Sunday, September 14

Review and Photos: Phish Wins Again @ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park - Labor Day Weekend 2014 - Commerce City, CO

Vermont’s finest troubadours rolled into Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for their fourth annual Labor Day weekend fiesta with higher expectations than usual. Phish fans generally know better than to go into a run with any specific expectations, but the band set such a high bar in their previous appearances at the soccer stadium just outside of Colorado’s Mile High City that fans couldn’t help but ponder what special treats were to come.
Would the band spell something out with their Friday night setlist as they had done in each of the three previous years? Would there be first time bustouts, following a 2013 run that had one each night (“Easy to Slip”. “On the Road Again”, “Legalize It”)? Would there be monster jams that received instant jam of the year nominations as occurred in 2012 with “Light” and “Sand”? The only certainty seemed to be that Dick’s weekend would be one of the top highlights on the 2014 concert calendar.
With Denver’s central national location, heady scene and a venue with a 27,000 capacity, the Dick’s weekend has become like a convention for the Phish Nation. It’s a relatively cheap flight from anywhere and everyone can get tickets. Add in Denver’s growing status as the new capital of the American counterculture (arguably having supplanted San Francisco in recent years due to the thriving music scene, lower cost of living and legal cannabis), and Dick’s weekend has deservedly come to be ranked as one of the top holidays in the Phish calendar year.
The theme for Friday night’s show became quickly apparent as the setlist began to spell out “Lushington”, an old tune not played in decades but voted the band’s number one song after some ballot stuffing in a recent poll by Rolling Stone magazine. The set didn’t have the jams of the first set from the epic “Fuck Your Face” show in 2012, but the band was clearly having fun. A rare cover of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” electrified the assembled before a well-placed “Ha Ha Ha” acknowledged that Dick’s shenanigans were in play again. Phish capped the festive set with a horn-driven “Suzy Greenberg”, thanks to a little help from friends Jen Hartswick and Natalie Cressman (who were in town gigging with the Everyone Orchestra.)
But the real fireworks came in the second set when the band threw down a “Simple”>”Ghost” combo for the ages. The quartet’s legendary yet ever unpredictable x-factor kicked in during “Simple”, as the band locked into a focused multi-dimensional jam that would extend to 21-minutes of sonic bliss. It was about halfway through the jam when fans realized something special was happening, and the space-time continuum seemed to stand nearly still as the band commandeered the cosmos. The next ten minutes were about as good as it gets.
The “hose” kept flowing during “Ghost”, as the band chemistry continued to gel. Guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Page McConnell let the melodies flow, with one section of the jam recalling the renowned “Holy Ghost” jam from New Year’s Eve 2010 at Madison Square Garden. Bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman were at the top of their game throughout the “Simple>Ghost” sequence, enabling Anastasio to keep that hose flowing as long as he might desire.
Saturday’s show featured a roller coaster first set, with new songs “Devotion to a Dream” and “Wingsuit” shining amidst classics like “Free”, “Halley’s Comet” and “David Bowie”. But the band once again saved the heavy lifting for the second set, and one of the best sets of the year it was. “Down with Disease” featured a stellar jam that found the band dialed in at the height of their powers, before seguing into a rare performance of “What’s the Use”. This cosmic interlude led right back into another peak with “Carini”, a tune that has evolved into one of the band’s top jam vehicles in the 3.0 era. This version was one of the best, as the song’s hard rock progression morphed into an incendiary melodic jam that unified Dick’s once again.
The jam was starting to feel like it might get the “Simple” treatment from the night before as Gordon and Fishman fell into a nifty groove that had potential to go to the next level. But the only flaw in the set occurred when Anastasio abruptly cut them off to launch into “Light”. It wasn’t long before he led the band back into a similar jamspace though, as obstacles turned into stepping stones. “Fuego” appeared next and while it wasn’t jammed deep like many versions this summer, the dynamic title track from the band’s new album cranked the set’s energy higher. Fans with confetti guns near the stage launched a volley and the triumphant psychedelia soared. A “Slave” to the “Meatstick” combo was another crowdpleaser before the set was capped with a splendid reading of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Bold as Love”. You could feel the love in the air as Anastasio channeled the guitar god as few others can.
Sunday afternoon on lot featured a spectacular rainbow, an ongoing Dick’s tradition, and there was no doubt that a musical pot of gold awaited. “The Curtain With” opener was extremely well-received, as were hot takes on “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” and “Wolfman’s Brother”. The second set built with a mountain climbing precision until culminating with a “Tweezer>Sand” combo that ignited the cool Colorado air. Pairing these two top jam vehicles had the crowd deeply enamored and it was the fourth straight Dick’s appearance for both. The band delivered some of their most exquisite sonic landscaping in “Sand”, as McConnell led some funky “plinko” jamming follow by gorgeous subtle sounds from Anastasio with his whale call effects. If the aliens from Star Trek IV: A Voyage Home ever come back to check on the whales, it seems Trey will be able to save the planet with his interstellar communications in language strange.
A “Mike’s>Sneaking Sally>Groove” wrapped the set in style, with fans delighting in the layered “Mike’s Song” jam that took on a more unique flavor than renditions of recent years. When it was all over, it was hard to fathom how quickly another Phish Dick’s weekend had flashed by. But with a 12-show West Coast fall tour awaiting in October, it would seem the best is yet to come for the sonic stunt men from Burlington, Vermont.
Photos: Michael Stein

Photo Gallery Continued:

Friday, September 12

Album Review - Greensky Bluegrass - If Sorrows Swim - Sept 9th, 2014 - Thirty Tigers Recods

Greensky Bluegrass
If Sorrows Swim
Thirty Tigers Records
Sept 9th, 2014

Greensky Bluegrass has absolutely exploded  from out of the ether of Bluegrass in exponential form over the past few years, and their newest album If Sorrows Swim, sees the band at its best yet. Greensky, consists of Anders Beck (dobro, lap pedal steel), Michael Arlen Bont (banjo), Dave Bruzza (guitar, lead vocals), Mike Devol (acoustic bass), and Paul Hoffman (mandolin, lead vocals), and the new album pays tribute to each of their respective talents, allowing every member of the band to shine and put their best foot forward. Released on September 9, 2014, If Sorrows Swim provides a great addition to the band’s already stellar repertoire.
“Windshield” kicks off the album with a ballad that just screams Greensky. I think that is a nice way to start off an album sometimes. It doesn’t sound like old news or stale, but it reminds the listener that they are who they are. Hoffman achingly croons the painful lyrics, and Beck is featured with a simple, but powerful lead line. “Burn Them” is where the album gets its title, as Hoffman sings “What if sorrows swim? Good God, gonna need to burn them.” Bruzza and Hoffman shine on “Burn Them,” sharing a dark solo section. “A Letter To Seymour,” sung by Bruzza, picks up the pace for a fast-pickin’ bluegrass track, and “In Control” slows back down, while Bont and Beck take beautiful, wide-ranged solos.
“The Four” takes the album in a different direction with a laidback, funky groove. Then, “Worried About The Weather” goes back to some more traditional Greensky-sounding material. “Forget Everything” presents a familiar story with simple lyrics about meeting someone at a party (or other social event) and leaving with that person to put all of your worries aside. “Kerosene” follows up with a dark, groovy, upbeat track, led by a catchy dobro hook. Despite its title, “Demons” has a deceptively upbeat mood to the instrumentals, as Hoffman sings, “I was happy, but now I’m leavin’… Goin’ home with my demons.” Next, “Wings For Wheels” is a beautiful ballad about trading wings for wheels. 
“Leap Year” embodies everything that comes to mind when I think of Greensky Bluegrass. Swirling banjo and a catchy dobro hook lead the intro into a hypnotic, fast-pickin’ tune with incredible imagery in the lyrics. This track is completely mesmerizing, and I believe that is what sets Greensky apart from other bluegrass bands. Their ability to jam is unmistakable, but their ability to enwrap and entrance listeners is one of their greatest attributes. Finally, “Just Listening” finishes off the album with a happy mood and a jazzy, groovy feel.
Another of Greensky’s best attributes is their masterful use of major and minor chords to create different moods within their songs. This is so true on Sorrows.  Many listeners take songwriting and song construction for granted, putting instrumental and vocal abilities at the forefront, but these are not easy things to do. Greensky’s songwriting abilities have continually improved, and I honestly believe that If Sorrows Swim is their most dynamic and triumphant work yet.
4 outta 5 glowsticks!
Words: Randy Harris
Here is the track listing, with the author's name in parenthesis:
1. Windshield (P. Hoffman)

2. Burn Them (P. Hoffman)

3. A Letter to Seymour (D. Bruzza)

4. In Control (P. Hoffman)

5. The Four (P. Hoffman)

6. Worried About the Weather

7. Forget Everything (P. Hoffman)

8. Kerosene (D. Bruzza)

9. Demons (P. Hoffman)

10. Wings for Wheels (D. Bruzza)

11. Leap Year (P. Hoffman)

12. Just Listening (P. Hoffman)

If Sorrows Swim Tour Dates HERE
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Wednesday, September 10

Review and Photos: Jason Mraz and Raining Jane - The Davies Symphony Hall - August 26th, 2014 - San Francisco, CA

Jason Mraz as a musician and a person is no stranger to change.  It's been 16 years since his first radio friendly album Waiting for my Rocket to Come  where he immediately became a pop-sensation, overnight fame as some would put it.  The thing that most fans were missing out on was his amazing voice and wicked-fast rhymes when seeing him in the live setting. He was loved, those that had seen him live knew they would come back for seconds and thirds and even more. The basic principal with most artists, or at least that I have found is there are performers and there are Live Performers, Mraz has always fallen into that second category and every-time I heard “Remedy” on the radio it made me wish more and more that ever growing fan-base could see and hear Mraz improvising an entire song, slicing beautiful chorus' with meaningful lyrics, and funny hooks that made the whole room laugh.  He has and always will be at his best on stage.  I attribute this most likely to the hard work he had to put in to get to where he was before became a known top 40 name.  Fast forward more than over a decade and Mraz is still a man in motion.  After taking reprieve from his fandom and his amazingly fast rise to the better known top he began to tour less and according to him he purchased an (Organic) Avocado Farm, his retreat of sorts, outside of his adopted hometown of San Diego (Yes, their is a Jason Mraz Day officially in San Diego, California)– about as far away from his Southern roots being originally from Virginia, but he took time to go reflect on his life, instead of riding a wave that could've taken him to selling out stadiums and playing all over pop radio, or burning out too soon, he left the scene and throughout the late 2000's, his music never dissipated, but for all intents and purposes he left the public eye.
YES! His latest album, recorded and co-written with his sisters in rhyme, Raising Jane, (Mai Bloomfield, Becky Gebhardt, Chaska Potter and Mona Tavakoli ), Mraz used the rawness of the album as a platform to again go back and tell stories, stories about where he is today and see's the world tomorrow.  With his acoustic guitar and a fully acoustic band this tour is a more of an experience than a concert.  We caught him at the beautiful Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco where he was just at the head of his tour.  Opening the show, Raising Jane,  a quintet of accomplished musicians and vocalists the concert begins as unassuming as Mraz's somewhat introverted personality.  It is a Capella, running through a gauntlet of songs from all of his albums, and heavy on the very worldly and roots sounding YES!, they performed as six equals around a microphone.  The acoustics for this section of the show couldn't have been better and Jason, always ready to crack a joke and tell a short story between songs reveled in the moments up there in this beautiful palace to delicate music and that's what they played.   I can say two things about the opening part of the show, first off it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat, almost feels like an EDM song waiting for the BASS to drop, and it was without a doubt an time of introduction, unfolding like a Yoga session you could feel the love admiration each of these musicians had for each other.  Towards the end of the first set Jason and Raining Jane played a beautiful rendition of “Back To The Earth”, a song about turning inward, “my home is where food grown”, he belts.
Then he quips at the audience that I know I just sang a song about being grounded, but sometimes we need to look up to the stars, and then as if the cosmos themselves opened up, the curtains that draped their background quickly peeled back with Jason on keys, Raising Jane took their positions on the now deeper stage and the opening sitar, yes, Raising Jane is very much rooted in world music, the sitar took off until the djembe beat led the rhythm, and then the background exploded with light and images of the world, the cosmos, the sun, it was as if a quiet beautiful acoustic concert had exploded and this was their way of showing how they could “Shine” on all of us, Jason sings, “We ain't that different, we huddle underneath the same stars, I see who you really are,You're every creature, every man, every woman and child. You're the closest thing I'll ever get to knowing God, Like the sun to the moon, I'll send my love and light, A love like ours, it'll fill the whole sky”. 
They left for a break, and the entire Davies Symphony Hall, erupting in applause took in every minute of this well composed immaculately beautiful show.
The second set was even more astounding with an almost Pink Floyd-esq light and effects show that erupts behind the the musicians as they ran through a decade of music.  It was obviously choreographed to a degree but it always felt spontaneous, Jason was the front man, yet the talent felt shared, they all depended on each other for this show to work.  It was near the end that I finally figured out why they would choose to book these shows in the smaller, but most amazing venues across the world, where typically symphonies and orchestras play.  This is a symphony, it had each and every person from the the first notes, the laughter that erupted from his awkward and sometime very witty jokes seemed so appropriate, when he asked every one to dance as they played his defining return to the world stage song, from We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things, “I'm Your's”.   
The largest departure I've ever seen artist of his standing do, this show was not only fun, and entertaining but it was an exposure to the great talent that is Raining Jane, and further I left feeling as if I had been at Yoga practice, exiting the venue cheerfully sober and happily fulfilled.  He didn't have to play every hit song, he didn't on this night but he played each song with such intense attention that they all felt like masterpieces.  Words can't truly describe the grandness of this tour but if you get a chance go out and see him and Raining Jane, Jason Mraz is a man in motion, and this direction and tour which takes him around the world, not to mention all 5 Burroughs in NYC has turned out to his the boldest and most holistic yet.
Words: Sammy Martin
Photos: Carla Kilgore Martin
Yes! World Tour Dates with Raining Jane:
Sep. 10 Jason Mraz in Nashville  
Sep. 12 Jason Mraz & Raining Jane in Boston 
Sep. 13 Jason Mraz & Raining Jane in Boston  
Sep. 14 Jason Mraz & Raining Jane in Hartford  
Sep. 17 Jason Mraz in Brooklyn  
Sep. 18 Jason Mraz in Bronx  
Sep. 19 Jason Mraz & Raining Jane in Flushing  
Sep. 22 Jason Mraz in New York  
Sep. 23 Jason Mraz in New York  
Sep. 26 Jason Mraz in London 
Sep. 27 Jason Mraz in Cambridge  
Sep. 28 Jason Mraz in Salford 
Sep. 30 Jason Mraz in Paris  
Oct. 1 Jason Mraz in Amsterdam  
Oct. 2 Jason Mraz in Frankfurt  
Oct. 3 Jason Mraz in Hamburg 
Oct. 7 Jason Mraz in Montreal  
Oct. 8 Jason Mraz in Toronto  
Oct. 9 Jason Mraz in Toronto  
Oct. 11 ason Mraz in Pittsburgh  
Oct. 12 Jason Mraz in Philadelphia  
Oct. 13 Jason Mraz in Washington  
Oct. 15 Jason Mraz in Columbus  
Oct. 16 Jason Mraz in Saint Louis  
Oct. 17 Jason Mraz in Milwaukee  
Oct. 18 Jason Mraz in Minneapolis  
Oct. 21 Jason Mraz in Seattle 
Oct. 22 Jason Mraz in Spokane  
Oct. 23 Jason Mraz in Vancouver  
Oct. 24 Jason Mraz in Portland  
Nov. 5 ason Mraz in Indianapolis  
Nov. 6 Jason Mraz in Detroit 
Nov. 7 Jason Mraz in Chicago  
Nov. 8 Jason Mraz in Chicago 
Nov. 11 Jason Mraz in Tokyo  
Nov. 13 Jason Mraz in Osaka  

Nov. 14 Jason Mraz in Tokyo  

 ©Grateful Music LLC

Thursday, September 4

Interview: Sitdown at the Southern Brewer's Festival sharing all gut's and some glory with Vinnie Amico

moe. is one of those bands that is constantly busy, constantly planning new things for its fans. Between planning at least three festivals each year and touring across the United States and the world, it amazed me to find them on the lineup for Chattanooga’s Southern Brewers Festival just one week before their 15th annual moe.down festival. As it turns out, the band was the first jamband to ever play Southern Brewers Festival, and they agreed to come back and help celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary. After a rockin’ 90+ minute set consisting of a combination of moe. classics and tracks from their brand new album, drummer Vinnie Amico was nice enough to sit down with me for a quick chat.
moe's Vinnie and our Randy Harris
Ragin’ Randy: The new album has been released for about three months now. Has it performed as well as you guys had hoped?
Vinnie Amico: I don’t know, um, how it sells. I don’t know how albums sell at all.

RR: Well, you guys have always been more of a live band.
VA: Yeah, yeah. Well, we’ve always been able to sell a few albums, but, as far as charting, I think we charted higher than we ever did, so, like, whatever they call it, the Heatseekers 200 or whatever it is, we charted higher and it’s still floating around up in there somewhere. So, it’s actually been doing well critically and on radio stations, and they keep adding songs, so it’s going well I think.

RR: Good, I’m very glad to hear that. This was your first show since Gathering of the Vibes at the beginning of the month right?
VA: Yeah, August 3rd yep.

RR: Right, I guess my question is, do you guys approach your live shows differently when you’ve been off the road for a few weeks?
VA: No. We just show up and play [laughs].

RR: Well, I’m sure at this stage of your career, you guys just kind of get up there and do your thing.
VA: Yeah man, we just show up and play. And, you know, usually, when we’ve been off for a couple weeks after being on the road for a while, energy levels are really high, and sometimes the tightness is a little low, or lesser, which some people can or can’t tell. It’s usually just us that we can tell if it’s not like, you know, but usually in these situations, like, usually if we’re off before moe.down for a couple weeks, it’s basically right around now, it’s usually at the end of July or something. We’ll have a few weeks off before moe.down, and it just happens to be that we get this one-off in between, and it’s, like, super high energy, not necessarily the tightest show ever, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s just that we kind of laid it out, as far as, we jammed a little looser, and more free, and a lot more energy, and not quite as tight, but not always a bad thing.

RR: I know you’ve been doing your whole “If we reach 100,000 on Facebook, the fans get to pick a song” thing, but do you have any more surprises for moe.down we can expect coming’ up?
VA: If they were surprises and I told you, then they wouldn't be surprises [laughs]. We’re going to have the Conehead Buddha Horns play with us, I think a couple sets, at least one but maybe two sets that weekend, which always elevates the band as a whole to a new level. I don’t know if you’ve heard them with us before, but it’s like the whole band goes from here [gestures with hand low] to here [gestures with hand high], and the songs take on a different vibe, like a different animal, and then we add a bunch of different tunes that we wouldn't necessarily play. It’s a lot of fun. I really love it, and they’re all really good friends of mine. Shannon [Lynch (sax, flutes)] lives in my town, and we hang out together and stuff.

RR: This is a little unrelated to my previous questions, but it’s something that’s always interested me. I feel like you guys, compared to some of the other major jambands, you know Phish, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, you guys tend to tour in Europe more than some of them do. Is there a reason behind that? Do you guys have a better following over there? Or do you guys just like touring over there?
VA: I think it’s a little bit of we like touring over there, and I think it’s a little bit of we’re trying to build a little bit bigger of a following over there. Being global is better than being national, I think, you know? The reality of the whole thing is that you see all these bands coming out of England that are huge, because they tour the world, not because they tour the States. I mean, the big bands in the States don’t really need to tour the world, but we’re not the biggest band in the States, maybe we need to tour the world, and maybe we’ll, you know, hit a note with the Europeans or the Japanese or whoever it be. So, what we've spent years building in America, we want to build, you know, all around the world.

RR: You guys announced your Jamaican throe.down recently.
VA: Yep, yep.

RR: That sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun
VA: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

RR: And you guys have done these kinds of destination stuff before.
VA: Yes, we have. We enjoy it very much, so I think that’s why we continue to do it. And as long as fans keep buying tickets and coming to these little resort parties, you know, we have a lot of fun.

RR: Great! Do you have a favorite one that you guys have done, or a favorite place that you’ve done these destination parties in the past?
VA: Um, you know, the two cruises that we did were both really fun.

RR: Those are the ones that are the Dr. Stan’s Prescription albums right?
VA: Yeah, yeah, and the one that we did in the Dominican was a lot of fun. Um, Jam Cruise, whole different animal. You know? We kind of like doing our own thing, because it’s a little less work. Well, it’s actually more work for us, but it’s a little more focused work I think, and you don’t run into the, you know, Jam Cruise is tough. You got to pace yourself.

RR: Well, yeah, and they’re doing all these sit-ins and stuff.
VA: Yeah, there’s just a lot going on, and with ours, it’s us, you know. This one’s going to be a bit different in that it’s us and then it’s our side project stuff, so we’ll be working hard, but we’ll be bringing you everything that we’re involved in.

RR: Awesome! It’s always good to bring new things.
VA: And we get to do a lot of other stuff too, so he and I [points to Al Schnier (guitar)] are going to dive with fans, and I’m a big sun guy, so I’ll be sitting out in the sun on the beach a lot.

RR: So, lots of the big jamband giants are having big anniversaries, you know, Phish had their 30th, Widespread Panic’s coming up on 30, and you guys are at 25. What is it that makes a band stay together that long? What keeps you guys going?
VA: I think there’s a lot of different things. One of them is music. We love music, and we play good music we think. You know, you listen to music on the radio right now, and you can’t even fucking listen to it. I mean, I have two teenage kids. One daughter’s into, like, decent music. My other daughter’s into pop music, and it’s the worst freakin’ thing. In all these years, you know, I’m 45. I grew up around Liquid Nights pop music, you know, I heard disco. I was freakin’ 9 or 10 when disco was around, so it wasn’t like… man the music now sucks [laughs]. Other than, like, Bruno Mars and a couple other people, the music just blows, it’s bad. So, like, we’re still making good music. I think we’re sort of a little bit, you know, anti-establishment, because pop music and the way they’re trying to make mainstream is so sucky that we’re like “fuck you, we’re just gonna stay up here and keep doin’ this” [laughs]. We enjoy playing, we enjoy playing with each other, and we’re still making good music, you know, so why the hell not? And, you know, what else are you going to do? You’ve been doing this for 25 years, like, we can’t go out and get jobs anymore, you got to make some sort of income, I guess.

RR: Great. Last question, you guys have seen and done a lot, obviously, in 25 years. Is there anything, or is there any time that you get on stage and think “Oh my gosh,” like is there anything that scares you guys or that you get nervous about at this stage?
VA: I’m not sure anymore. I mean, some of the bigger shows, you still get pretty intense, and you just have to keep your intensity in check, because otherwise you’ll play too fast or play too hard or whatever. But for the most part, I haven’t really felt that, like, [inhales] in a while, you know where it’s like “Oh shit.”

RR: Well, and it helps being part of a team I’m sure, you know, part of a group.
VA: Yeah, yeah, but I mean, it’s like, when you get those big crowds, I think you tend to play a little better, because it’s like, you have to be more focused, energy level is super high, so you just bring it. You know, there’s been times in the past when it’s like “Oh shit, we can’t fuck up.” But I figure, that gig is no different than a gig in front of 100 people. Actually, I usually play worse in a gig when there’s 100 people in a bar, just because they’re so on top of you and so close that they’re watching your every move. So, the big show you’ll have that air of distance, other than the fact that you’re blown away by that wall of sound when they clap and cheer [laughs].

RR: Well, thank you so much for the information. You guys played a great show. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me real quick, and I will let you get on with your evening. Have fun and safe travels, and have a great time at moe.down!

VA: Thank you.
Interview: Ragin' Randy Harris
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Wednesday, September 3

Hard Working Americans On Tour (See Dates Below) + The First Waltz Rocumentary by Justin Kreutzmann #thefirstwaltz

 Hard Working Americans, featuring Todd Snider, Dave Schools, Neal Casal, Duane Trucks, Chad Staehly and Jesse Aycock, has announced the release of The First Waltz on October 28. The First Waltz is both a live album and live concert rockumentary film, which will be sold together in a special two-disc package via Melvin Records/Thirty Tigers. Take a look at this trailer of The First Waltz 
In January, the band released their self-titled debut album to much critical acclaim, that included Rolling Stone, NPR’s Fresh Air, Huffington Post, Relix and a TV debut performance on Conan
 (See Highlights Hard Working Americans reached #1 on the iTunes Rock Chart and #1 on the Americana radio chart, where the album remained in the top 5 for 13 weeks. The band also received an Americana Music Award nomination for Best Duo/Group of the Year and will be performing on the awards show on September 17.
In The First Waltz, filmmaker Justin Kreutzmann (The Who, Grateful Dead) chronicles the band’s first collaboration, the making of their debut album and their sold-out, first-ever live performance in Boulder, CO. The band wanted to capture that first performance, as risky as that could be, and use it no matter what the outcome. Fortunately, the show was a major success, leading to a string of sold-out performances.  The film features interviews with band members, as well as extensive behind-the-scenes footage. The First Waltz CD features a selection of songs featured in the film, as well as live tracks from the first tour. The album includes the brand new studio track, “Come From The Heart”, with Rosanne Cash, that also closes the film. 
The First Waltz will premiere via a special showing, followed by a Q&A with the band and Kreutzmann, on September 16 at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. The second showing will be at midnight in NYC on September 20 at The City Winery following the band’s Beacon Theater performance that evening. Leading up to the release, The First Waltz will have multiple showings on Palladia with the first airing on October 24 at 9pm EST.

 Catch Hard Working Americans On Tour (See Dates Below)
Hard Working Americans – The First Waltz

  Track Listing
1. “Blackland Farmer”
2. “Another Train/Working Man Blues”
3. “Play A Train Song”
4. “Mission Accomplished”
5. “Run A Mile”
6. “I Don’t Have A Gun”
7. “The Mountain Song” 
8. “Straight To Hell”
9. “Stomp and Holler”
10. “Guaranteed”
11. “Wrecking Ball”
12. “Come From The Heart” (Featuring Rosanne Cash)

Hard Working Americans – Tour Dates

Sept. 17 – Americana Music Conference – Nashville, TN
Sept. 19 – Theatre of Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA #
Sept. 20 – Beacon Theater   –  New York, NY 
Sept. 21 - Howard Theatre – Washington, DC 
#Nov. 11 – The Showbox – Seattle, WA 
�ov. 12 – The Crystal Ballroom – Portland, OR 
�ov. 13 – Phoenix Theater – Petaluma, CA 
�ov. 14 – The Regency Ballroom –  San Francisco, CA 
�ov. 15  – Cocoanut Grove  – Santa Cruz, CA 
�ov. 16  – The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

# - with Todd Sheaffer of Railroad Earth
� with The Congressman Steve King
©Grateful Music LLC

Catskill Chill Music Festival.- 5 must do/see attractions in the Western Catskills #chillfam

I put together a list of 5 things to do in the immediate area the Monday after Catskill Chill Music Festival. If you're like me, you may enjoying taking the day off and exploring the places and sights of the region which plays host to the show of your fancy. In this case, the Western Catskills have much to offer! Check out my suggestions and feel free to share them with some like-minded folk @ at the festival!

 1. Take a hike up to Jensen's Ledges, located about five miles northwest of Minglewood just outside the tiny hamlet of Lordville. The Ledge's offer a spectacular view overlooking the Delaware River west into Pennsylvania. The view extends for miles, but you probably won't see one single structure. The hike itself isn't very long, about 45 minutes, but gets steep at points. Its worth at least going into Lordville, and if you do you'll understand why. Funky is one way to describe it. If you're still in the mood to explore afterwards, pop across the Lordville bridge into PA and check out the quaint fishing village of Equinunk. This town hosts a variety of beautiful Victorian architecture, and a general store from the 1800s equipped with hard maple floors and jars of five cent candy. 

 2. Stop by Ray Turner's Delaware Delicacies, several miles outside of Hancock along the banks of the East Branch of the Delaware River. Mr. Turner traps and smokes eels (and other fish) from the river and sells them from a store on his property. He also has available numerous other local goods like cheese, maple syrup and preserves. If you enjoy smoked fish it is definitely worth the trip! Ask a local in Hancock how to get to the 'Eel Guy's place', and follow the signs through dirt roads into the woods. It is located about five minutes from the entrance ramp onto 17 east towards NYC. 

 3. Take a short trip in a kayak or canoe down the Delaware from Soaring Eagle Campground, located about 15 minutes south of Camp Minglewood. The river is timeless, and that section in particular is very quaint and quiet. Relax and enjoy yourselves, but keep an eye open for jumping fish, blue herons, eagles, and beavers (many have been spotted on the river this year). If you decide to do this, a fantastic place to swim on the river near there is the Basket, which can be found south of Long Eddy on your left, where a stone bridge crosses a creek which feeds into the river. 

 4. Drive to Callicoon and check out all that this frontier river town has to offer! Callicoon is also south of Minglewood, and many people drive through it as a shortcut on their way to the festival. You can grab a craft beer at the Callicoon Brewing Company, a slice of pizza (in my opinion, the area's best) at Peppino's, enjoy the WiFi and a cup of coffee on the deck of Cafe Devine, grab some local organic produce from the health food store or a bottle of local wine from the wine merchant. There's even a Vietnamese restaurant here if you're looking for a unique way to wet your pallet. I always urge festival goers to stop here, not just because its my hometown, but because I truly feel that it is one of the most unique & fun places in the area. If you decide to, you won't be disappointed! 
 5. If you're still reading this then you've probably got the great Explorer's Attitude. In between Hancock and Callicoon, there are four different bridges which lead into Pennsylvania. Cross any one of them, and take a big step back in time. Turn off your GPS, turn on to a random dirt road, and just go! You'll probably see an iconic barn or two, surely some wild animals, but if you're lucky you'll stumble across the castle in Braman, the sculpture park in Abrahamsville, the waterfall at Rock Run or maybe even the old hydo-powered wooden sawmill in Rileyville. If you're up for doing this make sure to stop by one of the last family owned general stores in the area, Cox's Lookout General Store in Lookout and get a bite to eat. Ask for their special 'firey' hot sauce, its fantastic. You'll probably run into some of the cast of characters who give this place I call home a real personality. I hope this reaches some people from out of town who have the time and ambition to do some of these things. The Upper Delaware River Valley is a beautiful place, off the beaten track but close enough to the tri-state area for a day trip. Even if you can't next weekend, come back some time and indulge. I promise you it is totally worth it  
Words: Dylan Smith
©Grateful Music LLC

Tuesday, September 2

Dates: GHOST OWL - Fall 2014 - Say Goodbye to Finland Tour

On the heels of the successful release of their debut album, Say Goodbye to Finland, Ghost Owl is excited to make several big announcements. Their Say Goodbye to Finland Fall Tour will bring the band to Florida and Colorado, and will include an extended run of dates in the South East with Papadosio. While in Florida, Ghost Owl will perform a free webcast at Live From AURA Studios on Sunday, October 5th, and they have been added to the line-up for Suwannee Hulaween, taking place over Halloween weekend at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.

August 29 – Mantrabash | Ferguson, NC 
September 30 – Sidebar Theatre | Tallahassee, FL 
October 1 – 1904 Music Hall | Jacksonville, FL 
October 2 – The Funky Buddha | Boca Raton, FL 
October 3 – Guanabanas | Jupiter, FL 
October 4 – Dunedin Brewery | Dunedin, FL 

 October 5 – Live From AURA Studios Free Live Stream 
October 31– The Orange Peel | Asheville, NC* 
November 1 – Music Farm | Charleston, SC* 
November 2 – Suwannee Hulaween | Live Oak, FL 
November 13 – The International | Knoxville, TN* 
November 14 – The Chop Shop | Charlotte, NC* 
November 15 – Lincoln Theatre | Raleigh, NC* 
November 19 – Cannery Ballroom | Nashville, TN* 
November 20 – Georgia Theatre | Athens, GA* 
November 21 – Terminal West | Atlanta, GA* 
December 3 – Belly Up | Aspen, CO 
December 4 – Hodi’s Half Note | Ft. Collins, CO 
December 5 & 6 – Quixote’s True Blue |Denver, CO - 2 night stand
 *Opening for Papadosio
  ©Grateful Music LLC

Dates: Wilco - Fall 2014 #falltour @dates

With front-man Jeff Tweedy off on a solo-record supporting tour it looks like these Chicago prog-rockers will be make room and be hittin' the road for some very intimate yet sparse dates from Sept to the end of October.
Wilco North American Tour Dates 
 Sept 3 LC Pavilion Columbus, OH 
Sept 4 Akron Civic Theatre Akron, OH 
Sept 6 Lockn' Festival Arrington, VA 
Sept 7 Lockn' Festival Arrington, VA 
Oct 21 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN 
Oct 22 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN 
Oct 23 Tennessee Theatre Knoxville, TN 
Oct 25 North Carolina Museum of Art Raleigh, NC 
Oct 28 Capitol Theatre Port Chester, NY 
Oct 29 Capitol Theatre Port Chester, NY  
©Grateful Music LLC

Photos and Review: Southern Brewers Festival Chattanooga Riverfront, Chattanooga, TN Aug. 22-23, 2014

Chattanooga, Tennessee is undoubtedly one of the most underrated cities in the United States. Split in two by the Tennessee River, the relatively small but bustling town offers beautiful views, locally owned restaurants and breweries, chugging tug boats and a peaceful, homey breath in the air. The music scene in Chattanooga has grown significantly in recent years, attracting electronic music and live bands alike to local venues such as Rhythm & Brews and Track 29. Southern Brewers Festival, now 20 years in the making, holds its annual contribution to the city’s burgeoning culture of beer and music on the breathtaking Chattanooga Riverfront, and the 2014 lineup consisted of 7 massive bands! 2014 was the first year in its 20-year history that Southern Brewers Festival took place over two nights instead of just one. The best part about Southern Brewers Festival was that there was only one stage, so the only way to possibly miss any of the music was if the beer line was too long. 
Oh, wait, there were over 60 breweries with booths set up, so there were no lines! To top things off, the weather forecast for the weekend was absolutely beautiful. When we arrived at the festival grounds Friday evening, booths set up for craft breweries from all over the country lined the street, and, just as the top of the stage peaked over the edge of the hill, a downward sloping outdoor seating area came into view. While the weather was beautiful and sunny, it was also sweltering hot, but that did not stop Cabinet from coming out strong to open the festival. The band played an energized set of primarily originals with a few covers mixed in. What struck me most about my first Cabinet experience was that, although they proved they can keep up with the fast-pickers with tracks such as “Susquehanna Breakdown” and “Old Farmer’s Mill,” the band’s greatest attributes stream forward in their slower tunes. 
The group’s tantalizing, melodic tracks such as “The Dove” and “Heavy Rain” absolutely blew me away. Also, while “Eleanor” is not particularly slow, it still fits in this category for me. The band has an uncanny ability to leave space in these songs without ever letting the tracks feel empty, not to mention the tight vocal harmonies and the striking imagery within the lyrics. As Soulive took the stage, I had no idea what I was in for. While I had heard many recordings of their live sets, this was my first real live experience, and I can assure you that recordings do not do them justice. 
Since I had already been there for the first set, I was lucky enough to get a spot on the rail right in front of Alan Evans, but by the time the set was over, the entire ground area was packed. Soulive’s set was entirely instrumental, but it somehow still felt like there was an entire symphony’s worth of musicians on stage. Alan never missed a single beat, and Neal Evans belted out organ solos, while at the same time playing all the bass lines on a separate keyboard (Ray Manzarek’s torch has officially been passed). Eric Krasno’s intricate chord and lead work seemed to take on a mind of their own as he sat comfortably looking out at the crowd while he worked his way through a beautiful set. Rounding off the set was the trio’s obvious connection on stage, the kind you only see from the greats. They did not even have to look at each other to know where each member was going to be at any given time. To top it off, the sun went down about halfway through the set, cooling us all off from the sweltering afternoon. A mind-blowing Beatles medley was the highlight of the set for me. Anyone who thinks jazz is dead or lost on the younger scene is sorely mistaken.
Festival goers of all ages were gettin’ down with Soulive on this gorgeous Friday night. To end an already incredible evening of music, moe. came out in fine form for their headlining set. I must admit, the only festival I had seen moe. at before this weekend was at Summer Camp, at which the band had 6 entire sets to themselves, so I was a bit worried that with only one set they might not dig quite as deep as usual. Once I heard the first notes of “Recreational Chemistry,” however, I thought to myself, “What was I thinking? This is moe.!” The classic opener kicked the set into motion right away. Next, the band took us through a slew of tracks off of their new record No Guts, No Glory, including solid takes on “Annihilation Blues” and “Billy Goat,” followed by an intense “Silver Sun” that built and swirled and churned my mind, just like it did the first time I heard it live. 
Finally, a tight, funky “Same Old Story,” where the title of the album comes from, concluded the string of new tunes. Heading back to the classics, the band dug deep again on “Puebla” with a heavily drums-driven jam, which led straight into a seamless “Brent Black,” which featured a lengthy drums and percussion solo section, as well as an intricate, funky slap-bass solo, to end the set. After a very quick break, the band came back out for a groovy “Crab Eyes” encore. Day 2 unfortunately started off with an unforeseen rain delay. Thankfully, it did not last long, and the AJ Ghent Band took the stage less than 30 minutes late. Although their set was shortened slightly due to the delay, the band got up there and did their thing as if nothing had happened. Playing a combination of original tunes and covers from AJ’s influences, such as Otis Redding and Prince, the AJ Ghent Band proceeded to bring a unique blend of R&B and Southern Soul to the stage. AJ Ghent comes from a long family history of the lap pedal steel guitar, and he represented them well in Chattanooga with his wife and sister at his side singing with him. I was lucky enough to speak with the Ghent family after the band’s set, and they told me that all of the originals heard in that set are going to be on a new album coming out next year.
By the time Randall Bramblett & Friends took the stage, the hot sun had made its way back out, but that did not stop the band or the crowd. Randall has amassed an impressive discography over the years, and he has put together an extremely talented group of musicians to help him spread it to the world. With a full six-piece band, featuring 2 guitarists, a bassist, 2 drummers, and Randall on keyboards and saxophone, these guys rocked the house. The whole band seemed to understand and enhance Randall’s musical vision, and they soundly complimented his soulful vocals and thoughtful lyrics. The individual members of the band come from a variety of backgrounds, but as a group, they dug deep, rocked out and kept the crowd moving. Something about Greensky Bluegrass just puts them on a whole other level in the bluegrass scene. When describing their sound to someone unfamiliar with the scene, I refer to the staples such as Yonder Mountain String Band and Leftover Salmon, but they definitely have a unique sound all to their own. Greensky tends to be more fluid and hypnotic than the other bluegrass giants, and those elements put their live performances at the very top of the list. While the first two thirds or so of their set at Southern Brewers Festival was fairly structured, concentrating more on the songs themselves, they began to dig really deep toward the end. 
They began their set with Greensky staples, such as “Jay Walkin’” and “Bottle Dry” before introducing some new songs from their upcoming album, “Windshield,” “Worried About The Weather” and “Wings For Wheels” (alliteration intended?). The last few tracks of the set really took hold as the band worked through a lengthy, mesmerizing jam in “All Four” into their classic bluegrass cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancin’ in the Dark,” which led straight into an 8 minute jam section. Finally, the band ended with one more tune off their upcoming album, “Leap Year,” which left chills in my spine and an excited stir among the audience. Gov’t Mule took over for the final set of the weekend, starting off with a bang with “World Boss,” the opening track off the band’s latest studio album Shout. Seeming tight and together from the very first note, guitarist Warren Haynes led the band through a couple short but rockin’ solos. The strong opening track seemed to hit home with the eager Chattanooga crowd. Wasting no time, the band went through strong takes on “Steppin’ Lightly,” “Blind Man in the Dark,” “Broke Down on the Brazos,” and a short “Tributary Jam.”. Next, the band slowed things down with a passionate “Banks of the Deep End,” before kicking it right back up with “Mule” > “Whole Lotta Love” > “Mule,” featuring a “Shakedown Street” tease. Then came the funky bass intro of “Thorazine Shuffle,” while Haynes took a moment to address the crowd and let them know that this is their chance to get down! Haynes was especially hot on this tune, screaming out a massive guitar solo with a nice “2001” tease. Danny Louis also took a turn, belting out a masterful keyboard solo. Next came “Funny Little Tragedy,” a more pop-oriented tune. While not my favorite Mule tune, the band rocked it live, throwing in a quick “Message in a Bottle” tease, before heading into a “Thorazine Shuffle Reprise.” “Whisper In Your Soul” slowed things down again, while “Railroad Boy” ramped the feel back up. Then, the band welcomed the legendary Johnny Neal on stage to round up the last few tunes, including a funky “Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” followed by a heart-tugging “Soulshine” > “Tupelo Honey” > “Soulshine” and a deep, heavy-hitting “Going Out West” encore. 
While my opinion is in the minority,  I personally have never thought that Warren Haynes has the greatest singing voice, he sure does belt out those tunes with a wild passion. His lyrics are captivating, his performances are intense, and man can he wail on that guitar! Also, besides Haynes’ quick remarks during the intros to certain tunes, I do not think the band ever stopped playing, not once. It was tune after tune after tune, and Gov’t Mule definitely put on a high-energy, rockin’ show! Overall, the Southern Brewers Festival was a great experience. With a beautiful riverside stage and lots of wide open green space, the area never felt overrun or crowded. Even with such esteemed artists on the lineup and just a single stage, there were hardly any lines for food, drinks or restrooms. All of the artists brought their best for Chattanooga as well. Oh, and did I forget to mention the beer? Oh yeah, there were lots of great brews to keep everyone properly lubricated.
Also, I cannot stress enough how great it was to only have one stage and not have to choose between artists. Some fans love to jump back and forth, but with this kind of lineup, I would find it cruel to make anyone choose. Plus, remember that for two days of music, and by music I mean Cabinet, Soulive, moe., AJ Ghent Band, Randall Bramblett & Friends, Greensky Bluegrass and Gov’t Mule, the cost was just $40! I think it is safe to say that for the price, Southern Brewers Festival is one of the best deals in the country. I am already dreaming up possible lineups for next year and cannot wait to continue the now 20 year deep legacy that is the Southern Brewers Festival.  
Words: Randy Harris 
Photos: Randy Harris and Jim Carter 
©Grateful Music LLC

Monday, September 1

Festivals: Catskill Chill Preview #chillfam

I started this off intending to do a top reasons to go to Catskill Chill, but I couldn't find more then 3. Now some of you who are reading this are thinking "You always speak very highly of this festival, how are there only 3 reasons to go?" The answer to that is simple-within those 3 reasons are several sub reasons that complete the picture. The 3 that I have are Venue, Lineup, and Chillfam. For those who want the traditional list, I'll put my top 10 acts to see at the bottom. 
The venue is perfect for a festival setting. They claim it is a summer camp, but it seems designed for a small music festival. The 2 main stages are all shielded from the weather, with picturesque views of the lake and nature from the main stage. Club Chill is almost like being in a medium size club venue, and is the only fully indoor stage. The Acoustic Junction is right in the middle of the camping area, and the Red Bull DJ Truck is in a different camping area. If you aren't into the tent camping scene, you can rent a cabin with either a few or a bunch of friends as there are several sizes available. I must warn you that if you want a cabin you will have to book early, most likely before the lineup comes out. The camp itself is very scenic and you have all probably seen it without realizing as it is where Dirty Dancing was filmed. Another bonus is there is no cell phone service. This allows you to get full enjoyment and immersion into the music as opposed to staring at phones all day. You can also get from the far end of the camping area to the other end of camp in around 20 minutes if you walk with pace. Unlike the huge festivals where if you want to get a good spot for a band you need to camp out several sets before, it is very easy to get a choice spot here. The trick to get to the front of the main stage after a show ends at the B stage is to simply walk over when the set ends. This should put you within 10 feet of the rail most of the time. The lineup is insane when you consider they are working with a 5,000 guest festival. Every year you look at who they book and realize that there are plenty of larger festivals without near as much talent. 
Sister Sparrow 
There are a number of bands that are playing both original and tribute sets. Twiddle is playing a Grateful Deat set, Alan Evans' Playonbrother is playing a Cream set, Turkuaz is playing a Sly and the Family Stone set, and ShwiKus (ShwizZ +FiKus) is playing a P-Funk set. In addition to how talented these bands are with their own material, they will bring the party atmosphere with the cover sets. It is very hard to explain Chillfam if you haven't been, but once you attend Chill you will know and feel it all over. It is like a party with 5,000 close friends that doesn't end when the festival does. There are many a show during the year that you run into 1 person from Chill and realize that there are 20 other Chillfam members in the crowd and you are suddenly transformed into long lost friends. You can also find one of the directors acting as an Elvis impersonator at shows if you look hard enough. Bottom line is if you go to Catskill Chill once, you will be hooked and return every year. I started in 2011 for just a Saturday on the basis of Sister Sparrow and Umphreys and from that point I was hooked. I have returned each year since and this will be my 4th one.
 Top 10 acts to see (not including headliners or tribute sets) 
10. Break Science 
9. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong 
8. The Main Squeeze 
7. Kung Fu 
6. Turkuaz 
5. Consider the Source 
4. Tauk 
3. Dopapod 
2. The Nth Power 
1. Twiddle Up and com
ing bands you might not know that are not to be missed: 
1. The Hornitz 
2. Functional Flow 
3. Mun 
4. FiKus 
5. ShwizZ  

Words  & Photos: Mike Geller
©Grateful Music LLC