Tag Archives: Memphis

Greensky Bluegrass on the river

Greensky Bluegrass
Beale Street Music Festival
Memphis, Tennessee
May 5, 2017
Words/photos by Josh Mintz

Beale Street Music Festival is an annual poor weather magnet. Each May, as Memphis in May begins with the music fest held on the Mississippi River, it’s not so much an if or when it will rain – it’s more like “how much rain are we going to get?” Continue reading Greensky Bluegrass on the river

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

Tedeschi Trucks Band, 4/2/15

To say Derek Trucks has come a long way is an understatement. For every child prodigy that has continued success in their field, there are dozens, maybe hundreds, that disappear from the public eye.

Well, Trucks made it.

That’s not news to anyone.

But, years removed from the Derek Trucks Band and months removed from the Allman Brothers’ final shows, the guitarist’s current outfit, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is his best “solo” act yet. The fully-formed Tedeschi Trucks Band is a powerful beast on all fronts, and provides a depth that Trucks never had with his self-named group. With two drummers the band has the percussive heft that the Allman Brothers had, but the horn section provides a different facet – a funk and soul dimension that propels the group to heights that weren’t really possible inside the Allman Brothers’ setting.

Simply put, this is one heavy group, and they proved it at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis.

Willie Watson opened the show, and set the table with his brand of bluegrass/folk. Watson, formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show, delivered songs tinged with a wry wit and sense of humor that retrospectively provided a foil to the main act. Watson is a great story-teller, but unfortunately there’s only so much one man can do on stage on his own, and after several songs they all seemed to blend together. He shook things up by switching between banjo and guitar (with some harmonica thrown in), but it’s became hard (for this ignorant writer) to differentiate one tune from the other.

When the Tedeschi Trucks Band finally hit the stage, the room was pretty full. While not a sell-out, the crowd was rowdy and ready for anything. The band started off with “Made Up Mind,” the title track from their latest album, and never looked back.

ST_JMintz_1Watching Derek Trucks is simply a treat. There’s no flash or frills – just mind-blowing slide guitar and finger picking. Over the course of two hours, it was an absolute clinic on how to play guitar with ego set completely aside.

Vocalist Mike Mattison, who was lead for the Derek Trucks Band, took stage front for lead vocals on “Don’t Miss Me” and “Get What You Deserve,” tunes from the Derek Trucks Band days, and Susan’s vocals on the Derek & the Dominoes track “Keep On Growing” would have made Eric Clapton proud.

The band showed their versatility, toning it down a bit for “Shelter,” and paid homage to Bobby Bland with a take on his “I Pity the Fool.” The set-closing “Bound For Glory” was tremendous, and frankly Derek’s solo on the “The Storm” would have been worth the price of admission alone.

Derek and Susan have clear chemistry on stage, a good thing considering their husband-and-wife relationship. But, the bond is more than just familial – it’s musical, which is in its own right a powerful thing. It’s going to be really interesting to watch the band continue to evolve, because there are so many directions that Derek and Susan are capable of steering the ship.

Set: Made Up Mind, Do I Look Worried, The Sky Is Crying, Don’t Miss Me, Comin’ Home, Shelter, Keep on Growing, Get What You Deserve, I’ve Got a Feeling, Idle Wind, I Pity the Fool, Bound for Glory
Encore: The Storm

John Butler Trio gets funky in Memphis

While the summer hasn’t been particularly hot (yet) in Memphis, things were scorching at Minglewood Hall on June 13 when the John Butler Trio made its first appearance in the Bluff City at an indoor venue.
JBT_Jmintz_MH2014_sm12Butler’s opening act, Falls, was a great way to start the evening. The folky duo from Australia were along the lines of the Civil Wars – Melinda Kirwin on vocals and Simon Rudston-Brown on vocals and guitar – and they had a string section backing them for good measure. It was a subdued way to get the evening started, and while their catalogue seemed to be lost on most in attendance, their cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was well-received.

By the time the John Butler Trio took the stage, Minglewood was packed and ready to rock. Butler did a great job of giving the crowd exactly what they wanted. While the band is touring behind Flesh and Blood, they did a phenomenal job of building a setlist that featured new songs and older cuts that have held up over time.

“Revolution” and “Used to Get High” were great out of the gate, and then Butler followed them up with some great new songs like “Bullet Girl” and “Only One.”

JBT_Jmintz_MH2014_sm5When bassist Byron Luiters and drummer Grant Gerathy left the stage, everyone in the room knew “Ocean” was coming. Butler still plays it after all these years, and while it’s a setlist staple, it still never gets old.

After closing the set with a spirited “Zebra,” the band came back out for a great encore. Butler was in high spirits, probably because the crowd responded well to his set. He joked how he had played the entire set with his fly down, and that if the Memphis audience was really his friend, they’d have let him know. Frankly, though, the band had done such a great job of delivering quality music that he could have been naked on stage and no one would have noticed.

The encore was a solid as the set – it started with “Losing You,” followed by a blistering “Livin’ In The City,” and finally came to a close with a phenomenal “Funky Tonight.”

For a band that isn’t a regular in Memphis, the John Butler Trio certainly satiated their existing fans, and undoubtedly made some new ones along the way. It was a great set, and hopefully the next time through won’t be far behind.

Click the thumbnails to view the photos from the show – photos by Josh Mintz / photosbyjosh.com

Falls

John Butler Trio

Iron & Wine/All Dogs, 5/14/14

Iron & Wine with All Dogs
Minglewood Hall
Memphis, Tennessee
5/14/2014

Iron & Wine came through Memphis in mid-May, and those in attendance were treated to a great show by an extremely chatty Sam Beam & company. The show featured nuggets from I&W’s entire catalogue, from new(er) tunes like “Resurrection Fern” and “Rabbit Run” to older stuff like “Woman King,” “Sunset Soon Forgotten,” and “Naked As We Came.”

Beam was especially jovial, bantering back and forth with the crowd over the course of the entire show.. At one point, when the band left and he stayed to play some solo tunes he even attempted to take requests, eventually giving up because the Memphis was “obviously a democratic town,” as everyone within earshot apparently shouted out different tunes.

All in all, it was a really strong show, and it provided a snapshot of Beam’s growth, from singer/songwriter to bandleader.

Click the thumbnails to view photos by Josh Mintz

All Dogs

Iron & Wine

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

Sir Paul Rocks FedEx Forum With Nearly Forty Songs

Paul McCartney performing on his signature Hofner bass.
Paul McCartney performing on his signature Hofner bass.

Even though he’d only played Memphis three previous times in his long and illustrious career—the Beatles played two shows in one day at the Mid South Coliseum in 1966, and he played a solo gig at the Liberty Bowl in 1993—Sir Paul McCartney seemed to feel right at home when he played to a packed FedEx Forum crowd Sunday night.

Though he has been bestowed the rank of knight, he played more the role of jester for much of the night, an amiable goofball determined to entertain with confident swagger, easygoing demeanor, wry wit and an effortless command of his impressive repertoire.

Over the course of nearly 40 songs and almost three hours, he sampled his catalogue of tunes with the Beatles, Wings and as a solo artist, walloping the crowd with a show of impressive vitality for a group of any age, much less from a man nearing his 71st birthday.

He started with a blast, forging his way through “Eight Days a Week,” “Junior’s Farm” and “All My Lovin’” while sporting his signature Hofner bass guitar before pausing to chat with the crowd and soak up the adoration, some of it coming from women screaming just as loudly as they might have across town back in ’66.

Later, he would switch to guitar for “Let Me Roll It” which concluded with a fuzzy, woozy jam on “Foxy Lady,” which seemed to be sandwiched in just so McCartney could tell a funny story about Jimi Hendrix asking Eric Clapton to tune his guitar at a club show in London.

McCartney moved to piano for a sequence that included “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “The Long and Winding Road,” then back to guitar (guitarist Brian Ray filled in on bass duties when Sir Paul changed to other instruments) for an acoustic segment highlighted by “Blackbird,” performed on an elevated platform.

Throughout the performance, his lean, adept band – Brian Ray on guitar and bass, Rusty Anderson on guitar, Paul Wickens on keyboards and Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums — proved amazingly capable of capturing the full range of styles represented by this vast body of work.

McCartney took his banter time as an opportunity to repeatedly offer his appreciation and gratitude to the fans (especially the ones up top in the $85 “cheap” seats), the crew, the band, and his former bandmates as he dedicated songs to his fallen Beatle brethren — “Here Today” for John on solo acoustic and “Something” for George, on which he played Harrison’s favorite instrument, the ukulele. At one point he noted that the music of Memphis was so influential on the Beatles that “we couldn’t have done it without Memphis!” It’s the kind of line that seems like a clichéd call for applause by most, but came across as sincere gratitude from McCartney.

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A cavalcade of showstoppers concluded the set, any of which could have ended the show. Powerhouse performances of “Band on the Run,” “Back in the USSR,” “Let It Be” and “Live and Let Die” (replete with fiery pyrotechnics) felt like closing numbers before “Hey Jude” closed the show proper.

But he still wasn’t done. Two encores comprised eight more songs, including a ferocious “Helter Skelter” and the Abbey Road suite of “Golden Slumbers > Carry That Weight > The End.”

The show also included some rare treats from the Beatles psychedelic era like “For The Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Lovely Rita.”  However, with as many wonderful songs as Sir Paul performed during the evening, so much of his enormous catalogue remained untouched, which speaks to its volume.

That he is still able to perform it with such enthusiasm, effortless skill and gratitude speaks to the “mania” that kicked his career off all those years ago.