Sol Roots 'Live From The Hamilton' Album Review and Exclusive Interview
Well, things have taken quite a turn here. Is everyone ok? Are you ok? Is music still relevant? I’m still plugging away here, trying to find a bit of normalcy. It’s few and far between but music is truly my guiding light. I have recently started a music vlog “Out Of My Mind” where I discuss the ins-and-outs of the Jam Music Scene and much more. I hope you all will be joining me. Feel free to comment, share, and interact. Let’s get the ball rolling!
I recently introduced Sol Roots, the prominent DC Bluesman, to all of you. After receiving so much interest, I have decided to give you even more. I talked with Sol about life, music, the blues, and the DC music scene in an exclusive Jam Band Purist interview. I also got the opportunity to review his most recent live album release 'Live At The Hamilton' and I will add it below.
Sol Roots ‘Live At the Hamilton’ is a diverse and well-recorded album that immediately draws each listener in. This live album includes Phil Wiggins on the harmonica and Eddie Christmas on the drums. From the opening notes of “Sugaree” The Grateful Dead staple, the band immediately comes together and the harmonica work from Phil Wiggins lies heavily in the mix adding something new to this rendition. This version of the song is much more upbeat with a great funk feel. The vocals are off the charts and overall it has a great sound. Good lord, that harmonica can wail. I have heard countless covers of this immortal classic about a lady of the night but Sol Roots makes this one all their own, adding a quality that transcends genre.
“Goin' Home” is up next on 'Live From The Hamilton' and this one immediately gets my blood pumping with a New Orleans swing. Besides these infectious grooves taking over my brain waves, the lyrics to “Goin' Home” are poignant and endure with each listen. “Take the girl out of the country, not the country out of the girl.“ This track is the perfect example of what Sol Roots brings to the stage. I can hear the sizzle of the energy in the room, I can feel the music reverberate through me, I can even smell the faint reek of musk, sweat, and alcohol. I can see the people dancing to the sound. I must be missing live music.
“I Bet You” is compelling from the opening guitar riffs. The groove starts when the harmonica begins to whine out the long soulful notes. For me, "I Bet You" is right up my alley; bluesy with a Motown feel to boot. This is definitely my favorite track off of 'Live At The Hamilton.' Although all the tracks have a unique sound and flavor to them. "I Bet You" is filled with just the right amount of blues, funk, and great improvisational solos from Sol himself.
“Roberta” is straight-blues, no twist or turns. This song makes you want to shake your hips with a partner or even alone. The drums from Eddie Christmas are laying down a heavy groove here. This song is filled with improvisational solos between Sol and Wiggins. I can tell from the recording that this band's chemistry comes from tons of practice and working together sonically.
“St. James Infirmary Blues” is played like I’ve never heard, a little faster and with a lot more gusto. The live aspect of this album makes me feel like I am at the show watching this band work together harmoniously to create something greater. This recording lends itself to the ever-shifting change in music and covers that last throughout the ages.
Overall ‘Live From The Hamilton’ does a great job conveying Sol Roots live performances. Sol Roots shows its listeners why they are one of the best in the DC area. I can’t wait to get a chance to see this band live and experience their performance. It was my pleasure to chat with Sol and talk about all things music below. 'Live From The Hamilton' can be found here https://solrootsmusic.com/home I implore my readers to help Sol and his band raise funds in this struggling musical era. Sol Roots will also be doing a live stream performance for Events DC on their Instagram page this Wednesday, June 24 & live at JV's in Falls Church Thursday, June 25. Check them out!
Exclusive JBP Interview with Sol Roots:
JBP: Is there a story behind the name, Sol Roots?
Sol: "My name is Sol Creech, and my last name would get messed up a lot, or not remembered. The band would perform a lot of old school soul, blues, funk, and rock. Digging back to the roots of each genre. The band went by "Sol Creech Band" at the very beginnings, just "Sol" for a while, then "Sol and Funk Root" and then evolved to "Sol Roots". Sol Roots seems easier for people to remember and gives a better impression of what the crowd can expect. It just grew naturally, I suppose."
JBP: How has coming up in the D.C./Northern VA/Maryland area helped shape your career as a musician?
Sol: "Actually, I was born in NC, and lived in NC, Arizona, VA, and TN, and have family in Brazil and Costa Rica, later moving to the D.C. area.
The D.C. area is home, while still maintaining contact with family and friends all over. D.C. has an awesome musician community and we're very glad to be a part of it. My trio has had a weekly residence on U St in DC for around 9 years, and shared in a rich musical community, right up until the global pandemic hit. We are all very thankful for the amazingly talented musicians that we have had as special guests regularly. My main drummer Vic Chase, grew up around D.C. and has been an integral part of the jazz/funk/fusion scene for decades. My main bassist Andreas Holmstom performed and studied in his home country of Sweden, then cut his teeth in NYC, before coming down to D.C."
JBP: What are some of your most thrilling experiences working as a musician?
Sol: "I've been working with the non-profit company Music Maker Relief Foundation since I was a kid, from their very beginnings. With Music Maker, I've gotten to perform with, record, produce, tour, and learn from some of the real pioneers of American Music. Musicians like Robert Lee Coleman (a fantastic guitarist who was in James Brown's band, with Percy Sledge and others), Albert White (deep blues/ soul Atlanta guitarist, whose uncle Piano Red inspired The Beatles and others), Cool John Ferguson (phenomenal guitarist who Taj Mahal calls "one of the five greatest guitar players in the world"), Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, Lil Joe Burton, John Dee Holeman, Cootie Starks, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Taj Mahal, Guitar Gabriel, Captain Luke, and the list goes on and on. All of these artists have been involved with laying the foundation for today's music. Even if they are not as well known, it's an incredible blessing to hang out, perform, and travel the world with all these wonderful musicians and great spirits, and I will keep broadcasting their names and stories as long as I'm able."
JBP: In your personal music style, do you use a lot of improvisation?
Sol: "I would say a strong YES to that. I like to let the particular group of musicians, and the audience, both set the tone for whatever is going to happen in the shows. Ideally, each musician can listen, lock in with each other, and create something new every time. A huge part of it is listening. That's when the real magic can happen. Many times blues can be the hardest, mostly because many musicians might start thinking "this is too easy" and just jump into automatic pilot and miss the nuances that are happening. With my trio, we all bring together some various influences of funk, soul, jazz, fusion, and blues and these guys can really take off into some cool variations every show."
JBP: What's it like working/opening with some of the jam world's biggest acts?
Sol: "Over the years, we've been blessed to do some co-bills with killer acts like Soulive, Dumpstaphunk, Jon Cleary, Jackie Greene, The Wood Brothers, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, etc. Each show is different, and each band has a different vibe. I think it's interesting to see how music, bands, and situations evolve. I met master New Orleans drummer Eddie Christmas when we were all on tour over in Australia. He was with Jon Cleary, and I was playing bass behind a few Music Maker artists. We kept in contact, talking about doing some gigs and recording and a gig finally came up earlier this year where we could do a collaboration we'd been talking about for a while. It's been great having musicians from other bands sit in with us, and to sit in with other bands from time to time. You never know what can happen, you just have to be open to what the universe presents you."
JBP: How about your relationship with master saxophonist, Ron Holloway?
Sol: "Ron Holloway is an amazing saxophonist, great person, and just a fun guy to hang with, and hear his stories. His roots run deep in D.C. (and world-wide), from working with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and others, having a huge mural painted of him and other music legends, and a street named after him in D.C.! Ron and I first did some gigs together when we were all part of a local jam band called "Covered With Jam". We did several gigs with other different formations too. After a while, our calendars lined up and I had him be a special guest performing with my group. We would end up doing some shows together throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, and I had him regularly on our shows on U St in D.C. I'm already looking forward to the next time! It's always a real pleasure for the audience, and musicians as well."
JBP: I can tell from this new live album you are influenced by the blues but what other music has inspired you in your musical career?
Sol: "I truly love all styles of music and being a full-time musician I've ended up playing with groups as varied as African highlife bands, jazz combos, acoustic folk bands, live hip-hop bands, reggae groups, various funk and rock bands, singer-songwriters, gospel groups and more. I think my main focuses have been funk, blues, soul, rock, jazz, and reggae. Having family in Brazil and Costa Rica has influenced me as well. I sometimes feel like a musical crossroads, a spot where everything meets up. It gets deep when you see how the musical tree has branched off in so many ways, but a lot of the roots can be drawn back to the blues. One of my mentors and friends Tim Duffy describes it as "The blues traditions of the South have formed a deep aquifer of music that contemporary artists around the world draw from daily".
JBP: Do you prefer studio work vs live performances?
Sol: "I love both. I went to school for studio engineering, so that's another passion of mine. Studio work has really helped out during the time where all these venues were closed. Many times it seems easier to make musical magic happen with just live performances, the musicians can be more relaxed. Some awesome things can happen in the studio, and that's some of my next focuses. I have a big stash of unfinished pieces waiting to be polished and then released."
JBP: Any recent projects to promote besides this album? What's next?
Sol: "A few things are cooking. I was a hired gun for some recordings for some singer-songwriters recently, Louisiana based Daniel Lee, Virginia based singer-songwriter Ashleigh Chevalier, and Virginia based Jamie Potter. Also, some older original tracks need to be released, that feature some awesome musicians I've worked with from around the Mid-Atlantic: drummer "King" George Penn, bassist Jake Dempsey, drummer Scott Rabino, drummer Paul Dudley and more."
JBP: Where do you see the music industry after Covid-19 and how have you been staying afloat?
Sol: "I pulled off a few solo and trio live-stream performances, and had donations coming indirectly, the music fans truly helped immensely, it's been humbling. It's been rough, to say the least. I've done some recording gigs, a few teaching gigs, and also have to give special thanks to organizations like The Hamilton, The DC Legendary Musicians, DC After Dark, and Music Maker Relief Foundation. Last week, we just did our first actual live gig after a few months of quarantine/ hibernation. It's going to be a long road to get back to "normal" but I believe people are ready to come out and support all the independent venues, bands, and be safe and smart about it."
JBP: Being on the road, I'm sure you have seen some pretty wild stuff, any crazy experiences you've been dying to tell?
Sol: "Some of my favorites have been at venues where you really feel the deep history....like performing in France, where the venue was an old amphitheater with seats of stone cut out of the mountain, that dated back to the Roman times. Everything had been designed in ancient times to carry the acoustics naturally. Or other spots in Italy or Spain, seeing all the deep architecture and art. Or some of the blues cruises, jam-packed full of music heavyweights and intense fans. Or providing music entertainment for a deep-sea fishing tournament in Guatemala."
"Something that pops in my mind now, is one of the times we were at Bluesfest, the largest roots and blues festival in Australia. There is an Australian act called Yothu Yindi, whose album I picked up when I was a kid. They blend traditional aboriginal music with more modern rock music, with messages about mutual respect and understanding in the coming together of different cultures. They are hugely popular in Australia. To see an immense sea of people, all coming together, for the roots and having the music vibe in modern times and styles, is really powerful. Music has that power. Love has that power."
"From touring and traveling all over the world, I believe there are way more people that have compassion for others, and who have an understanding of how to work together, than the destructive groups of people. Regardless of whatever the media is blasting in our face, and regardless of who is trying to "lead" - the people who stand for togetherness, vastly outnumber the ones who hate, and who want to destroy. There are some aspects out there who want to divide people up, create fear, and encourage battles. Because if people are fighting each other, they are more easily controlled and directed. There are many things to be justly angry about, and many things to join together to change, urgently right now, and out of love of humanity, not out of hate. Now's the time to join together. And we've seen many examples of that in recent protests, all across the world."
"I'm very grateful for all my teachers and influences and grateful for all my family and musical family, of all cultures and walks of life. Good can happen when people join together. It's about a way of life. Not just now, not just on social media posts, not just in the next few weeks or months, but for the rest of life. Just about all the musicians I've known can see that bigger picture."
JBP: Thanks to Sol Creech for this interview and look for more from Sol on my upcoming VLOG 'Out Of My Mind.'
"Once in a while, you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."
Quarantine Hot 🔥 Take #2-after all this is over, they should really bring back matinee shows like in the 60-70s. I would love to see a band play for lunch and then go back and see them do it all again later that day. #matineeconcerts
The Cat Attic's 'A House With Stairs' (Climbs Into The Mind Of Each Listener)
It is my sincerest pleasure to introduce, The Cat Attic, to all of my readers. The Cat Attic is a Boston-based Folk-Rock band that has been getting quite the amount of attention within the scene. I was asked to review their recent album entitled, 'A House With Stairs' which will be available this coming Friday. I encourage you all to download "Monsters" off this album here: https://hypeddit.com/track/1rw5qm Also, Check out The Cat Attic on all socials and at their website below. Without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on 'A House With Stairs.'
"Cut Her Teeth" opens up 'A House With Stairs' and it exemplifies what The Cat Attic is bringing musically to this album. I am immediately impressed, not only with the dynamic sound of The Cat Attic but the clearness of the album's mix itself. The breakdown of this song reminds me of Railroad Earth, which is a great thing. I also get a Greensky Bluegrass or Yonder Mountain String Band vibe but The Cat Attic has an immediate sound that is all their own.
"Monsters" driving backbeat stood out to me from the opening seconds of this song. Drummer, David is the backbone of this song and many others. He is always recorded crisp and clean. "Monsters" is another song from 'A House With Stairs' that is lyrically evocative and confronts the monsters that live within us all.
"Civics And Cats" shows extreme vocal skills and harmonies from Richard and Holli who seem to have a palpable music connection that is relayed through their songs and vocal harmonies. The entire band works well together in "Civics And Cats", and within the entire album; working almost as a symbiotic creature to form this musical mixture.
"Weird Song, Richard" begins with a long reverbed whistle. It’s my opinion that there should be more whistling in songs altogether. "Weird Song, Richard" is my favorite song off of this album. I enjoy the imagery and lyrical content that juxtaposes with a great musical breakdown. When the song gets into the "jam" it completely changes the dynamics of what The Cat Attic can do. Turning more jam and progressive as the song develops, this is where the elements combine to get my blood pumping. I would have loved to have heard more of this throughout the album but I can imagine this improvised at a live performance.
"King Of All" really exemplifies the musicianship from the entire band. Polished and familiar, "King Of All" is one of the most well-done tracks on this album. "Preacher" is classically composed with a string band bluegrass feel in mind. Again we see evocative imagery "blood on your hands." This song meshes well with the other tracks on this album and it is placed within the others in perfect order.
"Holding All's" lyrics shine through from the onset of the song. Lyrically driven "Holding All" is a profound song with lyrics that relate to each listener. The mandolin work by Richard is prominent within this song and shows his level of musicianship.
"Broken Roses" beginning has a very progressive rock feel relying heavily on Jenna the outstanding fiddle player but as the breakdown transitions the band transforms into a rousing bluegrass-folk feel. The dichotomy between the beginning of the track and the rest is very different and I love the transitions in and out of this song.
"Saint Simons's" begins "Freedom tastes like NoDoz and caffeine" poignant lyrics that begin this song and draw the listener in with storytelling. The Cat Attic seems to hit their stride telling a great story and matching music to word, driving the album forward. Both "House Of Debris" and "Firefly" are examples of how The Cat Attic uses storytelling to their advantage. The bass playing from Mike can be heard prominently throughout all of these tracks, holding down the driving force in this band.
After listening through 'A House With Stairs' three or four times now, there seems to be a real connection between the band and their songwriting. This connection is shown throughout the entire album and it’s what draws the listener in: closer to the story, closer to the sound. Some bands are good at songwriting or working together while other bands are tight vocally or improvisationally. The Cat Attic seems to combine all of these elements into one cohesive unit that is beyond what each element brings on its own. While I did enjoy the more progressive bluegrass sounds from songs like, "Broken Bones" or, "Weird Song, Richard" the lyrical developments throughout this album are what is most important. All in all, each song on 'A House With Stairs' works well with the next and takes the listener on a sonic journey ascending the musical stairs into The Cat Attic. The Cat Attic have put an exuberant amount of work into this album and it shows. I hope that each of my readers who listen takes something away from 'A House With Stairs' because there is a lot to uncover in the attic.
Written by RA Fadley
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thecatattic/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecatatticmusic
Sol Roots Artist Spotlight-(Light In The Darkness)
I have been in contact with Sol Roots, the Premier Blues Jam Band from the DC area, for many years now. I have finally found the right time to review some of their music and add them to the JBP collection of reviews! It’s hard to believe that we have reviewed over 100 bands on Jam Band Purist.com and we are just now getting around to Sol Roots.
Sol Roots are raw, yet musically polished, they are easily one of the best bands coming of the DC area today. With a soulful voice that matches the power and dynamic playing from its lead member. The man behind the name is somewhat mysterious though and seems to hide in the cracks of Blues and straight-up Funk. He reminds me of many of the old Bluesmen or even a figure like a Wolfman Jack. Sol Roots have shared the stage with some of the greatest acts and has even collaborated with artists like Ron Holloway regularly.
Their recent releases and singles can be found on SoundCloud and here https://solroots.bandcamp.com/. It has been a pleasure to stay in contact with Sol Roots as they continue to grow and evolve in the DC Maryland Virginia music scene. While things have been quite difficult lately for musicians, Sol Roots has had some cool virtual gigs and you can see those online, as well. I see big things in the making for Sol Roots and I am happy to add them to the list of JBP Artist Spotlights. Look for a big announcement soon! I am also working hard to bring to all of you the JBP Presents: Video Podcast and am looking for all the help I can get with sponsors, editing, and content. If you have anything you'd love to hear me rant about email me or comment below.
Erin Lunsford Album Review: 'The Damsel'
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Erin Lunsford from Erin and The Wildfire. I wanted to let all my readers know that my friend, Erin has recently recorded a solo album ‘The Damsel’ and I am digging what this Virginia native brings to my ears. ‘The Damsel’ runs the gamut between rock, folk, and bluegrass. Erin does a wonderful job transitioning these songs into a cohesive sound; a universe all her own. 'The Damsel' is like a spotlight into her secret world. Erin has control over this musical process and it’s exemplified by the natural tonality of her voice and her solid musicianship.
"How Many Birds" opens the album up, setting the precedent for what is about to come. I enjoy the timbre of Erin’s voice and the vocal arrangement in this tune. The backing music adds a smooth, and transitory quality. Lyrically, I could feel the emotion and the descriptive imagery within made me feel the cold in the air, while I flew away south all alone. A lonely lament of a migratory bird.
"27 Summers Down" leans more into the bluegrass feel. The banjo is featured heavily. This song's lyrics resonant with me because I too seem to be chasing a dream into the ground no matter what cost. "27 Summers Down" brings to life the anxiety and torture of making a dream come true while still being uplifting and thought-provoking. The vocal delivery on this is wonderful.
"Virginia Brother" and "Goodbye To Greenbank" are both rooted in an Americana feel that vibe well with the other tracks on 'The Damsel.' I can hear Erins voice clearly, shining through all else. "Whatever U Like" and "Wherever You Are" are more rock-oriented and they also fit nicely within the pallet of what Erin has created.
All in all, 'The Damsel' hits home for its listeners. There is something for everyone to hear. During these crazy times, I find it relaxing to listen to all genres of music, and 'The Damsel' certainly delivers a diverse arrangement that I am happy to review here at Jam Band Purist. I hope Erin has great success with this album. You can get it here at www.erinlunsford.com I also hope to see her and her band The Wildfire do their thing live as soon as possible. Thanks for reading and stay safe.
Hey out there in virtual-internet-land. How's it hanging? I have been working my butt off to get some content on Jam Band Purist for you! This coming week will be filled with Hot Takes, an Album Review for Erin Lunsfords 'Damsel', Artist Spotlight with Sol Roots, and it is with great pleasure that I share some great news. www.jambandpurist.com has teamed up with Dead Space App to bring some exclusive content and partnership. We aren't sure exactly what else will happen but I want to reach out to my readers and welcome all of you aboard. With your help, we can make Dead Space App a home for our community. I have worked with a few other apps that are dedicated to music but Dead Space encompasses all of these great features into one place. If you haven't heard of Dead Space App or want to know more download it on IOS or Android right now and let us know what you think.
Quarantine 🔥Hot Take #1:
When concerts and festivals are back on, let’s find new lead photographers to capture Jam bands onstage. I’m so tired of seeing Jay Blakesberg with his hands on his hips onstage at every freaking festival! I have more pics of him then any band ever.
The Future of Live Music?
Well, there hasn’t been a lot of live music to write about as of late and I am so saddened by all the festival cancelations. I know everyone is affected by the current situation. I feel as though, my musical life has been taken from me but it could be a lot worse!
Although I do have more time at home, writing songs and playing every instrument I can get my hands on, it’s not the same. What has been my saving grace is these live music streams! The musical community has stepped up and delivered something completely unexpected and ingenuitive. I have seen more concerts on "Couch Tour" this past week than I ever have. Like: Relix Live Stream, Nugs.net, Andy Frasco doing his podcast live and other bands playing in their homes or even in empty venues. Other festivals and bands have released their live shows and flooded social media and the internet with music. Another great resource for live streams is Virtual Festival, an aspiring promotional page that has recently started to combat the lack of live music. Check them out. Perhaps I should start reviewing some of these streams? As there is a lack of live music to write about what do you all want to read? To be as honest as possible, I have already paid the 120$ yearly fee to keep this site alive and truly want to use it. I have been seeing so many bands come together and share their live music every day and it has inspired me. I will be doing the same, playing music, talking with y’all and putting myself out there more.
Also if you would like to contribute to www.jambandpurist.com I am now accepting donations at Venmo: Robert-Fadley and PayPal via email@example.com. I gotta keep the lights on somehow. Anything would sincerely help. Look for upcoming content here and on my Instagram, Facebook and YouTube channel. I have some musicians stopping by and I’m hoping to share with as many of you as possible. I don’t get a lot of social media attention but if you are reading this please consider supporting our site. Thank you so much and our prayers go out to John Prine and all the others fighting this crazy shit. Stand together, just do it from a safe distance.
FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY CONTEST!!! Our friends at Phantasy Tour have given us a pack of their recently released trading cards including The Disco Biscuits TAUK Leftover Salmon Goose
Like, share and comment on this post on FB for a chance to win! The winner will be announced on Friday 1/13.
We are also looking for sponsors and advertisers to keep this site thriving and evolving. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and please share this with as many people as possible! Again, thank you all for your continued support and look for new content daily as festival season approaches.
(25 Years of NOLA Funk)-Galactic with Southern Avenue at The Jefferson (Jam Band Purist’s 150th Review)
(25 Years of NOLA Funk)-Galactic with Southern Avenue at The Jefferson (Jam Band Purist’s 150th Review)
After reviewing my notes for this show, it looks to be the 150th review on www.jambandpurist.com It’s hard to believe I’ve reviewed so many concerts and festivals in just under 5 years. Many of them have been this band right here: Galactic. It’s been my pleasure to see Galactic, as much as, I have over the past few years. The classic New Orleans based, Funk outfit has been making their rounds for a 25th-anniversary tour and they stopped into the Jefferson Theatre in Charlottesville, Virginia. I had just seen them aboard Jam Cruise and while I had gotten quite used to seeing Erica Falls with the group, with her recent departure, the new addition of Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph has been a growing experience.
Opening for Galactic was Memphis’s own, Southern Avenue, who I have seen a few times on Jam Cruise and at FloydFest. Southern Avenue has a sound that is very original but their roots in southern blues, rock, and funk shine through. Check out my album review here. https://familyjamhouse.com/southern-avenue-keep-on-album-review-many-musical-stories-begin-at-home/ It was my pleasure to write something up for this growing band and hope the best in the future. Southern Avenue would go on to open up for Tedeschi-Trucks band later that week in Richmond, Virginia, which is a huge accomplishment. Look for this band at festival near you.
What’s there to say about Galactic that I haven’t already said in many other reviews? “Galactic would come on like a jet plane.” Ever since I found my heart in New Orleans and Tipitina‘s, Galactic holds a special place in my heart. And if I can’t get to New Orleans, then by God, I’ll make New Orleans come to me. I wish I could work with Galactic or, with the Tipitina‘s Foundation in the future. That would be a dream come true.
Galactic‘s music is hard and heavy at times with Robert Mercurio on bass and Stanton Moore both a driving full force. There’s songs especially the classic funk, are easy to dance to and lose yourself within the music. When the songs add a singer, it only significantly amplifies the excitement and energy on stage. I am hooked on their cover of “Walking On The Moon” by The Police. It has a different feel and I think you all would enjoy it below. Anyway, I’m sure I will be seeing, Galactic, as soon as, possible. I will be making it to the Crescent City for Jazz Fest or die trying. Keep on keeping on Galactic! 25 Years strong. It’s my dream to interview this band and work with the Tipitina’s foundation!
Eric Gales Stirs Emotions At 5 Points Music Sanctuary
Having seen Eric Gales countless times on social media (usually shredding the guitar to “Voodoo Child,” the Jimi Hendrix Classic) when I saw he was playing at my favorite venue Five Points Music Sanctuary in Roanoke, Virginia, I had to make the trek back down to the Church Of Music. I didn’t know what to expect from the show but I knew that there was going to be a lot of guitar prowess onstage and that was perfect for me.
Mark Nicholson and The Distance opened up the show and I was impressed by the vocals from Mark and his blues-guitar work. His voice reminding me of Robert Plant crossed with Peter Green. The Distance was the perfect band to open up for Eric Gales. Tyler Godsey, did a great job orchestrating this event for 5 Points. I see Mark Nicholson and The Distance, as one of the best local acts I have come across. They could easily take it to the next level and tour; gaining followers who like Marks vocal styles and bluesy guitar tones. Mark, if you ever need another member, I am here! It felt great to get back to 5 Points, which has been growing exponentially and almost looks like a new venue from the inside. If you haven’t seen a show in this venue, I implore you to make the trip down to Roanoke just to see this Church Of Music.
Eric Gales came onto the stage with so much excitement; the crowd was bristling with energy. I was pumped to see what would happen when he was actually playing music. Addressing the crowd and telling his story: reliving hard times, addiction and the sacrifice of music, Eric made everyone feel at home. This is where the shreds began to happen and between the limited vocals and instrumental parts, there were long solo segments that showcased Eric Gales unique left-handed guitar style. It’s hard to describe Eric’s guitar playing, it’s somewhere between Eric Johnson and Jimi Hendrix: raw and visceral, while still being light and twangy. In the video below you can witness the sheer energy and adrenaline that is rushing through Eric Gales as he plays like his life depends on it. Mr. Gales is no slouch on the vocals either. His voice is as juxtaposed as his guitar work; rough and scratchy while still being light and soulful. Eric Gales is one of a kind and there is no getting around that. While Eric Gales is technically skillful on his guitar, his true talent lies in his energetic and infectious energy. I have rarely seen guitar players play with such vigor and excitement on stage. He would even shed a few tears during the show, recollecting his past experiences. I will see Eric Gales again and while he only played about five songs, I think I have a great grasp of what Eric Gales can do on the guitar. The video that I shared on Twitter received over 3000 views in under a week. Thanks to Eric Gales and 5 Points Music Sanctuary for making this a great valentines experience happen.
Thanks for all your recent views, shares, likes and comments. We have seen over 5,000 of you this month and counting! I just wanted to take the time to thank each and everyone of you for following and reading www.jambandpurist.com Without you, we would not be able to cover such great musical events but let's be honest, I would still be writing because it's my passion. This site is a labor of love and we would love for you to share, like and invite you to help us grow. We are looking for sponsors and advertisers to keep this site thriving and evolving. Contact email@example.com for more information and please share this with as many people as possible! Again, thank you all for your continued support and look for new content daily, as festival season approaches.
BIG NEWS! I was recently contacted by phantasytour.com (If you don’t know about this site then check it out! I have been using it for years to log shows and even keep up with set-lists for my reviews) they are releasing sets of collectable trading cards. I am happy to be working with phantasytour.com and think this is one of the coolest collectables I have seen come out in sometime, and I will most likely, be doing a give away on a deck of these trading cards, which include:
“In the inaugural set, collectors will find cards featuring STS9, Leftover Salmon, The Disco Biscuits, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Tropidelic, TAUK, Goose, Bumpin Uglies and The Jauntee. Each pack of Series One Phantasy Tour Trading Cards contains 9 randomly sorted collectible cards featuring a musician or entire band. There are a total of 50 unique cards in the series. There is also a checklist card in every pack.”
Packs of Phantasy Cards can be purchased directly from the bands in the series at their upcoming shows or in their online stores. Here is a list of confirmed dates and locations at which cards will be available:
2/26/20 Tropidelic at The Orpheum Theatre, Flagstaff, AZ
2/26/20 Bumpin Uglies at The Pour House Music Hall, Raleigh, NC
2/28/20 The Jauntee at Old Town Pub, Steamboat Springs, CO
2/29/20 Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at 10 Mile Music Hall, Frisco, CO
3/5/20 Goose at The Agora in Cleveland, OH
3/6/20 Leftover Salmon at Crystal Bay Casino, Crystal Bay, NV
3/12/20 The Disco Biscuits at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, PA
3/13/20 TAUK at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
Online pre-orders are also being accepted at Phantasy Tour’s Merch Store found at https://merch.phantasytour.com. Online orders will begin shipping March 16.
Work has begun on compiling the next series of Phantasy Cards. Fans can vote for the bands they are most interested in seeing in a future series by visiting https://phantasy.cards/vote.
LOOK FOR AN UPCOMING GIVEAWAY ON ALL JAMBANDPURIST SOCIAL MEDIAS. Thank you!
Andy Frasco and the U.N. vs Big Something (RVA Royal Rumble)
I once hailed, Andy Frasco and his wild onstage performances as, “the closest thing to the WWE in the music world.” Last night, these visions came true. Included in this augmented reality were the heavy hitting, Big Something, who have amassed quite a following over the past few years. While Andy is my clear favorite, I wasn’t sure what the night had in store or if he could keep the run of outstanding performances going. Never short on energy, Frasco comes alive onstage, transforming into a beast, a creature of music. His base instincts kick in: party, rage, drink, and fight. It’s the heady mixture, the musical brew; the alchemical reaction we all have when it’s time to party. No need to review the songs just one will do, “Blame It On The Pussy” was played and I’m glad to see it’s still alive and well. It was certainly the crowd favorite of the night. I totally caught a few people, who will remain nameless, in the bathroom making exuberant amounts of sniffing sounds... cold and flu season is going around. Nonetheless, everyone was having a blast in RVA.
Big Something aren’t always my favorite band, not because of their obvious talent but some of their songs don’t connect with me due to their almost, Alt-Rock nature. This show however completely shattered all my expectations of what BS can bring to the stage. While I’d love to see them take more chances and improv more, they still brought The Broadberry down. I am very impressed with the growth from guitarist, Jessie Hensley and the rhythm section in general. They seem to have grown exponentially as musicians. I am sure I will be seeing this band again on summer tour.
At the end of the performance, both bands would join the stage together in a massive throw down that would see wrestling moves, erroneous dancing and even, a pole climbing competition. I think that’s about the only thing that pole is good for. Both bands would play Peter Gabriel’s, “Sledgehammer” and The Talking Head’s seminal classic, “Psycho Killer,” all wearing Luchador masks and jumping on top of one another. Oh, and I must touch on Kyle Ayers who was the referee and opening comedian. I certainly was not expecting to hear comedy that evening and honestly, didn’t pay attention. I guess my headspace was not ready for this combination. After reviewing some of the other videos and shows, I have come to the conclusion that, Kyle, did a great job opening up the audience and his birthday roast of “Sweet Dick” Andy Frasco was hilarious. I want to commend everyone involved for taking chances and trying something different.
These two bands are very important to the up-and-coming Jam scene that we have all have been cultivating for the past few decades. Things have been changing but what remains the same is the love for music and new ways in which bands carry us forward. Improvisation, long solos and collaborations are what make this world turn but stage presence and energy are just as important. Bands like BS And Andy Frasco and The U.N. are the reason that I am still going to shows and covering live music. Both bands keep this scene alive and we have to support them in anyway possible. Go see live music, support the music you love and tell everyone you know. Better yet, take a friend to a show and you change their lives. It truly changed mine.
(Turkuaz Evolves In Charlottesville Virginia)
There is not much to say about this amazing performance from Turkuaz here in Virginia. After returning from Jam Cruise, I was completely enthralled with Turkuaz and was delving deep into their catalogue, pulling out gem after gem. Their shows are always high-energy, full of extreme Jams and improvisation. I can’t help but lose my mind and dance all night to their music.
As I said in my previous review, Turkuaz could be the chosen one; the band to rule them all. The band that could transcend this musical scene and become “popular.” If you ask me what band could go totally mainstream, it’s Turkuaz. Or they could morph into a super-futuristic-funk-robot and destroy us all! Turkuaz is the only band that can make every single person I know dance. No matter what your musical tastes may be, you will find yourself dancing to their infectious grooves. Oh yes the tired cliché, “infectious” but it is, it’s like a dance virus, a parasite of the hips. When Shira and Sammi, are synchronized you are completely transfixed, hypnotized and must comply in full to dance.
I could go through, song for song, telling you how pandemic, “Murder Face” was or, how, “Babies Making Babies” probably impregnated the whole audience but instead I implore each of you to listen to Turkuaz for yourself. I witnessed the crowd raptured in funk, mesmerized in Jam and spellbound in Electo and you too can join the cult of UAZ.
Jam Band Purist
Jam Cruise 18: (Jamais Vu On The High Seas)
Déjà Vu is the feeling that one has lived through the present situation before while Jamais Vu is the complete opposite. Boarding this year’s Jam Cruise on the MSC Divina, I had the strangest feeling of jamais vu: “Jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer's impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that they have been in the situation before.” This feeling would remain intertwined in my thoughts throughout the entire Jam Cruise experience, crystallizing into some strange emblematic dream. It is indeed a New Year, a New Decade and there is a lot to be grateful for. Climbing aboard Jam Cruise is like entering a world all its own. A world with an expiration date of only 5 days but these days transmogrify into a lifetime of experience. Swirling musical energy surrounds this vessel and the constant capitulation and undulation of the vast sea becomes atoned to the rhythm of our bodies. While this is only my second year, it’s as though I’ve been doing this my entire life. The people, all familiar, the bands, I’ve been seeing for over 15 years are just eating at the same buffet as me. Seeing the same shows and having a similar experiences. This relationship is transcending, changing what it means to be a fan, and bridging the gap between artist and audience.
Over the years I’ve been known to get caught-up in the glamour of stardom. Seeing these people as more than they are. Idolizing a life that is completely devoid of normality. After going on Jam Cruise these past two years, I have seen and talked to more musicians than I have in my entire life. Just seeing Ivan Neville walking around everywhere puts things into perspective. Or running into Samantha Fish while she is getting breakfast or, talking with the guys from Galactic on the pool deck. These little day-to-day activities really opens ones eyes to the reality of their musical lifestyle. The truth is these musicians are just like you and me but with a heck of a lot of talent and lots of drive! It’s hard to sit-down and write this out, seeing 5 days of music, everything gets convoluted in my head. I won’t waste too much of your time but I will go into my favorite shows of Jam Cruise 18 and share some of my thoughts.
Life Aboard The MSC Divina:
Boarding the boat itself is always an adventure and having a new boat, the MSC Divina (new to me) was like starting all over again. The Divina is a much bigger boat but traversing those narrow hallways at 5 AM, sliding and hitting the walls like bumper cars, takes some getting used too. It’s almost like you have to take two steps to either side with the motion of the ship to stay balanced. While last years experience aboard the Norwegian Jade was all around a more luxurious experience, better ship, nicer crew, food and amenities were better, but it really doesn’t matter because it’s Fucking Jam Cruise. Where else can you do this crazy shit? The only real issue I have with the MSC is the disembarkation time of 7 am. Ughh what the fuck! Are you out of your minds!
Best Sets On The Ship:
The Lennon Claypool Delirium Pool Deck set was one of the best shows I’ve seen on planet earth not even just on Jam Cruise. This neo-psychedelic amalgamation blew my mind. I was familiar with their catalogue of music but not ready for such a raw, visceral performance with absurdities to boot. Lennon and Claypool really brought out the weird for the first day and I hope to see them again soon.
Every Turkuaz show I’ve ever seen on the boat has been phenomenal; I even skipped out on half of moe.’s Atrium set to check out one of the most hype version of “Flashlight.” Listen, don’t sleep on Turkuaz they may be able to make it the next level of the music industry. Turkuaz could transcend the Jam world and go mainstream or become something we weren’t prepared for morphing into a super-futuristic-funk-robot and destroy us all!
The Marcus King Super Jam was filled with classic Disco and Motown songs. The lineup included but was not limited to: Nigel Hall, Ivan Neville, Tony Hall, Robert “Sput” Searight, Luther Dickinson, Eric Bloom, Roosevelt Collier, Nicki Bluhm, Danny Mayer, members of Turkauz, Karina Rykman and that basically says it all. Marcus seems ready to transcend the Jam world but in a different way, taking Nashville by storm and even getting his own billboard in “Music City.” That’s one way to make an entrance ol’ boy. We will try to keep the lights on for you. Don’t stray too far from home.
Moe. in the Theatre and the Atrium both were exactly what Jam Cruise is all about, true headliners having fun with the audience and melting faces. Chuck and Al both duel shredding guitar solos on the backs of sofas. It was great to get back on the couch with moe. having only seen them a few times in past few years. They were one of the first bands to really turn me onto the scene and their songs play in that special place in my heart. I would love to see moe. return to Jam Cruise next year and finish what they started.
Galactic always puts on a strong performance and this years was no different but what was different was the female performer who is still learning her place onstage. I was surprised to not see Erica Falls onstage but welcome the new comer. I was really impressed with Circles Around The Sun, who put on a hard, yet effervescent performance. Their sound is difficult to explain but its somewhere between the Grateful Dead and funky psychedelia. With the addition of Eric Krasno, CTS set was really transcending. I had heard about these guys with Neil Casal but never had the chance to see them. This was a great way to honor Neil and Jam to their music, I cant wait to see them again soon in Charlottesville, Virginia at The Southern. I wish that Karl Denson would come around my area more often because his shows are always high-energy and I need more of him in my life. Lettuce really impressed me with their Pool Deck set, which seems more original Funk than Dub. This may have been the best Lettuce show I’ve ever seen and their theatre set didn’t seem to compare.
Samantha Fish basically blew me out of my sandals. She is something else and can shred on the guitar which, I got to tell her to her face. She graciously accepted my compliment and gave me a little wink. This would be my first time seeing Samantha Fish and I wasn’t sure her live shows could match her videos but she is even better in person. I really enjoy the cigar box sound and respect her six-string skills immensely. Joe Marcinek was also another performer I wanted to touch on, supporting his own All Star cast of players. This was also my first time catching Joe and his guitar work is truly unmatched; very harmonic and instinctive.
Lastly I want to touch on my friend Marcus Rezak who sat in with Maddy O’Neil and was a great guest on the boat. Marcus is a fantastic player and adds so much to every performance. Check out his other groups like Shred Is Dead and various projects where he works with members of Frank Zappa’s band. Let’s get him and “Sweet Dick” Andy Frasco back on the boat next year for Jam Cruise 20!
No matter how many times I write it, Jam Cruise is the experience of a lifetime! I implore each and everyone to come with me on the most amazing musical adventure! I know many of you say you can’t afford it but if you just skip those local shows, skip those trips to bars, save those pennies, you can make if work and it is well worth it. I can’t imagine not returning next year and reliving this adventure. I hope to see you all there.
Jam Cruise Purist
Oh what a difference 10 years can make on one’s soul. 10 years of change, 10 years of music, love, life and the pursuit of happiness. It seems as though, 10 years have got behind me but I strive forward. I want to thank each and everyone of my faithful readers here at www.jambandpurist.com I have watch this site grow from literally, 1 reader to over 10,000! It has been a dream come true but now is as good a time as any to announce big changes coming.
While being the self-proclaimed, Jam Band Purist has been fun, I need to expand my horizons and will be working on changing this site in hopes to encompass many more aspects of the music world. My main goal as JBP was to express honest and forthright opinions of concerts, music festivals and the Jam music that I love but the every day politics of the music industry including but not limited to, publicist, artist relations, managers and the ever encroaching Live Nation type conglomerates have made it almost impossible for me to express my honest opinions. For example, say I ranted about John Mayer being a douche bag, I wouldn’t be able to get Dead and Company tickets but do I really want them if it comes with that price? At what cost do I give up my integrity? I will still of course, be writing on great festivals like, Floyd Fest, LOCKN’ and many other Jam festivals/concerts but perhaps in a different way or for another publication.
Jam Band Purist will survive however, it will be integrated into the next evolution of my writing dreams. Who knows, I may start covering the latest Rap or Pop music, at least then, I can be completely honest without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings. I truly do not want any of this to sound negative because I have learned so much about Freelance Journalism, the music industry and reviewed some amazing shows and even interviewed some amazing bands. This has been a dream come true and I look forward to the evolution of a dream. 2020 will be the beginning of something grand. Anyway, the show must go on. I’ll be pumping out reviews here at Jam Band Purist. Until further notice. So look out for Jam Cruise reviews soon and for now for No BS New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. Thanks to everyone for the support!
No BS NYE Specacular!
Picking a New Year’s Eve show this year seemed more difficult than it should’ve been. I had lots of musical choices but truthfully: limited funds, a broke down car and the always prevalent, procrastination. Looking at the local choices, it was either the Infamous Stringdusters in Richmond, Virginia or No BS brass and some other acts in Charlottesville. While I love the Infamous Stringdusters, I have previously seen one of their New Year’s Eve shows with one of my exes and prefer not to relive that experience. The only choice remained, No BS Brass, the high-energy act from Richmond who I have seen a few times before. I couldn’t make it to New Orleans this year so, I had to get a taste of those horns. To say 2019 hasn’t been an easy year is an understatement. Wild, crazy and completely unpredictable. I was looking forward to leaving it all behind and mustered up enough strength to proceed to Charlottesville, Virginia. The Jefferson Theater is easily one of the finest venues in all of Virginia. I have been to countless shows over the past 10 years, a decade of music at this venue from Little feat to Marcus King. This venue has become a part of my history.
I arrived at the venue in time to see the tail end of Shagwuf and when I mean “tail-end“ I mean the lead singer’s backside. I can’t can’t comment on the music but enjoyed what little I did see. The Falsies came on directly afterwards and I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. Charlottesville Natives, The Falsies are a raw, wild and at times, incoherent group of misfits. The lead singer/drummer came out on stage in a chicken suit and began to hack balloons reading 2019 with a butchers knife. What a way to begin their performance and really caught my attention. The onstage antics continued from there with a hotdog, lobster and bright swinging balls of glory. There songs like “My Balls,” “We Want To Fuck” and “Are You Sexually Available?” remind me of some of Frank’s Zappa’s later performances, chaotic and sometimes, nonsensical. The Falsies walk the line between Art Rock, Glam Rock and Punk. There were 11 people onstage and at times, it was a bit much to focus on. The spectacle takes away from the music itself. I was most impressed with the guitarist, Carter and her rock star vibes and obviously the lobster. The Falsies are quite the musical circus and could be someone’s strange ethereal dream or someone else’s existential nightmare. The entire band ended the show writhing in an orgasmic pile onstage. I can say this was perhaps one of the strangest shows I have seen to date and really sets a precedent for what 2020 will bring.
The main event, No BS Brass is just as the name implies, no bullshit, straight Funk Rock, Jazz and Hip-Hop all combined into an energetic mixture. Reggie always brings the energy and the inclusion of the female singer really completes this group. I was not disappointed with the level of excitement and musicianship onstage. I would recommend anyone who has the chance to see No BS take the opportunity to get down with this group of outstanding musicians.
The end of 2019 came to a conclusion with little to-do, I watched drunken couples mash faces together in some wretched display of tradition. Others slam alcoholic beverages into their gullets in hopes to drown their lost dreams and sorrows. I make it a point to try to see a concert every New Year’s Eve but decided not to stay out much past 12 because a lot of the people who go to concerts during holidays are just there to get drunk and talk to each other. Somewhere in my mind, I was still preparing for the upcoming Jam Cruise and the amazing music that I was about to see aboard the best ship in the world. So, fuck it! Bring on 2020!
Happy New Year! Let the roaring 20s’s commence🎉 Bringing in the New Year with Shagwof, The Falsies, and No BS Brass.
Squaring The Circle Live At The Pompeii Lounge
Hello all! I have been out of the loop as of late due to new career path but I wanted to touch on Squaring The Circle Live at the Pompeii Lounge in Staunton, Virginia. This show was like seeing this band in the comfort of my own home (but with too much cigarette smoke) while this is only my second time STC, I really enjoyed their performance and the way they conducted themselves, even in, such a small intimate environment. Squaring The Circle has a rich and dynamic sound that is well beyond most bands limitations. Hailing from Baltimore Maryland it was my privilege to become friends with STC and review their music here at www.jambandpurist.com.
Playing some songs off their debut album, ‘Gyonk’ I was impressed with the dynamics from each player and using a small sound system, they still sounded full and together. Guitarist, Carl Dougherty and Bassist, Dan Kutcher, work harmoniously together. Dan is a strong player and really knows how to work his thumb. Tyler Facinoli, the keyboard player is always ready to take the lead and is the heart of this band. Drummer, Nathan Shulkin stayed in the pocket all evening and I was impressed with some of his time signature work. All in all, Squaring The Circle are far to good to be playing such a small venue. Since the first time I saw them, they have really put some hard work into their craft and I look forward to seeing what they produce in the future. If you haven’t heard of Squaring The Circle check out their album and go see a live show if you can. https://www.squaringthecirclemusic.com/
Lost Monarchs ‘Eye On The Sun’ Album Review
Since I first stumbled upon Lost Monarchs, not only the band name, but also, the band itself immediately intrigued me. The Lost Monarchs most recent album, ‘Eye On The Sun’ came across my desk and at first lesson, I knew I had to try and spread the word here at jambandpurist.com While, I’m predominately on the East Coast, I wanted to give a shout out to some West Coast bands that need recognition are worthy of noting on my website. Sometimes we get very regional with our music selections and it’s always good to branch out and experience new sounds and bands.
Recorded in Vista, California at Emerald Age Studios, ‘Eye On The Sun’ is a forthright and exceptional album, with many unique and creative compositions. The opening track, “Nothing Said” is a great opener with and a solid start to this album with great guitar riffs and heartfelt lyrics, that stick with the listener. I think this was a great choice for a song opener from Lost Monarchs. It sets the mood and draws the listener in.
Some other noteworthy tracks that stood out to me were, “Shake The Booze,” which is a great drinking song with classic blues changes and great vocal delivery. The guitar work on this track is top-notch and has a very, West Coast vibe. Which is covered and smothered in reverb. “San Andreas” opens with an eerie guitar tone and a very catchy melody. This song sticks out due to its storytelling and unique composition. I would have to say, that this is possibly my favorite track off of ‘Eye On The Sun.’ This song has an ethereal, dreamy quality that suspends the listener in time, while still remaining linear and never deviating from its purpose.
Both, “Dream I Know” and “Endless Summer” are a great juxtaposition with one another and both exemplify what Lost Monarchs brings to this album, ‘Eye On The Sun.” I recommend all my readers but especially those on the West Coast to check out Lost Monarchs. I’m sure their live shows are just as intriguing as this album is. I’m excited to share, ‘Eye On the Sun’ with all of you and wish, Lost Monarchs the best in their upcoming album release. Look for it on https://lostmonarchs.bandcamp.com/ now.
Well, after a little hiccup, FloydFest 2020 has came back with a lineup that is truly unstoppable. This will be Jam Band Purist’s 3rd year at FloydFest and we couldn’t be happier to announce this lineup: 2 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Grace Potter, Andy Frasco, Leftover Salmon and most especially, Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew with Turkuaz. This is going to be something extra special for those that love The Talking Heads. I hope you all can make it to the mountaintop to see this amazing lineup next year.
Thanks to Floyd Fest and across the way productions.
Andy Frasco-Triple Header in Virginia (and Various Communicable Diseases)
It’s been a few weeks since I saw Andy Frasco and The U.N. in Richmond at River
City Roll. I’ll be honest with you; my ears are still ringing on and off. I looked everywhere for my hearing protection before I left and couldn’t find them. I want to express the importance of hearing protection especially when seeing such a raw and rambunctious band as, Andy Frasco And The U.N. This hearing loss however does not keep Andy Frasco and his band of merry men from touring non-stop and even, hitting three dates here in Virginia. Andy Frasco has been on my must-see list since last January on my first Jam Cruise and although, he is not back on the boat this year, his spirit will forever be intertwined with that of Jam Cruise. Having been to the Brooklyn Bowl in NYC, I can my compare River City Roll with that venue but can honestly say, I like River City Roll alot better.
The opening act, Wild Adriatic was off the charts talented and covered: Rick James “Mary Jane” and Frank Zappa’s “Muffin Man;” two songs that have a special place in my heart. I wasn’t sure how rowdy the crowd would get at this venue, as all was calm on the western front until The U.N. took the stage. Frasco can always rile up the crowd. It was quite a surprise to see Dave Schools of Widespread Panic silently hovering overtop me taking a video of the band onstage. I wanted so bad to talk with him and basically, “fan boy” out but I kept it together. Having been behind the scenes in this music business, I have seen how annoying people can be to artists just trying to live their lives. When the time is right, I’ll meet Schools and sometimes, it’s not always best to meet ones heroes.
Andy’s act hasn’t changed much but I can see him slowly refining it, evolving and making it less about the pussy and more about a solid, fun, entertaining experience. The Charlottesville shows and Roanoke shows would both showcase Andy Frasco and The U.N.’s raw stage talent. I haven’t talked a lot about the band members themselves and want to applaud all of them for putting up with (Sweet Dick) Andy for this long! Shawn Eckles is one of the best guitarists on the scene, a hidden gem in a dusty quarry. Ernie Chang is a consummate player, although he can be over powered by the cacophony of sounds the band produces. Daniel Avila is obviously the heart of the band and extremely talented being able to shred guitar and sing. The numerous bassists that Frasco uses have become a revolving cast of characters but this tours, punk rock style player fits in just fine. The only thing the band is missing is Arno and the antics between him and Frasco but if we are being frank, he wouldn’t even fit on most of these stages.
There’s not much more I can say about this triple header here in Virginia, having started a new job and working to make some solid income, I haven’t been able to see as many shows as usual but I’m glad that Frasco is one of them. I truly wish he was booked on Jam Cruise 2020 but I’m sure he will be back sooner than later. It’s awesome to see Andy and The U.N. coming into their own and finding their niche within this community. This band is exactly what we all need. Their energy is incomparable and every time I see them, I laugh, dance and have a memorable experience. Keep on doing what your doing. See you boys at Floydfest 2020!
Dweezil Zappa Returns To Richmond
It is truly always a pleasure to witness Dweezil Zappa and his band do their thing. It seems like I have come a long way since my first experience about five years ago. Dweezil has only gotten better with time and you can tell, he is constantly practicing his craft. I’m still a huge Frank Zappa advocate and fan. I’m glad to see the Zappa Family Trust business is being put to rest for the time being and I hope that the family can move forward from those negative experiences. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Bizarre World of Frank Zappa Tour but if it comes around again, I will do my best to see it. In the meantime, I am very content just seeing Dweezil and reminiscing about the times when I truly needed Frank Zappa in my life.
With the new additions to his band, Dweezil is pushing the envelope and trying different things and even songs that have never even been played live by Frank himself. Starting off with a live rendition of ‘Hot Rats’, The band would play every song on the album which was released 50 years ago. This is truly one of the great works of Frank Zappa and it was amazing to see songs like “Peaches En Regalia,” “Wilie The Pimp,” and “Little Umbrella’s” take form and come to life onstage. The rest of the show would include one of my favorite songs, “Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy” and some witty banter between the bandmates with a special sit-in from the Pudding man himself, Bill Cosby. Outside of The National, I saw an older African-American eagerly laughing at his phone while watching none other than, The Bill Cosby show. Talk about coincidences.
I will continue to see Dweezil Zappa whenever he comes around and encourage all of you to at least check out one of his shows and give it a shot. Dweezill is a phenomenal guitar player and that is just a fact. I will add a video below that shows some of his prowess. I still can’t get enough of Frank Zappa’s music; I don’t listen to it all the time but when I do, I’m always taken back to the first time I heard “Inca Roads” and my life was changed forever.
Snarky Puppy- (An Evolution Of Music)
I’m not sure exactly where to begin this review so, I’ll just start here: This band takes live music to the next level. Music evolves much like humanity itself. Music is a driving force in culture and the human experience. Snarky Puppy has found a way to transmogrify this experience into something greater than anything I have ever seen. Taking cues from many distinct genres and blending them together is what makes American music so important and diverse; an ever changing flow of musical creativity. The evolution of music can be seen from rhythmic structures of Africa, into Jazz and these genres shift into Blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll, Funk, Hip-Hop and various types of music blend together to form new genres. Music is in a constant state of evolution.
Anyway, most of you already know this but Snarky Puppy has taken this evolution and spun it on its head. I have not seen such musicianship in many years. While I’m not that well versed with their song catalog, it really doesn’t matter. The variety of the music itself keeps the audience on edge and in anticipation. I have been to tons of shows at The National and I don’t see the need to comment on the venue itself. If you’ve been there, you know I’m talking about, if not, then I’m sure you’ve been to a venue much the same. The sound is decent but it was a little packed. The opening band, I can’t even recall their name, began with a strange yell of some sort. The act was highly experimental, artsy and not my thing. Snarky Puppy however, totally my thing and they immediately seemed to shatter all perception I had of their live performance. Members of this current band for the evening included: of course, band leader and bassist, Michael League, Bobby Sparks on whammy keyboard, Justin Stanton on keyboard/Trumpet, Shaun Martin on keyboard and a wonderful violinist, Zach Brock, which added quite a different sound than I have seen from their live videos. I was highly impressed with every single one of the musician’s performances.
Snarky Puppy has built the perfect combination of raw talent improvisation and striking classical compositions. Their live shows reflect their albums and their live performance exceeded all my expectations. This surely won’t be the last Snarky Puppy show that I attend so; I’ll leave some for the next review. Until then, if you have the opportunity, go see this band perform.
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.