Influenced by krautrock, Japanese psychedelia and heavier rock bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Isaiah Mitchell (guitar), Mike Eginton (bass) and Mario Rubalcaba (drums) formed the (primarily) instrumental power trio Earthless (above, performing “Uluru Rock” earlier this year) a decade-and-a-half ago in San Diego. Their most recent release, Acid Crusher/Mount Swan (stream it below), came out earlier this year. “Forget traditional structure, the verse-chorus-riff stuff that your parents instilled in you. Forget the jams the Grateful Dead laid out or the way the Allmans did witchy stuff over at the Fillmore. Forget the way that Can could take you deep inside the music. Forget all that and then brace yourself when it kicks in overtime via your genetic memory. It’s like déjà vu all over again,” raves PopMatters. “Earthless is stoned. Immaculate.” And they are currently working their way up the East Coast to play The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night. Psychedelic five-piece Ruby the Hatchet open the show.
Tag Archives: Allman Brothers Band
Influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes, Jonathan Tyler formed Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights nine years ago in Dallas. The good-times band won over critics and fans alike, but sometimes even when things look like they’re going great from the outside, on the inside everything’s gone to hell. A lawsuit about the name plus fights with Atlantic Records led to alcohol problems: “I was drinking myself into oblivion all the time because I was so frustrated with life in general,” Tyler told Rolling Stone. “And I thought, at a certain point, something’s gotta give. I’m going to end up killing myself, or something really bad will happen.” Fortunately, this was not the case. The singer-songwriter decamped to Los Angeles and began playing shows to pay for studio time. What resulted is last year’s Holy Smokes (stream it below), “a set of songs that, at times can even ring as joyful, touching a whole trajectory of the American musical tradition from Howlin’ Wolf to the Allman Brothers to Pink Floyd,” raved Rolling Stone. “It’s clear that if there’s one person most excited about the revival of Jonathan Tyler, it’s Tyler himself. Holy Smokes is more than just the album title, it’s an exclamation.” See him Saturday night at Mercury Lounge. Philly duo the Dove and the Wolf open the show.
Tags: Allman Brothers Band, Black Crowes, Dove and the Wolf, Holy Smokes, Howlin’ Wolf, Jonathan Tyler, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Led Zeppelin, Live Music, Lower East Side, Mercury Lounge, Music, New York City, Pink Floyd, Preview, Video
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Sturgill Simpson – Beacon Theatre – September 19, 2015
In this era of social media, it seems like every day is some weird, made-up holiday. Over the weekend, I think we “celebrated” National Cheeseburger Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. After taking in Sturgill Simpson’s rollicking set at the Beacon Theatre, I believe everyone was ready to declare Saturday Cosmic Country Day, with Simpson the patron saint. Having just recently won Artist of the Year and Song of the Year at the Americana Awards, Simpson was more than ready to make the leap to the Broadway stage as the lights went down and a kind-of-spacey ambient music filled the room, the band silhouetted against the red curtain and the crowd rearing to go. As the curtain went up, the music took shape into “Some Days,” everyone in the audience hopped to their feet and a marathon evening of outlaw country revival was underway.
During the first couple of songs it wasn’t hard to make the connection to those Beacon Theatre stalwarts, the Allman Brothers Band, with Simpson’s crack band stretching the bounds of their intergalactic country with sharp rock and roll climbs, guitarist Laur Joamets delighting with his skillful and passionate playing. “Life of Sin” played the piano and organ off each other as Simpson howled, “Sex is cheap and talk is overrated,” as the crowd hollered and danced along. After the barn-blazer opening, the band cooled down and let Simpson and his sweet glazed-donut voice take over. On songs like “Water in a Well,” he simply filled the room with his vocals, perhaps a sly wink when singing, “Someday if I’m on a big stage.” During these quieter moments, the audience soaked it up in silence.
The set bounced around between the rowdy and the soulful, with the highlights in those spaces in between where the perfect balance of Simpson’s singing and the band’s playing scratched every itch. Emotional passages from Simpson made way for longer jam-outs for the band, Joamets adding that cosmic twang and awe-inspiring licks as the band played along. It’s no surprise that the biggest cheers of the night came when the whole band was introduced. At several points, the set seemed to be drawing to a close, like after a milking-it, soulful organ-fueled cover of “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” made famous by Otis Redding, or the tripped-out, crowd-pleasing “Turtles All the Way Down” or the late-set section of covers of old-school country from Lefty Frizzell and Terry Allen. But each time, Simpson and Co. threw another shovel of coal on the fire and kept on chugging. Finally, after almost two hours, they finished with “Listening to the Rain,” the band dropping into their rock-out cover of T. Rex’s “The Motivator,” a bit of Americana garage rock just in case the audience hadn’t gotten the memo yet about what holiday it was.
—A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, Allman Brothers Band, Beacon Theatre, Laur Joamets, Lefty Frizzell, Live Music, Music, Otis Redding, Review, Sturgill Simpson, T. Rex, Terry Allen
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Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – The Bowery Ballroom – August 28, 2015
The giant image of a clearing in the woods—echoing the album cover of Nicki Bluhm’s new LP, Loved Wild Lost—that hung at the back of the stage on Friday night added a touch of mystery to The Bowery Ballroom. But there was nothing mysterious about Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers’ appeal as they easily won over the crowd with a high-energy performance of originals and covers. Before they took the stage, Andrew Combs offered an excellent opening set of country music unleashed. Playing songs like “Slow Road to Jesus” and “Suwannee County” off his new album, All These Dreams, Combs and his band mixed harmonies and groovy playing to get the audience warmed up and then some.
Afterward, Bluhm followed her bandmates onstage, immediately a towering presence standing there in a low-cut white jumpsuit, her hair blown constantly by a fan. The ’70s-sex-appeal look matched her voice and the band’s sound, which straddled country, rock and soul with natural ease. They opened with “Heart Gets Tough,” off the new album, Bluhm belting out the lyrics while the Gramblers settled in. Throughout the set, she was a powerful mix of Grace Slick, Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin, shining on the high-energy, high-volume material like “Mr. Saturday Night,” and just as powerful on the quiet, tender side, on songs like “Only Always.” The Gramblers were a seasoned complement, a rocking force that allowed Bluhm to strut and dance around the stage, picking up strategically placed tambourines and other percussion instruments along the way.
Bluhm and the Gramblers are well-known for their Van Sessions—online videos of covers performed while on the road—so it’s no surprise that the show featured several great picks, including a this-song-is-a-perfect-fit rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That” was done acoustically in front of a single microphone, country meeting funk and getting along swimmingly. Afterward, when everyone moved to go back to their original spots onstage, Bluhm was having none of it: She called them back for a fun sing-along take on the Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” Later, they invited Combs and his entire band out for a hootenanny of a jam session on Gram Parsons’ “Ooh Las Vegas.” Still, Bluhm and Co. weren’t yet finished, saving their best all-out rocking and jamming for the show’s final stretch, which included a romp on “Little Too Late” and Andy Falco sitting in on a double-guitar, Allman Brothers–esque take on “Jetplane,” before finally ending the set with “Kill You to Call,” Bluhm at full strength, a force of nature that the Gramblers were only barely able to corral. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Aaron Stein, All These Dreams, Allman Brothers Band, Andrew Combs, Andy Falco, Bowery Ballroom, Funkadelic, Grace Slick, Gram Parsons, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Live Music, Love Wild Lost, Music, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, Review, Stevie Nicks
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Phil Lesh – Capitol Theatre – March 16, 2015
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead and, if you haven’t noticed, their music seems to be everywhere, a constant presence that transcends genre, age and geography. Part of that constant presence has been the band’s bassist, Phil Lesh, who, remarkably, turned 75 on Sunday and is celebrating (how else?) with a run of jam-filled shows at the Capitol Theatre. Monday night’s band of Lesh’s friends included Warren Haynes of the Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule on guitar and vocals, Eric Krasno of Soulive on the other guitar, and longtime Lesh running mates John Molo and Rob Barraco on drums and keyboards respectively. The evening began with a session of noodling: free-form, aqueous improvisation that featured all five musicians interacting with the others, like wolves licking their chops before devouring helpless prey.
The set proper bounced back and forth between the Dead’s repertoire, older blues-based material like “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” and “Cosmic Charlie” interleaved with later-era groove-rockers like “West L.A. Fadeaway” and “Alabama Getaway.” Of course, the songs themselves were merely starting points for various shades of space-outs and left-turn excursions. The walls of the Capitol Theatre were populated in tie-dyed fractal explosions that seemed to open up wormholes to past eras, 20, 30, 40 years back. Krasno’s clean-toned guitar played counterpoint to Haynes’s gritty licks, but Lesh was the constant force, running circles around his younger crew. Each measure of bass playing was a snowflake— clear, defined crystal, beautifully unique. The first set ended with an optimistic spring theme: “Here Comes Sunshine” brought a projected sunrise to the theater’s walls with Lesh pushing Haynes and Molo while Baracco glued together the sonic collage, segueing into the Allman Brothers classic “Blue Sky,” the ceiling turning a bright indigo as Haynes ceded the floor for Krasno and Baracco solos before shining his own big, Allmans-y turn.
The second set picked up where the first left off, another round of free jamming, Lesh slithering through multiple THC-soaked themes before charging through a few more covers: Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” and later Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” the band cracking open classic-rock radio and lacing it with LSD-inspired psychedelia. There’s often a concern with the various Dead-cover outfits about who will sing which song, but really it’s not a problem because the guy next to you will (probably) know most of the words and sing it out, loud and proud. The smiles and the twirling dancers were as integral to these shows as the weird set-list variations like the traditional “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot” > “Franklin’s Tower” being split up by “Just a Little Light” and “Uncle John’s Band” as the quintet mostly pulled off Monday night. Krasno shined best during the closing section, finding comfort in build-up solos and going toe-to-toe with Haynes. A supercharged ovation brought back the band for an emotional “Stella Blue,” Haynes belting it out as those in the smiling audience sang along, many swaying in one another’s arms. But no smiles were bigger than the constant one on the 75 year old leading the way. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tags: Allman Brothers Band, Capitol Theatre, Eric Krasno, Gov't Mule, Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, John Molo, Phil Lesh, Review, Rob Barraco, Soulive, Traffic, Van Morrison, Warren Haynes
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NMO – the Space at Westbury – February 26, 2015
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
Tags: Allman Brothers Band, Anders Osborne, Brady Blade, Capitol Theatre, Carl Dufresne, Cody Dickinson, Freedom & Dreams, Jerry Garcia, Lightnin’ Malcolm, Luther Dickinson, Neil Young, North Mississippi Allstars, Space at Westbury
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White Denim – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 11, 2014
The headlines kind of write themselves: White Denim burn down Music Hall of Williamsburg or White Denim play blazing show in Brooklyn. Thankfully, despite an unplanned fire drill midway through their set, there was no literal fire in Williamsburg last night. Metaphorically, however, the headlines stand up pretty well. Playing the middle show of a three-night run at Music Hall, White Denim were hotter than hell, setting the room on fire, downright blazing and any other cliché you can think of. They began the set with a smoldering, soulful “A Place to Start,” the last track off their most recent LP, Corsicana Lemonade, and then hopped into that album’s opener, “At Night in Dreams,” a heavy-duty dose of concentrated Allmans, with James Petralli and Austin Jenkins giving a preview of what would be a night full of two-guitar prowess. “At Night” kicked off a multisong medley, the first of many such signature excursions: two or three songs with instrumental interludes, quick-stop segues and check-your-baggage jam-outs. This first one ended with a stretched-out version of “Drug,” off their 2011 breakthrough album, D.
With White Denim, each show feels like the best they’ve ever played, and the best they’ve ever played and Thursday felt no different, although years of touring in their now-steady quartet form seems to have elevated and matured their jazz-metered, free-form Southern-rock sound. Select tunes were slowed or mellowed a bit, providing room for more interesting dynamics. “River to Consider” was a good example, as its normal breakneck pace was given a more deliberate rendering that allowed for a tremendous slow-build jam. Shortly thereafter, as the band tried a similar trick with “Anvil Everything,” the fire alarm sounded and the room was cleared (I must say in a very orderly fashion). Following a 20 minute smoke-’em-if-you’ve-got-’em intermission on the sidewalk of N. 6th St., NYC’s Bravest gave the all clear and the crowd returned with a little fresh-air buzz.
The break seemed to have a filter effect on the audience, those who were there to drink and be social went off to a bar somewhere, and the remaining crowd was smaller, but a bit rowdier with room to boogie and throw fists in the air. White Denim gave plenty of reason to do both, launching a few more highlight-reel sections starting with another medley that began with a restarted “Anvil Everything” and ending with a stretched-out, swallow-everything version of “I Start to Run.” Things turned looser as the show came to its furious conclusion, large swaths of the band’s last few albums coming together in exciting combinations. The pairing of the acrobatic instrumental “At the Farm” and a beautiful, stripped-bare “Keys” was an inspired moment among many. When everyone filed out the front doors for the second time, giddy, glazed looks in their eyes, there was no doubt that White Denim had, indeed, set the building on fire. —A. Stein
They formed in Philly, while attending the University of Pennsylvania in 1988, but Adam “Tree Adams” Hirsh (vocals and guitar), Adam Evans (guitar and vocals), Tom Kaelin (drums), Jon Kaplan (bass), Bill Rives (drums) and Billy Jay Stein (keys) made a name for themselves—as the Mad Hatters—in New York City, playing venues like Wetlands and Nightingales alongside bands like Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors and God Street Wine. Combining their love of funk, bluesy Southern rock and Allman Brothers Band–like jamming, the group became known for talented songwriting, an exceptional rhythm section and an energetic stage presence. Plus, they liked to play all night long. They eventually shortened their name to the Hatters and put out three albums before breaking up in 1996. But social media can be a powerful thing, and thanks to fan encouragement on Facebook, the band has reunited, and tonight at The Bowery Ballroom, they’ll perform live for the first time in 18 years. The Tangiers Blues Band open the show.
Tags: Adam Evans, Adam Hirsh, Allman Brothers Band, Bill Rives, Billy Jay Stein, Blues Traveler, Bowery Ballroom, God Street Wine, Hatters, Jon Kaplan, Mad Hatters, Preview, Spin Doctors, Tangiers Blues Band, Tom Kaelin, Tree Adams, Video
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Lee Bains III is no stranger to New York City. In fact, he studied literature at NYU. But four years was enough, and the lure of the South, specifically his hometown, Birmingham, Ala., was too strong. So he returned to his roots and four years ago teamed up with the Glory Fires—Eric Wallace (guitar), Adam Williamson (bass) and Blake Williamson (drums)—to make Southern rock with a punk ethos. Their first album, There Is a Bomb in Gilead (stream it below), was released in 2012. AllMusic said Bains “knows how to tell a good, compelling story with an interesting set of characters, and he successfully walks a fine line between letting his literate instincts have their day and keeping these stories unpretentious and realistic.” Additionally: “This is a band worth watching, and an album that deserves your attention.” Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires (above, performing “There Is a Bomb in Gilead” for BreakThru Radio) gained further attention thanks to an opening slot on tour with Alabama Shakes. And now the quartet has returned with a heady follow-up, Deconstructed (stream it below). According to NPR, “This isn’t a new space for Southern rock; in many ways, it is Southern rock, made by rebel sons who question that identity from the Allman Brothers through Skynyrd and on to Drive-By Truckers…. Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires are intense enough to fully refresh the legacy they’ve joined.” Out on the road in support of their excellent LP, they play Mercury Lounge on Friday night. Local five-piece Brooklyn What open the show.
Tags: Adam Williamson, Alabama Shakes, Allman Brothers Band, Blake Williamson, Brooklyn What, Deconstructed, Drive-By Truckers, Eric Wallace, Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mercury Lounge, Preview, There Is a Bomb in Gilead
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White Denim – The Bowery Ballroom – September 10, 2013
White Denim are one of those bands on the verge. Yes, with a new buzzed-about album soon to drop and a growing, increasingly enthusiastic fan base, the Austin, Texas, quartet seem poised to break out in the near future. But, as they raised their ruckus at The Bowery Ballroom last night, they proved yet again that they’re always on the verge: on the verge of melting multiple songs together into 15-minute nonstop collages of whiplash rock and roll; on the verge of alchemizing new genres out of blues, psych, prog and jazz; and always, always on the verge of exploding into an ecstatic cacophony of guitar, drums and bass.
Tuesday’s gig was a free affair put on by StubHub and Rolling Stone, and the crowd was an interesting mix of the how-did-we-get-so-lucky? NYC fan base, their first-timer friends and the merely curious with nothing to lose. White Denim began with the opened-up, happy blues of “Pretty Green,” the new single off the upcoming Coriscana Lemonade. The first half of the set was marked by lots of “this is a new one” from frontman James Petralli as they gave the dancing crowd a preview of the record. The new material was strong and concise, a catalog of genres and influences tied up in a maturing White Denim sound: from two-guitar Allmans crunch on jazzed-out rhythms, to a high-energy, psychedelic instrumental aflame on drum-heavy tinder.
Almost seamlessly, the new material blended into older tunes, the title track segueing into “River to Consider” off 2011’s D, starting a tour de force string of songs and excursions that had those in the crowd gasping for breath when they could get it. All momentum was forward as the second part of the set was an avalanche of music, some songs barely feeling half-finished before the next ones overlapped and overtook them. The band was in four-man fugue state, combining impressive chops with raucous energy the way few others can. The highlights were the tension-release climaxes paced perfectly through the set. These moments felt earned by the musicians and the crowd alike, both quite often on the verge of falling apart, but in the end, always delivering. —A. Stein
My Morning Jacket/Wilco/Bob Dylan – Hoboken Pier A Park – July 26, 2013
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
Tags: Allman Brothers Band, Bo Koster, Bob Dylan, Brian Jackson, Carl Broemel, Gil Scott-Heron, Hoboken Pier A Park, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Ian Hunter, J. Geils Band, Jeff Tweedy, Jim James, Mott the Hoople, My Morning Jacket, Nels Cline, Peter Wolf, Review, Ryan Bingham, the Band, Warren Haynes, Wilco
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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
Tags: Adam MacDougall, Allman Brothers Band, Audley Freed, Chris Robinson, Faces, Jackie Greene, Jeff Cease, Luther Dickinson, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Marc Ford, Paul Stacey, Photos, Review, Rich Robinson, Rolling Stones, Rolling Thunder Revue, Shake Your Money Maker, Steve Gorman, Sven Pipien, Terminal 5, the Band, the Black Crowes
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Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires – Mercury Lounge – February 4, 2013
It was like something out of a TV show: Mercury Lounge, late on a Monday night, a few scattered folks lining the walls waiting for the headliner to take the stage, trying to stay awake, a distinct ho hum vibe in the room. Then the band hops onstage, guns a-blazin’ and takes the place from 0 to 60 in a couple of seconds, the room going from a blah, half-empty to a hyped-up where-did-these-people-come-from half-full, all caught in the thrall of Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires. Within the first few songs, Bains and the band went through the introductory chapters of the rock and roll book: Bains falling into the crowd mid-guitar riff, then getting into his lead guitarist’s face, then double solos back-to-back before climbing on the drum kit. Every rock band needs a great frontman, and the Glory Fires have Lee Bains III, who rocked the red-white-and-blue guitar strap embroidered with “LEB3” on it like few can.
The Glory Fires—two guitars, bass and drums—played a fireball set of Southern classic rock, channeling forefathers like the Allmans and Skynyrd with a healthy dose of the Black Crowes. After the first few numbers, they tweaked the sound in the monitors, as bands will do, asking for more guitar: The drummer petitioning the audience, “Hope y’all ain’t scared of a little guitar!” I hope not, too, because there was plenty of it as Bains rifled through songs off last year’s There Is a Bomb in Gilead and a whole slew of new ones, barely pausing in between. The running theme of the set was the band’s hometown of Birmingham, Ala., playing at least three songs about the city, stretching from general civic pride to missed sweethearts back home, all just another opportunity for Bains and his Glory Fires to crank up the volume and play some rock and roll. —A. Stein
Merge Records Showcase – Mercury Lounge – October 18, 2012
One could argue that no other independent label from the past 20 years has released as many instant classics as Merge Records. After all, they gave the OK for the Magnetic Fields to put out a three-album collection of 69 love songs, they introduced bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Arcade Fire to the world and they gave a rock act by the name of Spoon a second chance. So it’s safe to say that Merge is on a bit of a hot streak that might not be cooling off anytime soon. While any given day of the CMJ Music Marathon is a somewhat frantic race to absorb as much great music as possible, last night’s Merge showcase at Mercury Lounge, spanning almost seven hours and six different acts, was something of a cruel temptation and a great excuse for ruining the following workday by staying out past 2 a.m.
“It’s kind of hard to follow your label boss, though I’m sure he’d hate to be called that,” said Eleanor Friedberger, taking the stage after a set from Superchunk frontman and Merge Records cofounder Mac McCaughan. Friedberger played a solo acoustic set with some “in the works” new material that could come out early next year. She was followed by a searing set from Mount Moriah. “We’re Mount Moriah. We’re from Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and we’re really excited to put some records out on Merge,” said lead singer Heather McEntire. The set sampled songs off their self-titled debut, as well as some new tunes from their upcoming album. The band’s sound is familiar yet unique, a strange combination of all genres Americana (blues, rock, country, soul, gospel).
It makes sense that as of September they’re sharing a label with acts like Lambchop, self-proclaimed “Nashville’s most fucked–up country band.” Between Mount Moriah and another recent Merge signee (and show opener), William Tyler, it will be interesting to see if the label can continue to push the boundaries of country music, bringing this strange new iteration of the genre to music fans usually repulsed by the word country. “We’ve been listening to a lot of the Allman Brothers Band—I don’t know if you could tell,” said McEntire after firing through a particularly bluesy-rock new song. You could tell, but this was a very good thing. If the past is any indicator, 2013 should be a huge year for some or even all of these bands. And if the performances last night are any indicator, it probably will be. —Dan Rickershauser
Tags: Allman Brothers Band, Arcade Fire, CMJ Music Marathon, Eleanor Friedberger, Heather McEntire, Lambchop, Mac McCaughan, Mercury Lounge, Merge Records, Mount Moriah, Neutral Milk Hotel, Review, Spoon, Superchunk, William Tyler
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First there was the Allman Brothers Band. Then guitarist Warren Haynes and Allen Woody spun off to create the power trio Gov’t Mule. And now that group’s drummer, Matt Abts, and current bassist, Jorgen Carlsson, have teamed up with multi-instrumentalist and singer T-Bone Andersson to form the fantastically named Planet of the Abts. The threesome put out a self-titled album last year (stream it here) filled with originals and updated takes on the likes of the Stones’ “Off the Hook.” Listening to the LP, according to jambands.com, is like “crash-landing right in the middle of some amazingly wild-ass rhythm-infested cartoon world … except the band is very much real—and they happen to be very serious about making music.” But, of course, this music is even better live, and you can experience it that way when Planet of the Abts (above, doing “Anything You Want It to Be” at TRI Studios) plays The Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night.
Tags: Allen Woody, Allman Brothers Band, Bowery Ballroom, Gov’t Mule, Jorgen Carlsson, Matt Abts, Planet of the Abts, Preview, Rolling Stones, T-Bone Andersson, Video, Warren Haynes
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