Farm Aid 31- (Under A Harvest Moon) by JamBandPurist
I got to the venue late and parked in lot F- for f**ked. I walked about two miles to get to the ticket booth but was immediately handed a free ticket from a stranger. Miracles do happen folks just keep a positive attitude! As I was walking into Jiffy Lube Live-not one of my favorite venues by any means- Nathaniel Radcliffe was covering “The Shape I’m In,” a Band staple. It sounded great and I was excited to get into my seats but then the set was immediately over so, I hopped in a really long line for a show poster. There, I was accosted by a seventy-year-old woman, who threatened to beat up everyone around her if anyone tried to cut in line; brandishing her fully tattooed arms like wrinkly stubs, thrusting them in innocent merch booth patrons faces, including mine; then she let four of her friends cut in front of her. I got out of that line as soon as possible to catch Sturgill Simpson who was on next. I had been hearing such a buzz about him lately but hadn't really heard much of his stuff. Frankly, I was very unimpressed. I couldn't understand a word he saying. He sang like some hillbilly with a mouthful of marbles. What I was impressed with was his backing band. They had a hard country southern-rock feel but with the horn section to boot. Now that was something I could dig into.
Some people actually started standing up at this point and cheering but when Alabama Shakes came on the stage things changed. I was completely blown away by the lead singers vocal prowess and the way she wielded her SG supreme with such ferocity. “Sound and Color” was the most popular song that I had heard by them and it was very good live. It has a very slow R&B style that I think really captured the talent of this band. They certainly took things to a new level as the dusk began to fall on the Farm Aid Stage.
I'll say this first, to get it out-of-the-way. Where I am from, which is about 45 minutes away from where Dave Matthews is from, we do not like him. He is not popular in our community. So, being raised with this mentality and hearing all the Dave stories for my mother and her generation, I can say I have always had a strong aversion for Dave Matthews. Add this to my non-interest in grunge and 90s alternative rock, he has never intrigued me in the slightest. Dave Matthews is much more approachable with Tim Reynolds by his side. Tim has a style all his own and he was rocking a Hunter S. Thompson “Gonzo” T-shirt with the fist clutching a peyote button. His guitar style was different than anything I've heard and he seemed to make his guitar sound like a violin at times with special use of a pedal.
I was very surprised that I didn't vomit in my own mouth when they played “Crash” and some other song that accentuated Dave's Kermit the frog voice stylings. I would see him again...maybe, for free.
I turned up the FM Radio for the John Mellencamp show; He had since dropped the cougar grrrr. What a beautiful thinning bouffant.
Now came Neil Young, who I've been waiting for my whole life. Neil came out swinging with “Heart of Gold” and “Fuck Monsanto” was his slogan. One of my favorite Neil Young songs is “Harvest Moon” and they played that to my delight, as the harvest moon shone behind us. Neil jumped to life like a young man again when they played “Rocking in the Free World” which seemed to be extended forever and ever, but the band kept playing and Neil continued his slow and harsh, heavy guitar riffs.
I was truly impressed with Lukas Nelson. He personifies everything that could be of new country/rock, not this pop/rap country BS. Lukas Nelson can take his father's legacy to the next level or take a nosedive straight into crap-country; either way, it's all up to him but look out because he is what is next.
This was my third time seeing Willie Nelson and he still proves that 83-year-old can rock out, with his worn acoustic, holy to the works of country and rock alike. He is an American legend. He keeps that Texas swing music alive. He may be senile but he is still swinging and no one plays guitar like Willie. Willie mumbles out commands in between breaths and the band follows, trying to keep up with the “boss.” “You Were Always on my Mind” had the whole crowd in tears, especially me. But Willie, he goes on, tuning on the fly, never stopping before the next song. He is the real talent here, even if he gets a bit confused or rambles off the beat on some wild tangent. He is the man we all came here to see. There will never be another like him.
Everyone came out onstage for the traditional gospel hymn, “Ill Fly Away.” At the end of the show, the stage was packed with performers, most of whom I was unfamiliar with. I walked out under the harvest moon, into the cool air of the September night. Farm Aid was a concert that brings many different people together but what did it mean to me? I wasn’t sure then, and I'm not sure now, but I really enjoyed the farm pictures used as the backdrop.
Sunday Worship Service with JB and the Gospel Truth ChoirWidespread Panic, Philly, Sept 11, 2016
JamBandPurist here, along for another Widespread Panic rollercoaster ride, with my good buddies; in the city of Brotherly Love for Sunday Church Service.
Set One: WSP delved into a plethora of lesser-known songs from their catalog; some, I had possibly never heard live. From the parking lot scene, it seemed that there was a small number of people going to the show. I saw more people go for balloons than posters but so is the way of Philly. The entire Mann Center didn’t even seem halfway filled up until the second set.
The set itself was lackluster, if not lackadaisical in nature. It was slow, melodic but full of improvisational moments that kept the songs somewhat fresh. Although, Widespread did stick to the songs original criteria, they tried some new avenues to get them from song to song.
Highlights of the set included: “Big Wooly Mammoth,” which provided a swampy, southern, country atmosphere, with Jimmy pickin’ on the notes like some Texas Swing hillbilly. JB seemed to take the lead on solos for a few songs. Let JB Solo! The first set could have put me to sleep like the guy in front of me but it was still interesting to see a different side of the band, a more reserved and heartfelt sound. Also, “For What Its Worth” is always welcomed, but this was the slowest one I had ever heard. The boys seemed tired and played like a well-oiled Airplane that never made it off the ground.
This was much like a Sunday church service. Live music has always reminded me of worshipping, but I have never been comfortable with religion. Concerts and music festivals are the closest I can get to this ritualistic occasion; So, I praised and sang to the Jam Gods for a more rousing second set.
1: Walk On, Makes Sense To Me, This Part Of Town, Glory, Visiting Day, Old Neighborhood, The Last Straw > Big Wooly Mammoth > For What It's Worth
Set Two: Started off as slow as the first but I could feel a definite change in the bands attitude and the pace seemed to pick up as the song went along. By the time they got to a Jazzy and ethereal “Blight,” they had began the accent into the high jam and Jimmy Herring took over, really letting the crowd in, as he played scales unknown to most humans. He played so many Minor/Hungarian scaled notes that he must have transformed into a reptile. “Impossible,” kicked up the atmosphere in the Mann Center, but for some reason the entire first verse was left out. There was no, “Warm chair where the car has been!” There was an added piano lick by Jojo that was awfully reminiscent of “The Nutcracker Suite.” The long drum solo included special sit in percussionists: Richie Nagin on shaker (from P-Funk), Sikiru Adepoju on talking drum.
The song “Saint X” is one of my favorite introspective and slower songs by WSP. The lyrics ands strong chord structure delivers the message of the song through powerful means. “Proving Ground” proved to be just that. This songs ending was like none I had ever seen before. WSP took on a new form that materialized in front of us all. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of some lost plane of jam-existance, they soared to the top of a crescendo and let us loose with a high frequency jam that led into a blood-pumping, “Action Man.”
All and all, the show was fun, different and sort of like a memorial to 911,( in some far off and very distant way.) I respect the bands need for a little downtime and as a long time Panic fan, I understand that not every show can be off the charts. This one was on the chart, if not a little below, but with my good friends by my side, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Thanks for another round.
2: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, You Should Be Glad, It Ain't No Use > Blight, Impossible > Drums* > Saint Ex, Proving Ground, Action E: May Your Glass Be Filled, Postcard
Widespread Panic, September 7, 2016- The Warner Theatre
Back to where it all started in 2011, I remember thinking; “This is the band I could tour with.” It was the beginning of a something new in my life, a time of exploration and understanding. I found myself out there, in a bad place during one of those shows in 2011 until, “Climb To Safety” played and literally pulled me up from my rising water. Things came full circle this year at The Warner Theatre, and as they played “Climb To Safety” again. I found myself drifting in time, back to the person I once was and watching as my life had come full circle. This is why I still continue to see Widespread Panic, not only for the music but because it brings me back to whom I once was and reminds me of how far I have come.
The show kicked off with a slow and forgettable, “Diner” but I felt the band was gearing up for something more that night. There was something in the air that said, “Its coming.” The band forced themselves into one of my favorite Widespread Panic songs, “Bears Gone Fishing” which lyrics and story seemingly tell of a Halloween escapade, where band members witnessed a spectacle from behind closed doors. “Spy vs. Spy, baby’s a freak show, lines form just the right of your keyhole;” “Kissing the wound of the captain’s harpoon, unexpected moment of bliss.”
“Climb To Safety” came next but I was too busy with the nostalgic feelings in my head to comment on the quality. Next “Little Kin” flubbed at the beginning, the band missed a few notes but found their groove with JOJO lighting up the keys and extreme bass undertones by Dave Schools. The band turned a corner and found themselves deep in a heavy jam that was going somewhere, but even the band didn’t seem to know. I was reminded of the Panic I remembered in those formative years. Jimmy was ready to let loose tonight but the band had to keep a chain on him. Jamming into “Traveling Light” a JJ Cale tune, Jimmy Herring plays non-stop solos while the rest of the band holds down the back beat like some constantly running machine. JB misses his singing cues but that doesn’t matter tonight because the band is going out into the netherworld, Jimmy going full steam and the band pounding harder with each break and stop, “Maybe once now, maybe twice.”
Next was “B of D” an inspirational instrumental song which seemed like the soundtrack to the nights of DC. Flimsy Marijuana laws have been enacted and people around me sparked up fat joints and bowls, while a smoking “Bust It Big’ was performed, sing along style. We still don’t do like the romans do.
I saw Schools hands leave his bass, as he gave some sort of puppet hand gesture to JOJO telling him to take the lead on a funky clavi jam. This “Bust It Big” had substance and 64 counts of bliss and pure elation. Rosemary’s baby is surely a NYC kid.
I must comment on the light show for the evening. The triple panel screens flashing images of the coolest Panic posters mixed with the vibrant and stirring stage lighting was truly on point. The person running theses controls must be deeply connected with the band and their ever changing song structure.
Jimmy suddenly tone-drops with the whammy to keep notes going on for eternity, straight into “Weight of World” where the audience had their dancing souls on. Barely a seconds stop and then straight into “Junior.” I love your dog, I really do.
During set break I reflected on the bands performance. They were taking chances, they were communicating with one another on stage via body language and sounds waves. This communication was taking their jams further than I had seen in years. The explorations of these new improvisations is why Widespread Panic is one of the Purist bands out there. They are a Jam style all their own. This show was why I continue to see live music, for those moments of “Did that really just happen?”
This was also my mother’s first WSP show and although I am positive she only came to see me, I think she was blown away by Jimmy Herrings guitar prowess and ability. My mom wondered what the people who original built this place would think of this kind of music, then responded to her own question with “well, opera was very controversial in its day.”
“Xmas Katie” got the second set started and then a rousing “Radio Child” as they geared back up, back into full fling, with an ending to shred all endings.
On comes an always introspective “Aunt Avis” and I'm reminded of some events in my life where I had to try to remember how to be good and how to continue when I feel I really shouldn't: “Cloudy Retina” whoa. Seamless bass transition into “Rebirtha,” here comes nonstop rock and roll. Next up, “Imitation Leather Shoes,” which is always a welcomed addition to any set-list, followed by a “Tall Boy” that we all needed. This was the crowd favorite of the night, the crowd cheers, “Feeling Weak”
The Warner Theater is the perfect sizes for these boys. They jam into a “Ride Me High.” Jimmy opening up and letting us in with and intimate solo funk jam requiring admission into some funky-ass club. Schools bass harmonics gave Segway into drums; which is a good sit-down. The band keeps conquering the stage with “Cease Fire.”
Self-described as Southern Gothic, their roots are truly an epic mixture of southern rock and artistic virtues, “Cease Fire” really accentuates this description with sweeping choral like music and intense epic- awe inspiring ups and downs. Crimson lights shine down for a hard and smooth “Honky Red.”
Encore "Chilly Water" - highlights included Dave bass solo. I did not get wet.
Off to Philly for more Widespread Panic. Never miss a Sunday show or a Wednesday for that matter.
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.