Well, it's that time of the year again folks! Lockn' music festival is less than two days away and I am just as excited, as I was the first year of the festival. This has been a great year for jam music and also a heartbreaking one. We need Lockn more than ever. With the losses of many great artists between this year and last, there are some serious tributes that could align this weekend. Last year was different but it was awesome to have Phish at Oak Ridge. They turned Infinity Downs into a transdemnsional portal; transporting us into another time and space but look at the acts they can get without paying that huge sum for Phish. We've got Widespread Panic, String Cheese, Phil Lesh with members of moe. The Disco Biscuits, JRAD, Govt Mule, Keller Williams, John Fogarty and some of my new favorite acts like Marcus King Band, Eric Krasno Band, Tauk, and The Antibalas. (I am least looking forward to Sinkane, Brandi Carlisle and PPPP but that is for another write up.) I would like to give The Revivalist and The Avett Brothers a chance but they truly don't seem up my alley, musically.
Lockn' is the Mecca of all Jam festivals for me. The Peach looked very good this year and may have rivaled what is to come but I stuck with my hometown Virginia festival. I know I will not be disappointed but the daily lineup is not what I hoped for, MKB at 11:45am? Marcus deserves Late night sets and many sit-ins, he is the real deal and the best new artist I've seen in years. There are many performances I am looking forward to but I look to see Widespread Panic play with Dirty Dozen Brass Band and String Cheese and Umphrey's McGee to actually utilize the turning stage and jam back to back, without any interruptions. I would still love to see a battle of the bands or something of the sort, with one band playing and then the stage turning and then the other band playing; back and forth. I hope for some surprises and something completely different.
With the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia this community needs this festival more than ever and we have to bring the good vibes back to Virginia. It's all about the music. Music is transcending and can change people like nothing else can. Music is the language of us all, let's speak together. I am truly excited to cover this event for the first year with media access. I cannot wait to share this experience with all of you. This is my 5th year back at Lockn' and I am positive I will not be disappointed, bring it on.
There is something about the name Zappa that elicits some sort of innate reaction from me. It’s as if, some sort of beast, uncontrollable by me, leaps out and demands to be reckoned with. It's rare this beast comes out for socialization until Dweezil Zappa comes to my local area to rip the flesh of wanton Zappaphiles, young and old alike.
I got to unleash the beast at Rams Head Live, upfront on Scheila’s side in Baltimore, home of the man himself Frank Zappa. I did not have a chance to visit the Zappa memorial statue and road sign “ Frank Zappa Way” but that is 100% on my bucket list. I anxiously anticipated the bands performance, twiddling my thumbs and fidgeting around. This is one of my favorite bands, not just because I love Frank's music but because the core band members are phenomenal musicians and versatile vocalists. I am always impressed with Scheila and her on stage presence. An atonal, happy birthday to Scheila Gonzalez, Grammy award winner and all around amazing performer; I don't know anyone else who can play keyboards with one hand and sax with the other.
Dweezil is hands-down one of the nastiest/best guitar players I've ever seen live and I have seen many; I would put Dweezil up there with Jimmy Herring, Derek Trucks and even, Steve Vai at virtuoso skill and playing. Dweezil is also a master of improvisation. It was also great to see him take on more vocals and even helped sing a few songs.
I know they are looking for a male vocalist and I recently sent in my audition tape. It would be a dream come true just to sit in with this band and perform any of Frank Zappa's music. This shows setlist was very similar to last year's performance in Richmond, Virginia but I didn't care one bit. I am just happy to hear Zappa music live. The set list included: “Translyvania Boogie,” “Brain Police,” “Inca Roads,” “Meek Shall Inherit Nothing,” “Montana,” Zomby Woof,” “Black Napkins,” “Apostrophe,” “You Are What You Is,” “Doreen,” “Echidnas Arf,” “Keep It Greasy,” a very emotional “Watermelon In Easter Hay” “Cosmik Debris,” City of Tiny Lites,” “Rollo” and “Muffin Man.”
The legacy of this music lives on strong in my heart and soul but it pains me to hear about the ongoing battle and lawsuits Dweezil is forced to continue. In all honesty, it truly comes down to “who” is the legacy? Who can take this music out and give it to the world? The only person is Dweezil, the only answer to that is, Dweezil. Let that speak for itself. You can help support Dweezil by contributing to his campaign here: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/othersofintention
The real treat was getting to meet with band again after the show. Dweezil will continue to be one of my favorite live acts; hell, he's even one of my top artist on Fans.com. Time will tell what will happen with the lawsuit but I know that the Dweez will come out on top because he is the right person to continue this legacy.
“Arf” She Said,
Jam Band Purist
Phish Bakers Dozen Reflection
As Phish, the quintessential Jam Band of this century, played the most famous venue in the world MSG, the Jam world took notice and many made the pilgrimage to the Big Apple for this experience. I decided to head up for Jerry Garcia's birthday in hopes that Phish would play Grateful Dead covers or classics, or anything; they did not. The doughnut flavor for the night was Maple and I got one single bite. Unlike Sam Cutler, I enjoyed the doughnut and as a grown adult I can honestly say I have had many donuts and will continue to try donuts. The theme for evening was lined up with the Maple flavoring and included “O’ Cananda” a nod to our friends up North. I cant say this was the one cover I’ve been waiting for my whole life! But meh…
This reflection is coming a bit late but I wanted to think about what this epic run has meant to me and to the Phish community, as a whole. The August 2nd show was lackluster but only in comparison with the set list of other Bakers Dozen nights. As a Phish show goes, it was par for the course but we were treated with some amazing renditions of “Daniel Saw The Stone” that had MSG bouncing like a trampoline and the “Opossum” that was by far the best I have ever heard live. The four-man drum/Marimba Lumina solo was fun and creative it shows that quirky side of Phish that we all love. Other than that, just experiencing New York City and one of the greatest bands on earth was enough for me to give this show the JBP seal of approval.
What does this run mean for me? Phish has always been a huge part of my Jam upbringing, they are a band that must be seen to believe and they always give an outstanding performance. But for me 13 nights in New York City is just not doable, not ever, never. It's very cool that the band can do stuff like this for its North Eastern fanbase and it shows how important Phish is not only to the Jam scene but to the American zeitgeist itself. Think of it, Phish holds the record for shows at Madison Square Garden, Madison Square Garden! The self dubbed “most famous venue in the world” (Eye Rolls) It's a great but come on, Red Rocks! Anyway, I would love to see the boys do a residency here in Virginia at the Mothership in Hampton Coliseum. Will residencies like this be the new standard? Doubtful, but as the boys get older they will have to change business models and this is one hell of a way to change.
I only made one night but by god, I made it. After the show I ran into Marc Brownstein from the Disco Biscuits and I told him that we needed more Zappa, especially at Lockn’ Music Festival this year. There were many celebrities and musicians that came to these shows and gave their respects to Phish and the after show scene in the city was crazy! NYC is Music City.
What does this run mean for the Phish community? This is one of the most historic occasions for this community as a whole, not just for Phish but for all of us. It proves the validity and importance of improvisational music in today's society. Phish’s ravenous fans create this mythos and legend around the band and the material. This mythology continues to seep into every day culture. Think of all the ESPN references and newscasters and famous people who enjoy this band. Things are growing and people are seeing the importance of what Phish can do. Metallica was just talking about Phish and the residency at MSG today, Metallica! Phish is one of the most important bands in America today, Period.
While, I only made it to one night of Madison Square Garden's for the Baker's Dozen, I had an amazing time meeting up with my friends and enjoying my 27th show in New York City, the Big Apple. Perhaps if they decide to do another residency of this magnitude, I will try to hit more shows. We shall see what the future holds but as they sang on the last night “On The Road Again.”
May The Jam Gods Be with You,
Jam Band Purist
Back at Merriweather Post Pavilion; I like to come to this venue once a year and since Phish wasn't playing this time around, Santana seemed like the perfect occasion to return for 2017. Merriweather Post Pavilion has recently gone through some modifications and upgrades. It was quite interesting to see the venues evolution over the past years. The new wooden-modern styled buildings have replaced the old, run down carnival feel that prevailed as soon as you entered before. The pavilion roof seems to have been raised, somewhat but maybe only a few feet; which does offer some much needed viewing space.
The crowd for Santana was extremely diverse and the music seemed to bring everyone closer together no matter, race or nationality. This music speaks to everyone's souls and Santana’s music is transcending even time and space, race or anything else is of little use when understanding music and letting it is very easy to let into your heart and soul. Ecstatic, joyous music, as Santana said himself, "music is divine"
The guitar sensation took the stage for a ripping intro; high-energy rock with Latin swing, funk and soul all mixed together. Carlos Santana’s music has always been spiritual in nature and psychedelic in origin; he has never left this behind. For a 70-year-old, Santana still has amazing guitar chops and his music is still spiritual and enlightened as it ever was. He has talked on numerous occasions concerning his personal deity, known as Metatron with whom he spiritually communes with and which is directly responsible for his hit come back album, “Supernatural.”
Santana's music is the definition of Latin Fusion but on another level that no one can compete with; effortlessly combining various rhythmic and musical forms. Embodying a melting pot of musical revelation and inspiration.
Santana spoke to the crowd many times, talking about various political, social and spiritual philosophies.-
"Feels good to be loco, to be free. Normal straight people are boring. I love crazy people."
He spoke of The Grateful Dead saying, "They never played the same set. They used to tell me, ‘You have to lose yourself to find yourself.’" He also quoted many other musical artists and figures from the 1960s such as: John Lennon, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and even mumbled some Dylan.
This tour was called The Transmogrify Tour 2017. Santana spoke on this term and its use within music, as well. This term can also represent some spiritual connotations; Transmogrify is to transform something, especially in a surprising or magical manner and Santana does just that, transforming his music into something completely different. Not only did Santana play great versions of his classic songs like, “Soul Sacrifice,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Oye Como Va” and “Evil Ways” but he seamlessly mixes themes and melodies from other songs written by many popular bands like, The Beatles, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder and The Police. Riffs from many Classic Rock songs could be heard intertwined within classic Santana jams.
I would absolutely love to see Santana again but next time at a music festival. He would do well at Lockn’ again or any Jam festival out there. Santana’s technical ability is unmatchable and he seems to have been through it all and back again. He can still excite any Jam Band lover and his music is beautiful and extremely powerful. Below, I have made a chart that shows what to expect when seeing Santana live. While, this experience was new to me, I had a lot of fun but I did not enjoy the cheesy 90s songs.
Jam Band Purist
Hey there everyone! Today marks my 1 year anniversary of Jam Band Purist and beginning my music writing career. I would like to share some big news, I have been working with nugs.net on their recent archival blog and it was just launched a few days ago!
I am excited to share this and get people involved. Please check this out, share, comment and let me know what you think; perhaps even what shows should be included.
Thanks to everyone who has given me support this past year from friends, family, fellow Music Fans, all the bands and musicians and especially, Grateful Music Strangers Stopping Strangers FANS - Belong Here
Thank you all so much!
Deep Roots Mountain Revival 2017:(Back On Marvin's Mountaintop) and Interview with Aqueous.
It's been seven years since my last visit to Marvins Mountaintop in wild and wonderful, West Virginia. This is where it all started for me, back in the glory days of All Goods past. My first festival was in 2005, right here at Marvin's Mountaintop. My whole world had been shattered and torn from the illusion that is reality; I became one with the music and everything changed from that moment on. Now, I was back there again.
The mountaintop had seemed to stay the same, although my perception of the venue itself had been somewhat skewed and warped with time. There were far less people at Deep Roots then I had expected and it remained small and friendly throughout the entire weekend. I honestly think I meet about 50% of all the attendees at Deep Roots and although the attendance was small, I think the participants made up for it with quality over quality and with personality and kindness.
Backstage in the media tent, I got to catch up with many of the performers and musicians that came through. I got to speak with Danny Mayer and Mary Corso both from The Eric Krasno Band and they told me how much fun they were having being on the road with Kraz and their recent adventures. I last saw them perform about a month ago and their performance was even better this time around, they are growing as performers and musicians. I also got to know many of the photographers and other media backstage. All I can say is that photographers are from another world and I enjoyed watching them get their jollies off shooting people.
I checked out "Qiet" the first act up on the main stage, who brought a unique blend of funky, creole, gypsy folk. I enjoyed their sound at points but I had never heard of them before and I'm still not quite sure what they were going for musically. I felt like it was a mix-match of various genres, with no real structure but they got into a groove sometimes.
I was really looking forward to Eric Krasno Band's set and I rode the rail with my new friends. I am continually impressed with Kraz and his guitar virtuoso skills; his improvisation and guitar technique are unmatchable in the jam-funk-rock scene today. He has become one of my favorite live guitarist and getting to meet him during his sit-in with Tauk solidifies what a great all-around person and player Eric Krasno is. He and his band performed an outstanding "Whipping Post" in honor of Gregg Allman and they rounded through many of the various songs from his album, Blood and Stone.
After torrential downpours for about an hour on Thursday evening, Lettuce took the stage to funk up the festival and it's few attendees with raw psychedelic, jammy funk but one could tell they were trying to leave, as soon as possible.
Aqueous was up late night, on top of a gigantic muddy hill, which looked like some sort of spaceship runway from a distance. I got to do a much anticipated, informal interview with Aqueous before the show and boy, do I have the scoop for you. Where to begin?
JBP: "So, what's up with the name?"
Mike Gantzer: "Well, we have been playing for 11 years now and we just..."
Dave Loss: "We chose the name along time ago."
No real answer was given but I'm sure that they get asked this question a lot. I looked up the definition later and it means "of, or containing water; typically as a solvent or medium; or like water." Fluid and always moving is a good way to describe their band.
JBP: "I really dug your set opener for Twiddle at the 9:30 club this year, what do you think about being one of the up-and-coming bands in the scene?"
Rob Houk- "Its great." (Rob didn't say much but he seemed enthusiastic... drummers)
Dave Loss- "It's truly fun and exciting."
Evan Mcphaden- (casually nods and laughs)
Mike: "Grateful for the fans. Getting fans one show at a time."
JBP: "Who are some of your favorite bands out there right now?"
(After a long pause and some questioned glances.)
Evan Mcphaden: "Twiddle, of course."
Dave: "Dopapod and Mungion."
Mike: "Definitely Mungion, those guys are awesome and if you haven't heard of them, check them out."
JBP: "Oh OK, so it's Mungion? That's how you pronounce it? I've always wondered. I have been following them for about two years now."
Dave: "Yes, it's Mungion like onion."
JBP: "I see the always tricky, silent G!"
We discussed the ins-and-outs and various uses of the silent G and the newest group in the jam scene, Mungion like onion.
JBP: "So, Mungion is one of these groups who made live videos on social media first before hitting the road and performing, how do you feel about that model of promotion vs. just getting out on the road and touring?"
Mike: "More power to them. To each their own. We have played so many shows together (after a long discussion between 900 to 1000 shows) Being on the road can be really hard."
JBP: "Speaking of that, any crazy road stories or interesting happenings on the road that you could share?"
The band laughs together.
JBP: "No, really. Anything goes, we all love the crazy details about rock 'n' roll and that lifestyle at Grateful Music."
Mike and Dave begin to tell a story which I will paraphrase:
After a show in Toronto two ladies of the night solicited Aqueous for some after show fun. Being the polite and courteous young men they are, they declined but after further rebuke, the women began to flash their private areas, making lewd gestures whilst yelling, "Pew" "Pew" "Pew" as if laser beams were shooting at the band. Needless to say, Aqueous will forever be scarred by these ladies of the night and their laser beam vaginas.
Another crazy after show experience included the band getting out of hand and throwing garbage cans in the middle of someone's yard and after that they were only permitted to sleep in the chicken coop outback. Aqueous have even tried to use the old, acoustic duo trick to stay in hotels on the cheap, they are into you guys. Time for that acoustic tour now!
JBP: "Where do you find influences for your newest music?"
Mike: "We are working on leaving more space and grooving, taking influence from hip hop lately but through our lense as a rock and roll band. We just like anything soulful and in the pocket."
Thanks to Aqueous for taking the time to meet with me and share some of their stories. I look forward to their rise in the jam scene and cannot wait to check them out with members of moe. at this years Brooklyn Comes Alive. You can check out Aqueous on nugs.net and they will be releasing their newest album, which I hope to review soon.
I headed up to Aqueous's sound check early, to see how the band interacted together on stage. This group of young guys are musically talented to epic proportion's. Their onstage chemistry is undeniable and their sound is extremely reminiscent of one of my favorite bands, moe. and that's what we need right now in this scene. They ended their late-night set with a 20 minute rendition of "Strange Times" I even got a "pew" on stage during soundcheck. I have listened back to this show many times on nugs.net and it is top notch.
I started my day out Friday at the Art exhibit tent, where I watched an amateur paint session and got to meet all kinds of freaks! There were plenty of activities and vendors at Deep Roots and Sam Bush was the first act I saw on Friday after checking it all out. Sam Bush really played to the crowd with ferocious and fierce, ball busting bluegrass. Great covers of Leon Russell, Jerry Lee Lewis "Great Balls Of Fire" and the classic "Uncle Pen." I hung with the band The Dead 27s backstage and they seemed like down-to-earth genuine fellas. They even gave me a copy of their recent album and I can't wait to take a listen.
Moon Taxi was up next on the main stage and I wasn't that impressed to be honest. The crowd seemed to get into it but I believe it was a bit too pop oriented for my taste. Kraz did sit-in for another version of "Whipping Post." I did like the lead singer's hat but I wish he would have worn it the whole time. Stay cool my Amish friend. I caught just a bit of Cabinet, enough to see the dog come onstage for a sit-in performance
I was truly impressed with Tauk and Eric Krasno just makes everything better. I had seen Tauk previously and had enjoyed the music thoroughly but I had commented that they needed some vocals or possibly even needed to add lyrics to their songs and this time they did just that. The drummer sang "Come Together" very well and with passion. Why not utilize this talent? Eric Krasno again shows he is the master of improvisation while sitting in with Tauk for one of their original songs, learning on the fly in the key of E. No quarter, no lyrics. I am excited to see more of Tauk in the future and I hope that they continue to grow and expand their repertoire. They have a very funky, Jam sound and I could see more layers and details added to this equation.
The only band I saw on Saturday was Billy Strings and it was well worth waiting around for. Billy Strings may be young but he is the next voice of Bluegrass. His vocal stylings harken back to Appalachian war calls and High vocal singers like Bill Monroe and even Del McCoury. Billy uses electric pedals to put his acoustic guitar playing on the edge of heavy metal and rock, while still adhering to the traditional bluegrass standards, playing songs like "Throw The Wood Pile Down" and even mixing in some Grateful Dead "Samson and Delilah." Well done transitions and changes from this young man and I really look forward to seeing what he will do next.
The weather on Saturday did not relent and storm after storm seemed to cover Marvins Mountaintop. Soaked and pruned from the rain, I decided to head back home before Yonder Mountain and Dr. Dog. I heard that they did ended up playing for a little while. What a mess that must have been and I applaud everyone who made it all the way through!The weather at this years Deep Roots may have been dreary but the attitude and vibes of this festival cannot be matched: everyone seemed to come together and help each other out. This is much different than the larger festivals out there today. Deep Roots was truly a revival of Marvin's Mountaintop and reminds me of the musical magic that can happen at these smaller festivals. Next year, Deep Roots should be learning from this years experiences and I hope they are even more successful next year. I would love to see the Mountaintop filled with tens of thousands of people again. Until next time.
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.