Joe McDonald and RagBaby release new albulm 50 on May 19th

This album is called 50 in celebration of the fifty years that have passed since “Country” Joe McDonald put out his first recording in 1965.  Since you may have noticed that it’s now 2017, you will not be surprised that there’s a story here.

Though his music comes from many places, Joe came out of a folk scene that generally recorded live – and pretty quickly.  So he was shooting for a 2015 release when he went into the studio with the legendary Tubes drummer Prairie Prince and his band (James DePrato, guitar and stringed instruments; Diana Mangano, vocals; Blair Hardman, bass).  Then the music took hold, and he began to see multiple new possibilities.  He returned to the studio.  About 27 times, actually.

Here we have a veteran (in both senses) musician taking stock of himself with a long career behind him – and taking a major new approach to his art.  The lyrics remain plain and direct, meditations on aging and loss, especially lost love, and the meaning of important things.  But they often come in surprisingly lush and lovely musical beds.  It adds up to a powerful package.  In a time in which communication is buried under surreal political distortions and a cyberworld that buries us in information that ultimately tells us little of value, here is sharp, considered wisdom.

Highlights:

“Round and Round” –- rather dark lyrics – “People come and people go we’re born and then we die” – set to an elegant, beautiful tune.

“I Don’t Think So” – Borderline bitter end-of-love song that’s downright energetic and danceable.

“Poppa and Momma” – combines a ripping guitar lead and a rolling rhythm with Joe’s commitment to what’s important – “Serving and working and using my mind.”

“Sadness and Pain” – opens sounding like a Pink Floyd mini-symphony before going on to talk about “walking out the door.”

“Black Fish” – a folk song commentary on Orcas – with beautiful almost-flamenco style guitar picking.

“Silent Rage” – snarling rock song that’s as punk-angry as the Sex Pistols ever were.

“Daughter of England” – classic McDonald political fury, wrapped in a big envelope of soaring voices and guitars…she’s “sitting on a weapon of war.”

“Compared to Florence” – the pain of inferiority…made even sharper by country steel guitar licks.

“Era of Guns” – a McDonald folk song movie of contemporary American life…in the era of guns.

“I’m Free” – a folk-rock declaration of autonomy.

“Where Did the Time Go” – a waltz looking back on a long life where once we were all young stars, with good advice: “cherish today, it’s all that we know.”

“Seashore Symphony #2” – the joker in the deck, a collaboration with Bernie Krause.  An instrumental collage of natural seashore sounds with ethereal voices and guitars.

“Roseeann” – an a-capella lullabye and farewell.

A Review of Steve Kimock’s “Last Danger of Frost”. Kimock’s Acoustic Projection

 

Steve Kimock’s antithetical album “Last Danger of Frost,” due to be released on March 18th, is a marvel to behold. The Jazz innovator Duke Ellington once said “If it sounds good, it is good” and if that timeless observation holds true today, “Last Danger of Frost” is truly miraculous. The music is remarkable in every conceivable way, as I openly wept on several occasions while listening to this crowning achievement. It literally drips with brilliance, and while I don’t subscribe to divinest theories, perceptive listeners can literally peer into Kimock’s musical soul. After I grasped the music the first time I felt like I understood this artist to a greater extent.  It manages to be his most personal and honest album to date, yet Kimock does not utter a word, he simply doesn’t have to.

It is this very type of album that is facing extinction in today’s ever increasingly complicated musical landscape. Record companies and musicians alike can no longer spend the time or money creating a timeless piece of music only to watch idly by while losing money for their efforts as we all rip it off the web. In an attempt to turn the enemy to the industry that the web has become into an asset, a kickstart program offering Olympian awards for large donations was used to help assist in funding this release. It’s plainly obvious from the first track, “Music Tells a Story, Part 1. The Old Man” that this was a labor of love and something Kimock was destined and determined to achieve. This album highlight’s Kimock’s guitar skills which, in this writer’s opinion, are technically superior to the vast majority of musicians playing today; but more importantly to his loyal fan-base, so is his heart. At last, the stars and planets have aligned and his magic has spilled out to be captured on a studio album.

The wonderment that is “Last Danger of Frost” is an illustration of Kimock’s obedience to his craft. In layman’s terms, it is a musical masterpiece. The formula is as simplistic as it is revolutionary. Kimock plays acoustic guitar exclusively over the entirety of this musical journey while computer generated effects, soundscapes, and background chatter accompany this heart wrenching music as it transports the listener to an assortment of locales and time periods. Steve managed to record these constructs in an album using the oldest form of communication — music. In one of the diminutive tracks on this album, ”The Artist Dies and Goes to Hell,” only a lonely flamenco style guitar is heard crying in the distance as the beauty is drowned out by conversations and various sounds akin to a crowded cafe. Aside from one familiar track, “Tongue and Groove,” which receives a delicate facelift “Last Danger of Frost” is comprised of all  new material that was recorded in Kimock’s century-old Pennsylvania barn last winter. Astonishingly, the entire record was made singularly, by this once in a generation musician. Kimock’s chef-d’oeuvre will be available March 18th in a variety of packages. An ambitious tour begins in just a few short days from now. I am personally anxious to hear how this material gets fleshed out in a live setting. Steve Kimock’s “Last Danger of Frost” is a musical achievement, a jaunt so awe-inspiring it should require a warning label.

Words: Kevin Long

Editor: Rob Frey

It’s Raining “New Betty Boards”

It’s Raining “New Betty Boards” but who is Betty and Why Should I Care? Betty Cantor-Jackson’s story of the highs and lows of the Grateful Dead.

 

 Betty Cantor was a teenage math and science prodigy when she dropped acid and found herself at 710 Ashbury, where she met Weir and Garcia.  She soon fell in with Bob Matthews and helped set up mics and recording equipment at the Avalon and Carousel ballrooms.  Soon, she was helping with the making of Anthem of the Sun. Bob was trying his best to make her his “old lady” but she ended up marrying Rex “Ramrod”Jackson. Being the first female engineer was no picnic. The Grateful Dead was really a boys’ club, not necessarily Garcia, but the crew was famous as being one of the wildest in rock music. Jerry would come over and she would “make him a cappuccino and cut his hair” while they listened to tapes.
While Bob Matthews and her were a team, she helped record and master Live/Dead, Workingman’s Dead, and Aoxomoxoa. While Rex and her were on the road, they recorded the shows, and this is important, with their own equipment and tapes that they bought. She would record shows when she could on tour but mostly recorded all the Bay Area shows and JBG and JGB projects. Rex died in a car accident in 1976 and from 77-78, she was “officially” hired and put on salary for handling Bob’s stage setup and recording the shows. Unfortunately for us, Brent and her became an item and when they broke up, she was frozen out. Ex-girlfriends, even one with the skills of Betty, became persona non grata and she was given the cold shoulder from Club Front and the Vault.
 Around 1987, she fell on hard times.  As someone accustomed to being in the inner circle of a band and the habits of being in the inner circle of The Grateful Dead no less, bills and other debts became overwhelming for her. She asked the Grateful Dead for help but none was forthcoming, so her house was foreclosed on and everything in her house was moved to storage, while she moved to her in-laws in Oregon. Now we’ve all heard of “Storage Wars” but back in the days before crappy, on-the-cheap television, there was a group of people who would regularly attend the sales.  Her tapes of the Grateful Dead along with, Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, Old and in the Way, Kingfish, the Keith and Donna Band and NRPS were purchased by mainly three people. None of them were really Deadheads.
There weren’t just tapes up for auction. Clothes and household items and sometimes they got a tape thrown in just for making the purchase.  One of the buyers just stuck his his purchase in a storage locker. The second was a farmer who liked the cases and didn’t really care about the tapes and let them slowly rot in a barn. The third was a couple who were into bands like ELO and YES. However, they recognized and could appreciate the quality of the music on the tapes. So there were there were three people who now had in their possesion hundreds of tapes of the highest quality.
“Being avid collectors of bootleg recordings by numerous groups, it only seemed natural to share in the wealth,” they explain via email. “Our Grateful Dead collection consisted of many of the common shows that were out there at the time. These new tapes dramatically expanded that collection and it wouldn’t have been right not to share them. This was our way of getting new material into circulation and also breaking the hierarchy of those collectors who held on to prime shows for themselves. Initially, we started transferring the tapes to VHS Hi-Fi on our own, but soon realized what a daunting task this was going to be. So we reached out to one of our trading buddies who we knew had connections in the Dead trading community. From there, he gathered together what was later to become known as the ‘Unindicted Co-conspirators,’ who put in a massive archiving effort to back up the tapes and distribute them.”- the couple.
They got in touch with Ken Genetti, who met them and went to their closet and later said, “For me, it was like King Tut’s tomb. I knew immediately what they had when I looked in there. The first thing I saw was Port Chester, N.Y., Feb. 18, 1971, an incredible show which was Mickey [Hart]’s last concert for many years and I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ Then I saw Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, Calif., ‘73, my favorite concert I ever went to. I pulled it out and I went, ‘Holy shit!’”.
This was in the days of “Dupree’s Diamond New’s” and “Relix” where in the back were trader’s pages and trade requests from people who were trying to start their collections and Genetti originally wanted to just mass-release the tapes to the hordes of new fans because up until then, if you didn’t know the right people or have the secret handshake, you couldn’t get at the choice material and Ken saw a chance to change the hierarchy.  Because there were hoarders who had loads of great tapes but just sat on them and wouldn’t let people know what they had. This is still pre-Internet, of course.  This didn’t happen but with the help of a trio of other tapers, who helped with gear, started spinning copies. Toward’s the end, despite the couple’s wish for anonymity, it got to the highest levels of GD management. Then the lawyers got involved and said they couldn’t sell the tapes, which no real taper would ever do anyway, but it stopped the transfer process. Basically the GD’s position was you own the tape but not what’s on the tapes.
However, copies of the 71′ Cap theater run, the Cornell show, and the NY Academy of Music show in 72′ were traded far and wide. In fact, the band doesn’t even have a copy of the Cornell show in the vaults and it’s Betty’s recording that the Library of Congress put in their collection of important musical documents. It’s also not impossible that the spreading of these beautiful recordings started the Dick’s Picks series, after ravenous Deadheads got copies of these and wanted more in 1993. The story could have been over but then Rob Eaton of Dark Star Orchestra stepped in.
He’s best known for playing the “Weir” in D.S.O but he had also spent a lot of time working at recording studios for some great musicians. He was contacted in 1995 by the second buyer, a high school teacher, who had left his purchase in a barn to mold and decay.  “Out of 200 tapes, only six boxes were legible and 75 to 80 tapes had no boxes at all—they had completely disintegrated from rot.” Eaton took on the challenge and thought he could save some of the reels and his roommate happened to be Dick Latvala, keeper of the Dead’s vault until he passed away in 1999.
 “I spent all night long with some tools and cleaned up a portion of one of the reels. It was a reel from 9/6/73—a Garcia-Saunders show from the Capitol Theatre in Passaic that no one had ever seen before. So we knew this was a legitimate stash of tapes.”  Eaton said and started cleaning up the tapes in 40 box sets. The farmer wanted to sell his stash of decayed Betty Boards for a million dollars, that’s right, one MILLION dollars. He hired Eaton to fix the tapes and facing foreclosure himself in 2012 he asked Rob to help on some more tapes. He said he had found fifty more tapes in the barn and Eaton met him and was handed a box of tangled tape that looked unsalvageable. With a little loving care and time, those tapes turned out to be beauties too. In fact, half of them were from June 1976. High on his success, he got in touch with the couple who supplied Rob Genetti with his tapes and with a little research found the third buyer. He contacted the party in 2014 and entered into arrangements about the cleaning of all the tapes from all three buyers. So what are Rob’s plans?
 “What I’d love to see done—in a perfect world—is I think all the tapes need to go back to the vault, I think the people that have purchased these tapes should be compensated. I don’t think we’re talking huge sums of money but enough to make them relinquish the tapes back to the Grateful Dead. They should be part of the collection. Another thing that’s important is if these tapes do get back to the vault, Betty should get her production royalty on anything that gets released, which is completely reasonable. Those were her tapes; those weren’t the Dead’s tapes. I’d love to see Betty get her due.”
Betty says, she would love to see her work spread around. “I’d like everyone to get them for unless someone is making money for it, and then I want money too”. Not an altogether outrageous request from the woman who made some of the greatest Dead recordings of all time and was given the cold shoulder from the band and forced to give up her house and belongings. She said she didn’t ask Jerry for money because,”she could tell he already had so much of his shoulders.”
Her recordings are immediately recognizable “It has my tonalities. My sound is beefy. My recordings are very stereo, very open, with a lot of air in them. You feel like you’re standing in the middle of the music. My feeling is everyone wants to play in the band.” Between Owsley and her we have a duo who made saving this music for posterity a passion and job. The Grateful Dead should be ashamed of the way they hung her out to dry but the music business is cutthroat, even in the loosest of bands. Owsley got the same treatment pretty much.
“I did it because I love the music and felt it needed to be captured. It’s so beautiful that it needs to be captured,” she said. “Eventually, we’re going to be gone, and this is our legacy to leave behind.”
In 2012, she was working at Glide Memorial in SF, recording the choir. She has also recorded some DSO shows but her true legacy is the what she left us from the Dead camp and all it’s side projects. Here is a list of all the known, released Betty Boards. The “What’s Become of the Betty Board”project has still more it’s working on and the link is here:
Written by: Greg Heffelfinger
Sources:
Relix
The New Yorker
Archive.org
List of all available “Betty Boards” and the ones that have been released since 2002

Here are the currently available ones:

Betty Cantor-Jackson Soundboards

Grateful Dead
02.18.71 The Capitol Theater, Port Chester, New York
02.19.71 The Capitol Theater, Port Chester, New York
02.20.71 The Capitol Theater, Port Chester, New York
02.21.71 The Capitol Theater, Port Chester, New York
02.23.71 The Capitol Theater, Port Chester, New York
02.24.71 The Capitol Theater, Port Chester, New York
04.05.71 Manhattan Center, New York City (End Of 2nd Set Only)
04.06.71 Manhattan Center, New York City
04.07.71 Boston Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
04.08.71 Boston Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
12.14.71 The Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
05.04.72 The Olympia Theater, Paris, France
08.21.72 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, California
08.22.72 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, California
08.25.72 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, California
08.27.72 Old Renaissance Faire Ground, Veneta, Oregon
03.16.73 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, Long Island, New York
03.21.73 Memorial Auditorium, Utica, New York
03.22.73 Memorial Auditorium, Utica, New York
03.24.73 Spectrum Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
05.26.73 Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, California
06.22.73 Pacific High Exhibition Coliseum, Vancouver, B.C.
ca. Aug-early Sep ‘WAKE OF THE FLOOD Studio Out-takes, San Rafael, CA
circa 1975 ‘REFLECTIONS’ Studio Out-takes
06.10.76 The Boston Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
06.11.76 The Boston Music Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
06.14.76 The Beacon Theater, New York City
06.15.76 The Beacon Theater, New York City
06.29.76 The Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, Illinois
ca. Early 1977 Side Two Of ‘TERRAPIN STATION’
02.26.77 The Swing Auditorium, San Bernadino, California
05.05.77 New Haven Coliseum, New Haven, Connecticut
05.07.77 Boston Gardens, Boston, Massachusetts
05.08.77 Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
05.09.77 War Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York
09.29.77 The Paramount Theater, Seattle, Washington
10.02.77 The Paramount Theater, Portland, Oregon
10.28.77 Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
10.29.77 Field House, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois
10.30.77 Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
11.01.77 Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan
11.05.77 War Memorial, Rochester, New York (End Of Show)
11.06.77 Broome County Arena, Binghamton, New York
04.07.78 Hollywood Sportatorium, Hollywood, Florida
04.10.78 The Fox Theater, Atlanta, Georgia
04.11.78 The Fox Theater, Atlanta, Georgia
04.12.78 Cameroon Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
04.14.78 Coliseum, Virginia Polytechnic, Blacksburg, Virginia
04.15.78 William And Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia
07.07.78 Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colorado
07.08.78 Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colorado
10.18.78 Winterland, San Francisco, California (“From Egypt With Love”)
04.22.79 Spartan Stadium, San Jose, California

Jerry Garcia Band
10.11.75 The Keystone, Berkeley, California (Second Set) (w/Nicky Hopkins
10.17.75 Concorde Pavilion, Concord, California (w/Nicky Hopkins)
12.17.75 The Keystone, Berkeley, California (w/Nicky Hopkins)
07.20.76 The Keystone, Berkeley, California
09.18.81 (Location Uncertain) (Rehearsal or Soundcheck) (The Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia
circa 1975 ‘REFLECTIONS’ Studio Out-takes

Legion Of Mary
11.27.74 The Keystone, Berkeley, California
11.28.74 The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, California
Various 1975 From 3.22, 5.22, 6.21, & 6.22.75 Keystone (except 3.22 – locatio

Reconstruction
03.07.79 Rancho Nicasio, San Rafael, California
03.08.79 Cotati Cabaret, Cotati, California
03.09.79 Cotati Cabaret, Cotati, California
04.08.79 Cotati Cabaret, Cotati, California
06.16.79 Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, California
06.22.79 The Keystone, Berkeley, California
07.08.79 The Keystone, Berkeley, California

Garcia & Saunders
01.15.73 The Inn Of The Beginning, Cotati, California (w/Unidentified Fema
01.24.73 The Boarding House, San Francisco, California
07.10.73 The Keystone, Berkeley, California
07.11.73 The Keystone, Berkeley, California

Garcia, Saunders, &
06.04.74 The Lion’s Share, San Anselmo, California (w/Unidentified Female
07.21.74 The Keystone, Berkeley, California (The Grateful Dead Played The
07.22.74 The Keystone, Berkeley, California
09.02.74 Marx Meadows, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California

Keith & Donna Band
08.20.75 The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, California

Kingfish
10.17.75 Concorde Pavilion, Concord, California (Also See…The Jerry Garc
Date/Location Unknown

New Riders
12.02.71 The Boston Music Hall, Boston Massachusetts
12.04.71 The Felt Forum, New York City (w/Jerry Garcia ?)
12.07.71 The Felt Forum, New York City (w/Jerry Garcia ?)
12.10.71 The Fox Theater, St. Louis, Missouri (w/Jerry Garcia ?)
12.15.71 The Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
05.26.72 The Strand Lyceum, London, England
03.08.73 Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, California
03.30.73 Community War Memorial, Rochester, New York
04.02.73 Boston Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Date/Location Unkno(Probably 1973)

Hot Tuna
10.02.73 Winterland, San Francisco, California

Jefferson Starship
11.24.74 Winterland, San Francisco, California

Sons Of Champlin
12.03.72 Winterland, San Francisco, California


Review and Photos

I looked back on my review of ALO’s show at the Fillmore
during Tour ‘d Amour IV in 2010.  It’s opens by describing them as a band that is all about being “Fun”.  I supposed at the time that was the correct adjective to use, it summed them up, and while it’s a very limiting description, for that era in their career I think it was spot on.  They were fun and in so many ways still are.  I do not think I’d use that description today and frankly it’s not because they lack the ability to command an audience with joyous abandon.  It’s because they approach their music with a level of seriousness that balances their mastering of live showmanship, crisp playing, savvy set-lists and interplay with their ever-growing fan-base that puts them on a level that has them growing as a group exponentially.  Every February comes with it ALO’s Tour d’ Amour, a jaunt around California for nearly 3 weeks and with it closing shows at The Fillmore in San Francisco.  Last weekend and they capped off one of their most impressive tours of late with three amazing shows.  This tour signifies ALO’s special relationship with their California fans and the fact that they are in studio making a new album right now, their chemistry might’ve just been tighter than usual and yet they approached these shows as laid back as ever yet in the process made a statement that will foreshadow their entire year of in music for 2015 onward.

Photo: Susan Weiand

Let’s start with the bad, they are celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fly Between Falls, the seminal ALO album, the go to, the one you give to your buddy when turning them onto the band.  One disappointing fact is that they did not play Fly Between Falls in it’s entirety, that is from the first track to the last.  They included every song, kind of, as they added in the bonus track “Possibly Drown” from the Japanese release, but to be fair it was a rare bust out and it translates into the live setting perfectly as its a very rockin’ piano led dancing song. Sound familiar, sounds like ALO to me.  They also threw in their rendition “Our Favorite Things” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, ALO uses this song from time to time to jam out heavily and  fill the gap between two tracks with spacey guitar riffs laid down by Lebo and psychedelic keyboard fills from Zach, this “Favorite Things” was dark and powerful and  was placed perfectly in the middle of a likewise jam-friendly “Shapeshifter”. By this time the room was getting really full and I thought back to before the show when Steve Adams had mentioned to me that ahead of this notable concert, he was just glad to see the house full of people ready to enjoy themselves, and even though it wasn’t sold out yet, he said that as a fan he felt that it made for a better concert experiment, more room to dance.   “To see that band that you love when you have some room to move and get down.”  I would have to agree.  But it did fill up as tickets sold  at the door and as far as the night was concerned, the more the merrier! Another point that stuck out was that their Saturday Matinee Kids Sing-Along concert was selling more presale tickets than both of the other shows.  This to me just shows that the band hit the right note when they decided to put on such a concert, and eventually we will get to the details of that, the show I call Living Under the Sea in a Plastic Bubble….

Photo: Susan Weiand

The second set saw the return of Carly Meyers from Yojimbo, as she played trombone on for “Chilly Chile”, which also was heavy on the space as it seemed as if all the friends from Terrapin Crossroads showed up to celebrate with Jason Crosby playing the violin, Cochrane McMillan adding a second layer of keys throughout and the great Stu Allen on Guitar.  The five song second set was pure space and the “Walls of Jericho” showed the culmination of it all.  And this is where I feel that that the band has grown, and what they have grown into.  5 years have past since I coined them as just “Fun”.  Now they are in my very humble opinion a very fun band, just with the chops to jam out an entire set with guests lining up at stage right and left to lend an instrumental hand to the type of precision that is ALO2015.  Every thing they do is fun, this trap they will never escape.   Living Under the Sea in a Plastic Bubble A.K.A., the matinee kids show on the next afternoon was a dream come true to hundreds of balloon chasing little ones and parents a like.  The Fillmore was the chillest I’ve ever seen it as they allowed everyone to run in each and every direction, dance like animals and if it may be so, live under the sea, in an Octopus’ Garden near a cave.  The Ringo penned Beatles tune was one of many animal themed songs for the kids show that at $10 was a steal.  The room packed with laughter, the show lasting over an hour with the T Sisters and ALO teaming up all in costumed regalia, Large Fur Hats and all, it was a success and my kids and their friends left begrudgingly, “is it really over?”, as Zach Gill announced over the P.A., “This is the first time we’ve ever done a kids show, and I know it wont be our last.”  They should do more of these,  that was really fun and I have six witnesses to collaborate my story.

The last night of the this three show shindig, wrapping up the beautiful Tour d’ Amour saw a number of newer tunes from Sounds Like This and I Love Music, and classics from Roses and Clover and their 10 year classic Time Expander album.
Highlights from the night included a Lebo led “Try” during the first set that led into an “Animal Liberation”.  The second set had all the hits with a very spooky and highly sought after “Kolomana” with the pageantry and theatrics that only Zach, Dan, Dave and Steve can bring.  With a witch-doctor like broomstick and other stage tricks on hand, musically the song built and built to a beautiful crescendo and then dropped into the great lyrical story of the shaman from Hawaii, “Kolomana”.  The Honeydrops sat in on many songs, as well as Ross James and Nicki Bluhm adding to the shows enormity.
The night’s theme was “Love Potion #”9 and ended with a great 1-2 punch of “LP#9” with Bluhm adding in on vocals and then a perfect “Lady Loop” to send the crowd, band, and tour off into the cool San Francisco night.

Photo: Susan Weiand

As we wait for Tour d’ Amour  X, the rest of 2015 will be a BIG year for this band.  They lit it off with a smoking tour of the state of California and are already slated to play and or headline The Ville Music Festival in Ohio over Memorial Day Weekend, and then their annual digs, High Sierra over the 4th of July and finally the Petaluma Music Festival and more.  With a new album, and this deeper exploration as the Incidental Animals are slated to appear at Terrapin Crossroads for a headlining show and for a Phil Lesh combo show, it looks like busy means fun to this quartet, and fun is precisely what they are.  Preciously Fun, and to me that is as limitless as the music they make.

2/27
Set One: (Fly Between Falls): BBQ, Possibly Drown, Pobrecito, Girl, Spectrum, Shapeshifter > My Favorite Things > Shapeshifter, Gardener, Waiting for Jaden, Fly, Wasting Time

Set Two: Room For Bloomin’, I Wanna Feel It, Chilly Chile, Woodstock, Maria

Encore: Walls of Jericho

[Notes: All of Fruition joined ALO for “Woodstock.” Carly Meyers sat in on trombone for “Girl.” Stu Allen guested on guitar during “Chilly Chile,” Jason Crosby and Cochrane McMillan lent a hand on a number of tunes throughout the night.]

2/28
Set One: Blew Out The Walls, Was a Time, Falling Dominoes, Cowboys and Chorus Girls, Saturday Night, Try, Animal Liberation

Set Two: I Love Music, Old Yet, Hot Tub, Fire, Kolomana, Sounds Like This, Time Is Of The Essence

Encore: Love Potion #9/Lady Loop

[Notes: Nicki Bluhm sang on “Saturday” and “Love Potion.” Deren Ney played guitar on “Saturday,” Ross James guested on guitar for “Hot Tub” and “Love Potion.” Marty Ylitano & T Sisters helped out on “Fire” and “Love Potion,” the latter also featured Free Range Horns and members of California Honeydrops (Lorenzo Loera, Johnny Bones, Ben Malament). The horns also added to “Try” and “Animal Liberation.”] 

Album Review: moe. – No Guts, No Glory – Sugar Hill Records – May 27th, 2014

moe. – No Guts, No Glory Sugar Hill Records
May 27th, 2014

No Guts, No Glory, is truly what it takes to make a record of this magnitude, a timeless piece of music and lyrics, entwined and buffed to a reflective spit shine, an album that reinvigorates all who dare listen.
No Guts, No Glory was originally meant to be an acoustic project. After many road blocks and bumps along the way, they had to scrap that idea and take a step back. In order to gain a new perspective on the project, the band brought in producer Dave Aron (Snoop Dogg, Tupac, U2, Prince), who is a long-time friend of moe., to get the album off and running. This turned out to be the turning point in the creation process. Recorded in Connecticut and released on Sugar Hill Records, No Guts, No Glory turned out to be an accurate representation of a live moe. experience.
Driving bass lines, progressive structures, experimental improvisation and crafty songwriting make the album equally familiar and intriguing. “Annihilation Blues” sounds exactly as you’d expect from the name. Led by a strong and steady bass line, this bluesy track is a bit uncharacteristic of moe., but they pull it off as if they have been a blues-rock band the whole time. “White Lightning Turpentine” features a quick, finger-pickin’ acoustic guitar line against slow, legato slide electric and a relaxed drum beat. Here we begin to see the original acoustic influence on the album. The tune changes gears about half way through to some more driving, heavy rock chords, topped off with a raunchy slide electric guitar solo. “This I Know” features emotional chord changes and a heavy bridge that leads to short but rockin’ guitar solo. A wavy lead guitar line adds an airy timbre, and the switch to a faster beat leaves the potential for some great jams and buildups in live settings. Along with an upbeat feel and quick, speedy lyrics, “Same Old Story” has a groovy drum beat and lead guitar line. Bass and keyboard stabs add some flavor to the verses, peeking in between the guitar lines. A couple of quick vibraphone solos round out the tune. I am very happy to see “Silver Sun” getting the studio treatment. Although the studio version feels a bit faster than the live versions, it still has that relaxed but moving feel to the intro. Brilliant guitar work, over about a three minute intro, is followed by a simple but catchy and relatable lead guitar riff that will make your head swim. Then the second guitar harmonizes with the first and fills up all your senses. A heavy build-up leads into the song’s airy and wavy vocals, followed by a long build-up supporting some more nifty guitar work, and finally bringing the song to its climax over 7 minutes in. This progressive track clocks in at nine minutes and forty seconds.
“Calyphornya” has a darker aura than the rest of the album. After an acoustic intro, the electric guitar comes in with a simple solo, concentrating primarily on phrasing. “Little Miss Cup Half Empty” is an ironically light-hearted track with a heavy, driving ending. “Blond Hair And Blue Eyes,” which was released as the first single from the album, has a nice waltzy feel and features some help from a horn section. “Do Or Die” starts off with a country-blues guitar intro. A quick drums and percussion bridge splits the song in two and leads into a very short guitar solo. “The Pines And The Apple Tree” is an all acoustic tune, with a beautiful mandolin solo. The drums kick in for the final third of the song, giving the tune a renewed energy. “Billy Goat” is another long, progressive track, clocking nine minutes and thirty five seconds. A funky bass intro and quick, syncopated drum beat set the tone for a fast-paced track with many different sections. The guitar work on this track is unbelievable, filling in the gaps between the bass and drum lines perfectly. The feel of “Billy Goat” just screams old school moe. Al and Chuck trade off solos in the middle section, which is augmented by a brief lull in the action. The song (and thus, the album) ends with a long, passionate build-up, a quick silence, followed by the hard-hitting funky bass lick from the intro.
Overall, No Guts, No Glory is another breath of fresh air from the jam band giants. It is so great to see them pushing some new compositions a bit out of their comfort zones all-the-while bringing enough familiarity to the table to keep that original moe. style we all know and love. The album will be released on May 27, 2014, and moe. will continue to blow our minds on the road throughout the remainder of the year. 

Album Review: Mason Porter – Key To Skyway – June 2nd, 2015 (Tour Dates)

 Mason Porter 
Key to the Skyway
June 2, 2015 



Mason Porter was founded in 2006 and currently consists of Joe D’Amico (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Tim Celfo (upright bass, vocals), Paul Wilkinson (guitar, vocals), Kevin Killen (drums), and Sarah Larsen (violin). Hailing from West Chester, Pennsylvania, the alternative bluegrass outfit has shared the stage with Greensky Bluegrass, Larry Keel, Ralph Stanley, American Babies and many more. The band’s latest studio project, Key To The Skyway, holds true to it’s name, offering hypnotic melodies to lift your spirits.
“A2B Machine” kicks the album off hot with a groovy, jammin’, toe-tappin’ bluegrass tune, featuring sharp fiddle and crisp vocal harmonies and wasting no time proving the type of energy that is boasted from those who have seen this band live. Highlights for this opening track include a masterful mandolin solo and the thumping, walking bass line in the bridge. The album slows down a bit with “A Woman Like You,” beginning with an uplifting intro. The relaxed nature of this tune allows for the melodic chords and relatable lyrics to stand out. This time, we’re blessed with a beautiful acoustic guitar and fiddle solo section.
“Seeds of Summer” keeps us in the mood for the summer season with a bouncy, upbeat verse and poetic lyrics. The song’s explosive chorus features harmonic vocals and pulls the listener back into that bouncy groove. “Four Leaf Clover” starts off with a dark intro, featuring acoustic guitar and fiddle. Minimalistic drums drive the tune forward into a pristine chorus. Despite the gloomy intro, the chord progression builds into more of a feel-good type of vibe. Finally, “Midnight Mountain Music Show” ends the album with a jubilant, jammin’ groove. A hot electric guitar solo brings the album to a close in style.
Although a relatively short album, Key To The Skyway holds its own and stays true to its point, combining elements of bluegrass, traditional country and folk. Keep your eyes and ears open for performances around the Northeast region the rest of the summer, including the recently announced lineup for Meeting of the Minds 8 in Schulkyhill, Pennsylvania in September.
Mason Porter released Key to the Skyway one month ago on June 2nd. The album was recorded this past winter at Cambridge Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA and produced together by Mason Porter and Jim Salamone.
Review:  Randy Harris

Tour Dates:

-Saturday, July 4th- Steel Stacks
Bethlehem, PA
-Sunday, July 5th – Union Jacks
Oley, PA
-Tuesday, July 7th- Eagleview Summer Concerts on the Square
Eagleview, PA
-Wednesday, July 15th – Concert Series at Anson B. Nixon Park
Kennett Square, PA
-Friday, July 31st  – Sterling Stage String Fling
Sterling, NY 2 Sets Friday night!
-Saturday, August 1st – World Cafe Live at The Queen
Wilmington, DE 8pm
(Dogfish Head American Beauty Party – Chris Kasper plays “American Beauty” and Mason Porter plays “Workingman’s Dead”)

Editorial: More Tickets for the fans

So as soon as it was announced that The Grateful Dead would be putting on a three night extravaganza in Soldier Field in Chicago over the 4th of July weekend all of the rumors had finally been put to rest. We had concrete instructions and descriptions on who would be playing i.e. Phil, Bob, Mickey and Billy with dead-head and dead contributor Bruce Hornsby on Keys/Vocals with Jeff Chimenti also on Keys and Trey Anastasio on Guitar/Vocals.  How to get those tickets; as they immediately offered an oldschool mail order where you send in your money orders and a self addressed stamped envelope to their PO Box in Stinson Beach in Marin County California.  This was supposed to last three days and then a band pre-sale on Feb 12th and the remaining tickets through Ticketmaster later in February.
The problem the band had was that they received an overwhelming amount of envelopes in the first few days, so many in fact that by the morning of the 22nd they cut off mail order. Then after a number of changes, they ended up saying that there would be no more Dead Pre-Sale, those tickets would go to fill the mail-order lot, and they got rid of seats on the floor so there is a pit which you can ONLY get if you get it through mail order.  There is a GA Field behind the pit which could be broken into price ranges, the more you paid the closer you get,  I cannot confirm exactly where your $215 reserved tickets will put you if you get them.  So when I discussed the possibilities here with fellow Grateful Music staff member Michael Stein we believe the whole floor will be GA, aside from the GA Pit, but I wouldn’t discount some high priced cordoned off VIP sections somewhere down there for the high roller experience. Maybe the ($215 reserved) are the closest reserved seats to the stage? We broke this down at the bottom of the editorial to give you the information as we know it with some good speculation as well.

So what does mean?  It means a lot of things and in the biggest of pictures it means all good things.  First off if you were so lucky to have a grand saved up and you got off an envelope decked out/or not and it’s dated the 20th of January you have a very good chance of getting your order filled, they can’t fill them all but they have pushed back the on-sale date so that they can tell you if you won or lost in this lottery of ticket seeking, I am anxious to see what the Mail Order Tickets look like, the artwork used to be pretty awesome and Phish has taken it up a notch over the years, I’m sure in this case the tickets will not disappoint, as for what they look like and where they get you in the show.

From most perspectives it is the biggest concert event of the decade so far and that says a lot. Speaking of the lot, it will be a shit ton of fun with gates opening at mid-day there will be three last Shakedown’s, where I see fans from all walks of life meeting up, some that haven’t seen each other for months, others decades.  It will damn near in itself be worth the price of admission.  Back to the price, so because we speculate they have made the entire floor GA, aside from the GA Pit, it will add room for a few thousand more tickets if not more.  I’m no expert but they might even open up the back of the stage area though I’m glad they have so far decided against selling these (behind the band tickets).  The way that the organization of the Grateful Dead kept dynamic and Shapiro and Madison House made these changes will guarantee more tickets get in the hand of fans, which means less scalpers which will drive the price down, usually true heads sell their extras for face value.

Ticketmaster will be a very hard bet, at least to get the good seats, they will go on Stub-Hub for hundreds of dollars in the secondary market but it is of my belief that nose-bleed tickets will be easily obtained for all three nights and to say you were there is a big part of going, then there is the epic music and the lights and dancing and the backdrop of Chicago.

One added last point, why no updated seating chart?  This would answer a lot of these questions and since they had such a huge mail-order turnout that they are trying to increase the venue size and if that means selling seats at a lower price behind the stage so be it, but I think they are STILL waiting to hear back from the Fire Marshall’s okay on how many people can safely attend each night before they make a final seating chart.  This is my speculation, I have no source but my intuition and educated guess on this only.
I have heard rumors that because of the amazing turnout that some members of the band are going back on their word and that these wont be the last ever, maybe a 55th anniversary? Or maybe an even sooner reunion, but this is speculation and really I don’t care at this point.  I will continue to see these guys play, I love seeing Mickey’s band, Bobby’s Ratdog, when it’s hot nothing can beat it.  Billy and his Kids is a fantastic spread of musicians and of course Phil and Friends. As I am lucky enough to live within commuting distance of Terrapin Crossroads, I can go a few times a year and speaking of Terrapin, just try and imagine the Terrapin Station that will be played over the three night run! So summing it up, they did the right thing.  They adjusted to keep the fans the one’s with tickets in their hands and this is why we love the band, The Grateful Dead.
See you down the road in July!
Sammy Martin


 To recap the 3 changes in the last 2 days:
There is no longer a Grateful Dead fan club presale on 2/11, This means barring aftermarket ticket purchases. There are now 3 way to purchase tickets.

  • Mail order (now over, must have been postmarked Jan 20th)
  • CID Ticket/Hotel Packages (on-sale February 11th at 10AM CST)
  • Ticketmaster Public on-sale: (Sat February 28th 10:00 AM CST)We now learned as of today 1/28 that the only way to purchase/obtain GA Pit tickets are through Mail order only. No Pit tickets will be available via the Public on-sale viaTicketmaster. (However GA Pit will also be available in limited numbers via the CID packages.) GA Field behind the GA Pit will be available through Ticketmaster.
  • We have also learned the the section behind GA Pit is now GA Field. No reserved field seating. Just GA Pit, and GA Field. Per our interpretation of the dead50.net website.

The Dead will reunite at Lockn Festival

BREAKING NEWS:They got it done! For the love of Jerry and money they got it done. The core four have signed a contract to honor their 50th anniversary. The magic will commence with two headlining slots, at the soon to be historic Lockn’ festival next summer. If the early information is correct, the band will rotate out guitarist and have Mr. Bruce Hornsby on piano. Personally, I am doing the pee pee dance due to my excitement.

   Scott W. Allen the author of “Aces Back To Back”: The History Of The Grateful Dead, corroborated by another credible source. Reported that on November 20th, Phil Lesh was the last member to sign the best document since The Emancipation Proclamation. The guitar players that will rotate out are Warren Haynes, John Kadlecik and Steve Kimock. Barry Sless is also in the conversation.  You can expect a host of other ones, it is a celebration.   Stay tuned for more information on this reunion, and let’s keep our fingers crossed for more dates in 2015 to continue on this long strange trip.
Words: Kevin Long

Review and Photos: Andy Frasco & The UN w/Mike Dillon’s Band of Outsiders and Mouth

With a crazy Wakarusa Music Festival showing just still echoing in our heads, party blues keyboardist Andy Frasco made his way around some nearby cities for Wakarusa Pre-Party Tour with support from veteran percussionist Mike Dillon, along with his Band of Outsiders, and up and coming, instrumental “jazztronica” trio Mouth. All three of these bands played Wakarusa this year, but Frasco, who was at the helm of the Waka Pre-Party Tour MC’d the main stage as well. Before they got up to Mulberry Mountain, however, their stops included Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, Lawrence, Kansas City, Bloomington and Columbia. The Memphis stop went down at the 1884 Lounge in Minglewood Plaza on a rainy Wednesday night. But nothing, weather included, could hold back any of these bands.
The evening started off with the smooth instrumental jams of Mouth. Incorporating genres ranging from jazz to jam to electronica, the young trio moves seamlessly together through focused, psychedelic improvisations. While the guys told me after their set that they do not want to be classified as electronic music, they have cleverly manipulated the repetitive quality of dance music to bring direction to their improv sections. Hailing from Kansas City, Mouth has steadily built up a repertoire of original material and covers, including one particular cover that stood out to me: Daft Punk – “Give Life Back To Music.” 
 
Mike Dillon’s Band of Outsiders stepped up next and barraged the stage with a massive wave of percussive, tribal jazz. The rather unique instrumentation of the group consisted of drums, bass, percussion and trombone. All members of the band are adeptly in tune with each other, however, producing an incredible energy flying back and forth across the stage. The Band of Outsiders led the audience through a timeless lesson in jazz, ranging from bebop and swing to New Orleans funk. Somewhere inside this talented group of musicians, however, there exists an urge to release some punk rock. Thrown in between percussion-based jazz tunes, these punk rock tracks would break in with raw emotion. Finally, while Mike Dillon is a monster on all of the percussion instruments he plays, his true talent shines through on the vibraphone. Playing primarily with two mallets in each hand, Dillon works the vibes like a puppet master, deftly controlling each and every note. His creativity and sense of humor also come out in his use of what looks like an empty coffee can, which he rubs his shirt against to form a squeaky percussion instrument. 
Andy Frasco & The UN took the stage next to end the night with a powerful performance. Frasco’s backing band is called The UN because the lineup changes regularly. For this tour, The UN consisted of two of his regulars, Ernie Chang (saxophone) and Shawn Eckels (guitar), along with a few members of the Kris Lager Band from Nebraska (including Kris himself on guitar). Lager and his band have helped Frasco with some of his studio work, and they seem to have similar views on music and stage performance. The combination provided for a lineup consisting of two guitars, two keyboardists, saxophone, bass and drums.
I have said things like, “You’d be hard pressed to find a band that has more fun on stage” about a few other bands before, but you can quote me on this: There is NOBODY that has more fun on stage than Andy Frasco. I have seen him play twice before, and no matter how big or small the audience, Frasco consistently brings an energy to the stage unmatched by anyone in the music business. With his primary musical influences coming from blues greats such as Buddy Guy, Frasco’s songwriting covers multiple classic genres, such as gospel, blues, R&B and rock & roll, while putting his own unique, modern spin (as well as his quirky and sometimes raunchy sense of humor) to it all.
At this particular show, Frasco & The UN led an excited audience through a mix of old and new originals, as well as some great covers, including a rockin’ interpretation of (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!) by the Beastie Boys, in which more than one member of The UN climbed up on top of whatever they could find to get the crowd moving. One of Frasco’s signature live stunts involves the members of The UN getting off the stage and into the crowd to battle each other in the midst of the audience. This show was no exception. The audience experienced many musical battles, including a “Battle Royale,” in which Frasco brought the trombone player from Mike Dillon’s Band of Outsiders back into the frenzy, and the keyboardist of Frasco’s UN even brought his keys into the audience with a stool for support. Frasco is also a great band leader. While his fellow band members are taking solos, he can be seen on stage directing his band with accents and drum hits, keeping the groove going constantly.
I was fortunate enough to speak with Frasco earlier on in the evening and asked him a few questions. Here’s a little taste of the conversation:
Ragin’ Randy: I was looking at your tour schedule, and it is absolutely wild. What drives you to schedule yourself on such a hectic tour? 
Andy Frasco: My goal is to entertain as many people as I can. If it takes going around the country and going around the world for 10 months without a break, then so be it.
RR: So you guys just got back from China and Europe. Can you tell me a little bit about that experience?
Frasco: Yeah, we just got back from Macau, and then we went to ten cities in Germany and nine cities in the Netherlands. It’s amazing how universal music is because they don’t speak your language, but they still have fun because everyone’s going nuts and freaking out.
RR: Can you tell me a little bit about the new album you have coming out?
Frasco: Yeah, it’s called Half a Man. I got funding to start my own record label, and this will be the first release. We got Charles Gooden, who got a Grammy for Supernatural by Santana and also did a couple of Beck albums and some Rolling Stones, to produce the album, and it’s the best work I’ve done. I feel that I’m in a different mindset on this album. I’m not just putting out an album to make money on the road. I got to sit back, take my time and write good lyrics and try to write something that emulates our live show but still has that old, timeless feel that good albums have. 
Half a Man will be released on June 3, 2014

Words: Randy Harris
Photos: Ellis Jones IV