Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Grateful Dead in Saratoga Part V: The Encore 8-1-2004

Originally I had planned to only do Grateful Dead shows in this Monday's project, but as it turned out I started a theme with this Saratoga August thing and of course this year there had to be 5 Monday's in August with the problem being the Grateful Dead only played Saratoga 4 times in their career.  So what to do?  I am dipping into one of the post Jerry incarnations of the group for today's show, but first a bit on the weekend...

Had an amazing time up in Saratoga this weekend with family, friends, horses and happenings.  Thanks to everyone who made it up and out, I certainly had a blast and Travers Weekend is consistently one of my favorites of the year.  I didn't do so well on the horses, just hitting one true winner on Friday, but I also didn't bet heavily at all this year.
 In the closest Travers Race in my memory Afleet Express won literally nosing out Fly Down in a photo finish!  I stuck with my initial feeling betting on A Little Warm who ended up being 5th.  An exhilarating race that couldn't have been any closer.  Maybe I will post some pictures from the weekend in the future, but now onto the show.
Today's we travel not to far back in time, only to  8-1-2004 Saratoga Performing Arts Center. It finds "The Dead" on their 2004 Summer Wave That Flag Tour, and I was lucky enough to be sitting up in the grass with some friends and family on this night:

 This date should set off alarm bells for most deadheads as it is Jerry Garcia's birthday (and also my sisters who was celebrating her birthday at SPAC).  We in attendance were hoping for a bit of the old magic from the boys on this night in the glorious surroundings...but first, just who the hell are these boys!?  Since Garcia's death in 1995 the remaining members of the group have toured with a host of guests, and formations.  Sometimes the original members of the family go missing for various reasons (business, personal, health).  Some tours really clicked, others were a bit of a let down.  I feel that this particular tour featured one of the better post-Jerry groups the fellas have formed.
 In my opinion the Phil Lesh Quintet was the most exciting and the best (so far) of the A.J. (after Jerry) groups that any of the original members have been involved in.  There were no real rules in that group with the members being allowed to experiment nightly and with a healthy Phil the energy and tempos were usually rollicking, much more high tempo and alive then any later day Dead shows.  That group treated the songbook of the Grateful Dead as a guide and would fly off away from it nightly on the wings of the rip roaring guitar duels from Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes who both joined the four main members (Weir, Lesh, Hart, Kruetzmann) for this summer tour.  Supporting the newly christened "The Dead" on keys in the summer of '04 was the excellent Jeff Chimenti who played so winningly with Les Claypool and his Frog Brigade.  
These talented musicians were in the midst of their second leg of a summer tour when they came to SPAC on the first of August in 2004.  What followed was an interesting if somewhat uneven night of music that seemed to feature pieces from all over this particular bands travels and past history with a first set that didn't even slightly hint at the coolness that was to come in the second.  The quality of this recording is all you can ask for from an audience taping.  All of the levels seem to be even with a healthy does of Lesh, if anything the overall volume may need to be pumped a bit, but nothing stands out as bad on the tech/specs front.

Like most shows this tour, this one started with a jam, a trend Phil had been using in all of his groups, and then the band seemed to abruptly quit it and just start playing the fan favorite and first tribute to the bearded one on the night, "Uncle John's Band".  "Lazy River Road" is forgettable and fumbled through as the band tries to pass off verses to each other and then seems to forget who is singing what.  Phil steps up and dedicates the highlight of the first set to a Kirk Kuehn who suffered from Hepatitis C but wasn't lucky enough to receive a donor in time.
 The band puts their backbone into "Estimated Prophet" with Herring fluttering down tons of notes and Warren wah-wah'ing with abandoned.  The Rhythm Devils bang and slap their drums with grace and march the band forward, bringing a bit of the Left Coast up to the 518 with this one.  "The Other One Jam" that they morph into isn't full blown, but it is a nice twist and you can tell Phil in particular wanted to make this version special for a lost friend.
"No More Do I" is a pretty interesting newer tune that the band had the smarts to let Warren sing as his soulful voice does Robert Hunters lyrics justice.  The second of many nod's to the guitar player who would have been 62 on that day was in the Mickey Hart 'rapped' version of "Down The Road" with it's stanza: 

From the corner of my eye I saw the sun explode
I didn't look directly 'cause it would have burned my soul
When the smoke and thunder cleared enough to look around
I heard a sweet guitar lick, an old familiar sound
I heard a laugh I recognised come rolling from the earth
Saw it rise into the skies like lightning giving birth
It sounded like Garcia but I couldn't see the face
Just the beard and the glass and a smile on empty space

A fun tribute to a fallen friend.  The set closing "Music Never Stopped" seemed to hint at some cosmic guitar work between Herring and Haynes around the 6 minute mark, but the band decided that was the right time for a set break.   When they came back Bobby picked an acoustic version of "Me and My Uncle", looks like Phil got to Jam to start one set and Bobby got his acoustic number for the other.  There were riffs between the two hinted at all tour and after this summer they wouldn't tour again as "The Dead" for a few years but this was a sweet touch for Bobby to play for his "spiritual uncle" and really his only main contribution for the whole mega second set to follow.
"Me and My Uncle" allows you to hear Chimenti's piano addition to the group pretty clearly as he helped create a western vibe for the opener and stays active throughout the rest of the night, but the set really started cooking with the opening notes of "Cryptical Envelopment". 
Phil may mumble the lyrics to get things started but the night cracks open up with the instrumental section and the band seemed come together as Lesh bounds along on the bass rumbling and leading while the two southern fried guitars keep tossing licks back and fourth effortlessly.  Just when you think the band is going to fall into some trippy jam section, they morph right into the blues of my favorite song of the night, "Death Don't Have No Mercy".  I just recently talked about a great cover version of this tune by Dax Riggs, but god dam if Warren Haynes doesn't sing up the devil with this one.  This cover is just sublime...it has everything a pumping organ, an alive bassline, slide guitar glory, and fearless drummers.  If you are not sure about listening to this whole set, just do yourself a favor and check this tune out, another nod to Garcia being gone, and a solemn one.  
(I found Gov't Mule, Warren Haynes main band, doing a cover of this tune from the 8-1-10, so obviously this song on Jerry's Birthday means something to him)

A slow "Birdsong" comes next and moves at a trudging pace, you can hear Herring trying to speed things up with his fretboard runs and multi-tiered scale runs, trying to get the band moving, but they aren't buying it and are content to stroll.  This is another toast to Garcia in a more subtle way; since his death Phil has changed the lyrics slightly during different performances of this song to make the "she" in the song (originally written as a Janis Joplin tribute) into a "he" to honor his brother Jerry and on this night he does so during the second verse.

A Garcia classic is next and one of the songs I can not understand why the group didn't play more, "Reuben and Cherise".  It was a welcomed surprise on this night and certainly another nod to the Jerry, as he would play and record this one solo.  Warren takes charge of the lyrics and from the minute this one started the crowd was fired up to hear him twist and turn through the tale of ill-fated lovers.  I was personally ecstatic when they started playing this one as it is one of my all time favorite Jerry related tunes and to hear one of the most soulful singers in rock tackle it was a joy, re-listening it holds up better then I even remembered it from that night.
Flying high after that the Rhythm Devils took control with "Drums" eerily banging out under the trees and stars before the group stolled back n for some "Space".  What rolled out next was easily the biggest surprise of the night and another tribute to the missing frontman, a cover of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".  It is exciting to see the original members branch out and allow the newer people to suggest these songs as I imagine Chimenti or Haynes did for this number as both have covered it in the past.
Chimenti in the Frogs:

Warren with the Mule:

and here is a snippet of The Dead playing it live a few nights later.
The Dead first broke this one out at Bonnaroo but tonight's version is just as touching, flowing out and letting Warren rip; a really cool moment for fans of good music.  The cover straddles around the original, and both Warren and Jeff's cover variations with Phil playing louder then he had all night.   

The set goes back to some Dead favorites then, granted some songs that were few and far between in the recent live setting with "St. Stephen" that got massive cheers and people up and dancing.  Herring took over the lead guitar parts with his quicksilver like leads dripping everywhere and Warren filled in accordingly.  The duo are a perfect match for this music; soulful yet technically gifted it seems they can go in 5 directions at once spiraling and wailing with energy that was honestly lacking in most of the later years of the Grateful Dead.  While they are more reigned in here then when Playing in the PLQ, they still let the music grow and punch up the tempo whenever they can.  
 Bobby was almost non-existent in this second set and I have to say that is a pretty good thing. Letting Warren take control of the ballads including the next one "Comes A Time" was the right call.  His voice just fits so beautifully with the notes and scales.  "Comes A Time" is another personal favorite that was a treat to hear and if Bobby had taken the lead vocals I doubt I would have felt that way.  The fact that the band chose this ballad to play instead of "He's Gone" is a very nice touch.  The straight up solo's after the lyrics are passionate as was the whole second set really, then the band decides to freak things up a bit actually going into "The Other One" which they hinted at earlier in the night. 
 "Going Down The Road" was a highlight to the dancers in the crowd getting folksy and dusty as they scouted around.  A surprising but touchingly poignant set closer was the old hymn-like "Angel Band" that Jerry used to cover with Old and In The Way, gotta say I was not expecting that one and again it shows some taste avoiding an obvious choice such as "Wharf Rat".  The whole show is a glorious tribute to the man many people were missing.  Phil knew this one was a bit special and told the crowd to "Dig Yer'selves!" which is a great line that I still use in various forms today.  The encore also lets you know how much Warren meant to the boys this tour allowing him to play "The Real Thing"
which adds one final tribute to Garcia on a night where you could swear he was floating above Saratoga and smiling....
A hell of a second set makes this one worthy of your time, even if you never found yourself getting into post-Jerry versions of the fellas check it out.  Maybe it is my love of Warren and the personal favorite songs or memories of the night but I do go back to this one periodically (as well as some PLQ shows) when I want a different spin on the Dead history.  Give it a try, and go hit Saratoga when you can, all the best and thanks again to those who joined for a great Travers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Album Review - Avi Buffalo - Avi Buffalo

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo
*** out of *****

On this self-titled debut release we find a band of California crooners easing into delightful pop melodies that float in the air like a wayward balloon.  The disk sounds assured and confident in its dreamy tone, shimmering guitar lines, and cymbal flourishes.  You would have no idea that this four piece (Avi Zahner-Isenberg guitar, vocals, Rebecca Coleman keyboards, vocals, Arin Fazio bass, Sheridan Riley drums) were barely out of high school.

The group’s first single is “What’s In It For?” a slice of 50’s style sunshine complete with requisite Ooh’s and Aah’s building up to a happy-go lucky ending.  “Summer Cum” is a hyped up acoustic tune that deals with lovers troubles in a high pitched voice that sounds like a joke and out of place; Zahner-Isenberg’s voice has its limits and he should leave the high notes to Coleman.  Both “One Last” with its bar room style piano and the electric guitar squiggles of “Truth Sets In” manage to display a healthy balance between the vocalists.  “Remember Last Time” adds a new dimension to the band with it’s drawn out coda that stretches the tune to over 7 minutes showing an exploratory avenue that the band could pursue with success. 

Easy to digest west coast pop with boy/girl vocals that breeze around; this is a good disk for a summer drive in the country with the windows rolled down.
Don't have much more to add, so enjoy some of the tunes of Avi Buffalo:
"What's It In For?"
"Remember Last Time"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Glide Review - Rough Seven - Give Up Your Dreams

Hey there peoples, I got a new review up on Glide.

Read it right C'here!!!

It is of one of my favorite new groups, Rough Seven or R Scully's Rough 7,depending on what day of the week this is...

Whatever they call themselves...I will call them awesome. 

I haven't been able to get the disk out of my ears since I got it, while there are a couple of tracks I am not sold on, the ones I like I REALLY like. 

Tracks like "St. Anthony", "Meltdown", and "The Good Out Weigh's The Bad" are really something to behold.  The style is basically rock and roll with flairs of gospel, ballads, heartache and joy mixed in...NOLA modern day music.  Check out this myspace version of Meltdown Live at Saturn Bar...Sick!

I didn't talk about it much in the review, but backing up Scully in the group are some real players.  Rob Cambre on guitar kills it multiple times over and the low end of CJ Floyd and Mike Anderpoint provide rock solid backing.  Ratty Scurvics plays both organs and key boards while Erika Lewis and Meschiya Lake provide the glorious soul singing back-ups that elevate the album above others.

Basically it is a whose who of musicians from the big easy that I think are dope as all hell. It would make sense that the great talent down there would play with each other as the great musicians from NOLA have been doing since the city was founded.  Concerning the back up ladies, I have already posted some Meschiya Lake in the Loose Marbles Interview, but below I got some sweet Erika Lewis Crooning (OK and one more Meschiya) to go along with the a couple of Rough Seven videos.

If you are lucky enough to live in NOLA go check them out live, hopefully we can get them up to NYC ASAP, as it would be a rip roaring blast to catch them in this town.  I also hope to do some more work with them in the near future on this site, so stay tuned.

Until then grab the album if you can find it and Enjoy.

Rough Seven Hi Ho Lounge:

Sugar Daddy:
A Clip of Rough Seven killing it on "Meltdown":
Erika Lewis with Tuba Skinny:

Meschiya Lake and her Little Big Horns:

God this makes me want to move to that town...how many months until I get to go back!!!??!?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Album Review - Quasi - American Gong

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
American Gong
***and1/2 out of *****

Quasi has changed up their style, no longer are keys at the forefront of their attack (if they are even present at all), now distortion cruises through the backbone of American Gong which is, at its heart, a guitar rock thumper. Another new flair is having bassist Joanna Bolme join Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes to construct these whacked-out-bluesy distortion-laced-psychedelic-punk-tunes.  A long winded way of saying there is a lot here to take in.

"Repulsion" and "Little White Horse" begin the album by grinding out the dirty guitar shimmy to kick things off with Bolme's bass lines swaggering under the solos.  “Bye Bye Blackbird” is the albums highlight putting the feedback into overdrive as Weiss beats the shit out of the drums, careening the number downwards into darkness under warbling guitars for 6+ minutes of mayhem.  “Don’t Let Them Get You Down” has a piano verse section that finds Coomes crooning in his Doug Martch style to support fallen comrades while “The Jig Is Up” and “Death Is Not The End” are freak-out ditties that unfortunately show the limits of Coomes voice.  “Black Dog and Bubbles” is a soup of metal noise that tastes hearty and the piano rolls out again for "Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler" which closes the disk (I am ignoring the tacked on Dog howling track ridiculousness).

The playing can feel schizophrenic, but things are fresh and listeners never get too comfortable.  Just when the weirdness starts to overwhelm a straight up crusher like “Rockabilly Party” strolls out and you could instantly imagine heads bopping everywhere to its rollicking bass, blazing riffage and perfectly matched Weiss/Coomes vocals.      

American Gong is some damn good rambling/stuttering punk-ish work with a smile that shakes and rolls all over the place at its own drawn out pace.  Weiss's stomp and playing style in particular remains in top gear here, her playing rivals the best rock drummers going today.  While the other projects these members spend their time with get most of the headlines Quasi just seems content to keep slamming out killer albums.     
For more thoughts a bunch of good live video click the read more sucker....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grateful Dead in Saratoga Part IV: 6-28-1988

So it is upon us, Travers Week.  This is easily the best week of the year to be up in Saratoga as there are a host of activities going down; something of interest for all ages everyday.  There is great dining to be had, drinking for charity and there is a lot to do before the big race on Saturday.
This is the 141st installment of The Mid Summer Derby.  There is an epic history of champions when it comes to this race.  I will be headed up there this weekend marking the 7th 8th year in a row my friends and I wake up early to find a prime spot on the grounds to watch the day flow by.  Much loves goes out to Jeremy Paul for joining me every year at the ass crack o'dawn and the host of other people in my life who make this weekend one of the best of the year.
I am not going to pretend to be a handicapper on the races, but I will give a bit of preview and say I have always been pretty lucky when it comes to the main race (just don't ask about the races before it).  We did win a nice sum of cheddar on Summer Bird last year in the slop:

(Thank You Kent Desormeaux!)  

Unfortunately I don't have much to preview as the horses haven't been announced completely this year yet, and honestly this has been a down year for marquee names to run in Saratoga's biggest race.  There are reportedly 14 horses under consideration so we are going to have to wait and see who gets in and who is locked out. It looks like Jim Dandy winner A Little Warm will be there as will Super Saver who won the Kentucky Derby (in one of the least memorable Derby's I can recall).  The owners and trainers of Trappe Shot hasn't decided yet to run him in the Big Boys Race or the King's Bishop Sprint which will be run before the Travers.  With no commitment, post-positions, the Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky bailing and a forecast that can change ten times before Saturday it would be silly to say you like anyone more then anyone else right now, in fact with a week to go I would say this is the most wide open this race has been in sometime, which makes for exciting betting.
I will wait to see how the track plays, but why not be silly here for a minute.  I do have a tendency to go with horses that have done well at the distance and specifically this track, so at this moment if I was forced to bet I would go with A Little Warm, but we are still a long time away...I will let you know next Monday how I did, now lets go to something I know a bit more about...The Grateful Dead:
"Good Evening! Please Welcome BACK to Saratoga...THE GRATEFUL DEAD!"
Today's show is from June 26th, 1988:

This was the fourth trip from the fellas to the upstate oasis and the first since they set the record for the largest crowd ever at the venue...and in the proceedings got banned for 3 years.  The recording is perfect.  A Soundboard affair that Charlie Conner supped up a bit and sounds clear as day.

1988 was a weird year for the band, lots of shows while the euphoria of having Jerry back and healthy was wearing off a bit, and we now know that Brent was only a few years away from leaving us.  '88 gets lost in the shuffle or downplayed by most fans, and I think Bobby was one of the more consistent members of the band during this time and that could turn people off, but on this night everyone seems to be pretty much on the same wavelength.  The fans were on a completely different one, over running the fence swelling the crowd to epic proportions, and ultimately causing the band to be barred for good from S.P.A.C. post show.  Scaling the fence still goes on to this day, but security has made it a lot harder then back in the late 80's early 90's.
The first set is all over the place with some classics, new tunes and ballads performed in a slapdash fashion.  "Hell In A Bucket" plays the role of opener instead of a bust-out cover classic that the fellas had chosen to open with in SPAC shows past (The First of 2 broken traditions).  "Hell" does it's job getting the bugs out of the sound, letting Bobby sing with echo and Jerry warm up his fret board with some high powered runs. "Bertha" has the band clicking with a breeziness that they made seem so easy at points in their career.  The "Walkin' Blues" and "Candyman" don't do much here, as they are slow paced and not that memorable, but an excellent midset Dylan/Band cover spices things up.  "When I Paint My Masterpiece" is such a fun song and the Dead do it justice rolling around in the background while Weir strolls through the lyrics. Here is a version of the boys playing it in Berlin in '90: 

The set then has a couple of my favorite tunes from the fellas but they are all over the style map.  "Row Jimmy" is a heartfelt weeper that got better as the band aged and is excellent tonight, "Victim or The Crime" is one of the rare dark tunes that the band plays and since it is so unlike most of what they did I always have dug it.  "Foolish Heart" ends the set and Jerry just butchers the lyrics and while you could skip it, you would miss Brent who is on fire for this one, playing anything he wants above the band and sounding like his quintessential 80's self.
After a break the band came out focused and with a ton of energy to dive into what is the highlight section of the show: "Scarlett Begonias>Fire On The Mountain".  This version (like their 1983 SPAC combo) is one that can be talked about in the best ever discussions had around this band.  Where in 1983 the rhythm section took the lead and pushed the song forward, here it is Jerry and Brent shining brightest with inventive lines that follow and challenge each other.  The warbling of Jerry's guitar signals a transition into "Fire On The Mountain" and the band struts proudly into their reggae flavored classic as the crowd explodes.  This is one of the cleaner late 80's versions to be found on the archive and it is hard not to smile while listening to it's soaring guitar parts and hip shaking groove.          
Continuing in highlight mode finds the best Weir tune in the bands catalog "Estimated Prophet" get a hymn like airing with Bobby wailing out the lyrics "Filling the sky with flame" and his "Nah-nahnah-No's" exciting the crowd while Garcia's wah-wah works overtime.  Then the band keeps the greatness going dipping with ease into the starry "Crazy Fingers" which has it's vocal issues, but airy playing.  These opening 4 songs find the group peaking, it is too bad the "Drums>Space" shows up when it does as some of the momentum peters out, yet there is Brent with his melodious voice to get the show going again via his sweetest entry into the Dead's catalog, "I Will Take You Home".  Tonight's version is the second ever live airing of the tune that saw it's debut 6 nights earlier in Wisconsin.

God what a beautiful song. 

The band ramps things back up for a old-timey "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad" and brief foray into new school blues rock of  "I Need A Miracle" before dipping back into the beautiful with "Stella Blue".  This tune really gained in gravitas with later day Dead and this is a perfect example why.  Jerry's aged voice makes it mean so much more, and the band is sparse behind him, letting Garcia control tempo and lead with his 6 strings.  The crescendo starting around the 7:40 mark is majestic, and must have flown  high above the pine trees in the state park this night. 
The San Fran Band then plays the fan favorite cover of "Not Fade Away" to end the set before breaking their double encore SPAC tradition with only one tune; the heartfelt rendition of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (complete with WPYX106 shout out post song).  Who knows, maybe the Dead realized they were not to play this wonderful venue again and figured they would end it in the heavens.  Or more likely they were just done-zo for the night; while the pacing and song placements were questionable this evening the playing certainly wasn't.  Solid throughout (minus some vocal forgetfulness on Jerry's part) make this a rewarding listen and among the best of the bands '88 output as well as the final piece in the groups Saratoga Puzzle.   

Enjoy the Show, and good luck with the ponies!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Editorial - Mosque opponents are spreading bigotry -

Mi amigo Eben Carle has written another excellent opinion piece over at the Daily Caller.

Read it right C'HERE!

I posted his writing on the NOLA incompetence here but I think today's piece is even better.  He is not only a friend, but one of my favorite writers in any field and I think this is the best piece he has written for the Caller yet; they are lucky to have him. 

It is a passionate topic for Mr. Carle like a lot of people, but I for one feel he expresses himself elegantly and straight up proper.  Forget the fact I agree with him wholeheartedly, he makes his case and the idiots making comments are laughable...and if they knew him and his political history might take a step back and examine themselves a bit.

Besides as I said before, how can you not trust this guy:
 He loves Dylan and The Lips...and Ireland!!!

That was a hell of a trip, we should have stayed for that show...Anyhow, what ever your beliefs are, have a great weekend....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Glide Review - Dax Riggs - Live 8-14-10 Mercury Lounge, NYC

Got a New Review up over at Glide

Read it right C'HERE!

It is of Dax Rigg's live set late on 8/14/10 from the Mercury Lounge in NYC.

The show was good, if a bit short for my liking and most of the crowd's, but there is something about this artist that draws me back every time...Oh I know what it is, his voice. 

 In a review I did on his live set from 2007 I wrote that:

"His dramatic voice is something to behold: a blender mix of Trent Reznor, Jim Morrison Jeff Buckley, Syd Barrett, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Peter Steele, and Roy Orbison poured into a hurricane glass.  There is a Cajun ghost of enchanted charisma floating around the stage when he performs - gothic soul incarnate."  
When I was writing this most recent review I thought of that and nothing has changed, it is glorious.  What I wish would change would be his song writing.  I haven't spent much time with his newest album (I will probably review it soon) but I was simply hoping for a bit of light to be shed onto his dark words.  Don't get me wrong, I love death metal and Dax's first band Acid Bath immensely, it is just that he has such potential and I believe variety in his lyrics and writing style is needed to fully achieve that.  

Then again who am I?  If he feels successful writing in this realm, and he obviously does, why should he expand his style?  I will still go see him every time he comes to town and will grab all his albums because that voice keeps bringing me back like a desirable smell or feel.  

Glide posted a video of the opener (all though I think it is from Sunday Night) so I will post a couple of different tunes below for you to get a feel, but def grab an album or see him live when he comes to your town:
Here is the bands cover of "Death Don't Have No Mercy":

A fan made video of a great tune of his "Waking Up Insane":

Another fan made video of one of my favorites from his last album, "Radiation Blues":

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Album Review - Noun - Holy Hell

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
Holy Hell
**** out of *****

The pint-sized power packing dynamo from Screaming Females has just released her first solo album, don’t let the band name Noun fool you, this is all Marissa Paternoster.  Having shaved down some of the rougher caterwauls and the pogoing bass lines that color Screaming Females records, Holy Hell finds Paternoster employing pianos, along with her 6 string mastery and a more personally direct lyrical approach; there is an honesty here that draws you in.   

“Black Lamb” the disk opener is a piano walk-through that cryptically deals with loss and power struggles.  The tune eerily drifts away leaving unsettled before the distortion and fury kicks down the doors on “Outerspace” squiggling and screeching.  Paternoster is a guitar goddess but Holy Hell disregards technical flair and focuses on questioning, personal matters and tone.

“Pearly Gates” is a mystery of lover fueled lyrics (“I draw your veins/onto my window pains/and then I sign your name/across the floor”) over crunching layered guitars as is “So Rough” with its plainly honest chorus of “How did it end this way/I miss you day to day”.  The flirting with epic “Call Earth” soars on piano before a fluid guitar line takes the track to the mountain top and the disk closer “Talk” sounds naked and angelic with a splash of isolation. 

An introspective work of art that seems to have been recorded at a crossroads in Paternoster’s career/life, Holy Hell is an open book that can rock or remain distant with equal ease, rewarding upon each listen.

I could add more but instead you can just listen to the full album here and judge it for yourself:
Noun - Holy Hell by Don Giovanni Records

Go catch Screaming Females Live, you will not be disappointed with Marissa or the fellas, in fact I am pretty sure you will be blown away like I was...  

Monday, August 16, 2010

Grateful Dead in Saratoga Part III: 6-27-1985

The town of Saratoga has a lot of appeal this time of year, and while there are numerous reasons why, here are a few of my personal favorites:
 The Track-  Obviously this is the major draw (besides visiting my family), but I talked about it a bit already and will talk about it more in the upcoming weeks so lets move on.
Golf-  There are some picturesque links up there and while I haven't played the new and luxurious Saratoga National, there are number of other great courses in the area that are fantastic to play.  

 The Bar Scene- Caroline Street is the center of the town and the center of the partying for the area.  There are a ton of bars worth checking out there but my favorite bar is off the beaten path a bit, The Parting Glass.
If I could take this bar and transport it to NYC I would be in heaven, with 3 rooms (1 dart room, 1 for live music and 1 regular pub-style) the bar has everything you could want for a night hanging out.  I have tons of memories from this place from lots of great nights, making a point to visit there at least once every year to grab a "Cap Codder" Sandwich and a few pints.  Some of my fondest memories are with my family catching some live tunes; we saw The Clancy Brothers there on Saint Patrick's Day one year when I was in High School

and seeing Black 47 with my father and friends making a roadtrip upstate while in college.

many other rollicking good times with lots of friends from all over (including Ireland itself).  A fine piece of the Saratoga community place that supports great  local acts as well, stop by if you are in town, worth the journey.

OK lets get to today's show from The Grateful Dead, it is third in our little trip into the bands past history with this town and conveniently the 3rd time they played there: 6-27-1985
 This is a pitch perfect recording of this show, an excellent Matrix mix created by Hunter Seamons, sounding as if you are in the crowd on this hectic night.  This was the most crowded show ever held at the venue with 40,231 people in attendance.  That record breaking audience was in for a treat as The Dead were in the midst of fantastic run of nights, even if this one would get them banned from the venue for the next three years.  I already reviewed a show from only 3 days after in Maryland, the boys were in clearly hitting their stride even if Jerry physically wasn't.

While Jerry's voice (and health) is clearly hurting all over, his guitar playing here is still excellent, and Bobby really goes overboard singing magnificently to pick up some of the slack.  Like past SPAC shows a really sweet opener lets the fans know specialness is a'comin'.  Their cover of Wilson Picketts classic "In The Midnight Hour" just oozes out after some tuning and grooves all over, it is relaxed easy playing that would be the staple of a top-notch first set, ranking amongst the best opening frames the band did during the 80's.      
"Little Red Rooster" has the two guitarists playing in circles with Bobby breaking out the slide and getting loud in a good way on this one. 
The show then has to take a break because people in the crowded house begin to hang off the balcony and the band tells them they won't play until the jokers get back into their seats.  During the break the boys tell the groan worthy "Dog/Nose" joke to entertain the masses.  Supposedly I read account years ago where the people in the balcony were dancing so much that it was bouncing up and down and there was a real safety concern that the balcony could collapse.

"Stagger Lee" winningly shows up and minus the Jerry vocals the playing here is fine.  Then the group laces into "El Paso" with Brent twinkling away and Bobby taking over the Marty Robbins classic.  The set then gets some mega highlights with "Crazy Fingers>Supplication Jam>High Time" which is a super run of dramatic scales and glorious group interplay.  Both songs work well even with Jerry's strained vocals, and with "High Time" it is almost because of them.  The desperation and ache that would make his ballads must hears in the late 80's and 90's is on display with this tune.  It looks like the band is going to end the first set the same way they have done the last 2 years at SPAC with the "Hell In A Bucket>Deal" combo, but they throw a mini-curveball with "Don't Ease Me In" taking "Deals" spot as set closer.  "Hell in a Bucket" has Jerry going ballistic on his 6 strings, and the drummers motoring along.  A great set of playing that would be enough for most bands, but we got a whole other set to get too...
 The opener of "Feel Like A Stranger" has a big time disco vibe with Wah-Wah from Jerry and some poppy bass from Phil.  It has a "Shakedown Street" feel to it as the boys are getting funky and loose with the number before going directly into an old classic with "Eyes of The World".  There is energetic playing being presented on this tune, highlighted by Brent's keyboard runs and Jerry's light airy guitar notes matching him.  The group speak in song for 9 minutes with Eyes before the move into "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad".  Showing up earlier in the set then normal it is a fun, upbeat ride that doesn't last long before the reggae splashdown of "Man Smart, Woman Smarter".     

Things naturally work there way into a "Drums" segment that goes on really long as does the "Space" at this SPAC show.  The band brings things back to song structure with one of their most beloved "Truckin'".        
While "Truckin" is all smiles before melting into "Spoonful", the energy is certainly down a little bit and "Black Peter" is never one of my favorites especially at this point in the set, I am not sure why but this tune just doesn't resonate with me.  The set closing Bobby version of "Lovelight" must have been a blast for the huge crowd and tries to end the set on a positive, if not all time memorable note.

The Double Cover SPAC Encore tradition is still alive and kicking with the band playing the Chuck Berry all time classic Johnny B Goode:
Before ending the night with Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" again like the year before.  Because of the huge crowd, garbage, marshmallow fights, naked dancing and safety concerns the band would skip the next few summers up in Saratoga, but they would return...ahh but that is for next week.  Enjoy this show, especially it's great first set (and beginning of the second). 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Fun Day - Heavy Metal Baghdad

Happy Friday people's, today isn't so much fun as informative Friday...but you know once you start a facking theme....

Anyway, I caught a pretty engaging documentary this week over at the excellent site Snag Films, it was called Heavy Metal in Baghdad and it chronicles "the only Heavy Metal band from Baghdad".  The peeps over at Vice Magazine were instrumental in making it and the film was worth watching IMO, below is a preview:
Watch more free documentaries
You can watch the whole thing for free (no guilt) over here.

Also this NY Times follow up article is worth a read after you have seen the film...or if you are too lazy to watch it.

I maybe spoiling a bit of the ending of the film, but the band they follow and love, Acrassicauda, is playing Bowery Electric on Sunday and I hope to swing down and catch their set.  You should too...as live music is good for the soul.

All though I must admit Sunday's plans do depend on much fun I have catching and reviewing Dax Riggs late Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, and watching  Chelsea start it's title defense with it's opening match of the season (Community Shield doesn't count) along with my fellow NY Blues down at Nevada Smiths.   

 Enjoy the weekend and maybe I will catch you out and about....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Glide Review- The Dead Weather Live 8-3-10 Prospect Park, Bk, NY

Got a new review up on Glide.

Read it right C'HERE!!!

It is of the Dead Weathers Show in Bklyn 8-3-10.

I posted a ton of pic's and video that I took already of the show (in case you missed it click here) but I have one more video that I haven't posted yet, so I will do that below...

It is funny on many levels to see Jack hate on hipsters from an invite only shin dig the next night at Don Hill's.  (Thanks to Jeffe for the link).  I wish I was there, as I can't help but get down to this band, the dirty fuzz grooves are right up my alley.  As I said in the review though, I wouldn't mind some new Raconteurs shows when Jack feels like playing live again. 

I really would love to grab a beer with my man crush one of my favorite artists playing rock and roll today, I think it would be an interesting chat.

Here is "I Can't Hear You":

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

R.I.P Catfish Collins

One of the understated great musicians passed away recently and I wanted to acknowledge it here as I have done before with a few other artists.
Phelps "Catfish" Collins died at 66 years of age after a struggle with Cancer.  He was instrumental in creating the sound of some of the best bands this country has ever heard (I will get into this more in the future post as I have been thinking about it for a while, I promise) and with his amazing younger brother Bootsy, he was the interlocking rhythm backing James Brown and forming Funkadelic's foundation.   

In my opinion he was the greatest rhythm guitarist of all time.

I rest my case.

Happy to be in the background, Catfish ceded the spot light to some truly legendary players, but left his own distinct mark on the timeless classics.  Happily playing his patented Vox Ultrasonic
 the man scratched, bounced and strummed, providing the soundtrack for generations to come who would sample his guitar work constantly in hip-hop. 

He could be funky:

Or Freaky with his brother in the spotlight....

For added laughs on a day of remembering who Bootsy called "the Happiest Man on Earth", check out this video of "Cosmic Slop" the crew with Catfish having a blast in NYC:

He could be tight as a drum or drippy trippy, and his sound will be Eternal.  RIP Catfish.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Album Review - Sleigh Bells - Treats

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as "Overflow Reviews" and may add some extra information before or after if needed but will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
 Sleigh Bells
** out of *****

Derek E. Miller creates the music and Alexis Krauss provides the vocals for Sleigh Bells, who recently released their debut album Treats.  The Brooklyn based duo has created a stuttering industrial/dance-pop noise record that can overload or become eerily barren depending on the track.

Digital claps and electronic farts partner with noise blasts (replacing bass and drums) while walloping guitar riffs are plopped on top like whipped cream.   The multi-tracked wispy vocals add a nice off setting texture to the clanging chaos but no lyrical depth.  On it’s best track, “Infinity Guitars”, the sparse jingle worms its way into your brain and hips with its minimalist catchiness; hipsters will surely dance to this all summer.  “Rill Rill” keeps adding textures upon its sugary sweet vocals while on the flipside “Crown on the Ground” grates the eardrums with robotic/soulless hip-hop in one trick pony fashion. 

Treats provides intriguing moments but quickly begins to feel repetitive.  This formula simply lends itself to one catchy hook or tune rather then a full length release. The distortion will bombard your speakers but the fuzz may dull your brain rather then inspire your legs to get out on the dance floor.

For more thoughts, videos and tunes read some more...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Grateful Dead in Saratoga Part II: 6-24-1984

Ahh back to Saratoga for this Monday morning Grateful Dead entry, and some historic playing in a historic town.  
'The American victory at Saratoga was a major turning point in the war for Independence, heartening the supporters of independence and convincing France to enter in the war as an ally of the fledgling United States'. From Here.
There are a ton of great sites to read about the Battle of Saratoga and the importance of the victory on American independence, you can read about it here and here for starters, but I won't take up more time on the social studies lesson, all though it does add to the history of the location.  We have some other stuff to talk about...
For part 2 of RTBE Grateful Dead in Saratoga month we go to back in time to a rainy night June 24th 1984, the second time the group played at SPAC.

As far as quality goes, this show gets as A- from me, while it is a SBD, it does contain a lot of hiss on the highs, but again very easy on the ears and the playing captured is excellent for 1984 (also the sound improves greatly along with he playing for the second set).   This is the first show I am reviewing from that year, and honestly it wasn't one of the best for the Dead.  Jerry was starting to wear down which can be heard in his voice and to a slighter extent in his playing, which overall wasn't as inventive or crisp as it was in the past.  That said there is some fine playing from this wet June night.

Starting with the first "Dancing In The Streets" since 1981 signaled that the boys weren't fucking around, and it cemented what everyone felt after the last time the group played SPAC, there was a special bond that the band had with the venue.  There is a tight "Dire Wolf" and some wonky slide guitar played by Bobby on "New Minglewood Blues" and some straining from Jerry to hit the high notes of "Ramble On Rose".  The musical highlights of the first set is the fluid expressive guitar playing from Jerry and electric Keys from Brent on the pairing of "Me and My Uncle">"Mexicali Blues".  After a groovy "Hell In A Bucket" complete with raspy Weir vocals, a set closing "Deal" the crowd gets prepped for a huge second set.        
The second set sounds better from the start and opens in an unusual way with Weir getting loose on "I Need a Miracle" and the band just sounds more alive then they had in the first set.  Around the 3:30 mark in "Miracle" the band really starts going in different directions and does so in a intriguing way, all soloing yet not losing the center.  That would be a theme of this set as they segue right into "Bertha" which scoots along brilliantly.  The energy stays high for an excellent version of "Playing In The Band" which  Bobby sings with confidence and has Phil dropping powerful bass lines. 
 This is a cool version of this tune that never losses energy and allows each of the members to musically express themselves.  It is experimental, intriguing and a fun listen which flows directly into "China Doll".  While Jerry's rasp certainly added gravity to his ballads in the later years, here it sounds wounded and doesn't work so well, all though the playing is glorious with Brent using some harpsichord effects and Jerry easing into the guitar parts.

The fellas then let the drummers fire it up again with "Samson and Delilah" getting those in attendance up dancing in the rain, Bobby seems to be extra loud for this tune, and it may have been a better move to amp Jerry as Bobby seems to be playing some off kilter guitar here.  The "Drums>Space" Segment here takes up a bit of time with some wild "Space" sound effects, before the rumblings of the epic "Other One" starts up.  This is a great wandering version that doesn't even get around to the lyrics until about 4 minutes in.  A second Jerry ballad follows with the emotional telling of "Wharf Rat".  This is a solid version of the tune that relies heavily on Brent's keys and does a good job with them before the set closing rave up of "Sugar Magnolia".

Continuing the trend they started the last year at SPAC, they treat the crowd to a double encore.  This time we get them covering The Rolling Stones with "Satisfaction"

The Rolling Stones - Satisfaction (show)
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 and Bob Dylan with, "It's All Over Now Baby Blue".

Bob Dylan: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
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You couldn't really aim much higher in the covers department and another June night finds the band making their fans happy with a fun night of tunes...until next year...