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

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. 

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

TOUR AND ALBUM: Beats Antique

TOUR AND ALBUM: Beats Antique – Contraption Vol.2 + 2012 ANIMALE MECHANIQUE FALL TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED

Growing like wildfire under the canopy of live electronica and experimental world fusion music, the acclaimed musical trio Beats Antique launch their fall tour to finish out 2012 in support of their upcoming release,Contraption Vol. 2, a new cinematic, orchestral, and seductively bass heavy EP.  As the trio masterfully merges modern technology, live instrumentation, brass bands, string quartets, glitch, and dubstep, Beats Antique’s highly anticipated new album explores another octave of musings first begun in 2007 with Tribal Derivations.  Five years, four albums and two EPs later, Contraption Vol. 2 – will arrive on Tue 9.18.12 – to round out the collection of over 80 songs released.

Beats Antique will inspire their fans with a raw, animalistic musical event that blurs the lines between the provocative, the spiritual, and the artistic while still maintaining allegiance to the muses of class, beauty. The tour, “Animale Mechanique”, will cover 35 locations in North America and end with a once-in-a lifetime show in front of The Pyramids in Egypt on the Winter Solstice.

Beats Antique Animale Mechanique Fall 2012 Tour Dates:

‪9/01/12Chicago, ILNorth Coast Music Festival
‪9/04/12Reno, NVGrand Sierra Resort and Casino
‪9/05/12Chico, CASenator Theater
‪9/07/12Los Angeles, CAClub Nokia (w/ Baths)
‪9/08/12Dana Point, CADoheny Days Music Festival
‪9/09/12Solana Beach, CABelly Up Tavern
‪9/12/12Oklahoma City, OKDiamond Ballroom (w/ Lynx)
‪9/13/12Austin, TXLa Zona Rosa (w/ Lynx)
‪9/14/12Dallas, TXTrees (w/ Lynx)
‪9/15/12Houston, TXHouse of Blues (w/ Lynx)
‪9/18/12Columbus, OHNewport Music Hall (w/ Lynx)
‪9/19/12Pittsburgh, PAMr. Smalls Theatre (w/ Lynx)
‪9/20/12Boston, MARoyale Boston (w/ Lynx)
‪9/21/12Philadelphia, PATheatre of the Living Arts (w/ Lynx)
‪9/22/12Northampton, MACalvin Theatre (w/ Lynx)
‪9/23/12Burlington, VTHigher Ground (w/ Lynx)
‪9/26/12Athens, GAThe Georgia Theatre
‪9/27/12Atlanta, GACounterpoint Festival
‪9/28/12Atlanta, GACounterpoint Festival
‪9/29/12Mountain View, CAHarmony By The Bay
‪10/06/12Asheville, NCOrange Peel (w/ Lynx)
‪10/09/12Jacksonville, FLFreebird Live (w/ Lynx)
‪10/10/12Ft. Lauderdale, FLCulture Room (w/ Lynx)
‪10/11/12Gainesville, FLFlorida Theatre of Gainesville (w/ Lynx)
‪10/12/12Orlando, FLThe Social (w/ Lynx)
‪10/13/12Charleston, SCMusic Farm (w/ Lynx)
‪10/18/12Oxford, MSThe Lyric (w/ Lynx)
‪10/19/12New Orleans, LAHowlin’ Wolf (w/ Lynx)
‪10/20/12Mobile, ALSoul Kitchen (w/ Lynx)
‪10/24/12Fayetteville, ARGeorge’s Majestic (w/ Lynx)
‪10/25/12Kansas City, MOThe Beaumont (w/ Lynx)
‪10/26/12Lincoln, NEBourbon Theatre (w/ Lynx)
‪10/27/12Denver, COFillmore Denver (w/ Lynx)
‪10/28/12Aspen, COBelly Up (w/ Lynx)