(image of GRAB from PNC courtesy of Aiello)
It wasn't too long ago I was catching close to 150 shows in a year's span, which is still hard to believe. While the quantity has certainly slipped with age, I'd like to think with my maturing palate, I've been able to pack as much quality live music into fewer trips into the depths of the NYC nightlife. By my count, I've got three more nights of music before the clock hits zero, and my suspicions are that all three of them would squeeze their way into the upper registers of the listing below. That being said, I'll do my best to review 'em and for now, here are my favorite shows of 2006 with some comments for the top 15 as well as links to reviews, etc. (although this blog got going too late to include all the actually-written reviews for most of these).
1 My Morning Jacket|The Slip|Benevento/Russo Duo @ Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA 1 December
Ned says: I've said enough about this show, read the review, download the set, look at some more photos. I'm not sure there was a better bill anywhere at any time in the past year.
2 Widespread Panic Radio City Music Hall 16 September
Ned says: Three words: Panic is back!! Three more: Jimmy Fucking Herring!!! Caught the first night with JH on the 14th which is also a top ten offering, but I'll just lump it here with the much more complete, drunken-ecstacy-fueled show from the 16th. Some samplings here and here, but you can just download the entire shows, hell the entire tour in pristine soundboard format.
3 GRAB, Duo, Phil & Friends PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ 1 July
Ned says: Pinch me, I must be dreaming. Worlds collide and instead of the disaster Costanza predicted, musical bliss ensues. As above, I won't list the Jones Beach show separately, but this was the show. Hell, forget about the show, the entire day was, to a minute, picture perfect. 12+ hours of smiles all around (most from about the 2nd row).
4 Bill Frisell (The Moonlighters open) Prospect Park Bandshell Brooklyn 3 August
Ned says: Another bout of perfection, this time with visuals. Frisell and his trio play to short films and animation in one of the best outdoor venues out there. What's not to like? For free!
5 Iron & Wine Califone, Low McCarren Park Pool Brooklyn 17 August
Ned says: Another wonderful outdoor venue in Brooklyn, we'll see how long it lasts. This one wasn't free, but sublime nonetheless. I'm utterly smitten with Sam Beam, don't miss I&W next time they're in your neck of the woods -- and don't let the sensational-yet-soporific studio stuff scare you, the live shows are actually rocking multilayered textural masterpieces.
6 Medeski, Martin & Wood , Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings Hammerstein Ballroom 31 October
Ned says: See review.
7 Rana, Apollo Sunshine Knitting Factory 13 May
Ned says: Rana was in a strange place in 2006 for a variety of reasons. But with shredders like these, you take quality and not quantity. With Tribeca Rock Club gone for good, they ripped the Knit a new sphincter. Oh, and the double bill with Apollo Sunshine made me a Fan with a capital F, as in: rock your F'in Face off. Check 'em out, the band to see in 2007.
8 Broken Social Scene Webster Hall 27 January
Ned says: Who doesn't love the Broken Social Scene?? Their benefit show at the Bandshell over the summer left a bit to be desired, but this was a freakin' throwdown. I lurved this show and this band.
9 The Decemberists, Alisdair Roberts Hammerstein Ballroom 3 November
Ned says: See review.
10 Benevento/Russo Duo , Todd Hamilton's American Babies Bowery Ballroom 27 October
Ned says: Pretty much every time Joe & Marco take the stage it's a top show of the year for me. That's the way I roll. So, lump tonight's show in with this one for a top ten slot (not to mention the 4/28 Bowery hit). They melt the walls of the Bowery just like they did at the TRC, Tobacco Road and, of course, the Tap Bar.
12 Herring, Rodgers, Sipe Mexicali Blues Teaneck, NJ 10 August
Ned says: Right around the time when word was out that Jimmy was Panic-bound, we were lucky enough to see him at his day job -- tweaking neurons to unsuspecting freaks. This was some old school ARU-level brain-rearranging.
13 Medeski, Martin & Wood (Soulive opened) Planting Fields Arboretum Oyster Bay, LI 13 August
Ned says: MMW has totally reestablished themselves as major players on the soundtrack of my dreams. They do it in so many ways from so many angles in so many different places. I saw them three times in completely different settings and each time they perfectly conformed to the situation. This was the wine-and-cheese set in posh Nassau County and they done brung it good.
14 Coxygen,Metzgerville, Sec't Government Coda 21 January
Ned says: Freaks Ball VI with all the usual suspects on and off stage. Definitely the most fun I had with live music this year, and I suspect #7 will be the same. Get involved.
15 The Bad Plus Joe's Pub 20 January
Ned says: While my continuing jazz education seems to be on sabbatical these days, I'll always have the Bad Plus. Caught them a couple times. Same old [insert synonym for sick-ass]
Rest of the top 40 presented without comment:
16 Gov't Mule, Wolfmother McCarren Park Pool Brooklyn 9 September
17 Ryan Adams Bowery Ballroom 24 June
18 GRAB , Duo, Phil & Friends Jones Beach Wantagh, LI 7 July
19 The Bad Plus Jason Moran & The Bandwagon Blue Note 13 September
20 Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins The Blow, Will Sheff Stubb's Austin, TX 23 October
21 Strike 55 Bar 29 September
22 Bill Frisell Quintet Village Vanguard 28 April
23 Benevento/Mathis/Chamberlain Tonic 29 November
24 Dave Douglas Quintet Jazz Standard 6 December
25 Marco Benevento solo Tonic 15 November
26 Guttman Tonic 1 November
27 Rana CBGB's NYC, NY 13 September
28 Steve Earle , Laura Cantrell, Allison Moorer, Tim Easton Southpaw Brooklyn 1 November
29 Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond Town Hall 29 September
30 Fiona Apple Damien Rice Jones Beach Wantagh, LI 22 July
31 Earl Greyhound The Annex 7 October
32 Medeski, Martin & Wood IMAC Huntington 8 April
33 EST Jazz Standard 20 January
34 Broken Social Scene, Hidden Cameras Prospect Park Bandshell Brooklyn 6 July
35 Rana (trio) Chris Harford Half Moon Cruise Ship 19 August
36 The Budos Band B.P.M. Brooklyn 9 September
37 Stanton Moore Knitting Factory 7 October
38 Baby Loves Jazz Joe's Pub 9 September
39 Coalition of the Willing Tonic 25 May
40 Adam Levy Barbes Brooklyn 25 July