While still waiting for Spring to actually show up in New York City, The Greyboy Allstars made their way to Brooklyn this past weekend for two jazz/funk-filled shows. Originating from San Diego, Karl Denson (saxophone, flute) Robert Walter (keyboards), Chris Stillwell (bass), Elgin Park (also known as Mike Andrews) (guitar), and Aaron Redfield (drums) bring a unique brand of dance friendly improv that centers around Denson’s vision of combining sax solos and tightly woven percussion beats. Denson’s arsenal these days sees much more than just two saxophones and a flute, as a cowbell, a shaker, a triangle, a tambourine and a dozen other “instruments” were littered on the stage.
[All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]
Although Denson might be the bands driving creative force, Robert Walter’s present organ work should not be overlooked. Songs like Cramp Your Style and Trash Trunk show off just how deep a Hammond organ can be. Walter’s ability to decorate any and every groove is truly a special gift that not many musicians possess.
The Greyboy Allstars were slated to play three sets on Saturday night with DJ Logic spinning in between one of the sets and after the third. For whatever reason, DJ Logic canceled at some point during the first set. When walking outside in between sets a flyer was posted informing the audience about the change. Set two featured a continuation of the Allstars performing most of their new album, Inland Emperor, for the Brooklyn crowd. The new material was strong, well rehearsed, and translated as well as their tunes from late 1990’s. Having some help from Maurice Brown (trumpet) & Cochemea Gastelum (sax), many attendees appeared to be pleased with what was a solid night of music, food and bowling. Here’s a full gallery of Andrew Blackstein’s photos of the Greyboy Allstars…
Watching Conspirator at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City, I was reminded of one of the finest TractorBeam shows on the same stage in ‘07. With a tighter stage, fans were able to experience their favorite musicians stretching their ideas in a different direction in a more intimate venue, than a typical Disco Biscuits show. With their own take on Pink Floyd’s, Another Brick in the Wall and great lighting to accent the band’s performances, everyone went home happy. Although no one seemed happier than Chris Michetti’s bandmate (in RAQ) Todd Stoops.
Sitting in for the second night in a row, Stoops waved his arms and made a few crazy faces as he played it up next to Aron Magner this past Thursday night.
Here’s a full gallery of Jeremy’s photos of Conspirator at the Gramercy Theatre…
HT faves Dumpstaphunk brought the funk to NYC’s Brooklyn Bowl on March 23rd, where the Ivan Neville-led act treated fans to a mix of new material from Dirty Word – an album set to be released later this year, originals from throughout their 10-year career and a cover of Funkadelic’s One Nation Under A Groove. The show even saw a guest spot from The London Souls guitarist Tash Neal.
[All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]
HT contributor Andrew Blackstein and our friend videographer LazyLightning55 were on hand at the Bowl and have turned in some exceptional photos and videos…
This past weekend RAQ fans made it past the cutesy “RAQ is BAQ” campaign and to the band’s music itself. The quartet formed in Burlington, Vermont back in 2000 and toured regularly through the summer of 2008. After that, RAQ gigs have been few and far between with keyboardist Todd Stoops moving on to help form funk-fusion act Kung Fu and guitarist Chris Michetti turning an unexpected call to help out the Disco Biscuits into a primary role in Conspirator. Despite Michetti and Stoops’ success in Conspirator and Kung Fu, the material and bond they forged and developed over those eight years, as well as the fanbase they developed, couldn’t be denied leading to the return of RAQ.
[All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]
When RAQ played their first gig of the year at February’s AURA Music Festival one major component of the band had changed. Drummer Greg Stukey sat out the reunion and was replaced by Kung Fu / Breakfast drummer Adrian Tramontano. Upon listening to RAQ’s set at AURA it was clear Tramontano’s relentless “animal-style” drumming fit the band’s music perfectly. As the quartet set out to play a trio of Northeast shows this past weekend, they had Tramontano along for the ride. The three-show run opened in Boston on Thursday night before the band descended upon The Big Apple for a gig with FiKus at the Gramercy Theater on Friday night.
Festival season is upon us as Upstate New York natives moe. rocked out Killington and Rutland, Vermont last weekend at snoe.down 2013, their annual winter music and sports festival. Hosts moe. performed at Killington’s Bear Mountain on Saturday afternoon, while playing the Spartan Arena in Rutland on Friday and Saturday nights. An acoustic VIP brunch at the Wobbly Barn in Killington was the headlining act’s final performance of the weekend. A slew of other artists were on the snoe.down bill as well including HT faves Dumpstaphunk, Strangefolk and Marco Benevento.
Attendees had the chance to take part in various activities surrounding the festival, including a snoe.down special Ski/Ride program offered to guests. Whether you like to ski, snowboard, tube or just listen to the music in one of the cozy lodges, snoe.down had endless options.
Phish keyboardist Page McConnell and The Meter Men teamed up for their first headlining gig of 2013 last night at the Grand Ballroom in New York City. The quartet delivered many of The Meters’ beloved tunes over the course of the lengthy show including Hey Pocky A-Way and Fire On The Bayou which videographer Marc Millman captured for our enjoyment…
Photographer Dino Perrucci was on hand and has filed a number of stunning shots…
Last Saturday night members of the Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, Spymob and Guster came together as the supergroup Yukon Kornelius for a rare set that was the featured performance of the FestEVOL 2013 at Okemo Mountain in Vermont. DJ Logic and O.A.R. opened the festivities which saw moe. guitarist Al Schnier, ex-Skid Row front man Sebastian Bach, Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider, actor Jason Biggs and Ratt guitarist Warren DeMartini all guest with Yukon Kornelius.
Yukon Kornelius played 25 songs in all including covers of material by Blue Öyster Cult, Talking Heads, Barenaked Ladies, Guster, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Cars, R.E.M., Led Zeppelin, Fuel, Tom Petty, Billy Idol, The Beatles, Godsmack, Twisted Sister, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Spinal Tap, Scorpions and AC/DC. The group started the set with their only original of the night, a song dubbed “Since We First Met” that featured lots of freestyle rapping by BNL’s Ed Robertson.
Our friends at Ben & Jerry’s sponsored the event and have shared the following gallery of Justin Gural’s photos from FestEVOL 2013 with us for your viewing pleasure…
There’s a band out on the highway, They’re high steppin’ into town, It’s a rainbow full of sound, It’s fireworks, calliopes and clowns. Everybody dancin’. C’mon children, C’mon children, Come on clap your hands. Sun went down in honey and the moon came up in wine, You know stars were spinnin’ dizzy, Lord The band kept us so busy we forgot about the time. – The Music Never Stopped (Barlow/Weir)
For four days the 27th annual SXSW Music Festival was the equivalent of my own living jukebox. A cacophony of sounds emanated from every imaginable space in Austin, Texas – creating a non-stop playground for music fans. This is spring break for adults. It’s an aural buffet of genres. It’s darkened bars and make-shift stages in parking lots. It’s bands playing for as few as ten people in a Mexican restaurant to crowds of thousands in an amphitheater attached to a legendary BBQ joint. It’s a giant choose-your-own-adventure book, with infinite possibilities each day. It’s an intoxicating experience that leaves you both enthralled and exhausted each day, as you hustle from show to show, sometimes fully knowing the band that you’re about to see, while other times just taking a chance on one that you overheard someone talking about.
There is no right way or wrong way to experience SXSW. You can spend your time each day hunting down parties that offer the promise of free booze, or setup shop at one venue that offers two stages of continuous music or stand in line for hours to get into a club show from an act that has put those days of playing small rooms way behind them. You can plan your schedule for weeks leading up to the fest, only to throw all that out the window once you take that first step onto Sixth Street.
It had been four years since I last attended SXSW, and there were some noticeable differences from the last time I was in Austin. First and foremost, the hip-hop world seems to have finally gotten the memo that the fest isn’t just for buzz-y indie bands or bearded Americana acts anymore. The genre is tailor-made for SXSW, as it’s best consumed in 20-plus minute high energy sets. Every hip hop show I passed seemed to be more packed than the next, as the rapid-fire pace gets the audience involved right from the start. The other noticeable difference for me was having a smart phone. Back in 2009 iPhones were still expensive toys for tech geeks, and Twitter was still in its infancy. The well-designed SXSW app was truly a revelation making for easy planning, band discovery and maps to every venue – which can be tricky to find if they are off the beaten path.
Historically, Saturday, the last day of SXSW, tends to be the thinnest day of the week. Most of the bands and quite a large number of industry folk flee town before the weekend, smartly avoiding the mass exodus on Sunday and the overwhelming crowds that descend upon Sixth Street in hordes that seem greater than normal. Unlike the Olympics, there are no “official” closing ceremonies but unofficially John Fogerty, Vampire Weekend and Justin Timberlake will play “closing” sets. Oh yes, there’s also Prince, but that seems to be Samsung-sponsored boondoggle and it’s unclear whether badge holders are even encouraged to go. Timberlake’s gig appears to be a guerrilla-style affair with the location being tweeted by MySpace like a siren call during the day. Yes, I too am surprised that MySpace has money to afford this.
Despite the fact that there is no MOG showcase this year, the line for Mohawk extends well down Red River and the day showcases are filling up much earlier with locals making SXSW their Saturday activity.
At the All Things Go Music/Indieshuffle day party, Haerts, from Germany are entertaining a crowd that would be deemed healthy under normal circumstances but for shortly after noon, it’s quite impressive. From Germany, you would have to think that the odd spelling of their name owes less to a Gaelic homage to the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and more to solid advice from their intellectual property attorneys. Their set consists of pleasing pop that flows nicely from one song to the next.
Soulive closed out their fourth annual Bowlive residency at NYC’s Brooklyn Bowl last night with what was the band’s 40th show at the Williamsburg venue. The trio welcomed a number of guests for the Bowlive finale, all of which have been regulars over the past week, and each guest received a t-shirt commemorating the event with the “Bowlive” logo on the front and “40″ on the back.
[All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]
Considering the impressive list of guests, both expected and unexpected, who performed with Soulive over the course of the eight-show run, there were high hopes for a surprise artist or two to share the stage with the trio besides announced guests The Shady Horns and funk legend George Porter Jr. Though the surprises were limited to saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum and The London Souls, the true highlight of the night was the otherworldly interplay displayed by Neal and Alan Evans and Eric Krasno as they stretched everything out in the first set and expertly backed Porter during the rest of the show.
With many of the artists that make SXSW so appealing fleeing before the weekend, Friday usually provides one last chance to catch bands that you’ve missed so far on the theory that you’ll catch them later. On a separate note, the two things I think I’ve enjoyed most when they occur: a lead singer talking to the audience while forgetting that their reverb level is still set to maximal distortion and a set simply ending without fanfare as the band simply puts down their instruments and everyone disperses. The latter is such a corporate way to end a set. There’s also the tall person that parks themselves in front of me and then immediately ignores the band to tweet, text or facey-spacey. But I get that in New York too. Apparently, it’s a universal social skill possessed by crowds in all states.
[Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears Photo by Joan Bowlen for Glide]
The Sam Chase Band entertains the early risers at Red Eyed Fly as part of the After The Gold Rush party which treats the guests to Bloody Marys (and tasty ones at that). With fiddles, banjo and sax, they are reminiscent of a rowdy band that plays the saloon where the villains hang out in a western flick.
Wild Belle bisects their set on the airier outside stage. The siblings from Chicago offer up high quality reggae-inflected, indie pop and with added confidence, the attractive Natalie Bergman has the makings of a fine front woman.
One of the inanities at SXSW is the pre-festival pressure to RSVP for certain day parties. For the most part, it’s a non-sensical endeavor. With a couple exceptions, no one is getting turned away from a free party because they didn’t click on a virtual button two weeks prior. Unsurprisingly, the party host simply wants your e-mail address and demographic information. The Fader Fort holds to the mandatory RSVP policy but allows plus ones and gives deference to badge holders. Another, a bit pretentiously, is SPIN magazine, who unnecessarily complicates the process of coming to their showcase by adhering to the RSVP policy. Quite frankly, if this works to keep you out, it’s a moronic mess; if you get in, it’s a minor inconvenience and a reward to forethought. Either way, SPIN shouldn’t be doing anything that paints them in a bad light. How many times have they gone bankrupt?
On Thursday night, Wilco front man Jeff Tweedy played his second and final benefit show of the month at the Vic Theatre in Chicago. These now annual shows are notable for the fact that the first 30 people in line get to pick the setlist for that night.
As the house lights dimmed shortly after 7:30, Tweedy emerged from behind the large black curtain to a rousing ovation. Sporting thick-rimmed glasses, jeans and a denim jacket, some may think he was channeling his inner hipster, but I suspect age has something to do with his fashionable specs.
The prior night, Tweedy referred to his array of guitars as “The B Team” noting that his main gear was already on its way to Australia for Wilco’s upcoming Pacific Rim tour, which begins later this month. Nevertheless, the six guitars – including one 12-string – ranged in color from a light wood shade to a dark amber hue. Despite having six guitars, Tweedy only indulged in using two of them.
It seems somewhat strange that getting to downtown Austin shortly before 2 feels like running late and that opportunities are being missed. Will there only be 12 hours of music instead of 14? How terrible. How slothful. While there may be no rest for the weary, sometimes the weary get to rest. On the way downtown, there is solace in the comment from Foxygen’s Sam France, who in feeling that they weren’t at their best explained that they generally aren’t awake and playing music this early.
En route to Emo’s, there’s a quick pit stop that involves The James Douglas Show, doing a tremendous impression of Living Colour from the late ’80s. High octane vocals from the blond coiffed, heavily muscled Douglas (presumably) and hi-hop metal ease into deep and smooth funk nicely augmented with organ and keys. Their allure fades quick as the move to more standard fare.
On the Jr. stage at Emo’s, the home for the Brooklyn Vegan festivities, PAWS from Glasgow, Scotland beckon the crowd closer to the stage before unleashing a burst of Vaselines inspired rock. The rest of their set is a high-paced Nirvana-influenced set with deep bass, powerful drums and vocals at a near scream. We are finally at an age where the younger bands of today are growing up with Nirvana and grunge rock as a deep influence. PAWS is definitely in a happier place than much of the grunge rock godfathers.
Looking out on a capacity crowd at St.Louis’s venerable music hall The Pageant, the members of Yonder Mountain String Band had to be gratified to see their hard work so well rewarded. It’s said that it’s better to work smart than to work hard, but Yonder took the road less traveled and did both, and it’s gotten them where they are today, playing sold out shows to diehard fans.
While the grind of constant touring has broken the dreams of many acts it seems to have just made Jeff Austin, Adam Aijala, Dave Johnston and Ben Kaufmann that much stronger as people and a unit. More than a decade of methodically criss-crossing the nation, building more than a fan base, but an actual family has paid off in so many more ways than just financially. It isn’t tough to imagine how hard the separation from family and the rigors of travel are on a band, and having such a stellar support network of smiling faces goes a long way into making the journey that much more than simply earning a living. There isn’t a city they have visited where there aren’t members of their vast network of supporters, known collectively as “Kinfolk,” waiting to spend time with their leaders. And the love of the Kinfolk is returned a hundred times over by the band, like a fire being stoked by love instead of wood.
In years past, Wednesday’s unofficial day parties would, for most, officially start their SXSW. Six years ago, Jeff Davidson and I contributed to the festivities with Earvolution’s inaugural (and only) afternoon event. (Two artists from that showcase will be playing SXSW 2013: Joshua James and Ace Reporter’s Chris Snyder formerly of The States). With Tuesday becoming the new Wednesday, there is tempered excitement while heading into downtown Austin.
As it their custom, Paste Magazine has taken over The Stage At 6th for the week, this year pairing with HGTV, running two stages making it The Stages At 6th. As is also their custom, they’ve booked eclectic showcases featuring a wide variety of genres as well as a nice mix of buzzbands and soon to be buzzed about bands.
After a quick run down Sixth Street due to a change in bus routes, it’s a Lone star with The Lone Bellow. Well, it would be but for Red Hook Brewery’s sponsorship and free IPAs and ESBs. The bartender responds to my query about what makes the ESB extra special with a tired “I don’t know.” I suspect I’m not the first person to ask this. The Lone Bellow may owe a debt of gratitude to Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers but with gorgeous harmonies and lovely acoustic folk melodies, they can definitely stand their own ground. Their debut record may not do justice in showing how solid they are.