29 April 2007

Shows of the Week

It's not Jazzfest, but...

enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows


Monday:
Modest Mouse (Man Man opens) @ United Palace Theater
Lou Reed @ Highline Ballroom
*Jenny Scheinman @ Marion's Marquee
Smokey's Roundup @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Rock Plaza Central et al @ Mercury Lounge
Logan Richardson Group @ Cornelia St Cafe

Tuesday:
Peter John & Bjorn @ Webster Hall
*Secret Government et al @ Fat Baby
Leiana @ Lit Lounge
Art Directors @ The Stone (early)
Neil Sedaka @ Joe's Pub (early)
Rhett Miller, Yerba Buena et al @ Canal Room
Peter & the Wolf et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Tom Hamilton's American Babies, The Brakes @ Tap Bar
Jonah Smith @ Rockwood Music Hall
Jenny Scheinman/Tony Scherr @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Perpetual Groove @ Mulcahy's (Wantagh, LI)
Little Red Suitcase @ the Stone (late)

Wednesday:
*Bjork @ Radio City Music Hall
Peter John & Bjorn @ Webster Hall
BuzzUniverse @ Lamp Post (Jersey City)
Susie Ibarra/Roberto Rodriguez @ Joe's Pub (late)
Michael Musillami Trio w/ M. Feldman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Neil Sedaka @ Joe's Pub (early)
Martha Wainwright, Donovan et al @ Canal Room
Adam Deitch Project @ Club Midway (late)
Katy Pfaffl @ Joe's Pub (midnight)

Thursday:
*moe. @ Highline Ballroom
Bruce Hornsby @ McCarter Theater (Princeton, NJ)
Mother Hips, Backyard Tire Fire @ Pete's Candy Store
Next Tribe @ Don Hill's
Fishbone @ Temptress Cruise Ship
Tracy Bonham et al @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Donovan, Matt White et al @ Canal Room

Friday:
Mother Hips, Backyard Tire Fire @ Mercury Lounge
John Zorn Book of Angels minifest @ Abrons Arts Center
moe. @ Highline Ballroom
Death Ambient: Frith/Mori/Hideki @ The Stone (early/late)
*J DiMenna, Hopewell et al @ Luna Lounge (Brooklyn)
School of Rock @ Half Moon Cruise Ship
The Slip, Goo Goo Dolls et al @ Canal Room
Ruha @ Cutting Room (late night)

Saturday:
Konono No 1 @ Bowery Ballroom
Perpetual Groove @ Gramercy Theater
*John Zorn Book of Angels minifest @ Abrons Arts Center
Bjork @ United Palace Theater
School of Rock @ Half Moon Cruise Ship
Death Ambient: Frith/Mori/Hideki @ The Stone (early/late)
Chris Harford & Band of Changes @ 58 Gallery (Jersey City)
Brightback Morning Light @ Mercury Lounge
moe. @ Highline Ballroom
Mother Hips, Backyard Tire Fire @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Ted Leo & Pharmacists @ Webster Hall
Antibalas @ FillmoreNY
Moby @ Studio (Brooklyn)

Sunday:
*FREE Dr John, The Slip @ Hoboken Arts & Music Fest
Beirut @ Bowery Ballroom
FREE BuzzUniverse @ Washington Square Park
moe. @ Highline Ballroom
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Brightback Morning Light @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
FREE Melvin Sparks Band @ Lucille's

Click here for upcoming shows

26 April 2007

minimix: Phishtalgia.1

Feeling the Phish this week, love it or hate it. This week's theme is jams that struck me as "whoa!" when I first saw 'em and still hold up pretty well in retrospect. Not using any superlatives here, but it's all heady. I'll bite my tongue not to say anything further by ways of introduction.

Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 The Curtain With -- Columbia, MD 17 Sep 00
02 Tweezer -- New Haven, CT 2 Dec 95
03 McGrupp -- Darien Lake, NY 7 Aug 93
04 Cry Baby Cry -- Glens Falls, NY 31 Oct 94
05 Harry Hood -- Providence, RI 4 Feb 93
06 David Bowie -- Louisville, KY 29 Oct 95

Links of the Week

Some more random hits fer ya

  • Remember that Do Make Say Think show I was so fond of? TR points me in the direction of this sweet pro-level video of that night. Check it! Love it!
  • Where are the bees?
  • Friday Night Lights gets reprieve? So says TV Guide.
  • We had our yearly Meat-O-Rama this past weekend... and not a photo was taken of the 50-some lbs of flesh I cooked. Check out this silly blog instead.
  • On the music/pop front, I found this essay from the NYTimes Magazine a couple weeks ago pretty interesting. Seeing ultra-talented musicians come and go in New York, I've always felt that the difference between those who make it and those who don't is little more than luck and this pretty much explains that.
  • Check out these awesome kiddie Lost t-shirts
  • Photos of that St. Vincent show I saw here and here. Ratatat shots here (that's one of mine up above)
  • Liffy goes to Europe... and does what all Americans in Europe do: sees American band play. !!! review here.
  • For the thinkers amongst us: this post (about child cognition) and this New Yorker article (about isolated Amazonian language) seem to be related to each other in interesting ways. Dude, think about it. Read them both and have your paper (5 pages, double-spaced) on my desk in the morning.
  • Speaking of the New Yorker (sometimes I feel like my whole life is geared toward Sisyphean task of catching up with this magazine): this article is noteworthy if only because no less an authority than Alex Ross calls John Zorn "the long-reigning master of genre ambiguity." That article made me realize (again) that no matter how much music you see in New York, you'll never see it all and rarely will you see the most interesting thing going on that night. My new life goal is to get to the point where I can take a year and just go see music every night.
  • For the non-thinkers, Harry and the Hendersons has been released in the long-awaited special edition DVD. I'm not sure the world is ready for it.
  • Finally, check out this neat Coke ad feat. a jingle by Jack White. The jingle is a dying art form, methinks, but White can really do no wrong it seems, so good for him:

24 April 2007

Review(s): Quadrangle

As I was saying... caught 4 shows last week, 2 on Wednesday and 2 on Thursday. Each represented a point on 4 different axes of disappointment. Not that they were all bad shows -- in the grand scheme of things, they were all good to some extent -- they just all found their way to disappoint me in some way. As such, I'm going to do my best to keep this short. A paragraph or two for each one. Picture free.

Bill Frisell Sextet, Village Vanguard, 18 April 2007 (early set)

I didn't necessarily plan on hitting this one, but the pick-up-sticks fell just right that I was able to eke this one in there before the regularly scheduled hit. It was Frisell's normal trio of Scherr + Wolleson with a horn section of Don Byron (reeds) and Ron Miles (coronet) with the bewitching violin of OTW favorite Jenny Scheinman. Sounds can't miss, right? Well, they missed. This was disappointment at its core: all star musicians play listless music for $35. Frisell has both blown me away and disappointed me in the past and the latter seems to happen when he's forced to direct a larger ensemble. I guess "direct" is being a little generous -- this set really suffered from Bill's lack of any taking-it-over gumption whatsoever. After a couple of tunes of what I would describe as jazz mumbling it was up to Jenny to take over. Maybe it's my pro-Scheinman bias, but she seemed to take it upon herself to make the music as enjoyable as possible. She carried the flag of the Frisell aesthetic better than Frisell himself and was as transcendent as I could have hoped. Byron who seemed so uninterested for the first part of the set actually had the proverbial fire lit under his ass by Jenny and rose to the occasion midway through. The pairing of his clarinet with Jenny's strings was an ethereal mix. Too bad it was few and far between. Miles was painfully bad -- can a trumpet be out of tune? There was a lack of professionalism (hey man, we're talkin' 'bout practice!) that was a bit upsetting. The Scherr/Wolleson combo tried in earnest and I would love to see a quartet with them, Jenny and Frisell sometime. Wait -- did I forget to mention Bill Frisell's awesome playing and otherworldly presence? No, no I did not. C+

Ratatat, Webster Hall, 18 April 2007

Well, if the music wasn't happening, at least I was in the zone travelwise. I actually hopped out of the Vanguard early and got to Webster in time to find a niche in the sold-out hipsterdome. Ratatat's 2006 release Classics was highly regarded by folks that matter... and by lil' ole me as well. Sweet, pure, well-crafted pop instrumentalism at its finest. Despite its deep, inherent goodness, it's one of those albums that you wonder about in the live setting. That's a certain kind of disappointment and I was aware I was setting myself up for it. Ratatat on stage is a weird mix: no drummer, all beats played by drum machine; a bass player who is in touch with his inner groove and lays it down sweet and simple; a guitar player who wore a faded AC/DC t-shirt and had "Eddie Van Halen wannabe" tattooed to his forehead; and the most-of-the-songs presence of a synthesizerist with strong birth-of-MTV level 80's influences. In the studio, these juxtapositions aren't felt too strongly -- the compositions and the production tie it all together in wrapping paper with a neat little bow: red, shiny and pleasant to the senses. On stage, you realize that it's not really songs that they've got but glorified hooks. The pieces are all there, but there's no talent to bring it together -- in lieu of wrapping paper, it's the classified ads from the free alt-weekly tempered with haphazardly placed Scotch tape. Each "song" was locked into the unchanging drum machine loop, said its piece and ended abruptly. Why they couldn't hire a drummer and go somewhere I have no idea. Hey, sometimes this worked and when the sweet melodies were allowed a chance to shine through, it was moderately enjoyable. The bass player was decent enough -- he knew his limits and his tone was lush and lovely, big bubbles of bassy goodness. The guitar player was woefully inadequate with his skills and yet so wildly overconfident in his playing. He wants so badly to shred and yet... and yet. The amazing thing is how nuts the crowd went for this. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't the end-all. There are 20 jambandy bands out there that can do instrumental music with equally refreshing hooks while also doing something incredibly interesting... or at least interesting. And yet, most of these dudes packing it into Webster Hall wouldn't give dem dudes a second look. Packaging, framing, context... it's amazing, but true. I was also annoyed at the Vanguard crowd for clapping some of the more crummy solos of the night. Polite is one thing, but c'mon! Maybe it's just me.... Ratatat's lights were pretty decent, though. Given the choice, might be best to stay home and listen to the album. B-

St. Vincent (+ John Vanderslice), Mercury Lounge, 19 April 2007

There were lots and lots of (potentially) amazing shows last week, but there was only one that I wasn't, no way no how, going to miss and that was St. Vincent. You may recall my love-at-first-sight experience with Annie Clark when I was caught unawares during her opening set for Midlake in February. This set was similar if not identical to that one in terms of what she played, how she sounded and how freakin' impressed I was from top to bottom. So you can go read that and get a good idea. Maybe the performance, on the whole, Thursday night wasn't quite that good, but it was, well, awesome. All I can say is: GO SEE ST. VINCENT, after these two sets and buying her EP and a track here or there that this is the one artist I'm really excited about these days. She won't be opening for anyone for long... you heard it here first. Full package: deft skills on the guitar, great voice, looks good (think Wynona Ryder), really, really funny, awesome songs/lyrics. I defy you to go make it through her set without a big smile appearing on your face... plus great for the ladies or your lady friend. Judging from the reaction of the crowd at the end of these sets, I'm not the only one either. Signed to a label, album coming out this summer, I'm psyched, et cetera. A-

I was going to slip out immediately following her opening set, even though I was intrigued by the idea of checking out John Vanderslice. As I was about to grab my coat, though, I noticed a cellist setting up and had one of those, "wait is that...?" moments. Erik Friedlander was on stage and apparently in the band -- it don't get any better than EF, so I had to stay for a bit, even if it meant missing a few Duo tunes. They got started on time, but Erik was sitting off in the corner of the stage -- he wasn't going to play the whole time and was waiting for his chance. The music was good, though. Vanderslice on guitar and vocals and a drummer who also manipulated some Moog and some loops and pedals and stuff -- very deftly, I might add (get with it Ratatat!). The songs are good, the voice is good, the playing is good, I have no complaints with JV, but there's nothing there that puts it over the edge for me. I kept making little rules: if Friedlander doesn't come on in the next song; 5 more minutes; etc. But finally after a good 20+ minutes of watching him sit there unmoving, I couldn't take it any more. Disappointment. But knowing that the degrees of separation between Marc Ribot and Annie Clark is now uno makes me happy, even if I didn't get to see it. B-

Benevento/Russo Duo, Knitting Factory, 19 April 2007 (late set)

This show was originally supposed to be at Tonic (which is now, no doubt about it, put Marc in jail closed). This was disappointing. I walked into the middle of an exploratory jamming Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was the first of many old school Duo tunes reworked for the special evening of acoustic drums and piano. Marco didn't play a grand piano which was also a bit weird, but opted for what I guess is an upright as well as a little toy piano and some xylophone. Joe stuck to the drums but pulled a Billy Martin with a table adjacent filled with a nice collection of rattly type percussion. While the set was totally jazzed up and the guys were in their usual zone, the mood was incredibly loose throughout. Banter and booziness and horned-up guests a sort of ad hoc thing going. Everything was marked by lots of improvisation where songs kind of melted together or fractured out of the same spot. It was warm and intimate and fun and I couldn't help thinking almost the entire time that it would have been such a perfect show for Tonic. What a disappointment. There were highlights for certain: Skerik playing an incredibly unique (best ever?) version of "Mephisto" that shed that build, build, build vibe for a more orthogonal adventure; acoustic versions of deeply electric music like "Play Pause Stop" and "Something for Rockets" (the latter of which was a very special realization of something already quite beautiful); Joe Russo playing the part of cyborg: inhuman beats with sick drumsticks (were they made of leather?) that kind of dulled down his beats while splattering them in dozens of tiny pulsating pieces; and of course everything else that was good or great or downright sick that I'm forgetting. There were also some muddled moments, where too many horns brought some unwelcome squishiness to the mix. My biggest problem was the sound in the room which, coupled with Marco playing a kind of lightweight piano tone made some of the more subtle interplay wash out into the Knit's unforgiving ether. Oh to be on Norfolk! It wasn't the Kobe beef filet I might have wanted, but make no mistake about it, though, this was a very special night, especially for the Duo obsessed. A night where the line at the edge of the stage, the one separating the musicians from the music-lovers, was completely imaginary. B+

23 April 2007

Visuals: Ratatat & St Vincent

Caught 4 shows in 2 days last week... review of some sort tomorrow (probably), but here's something to look at in the meantime. Above is a pic from Ratatat at Webster Hall last Wednesday -- the visuals were probably better than the music anyway.

And here's a typically shitty short video of one my favorite new musicians: St. Vincent from her set at the Mercury Lounge last Thursday. Of course, this doesn't do her justice as a whole, but gives you an idea at least:



More tomorrow on same et al.

Shows of the Week

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Monday:

*Edmar Castaneda Trio @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Bobby Previte/Skerik @ LMCC
Fareed Haque, Motet @ SOB's
Blue Turtle Seduction @ Rodeo Bar
Noisettes et al @ Mercury Lounge
Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
The Frames @ The Living Room
Buffalo Collision @ SIM (Brooklyn)
John Legend/Corinne Bailey Rae @ Theater at MSG
Todd Rundgren @ BB King's
Ron Miles @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Spoon @ Bowery Ballroom
Butch Morris Orchestra @ Nublu

Tuesday:
The Frames (Doveman opens) @ Town Hall
*Ricky Skaggs/Bruce Hornsby @ The Concert Hall
Jason Crosby & Friends @ Ace of Clubs
Fountains of Wayne @ Webster Hall
Bobby Previte/Skerik @ LMCC
Shemekia Copeland @ Zankel Hall
Tragically Hip @ FillmoreNY
Neil Sedaka @ Joe's Pub (early)
Howard Fishman @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Patti Smith @ Bowery Ballroom (early/late/later)

Wednesday:
Bobby Previte/Zeena Parkins @ LMCC
Blue Turtle Seduction @ Banjo Jim's
*Chris Harford & Band of Changes @ Googie's Lounge
Cracker (acoustic) @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Ben Allison Quartet @ 55 Bar (late)
Tragically Hip @ FillmoreNY
Bill Ware/Kazu Kumagai @ Ace of Clubs
Neil Sedaka @ Joe's Pub (early)

Thursday:
Paquito D'Rivera/Edmar Castaneda @ Merkin Concert Hall
Bobby Previte/Benton-C Banbridge @ LMCC
John Zorn @ Miller Theater
Hold Steady @ NYU
Clipse @ BB KIng's
Tim Fite @ Luna Lounge (Brooklyn)
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad et al @ The Annex
Deerhunter @ Mercury Lounge
Gordon Lightfoot @ Town Hall
*Wayne Krantz @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
Blue Turtle Seduction @ Mulcahy's (Wantagh, LI)
Brandi Carlile @ Bowery Ballroom
Medeski Martin & Wood @ Tarrytown Music Hall (Tarrytown)

Friday:
*Josh Rouse @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
Nellie McKay @ Zankel Hall
Brandi Carlile @ Bowery Ballroom
Bobby Previte/Elliot Sharp @ LMCC
Chris Harford & Band of Changes @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Helmet Head @ Lion's Den
Medeski Martin & Wood @ McCarter Theater (Princeton, NJ)
EJ Strickland Quintet @ 55 Bar (late)
George Benson @ Bergen PAC (Englewood, NJ)

Saturday:
The Killers @ Madison Square Garden
*Rose Hill Drive @ Mercury Lounge
Bobby Previte/Marco Benvento @ LMCC
Dean & Britta @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Nicholas Payton @ Victoria Theater (Newark)
Amon Tobin @ Gramercy Theater
Boston Afrobeat Society @ Ace of Clubs

Sunday:
Yo La Tengo @ Webster Hall
Modest Mouse @ United Palace Theater
Van Morrison @ Theater at MSG
Granelli/Saft @ SIM (Brooklyn)
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
*Wolff @ Club Midway
Greg Osby @ Roulette

Click here for upcoming shows

22 April 2007

Nedstalgia: 10 Years Ago

Loving all the looking back. Turns out this is a good time to do all this because I saw a shitload of great/watershed musicstufs in 92, 97 and 02. Today, more Panic...

Widespread Panic 1997 was some heady shit as the kids used to say. About this time 10 years ago, the band was sweeping up on a rare extensive Northeast jaunt. The Big Squeeze and I headed down to Asbury Park for a midweek show that would be the first of many off-day sickness in random parts of the county.

The internet wins again. Here's an early (prehistoric?) Ned review posted the Spreadnet at the time. I wasn't as verbose back then, I'm sorry to say, but you're probably not sorry to hear! Fun to scroll the archives and see what got some words out of me at the time. Weird to think that is the same person as I am today -- my former self is a different entity. Looking at this review, I'm most struck with the fact that I felt comfortable enough to post my home address at the bottom. The archives also point out that the Squeeze was the first to post the setlist which I'm pretty sure she took herself. When you find a woman who's willing to write down a setlist, you marry her posthaste.

Anyway, the show was a burner, notable for some serious Mikey Houser. The whole thing was pretty shaking, but highlights were an intense Genesis> B of D> Barstools, the nice jam out of Gradle and the slow, steaming Porch > Stop Go. Ah, sweet segues! Oh yeah, Vacation > Rebirtha. Download 'em one at a time by using the links above, or here's the entire show, SBD, in easily digested hunks (big thanks for BT for sharing!!)

Part II
Part III
Part IV

The next few nights included a trip to the Beacon (the band's first) which was also good, but not good enough for me to track down for you (as a prof in grad school used to say in a thick Russian accent: "you can do it YOURself"). But the hit of the week was undoubtedly the Burlington show on the 27th. Liffy posts to the spreadnet on his weekend w/ Panic... do yourself a favor: get that Burlington show.

Previously in Nedstalgia: Mule; Widespread Panic; The Duo; Phish; Robert Randolph]

20 April 2007

minimix: All Aboard!

In honor of The Boy turning 3, train songs this week in a double size mix (plus one for good luck). [Although at this rate next year's birthday boy mix will be about My Little Ponies, we'll stick with the rails for now...]. Lots o' train songs to choose from, this is just scratching the surface... tried to mix it up. Your favorites?

Enjoy!

Download the mix


01 The Monorail Song -- The Simpsons: Songs In The Key Of Springfield
02 Love Train -- Wolfmother: Wolfmother
03 Engine Driver -- Colin Meloy: Live KEXP - 01-18-2006
04 Train Song -- Phish: 1997/12/29 I New York, NY
05 Railroad Man -- Eels: Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
06 Trains -- Ryan Adams: Jacksonville City Nights
07 Luxury Liner -- Whiskeytown: Those Weren't The Days
08 Engine Number 9 -- Wilson Pickett: What It Is!: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves
09 Train To Thiensan -- John Zorn: The Gift
10 Freight Train -- Jerry Garcia & David Grisman: Not For Kids Only
11 Night Coach -- Tony Rice & John Carlini: River Suite For Two Guitars
12 Mystery Train -- The Band : The Last Waltz
13 White Freightliner -- Gillian Welch & David Rawlings: Live The Acoustic Stage

17 April 2007

Nedstalgia: 5 Years Ago

(image pilfered from www.tuckerhead.com)

[previously on Nedstalgia: Widespread Panic, The Duo, Phish, Robert Randolph]

I've got a couple of April look-backs for you, but won't go too in depth- mostly an excuse to give you some music to download. These installments are largely for my own amusement, a chance to remember stuff before it gets too squashed down. It's also a chance to dig through old music or, even better, old reviews -- it's good to know that I've been this spastic and verbose for a while now. So, with a little self-indulgence, I give to you 5 years ago tonight: Gov't Mule... maybe the best I've ever seen 'em.

The setlist:
Set I: Pygmy Twylyte > Blind Man In The Dark, Bad Little Doggie, Lay Your Burden Down, Thorazine Shuffle, Taste Like Wine, Life Before Insanity > World Of Confusion, Banks Of The Deep End*$, Soulshine*$

Set II: No Quarter*+, Fool's Moon*, Rockin' Horse%, Mule > Third Stone From the Sun% > Mule%, Beautifully Broken^, 30 Days In the Hole=, Can't You See*~, Sweet Leaf+~ > War Pigs~
E: Lovelight#

* w/ Audley Freed on guitar
$ w/ Andy Hess on bass
% w/ Marc Quinones on percussion
^ w/ Stefan Lessard on bass
= w/ Jason Newsted on bass,
~ w/ Kid Rock on vocals, No Danny
# w/ Robert Randolph on pedal steel, Alvin Youngblood Hart on guitar,
Marc on percussion

[Kid Rock sings one verse of War Pigs and then leaves the stage (First
power trio since Allen Woody died), First time played: No Quarter and
Sweet Leaf]

Here's the show to download in mp3 format:
Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

Stream the show via Nugs.net:
Set I
Set II

And finally, the length review I wrote at the time, unedited (originally posted to NYC-Freaks list on 4/19/2002):

Here is a sentence that should send chills down the spine of any rock and roll fiend: "Gov't Mule to play NYC." What is it about possibly the baddest and loudest playing in the town that is possibly the baddest and loudest?? It might not have been pretty, but the Mule came to the big city last night and pushed us around like the subway crowd at 5pm on a Friday.

First thing that the city always brings out, especially for Warren Haynes, is the special guests. I'm not sure that Gov't Mule has played NYC in the past 3 years and not had multiple guests on stage during the night. Let's get this shit off right away: Jason Newsted, muthaf'n Kid Rock, Marc Quinones, Stefan Lessard, Audley Freed... rock is dead, you say?? Long live rock!

The show began with Dave Schools and Danny Louis joining the Gov't Mule core of Haynes and Matt Abts. The Mule standards rolled right off through the first set: Blind Man In the Dark (preceded by the haunting Zappa cover Pygmy Twylyte to get the mood just dark enough), Bad Little Doggie, Lay Your Burden Down, Thorazine Shuffle... etc. These songs have begun to bleed together over time as they seem to just play these right off the top every time I see them. Dave Schools has really come into his own as a Mule bassist over the last year. He has shown the talent and the wherewithal to fill the role as it should be without sacrificing his own style or resorting to mimicry. I didn't feel this was the case just this February when I saw them, but something about his playing last night struck me as right on. I felt like it WAS Dave Schools playing and it still WAS Gov't Mule.

Well, standard Mule is still some ear-callousing rock and roll, and it didn't take long for the steam to start oozing out of the walls. The sound was terrific through the first stretch, the volume was set to "if it's too loud, you're too old" (and for the record, I'm too old... earplugs in for the second set) and the band was sounding terrific. With Danny Louis in the mix and Schools "feeling it" the Mule seemed to return to their old form. For a few tours there, they were getting a little kinder and gentler but last night brought them back to red-blooded, steel-toed, leather cat-o-nines devilry.

Danny Louis is so much more into the Mule "sound" than Rob Barraco ever could be. Not a knock on Rob, but let's face it, he's just too -- how should I say this? -- "happy" to be playing in the Mule. Trade in your tie-dye for black, head to toe and maybe we'll talk. Louis gnawed his teeth into every bone and scrap he was tossed throughout the night, filling the sound out with great work on the electric piano especially. Perhaps a bit to be desired on the organ, but overall a solid performance on the keys and the best I've seen since the band has essentially become a quartet.

So, the band really started to feel like it had it going on, the audience was primed and just gobbling up every single note Warren played, every plummeting run down the kit from Matt, every pop of the bass strings from Dave -- to put it bluntly, we were ROCKING OUT!! It was because of this that the Tastes Like Wine that followed felt, for the first time, a bit out of place. There seemed to be no impetus for a breather, the momentum was to seek and destroy any semblance of silence in the theater. But perhaps owing to convention, the pace slowed awkwardly and coupled with the sound faltering a bit (several shots of static piped over the P.A. during Tastes Like Wine) the show suffered and stumbled a bit.

The show had many moments like this where the band would reach take-no-prisoners levels and then pull back, perhaps a too "mature" for their own good. The set ended with Audley Freed of the Black Crowes coming out as well as Andy Hess who, I understand, will take Schools' place as bassist from here on out. Banks of the Deep End was great, but I think a lot in the audience were hoping in the back of their minds that Mike Gordon would grace us with his handiwork down there in the low end. Soulshine, the Warren Haynes anthem, closed the set with some screaming guitar between Audley and Warren. Audley seems overjoyed to bask his guitar work in the sun-god Helios that is Haynes' axe. These guys complement each other wonderfully, in exactly the opposite way that Jimmy Herring complements Warren. Jimmy makes Warren's playing more beautiful and Audley makes it much, much dirtier. Soulshine didn't go as far as it could have or has in the past, but it still had the rafters shaking and the audience roaring going into a very short break.

Warning: second set may be hazardous to your eardrums and general sense of sanity. No Quarter. Sound like a song you'd like to see Gov't Mule cover?? You have no idea. This may have been the sickest thing I've seen the Mule do ever, in any configuration. Freed, Haynes, Abts, Schools, Louis... these guys must have been dipping into something special during set break because they came back not only on the same page, but on the same line, perhaps even the same word. There was a Widespread Panic-like tightness coupled with a volume knob and intensity knob turned to "11" that spelled trouble for all in attendance. Any more words will do no justice to this one. The set would get pretty silly, but it will always come back to this opening number. To say they nailed it is an understatement. I was seriously thinking that perhaps it was the encore because I didn't know how they were going to top it. With all respect to Jimmy Page and Robert Plant... thank you Gov't Mule, you did it, you blew my mind.

Fool's Moon and Rocking Horse were both sort of letdowns after that opener. It could just be the relativity of it all, but the former just seemed like a bad song to my ears and the latter did not live up to previous versions of this song, particularly the one I saw the Allmans play just last month. Mule (the song) brought things back up to par again. Instead of losing itself in stop-short exchanges to create increasingly weirder sandwiches, this version kept within itself. The jam neatly evaporated into the oft-heard Third Stone From The Sun as well as teases on Norwegian Wood without becoming mired in road-less-traveled excursions. Thus, it was a bit shorter than recent versions, but packaged tighter and was just what was needed to drive the rock and roll stake back into our ears. I think it goes without saying that Warren was just shredding throughout, doesn't it? Does anyone do it better? (yes, that was rhetorical).

And once you thought we were clear for the home stretch, a change of personnel ruined the mood once more as the show continued it's up, up, up, down, down, down roller-coaster ride. Beautifully Broken brought out the Dave Matthews Band's Stefan Lessard as it did for their gig last October at the Roseland. That night a multitude of bassists each got a few numbers to massage the infinite nuances of Warren Haynes' repertoire. Lessard's "miniset" was a highlight including Beautifully Broken as well as some terrific covers (Lively Up Yourself and Cortez the Killer were arguable the best tunes played at that show) The flow from bassist to bassist was nothing but smooth and remarkable considering the array of styles on display. Last night showed what a difference a couple dozen city blocks can make. Squeezing Lessard in between the heavy Mule and the even heavier shit that was yet to come was just asking for trouble. Beautifully Broken is my favorite tune off the recent Mule album, but sometimes cramming too many guests out there can come back to haunt you. Warren is the master of special guests, no doubt about it, but perhaps his eagerness got the best of him at the Beacon... if only for a moment.

Now we get to the fun part... did I mention that Kid Rock came out and lived up to his name on a Wednesday night?? I mean, we all knew that Metallica's Jason Newsted was gonna come out and play, he was on the bill, but Kid Rock? Rock is dead, you say?? Long live rock!

Marshall Tucker Band's "Can't You See" was the first tune and they just frickin' hit the ground running with that one. Vocals from Mr Rock were impeccable and his showmanship just pushed the crowd energy up one more notch. It's not often that the crowd at a Mule show is pumping its fists, banging its collective head and screaming to God almighty in the name of rock and roll, but Lord help me, they were worked to a frenzy on the Upper West Side. Audley Freed was there and it just hasn't been that loud, that intense and that fucking rocking for me in a long, long time. They followed that up with a Sweet Leaf (a Mule premiere) that picked it up one more notch, if you can believe it. Kid Rock broke it down midway through and semi-improv-ed an impressive rap that I believe was a cross between some of his own material and on-the-spot word-smithing. When he squealed "Kid Rock rocking with tha Government Mule!" I nearly lost my marbles. The middle breakdown secetion of this one was brutally good...

Lest I forget the most impressive part of the night -- Jason Newsted taking his turn to bat as the bassist for the entity known as Gov't Mule. We've had our turn with Burbridge and Schools and a few others scattered in between, but as far as I know, we haven't had any heavy metal thrashers like Jason Newsted at the helm. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time. He looks the part, his body moves the part and his bass plays the part. Newsted ripped it up like nobody's business. The shit hit the fan when they started playing War Pigs. Kid Rock hung around for the first verse and then took off, ensuring he didn't overstay his welcome. This left the band in old-school, power trio format -- Jason, Warren and Matt. There's a reason they call it the "power" trio -- so few people, so MUCH noise. The space in between what they were playing took on its own soundscape sometimes resembling a devil's horn section. Sonic assault. Newsted has shown he can fill the role on some cover tunes... I'm excited to hear how he treats the Mule repertoire like Thorazine and Blind Man, and hopefully he'll get a chance over the next couple gigs..

The encore brought out Robert Randolph and Alvin Youngblood Hart for a Lovelight that left much to be desired. There was really no way they could top the nastiness of the second set, there were still swirls of smoke from the charred remains of our souls filling the Beacon and no one wanted to turn on their lovelights, believe me. The playing was so awkward during the encore, I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just leave it at that and we can all forget it ever happened. I can only imagine how the show might have sounded if they had brought out these guests and played Lovelight to end the first set leaving the encore open for something else with Newsted (how about a Newsted vs. Schools ultimate death match?). I'm sure Warren will come up with something new and nutty for the next time they come to NYC -- hopefully we'll be ready for him!

16 April 2007

Photo: Time Travels

We're celebrating The Boy this week here at OTW, as he turns 3 tomorrow. This pic just about captures what it's like to be a younger brother at this stage of his life. As such, it's Hank Week which is kinda like Shark Week without the sharks.

We started on Sunday which was a Just Dad day fighting the cold wind and rain. We hit the new kidflick "Meet the Robinsons." The movie was the third in a trilogy preceded by The Terminator and Back to the Future, which is to say it was largely about time travel. I'm no member of the Academy, but this was a little intense for a G rating. I mean the Big Squeeze gets a bit rattled trying to wrap her head around Michael J Fox running into another version of himself, what are the little ones supposed to make of this? I don't understand how difficult it is to come out with some halfway decent material for the rated-G set but it is... the movie dudes should realize that if they just rotated through Finding Nemo and Peter Pan, etc. every week they'd probably sell an equal number of movie tickets to any other crap available on a Saturday afternoon. Anyway, becoming quite an expert in this stuff, I give this one a B-.

Of course, alone time in the car w/ dad = deep thoughts from LJ. Amongst the stream of non sequiturs :

LJ: How do they make roads?
Dad: Well, they flatten out the ground and then they take asphalt which is like little crushed up rocks and tar and they lay it down and then a big roller truck makes it all flat.
LJ: And then what?
Dad: Well, that's it, then they have a road.
LJ: ...
Dad: And then a truck comes around and paints all the lines.
LJ: That's what I was wondering about!
....
LJ: Dad, look! Did you see that?
Dad: What?
LJ: A tiger just ran by!
Dad: Really?
LJ: April Fools!
Dad: April Fools Day already passed a couple weeks ago.
LJ: It's still April isn't it? I'm celebrating April Fools Month!
....
[midway through conversation about trip earlier this month on which family flew JetBlue]
LJ: ...even the plane was fun... we had coloring books and TV!
Dad: Yeah, that was good. When I flew on airplanes when I was a kid we didn't have TV's.
LJ: You mean you lived in the olden days!?!
Dad: It wasn't that long ago.
LJ: But you didn't have TV!
Dad: On the plane, we didn't have TV on the plane. We had TV's at home.
LJ: Oh...
Dad: We didn't have a computer, though, when I was your age.
LJ: Wha!? You really did live in the olden days!

15 April 2007

Shows of the Week

Holy Moses! Big time music this week, Green Apple on down... what are you going to miss this week?

[Remember: * = Ned's picks; # = new additions; you can get this listing in your inbox every week by going here and clicking "join group"]

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows

Monday:
Bob Mould et al @ Bowery Ballroom (benefit)
Rodrigo Y Gabriela @ Webster Hall
*Ollabelle @ Banjo Jim's
Donny McCaslin @ 55 Bar (late)
Luxe Pop @ Magnetic Field (Brooklyn)
Butch Morris Orchestra @ Nublu
Leon Russell @ BB King's

Tuesday:
Ollabelle @ Banjo Jim's
Art Brut @ Bowery Ballroom
Ozomatli @ Webster Hall
*Bill Frisell Sextet @ VIllage Vanguard (early/late)
Rudder (CD release) @ Bitter End
Moonshine Still @ Lion's Den
Oliver Manchon @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
FREE Ethan Iverson recital @ Klavierhaus
The Brakes @ Tap Bar
Jesse Malin et al @ Mercury Lounge

Wednesday:
*Ratatat @ Webster Hall
Son Volt (Jason Isbell opens) @ Irving Plaza
Bill Frisell Sextet @ VIllage Vanguard (early/late)
Mark Sganga & Friends @ The Stone (early)
John Vanderslice (St Vincent opens) @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)
Norah Jones (M Ward opens) @ Theater at MSG
Darrin James Band @ Rockwood Music Hall
Stephane Wrembel @ The Stone (late)
Art Brut @ Studio B (Brooklyn)

Thursday:
John Vanderslice, St. Vincent @ Mercury Lounge
Tim O'Brien @ Joe's Pub (early)
*Benevento/Russo Duo (acoustic) @ Knitting Factory (early/late)
The Budos Band @ The Hook (Brooklyn)
Balkan Beat Box, Golem @ Bowery Ballroom
Bill Frisell Sextet @ VIllage Vanguard (early/late)
Hot Chip @ Webster Hall
Van Davis @ 55 Bar (early)
The Blue Method @ The Annex (midnight)
Jeff Tain Watts w/ C. McBride, M. Strickland (CD release) @ Cutting Room (late)
George Clinton & 420 Funk Mob @ The Concert Hall
Matt Munisteri @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Chicago Afrobeat Project @ SOB's
Peter Apfelbaum @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
New Riders of the Purple Sage @ Canal Room
Patty Griffin @ Beacon Theater
Wayne Krantz @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
Tower of Power @ North Fork Theater (Westbury, LI)

Friday:
Particle (Jerry Joseph opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
Jake Shimabukuro @ Joe's Pub (early)
Bill Frisell Sextet @ VIllage Vanguard (early/late)
Mike Dillon's Go-Go Jungle, Licorice @ Tap Bar
Zero @ Gramercy Theater
Ryan Montbleau, Bomb Squad et al @ Knitting Factory
Radiators @ Lion's Den
FREE Grace Potter, School of Rock w/ J. Anderson @ Grand Central Station (noon)
Hot Chip @ Webster Hall
Emanuel Ax/Edgar Meyer @ Zankel Hall
Hot Buttered Rum @ Rebel
Howard Fishman @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Stephane Wrembel @ The Stone (late)
Junior Brown @ Joe's Pub (late/midnight)
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers @ BB King's (early/late)
Illinois @ Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville)
Erin McKeown @ Southpaw (Brooklyn) (early)
Anthony Coleman @ Issue Project Space (Brooklyn)
Charlie Hunter, Kaki King @ Housing Works Bookstore
*Grace Potter, The Wood Brothers @ Southpaw (Brooklyn) (late)
Eric Hutchinson @ The Cutting Room
John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
CocRosie @ Warsaw (Brooklyn)
Mahavishnu Project @ IMAC (Huntington, LI)

Saturday:
Bill Frisell Sextet @ VIllage Vanguard (early/late)
Raq (Touchpants opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
BuzzUniverse, Moon Boot Lover @ Fontana's
*Assembly of Dust @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
School of Rock w/ Jon Anderson (Gene Ween opens) @ Starland Ballroom
(Sayreville, NJ)
Taylor Hicks @ Beacon Theater
Harry Connick Jr @ Radio City Music Hall
Kaki King @ White Room (Brooklyn)
Edwin McCain Band @ BB KIng's
FREE Assembly of Dust @ Grand Central Station (noon)
The Gang Font @ The Silent Barn (Brooklyn)
Jessica Lurie Ensemble @ The Stone (early)
Radiators @ Lion's Den
Mahavishnu Project @ Makor
Jesse Malin et al @ Mercury Lounge
Patrick Wolff Trio @ Zebulon (Brooklyn)
That's My Momma @ Cutting Room (late)
Chris Barron et al @ Rockwood Music Hall
Henry Grimes/Rashied Ali @ Brecht Forum
Mason Jennings @ Gramercy Theater
Aaron Alexander's Midrash Mish Mosh @ The Stone (late)
Method Man & Redman @ Adelphi University (Garden City, LI)

Sunday:
Fat Mama @ Knitting Factory
The Gang Font @ Tap Bar
Frequency @ Jimmy's
FREE Laurie Berkner @ Central Park
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Oliver Lake @ Roulette
*John Vanderslice, St. Vincent @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
School of Rock w/ J. Anderson @ Symphony Space
Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds @ Radio City Music Hall
Bill Frisell Sextet @ VIllage Vanguard (early/late)
Tower of Power @ BB King's (early/late)
Kaki King @ Galapagos (Brooklyn)

Click here for upcoming shows

12 April 2007

minimix: Week In Preview

What a city! Here's a small taste of some music in NYC in the next several days... and I'm not even touching the weekends (I think it's conceivable to see all 5 of these in a matter of 2 days). Consider this the proverbial tip of the iceberg. See you there!

Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 Good Old People -- Bill Frisell: The Intercontinentals
02 Exodus Damage -- John Vanderslice: Pixel Revolt
03 Now. Now. -- St. Vincent: Marry Me
04 Raindrops Whisper Words -- Benevento/Russo Duo: Marco Benevento And Joe Russo
05 Tropicana -- Ratatat: Classics
06 T.I.B.W.F. -- The Budos Band: Budos Band

Links: Feeling smart

Few random stabs this week as I try to consider a world without Imus.... things I read this week that made me feel smarter.

  • I love Lost. I was an early adopter, gleeful fan since episode one, but I never followed up on any of the zaniness online until this year when I discovered J. Wood's blog on Powells.com. If you've watched the show at all, you owe it to yourself to check this thing out. It's like a Liberal Arts education rolled into a blog about a silly quasi-sci-fi television show, but it actually makes me feel smarter after reading it. It doesn't get (too) into theories and such (which I really couldn't care less about), but rather delves deep into all the amazing detailed references the shows creators throw into each episode which you almost certainly missed the 1st time through. I'm not doing it justice -- just check it out. Start at the beginning of this season and work forwards. Zing!
  • If you haven't read this article about violinist extraordinaire Josh Bell playing at a D.C. Metro stop, please do. It's all a gimmick until someone writes a fascinating piece about it, this is more about the article itself for me than what it's about, but that's wild as well. It all means something, unless it doesn't. The ensuing online chat with the author is also worth reading, save for all the Washington-centric stuff. (via Freakonomics)
  • Renters rejoice! For someone who has been renting a house for the past 2+ years wondering if and when I'd ever be able to afford to buy a place of our own, this article made me feel good.
  • JJ starts another piece of so-called microfiction today. Get involved -- it'll make you smarter. Maybe.
  • Check out the fun at PaloozaHead. Probably won't hit any festivals this year, but it's good to know that LJ made it Chicago:

Create Your Own PaloozaHead - Visit Lollapalooza.com

11 April 2007

Photos and Review: Phil Lesh

SOB's, 10 April 2007

Observed as I was leaving the Phil & Friends SOB's show on Tuesday:

  • ticketless Deadheads of the nth degree huddled near the door "gettin' down" to the music (I left during the encore) like they were in the lot at Shoreline... Shakedown St? No -- Varick.
  • wookies huddled in a nearby doorway blowing up balloons of nitrous
  • the strong stench of homeless urine emanating from the subway station... I took a cab.
Observed inside the club earlier in the evening:
  • a dreadlocked woman offering "Tarot readings"
  • a 60ish man tweaked out to the point of being shepherded out by what could very well have been his granddaughter
  • a healthy cloud of smoke hanging in the rafters not seen in these parts since the Wetlands closed its doors.
  • the ghost of Jerry Garcia ripping a hole in the ceiling, reaching in and personally filing a cease-and-desist order on the butchering of the Lady with a Fan section of Terrapin Station
  • One helluva live music show....
I'll keep it short(ish), but the Grateful Dead experience is alive and well once again, its demise exaggerated for the zillionth time. After reports of extreme mediocrity permeated the interweb after Monday's rehearsal dinner, the new band -- featuring Larrys Campbell and McCray on Garcia/Weir|Herring/Haynes duty as well as John Molo (back from the death... or food poisoning, depending on your preferred level of melodrama) on drums, Steve Molitz (of Particle non-fame) on keys and youthful exuberance and some woman on estrogenic presence and occasional backup vocals -- was wedded, consummated and sent way on their honeymoon.

The setlist read thusly:

Set I: Franklins Tower > Friend of the Devil > The Weight, Ship Of Fools* > Blow Away*, Cold Rain and Snow*

Set II: Viola Lee Blues* > Candyman, All Along the Watchtower > Cryptical Envelopment > Other One > something Particulate, Terrapin Station [mercifully aborted], Terrapin Station > I Know You Rider

E: Next Time You See Me

*w/ Warren Haynes


Having not been there on Monday, I can only assume the difference between the reports of "blech" on Tuesday morning and the twittering glee in the eyes of everyone from the get-go through the end on Tuesday night was John Molo. The guy received a standing O outside the venue as he walked past the ticketless and ticketed alike to make his way inside. That was quite possibly the worst case of diarrhea in Deadhead history.

Make no doubt about it, this was a special show. As close as you're getting to the Grateful Dead these days in a club that had the size and vibe of the old Wetlands Preserve. The incomparable Chris Kuroda on lights and a sound so clicking, Phil's overheard manic stage directions sounded like music. That music was about as ranging as the members of a band. It is an ensemble where you've got a Dylan/country-rock twangster, an honest-to-goodness bluesman, a guy who's so electronica he seems to perpetually exists under strobe lights, not to mention the living embodiment of the great grandfathers of jam music. The quality of play was just as dispersed as was the resulting music we've got.

They were pretty slamming out of the gate. I've sometimes found Molo's drumming to be a little too unhinged from the otherwise tight Phil Lesh melange (including multiple occasions Tuesday night) but during Franklin's he was as otherworldly as I would have wanted. The Lesh/Molo combo was too much for any mediocrity to overcome from the get-go, they simply wouldn't let the shit fail. The good thing is, the rest of the band seemed, if not a polished per se, certainly up to the task. The Franklin's>FOTD>The Weight wasn't perfect, mind you, but certainly rocked the roof off. SOB's was hopping! The entire time it felt they could have dropped into a Know You Rider with that pinpoint '73 China/Rider accuracy but they never quite did.

A guitarist in the Phil Lesh circle doesn't necessarily need to know the Grateful Dead to succeed, but they certainly need to know Jerry at some level. They may not even be aware that they are aware, but they have to appreciate the Garcia aesthetic to carry the music the way Phil wants it to be played. Tuesday night we got to see Larry McCray make his first steps toward that knowledge. He is a far cry from Jimmy Herring, but his chops were on display and he certainly has something to them.

Warren Haynes (yes that Warren Haynes, can you believe it??) came out toward th e end of the first set and did the things that Warren does. I wouldn't say the show was great because of Haynes. He brought an air of legitimacy to the tunes he played on and seemed to up the level of intensity from the rest of the band. Ship of Fools was nice from an observational standpoint, but Blow Away was actually dead on. They played both of those tunes at my first Dead show many years ago and so the pairing was particularly sweet. McCray sang the latter and M olitz was channeling his inner-Mydland (who knew he had it?).

When they turned to a jam midway, Phil seemed agitated in his urging: his eyes said "JAM" and only after multiple gesticulations did he get everything to sink in properly, but it paid off. That was the other angle to the show that was kinda neat. It was a glorified, $50-a-pop rehearsal, no doubt about it. Thankfully it was a mostly enjoyable one, but you got to see a band taking shape, a group that is probably only at 33 and a third at this point, but certainly on their way. Throughout the night Lesh coaxed and brooded and gritted his teeth and eventually smiled and bobbed and whispered and shouted and looked old and looked young. Phil Lesh is the Cesar Millan of the jamiverse -- he is the Jam Whisperer. I am convinced that given enough time he can turn any 5 musicians into a decent, if not transcendent band.

The first set had its ups and downs but was enough to console my decision to actually step inside the venue and not make off with a bounty of scalped lucre. The second set, we all know, though, is where a show is made and on that front, the show was made with an intergalactic Viola Lee Blues. If my musical life was chopped up into 30 minute moments, the ticks made up this jam have to be rated. This one started with a little TNT: just an explosion of sound and more importantly volume. It inspired an audibilized "whoa!" out of me. The lion was awake and it wanted us to know it! With Haynes still kicking around on a crowded stage, the band coalesced around the Lesh-Molo engine. It was either a peak or a foreshadowing of potential, but it was in the "as good as it gets" category. Each verse of this monster flipped into something different, the band becoming a chameleon with wide ranging jams that were loose and tight and spot on all over. During one stretch Warren and Phil and Molo locked in on a target -- Low Spark -- and seemed destined to make the segue. It was more of a tease... let's call it a vamp, and it got me in a sweat. Eventually Phil guided them out of it -- WHAM! back into Viola Lee. This was the floor exercises of their routine: filled with cartwheels, back flips and pure synchronicity. What I'm trying to say here is that the Viola Lee Blues kicked ass.

McCray shined again on Candyman, not quite nailing it as owning it. He's got the best voice on the stage as well as the best axeman chops and when he truly learns how to direct those talents towards Phil's goals, when he truly absorbs the spirit of Jerry as Lesh understands it, he'll have that "I once was blind and now I see" moment and anyone there in the audience to witness it will go home a happy man. But cover songs are easier and Watchtower was pumping with Phil playing impossibly low on the low end. Is there a sweeter sound coming from below than Phil Lesh's 10 fingers on a 6-string Modulus? There is something purely good about that tone and those runs of notes -- Mozart, Picasso, Lesh.

At this point the hour-mark for the set had been reached and an LIRR window was opening for me [ed. note fulfills OTW review quote of one mention of train ride in or out of city]. The band circled the wagons and lay down camp in a Cryptical that I could not escape. Phil strained on the vocals but the ensuing jam was of the sugary sweet variety and I had to forgo an hour of sleep. Lucky for me as there was a full hour of music left in the quiver. The jam between Cryptical and the Other One here was atypical. It wasn't that fiery pulsating stun gun of a jam, but more of an eased-in melodic pirouette. The guys were really dialed in at this point and they took on that quintessential Phil Lesh and Friends vibe of "you don't know where we're going and frankly neither do we!" The jam was prolonged and sweet but eventually it did make it there with that gooey goodness coming from Phil as they dropped the bomb on the Other One.

That ripped and dropped into some Particle tune that was a complete 180 on the band and the crowd. The late hour on a weeknight started stripping away some of that enthusiastic 400 or so that had been shoehorned in. All of the sudden, the small club became a little late night tripster den. Kuroda was masterful all night, but maybe he didn't quite nail the vibe coming from the stage at this moment, but the band sure did. Molo and Lesh played the part of jammers half their age, embracing the techno like you never knew they could. Molitz was in the zone and the bobs between notes doubled in amplitude and the smile was just as wide. He literally took over the band, directing them and guiding them through a jam that was so up-tempo it practically gave McCray a heart attack keeping up. The man is large and this thing had him sweating and shooting looks of both fear and admiration at Molitz. It was much fun and it brought the Particle People out of the woodwork, which was neat.

At this point I couldn't believe they were still going strong. I was in danger of missing the next train as we stood around mulling what they might finish up with. When they started up the Terrapin Station I had but one thought: this is going to be a disaster. I actually said it out loud, so sure was my fear. Hey, I've been singing these guys' praises in paragraph form here, but let's not kid ourselves, they were rough around the edges and they were sticking to the B-Grade material. The guys were jamming at a yummy level, but I hadn't seen anything that lead me to believe they could handle the intricate composed sections of a true Dead masterpiece. Of course, I was right. McCray looked about as confused as a new puppy being left alone for the first time not to mention completely spent. The question wasn't quite who was out of tune but who wasn't. Man, they were one George McConnell short of absolute, quintessential trainwreck and after a few verses of shit sandwich and some "Jerry's turning in his grave" attempts at a solo in the midsection, Phil cut his losses and aborted the attempt. The crowd cheered. Yes, they cheered when it was over. I cheered. What were we cheering? "A+ for effort" or "thanks for ending my misery. " Ouch.

So, after some minutes discussion of the assumed "what can we do to salvage this set?" variety they started up again. What song, pray tell, do you think they decided to substitute? That's right, another version of Terrapin. This one wasn't A+, but it was certainly a passing mark. What did Phil say? What magical tuning machine did they employ? It had to be magic, this shit was actually quite, quite good. Campbell nailed the solo as well as you'd expect him to, McCray had caught his breath and Phil reached deep down into the liver for some blast of jams past. There ain't nothing in the Dead repertoire that skins my rabbit quite like a well-played Terrapin and this one passed the sniff test. Something you could really sink your teeth into, not to mention mix metaphors about.

And yet, still, STILL, they were not done. The end jam peaked and peaked the way a good end-to-Terrapin jam should. Sweet powerful sounds... finally gathering into that long-awaited Know You Rider. Set time was approaching 2 hours, how these old men weren't tired I'll never know, juicing the Ensure for all I care, but damn, they found it deep inside and brought it one more time. We danced one last dance finding our own reserves -- everyone happy they had been there inside. It's not every day you get the private party with someone like Phil Lesh. Someone who's delivered for so many years and somehow, in some way, still delivers like few can. He's a national treasure. Lucky us.

08 April 2007

Shows of the Week

Here comes summer! Some sweet free music on the Nedar... it's the reason we're here in the first place. Let me know what I'm missing.

Enjoy!

Click here for upcoming shows


Monday:
*Steven Bernstein's Millenial Territory Orchestra @ Tonic (early)
Andrew Bird @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Cold War Kids @ Bowery Ballroom
Iggy & The Stooges @ United Palace
Phil Lesh & Friends @ SOB's
Adam Levy et al @ Rockwood Music Hall
Butch Morris Orchestra @ Nublu

Tuesday:
Courvoisier/Feldman Duo, Floriculture @ Tonic (early)
Vernon Reid, Groove Collective @ Tonic (late)
*Phil Lesh & Friends @ SOB's
Dr John @ Rose Theater
Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Bill Frisell Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Anders Parker @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Taylor Hicks @ Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Blue Note (early/late)

Wednesday:
Junior Boys @ Bowery Ballroom
*Bobby Previte/Skerik @ 55 Bar (early/late)
Bill Frisell Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Blue Note (early/late)
Pat Metheny & Brad Mehldau @ Carnegie Hall
Brotzmann/Pliakas/Wertmueller @ Tonic (early)
Leroy Justice et al @ Mercury Lounge
James Carter Quintet @ Zankel Hall
Wolff et al @ Club Midway
Lily Allen (Bird & The Bee opens) @ Irving Plaza
Mary Chapin Carpenter @ The Concert Hall
Buddy Guy @ BB King's
G3 @ Theater at MSG

Thursday:
RJD2 @ The Crazy Donkey (Farmingdale, LI)
Soulive @ Bowery Ballroom
Alejandro Escovedo @ Joe's Pub (early)
Illinois et al @ Mercury Lounge
Wayne Krantz @ 55 Bar (late/midnight)
Bill Frisell Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Suphala @ Tonic (early)
Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Blue Note (early/late)
Black Hollies et al @ The Annex
Bob Schneider @ Knitting Factory (early/late)
*Dave Douglas Keystone @ Iridium (early/late)
Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)

Friday the 13th:
Umphrey's McGee @ Nokia Theater
BuzzUniverse @ Donegal Saloon (Kearney, NJ)
Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Blue Note (early/late)
Guster @ Beacon Theater
Dave Douglas Keystone @ Iridium (early/late)
RJD2 @ Webster Hall
Page France et al @ Piano's
The Moonlighters @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Brothers Past @ BB King's (late night)
Alejandro Escovedo @ Unitarian Church (Montclair, NJ)
Bill Frisell Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Soulive @ Bowery Ballroom
Malaby/Rojas/Hollenbeck @ Cornelia St. Cafe
Afroskull @ Parkside Lounge
Buddy Guy @ BB King's
Sean Lennon @ Irving Plaza
Marilyn Crispell @ Roulette
*John Zorn Improv night @ Tonic (early/late)... last Tonic show
Isley Brothers (Sharon Jones & Dap Kings open) @ United Palace Theater

Saturday:
E.S.T./Matthew Shipp @ Merkin Concert Hall
*Toubab Krewe @ BB King's (midnight)
Bill Frisell Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
MK Groove Orchestra w/ M. Benevento @ Blue Note (late night)
Dave Douglas Keystone @ Iridium (early/late)
Page France @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Leo Kottke @ Paramount Theater (Peekskill, NY)
Guster @ Beacon Theater
Dub Is A Weapon et al @ The Hook (Brooklyn)
Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Blue Note (early/late)
Great Big Sea @ Hammerstein Ballroom
Dave Kolker et al @ Bitter End

Tax Man:
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn)
Dave Douglas Keystone @ Iridium (early/late)
Allen Toussaint @ Joe's Pub (noon)
Flickerstick @ Knitting Factory
*Bill Frisell Trio @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Dave Mason @ BB King's
Ravi Coltrane Quartet @ Blue Note (early/late)

Click here for upcoming shows

06 April 2007

minimix: Americana Is Beautiful.1 -- Feelin' Steely

Little roots music focusing on the wondfully dynamic pedal steel guitar.

Download the mix

Enjoy!

01 Kind Woman -- Buffalo Springfield: Retrospective
02 Prison On Route 41 -- Calexico / Iron & Wine: In The Reins
03 Deep Red Bells -- Neko Case: NPR Live Concert Series (4/9/06)
04 Lay Lady Lay -- Bob Dylan : Nashville Skyline
05 Four Days of Rain -- Flying Burrito Brothers: Live 22 July 1971
06 Native Praise -- The Campbell Brothers: Can You Feel It?

03 April 2007

Links: Remembering Tonic

So, Tonic is closing. Sad but true. I can say without reservation it remained my favorite venue in the city and maybe, just maybe, before they close the place down, I'll get to see one more lick of jazz or rock or classical or some one-of-a-kind amalgam of everything and nothing.

I've seen so many great shows over such a wide spectrum, I don't even know where to begin. The room filled a niche in the NYC scene that's tough to define, and likewise in my live music career. I believe my first time there was the first show ever there, although I could be mistaken. It was for Zorn's Masada and they didn't even have a liquor license at the time, and even though we were crammed toward the back in an overfilled room, the magic was flowing from day one. (and it would certainly foreshadow many a mind-blowing evening with Mr. Zorn leading the charge). Sure, the place had it's annoyances -- what was the deal with the 3 rows of seats, like a taunt for those who didn't get there in time to sit down. Still, the good outweighed the bad 100 times over. I never felt like there was a bottom line at Tonic -- something you couldn't say about many rooms in Manhattan... or anywhere for that matter. The memories will last a long while, from the sweet, sweet music lifting you to the heavens down to the drunken late nights in the subTonic, still one of the best late night weird-vibe haunts around (you actually got to sit in these giant wine casks -- the building was an old Kedem winery). Thankfully, I've written a lot of those memories down, so here are a bunch of reviews, courtesy of my trove of JamBase reviews from back in the day as well as more recent happenings covered by this blog. I'm sure I cover all that Tonic was and wasn't over the course of these... enjoy

Here's a video preview of the to-be-released Benevento 3CD set of his Tonic residency (this summer on Ropeadope):

02 April 2007

Photos & Review: Do Make Say Think|The Berg Sans Nipple|Elliott Brood

Bowery Ballroom, 29 March 2007

When New York City is your live music home base there are always going to be conflicts, decisions to be made. Until cloning technology makes some strides, you can only be in one place at a time. Throw in the growing-older aspects of work, family and physical exhaustion and you're quickly in take-what-you-can-get territory. By the same token, the other side of the coin is very attractive -- if you want to see a band, and they tour at all, there is little doubt they'll be coming to NYC at some point. All this is to say that I've REALLY wanted to see Do Make Say Think for a while now and in a week filled with top notch live music out the proverbial ying yang, there was no doubt that I was getting my ass to Bowery Ballroom to check these guys out.

As has been the case, lately, the opening acts were equally as intriguing. I walked into the Ballroom as Elliott Brood was already in full swing. The crowd at this point was smallish, but I could tell by the way that they were huddled enthusiastically around the stage that I should sidle... and so I sidled. I would describe these guys as cosmic rockabilly. The instrumentation was, right-to-left: drums, banjo/guitar, guitar. It's amazing how you could take 100 trios of guitar/banjo/drums and get 100 completely different sounds out of them. This is true in all instances, of course, take any instruments and repeat. The possibilities are endless. Are you influenced by your influences' influences or do you stop at one degree?

The mix of sound here was some sort of mash-up of every stage of Neil Young's back catalog. Quiet, soulful songsmithing made way for raunchy Crazy Horse soundscapes. The guitarist stage-left sat down and, although was playing a standard plugged-in acoustic guitar got some serious volume and sound out of his rig. It was hard to see what he was plugged in through, but there was a whole lot of something going on over there effects-wise. It wasn't until after the set that I saw that he also had some bass pedals -- which did explain where the bass notes were coming from, but still much to be answered. He was the one-man Crazy Horse. The banjo player/guitar player/ukulele player had an incredibly raspy voice and a frenetic pacing to everything he did. His banjo playing was reminiscent of the Codetalkers, four-string fast-paced wildness. I really liked Elliott Brood. Their whole sound was sort of like this: boom chukka boom chukka boom chukka... they made me dance. They might have been from Canada, or at least close, because they talked about the bridge between Detroit and Windsor. There's something going on in Canada. When we figure out what it is, we need to work on importing some of it here. [OTW note: quick Google check confirms: Canadian] See further: Do Make Say Think (below)

Next up was The Berg Sans Nipple, who may have been French Canadian, but I'm pretty sure they were just French. Let's call them the French Duo. You know the Duo, right? Well, I'm obsessed with them on all fronts and will try to minimize the references thereto in this review, but it's going to be inevitable.

Like Russo & Benevento, these guys (while having an infinitely better name, btw) are a drummer and keyboard player and play instrumental music and do a lot of digital sampling therein. But there are way more differences than similarities between the pair of duos. Musically, I'd pin BSN as a mix of the instrumental triangle of Duo/Sound Tribe Sector 9/Drums and Tuba, which puts them strongly in a jammy milieu -- surprising because I've never heard a whiff of them before. After seeing them on Thursday, I'd say this is a shame -- memo to Bonnaroo: book these guys for a late night slot somewhere, you will not be sorry. Keyboards and drums, yes, but also steel drums and hooters and trumpets and screaming and shouting -- all this sound squeezed through a conduit of 1's and 0's and coming out as a freaky, funky mishmash that's got a good beat and makes the kids smile.
The audience, which was almost to capacity by this point, was obviously gaga over these guys and rightly so. There was little there that wasn't to love. On one hand, there wasn't much there there -- the musicianship was sort of B-, the songs were more like notions of a dance riff and yet, the energy and creativity seemed to fill in the gaps more than adequately.

I meant to buy their CD on the way out, but that was before...

Do Make Say Think totally rearranged my reality, making me forget what was life was like beforehand. Truly next level. The word is: transcendental. They transcended. People will introduce DMST as some sort of Broken Social Scene side-project, but that's not an accurate representation. They're more like the second cousin of BSS. BSS is a collective and the Venn diagram of their existence involves the overlap and inclusion a lot of bands, one of which is Do Make Say Think from whom they borrow a couple members and most certainly borrow a lot of musical ideas. Any time you hear the Broken Social Scene and think: "wow that is so amazingly orchestral for pop music", they've copped that from DMST. I've got a couple of their albums and have had their most recent one (reviewed here) in heavy drool-inducing rotation since it arrived. My hope would have been that they could reproduce their studio magic, the majesty of their compositions and the energy of their instrumentation in a live setting. If they just did that -- note for note -- I would have been more than impressed.

But it was much more than that. If anything, the album sell their talents short. Their set Thursday night at the Bowery Ballroom was some weird lobotomizing experience. A disorienting brain re-arranger. It was like going to an amusement park blindfolded and being lead around by some crazy prankster. One minute your seated comfortably on the merry go round: horizontal circles, peaceful, pure, perfect... the next moment, without warning, without the chance to brace yourself, you're on the roller coaster: up, up, up, up... DOOOOOOOWN!!! Mental whiplash for which you haven't a chance to prepare yourself for.

The band was six members strong with two drummers: the esoteric, instrumental Canadian Allman Brothers. A female violin player stood sandwiched between two guitar players and a bassist, although sometimes the guitar player was a bassist or the other one was a keyboardist or there were actually two bass players (double bass = BAD ASS!). Stage left was a trumpet player and a sax player who sometimes played another little set of keys and sometimes did nothing. There was also a dude tucked way in the back who just kind of added more drumming.... mmmm... more drums. Is that more than six? It was a large six. The players and their instruments were sort of incidental. For that matter, so were the songs. It was like a symphony with movements and a level of storytelling that you usually have to dig for in instrumental music. They didn't do a lot of dynamic rocking out or preening or really much of anything, they just played and played and blew my fricking mind.

Somehow these guys are all rhythm and all melody all the time. Crazy polyrhythms attack from all angles constantly -- listening to the music you would think there is no possible way that anyone could dance to it and yet, you find yourself moving constantly. It's not dance music and yet you can't not dance to it. That pretty much sums up the weird conflicts deeply inherent in Do Make Say Think. You have that jarring, unbraceable, surreal trip to the carnival effect as described above which just kind of sounds horrible and yet it's undeniably addicting. The first 40 minutes of their set flew by like no 40 minutes I've ever experience. I'm not even sure if it seemed really long or really short, but it was not typical. I looked at my watch, trying to catch my breath and my bearings and was just, well confused. Songs take forever to build up from absolutely nothing and then it seems like they still should slow down and take their time. You try to zone in on one musician -- that guy on the guitar, or the drummer on the right and you don't think anything special is going on and then it sort of sinks in and you're blown away. Again and again and again. There is a perfect mix of hifalutin, cerebral, intricate, reedy composition with heavy, pulsing rhythm and out-and-out guitar shredding. Not so much schizophrenia -- maybe nuttier and maybe not.

Wow, I'm doing a horrible job describing this music. I thought I knew what I was going to say and now that I'm thinking back on it a fews later my mind is mush. Did the show even happen at all? I do know that it was probably my first 16+ show in quite a while. And yet I didn't feel really old and the crowd and their energy was impressive in how they were impressed. Then you realize that Do Make Say Think may seem like one of those bands you have to "get," whose meaning might escape you, their musical poetry deep and confounding. But really that's not the case at all: great music transcends, and Do Make Say Think was transcendent.