The most well-known farewell concert in classic rock history took place on Thanksgiving night in 1976 when The Band played their final show together at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Forever known as The Last Waltz, the Martin Scorsese helmed documentary of the star-studded event may not be beloved by the majority of the film’s subjects but it has become the benchmark for any final musical soiree. One of the most notable aspects of the evening was the inclusion of the wide swath of musicians that The Band touched, both personally and professionally. In that respect, The Last Waltz indirectly captured a facet of the music business that while well-known, often evades explicit discussion. Namely, that over the course of any musician’s career, they are formed by and help form dozens of other musicians along the way.
[Photo by Robert Bloom]
David Lott, a guitarist most likely known to Hidden Track’s readership from his time with Licorice and The Whitewalls as well as his recent solo work that includes the marvelous EP, The Gates Of Brooklyn, will be moving his base of operations from the hip environs of Brooklyn to the spacious mountains of Colorado. In leaving the Tri-State area with one final hurrah, Lott served as the focal point for the whimsically titled Lott’s Waltz, which gathered nearly every musician he’s worked with over the past decade for one last show. Never maudlin, Lott’s farewell soiree was one of the more musically satisfying, emotionally uplifting shows of the summer.
In addition to bassist Matt Epstein and drummer Josh Bloom, current members of The Whitewalls, the band into which Licorice evolved, musicians from all periods of Lott’s career appeared at the Bowery Electric. Licorice’s keyboardist Chad Dinzes and Josh Kessler, the producer of Licorice’s sole EP, sat in on an extended versions of A Million Grains Of Sand and Freeze. Singer Rebecca Hart, whom Lott, Epstein and drummer Dan Barman backed for many years as The Sexy Children, revisited covers of Miss Ohio and Whipping Post. Upright bassist Adam Roberts, lap steel guitarist Riley McMahon and guitarist Thomas Bryan Eaton, frequent collaborators on Lott’s solo material, periodically eased on to the stage to leave their distinctive mark on Lott originals and Eric Silverman (Silvertone) and Rob Ward (Food Will Win The War) enlivened covers of Breakdown, Million Dollar Bill and a medley of Where Is The Time and Say It Ain’t So.
[Photo by Robert Bloom]
Outside of a small circle of friends, the guests that appeared with Lott in the East Village may not be familiar names. Nonetheless, in the breadth of worlds from which they came and the seamless manner in which various combinations of musicians played together, Lott’s Waltz was just as satisfying an evening as its philosophical forbearer. Far from a melancholy affair, Lott seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, his enthusiasm coming through his guitar work, which shone brightly in its inspiration and energy.
At the close of the show, Lott borrowed a page from The Black Crowes, bringing everyone back onto the stage for a romp through The Rolling Stones’ The Last Time, letting the question of whether the song serves as ironic comment or prophecy go unanswered.
Some interesting releases from the close of the summer season.
The Divine Fits, a supergroup of sorts consisting of Britt Daniel from Spoon, Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade and The Handsome Furs (the group also includes the drummer of the New Bomb Turks but I cannot figure out how he or that band warrant equal billing to Spoon or Wolf Parade), released their debut album, A Thing Called The Divine Fits. The album demonstrates how good dance music can be when it’s played by musicians that love rock and roll.
As with every one of their albums, Animal Collective’s latest Centipede Hz will inspire much discussion over the next few weeks. Since releasing Strawberry Jam in 2007, the experimental psychedelic freaksters have made a concerted effort to make music that pleases as much as it challenges. While no longer antagonistic to the ears, Animal Collective is hardly sending overtures to the mainstream. Stephen Hyden, doing a fantastic impression of Chuck Klosterman, might be completely correct when he said on Grantland that Centipede Hz is for people who have already decided that they like Animal Collective.
Ten Mile Tide, who in the last decade flirted with success in the acoustic jam/jamgrass world, released The Finish Line’s Got Nothing On The Race, their first album in about four years. Less twangy than their prior effort, their latest compares favorably to Reid Genauer’s brand of laid-back, mildly funky rock. If The Finish Line marks a return by the San Francisco collective, it is a welcome one.
I am late to this bandwagon but let me finish this edition of Hitting The Trunk Road by heaping more effusive praise on Spotify. In addition to hosting nearly every Bill Cosby routine ever released on vinyl (still funny after 40 years) and Buckner & Garcia’s album full of homages to 80s arcade games, Spotify led me back to First Light, the Cleveland-based reggae band that was one of my favorites from my time in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Led by Carlos Jones, who still plays with The P.L.U.S. Band in and around Cleveland and its suburbs while also marketing his Positive Vibrations line of gourmet coffee, First Light played their last show in the late 90s, leaving legions of reggae lovers without a band to tell them where reggae comes from (because we want to know where reggae comes from). Live At The Empire not only captures the fun of Where Reggae Comes From, it has a fantastic version of Bend Yo Back.