their full potential until the audience began to get into the music with them. The band members became less withdrawn and the energy in the room heightened, as the lead guitarist began to smile into the crowd and they lowered the lights. Spafford's technical abilities show even in the first few songs. They have the ability to transition and shift musically but they're always ready to take the jam further and longer.
I was able to get closer to the band after the horde of 7-foot frost giants left the front of the stage. I will never understand why the tallest guys in the room have to stand right in the front and block everyone's view. As a guitarist myself, I can honestly tell you that Spafford's lead guitarist knows his stuff. He is very controlled and centered but I still saw him nimbly taking a few chances on the neck. His sound is very familiar yet; he still makes it his own, as do all the band members. At any time, Spafford can sound reminiscent of the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Phish and even moe. and that's all in one song.
In their song, "Todd's Tots," we even see extreme traditional jazz breakdowns, which are always a good way to impress a purist like myself by showing genre versatility. Their songwriting ability is still actively growing but the music is very thought out, structured and coordinated. This band cares deeply about their sound and their musical output; this can be a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes you have to let loose and follow that improvisational groove wherever it may lead but its great to have that structure to build on. The band doesn't have a huge category of songs but they threw in some Van Morrison, "Into the Mystic" as an encore; which is always a classic choice. The band still seems to be learning stage maneuvering and onstage communication but that will come with more time and practice, as they all become even more comfortable onstage and with each other.
What stands out most about Spafford is there effervescent jams, that seem waiting to foam over; some jams only fizzed, while others popped and boiled over.
Spafford seems ready to grab one of those coveted spots in the jam world and they have the sound of technical ability to do so. Only time will tell but this won't be my last time seeing Spafford and most likely they will be playing much larger venues. The vote is still out on these guys but I am very impressed, to say the least.
May the Jam Gods be with you,
Jam Band Purist
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It's a Bunch, The Postman > Todd's Tots, Hollywood > The Reprise > Leave The Light On > The Postman, Virtual Bean Dip > Palisades > Leave The Light On
Encore - Into The Mystic
Consider the Source Review by Jam Band Purist at The Southern Cafe and Music Hall in Charlottesville, Va- 2/3/17: (“This Next Song Is An Instrumental")
There are many bands that I run across in my day-to-day life, that never really astonish me or make a lasting impression. A few years ago, I came across Consider The Source and I was immediately blown away by their sound and musicianship. The song, “Ninjanuity” was one of their first songs that I really dug into and I have forever been intrigued with the technical ability of the members and the originality of their eclectic music.
As a huge Frank Zappa fan, his influence seems almost undeniable but CTS takes their progressive nature much further, with breakdowns and crescendos on par with many Jam and Progressive-Rock acts out there today. While the progressive influence of their music is propulsive, there is also an extreme influence from world music; anything from Hindi to Asian.
My first opportunity to see Consider The Source came this past Thursday and they did not disappoint. CTS opened up with transient sitar sounds and waves of energy that forced the whole room stop and listen. I got to meet some of the guys before the show and they were gracious and highly respectable.
My first impression of the music was immediately given to Gabe, the guitar wielder, who did things with his double-necked guitar in the first five minutes, that I have never seen anyone do, ever. As a truly experienced guitarist, Gabe Marin adds a whole new level to guitar virtuosity. The use of finger sliding, up and down the neck, was complete insanity. I have never witnessed such fast fingers fly, while seeming so effortless to float atop the fret board, poised to play in any position. The bass player John Ferrara, while small in stature, is huge in sound. The bass seemed as big as he was but John dexterously wrangled the perfect sound from his instrument. John is a tight, in-the-pocket bass player that perfectly juxtaposes Gabe's virtuoso guitar work. The drummer Jeff Mann, is the heartbeat behind it all, consistently morphing with the ebb and flow of the music. I once heard the other band members describe him as, “The best thing they ever found on a Craigslist ad.”
The band interchanges solos on a dime, their songs are filled with stops and breaks, hard rock changes and interludes that range from progressive metal to Hindi (Very Broad Term) psychedelia; exemplifying the dedication and hard work of the band members. CTS even covered a Radiohead song but I can't tell you which one it was, as I am not a Radiohead fan.
At one point, Gabe made his guitar sound like a number of brass/horn instruments: flute, sax, and trumpet. There was a constant hum from what looked like an ancient homemade guitar cabinet. Whenever the guitar wasn't screaming through the speakers, the hum was a bit off putting but maybe that's how Gabe gets his guitar to sound like so many crazy instruments.
Consider The Source knows what they are doing, they are technically and masterfully proficient in what they do and it shows, not only in their crescendos/ build-ups but in their solos and breakdowns. CTS is able to transition from Asian influences, rock, metal, jazz and everything in between, seamlessly, like a musical tailor stitching a piece of intricately woven fabric throughout the night. CTS is the perfect blend for my love of world music and progressive rock. I will certainly be catching a lot more of Consider the Source in the future and this is one of many reviews I feel I will write for them as they grow and gain fans and followers. If you love 15-minute jams and crazy instrumental solos by skilled musicians, then I highly suggest catching CTS the next time they are in your area.
May the Jam Gods be with you
Written by: 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.