Tag Archives: Grateful Dead

Dark Star Orchestra at Penn’s Peak

Dark Star Orchestra - 5.8.15 (13)

 

 

Dark Star Orchestra

Penn’s Peak

Jim Thorpe, PA

5/8/15

 

 

 

 

With excitement growing for the celebration of 50 years of The Grateful Dead this summer in Chicago and Santa Clara, magic is filling the air with a number of groups paying homage to the legends.  Formed in 1997 in Chicago, Dark Star Orchestra has been taking the idea of homage to the next level as they have made their name by recreating full shows performed by the legendary San Francisco band. Dark Star Orchestra brought their unique ability and unmatched Dead spirit to the mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania and Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA.

 

As fans filtered into the venue from the parking lot, the band settled in and started right into the first set opener, “Bertha.”  This was the perfect way to start off the group’s two night stint at the historic venue. The crowd was buzzing with excitement as they sang every word to the opening number.  The quintet didn’t miss a beat with the upbeat version of “Mexicali Blues,” that followed.  Slowing down the set was a stellar version of “Loser,” which was led by Jeff Mattson on guitar and vocals.  The beauty of Dark Star Orchestra’s performance is they have studied The Grateful Dead so closely that if you close your eyes you feel like you are back with the original members.  Drummer Dino English started out a nice introduction to “They Love Each Other” which gave guitarist Mattson a few moments to show his guitar skills.  As Mattson’s fingers flowed across the strings of his guitar the crowd was fixated on every note that rang out.

 

As long time “Deadheads” were searching through set lists to see if they could pinpoint which year Dark Star Orchestra was performing, vocalist Lisa  Mackey joined the group onstage to perform a cheerful version of “Beat It On Down The Line” with had the crowd bouncing around Penn’s Peak grinning ear to ear.  Rob Barraco, sporting his usual purple bandana, shone on keys through the song.  The piano virtuoso went back and forth on the keyboards performing a flawless solo that got everyone in the band smiling.  As the band launched into a superb version of “Row Jimmy” you could feel the emotion flowing out of Mattson’s voice.  About an hour into the performance you could Dark Star Orchestra - 5.8.15 (4)see that the crowd and the band were feeding off each other’s energy.  The band was firing on all cylinders this evening and the first set closer was no exception.  “Greatest Story Ever Told” gave each band member a chance to solo and really show why they are one of the greatest Grateful Dead projects to perform today.  The set closed with fan favorite “China Cat Sunflower” and its usual musical partner, “I Know You Rider,” that flowed seamlessly into “Around and Around.”

 

At set break many in the crowd began the guessing game as to what show Dark Star was recreating on this night.  As the opening notes of “Ramble on Rose” graced Penn’s Peak, my buddy turned to me and said “I figured out what the date is. We’re in for a treat this second set.”  He was exactly right with his guess (12/6/73 for those keeping score).  The group kept the energy up as they executed a classic rendition of “Me & My Uncle.”  The beauty of Dark Star Orchestra is how they bring people of all ages together just like The Grateful Dead did for thirty-plus years.  As the group transitioned into a eleven minute version of “Here Comes Sunshine,” concert goers were dancing freely in the aisles of the wooden historic concert hall.

 

The band got loose and stretched their musical legs on the next number, a thirty-three minute version of the Grateful Dead classic “Dark Star,” that allowed the group to really explore their instrumental side.  As guitarists Rob Eaton and Mattson laid down the spacey guitar licks, Vangelas contributed some deep bass grooves.  Drummer English set the tone nicely with his unique style of drumming and you could tell that Barraco was in his glory tickling the ivories on the edge of the stage.  The seamless transition into “Eyes Of The World” was magical to say the least.  Every voice in the audience sang with the band “Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world!”  The second set closed out with a mellow rendition of “Stella Blue” followed by an energized “Sugar Magnolia” that gave Eaton a chance to channel Bob Weir perfectly.  The band retook the stage for their encore to hoots and hollers and concluded the night with the Smokey Robinson & the Miracles classic, “I Second That Emotion.”

 

 

12/6/73 – Public Hall, Cleveland, OH

Set One:

Bertha

Mexicali Blues

Loser

Black Throated Wind

They Love Each Other

Beat It On Down The Line

Deal

El Paso

Row Jimmy

Greatest Story Ever Told

China Cat Sunflower >

I Know You Rider

Around And Around

 

Set Two:

Ramble On Rose

Me and My Uncle

Here Comes Sunshine

Big River

Dark Star >

Eyes of The World >

Stella Blue

Sugar Magnolia

 

Encore:

I Second That Emotion

Steve Kimock & Friends: A Tribute to Jerry Garcia

Steve Kimock & Friends: A Tribute To Jerry Garcia

Ardmore Music Hall

Ardmore, PA

3/15/15

 

Kimock & Friends - 3.15.15 (9)“Never miss a Sunday show.”

This statement rang true when Steve Kimock & Friends performed some of their favorite Jerry Garcia tunes at Ardmore Music Hall.  Over four decades of performing live the guitar wizard became close friends and has had the opportunity on many occasions to share the stage with The Grateful Dead. With the psychedelic Bay Area group celebrating fifty-years, it is fitting that Kimock pays homage to his friend and Grateful Dead guitarist/vocalist, Jerry Garcia.  A group of accomplished musicians joined him onstage this evening, Bobby Vega (Bass), Bill Vitt (Drums), John Morgan Kimock (Drums), Jeff Chimenti (Keyboards/Organ), and Dan Lebowitz (Guitar/Vocals).

 

Kimock & Friends - 3.15.15 (4)As the band took the stage in front of a capacity crowd on Sunday night there were hoots and hollers in anticipation of what the super group was going to start the evening off with. “High Heeled Sneakers” kicked off the set, with Kimock’s smooth guitar and Chimenti’s steady keys starting off the tune.  This was a perfect beginning to the night.  Dan Lebowitz, from ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) took the opportunity to let his voice shine on the opener. With the funky bass of Vega and Kimock’s tasty guitar licks, “Merle’s Boogie,” brought a smile to everyone in attendance.  Chimenti took center stage during the song with a flawless solo on his organ.  You could hear a pin drop as the band started into a perfect rendition of the classic number, “Black Muddy River.”  Drummers Vitt and John Morgan Kimock laid down a nice soothing backbeat as the elder Kimock took the spotlight with his graceful lap steel.

 

Kimock & Friends - 3.15.15 (6)Vega started out “Expressway to Your Heart” with a bassline that led Chimenti and Steve Kimock to join in the tune seamlessly.  This number during the first set reminded everyone in attendance why Vega is considered one of the most well rounded bassists in the jamband world.  The extended take on the Soul Survivors classic gave each band member time to shine throughout the seventeen-plus minutes.  To conclude the opening set guitarists Kimock and Lebowitz stepped up to the microphone to sing

Kimock & Friends - 3.15.15 (18)“Money Honey” which was first recorded by Garcia and longtime friend and musician, Merl Saunders, on The Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings.  As the band was introduced the sold out Ardmore Music Hall was smiling from ear to ear and waiting to hear what the group had in store for them during the second set.

As the band took the stage and the capacity crowd settled back in the sextet opened the second set with “Aiko Aiko,” which made Ardmore feel like it was down in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The band then pleased the capacity crowd by performing a stellar rendition of The Grateful Dead classic, “Bertha.” With a deep, prominent bass groove and the backing of Vitt & Kimock on drums, with the pair sounding just the rhythm devils Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman, the band really connected with the fans on this one.  Lebowitz lent his vocals and acoustic guitar expertise and Chimenti performed a solo for the ages.  You could feel the energy in the room that was going back and forth between the band and crowd during “Bertha.”  It was pure magic.  Next Kimock quieted the crowd with a moving rendition of “Stella Blue,” that was laced with some of his chilling pedal steel work.

 

Kimock & Friends - 3.15.15 (11)The band threw a curveball into the mix when they started out with the Grateful Dead classic  “Help On The Way,” which slid easily into its common partner “Slipknot!” before throwing the crowd for a loop as it then transitioned smoothly into the Jesse Stone number, “Don’t Let Go,” which then moved into a perfect segue into “Philadelphia Mambo.”  The group capped the night off paying homage to J.J. Cale with a version of “After Midnight,” that included The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby.”

 

 

Grateful Dead Drummer Bill Kreutzmann to Release Memoir

BillyThe Grateful Dead are perhaps the most legendary American rock band of all time. For 30 years, beginning in the San Francisco hippie scene in 1965, they were a musical institution, the original jam band that broke new ground in so many ways. From the music to their live concert sound systems and recordings, they were forward-thinking champions of artistic control and outlaw artists who marched to the beat of their own drums.

Now, in his upcoming memoir DEAL: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead (St. Martin’s Press; on-sale May 5, 2015; $27.99), Bill Kreutzmann — a founding member and drummer for every one of their over 2,300 concerts-has written an unflinching and wild account of playing in the greatest improvisational band of all time. Everything a rock music fan would expect is here, but what sets this apart is Kreutzmann’s incredible life of adventure that was at the heart of the Grateful Dead experience. This was a band that knew no limits and he lived life to the fullest, pushing the boundaries of drugs, drums and high times, through devastating tragedy and remarkable triumph.

A rare insider’s account into the life and legacy of one of America’s most influential and beloved bands, DEAL delivers a tale of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll that’s as outrageous as it is legendary.

Deal will be available May 5.

Dark Star Jubilee Announces 4th Annual Music Festival & Campout May 22 – 24

i-tJjMqCN-LAs 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the world’s introduction to the music of the Grateful Dead, Dark Star Orchestra announcestheir fourth annual Dark Star Jubilee taking place this Spring. Held Memorial Day Weekend at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio – the historic, sprawling venue where the Dead played six times – the multi-day festival brings the spirit of the Grateful Dead’s music to life with 25 bands performing over three days and nights.
  Dark Star Orchestra headlines each of Jubilee’s three nights, offering a full, two-set performance every time, with the remaining acts to be announced in the coming weeks. The Jubilee is offering a limited quantity of ‘pre-lineup’ pre-sale tickets including GA entrance to the entire festival weekend, camping, parking, and over two dozen performances with no overlapping sets for $110.  VIP pre-sale tickets are $220 and other ticket options will be introduced in the coming weeks.

 

Pre-sale tickets to the Dark Star Jubilee are available now at www.missiontix.com/darkstarjubilee.

 
Information on the Dark Star Jubilee can be found at www.DarkStarJubilee.com and www.facebook.com/darkstarjubilee.

 

Martin Scorsese To Produce Grateful Dead Documentar​y

Dead Film legend Martin Scorsese is set to executive produce an as-yet-untitled film featuring never-before-seen performances and backstage footage, as well as new interviews with Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart and more.  The documentary will coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary and will be directed by  Amir Bar-Lev.

 

 

The band released the following statement:

“Millions of stories have been told about the Grateful Dead over the years. With our 50th Anniversary coming up, we thought it might just be time to tell one ourselves and Amir is the perfect guy to help us do it. Needless to say, we are humbled to be collaborating with Martin Scorsese. From The Last Waltz to George Harrison: Living In The Material World, from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones, he has made some of the greatest music documentaries ever with some of our favorite artists and we are honored to have him involved. The 50th will be another monumental milestone to celebrate with our fans and we cannot wait to share this film with them.”

 

 

I Love The Rain: Dave Jordan

New Orleanian Spreads Americana Wings With Bring Back Red Raspberry

 

By Tom Speed

Dave JordanIn the years following Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans musician Dave Jordan’s band disbanded and his marriage dissolved, he did what musicians do in such times. He picked up his acoustic guitar. Then the songs came out.

Jordan released his first solo record, These Old Boots, in 2010 and it was something of a departure. Swathed in pedal steel guitar and populated with melancholy, acoustically-rendered tunes, the Americana leanings of These Old Boots stood in contrast to his previous work as the founder/bassist/bandleader of the funk outfit Juice.

These Old Boots was lauded by the local press in New Orleans, and three years later, Jordan’s follow-up, Bring Back Red Raspberry, expands that palette even more with a collection of songs that sample flavors from country, zydeco, and R&B while fleshing out the songs with more instrumentation and a joie de vivre that didn’t exist on the last outing. It’s a culmination many years in the making, but a natural progression for a musician who has been steeped in the sounds of southern Louisiana all his life, and who has been around long enough that he’s no longer just an up-and-comer.

Now an elder statesman of the New Orleans music scene, Jordan finds himself playing the mentor role to musicians a decade younger than he is, much like he learned from Anders Osborne, George Porter and others. It’s a lineage Jordan embraces.

“Very early on in this process I realized that my whole career with Juice, I was always looking up to Porter and Anders and Joe Krown and the older guys,” says Jordan.

But when he coincidentally formed the loose-knit band that plays on Red Raspberry, he recognized that they might be looking up to him in the same way. “I realized early on that I was working with guys the other end of the spectrum now, about a decade younger than me. I really got into that idea. I had kind of cordoned myself off. All those years on the road, I wasn’t here for a lot of these guys coming up. I didn’t get to witness it. I was gone. It was really fun for me, and informative and educational to work with guys that were not in my wheelhouse.”

Fortified

Juice had been part of the local funk scene in the late 1990s and helped bridge the gap between the burgeoning jam band scene and the funk heritage of New Orleans—it was Jordan who personally
Juice_Fortifiedintroduced George Porter to Widespread Panic, for example. Peers of the time included bands like Galactic, All That and Iris May Tango.

Of the group, only Galactic and Juice toured the country relentlessly, each with their own take on classic New Orleans funk music.  Heavily influenced by the Meters and George Porter’s Runnin’ Pardners, Juice always leaned to the R&B side of the funk equation, with Taj Mahal and Bill Withers songs populating their setlists alongside their groove-laden originals. They gained a reputation as a party band and blanketed the Southeast, but also found audiences in Colorado and California eager to soak up their New Orleans vibe.

They released three albums while juggling a rotating lineup.   Their funky debut Fortified came in 2000, followed by the Anders Osborne-produced All Lit Up in 2002. The live collection Juice Live: Hey Buddy! came out in 2005. It was a double disc set that positioned them to reach an even larger audience. Alas, it was released just weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit. Like many New Orleans bands, the members of Juice scattered far and wide in Katrina’s wake, from California and Colorado to Nashville and beyond. Some members didn’t return to the city for years, and though they had about half of a new album in the can, they never quite got back together.

Neighborhood Improvement

Following the dissolution of his band, and the concurrent dissolution of his marriage, Jordan sought out solo gigs wherever he could find them as he adjusted to a single-income household and its attendant bills. One of those gigs was a weekly show at the Banks Street Bar, a neighborhood joint near his home in Mid-City New Orleans.

There, he pulled out his acoustic guitar on Thursday nights and began pouring his heart out with confessional, emotionally wrenching tales. Soon his drummer buddy Andre Bohren, a founding member of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, would join him along with fiddle player Harry Hardin, also a bandmate of Bohren’s.

The Thursday night gig went from solo to a trio…then sometimes a quartet. Friends dropped in and out from week to week. The makeshift band in the making was joined by Greg “Wolf” Hodges, who like Jordan, was adept at both bass and guitar, which enabled the two to swap instruments as the songs demanded.

The two had met back in the Juice days, when Juice would share bills with Col. Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers, with whom Hodges was playing bass at the time.

“Me and Wolf made a quick connection,” says Jordan. “Our sense of humor is kind of the same. The connection with Col. Bruce was a focal point. Our music sensibilities are very similar in their diversity. He knows serious country music, rock music.”

These gigs started being billed as “Dave Jordan and the Neighborhood Improvement Association”—a loose-limbed consortium that by definition had no described membership or precise repertoire. Before he knew it, the Thursday night gig at Banks Street had lasted two years.

“It’s a brutal amount of time,” says Jordan. “But a lot grew out of it.”

The most tangible thing that grew out of it is Bring Back Red Raspberry, on which Jordan and his pals incorporate the instrumentation of those weekly gigs with some of the songs forged from them. For some of those songs, Jordan would bring a basic blueprint to the group, and the players would add their own flourishes. Others were later developed in the studio.

“These tunes were written real fast, but I’d write them and then we’d go to Banks Street and they’d flesh themselves out over time,” says Jordan. “Andre and Wolf really developed the songs live. Then we got in the studio and that’s where the other things come in. What [Bill] Machow did with keyboards and accordion in the studio really took it to another level.”

Two-Step

The twin touchstones of Jordan’s musical upbringing were the Meters and the Grateful Dead, and if Juice explored the territory of the former, his latest output channels the more acoustically tinged Printside of the latter, only bringing it to it’s modern conclusion. Several of the selections on Bring Back Blue Raspberry place Jordan not within the context of his forbearers but alongside his contemporaries, and in some somewhat surprising areas. Much of the album fits comfortably into a twangy shuffle that brings to mind Americana stalwarts like Son Volt and Drive-By Truckers moreso than Galactic or their other fellow funksters.

Elsewhere, accordion and fiddle provide a rhythmic foundation that draws on zydeco and Cajun music. Though Jordan may have started out playing jam-based funk music, it’s hard not to soak up one’s surroundings.

“You write the songs and then the songs kind of tell you what they need,” he says. “If a song says, some accordion would sound cool here, you put some accordion on there. I never thought I would end up writing zydeco style music, but it is what it is. To me, it’s just another part of growing up in south Louisiana and being surrounded by music. It’s not something I set out to do. It’s just something absolutely natural for me to do. It’s as easy for me to do that as it is to pick up a bass and play a Meters tune.”

It’s apparent on “By The Side of The Stage,” a breezy mid-tempo tune in which Bohren makes his kit sound like a washboard and Malchow decorates the beat with graceful accordion swaths while Hardin rounds out the melody on fiddle. It’s a true amalgamation—too country to be zydeco, too rock to be country.

In fact, a compelling factor of Bring Back Red Raspberry is the diversity that defies categorization. Classic New Orleans piano tunes (“Biggest Little Shrimp In Town”) stand alongside plaintive ballads like the wispy “She Was Born In April,” alt-country rockers like “Dontcha Come Runnin’” and those zydeco two-steps like “The Waiting Feeling.”  Listening to the record from start to finish brings to mind the experience of walking through the Louisiana Jazz & Heritage Festival: you find your toe tapping in different but congruous ways. But that’s a natural synthesis for someone who spent a lifetime soaking up those sounds.

“I think with this record all the music of my life is coming to a natural juncture,” says Jordan. “I’m into funk, I’m into Dr. John, Tom Petty and the Dead. I think this record shows that. One of the things I’m most proud of with this record and the band really is that we are touching on a lot of bases but we’re not forcing any of it.”

Hubig’s Pie

The album’s title comes from the song “Hubig’s Pie,” a barrelhouse piano tune that humorously proposes the reliably satisfying New Orleans fried pie delicacy as a an antidote for a frustrating relationship. It’s about an appreciation for the simple things in life that pull us through when the trappings and clutter are removed.

It’s the kind of swaying sing-along that likely urges a sense of solidarity among those denizens of the local pub who hung around long enough for last call. Towards the end, Jordan goes off a rant extolling the virtues of the beloved confectionaries. One particular exaltation is to “bring back red raspberry!” in reference to a rare flavor that was discontinued after Hurricane Katrina.

Indeed,  now eight years later, life in New Orleans is still demarcated by Pre-Katrina and Post-Katrina. That things neccesarily changed forever means an instant nostalgia was created.

Sonically, Bring Back Red Raspberry is mostly good time rockers and swaying dance numbers that reveal the culmination of that Louisiana heritage. Thematically, it belies Jordan’s experience too, and beneath the surface it’s not quite as rosy as all that. Years of rugged touring are revealed in Jordan’s gravely voice, and lyrically Red Raspberry touches on themes of regret, betrayal, frustration and yes, nostalgia. But the comforts of the past can sooth the problems of the present, and vice-versa.

“Telluride,” one of the album’s standouts, is a sweeping country road tale of risk and frustrated dreams, at once describing a perilous journey through bad weather and the rigors of eeking out a living as a traveling musician.  Other songs touch on indiscretions and failing while others point to finding hope in the face of frustration.

Kickstarting

Like many independent musicians these days, Jordan turned to the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter to help fund the recording and distribution of the album. But it wasn’t something he was comfortable with at first.

“I didn’t want to do it,” admits Jordan. “ I felt like a beggar. I felt like after years of being able to fund my own records or having record labels, I really didn’t want to go that route. I tried to find outside funding and it never materialized. I had some friends—younger people who are much more savvy with this kind of stuff than I am—told me just do it, it’s gonna work.”

And it did. With a campaign bearing the boastful title “I Am Gonna Make A Killer Record I Promise,” Jordan sought to raise $11,000 to defray the costs of studio time, manufacturing and self-distribution, among other expenses.  Not only did he meet and exceed that goal, he was humbled by the outpouring of support from across the country, a shot in the arm that inspired him to live up to his boastful promise that also included the tagline: “The album will sound like Dr. John, Tom Petty and John Prine met in south Louisiana and had an illegitimate love child. And it was me!”

But the outpouring also helped him put the legacy of Juice into perspective. Many of his Kickstarter backers were friends and fans from around New Orleans. Others were high school buddies he hadn’t seen in 20 years. But others were fans that had been touched by his music during those grueling, relentless tours with Juice.

“It was an overwhelmingly awesome experience,” says Jordan. “Once again, it put the legacy of what Juice did into light. It made me realize that there are people out there that our music has touched and they were willing to support me to make more music. That’s an amazing feeling.”

And while Juice didn’t gain the same momentum as their brethren band Galactic, it’s becoming apparent that they did make an impact on the scene and left a legacy that can’t be considered lightly.

That realization came into even sharper focus with the sudden death of former Juice harmonica player/percussionist/vocalist Jamie Galloway this year. His death received an enormous flood of support and the second line parade and wake at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans garnered considerable media coverage. And that caused Jordan to reflect on the band’s history, and maybe resolve to revisit it.

“I think for right now, everyone in Juice has gone through some tumultuous shit in the past six or seven years,” says Jordan. “Be it dealing with Katrina, dealing with divorce, family members having health problems. Dealing with various substance abuse issues, personal health problems. We’ve all hit a few crossroads, very common to the age we are. And none of these things we should look at in a negative way, in a way that we’ve failed on any level.

“We worked as hard as we could for as long as we could,” said Jordan. “I think that Jamie’s death put all that in perspective and we’d all like to finish this record and do some stuff. But take some time and figure it out and not just finish it to finish it. But really figure out what we want to do.”

That reunion may come to light and may not. There will always be problems to deal with, troubles in life. The other members of Juice, like Jordan, have their own outside outlets. But in the meantime Jordan seems to have found his artistic voice, and it’s one that includes insightful songs, a cadre of talented musicians with a wide swath of styles, and when he needs it, nothing more than an acoustic guitar.

 

For more information on Bring Back Red Raspberry, tour dates and more: http://www.davejordanmusic.com

Neal Casal Covers The Grateful Dead for Record Store Day

Neal Casal has announced the release of a limited edition 7-inch single for Record Store Day 2013 featuring his rendition of The Grateful Dead’s “Mountains of the Moon.” The B-side is an instrumental acoustic guitar-based piece entitled “Grimes’ Surf Story.” Casal is accompanied on both tracks by his band-mate in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and current Black Crowes’ keyboardist Adam MacDougall. The 7-inch will be released by Casal’s current label, The Royal Potato Family, on April 20, the date set for this year’s Record Store Day festivities.

Casal explains why he chose to cover The Grateful Dead’s “Mountains of the Moon”:

“I love ‘Mountains Of The Moon’ for its baroque qualities, the very strange lyrics, and it’s just a great melody, plain and simple. There’s a fantastic line, ‘The earth will see you on through this time,’ that really connects with me. It’s also a one of a kind song for The Grateful Dead. It doesn’t resemble anything that came before or after it. The Dead usually had a few of a certain kind of song, but with ‘Mountains,’ there was only one.”

 

Listen to Neal Casal’s “Mountains of the Moon.”

Keller Williams Releases KEYS: A Collection of Grateful Dead Covers on Piano

Kelller WilliamsOne-man-band Keller Williams makes a surprising turn to the piano for his upcoming digital release KEYS: A Collection of Grateful Dead Covers on Piano to Benefit the Rex Foundation. KEYS finds Williams’ performing ten not-so-traditional piano versions of Grateful Dead favorites. Offering up such beloved Dead tracks as “Terrapin Station” and “Althea”- and exposing Keller’s rarely seen piano-man side – KEYS is a unique treat for Grateful Dead and Keller Williams fans alike.

 

KEYS: A Collection of Grateful Dead Covers to Benefit the Rex Foundation is available for digital download at iTunes beginning today, February 12, 2013. 100% of the proceeds of KEYS will go to benefit The Rex Foundation, the charitable non-profit organization started by the Grateful Dead to give grants to a variety of worthwhile causes.

http://https//itunes.apple.com/us/album/keys/id598782779

 

KEYS: A Collection of Grateful Dead Covers on Piano to Benefit the Rex Foundation
Track Listing:
1. He’s Gone
2. Can’t Come Down
3. Terrapin Station
4. Attics Of My Life
5. Althea
6. Brokedown Palace
7. Wharf Rat
8. Bird Song
9. Row Jimmy
10. Touch of Grey

 

About The Rex Foundation
Furthering what the Grateful Dead started in 1983, the Rex Foundation endeavors to fund grassroots programs that are often under the radar of larger funding entities, yet work in bold, innovative ways to carry out essential work toward a healthy environment, promotion of the arts, protection of indigenous cultures, assisting others less fortunate, building strong communities, and educating children and adults. The Rex Foundation has distributed $8.8 million in grants to over 1,100 programs across the U.S. and internationally, while also carrying out fundraising initiatives that foster creativity and positive community connections. Visit http://rexfoundation.org/ for a complete list of grantees and information about current initiatives.

www.kellerwilliams.net

Billy Iuso: Dead Inspired Funk

     

Journeyman guitarist Billy Iuso is hitting his groove in the live-music scene by awakening the Dead.

 

Billy Iuso

“I’m a hippie,” Billy Iuso says in describing himself, his musical influences, and inspirations during a recent phone interview, as he speaks through a cold during the depths of winter.

 
Iuso’s Restless Natives opened the previous Saturday’s Anders Osborne’s Holiday Spectacular at Tipitina’s in New Orleans before Iuso supplied guitar-shredding support to Osborne’s set. The following Sunday, Iuso would perform downtown at The Maison with the Iko Iko All-Stars, a group of New Orleans-based, like-minded Deadheads in which he and former Restless Native C.R. Gruver (Outformation) slick the Grateful Dead’s wheels with a bit of Nola grease. From his home in Uptown New Orleans, Iuso, 44, explained he was looking forward to spending the holidays at home with this wife and family before taking off in January with Osborne to gig at Gov’t Mule’s Island Exodus IV in Jamaica in January.

 

While his serene summation of “feeling blessed” at this point in his life and career is the stuff of sage hippie wisdom, Iuso, a Port Chester, New York native of Italian heritage, applies the hippie label when discussing music. Iuso’s ascent in stature and gigs (such as being named Bear Creek Festival artist-in-residence in 2011) within groovy circles is obvious in the few last few years, particularly in his recently discovered kinship with the beastly, divine rock-and-soul stew that is Osborne’s sound. This ascent comes after decades of toil, triumphs and tribulations in various musical adventures, most notably to many in the Brides of Jesus, which Iuso formed just out of high school, earning fans and buzz in the early 1990s in New York City via weekly gigs at the Wetlands before moving to Athens, Georgia, where he moved the band to soak up “the hip little Southern music scene”.

Billy Iuso & Mickey Hart

Engagingly equal parts jaded musician and enthusiastic fan, buoyant boy and old soul, Iuso, a tattoo of Jerry Garcia’s famously four-fingered hand emblazoned on his right forearm, talks after sound-check/shrimp boil for the Holiday Spectacular on the sidewalk outside Tipitina’s.

 

He’s asked about the magic created last Jazz Fest, which found him in a late-night jam at an Osborne show that reached full-tilt guitar frenzy in a “Third Stone from the Sun” jam during the encore that featured Luther Dickinson, Warren Haynes, Osborne and himself. “In this genre, we have a respect that makes things easy,” Iuso says of how the aforementioned players worked harmoniously together, “because it’s really not work. Anders and I just click. Those others guys, they know when to play and when not to play. It’s a respect thing.”

 

Billy Iuso band2Iuso’s opening set with the Restless Natives — Thomas McDonald (bass), Michael Burkhart (keys), Eddie Christmas (drums), Jimmy Carpenter (saxophone) and the debut of vocalist Ginger Matthews — grooves with originals and covers including Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting Here in Limbo.” Iuso is the first guest in Osborne’s set, locking in for an extended “Black Eyed Galaxy,” the title track off Osborne’s acclaimed album from last year that announced the Swedish-born, now-sober guitarist/singer was a Dead Head and proud of it. Along with rock songstress Shannon McNally, Iuso sang and soared in “Sugaree,” a staple Grateful Dead cover.

“I’m kind of a closeted Deadhead,” Osborne said in a Relix magazine interview following his Holiday Spectacular and in advance of his latest EP, Three Free Amigos, of which Iuso played an integral role. “Lately, it’s just popped up more and more. One of my closest friends right now, Billy Iuso, is a huge, huge fan of the Grateful Dead and he keeps sending me a bunch of stuff.”

 

 

Iuso moved to his adopted home of New Orleans from Georgia in 1997 at a point when the Brides of Jesus “started falling apart,” he recalls, and after the guidance of Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., whom Iuso began working for as road manager. Iuso credits Porter and Russell Batiste for indoctrinating an Billy Iuso & George PorterItalian hippie from New York into New Orleans, immersing him in its culture, musical traditions and community. In addition to solo albums (such as 2011’s Trippin’ over Dragons) and works with the Restless Natives, Iuso played guitar for five years with the Wild Magnolias, the Mardi Gras Indian band initiated by Big Chief Bo Dollis, Sr., who received the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)’s National Heritage Fellowship in 2011. Countless miles, studio hours, sit-ins, and small-crowds at no-cover shows have schooled Iuso in the cruel realities of music as business. But those same lessons, amazingly, have not diminished his energy, a palpable draw to his infectious handling of the Fender Stratocaster driven with passion and intensity through his Mesa Boogie amp.

 

Reflecting on the attributes brought by band mates Iuso, Carl Dufrene (bass) and Eric Bolivar (drums) on Three Free Amigos in the aforementioned Relix interview, Osborne says: “Well, usually they bring who they are, which is why we play together. There is not a lot of pre-thinking on my part. I just throw it out there and then we design it together. The reason that we are a band is because we like to see how things turn out. They add a tremendous amount by just being themselves and playing the way they do.”Anders Osborne at Brooklyn Bowl June 2012 Honest Tune

 

Playing his way — a trippy-licks, white-boy guitarist in a funky, soulful city — has landed Iuso new audiences among familiar faces via uncompromised virtues of vibe and tone in a town he now calls home. “When I first got here with the buzz from Brides of Jesus still out there, I came across some haters,” Iuso remembers. “They thought I was a tool, like ‘Who’s this guy coming to our town?’ But I’ve been here long enough, played enough, that I’ve gained respect. And once you’re in this community, you’re in it for good.”