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Jimmy Herring debuts Invisible Whip in Memphis

Jimmy Herring and the Invisible Whip
Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
July 19, 2017
Words/Images: Josh Mintz

It takes a special kind of musician to have an idea, make a plan, and execute. It takes someone even more unique to do it in their spare time.

That’s exactly what Jimmy Herring did with his latest project, The Invisible Whip, which debuted in Memphis on Wednesday, July 19 – he brainstormed, he planned, and man, did he execute. Continue reading Jimmy Herring debuts Invisible Whip in Memphis

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

Flipping the calendar with Widespread Panic

Widespread Panic
Philips Arena
Atlanta, GA
December 31, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Thanksgiving holiday North Mississippi Allstars feast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click the thumbnails to view the photos by Josh Mintz

Sons of Mudboy, 5/22/13

Sons of Mudboy
1884 Lounge

Memphis, Tennessee
May 22, 2013

As the Sons of Mudboy’s residency on Wednesday nights at 1884 Lounge has progressed from week to week, several things have become clear. One is that no matter who’s on stage, this is an adept group of musicians, capable of playing nearly anything on nearly any instrument.

Second is that you never know who’ll show up. From week to week the roster has been fluid, a veritable who’s who of Memphis musicians. The core group has, for the most part, been the true sons of Mudboy and the Neutrons: Luther and Cody Dickinson, Steve Selvidge, and Ben Baker. A true Mudboy (or Neutron), Jimmy Crosthwait, is also a fixture at the weekly gig.

But, no matter who is on stage to being or end the show, the one constant has been the quality music.

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

Yonder Mountain String Band, 1/30/13

Yonder Mountain String Band
Ziggy’s
Winston-Salem, NC
January 30, 2013

Set 1: Sidewalk Stars -> Ain’t Been Myself In Years, Maid Of The Canyon, Near Me, Redbird, One More, Only A Northern Song, Things You’re Selling, Romance Blues, Blue Collar Blues, Angel -> Boatman

Set 2: Troubled Mind -> 20 Eyes -> Troubled Mind, Southbound, Winds Of Wyoming, Corona, My Gal -> Up On The Hill Where They Do The Boogie, Jail Song, Sometimes I’ve Won, Midwest Gospel Radio -> Ten -> Cuckoo’s Nest -> Ten

Encore: Walkin Shoes, Southern Flavor

Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Brad Kuntz…