30 May 2008

minimix: NewIn08.1


Download the mix

01 Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife -- Drive-By Truckers: Brighter Than Creation's Dark
02 Blind Mary -- Gnarls Barkley: The Odd Couple
03 Metatron -- The Mars Volta: The Bedlam In Goliath
04 Rich Kid Blues -- The Raconteurs: Consolers Of The Lonely
05 I Should Have Known Better -- She & Him: Volume One
06 Hopscotch Willie -- Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Real Emotional Trash

27 May 2008

Downloads of the Week

Nice bunch of sets from the same Mountain Aire festival 8 years ago today. All pretty killer... when you can get Jimmy & Phil sitting in with Derek Trucks and then Derek sitting in for much of Phil's 2 sets later on, it's worth a listen. This was in the pre-Herring/Haynes days, so it's Herring and Pevar and then Derek on board for a few in the 1st and the entire 2nd set. I think this may beat the Q, but that's just me. Throw in some Claypool with an early version of his Frog Brigade and mustve been a nice Memorial Weekend day.


Derek Trucks Band
Mt. Aire Festival
27 May 2000
Download: part 1 part 2 part 3

Col. Les Claypool's Flying Frog Brigade
Mt. Aire Fest
27 May 2000
Download: part 1 part 2

Phil Lesh & Friends (Herring, Pevar, Molo, Baracco & Trucks)
Mt. Aire Fest
27 May 2000
Download: Set I: part 1 part 2 Set II: part 1 part 2 part 3

23 May 2008

minimix: Jazzercise.8 Tzadik08

Here's a little incestuously Tzadik-heavy (+ Benevento) new-in-2008 sextet for you. I'm hopelessly behind -- need some recs on good quote-unquote "jazz" albums out this year that I need to pick up. Any help?


Download the mix

01 Tears Of Morning -- Friedlander/Cohen/Burger -- John Zorn's Filmworks XIX
02 Are You The Favorite Person Of Anybody -- Marco Benevento: Invisible Baby
03 Gediel -- Bar Kokhba: Lucifer
04 Bird Boy -- Cyro Baptista: Banquet Of The Spirits
05 A Ride on Cottontail -- John Zorn's The Dreamers
06 Reuben -- Steven Bernstein: Diaspora Suite

Previously in minimix:
Jazzercise.7 (t)
Jazzercise.6 (07.2)
Jazzercise.5 (sax)
Jazzercise.4 (07)
Jazzercise.3 (d)
Jazzercise.2 (g)
Jazzercise.1 (p)

20 May 2008

Downloads of the Week

Here are a few shows from you 5/24 style:

The 1st is an MMW hit in Dallas w/ DJ Logic from 10 years ago this week... hard pimping Combustication. Amazing to think they've been doing it at that level for so long. Next up is a "liberated" Zappa bootleg from 1980. Of course, I'd be remiss if there was no Panic, so here is an all-time classic from 1992 in Winston-Salem. Sometimes a classic is a classic only because there are sick sounding recordings of it. Sometimes it's because the show was frickin' sick. And sometimes it's both. Download it and see for yourself.


Medeski, Martin & Wood (w/ DJ Logic)
Trees - Dallas, TX
24 May 1998
Download: part 1 part 2 part 3 encores

Frank Zappa
The Ahoy, Rotterdam, Amsterdam
24 May 1980
Download: part 1 part 2

Widespread Panic
Ziggy's, Winston-Salem, NC
24 May 1992
Download: part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4 encores

18 May 2008

Shows of the Week(s)

Hey hey, here are the shows up through June. May repost next week, may not. I'm sure there's plenty I'm missing, apologies.


Click here for upcoming shows

Monday (5/19)
*The Swell Season @ Radio City Music Hall
Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)
Meshell Ndegeocello @ Mercury Lounge (early)
Oz Noy Trio @ Bitter End
Thee Silver Mt. Zion @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)

Tuesday (5/20)
*Doug Wamble @ Barbes (brooklyn) (early)
Thee Silver Mt. Zion (Vic Chestnutt opens) @ Bowery Ballroom
Devotchka @ Terminal 5

Wednesday (5/21)
*Donny McCaslin @ 55 Bar (late)
Dream Theater, Opeth @ Terminal 5

Thursday (5/22)
Eric Clapton @ PNCBank Arts Center (Holmdel, NJ)
*Rashanim @ Stanton St. Shul
Beta Popes (Saft/Previte/Skerik) @ Tap Bar
Dream Theater, Opeth @ Terminal 5
Laura Veirs, Liam Finn @ Bowery Ballroom
Alice Smith @ Highline Ballroom
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad @ Crash Mansion
Eyal Maoz @ Tea Lounge (Brooklyn)

Friday (5/23):
*David Grisman Bluegrass Experience @ BB King's
Van Halen @ Madison Square Garden
Jennifer Hartswick Band @ Blue Note (late night)
Brooklyn Funk Essentials @ Highline Ballroom

Saturday (5/24)
*The New Deal @ Bowery Ballroom
Circus Mind @ Chesterfield's (Huntington, LI)
Hymns et al @ Piano's
DJ Le Spam & The Spam All-Stars @ SOB's
Melvin Sparks @ Blue Note (late night)

Sunday (5/25):
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
*Sun Ra Arkestra @ Sullivan Hall

Memorial Day (5/26)
*Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)
Oz Noy Trio @ Bitter End

Tuesday (5/27):
*Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band @ BB King's
Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors et al @ Fillmore (benefit)

Wednesday (5/28):
KT Turnstall @ Town Hall
*Edmar Castaneda @ 55 Bar (late)
David Bromberg @ BB King's
Joshua Light Show w/ I. Mori, Z. Parkins et al @ Issue Project Room (Brooklyn)
Adam Levy, Joy Askew @ Banjo Jim's
Chris Barron @ Bitter End
Kevn Kinney @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)

Thursday (5/29):
Dan Bern @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Sheryl Crow @ Summerstage
*Cyro Baptista & The Banquet of the Spirits @ Joe's Pub (early/late)
Dumpstaphunk @ Rocks Off Cruise aboard the Temptress
Kaki King @ Baruch College
Tab Benoit w/ Lipbone Redding @ sullivan Hall
Gent Treadly @ Flannery's
Pharoah's Daughter, Howard Fishman @ Banjo Jim's
Licorice et al @ Maxwell's (Hoboken)

Friday (5/30):
*Dan Bern @ Rubin Museum of Art
The Funky Meters @ BB King's
JJ Grey & Mofro @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Duran Duran @ Summerstage
The Moonlighters @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
The Raconteurs @ Terminal 5
Dr Claw = Krasno, Deitch, Neville et al @ Sullivan Hall (late night)
Marc Ribot's Spiritual Unity @ Issue Project Room (Brooklyn)
The Eagles @ Madison Square Garden
Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout @ 55 Bar (late)

Saturday (5/31)
*The Raconteurs @ Terminal 5
Clinic @ Bowery Ballroom
Dan Bern @ Tarrytown Music Hall (Tarrytown)
Duran Duran @ Summerstage

Sunday (6/1):
The Radiators @ Southpaw (Brooklyn)
Cyndi Lauper, B-52's @ Jones Beach (Wantagh, LI)
Bill Kreutzmann/Scott Murawski/Oteil Burbridge @ Rocks Off Cruise
aboard the Temptress
*What Made Milwaukee Famous, Hymns @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
The Raconteurs @ Terminal 5
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)

Click here for upcoming shows

15 May 2008

minimix: Shuffleupagus.6

Picked by fate itself... for you, in the order received. I think there's a message in there.


Download the mix

01 Sweet Emotion -- Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon: Sixty Six Steps (2005)
02 Heartland Truckstop -- Beth Orton: Comfort Of Strangers (2005)
03 SKJ -- Milt Jackson: Sunflower (1972)
04 Summer Babe -- Pavement: San Francisco, 23 April 1994
05 Blame It On The Sun -- Stevie Wonder: Talking Book (1972)
06 Not Fade Away (Reprise) -- Phil Lesh: Red Rocks 15 July 2005

Previously in minimix:

Links of the Week -- Tambor edition

Been a while since I endowed. Here are some things that might be worth checkin' out:

Review: The Jammy's

WaMu Theater at MSG, 7 May 2008

Day late and a dollar short on this one, but gotta get my two senses in... I saw my first and only Jammy's sale-a-bration in 2001 and stood aghast at what I witnessed at the Roseland Ballroom. So disgusted was I that night, that I swore I wouldn't return. But as 007 once warned -- never say never -- with my mug overfilling with Phish reminisces and the Jammy's giving 'em a "lifetime achievement" award well, I couldn't stay away. Well, actually, that's not true, I was planning wholeheartedly to stay away, far, far away; get away from me cootie finger, ten-foot-pole away. Then I got offered a free ticket -- so, whaddya got to lose, right? Wrong.

First the good. Yes, there was some good shit on display. You throw enough poo at the wall, some of it's gonna stick; or more appropriately, you wrap that diaper tight enough, not all the poo's gonna leak out.

First and foremost, the feeling returned. What feeling? The feeling I once got watching Trey do the Trey. It's more than just playing guitar, because even the greatest guitar playing doesn't make my stomach squirm like an 11-year-old girl reading Tiger Beat. Anastasio joined The Fab Faux on stage, walking out in anti-dramatic fashion midway through "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and proceeding, without pause, to bring the proverbial house down. Good lord, Trey is back. Or at least was back last Wednesday. His solo there and then how he went right ahead and no-big-deal topped it on the next number -- "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" -- were blog post worthy. For those moments, the Earth kicked back onto its true axis and everything was right again in the universe. Yes, that good. Again, this wasn't the best Trey ever, it just was Trey. It's been too long. Hopefully he will sustain it. Anyway, for that one, I give you a merit point, Jammy's -- inspired work getting Trey on stage and putting him in the right spot at the right time. Worth the train ticket...

There were other great moments, too. Less than I could count on my left hand, but still. I really enjoyed Rose Hill Drive pulling the surprise Flaming Lips cover. Hard to conceive that they would even try such a thing. The heavy power-trio blues became prog-popsters for a moment and did a pretty good job at it. Matisyahu came out midway through and did his thing. Usually, this would piss me off and I think most in the crowd were put off by it. Yeah, maybe it fell a little short of gloriousness, but it was interesting, it was risky, it was cool and it wasn't a disaster, by my estimation at least. That's saying a lot. Rose Hill Drive went from one zone-of-discomfort to another and actually killed it in both instances. Very impressed. That's what live music is all about. What's not so risky is having Leslie West come out for "Goin' Down" and "Mississippi Queen." Really, who gives a shit? West didn't sing so much as screamed and pretty much did the same thing with his guitar, not to mention his outfit. There are a million people out there who can turn their guitars way up and scream their way through these songs, why should I care about you, Mr. West? It's amazing how much he was out-talented and out-classed by the RHD guys. Sorry, had to be said. Summing up his appearance -- he finished his time on stage vamping a "Star Spangled Banner." Pathetic. That was the norm for most of the night.

The other great highlight came early on with the leadoff hitters -- the opening band which was Warren, Grace Potter, Joe Russo, Booker T and Will Lee on bass. See, that's not so hard is it? One of the best versions of Take Me to the River I've heard. Take a bunch of sick ass musicians, stir until well-mixed and let 'em loose like Templeton at the country fair. That's a sweet band any way you look at it. That short set got me so psyched for the rest of the night, that I forgot about why the Jammy's make my skin crawl inside out...

So, can I say that if I never see Dean Budnick in a tuxedo again, it'll be too soon? Really? This is how we represent this scene? I never understood why the "jam" scene felt the need to conform to the way the rest of the entertainment industry does business. Isn't the whole point of grassroots music to do things differently? Everything the Jammy's represents, from the beyond ridiculous awards (tour of the year?? song of the year?? really!?!?) to the plugging of sponsors, to the award presenters (for the most part -- I'll give you a pass, Gadiel!) is the complete antithesis to what this community strives for. It's funny how Phish was honored that night. A band that actually grew organically, did things by their own rules and succeeded because of it -- because the product was good. Ugh, I don't want to rant forever here, but certainly could. Hopefully you get the idea. We HATE the guys who do the Grammy's and Oscars and Emmy's and People's Choice Awards!! (Don't we?) Why on Earth do we want to become them in any way shape or form? This is the best we can do? Shoot me now.

And then the musical acts. Sure, they always look great on paper, but they so rarely succeed. One of the few bright moments for me was when Cornmeal won the award for best new/upcoming band. I've never heard them before, but the woman fiddle player who accepted the award was quick, concise and heartfelt. Later on when she joined the Tea Leaf Squeeze jam, she was easily the most revelatory part of that whole thing. She didn't step on anyone's toes, but picked her spots (without ever being offered a chance to solo) and outclassed and outplayed everyone else on that stage. And you know what, I'm psyched to check out Cornmeal now. That set perfectly illustrates what's wrong with the Jammy's (the show the Jammy's, not the concept of the Jammy's which should be taken out back and beat with a two-by-four) and yet what could be right. In the perfect world, Jambands and JamBase and Relix and the multimedia powerhouse that is Peter Shapiro would concentrate on bands we haven't heard of and pimp the shit out of them. The Cornmeals and the rest of 'em I haven't heard of yet. I want to know what I'm missing out on! Isn't the whole point of this community to turn people onto new and wonderful music? Or is it to trot out Chevy Chase with Keller Williams in the hopes that some mainstream media outfit will come to the show -- sponsored by Douchebag Guitars and WeLoveMoney.com -- and give it the coverage it so desperately wants and needs. Excuse me, stomach churning.

In sum: Dean Budnick in a rented suit. That's all you need to know. Please let me know why I'm wrong, and I'll tell you more why I'm right. I'm limiting myself before my veins start pulsing.

I hate you, Jammy's. I'm glad to see they're probably sticking a fork in you.

11 May 2008

Shows of the Week


Click here for upcoming shows


*Tegan & Sara @ Terminal 5
Meshell Ndegeocello @ Mercury Lounge (early)
Jean-Michel Pilc Trio/New Mellow Edwards @ Tap Bar
Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)
Oz Noy Trio @ Bitter End

Kanye West, Rihanna, N.E.R.D. @ Madison Square Garden
John Ellis @ Jazz Standard
*Todd Sickafoose's Blood Orange/Bill McHenry Quartet @ Tap bar
BB King/Papa Mali @ Bergen PAC (Englewood, NJ)
CRUX @ The Stone (late)
Golem @ Joe's Pub (late)

John Ellis @ Jazz Standard
*Jim White @ Knitting Factory (early)
Brad Shepik Trio/Josh Roseman's Constellations @ Tap Bar
Joan As Police Woman @ Mercury Lounge (early)
Perowskys & Leonharts @ Banjo Jim's
Chris Barron @ Bitter End

*Black Keys @ Terminal 5
Kid Rock & Lynyrd Skynyrd @ Madison Square Garden
A Big Yes... and a small no @ Union Hall (Brooklyn)
Taylor Eigsti Quartet w/ E. Castaneda @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Willie Waldmen Project/Gent Treadly @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
Todd Sickafoose's Blood Orange @ 55 Bar (late)

Jaik Miller Band @ The Bitter End (late)
*Kimock/Porter/Seals/Kimock @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
The Wood Brothers @ Tarrytown Music Hall (Tarrytown)
Victor Bravo et al @ Fontana's
Judy Collins @ Town Hall
Taylor Eigsti Quartet @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Menudo et al @ Blender Theater

Kimock/Porter/Seals/Kimock @ Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
*The Wood Brothers (w/ J. Medeski & K. Wolleson) @ Bowery Ballroom
RAQ @ Broad Street Ballroom (benefit)
McNeil/McHenry Quartet (CD release) @ Cornelia St. Cafe
Burnt Sugar, Brooklyn Qawwali Party @ Luna Lounge (Brooklyn)
Keith Sweat @ BB King's
Taylor Eigsti Quartet @ Jazz Standard (early/late)
Jonah Smith @ Joe's Pub (midnight)
Bobby Previte's New Bump @ Banjo Jim's (late)

Taylor Eigsti Quartet w/ D. McCaslin @ Jazz Standard (early/late)

Click here for upcoming shows

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago

Download Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit
11 May 1993 -- Cambridge, MA
part 1 part 2

It may surprise you to know that I saw bands besides Phish back when I was young, foolish and burly-bearded. Just tough to remember them all by date, etc. and rarer still that recordings are available to coax me through this. Although, it was tough to escape the gravity pull of the Vermont foursome, as you'll see. No, 15 years ago this evening, I was still successfully avoiding school work, back in Boston and getting my Zambi on with the Aquarium Rescue Unit. For a while there, it seemed the circadian rhythms of my live music going ticked to the periodic visits from Col. Bruce and company. I'll save the full-blown extolling of the virtues of an ARU show for another edition of Nedstalgia. For now, suffice it to say, the band came through town like clockwork twice a year and there was no way I'd miss them.

My first real Aquarium Rescue Unit show took me later than I'd have liked to Nightstages, a now-defunct Cambridge club. It was merely a week since seeing these guys rip it up with Phish on stage in Albany and I was psyched to get my full doctor-prescribed dose up-front-and-personal. The venue was about half-filled, but as I would learn over the next couple of years, there are very few people who make it to an ARU show by accident. The crowd was loose and due for a good time. This incarnation of the band still carried Matt Mundy on 'lectric Womandolin and Count Mbutu on percussion to round out the basic nucleus of Hampton/Burbridge/258/Herring.

It took me a little while to truly appreciate the magic of this band. The way they encapsulated everything that was pure and good about live music. That night, I was mostly just having a really great time. The level of freedom just blew me away that night and I became a lifelong fan by midway through the set. Listening to the tracks now, I can picture the room, the kinetic energy of the band, barely on a stage in front of the crowd. How much of what I was hearing that night I actually got and how much was just me being sucked in by the pure musicianship, the bisection of tightness and looseness that they tightrope-walked, the pure comedy of Col. Bruce (Jimmy Herring isn't really from Boston, Massachusetts, is he?) I couldn't say. All I can attest to is that I was dancing from note #1 and kept it up until the wee hours.

Then, somewhere towards mid-set, someone tapped me on the shoulder and gave me the "look over yonder" look while I was dancing. I gave a look in yonder's direction and standing right next to me was none other than Jon Fishman. Didn't I just leave you guys? A quick look-around of the room revealed that Mike Gordon was also hanging out, not as close to the music, but certainly digging it. That was the first of what would be regular sightings of those guys, especially Mike who was local at the time and had no qualms about getting out to see live music. That was very cool. Of course, it would take 3 more ARU shows with the two of us in attendance before he would get the nerve to jump on stage... with mediocre results, but that's a story for another time.

Fishman, on the other hand, was game for anything. I'll never forget dancing to ARU next to that guy -- weird because he he was wearing "civilian" attire, dancing like the goofy Syracuse-raised Jew he was, and because he was much shorter from that proximity than I remembered. Anyway, one moment he's dancing there, big fat tour's-over grin on his face, the next he's up on stage playing on Mbutu's percussion kit. Then my first taste of the surreality of Col. Bruce came to pass. You see, something about Bruce Hampton makes weird shit go down. The band is jamming in total full-Unit trance with Fishman laying into it and having a blast and some guy -- either a Nightstage employee or promoter or manager -- appears before the stage with a vacuum in his hand. Not an Electrolux, mind you, or anything even approximating that... it was, if I recall correctly, a little hand-held DirtDevil with a hose attachment on it. I kind of laughed at the sight of this guy holding it up in front of Fishman, almost cringing with embarrassment for the fella; that is, until I saw Jon's eyes light up and quickly grab for the thing. We truly were in bizarro world -- or should I say Zambiland? -- as Fishman played a mini-vacuum solo (mini is both the size of the vacuum and the size of the solo). Of course, the rest of the band is not fazed by this at all. I can only imagine what it is that might have given them pause back then, but it would have had to have been something utterly intergalactically nutty to get Jimmy or Oteil to break stride. Space is the place, baby... no doubt. Crazy, listening back to this, the vacuum solo seems so much more at place in the middle of an Aquarium Rescue Unit than anywhere else; this is downright psychedelic.

The rest of the show is pretty damn good. Highlights from my latter day listen are certainly the trippy "Elevator to the Moon" and the outerlimits Zambi. It's great to listen to this old school ARU, though, the raw energy of Jimmy's guitar playing... he was always sickness, but he's come a long way since those old training-with-Yoda days. Egads, this guitar solo in Time Is Free is, um, not sure I have the word for it. "Sick"? That'll do. The presence of Mundy gave the old school Aquarium Rescue Unit a real bluegrass dimension it kind of evolved out of in later years. But the Herring/Mundy/Hampton/Oteil guitar/mandolin/chazoid/bass string-o-rama brings thing to another dimension completely. Listening to that, you understand why these guys had a song called "Too Many Guitars" on their 2nd album. But that had to be tongue in cheek. There was never too many of anything at an ARU show.

And nothing ever that was too out either. The Zambi/Space Is the Place (DirtDevil solo inclusive) got things to that early-morning place that only these guys knew how to coax out of a small crowd and probably was enough to send us on our way -- a good 90 minutes of uninterrupted extraterrestrial travel. But the crowd was persistent for an encore and were granted one of the odder extra-stanzas I've seen when Mbutu and Sipe came back out with Oteil on drumsticks and they just played a little three-way drum/percussion solo. Weird, but still: more please.

08 May 2008

minimix: Phishtalgia.4 spring93 Groovin'

Let's sum up the spring 1993 15-year Nedstalgia (catch the fever!) by taking it to Weekapaug. Enjoy

Download the mix

01 Weekapaug Groove > 02 Makisupa Policeman > 03 Weekapaug Groove -- 29 April 1993
04 Weekapaug Groove 23 April 1993
05 Weekapaug Groove > 06 Amazing Grace > 07 Weekapaug Grace 8 May 1993

Previously in minimix:
Phishtalgia 1

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago (part 3)

part 1
part 2

Which brings us to the tour closer. 5/8/93. I run the risk of rambling on a bit too much, but I'm willing to take that risk. So proceed with caution.

I have reason to say I'm strongly biased, but the winter/spring tour of 1993 was not just some of the best Phish I saw, but some of the best music I saw. I was lucky to see a good chunk of it, but of course, I missed more great stuff than I witnessed (2/20/93 anyone?). I do thank the way the stars aligned though, allowing me to see 10 shows over the course of February/April/May including 3 of the first 4 of the first part of the tour and 3 of the last 4 at the end. If Phish was a little Jewish boy, that spring was the preparation for the transition to manhood, and the show in Durham, NH on 5/8/93 was the ceremony, the blessing, the Bar Mitzvah itself. They started the tour as children in the world of live music and finished triumphant as a man... hair sprouting on their upper lip and nasty, nasty jamming sprouting from just about everywhere else.

Phish has always been a top notch organization from the musicians on down. This includes the shows they've opted to release from their archives. You would have trouble making the argument that any of their releases thus far have been a mistake. So, there's no question that a show like UNH 93 would get the archive treatment (not to mention the filler which includes the ARU jam from 5/5 -- sick!). This is just, flat-out, one of the better shows you're going to find. Listening to it again (and again, and again) I am struck by the mix of 4-on-the-floor jamming, the inventive segues, the goofy asides, the bustouts and breakouts and mostly the earnestness with which they thank their crew and their fans at the end of a long slough through the mud of making it in the music biz.

There are really no weak spots in this show, no chinks in the armor of awesomeness they laid down that night. The room was a small fieldhouse. I remember getting there and immediately making my way toward the venue waiting to get in. The fewer people between me and the stage the better. My intuitions that I would not want to miss a gesture were correct.

You really should make the investment in this show -- buy the CD's or download the mp3's, but you owe it to yourself as a music fan to be involved. The playing is astounding. You know it's good by the way thing just slip into something else without a thought. The way two friends or soulmates fall into a routine not because their lives are boring, but because their knowledge and intimacy is so exciting that it's 100% natural and effortless, that's the way the band played that night. I count 5 different "sandwiches" -- where one song drops into another one and comes back again. These guys were pulling out all the stops to make the show special and succeeding on all levels.

My favorite moments from that night include the thanks to the crew and the dedication of Satin Doll. Who ever thinks about seeing that song? And then, there it is. The Reba is just vicious from this night. The second set opener of Bowie, when Page and Mike kind of tease around with the Allmans' "Jessica" and we're standing there in the crowd wondering how hard they're going to bite on the bait... and then they chomp at it and it's on. That was fun. When they finally get to Bowie, I'll never forget the way the vocals were set up to echo over and over "David Bowie Bowie Bowie Bowie" -- I was convinced it was just the crowd singing that (that's what I was doing) until it was pointed out to me after the show that it was an effect. This version is another that is just jaw dropping. I've given myself the pleasure of listening to these CD's a few times this week and can't get over this jam which breaks down perfectly into Have Mercy before coming to a blistering finale.

I could go on about everything from that night. Squirming Coil had become such a chore for me when I'd see it played, but that night, they invigorated it with a full-out bluesy jam. It was as if they could not let an opportunity slip by and not jam the shit out of it. And every time they grabbed hold of something it worked out perfectly. It's like walking along and every time you see something shiny on the ground you bend down to pick up a silver dollar as opposed to a gum wrapper. Everything worked. The debut of Crossroads -- using the term "debut" loosely, they didn't return to it for a couple of years -- was another pleasant surprise. They'd obviously rehearsed it and it was fun. What else can we pack in here, what else?

Easily my favorite part of the night was when Weekapaug Groove slowed down and slowed down and the band kept playing as they brought it down, down, down until they were all standing in front of the crowd. There was no doubt what they would sing. You see, the theme of the tour was "Amazing Grace." They played it so many times it'd be ridiculous to count. If you had to sum up the jammingest, most free-form, exhaustingly creative tour of their career up to that point, it'd be with an a capella version of a church song. And yet, that was it, the constant thread in a mishmash tapestry of the inconstancy of Phish. But this being Phish, of course, it couldn't just be that to end the tour. So, as soon as they were finished, Trey brought his guitar back up front and Page and Fish returned to their battle stations and they paid tribute to their tour as best they could -- by jamming the crap out of Amazing Grace. I call it Weekapaug Grace and consider it a return to the Weekapaug, a perfect sandwich topper. Lemme tell you, to watch Trey just blazes away at this one still brings a little tear to my eye. If I could bottle up the sheer joy, the endorphins releasing into my bloodstream at that moment, the drips of sweat making their way down my limbs, the energy I was creating by dancing my ass off at that moment. I'm quite sure I'd live forever. That good. L'chaim!

They came back and what would they encore with? How could they top that closer, that set, that tour? AC/DC Bag. Sweet! It was pretty rare back then and I hadn't seen it through my first 19+ shows. In fact, I remember being bummed when I saw they had played it the night before the Albany run. Those days I would chase songs like a birder chases a rare breed, checking them off on my list every time and then hunting for the ones I needed to fill in the gaps. Eventually I hit most of them, but at that moment, the song I most wanted to see, the top of that list was AC/DC Bag. So many moments along the way I had that feeling -- the same feeling I suspect most die hard Phish fans felt -- that the band was playing for me. That every look and gesture was meant for me and every setlist choice was telling me something. It was a way they had, a connection. It was the Kool Aid and I was drinking it. So, to encore after all that in my 20th show with the song I wanted to hear, to top off one of the best shows I'd seen to date.... well, every Bar Mitzvah needs to end with a party favor. That was mine.

And like all great parties, this one was especially fun because everyone was there. Pretty much anyone I'd ever listened to a Phish show on a Maxell XLII with at school was there close up to the front, plus all the folk I had met along the way... even the annoying UVM folk who had a perceived-by-me holier-than-thou air. And of course, the band. Within minutes of the last notes of AC/DC, Mike was out front like he often was, just chatting with the audience, like pillow talk in the afterglow of simultaneous orgasm. Never one to try and horn my way in with the band and their minions, still felt I had to just say thanks. Walked over to the guy and patted him on the back and said a quick "thanks" only to find he was still drenched in sweat from the calisthenic experience he had just gone through on stage. I still remember being struck by that -- the tour was over, it was time to go home, they had just melted the paint off the walls of the place, and here he was, not even having changed his shirt, mingling with the crowd with that big goofy smile on his face. Nothing like it.

Manhood begins.

Thanks for reading.

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago (part 2)

Albany 6 May 1993
part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

part 1 (5/5/93) here

The next night was back in Albany, back with my friends up front... Beth and the other girl who's name I can't remember and that other dude who would disappear after a while only to be replaced by another batch of crazies. Crazies like me. Seemed like I was the constant there for a while.

Anyway, this show was a more solid effort from top to bottom, underappreciated perhaps due to the lack of the entire Aquarium Rescue Unit coming on stage and dropping their proverbial trousers. But the second night, the band was all around more adventurous. A blistering Fluffhead was a standout from the first set sandwiched by some nice jamming in Llama and Possum. At that point the tenor of the evening changed when a couple bluegrassers on fiddle and guitar hopped on stage and led the band through some traditional numbers as well as a unique take on Lawn Boy. Two nights in a row, two sets of guests, two completely different directions. How could you not love this band? Apparently, the tale was told, was that the band (or maybe just Trey) had met these guys on vacation and casually said something like "next time we're in Albany, come play with us." So they just showed up at the stage door sometime during the day like lost puppies looking for a gig. Luckily for us, I guess.

The second set started off strong with an early Tweezer to get the room nice and smoky. But my real memory came in the Mike's Song later on. The great thing about Mike's back then was the combination of the smoke and the strobe lights and the trampolines. The band would be raging behind a thick cloud of smoke and when you were up front you were "in the cloud" as I like to say. There was a distinct smell to that smoke that still gives me the "sick shit is coming" chills when I smell it, not to mention a weird chill. On top of that Trey and Mike were bouncing to some celestial clock on their tramps. All this while strobe lights played some sort of reverse synesthesia on our souls enhancing the sound and possibly firing our synapses for us. So essentially, for those of us up front at least 4 if not 5 senses are being triggered at once and the result is spontaneous combustion. At least it was for me. On this night, though, things got strange. Midway through the jam a figure appeared between Trey and Mike and then when the sound of a fiddle entered the mix, I realized it was Dick Solberg joining along for more fun. This guy was a trip as he started jumping up and down -- tramp-less -- between the two trampolines bouncing and playing in time with the rest of the gang. With the smoke swirling around the entire outfit, it was perfect. As the cloud started to part, the dog chased its tail into a sweet jam centered on the Beatles' "Ob La Di Ob La Da." What a moment!

It was unfortunate they didn't build on that little jam, because Solberg was obviously game for anything. Still, the couple more bluegrass numbers they rounded out the set with were pretty nice and tidied up a real sweet two-night stint in Albany. Of course, the band would come to relish the two night stand in the New York State capital and, we can argue, played some of their best shit there. But those are stories for another day...

Nedstalgia: 15 Years Ago (part 1)

Don't worry, one more Phish post, then you're off the hook until the summertime...

First off, download these (yeah, SBD's):
Albany 5 May 1993
part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

Albany 6 May 1993
part 1 part 2 part 3 part 4

& go buy this:
UNH 8 May 1993

Catch up on the Spring 1993 Phishtalgia:
Montreal > Hartford

The last three shows I caught in the Spring 93 smorgasbord were during the first week of May, smack dab in the middle of finals. So what? Phish shows beckoned. These being 3 of the last four for the tour, there was no way I was missing them.

May 5th & 6th found me in Albany at the Palace Theater hugging close to the orchestra pit in front of the stage. The first night of the Albany shows pretty much begins and ends with the You Enjoy Myself. Setting the stage briefly, the first set was really quite lame -- the most predictable, circa 1993 setlist you could imagine. During set break I was talking to a friend from college and his buddy and the guy noticed something on the side of the stage. "That's Oteil!" he said. Indeed, it was the entire Aquarium Rescue Unit. I remembered how my brother was going to see them that week in Syracuse, so it added up that they were around. Most importantly, they seemed poised to play -- Oteil had a bass strapped to his back and the rest of the gang were scoping out the situation. As Mr Burns would say: Exxxxcellent!

The second set featured a cliff-drop from the My Friend outro into my first Manteca that came out of nowhere only to return to the My Friend singing. Awesome. Later in the set, during Yamar, Trey gave a shout out to his then-girlfriend who was standing over to the side in the eaves dancing to the show. I remember thinking how cool that was as he dropped into some Spin Doctor's Two Princes vamping. Really, though, I was just waiting to see when ARU was coming out. Patience, patience, patience.

Finally they busted into You Enjoy Myself. There was no doubt in my mind... this was it. The song seemed to develop even more slowly than ever in my mind. I was watching the band closely for subtle clues. When Trey and Mike moved to the trampolines, Trey starting looking over to the side of the stage and playing riffs from the ARU standard "Yield Not To Temptation" over and over. It was like he was mentally willing them onto the stage. And then, they were there.

The results were better than I could have hoped. For your sake, I pray you've heard this jam before and if not, find it and listen to it posthaste -- I'll wait. Got it? You with me? There's a wonderful sense of controlled anarchy that comes through in the recording, but I assure you things seemed totally out of control watching it go down. Gloriously so. The first thing that happened was Jeff "Apt Q258" Sipe taking control of Fishman's drum kit where he'd hold court the entire jam. Now, Sipe is about twice the height of Jonny B and so you can imagine him like an oversized octopus at the kit. This served to somehow make everything he did twice as intense and twice as hard. Nice way to get the jam rolling. Gordon also immediately ceded control of the low end to Oteil Burbridge. It's funny but there were many instances during this period -- spring/summer/fall 93 -- when I saw Mike Gordon in the presence of Oteil and it was quite clear to me that he was in complete awe of Big O's bass playing. Looking back, it's a completely ridiculous thing to think about, but Mike was clearly intimidated by the scatting bandit. Suffice it to say, his violet was a shrinking one that night in Albany, he scurried over to Page's piano and either threw in a chord or two on the keyboards or pretended like that's what he was doing. To Fishman's credit, at least he stayed in the game, going through his bucket of toys, bringing out spare cymbals, his washboard and eventually his vacuum.

That left the big boys who seemed to go around and around, sometimes feeling out an all-band groove and then occasionally creeping into nooks and crannies of the noise to feel out some solos and melodies. Herring took a few, Trey took a few. At one point Trey also put down his guitar scrambling across the stage with his megaphone or just hitting some cymbals. This essentially left ARU standing -- Herring, Oteil, Coubt Mbutu playing on a conga (it was BYOC) and Sipe laying down the nasty underneath. It was cool to watch Herring since he was playing Trey's spare Languedoc, so occasionally on the tape, it might be hard to tell who's who. For Trey's part, he was doing a good job getting into that Aquarium Rescue Unit mode, actually channeling Jimmy's tone and style quite nicely.

The jam had a little bit of everything, eventually Col. Bruce joined the fray as well. Not to sing but just to proceed over the proceedings. He actually grabbed Fishman's trombone from behind his kit and started playing into a drum microphone. He truly is the shaman of jam music. His presence alone seemed to will the amazing music being made. And it really was amazing. It's one thing to just have a jam session, it's another to do it with that high caliber of musicians. There was no toe-stepping, no "you go, then I go" -- it was just Phish playing the gracious hosts and the ARU boys taking advantage of the stage and doing there best to be team players.

Vacuum solos, scat-bass solos, twisting changes, megaphone screaming... there was a little bit of everything in that jam. Eventually, Albany native, The Dude of Life came on stage and just brought things to the freak-out level. He was singing and dancing around and actually took his car keys out of his pocket and starting rattling them in the microphone to be some small part of the action. Finally and surprisingly, he was the one who kind of coalesced the hairiness of it all, laying down some of that whacked out poetry he might call lyrics. This brought everyone together and provided an out. Somehow they ended the madness and were able to maintain their dignity. We even got to see a little Jimmy-vs-Trey shred-off which knocked that must-see off my list early in my career.

What a thing to witness at all... from close proximity, I will never forget. The clock on the mp3 says over 30 minutes of not-a-moment-to-catch-yer-breath insanity. (and yet it felt short at the time!) We all knew it was something special. The set seemed short to end there, so the encore featured another one of those off-center sandwiches, when they followed their traditional spring 93 tour encore of Amazing Grace with Cavern. Seemed like too pedestrian a way to end a show that contained that within its borders. Sure enough, Trey felt the same way, as they were working through the opening verses of Cavern, Trey payed a visit to the other three guys whispering something in the ears. The looks he got back were invariable nods but of the "whatever you say, Trey!" variety. When they dropped into a dead-right-turn "Take the A-Train" in the middle of Cavern on Trey's cue, their confused looks made all the sense in the world. Luckily, the band was in a 3-month-long fugue state and could do little wrong and so it was pulled off with nary a hitch, a full version of some jazz standard and then back into Cavern to enclose the meat and make it easy to eat. Nice work boys. See you tomorrow...

07 May 2008

Review: The Musical Box

IMAC, Huntington, NY 2 May 2008 (late set)

OK, time to get geeky on y'all!

When music became MUSIC to me, I believe it was Genesis that did done the trick. It started with at-the-time present day Invisible Touch and moved backwards through time until it hit the wall at From Genesis to Revelation. My bar mitzvah money helped round out the collection and it was a revelation. I've been hooked ever since. So much so that I was able to get my eventual wife hooked nearly as good.

It didn't take much prodding when the calendar/babysitting fell into place to get the Big Squeeze to join me for The Musical Box just up the street in the village of Huntington. I've been wanting to check these guys out for a long time but have always put it off for one reason or another. Mostly due to timing and the fact that they charged an arm and a leg to see the "authorized" recreation of the Genesis experience. Never again will I make that mistake.

The show was billed as a "Selling England By the Pound" show, which I thought meant they would just be playing the album straight through. Turns out, I was completely wrong. What they did was recreate, down to the smallest detail, the show that Genesis toured on when they were promoting that album. I'm pretty sure the set was either the same every night or close to it, so it could have been any show from that tour in 1973. The whole concept is incredibly nerdy and inside if it wasn't for the pure earnestness of the "band" and their amazing ability to transport.

I'm not even sure I can characterize the event Friday night as a "concert." It was like being shrunk down Incredible Journey-style and planted in the cover art to "Genesis Live" or a photograph. Who's to say we weren't back 35 years during those two hours at the IMAC. I can't prove we were here in 2008. It certainly didn't feel like it. You see, The Musical Box is authorized which sounds like ridiculous ad copy come-on, but really means that they had unlimited access to the Genesis archives. They knew exactly how the lights and effects were done, what type and model of keyboards Tony Banks used, what pedals Mike Rutherford ran his bass through, what costumes Peter Gabriel wore for which songs, what psychedelic monologues he would babble between songs, which songs were played when and on and on. This was a historical recreation, the prog-rock equivalent of a Civil War re-enactment. The band and the audience were living players in a museum piece. To describe it is to tell a tale of something cold and lifeless, to participate in it was one of the most exciting concert experiences I've ever had.

Of course, it isn't for everyone, but if it's for you, I cannot recommend it enough. When we got home I looked at the cover to "Genesis Live" and remembered how often I'd wished I could have seen this band, Gabriel-era Genesis, play live, to experience what it was like, not just a concert of songs I loved but a full out show, a Broadway-style performance. Now when I looked at that cover, I saw not a band from three decades ago, but the band I saw that night-- it was an almost identical scene. "Gabriel" standing in full black unitard with a triangular glow-in-the-blacklight headpiece on. The rest of the band encircling him in white, reflecting the blacklight with stoic zeal. You can see a piece of Banks' rig and it was identical to what his Musical Box counterpart was playing. For all I know, the folding chair that Steve Hackett was sitting in was of the same brand and style as the guitarist was sitting in on Friday.

Most important was the music, no doubt. The playing was note-for-note, tone-for-tone total recall of the versions from the albums. That might be perceived as cheesy or nothing-brewing, but for these tunes, their flavor, their complexity, their energy, it was like an orchestra merely recreating a Beethoven symphony. I would close my eyes and feel like I was alive within the music I had listened to over and over and over for the past 20 years. It was absolutely thrilling. They opened with Watcher of the Skies and I got chills down all four limbs as if something supernatural was going on. The playing was as if they had reached into the vinyl LP and somehow pulled out the music into a 3-D living, breathing entity. I couldn't believe how they got every single detail right. It was wicked to watch and listen, to see where those noises were coming from, the way it all mixed up in the air and made magic. The way the lights and the backdrop and the antics of the Peter Gabriel enhanced the effect to a dizzying degree.

The number of levels that I was appreciating the show cannot be counted. At the base level, the band was just really good. You cannot just take anyone and make this music and make it sound as good as the way it sounded when it was laid down on tape. Everyone was phenomenal, I couldn't single anyone out. The keyboardist was more studied, but of course, he had the most complex pieces to play. The Mike Rutherford bassist/guitarist seemed to be the most "into it," feeling grooves where it would appear there was nothing groovy to feel. I've always felt Rutherford was an underappreciated bass player, if only for his folly of ditching it to become a mediocre guitar player and an even more mediocre bandleader... yes the same guy who brought you "Mike & The Mechanics" was once a sick-ass bassist. His style was replicated perfectly, a plunky, blaring low end that almost approximated a bass banjo if such a thing exists. The one guy who was a bit off was the drummer. Oh, everything he played was fine or even better than fine, but it wasn't exact to the recorded versions -- I imagine it's quite difficult to do that, if not entirely annoying -- but it did catch me off guard every once in a while. For that, I was thankful.

The playing was fantastic, and that just made me love these songs even more. They did most of the "big ones" off Selling England: Dancing With the Moonlight Knight, I Know What I Like, Firth of Fifth, Cinema Show, as well as The Musical Box, Watcher of the Skies and an unbelievably accurate Supper's Ready. Just to pull that off is a miracle. Wow! They encored with Return of the Giant Hogweed. Perfect. Every single one. So the mind is just racing, thinking about the music, the playing, the feat of recreation, the intense visuals, the word-for-word monologues from our Peter Gabriel, layers upon layers upon layers. Funny to listen to these ramblings and realize how sexual Gabriel and the music was.

The thing about the lights and the costumes was how well such effects held up. Of course, everything was lo-fi having been used 35 years ago, but the projections, strobes and the use of black lights was actually pretty sweet and as relevant as any computer-controlled effects you see today. Genesis was incredibly innovative on this front. One of my favorite touches was how "Peter Gabriel" had his face blanched white but around his eyes was a squirrel's mask that only appeared in black light. There was also a moment where he took the black light and held it up in front of him creating an eerie glow around the stage.

I don't feel like I'm doing the show justice, but in reality I don't think I can put into words how truly special it was. There were moments -- several in each song -- where the combination of all the elements overwhelmed me... it's weird to think about how listening to music can cause a physical reaction like chills down your spine or goosebumps up and down your arms, but that's what happened again and again. The outro to Firth of Fifth, the midsection of Cinema Show, the opening strumming of Watcher of the Skies... I've heard them all before, but never had I been so moved. By the end I felt like I had been on an out-of-body experience that even the Long Island late-set meatheads couldn't shake me from.

There are things in life that you accept you will never experience, almost by syllogism, things we can only read about, or learn about through recordings or photographs. Seeing an old Genesis shows was always on my list of "wouldn't that have been cool...." Now I feel like I've been there and lived it. Certainly, I still haven't, but I'm not sure how much better it would be to go back in time and see the real thing. It's a bizarre feeling that I still haven't quite wrapped my head around, but it is a good feeling. I would say you've got to go see these guys, but you probably already know whether this is for you or not. If you think it might be, it almost certainly is. I am looking forward to seeing them again... hopefully performing Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

04 May 2008

Shows of the Week

An admittedly incomplete look at the shows this week.


Click here for upcoming shows

Lou Reed @ Highline Ballroom
Les Paul @ Iridium (early/late)

Jay Z, Mary J Blige @ Madison Square Garden
The Musical Box @ Highline Ballroom
David Binney w/ W. Krantz, T. Lefebvre, D. Weiss @ 55 bar (late)
Haden/Iverson/Motian @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Flight of the Conchords @ Town Hall
Joe Lovano Nonet @ Dizzy's (early/late)
*Jenny Scheinman @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)

Haden/Iverson/Motian @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
The Jammy Awards @ WaMu Theater
Hymns et al @ Annex
Matisyahu, John Zorn et al @ Radio City Music Hall
*Rose Hill Drive @ Mercury Lounge (late)
Joe Lovano Nonet @ Dizzy's (early/late)
Galactic @ BB King's (late night)
Flight of the Conchords @ Town Hall
Jay Z, Mary J Blige @ Madison Square Garden

Clinic @ Music Hall (Brooklyn)
Joe Lovano Nonet @ Dizzy's (early/late)
Honeytribe @ BB King's
*Dr. Dog @ Mercury Lounge
Haden/Iverson/Motian @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Jamie Saft, Fly, Tony Scherr et al @ Living Room (benefit)
Bob Schneider @ Kntting Factory
Sylvie Courvoisier w/ M. Feldman et al @ Roulette
Sting, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Feist, Brian Wilson et al @ Carnegie
Hall (benefit)
Adam Levy @ Rockwood Music Hall (late)

Erykah Badu w/ the Roots @ Radio City Music Hall
*Haden/Iverson/Motian @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Ozomatli @ Fillmore
Smokey's Roundup @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Joe Lovano Nonet @ Dizzy's (early/late)
Eyal Maoz Crazy Slavic Music Band @ The Stone (early)

*Erik Friedlander @ Roulette
Haden/Iverson/Motian @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Mamie Minch @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (early)
Toubab Krewe @ Bldner Theater
Joe Lovano Nonet @ Dizzy's (early/late)
Scott Hard Benefit @ Living Room
FREE BuzzUniverse @ Washington Square Park

The Quavers @ Barbes (brooklyn) (early)
Joe Lovano Nonet @ Dizzy's (early/late)
Haden/Iverson/Motian @ Village Vanguard (early/late)
Lettuce @ Bowery Ballroom
John Zorn Improv night @ The Stone (early/late)
*NYC Taper Anniversary show @ Piano's
Stephane Wrembel @ Barbes (Brooklyn) (late)
Martin Bisi w/ J. Zorn, B. Laswell et al @ Knitting Factory

Click here for upcoming shows

01 May 2008

minimix: Weekend Preview NOLA style

There's really only one place where music matters this weekend, so this is for those who are there and those who aren't. A taste of some of that Nawlins flavor you might taste this weekend (or last). Enjoy!

Download the mix

01 Tipitina -- Dr. John: 11 June 1973
02 Ya Ya -- Anders Osborne: 21 Feb 2007
03 Klip Klop -- New Orleans Klezmer All Stars: The Big Kibosh (1998)
04 Go-Go -- Galactic: 17 January 1997
05 Congo Square -- Sonny Landreth: Grant Street (2005)
06 Ain't Nothin' But A Party -- Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Medicated Magic (2002)

Previously in minimix:
Weekend Preview... Get the Led Out (2/8/08)
Weekend Sampler
ACL '07 Preview
Weekend in Preview (7/4/07)
Week In Preview (4/16/07)
Weekend Sampler (1/18/07)