All posts by Mike Vasquez

Five from the Archive: Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2015

It’s been a few years since the last Five from the Archive post, but we haven’t lost touch with the Live Music Archive.  It just keeps growing and getting better. So we’re bringing Five from the Archive back. To start, we’ll be focusing on my favorite form of musical flattery – covers – from a few different bands. For our first go around, it’s the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Tedeschi Trucks became a band when Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (now married) merged their bands together a few years ago. They are huge on the festival circuit, and growing more popular each year. They do extensive touring, and are currently on their Wheels of Soul Summer Tour, with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings opening up.

As a band, Tedeschi Trucks is like an old school soul revue meets the Allman Brothers. They’ve got two guitar players (Tedeschi and Trucks), two drummers, a keyboard player, a bass player, plus two back up vocalists and a horn section. A big band that knows how to occupy (and not occupy) the open spaces in a song. They’ve released two of their own albums, and they do a good number of covers. Today we’re highlighting five of the covers they’ve played so far in 2015.

1.  Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”. A classic Dylan song. From The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, it’s just Bob and his guitar, but here it becomes a soulful big band ballad in the hands of Tedeschi Trucks. There are great flute and trumpet solos in there, too. Full show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – January 17, 2015 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, Fl.

2. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Oh! You Pretty Things”. A surprise but welcome choice, and a great cover. This is old school David Bowie, going back to the early 70s and Hunky Dory. It’s mostly just him and the piano on the album, and so it is here – mostly Tedeschi’s vocals and a spare piano accompaniment, that builds to the full band as the song progresses. People have no idea what song they’re playing. I love it. Full Show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – January 18, 2015 at Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Fl.

3. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Space Captain”. “Space Captain” is practically a standard for Tedeschi Trucks now. It’s a frequent encore selection. It originally comes from Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishman record. Full Show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – February 21, 2015 at Warner Theatre in Washington D.C.

4. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Living Loving Maid -> What Is And What Should Never Be  -> The Storm”. OK, I’ll admit, this one is a bit of a stretch as a full fledged cover. It’s not. The band plays around with the riffs from the two Led Zeppelin songs for a few minutes, but the rest of the clip is their original “The Storm” from Made Up Mind. It’s a solid jam, though. Full show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – April 17, 2015 at Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading, PA.

5. Tedeschi Trucks Band – “I’ve Got A Feeling”. Here’s an example of where the background vocalists get elevated to lead vocal. They both add so much depth to the band’s sound. This version of The Beatles “I’ve Got A Feeling” highlights some of that added depth. Full show: Tedeschi Trucks Band – May 18, 2015 at Central Park Summer Stage.

Not a bad collection of covers, and we’re not even halfway through 2015 yet. I’m going to see these guys again this summer, this time at Meadow Brook Music Festival. Can’t wait to see them and Sharon Jones.

Find more of Mike’s work at MVP Presents. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

[Ed. Note: Image from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Michael F. O’Brien]

Five From the Archive: Smashing Pumpkins in 2011

The Smashing Pumpkins at Le Grand Rex in Paris, France. May 22, 2007

Rolling Stone recently ran a Readers’ Poll of The Best Smashing Pumpkins Songs, as selected by their readers. The response was so large and varied that they decided to make it a Top 20 list instead of the regular Top 10 with Rolling Stone Readers’ Polls. I had been planning on running a Five From the Archive piece on the Smashing Pumpkins anyway, and when I read this, I thought it afforded the perfect opportunity. Here’s what I’ve done.

Last fall, the new Smashing Pumpkins lineup – Jimmy Chamberlin is out on drums – did a short tour of the states in October, and a quick jaunt into Europe in November. So I chose five songs from those shows that were also included in the Reader’s Poll. All but one of the selections are from Siamese Dreams, for two reasons. First, the album dominates the Readers’ Poll. Second, I have a special attachment to the record. I was a bit obsessed with it when it came out. I went on and on about what a brilliant set of songs I thought it was, to anyone who would listen. Including some GloNo colleagues I knew back then.

1. Smashing Pumpkins – “Starla”.  This epic length track, from Siamese Dream days, came in at Number 2o in the Readers’ Poll. I remember “Starla” from one of the many CD singles they were releasing at that time. I’m going to be honest with you. Some of my college buddies and I enjoyed sparking up to this one at the time. Full show: October 7, 2011 – Fox Theater, Oakland, CA

2. Smashing Pumpkins – “Geek U.S.A.”. This one of my favorite tracks from Siamese Dream.  I loved the three song sequence on the album of “Geek U.S.A.”, “Mayonaise”, and “Spaceboy”. I thought it represented some pretty innovative rock and roll at the time. It came in at Number 13 in the Reader’s Poll. Full show: October 14, 2011 – Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

3. Smashing Pumpkins – “Zero”. This is the one not on Siamese Dreams. If you guessed that, give yourself a gold star. Full show: November 13, 2011 – 02 Academy, Glasgow, Scotland came in at Number 12 in the Reader’s Poll.

4. Smashing Pumpkins – “Soma” Apparently, this is also the brand name of a drug called Carisoprodol. It’s a muscle relaxant. “Soma” came in at Number 4 in the Reader’s Poll. Full show: November 11, 2011 – Manchester Apollo, Manchester, UK

5. Smashing Pumpkins – “Cherub Rock”. The recording for this one isn’t as hi fi as the others, or something. It’s quieter, anyway. Good rocker. “Cherub Rock” came in at Number 3 in the Reader’s Poll. That’s the closet we got to the number one song. Full show: October 17, 2011 – 930 Club, Washington, DC

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the author, Matthew F.

Five From the Archive: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals Play Songs From Their New Album

Grace Potter

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals released a new record earlier this year, The Lion The Beast The Beat. I was a big fan of the first single, “Never Go Back” when it came out, and what I’ve heard of the new record is also great. Her songwriting continues to mature, and I swear I notice some prog rock influence in a few of these songs. Or that may just be wishful thinking on my part.

They played five tracks off the new album at this show in late April. The band is tight and enaged. Go see them if you can.

Full Show: April 25, 2012 – The Blue Note, Columbia, MO

1. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “The Divide”. The first song of the evening, but the last track on the album (excluding bonus tracks).

2. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “Turntable”. The first time they played this one live. “I fell in love with a beautiful sound…” Me, too.

3. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “The Lion The Beast The Beat”. The title track. Some cool guitar riffs here.

4. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “Never Go Back”. This was the first single, which got lots of early exposure. They played this when they were on Ellen.

5. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – “Timekeeper”. Starts out with just Grace on the piano. Then some drums, a little bass. Later, guitar. But for most of the song, the focus is on the piano. I like the epic flavor of this track.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals served as one of the earliest bands featured in Five From the Archive. Check out her covers of Bob Dylan, Otis Redding and others.

Photo courtesy of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.

Getting Ready for Hoxeyville Music Festival

Hoxeyville Music Festival 2012

It’s about that time. September is just around the corner, and the summer festival season is almost at an end. With Summer Camp and All Good behind us, we’ve got one more music festival to see. One more to round out a summer of great festivals and music across the Midwest. Hoxeyville Music Festival (August 17 – 19) is in Northern Michigan, smack dab in the middle of Manistee National Forest. We covered Hoxeyville for the first time back in 2010, and we’re even more excited about this year.

The organizers have pulled together another great lineup. It’s a very Michigan artist focused festival, as you can see from the artist roster, and there are a couple of great national acts playing, too. Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers are headlining, and just for me, they’ve got two amazing post Grateful Dead bands playing – Bill Kreutzmann‘s 7 Walkers and the Mickey Hart Band. So if you’re anywhere near Michigan, you might want to take the time to check it out. Here are some of the bands we’re particularly excited to see.

7 Walkers

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld5hKeZQGFo&w=560&h=315]

7 Walkers – “Sugaree”

This is the band I’m most excited to see at Hoxeyville. Bill Kreutzmann on drums, with Papa Mali on guitar and vocals, and George Porter on bass and vocals. George Porter was a founding member of The Meters. He sings “Sugaree” here, and really belts it out. Papa Mali is a great guitar player from New Orleans. Together, these guys bring New Orleans funk and soul to the Grateful Dead sound.

Mickey Hart Band

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFT2w9YGzcw&w=560&h=315]

Mickey Hart Band – “Brokedown Palace”

Here they are at All Good, doing a slow, soulful “Brokedown Palace”. And the video is great. Hats off to the videographer. As the song starts, he’s walking down the hill towards the stage, and stops by the tapers (in front of the soundboard) to capture the rest of the song. I don’t know what he was using to tape it, but he’s pretty steady all the way down the hill.

Greensky Bluegrass

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCr-pItRqwg&w=560&h=315]

Greensky Bluegrass – “China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider”

We’ve covered Greensky Bluegrass a couple of times here before, and they are always high on our list of bands to see at music festivals (they played at both Summer Camp and All Good this year). This video is from when we saw them at Hoxeyville in 2010. The Rhythm Devils played that year, too, and both Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart joined them on stage for a stellar rendition of “China Cat Sunflower” into”I Know You Rider”. If you listen carefully, you can hear me yell “Mickey!” when Hart gets behind his drum kit. Yes, I almost wet my pants with excitement. That’s just how I roll.

Seth Bernard and May Erlewine

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzipdd8y-ho&w=560&h=315]

Seth Bernard and May Erlewine – “Ain’t No Sunshine”

I was first introduced to Seth Bernard and May Erlewine at Hoxeyville in 2010. They were all over the schedule. As Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, Airborne or Aquatic?, Paul Hoffman vs. Seth Bernard, and probably a few other places, too. This clip is from a show they did at The Ark in Ann Arbor in 2011. Listen to May sing “I know, I know, I know…” and try not to fall in love with her voice. They represent some of the best musical talent in Michigan, and they are an integral part of what makes Hoxeyville what it is.

Paul Hoffman vs. Seth Bernard

Continuing on with the Seth Bernard focus, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Paul Hoffman vs. Seth Bernard. Paul Hoffman is the mandolin player, vocalist, and one of the songwriters in Greensky Bluegrass. When we saw them at Hoxeyville last time, it was just the two of them on stage, greeting the morning crowd with some of their own tunes, and this rendition of Neil Young‘s “Cortez the Killer”. A must listen (sorry, no video!)

Paul Hoffman vs. Seth Bernard – “Cortez the Killer”

Airborne or Aquatic?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCMly1uz1wY&w=560&h=315]

Airborne or Aquatic? – [No idea what this jam is called]

Airborne or Aquatic? is another Seth and May production. It’s sort of “supergroup” of Michigan players, and Hoxeyville is one of the few places they get together. It’s totally spacey, trippy music, as you can see from this video, which starts out with some spoken word stuff from Lee Sprague, Tribal Council Member of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. Should be a trip again this year.

I could go on and on here, highlighting all the great music you catch at Hoxeyville this year. But there just isn’t enough time. I’ll just say that I’m also excited to see The Macpodz, The Ragbirds, The Josh Davis Band, Naive Melodies (Talking Heads cover band!), and The Red Sea Pedestrians performing Abbey Road (regular GloNo readers are familiar with my unhealthy obsession with covers and cover bands).

Festival tickets are still available. You can grab them here. Hope to see you there!

 

All Good Music Festival 2012: Highlights

All Good Music Festival 2012

On our way back from All Good this year, we agreed it was – hands down – the best music festival we’ve been to. This is for a whole host of reasons, but must importantly, the music was outstanding. As I noted in our All Good preview, there were a number of bands we were excited to see. One of the great things about the All Good Music Festival is that they set up two stages right next to each other. While one band plays, they are setting up the next band on the adjacent stage. So there’s basically no gap to the music all day, once it starts, and you get to hang out in the same general area – not so much walking from stage to stage.

Add to that generally good weather, non-cramped camping accommodations, and extremely friendly staff, and you’ve got yourself a music festival to remember. Onto the musical highlights.

Thursday, July 19, 2012: The Music Never Stopped

The music didn’t start until 7 on Thursday, but I could have gone home happy after the first night alone. Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby, and Branford Marsalis, followed by Phil Lesh and Friends. Both sets were outstanding. I had earlier speculated that we might just see Weir, Hornsby, and Marsalis, without accompaniment. Or maybe just the addition of a drummer and bass player. What we got was Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, with special guests Bob Weir and Branford Marsalis, playing a whole lotta Grateful Dead tunes. Plus two Hornsby tracks. The set started a bit rough, but it only got better as they gelled on stage. You can give their set a listen over at the Live Music Archive.

I also speculated a bit about who was going to be playing with Phil Lesh and Friends. I wrote that I hoped he would have Jackie Greene with him, and he was. Plus Joe Russo on drums, two of Phil’s sons, Grahame and Brian, and – a very pleasant surprise – Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams from Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble. The set was like Phil Lesh meets the Midnight Ramble. Some Grateful Dead tunes were in the set and some songs that you might have heard at a Levon Helm show – “Chest Fever”, “Long Black Veil”, and “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning”, for example. It was my first time seeing Phil Lesh and Friends live, and this line up was a treat. You can listen to their set here.

Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby, and Branford Marsalis (with Hornsby’s Noisemakers)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0CcLpbyQNE&w=560&h=315]

Friday, July 20, 2012: The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips were amazing! The first track they played, “Race for the Prize”, ended up being a top 5 rock and roll moment for me. I was standing stage left, in the photo pit, tucked in a corner by a big ass speaker, trying to take decent pictures of the insanity. Confetti and smoke all over the stage… I could have died happily in that moment.
They also played Pink Floyd’s “On The Run” – the psychedelic electronic experimental freakout from Darkside of the Moon – while Coyne climbed into the bubble and walked out over the crowd. He didn’t stay out as long as I’d expected to but it was a thing to behold nonetheless. If you haven’t ever seen the Flaming Lips, you should really try to work them into your live music schedule sometime. They will not disappoint. Q Magazine was spot on when they put the Flaming Lips in their top 50 list of bands you must see before you die. In the meantime, check out the video below of their whole show.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkt_y5F88-g&w=560&h=315]

Sunday, July 22, 2012: Non Stop Rock Block

Sunday was the hottest day of the festival, and I was feeling a bit physically run down by then. The good news was that the day’s lineup was a must see for me, the strongest afternoon of music the entire weekend. I think the organizers did a tremendous job lining up a solid block of great music to keep us going on Sunday afternoon.

Corey Harris and the Rasta Blues Experience

Corey Harris and the Rasta Blues Experience

Corey Harris was the first artist of the day. He and his band, The Rasta Blues Experience, brought a rich mix of reggae, blues, rock, and funk to the stage. Harris plays guitar and lap steel. I really enjoyed his slide playing. Great songs that cut across genres, one to the next. Conscious music that’s only occasionally preachy. I would have liked to see him in an evening time slot, but I’m glad All Good introduced me to his music.

Devil Makes Three

Devil Makes Three

Devil Makes Three was also new to me. They play folk music that bounces with a punk rock sensibility. There’s some rockabilly in their sound, too. They are a three piece – guitar, banjo, and bass. All acoustic. The guitar player seemed to be the “lead” singer, with the other two hopping in on harmony pretty frequently. A particular treat form their set was their cover of Blind Willie McTell’s Statesboro Blues. Definitely want to see these guys again.

Mickey Hart Band

Mickey Hart Band

Well, I am now a big fan of the Mickey Hart Band. They had an hour and fifteen minutes to impress the crowd, and they did. Mickey has been able to move the furthest out from the “standard” Grateful Dead sound with his new band. He and his band have created something part Dead, part world music, and part the collective identity of the band members themselves. The lead guitar player is able to play in a completely non Jerry Garcia style of guitar playing – more Santana-ish to me – but will also weave some Jerry-ness into his playing when appropriate. Their version of “Fire on the Moutain” was a case in point. He broke out the familiar MXR pedal, or at least a reproduction of its sound – what my buddies and I called a “fart pedal” when we were kids. I love that sound almost more than life itself. I was dancing around like an idiot for the whole song.

So there you have it. Lots of great music at All Good this year, and I’ve only covered some of it here. I’m already looking forward to next year’s All Good. Hope to see you there.

 

Five From the Archive: Elliott Smith in 2003

Elliott Smith is giving Warren Zevon a run for his money. Or is this just the second time I’m highlighting work by Elliott Smith? Either way, you can expect more. This one will be the most painful. The year was 2003. I had just arrived at my hotel in York, England (business trip). I called my then wife to check in now that I was at my destination. She told me Elliott Smith had killed himself. Stabbed himself – twice – in the chest. I distinctly remember having a physical reaction to this. I was lying on the hotel bed, with my legs hanging over the edge, my feet on the ground (bed was low, I know). I felt like my heart skipped a beat, and had a sudden rush of… adrenaline or something.

Elliott Smith!? Dead!? He’d barely just begun. One of the greatest songwriting voices around at that time. At least I’d gotten to see him a handful of times in New York, and was able to appreciate his talent before he died. Thankfully for all of us, there are about 95 Elliott Smith shows currently available on the Live Music Archive. What follows is a selection of tracks from his final year, 2003. What a loss.

1. Elliott Smith – “Rose Parade”. Just Smith on the acoustic guitar as accompaniment. Lo-fi audience recording, but it captures the song pretty well. Just don’t play it loud at a party. Full show: September 19, 2003 – Redfest, Salt Lake City, UT

2. Elliott Smith – “Coast to Coast”. This is one of my favorite songs from Basement on the Hill. Fucking awesome. It’s a lo-fi audience recording, too, but it’s a full band this time. This particular show has been downloaded over 19,000 times. Full show: May 28, 2003 – The Derby, Los Angeles, CA

3. Elliott Smith – “A Distorted Reality Is Know A Necessity To Be Free”. Demonstrates how vulnerable he was at this time. The audience is deadly quiet (after the banter and a few false starts at the beginning, anyway). Full show: May 22, 2003 – Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, CA

4. Elliott Smith – “King’s Crossing”. Favorite track from Basement. Acoustic version. Full show: January 31, 2003 – Henry Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

5. Elliott Smith – “Pretty (Ugly Before)”. Full show: May 3, 2003 – The Steamboat, Austin, TX

You can find earlier coverage of Elliott Smith’s work on Five For the Archive here.

Image of Elliott Smith courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

 

All Good Music Festival: 2012 Preview

This will be our second time covering the All Good Music Festival (the first time was in 2010 – see our coverage here, here, and here). And it’s our second festival of the season (see our recent Summer Camp coverage). The festival is just a few short weeks away now – July 19 – 22. The lineup is really exciting this year, and we’re going to highlight some of the bands here. This year’s lineup is a bit Grateful Dead-centric, at least among the headliners. Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Mickey Hart are all appearing, each with their own band. If only Bill Kreutzmann‘s 7 Walkers was playing, all the remaining members of the Grateful Dead would be making an appearance (the good news is that we’ll be able to see them at Hoxeyville Music Festival this year). Plus, Dark Star Orchestra – one of my favorite bands to see live – will be bringing their brand of Grateful Dead fun to the stage. Here’s a bit about each of the above bands, plus a few more (Hint: The Flaming Lips!!).

Phil Lesh & Friends

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQg2mY7xMLk&w=560&h=315]

Phil Lesh & Friends – “Passenger”

Phil Lesh & Friends get second billing for the festival, after The Allman Brothers Band, and they are the band I’m most excited to see. For me, the big question with Phil and Friends is… Who will the Friends be? Phil Lesh has been putting together bands under this moniker since 1999. Many famous and respected players have with Phil Lesh & Friends – Trey Anastasio, Steve Kimock, Warren Haynes, Ryan Adams, Chris Robinson, and more.

Lesh has played with two different lineups this year. In February, Phil Lesh & Friends played a three night run with a lineup I’d love to see at All Good: Warren Haynes (guitar, vocals), Jackie Greene (guitar, keyboards, vocals), John Scofield (guitar), Joe Russo (drums), and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards). All the shows are available on the Live Music Archive. Lesh also did some shows in April at his new venue Terrapin Crossroads with what he terms as the classic Phil Lesh Quintet: Lesh, Haynes (guitar), Rob Barraco (keyboardist), Jimmy Herring (guitar), and John Molo (drums). Haynes and Barraco will both be at All Good as it is – Haynes with The Allman Brothers Band and Barraco with Dark Star Orchestra. So I think there’s a good chance those two will be among the Friends. Maybe Jackie Greene, too? A man can hope…

Here’s the February 2012 incarnation of Phil and Friends playing “Passenger”, a tune Lesh wrote back in the late 70s when he thought the Grateful Dead needed a few more rockers in their repertoire. They retired the song in 1981, but Lesh has brought it back, and it’s getting a lot of play now. And, indeed, it does rock.

Bob Weir & Bruce Hornsby with special guest Branford Marsalis

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KYMiZpIYfI&w=560&h=315]

Bob Weir & Bruce Hornsby – “Hell In A Bucket”

Prepare to break out your jazz hands, people. Bob Weir and Bruce Hornsby have done a few shows together already this year (see the video above) This time, they’re bringing another heavy hitter with them: Branford Marsalis, the legendary jazz saxophonist and brother of famed trumpet player Wynton Marsalis. Both Marsalis and Hornsby have played with the Grateful Dead in the past (Marsalis as a featured guest, Hornsby as a temporary member of the band after Brent Mydland died), and both bring significant bodies of their own work to the table as well.

I imagine the show will be something like this video of “Hell In A Bucket”, but with Marsalis adding his voice to the mix. But who knows? It’s unclear from their listing what the band’s make up will be. But there could be a drummer and a bass player, too. Crosby, Stills, and Nash had a drummer and a bass player. They just didn’t get a name check. It could be the same with Weir, Hornsby, and Marsalis (which I believe I just coined, btw). In the meantime, check out the Weir & Hornsby video.

Mickey Hart Band

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoPmx6eXOMQ&w=560&h=315]

The Mickey Hart Band Winter Tour 2011/2012

“So we’re going to go out there… enjoy the ride.” That’s how Mickey Hart starts off this video highlighting his band’s Winter 2011/2012 tour. And it looks like they do a good amount of space exploration, but in a way the kids can keep bouncing to (different, in my opinion, than the Drums/Space sequence Deadheads came to know and love/hate). They are also doing some of their own songs, plus a half dozen or so Grateful Dead tunes every show. Here’s hoping we get a “Fire On The Mountain” (Hart co-wrote it) and a “Not Fade Away” at All Good…

The Flaming Lips

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej9T3KrwYW0&w=560&h=315]

The Flaming Lips – Hangout Music Festival 2012 (Including Dark Side of The Moon)

My personal obsession with all things Grateful Dead aside, The Flaming Lips alone are reason enough to go to All Good this year. What if they play Dark Side of the Moon? Do you want to risk missing it? Then there’s the giant ball Wayne Coyne rolls around in, walking/crawling on top of the audience. Do you want to miss that? Because that’s what they did at Hangout Music Festival, which you can see for yourself above. They did Dark Side, and Coyne rolled across the audience in his giant transparent bubble boy ball (be sure to watch them inflate the ball, too).

The video above captures their entire Hangout Music Festival set. They do a few great Flaming Lips songs before they get to the Pink Floyd record. First was a joyous “Race for the Prize”, the first track off Soft Bulletin. They also did “She Don’t Use Jelly”, “The Yeah Yeah Song”, and “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots”.

Fair warning: There’s a lot of swearing in the banter with the audience. Which I enjoyed, and you probably will, too, but I just wanted you to know in advance.

The Pimps of Joytime

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h91q-xUGdY&w=560&h=315]

The Pimps of Joytime – “Janxta Funk”

While we’re off the Grateful Dead path for a moment, I thought I’d also mention The Pimps of Joytime. The first time I saw them was at All Good in 2010, and I’ve managed to catch them at a few other festivals as well. They are an engaging live funk band, and just plain fun. Truth be told, many Deadheads have an affinity for classic 70s funk, so I’m not really treading too far off the Grateful Dead path here. The Pimps have sprung from that fertile 70s ground. You can hear George Clinton and James Brown in what they do. Above is the video for the title track off their 2011 album, Janxta Funk!.

Dark Star Orchestra

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWtC9_9vXC4&w=560&h=315]

Dark Star Orchestra – “Looks Like Rain”

Dark Star Orchestra is an All Good regular, and are always a crowd favorite at the festival.  The video above is from Gratefulfest 12 (in 2011 – it’s a little bit confusing. All because they started that particular festival in 2000).

So that’s only a small sampling of the artists that will be playing at All Good this year. Michael Franti, Greensky Bluegrass, and Galactic, for example, are also playing. The festival is also at a new site this year – Legend Valley in Thornville, OH – which makes it a bit more of an adventure this, since it will completely new to us. And it’s a much shorter drive for us now. Hopefully we’ll see you there. Tickets are still available. Get one while you still can!

Summer Camp Music Festival 2012: Musical Highlights

Summer Camp 2012

This was our first year at Summer Camp, and there were a bunch of bands I was excited to see. So my expectations were high. I got to see most of the bands on my list, and all that I did see were as good or better than I was expecting. But, Christ… the heat? Almost unbearable. It practically drained the life from me. But, once again, I was saved by rock n roll… plus some new strategies for staying cool when you’re spending entire days out in unshaded, 90+ degree heat. Here are some of the bands and artists that made Summer Camp a special musical experience for me.

Keller Williams, Friday, May 25, Moonshine Stage, 2:45 – 3:45
Keller Williams Summer Camp 2012

Keller Williams is a one man show, like no other. He plays guitar, bass, and brings digital programming and loops into the mix, including layers of harmony vocals he’s built in advance. I’ve enjoyed every show I’ve seen him play. He’s incredibly interesting to watch – especially considering it’s just one dude, and he doesn’t even bite a bat’s head off or anything to keep the crowd entertained.

You can listen to the whole set over at the Live Music Archive by clicking the link above. My two personal favorites were “Freaker By The Speaker” and “Doobie In My Pocket”, both of which I’ve seen him play before. They both brought smiles to my face.

It was during Keller’s set that our strategy for staying cool and properly enjoying the festival came together. Which is odd, because we’ve done this before. My theory is that the sheer number of stages threw us off. There were just so many fuckin’ stages at this festival. In fact, it’s one of the things Summer Camp promotes – how many bands and how many stages they have. It was a little overwhelming, to be honest. Way too much movement required.

In any event, our strategy became: Whenever we decamped and headed for a stage, we brought our lawn chairs, a small cooler, our camera gear, and set up camp at every stage, before the show we were there to see. Then I would head up to the photo pit, take a few shots, while Sab kept the new base camp under control. So we didn’t exactly do this for Keller, but we found the shadiest spot to kick it, far back from the stage, but still with good sight lines and audio coverage. [More photos of Keller Williams at Summer Camp]

Weir, Robinson, Greene Acoustic Trio, Friday, May 25, Sunshine Stage, 5:00 – 6:15
Weir, Robinson, Greene Trio at Summer Camp 2012

Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes. And the should-be-more-famous Jackie Greene. Now touring together as an acoustic trio. I hadn’t seen them together before, so they were high on my list of bands to see. They started things off with “Truckin'”, a common and loved show starter for the Grateful Dead and the bands that have come after – Furthur, RatDog, Phil and Friends, etc.

The rest of the set – all hour and a half – was a mix of songs that I would have killed to see at a Ratdog or Furthur. “West LA Fadeaway” was one of the highlights for me. They creep into the song. On “When I Paint My Masterpiece”,  Greene plays mandolin. Outstanding.

The idea for the trio likely grew out of the Furthur and Friends show for Phil’s 70th birthday, which saw Greene and Robinson joining Furthur to amp up the celebration. In fact, I saw them do New Speedway Boogie at both shows. An acoustic Boogie was a treat. Jackie Greene is the multi instrumentalist in the band. In addition to rhythm and lead guitar, he plays mandolin and the occasional harmonica. Weir and Robinson stick to acoustic guitar. And, obviously, they all do vocals – harmonies on the choruses, and they mostly take turns on singing the verses. This one is also available on the Live Music Archive (link above). [More photos of Weir, Robinson, Greene Acoustic Trio at Summer Camp]

MathGames, Saturday, May 26, Starshine Stage, 12:00 – 1:00
MathGames at Summer Camp 2012

I’d seen MathGames once before. The first time was at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. They had Ray White with them then, and they covered Frank Zappa’s “City of Tiny Lights”. They had the same uniforms on – some sort of white coveralls that couldn’t have been comfortable to be playing in the Chillicothe heat. My son had his tonsils out the other day, and now I’m pretty sure they’re wearing the same thing my son’s mom wore to observe the beginning of the surgery – at least until the boy was sedated. Anyway, maybe one of them is a surgeon in his day job?

I don’t know quite how to classify MathGames’ music. There’s jazz in there, a hefty dose of progressive rock, minus the choruses and verses.  Space age jazz rock? No, four words is too many… Space jazz? Not quite right, either. I give up. For now, I’ll just describe the band. Fareed Haque is the driving force behind the band. He’s a unique and respected jazz guitar player, steeped in the 80s jazz fusion, and now a music professor in Illinois. Two younger Chicago musicians making up the rhythm section – Alex Austin on bass, and Greg Fundis on drums. And a new, permanent (?) addition to the band, Jesse Clayton on keyboards, coming to the band from Ann Arbor’s own Macpodz.

The good news is that I found a video of MathGames at Summer Camp. Prepare yourself for some, um, space prog…? Yeah, that doesn’t work either. Just watch the video!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJdFnAQPlX8&w=560&h=315]

[More photos of MathGames at Summer Camp]

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Saturday, May 26, Starshine Stage, 1:30 – 2:30
JC Brooks at Summer Camp 2012

For both MathGames and JC Brooks, we managed to score the best seats in the house. A gracious beer vendor had set up a sun shelter, and since no one was using it, we set up camp there for a couple of hours. The chairs, the beer cooler, etc. Plus shade in the noonday sun. Which was brutal! Brutal, I say!

But it was all worth it. Brooks is a charismatic frontman, and The Uptown Sound is a tight, accomplished band. Brooks has some stories to tell, and he weaves them through the songs in their set list. “I Got High”, for example.

Their Wilco cover – “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” is outstanding. They turn the song in a completely different direction.  And it was the song I was really looking forward to hearing (we highlighted a version in our Summer Camp Music Sampler, you might recall). JC and the band funk it up a bit, and JC pulls the heartache in the song fully to the surface (the Wilco version hides it behind a lot of thrashing guitar riffs and noise).

Unfortunately, I can’t find a recording of their set, which is very frustrating. They have a liberal taping policy, so I kind of expected it out there. No YouTube videos, either! They are a band you’ll want to see if they come to your neck of the woods. [More photos of JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound at Summer Camp]

Common, Saturday, May 26, Sunshine Stage, 4:15 – 5:15
Common at Summer Camp 2012

Common was at the top of my list of bands to see. I don’t get to see enough live hip hop, and I thought a festival would be the perfect environment for it. And I’ve been a huge fan of Common’s since I saw him with Kanye West on the Dave Chappelle show. His new record, The Believer/The Dreamer, is great. He played a few songs from that, but otherwise wove through catalogue highlights from the last 10 years or so of his work. He had a drummer, a keyboard player, and a DJ on stage with him.

Common used the length of the stage to engage the audience and drive his verses home. And the crowd loved him! There were enough hardcore Common fans to pack the stage area, from the soundboard forward. I was amazed at all the people spitting out the verses with Common, too. I mean, I know parts of verses from the Common records I have. But even if I knew them by heart, I don’t think I could get my mouth to move that fast, and if I did, I’d run out of breath before I got through a single verse. But it was really cool to see the crowd rocking with Common like that. I vote for more hip hop artists at festivals.

PS: Towards the end of the set, he said “lookout for the new album, coming soon” and he rattles off some of the people involved, starting off with Kanye West. Which could be good.

Another bonus from the YouTubes. Here’s Common doing a freestyle over a slice of the beat for “Otis” from Watch The Throne.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egRXPUbl9Ok&w=560&h=315]

[More photos of Common at Summer Camp]

Anders Osborne, Saturday, May 26, Campfire Stage, 5:00 – 6:00
Anders Osborne at Summer Camp 2012

I’d only heard of Anders Osborne recently, via Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and their work together recreating The Rolling Stones‘ Sticky Fingers. So I didn’t know any of his solo work going in, but the Sticky Fingers work impressed me enough that I circled him on my festival schedule. I’m glad I did, because he was the best discovery of the festival for me.

Osborne played right after Common over at the Campfire Stage, so we had to decamp and move quickly to catch his set. What we heard was just great rock n roll. Well crafted songs writ large by a three piece band, with extended soloing over a rugged rock n roll terrain. Neil Young through the filter of New Orleans. Sort of. What was interesting is that he just released a new album at the beginning of May – Black Eye Galaxy – and he didn’t play a single song from it. Just one song from his album before that, American Patchwork. The song was “I Got Your Heart”, my personal favorite from that album (which I bought, along with the new one, when I got back from Summer Camp). He introduced it this way:

“Alright. Here’s a little song I wrote for my wife when I was in rehab last.”

Lucky for us, someone captured a few songs from their set on video, and posted it to YouTube. Here’s one, for the song “Burning On The Inside”. About 4:20 into the clip, Osborne starts playing this riff that builds into a nice solo, with good support from Eric Bolivar (drums) and Carl Dufrene (bass).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI2AqRQ7W20&w=560&h=315]

[More photos of Anders Osborne at Summer Camp]

Five From the Archive: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe Presents Sticky Fingers

Karl Denson's Tiny Universe Presents Sticky FingersI don’t remember exactly when it was, but sometime early in 2011, Karl Denson asked his Facebook fans a pressing question: What album should Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (KDTU) perform in its entirety on its next tour? I remember I submitted a suggestion. I think it was Bill Wither‘s Just As I Am, but don’t quote me on that.

Someone else, though, had the brilliant idea to suggest The Rolling StonesSticky Fingers. In order to do it right, KDTU recruited Anders Osborne, a Swedish singer/songwriter and guitar player via New Orleans, to help present the record in all its fullness. Typically, they will play a set of KDTU songs, then bring Osborne out for the Sticky Fingers set. Sometimes, they had Osborne open up with his own set as well. I trolled through the various audience recordings of Sticky Fingers shows from late 2011 and early 2012, and my gut and ears tell me this show is the one to listen to:

Full show: February 11, 2012 – Mr. Small’s Theater, Pittsburgh, PA

Each of the tracks below are pulled from the Pittsburgh, PA show. Enjoy!

1. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – “Brown Sugar” “This first song… is about interracial sex!” So sayeth Karl Denson at the beginning of this track. Which makes me think that when my parents named one of our dogs Brown Sugar, that may have been an inappropriate use of the song name.

2. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – “Wild Horses” This may be my all time favorite Rolling Stones song. Keith Richards could write some songs back in the day… Nicely executed here.

3. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin'” Whenever I hear the original by the Stones, I think of Scorsese’s Casino. We’ve even highlighted another cover version of this song (by Umphrey’s McGee) on Five From the Archive before. If you’re feeling really nerdy today, you can compare the two.

4. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – “Bitch” I love this song. All covered in grit and sweat.

5. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe – “Dead Flowers” So many great tracks on this record, and this is one of them. Ever heard Townes Van Zandt do this on his Roadsongs album? Just stunningly great.

Five From the Archive: Alabama Shakes in 2012

Alabama Shakes

While I was doing some research on Alabama Shakes, I came across their stuff on the Live Music Archive. What a surprise! They are a young band, and it was a brilliant decision to let people record them and upload those recordings to the Live Music Archive. Free marketing. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find.

1. Alabama Shakes – “Rise to the Sun”. This is, without a doubt, my favorite song on the Boys & Girls record. Some great, understated guitar riffing that helps make the song as emotionally powerful as it is. Full show: January 31, 2012 – KEXP Studio, Seattle, WA

2. Alabama Shakes – “Boys & Girls”. This version sounds a bit more full bodied to me than the studio version on the record. Both are great. Nothing gets me like some good electric piano, and this one has it. Full show: January 24, 2012 – KCRW Studio, Santa Monica, CA

3. Alabama Shakes – “How Many More Times”. Get your fresh Led Zeppelin here. Five From the Archive fans know I’m a bit OCD for good covers of great songs. This one qualifies. Zep! Full show: April 7, 2012 – Ram’s Head, Baltimore, MD

4. Alabama Shakes – “I Ain’t the Same”. This and “Heat Lighting” (next) are from the encore at their recent Bowery Ballroom show. Both include some banter with the crowd from Brittany Howard (singer/songwriter/rhythm guitar player). Full show: April 11, 2012 – Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

5. Alabama Shakes – “Heat Lightning”. You will want to listen to this one right after the “I Ain’t the Same” above. It’s not on the Boys & Girls record. Full show: April 11, 2012 – Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the author, Fred Rockwood.