31 January 2007

Review: Cold War Kids

Mercury Lounge, 24 January 2007

Thanks to C-Dawg, aka Ticket Pimp, last week I not only was lucky enough to see these guys or go to this, but I actually got to see the season's hip, new thing: the Cold War Kids, i.e. the new black. Seems like every few months, usually in conjunction with some Pitchfork fawning, a new band bubbles up from the soup of obscurity to start selling out venues in New York. So, the Cold War Kids, before even hitting a note at the sold out Mercury Lounge gig last Wednesday had somehow already sold out the Bowery Ballroom for three nights. I had to see if there was fire behind that smoke, so when the ticket was offered, I obviously said "sure."

Being a week late, this has already been written up by both my host (who valiantly stayed on for last season's "Who's Hot" column-header, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, while I played old man/saving my strength/"they're starting when on a Wednesday night!?!" and went back to the Burbs) as well as Martin Halo at JamBase, amongst other places. So, I won't go into too much detail about the evening. I definitely dug it more than CD did, I loved the loose energy, the not-too-tight jangling of drums and guitar and the often frenetic pace of musicians back and forth on the stage. There was a very green vibe to their performance -- a sort of combination of "why us?" and "why not?" to their presence. Not quite rock star, not quite not.

And really, when it comes down to it, the song "Hang Me Out To Dry" is nothing short of a pop masterpiece, rock poetry at its essence and, live on stage, was well worth every misstep or overenthusiasm thrown their way. The one-two hop of the bass line is irresistible and the rest of it all falls in perfectly behind it. It's not that the band is a one-hit-wonder, I think the rest of their material is just dandy, had me both rocking and rolling along, but I think every Cold War Kids show must, by rule, coalesce around this number.

The opener (that we caught, at least) was Illinois. In every way, I was prepared to be irked by this quartet -- starting with the lead's insistence on doing a "hip hip hooray!" with the audience (I wish I were joking). But as the set blasted its way through a quick 30 minutes of material, I came away pretty impressed. Nothing too new is happening here and even their charisma seems a bit too much, and yet... rock and roll, played well is rock and roll at the very least. Plus, sweet use of 4-string banjo didn't hurt.

30 January 2007

Photos: Freaks Ball VII

My review of the night in one word or less is: !

Listen for yourself, download the sets (MP3's via Mediafire):
Band of Changes Set I (w/ Dean Ween)
Band of Changes Set II
Apollo Sunshine

My half-assed photos from the evening...

The Dansettees got everyone warmed up with some groovin'

Next up was Chris Harford and the Band of Changes

Chris giving it up to the baddest rhythm section in town: Russo & Dreiwitz

Ween is in the house

These guys freakin' rocked

So did these guys: Apollo Sunshine

Dirty, dirty rock and roll

But, not to be outdone, BOC returns for the late set

Some guests join in, but the Freaks Ball Hall of Famers are Scott Metzger...

...and Sir Joe Russo!

Some other FB photos: here and here.

Dee also took a couple short videos:

Harford & Band of Changes:

Apollo Sunshine:

28 January 2007

Shows of the Week

Big drop of NOLA this weekend, but I'm strongly urging you to make the Tonic show on Monday -- great lineup and good cause.

[Remember: * = Ned's picks; if you or someone you know would like this listing in their inbox every week, go to groups.yahoo.com/group/nyc_sotw and click "join this list."]


Click here for upcoming shows.

**John Zorn, Bill Frisell's 858 Quartet et al @ Tonic (benefit)
Peter Bjorn & John @ Mercury Lounge

Peter Bjorn & John @ Bowery Ballroom
Dumpstaphunk @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Ruben Studdard @ BB King's
Paul Motian Trio 2000 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Katy Pfaffl et al @ Living Room
Van Davis @ Rockwood Music Hall (late)
*Jenny Scheinman w/ Cardenas, Amendola, Cline, Sickafoose @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Steve Hudson w/ S. Bernstein et al @ 55 Bar (early)
Jeff Watts Trio @ The Stone (late)

Paul Motian Trio 2000 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Josh Ritter @ Lincoln Center
*Emergency Party @ Tap Bar
Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White @ Iridium (early/late)
Steve Coleman Trio & Duos @ The Stone (early/late)
Binky Griptite @ Lucky Cat (Brooklyn)
Meowskers @ Goodbye Blue Monday (Brooklyn)
Perpetual Groove @ Mulcahy's (Wantagh, LI)

David Byrne @ Zankel Hall
Cowboy Mouth/Dumpstaphunk @ BB King's
Charlie Hunter @ Mo Pitkin's (late)
The Head Set et al @ Mercury Lounge
Joan Osborne, Nellie McKay, Suzanne Vega et al @ BAM (Brooklyn)
Jonathan Richman @ Knitting Factory
FREE Adem @ Other Music (Brooklyn)
*Paul Motian Trio 2000 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Wayne Krantz @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White @ Iridium (early/late)
Adem et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Ches Smith, Matt Moran et al @ The Stone (early)
Scott Amendola Band, Nels Cline @ Tonic
Big Head Todd & The Monsters @ Irving Plaza
Elliott Sharp plays Monk @ Cornelia St. Cafe

Devendra Banhart, Adem, CocoRosie et al @ Isaac Stern Auditorium
Eric Lindell @ Lion's Den (late night)
Jonathan Richman @ Knitting Factory
*Galactic @ Irving Plaza
Buckwheat Zydeco @ BB King's (early/late)
Sounds of Greg D et al @ Kenny's Castaways
Paul Motian Trio 2000 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Sharon Jones & Dap Kings @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White @ Iridium (early/late)
Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra @ Canal Room
Henry Butler @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)

Galactic @ Irving Plaza
*Sharon Jones & Dap Kings @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
David Byrne @ Isaac Stern Auditorium
Ennio Morricone @ Radio City Music Hall
Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White @ Iridium (early/late)
Michael Wolff @ Flea Theater
The Moonlighters @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Jonathan Richman @ Knitting Factory
Paul Motian Trio 2000 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Gastelum, Street, Kalb, Farrell et al @ Cafe De Ville (late night)

Super Bowl Sunday:
Larry Coryell/Victor Bailey/Lenny White @ Iridium (early/late)
Jonathan Richman @ Knitting Factory
Paul Motian Trio 2000 @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
*Cat Power solo @ Hiro Ballroom
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows.

25 January 2007

minimix: Se7en

Let's add one in honor of VII -- party on Freaks...

Download the mix

01 Soul Shake Down Party -- Bob Marley: Songs Of Freedom
02 All Night Long -- Junior Kimbrough: God Knows I Tried
03 I Got Drunk -- Uncle Tupelo: 89/93: An Anthology
04 Party At Your Mama's House -- Widespread Panic: 'Til The Medicine Takes
05 We Dance -- Pavement: Wowee Zowee
06 Freaks for the Festival -- Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the 3 Sided Dream in Audio color
07 After Midnight -- Jerry Garcia Band: Don't Let Go

Links: Feel the Love

Here's an edition of "people I hate" links [someone shoot these people, please]

#1 on my list: Dick Vitale
GWB praises Julie Aigner-Clark
Dakota Fanning

And now to happy it up, Jesse Jarnow has an excellent, if not dubious, set of links. Meta-Star Wars analysis? New Charlie Kaufman pic? Giddy up! Check 'em out.

Onto the formal portion of our program... last night, before a pretty darn good Cold War Kids show (maybe you'll get a review later), I caught Pan's Labyrinth. If I may retroactively update my favorite 2006 movies, this gets top billing... by far. Maybe the best movie I've seen in a long while. Really, this is what cinema is all about. One of my favorite filmmakers is Miyazaki and this one has the feel of a darker, moodier live-action Miyazaki film, right down to the prepubescent heroine at the movie's center (not to mention the narrow strip of sanity separating reality from fantasy). The story is engrossing and the settings are a wonderful balance of stark reality and utter fantasy. One thing that sets Pan's Labyrinth on that next level is just the way the movie sounds. The crinkle of supershined leather boots, the scrape of a straight-edge blade against whiskered skin, the whistling of fairy wings fluttering around the screen -- it's a full-body experience. This is a fairy tale in the truest sense of the word. I strongly urge you to check it out.

Some other Pan's Labyrinth reviews
I saw it here, my first time at that theater -- very nice.
Dinner was here: damn good cheesesteak, open late.

23 January 2007

Review: Rotary Downs|Amandla > Big Sam's Funky Nation

Tap Bar|Lion's Den, 19 January 2007

(photos courtesy of Greg Aiello)

Trust Dee. I'd love to be able to say "Trust Me" but I've recommended some crap music in my day, although I'd like to think my batting average is decent. But Dee you can trust, and I'm glad I followed her advice and checked out Rotary Downs on Friday night.

The Tap Bar was pretty crowded, mostly with friendly faces, especially for a band playing its first gig in NYC. Conversation over drinks quickly cut itself short when the first chord was played. There was a certain presence in that first blip of sound: an energy, a certain "shut up and listen!" quality that only got more prevalent as the set went on. From the start the Pavement influences were incredibly obvious. The first tune felt like Steve Malkmus' various abilities had been yanked out separately -- his voice to the frontman/vocalist, his off-kilter guitar tone to the lead guitarist, his quirky sense of rhythm to the drummer. This was undoubtedly the tomato paste of the RD sound, but there were surprises that unfolded along the way that revealed an entirely original sound.

That first tune didn't take long to get to them, either, about 2/3 of the way through it split open and ran double or triple time, exploding with energy. Surprises were also abound in the instrumentation as a pedal steel showed a new side and sound -- a change of pace not unlike Apollo Sunshine's, in all honesty. Even more interesting was the appearance of a trumpet on certain tunes. That was one of the few overt shades of their New Orleans home. Yes, New Orleans now has a powerful, song-centric, indie-pop export to go with every other genre they've completely hoarded to themselves. The band was super-tight throughout, not afraid to open things up when warranted and seemed to get looser and more engaging as the night went on. And yes, the songs were that good and the playing even better to warrant all that enthusiasm. This show made me smile... and dance and rock out and buy the album on my way out the door, which is saying something. So yes, trust Dee... and check out her videos of their in-studio performance (especially this one) and the next night in Brooklyn (which I was way too tired to go to, despite really wanting a second helping.

The opener was Claude Coleman's band, Amandla. I've seen them a couple times and this was certainly the best of those, although I still have a problem with them. That problem being mainly the vocals. I can deal with poor vocals in a band, I understand it's kinda the hardest and last thing to nail. But this music -- and don't get me wrong, I think the songs are terrific at heart -- seems to rely heavily on harmony and hitting all the notes.

Headed over to the Lion's Den for some post-show show and to get the NOLA fix. The band was called Big Sam's Funky Nation which is just about the lamest name for a band I could possibly think of. Do you have to put "funky" in the title? Well, yeah, it was funky, but let the music speak for itself. These guys are who they are, a perfect microcosm of the funky New Orleans party band, complete with Skerik sit-ins and the drunk, Tulane-heavy crowd. There is a place for this kind of music and Big Sam fits between 1 and 3 am like the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle. The crowd was friendly, freaky and in fill TGIF mode. So don't look at me with your sneering hipster detachment, it was a damn good time!

22 January 2007

Photos: Rambling to the Garden and Back

At the beginning of the season I promised the occasional foray into Cuse hoops talk. There hasn't been much because the team is what I'd call lacking -- lacking talent, lacking personality, and worst of all lacking watchability. This was all in full effect on Sunday afternoon when we made a trip to the self-proclaimed World's Most Famous Arena for the nearly-annual Syracuse/St. John's tilt. Seen is a picture I took of the "action." I use that term loosely -- it was one of the most unentertaining college basketball games I've been to in a long while, so the picture sums it up pretty well. Needless to say, they beat us, and all signs point to a long season.

I will take this moment to mention the Orange hoops blog at Syracuse.com, which has become an essential stop for any fan of the team.

In all honesty, the best part of our trip to the Garden was seeing this sign which helps feed my foods-wrapped-in-other-foods fetish. The knish-wrapped hot dog is just what could lift my spirits.

Actually, the train ride into town wasn't a total loss because we had an amazing BBQ meal at Daisy May's which I rate as the best Cue in the 5 Boroughs... prove me wrong. The Oklahoma beef rib is like meat candy. In the interest of equal time, I did also catch up on my New Yorker reading with an interesting article on vegetarianism.

Made the train back home and watched the absolutely thrilling AFC East championship game. Which brings us back ever-so-gracefully to Syracuse. See, I don't really have a pro football team (or NBA team for that matter). I just have Syracuse to root for and I didn't even go to school there. The best sport at the school I did go to was sailing of all things, so I've been saddled with a strange rooting complex. Most Syracusans tie on to Buffalo or the Giants, and while I'll root for both, I feel no allegiance. In the spirit of contrarianism I actually spent a lot of my misguided youth rooting for the Cowboys which was fun until they actually got good. Spending school in Boston, I rooted for the hapless Pats and have a soft spot in my soul for poor Drew Bledsoe from being forced to watch his ineptitude for 4 straight years. So in the complicated calculus of my fandom, I end up following Syracuse alumni in the pros which makes for some strange conflicts. The two I enjoy the most are McNabb's Eagles and, as it so happens, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have like 5 or 6 former Orangemen playing significant roles on the team, including superstars Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney. Nice to remember a time when we actually had decent players on our team -- watching these guys is like a throwback to happier times in Cuse-following. So, long story short, I consider myself, of all things, and Indy fan (I can even get behind Peyton with little remorse), so Go Colts! I guess I'm going to need to hash this out before I pass on some demented rooting rules to my children and they grow up to be conflicted mass murderers who can't commit to a meaningful relationship... but hopefully death merchants with a proper admiration for foods wrapped in other foods.

21 January 2007

Shows of the Week


Click here for upcoming shows


Allen Toussaint/Holmes Brothers @ Joe's Pub (early/late)
Don Byron @ Merkin Hall
R. Earl Keen, Wood Bros et al @ BB King's
*FREE Scott Metzger, Danjaboots @ Knitting Factory
David Murray Black Saint Quartet @ Jazz Standard (early/late)

*The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah et al @ Bowery Ballroom (benefit)
David Murray Black Saint Quartet @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Erin McKeown @ Joe's Pub (early)
Adam Levy et al @ Rockwood Music Hall (late)
Bill Evans w/ Sam Bush et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
Marcia Ball/John Hammond Quartet @ BB King's

*Cold War Kids @ Mercury Lounge
The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Binky Griptite @ Lucky Cat (Brooklyn)
James Blood Ulmer @ Iridium (early/late)
Hopewell, Anders Parker et al @ Living Room
Bill Evans w/ Sam Bush et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
David Murray Black Saint Quartet @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Erin McKeown @ Joe's Pub (late)
Clipse @ Bowery Ballroom
Oren Bloedow @ Tonic

Mark O'Connor w/ Rosanne Cash @ Merkin Concert Hall
The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Bill Evans w/ Sam Bush et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
Bob Seger @ Madison Square Garden
Blue October @ Irving Plaza
Greg Osby @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Dub Trio et al @ Mercury Lounge
Meowskers @ Piano's
*Wayne Krantz w/ L. Goines, C. Almond @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
James Blood Ulmer @ Iridium (early/late)

*Tin Hat @ Symphony Space
James Blood Ulmer @ Iridium (early/late)
Greg Osby @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Deerhoof @ Irving Plaza
The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
M Ward solo @ Town Hall
Blue Oyster Cult @ BB King's
Bill Evans w/ Sam Bush et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
UMELT @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Burgon/Dunn Duo @ Salon/Saloon #7 (Brooklyn)
Henry Butler @ Blue Note (late night)

FREAK'S BALL VII @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Apollo Sunshine, Chris Harford, The Dansettes

Bill Evans w/ Sam Bush et al @ Blue Note (early/late)
*Perpetual Groove @ Knitting Factory
The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
James Blood Ulmer @ Iridium (early/late)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Greg Osby @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Ari Hoenig @ 55 Bar (early)

Click here for upcoming shows

18 January 2007

minimix: Weekend Sampler

This weekend starts a very nice stretch of shows in the city (and Saturday is the Freaks List's birthday), so get out there and go see live music. To get you started, here's some music or musicians you might hear out and about this weekend.

Click here to download the mix

01 Big Parade -- Rotary Downs: Chained to the Chariot
02-03 Truckin' > Jam -- Grateful Dead: Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY16 July 1990
04 I Saw A Bird Fly Away -- Dar Williams: The Beauty Of The Rain
05 High on a Mountain -- Ollabelle: Riverside Battle Songs
06 I've Got A Feeling -- The Dansettes: Oh My!

Blades of Glory

Couldn't wait to spread the word on this one... is there any possible way this isn't awesome? (probably, but humor me).

17 January 2007

Links: FBVII Countdown

Freaks Ball is around the corner, so I might have to put on my pimp suit once or twice in the next week.

Details: Saturday 1/27 at Southpaw in Brooklyn, USA.

Tickets are going at a pretty good clip, so get yours now: right here!!

As a reminder, we've got three sweet, sweet acts playing, DJ's, crazy Freaks and one of the sweetest rooms in town.

Apollo Sunshine just flat out kicks ass, nothing more needs to be said, but I'll expound nonetheless, should it please the court, with some links for your consideration. Seriously, these guys are about to blow up -- they even make a cameo in the recent U2 video alongside some already legends -- what more proof do you need... OK, they get Ropeadope love, too! Satisfied?)

Chris Harford is somewhat of a live music cult legend in NYC, and if you need any proof, check out his rotating cast of characters in his ever-morphing Band of Changes. Better yet, look at who that Band will be come next Saturday: Scott Metzger on guitar, Dave Dreiwitz on bass and Joe Russo on drums. You will not find a better backing band in the universe -- you can have Plant, Jones and Bonham, I'll take these three [he said with just a hint of hyperbole]. Seriously, they all have the same middle name -- that being Fucking as in Joe Fucking Russo. Listen to Chris at Myspace or the tracks on his site or better yet, download this show from last fall with this exact same lineup, DUDE!

The Dansettes are some old school R&B/funk/soul that will bring a smile to your face and that boogie to your bottom. Check out this YouTube or listen to some of their hopping EP at Myspace and get ready to party.

So there you have it. Tis the season to party down with the Freaks, so I hope you'll join us.

The details:

Freaks Ball VII
Saturday, 27 January 2007
Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY
Apollo Sunshine
Chris Harford & the Band of Changes (Russo, Metzger, Dreiwitz)
The Dansettes
Tickets: $20 (go get 'em!)

Review: Friday Night Lights

Yeah, I did see some music last week, but nothing worth writing something about that nobody's gonna read, so in the interest of doing something different (that nobody's gonna read), I'm going to review what is now my favorite TV program: Friday Night Lights which is on NBC at 8pm on Wednesdays (i.e. tonight).

The quality of this show is like something you'd find on HBO: realistic characters where there are no clear cut "good guys" or "bad guys" -- everyone has their flaws and their strengths; multiple story arcs that reach across episodes or kind of stew for a couple weeks like they might in real life; top notch production values with a sort of hand-held documentary-style camera work that may be a little cliched but definitely works within the framework of the show; and lastly a great soundtrack through and through (you had me at Iron & Wine).

Ostensibly, the show is about a high school football team in the parts of Texas where high school football teams are the center of the universe. (the show is based on the movie which is based on the book). But, as with any quality programming, there's a lot more layered in there. Somehow this show has been able to fold in narratives about disabilities, steroid use, college recruiting, Katrina refugees, domestic battery, the Iraq war and its veterans and a whole slew more without a single one of these elements feeling at all forced. It's pretty amazing, these are things that I've never seen in a TV show and it's pretty much 100% compelling. I can only hope they haven't fallen for the "let's cram every possible story line in the first season" trap that leaves the ensuing life of the series to the rest of the more vanilla love, sex, high school social structure, friendship, small-town politics, lower-middle-class economics storylines that are already in there.

This is TV for men and women -- yes there is football, although not an overwhelming proportion of it, but since these are high school kids, there's a whole slice of 90210 at its essence, not the least of which are impossibly attractive women from top to bottom and actors that probably had their prom in the mid-90's, but also including the lead male working at a burger joint.

Anyway, I can't recommend this show enough and despite the fact that the stories are ongoing, I don't think it would be that difficult for you, interested reader, to pick it up. To make it even easier (and to fend off cancellation), you can watch every episode in its entirety online here, and I believe there are some links somewhere in there where you can just watch a quickie catch-up summary. I'd hate to see this thing get bounced around the lineup and then disappear or outright cancelled before it really has a chance to spread its offense out.

16 January 2007

Allmans at the Fillmore

Not much original content this week, so I'll let YouTube take over today.

Don't tell me you've never wondered what it would have been like to see the Allman Brothers play the Fillmore East!

Here's your chance (probably best viewed at about 4am after a night of heavy partying, but still...)

Elizabeth Reed:

Whipping Post Part I:

Part II:

15 January 2007

Shows of the Week

Click here for upcoming shows


*Tal Wilkenfeld @ Tonic
Little Richard @ BB King's
Tracy Bonham @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)

Fall Out Boy, New Found Glory
Robert Cray Band @ BB King's
Barry Manilow @ Madison Square Garden
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Kenny Barron @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
The Holmes Brothers @ Joe's Pub (early)

America @ BB King's
Mos Def @ Lincoln Center
Toots & The Maytals @ Canal Room
Kenny Barron @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Barry Manilow @ Madison Square Garden
*Cold War Kids, Frank Smith @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
My Brightest Diamond et al @ Tonic
Andrew Bird @ Bowery Ballroom
Anders Parker @ Living Room
Bankerton Group @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)

The Hold Steady @ Northsix
*Jonah Smith, Scrapomatic @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Fro @ Galapagos (Brooklyn)
Sloan @ Bowery Ballroom
Piamenta @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Wayne Krantz w/ A. Jackson, C. Almond @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
Kenny Barron @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Barry Manilow @ Madison Square Garden
Jessica Lurie @ HERE Arts Center
Nusrat Tribute @ Makor
Steve Coleman @ The Stone (early/late)
Patricia Barber @ Symphony Space
Bankerton Group @ Tap Bar

Rotary Downs, Amandla @ Tap Bar
Rich Robinson, Luther Dickinson & Friends @ Bowery Ballroom
DJ Le Spam & The Spam Allstars
*Big Sam's Funky Nation (Circus Mind opens) @ Lion's Den (late)
Gob Iron @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Licorice @ R&R
Jerry Lee Lewis @ BB King's
John Ginty Band w/ Shannon McNally @ Ace of Clubs
The Dears @ Webster Hall
Donny McCaslin @ 55 Bar (late)
Jessica Lurie @ HERE Arts Center
Bankerton Group @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Kenny Barron @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Terrance Simien @ Lion's Den (early)
Mission On Mars @ Rose (Brooklyn)
The Radiators @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)Mission Of Burma @ Irving Plaza
Burnt Sugar @ Tonic (midnight)

FREE J. Kaukonen, Ollabelle, L. Campbell, Railroad Earth et al @ Winter Garden
Gob Iron @ Northsix (Brooklyn)
Stefon Harris @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Ollabelle, Kaki King et al @ Bowery Ballroom
*Rotary Downs @ Magnetic (Brooklyn)
Jessica Lurie @ HERE Arts Center
Subdues @ Irving Plaza
Dar Williams et al @ Joe's Pub (early)
Winter Jazzfest @ Knitting Factory (all club)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy @ BB King's
Kenny Barron @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Cowboy Junkies @ Joe's Pub (late)
Aquarius Ingress @ The Stone (early/late)
Jay Rodriguez @ Blue Note (late night)

*FREE J. Kaukonen, J. Farrar, D. Williams, Sex Mob, T. Trischka et al
@ Winter Garden
Ricky Skaggs w/ Bruce Hornsby, Shawn Colvin et al @ BB King's
T. Berne, E. Iverson, D. King, M. Maneri @ Tonic
Stefon Harris @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Kenny Barron @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Jessica Lurie @ HERE Arts Center
Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra @ Makor
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Steve Coleman @ The Stone (early/late)

Click here for upcoming shows

11 January 2007

minimix: Jazzercise (p)

Long mix for your hopefully long weekend. A little piano jazz for you.

Click here to download the mix

01 Caravan -- Duke Ellington With Charles Mingus & Max Roach: Money Jungle
02 Dancing -- Keith Jarrett Trio: Changeless
03 Epistrophy -- Thelonious Monk Quartet With John Coltrane: At Carnegie Hall
04 Everywhere You Turn -- The Bad Plus: These Are The Vistas
05 Paranoid Android -- Brad Mehldau: Live In Tokyo
06 Hey Joe -- Medeski, Martin & Wood: Tonic


Links: Random smattering

The above image is from a fantastic t-shirt which was listed on the T-Shirt Critic Blog, which is a great place to hop over to every once in a while. Let's face it, cool t-shirts are, well, really cool, and these guys are bringing that appreciation to the next level. This Rushmore shirt is also quite sharp. I'm pretty sure I was sent there by BoingBoing, which is usually the case for those out-of-the-ordinary links.

On the other end of the Blog spectrum you have Malcolm Gladwell's site. This earns the distinction of being one of the few blogs whose comments section is actually used for intelligent discussion. I mean even the trolls make good points. It's also a sign of the times when someone writes an article, revisits it shortly on a blog and then mixes it up directly with the readers in such a forum. Check out Gladwell's newest New Yorker article on Enron which, whether you agree with his points or not, is a pretty fascinating look at something that's been hashed over pretty good. Then go and follow up here and here for some additional perspective and the interesting and well-informed insights of his reader. See, the 'net doesn't have to be all boobies and flame throwing.

Finally, what would I be if I didn't throw you some tunes:

First, via Andy "CahnMedia" Cahn and Hidden Track I point you in the direction of this sure-to-be-killer The Band tribute album: Endless Highway. Click on "Music" and you can hear all the tracks in their entirety and you'll want to block out some time for these, Widespread Panic plays "Chest Fever" with horns, Gomez kills "Up On Cripple Creek," MMJ, ABB, Death Cab and on and on. This ain't no shitty dust-collecting tribute album.

Second, OTW is a big Jimmy Herring fluffer, so I urge you to check out this sweet YouTube of some sort of guitar clinic that Jimmy's teaching. I have no idea what he's talking about for about 90% of the time, but it's sweet to watch this guy dissect the music, talk about, ad lib, etc.

09 January 2007

Review: The Fiery Furnaces/Emergency Party

Northsix, Brooklyn, 5 January 2007

It happens every once in a while. A band comes out of nowhere and kinda knocks your socks off. Most of the time I get a "you gotta hear these guys" or I'm about 3 months lagging on the critical buzz. But that rare occasion is quite exhilarating: an opening band brings it and you've found yourself in something completely new.

Friday night I made my way semi-exhaustedly back to Brooklyn, to Northsix in Williamsburg (for the Fiery Furnaces, we'll get to them in a bit). I realized upon arrival that I had been to that venue only once before -- the second Freaks Ball almost exactly 5 years ago. What the hell? Great room, great everything, why hadn't I been back. And now it'll be gone, or at least changed to something different. Farewell Northsix, me barely knew ye.

Anyway, there was one guy who opened up who wasn't too great, but turned out to play a powerful role in the Friedburger Band, so I'll give him a pass in retrospect. The second band of the night had the name "Emergency Party" which I immediately had a feeling about. Great name. A band name means so much. So they're setting up which is always fun to watch with a band you've never seen before. You stand there and kind of observe as the band's domicile comes together, it's very essence is splashed onto the blank canvas of a stage and you try to form in your mind's ear what this band is going to sound like. Of course, these guys are setting up their own gear which includes the requisite drums, guitars and bass, but also like a pair of dulcimers that are bolted down to tables with old-school keyboard/synthesizer and a couple of what I would call samplers and stuff.

And then there's a guy who is basically Jack Black Brooklyn style. I'm sure he gets it all the time, like the cliched way to talk about this guy is "he's like Jack Black" but what the hell, there you go. Let's just accept it and move on. And he sets up his guitar and then he unfolds an ironing board to which his own Yamaha-a-jig is bolted down and lighting fixtures and now I have no idea what this is going to sound like. Did I mention female bass player?

Before they even start to play I'm getting that wave of exhaustion: Friday night, long, sleepless week, standing already for an hour or two, no one to talk to... So it's the ultimate test, either I'm going to be cranky and "let's hurry this set the fuck up already" or you've won me over. So they start playing and about 5 seconds in they'd done it. Wow! Total energy. The Jack Black thing doesn't end with "that guy looks like the dude from Tenacious D!" -- he's actually channeling the spirit there, total manic, power guitar, facial expressions. But he's kind of serious, although not 100%. The music is like somewhere between the D and Zappa but totally rocked out. Three guitars at a time, occasionally overlapping in interesting ways, occasion swipes at the dulcimers or keyboard interludes or interesting voice samples and then some wild avant garde stop/starts and fat rhythm section that keeps the music moving and keeps the band feeling both way loose and utterly tight. The lyrics were such that every second or third line I would try to remember their zen brilliance and then they would slip my mind as the next bit I wanted to remember pushed it out of the queue. So absent a notebook or recording, I can only remember that I wanted to remember a third of what I could gather. Which, when it was all said and done, wasn't too much because it was an absolute flash of energy. It ended just as it got going, they only played for 30 minutes and by the end I had totally forgotten about wanting sleep or potential boredom and whatever.

Anyway, sign me up, I'm dying to check them out again. Here's their website and here's their myspace page and if you don't go hit those sites, at least read this fantastic band bio:

A group of people live together in a comune near the Bushwick wall. They isolate themselves from the radio, television, and concentrate on creating a new music. Their music is their own. They play it for themselves, they write it for themselves, they enjoy it themselves. Emergency Party is a discovery of the revolutionary spirit of young people in all parts of the world and particulary articulates the creative genius of the new music of Bushwick today. A trip into the progressive American music, an excursion into unstructured vocal and instrumental sound. This is Emergency Party, this is the music of progressive Bushwick, these are the sounds of progressive youth throughout the world.

As Gene used to say: thumbs up, way up.

All that for an opening band, I wish I could have described the sound better, but they are well worth checking out. Ditto on the headliner. I've seen the Fiery Furnaces a couple times, but once was opening for Wilco at Radio City and another time was at the outdoor ACLFest. I enjoyed both sets and their discs (yes, all of them, even this supposed cat turd), obviously I paid money to see them again, but I figured that playing their own show in a club would be infinitely better. But I had no idea...

I couldn't say whether their band was the exact same the other times I saw them, but Friday I was really able to grasp the whole Fiery Furnaces-as-live-band thing and it was really, really nasty. For the uninitiated, the Furnaces are essentially a brother/sister tandem who play a somewhat confounding unique style. Short blasts of coherence overlap and interleave one after another so that the music has a serious attention deficit disorder. Eleanor's voice is the primary element of the sound, and is a constant presence from beginning to end. It's like each song is a 5-10 minute running monologue, a first person narrative with one foot always firmly entrenched in some fantasy world and the other planted in reality, with a realistic conversational tone and complete attention to detail. Brother Matt (on the albums) plays a variety of instruments, but mainly keys -- piano, organs, etc. and there is a constant mixture of other "sounds" cycling in the background. The melodies are occasionally brilliant and poppy and addictive, but the hooks don't last long enough to be hooks, before one musical thought is completely defined another one has replaced it. The effect takes some getting used to and turns off most people you might ask. At the Austin set, they started with a nice crowd of "cool kids" who had probably put them on their list of "Pitchfork-recommended bands to check out," but it only took half a song to clear out about 75% of them and leave only the few of us who could actually stand it.

Friday night, though, was like a different entity. The m.o. was the same on the face of it, but frankly they totally rocked it like I didn't know they could, but always hoped they would. They came out - the Friedburgers and the band: drums, guitar, percussion. Matt just had one keyboard in front of him and Eleanor says they're going to play their newest (and best, IMO) album: Bitter Tea. I couldn't say for sure if they played the whole thing, I don't think they did, but they absolutely killed it for a straight 20-30 minute stretch. The key was the band backing them. The drummer, Bob D'Amico was one of these types that doesn't stop going, just 110% the entire time -- he was the guy, all night long. On top of that the percussionist (the guy who opened the night with his own band playing guitar and singing goofy songs) added some much-needed texture to the songs. The two of these guys had me dancing the entire time, which I didn't think possible. I would have granted you some headbobbing, but all-out dancing? Wow! The guitarist was sort of free to add his own elements to the mix and the occasional shredding guitar solo is what I've felt was missing from the Fiery Furnaces sound from the first time I heard Blueberry Boat. Matt F wouldn't have struck me as the guy who could just lay back and let his little creations get completely rearranged by other people, but for the most part that's what he did. Of course, he was right there and added plenty with his playing, but for the most part the stuff just moved on its own.

That initial stretch of Bitter Tea was a complete phenomenon. It's rare I see music so quickly into the new year even rarer that that music could be the best thing I see for the next 12 months. I mean, these guys were locked in tight, like they had been locked in a cabin rehearsing, rearranging, reimagining, realizing what this music could be. It was still the Fiery Furnaces, weird, wonderful, wild, but it was a different beast -- a complete revelation.

From there they dipped into a variety of their past catalog, including a handful from their debut Gallowsbird Bark... "Name Game," "South Is Only A Home," "Slaving Away"... a totally awesome "Single Again" off their (seemingly full-length) EP had Eleanor in full-form -- a total presence like she was all night. She is the type you look at and wonder just what she could have possibly been like in high school. Amazing energy, total possession of the music, like constantly in character but the character is everchanging. Most impressive was her command of the lyrics -- each song is like a non-stop epic poem and she rattled off each like it was not only first person, but like the things she was describing were happening in real time.

The whole damn thing was pretty refreshing. The first time I saw them, I remember Matt kind of floating between instruments, doing some vocals himself, etc. Amazingly, this is one band whose members stick to one instrument the whole night. I guess my only real beef with the set was the lack of a bass player. I can't come to grips with the absence of a low end anchor in so many bands today, but such is life. Sorry, there was a second issue: the set was too damned short! I'm all for quality over quantity, but I felt like I could have stood there for a second hour or so. I highly recommend giving the Fiery Furnaces a chance, or another chance. They are a stripped down supremely unique rock and roll experience.

Photos: DuOld DuOffice

Those pix I've been promising of that sweet, sweet Duo Old Office show, courtesy of the official photog of OTW, Mr Aiello... in "tasteful" B&W.


08 January 2007

Shows of the Week

Get yer Capricorn on! Let me know what I'm missing...

Click here for upcoming shows

Masaoka, Courvoisier, Lee @ Tonic (late)
*Groove Collective @ Joe's Pub (early)

Soft Skeleton (Emily Haines) @ Webster Hall
War @ BB King's
The Winterpills et al @ Living Room
Fly @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Jean-Michel Pilc w/ R. Bona, A. Hoenig @ 55 Bar (late)
Dayna Kurtz @ Union Hall
*Jenny Scheinman/Tony Scherr @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Next Tribe et al @ Mercury Lounge
Han Bennink & Friends @ Tonic

Cold War Kids @ Piano's
Fly @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Han Bennink & Friends @ Tonic
*Rob Holzer w/ Justin Wallace & Scott Metzger @ The Annex
Winter Jazzfest @ Knitting Factory (full club)
Billy Cobham @ The Cutting Room
Nancy King w/ T. Gully, T. Wilkenfeld, G. Keezer @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Dayna Kurtz @ Union Hall
Nicholas Payton @ Iridium (early/late)
Jason Crosby Band @ Ace of Clubs

Tony Trischka Quintet @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Billy Cobham @ The Cutting Room
Demander et al @ Mercury Lounge
Steve Coleman & Five Elements @ The Stone (early/late)
Wayne Krantz w/ A. Jackson, C. Almond @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
Fly @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
David Kolker Band @ Bitter End
Jason Trachtenburg, Reggie Watts et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Bryan Adams @ Beacon Theater
*Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra @ Tonic (early)
Adam Klippe (w/ K. Carlock) @ Rose Live Music (Brooklyn)
Steve Wilson Quartet @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Nicholas Payton @ Iridium (early/late)
Burnt Sugar @ Joe's Pub (midnight)
Sam Bardfeld, A. Coleman, B. Jones, D. Wamble @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Andy Statman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)

Scott Metzger & Todd Hamilton et al @ Old Office
Fly @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Nicholas Payton @ Iridium (early/late)
Calvin Weston (w/ Billy Martin) @ Tonic (late)
The Radiators @ BB King's
Jessica Lurie Ensemble @ Banjo Jim's
George Porter & Runnin' Pardners @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
*Joe Russo, Erik Deutsch, Jonathan Goldberger @ Tonic (midnight)
Billy Cobham @ The Cutting Room
Bob Reynolds @ Blue Note (late night)

George Porter & Runnin' Pardners @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Nicholas Payton @ Iridium (early/late)
Binky Griptite & The Melomatics @ Makor
Mountain @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
The Smithereens @ Bb King's
Fly @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
John Hollenbeck's Claudie Quartet @ Cornelia St. Cafe
*Dave Binney, Wayne Krantz, Tim Lefebvre, Keith Carlock @ The Iridium (midnight)
Tunde Adibempe et al @ Tonic (late)
Ben Allison @ 55 Bar (late)

*Fly @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Nicholas Payton @ Iridium (early/late)
Steve Coleman & Five Elements @ The Stone (early/late)

Click here for upcoming shows

05 January 2007

minimix: The New Year

Apropos of nothing... enjoy!

Download the mix

01 The New Year -- Death Cab For Cutie: Transatlanticism
02 Riding The Scree -- Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
03 Hallmark -- Broken Social Scene: Bee Hives
04 Father To A Sister Of Thought -- Pavement: Wowee Zowee
05 The Hotter, The Wetter, The Better -- Apollo Sunshine: Apollo Sunshine
06 Tangled Up In Blue -- Jerry Garcia Band: 7/29-30/77, Theatre 1839, San Francisco, CA - Pure Jerry

04 January 2007

Links: Recapping the recaps

Let's take one last gasp of 2006 before trudging forward. Last week was all about my picks for the end of the year, but I don't know shit about nuthin', so here are some other lists of some of the best music, etc. from 2006. If you've got a list of your own or one worthwhile, shoot me the link...

The in thing seems to be to poll the cool kids and then let the :

The fine folks at Ropeadope have lists from Benevento, Gordon, Shaggy and a few other notables.

Glide Magazine
has a nice cross-section of musicians, as do JamBase, but nothing beats a beat-down from a list of Pitchfork's "favorite artists." Mike Greenhaus over at Jambands.com takes the interview tack, in three parts.

Then there are the master lists:

Gentlemen, start your gagging... Pitchfork is a vomitorium of picks from 2006, providing their overall 50 Best Albums & 100 Best Tracks as well as their individual staff member picks for Albums and Tracks.

Glide's Top 20

JamBase lists 20 from off the radar.

For something a little different, Fred Kaplan at Slate takes time from his day job to list his top jazz albums of the year. He always does a bang up job with this, so it's more a statement of my being bone dry in the jazz department these days that I don't have a single one of these titles than any critique of his picks.

But I did promise you cool kids, so here's a random smattering from:

the Fabulous SuperDee; Rob Ronanea; Yglesias; the incomparable Brooklyn Vegan; Sasha Frere-Jones and of course the folks at Hidden Track have their own angle on the whole end of year nonesense.

So who am I missing?

02 January 2007

Review: Widespread Panic NYE

Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA 31 December 2006

(Click here for review of Saturday show)

Music is memories. Music is memories.

Sunday night at the Philips was like a homemade shelf containing years worth of painstakingly collected souvenir spoons. Each moment -- the people around us, the songs played, the shots of whiskey -- came weighted with a memory of Panic shows past. The semi-acoustic Driving Song brought me back to the fall of 1992 when my Deadhead roommate and I repeatedly blasted the copy of Space Wrangler I'd gotten in town for 99 cents; the Airplane to the spring of 1995 when the band's major leap forward was punctuated by the addition of wild, twisting jams coming out of that tune; the Fixin' To Die with Jimmy Herring and Col. Bruce on stage took me back to the first song I ever saw or heard the band play, one of those wild ARU>WSP jams from the HORDE... and on and on and on.

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself... this New Year's Eve show was more than just another nostalgia trip, it was another all-night bonfire on the beach. If I could sum the night's 3 sets up nicely it would be: Pure Panic. Plain and simple. There was no gimmick, no twists, no chicanery, no real surprises even. Several places during the night you might have expected one of those wild setlist-making sandwiches (e.g. Driving, Surprise Valley, Chilly) and not one was split up. Likewise, there were many moments where John Keane might have been brought up on stage for better or worse and yet not a peep. Heck, there was a 15 minute portion of the third set that was just sitting there for the taking by a long, meaningless drum section and yet: NO DRUMS! (woohoo!!!).

Well, what was there, then, you might ask?? How 'bout a whole heaping helping of j-a-m JAMMING. Somewhere along the way, the term "jamband" and the genre enfolded therein got a bit of a stigma attached to it. Widespread Panic (and Jimmy Herring) have been around before that label existed and seem to be on their way to outlasting it, so I am happy to report that they are flying their freak flag and jamming the shit out of everything that comes their way... to fine effect, I might add.

But still... getting ahead of myself. Set I: JB is seated w/ acoustic guitar, Jimmy Herring is seated(see photo). Everyone else is sitting or standing at their usual spot. I can't get a real good look at the guitar Herring is playing, but when I hear it, it's like a crisp Dickey-Betts-playing-acoustic tone. That was a treat. The Wish You Were Here was especially nice (see YouTube of the singalong), especially when weighing all the old friends we were hanging with -- people we literally haven't seen in 5+ years -- and thinking of some that weren't there. The whole set was just a solid warm-up, I have no adjective-laden descriptives to add to that. I might add that there was a spot in there, possibly Wondering, where the band kind of brain-freezed into a serious lapse. Certainly the most heinous of several slip-ups during the two nights.

The second set, though, sheesh! Bowlegged Woman > Surprise Valley was utter nonsense -- the best kind possible, of course. In all honesty, the 2nd and 3rd sets were a complete haze of deep, intense jamming and it'll be hard for me to pick out highlights. The whole night, actually, from the moment I walked into the arena to the steps out the door was like small pieces of one larger event. Like the 6 hours I spent in Philips Arena - the bridge between last year and this one - was split into infinitesimal slices, each with its own unique signature, flavor, highlights, and they all sort of fit together into a drunken continuum. Sure, you're sitting there reading this thinking that this is just the two bottles of Makers Mark I was able to sneak in lodged in the crotch of my jeans talking, and maybe you're right.

Still, though, the night was a wave of wonderful energy and the driving force, the wavefront, if you will, was the trio of John Bell, Dave Schools and Jimmy Herring. That first blast of bass of Bowlegged, these three guys were locked in -- to each other and the fierce jams they were constantly leading. The big surprise here was JB who, I feel, has sort of played a backseat role with his guitar playing since Keane has been the third guy. Not having JK around was a real push behind that rhythm guitar we've known all along that JB could wield. He was really on fire and those three six-stringers were all over it. Of course, Jimmy and Dave have been in that zone for a while now, and this has lead to the old Panic material getting some serious new vitality. The Bowlegged > Surprise was just the first of many brain-melters along the way.

Even Jojo was on board, laying low when the big guns were having at it up front, but adding just the right amount of spice the rest of the way. Because the all-out jamming was so ubiquitous Sunday night, my memory of specific moments is a bit shaky, but I believe it was during some of the most out-there moments of Surprise Valley that Jojo quite expertly laid down a handful of James Brown licks. We'd had our share of (the other) JB both nights going into and out of sets for between-set dance party moments, but nothing in the shows themselves. Jojo got it going on, mixing in, what I believe were "Get On the Good Foot" (amongst probable others) teases all over this jam. He kept at it, pushing it a little here and a little bit there, but always underneath some wild-and-crazy-guys stuff from Dave and Jimmy. It was, I must admit, pretty kick ass, and probably the coolest thing I've heard from John Hermann in a long while. Again, I could be off by even hours on when this all took place, but rest assured it did happen.

Certainly there was more... much more. The Airplane itself was novel-worthy. There are songs Jimmy was meant to play, where he, with some serious ingenuity, is able to "play" Mikey Houser at the same time he is 100% Jimmy Herring. Surprise Valley is one of these, Airplane is another. There are many more and it seems that those that he doesn't quite have that flair for, he soon will. I don't know how else to describe the magic he is bringing to this band right now other than to say: go see some Widespread Panic. Anyway, I digress, the jam out of Airplane was unbelievable, otherworldly, intergenerationally intergalactic.... One of my (admittedly long list of) favorite things about Widespread Panic is their ability to just get me utterly lost in their jams. They sink into something good and I just can't remember where we came from. The music seems to get into my blood like any other intoxicant and just spin me dizzy. This second set was awash in a haze of "where did we come from?" and "where are we going?" Even the new material was amazing, with the Second Skin that emerged from the jam just taking the baton and running another few laps with my sanity.

It could have been an hour or a couple days, but the second set did eventually end. There were moments in there, I admit, where I wasn't sure if in other circumstances I would be enjoying it. I could sense a lull between Surprise Valley and the jam in Airplane, although I didn't experience it per se -- like looking out the window and seeing it may or may not be raining but, one way or another, not getting wet myself. Anyway, on with the night: the rumor had been floating around that Philips Arena would honor the band between sets and as seen in the photo up top, they raised a banner honoring 15 straight sell-outs in the arena. Happy to say I was at the first one, but I've missed too many in between. It was very cool, when you consider how historically sucktastic the pro sports teams that play there have been, you'd have to truly consider Widespread Panic to be the Home Team.After a confetti-strewn New Year countdown, the band returned to the stage with Col. Fucking Bruce Hampton (ret.) in tuxedo. Looking damn good, I might say, and damn good to see the old Hobbit. They did a pleasant, but subdued "I Can't Stop Loving You" cover with the Col. really crooning it out. Then Bruce bowed out and -- holy mackerel!! The official setlist says one thing, but my memory is more like They > Could > Go > All > The > Way!. At this point in the review, I might as well throw in the thesaurus, but a couple "quick" comments:

First off, I was actually ready to be downright pissed that there wasn't going to be a Barstools and Dreamers played. I make it a point to get emotionally attached to songs that I have a pretty good chance of seeing at a given show (Reba is my favorite Phish song, e.g.), and so it is with me and Barstools, and yet the drought has been measured in years at this point (some of which is my own fault for my familial tendencies). So, when they busted into this, I was beside myself with what could best be described as glee. Need I bother saying that they nailed it? Right up on the list with it is Pigeons which was also spectacular. The younger, more verbose me (bwahahaah!) might bore you with a note-by-note rundown of each, but I'll sum it up with a short, falsetto "SICK!"

Second: can we all just agree that life is better without a predictable, protracted drums in the middle of otherwise barnburning sets? I mean how much better does that setlist look without a "Drums" forced miserably in there -- it just doesn't go anywhere without making itself feel at least a little bit awkward for ruining everyone's good time. Honestly, I don't know if I'm more psyched for the Barstools or the lack of drums... alright, it was the Barstools which made the whole weekend worthwhile in retrospect: everything else was the proverbial gravy. [In fact, it was about halfway into this, that I made the albeit drunken decision that Barstools and Dreamers was my favorite song in the "of all songs ever" category; what can I say? it rings my bell on every level I want it to.]

Third: love the return of Bruce for Fixin' To Die. They pulled the same thing with Derek Trucks on Saturday night and it's a pretty brilliant move as far as set construction goes.

Fourth: There is a nice advantage to being a grizzled veteran to a band and with Widespread Panic two of the last three times I've seen them that has been absolutely knowing that they weren't leaving the stage until Chilly Water was played. You can hear it 100 times and it's still vintage, quintessential Panic and a monster every time, even more so near the end of already monster set... even more so with Jimmy's new energy and angle on every tried-and-true number.

Last point is Last fucking Dance. Not quite the end-all of bust outs, maybe it's not even considered a bust out at all, but it's still one of those awesome covers that Panic has made all their own... or at least they did when Mikey was still playing 3rd base for them. Not to worry, Jimmy held his own and the whole band was still 100% aflame -- it was past midnight, not only was it Monday morning, it was a brand new year....

Yeah, it wasn't the best Panic I've ever seen or the best New Year's show ever, but it was a whole lotta fucking fun and there ain't to place I'd rather have been... Ain't Life Grand.


1: From The Cradle, Who Do You Belong To?, Wondering, Wish You Were Here, Driving Song, Expiration Day, Down, Ribs And Whiskey
2: Bowlegged Woman > Surprise Valley > Goodpeople > Imitation Leather Shoes, Airplane > Second Skin, Let's Get Down To Business
3: I Can't Stop Loving You*, Love Tractor > Pigeons > You Should Be Glad, Barstools and Dreamers > Fixin' To Die* > Chilly Water > Action Man
E: May Your Glass Be Filled, Last Dance, Ain't Life Grand
* with Col. Bruce Hampton on vocals

Saturday night review