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Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip: Music Reflecting Life

Words: Tim Newby
Photos: Josh Mintz

“The invisible whip is the force that motivates you and your life depends on it,” explains guitarist Jimmy Herring about the inspiration for his new project, Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip. “It is like having a cocked gun at your back.  It is the motivating factor.”  Continue reading Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip: Music Reflecting Life

Keller Williams On Tour This Spring

Delfest-2012-Honest-Tune-8The ever-prolific Keller Williams heads back on the road this spring and summer performing solo – accompanied on stage by only a slew of instruments and musical gadgets, and with some of his many projects, including Keller with The Travelin’ McCourys, Keller with More Than A Little, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, and Keller & The Keels. In addition, a short run of shows April 17 – 20 (Annapolis, MD | Washington, DC | Greensboro, SC) finds Keller performing with longtime friends and musical collaborators Gibb Droll & Jeff Sipe. Keller’s complete list of currently confirmed tour dates is included below.

 

 

Keller is fresh off a massive winter tour supporting his exciting new release, FUNK, with his latest musical muse, a 6-piece funk band dubbed More Than A Little. The “What The FUNK Tour” took Keller and this cast of hard-hitting funk players through major markets throughout the Midwest and West.

 

 

Check out Honest Tune’s recent feature on Funk: Keller Williams with More Than A Little, It’s Funk

 

Tour Dates:

 

Thursday, March 20 The Haunt Ithaca NY
Friday, March 21 State Theatre State College PA
Saturday, March 22 Chunk Opera Jim Thorpe PA
Friday, March 28 Hoopla in the Hills Rome OH
Saturday, March 29 Slide into Spring Brew & Music Festival Fernandina Beach FL
Friday, April 4 T Bois Blues Festival Lacrose LA
Saturday, April 5 Moe’s Original Mobile AL
Friday, April 11 Gardenia Festival Royal Oak MI Keller & The Keels
Saturday, April 12 River Rocks Festival Columbia SC
Thursday, April 17 Ram’s Head On Stage Annapolis MD Keller Williams with Gibb Droll & Jeff Sipe
Friday, April 18 The Hamilton Washington DC Keller Williams w/ Gibb Droll & Jeff Sipe
Sunday, April 20 The Blind Tiger Greensboro NC Keller Williams with Gibb Droll & Jeff Sipe
Friday, April 25 – Saturday, April 26 Merlefest Wilkesboro NC Keller Williams Solo, Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys, and Keller & The Keels
Saturday, May 3 The Maison New Orleans LA Keller Williams with More Than A Little
Saturday, May 10 Aiken Bluegrass Festival Aiken SC Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys
Friday, May 23-25 DSO Jubillee Thornville OH Keller Williams with More Than A Little
Saturday, May 23-25 Summer Camp Chillicothe IL
Sunday, May 23-26 Revival Fest Clarks Grove MN
Friday, May 30 Carbon Leaf’s Ragtime Carnival Chesterfield VA
Saturday, June 7 Ace Adventure Resort New River Gorge WV Mountain Music Festival
Friday, June 20 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Telluride CO Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys
Friday, July 4 – Saturday, July 5 Highberry US Festival Ozark AK
Sunday, July 11-13 Luna Light Festival Barto PA
Saturday, July 18-20 Groove Music Festival Georgetown CO Keller & The Keels
Friday, July 31-August 1 Gathering of the Vibes Bridgeport CT Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass
Sunday, August 3 Salmonstock Ninilchik AK
Sunday, August 8-10 ARISE Music Festival Loveland, CO Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass

Holiday Hootenanny w/ Col. Bruce, Jeff Sipe, Count M’Butu and more, 12/18/11

Atlanta’s Holiday Hootenanny
Variety Playhouse
Atlanta, GA
December 18, 2011

 

Last Sunday night, the Variety Playhouse stage was as reminiscent of Col. Bruce Hampton’s infamous Zambiland days as it has been in quite some time. Though a few essential ingredients were not present in the orchestra, namely Jimmy Herring, the event that was billed as Atlanta’s Holiday Hootenanny contained many players that made up the old — and much reminisced over — ensembles of days past.

More or less, it was a session of improvisation — most of whom were Atlanta natives — with many conductors that was constantly anchored by Ted Pecchio and Jeff Sipe. Throughout the night, the stage welcomed many, including: Jeff Sipe, Count M’Butu, Rev. Jeff Mosier, Jimmy Hall, Tommy Talton, Ike Stubblefield, Yonrico Scott and many more.

Musically solid, though completely unrehearsed, there were many highlights; but the most unexpected was two teenage players that Hampton brought onto the stage that blew the roof off of the Variety. And so it goes, Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret. still has a keen of an eye for talent as he ever has.

Ian Rawn was there to capture the evening’s occurrences through his lens.

 

Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the Hootenanny by Ian Rawn

 

Keller Williams and the WMD’s embark on east coast fall tour

Keller Williams has been called guitar’s mad-scientist, a one-man-band for the new millennium and dozens of other clever sobriquets dreamed up by fans and music journalists trying to get a handle on his uplifting and ever-shifting style of music. Williams is considered by some but not by himself, to be a master of the acoustic guitar, known for his ability to solo over layers of spontaneously created loops. He is a generous performer who plays down to earth acoustic music that defies any effort to find a convenient pigeonhole. Keller Williams’ new album DREAM, which features a DREAM team of guest musicians, has inspired the usually one-man-band to hit the road with, you guessed it, a DREAM live band.

Continue reading Keller Williams and the WMD’s embark on east coast fall tour

10 Questions with…Jimmy Herring

Words by Brian Heisler 

When most music fans hear the name "Ramone," they think of shaggy-haired, Queens, NY boys.  They think of "Blitzkrieg Bop," or "I Wanna Be Sedated."  They think of punk rock, and CBGB's, and a band that revolutionized music in the 1970's.

The last thing that someone thinks about when they hear the name "Ramone" is bluegrass.

Tommy Erdelyi, nee Tommy Ramone, was one of the founding members of the seminal band, playing drums from 1974 to 1978.  Now, three decades later, he has a new project, a bluegrass duo named Uncle Monk, who recently released their debut self-titled album.

Honest Tune contributing writer Brian Heisler caught up with Tommy to talk about his new gig, how it came to be, and how Ramones fans react when they see Ramone with a mandolin instead of a drum kit.

 

Honest Tune: Your new bluegrass duo, Uncle Monk, where does the name come from?

Tommy Ramone: It’s a name that we’ve had for a long time.  I just like the sound of it, sort of like an alliteration type thing.  I thought it sounded neat.  Maybe it’s a homage to Thelonius Monk and the painter Edward Monk.

 

 

HT: In that case, how long have you been playing in some capacity under the name “Uncle Monk”?

TR: We used to have a band, sort of like an electric jamband, called Uncle Monk, in the early ‘90s.  And Claudia Tienan played bass and I was guitar and singer.  So we’ve had the name for a while.

HT: Originally it was a jamband and traditionally you’ve played in rock groups, so where did the bluegrass sound come from?

TR: Well, at that time I wanted to start bringing in elements of old time music and bluegrass into that band.  And in doing that I started picking up the banjo and the mandolin and I just found out that I really loved those instruments and slowly we started dropping the electric ones. 

Eventually we ended up an acoustic duo, so it sort of like an evolution of sorts.

Claudia TienanHT: How exactly did you come together with Claudia Tienan?

TR: We met on the New York music scene and we were both going to Hunter College, so we bumped into each other all the time.

HT: You said you played as a jamband under Uncle Monk, so it has not always been just the two of you.  Do you plan to bring a band on board when you hit the road at some point?

TR:  That band was a trio – we had a drummer.  Eventually we might add musicians; right now we like the duo situation because it’s very portable and we sort of are coming up with a unique sound, doing it as a duo.  We’re having fun the way it is right now. 

But in the future we might add musicians down the line.  Who knows?

HT:  On your album you play mandolin, banjo, and dobro and you sing, but of course there are no drums.  As an accomplished drummer with the likes of the Ramones, why are there no drums on the album?

TR: Originally there were supposed to be drums and this present thing evolved.  At first we were putting down drums, but things just sounded better without the drums.  It just became more authentic and as it became more authentic, it became better. 

The mandolin itself provides sort of like a rhythm.  Part of the mandolin’s function is what is known as the “mandolin chop,” which is a little bit like a snare drum actually.  You may not hear a drum, but the rhythms are in there.

HT: When you play in front of fans who have never seen you before but know that they are coming to see Tommy Ramone, what is the reaction you get from longtime Ramones fans?

TR: It’s very interesting because most of those people have absolutely never heard bluegrass or old time music.  It’s all very alien to them.  They like it, but a lot of times they don’t know why they like it. 

But the response has been very positive, especially as we’ve been doing it more and more.  They really get into it, so it’s been very good actually.

HT: Do you get fans coming to expect Ramones music, even though they should be expecting bluegrass?

TR:  I don’t know what they expect.  I suppose a lot of people expect all kinds of things from us because there’s all kinds of old time bands out there that actually are kind of punky, almost like a jug band type of thing, there’re a lot of those bands out there.  So possibly some people might expect us to be like that, but we’re really not like that. 

We’re really much more like an indie band, where we combine indie sensibilities, modern lyrics with old time instrumentation and structure.  What we’re doing is kind of original and unique.  It’s not particularly punky in the sense that people would think it is punky, but in another sense it is because lyrically we deal with certain themes that some people might consider very punky indeed. 

We’re very different than what people might expect, but in an interesting way they seem to get off on it because it’s like breaking new ground, it opens new doors for them.

HT: What plans do you have for Uncle Monk for the rest of the summer?

TR:  We’re gonna add shows one at a time and try to enjoy ourselves and basically get our music to as many people as we can.  So we have to figure out what’s the best way to get to the most people the quickest.

 HT: Do have any other plans for the band in general?

TR: We’re gonna be working on a new album at the end of the year and we already have the songs for it.  We just basically write the songs and we’re a very song-based act really.  The songs deal really with our own emotions and lives.  So it’s really a reflection of our own internal psychies really. 

We just keep writing the songs and record them and play them and hopefully people will like them and tour and hopefully just make some fans and friends as we play at some shows.  That’s what we’d like to do.  We hope to see fans out there and we hope they give us a listen.

 

photos by Josh Mintz / photosbyjosh.com

Improvising with the Everyone Orchestra

Few touring bands these days are as unique as the Everyone Orchestra.  As they settled into the southern stretch of their spring '07 tour, Honest Tune contributing writer Bill Whiting caught up with founder Matt Butler to talk about his vision, his past, and where he gets his inspirations.

Continue reading Improvising with the Everyone Orchestra

Leftover Salmon ends hiatus, confirms summer festival appearances

Colorado-based Leftover Salmon announces it will return to the stage later this year.  Confirmed by a statement today from band manager John Joy the return will mark the end to the band’s 27-month hiatus.

Following the band’s last live performance on New Year’s Eve 2004 in Boulder, audiences nationwide will once again hear the trademark polyethnic-cajun-slamgrass sound that propelled the group from its humble Rocky Mountain beginnings to international critical acclaim.

The returning lineup for Leftover Salmon features Vince Herman (acoustic guitar, vocals), Drew Emmitt (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Jeff Sipe (drums), Greg Garrison (bass, vocals), Bill McKay (keyboards, vocals), and Noam Pikelny (banjo).

The confirmed performances have the band making festival appearances on opposite coasts including the High Sierra Music Festival in Northern California and the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia’s hills.

Confirmed 2007 Performances:

High Sierra Music Festival – Quincy, CA 
2 performances: Saturday, July 7 and Sunday, July 8

All Good Music Festival – Masontown, WV
Sunday, July 15

 

Leftover Salmon was formed by accident in 1989, when a local band, the Salmon Heads, asked members of the Left Hand String Band to fill some missing spots in its lineup.  The synergy worked and the resulting quintet went on to pioneer its own genre. 

After the independent release of Bridges to Bert in 1993 and the 1995 live follow-up Ask The Fish, Leftover Salmon gained a spot on the H.O.R.D.E. festival tour and a contract with Hollywood Records. Their Hollywood debut and second studio album, Euphoria, continued to define their eclectic sound and introduced many songs that would become classics for the band.

Other releases include The Nashville Sessions (1999) featuring scores of famous Nashville artists and session musicians as collaborators; Live (2002) the first recording with the new rhythm section, O Cracker, Where Art Thou? (2003) featuring Cracker members David Lowery and Johnny Hickman with LS as the backing band, and Leftover Salmon (2004) first studio record since the loss of founding member, banjoist Mark Vann.

Each of the band’s releases cements its contemporary sound with the solid genre-bending fusion of newgrass, folk and blues. Through the course of the initial 15 years of Leftover Salmon has performed music with such contemporaries as Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Jerry Douglas, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Pete Wernick, Col. Bruce Hampton, Oteil Burbridge, Bill Payne, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Pete Sears, Todd Park Mohr, Tony Furtado, Theresa Andersson, along with members of the The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band and dozens of additional artists.

The band continues to break new ground with its highly energetic live performances and initiate new fans with each show.

Official Leftover Salmon website: www.leftoversalmon.com

Whole Lotta Herring: Taking to the skies with one of the premier guitarists of our time

When it came time to go to the airport on November 13, little did I know what the journey held in store.

 

Just moments after stepping in to the security line of the Atlanta airport, I soon came to realize that this, like so many journeys before, was about to become another in the long line of my memorable adventures with the notorious Rev. Buddy Greene.

 

Before Buddy arrived, I turned around to see Jimmy Herring stepping in line just behind me.  While I thought it seemed obvious that I, too, was heading to Denver for the weekend run of Phil and Friends shows, Jimmy’s first question to me was “Where are you going?”  Before long, the friendly hellos turned to talk of music, which led to my asking if Jimmy was heading to Boulder after the flight to sit in with Govt Mule.

 

Much to my surprise, Jimmy was completely unaware of the show.  By the time we made it through security and headed to the Crowne Room, my campaign to drag him along with the Rev. and I was in full swing.  While Jimmy was unable to make a definite commitment at the time, not knowing what was in store for him once we landed, I knew the groundwork that had been laid would somehow lead to his appearance that night.

 

As we said goodbye leaving the Denver airport, the Rev. and I put forth one last attempt at hijacking Jimmy to come with us to Boulder.  Unsuccessful, we persisted with “We’ll see you there,” “It’s going to be a blast,” “That Paul Stacey in Chris Robinson’s band is great, you’d love playing with him,” and anything else we could think of in an attempt to pique his interest in joining our journey.

 

We then headed to Boulder, where we were promptly greeted with, “There are no tickets for you” at the box office.  Freezing cold, and surrounded by ticketless fans trying to get in, we soon wondered if this trip was going to become the antithesis of our amazing trips throughout the previous year.  As we were told that the show was over sold, and that 25 names had been dropped from the guest list to keep the crowd within legal limits, our concern grew greater.  However, we kept in mind the fact that, even under much more daunting circumstances than this, neither the Rev. nor I had ever been shut out of a show.

 

And then, the moment we were waiting for – the sign of a final guest list being bought to the ticket window.  Suddenly, all of our concerns were eased, tickets and passes were in hand, and we headed in to the show. 

 

And what a show it was.

 

Robinson and New Earth Mud opened with the best set I’d ever seen them play.  By the time Mule worked their way down “Monkey Hill”, I realized they were playing their self-titled debut album. From beginning to end, a near flawless set, and, before it would end, the Rev. and I were rejoicing on many accounts, including the fact that much of the crowd joined us in chanting, “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy” as our friend was suddenly spotted on the side of the stage.

 

The New Earth Mule Unit

The reaction on the faces of each member of Mule as they looked over and saw Jimmy told us all that no one, except for the Rev. and I, was expecting his arrival. As he looked in our direction and smiled with that infectious grin, our anticipation of the next set grew all the more intense.

 

While set two would bring forth no more (original) Mule, it did bring Chris Robinson back to the stage.  The set opened with a pair of classic covers, “Hard To Handle” and “Almost Cut My Hair”, and the show would only get better from there.  “Sometimes Salvation” has long been one of my favorites, whether performed by Mule or by the Black Crowes.  Having Robinson on stage to share the vocals with Warren only made it all the better. 

 

Then, the moment we had cheered for was upon us as we looked behind Warren and saw Jimmy strapping on a guitar, all the while looking our way, continuing to grin, and giving us a thumbs-up sign as he walked on to the stage for “Dreams.”

 

“Let Jimmy sing,” a chant that will seemingly follow this stellar musician through the rest of his career, rang through the crowd between songs.  This left Jimmy shaking his head “no” as he gazed down laughing at the perpetrator, none other the Rev.  Then, Jimmy and the rest of the band raged through a memorable cover of the Cream classic “Politician.”  From there, an all out jam, Mule style, ensued, starting with a great “Drums” in which Matt Abts was joined by New Earth Mud’s Jeremy Stacey.  This was followed by a battle of dual lead guitars as Jimmy and Paul Stacey took the stage, leaving Warren in much the same state as us, a smiling bystander, watching as these two sensational players matched each other note for note.

 

Through years of touring with bands such as the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jazz Is Dead, and Project Z, Jimmy Herring has always remained somewhat of an underground secret, a man who, with a guitar in his hands, can fill a room with emotion, joy, and pure musical bliss. I have seen Jimmy take the stage with some of the most famous names to ever play guitar, and without fail, his playing has always rivaled that of his more famous counterparts. On this night, it was Jimmy who was the better known of the two players on stage. And, although his playing was every bit as good as ever, for once he was not the most outstanding player on stage.  Stacey took control of the jam and, from my perspective at least, actually outplayed the man who is rarely outdone by anyone once he straps on a guitar.  While listening to discs of the show at a later date did not necessarily leave me with the same impression, on this night, I was certainly more impressed with Stacey than either of the other guitarists on stage (which is saying a lot, as Warren and Jimmy would both rank in my Top 5 favorite players of all time).

 

But, in the end, the most lasting memories of this, the first of a remarkable four-night run through Colorado with Govt Mule and the Q would always be the story of getting to the show, the feeling of excitement we felt when we finally saw Jimmy enter the Theater, and the pure joy of seeing him take the stage, joining a collective group of musicians from two bands, playing as one, who all seemed to be having every bit as much fun as those of us in the crowd.

 

Now, if we could only get Jimmy to open up those vocal chords…