Tag Archives: Jerry Garcia

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Phil Lesh – SummerStage – August 30, 2017

August 31st, 2017


Photos courtesy of Jeremy Ross | jeremypross.com

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Wilco Are Reliably Terrific in Closing Out a Four-Night Run

March 23rd, 2017

Wilco – Beacon Theatre – March 22, 2017

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There is plenty of debate these days about what makes America great, but for some things there is no argument, no matter what you believe. There is greatness in American monuments and symbols—Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, rock and roll. Over the past couple of decades, few bands have been able to claim the mantle of the “great American rock band” quite like Wilco have. Last night at the Beacon Theatre, Jeff Tweedy and Co., closing out the last of four sold-out shows, proved that they certainly belong on the Mount Rushmore of present-day American rock bands.

Trees painted on either side and rolling hills behind, the stage evoked a rustic setting, a bucolic countryside scene, even though the band and audience were smack dab on Broadway in one of the busiest cities in the world. Wilco’s sound captured this all-American city mouse/country mouse vibe from the start, alt-country meets explosive rock and roll. Early on, Tweedy’s voice was front and center, the crowd hanging on each syllable, while he sang material from the band’s newest, Schmilcolike “Normal American Kids,” while guitarist Nels Cline danced Garcia-esque licks into the packed venue. A few songs in, however, the band picked up steam, drummer Glenn Kotche and bassist John Stirratt chugging alongside Cline and Tweedy’s guitars, a pair of tractor trailers plowing down the open road of the U.S. Interstate on rockers like “Side with Seeds” and “At Least That’s What You Said.”

A Wilco show is as reliable as another American landmark, Old Faithful. You know the eruption is coming, but that doesn’t it make it any less impressive when it arrives, like clockwork. Wednesday night, as is often the case, the pressure-relief came during “Impossible Germany,” Cline gushing geothermal guitar licks, while the audience looked on in awe. Still, perhaps the set’s all-encompassing highlight may have been “Via Chicago,” Wilco channeling the great American poet, Whitman, very large and containing multitudes, overlapping Tweedy’s own soft-sung poetry with a barbaric yawp of guitars and drums. Before the set ended, they made sure to serve up their version of the all-American diet of meat and potatoes in the form of crowd favorites “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “I’m the Man Who Loves You.” The 30-plus-minute double encore was an almost let’s-play-two run-through of the band’s history, songs old and new, including, naturally, “Red-Eyed and Blue.” Preceding the end of the set, Tweedy, who was relatively quiet with the banter all night, said, “We’ve got no time for fucking pessimism.” And it doesn’t get much more American than that. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

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A Double Psychedelic Shot of Melvin Seals and JGB This Weekend

March 3rd, 2016

Melvin Seals (vocals and organ) was already known as a talented performer, recording artist and producer before becoming a longtime member of the Jerry Garcia Band in 1980. But even with the iconic Grateful Dead frontman’s passing more than 20 years ago, Seals, Shirley Starks (vocals), Cheryl Rucker (vocals), Pete Lavezzoli (drums), Dave Hebert (guitar and vocals) and John-Paul McLean (bass) have much more than capably continued the band’s legacy as Melvin Seals and JGB (above, performing “Let It Rock”)—taking concertgoers on a psychedelic musical journey that includes rock, gospel, soul and R&B that’s never the same from night to night. And to that end, they’ll play two totally different shows on Friday night at the Capitol Theatre and then on Saturday at Brooklyn Bowl. All you’ve got to do is pick which to attend. You can’t go wrong.

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Catch Alt-Folkie Andrew St. James Tonight at Mercury Lounge

January 20th, 2016

Inspired by Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter—and at just 18—alt-folkie Andrew St. James released his debut full-length, Doldrums (stream it below), in 2013. American Songwriter noted it for the San Francisco singer’s “great lyrics.” St. James (above, doing “Nightmares Pt. 17” for Balcony TV) put out a follow-up, The Shakes (stream it below), a year later. And according to Amazon Music, despite still a teenager “his music sounds like the work of a time-worn troubadour…. Fans of Ryan Adams and the Flaming Lips alike will find a kindred spirit in James.” Now winding down an East Coast swing, St. James plays Mercury Lounge tomorrow night.

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You Don’t Have to Go to Chicago to See Dead 50 This Weekend

July 2nd, 2015

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This weekend, the “core four” remaining members of the Grateful DeadPhil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann—celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary—Dead 50—by performing together for the last time on 7/3, 7/4 and 7/5 at Soldier Field. The famed Chicago football stadium holds a special place in the hearts of Dead fans as it was the location of the very last Grateful Dead show with beloved frontman Jerry Garcia. Of course it wouldn’t be the Dead without a little help from their friends. So rather than going it alone, the “core four” are joined by Trey Anastasio on guitar, Bruce Hornsby on piano and Jeff Chimenti on keys. The Dead just played two additional shows over the weekend in Santa Clara, Calif., to pretty much universal acclaim. Per Billboard, “Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Arrives & Thrives with Trey Anastasio on the Side.” Not to be outdone, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed, “Otherworldly? Yes. Worthy of praise? Most certainly. So expertly imagined as to suggest not just a reunion but a continuation, this was the Dead ideal, communal, filled with a generosity of spirit that united stage and seats.” This weekend will be one of the biggest musical reunions in the history of musical reunions, which, of course, means lots of people got shut out from attending. But no worries, because with the eyes of the world cast upon Chicago, you won’t miss a thing: All three shows will be simulcast in their entirety at Brooklyn Bowl, the Capitol Theatre and Bearsville Theater, and the last night will also be simulcast at the Space at Westbury.

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Woods Take Rough Trade NYC on a Musical Excursion

June 17th, 2015

Woods – Rough Trade NYC – June 16, 2015

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It was just another mind-bending, sensory-delight Tuesday night at Rough Trade NYC. Quilt got things going with an excellent set centered around new material from their upcoming album. The Boston quartet operated comfortably in that place where Rubber Soul flips over to Revolver, with two-, three- and four-part harmonies infusing a full complement of psychedelic guitar, bass and drums. By the time their set finished, the room was filled and in the proper headspace for the headliners, Woods.

The woods are a great place to hide, so many good spots to disappear and from which to reappear. During their superlative set last night, hometown band Woods showed they had plenty hiding within: at various points there was a folkie singer-songwriter, a full-fledged rock band, an earnest indie and a powerhouse jam band lurking onstage. They opened with a pair of more song-oriented pieces—“Leaves Like Grass” and “Cali in a Cup”—singer Jeremy Earl giving all indie-folk stars a run for their money with his wind-in-the-trees voice and evocative lyricism. A new sound popped out of its hiding spot during “Pushing Onlys” leading to the first of many extended jams. This one featured nebulous, Technicolor zaps of guitar fired across the stage and out into the sold-out crowd.

With eye-melting lights from Drippy Eye Projections it was impossible to decouple the music from the colorful liquid projections. Woods’ jams seemed to trace the curvature of the emulsions, spiraling and bubbling with a hallucinogenic rainbow. These musical excursions took on many flavors: from the milk-in-coffee slow-curling vortices of guitar and organ around bass to the being-chased-down-by-a-cougar gnashing two-guitar rock-out to the full-band space exploration. The set closed with two ragers from last year’s With Light and with Love. “Moving to the Left” embodied everything Woods in just one song, fantastic composition, with a great Jerry Garcia–melodic hook and spasms of groovy rock and stoner psych. The album’s title track closed the set with a multitiered guitar jam equal parts in your face and in your brain. A sweet two-song encore finished the night before Woods sank back into their hiding place until next time. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

 

 

 

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North Mississippi Allstars and Anders Osborne Put on Marathon Show

February 27th, 2015

NMO – the Space at Westbury – February 26, 2015

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It was a night of beginnings at the Space at Westbury on Thursday. With a stage packed with two drum kits and more guitars than fingers to count them with, the marathon show officially began with Luther Dickinson and Anders Osborne as a duet, playfully matching slide guitars in each other’s faces, singing “Let It Roll.” As the two hugged and Osborne left the stage to applause, Dickinson announced the evening as the “North Mississippi Anders Osborne Experience” before inviting his “brothers,” Cody Dickinson and Lightnin’ Malcolm, to kick off things once again with a few North Mississippi Allstars songs. But things didn’t really get rolling until Luther coaxed everyone out of their seats, filling in the space in front of the stage and in the aisles while the trio matched the energy with their bread-and-butter material, including “Shake ’Em on Down,” “Drinking Muddy Water” and “KC Jones (On the Road Again).” The trio flexed their Delta blues–rock muscles with Luther strutting his superlative slide playing and Cody shuffling along in time.

Throughout the night, one song’s ending was another’s beginning, and as the NMA mini-set closed, the entire trio banging away on a drum as Osborne and the rest of his trio—Carl Dufresne and Brady Blade—hopped onstage with their own percussion in hand, Cody Dickinson got the party started, singing “Granny Does Your Dog Bite” and getting the audience to sing along. Before long, the six musicians were on the floor marching through the crowd like New Orleans was on Long Island. Again, it felt like things were coming to an end, but the night was just pushing off from shore as NMA ceded the stage to Osborne and with a soulful moan in his voice and his slide, he took the helm. It seemed like the volume was raised a couple of clicks for this portion of the show with Osborne’s trio in fine form. Antics and marching bands are all in good fun, but the audience certainly was hungry for some red-meat rock and roll, which Osborne delivered. The highlight of the night featured his band rounded out to a quartet with Luther on acoustic guitar for a bang-bang-bang stretch of “Mind of a Junkie,” “Back on Dumaine” and “On the Road to Charlie Parker.” Again, each tune bubbled up out of the predecessor’s ending. The first featured a narcotic Neil Young–esque slow-burn guitar jam with Osborne as soulful as ever. “Dumaine” dissolved into a hair-raising improv with Osborne’s guitar channeling Jerry Garcia and Luther matching with an almost-Latin flair of acoustic guitar picking. Finally “Charlie Parker” was a powerhouse of New Orleans–infused rock and roll that easily could’ve ended the night, but, naturally, they were still just getting going.

From there, it would take a slide rule and a spreadsheet to properly keep track of the permutations of musicians and instruments. There was a trio version of the classic “Junco Pardna,” the Dickinson brothers and Osborne doing justice to the source material. Oh, did they mention that they have a new album out together? Finally, after about 90 minutes of soul-warming Southern rock, they got around to playing material from the new release, Freedom & Dreams, like everything else leading up to it had been a rehearsal. Combined as a massive six-piece, looking and sounding a bit like an updated version of the Allman Brothers Band, NMO proper began their night. “Back Together” stood out here, featuring count-’em three overlapping and interweaving guitar solos. Before the night came to a real, honest-to-goodness close, Cody Dickinson took a washboard solo, complete with wild flashing white lights that seemed to turn the band inside out, Malcolm ending up on the drums, Dufresne on the guitar and Luther on the bass. At one point earlier in the two-plus-hour show, Osborne mentioned the writing of a new song, “Westbury Blues,” joking it wasn’t ready … but maybe for the “next album.” From the sounds of it, for NMO, this is only the beginning. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

(North Misissippi Allstars and Anders Osborne play the Capitol Theatre tonight.)

 

 

 

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Greensky Bluegrass Use a Little Bit of Everything to Brooklyn

January 30th, 2015

Greensky Bluegrass – Brooklyn Bowl – January 29, 2015

(Photo: Chris Monaghan)

(Photo: Chris Monaghan)

“We’re a bluegrass band.” That’s what members of Greensky Bluegrass kept announcing between songs at last night’s sold-out show at Brooklyn Bowl. At first, I was like, “Duh, it’s in your name!” But after a few decidedly out-there jams, I finally picked up on the very bluegrass joke. They definitely have the proper instrumentation (banjo, guitar, dobro, mandolin, bass), and they can play comfortably in the genre—but Greensky Bluegrass were playing with a jam-band style in rock club beneath a light show suitable for an EDM show. (Yes, Greensky Bluegrass are one of the few bands I’ve seen bring their own lighting rig.)

The set began with a dobro-heavy “Just to Lie” that showed off their abilities in the standard-bluegrass region before quickly going off course into a darker, minor-key piece with the lights following suit. This led to some deep hallucinogenic jamming that featured excellent playing from each of the band’s instrumentalists, with multiple build-and-release moments that prompted a healthy “whoop” from the packed house. Twenty minutes later, the opening sequence finally came to a climactic end. The crowd and band now settled in, Greensky crafted a two-set show filled with genre-straddling songs and jams, deftly flipping between the more traditional and progressive and whatever it is that’s beyond that. The lights followed suit, zipping through all of the colors of the rainbow and beyond, sometimes in unexpected combinations—an apt visual metaphor for the music being made. NYC jam-guest extraordinaire Eric Krasno came out for the first-set-closing cover of Norton Buffalo’s “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox,” a song made popular by Jerry Garcia but perfectly suited for a duel between dobro player Anders Beck and Krasno.

Things got even deeper during the second set, which opened with a dark, country-rock “Bring Out Your Dead.” The second guest of the night, Andy Falco of the Infamous Stringdusters, came out to help on Bill Monroe’s “Working on a Building,” yellow spotlights emanating from the stage like beams from the sun, before jamming out admirably on a David Grisman number. Throughout the second set, Greensky Bluegrass started in a place that felt recognizably connected to bluegrass but would then venture far into something different. The closing song was a prime example, the music dipped into an almost trance jam before returning to the theme and then running off again exploring in impressive fashion. The encore seemed designed to ground everyone again, Greensky calling out Krasno once more to help with a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” the crowd singing along at full volume, and the bluegrass band doing a pretty good Southern rock impression with a little help from their friend.—A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Les Racquet and Dangermuffin Live Up to Their Advanced Billing

January 17th, 2014

Les Racquet/Dangermuffin – Mercury Lounge – January 16, 2014


It can be hard to separate your personal journey from a concert. Last night’s late double bill at Mercury Lounge was a perfect example: A week ago someone in the Merc bathroom pointed to a Dangermuffin flier, saying, “They’re good,” when I realized that they were on the bill with Les Racquet, whom my brother had previously recommended to me, saying, “They’re good!” I took it as a sign. Dangermuffin, out of South Carolina, immediately brought to mind the kind of mixed-genre, loose fitting bands that proliferated the mid-’90s that today we call a jam band. It was folkie-Americana with a freer jazz strain running through it. “Homestead” was an early highlight, a well-structured composition that jittered through multiple sections before dropping down for a build-’em-up slide-guitar solo.

The sound had some interesting twists. Operating as a trio without a bass, frontman Dan Lotti had his electro-acoustic guitar mixed so that he simultaneously played the basslines and rhythm guitar while lead guitarist Mike Sivilli took the solos with hints of Jerry Garcia and Dickey Betts clearly shining through. It’s always good to have your suspicions confirmed, and Dangermuffin obliged with a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower” midway through their set, Sivilli playing a couple of slippery noodle solos without meandering or getting too ostentatious. The second half of the set built up steam on a range of bluegrass, blues, country, rock and reggae, often at the same time, and tightened up with sweet harmonies and danceable rhythms. Or as the man said: “They’re good.”

Brooklyn’s Les Racquet opened comfortably with guitarist Patrick Carroll setting up some little loops of sound before the whole band hopped into their tough-to-tackle repertoire. They opened with “Haiku,” which combined a soulful presence with some interesting twists and turns that were at once complicated and endearing. It didn’t take long for the trio—Carroll plus Kenny Murphy on the six-string Modulus bass, Daniel Malone on drums—to find their comfort zone. Songs like “Devil Girl” displayed their well-honed skill set: nice harmonies, delicious melodies and brainteaser changes that brought to mind Frank Zappa. It’s an ambitious repertoire, but they pretty much nailed it. “Daydreams” was a bass-heavy supergroovy rocker highlighting Murphy’s talents—you can’t carry that bass onstage and not take a meaty solo, and he did not disappoint.

Of course, it’s still good to have your suspicions confirmed, and Les Racquet obliged with a cover of Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia,” Carroll perfectly leading the way through the prog classic. After a couple more draw-you-in songs, including “Obviously,” with Carroll singing about someone who is obviously “bat-shit crazy,” the band announced that Malone would sing a couple of numbers, resulting in a surprising but fantastic pairing of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” and a loose rendering of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” The set ended with a long triple-helix instrumental called “Bruce Lee,” which flexed every muscle in the Les Racquet body, and “Oh Yeah!” the kind of rocking sing-along that every band should have at their disposal to end a show. Or, just as my brother said, “They’re good!”  —A. Stein