-My love for Jam band music is innate within me as a person but for the past few years I have been delving further and further into music from all around the world. These influences and musical contributions to humanity itself are far-reaching and grand in the scheme of things. Music is the language of us all. It is the root of the universe and the rhythm of life itself. American music has influenced people from all over the world but the industry can be very selfish and close-minded. In this editorial, I would like to encourage all of my readers to listen to and engage in new music and especially, music from other countries, you never know what's going to speak to your soul.
While Afro-beat is not new by any means lately, I have been seeing a resurgence of this West African tradition, which takes it influences from Jazz and other Western musical derivatives. Fela Kuti seems to be the originator or at least the most famous of all Afro-beat artists from the 1970s and beyond but there are many new artists doing the same thing that possibly don't get as much recognition. Besides Fela’s son Femi and grandson Seun, who keep this tradition alive, The Antibalas have emerged from Afro-beat, Reggae and Latin music combined. If you want to explore new music and rhythms start The Antibalas, they are one of the most original and danceable bands I have seen in years.
Tinariwen has taken the world by storm this year and if you haven't heard of this band, you have to check them out immediately. This band turns traditional Arabic music on its head and adds hard hitting, rock sounds and musical structures. They recently did their first tour of America with resounding success.
We never seem to talk about Australian music enough and they seem to have taken the psychedelic tradition from the 1960s on to the next level. A few bands come to mind when I think of the new psychedelic Australian musical and cultural movement. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are psychedelic rock meets progressive punk mixed with Celtic rhythms not heard in popular music today. It's really hard to describe King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard so, it's best just to listen to them. They are the only band to have a completely atonal album and their music videos are completely wild and eccentric. They toured North America this year and sold out almost every performance. I'm sure you will hear more about them soon. The Babe Rainbow is another Australian act that has caught my attention with their groovy, smooth, psychedelic flow. Songs like ‘Planet Junior’ and ‘Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest” can immediately take you back in time and are great examples of how this band incorporates sitar and ambient sounds.
If you're interested in World Music and International Music, I suggest you check out these bands and see where it takes you. I am also interested in expanding my musical knowledge and if anyone has any other international bands that I should check out, please feel free to drop me an email or comment.
Keep Your Ears And Heart Open
I am an extreme Frank Zappa fan; you can ask anyone who knows me and I'm sure many of them will roll their eyes, but they will agree. I found Frank Zappa my senior year of college and everything changed. It was as though, a dam burst and flooded all of my musical knowledge/experience and only the genuine, real music floated to the surface, while everything else drowned like a witch.
Zappa's music is genius, obscure and controversial. Now, added to the controversy of the music itself, we must include the ongoing lawsuits and legal battle between Dweezil Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust, run by Ahmet and Diva Muffin Zappa, to this controversy. I have included links to Dweezil's statements, as well as, the ZFT and you can check out some more detailed information about the lawsuit here:
Recently, this sibling drama has unfolded further but this time with hordes of angry Zappa fans coming out of the woodwork, declaring their disdain for the Hologram Frank Zappa tour scheduled in 2019. As much as I dislike the idea of this hologram, where exactly were all these Zappa fans when Dweezil was touring? Heck, I didn't even know there were this many Zappa fans left out there!
Anyway, with resounding negative comments regarding ZFT's recent hologram tour announcement, l have seen arguments between fans and even fans belittling and attacking many of the musicians involved. The rift between Zappa fans grows even further and the ongoing battle between Dweezil and ZFT has leaked over into the public’s reaction and perception of things to come. Most fans seem to be in the Dweezil camp but there are others that support this holographic move; many are interested in the lineup of the backing band, which could include original Zappa band members. ZFT has reached out to former members of Franks band and asked if they would like to be involved. Many of these musicians have confirmed that they that did in fact talk with Ahmet and have allowed him to use their names. Dweezil was also name-dropped but it was obvious that he would have no part in this upcoming tour.
Comments from musicians:
I reached out to Dweezil a few days ago and I am still hoping to hear back from him regarding this subject. Many of the other musicians said to be involved, have released statements such as, Steve Vai, Arthur Barrow and Adrian Belew. While I am unequivocally with Dweezil on this, there does seem to be an even larger problem between Dweezil and many of Frank Zappa's ex-band members. It seems that Dweezil does not get along with some of the former band members and his list of performers that he would work with is "short." (Note: Since publishing this, Dweezil has reached out and claimed these accusations are false. More to come.) I see Dweezil Zappa/ Zappa Plays Zappa/ Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever The F$%# He Wants, whenever I can and even took the pilgrimage last year to Red Rocks to see him perform an amazing rendition of "Inca Roads." I have personally met Dweezil on several occasions and can attest to his sincerity and graciousness with his Dads fans and by proxy, his own.
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.
My closing statement is short and sweet. Go see Dweezil Zappa live whenever you can. Go see Frank Zappa’s music live whenever and however you can. Experience Frank Zappa music whenever and however you can. We need to keep this Zappa musical legacy alive not bastardized with lawsuits and bullshit. I know everyone likes to speculate what Frank would or wouldn’t do; "WWFD?" but he is dead and doesn't care what we do, that I know for sure. Here he tells us that: https://youtu.be/GBfoTUG41i4?t=529 Spinning Sheik Yerbouti today on vinyl…
More Trouble Everyday,
Jam Band Purist
My brothers band, Too Indecent asked me to check out their newest released single, “Extra Extra' While many of you may know, I am not into new hip-hop or rap that is out there today, it doesn't appeal to my rock 'n' roll aesthetics or senses but Too Indecent, blends rock, hip-hop, rap, reggae and ska together to form something different, while still remaining familiar to popular audiences.
"'Extra Extra' is our response to all this shit that the world has been going through. It's
easy to feel hopeless, until we're reminded of how fragile life is and the importance of utilizing our time on Earth.” - Danny DeMarais (Guitarist)
'Extra Extra' has a politically driven message that I think everyone should hear. Bringing up topics ranging from political to social issues, 'Extra Extra' tries to shed light on today's political atmosphere while allowing their fans to let off some steam, as well as, think about the world around them. This track is very well mixed and thought out. Too Indecent seems to be growing with the times around them, and embracing new techniques and popular concepts from the American zeitgeist. I look forward to hearing what could they bring in the future.
You can check out their music at http://www.tooindecent.com/ and Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, itunes, Amazon Music, Tidal and Google Play.
Once again, I find myself in the heart of New York City, traveling, writing and seeing live music. Spafford has been gaining a lot of attention this past year and I was lucky enough to see them last year at a very small venue, near my hometown in Virginia. I decided to head up north to see them again and also check the Brooklyn Bowl off of my must see venue list. Staying in Midtown Manhattan is like stepping into a different dimension. It's quite different then the rural mountains I am used to and getting acclimated to the city can be quite difficult. The lights, the people, the honking of countless horns can make it seem like heaven to some and hell to others. I always enjoy my time in the city and I try and see something new every time, experience new foods, sights and sounds. This time I decided to check out Central Park and as much as Manhattan as I could. I traversed the depths and underbellies of this thriving metropolis to make it to Brooklyn via the F train to the station at Where The F*** Am I and beyond. At times the chaos and hectic nature of the subway feels like the seventh layer of hell but I traversed Hades and returned like Hercules, stronger and wiser. Outside of the Brooklyn Bowl a gentleman handed me a free ticket to the show and even tried to get me a date with a young woman off the street. Hats off to you good sir.
The venue itself is truly one of a kind, with full bowling alley lanes, projectors streaming the show while you bowl right underneath, never needing to take your eyes off the lanes. The bowling was a little bit pricey but seemed well worth it and in New York City what doesn’t cost an arm, a leg or an unborn child? I will answer my own question, Pizza… The sound in the venue was also very well done and the carnival art displayed on the walls was one of the coolest aspects, as well as, the ornately painted bowling pins that line one area of the venue.
Spafford began slow and steady, like an engine warming up before a big race with “Shake You Loose.” The venue resonated with an excitable axiomatic energy that the band seemed ready to ignite, feeding off it, building it up until it was ready to be released, exploding into the crowd. This show would mark only my second time seeing Spafford but this show was immediately different and enhanced. Add a new drummer, Cameron Laforest into the mix and the fact that this was to be the first live broadcasted show from such a significant venue, may all contribute to the change of flow that I experienced. At times, Spafford can delve into some deep trance-EDM sounding Jams like “On Fire” but they always bring it back home with Phish-esque jam qualities and moe. like transitions with songs like “Electric Taco Stand” and jazzy “Slip and Squander.” The cover of the ultimate early 80s classic from Men At Work, “Land Down Under” was much faster paced and almost off putting a first. I feel as though the band could have just as easily slowed it down and picked it back up, starting with the original tempo of the song and then building it up to a climatic conclusion. Honestly though, hearing anyone play that song live puts a smile on my face.
The encore and jam in-between “All In” was one of the most high-energy and riveting performances I have seen in quite a while. One of my friends who attended the show with me came out with a new favorite band and I don't blame him. That's the kind of intensity that Spafford brings to the stage; the real question is can Spafford keep this momentum up for more than a few tours? The lead guitarist and singer, Brian Moss holds this band on his shoulders but I did see the bass player Jordan Fairless and keyboardist Red, step up and help with some of the spotlight burdens. Without this band working together as an equal unit they may burn out but Spafford seems willing to give it their all and that's what really counts. I would love see this band add more improvisational elements into their performances and possibly some sit-in performances from members of the Jam community.
May The Jam Gods Be With You,
When seeing live music, it comes down to the improvisational Jams for me. When offered a free ticket to the Sold Out Glass Animals at the 9:30, I perused their catalog on Spotify and thought it would be a change of pace and something different to write about for my ever-growing portfolio. With that in mind, I'll just jump right in.
I was unimpressed with this group, which has gained immense popularity over the past few years and it makes me feel as though I am disconnected with the younger generation in today's society, especially musically but I suppose that's what growing up is all about. There were people at this show who seemed like they had their life changed, people singing every word, jumping up and down, woman swooning. I haven’t seen anything like it in the Jam world, where musical prowess exceeds catchy lyrics and electronic “drops.”
Glass Animals needs to find their funky side, get in touch with the roots of the music they are playing, instead of accentuating the pop bullshit. There were some moments within their performance that were well done, thought out and original but these seemed to be overshadowed by the musical/performance process itself.
While high in energy, Glass Animals could only keep my interest for a short time before ultimately, I kept wondering, "When will I hear a freakin’ guitar solo?" The musical capabilities of this band seems highly limited and very pop-keyboard centric, which with all due respect, takes a certain skill set of its own but it's not really in the same class of musicianship that I am used to seeing; it's more learning to synthesize and arrange computer sounds. The lyrics to their songs were catchy and again, pop oriented but I could see something there beyond the surface level. I would suggest that Glass Animals searches these depths to find the true nature of their lyrical qualities and musical abilities. Perhaps visiting the Talking Heads catalog and learning how to incorporate true musicianship and lyrical competency into what they are trying to achieve.
Grateful Music and Jam Band Purist are extremely excited to be covering The Marcus King Band Family Reunion in Asheville, North Carolina this weekend! The lineup includes not only my favorite up and coming Jam artist MKB but also Blackberrry Smoke, Brandon "TAZ" Niederauer, David Shaw, Muddy Magnolias, George Porter Jr, Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, Big Something and More! Tickets are extremely reasonable for this event which is taking place at Pisgah Brewery in Black Mountain NC, near Asheville. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/marcus-king-bands-family-reunion-tickets-37132058988
If you haven't heard of Marcus King let me illuminate you, Marcus is a 21 year old southern guitar sensation. I was introduced to his music this past year and have had the pleasure of seeing him perform at various music festivals this summer including Lockn' Music Festival. I am always blown away by his guitar virtuosity and playing ability. I have a feeling Marcus King is on a meteoric rise to the top!
Check this video out if you want to hear more. https://youtu.be/xBkWcd-glL8
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.