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.
An Intimate Evening with The Travers Brothership
Having seen, The Travers Brothership for the past two years at FloydFest, I was happy to see that they were playing a local venue here in Virginia, The Golden Pony. While I’ve been to the Golden Pony many times, there usually isn’t a lot of Jam acts coming through the area; this area kind of sucks for live music. To give you an example of some of the other shows the Golden Pony has hosted: rapper, Petey Pablo. I was still hoping that The Travers Brothership would have a bigger turn out but the intimate show setting let me experience a different side of the Brothership.
The Brothership covers funk staples like “Its Your Thing” and “Can You Get To That” while adding their own unique style that seems to be cultivated within their gritty southern upbringing. Bassist, Josh Clark is also quite important to their sonic development, as he adds energetic and spastic tonality to their sound. Keyboardist and percussionist, Ian McIsaac seems to be the quiet, laid-back type but who knows what happens off stage. The Travers Brothership is well versed in Jam transitions and crescendos but could continue to configure these into their routine. I was also able to score a copy of the most recent album ‘Let The World Decide’ and it has been playing none stop in my car.
The Travers Brothership are still raw and growing but that’s what makes them so much fun to see. The progression and evolution of their growth is right there in front of your eyes. The Travers Brothership are set to launch in this scene and beyond. Their attention to detail and the needs of the musical scene are evident in their consistent pursuit of growth. I encourage my readers to check this band out while they are still evolving, so you can watch these young musicians progress to the top ranks. It’s certainly within their grasp if only they keep up the hard work and never give up. The Brothership will be back in Charlottesville, Virginia this November. I hope to see you there.
Marbin Update and Archived Interview: (Playing Through The Changes)
It’s always an extreme pleasure to witness one of my favorite Fusion bands and all all-around great people in the band, Marbin. I met Marbin, consisting of Dani Rabin, Danny Markovitch and Jon Nadel, about three years ago during one of their local gigs in Virginia. We became fast friends after many long nights discussing the ins-and-outs of music today. Any chance I get to see this band, I do it and with the addition of a new drummer Everett, I was pleasantly surprised as he has assimilated nicely into the group adding dynamic playing and accentuation.
For this review, I’m gonna go back into my vault of interviews and reviews and give to you my first interview with any band ever. If you haven’t checked Marbin out, do it NOW! They have many great albums out like ‘Israeli Jazz’ that I recommend and are almost ready to release a new one, ‘Strong Thing.’ Check them out here: https://marbinmusic.bandcamp.com/ I would also like to recommend, Jon Nadel (bass) Solo Album, ‘Urraca.’ It has some great rhythmic compositions. I see another interview with these guys around the corner!
Enjoy Marbin from 2016-
Jam Band Purist: How many shows have you guys played now?
The band discussed it for a second.
Jam Band Purist: Holy hell, that's a lot of shows. I thought you guys would be bigger than you are by now.
Dani: “So did we. It just takes a lot of time and effort to get to where we need to be, it's taken us 4-5 years just to break into the music festival scene.”
Jam Band Purist: Have you just not found your niche?
Dani: “No, we have our fan base but its just having our niche accepted. We do things a little different than other bands.”
Jam Band Purist: “If you play that many shows, you must have a lot of crazy experiences, what are some of yours?
Jon the Bass Player: “Almost driving into a river.”
Dani: “No, not too crazy stuff just the normal incidences when you go on tour you see all kinds of crazy people and when drugs and alcohol are involved...”
Danny: “Well, alcohol mostly.”
Jam Band Purist: What's the story behind the song “Escape from Hippie Mountain” that's got to be relevant to these crazy experiences?
Dani: “We were at a festival called Spring Fling, I think it was there. There were two chicks getting into a fistfight.”
Danny: “The one kept introducing herself as Jessiker”
Dani: “Her and another girl were fighting but were still trying to be all ‘hippy’ about it and when we first got there, their was the other hippy with blood all over his shirt and when we asked him what happened, he said it wasn't his blood and that made things even worse. Jessiker was eventually banished from Hippie Mountain, people yelled ‘Go West’ it was cold and freezing and we left as soon as we could. We saw her hitchhiking on the way out.”
Jam Band Purist: Sounds like quite the escape. You use a lot of interesting scales and modes within your music, what are some of your favorite scales and why?
Dani: “We like all scales equally, our music changes scales so quickly that we have to understand them all equally. For us as a band, it's more about the melodic statement.”
Jam Band Purist: So, what's up with the rotating cast of band members? Are you just trying to keep things new/fresh and interesting? Or are there other reasons?
Dani: “There have been all kinds of reasons for us to have different members but mostly musical differences.”
Danny: “We can put up with a lot of personal stuff but musically we can’t have it. Those guys are dead to us.”
Jam Band Purist: So, part of why I love music is lyrics, you guys are great but any thoughts on lyrics or are you strictly instrumental?
Dani: “We are strictly instrumental. We have no thoughts on changing that.” (Later, Dani would sing me a few of the songs he wrote which I really liked.)
Jam Band Purist: There are a lot of bands using social media to gain fans and followers, for me you guys helped pioneer or start that whole trend but you have played over 1200 shows, while most of these bands have barely played out of their basement. What can you say to that and to the bands that are up-and-coming using that model?
Dani: “We are just now getting to the point where we can use social media to gain hundreds or thousands of followers/likes but that took a long time. I say good for them, if they get likes and can get big off just social media that's their prerogative, some bands just can't tour and they aren't meant to tour like we do.”
Jon Bass Player: “I think the promotional videos that were are putting out have really helped gain access to the music.”
Jam Band Purist: Anything planned for tonight, maybe set-list wise?
Dani: “The band has never made a set list, we play what we are feeling.”
Jam Band Purist: Ok, final question but a serious one; any musical guilty pleasures?
Dani: “You should ask the bass player.”
Jon Bass Player: “Oh Here we go.”
Dani: “The problem is that he doesn’t feel guilty about them”
Danny: “He likes Linkin Park and bands like that, haha”
We all laughed at him for a moment.
Jam Band Purist: I would make fun of you too. Thank you guys so much.
Short Review: Jazz is Phish at The Broadberry
It’s been impossible for me to keep up with all the musical reviews and shows that I have recently attended. As many of you may know, this site is free to you but for me, it’s becoming increasingly hard to find paying Freelance Writing gigs. I work hard to try and find my voice here at Jam Band Purist and I feel one of my greatest attributes is my honesty. I hope that readers enjoy my candor and my overall view of the shows I’ve experienced. If you are reading this and enjoy it, please like, share, comment or, whatever you do but just let me know you are still here.
I want to touch on Jazz Is Phish and what they are doing with the Phish cannon of music. Their attention to detail and song composition is, on par with bands like Snarky Puppy. I always find myself impressed with not only the musical abilities of the revolving members but the attitude in which the music is presented. Phish is still one of my favorite bands and I have seen numerous cover acts and tribute bands. Jazz Is Phish is much more than a tribute act; it is an extension of the Phish essence and catalogue. I implore my readers to see this band any opportunity you get. If you like Phish but would like to hear their songs delivered in a different manor then this band is for you. More coming soon! Thank you for reading!
LOCKN’ Music Festival 2019 (Lets Do The Time Warp Again and Other Shifts In Energy)
There’s always so much for me to say about LOCKN’ Music Festival here in Virginia. This festival has truly been a godsend for me and feels like my home festival. From its inception, LOCKN’ has always held a special place in my heart. As things change and evolve, LOCKN’ seems to have shifted direction and the winds of change have come to call. This year’s annual festival known as Interlocken, once upon a time, seemed much smaller in attendance size. I’m not entirely sure of the numbers but it felt more intimate and those who have been to all 7 years, felt at home and in good company. This was as much a family reunion for me, as it was a premier festival. It was unfortunate that many of my friends just couldn’t make the trip back to LOCKN’ due to funds or lack of interest in the lineup. I couldn’t miss this festival and am proud to have been to all 7.
Having officially covered this festival as a Music Journalist for 4 years now, I feel like I know the ins-and-outs of LOCKN’ from the people like, Jam Band Jimmy to all my friends in the photography pit. There is something about LOCKN’ that is undeniable communal; a community coming together and bonding through music. The music is always top notch and filled with rare sit-ins and collaborations. This year was much the same but with a few minor changes. The loss of big name acts like, Widespread Panic, String Cheese and even, Umphreys McGee was evident and there were at times, lulls in the festivals overall musical excitement level. But still the thought of Trey Anastasio and Derek Trucks playing together keeps you going and there are also plenty of distractions. I would wander to the media tent, which for some reason is not even close to the main stage; it is perhaps the furthest away from any stage I have ever been while trying to write about an event. These accommodations meant that, I spent more time in the crowd than worrying about overall coverage. With that in mind, I will share some of the musical moments that stood out to me. I will leave out the ones that didn’t quite get me there or, the ones that left me saying, “mehhh.” I will start with Khruangbin, which I have reviewed here before.
In my previous review, I have louted Khruangbin as, not my favorite live act but with the addition of Trey Anastasio, this took their performance to another stimulating and exciting level. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from friends and others this year that Khruangbin is their favorite band right now and it befuddled me until I saw this show with the addition of Trey. I must eat my words but still would love to see more passion in their stage performance. This was probably the best show besides JRAD on Thursday but that’s only because Andy Frasco was cancelled due to another micro burst on the festival grounds.
One of the highlights was catching a glimpse of Paul Simon on the sound stage watching his wife, Edie Brickell. I had never seen him in person and although, I love some of his music, he looked liked he might have had some work done. There were many acts during Friday’s daytime schedule but it was really all about the Derek Truck sit-in with Trey Anastasio Band. Wasting no time here, I’ll just jump right in and discuss the song choices and jams of Friday. This was honestly one of the best sets I have ever seen at LOCKN’. Trey and his band were so gracious and excepting of Derek and allowed him to really shine, something I’m not sure I can say for Saturday nights reverse sit-in. Trey was much more comfortable, relaxed and his band really know how to accommodate another powerful musician. The song choice was fine but I feel some of the slower acoustics songs could have been literally anything; they could have covered any number of tunes that would have compared to “Layla” or, “Little Wing” but instead played, “More.” Watching Trey and Derek trade licks it becomes immediately apparent that Derek is quite literally the best guitarist in the world; his caliber of musicianship is rivaled only by the great blues musicians. Going right into my thoughts on Tedeschi Trucks Band with Trey, to me it felt a little uneven. Trey seemed tired and was given many opportunities to solo but would always pass it back to Derek. Don’t get me wrong these dudes are professional but perhaps their styles didn’t match up, as well as, we all had hoped. That being said, I have re-watched both shows and the music is still top-notch and phenomenal but watch the interaction, body language says it all. I know that many who read this might disagree with me so, comment and tell me about it! I’m always willing to have my mind changed.
Ok, ok, I’ll have to admit Vulfpeck might have been the best performance of the weekend and deserve respect. They have come a long way since their first appearance at LOCKN’ and can put on a thrilling performance. Although some of the crowd participation stunts fell flat, the crowd was still excited and everyone around me had fun. I don’t listen to much Vulfpeck anymore, their catalogue is a little small but they are definitely back on rotation now.
I don’t feel like I really need to comment much on Sunday. The day was laid back and at times even a lull. Marcus King would sit in with moe. for “opium.” This was an awesome rendition and basically made the whole day worthwhile. I did enjoy just spending time at Infinity Downs with friends and checking out Participation Row and the many vendors LOCKN’ has to offer. Some notable mentions for this review are St. Paul and The Broken Bones, who had an outstanding onstage, or should I say, offstage performance. I was riveted by their front mans persona and shiny cape. JRAD of course impressed but I was pleasantly surprised as they played numerous Non Grateful Dead covers. This review would be remiss not to mention Neal Casal and the tragic news of his passing after his stellar performances at LOCKN’ 2019. I was unable to make the Circles Around The Sun set in Garcia’s Forest and I truly regret it. Neal’s sit-ins with Oteil And Friends were standout and his guitar playing was always original and prominent whenever I saw him in various projects. With the loss of Neal and Jeff this year, I want to extend my sincerest condolences to all who have been affected by this. For those struggling with any issues, may it be depression, anxiety, stress or, all around mental health, just know there are so many people out there that would love to help. All you have to do is reach out and to anyone reading this; feel free to reach out to me about anything! Never hesitate. We are all alive together. Let’s keep it that way.
This years LOCKN’ felt like a shift in energy; the rift has opened and there are changes occurring. I didn’t mind the relaxed spacious atmosphere this year. It felt more family friendly and the lineup was still solid although, LOCKN’ has set the bar fairly high in the past years. Having been to every LOCKN’ I have witnessed the changes, the good and the bad but one thing remains, the spirit of community and collaboration that makes this scene turn like the main stage. LOCKN’ is still the Mecca for Jam and a place where artists can feel at home, as much as, the audience. The local area seems to support this festival and the grounds themselves are perfect for this continued musical adventure. I hope to see you all again next year for year number 8!
Thanks to Ron Adelberg Photography and Grateful Music LLC for the photos!
The Rolling Stones Invade Philly (“We’ve Been Playing Here For 50 Fucking Years”)
I have always wanted to see The Rolling Stones, the seminal 60’s Rock Band, the original “Bad Boys”. They have been playing for over 50 years and I still love many of their songs. The Stones are a staple in the Classic Rock catalogue. They may be only second to The Beatles but that’s another story altogether. I remember first listening to The Stones songs in my seminal youth. As a teenager, I seemed to desire the revelations of the 1960s and the “Hippie” culture. The Rolling Stones have stayed with me and have become part of my life’s soundtrack. So when I had the opportunity to see them in Philadelphia with one of my closest friends, I had to make the trek up north.
The lot scene in Philly for The Rolling Stones was insane. It may have been crazier than any Phish or Dead lot I have been to. Every car in each lot I walked through would play the local radio station, which was playing Stones songs for 24 hours. I have honestly never seen so many people singing songs in unison. The average age of concertgoers was about 50 but the energy of their fans is undeniable. The 200$ ticket price was a big fucking deterrent and I was hoping to have better seats; climbing into the nose bleeds of the stadium, even I had a little vertigo. On the stage were giant megalithic screens that the band would be projected on. They seemed like a prop from the wizard of oz or even like the monolith in 2001 (A space odyssey).
The Stones would roll through their classic songs and when I say classics, I mean CLASSIC like “Paint It Black.” I was impressed with the band and their exuberant amount of energy. Mick can still command the stage, dancing like no one has ever danced before and never will. I can’t say his dancing is good but is certainly original and entertaining. It’s strange to see people my grandparent’s age getting down like that. Keif looks like some half-ogre, half-pirate but his guitar tone cuts through everything. Charlie Watts looks rough in the back but still keeps a solid rhythm. Ronnie Wood is probably the best thing that ever happened to The Stones and you can tell he still invigorate the band especially Keif. It was great to see the one and only, Karl Denson onstage with these legends, cementing himself as a true legend himself. While this band doesn’t necessarily “Jam” they do Rock the fuck out and have inspired every single band today.
I can honestly say that this show was well worth the money but I don’t know if I’d ever do it again. I’m not sure there ever will be another chance for me to see this group. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the greatest acts and all of Rock music. I have a new respect for these musicians that constantly tour around the world. The Rolling Stones can travel in complete comfort but at 70 some years old, it still must be extremely difficult. I hope that if you have the money and the opportunity to see the Rolling Stones that you take the leap and forget about the ticket price. Money comes and goes but this musical experience will last a lifetime.
FloydFest 2019: (My Voyage Home)
Some festivals come and go while others stick with you for a lifetime. The memories may fade into obscurity but the essential conviction and power of these events stays with you, within your soul. As I traversed the Blue Ridge Parkway, all my cares and burdens seemed to be released. My senses were greeted with the flood of evocation, the smell of the Appalachia, small towns with bustling markets, the convection breeze of the mountain air. The weather was absolutely perfect and would remain so for the entirety of the weekend. Arriving on site, FloydFest is bustling with energy both musically and socially. The mountaintop looks quite like a small village or even a traveling circus. Tents spiral upwards; the stages are constructed of wood seemingly permanent, reassuring festival patrons that FloydFest will remain, as long as these wooden planks survive. The journey back to FloydFest always feels like going back home. This is my voyage home.
In my eyes, FloydFest is the ultimate, all-around, bang for your buck, beginners festival. Not only is this a well-organized festival, it is also in my home state of Virginia and it gives me great pride that we host such a noteworthy event. Virginia is for music lovers. FloydFest is also very diverse musically, allowing people who come to see more mainstream artists like, Tyler Childers, a chance to see new and provocative musical acts. I have to say early on here that I am not a fan of the Modern Country genre but I can however see the appeal. Some of these shows allowed me to take a break and rest before catching more Jam oriented acts. I will not comment on any of the acts that I found lacking but if pressed, will give my honest opinion, of course. Now that that is out of the way, I will be including some of the best acts of FloydFest here in this review. I wish I could delve deeper into all the music I was able to see but I want to begin with the highlights, in no particular order.
The War and Treaty was perhaps one of the best shows I have seen all year. I don’t say that lightly. While the vocal skills from Michael and Tonya Trotter were great, I was even more impressed with the band behind them. I couldn’t find much information about them but they all could really play. The band is the definition of “tight.” The New Orleans Jazz influence is undeniable and The Trotters add their patented R&B, Soul and Gospel to the vocal arrangements. War and Treaty would play high-energy covers of Gospel songs like, “Amazing Grace”, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “When The Saints Go Marching In.” The War and Treaty is a class act. I was front and center for this outstanding performance and will be seeing this band every chance I get. Thanks FloydFest for turning me onto another great band.
OK, I have to say it, God damn! Electric Hot Tuna was great. Jorma and Jack Cassidy’s hard-driving blues knocked the crowds socks off. These two psychedelic legends would converge inwards as the music pushed into crescendo. Jorma and Jack have seen it all from Woodstock to the psychedelic revolution in San Francisco and they still display amazing musical prowess. Jorma’s guitar tone can be heard in countless songs from the 1960s by artist who emulate his solos from classic Jefferson Airplane songs. These two are as cool as cucumbers and even during their solo acoustic set still brought original and stylistic approaches to their songs like, “Bowlegged Women.” Hot Tuna is just plain badass.
The Travers Brothership takes the MVP award for this entire festival. When these guys weren’t shredding faces off like cheddar cheese on a grater, they could be seen in the audience consuming music with the rest of us. It was a pleasure to talk shop with Eric Travers and watch his brother, Kyle perform with Keller Williams and Leftover Salmon during Buffalo Mountain Jam. The Brothership blasted off, playing numerous rocking sets at FloydFest. They have come a long way sonically and as a group but there seems only room for more growth. Integrating classic Funk songs with their own version of Southern Rock, The Travers Brothership are set to launch, all over this scene.
One of the most interesting yet perplexing performances I saw this year was The Fantastic Negrito. I seemed to cycle through all of the human emotions during this set from: anger, sadness and even humor. Commenting on today’s politics, social normalities, psychology and honesty The Fantastic Negrito was full of energy that was reflected in the strange music. The Fantastic Negrito is unique and creative, evocative and mysterious. Even today, reflecting back on the show makes me confused yet, interested. The music itself is hard and bluesy with a twist of operatic arrangement and even Zappa-like influences. I am more intrigued than ever with Fantastic Negrito who seems to be a true artist, poet, and soul. I will very likely be reviewing this band again. Fantastic Negrito would end the show with, “I love some of you.” What a true statement.
The New Orleans Suspects would bring their raw, NOLA Funk sound straight to the mountains of Virginia. Having just played one of my all-time favorite venues in New Orleans, Tipitina’s the night before, the suspects hightailed it all the way to FloydFest for their daytime set. I don’t think I stopped dancing at all during this set and freaked out as they played Professor Longhairs, “Tipitina’s” for us all. Anyone who has read my recent reviews knows my love for New Orleans and this set was an extra special treat for me.
Lukas Nelson and The Promise Of The Real was the most anticipated performance for many at Floyd Fest this year. I have been watching Lukas for many years now; watching him grow and mature as an artist and a human being. This was the first time seeing him perform that it all seemed to come together. Lukas has finally found his own voice, his own foot path into the world in which his father has built a highway on. Lukas is still blazing his own trail. A troubadour in his own right. The only man on earth who can sound like Willy and get away with it. While you can hear the patronage within his raspy voice and those melodic, Texas Swing guitar tones, Lukas has his own style, his own persona and the women find him insatiable. Rounding through fast songs and slow songs alike, it was the time when Lukas would step to the microphone in earnest, singing, “Outside Of Austin” or, “Forget About Georgia” was when the crowd leaned in, ears and hearts open to his words. Lukas has raw talent in spades. Cultivating this into something different that stands out in today’s cookie-cutter, country conglomeration. Lukas is the real deal and can focus at improving exponentially by staying humble and grinding out his own legacy.
The headlining performance from The String Cheese Incident was just what the doctor ordered. I haven’t danced that hard in quite some time. I couldn’t help but move when they played songs like “Colliding” or, “River Trance” and anyone who could stand still during these moments weren't in the same dimension as me. I can’t comment on the show too much because I was getting down so hard but SCI was a great headlining choice because their music spans many genres. The first set was much more Bluegrass/Rockabilly but the second set was more Jam oriented. I truly hope that those who had never seen them before, took the time to see this band do what it does best. Keller would make his likely appearance with String Cheese for “Breathe” while some of the members of SCI would return the favor and jam with Keller and an All-Star cast of players onstage for the Buffalo Mountain Jam which has become one of the highlights of FloydFest.
I want to include some of the other artists whom I cant review here. There were many impressive acts but let's start with Erin And The Wildfire who’s version of Chaka Khan's “Ain't Nobody” was absolutely spot on. Erin and her band play in Virginia locally all the time and I recommended seeing their live show. The Broadcast as another noteworthy band to include here. Caitlyn Krisko and guitarist, Aaron Austin really Deliver a solid performance. Chupacabras were a fun and funky local talent. While the Jon Stickley Trios rendition of “Sinister Minister” was flawless. Leftover Salmon always performs danceable soundtracks to my festival life. As Vince Herman yells, “FESTIVAL!!!!!”
Another year another voyage to FloydFest. A voyage of the heart, body, mind and soul. A voyage of music, friendship and nature. FloydFest continues to deliver a solid, stable festival every year. The hardwork and planning does not go unnoticed and that is why I continue to return to this beautiful festival every year. With every year I gain treasured musical memories and I hope to share more with you. I hope to see you all at FloydFest next year.
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A Quick Word On 4848 Festival
While I didn’t receive media tickets for the inaugural 4848 Festival at Snowshoe Ski Resort in West Virginia, I wanted to write a short review of this festival because it was truly one of the greatest musical experiences I’ve had in many years. It’s almost like a dream come true, being able to stay in a nice condo and walk just a few hundred yards to stage areas. Most festivals rely on shuttles and buses to transport festivalgoer’s, to and from, hotels and other accommodations. At 4848, many stayed in rooms where they could watch the music from their balcony. I have never heard so many positive comments and reviews about any festival, ever. I went to six All Good Music Festivals and just couldn’t miss this event. I won’t delve too much in to the music though. Perhaps next year Jam Band Purist will have full coverage but for now, all I can say is, if this festival ever happens again, don’t hesitate just GO!
Some of the collaborations at this festival were top notch and Billy Strings seemed to be everywhere. Turkuaz was probably my favorite show of 4848. Their performances keep getting better and better and their new songs are raw and jam heavy. Railroad Earth also put on a great performance but I hadn’t seen them since the passing of Andy and it was bittersweet. They definitely have a different sound now. The Marcus King Band also graced the festival with an outstanding performance and many of the bands stuck around to enjoy music for the weekend.
4848 seems to be an all around success. Everything ran smoothly and spirits were high. I really enjoyed the luxury aspect of this festival and would definitely spring for VIP accommodations if they were affordable. Hopefully next year we will be covering the return of 4848. This festival still stands as one of my all time favorite musical experiences, right up there with Jam Cruise. I hope to see you all there next year!
New Orleans Jazzfest: (50 Years Of Music History)
If you have read any of my recent reviews within the past year, then you will know of my love for New Orleans, the origin and birthplace of American Music. Having traveled south three times this year, I couldn’t miss the 50th Jazz Fest in my favorite place on earth, the Crescent City. Crossing Lake Pontchartrain and casting my first gaze on the city, always brings up memories of music, jazz, and blues slowly drifting out of bars and down cobbled streets; fragrances of Creole food and the feeling of mischievous voodoo. There is something about this place that resides within me, resides within my soul that feels connected to this place, connected to the culture, the community, the lifestyle and most importantly, the music.
There is truly nothing like New Orleans during Jazzfest and the days between. The entire city is filled with the best musicians from all over the country and the world. The music begins the first week of Jazzfest and never ceases until the final days. Two weeks of a full-on, musical heaven. If you are a true music fan, you must make it down to NOLA and try as you might, to see the most music humanly possible. Many nights, I would get home around 6 or 7 AM after seeing 4 to 6 bands per night. I was only in New Orleans for five days and was able to jam pack those hours with great music. With stacked lineups at every venue, I had to pick and choose wisely between some of the greatest musicians I have ever seen play. Many of the musicians played multiple shows per day and there were even smaller festivals during the week like, Crawfish Fest.
While I would love to delve deep into all the music I saw during Jazzfest and in the days between, I have to pick and choose from some of the best I witnessed and an all-around review of Jazzfest: 50 Years of New Orleans Culture and Music. What an iconic festival. We will start with Frenchman Street and the late night antics of Ghost-Note featuring members of Snarky Puppy and a slew of musical guest performers.
My head was swimming as I arrived to my favorite street in the world, Frenchmen Street. Frenchmen is the opposite of Bourbon Street where people go to get boozed up and stumble upon the puke infested asphalt. On Frenchman, people come to see live music. Hordes of music fans go from venue to venue, consuming music like rhythmic vampires. I easily found myself entranced into the Blue Nile, one of my favorite small clubs on Frenchmen. I honestly had no idea who was playing at the time until I looked at the handbill and saw that it was a Ghost-Note. I then knew, I was in the right place. The intense sound from the 10+ musicians onstage was heart palpitating. The energy in the club reminded me of some roaring 20s vibe, everyone screaming and dancing. The band would play a mix of Prince songs with bassist, Mono Neon leading the way in almost every song. Corey Henry and Justin Stanton from Snarky Puppy did come out for a few songs but with so much going on, it was hard to differentiate from who or what was playing. I stayed until well after, 3 AM and headed to some of the other clubs until I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. The city lights and people disjointed me and I had to find my bearings. The music was loud raw and loud. Just the way I like it.
One of my favorite venues in New Orleans is Tipitina‘s. The history associated and surrounding Tipitina‘s is what draws bands from around the country to this iconic venue. I have never seen a bad show at Tipitina‘s. I am immediately jumped on the chance to see Turkuaz late night. The show didn’t start until 2 AM so I was able to catch some more live music before hand. Using www.jazzfestgrids.com I tried to plan out my days in New Orleans and see as much music as humanly possible. Of course, most of the plans were tentative and I hated leaving BB Kings House Of Blues, which boasted players like, Marcus king, TAZ and even Sweet Dick, Andy Frasco. Turkuaz did not let me down. Coming on full force with their futuristic, robotic funk, Turkuaz can be truly psychedelic and when they find a groove they stick to it. While their sound can be jammy it could also be Pop and I wonder why Turkuaz has not moved beyond the jam scene. I believe many more people would find this band as fun, as I do, if only given the opportunity to listen to them or see them live. Turkuaz has been on heavy rotation since Jam Cruise this past January. Getting to see the chaos of Tipitina‘s at 4 AM was priceless. Tchapitoulas never looked so beautiful as I drove home still buzzing from the show and getting to experience and share it with my younger brother, Alexander. I had planned to go to Jazzfest Friday and Saturday but after the wild night at Tipitina’s and that all around overwhelming amount of music, we decided to just see some more music on Frenchmen. We decided to see some Jazz and a number of local blues artists and even stepping out on a few street corners to see buskers round the New Orleans staples. It’s not always about the destination but the journey.
Sunday was the day for Jazzfest and I was excited to rough the heat and the crowds for the stacked lineup of Jazz Fest 50. People crowded the neighborhood surrounding the fairgrounds, where I would learn was used for Horse Racing. So, minus the horses and add the horseshit smell. It was something that I was immediately taken aback by and it never seemed to subside. I did not even want to sit down on the ground because then I would be closer to the smell. Back to the story, I easily find a cheap ticket outside the crowded neighborhood for well under face. There were cops present but they were extremely friendly and I even saw festival patrons giving them hugs and taking pictures with them. Finally entering the festival, I realized the convoluted confused situation that Jazzfest 50 had put me in. With over five stages they really expected me to choose between Buddy Guy, John Fogerty, The Neville Brothers and Herbie Hancock?
Two weekends and I still have to choose from these amazing artist? This might have been the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my entire musical life. I, of course without hesitation added Little Feat as one of my highlighted shows. I couldn’t get as close as I wanted as I didn’t have VIP access for this one and I didn’t get a great view of any of the shows. One of the members in my party collapsed from heat exhaustion. The Jazzfest medical crew didn’t respond nor helped with the incident at all, in fact, they only made matters worse by making my friend walk over 2 miles around the venue for cab/Uber service. This incident has now made me change my review process and at the end of every festival review, I will be giving a star rating. Jazzfest is not off to a great start. The heat combined with the crowds, the smell and the overlapping lineups all add up. Anyway, back to Little Feat, who came out strong with Billy Paine’s organ turned up full blast. They started with “Spanish Moon” going into possibly the slowest “Fat Man In The Bathtub” I’ve ever heard. Still great but with no gusto, the speakers in the back couldn’t hang and the sound was warped back-and-forth throughout the crowd. John “Papa” Gross would join the band which did add quite the level of excitement, the band even getting a broad smile out of “Papa” during “Dixie Chicken.”
After walking for what felt like miles, I tried to watch Chaka Khan but couldn’t find a good spot. The crowd of onlookers surged the stage like hungry hyenas after lions had just ravaged a gazelle’s carcass. The feast was not worth the price for me and I retreated back into the blues tent where some zydeco was playing. The heat was so exhausting, I had to sit down in the shade for a rest before zombie walking to the furthest stage imaginable to see, I can’t believe I’m saying this, Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer. I’ll be honest, as I try to be with every review, the show was good and revitalized some of the energy, which the sun had taken away for me. I remember hearing about Jimmy Buffett getting in trouble for mushrooms and ecstasy not too many years ago but he looked in pretty good shape and his band had a full sound. I can’t say I could take more than 30 minutes of this reggae, island type of cookie cutter sound but it was cool to check out one time.
The real treat of the day was Trombone Shorty featuring the Neville Brothers. Trombone Shorty is the new royalty of New Orleans. While, the Nevilles are the last generation. Having these two musical icons come together was genius and almost redeems Jazzfest for musical collaborations alone. This is what New Orleans is all about, Jazz, Rock and Funk together. Trombone Shorty is strong and poised. He commands the stage and his band knows what to do. They are hard-core funk, almost Punk Rock. There is nothing like them in the music scene and only New Orleans breeds this kind of brilliant raw music. Shorty and his band would cover a powerful Meters classic “Aint No Use. The Neville’s would join Shorty and his band, Aaron Neville‘s voice shining through for “Fire On The Bayou”, “Yellow Moon” and the piece de resistance, an acappella version of “Amazing Grace.” Aaron Neville sounding like a young boy, holding his tattooed cheek, somehow channeling angels or some heavenly power. This performance made it all worthwhile.
Jazzfest Star Rating 3.5 Stars
I tried to get some rest before heading to The Maison for Andy Frasco and the UN. The show didn’t start until 10:30 and went on way later than I could hang out without an IV of Café du Monde straight into my arm. I was at least able to catch Mike Dillon nosedive off the stage with no one there to catch up. This was one of the wildest shows I’ve seen from Frasco with many more guest performances. If you haven’t checked out and the Frasco Artist Spotlight on my website do it now.
Some other notable bands that I am not able to review here: Voodoo Dead, Marcus King Band, Brandon “Taz”Neiderer, Spafford, and The Claypool Delirium. All of these shows were top notch and every musician, while seemingly exhausted; we’re all on there A game.
Jazzfest in New Orleans during this time is filled with the most music imaginable. Half the battle is trying to see the music the other half is finding the energy. Jassfest is more of an experience than it is a festival. For 50 years, this experience has become more of a cultural phenomenon, culturally significant and quite iconic. I’ve been to countless festivals, show an even six days on Jam Cruise but nothing could properly prepare me for the sheer volume of music available in New Orleans during Jazzfest. I don’t think I could ever miss another one even if, I didn’t see any other music all year, give me two weeks in NOLA and I could get my fill. See you next year!
Artist Spotlight: Andy Frasco The U.N.
Where to begin this? Should it begin as a love story? How about a horror story? A Fairytale? A Mystery? Fuck it! Let’s go all Non-Fiction as I tell you, the story of JBP and Andy “Sweet Dick” Frasco and his Dionysian Mystery Cult.
I can still vividly recall the first time I saw Andy Frasco come onstage during Jam Cruise like some fevered dream that comes in waves. I can envision him in pink boxing trunks and pink boxing gloves; his Afro was glorious but obstructed by a gauze bandage. I sat next to the guitarist for The New Master Sounds; we both looked at each other. Mouths agape, awestruck as Andy Frasco performed the wildest show I have ever seen in my life. The list of antics goes on but: crowd-surfing across the entire theatre, taking numerous illicit substances (or was he?) including but not limited too, mushrooms and even a dab from the audience, and all this with a head injury. Even with a bandage on his head, Frasco was still play fighting with his band mates and causing all around destruction onstage. I have been writing and covering shows for over three years now. I have worked with bands like, String Cheese and Widespread Panic but never have I ever seen anything like, Andy Frasco. As my friend, Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon said to me after performing with Andy on Jam Cruise, “He is the biggest thing right now...maybe ever,” his eyes getting larger and his smile growing with them. I have to agree with Vince but I have to start from the beginning and how I found out about Andy Frasco and his World Saving Podcast.
I had only vaguely heard of Andy Frasco musically but his podcast was picking up some major traction in the scene. I gave it a quick listen and was immediately impressed with not only the quality of the podcast but the pure honesty and candor with each guest. From Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Marcus King, Mike Dillion to Ivan Neville, the World Saving Podcast is diverse, fun and at times, heart-wrenching. This was my beginning with Andy Frasco but certainly not the end. I then checked out his studio recordings and found his song catalogue catchy and fun, perhaps more Pop-Singer/Songwriter oriented but still entertaining. I immediately put Andy Frasco on my list of up-and-coming artist to see and review. It was almost a year before I had the chance to see him aboard Jam Cruise and honestly had no idea what I was in for. As I stated before, I have never seen a live performance so raw, uncut and honest. I didn’t think Andy and his band could top those Jam Cruise sets. With the various sit-ins and collaborations, I wasn’t sure and he could keep up this shtick but to my complete surprise, Andy Frasco And The U.N. completely demolished Roanoke Virginia in March for St Paddy’s day.
I know, I’m just getting to this review but I needed to take a break after traveling to Egypt and Europe for almost a month. I also wanted to devote my full attention to this review and Artist Spotlight. I headed down to Roanoke to Martin’s Downtown where an outdoor parking lot stage was set up. It was still a bit brisk out and the drinks were definitely present from the moment I stepped into the area. Andy Frasco’s nervously paced backstage perhaps aware of the police presence in attendance. That didn’t seem to stop Frasco And The U.N. from playing one of the most raw and rambunctious sets of live music I’ve ever seen. “Here’s to drinking in parking lots,” Andy exclaimed, as he poured a bottle of Jamison whiskey down his throat, waiting for the mushrooms to kick in. While seeing the show again, the obvious shticks are there from: the ketamine story to the switching of instruments but I don’t give a flying fuck, looking at Andy’s happy face smiling from ear-to-ear as he plays says it all. This man is truly happy when he’s performing and it’s obvious.
While the only song his mother likes is “Waiting Game” I find many of his songs catchy, toe tapping and thought provoking. While the album versions don’t have the same ass as live performances, they are well produced and easy on the ears. I can still visualize Andy, his pants pulled up, making a moose knuckle while explaining his shortcomings in the penile region. I haven’t laughed and danced so hard in my life. Goddammit Andy you’ve done it again! I drove three hours back home listening to the World Saving Podcast the entire way. It all worth it even having to deal with the drunken asshole that keeping falling into me and who began throwing ice at Andy Frasco onstage.
Andy Frasco And The U.N. are the real fucking deal; a no holds barred, orgy of musical chaos. There is nothing like it. It is perhaps the closest thing to the WWE or professional wrestling within the musical world. The gross display of complete negligence while still remaining coherent is remarkable. I’m left wondering, “Can this last forever?” I have to answer, “I sure as hell hope so!” Frasco is the shining light, the Dionysus, the one promised to enlighten us all. Being a fan of Andy Frasco is like joining some Dionysian Mystery Cult. Watching and listening to Frasco grow and be reborn again is only half the fun. This is either the greatest media ploy in existence or the realist shit out there. You decide.
As for me, I will be seeing Andy Frasco whenever and however I can. Avidly consuming his music and the World Saving Podcast on my summer adventures, covering festivals, concerts and beyond. I shall always take my memory of Frasco and guitarist, Shawn “Wildman” Eckels with me, replaying the chaotic antics of these musical lunatics. I also got to catch Frasco in New Orleans during Jazzfest at numerous venues. That review will be coming shortly. Thank you all for holding out for this Artist Spotlight and more is coming at www.jambandpurist.com soon.
This July, Jam Band Purist will return to FloydFest in the beautiful mountains of Floyd, Virginia. Last year we had such an amazing time at this festival and got some great coverage of many up and coming artists in the scene. This festival is truly one of a kind and this years lineup looks extremely well-thoughout and stacked.
I will also be taking my New Podcast (Yet To Be Released) on the road this summer and FloydFest will be one of my first stops. See you on the mountaintop!
Last years review can be found here: https://www.www.jambandpurist.com/home/floydfest-2018-the-heart-and-soul-of-the-blue-ridge
Musical Alchemy in RVA-(Pink-Talking-Fish at The National)
I barely had time to make it to The National; rushing down Broad Street to catch my second, Pink Talking Fish, show on March 15 in Richmond, Virginia. I have, in the past, tried my best to stay out of everyone’s way during St. Patties Day weekend. I’m not a drinker and I have found over the years, that many people, who go and see concerts during holidays, do not attend concerts frequently and in plain terms, cannot handle themselves or, their intake of extracurricular substances, such as alcohol. Still I decided to brave the hordes of “Irish for the weekend” and started the festivities with Pink-Talking-Fish. Meeting with a group of close friends and giving PTF another shot.
The scene outside of The National can play out like any urban city environment: people selling goods, stickers, t-shirts, drunks talking wildly, homeless persons asking to “Hold a dollar” and of course, the young kids beating on 5 gallon buckets but it was quiet for the most part. As I arrived at the box office, 22$ was easily procured from my wallet and paid to the young lady at the window who was mysterious and tall. I usually get free tickets to most concerts that I review here at www.jambandpurist.com but I decided to forgo the emails and the sometimes-tedious route of getting media tickets. I enjoyed the same experience as everyone else anyway and found it liberating for the evening.
The house was crammed with the strangest array of individuals, I have seen at a concert in quite some time. The place was literally packed and quite diverse. There were groups of rave kids in neon colored clothes, heady dreadies, deep-fried-spunions, RVA Hipsters with curly mustaches and waxed beards, the old and the crusty alike. Who do I fall in line with this crowd? I’m never sure, as I get older every second and persist in finding distinctive sensibilities. My father and Grandmother continue to wonder why, I never grew out of going to concerts. They can’t fathom how someone can enjoy live music at the ripe old age of 32! (So, I’m Probably old and crusty at this point.)
My last experience with Pink-Talking-Fish was last year at 5 Points Music Sanctuary. This was actually my first show at 5 Points and thus begun my relationship with that venue; my favorite venue in Virginia. So I can never thank them enough for making me get down to Roanoke that night. This show seemed much different than I had previously remembered and with a new guitarist, a larger audience and rising energy, PTF came out strong, I didn’t arrive on time so, I don’t know exactly what they started off with but the set list seems to closely resemble some others on this tour. I wasn’t expecting much more than a fun time from this band and my assertions were essentially correct but what I was most impressed with was the musical abilities of each member.
PTF can fucking play. That’s all there is to it. Each member brings an original energy and unique musical attribute. The keyboard player, Richard James is obviously the leader throwing the keys around like a plaything. The new guitarist, Cal Kehoe would throw his head back in pure ecstasy, while soloing, in and out, of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish songs. The band carefully melds these songs like sonic blacksmiths. Songs from the evening included: “Mike’s Song”, “Breathe”, “Cities”, “Have A Cigar”, “Psycho Killer”, an unexpected, “Martian Monster”, “Weekapaug Groove”, “Stash”, “Punch You In The Eye”, “Wilson” and even, “Roses Are Free” and my favorite, “Careful With That Ax Eugene.”
Reflecting back, I can’t help but think what this band could do with an original catalogue of material. While I enjoy a good cover act, especially with one that captures the spirit of three legendary bands, it’s always hard for me to suspend my belief and actually enjoy myself without, completing comparing it with the real thing. My mind is always critiquing and comparing, contrasting and analyzing; the truth is, I wish I could lose myself completely in the music because PTF warrants my full attention. In the end, I’m still left dreaming, “What could be?”
Jam Band Purist
Artist Spotlight: Brandon “Taz” Neideraur (The Chosen One)
The legend of Taz continues to grow, even as I write this. As it grows, so does his music ability and prowess. Taz is the Chosen One; chosen by the patriarchy of Jam. Chosen by Zambi himself. I have rarely cried from musical experiences but Taz has brought me to tears. Not just because the future of this music is in his hands, its because he can truly play with passion and palpable intensity like none I’ve seen, especially at such a young age. Embodying a much older demeanor and onstage command, Taz has already proven worthy of the title, Chosen One.
Having seen Brandon “Taz” Niederuer numerous times now; sitting in with bands like: The Marcus King Band, Widespread Panic, Spafford, The String Cheese Incident and well…just about every band in the scene, I was completely mind-blown seeing him live in Roanoke, Virginia with his own band. This band featured great musicianship including, Matt Godfrey, whom I met on Jam Cruise this past January and we enjoyed a few shows together. Matt is not only an astounding guitarist but he is also a guitar teacher and the man behind many of the young guitarist out there today. I didn’t know what to expect from this band but they truly bring an amazingly profound experience to the stage; something that seems rare nowadays. Shredding their way through originals and covers alike, I haven’t been this impressed with a band since seeing, The Marcus King Band for the first time, two years ago. While I keep comparing this band to MKB, they sound nothing alike, except for having a phenomenal guitarist at center stage. Taz and Friends are original, highly talented and that’s only the beginning.
Five Points Music Sanctuary was packed to the brim with patrons for this show. I have been quite lucky to see so many amazing shows here in Roanoke, Virginia. Every time I return, I see a show that tops the next but this may be the best I have ever witnessed in the Sanctuary. History was surely made that night. Many teenage girls littered the front row, all waiting, for Taz who is a complete Rock Star at this point. A 16-year-old with a huge blond Afro led the opening band; Taz would jam with him onstage for the Neil Young classic, “Cortez The Killer”, which went on for a little too long. It seemed as though, Taz was holding back a little before his performance. While the local show proved fun, I was still anticipating what Taz would do with his own material.
When the band took the stage, there was an immediate change in energy level and overall excitement in the Sanctuary. This band takes things to another level and I was extremely impressed with Taz’s vocals and original songs. Having never heard Taz sing, in person, this was most surprising; his voice is both soulful and clean. The songs themselves sound mature and focused. I had just listened to Taz’s episode of Andy Frasco’s World Saving Podcast and learned so much about him. For his age, then 15, now 16, Taz is beyond his years, not only as a guitarist but also as a person. It was great to hang with the band after the show and learn more about them as players and people. Taz and Friends, would cover: The Meters, “People Say”, The Grateful Dead’s “West LA Fade Away”, Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.” And at times, Taz would remind me of Prince. Many of his own songs were reminiscent of that sound, ie: R&B with a lot of soul. Taz is a musical phenom and all around powerhouse not only a guitar but vocally. This seal of approval comes with 5 stars and must see to believe label.
I don’t have anything negative to write about this experience at all. I honestly can’t believe that Taz isn’t selling out bigger venues or at least, headlining his own tour of shows. But then I remember that Taz is only 16 and is still in public school. The future for Taz is unstoppable but not yet defined. I could see Taz gearing more towards Popular music, possibly going for that platinum record which is easily attainable for him. As it stands today, Taz could be included or play in any number of studio sessions with Pop Stars, Hip-Hop Artist and a slew of other acts. Taz would no doubt blow the world away. Or perhaps he could take the true musicians road, practicing his chops, playing and writing all day, everyday. Earning fans one show at a time. Learning Jazz, cutting his teeth nightly, as he seems to do now. The future is in his hands and Taz seems to have some inspiring influences that surround him. I have great faith and belief in the music that pours out of Taz. I wish unsurpassed success for this young man for the rest of his days. May the Jam gods continue to bless you!
Five Points Music Sanctuary and Tyler Godsey, also seem to understand the importance of getting these, up and coming bands, before they blow up. This is one of many reasons I continued to see concerts at this venue and work with them as much, as I can. It was quite a treat to see this show here because I know Taz and friends, will be headlining festivals and even, Jam Cruise, in no time. I was more impressed than I ever thought I’d be. Here’s to many more shows with Taz and friends! Check out the Youtube video below!
Jam Band Purist
What's your favorite Dick's Picks?
JBP: Well, this question could be taken many different ways but I’m going to assume that you mean the collection of Live Grateful Dead albums; which is a great question. I would have to say, Dicks Pick 27 is usually my go to. Not only do they round through many classic but they even cover, The Who’s, “Baba o’ Riley.”
Do you ever get tired of it and just wanna throw it all in?
JBP: Everyday of my life! Specifically concerning my music writing? I always feel like, I am not doing enough or, not getting enough done but I continue to write and see shows. It’s hard writing when your not sure if anyone is even reading. I have taken a step back lately, playing more music and writing a little less. I have to remind myself that 1. I am on my own time schedule 2. Fuck what everyone else wants, thinks or, needs until I get paid. We shall see what the ebb and flow of life brings but music, will always remain the most important thing in my life and writing second.
What do you think of the Zappa hologram tour??
JBP: I have actually discussed this many times on my site and I will quote a few of those here.
“I will admit, I was taken aback and appalled by the holographic announcement but I have since warmed up to the idea after thinking about seeing some original members performing Zappa music; beyond the hologram, just the musical aspect. I have seen hundreds of arguments for and against this tour but after seeing a patent that Frank Zappa himself designed using some sort of optical illusion on stage, I'm willing to give it a shot and if the old band members are in then why not? I will go check it out once and I will give my honest opinion. I will be the first to tell you like it is, if this tour is an abomination, I promise, I will tell you. If I am blown away, I will also tell you. I hold Frank Zappa’s music up to the highest integrity and so I would cover this event with the upmost honesty and truthfulness.”
Best Phish show you've seen? Worst? Favorite song covered by Phish?
JBP: Great question. I am partial to the Merriweather 2014 “Tweezerfest.” I remember looking at my friend and pulling at my hair like a mad man saying, “holy shit. How are they doing this! ” Night 1 at Hampton this last year was phenomenal as well. As for worst, this past summers, Merriweather Night 1 was almost unbearable, I could hear the crowd groaning, as they continued one of the slowest sets I’ve ever heard.
What do you think about the ‘Colorado Big Game Trophy Wook hunters and all the similar groups? I feel as though it is ruining this free spirit mentality associated with this scene regardless of how funny some people act. Do you think this is having any effect on the scene itself? I personally watch how I act to avoid getting bagged and tagged even though I do not have dreads. This subconscious thought sometimes can’t distract from the show and experience, your thoughts?
JBP: I don’t have too many thoughts about this actually. If others are having fun playing the game and no one is getting hurt, go for it. I can recall laughing at a few posts I have seen on social media in the past. I guess, it’s up to the person but you should always ask permission before taking a picture of someone else and then posting it online. Don’t ruin my show and I won’t ruin yours. The golden rule. Beyond that I don’t care what anyone does. Be yourself and have fun always.
Interview with Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon
This year has already been filled with so many musical experiences that I am having a hard time keeping up! Having seen Leftover Salmon numerous times this past year and on Jam Cruise at the beginning of this year, I had the privilege to talk with banjo extraordinaire, Andy Thorn about their upcoming tour: Floydfest, King and Strings, Roosterwalk, Jam Cruise, Boogie at the Broadmoor and so much more.
Check out the full interview below and make sure to catch Leftover Salmon on their upcoming tour! This interview will also be on the first episode of my brand new podcast coming soon! This has been an exciting journey and I look forward to what the future may bring. Thank you all.
JBP: How is the tour going so far?
AT: It’s going great, we’re having a blast. I have a broken leg so, I’m on crutches. That’s the only bummer. Ya know? What are ya gonna do?
JBP: I think I saw that on social media but wasn’t sure if it was something that you were still going through. Are you still able to play?
AT: Yea, I’m not in pain or anything which is great, it’s coming around. I broke my leg on December 20th and I had a gig with Keller Williams that night. I actually made the gig. I had surgery on the night of December 20th and woke up feeling, not so bad. I had an IV of painkillers in my arm at the time so, I did that gig and then I had to skip my Christmas plans to go to North Carolina to play with my old friends, Mandolin Orange and Jon Stickley and all of them. I did end up making the Leftover Salmon New Year’s tour and I did that, another gig with Larry Keel and by the time that was all done, I was in some severe pain. I was just playing the gigs and going to bed afterwards but when the painkillers wore off, I was not doing great.
JBP: So that’s why you weren’t able to attend Jam Cruise?
AT: I had to pull out of Jam Cruise last minute so, the guys, I mean hopefully they had so many amazing people they work with through the years. Matt Flinner is actually known as a mandolin player, is also an incredible banjo player and he has filled in with the band every time they’ve needed someone. So, he knew most of the songs. I’m sure he did a great job.
JBP: I can personally vouch that it was awesome. Brandon “Taz” Niederauer sat in with them for the first set and I literally had tears in my eyes.
AT: Nice, Jon Stickley is one of my best friends since childhood and I know they got to sit-in with him during that set, as well. We grew up playing together. So yea, I was really bummed.
JBP: You joined the band in 2010, what brought you to Leftover and how has that experience helped shape you as a musician?
AT: I actually heard about Leftover Salmon back in North Carolina. So I was a fan before ever joining and I even remember at 14 or 15, I saw Leftover live and they blew me away because they were so much fun. I bought their live record at the show and I remember listening to that shit all the time. I saw them at the Cat's Cradle, I saw them at Ziggys and then by that time, I got into college and I was a music major. I stopped going to so many shows and I had my own band. I ended up gig-less until 2008 when I joined the Emmitt-Nershi Band so, that’s how I got in touch with the band and it just happened naturally because I loved the band and I already knew all the music.
JBP: So you’ve been playing with Leftover for almost 10 years now?
AT: Yeah it’s been quite a while, still having fun. I love it. I love these guys, it’s awesome.
JBP: Are you currently doing any side projects or anything like that?
AT: I am. I have a new solo record coming out. I am actually finishing up right now, as we speak. So, that’s really exciting. That’s me and all my North Carolina friends: Jon Stickley and it’s got the folks from Mandolin Orange, they’re really good friends of mine and then Bob Britt, the fiddle player from Town Mountain. So, I have all those guys and the bass player from Big Fat Gap, Miles Andrews. So, really excited about that.
JBP: Are you still located in North Carolina?
AT: No, I’m in Boulder now. I’ve been out here in Boulder for 10 years. I miss my North Carolina friends but I love this Colorado lifestyle. Which led to me breaking my leg.
JBP: Yeah, how did that happen?
AT: Skiing. I broke my tibia and I had to have surgery. Now, I have a metal rod in my leg. It takes a long time to heal, man.
JBP: So was it worth it? Are you going to get back out there and do it again?
AT: Yeah I mean, I love skiing. I’ll be out there. I’ll get out there the second I can.
JBP: So you guys will be playing FloydFest again this year?
AT: Yeah, that’s one of our favorites. I love it. I remember my scoutmaster had been telling me about the Floyd General store and their musical jam forever. He always wanted me to go up there with him and jam. I finally got up there a couple of years ago and it’s just amazing. We’ve been doing FloydFest for a long time and it’s really fun because I usually fly home to Durham and then I go up there with my family and we just have such a great weekend. It’s a great family atmosphere or a partying atmosphere. Anyone could just have a good time there.
JBP: I completely agree. I went to FloydFest for the first time this past year and saw you guys play with numerous special guest and sit-ins during the Buffalo Mountain Jam.
AT: Yeah the way that this Buffalo Mountain jam naturally happen, the first year, you know, Greg Allman had to cancel because his health was getting bad and they asked us to put together a set with Keller Williams and there you go. So, we ended up pulling all the guests and it became this Buffalo Mountain Jam and now we do it every year and it’s really really fun.
JBP: It has truly become a staple of FloydFest and I look forward to what you guys do this year. You play with a lot of up-and-coming artists. Who are some of your favorites that you have shared the stage with?
AT: Oh man, there are so many. Obviously, Jon Stickley Trio, I mean he is one of my best buddies. I love their stuff. I love Mandolin Orange and I really dig, Billy Strings, whenever he sits in with us, it’s pretty incredible.
JBP: Oh yea man! Billy Strings is crushing it right now. I’ve seen him numerous times.
AT: Yeah and some of the ladies are killing it like, Della Mae are really incredible. I love seeing the ladies play some bluegrass. It’s killer. There’s not enough female representation in this genre. Who else do I love? And then I really like a lot of the indie folk stuff that’s not as bluegrassy and that has been fun to get into.
JBP: Yes, there is all kinds of music to see at some of the festivals you play from bluegrass to Pop-Rock acts like, Greta Van Fleet at FloydFest this past year.
AT: Yeah that was my first time seeing them and it was kind of crazy.
JBP: Wild to say the least. The vote is still out for me. Billy Strings and Marcus King are two of my favorites right now.
AT: Oh man, King and Strings? Did you go to Roosterwalk last year?
JBP: I did and it was a fun time. It was my second year covering that festival.
AT: One of my best friends from college, Johnny Buck runs that festival. We actually used to write songs together. We wrote a song “All That I Can Think” in college that the String Dusters still cover today. I wish Leftover could do FloydFest and Roosterwalk but the competing radius clause does not allow it but I know Johnny has done a great job with Roosterwalk.
JBP:It certainly gets bigger and better every year. This King and Strings thing is really something to see, they are both powerful forces in the future of this music industry. What are some of your favorite places to play besides the ones we previously discussed?
AT: It’s all about the festivals like, Telluride Bluegrass that’s one of the best. I actually get to play a gig up there this year with my band from college, Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band and that's Anders from Greensky, Travis Wolf from The Infamous Stringdusters, Jon Stickley and then me and our friend Robin on mandolin. So, we’ve added Telluride this year that’s a pretty cool project. A lot of these Colorado festivals especially, the small ones are so much fun. Like Yarmony Grass and then just some of the clubs that we play are also fun. Like tonight, we are playing the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Owensboro, Kentucky. I haven’t even been inside yet. I’m about to go check all the music stuff out. We play such a wide range of theaters. We’ll play a rock club one night and then an amazing theater the next. Like the Ryman Auditorium and all these different festivals, it keeps it fresh and fun you know?
JBP: That’s what keeps you going even when you have a broken leg.
AT: Yes, precisely. This fried chicken is going to keep me going tomorrow in Memphis, that’s all I know.
JBP: Tell me about Boogie at the Broadmoor? You’ll be playing with artist like Lukas Nelson and Sam Bush?
AT: Yeah, Lucas has been winning awards left and right for being a part of that movie, “A Star Is Born.” We got to know him on Maui and he is the nicest guy. So, he agreed to do this. I’m sure it would be a lot more expensive to book him now but he is a super cool dude and we always collaborate. So, that’s pretty cool. We have the nitty-gritty dirt band which is, I mean, when I was growing up my mom was playing it all the time so, I know all their songs. That’s going to be really fun. We have a String Dusters side project featuring, Sam Bush, “Bluegrass Generals” that’s going to be pretty out of this world, and then some great local bands. Sam Bush will be there all weekend too.
JBP: And that takes place in Colorado Springs?
AT: It’s at this amazing venue the Broadmoor. It has over 100 years of history. Like, Al Capone used to hang out there and shit. It’s a pretty unreal place. We used to do it at the Stanley Hotel which is famous for “The
Shining” and we sort of grew out of it and needed a bigger place to do the gig. So we are going to give the Broadmoor a shot. It’s going to be really cool.
JBP: Well, that sounds like a wonderful weekend of music, I don’t wanna keep you from exploring the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Thanks for talking with us and I will come say, “Hey” at FloydFest.
AT: For sure man, come say, “Hey.” I hope I didn’t talk too fast, I just drank horchatas at lunch.
Jam Cruise 2019 (The Ultimate Jam Experience)
It’s been one month since my first Jam Cruise and I honestly don’t knew where to begin with this review. Jam Cruise is indescribable and something that has taken sometime to think about. If you go to Jam Cruise and don’t come back changed, then you didn’t do it right! The entire experience is something that can only be topped by pre-booking and doing it all again in 2020. Seeing so much music; 6 days filled with so many bands that it will make your head spin and not to mention, all the collaborations and sit-ins, it’s hard to remember all or write about them here. I guess, I will break them down in different categories and not worry about which day they played. Bare with me, this one is going to get wild!
Miami, Embarkation and Ports
I began my adventure with a few days in Miami. Having never spent anytime there, it was interesting to see the Latin culture that thrives like a bustling, forgotten Spanish city. The people are flashy and money culture is everywhere. I saw more Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s then I have ever dreamed of seeing or wish to see again. The food was unique and the beach was packed with the most beautiful people imaginable. I was excited and nervous to arrive at the Miami Port to embark on the Norwegian Jade. While I didn’t take any illegal or illicit drugs on board the boat, my butt was still puckered like a week old grape, as we all lined up while a dog sniffed our belongings and our person. From there, I explored the boat and got settled. This was my first cruise and I had no expectations. I would spend the next 6 days in music heaven, eating like a king and rubbing elbows with some of my favorite musical artists.
Porting in Belize, Cozumel and Progresso; Belize would be where my real adventure happened. My friends and I decided to take a tour to the Mayan Ruins of Altun-Ha, which was about an hour and thirty minutes away. We barely made it on time to explore these ruins, driving through Belize City and outskirts; learning about the local chickens and bread stores, tasting the local dishes and getting just a small taste for this English speaking Creole country. Cozumel and Progresso both had their charms but with only 8 hours at each port, it was hard to explore much.
All of the music onboard Jam Cruise was insatiable. There was not one band on this lineup that did not impress or entertain. While the new effervescent band Kraungbin, was probably the least exciting performance I saw, they were still technically proficient and after listening back, have a unique sound that just doesn’t do much for me live. Getting that out of the way, all the other performances left me mind blown and some without a mind to be blown. The music would begin with Matador Sounds, with members from The New Mastersounds funkin’ up the boat from the very beginning. For this performance, I found myself walking around every position and angle onboard, checking out each deck, finding new spots to hear the music while, watching the oceans waves crest and peak. I really enjoyed seeing the shows on the deck the most and we were blessed with great weather the entire weekend. There would only be one day that I could really feel the boat rocking and swaying. I would have to compensate walking back and forth, as not to stumble or fall down and I wasn’t even drinking.
Best On The Boat!
I had only vaguely heard of “Sweet Dick” Andy Frasco and his World Saving Podcast before getting on the boat and boy, was I in for one of the wildest experiences of my life. I have never witnessed such an orgy of musicians and wild onstage antics. Andy Frasco may just be the GG Allen of the Jam scene. My first time seeing Frasco on the boat, I was awe struck, jaw to the floor as he crowd surfed across the crowd all the way to the soundboard and back. A Jewish Dionysus who would talk about and ingest numerous substances while onstage, and have the crowd join in. I look forward to seeing Andy Frasco and The UN in Roanoke, Va on March 16th and checking out his new album “Change Of Pace” out now.
Both Kamasi Washington’s sets we’re technically and musically extraordinary. Kamasi is the closest thing we will ever see to legends like, Coltrane of Miles Davis. Kamasi seems to embody their spirit while taking jazz and these sounds to another level, a higher elevated plane. I sat across the table from him while I ate my food. I was much too intimidated to say anything of worth. He sat, stern and emotionless like a mountain. He holds his hands out in front of him, clasping his cane. He looked rough and mean but not a second later, a lady pushing a stroller with a baby comes by and Kamasi’s face lights up as he discuss how cute the baby is with everyone around him, smiling widely. I get up enough nerve then to say, “Great set Kamasi.” He responds with a deep nod.
Jam Cruise Most Valuable Performers:
This is a hard one but I would have to say DeShawn “Dvibes” Alexander followed closely by Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. DeShawn seemed to sit in with everyone on the boat this year and must have been hustling to show up in so many sets. During Andy Frasco’s second set, Dvibes would be lifted into the air, doing a handstand while playing a keyboard solo. This was definitely the most impressive feat on the boat. I think Dvibes should host his own jam on the boat next year as he is already playing with everyone anyway.
Brandon “Taz” Niederauer the 15-year-old guitar sensation, was also everywhere and at one moment while he sat in with Leftover salmon, I cried for the 3rd time at a concert in my life. The cool thing about jam Cruise is that I got to share that with him right after. Taz would sit in with almost everybody on the boat but the most memorable moments were with Spafford, Galactic and the Super Jam. The future of this music and guitar is in great hands. I just saw Taz tonight at 5 Points sanctuary in Roanoke Virginia with his very own band and was blown away! Perhaps Jam Cruise should book his entire band so, we can see what he does on his own.
It’s hard for me to really delve deep into all the amazing music and sit in performances on Jam Cruise 17 but some other stand out performances were from: Turquaz, Galactic, Hot Tuna, Everyone Orchestra, Skerik, The Cleaners featuring Marcus King, Everyone Orchestra, Nth Power played bob Marley, Space Kitchen was most impressive featuring, Marc Brownstein, Danny Mayer and many sit-ins from musicians like, Eric Krasno and Karl Denson. Melvin seals and JGB, Jennifer Hartwicks super jam was absolutely fabulous. Some of the cool experiences that I can share is coming across Melvin Seals talking with some friends about Jerry Garcia and actually being a fly on the wall while he discussed Jerry’s life and habits. Talking with Stanton Moore about New Orleans and my dream of living there one day. Walking around with Dvibes meeting everyone from DJ Williams to Andy Frasco himself. Talking with George Porter Jr and Vince Herman on various occasions. All the staff on board from Veneer our room steward to “washy-washy” made this experience that much better. It would be remiss for me not to at least mention or discuss the numerous accounts of people being jailed of put on house arrest. I personally don’t know any of the circumstances surrounding anyone involved. I did hear that the number of people that got in trouble was higher than usual. All I can say to that is, it’s international travel; be safe, be smart and leave the stuff at home or on an island.
Jam Cruise is a once in a lifetime opportunity, the ultimate Jam experience and musical improv “experience “ The cultivation of the scene and the people surrounding it culminates here and I feel more at home than ever on that boat. It’s taken me quite sometime to get my thoughts focused and delve into my favorites. I will definitely be returning next year to Jam Cruise 18 lineup unseen, because it truly doesn’t get any better than 6 days of music on the open ocean.
See you on the boat,
Jam Cruise Purist
New Year, New Life, New Orleans-(Thoughts on Galactic and more)
As I sauntered down Treme, reminiscing on the last time I had been to this city. While at the same time, dreaming of the past. Envisoning New Orleans in the 1800s. This city can feel like a ghost of your own past, a ghoul of memories, a haunt of time. Zombies or regular people, I can’t tell which, go about their daily tasks. Tourists careen the streets with their gawking expressions. Am I one of those? I don’t feel like a stranger here. I feel at home, an old home. I’ve been here before, in another life, in other lives. I returned to New Orleans only two months after my first visit (in this life.) Having heard Galactic had acquired Tipitina’s, I thought it only suiting to return to see them once again at the world famous venue. My thoughts have been consumed with New Orleans; I dream of it; fleur-de-lis as my eyeballs, penetrating my mind. I would see this symbol, adopted by the entire city, everywhere. Just seeing the fleur-de-lis will instantly remind you of New Orleans the birth place of Jazz but wait, just Jazz? No, I think not. All American music can trace its roots to New Orleans or at the very least, the southern area surrounding it. (Bluegrass may be the only exclusion but their instruments are obviously inspired by African culture ie. the banjo much like New Orleans music.) There is no other city in the entire world I would rather spend my New Years than The Big Easy, NOLA, The Crescent City. Shirts with “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck”, plaster the shops off the streets with tourist traps tempting you with cheap objects. Everyone has a game in New Orleans. Are you willing to play? It’s always better to just have your own game. Cafe Du Monde can still be found coursing through my veins like some leftover virus that beckons for more.
Heading down Tchoupitoulas towards Tipitinas, I found an awesome parking spot right in front of a church with a neon glowing sign; a neon church of Jesus. I came to see Kermit Ruffins, expecting to hear some classic New Orleans songs done in a slurred authentic fashion. The house was packed, sweaty and humid for January. Kermit was obviously having himself a great time, drinking a few and letting other players take the lead. Many of the songs on the set list can be heard on the HBO series Treme like “My Ohh Poo Pah Doo”or “Iko Iko.” Getting to hear Professor Longhairs infamous song, “Tipitina” at Tipitina’s was truly something wondrous as I delve further into New Orleans history and Soul of American music. It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!
I would sample many of the taste of New Orleans throughout my visit: Crawfish everything, etouffee, gumbo and, of course, Po boys. If you can fry it, you can get it in NOLA. I chugged my Cafe Du Monde while casting my gaze upon the foggy Mississippi River, imagining the history it must have seen; the people, the lives, the times. The Mississippi is the background music to the city itself, the mouth of America open for all to hear.
Returning to Tipitina’s for Galactic on New Years Eve, I already felt at home and comfortable with my surroundings. I parked beside the neon Jesus church and talked wildly singing, “Tipitina tra la la” at the top of my lungs until I reached the entrance. Everyone was dressed in their best clothes, looking colorful and eclectic in the New Orleans style. The opening act, Mr. Washington was true blues, polished and refined. His red jacket shone like Dorothy’s slippers as she clicked them together. Mr. Washington would round through numerous blues infused songs and bring out a few unknown guests.
Galactic would come on like a jet plane. My position in the crowd happened to be right in front of the PA speakers; my ears were foolishly unprotected and by the end of the night, my head felt like a bowl of jelly, but in the best way possible. I think I can still here the hum of the PA in my head now, as clear as those horns blaring from the boats on the Missippipi. Galactic was dressed to the nines in black and gold suits. Erica Falls beautiful dress was the disco ball of the evening and her voice shown even brighter than her outfit. Bringing out numerous guests, the original lineup was present and the slew of VIP on the side stage made me wonder who was who? Having just bought Tipitina’s, I felt as though this was a truly special show for Galactic and New Orleans as Tipitina’s gets another shot at redemption. We careened out into the streets after the show was finished; smoke em’ if you got em’, drink when you can. I found my way back to the electric Jesus and back down Tchop, swaddled with thoughts of musical bliss.
I wasn’t done with New Orleans yet and Frenchman street was filled with music that would pour out into the streets like a flood of sound. I could spend the rest of my days on Frenchman and feel satisfied musically and that’s saying a lot. The raw energy, the explosiveness of the music and the wildness of the city, all converge on Frenchman. Juxtaposing Frenchman with Bourbon is like comparing Time Square to The Village. Why even bother with the crowds and the fools? Just head down Frenchman and find yourself in numerous venues with great local talent. In just one night, I saw I 6 bands for free, some not my style but all talented. Frenchman is where names are made and dues are paid. Many of the bands would run out into the streets with their horns bringing in new patrons and always carrying their tip bucket. It’s the way of life in New Orleans, the art of the hustle.
New Orleans feels like home to me. As I write this in Virginia, I am still engulfed with visions and sounds of the city. I will be returning for Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest and perhaps, I may never return and why should I? In my upcoming Jam Cruise review, I will discuss talking with a few members of Galactic about moving here and maybe one day, I will make it happen! Here is to a New Years in New Orleans; A new me, a new dawn, a new horizon, a new dream, a new opportunity, a new life, a new life in an old city.
New Orleans Purist
Jeff Austin Band with Jon Stickley Trio At 5 Points (Up In The Church Where They Do The Boogie)
The final review of 2018 is back home at 5 Points Music Sanctuary in Roanoke Virginia. It’s has been many months since, I made it back down to 5 Points Music Sanctuary and my travels have taken me all over the country. It feels good to be back in a place that truly feels like my home venue. The sanctuary always has a welcoming presence and Roanoke, Virginia is one of the most laid back cities in the country.
Jon Stickley was in fine form this evening, having just seen the trio not too long ago, it was nice to see them trying new songs and changing their style. The more I see, JST, the more I am impressed with Lyndsay and in particular, the song “Price Of Being Nice”, which is reminiscent of dance music with a bluegrass twist. The rousing performance had me excited for Jeff Austin and his band. Having left Yonder Mountain many years back, Jeff has taken his own trajectory and I can honestly say, puts on a much more riveting performance than anything YMSB has been doing as of late. Jeff Austin would tune his mandolin around Tyler Godsey while he spoke about the great things that 5 points is doing for the local community.
“Static State Of Mind” stood out to me as one of the best performances of the evening. Psychedelic-Jam-Grass there is no stopping these guys as they continued shredding all night. Jon Stickley and Lyndsay would join Jeff Austin and his band on stage for two songs; one would feature Jon on vocals. I don’t know why he doesn’t sing more? The second, a John Hartford, song “Up On the Hill Where They Do The Boogie.”
This was honestly one of the best nights of music I have ever witnessed at 5 points. I will be doing some more with 5 points in the future so look out for more reviews from this fantastic venue. Back to our regularly scheduled programs! We have many reviews and shows coming up.
Happy New Year! Bringing in the new year with Galactic at Tipitinas in the best city in the world! 🎉🎶🍌
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.