Greensky Bluegrass (Not Out Of Control In Richmond)
Right before I left for Las Vegas for three wonderful nights of Widespread Panic (Review Coming Soon) I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Greensky Bluegrass for the 3rd time this summer. Greensky has been a staple in my musical diet since Roosterwalk this past summer, with that amazing sit-in from the man himself, Marcus King.
Greensky’s songs are evocative, thought provoking and heartbreaking at times. They are the perfect band to uplift your spirits and cause you to reflect upon, not only your life but you inner self. With songs like ‘Old Barns’ ‘Windshield’ and ‘In Control’ that include lyrics like, “Everything around me now will be reduced to the ground, At the cost of my foolish nature, Consequence and conditioning, All weighing at me, To slow my patience.” and “Old barns don't tear down, Let 'em stand proud until they fall to the ground.” With these lyrics the listener can feel and hear the spiritual mantra that is Greensky Bluegrass.
While most of their songs are quite uplifting and happy, they can delve into the deeper side of not only Bluegrass but also the human psyche. There are moments within some of the Jams that feel almost dark and chaotic, they give me shivers up my spine. This is one of the reason I really enjoy this band but also one of the reasons many start talking during Greensky’s jam into progressive Bluegrass, which the name itself means to “move forward” and that's just what they do, innovating and keeping Bluegrass fresh. They seem to take influence from Arabic or Indian melodic structures, chord progressions and scales.
‘Headed for a breakdown’ was well done and jammed out beyond proportions. Included in this set list was ‘Old Barns’ and ‘In Control’ with a very special ‘When Doves Cry’ the classic Prince song. Greensky always seems to pull out a new and exciting cover every time I see them. Each show I have seen has included a new cover first-ABB at Roosterwalk , second-‘Atlantic City’ at Lockn' (The Band style not Springsteen) and finally Prince. This is one of the reasons I will continue to see Greensky Bluegrass every chance I get.
Listening back to this show on nugs.net, the rendition of ‘Broke Mountain Breakdown’ is fantastic and definitely one of the best I have heard. The encore ‘Demons’ was dark and ominous but uplifting and left the crowd satisfied.
Greensky has become one of my favorite live acts this past year they fill a niche that this genre of Progressive Bluegrass has needed since Bela Fleck and the Flecktones; extreme improvisation and dark transient compositions. Although Greensky’s music keeps reminding me of my past and brings out some heavy emotions, I continue to integrate their music into my daily life and can recall countless mornings waking up with ‘Old Barns’ or ‘In Control’ lodged inside my head, like some sort of burrowing creature. I'm sure if you give them a listen, you will find something there that is irresistible and undeniable.
Despite the fact that this show was performed a while ago, I still wanted to cover and touch on The Marcus King Band’s performance at Go Outside Festival in Roanoke, Virginia. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that MKB would be headlining the free outdoor festival right here in Virginia and having just had my mind blown from the MKB Family Reunion and still reeling from all the amazing music, I had to make the journey and check MKB out, again. I took some friends and MKB first timers; they were just as impressed and blown away by the versatility and musicianship of this band.
Having seen MKB six previous times this year, I have become fairly familiar with their catalog and compositional structures but MKB kept me on my toes all night; while I pulled out my hair in amazement, wide eyed with bewilderment, as this band turned everything on its head. Playing a fairly routine set list, MKB transformed many of these original songs including: 'Virginia' 'Sherry Berry' and 'Rita Is Gone,' into something new; adding many teases from Santana's 'Soul Sacrifice' to ABB 'Mountain Jam' and of course, the '25 or 6 to 4' breakdown from Chicago in 'Sherry Berry.' MKB seamlessly mixes these riffs and developments into their original Jams and songs, masterfully creating new sonic arrangements. Marcus is the consummate bandleader, calling out key changes and using visual and vocal cues to lead and conduct his band to his every whim. This level of band leading is difficult, like herding wild buffalo into a narrow pen but Marcus does it with style and intent; the Young Lion ready to roar and seize every opportunity.
This set would introduce a new instrumental that was extremely funky, yet added elements of Soul, Gospel and classic Motown transitions. The encore of the evening seemed to go on and on, everyone taking turns soloing and improvising. Standout solos from Justin Johnson/Trumpet and Dean Mitchell/Sax, and of course, DeShawn (Dvibes) on keys. Stephen Campbell is a solid bass player and Jack Ryan has been making a name for himself as of late, becoming a well-known drummer in the scene and leading his own band at the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam this coming month in Asheville, NC. I look for all the members of MKB to succeed in their endeavors, separately and together. While, my mind was still on the amazing sit-ins and performances at MKB Family Reunion Festival, this show stopped me in my tracks and was by far the best MKB performance I have seen all year. They were tight, solid and on-point. Marcus led his band to the far reaches of improvisation and then back again, never stopping until the very last moment. Intent and driven, this band hasn’t even reached its potential yet and it’s clear from this performance that they are beyond anything out there in this scene today.
I would like to take this time to thank everyone who made my recent MKB Family Reunion Festival the most successful review ever from Jam Band Purist with over 1,000 views in just two days! Thanks to MKB Lions Den for spreading the word and all of MKB’s advocates, including his amazing family, you know who you are! I am looking forward to possibly covering NYE in Baltimore and can't wait to get a copy of "Due North" on vinyl! Keep yours ears open.
Long Live MKB,
WARNING: The views and opinions expressed in this article may not be in conjecture with your own. Be Advised.
Well, what can I say... given a free ticket to see Twiddle at The National in Richmond VA, I couldn't resist. So, here I find myself again, wondering whether I actually like this band or not. I will admit that the crowd of beautiful women attending the show is quite appealing. Twiddle seems to know how to draw the ladies in but is this enough to keep my attention or let's be honest distract me for long enough?
After getting my thoughts together, I decided to keep my mind as open as possible and just let the music speak for itself, not let my preconceived notion's of Twiddle get in the way of actually hearing the compositions and the music itself. Twiddle just isn't my style. Mahali's vocals just don’t do it for me (It reminds me of Dave Matthews.) The island sound has been done before and frankly, better. I say all this not to bash Twiddle but to better understand my musical tastes.
I (100%) see the merit and musical talent of this band; I think I finally understand the uplifting message and positive vibes Twiddle relays to their audience and fans. I truly enjoyed and was impressed with, the improvisational and jam elements that Twiddle represents and I found myself dancing pretty hard at times but not enough to get past the cheesy essentials of their song writing or the elements that don't seem to fit well together. I can totally see and understand why so many people love this band and why many say they are the next big “thing.” Just not for me. I still don't think I would pay to see Twiddle but if they come around and someone offered me a free ticket or they are playing a festival that I am covering, I'll check them out again. I'm always willing to give bands like Twiddle another chance because I can see something in them, like a diamond in the rough, let's just see if they can polish it.
Honestly and Respectfully,
Jam Band Purist
Dopapod again, crushes The National in Richmond, Virginia but this time opening up for
The Motet, The Colorado-based funk act. I have been seeing Dopapod for the past year and I am always super impressed with their set-list, song structures, creativity and originality. Eli Winderman is one of the best keyboard players in the Jam scene today, period. No one can deny that. Rob Compa is a masterful guitar player, showing versatile musicianship and intriguing solos all throughout the evening. Rob brought out his PRS for this show; his Gibson tone is more pleasing to my ears but the PRS does the job. Chuck Jones, bass player for Dopapod, keeps this band in check during their Prog-Rock breakdowns and drummer Neal Evans, AKA “Fro” is unstoppable, pounding the drums, hair wild and untamed. Dopapod is sincerely one of the most impressive up-and-coming Jam bands/Prog-Rock bands in this scene and has always seemed to keep my attention. I heard that they are taking a year off from touring and this could be one of their last shows for a while. I was glad to catch them again for the 6th time this year before they take a much-needed break, if this is true.
The National itself, was far from sold out and the upstairs balcony was even closed off. The rival show at the Broadberry Leftover Salmon, had drawn a larger crowd than those that came to see Dopapod and The Motet but for 25$ I choose to see two bands instead of one. This smaller crowd gave an intimate atmosphere and it seemed only the really strange people in Richmond came out for the show. I have been to The National over 45 times and while it's not one of my favorite venues (Due to security and sound quality) it does the trick and I'm glad to have it in such close vicinity.
The Motet brought their Pop-Funk style to Richmond with wild legs Lyle Divinsky coming out and doing his thing, while the band, including amazing keyboardist Joey Porter, played traditional funk with no real surprises. I am much more into Dopapod but it was fun dancing to The Motet with fellow freaks and forgetting about examining and investigating every nuance of this bands sound. There were some moments within The Motet show that got dark and chaotic but mostly they played straightforward, Pop oriented funk, not much jamming but when they did, it was impressive. If I could impart my improvisational wisdom upon this band, I would only ask that they take more chances and try innovative sounds, integrating not only Pop-Funk but also taking a note from Dopapod and trying progressive scaling and attributes. I can see The Motet gaining national attention from the Pop music scene, given the right song and delivery. It all depends on what direction they want to take it and I think that is one of the novel things about this band.
All in all, it was a pretty good night in Richmond and I look forward to many more. If any of you have any upcoming shows that you would recommend to me feel free to contact me or comment on this post. See all of you out there for the last shows of 2017.
About a year ago, I met and interviewed the band Marbin, a high-energy Rock/Jazz hybrid that had impressed me with songs like, 'African Shabtay' and 'Redline' on their social media/YouTube video campaign the year before. Since my first Marbin show, I have been lucky enough to see them three more times and we have become fast friends; sharing many musical interests and debating the ins-and-outs of the music industry on various occasions.
As musicians, Marbin is growing exponentially; each member giving it they’re all on stage, every night, traveling the county and the world. Their musical influences and growth can be heard in their most recent compositions, which lean more into psychedelic and ballad like movements; leaving more room for improvisation and modulation within live performances. Marbin is constantly evolving, adding new intros, outros and transitions into their already solid repertoire.
Their newest unreleased album titled, "Israeli Jazz" seems to have woken more creativity inside this band, as they play these new songs with a raw and driving intensity. 'Israeli Jazz' the title track from the newest album, is hard and transient, smooth and razor sharp. I look forward to hearing the entire album and doing a full review when it is completed.
Dani Rabin shows exceptional guitar skills, on par, if not greater than, many guitarists in the progressive Jazz and Jam scene. Dani is always growing and expanding his musical education, incorporating those Gypsy Jazz scales he loves so much, into the music he constantly creates. Danny Markovitch is the backbone of this group and although he stands to the side during solos, he is always solemnly contemplating what comes next and critically evaluating every note. Jon Nadel is the perfect bass player for this band and although, he isn't an original member, he keeps both Danny and Dani in check while bringing a masterful bass technique and skill on his fret-to-fretless bass guitar. The heartbeat of Marbin is drummer Blake Jiracek, who is always in his own world, tirelessly keeping up with the other members and pushing the rhythmic structure further and further.
While Marbin, hasn't reached the peak of their success, little by little, they are gaining attention and amassing a loyal following just waiting for them to explode on to the scene but which scene? Finding that direction is highly important to what Marbin could become in the future. I am sure that they will succeed in any musical route/niche they decide to pursue and I will be along for the ride.
I am looking forward to another Marbin performance in Harrisonburg, Virginia on April 4 at the Golden Pony. If you live in or around the area, feel free to contact me and we can meet up! If not, check this band out when they come to you locally, I am always truly blown away.
A Fan and Friend,
Jam Band Purist
Over the years, I have found many new bands but none have been quite as impressive as the 5000-year-old funk band from beyond the tomb, Here Come The Mummies. Every member of this band has personality and amazing stage presence. Together they put on a performance that is riveting and dripping with sexuality.
HCTM is one of the funkiest bands I have ever seen in my entire life. They are the perfect blend of mythology and music, sex and funk. Some of the members are said to be, Grammy award-winning musicians and their identities are completely hidden from the public, under wraps, so to speak. This mysterious persona is only enhanced when you realize what a talented group of musicians these mummies are.
From on point-funky vocals, lead guitar and electric keyboard solos; too amazing saxophonists, Here Come The Mummies has it all. I was most impressed when the sax players wielded two saxophones each and at the same time, began soloing and dueling each other, in some otherworldly cataclysmic reaction. This band is no joke and even though all of their songs include some sort of sexual innuendo, they never come off as cheesy or overdone.
HCTM was one of the best performances I have seen all year. One of the mummies even came out into audience and was climbing all over everything, hitting on the girls, acting wild. I would totally pay the $50 price of admission again, because this band is well worth it. I would love to see HCTM added to more Jam festivals and larger venues. They recently played Hulaween this past month and have also joined moe. on stage at a past Gathering Of The Vibes festival. If you haven't heard of HCTM, I recommend checking out this video below.
Let Your Freak Flag Fly!
I have covered many festivals this year, big and small, from Lockn’ to 420Fest in Atlanta. The Marcus King Band Family Reunion Festival was like none I have ever been to. Thrown at the Pisgah Brewing and Venue deep within Black Mountain, North Carolina outside of Asheville; it is always a pleasure to see the Marcus King Band live but these performances were like nothing I have ever seen before. From massive sit-ins, covers and improvisational jams, here are all my highlights from the MKB Family
Pisgah Brewing Company is well hidden from the road; pulling into the open field/parking lot, I wasn't sure what to expect. I was greeted warmly and courteously and entered the venue easily. The outdoor stage at Pisgah is simply beautiful, made from thick timbered native lumber, this is one of the coolest outdoor stages that I have seen and the atmosphere of Pisgah is like a private party in someone's backyard. This was the perfect venue to hold the inaugural MKB Family Reunion, which truly felt like a real family reunion. Marcus took the helm with his entire entourage, friends and family by his side. I have seen MKB five times this year and truth be told, Marcus and his band only get better and better. Much more on this later…
The Big Something started off the festivities; they have been a new favorite of mine, having seen them several times this summer at numerous festivals. It was good to see Marcus representing the up-and-coming Jam bands. This is truly important to the continuing and the thriving of this scene. While, the Marcus King Band brings a soulful arrangement of Southern Rock and Blues, there is something more to it. There is almost certainly a Jam/Progressive Jazz quality to the Marcus King Band and that's what keeps me coming back for more. Marcus completely shreds and takes us all on a face melting improvisational roller coaster through many genres.
Opening with one of my favorite MKB songs, ‘Sharry Barry’ it has the perfect amount of Jazz breakdowns, including the classic Chicago riff from‘25 or 6 to 1’ and standard Jam technicality with a creative name and song structures. Marcus King Band Jams ‘Ain't Nothing Wrong With That’ with chaotic and beautiful transcendence. The potential of not only Marcus but also his entire band is outstanding. The addition of The Eric Krasno Bands keyboardist and JBP friend DeShawn Alexander brings original character and funky style to the band. I have seriously already forgotten about the other guy. DeShawn and Marcus have a musical connection that is visible, not only to me but to the entire audience. The use of stops and breaks within these transitional Jams should be accentuated more but the thought level of this band is so impressive, that I am blown away by how they can shift seamlessly back-and-forth between Jams and songs.
Marcus is a constant bandleader and rhythm guitarist, using body language and vocal cues to lead his band into new heights. ‘Fraudulent Waffle’ is another one of my favorite songs from Marcus King Band and it shows great Jazz work from all players, horns and drums included. Marcus's father joins him on stage and completes the family-like atmosphere of this festival and after this, there was an array of sit-ins and guest musicians including Jaimoe, drummer from the Allman Brothers Band for a rousing ‘Elizabeth Reed’
Seeing Blackberry Smoke for the second time this summer, I have finally begun to understand them as a band. I feel like they are basically a comedy act, with songs like ‘Six Ways To Sunday’ which is oozing sexual innuendos and ‘I Can Feel A Good One Coming On.’ I haven’t laughed so hard in awhile. Either way, it adds a twist to their music that I was missing out on; a southern fried comedy rock band.
Jaimoes Jasssz Band was last up on Friday night with DeShawn and many musicians coming together in the barn/garage of Pisgah for an intimate late night performance. Marcus would of course join them for an Allman Brothers Band medley and even take over on keys for DeShawn while he took a bathroom break and no surprise, Marcus can play the keys, as well. This truly felt like a family reunion when Marcus got up on stage and yelled for his mom and dad.
Saturday was jam-packed with music and special guest artist at large Brandon “TAZ” Neiderauer who is a 14-year-old powerhouse on guitar. I'm extremely impressed by TAZ’s virtuoso and genius playing, I daresay TAZ is already well beyond his years on guitar and moving up quickly, keeping up with Marcus and everyone around him. Showing great improvisational spirit and uplifting guitar solos that made me proud to be seeing the future of the Jam world. This music, this scene will not die and it is best exemplified through both TAZ and Marcus King. TAZ has the Blues, Rock, Pentatonic scales down, now it's time to work on Jazz and progressive scales perhaps, some Zappa when he is ready.
George Porter Jr's set was smooth and groovy and of course features sit-ins from the all-star cast of characters at this festival. Highlights of this performance were a ‘Love Light’ dedicated to Colonel Bruce Hampton, who we lost this past year. George Porter Jr is a must see if you love funk and anything from The Meters. A legend of the funk world, Porter would sit-in with many of the bands performing that evening.
I caught the Asheville Music Professional panel both evenings, which had various guest and professionals from the local music industry notably, Stef Scamardo, Warren Haynes wife and manager and Marcus King himself. Marcus discussed an array of topics from improvisation to musical tactics but what stood out to me was his attitude and personality, which seem wise beyond his years. I can recall Marcus saying this, "I've learned that people who talk the most are the ones that know the least." Very true brother Marcus, very true.
I had recently seen the revivalist at Lockn’ this summer but truly hadn’t paid much attention. It isn't my type of music, although I do appreciate some aspects and can see the merits of why many are fond of them; it's entertaining and high-energy. David Shaw's solo acoustic set was more storytelling and political/social commentary. TAZ would sit-in and David remarked, "He's never played the song, he doesn't even know what key it's in but he's going to play it anyway.” This quote right here shows the level of professionalism and virtuosity that TAZ is playing with already at 14.
I caught some of the Peoples Blues of Richmond or PBR, who will be joining The Marcus King Band for their upcoming New Year's Eve performance in Baltimore at the Soundstage. PBR is a raw, strange mix of Hard Rock, Irish folk and high-powered Blues. I'm not sure about these guys yet, more to come on them as I see them in the future.
The Marcus King All Star Band’s headlining performance was something very different than the previous night. It was much more explorative and improvisational. It included some amazing covers, sit-ins and guests from just about every band at the festival. This was truly an all-star band with highlights including ‘Sexy Ida’ ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ ‘Compared To What’ and ‘Dreams.’ Add TAZ, Ron Holloway, George Porter Jr, David Shaw and the female vocalist from the Ron Holloway Band and you get one of the funkiest ‘Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley’ I have ever heard, ending with a powerful “Proud Mary” Ike and Tina style. Marcus would even play solo acoustic during the middle of this set, playing the bluegrass classic, “Rocky Top” and “Learning To Fly” for Tom Petty.
Marcus King is truly a young lion, prowling the stage with a glare of intent, head forward as he advances in his career and his musical prowess, finally pouncing when the time is right. I have no doubt Marcus will be the next big thing. What that thing is? I don't know but it will be big. The inaugural Marcus King Band Family Reunion festival in Black Mountain North Carolina was truly a success and I am sure it will not be the last. This is only the beginning of what Marcus is capable of achieving and I feel honored to be able to cover this festival and his band while they are still growing and evolving into something greater. This will not be the last time you will be hearing about MKB from me. I will continue to help spread the word about this band and their amazing music. As many of you may know, I have been trying to see all the up and coming Jam bands out there and Marcus King Band is at the top of that list and for a good reason. Do yourself a favor and see this band!
May The Jam Gods Be With You,
Jam Band Purist
The Disreputable Few are a psychedelic blues, rock band with four notable band members, Randy Ray Mitchell/Guitar, Dan Potruch/Drums, Mark Tremalgia/Guitar-vocals and Paul Ill/Bass-vocals, who have played with everyone from Bob Weir to the members of The Rolling Stones. I was recently sent their album, “Ain't Who I Was” and gave it a listen. I was immediately impressed with the recording quality itself and the southern rock feel from the opening song.
‘Ain’t Who I Was’ the self-titled track from this album, is blues and rock heavy with a southern drawl. The Disreputable Few are Southern Rock all the way but without being cheesy or overdone. ‘Ain't Who I Was’ exemplifies the lyrical qualities that come with traditional blues and rock. The lyrics themselves are uplifting and transient, taking the listener on an evolution of the self.
‘California Calling’ reminds me of Little Feat mixed with ZZ Top but with a contemporary twist. This song could be a pop-oriented radio hit; it is less emotionally evocative than ‘Ain’t Who I Was’ but with a more fun and free vibe. Great slide guitar work and transitional solos within this song. Hard powered blues, rock for sure, with a hint of psychedelia.
‘Peace Pipe’ takes the album to the slower side; a storytelling song with Native American imagery and the Western-American lifestyle. “The peace pipe saved my life.” This song feels very Jam worthy and even improvisational, although it is a studio recording, I can still hear those qualities within, just waiting to be explored. I am sure The Disreputable Few could really tear down the house with this song, live. This track includes, possibly my favorite guitar solo on the album but the lyrics can get a bit redundant. In all honesty, this song could have gone on for five more minutes with more Jams and transitions. I wouldn't have minded at all. Great Allman Brothers like structure, flowering and evolving: emotional and raw.
‘Hang On’ keeps this album on the slower, melodic side of things with a modern take on songwriting and lyrics. The song is heavy yet, filled with beautiful guitar riffs that laden this track with the perfect juxtaposition between hard and soft. The vocals and harmonizing in this song are well done and recorded to the utmost professionalism. This track features another ripping guitar solo and it seems that every member of The Disreputable Few are talented beyond measure. They play as a cohesive unit, tight and together.
‘Wait For You’ begins with lots of reverb and 70-80s light rock-sounding riffs. Harmonies and vocals again, are well done but this song feels more Reggae or Calypso inspired than psychedelic. Perhaps this song could be taken to another level during a live performance. The feeling brought forth from this song is much different than the other songs on this album but it shows the diversity of the band and the music they can make.
I expected ‘Groundhog Day’ to be based loosely around the Bill Murray movie with the same name but I was pleasantly surprised by the funky clavi and standard Funk/Soul rhythm that this song produces. This song definitely makes you want to get up and dance. Again, this track is much different than the blues, rock throughout this album but opens up the door for a whole new level of genre integration.
‘Farmer Brian’ instantaneously reminds me of many Allman Brothers riffs but immediately expands into a darker, melodic statement, forgetting the opening riff altogether. This composition is much more arranged on a classical level; thoroughly thought out and practiced to perfection. I would have to say that this is my favorite track off the entire album with great breakdowns, jams and obviously skilled musicianship. I would recommend ‘Farmer Brian’ to any and all, Jam band fans out there today. ‘Farmer Brian’ can go from 0 to 60 in seconds, with amazing instrumental qualities and solos. This song is the definition of what Jam music can generate.
The album culminates with an acoustic rendition of ‘Ain’t Who I Was’, which adds a classic blues element and brings us full circle, back to the original album opener. While, I had never heard of The Disreputable Few, this album is a great example of bands that fly under the radar and are not as well known, as they should be. With this level of musicianship and talent, The Disreputable Few could gain followers and fans alike, if people like you and me, only give up the time to open up ours ears and listen. I am not sure this album best represents this bands live sound but I can still hear the psychedelic elements that this band can produce. If I ever have the chance to catch this band live, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them a shot. The Disreputable Few’s album “Ain’t What I Was” can be found on Spotify and their website http://www.disreputablefewmusic.com/
Check It Out,
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.