Tag Archives: concert review

Birth of the Mule in Memphis

Gov’t Mule with Eric Krasno Band
Minglewood Hall
Memphis, Tennessee
April 26, 2017
photos/words by Josh Mintz

Gov’t Mule has come a long way from its inception, the power trio brain-child of Warren Haynes and Allen Woody. While the band has long been a four-piece, the band that arrived in Memphis was every bit as down and dirty as the original trio. Continue reading Birth of the Mule in Memphis

High Sierra Music Festival 2014

High Sierra Music Festival
Quincy, California
July 3-6, 2014

The 24th annual High Sierra Music Festival took place over the 4th of July weekend in beautiful Quincy, California. The weather was hot and so was the music; with diverse genres like rock, electronica, roots, jazz, bluegrass, country, and blues, there was something to please every taste.

Headliners Widespread Panic delivered a blistering two-set performance, and STS9 went back to their roots with old school musicality. Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Hard Working Americans bringing good ole whiskey fueled R’nR, while Lettuce and Turquaz brought the funky dance party. Meanwhile, the classic jazzy stylings of legends Bill Frisell and Ernest Ranglin delighted the jazzbos. Del McCoury and Greensky Bluegrass represented the grassy side of things well.

Next year for the silver anniversary High Sierra will once again stoke the family vibe plus provide some surprises for 2015.

Click the thumbnails to check out Susan Weiand’s shots from the weekend!

Leftover Salmon, 3/26/14

Leftover Salmon
Terrapin Crossroads
San Rafael, California
March 26, 2014

Leftover Salmon took the stage at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads, and with Little Feat’s Bill Payne joining in, the evening turned out to be one special night. Photographer Susan Weiand was there at Phil Lesh’s venue to catch it all, and you can check out the images below.

Flipping the calendar with Widespread Panic

Widespread Panic
Philips Arena
Atlanta, GA
December 31, 2013

The banner was updated:  Widespread Panic – 20 consecutive sold out shows.  No one quite really knows what defines “sold out,” but the banner hangs in the rafters of Philips Arena nonetheless. And, as 2013 turned into 2014, this New Years Eve added that 20th notch with a bang.

wpnye13aIn typical fashion, the band played three sets, the first of which was acoustic*. The asterisk is necessary, since it really signifies that John Bell performed seated with an acoustic guitar. The first set opened with a very special treat, a trio of  Neil Young covers from the album Time Fades Away. The band opened with “Journey Through the Past;” even those not familiar with the song could not mistake it as a Neil Young cover, as JB has a beautiful way of covering his songs. Next up was “Don’t Be Denied,” always a treat and always a crowd favorite.

When they moved into “Time Fades Away,” it left a lot of people wondering if it would be a full set of Neil. However, those hopes were short lived with the arrival of “And It Stoned Me.”

The second set brought increasing energy opening with a fun “Holden Oversoul > Who Do You Belong To,” and “You Got Yours” will forever be special, if not for the Mikey aspect alone.

As the New Year approached, Steve Lopez counted it down, fireworks exploded, confetti dropped, champagne was toasted, and “Auld Lang Syne” played over the PA. The energy escalated from there with Kool and the Gang’s version of “Celebration,” with the crowd singing along.

wpnye13bThe band came back in, and the third set started with something that fans have talked about for years. The opening notes from the Megablaster horns were unmistakable, and from the opening lyrics of “Burning Down the House,” the crowd was in full rage mode. The excitement was so high that most seemed to not care that the song’s execution was far from perfect. The vocal range of that song is hard to pull off anyway, but the tempo was a bit too fast and there was not a lot of coherence amongst the band and added horns. However, that was not really the point – they finally played “Burning Down the House!”

The next cover of “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” was played much better and was a very nice segue to keep the energy high while sticking to the party theme of the New Year. The rest of the set played out with “classic new” and “classic classic” Widespread Panic, with a well placed and well played cover of “Spill the Wine.”

They ended the show with “Ain’t Life Grand,” the song that was the standard first song of the New Year for many years’ past, and as the house lights came on, most did believe that life was grand.

Set I: Journey Through The Past^, Don’t Be Denied, Time Fades Away^, And It Stoned Me, Expiration Day, Pickin’ Up The Pieces*, Blue Indian, Climb To Safety

Set II: Holden Oversoul, Who Do You Belong To?, You Got Yours, Papa’s Home, Old Neighborhood**, Angels On High**, Devil In Disguise**, Tail Dragger**

Set III: Burning Down The House**^, Come On**^, Bust It Big**, Jack ~> Chilly Water ~> Surprise Valley, Pilgrims, Surprise Valley***, Spill The Wine****, You Should Be Glad**, Love Tractor

Encore: Stop Breakin’ Down Blues, Ain’t Life Grand

* w/ Randall Bramblett on sax
** w/ the Megablasters on horns
*** w/ the Megablasters on horns & Paul D’augustino on keys
**** w/ the Megablasters on horns & Paul D’augustino on keys & Madison Smith, Eric Bice, John Switzer on percussion
^ First time played

Click the thumbnails to view more photos, courtesy photographer Michael Saba

A Thanksgiving holiday North Mississippi Allstars feast

North Mississippi Allstars
Minglewood Hall
Memphis, TN
November 29, 2013

As the North Mississippi Allstars took the stage the Friday after Thanksgiving, it was clear that this would be a night to remember, a show for the ages.

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The Allstars’ holiday Memphis shows have long been a storied tradition, a recurring page in the book that is their career. But, as the band’s drum line meandered through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at Minglewood Hall, one couldn’t help but notice that the vibe in the packed room was different.

For one, there were video cameras – everywhere. The band was shooting the evening for a concert video, and along with the two hand-held cameras that roamed the stage throughout the show and the platform-mounted steadycam in the photo pit, the band encouraged the audience to shoot with their cell phones and submit the videos.

But, for all the hoopla, the music is always first with the Allstars, and there would be plenty of music – three-plus hours, to be sure. The band took the stage from the back of the room – they had a drumline that started at the back and made their way through the crowd and up to the stage with the traditional “Shimmy She Wobble > My Babe > Station Blues.” From there, they proceeded to do what the Allstars do – take Mississippi Hill Country blues and kick it in the ass.

“Turn Up Satan,” a song from the new World Boogie Is Coming, was one of the few newer songs that made its way into the setlist, and it was a good way to lead up to the always-fun “Shake ‘Em On Down.”

Guitarist/vocalist Luther Dickinson’s stage presence was front and center, and as he unleased note after beautiful note during “Shake ‘Em,”  the smile on his face was infectious. He was clearly in his element, in full command of his hometown crowd. When musicians bring their A game (as Dickinson always does), and do it with a smile, it certainly makes for a more enjoyable show.

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The band was at its finest when it turned the stage into a full-on party, though. “Meet Me In The City” had the first “guest” of the evening, Duwayne Burnside, on backup vocals. These holiday Allstars shows are never just the Allstars, and they’re not meant to be – they’re family celebrations.

“Mean ‘Ol Wind Died Down” was huge as usual, starting slow but building into a monstrous jam. However, it was also one of the songs where it was abundantly clear that the band misses Chris Chew’s immense presence on stage.

Chew’s background vocals leant themselves well to some of the band’s more gospel-blues-sounding tunes, and when the Allstars perform them today, something’s just not there.

There was certainly nothing missing from “Jumper On The Line,” though. By this time, Cody Dickinson had shed a layer of clothing or two, strapped on a Viking helmet, and was running from side to side of the photo pit, washboard in hand. Ever the showman, he climbed onto the rail more than once to play in the crowd.

At this point, there were literally eight people on stage. T-Model Ford’s grandson Stud had taken over on drums, Luther had Lightnin’ Malcolm’s bass, and Malcolm, Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Duwayne Burnside were all on guitar. It was probably the jam of the evening, and fortunately caught on video for posterity, because it captured the essence of what the Allstars are about – family.

Burnside left during “Jumper,” only to return in costume – the Red Rooster – for “Snake Drive,” and the band closed their set with “Granny, Does Your Dog Bite.”

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By this point, the band had been on stage for nearly two hours, and the crowd began to thin. When they returned from their encore break, the room had began to empty out, but the band would soldier on for about another hour.

“Po Black Maddie > Skinny Woman” was as phenomenal as ever, and Luther did his best Jimi Hendri impression on “Hear My Train ‘A Comin’ > Goin’ Down South.”

As good as the music was, the band probably played about 30 minutes too long. Sure, they were recording a video and wanted to capture everything, but by the end of the show, the crowd probably about 50% of what it did at the beginning of the show. It’ll sure be interesting to see how they cut the video, because any shots from the stage out onto the crowd from late in the night will show a mostly empty room, which is in sharp contrast to the start of the show.

Either way, the night was chock-full of amazing moments that were fortunately captured on video. The Allstars are a band that always delivers, especially at their traditional holiday show in front of their friends and family. 2013’s event was no different in that respect.

Set:  Shimmy She Wobble > My Babe > Station Blues, Turn Up Satan, Shake ‘Em On Down, Meet Me In The City*, Shake, Goat Meat, Psychedelic Sex Machine > Mystery Train ,  Back Back Train, Boogie**, Hodown, Mississippi Boll Weevil, Mean Ol’ Wind Died Down, World Boogie, Jumper On The Line***, Snake Drive****, Granny, Does Your Dog Bite*****

Encore:  Rollin’ ‘n Tumblin’, Let It Roll, The Meeting, Up Over Yonder, Po’ Black Maddie^ > Skinny Woman^, K.C. Jones, Goin’ To Brownsville, Hear My Train ‘A Comin’ jam > Goin’ Down South > Lord, Have Mercy On Me > Stay All Night outro, All Night Long^^, Goin’ Home

* Chantell and Cherise, Duwayne Burnside and Sharde Thomas on vocals
** Stud on snare drum, Alvin Youngblood Hart on harmonica
*** Duwayne Burnside, Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Lightnin’ Malcolm on guitars, Luther Dickinson on bass, Stud on drums, Cody Dickinson on washboard
**** Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Lightnin’ Malcolm on guitars, Duwayne Burnside on vocals and guitar
*****  Sharde Thomas on fife/vocals, Luther on bass drum, Cody Dickinson, Lightnin’ Malcolm and Stud on snare drums
^ R.L. Boyce on bass drum
^^ Lightnin’ Malcolm and Kenny Brown on guitars, Cody Dickinson on guitar/washboard, Stud on drums, Luther Dickinson on bass

Click the thumbnails to view the photos by Josh Mintz

Showstopper In Memphis: Jason Isbell Steals The Show As Dawes Opener

Dawes with Jason Isbell
Minglewood Hall
Memphis, Tennessee
October 22, 2013

In just ten seconds after taking the stage at Minglewood Hall, Jason Isbell  had silenced the crowd. Not by chastising them, mind you. There are musicians who do that, literally stop the music (Chris Robinson, for example) just to tell their money-paying fans to stop talking, or maybe to put down their cell phones.

But Isbell did it the right way. All it took was his honest songwriting and a good band.

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It was almost unfair to the headliner, Dawes, that the room began to empty once Isbell’s all-too-brief opening set came to a close a short 40 minutes later.

Both bands are touring behind new(ish) albums – Isbell pushing Southeastern, and Dawes is on the road behind Stories Don’t End. Isbell and his 400 Unit took the stage first, and despite the abbreviated set, the former Drive-By Trucker mesmerized with his Southern Gothic lyrics. His songs cut deep, with honest themes capable of resonating with almost anyone. “Elephant,” in particular – a tale about taking care of a cancer patient – had the room silent. Played just by Isbell, Amanda Shires (violin) and Derry DeBorja (keyboards),  it was a haunting take and alone worth the admission price.

With a set built primarily on Southeastern, Isbell didn’t dip too far back into his vast catalogue. Even the “older” songs he played, like “Alabama Pines” and “Codeine,” don’t have too many miles on them. “Cover Me Up” translated nicely to the live set despite its sparse arrangement on Southeastern, and “Stockholm” went over well with the enthusiastic crowd. Concluding with “Super 8,” the 400 Unit delivered a tremendous opening set, and definitely left the crowd wanting more.

Dawes followed, but the bar was set a little too high, and as their set progressed, the crowd started to thin out – it was clear that the Memphis crowd was mostly there for their fellow Southerner Isbell, not the California act.

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But with a repertoire founded on strong songwriting, the band was on point from the opening notes. They featured songs from all of their albums, and included a quirky, strongly-executed cover of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” to boot.

While the music was by and large great, the most memorable moment was probably when lead singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith implored the Birmingham crowd to sing along…which would have been great save for the fact that the band, the audience, and everyone in the vicinity was in Memphis. Given that musicians travel for a living, it’s pretty remarkable that this sort of misstep doesn’t happen more frequently, but the band and the embarrassed frontman took the blunder in stride; they stopped the music, apologized, complimented the city, and moved forward.

“From a Window Seat,” the second track from Stories, was especially powerful. The band powered through the chorus and verses before giving way to Taylor’s guitar solo. “When My Time Comes” was clearly a fan favorite, as the room lent accompanying vocals to the chorus, and “If I Wanted Someone” was another track that went over well.

Towards the end of the set, the band called Isbell onto the stage, and then proceeded to play a blistering “Peace In The Valley.” Isbell unleashed a slide solo worthy of all his Southern rock forefathers, which was nice to see given that, for the most part, his guitar work took a backseat to his songwriting during his opening set. It was phenomenal. Sit-ins can fall flat but this one did not.

Refreshingly, towards the end of the show Goldsmith commented on how, rather than leave the stage for the cursory encore break, they’d just stay there, play a few more songs, and then everyone could go home, because “it was a Tuesday.”

Many great tales were told over the course of the night – stories of love, loss, and travel. The guys from Dawes and Isbell are phenomenal raconteurs. Memphians were fortunate enough to get a chance to watch it all unfold, and no one left disappointed, regardless of what point in the evening they chose to make their exit.

Click the thumbnails to view the photos by Josh Mintz

Jason Isbell

 

Dawes

Goin’ old school with Drivin’ n’ Cryin’

Drivin N Cryin
1884 Lounge
Memphis, Tennessee
September 27, 2013

The Simpsons’ run ends…on the Tracy Ullman Show.

Batman is the popular movie…with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne.

Acid-washed jeans are, well, cool.

The year is 1989, and it’s the year that Drivin’ n’ Cryin’s seminal album, Mystery Road, hit the shelves. Chances are, if you grew up in the South, “Straight To Hell” showed up on at least one of your mix tapes.

Fast-forward to 2013, and the band is still around, and just as good as ever. Few acts have had DnC’s longevity; the band played its first show in 1985, and released its first album, Scarred But Smarter, a year later.

The band took the stage at 1884 Lounge in Memphis to a packed room of mostly middle-aged fans who undoubtedly grew up with them as a key part of the soundtrack of their youth. But, this was no nostalgia act; they rock as hard today as they did nearly 30 years ago.

From the opening notes of “Build A Fire,” it was clear that there was still a little gas left in Kevn Kinney’s tank. The set was a great mix of old songs and new tracks, with a cover thrown in here and there for good measure. “Scarred But Smarter” still had the edgy bite it did in the 80s, and “Honeysuckle Blue” still begged the audience to sing along – none of that has changed.

And yes, the set included “Straight To Hell;” Kinney actually left the stage, mic stand in tow, joining the audience to play the song amongst his fans. It was an intimate moment that would have been much more difficult when the band was playing to thousands. But now, as this extremely still-underrated band plays smaller rooms to smaller crowds, it’s a real treat for those once-teenagers that grew up with Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ in their tape deck – the ones who now have teenagers of their own.

Set: Build A Fire, The Great American Bubble Factory, Scarred But Smarter, Detroit City Rock, Honeysuckle Blue, The Innocent, Changing of the Guard/Roll Away the Stone, Indian Song, Ain’t Waitin’ On Tomorrow, Dirty, Here Comes a Regular, Let’s Go Dancing, Ca$hville, Acceleration, Straight To Hell, Folsom Prison Blues, Fly Me Courageous

Click the thumbnails to view photos of the show by Josh Mintz

2013 Forecastle Music Festival (Day One)

2013 Forecastle Music Festival
Waterfront Park

Louisville, KY
July 12, 2013

Billy Nershi from The String Cheese Incident

Forecastle Festival set sail on Friday, July 12 in downtown Louisville, Kentucky with festival founder JK McKnight and partner Ashley Capps, one of the founders of Bonnaroo, at the wheel steering us towards new musical exploration.

Under beautiful blue skies, acts like The Pimps of Joytime, rising local stars Houndmouth, music legend Bob Mould from punk rock icons Husker Du and Night Beds, rapper Big Boi (still nursing an injured ankle from his Summer Camp set, but giving a wild show sitting in his throne), Old Crow Medicine Show, and Young The Giant brought the afternoon crowd a wide variety of sights and sounds to savor.

Jam band super stars The String Cheese Incident have taken over the host band duties for the weekend, and gave fans old and new an energetic, fun-filled set to close out the main stage for the night.

Here”s a gallery of shots to whet your appetite for our coming review – check back tomorrow for shots from day 2 from editor and senior photographer Rex Thomson of Rex-A-Vision.

Click on the thumbnails to view photos from the show by Rex Thomson.

Sons of Mudboy a family affair

Sons of Mudboy
1884 Lounge
Memphis, Tennessee
May 29, 2013

Luther Dickinson stood at the front of the stage, drenched in sweat, microphone in one hand and the other cocked back to accentuate the lyrics he was delivering like the deftest of MCs. It was towards the end of yet another marathon Wednesday night set by the Sons of Mudboy, and Dickinson had the crowd in the palm of his hand. That’s what the residency has turned into; two months into their weekly gig at 1884 Lounge in Minglewood Hall, the band is ever-changing, but one thing remains the same: the friends, family, and neighbors that faithfully arrive each week know that anything and everything can happen.

_MG_8190-BDickinson is the de facto leader of the band whose line-up is always in flux. Depending on who’s available, on any given night the entire roster can and will change. As May came to a close, the group that kicked off the evening included the actual sons of Mudboy & the Neutrons: Luther and Cody Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, Black Crowes, etc.), son of Jim Dickinson; Ben Baker, son of Lee Baker, and Steve Selvidge (the Hold Steady, Big Ass Truck), son of Sid Selvidge. The band was joined by original Neutron Jimmy Crosthwait, drummer Robert Barnett (Big Ass Truck), Paul Taylor (the Merry Mobile and others), and George Sluppick (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Mofro). Seemingly everyone on stage had a connection to one another, be it blood or musically.

It’s been a ride watching the band develop over the past two months. While they have played together for decades, to watch a band literally sprout on stage over the course of time has been a treat. The band can seemingly play anything and everything, and the first set started with the bluesy intro jam, which was followed with by the folksy, shuffling “John Henry > Judge Bouche.”

One of the intriguing features of the band is their versatility – the ability of nearly everyone on stage to swap instruments at any time. So, while Luther is by trade a guitar player – it has always been his instrument of choice be it with the Allstars or while he was with the Black Crowes – he started the show on bass but over the course of the show also played guitar and keyboards. Likewise, Taylor moved from guitar to drums to bass with little to no loss in play quality.

The addition of Sluppick for the night brought an added element to the line-up. One, he’s a damn fine drummer, Chris Robinson wouldn’t have tapped him for his band otherwise. Two it allowed allowed for Taylor to spend a little more time on bass and guitar.

This musical dexterity was on display during the finest moment of the first set, “Codine.” During this Buffy Sainte-Marie tune that Jim Dickinson had in his rotation, Luther laid down a steady bass line while Taylor unleashed a furious guitar solo. Jim Dickinson’s version of the tune had an edge to it, but the Sons’ version is spacey in an Allman-esque way. And, with two drummers on stage and dual guitars, it took on that tone exponentially.

_MG_8440-BThe second set opened with more players on stage. With the addition of local saxophone players Jim Spake and Art Edmaiston (Mofro) and bass player John Stubblefield (Lucero), there were 11 people crammed onto the tiny 1884 Lounge stage. The collective started with the soul of Wilson Picket’s “Land of 1000 Dances,”  segued into Jr. Walker’s “Shotgun,” and it eventually evolved into a gritty take on the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

The transition into the song seemed a tad disjointed as they went from one tempo into something completely different, but that’s kinda expected given there were nearly a dozen people on stage, some of whom had probably never played together. Accentuated by the haunting saxophones and reverb-drenched guitar from Selvidge, Luther delivered the lyrics with a growl. As the jam progressed the band settled into a nice pocket, and Luther broke out the slide to deliver one of his trademark solos. The band’s eventual transition back into “Shotgun” was a much smoother affair.

The band genre-jumped again to close the show, going from the Beastie Boys’ “Mark on the Bus” into a jam that touched on Sly & the Family Stone’s  “I Want to Take You Higher,” with Taylor laying down some downright funky bass lines.

As the show came to a close, it was evident that there’s true musical chemistry between the core members of the group. There are some connections that take years and years to nuture and some that are instantaneous, and each Wednesday, the Sons of Mudboy seem to display both.

Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Josh Mintz