Sunday, October 17, 2010

Phish brings a bursting three-night run in Broomfield

I had a chance to take a week off of work to cathc nights two and three of Phish's three-night run in Broomfield, Colo. In retrospect, the Monday's show was great, and Sunday's was still pretty good despite a lackluster set list and discord among some fans.

Here are a few pictures I took and videos from Youtube.

Friday, April 23, 2010

An evening with Dark Star Orchestra

While taking a quick vacation to Seattle last weekend, we found out that Dark Star Orchestra was playing at the Show Box Theater in downtown Seattle, near Pike's Place Market. I had never seen this band before (for a while I thought it was a classical tribute to the Grateful Dead) but I eventually found out the band is actually a straight-up tribute to The Grateful Dead, and they do a great job sounding like the legendary jam rockers, while adding some of their own musical tangents.

The crazy thing about DSO is how precise they aim to cover historically accurate GD set lists, while also "channeling the Dead" and transversing mystical musical jams that sound very natural and very Grateful Dead.

Seeing the band during the spring tour gave us a chance to see new lead guitar player and vocalist Stu Allen join the DSO. Allen, who has played in Melvin Seals and the JGB Band, Avalon Allstars, The Jones Gang, Workingman's Ed, Stu and Pat Nevins acoustic and more, does well to lead the talented group through interesting improvisations, landing back in the song's groove flawlessly.

Drummer Rob Koritz and Stu Allen get in-sync during the second set of the DSO show April 17, in Seattle. Allen joined the band on lead guitar and vocals beginning April 7, 2010. Photo by Brad Devereaux

The rest of the band members do their parts well, too, with drummers Dino English and Rob Koritz playing intricate tromping drumbeats in unison and Rob Barraco (keys) slipping out psychedelic melodies and laying down chords to fill out the compositions. Rob Eaton (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Kevin Rosen (bass, vocals) match the tone of the Grateful Dead with their instruments as well as vocals.

Actually, the entire band was impressive with the accuracy of their vocals. Not only that, each musician stays true to their original singing part in the Dead - Stu doing Jerry, Rob doing Bob, and so on (I can't say this is true for every song they played, but I noticed it on the majority).

The One Way or Another Tour continues through May 1 with dates in northern California. They will continue to tour through early August, including performances at Mountain Jam 6 June 4-6 in Hunter, NY, All Good Music Festival July 8 in Masontown, WV, plus more.

I would reccomend Dark Star Orchestra. They do a great job of making the Grateful Dead's sets come alive in all their glory. Also, it is nice to be able to see these songs played at smaller venues, where getting close to the band is easier and the crowd isn't packed into every crevice of the building. They do, however, draw a decent crowd, and the many people in the audience seemed to be spreading the good vibes just like the DSO.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black Ribbons - Shooter Jennings and Heirophant

What would the world be like without freedom of speech on the radio? What if the government controlled everything on the airwaves? What if tonight was the last night of radio; the final radio show?

Shooter Jenning's newest offering, Black Ribbons, is a far departure from the country rocker with serious roots and country paying chops. 

Everything Else is Illusion starts the album off, a musically diverse mish-mash of rhythym and blues, electronica with a gothic sound.

In God Bless Alabama Shooter plays an acoustic and sings a diddy that sounds more his usual fare, though there is an (oscilator-sounding guitar?) accompanying him and voicing its own opinion of the arrangement all the while.

A lone piano opens the third track, Triskaidekaphobia, with lyrics and music that make me think "Nine Inch Nails on piano." This is actually my favorite track of the album, after listening to Black Ribbons several times.

The track builds to the end, then ends softly, transitioning into the second narration/radio commentary by Stephen King, "Last Night Radio 11:29 am."

King Introduces Fuck You I'm Famous, a message sent to anyone who told the rising star he wouldn't make it on the way up. This is an in-your-face rock/punk anthem.

Lights in the Sky sounds similar to the Steve Miller Band and is remnisciant of 1980s-Pink Floyd, with the addition of a T-Pain voice floating around on the track. Though it is washed in thick effects, it adds a nice variety and a different flavor to the album.

The title track, Black Ribbons, is a stripped-down emotional ballad with Shooter, his acoustic guitar and his words for the verse, with a slew of other instruments and singers joining in to back him up for the chorus, which is catchy.

"Man down tie a ribbon 'round my soul / I'm in the black and i'm out of control / Like a ship lost in the night / With no direction or a guiding light / Man down and I'm drowning in the pain / Face down like a needle in the vein / Nobody's gonna keep me sane / But somehow I can't keep you out of my rain."

Cue a marching troupe and organs to signal King's next narration, a spooky late-night radio interlude that introduces Summer of Rage by Hierophant (the fictional band in the album). King says the song is a nostalgic tune, re-mindful of the times when the country's economy was down in the dirt, "and we didn't think things could get any worse."

Heirophant again brings out their electronic, yet organic, tone, to lay down another unique and futuristic sounding composition. The end of the track ends with an announcement about "total control" or something, which really reminds me of Joe's Garage by Zappa.

"I'm alright, what you gonna do? I went to California to get away from you," the words of California via Tennessee -is a rocker anthem written by Ike Reilly.

In the Illuminated, Shooter's voice is again mixed with some different effects, including distortion and autotune in places. A horse-galloping tick fades in and out of the 5-minute song. Shooter sounds similar to Maynard from Tool/A Perfect Circle in the somber verse and other parts of The Illuminated.

The final radio spot by King is at 11:57 pm, and the album closes with When the Radio Goes Dead and All of this Could Have Been Yours.

I like this album. Longtime Shooter fans may not like it.

But whatever your opinion, you must agree this album is something different from Shooter. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A summer of music festivals in 2010

10-14: Canadian Music Fest, Ontario; Our Lady Peace, Cage the Elephant, Great Lakes Swimmers.
12-14: BLOC, Somerset, UK; Salt N Peppa, Grandmaster Flash.
17-21: SXSW, Austin, Texas; a large lineup of bands.
21-23: Jam in the Dam, Amsterdam; The Bridge, Les Clypool, The New Mastersounds, Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band.
26-27: Birds on a Wire, Pullman, Wash.; Justin Townes Earle, Damien Jurado, Frontier Ruckus, Maldives, more.
26-27: Ultra Music Festival, Miami, Fla., The Crystal Method, Groove Armada, Carl Cox and more.
27-28: The Bamboozle, Anaheim, Calif.; AFI, The Bouncing Souls many more.
18-April 3: Savannah Music Festival, Georgia; Large variety of genres including Wilco.

9-11, 16-18, 23-25: Texas Crawfish and Music Festival, Spring, Texas; check site for updates.
15-17: Wanee, Live Oak, Fla.; Allman Bros. Band, Widespread Panic, Derek Trucks.
15-18: Old Settler's Music Festival, Austin, Texas; Joe Ely, 7 Walkers ft. Bill Kreutzmann.
16-18: Coachella, Indio, Calif.; DEVO, Echo and the Boneymen, Jay-Z, Phoenix, LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and many more.
16-18: Rhythym and Blooms Festival, Knoxville, Tenn.; Carrie Rodriguez, The Old Ceremony, Samantha Crain, Yarn, 18 South, the Black Lilies, more.
22-24: Florida Music Festival, Orlando; Third Eye Blind, Flogging Molley.
23-25: McDowell Mountain Festival, Arizona; Assembly of Dust, Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
23-May 2: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; Pearl Jam, Simon and Garfunkel, My Morning Jacket.
28-May 2: Sunfest, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Weezer, ZZ Top.
30-May 2: Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, St. Augustine, Fla.; Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Loudon Wainwright, Janis Ian, John Cowan Band, Pierce Pettis, Greg Brown, Patty Larkin, more.
30-May 2: Beale Street Music Festival, Memphis, Tenn.; Widespread Panic, Blues traveler, Jeff Beck, Earth Wind and Fire, Flaming Lips.

7-9: All Tomorrow's Parties, Minehead, England; Currated by Matt Groening; Iggy and the Stooges, Deerhunter, Panda Bear, the Residents.
14-16: Bluegrass from the Forest, Shelton, Wash.; Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper headlining all three days, several top regional bands, master workshops, band scramble, band contest, banjo contest, great jamming indoors and out, vendors and much more.
28-30: Summer Camp, Illinois; Umphrey's McGee, Keller Williams, STS9, Pretty Lights, Victor Wooten and Moe.
28-30: Florida Folk Festival, White Springs, Fla.; Visit site for details.
28-30: Desert Rocks, Moab, Utah; Emmitt-Nershi Band, The Motet and Friends, The Naked Eyes.
29-30: Detroit Electronic Music Festival, no lineup yet.
29-31: Sasquatcth, the Gorge, Washington; My Morning Jacket, OK Go, Minus the Bear, Massive Attack, Public Enemy.

4-6: Mountain Jam VI, Hunter Mountain, NY; Gov't Mule, Levon Helm and Friends, 70th birthday celebration (with very special guests), Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band, Matisyahu, more.
10-13: Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tenn.; DMB, Tenacious D, Weezer, Flaming Lips playing DSOTM.
11-13: Download, Donington Park, UK; AC/DC, RATM, Aerosmith, Wolfmother.
11-13: Isle of Wight, Newport, UK; Paul McArtney, Jay-Z, the Strokes, Editors, Friendly fires, Orbital. A Jimi Hendrix tribute band will play at the big top.
11-19: Riverbend Festival, Chattanooga, Tenn.; 5 stages, 100+ bands in
cluding Darius Rucker, Uriah Heep, George Clinton.
16-20: NXNE, Toronto - Check site for updates.
24-July 4: Milwaukee Summerfest, Wisconsin; 311, Jeff Beck, Tom Petty, The Moody Blues, STS9.

1-4: High Sierra Music Festival, Quincy, Calif.; Railroad Earth, Cornmeal, Zach Deputy.
4?: American Music Festival, Berwyn, Ill.; Bands to be announced.
16-18 Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago; Modest Mouse, LCD Soundsystem and several others.
30-Aug. 1: Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, UK; many acts including Madness, Friendly Fires, George Clinton and the Parliment Funkadelic, DJ Yoda and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.
30-Aug. 1: Fuji Rock, Naeba, Japan; Flogging Molly, Muse, Air.
30-Aug. 1: All Points West, NJ; Jay-Z, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

6-8: Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Chicago; Check Website for updates.
20-22: Hoxeyville Music Festival, Wellston, Mich.; Check Website for info.
20-22: The Green Man Festival, Wales, UK; headlined by the Flaming Lips.

September 2-5: Didmarton Bluegrass Festival, Nr Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK; Peter Rowan, Claire Lynch Band, Show of Hands, more.

*This list will be updated throughout the summer as more festivals are announced and/or discovered. If there are any summer music festivals going on in your neck of the woods, please leave a comment and it will be included in the list. Hopefully, this list will be more complete as the summer rolls on, and will serve as a guide to people looking for some great live music.

Also, please comment about which festivals or other shows you are most excited about this summer.

Missing acts
A few popular festivals aren't returning this year.

10,000 Lakes in Minnesota is on hiatus until further notice, according to their Web site, stating that the operation could not reach financial success.

The Rothbury fest in rural Michigan has also announced there will be no festival in 2010, citing a contributing factor of not being able to assemble a "cutting edge roster" for the weekend festival, according to a statment on the Rothbury Website.

"Despite the 2010 postponement, we intend to move toward continuing ROTHBURY in 2011. This event is something very special, and we are unwilling to potentially tarnish what ROTHBURY is, and can become, by working under conditions that will produce anything less than a magical experience," according to the statement.

The future of the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks in Morrison, Colo., is also unknown, but according to the fest's Facebook page, Organizers are working on a solution for 2010.

The Circle K Tempe Music Festival is on hold for 2010, citing similar roster problems as other fests.