Saturday, November 15

Album Review: Earphunk - Sweet Nasty - 8/2014

Sweet Nasty
When you hear “New Orleans,” or “NOLA,” two styles of music come to mind: Jazz and Funk. In their latest studio project Sweet Nasty, Earphunk has taken these two genres and put them in a washing machine, poured some progressive rock in as detergent and sprinkled a bit of dance music for fabric softener. Sweet Nasty was recorded in rural Louisiana at the Studio in the Country, and the band took full advantage of the studio’s spacious area to make the album represent a live Earphunk experience as closely as possible. The quintet consists of Paul Provosty (lead guitar), Mark Hempe (vocals, guitar), Michael Matthews (drums), Michael Comeaux (bass) and Christian Galle (keyboards, organ), but the added expertise of saxophonist Khris Royal (Rebelution, Dark Matter) and trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce, Pretty Lights) helped the band realize its vision for Sweet Nasty.
The album begins with what sounds like an old transistor radio introducing the opening track, “Sunup to Sundown.” The song picks up the band’s groovy feel right off the bat with a catchy lead guitar hook. The bridge gets a bit dirty, keeping things interesting and the listener on his or her toes. Next, the title track, “Sweet Nasty,” busts out some serious funk! This is definitely an appropriate title track for the album, as well as Earphunk’s overall sound. “She Don’t Wanna Hear From You” is the first real vocal track on the album. The deep vocals are reminiscent of their long list of prestigious NOLA funk predecessors and would certainly make them proud. “Check The Pulse” has more of a dance music kind of feel to it. The intertwining guitar and keyboard lines create a mesmerizing aural elation throughout verse, and the heavy chorus and mellow bridges keep the energy flowing in swells.
Primarily a mellow tune, “Pino” is beautiful and laid back, but some parts still get pretty funky and dirty at times. After a building solo, Provosty busts out some of his best technical guitar work of the album. “Saura” brings back the dance music feel with a pounding four-to-the-floor drumbeat. The guitar harmonies are almost dissonant, but just barely fit well together, making for an interesting touch on the ears. The half time chorus adds some extra flavor to the structure. “Phine” is by far the dirtiest tune on the album. The Daft Punk-style vocals only add to the dirtiness and make the track even funkier, evoking the disco-funk feel of early electronica, while still letting the listener know that a full, live band is playing. “The Multiverse” is a short track (less than 2 minutes), acting sort of like an interlude. Here we see more of a rock feel than the rest of the album, led by screaming lead guitar. “Beautiful” follows up, keeping the rock feel going for the intro, but letting the instrumentals flow out to match the lyrical theme perfectly in the verse. It is an aptly named tune for this roller coaster of fluorescent harmonies and raging choruses. The jazzy, ambient “Ambin” sets the stage for the progressive closing track “Lippy.” The final track’s swirling build kicks into half time with screaming keys leads, before landing into a mellow outro to finish up the album.

Overall, Sweet Nasty is a great album from a constantly improving group of musicians.  The band certainly succeeded in capturing the essence of a live setting, and the songwriting shows an uncanny sense of maturity and musicianship. Head over to Earphunk’s website now and download Sweet Nasty for free!
Words: Randy Harris 
3 outta 5 GlowSticks!
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Review & Photos: Umphrey's McGee - F.M. Kirby Theater - Wilkes-Barre, PA - 10/30/2014

Umphrey’s McGee stays with newer catalog, sprinkles with fan favorites & two rarer covers in Wilkes-Barre.

Midway through their fall tour, Umphrey’s McGee rolled into the F.M. Kirby Theater in Wilkes-Barre, PA for a warm-up show prior to their sold out Halloween show in Boston.  With most of the East Coast jam community out west in either Las Vegas or Denver, a remote venue in Eastern PA and the show being midweek, the stage was set for the small crowd in attendance to see what they call a “sleeper” show.  As the crowd began to filter in, it became apparent that this would be a Halloween celebration for many of those in attendance as celebrities Gumby (who later integrated himself into the show), Scooby Doo, Fred Flintstone, TWO Where’s Waldos, Papa Smurf, and the entire cast of the Pirates of the Penzance were in house for the festivities.  Umphrey’s Twitter page noted that it would be a Ryan “Pony” Stasik setlist on this night, so all those present were certain they would be getting a metal show, and UM certainly did not disappoint.  However, before they would come on stage, up and coming act Dopapod had an opportunity to get the crowd in the right mindset.  The quartet came onstage at 7:30pm on the dot (advertised showtime) and as this is not the norm at most shows, the venue was almost completely empty.  Rather than just going through the motions however, Dopapod proceeded to lay down multiple tracks with incredible energy for the few hundred already in attendance.  The set, while clocking in at only about 45 minutes, was full of on point jamming by band, which looks poised to move up in the hierarchy of jam bands in the years to come.  After Dopapod concluded their set, the crowd and late comers were treated to songs from the movie Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory while they awaited the main event of the evening, which was to come shortly.  
As is very common with UM, the band came out onto stage as a pre-recorded instrumental played.  As the band took over the reins for You Got the Wrong Guy, the tempo began to pick up from the norm as the band transitioned seamlessly into Push the Pig.  The composition portion of the song was executed with precision before Kris Myers laid down a syncopated drum beat for the base of the jam that was to come.  Layering in hypnotic bass lines and a pair of transcendent guitar riffs, Ryan, Jake, and Brendan began a slow build coupled with mesmerizing lights by the one and only Jefferson Waful.  This slow build would culminate in a blistering solo by Jake Cinninger as only he can deliver before falling back into the main outro theme of Push the Pig.  After a brief acknowledgement of the crowd/venue by Brendan Bayliss, he and Jake began the introductory notes to the recognizable Uncle Wally.  This version didn’t extend past the normal boundaries of the song however; the dueling guitars of Jake and Brendan were incendiary as they eventually broke down into the bare elements of the melody dissolving into a blissful flow by all band members. 
 Just as the jam appeared to be coming to a close, the band quickly segued into an up tempo Domino Theory which would be the first time the band really stretched its improvisational legs in the first half.  The first of two songs off 2011’s Death By Stereo, Domino’s jam would have multiple phases moving from a nice funk beat featuring double bass by Kris and driving bass lines by Ryan and Jake playing a nice little ditty over Brendan’s riffs.  This built to another dueling moment for Jake and Brendan with nice fills by Ryan before moving into a more electronic trance sound.  The entire band was in full force as even Andy Farag was pummeling the bongos in sync with Kris on the toms.  The entire crowd seemed to be moving and bobbing their heads in unison as the song flowed back into the predominant theme before Jake put the icing on the cake by melting a few faces with another display of his never ending speed on the frets to finish the track.  
After the high energy of Domino Theory, the band and crowd alike needed a few minutes to cool off, and UM acted accordingly dropping into the relaxed reggae intro of FF.  Joel Cummins received his first opportunity to shine on a night dominated by high powered guitar work, as he took his time to deliver an amazing solo on the ivories.  This was followed by exceptional sticking by Kris complimented perfectly by the percussion playing of Andy that would begin another of Umphrey’s signature builds.  The reggae beginning FF was merely the calm before the storm, as on pretty much any night of UM, the fireworks are only subdued for short spans of time.  Ryan and Kris were in perfect sync with one another creating a tsunami wave of music that was being ridden by guitar gurus Jake and Brendan as they blew the roof off the house on this number.  Joel finished the song as he had earlier started the jam, on the keys.  
After a routine 2nd Self, Morning Song would follow with a Jake solo in which he once again proved that whether or not he is playing 1 note or 100, it’s all about how you play them and how you get to where you’re going.   His soulful solo began with extended notes that flowed beautifully from his axe as he slowly increased tempo to a pace not easily comprehended.  A well placed version of Similar Skin’s The Linear would transition into the first of two rare covers played on the evening.  The opening notes of ZZ Top’s Cheap Sunglasses, played for only the 21st time by UM, meant an instant sing-a-long for the crowd and they quickly obliged.  A funky beat jam immediately developed out of the song, which included a syncopated stop and go jam with the customary fan “woos” and synchronized dancing by Ryan & Brendan.  The band closed the jam by fading out before one last crescendo to finish up the high-energy set.
As the crowd began to filter back in from set break (there was a MASS exodus from the theater as they were VERY strict on smoking inside the venue), the energy in the room became almost palpable. Umphrey’s would begin the second frame with the oft-played instrumental, Eat.  This version featured very well executed full band interplay as they weaved back and forth from multiple themes.  Upon the conclusion of the song, Brendan made sure to point out that Gumby in the front row was freaking him out.  This would come into play later during the encore… After conveying his thoughts to the crowd, Brendan led the band into the first of 4 songs off UM’s new album Similar Skin to be played that night, No Diablo.  The happy-go-lucky song was a nice breather after the heater that was Eat, and as seen on many nights, Ryan and Kris were bobbing their heads back and forth in unison, making for an almost comical feel to the song.  After the turndown, the band would move into the 2nd of two covers of the night, The Beatles’ I Want You So Bad (She’s So Heavy).  The brief but fiery rendition would be followed by another instrumental, this time the UM Staple #5.  
#5 would feature Andy and Kris complementing one another perfectly on bongos and trap respectively while Jefferson Waful took full advantage of his bag of tricks, displaying multiple graphics in an array of colors throughout the tune.  Little Gift would follow, a great rock anthem off 2014’s Similar Skin, and it would be successful in getting the entire crowd up and on its feet.  It was quite obvious that this song is definitely one that the Pony likes to ride as he laid down driving bass lines during the jam portion of the song.  The jam would eventually dissolve into the opening notes of The Bottom Half, another UM classic, which would contain the most organic jam of the evening.  All six members seemed to be one as they weaved an epic landscape that transitioned seamlessly from one theme to the next with no jarring changes that sometimes can characterize Umphrey’s jamming.  
Another fan favorite would follow as the entire crowd erupted to the opening stanza of Wappy Sprayberry.  Upon starting the jam, Kris quickly dropped into a drum & bass rhythm combined with the repetitive bass drops by Ryan.  The band laid down one layer at a time, slowing building the orchestral progression of the song.  This build would culminate in the climax crescendo of the show before a quick key change back into the outro of the song, which descended into October Rain.  The 3rd song played off Similar Skin would be brief however as the band quickly transitioned into the title track from the same album.  The jam portion of the song would include an almost tribal drum beat that forced the entire crowd into uncontrolled submission as they all began to dance in unison.  Jake would finish off with one last gargantuan solo at blinding speeds before the song bubbled down into nothingness, making it back to back sets that ended without a huge explosion of sound as is typical of many UM shows. 
As the band waited back stage, the crowd began the oft-made chant, “We want the Umph, Gotta have that Umph!”  As the band came onstage, Ryan had made a wardrobe change, emerging wearing a Waldo costume.  The band would break in Booth Love with Ryan moving around stage periodically hiding behind amps, Kris, and Andy respectively.  The jam would build to quite a rousing apex, which in fact, would prompt Gumby to jump up onto stage right at the peak in a moment of pure bliss.  Gumby’s overzealous nature was met with incredible enthusiasm from the crowd who erupted at the sight of the green character on stage.  It was short-lived as security quickly tossed him offstage, but the music wasn’t hindered at all as the entire band continued without missing a beat (despite Brendan’s uneasiness with Gumby) and finished the song in high fashion.
Typically an Umphrey’s McGee show could be categorized as either a rock show or a dance show.  On a night that was definitely a Pony-inspired set list, there was lots of metal inspired tunes and hard jamming.  While this might not have been the best show for a first timer to introduce them to the band, there were plenty of highlights and very little to be unhappy about.  On a night when Umphrey’s could have simply taken the night off, considering their spectacle to be played the following night in Boston, they continued to display why they are one of the best jam bands, or bands period for that matter, in the music industry today.  They continue to deliver incredible shows night in and night out, year by year while maintaining one of the most fan-integrated mentalities in music history, and I for one, am hoping it doesn’t stop anytime soon.
Set 1: You Got the Wrong Guy> Push The Pig, Uncle Wally>Domino Theory, FF> 2nd Self, Morning Song, The Linear> Cheap Sunglasses*
Set 2: Eat, No Diablo, I Want You (She’s So Heavy)@, #5, Little Gift> The Bottom Half, Wappy Sprayberry> October Rain> Similar Skin
Encore: Booth Love
* - ZZ Top Cover
@- Beatles Cover
Opening Act: Dopapod
Words: Bret Campbell
Photos: Mike Geller 
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Monday, November 10

Album Review: Dopapod – Never Odd Or Even - November 11th, 2014

Never Odd Or Even
Independent Release 
Dopapod is no stranger in the live music scene these days, opening for Umphrey’s McGee on numerous occasions, while playing their own headlining and festival sets all across the country. Dopapod consists of Eli Winderman (keyboards), Rob Compa (guitar), Chuck Jones (bass) and Scotty Zwang (drums), and of course there trusty sound and lighting engineer Luke Stratton makes up the fifth member of the band’s live team. The quartet has now added a new album to its studio catalog, Never Odd Or Even, keeping to their theme of palindromic release titles. Engineered and produced by Jason “Jocko” Randall, a friend of the band, this fourth studio effort represents a big leap forward in the band’s development. Compa states that this album shows a strengthened concentration in “…paying attention to things like melody, theme, lyrical imagery, and structure – all the elements that makes a great song.” While the maturity can certainly be heard in the new record, it is also obvious that the band has kept its weirdly fun-loving roots, which keeps them unique.
“Present Ghosts” starts off laid back with a simple verse before breaking into a heavy rockin’ chorus. The bridge breakdown is the highlight as the band takes some crafty syncopation into a long build-up, culminating in a massive solo from Compa. “Picture In Picture” begins with a groovy intro, held down by Winderman, Jones and Zwang, as Compa leads in with wailing guitar slides. It is kind of a quirky tune, musically, kind of bouncy, but also more of a rolling feel at times. “Like A Ball” is a fairly structured tune, compared with the rest of the album, but features a screaming keyboard solo from Winderman. As the final chorus builds up, it releases into an explosion of energy to lead out. “FABA” has a very laid back, groovy intro. Warbly keyboard tones kick in the verse, followed by legato arpeggios on guitar. The anthemic guitar-led chorus is the highlight of this instrumental tune, but the deep, dark, psychedelic bridge puts the icing on the cake.
“Sleeping Giant” starts off with a passionate instrumental intro before blasting into a rockin’ chorus. A somewhat progressive bridge section lays behind a funky keyboard solo from Winderman and a wailing guitar solo from Compa. “Nerds” is a quirky lyrical tune, kicking off with a satirical intro that sort of pokes fun at the typical party girl. “Hey Zeus” starts off with a nod to Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” before breaking into an old-timey rock & roll instrumental jam, trading off solos between guitar and keys and finishing out with a “Sunshine of Your Love” outro. “Psycho Nature” is a dark tune, eerie and repetitive, which adds to the creepy aura. The band brings the track way down for a bridge before kicking it right back in for a screaming end. “The Upside Down” is a very relaxed, chill song featuring dreamy keyboards, complemented by background arpeggios on guitar. Swirling vocals present beautifully vivid lyrics. A hidden track at the end of the tune represents the title track of the album.

Overall, Never Odd Or Even is a wonderful addition to Dopapod’s catalog. All of these songs have been in the band’s live rotation for quite some time, so it is very nice to see them getting proper studio treatments as the quartet continues to progress and carve its niche in the live music scene. From the quirky tunes such as “Nerds” and “Like A Ball” to the more seriously themed tracks such as “The Upside of Down” and “Picture In Picture,” the band continues to find ways to relate to its fans and keep them riveted by their futuristic rock sound. Zwang and Jones hold down the rhythm section flawlessly, while Winderman leads the futuristic aura on keys, complemented by Compa’s tight but adventurous guitar playing. Seven years into the making, these guys are just getting started, and you can expect to see a lot more magic from them in the very near future. Ever on the go, the band is in the midst of an ambitious fall tour, so catch them on the road now before they start selling out venues and tickets are impossible to get a hold of.
Words: Randy Harris 
3 outta 5 Glowsticks!
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Review and Photos: STS9 with Michal Menert - War Memorial Auditorium - Halloween Night - Nashville, TN

The atmosphere filing into this grandiose venue on this, the holiest night for live music was electric. It was Halloween night and in the world of dance bands, this night has become sacred. Over the years we have become to expect the unexpected as each band seemingly tries to one up the others' performances and ideas. We the fans, have benefited as this holiday has become arguably the night to see your favorite band, after all anything is possible. This could not be truer with the theme of this evening. That word, simply being “Funk”. The vibe had engulfed the colorful fans that wrapped around the Romanesque pillars that decorated the War Memorial Auditorium. Security was out in full force but they even had a hard time hiding their smiles while searching all the daring costumes. STS9's fans evoked electricity inside the intimate venue waiting for the evening to reveal its secrets.
Michal Menert, who had the honor of kicking off this anticipated show was a perfect selection. This was not the legendary electric-soul producers first rodeo and he got the party off to a raucous start. Sampling his vast catalog, he created tracks that had the crowd dancing throughout his adventurous set. Never relying too much on any particular style, Menert kept the beats fresh and kept the crowd on their toes. Just when the dancing fans got to comfortable on any particular beat, heart attack inducing bass drops, separated the masterful tracks. He is certainty not new on the scene but I can't see his popularity having a ceiling.
Michal Menert
The master of ceremonies soon took to the elaborate stage wearing solid white and donning disco balls for helmets. To call it a spectacle would be doing it a disservice as lasers overtook the cosmic surroundings. The band exploded into Sly & the Family Stone's classic "It's A Family Affair". If there were any doubts that this line-up was up to the task they evaporated into a glorious piece of music that had the capacity crowd dancing in Bacchanalian revelry. The piece of music devoured the crowd as everyone remembered why they loved this band. David Murphy is gone for the foreseeable future, but Sound Tribe’s music is as vibrant and fresh as I have heard in years. New bassist Alana Rocklin understands her role in the bands' vision and exercises it with vigor. This marvelous opening number was followed by a couple of inspired originals as the props exited the stage. The Halloween theme soon returned with a funky debut of “Mothership Connection”. This song soared to superior heights when Maureen Murphy of Seygo introduced herself to the ecstatic crowd with her soulful voice. The first set concluded with classic originals. An insane “Aimlessly” ended the near flawless first set. Every member had extra pep in their step during the magical first set, especially Hunter Brown who keeps improving on the guitar and made his presence known all night. The band excited the stage to arousing approval, while many in the audience struggled to pick their jaws off the floor.
The second set relied mostly of funked- up versions of originals, although The Tribe still had a few tricks up their sleeve. The last stanza got off to a rousing start with” Still Blastin’2028 Live Edit (Sub ID)” into “Four Year Puma.” This laid out the road map to the second set. Treasured songs played with extra mustard wrapping around and dipping and diving into each other. The band was firing on all cylinders as the crowd danced in a tribal fashion. The light show was impressive and complimented the music beautifully. The Halloween theme would shine as the meat in a masterful musical sandwich that made up the majority of the second set. “Dance>Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off)>Dance>Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off)>Dance”. This piece of music was the catalyst to that place we all chase as we danced without a care in the world. The colossal show ended with strong versions of “World Go Round” and “Ramone and Emiglio” absorbing the last bit of the energy left in the room. The band left the stage with the crowd in pure bliss. Sound Tribe delivered in every facet this magical night and everybody felt it. But they still had one more treat saved for the Nashville faithful.
STS9 returned to the stage receiving love and praise as the exhausted crowd was woozy but still on their feet. The disco helmets were back where they belonged, on the stage, as the band launched into the perfect encore in the form of the coveted “Shakedown Street”. I could not think of a more fitting way to end this special night of funk than tipping your musical cap to the freaks that started it all. My old ass danced to this monster electronica version of this classic to end this phenomenal night and I had one of those flashes that I been there before. On this night of tricks, STS9 fans got the biggest treat they could have asked for. This new line-up is not only up to the past, but the future has not shined this bright in many a year.
Words: Kevin Long
Photos: Ellis Jones IV
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Friday, October 31

Dates: Railroad Earth - Winter 2015


In addition to all pre sale RRE ticketing beginning Monday 11/3, we will be releasing a limited amount of two day tickets for the Fox Theatre and the Independent. This is currently the only way to get tickets to the Independent show. These are likely to go quickly, so we encourage you all to go to  on 11/3 for your chance to see RRE at the Independent on 3/13, and the Fox on 3/14.
January 15 Minneapolis, MN—First Avenue
January 16 Chicago, IL—The Vic Theatre
January 17 St. Louis, MO—The Pageant
January 18 Milwaukee, WI—The Pabst Theatre
January 20 Omaha, NE—Slowdown
January 22-24 Denver, CO—Ogden Theatre
January 25 Lawrence, KS—Granada Theatre
January 28 Tulsa, OK—Cain’s Ballroom
January 29 Dallas, TX—House of Blues
January 30 Houston, TX—House of Blues
January 31 Austin, TX—Stubb’s
February 11 Columbus, OH—Newport Music Hall
February 12 Grand Rapids, MI—The Intersection
February 13 Detroit, MI—Royal Oak Theatre
February 14 Cleveland, OH—House of Blues
February 19-21 Brooklyn, NY—Brooklyn Bowl
February 27-28 Washington, DC—9:30 Club
March 13 San Francisco, CA—The Independent
March 14 Oakland, CA—The Fox Theatre
March 15 Crystal Bay, NV—The Crystal Bay Room
March 18 Phoenix, AZ—Marquee Room
March 19 Los Angeles, CA—El Rey Theatre
March 20 Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up Tavern
March 21 Solana Beach, CA—Belly Up Tavern

March 22 Las Vegas, NV—Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Review: Yonder Mountain String Band’s: Harvest Music Festival - October 16-18 2014 - Mulberry Mountain - Ozark, AR

Two weekends back was the 9th year of Mulberry Mountain’s Harvest Music Festival, an annual celebration of music and art that takes place in the beautiful mountains of Ozark National Forest.  The adventure starts on the drive there going through twenty-some miles of continuous steep winding roads until all of the sudden it opens up and you’re there: one of the most scenic music festivals in the country.  This year’s festival even offered helicopter rides to give a great aerial view of the luscious green forest and campgrounds. And that always a roller-coaster weather forecast brought back nothing but Indian Summer Blue Skies!
Trampled By Turtles
Wednesday’s early arrivals were treated to music by eight bands including Dumptruck Butterlips and Deadman Flats.  Thursday was the first official day of the festival and was mostly a mix of bluegrass, folk and Americana with bands like Mountain Sprout, Donna the Buffalo, The Jayhawks, Trampled by Turtles, and the first of many Yonder Mountain String Band sets.  
Tea Leaf Green
Friday had a more eccentric lineup with bands like Elephant Revival, Cornmeal and Split Lip Rayfield leading the way to the brisk evening acts.  Papa Mali’s set featured bass aficionado, Reed Mathis, and slightly overlapped the Carolina Chocolate Drops set on the main stage.  As cool turned to cold, Joplin-based funky, jazzy, reggae band, Totojojo, had people staying warm as they danced their way to the next Yonder Mountain String Band performance that featured a sit-in by Jerry Douglas.  Immediately following Yonder Mountain was Railroad Earth in the Harvest Tent.  To me, Railroad Earth’s music is the perfect summary of all the types of music you hear at Harvest Fest featuring instruments like acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin and stand-up bass but getting into groove-heavy 10+ minute improvisational jams.  Starting at nearly 2:30am, Tea Leaf Green had perhaps the most energy and stage presence I saw at the whole festival.  From the classic power-rock guitar poses to standing on speakers and chairs, they had the entire crowd into it until almost 4am.
Ha Ha Tonka
The last day of the festival featured some of the bigger acts like Zach Deputy, Ha Ha Tonka, The Devil Makes Three and Lettuce.  After the sun disappeared for the night it was time for another amazing Railroad Earth set, this time on the main stage where the backdrop is the thick forest lit up by colorful stage lights.  This year’s festival featured the 4th annual Fiddlin’and Pickin’contest where the winning mandolin player got to play on stage with Railroad Earth for a song.  Following Railroad Earth was Yonder Mountain String Band’s last 2 sets of the festival.  Did I forget to mention that violin-virtuoso Allie Kral played with the group all weekend?  What an addition to the band, temporary or not.  One of the many highlights of the festival was Allie singing Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”.  The music and atmosphere was perfect and her soft, sweet voice carried through the cold fall air and into warm hearts and souls.    After the perfectly-placed cover they brought up Railroad Earth violinist Tim Carbone leading to some great Allie/Tim violin interaction for 2 songs.  Even though it was the last night of the festival there was no shortage of late night entertainment as 5 bands played after Yonder Mountain ended at 12:30am.  The Everyone Orchestra, featuring various members of different bands, played a crowd-guided improvisational set until almost 2am when acts like Andy Frasco and Mouth were just getting started. 
Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth
What a weekend.  Nearly every type of music you could imagine combined with art, beautiful people and scenery that would be worth the trip alone.  It has a completely different kind of feeling than the summer time festivals and not just because of the 40-50 degree nights and hay bale and corn stalk decorations.  It’s because it takes a special kind of person to make the journey through the long winding roads and cold fall nights making it a weekend filled with special people who are truly there for music, art and community. 
Check out a video of “Taught to Be Proud” from Tea Leaf Green’s late night set here:
Words: Adam Parker  
Photos: Dgold
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Review & Photos: Widespread Panic - The Orpheum Theatre - Memphis, TN - October 18-19, 2014

As Widespread Panic makes its way around the Southern states, before working its way up for a quick Midwest run, the band graced Memphis’ Orpheum Theatre with its presence for the first time since the historic Ice Storm of 1994 for two magical nights. While WSP has come through Memphis multiple times in the past 20 years, the excitement in the air for this particular run was unmatched. First off, the Orpheum Theatre is a rather small venue for Panic, so tickets were fairly hard to come by, and second, the venue is literally across the street from the world famous Beale Street in the heart of the Birthplace of Rock & Roll. The main concern coming into the weekend was still the substitution of Duane Trucks on drums for original drummer Todd Nance. While they had a few shows to break him in before Memphis, the chatter around the Panic family seemed to think there were too many repeats, due to Duane’s limits in learning such a broad catalog. The scene outside the venue, however, seemed full of excitement and anticipation for what would become an exceptional two-night stand.
The band wasted no time kicking into high gear, starting off Night 1 with a funky “Pigeons” into a groovy “Who Do You Belong To?” The energy flowing from the crowd to the stage immediately took hold in the intimate, classic style theatre; it was so pungent and tangible, I felt like I could have cut it with a knife. After a quick run through The Band’s “Ophelia,” Widespread Panic blasted out a dirty “Bear’s Gone Fishin’.” It’s about this time (about 3 or 4 songs in) when I always realize that Dave Schools’ bass playing sounds lower than every other bassist. I know that he plays a 5-string bass, but even so, it just sounds so much deeper, and crowd members can feel it trembling in their bodies. Also, Jimmy Herring’s guitar solo on “Bear’s Gone Fishin’” blew me away and showed that he was ready to rock! The band brought the jam way down to transition into a beautiful “Blue Indian,” as the entire audience sang along, almost so loudly that I couldn’t hear JB singing. A solid take on “Rock” followed, even though they’ve played it almost every time they’ve come to Memphis in the past few years, but the next three songs left me absolutely stunned at set break. First, percussionist Sunny Ortiz brought out some kind of animal horn for a few blasts, which led into a massive take on the Talking Heads’ “Papa Legba,” with JB crooning the vocals and Jimmy Herring really starting to find his groove on lead guitar. Next came a rollercoaster ride of “Party At Your Mama’s House,” an all instrumental tune that started off slow and soft, with teasing guitar swells and harmonics from Jimmy, and built up into a nice, danceable groove by mid-song, slowed back down for a brief lull, and blasted into a melodic euphoria accompanying Jimmy’s swirling, singing guitar solo. The song ended with Schools and keyboardist JoJo Hermann in a funky groove and went straight into “Porch Song” to end the first set, leaving the audience high up in the clouds.
The second set started off strong and groovin’ as well, as the band was obviously feeling the energy and feeding off of it. “Goodpeople” opened the set, as people could be seen hurrying back to their seats, so they could dance and sing along. A quick “One Arm Steve,” with JoJo on lead vocals and a sick solo from Jimmy, kept the crowd dancing, while they slowed things down with a passionate “Pilgrims.” The band picked up the pace again with “Holden Oversoul,” which featured a dark verse and a dirty chorus. Jimmy definitely stepped his game up on this solo, and he would stay at the top of his game the rest of the night. “Give” came next, keeping the pace up and Jimmy at the helm, which featured some crafty percussion work from Ortiz in the background. “Saint Ex,” a deceptively slow tune, followed up with JB skillfully keeping the vocals accordingly soft. The heavy chorus and bridge of this tune, along with another scorching solo from Jimmy might has well have brought the roof down. About this time, I realized that I had never seen Jimmy Herring so energetic on stage. He always shreds, but usually he stands fairly still and grim-faced. On this night, however, he was making facial expressions and even bending forward and backward with his guitar as he belted out one after another incredible guitar solo. It was a sight I will never forget! Next, however, we got to see our first real taste of Duane’s drumming. So far, he hadn’t missed a beat, but he had been laying low. As he and Ortiz moved into the Drums section, Duane carefully accompanied, while Ortiz showed that he has not only kept up his chops, but he has actually improved them. As Ortiz picked up the pace, Duane kept up beautifully, waiting patiently and playing his part. What came next was a “Hatfield” to die for. The tune always blows me away with such a powerful elegance that it permeates the soul and runs right through my very veins, all the way out to my fingertips. After “Hatfield” fizzled out, the buzz among the crowd was unmistakable, as the band teased the next song slowly. JB broke out the first line, “Why don’t we do it on the road?” and the crowd erupted! The McCartney penned Beatles cover had not been played in 12 years (835 shows), the biggest bust-out of the weekend, and the band followed up with “Climb to Safety” to end the second set. The two-song encore consisted of “Drinking Muddy Water” and “Expiration Day,” leaving everyone in the building clamoring for more.
I left Night 1 feeling like I had just seen an historic Widespread Panic show, but if I had known what was in store for Night 2, I definitely would have held up on those thoughts. While they started off the evening a little less aggressive than the first night, the first set was solid, consisting of a “Disco” opener, one of my favorite opening tunes, into “Little Kin.” “Henry Parsons Died” kept the funk rollin’, while “Cotton Was King” brought back some of the fervor of the first night. The highlight of the first set came next, with “Greta,” kicked in by JoJo’s signature NOLA-style piano intro, followed by Michael Stanley’s beautiful “Let’s Get The Show On The Road” and “North” from Widespread Panic’s latest album Dirty Side Down (2010). “Greta” always rips, and Jimmy found his groove again here, while “Let’s Get This Show On The Road” put the entire crowd in a hypnotic lull. “North” blasted the energy back up, featuring some incredible group movement and blaring solos from Jimmy and JoJo. The band lulled us again with “May Your Glass Be Filled,” but kicked it right back up for a first set-ending “Tall Boy.”
The second set opened with the Willie Dixon penned “Taildragger,” which brought out the same massive energy as we saw on Night 1, followed by one of the biggest jams of the weekend on “Barstools and Dreamers,” led by funky bass lines from Schools and bringing the audience on a journey of euphoric peaks. The band took it down for the fade-out jam and went right into “Gimme,” which JoJo kicked straight into a monstrous “Ride Me High.” Originally by the late JJ Cale, Widespread Panic has made “Ride Me High” one of their signature covers, sung by JoJo and JB, and they sure did bring it on this version! The band patiently started the tune off slowly, and Duane led the build-up into Jimmy’s screaming lead guitar licks. The crowd rode the wave as the band brought the energy back down for a dirty bass solo from Schools, before cranking it back up again, with Jimmy at the helm, to lead into “Love Tractor,” keeping the energy level up. “Love Tractor” led straight into a hypnotic “Angels On High” that strayed out into the ether a bit after a percussion solo from Ortiz and ended a monstrous five-song run.
The band picked up the second half of the set with a funky “Old Neighborhood,” which featured a lengthy keyboard solo from JoJo, in which he led the band in a tease of “Give Up The Funk,” followed by a nice jam before Duane and Ortiz took over for an incredible “Drums” section. This time, Duane got to show off a bit more and really went to town! Duane really proved that he was the right man for the job. He’d been holding his ground throughout the entire two-night stand thus far, and his work with Ortiz on this particular “Drums” section was just incredible. Schools came in to add some bass into the section, and as the rest of the band began to come back onstage, a couple of guests were finally noticed. For the first time ever, Chris Robinson, lead singer of the Black Crowes and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, joined Widespread Panic on the stage. But wait… there’s more… CRB guitarist Neal Casal emerged as well! Casal is also the guitarist in the supergroup Hard Working Americans, along with Dave Schools and Duane Trucks. Thus, this collaboration has been dubbed Hard Working Panic Brotherhood, and oh what a treat it was! The group teased at the crowd with a swelling intro, as Robinson crooned with his harmonica, and War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness” blasted out from the speakers. This was my number one highlight of the entire weekend. This collaboration was unbelievable, and the groove they laid down on “Slippin’ Into Darkness” was just amazing. The first solo in this epic jam was given to Robinson on harmonica, while the rest of the band kept a solid groove, and then Casal had his turn to rock out a guitar solo. Duane and JoJo were the anchor on this tune as the rest of the group built up an absolutely stunning jam, intertwining lead lines and solos flawlessly. Finally, the last member of the CRB to join the stage, Adam MacDougall, crept in to sit next to JoJo and rock out some keyboards on a beautiful cover of the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” sung by Robinson, to end the second set to thunderous applause. The entire Hard Working Panic Brotherhood reemerged for the encore, which consisted of Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” and Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home.”

Needless to say, the appearance of the CRB members put the icing on the cake of an incredible weekend in Memphis. The band is absolutely on fire, and Duane is holding his own and doing a great job filling some tough shoes. All in all, I would not be surprised if this two-night stand gets an archive release later on down the road. JB’s voice has never sounded better, Schools and JoJo continue to perform exceptionally well, as they always have, and Jimmy is rockin’ out and obviously having a blast. Here’s to many more years of Widespread Panic to come!
Words: Randy Harris 
Photos: Ellis Jones IV
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Sunday, October 26

Dates: Greensky Bluegrass - Winter 2015

Greensky Bluegrass tourdates, as well as information on the new release, please visit
1/13 - Bloomington, IN - The Bluebird
1/14 - Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre
1/15 - Birmingham, AL - WorkPlay
1/16 - Nashville, TN - Marathon Music Works
1/17 - Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre
1/20 - St. Petersburg, FL - State Theatre
1/21 - Jacksonville, FL - Freebird Live
1/22 - 23 - Charleston, SC - The Pour House
1/24 - Abingdon, VA - Barter Theatre
1/27 - State College, PA - State Theatre
1/28 - 29 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Bowl
1/30 - 31 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
2/4 - Northampton, MA - Pearl Street
2/5 - Syracuse, NY - Wescott Theatre
2/6 - Cleveland, OH - House of Blues

2/7 - Grand Rapids, MI - The Intersection
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Review: Dead Winter Carpenters - Lafayette’s Music Room - Memphis, TN - October 2, 2014

The stage at the original Lafayette’s Music Room was home to legendary musicians such as Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Big Star, Kansas, J.J. Cale, Leon Russell and Kiss. On October 2, 2014, 38 years after it closed down, Lafayette’s Music Room saw its grand reopening. Chosen to help celebrate the grand reopening was a California acoustic rock/Americana band, the Dead Winter Carpenters. Consisting of Jenni Charles (fiddle), Jesse Dunn (guitar), Dave Lockhart (upright bass), Bryan Daines (guitar) and Brian Huston (drums), the Dead Winter Carpenters have traveled around the country rocking venues, festivals and audiences of all shapes and sizes. The event was the Dead Winter Carpenters’ first ever trip to Memphis, and before the show, the band admitted to me that they were not used to playing to the sit-down dinner table crowd that makes Lafayette’s Music Room so unique. They assured me, however, that it would not hold them back, and they did not let me down.
Featuring a well-planned mix of original material and covers of artists such as Merle
 Haggard, Stanley Brothers and Ryan Adams, the band immediately held the crowd’s attention, and by the second or third song, they had a solid group of the sit-down dinner table crowd on its feet. The Dead Winter Carpenters’ unique sound embodies all of the most prominent forms of American music. The band’s blend of country, bluegrass and Americana incorporates many distinct elements of jazz and blues. Most specifically, Lockhart’s walking bass lines gave many of the songs a traditional jazz feel. What struck me most about the band’s performance, however, was that every single member sang lead vocals on at least one song. It’s easy to see how such a well-rounded group of musicians has captured audiences in every corner of the country.
The Dead Winter Carpenters’ Memphis debut was a huge success. Their energy was hot and their confidence and poise on stage were only bested by their unmistakable love for playing music. The band primarily played tunes off their latest two records, the darker themed Ain’t It Strange (2012) and the more uplifting Dirt Nap EP (2014), but dipped into their first album for a song or two as well. Charles dug deep on the fiddle, shredding through dissonant harmonies and resolving them seamlessly. Dunn and Daines complemented each other beautifully on the guitars, filling the necessary spaces, but leaving enough breathing room and staying out of each other’s way. While Daines seemed to be the primary soloist, Dunn rocked out a couple himself, while Lockhart and Huston held down a firm backbeat. Those who stayed through until the end were treated to a “How To Make A Living 101” sandwich around a groovy “Lonesome Fiddle Blues” to finish off a great night of music at what will surely become a premier live music venue in Memphis, Tennessee.
Words: Randy Harris
Photos: Ellis Jones 

First Set:
One Foot in the Gutter >
Bootleg Jack >
Counting Flowers on the Well – Stanley Bros. >
Cabin Fever
Good Old Time
Find Your Home
Appalachian Night 
Colorado Wildfire
Big River – Johnny Cash
Long Arm of the Law 
Whiskey Ain’t My Wife
Second Set:
Detrimental Tendencies
Sun Don’t Shine >
How Mountain Girls Can Love – Ralph Stanley >
Love Amongst Thieves
Let It Ride – Ryan Adams
Wrote You A Song
Holy Moses >
Walkin’ Shoes >
Easy Sleep
Mama Tried – Merle Haggard
Okie From Muskogee – Merle Haggard
Back to the Well
I Shot Him
How to Make a Living 101 >
Lonesome Fiddle Blues >

How To Make A Living 101
 ©Grateful Music LLC

Wednesday, October 22

Dates: Umphrey's McGee - Winter 2015 (w/ Tauk, Joshua Redman, the Revivalists)

Umphrey's McGee dates:
1/28 - The Lyric - Oxford, MS
1/29 - Tennesse Theatre - Knoxville, TN*
1/30 - Taft Theatre - Cincinnati, OH
1/31 - The Fillmore - Detroit, MI*
2/4-5 - Track 29 - Chattanooga, TN
2/6 - Ryman Auditorium - Nashville, TN
2/7 - Asheville Civic Center - Asheville, NC*
2/11 - Jefferson Theater - Charlottesville, VA
2/12 - The National - Richmond, VA
2/13 - The Norva - Norfolk, VA*
2/14 - The Ritz - Raleigh, NC
2/18 - Calvin Theatre - Northampton, MA*
2/19 - State Theatre - Portland, ME*
2/21 - Palace Theatre - Albany, NY*
3/5 - House Of Blues - San Diego, CA
3/6 - The Wiltern - Los Angeles, CA**
3/7 - Fox Theater - Oakland, CA**
3/12-13 - Belly Up Aspen - Aspen, CO
3/13 - Downtown Aspen CORE Party (Free)
3/14 - The Depot - Salt Lake City, UT***
3/15 - Wilma Theater - Missoula, MT***
3/19-20 - Crystal Ballroom - Portland, OR***
3/21 - Moore Theatre - Seattle, WA***

* - w/ Tauk
** - w/ Joshua Redman & Revivalists

*** - w/ Revivalists

 ©Grateful Music LLC