Category Archives: Reviews

Kyle Hollingsworth Band Brings it to The Bridge

Kyle Hollingsworth Band
August 20, 2016
The Bridge, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Writer/Photographer: Jake Cudek

The Kyle Hollingsworth Band rolled through Santa Fe on Saturday night as part of two- night mini-tour of New Mexico breweries. The Bridge, owned and operated by The Santa Fe Brewing Company, was the venue for night two of this jaunt. For those familiar with the man and his band, excitement was twofold: a visit from one of the long standing members of The String Cheese Incident and the promise of bringing out some of his new compositions produced at the recently founded SCI lab.

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Arriving an hour before doors opened, threatening thunderheads could be seen to the south, and everyone wondered if the weather would hold for the night. Whether because of the potential for rain or the lax motivations of Santa Fe residents, it was apparent that this was not going to be a sold out show. The outdoor venue with the capacity to occupy 1000 people had a mere 100 people.

Although this would have diminished a typical band and a typical audience, those who had shown up had arrived to celebrate a visit from one of their favorites, and let the band know their intent wholeheartedly as they took the stage.

The band took heed and reciprocated with a single set performance that never let up and sounded fresh and invigorated from tune to tune. The set was a mix of numbers from each of Kyle’s three albums, songs performed with SCI and a few covers.

The band kicked off the set with an instrumental version of The Beatles’ “Taxman.” This pulled the audience in from the start, as many in the crowd could be heard singing the more familiar lines. The band collected its dues from the audience and showed no signs of being deterred by the low attendance and instead pushed every aspect of the tune and their instruments.

Up next was “Here We Go,” this song is an automatic smile inducer. Its calypso style bypasses the brain and heads straight to the feet getting them moving and then moves back to the face producing elated beams both on stage and the dance floor.

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The first sandwich of the night came wrapped in the form of “Too Young” with a tasty “Will It Go ‘Round in Circles” center. The segues into and out of Billy Preston’s “Circles” were spot on and well-rehearsed, turning on a dime rather than leading into or out by way of musical meanderings. “I can’t win if that’s all I’m gonna do” the resounding lyric of “Too Young,” connected in perfect juxtaposition to the lyrical context of “Circles,” illustrating the repetitive interpretations of experience and the reminding need to change up personal status quo thinking.

“Pack It Up,” with its distinctive bass intro came next. Although a staple of SCI performances since 2005, this instrumental tune penned by Hollingsworth has only appeared on KH’s latest album, “Speed of Life.” This was received with excitement, as those who were there were certainly cut from the Cheesecloth. Its odd timings reinforced this notion, as many jigged with familiarity to the tune. At its finish, Kyle continued the same driving feel and segued into “All Falls Apart,” cycling between drenching organ solos and piano rifts that continued to lift the feet of the flailing cooperatives.

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A new concoction produced in the SCI lab, “Let Me In” intoxicated the crowd with its soul-funky groove, and continued to contribute to the intimate experience elating many well acquainted with his catalog by this unveiling in the live setting.

“Can’t Wait Another Day” came up next and held a surprise that no one expected. As the tune stepped into decline, the distinct chords of “Terrapin Station” rose from the ashes. As the portion played was the instrumental section of the suite gave way to each of the members hitting the structure with force. Of exceptional note were the heavy bass bombs that got the crowd calling out as the vibration rolled over the crowd in seismic waves.

In Spanish, the term Peregrino refers to something being unusual, odd, and migratory. This epitomizes this Latin flavored tune as it contained a spacy, ethereal quality surrounding a structured root and deviates between throughout its entirety. Both dynamics were presented and continued the dance fest that had been non-stop over the past 90 minutes.

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Viewing the onstage set list, this song was to be the end of the first set. Instead, the band abandoned that notion and labored on with the thick grooves of “Let’s Go Outside.” It was apparent that neither the band nor the patrons were showing any signs of fatigue and both continued in merriment. As the song structure loosened into a jam, a familiar chord structure arose and led into a full version of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” As another popular cover, the crowd began to sing the backup sections of the song. Hollingsworth took notice and called out to the crowd, encouraging them to play the role of backup singer. This invitation inspired the crowd to take it up a level and where there was once bashfulness, there now was a full on sing along of all parts.

“Tumbling,” another new song made in the SCI lab was preceded by the story that inspired the piece. Hollingsworth spoke of a trip to a Grateful Dead show at Three Rivers Stadium in Pennsylvania. This bouncy unit told the story of summer love and the laid back experience that preceded impending Dead shows of yore.

“World Girl” brought out her funky, disco infused moves and the crowd took her hand and worked it. Smiling, spinning, and giggling, the crowd swirled in this dance number.

The light rock tune “So Fine” was the bookends to the second sandwich of the evening and was filled with Hollingsworth’s admitted favorite cereal “Lucky Charms.” Shifting from uplifting light lyrics and progressions, this new song eventually gave way to the crunchy funk of the popular breakfast cereal which had the band and audience coming back for seconds and thirds. The tune kept building and residing back to its head giving each band member the opportunity to jump right into the bowl.

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“Happening Now” with a poppy almost 80’s theme bordered on electronica and reinvigorated many in the crowd to keep their participation going. Although this one motivated the younger attendees well acquainted with attributes of EDM, it was refreshing to see the older component spinning with abandon seemingly recapturing some part of the inner child.

The final three punch closer of the set left no step undanced. Beginning with the slow rising and spacious “Falling Through the Cracks,” the music’s crescendo gave way to Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long,” again getting the participants involved in both movement and accompaniment. Taking to the bridge the band began playing double time and eventually moved onto the last lady of the night, “Rosie.” Immediately, the recognition of this number was apparent and was especially exuded by the female faction in attendance. The crowd danced and called out the lyrics as if this was the first song, not the last, and the band rewarded by playing a full and exhausted version devoid of any brevity.

The band left the stage and stood together in the wings, huddled as in conference, but more likely taking the opportunity to catch their breath and composure, having laid down an unbroken set clocking in at just under two and half hours.

Recuperation gained, the band returned for the encore, “The Way That It Goes.” Giving every last drop in the tank the band brought it in full force again and the crowd met them note for note.

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As the threat of thunderstorms had resided behind the band for most of the night, it seemed that the music gods had enjoyed the show as much as the mortals. As the final note of the song came to its end through the PA system, like cosmic clockwork, the sky opened up and a deluge of rain sent both musician and listener running for cover.

Hollingsworth’s style, both in construction and execution, is infectious and literally brings a smile to the face. It easy to tell that he loves what he does and when he sits down to write his material, the notions and movements come from a personal level of trying to raise his own virtue and that of the listener. The band is well rehearsed and attentive to every shift and run at a pace that is equal to one another, including the bandleader. This equality carries over to the joy expressed both facially and emotionally by each member and their auditory accomplishments. Paul McDaniels is the unassuming bass man who digs deep and lays down both structure and improvisation with an unforced demeanor. Brian McRae, the counterpart on rhythm, is notably a blur throughout his performance. His mixture of exclusive cymbal and tom work draws in the attention and his consistent ability to shift makes him a perfect fit to the musicality of this band. Dan Schwindt, known as “Schwindt-Rock” to those close to him, is one of those guys you could pass on the street and never know his extent for burning down the house. His ability to play a moving section in one song and then melt the faces of those around him in the next makes this man more myth than minstrel. The combination of these gentlemen is something not to be missed.

Daryl Hall & John Oates Stop Off at Mansfield, MA

Daryl Hall & John Oates
Special Guests: Sharon Jones, Trombone Shorty
July 16th, 2016
Mansfield, MA
Photographer: Greg Gouwens

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Wheels of Soul Tour – Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Lawn at White River

Wheels of Soul Tour
Tedeschi Trucks Band with special guests Los Lobos, North Mississippi Allstars
Wednesday, July 27th 2016
The Lawn at White River, Indianapolis, Indiana
Photographer: Tyler Muir
Writer: Amber Jennings

White River State Park, located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, offers one of the state’s best amphitheaters, The Lawn at White River. The venue sits on the east bank of the river and offers concert goers sensational picturesque views when the sun slips behind the amphitheater and paints the sky with stunning sunset colors. The acoustics of the venue are a match of the view – amazing.

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Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band, along with special guests Los Lobos and North Mississippi Allstars, played the venue on July 27, 2016 as part of their Wheels of Soul Tour. This year TTB released their new album, Let Me Get By and have been celebrating the success of the album. Recorded independently in their own studio, Swamp Raga, the album recognizes the self-reliance, connection and sense of family that has grown since the inception of the band in 2010.

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North Mississippi Allstars kicked the evening off as fans settled into their seats. The founding brothers Luther Dickenson (guitar, lowebow and vocals) and Cody Dickenson (drums, keyboards, electric washboard) with Chris Chew (electric bass guitar) are known for their American southern rock/blues bringing the dirty south full throttle to the Midwest before Los Lobos took the stage.

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The east Los Angeles, California band, Los Lobos, snagged the stage and initiated a set of rock and roll, Tex-Mex and zydeco with “Whiskey Trail.” Luther Dickinson would take the stage with the band for a cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s “300 Pounds of Joy” and “Gates of Gold.” Later in the set, Susan Tedeschi appeared for a Marvin Gaye cover, “What’s Going On.” The closing number of the set, “Más y más,” included Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s horn section.

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As the sun slipped behind the stage and lit up the sky in wondrous colors, the Tedeschi Trucks Band appeared on stage. They opened their set with “Laugh About It,” a tune from the new album. Derek Trucks’s guitar intro set the song with a light and airy feel, while Susan Tedeschi’s vocals added a dimension to the evening, the breadth and depth of her voice matching the sinking sun. The band seemed to relax into a groovy strut for another new song, “Don’t Know What It Means.” The funky, slink groove showcased Tedeshi’s power on guitar with heavy brass accompaniment. They rolled into a cover from the Box Tops, “The Letter,” and dipped into the new album’s title track, “Let Me Get By,” a southern rock jam featuring heavy keys and vocals.

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The set continued with a boozy strut, “Right On Time,” featuring Mike Mattison on vocals. Tedeschi sang the song in a lower pitch than usual, making a fitting harmony with Mattison. Mattison continued on vocals for a ZZ Top cover, “Goin’ Down to Mexico.” Trucks’s heavy guitar intro drove the 12-piece ensemble, while mixing lead guitar with Tedeschi.

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As twilight settled, TTB slowed the evening down with a dreamy Derek Trucks Band cover, “Swamp Raga,” that segued into “Midnight in Harlem” from TTB’s 2011 Grammy award-winning album, Revelator. Gentle slide guitar and cascading drums gave way to Tedeschi’s vocals that blanketed the audience with a soft, dreamy feel. They continued with another Revelator track, “Bound for Glory,” a George Jones cover, “Color of the Blues’ and another cover, Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I Pity the Fool.” They wrapped up the set with “The Storm,” a perfect set closer. Trucks’s intro was a taste of the solo he would rip into midway through the song, solidifying the title.

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The band encored with a Sly and the Family Stone cover, “Are You Ready” and a James Taylor cover, “Fire and Rain;” the latter featured Mark Rivers on vocals with Mike Mattison and Tedeschi.

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The show concluded about 15 minutes early but did not let the attendees down. It was a great Wednesday evening show on the Lawn.

String Cheese Incident Jams at the Portsmouth Pavilion

String Cheese Incident Jams at the Portsmouth Pavilion
July 10, 2016
Portsmouth, VA
Photographer/Writer: Mark Robbins

Colorado sextet String Cheese Incident played 2 other worldly sets to more than 500 of their devoted followers Sunday night in Portsmouth, Va. For close to 3 hours (70 minute and 90 minute sets) babies in ear protective headphones to aging Deadheads danced and sang along to the bands brand of feel good music. Helped out in the second set by Yonder Mountain String Band who opened the show, the two bands appeared to be having as much fun on stage as the audience.

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Set One
Restless Wind, Sometimes A River, Born On The Wrong Planet, Pygmy Pony, Stop Drop Roll, Could You Be Loved > Beautiful
Set Two
Think Of What You’ve Done1 > Big Mon1, Blackberry Blossom1 > Son of a Preacher Man1, Rollover > Valley of the Jig, Sweet Spot, You’ve Got the World, Hotel Window > Rollover
Notes
1 with Yonder Mountain String Band

The Travelin’ Kine: Change In The Wind

It would be perfectly understandable for those not in the know to believe that country music is dead. In the mainstream, it has felt this way for the better part of the last three decades. But the sparks of a few real songwriters – with influences like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard – are building to a full-blown fire. And while Jamey Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton, are leading the charge, there are upstarts in cities around the country who are kicking up true country songs filled with the sweat and grit of yesterday. One of them is The Travelin’ Kine.

These troubadours from Charleston, South Carolina, have now delivered their first album, entitled Change in the Wind, and although the title and title track don’t necessarily allude to the current state of country music, it seems apropos given the emergence of musicians that harken back to the good old days of the genre. And the band delivers an eight-song set that is straight-talking, compositionally adept, and soaked in spirits from some backwoods still.

“Change in the Wind,” written on the day frontman Slaton Glover’s divorce papers were signed and he dedicated his life to music, rides the brisk rhythm section of bassist Brent Poulson and drummer Jim Donnelly, giving momentum to his yearning. “I’m Not As Smart As You Look” spotlights Glover’s clever wordplay with sinewy lead guitar from Scottie Frier, “I Hate You” is a scornful wish for a former lover, and “Bad Bad Man” is a roadhouse rally cry accented by flourishes of harmonica and mandolin, courtesy of Mark Davis and David Vaughan, respectively.

At the heart of the album’s eight tracks is Glover’s adept songwriting. There are no frills here, and that is just right.
The Travelin’ Kine are yet another new voice in a country music chorus that is growing louder, and if there is such a thing as “real” country music today, it can be found on Change in the Wind.

Change in the Wind is independently released and out now.

moe. at Thompson’s Point

moe.
Thompson’s Point
Portland, Maine
June 17 – 18, 2016
Special Guests: June 17th, The Wood Brothers, Cabinet and June 18th Twiddle, Percy Hill

Photographer: Greg Gouwens

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Huck Finn Jubilee Bluegrass Festival 2016

Huck Finn Jubilee 2016
June 10-12
40th Anniversary
Ontario, CA
Photographer: Allen Erwin

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My Morning Jacket Louisville Kentucky Iroquois Amphitheater

My Morning Jacket
Louisville Kentucky Iroquois Amphitheater
May 2016
Photographer: Brad Kuntz

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New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2016

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2016
April 28 – May 7, 2016
Writer/Photographer: Bob Adamek

The 2016 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival delivered high doses of everything you could imagine. There was sunshine and rain, an overwhelming choice of music presented on 12 stages, food vendors that outdo the restaurants in many major cities, and 425,000+ music fans ready for all of it.

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During the second weekend of Jazz Fest, the rain was often the story, coming down hard enough on late Saturday afternoon that the festival producers wisely shut the festival down. The ensuing flash flood swamped the Fair Grounds and the unfortunate result was that the sets by afternoon headliners had to be cancelled. This included Stevie Wonder, Beck, Snoop Dog, Buddy Guy and Arturo Sandoval. Stevie Wonder later showed up at Irving Mayfield’s Playhouse on Bourbon St. to sit in with Mayfield and Trombone Shorty. Meanwhile Beck found his way to Preservation Hall where he joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and members of Arcade Fire and My Morning Jacket for a late night second line around the French Quarter.

A moderate steady rain persisted almost all day on Sunday as well, but seasoned festival goers geared up and saw great sets from Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Arlo Guthrie, Trombone Shorty and two much anticipated guest filled tribute sets, one for Allen Toussaint and one for B.B. King. B.B. King’s tribute set included songs lead by Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Elvin Bishop, Dr. John, Tab Benoit, Walter Wolfman Washington and Luther Kent. The set finished off with all the guests playing “The Thrill is Gone” in what was one of the festival highlights.

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Earlier in the week for most of Thursday and Friday, the weather stayed very nice, allowing fans to move around with much less gear. Thursday was highlighted on the two main stages by Elvis Costello, who was energetic and happy as he rolled through 30+ years of hits. On the Acura Stage fans were treated to the Tedeschi Trucks Band with special guests Jimmie Vaughan and Billy F. Gibbons. Tedeschi Trucks are resetting the bar in live music for their incredible blend of soulful vocals and impeccable musicianship.

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Their songs are tuneful and their solos are thoughtful, never droning on past the point. The addition of ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons and blues master Jimmie Vaughan added a high level of excitement for the fans. This was also fun for the band, as they traded off on solos, each listening intently to the other, throwing their heads back and laughing as the four guitarists threw down.

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The Acura Stage hosted another top guitar slinger on Thursday when Austin Texas’ own, Gary Clark Jr. took over. Clark’s guitar playing is raw, energetic and emotion packed, much like his soulful vocals. Simultaneously, on the Gentilly Stage, Brandi Carlile gave a very high energy set of her own after stating that it was a long awaited honor to be playing Jazz Fest.

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Jazz Fest really offers something for everyone. There is a 2500 seat blues tent, a 1500 seat jazz tent and 1500 seat Gospel tent. The Fais Do-Do stage features Cajun, Zydeco, and all other types of roots music. The third main stage at the festival is Congo Square, which featured groove-centric music like the Isley Brothers, Big Freeda, Flo Rida, Cyril Neville and Swamp Funk, Tony Hall’s New Orleans Soul Stars tribute to James Brown and the Friday headliner, Ms. Lauryn Hill. Hill has been getting beat up in the media lately for showing up late to her concerts, including two hours late in Atlanta. But at Jazz Fest she was only 15 minutes behind. She came out with flawless makeup and vestments, played guitar and sang with every bit of emotion she could squeeze out, turning in a stellar performance.

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At the Jazz and Heritage Stage, you can see the greatest visual treat of the festival, the Mardi Gras Indian bands. Donning hand sewn suits made of brightly colored feathers and beads, the Mardi Gras Indian bands play traditional music that has been in their culture for decades. Chant styled songs like “Shoo-fly”, “Injuns Here They Come” and “Let’s Go Get ‘Em” are staples of bands like The Wild Magnolias, White Cloud Hunter, Fi Yi Yi & the Mandingo Warriors and the 101 Runners. These bands were joined on stage by some of the city’s top musicians, including Sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, drummer Ray Webber and guitarists June Yamagishi and Billy Iuso.

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Jazz Fest veterans know that the headliners aren’t really the main dish. It’s the undercard, with so many local bands playing, that really give Jazz Fest its true flavor. Some of those highlights were turned in by George Porter Jr. and Runnin’ Pardners during a rain soaked but very well attended early Thursday set. Two brass bands that almost never gig, except at Jazz Fest, played to overflow crowds. The New Orleans Nightcrawlers played on Thursday, then the wildly popular Midnite Disturbers on Saturday. Both bands are packed with the city’s best brass players from bands like Galactic, Rebirth Brass Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Bonerama shredded the Gentilly Stage on Friday, followed by Raw Oyster Cult (ROC). ROC has the guitarists and drummer from the Radiators, and the band was joined by the remaining Radiators mid-set for a quick reunion. New Orleans fastest rising stars gave a festival highlight set on Friday when the Revivalists were joined by guest percussionist Mike Dillon. Their incredible song writing and no holds barred stage show left the festival buzzing.

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Once a little hunger sets in the festival is well armed to accommodate. Most dishes run $5-$10, and include delicacies like crawfish/zucchini/spinach bisque, Pheasant/Quail/Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Chochon de lait Po-Boy, bread pudding with white chocolate sauce or a scrumptious Cuban sandwich.

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The night time action in New Orleans during Jazz Fest is second to none. The city’s numerous clubs play host to 2 or 3 bands a night including all-star one off bands and national touring acts alike. Clubs like Tipitina’s, The Howlin’ Wolf, d.b.a., The Maple Leaf and One Eyed Jacks host amazing shows, and music flows out of everywhere through the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street.

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Jazz Fest is a bucket list event for any music fan. But once you get a taste of this amazing event, it is hard to think of ever missing it again.

Poor Man’s Whiskey at the Great American Music Hall

Great American Music Hall
Saturday, Mar. 19, 2016
San Francisco, CA
Writer/Photographer: Susan Weiand
Poor Man’s Whiskey brought their foot stomping, good time music to the legendary Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Saturday March 19. Opening the evening was an acoustic version of Lonesome Locomotive, who delivered a harmonious set of their folky rock to the appreciative crowd.  Poor Man’s Whiskey music can be described as “High Octane Hootenanny” which is an upbeat combination of bluegrass, rock, folk  and country with clever songwriting and entertaining  stage antics thrown in.  Tonight the highly excited crowd was dancing and singing along to the infectiously good time music. Poor Man’s Whiskey is known for their innovative bluegrass covers of Dark Side of the Moon (shine),  Paul Simon’s Graceland, The Allman Brothers,  Old and in The Way, and tonight they paid tribute to music of The Eagles. Their second set evolved into a audience sing-along with such Eagle favorites as “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Lyin Eyes”, “Hotel California”, “Desperado”,  “Life in the Fast Lane” and many others.

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