The nearly sold out crowd at Washington D.C.’s The Hamilton Live was treated to the kind of night that made you wish you were in a band, could share such a focused vision, and enjoy the people you worked with as much as the two bands seen on this night. The crowd was loaded for the headliner, The Dustbowl Revival, an 8 piece-touring powerhouse from Los Angeles, California, and they got everything Dustbowl famously delivers and much more.
For starters, the opening act, Sammy Miller and the Congregation, put on a clinic in winning over a crowd that was for the most part, unfamiliar with them. Drummer and bandleader Sammy Miller has created an ambitious project that succeeds by virtue of his band mates buying in all the way. It is part early swing band and part comic production. They are comprised of piano, upright bass, drums, sax, trumpet and trombone, and they have vocals good enough that the band sometimes goes a cappella. Continue reading Dustbowl Revival and Sammy Miller and the Congregation→
Buddy Guy and the Damn Right Blues Band Heat Up a Hot Summer Night at the Sandler Center
Virginia Beach, VA
August 22, 2017
Photographer/Writer: Mark Robbins
When 81 years old Buddy Guy walked from stage left to the the microphone center stage of the Sandler Center the audience was already on it’s feet. That’s how it’s been for the past 50 plus years, whether sharing the stage with Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and others or, like Tuesday night, just him backed by the Damn Right Blues Band.
Wheels of Soul Tour Tedeschi Trucks Band with special guests hottuna.com, Wood Brothers
Wednesday, July 19th 2017
The Lawn at White River State Park
Photographer: Tyler Muir
Writer: Amber Jennings
The Wheels of Soul Tour has become an essential staple to the summer concert line-up at the Lawn at White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana. “The Lawn” as locals refer to it offers one of the states best amphitheaters. The venue sits on the east bank of the river and offers concert goers striking views when the sun slips behind the amphitheater and paints the sky with stunning sunset colors.
The 34th annual French Quarter Fest (FQF) made a magnificent mark last weekend in New Orleans. This is an incredible festival for anyone with an open musical mind. The festival nestles 23 stages throughout the French Quarter including several stages right along the Mississippi River. The music encompasses a wide variety of genres from classical, Mardi Gras Indian music, every shade of jazz in the spectrum and a lot of what you would expect from New Orleans, a large helping of funk, R&B, zydeco, Cajun music and rock and roll. Continue reading French Quarter Festival 2017→
Southern Soul Assembly
The Sandler Center for the Performing Arts
Virginia Beach, VA
March 15, 2017
Photographer/Writer: Mark Robbins
In 2014 Southern root greats, Luther Dickinson, JJ Grey, Marc Broussard and Anders Osborne came together to form the side project Southern Soul Assembly. The sound was a colossal joining with Broussard’s “Bayou Soul”, Grey’s Florida blue collar funk, Osborne’s rugged blues from New Orleans and Dickinson’s smooth casual Beale St storytelling.
Night two is in the books for the Avett Brothers At the Beach, and what a night it was!
The Devil Makes Three opened the show and delivered an energetic set of mashed up throwback folk/bluegrass, and then gave way to the Avetts.
The headliners delivered a much more impassioned set than the night before. A full review will come post-fest, but highlights were a cover of “Mama Tried” and “Murder In the City” with Brandi Carlile sitting in.
Fourth Lockn’ Festival as Hot as the Weather
Oak Ridge Farm, Arrington, VA
August 25-28, 2016
Photographer/Writer: Mark Robbins
The 4th installment of the Lockn’ Festival at Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA proved to be a sizzling hot weekend. Not only was the music a blistering blur from well known to not so well known bands but the temperature held in the high 90s all 4 days (actually 1 night and 3 days) with the only relief given by the mist machines placed throughout the festival grounds. The festival, started by Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey, not only offers the best jam bands, as well as other genres, but also the best in local farm to table eats and craft beers and wine. New this year was a raised main stage which had a rotating center so when one band was finished with a set the center would rotate with the next band already in place.
Thursday night’s lineup kicked off with Vulfpeck, a funk band who had a great time on stage with Jack Stratton constantly running back and forth between turns on the keyboard. Antwaun Stanley, billed as a”special guest” has a powerful voice that filled the festival grounds and would be at home singing R&B, funk or gospel.
Umphrey’s McGee’s music was only surpassed by it’s outstanding light show. This band was the VIP for the weekend playing non-stop glory. It’s genre hopping, time and key changes may be off-putting to some but Umphrey’s McGee was non stop glory.
Finishing the night was Ween. Known for their unusually goofy lyrics, distortion and abrasiveness they more than lived up to their reputation. This is not a jam band and they don’t try to be.
Phish played two 2 hour sets Friday and Sunday nights. It’s hard to believe this band has been killing it for some 33 years now. With a set list that included “555”, “Ghost”, “Punch You in the Eye”, “Wing Suit” and much much more from the Phish song book the highlight was an a cappella cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. Those who paid for super VIP tickets were treated to a private show by Anders Osborne between Phish sets.
Charles Bradley survived a difficult childhood and early adulthood to finally getting the praise he deserves. Strongly influenced by James Brown, Bradley is a true showman and has the soul and R&B chops to go with it. Whatever emotion he is feeling, joyfulness or sadness, the audience feels it as deeply. Bradley is one of those performers who has to be seen live to really appreciate how great he is. Turkuaz is big band funk. This nine piece band would have raised the roof if there was a roof to be raised. White Denim has been around since 2008. From their opening song, “Real Deal Momma” the band kept a soulful vibe going throughout their entire set.
My Morning Jacket is not only a great indie band but Saturday night they put on an outstanding Rock and Roll Show. Front man Jim James is an unstoppable force backed by an equally dynamite band. Originals mixed in with covers, a particularly moving “What the World Need Now” (Burt Bacharach and Hal David), made their set one of the more memorable of the weekend.
Tedeschi Trucks Band is all that needs to be said. From the rapid fire guitar of Derek Trucks to the sublime voice of Susan Tedeschi as well as a great band, this is as good as it gets. Their cover of “Bitches Brew” was so smokin’ that Miles Davis even smiled.
Hard Working Americans is a Neo Southern super rock band. “Mission Accomplished” should have been their closer instead of opener because when their set was over, judging from the crowds reaction, it was mission accomplished. With Todd Snider in front with vocals, dancing, and mugging for the crowd, the rest of Hard Working Americans cook with such intensity flames should be covering the stage. This band’s pedigree is second to none with Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood), Chad Staehly (Great American Taxi), and Duane Trucks (King Lincoln).
Galactic is the quintessential New Orleans funk band. With Stanton Moore on drums this band can do no wrong. Together for 20 years,Stanton Moore Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Jeff Raines and Rich Vogel have visited every genre of music and conquered them all. For their Lockin’ set special guest harp player Lee Oskar, founder of War, joined them for “Slipping Into Darkness”, “Like a Rolling Stone” and a few others. Add vocalist Erica Falls to the mix and an extended set (Brandi Carlile could not appear due to illness) and there were a lot of happy campers.
Phil Lesh has a lot of good friends. With members of the Dead, Phish (John Fishman, Page McConnell, Anders Osborne, Joe Russo) and The Infamous Stringdusters, this group could have had their own festival. Getting a late start, travel problems for Lesh then a blown amp, the fans patiently waited as the new rotating stage turned to the opening strains of “Scarlet Begonias”. Through a set of Dead covers and an extended jam, Phil Lesh and Friends were welcomed back anytime.
Keller Williams has a good time and so does everyone else who is there to hear him. Dressed in a dark suit, white shirt, white tie, and no shoes, Williams comes to preach. “Palm Sunday”, “Who Was John”, “St Stephen”, “Sampson and Delilah” and more made this set a must hear for the weekend. Performed on the much smaller Blue Ridge Bowl Stage and earlier than the normal starting time (10 AM) it was still wall to wall people (if there were walls) who knew this was not a set to miss. Williams was backed by his three piece band and 4 singers who preached to the heavens.
Phil Lesh’s friends today were Chris Robinson Brotherhood (who had their own set) and Gary Clark, Jr.. Sunday’s show went off without a hitch with more Dead covers and Gary Clark, Jr. showing his blues licks on “Good Morning, School Girl” and “Wang Dang Doodle”. Lesh and friends, no matter who they are, can do no wrong.
Gary Clark, Jr. is not as famous as he should be. His style encompass fuzz rock, blues, r&b, hip-hop, soul and even a little jazz. His crackling “Bright Lights” set the tone for the rest of his rock blues appearance.
The 8th installment of Johnstown PA’s, Flood City Music Fest, managed by Lucky Dog Productions was a solid success. Placed amongst the mountains of western Pennsylvania, Flood City Music fest has been growing steadily every year, producing a lineup for this year’s event that wowed festival goers. The fest made a move to open on Thursday night, and put up Grace Potter to headline the main stage.
Grace Potter showed her considerable range from slow and thoughtful acoustic ballads to raging rock and roll, leaning more heavily on the latter. The packed crowd was left buzzing from the set in which Potter mixed her powerful voice with a well-honed front woman’s craft, energetically running around the stage while playing guitar and keyboards.
Friday of the festival had many treats in store including main stage headliners, The Revivalists. As the Revivalists have been doing in towns on their first visit all over the country for the last several years, they asked for a show of hands of those who have never seen them before. This was most of the crowd. Then the band did what they do best, made fans. By the end of the set the crowd was passionately hooked, screaming for an encore.
Another festival highlight took place earlier on the pavilion stage when Samantha Fish sat in with Tab Benoit for two songs. Fish had crushed her set beforehand, opening many eyes and Tab was doing the same, but when the two blues guitarists played together, the energy was incredible.
The breakout band The Record Company also played a good set, as did the New York artists London Souls. The Pittsburg punk-meets-Irish band, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, capped the night in the Oil House. Their high energy set was perfect for the late night crowd, showing you should never miss a band that has three guys wearing kilts.
Saturday saw even more top shelf acts, headlined by the potent New Orleans musician, Anders Osborne. Osborne has played in Johnstown many times and has garnered a huge following there. He mixed songs from his newest release Flower Box, like “Different Drum,” “Fool’s Gold” and the title track, to go with well-worn staples like “Road to Charlie Parker” and “Sarah Anne.”
Preceding Osborne was fellow Louisiana musician, the blue-eyed soul singer, Marc Broussard. It was another set that turned heads as Broussard wove through his catalog of funk and soul originals, such as “Home” and “Come Around” as well as covers like Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.”
Earlier in the day Love Canon played their unique take on 80’s pop hits in the style of bluegrass, creating plenty of laughs and loud sing-a-longs. Local favorites Derek Woodz Band, Jimmy Adler Band and the R&B powerhouse Commonheart also raged on the festival grounds. The night was finished off by the amazing light show and music of TAUK.
Flood City Music Fest is growing quickly. It is well run and is in a beautiful location, well worth the effort to get there. The lineups have gotten stronger every year with “A” list headliners and a solid and worthy undercard. Put this one on your radar for the first weekend in August next year!