Tag Archives: Phil Lesh

Monterey International Pop Festival 50th Anniversary

Monterey International Pop Festival 50th anniversary
Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey CA
June 17-19, 2017
Photographer/Writer: Susan J Weiand

Monterey International Pop Festival, celebrating 50 years, maintained a “music, love and flowers” mindset throughout the festival grounds, with an ambiance that hearkened back to the Summer of Love. An on-site photo gallery, a tribute to the film, art exhibits and hands-on workshops also added to the scene.

It was a weekend full of big moments. Artists on this year’s lineup shared the sentiment that they were honored and inspired to represent the festival’s rich history at the 50-year celebration. They paid tribute to the 1967 performers by covering their songs, highlighted by Leon Bridges & Nathaniel Rateliff’s duet of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.” Continue reading Monterey International Pop Festival 50th Anniversary

Yahoo! offers highlight reel from TRI “Move Me Brightly” Garcia tribute ft. Weir, Lesh, Mike Gordon & more

For those that were either uninformed, asleep at the wheel, totally inept at the internet or simply busy doing other things, Yahoo! Music has now released highlights from the beautifully produced and perfectly executed “Move Me Brightly,” the Jerry Garcia tribute that was put on by Y! Music and Bob Weir’s TRI Studios.

The night featured a stellar cast of those that one would expect including most of the living members of the Grateful Dead and those associated with various side projects, but also musicians who were ranged from sort of surprising to “holy shit, really?” folks, and included: Mike Gordon (Phish), Chris Tomson (Vampire Weekend), Craig Finn and Tad Kubler (Hold Steady) and Jim Lauderdale, amongst others. There were some notable absentees, but musically, it made no difference.

Below is a setlist of what can be seen and heard in the highlight reel that has been culled from the four hour set.

To watch and read more about the evening (including a misspelling of Furthur), click here to visit Yahoo!’s (pretty stellar) attempt at being mildly cool and semi-relevant again.  It would be much better if they had included “Bird Song” from the evening, though. But hey, this is some serious progress so nit-picking is probably not the most appropriate thing to do at this point.

 

Highlight Reel Setlist
(courtesy of Yahoo!)

 

1. The Wheel > Cumberland Blues – Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Joe Russo, Neal Casal, Jason Abraham Roberts, Jeff Chimenti, Donna Jean Godchaux, Jonathan Graboff

2. Dupree’s Diamond Blues – Cass McCombs, Mike Gordon, Joe Russo, Sam Cohen, Jeff Chimenti, Josh Kaufman, Neal Casal

3. Ship of Fools – Bob Weir, Donna Jean Godchaux, Jeff Chimenti, Neal Casal, Joe Russo, Mike Gordon, Jonathan Graboff

4. Friend of the Devil – Jim Lauderdale, Cass McCombs, Harper Simon

5. Mission in the Rain – Jonathan Wilson, Mike Gordon, Joe Russo, Donna Jean Godchaux, Neal Cassal, Jeff Chimenti

6. Shakedown Street – Bob Weir, Joe Russo, Mark Gordon, Jeff Chimenti, Harper Simon, Chris Tomson, Donna Jean Godchaux, Adam McDougal, Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman

7. Terrapin Station – Cass McCombs, Donna Jean Godchaux, Mike Gordon, Joe Russo, Jonathan Graboff, Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman, Jeff Chimenti

8. He’s Gone – Bob Weir, Mike Gordon, Donna Jean Godchaux, Jeff Chimenti, Joe Russo, Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman, Jonathan Graboff

9. Eyes of the World – Bob Weir, Jim Lauderdale, Mike Gordon, Donna Jean Godchaux, Jeff Chimenti, Joe Russo, Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman, Jonathan Graboff, Adam McDougal, Harper Simon

10. Scarlet Begonias – Bob Weir, Craig Finn, Donna Jean Godchaux, Joe Russo, Mark Gordon, Josh Kaufman, Sam Cohen, Tad Kubler, Jeff Chimenti, Adam McDougal, Jonathan Graboff

11. Days Between – Bob Weir, Neal Cassal, Jeff Chimenti, Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman, Mike Gordon, Joe Russo, Jonathan Wilson, Jonathan Graboff

12. Franklin’s Tower – Bob Weir, Jason Abraham Roberts, Donna Jean Godchaux, Joe Russo, Jonathan Wilson, Mike Gordon, Chris Tomson, Josh Kaufman, Sam Cohen, Harper Simon, Neal Casal, Jim Lauderdale, Jonathan Graboff, Adam McDougal, Jeff Chimenti

 

 

 

Christmas Jam 23: The Formula Changed, but the Tradition Remains

On December 23, 2011, Warren Haynes Christmas Jam, in all its charitable glory, once again descended upon downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Over the years, the Jam has become predominantly known for its unlikely ensembles and once-in-a-lifetime sit ins.

But upon viewing this year’s lineup, it was immediately obvious that the 23rd installment of the annual institution would hang its hat on beloved ensembles of times past and bands who have recently been on hiatus. On par with previous years, chairman of the Jam, Warren Haynes, rarely left side stage.

In discussing the Christmas Jam, it is always important to recall the event’s history, not only of origin, but of charity.

Christmas Jam was born from a simple idea: old friends who were members of different touring bands got together for an evening at a local club. It was a night of homecoming, camaraderie, and music with friends; the door money was donated to various charities. The event became a resounding success in the local community and as time passed, it grew in the most organic way.

Today, the charitable donations benefit Habitat for Humanity and the Asheville Civic Center (the city’s largest) is the permanent home for the festivities. The event sells out within minutes of going on sale each year, and 2011 was no different.

When it was announced that Phil Lesh & Friends and Gov’t Mule (who have not performed together in 2011) would anchor the line-up, the Warren and Jam faithful gobbled up the available tickets; the pre-sale tickets sold out in record time. In addition to the slated acts — which included scene veterans Los Lobos and banjo god Bela Fleck — the “special guest” list was nothing to scoff at. Notable names included Jimmy Herring, Kevn Kinney, Jeff Sipe, Mike Barnes, Bill Evans, and Audley Freed.

The evening began with Warren taking the stage as he has in years past, with an acoustic guitar and a smile. Opening the evening with Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me,” the mood was set as the subtle sounds of Haynes’ familiar voice soothed the gridlocked Civic Center throng, causing a hush and collective eye-shutting to fall over the room. It was a meditative moment that was probably as necessary for Haynes as it was for the fans. After all, everyone knew they were in for close to eight hours of high throttled jams.

 

Christmas Jam Band

Following the collective rumination, Haynes simply smiled as he looked adoringly at the patrons of the event that he holds so near and dear before introducing the first act of the evening, dubbed the “Christmas Jam Band.”

Featuring Kevn Kinney, Jackie Greene, Robert Kearns, Audley Freed and Brad Pemberton, the act opened with the Kinney-sung Drive-By Truckers classic, “Never Gonna Change.” The band amply fulfilled its duties and provided a nice warm-up set of solidly-played familiar tunes that included Elton John’s “Rocket Man” and The Beatles’ “I’ve Got A Feeling.”

 

Setlist: Never Gonna Change, Ain’t Waiting On Tomorrow, Breath > Rocket Man, I’ve Got a Feeling

Download an audience recording of this set here

 

Bela Fleck and Friends

Bela Fleck took the stage following a brief changeover, something that was much appreciated at this year’s Jam. In previous years, the changeovers have been a dreaded time for attendees. With the smaller lineup, a majority of the equipment was backlined. Hence, the only true gear overhaul took place during the scheduled intermission midway through the evening.

Fleck took the same approach as Haynes had nearly an hour earlier, taking the stage accompanied only by his famous Gibson TB-75 Flathead banjo for an improvisational session that segued into the “Ballad of Jed Clampett,” wherein Bela once again affirmed himself as one of the premiere banjoists of the modern era, if not of all time.

As the closing notes of “Clampett” settled and the applause roared, friends — guitarist Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic), drummer Jeff Sipe (Aquarium Rescue Unit), fiddler Casey Driessen (Sparrow Quartet), bassist Taylor Lee (Jeff Sipe Trio) and saxophonist Bill Evans (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock) — took the stage for what would be a definitive set of the night, especially in the areas of discovery and musicality.

In 2006, Bill Evans recorded the Grammy-nominated album Soulgrass. It featured numerous artists including Fleck and is the centerpiece of the jazz-bluegrass fusion sound. Though Herring was not featured on the fusion-focused album, one could never tell by simply listening to his perfectly executed play. It was wonderfully evocative of Herring’s Jazz is Dead days or his sessions with Chick Corea. To boot, there was Fleck, who seemed to preside over the ceremonies in a similar fashion to the way Bruce Hampton presides over Aquarium Rescue Unit.

The set, which lasted just over an hour, was nothing short of beautifully integrated harmonious orgasmia. It was far from typical call-and-response jam. It was a group of soloists who have the innate ability to musically intermingle amongst one another, and they executed to perfection. All of this, in conjunction with two of the players (Fleck and Evans) who are — without reservation from any scholar — living legends, made the set one of those “only at Christmas Jam” moments.

 

Setlist:  Improvisation>Ballad Of Jed Clampett (Bela Fleck solo), Monkey See, Spanish Point, Scapegoat Blues#,  Soulgrass
# Neal Fountain on bass

Download an audience recording of this set here

 

Los Lobos

Los Lobos, the band that served as Ritchie Valens’ reincarnate with their rendition of “La Bamba” for the 1987 film, is hands down one of the most underrated, overlooked and unsung group of musical heroes on the scene today.

Though critical acclaim has met them at many turns and the devotion of avid followers runs deep, large commercial success has eluded them. This is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that Warner Brothers dropped the ensemble from their label in 1996 even though the East Los Angeles natives won a Grammy the previous year. These cats have folks like Eric Clapton, Mavis Staples and Elvis Costello on speed dial, but the response from the average music listener when Los Lobos is discussed is “who?”

In short, they were a perfect fit for Christmas Jam, an event whose lineup is curated by one of the most discerning ears in music, Haynes.

Opening with the title track from 1990’s The Neighborhood, the crowd was getting warmed up to the sound before subsequently being set afire by the electrifying solo from front man David Hidalgo that brought the number to a close. The segue-heavy set reeled through theyears of the veteran Hispanic rockers’ vast career.

Following the percussive heavy and intensely danceable “I Walk Alone,” a true standout from the band’s Live at Fillmore release, the band welcomed Haynes to the stage for a short ripping of a Grateful Dead-inspired rendition of “Not Fade Away.”

During “NFA,” Jackie Greene walked to the stage for the final number of the evening, a seamlessly segued “Bertha,” the Los Lobos contribution to the Grateful Dead tribute album, Deadicated.  The 10-minute tune was interplay at its finest, as the five guitarists called and responded to each other with precision. Finally settling into a rhythmic backdrop, Haynes took center stage  and prevailed above his peers with a spine chilling slide solo that eventually channeled Duane Allman through a tease of the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’Man.”

Never minding the obvious, in so many ways the closer was the perfect introduction to what was about to unfold.

 

Setlist: The Neighborhood > Don’t Worry Baby > Revolution > Rattlesnake Shake > Chuco’s Cumbia, La Venganza De Los Pelados, I Walk Alone, Not Fade Away* > Bertha#
* – with Warren Haynes
# – with Warren and Jackie Greene

Download an audience recording of this set here

 

Intermission

As fans took their first break from the music, hotdogs were eaten, merch was purchased, babysitters were called, bladders were emptied, and all other standard-fare set break/intermission activities were tended to. However, one thing separated the experience from most other events of Christmas Jam’s size: the attitude and graciousness from one fan to the next. It was this, coupled with the always unique musical experience that Christmas Jam provides, that sets it apart and dare I say, above.

The camaraderie of fans who were enduring an extended show was, as it always is, remarkable. It proved that when good deeds and charitable acts are in the air, self-centeredness actually takes a back seat. It was a beautiful thing to watch and joyous to take part in.

 

Phil Lesh and Friends: Warren Haynes, Jackie Greene, Joe Russo and Jeff Chimenti

From the moment that Phil Lesh and Friends were announced for this installment of Christmas Jam, the buzz was high. On the night itself, expectations were even higher as many have longed for a trip back to the days of a Lesh-led band as opposed to what is currently going on with Furthur.

This outing by the less-than-well-rehearsed ensemble (that also featured Jimmy Herring for the majority of the set) not only exceeded the high expectations, but proved that Bill Kreutzmann had a valid point when he stated that Furthur probably should have asked Haynes to join their act.

The set was Phil back where he is supposed to be: in his element as a bandleader, in spite of the fact that he occasionally passed his duties off to the very able hands of Jackie Greene. It was the beauty of Phil’s voice again; an ingredient that Furthur simply seems to not have appreciation for.

Most of all though, it was Phil’s Zone and for Phil fans, it can only be hoped that Lesh, who sported a perma-grin for the majority of the evening, will get this band on the road in the very near future.

Rather than drone on and on about the perfection with which songs were played (minus a miscue or missed change here or there), what was most noteworthy about the evening was witnessing how much Greene has grown as a player since the days when most got to know him as the kid who looked like a young Bob Dylan.

Herring was present for the majority of the set, so between he and Haynes, one would suspect that Greene’s guitar work would take a back seat, but it was far from the case. Sure, Haynes and Herring are more mature players and have abilities that are uniquely their own, but “the kid” held his own, and at times visibly challenged the elder statesmen to duels.

Highlighted by a trance-inducing “Dark Star” and space-filled “Wharf Rat,” the stage never seemed crowded; the sound was anything but cluttered and the present talent seemed to further heighten Jeff Chimenti’s confidence on keys. The set was one of those where the line between musical enjoyment and spiritual experience is crossed pretty quickly. It was a great night to be in Asheville.

 

Setlist: Shakedown Street > Deal > Viola Lee Blues > Caution > Viola Lee Blues > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Dark Star > She Said She Said > Jam > Dark Star* > Wharf Rat* > The Other One* > Sugaree*, Donor Rap
Encore: Angel Band
*with Jimmy Herring

Download an audience recording of this set here

 

Gov’t Mule

The moment that many had been waiting for arrived when the beloved quartet of Gov’t Mule ambled onto their platform before a legion of some of their most loyal. Though it has been less than a year since Mule’s last performance, for fans who are used to the band’s regular touring schedule, this one year with front man Haynes out in support of the Man in Motion has felt like five.

To resounding applause and subsequent choral accompaniment from the crowd, Mule launched into “Railroad Boy” in a manner that suggested that while the band had been off the road, they wouldn’t miss a beat. By the time that bassist Jorgen Carlsson trickled in, drummer Matt Abts began the call-to-arms beat of the number and Danny Louis began his organ swirl, the temperature in the venue had already gone up a few degrees.

Phil Lesh took over bass and Bill Evans sat in for a cover of Traffic’s “Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys,” which began with a degree of awkwardness that possibly could be attributed to the band’s seeming unfamiliarity with the number. At the time and even in hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best song choice, but by the time that the second bridge ended and the improvisation between Haynes and Evans ensued, Lesh had  delight written all over his face. It was the highlight of the entire night.

After another Haynes and Jimmy Herring face-melting series of solos during The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” and a solidly-played Mule original, “Inside Outside Woman Blues #3,” the evening closed with the appropriate cover of The Doors’ “When the Music’s Over.” Followed by a simple “thank you and merry Christmas” from Haynes, the music was indeed over… but the memories will never leave.

 

Setlist: Railroad Boy > Beautifully Broken > Thorazine Shuffle, Banks Of The Deep End, Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys*#, Dear Prudence@, Inside Outside Woman Blues, When The Music’s Over

* With Phil Lesh on Bass
# With Bill Evans on Saxophone
@ With Jimmy Herring on Guitar

Download an audience recording of this set here

 

Closing notes…

With that, the 23rd Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam was in the books. In some ways, it broke from tradition, but one tradition was held onto as steadfastly as it ever has been: music and goodwill are always a blend worth pursuing. In times that have brought about much uncertainty for many families across our beautiful country, Christmas Jam remains a beacon of light that is spiritually refreshing and authentic. Of course, the music was badass as well.

 

Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the Jam by David Shehi

The Grateful Dead : The Grateful Dead Movie

Perhaps one of the best-known icons of the Grateful Dead, the  dancing skeleton was reworked as Uncle Sam by artist Gary Gutierrez for the opening animation of 1977’s The Grateful Dead Movie, where it dances, jams, and rides a motorcycle through psychedelic  scenery, leading viewers into the live performances at the core of the concert film. Years out of print, The Grateful Dead Movie is back, and the Uncle Sam skeleton’s glorious jig is now even more illuminated, thanks to Blu-Ray technology.

Filmed over a five-night stand in October 1974 at the Winterland Ballroom – and co-directed by frontman Jerry Garcia –  the film documents a high point in Dead lore. It marked the final shows before an extended hiatus, and it also marked the return of drummer Mickey Hart after a three-plus year absence. Take away all of these milestones, though, and what you have is a solid documentary with stellar playing by the band. Choice cuts like “Eyes of the World,” with its cascading breakdowns, and the heart-tugging  “Stella Blue” highlight the performance footage, which are interspersed with film of the crew setting up the Wall of Sound, blissed out audiences reveling during the performances, and often-comical commentary from Deadheads in attendance during the run.

The Blu-Ray release takes The Grateful Dead Movie to another level, though, with remastered audio and restored footage from the original negatives. If that wasn’t enough, a second disc includes 95 more minutes of live footage culled from this run, including meandering, improvisational readings of “The Other One,” which segues into “Spanish Jam” and “Mind Left Body Jam” before concluding, and the classic jam vehicle “Dark Star.”

The Grateful Dead Movie’s return is a reason to celebrate.  It is brighter, clearer, and sounds better than ever, a visual reminder of the magic of the Grateful Dead.

The Grateful Dead Movie is out now on Shout! Factory.

Past, Present & Future: an All Points in Between Conversation with Jimmy Herring (VIDEO)

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If the jam world and improvisational music scene was a cupboard, Jimmy Herring would be the bread. Throughout his storied tenure on the scene, Herring has played in some of the most influential ensembles of them all — from his past with The Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Allman Brothers and Phil Lesh and Friends to his present as Widespread Panic’s lead guitarist. He has stood in the shadows of some of the scene’s most idolized stalwarts, from those that he never met like Jerry Garcia to peers that he knew well like Michael Houser. In turn, he has cast a shadow that is now all his own for players that will attempt to follow his lead.

When the phone rang last week, no one could have fathomed what would shortly ensue. What was planned to be a standard Q&A turned into an hour long conversation that literally covered the bases of the guitar hero’s career, and to some extent, the last twenty or so years of his life.

Without an arrogant speck in his pioneer soul, Herring talked vastly about friendships, musical camaraderie, influences, charity, his love of the guitar, the recent ARU reunion at the Georgia Theatre and so much more… and he did so with a tone of gratitude and honesty that is unfortunately all too rare.

Continue reading Past, Present & Future: an All Points in Between Conversation with Jimmy Herring (VIDEO)

Echo Project adds to line-up

The Echo Project confirmed the second round of performers slated for the inaugural three-day eco-responsible music and arts festival in Atlanta, Georgia this October 12-14, 2007. 

The additions to the lineup include: The Flaming Lips; Thievery Corporation with their full live band; Les Claypool; The Bravery; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Secret Machines; MSTRKRFT; JJ Grey & Mofro; Son Volt; The Egg; The Album Leaf; Man Man; Tea Leaf Green; The Benevento/Russo Duo; Lazaro Casanova; and Telepath.


The Echo Project kicks off its annual eco-responsible music and arts festival in Atlanta, Georgia this October 12 – 14, 2007.  The three-day, multi-stage camping festival will be held on 350-acres of scenic Chattahoochee river front property on a privately owned 1250-acre farm just south of metropolitan Atlanta.

With a green focus and philosophy, The Echo Project is set to revolutionize how music and arts events affect our environment through eco-friendly event production by ways of carbon emissions, power consumption and creation, alternative energy sources, and waste management and recycling initiatives. For its inaugural event, The Echo Festival along with Sustainable Waves and Rivers Alive is also launching a major Chattahoochee river clean up prior to the festival.  Tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 30th and are available at www.the-echoproject.com.

Featuring a diverse range of talent, from rock to hip-hop, The Echo Project also announced its first round of performers today, which include The Killers, Phil and Friends, moe., Stephen Marley, The Roots, Cypress Hill, Polyphonic Spree, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Umphrey’s McGee, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, The Disco Biscuits, Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues, Brazilian Girls, The Avett Brothers, Lyrics Born, RJD2, Toubab Krewe, Spam Allstars, ALO, Greenskeepers, and Afromotive.

The Echo Project is promoted by Nicholas Bouckaert of Rivertown Entertainment, LLC. in conjunction with Meatcamp Productions. Greening partners include Sustainable Waves, a national provider of mobile solar powered sound and staging solutions; Green Mountain Energy Company, the nation’s leading provider of cleaner electricity and carbon offset products; and the Environment Media Association (EMA) which mobilizes the entertainment industry in a global effort to educate people about environmental issues and inspire them into action.

Tickets go on sale for The Echo Project on Tuesday, July 31 at 10 AM EST. Three-day tickets begin at $145 and are available online at www.the-echoproject.com and 1-800-594-TIXX.

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

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…