Tag Archives: the Band

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Mavis Staples Proves Why She’s a Legend

May 12th, 2014

Mavis Staples – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 9, 2014

Mavis Staples – Music Hall of Williamsburg – May 9, 2014
“This is gonna be a good one tonight!” announced Mavis Staples, after the enthusiastic Music Hall of Williamsburg crowd greeted her soulful rendition of “I Like the Things About Me” with rousing cheers on Friday night. The legendary gospel and soul singer and civil-rights activist began singing as a child in her family’s band, the Staple Singers, may be nearly 75 year old, but she still continues to create and perform music that resonates with fans across generations.

Onstage, Staples was indeed a force—her powerful voice rich with emotion on songs like “One True Vine,” from her 2013 Jeff Tweedy–produced album of the same name— punctuating certain lines with a nice, deep growl. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member also revisited hits spanning her fruitful career, giving a spirited and perfectly funky rendition of the ’70s Staple Singers hit “Let’s Do It Again,” and bringing out the night’s opener, Amy Helm (daughter of the Band’s Levon Helm), for a version of “The Weight,” which the Staple Singers performed with the Band for The Last Waltz. Staples and her band also treated the crowd to a version of the ’60s civil-rights anthem “Freedom Highway,” a song inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington.

Staples was rarely without a grin as she performed, enjoying the energy from the crowd and her band, playfully punching the guitarist’s arm and fist-bumping the drummer after impressive solos. And following a performance featuring decades of great music, Staples and Co. had one last song to revisit: “We’re gonna take ya’ll back down memory lane.” But then after scrutinizing the first few rows of the crowd, she jokingly added, “Ya’ll weren’t even born,” as the band launched into the undeniable hit “I’ll Take You There.” Despite what age or year audience members may have been introduced to Mavis Staples’ music, all in attendance would agree the singer is a true legend, sending the band off with joyful applause that the ever-humble Staples replied to with an smile and an appreciative “Shucks.” —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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Singer-Songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff Visits Mercury Lounge Tonight

April 23rd, 2014

Growing up in rural Missouri, singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff took to music early on, playing the drums at seven and picking up the guitar (“My mom showed me a few chords and then my best friend showed me a few more”) and beginning to write songs as a young teen. Looking up to the likes of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and the Band, it’s no wonder his music is raw and honest. Rateliff’s first solo album, the introspective In Memory of Loss (stream it below), came out in 2010. AllMusic compared his voice to M. Ward’s and Vic Chesnutt’s, and PopMatters opined that “the record is the sound of a man wrestling with his burdens in a creative fashion, with the help of an acoustic guitar and the backing of some friends on other ordinary instruments played with a strong passion. This style of music never goes out of style when done well, and Rateliff does the tradition proud.” Now based in Denver, Rateliff spent a considerable amount of time alone on the road in support of his debut, which provided plenty of time for him to write. “It’s sort of my way of dealing with shit. Unfortunately I’m not very good at communicating. It’s like my way to vanquish all of the shit that I’m holding on to,” he told Minneapolis Fucking Rocks. And along those lines, Rateliff (above, performing “Right On” for the Mahogany Sessions) recently released his follow-up, Falling Faster Than You Can Run (stream it below), as dark as it is beautiful. See him play Mercury Lounge tonight. Caroline Rose, who’s also used the road as a means to write material for her most recent album, opens the show.

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Matthe E. White and the Spacebomb Revue Come to Williamsburg

December 4th, 2013

Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger, and he even founded his own label in Richmond, Va., Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass and Pinson Chanselle on drums—for all of its work. Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson and Stax-era R&B, and he has worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, the Mountain Goats and Sharon Van Etten, in addition to leading the avant-garde jazz big band Fight the Big Bull. In theory, that should really be enough for just one guy. But for Matthew E. White, it wasn’t. So last year, Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, the soulful Big Inner (stream it below), reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And upon the album’s release in the UK last winter, The Guardian said it “feels like a genuine revelation.” White (above, doing “Big Love” earlier this year at The Bowery Ballroom for Moshcam) is currently on tour with the Spacebomb Revue, which brings him, alongside electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist Dosh and Howard Ivans—a dance project led by the Rosebuds’ Ivan Howard—to Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow night.

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Heavyweights on the Hudson

July 29th, 2013

My Morning Jacket/Wilco/Bob Dylan – Hoboken Pier A Park – July 26, 2013

(Photo: Eddie Bruiser)

What a view! What a bill! What a night! With a stage bracketed by the Empire State Building on one side and the Freedom Tower on the other—and just about perfect outdoor-concert weather—the AmericanaramA tour landed at Pier A Park in Hoboken, N.J., on Friday night. It was an evening for the skyscrapers of live rock and roll to strut their stuff on the same stage. My Morning Jacket began with “Circuital,” Jim James’s acoustic guitar sounding crisp in the summer air. MMJ are masters of the festival set, providing the perfect balance of fan favorites and special moments while packing enough of them into a limited time slot to make it feel like a much longer show. And so within the first four or five songs, the Jacket seemed to hit a couple dozen different spots and styles: “First Light” with a Flying V guitar, Carl Broemel on sax and funky keys from Bo Koster, “The Way That He Sings” with James belting it out to the crowd, a sweet spaced-out “Off the Record” with scrape-the-sky guitar work, and the steel-and-acoustic guitar summer-sun beauty of “Golden.” The special moments came when Brian Jackson joined in on flute, matching James’s howling on a great drums-and-bass-driven “It Beats 4 U” and adding a groovy R&B feel to the Gil Scott-Heron cover “The Bottle.” The action-packed set ended with opener Ryan Bingham coming back for a perfect sing-along cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic “Don’t Do It,” in the style of the Band, multiple guitars manifesting the sound and energy of a full horn section.

Next up, Wilco, another fest-set vet, performed a set perfectly complementing My Morning Jacket’s. They opened with “Dawned on Me,” Nels Cline on a gigantic double-neck guitar that screamed, “Hey, why waste time with formalities?!” Like MMJ, they covered a wide range within the first few songs: “Misunderstood” heavy on the dynamics, the whole band playing to the perfection of the moment, twangy backdrop to Jeff Tweedy’s vocals on “Forget the Flowers” and a rocking “Handshake Drugs,” aka “Nels Cline Unleashed.” While Tweedy may never be Bob Dylan, songs like “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” might make you reconsider. Friday evening, it was literally played for the gorgeous setting sun, a full-color sonic masterpiece with the line “and the city kept blinking” resonating against the Manhattan skyline. Again, the great set got better when they brought out guests, first Warren Haynes for a bluesy “Feed of a Man,” featuring a Godzilla vs. Mothra battle with Cline. (Ironically, Haynes left for the most Allman Brothers-y Wilco tune, “Walken.”) After a let’s-just-rock-out section of “I’m the Man Who Loves You” and “I Got You (At the End of the Century),” they invited Ian Hunter onstage for the end of the set, dedicated to Maxwell’s. The Mott the Hoople frontman led the band through a folkie, “I Wish I Was Your Mother.” The set finished in large, this-is-the-big-city fashion: first Haynes joining with some beautiful playing on a great “California Stars” and then all of My Morning Jacket and Bingham on a fun! wow! cover of “All the Young Dudes.”

Not bad, right? But wait, there’s more! The granddaddy of them all, Bob Dylan and His Band, closed the show. Dylan is still getting it done, the Chrysler Building to the taller and newer high-rises, his voice approaching old bluesman growl. His set featured plenty of newer songs and old classics—plus a cover of “The Weight” with Tweedy, James and the J. Geils Band’s Peter Wolf—his band sounding great with a perfect mix of blues and country under a clear night sky. Compared to the opening sets, Dylan took his own pace, a natural gait of a man who’s done a few shows in his time. Personally, I was excited to hear two of my favorite Dylan tunes, “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me.” What a night! —A. Stein

 

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Diamond Doves Lead Packed Bill Tonight at Mercury Lounge

July 18th, 2013

Chances are you’ve already seen Diamond Doves before and didn’t even know it. Maybe it was when they were Elvis Perkins’ bitchin’, bendable backing band, In Dearland. Or maybe it was as the special-guest horn section for My Morning Jacket or Bon Iver (amongst others) … or opening for Marco Benevento or the Felice Brothers. Not an accident that these guys are called upon to play with the best, but they’re much more than just someone else’s horn section. On their own, they’re a fully hyphenated folk-psych-rock multi-instrumentalist trio, equal parts the Beatles and the Band. They top a jam-packed bill, including Brooklyn’s Caged Animals, tonight at Mercury Lounge. —A. Stein

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Dawes Play Terminal 5 with Shovels & Rope Tomorrow Night

June 21st, 2013

Since forming in Southern California four years ago, the guys in Dawes—Taylor Goldsmith (vocals and guitar), Wylie Gelber (bass), Griffin Goldsmith (drums) and Tay Strathairn (keys)—have won over fans across the land with their high-energy live shows and three albums—North Hills, Nothing Is Wrong and this year’s Stories Don’t End (stream it below)—filled with tightly written songs, quality harmonies and some good old-fashioned guitar love. But one of the most interesting things about Dawes (above, doing “If I Wanted Someone” at last year’s Lollapalooza) is the vast array of bands and musicians with whom they’ve been associated. They’ve been compared to the Band, for their lyrics, and Crosby, Stills & Nash, for their harmonies. They’ve crisscrossed the country and teamed up with their musical brothers-in-arms, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit. And in the band’s infancy, they took part in jam sessions at Jonathan Wilson’s house with the likes of Chris Robinson, Benmont Tench and Conor Oberst. But after finding success, Dawes went on to back some of the biggest names in rock royalty, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne and John Fogerty. Plus, at the most epic night of music The House List has ever had the privilege to witness, they inspired one of the loudest sing-alongs Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble had seen with their anthemic “When My Time Comes.” But, really, why are we telling you all this? So you don’t miss them with talented indie-folk duo Shovels & Rope tomorrow night at Terminal 5.

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Matthew E. White Headlines The Bowery Ballroom on Monday

May 10th, 2013

Make no mistake: Matthew E. White is a musician. He’s a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and arranger—and he even founded his own label, Spacebomb Records, which uses a house band—led by White on guitar, Cameron Ralston on bass and Pinson Chanselle on drums—for all of its work. Growing up in Virginia Beach and the Philippines, White listened to the likes of the Band, Curtis Mayfield, Brian Wilson and Stax-era R&B, and he has worked with Justin Vernon, Megafaun, the Mountain Goats and Sharon Van Etten, in addition to leading the avant-garde jazz big band Fight the Big Bull. In theory, that should really be enough for just one guy. But for Matthew E. White, it wasn’t. So last year, Spacebomb Records put out his acclaimed debut full-length, Big Inner (stream it below), reminding many of Randy Newman’s early work, thanks to White’s unique take on things. And upon the album’s release in the UK this past winter, The Guardian said it “feels like a genuine revelation.” White (above, doing “Will You Love Me” for WFUV FM) has spent the past month touring Europe, but you can see him on Monday night at The Bowery Ballroom.

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Houndmouth Are a Band on the Rise

April 10th, 2013

Houndmouth—Zak Appleby, Shane Cody, Matt Myers and Katie Toupin—from the farmlands of Kentuckiana, formed by chance in late 2011. Their influences include the Band (“Levon Helm is my hero,” says Cody), David Bowie, Randy Newman and the Faces. And as such, they make a kind of music perhaps best categorized as y’alternative (the Venn diagram overlap of Americana, blues, folk and rock). The quartet’s debut full-length, From the Hills Below the City, arrives in June, but if their self-titled EP (stream it below) is any indication, Houndmouth (above, doing “Penitentiary” for Close Shave Music at last year’s Forecastle Festival) just might follow the path of such like-minded bands as the Lumineers and the Head and the Heart. See them tonight at Mercury Lounge.

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Despite Major Changes, the Black Crowes Are Having Fun

April 8th, 2013

The Black Crowes – Terminal 5 – April 6, 2013


The Black Crowes first gained fame with their debut album, Shake Your Money Maker, but 23 years later, only three original members remain: frontman Chris Robinson, his brother, rhythm guitarist Rich Robinson, and drummer Steve Gorman. Bassist Sven Pipien has been with the band since the late ’90s (minus a few years), and keyboardist Adam MacDougall came onboard in 2007. As for lead guitar, first there was Jeff Cease, and then for a long time there was Marc “Fucking” Ford. His and Rich’s guitar pairing would define the band’s sound. But then Ford was replaced by Audley Freed, who remained until the group’s first hiatus. When the Crowes returned, Ford was again playing lead—until he wasn’t and Paul Stacey was. And then he wasn’t and Luther Dickinson was. Dickinson returned the band to the twang-y Southern-rock sound of Ford’s heyday, and by the time fans finally grew accustomed to this version of the Crowes, you guessed it, they went on hiatus again.

So when word broke that they’d be touring again, with Jackie Greene as lead guitarist, the news was met with trepidation. But over the course of four shows last week—two each at the Capitol Theatre and Terminal 5—the newest edition of the Black Crowes allayed the fears of any doubters. Turns out, Greene is almost a perfect fit, as the band has bloomed sonically from the bluesy Southern rock they’d first become known for into a patchwork Americana sound studded with folk, rock, gospel and soul. It’s as if they’d traded in their Stones’, Faces’and Allmans’ albums for the Band’s, Mad Dogs & Englishmen and the Rolling Thunder Revue.

On Saturday night at Terminal 5, Greene’s mandolin on “She Talks to Angels” and banjo on “Whoa Mule” helped breathe new life into those songs, and his guitar work on “Sister Luck” was particularly fiery. Greene’s presence allowed Rich to play slide and take on more lead duties, like in terrific renditions of “Thorn in My Pride” and “Wiser Time,” with the two epically engaging each other from across the stage while everyone else took a step back. Of course, it’s not just about the new guitarist. The Crowes have reinterpreted some older material, like Chris’s staccato gospel breakdowns in the middle of “Remedy” (and in “My Morning Song” on prior nights). And the other drastic change was the lack of backing singers, two strong female voices replaced by four- and five-part harmonies.

But it wasn’t just about what was heard—because what was seen proved to be just as important, which in this case, was a band having a good time. There were smiles across the stage, and no one seemed to be enjoying himself more than Chris, whether happily introducing the night’s third song, “Feelin’ Alright,” with “Saturday night in the big city, man,” or inspiring some of the night’s biggest applause with harmonica-led jams, his playful dancing and joy were infectious, spreading across the stage and the room. And following a strong show filled with early material, covers and rarely played numbers, like “Title Song,” plus a three-song encore, the Black Crowes lingered onstage hugging one another, smiling widely and taking in the adulation. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com

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One Final Chance to See Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers Before Hiatus

November 21st, 2012

Stephen Kellogg’s childhood interests in music included singer-songwriter fare, like that of Jim Croce and Cat Stevens, alongside hair-metal bands, like Bon Jovi and Mötley Crüe, which probably explains why his songs are intimate and personal while his live shows with the Sixers are energetic and passionate. Although just one band member’s name is featured in Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, the group is definitely the sum of its parts. Like their heroes the Band (they even have a live DVD called The First Waltz), the SK6ers play a wide range of instruments: Kellogg covers guitar, harmonica and kazoo, Kit “Goose” Karlson handles keys, bass, tuba and accordion, Brian “Boots” Factor plays drums, mandolin and banjo, while Sam Getz is a guitarist, but a really good one. Unfortunately, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (above, playing “My Favorite Place” in studio for KINK FM in Portland, Ore.) are getting ready to go on hiatus, but, fortunately, they’re playing one last show—on Saturday at Webster Hall.

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Such a Night

October 4th, 2012

Love for Levon: A Benefit to Save the Barn – Izod Center – October 3, 2012


Levon Helm is a towering figure in American music and the main reason a band, well the Band, that was actually four-fifths Canadian could be considered quintessentially American. After Helm was diagnosed with cancer, he began hosting Midnight Rambles at his home barn/studio—ridiculously intimate affairs filled with music that kept onlookers smiling for days. And despite Helm’s passing, it was clear that the barn and the Rambles would continue. But, of course, there are bills to pay. So last night at the Izod Center, a monumental group of performers—those who had worked with the Band, performed with Helm or appeared at one of those fabled Rambles—gathered to pay tribute to the musical icon and help raise money to finally pay off the barn.

There were far too many talented people involved to list everyone, but the night started with a bang as Warren Haynes, backed by the Dirt Farmer Band, did a rousing version of “The Shape I’m In” before Gregg Allman joined him for a riveting “Long Black Veil.” From there a cavalcade of stars, including Bruce Hornsby, Jorma Kaukonen, Marc Cohn, the Wallflowers and Allen Toussaint, appeared. Lucinda Williams said, “God bless, Levon Helm. His spirit lives on,” after concluding “Whispering Pines.” And then the fist set closed with John Hiatt and Mike Gordon doing a lively “Rag Mama Rag.”

And while that first set was particularly great, the second one was something special. Highlights included Ray LaMontagne and John Mayer on “Tears of Rage,” the Dierks Bentley–led “Chest Fever,” with Garth Hudson laying down the winding “Genetic Method” organ intro, and Larry Campbell eliciting a big crowd response to the “Drink all day, rock all night” line in “Tennessee Jed” as Mayer rode shotgun on guitar. Then somehow the ante got upped once again. First, a jammy “Up on Cripple Creek” with Joe Walsh and Robert Randolph (“Jersey boys are here,” proclaimed Walsh), and then the house band ceded the stage to My Morning Jacket.

The five-piece launched into “Ophelia,” with the crowd throatily singing along, and “It Makes No Difference” before bringing out Roger Waters and G.E. Smith for “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Of course all of this was just a lead up to the night’s inevitable conclusion, everyone onstage for “The Weight.” Longtime Levon Helm Band members Campbell, Teresa Williams and Amy Helm rightfully took the first verse, accompanied only by Campbell’s guitar. And then Mavis Staples sang, and then Allman and Haynes. And then Grace Potter, Eric Church, John Prine, Jim James and everyone else took turns trading verses across the stage, before turning to Waters, center stage, singing, “You know I’m a peaceful man,” with smiles everywhere. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the people in the crowd or those onstage. It was just one of those nights. —R. Zizmor

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Zeus Brings Guitars, Hooks and Harmonies to the Merc Tomorrow

August 2nd, 2012

Although Rob Drake, Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien and Neil Quin perform as the backing band for Broken Social Scene’s Jason Colett, they also make roots music infused with tight harmonies and heavy hooks for themselves under the name Zeus. The band’s melodies and guitar work have earned them comparisons to the Band and Crazy Horse, respectively, which you can hear on their second album, Busting Visions. And while those groups are from the ’70s, NPR Music says, “Zeus has nostalgia in its corner, but the band doesn’t slouch on songwriting.” See Zeus (above, performing the very catchy “Are You Gonna Waste My Time” for thevergeonline.com) tomorrow night at Mercury Lounge.