Articles on this Page
- 06/05/12--06:00: _Hitting The Trunk R...
- 06/05/12--07:00: _Video: Bonnaroo Wee...
- 06/05/12--08:00: _Review: 5th Annual ...
- 06/05/12--09:21: _Moogis Comes Back F...
- 06/05/12--10:00: _Tour Dates: Gotye G...
- 06/05/12--10:48: _Videos & Setlist – ...
- 06/05/12--12:00: _Technology Tuesday:...
- 06/06/12--06:00: _Rex-A-Vision: Dave ...
- 06/06/12--07:00: _Video: Ogya – Live ...
- 06/06/12--08:00: _Postcards: Perpetua...
- 06/09/12--07:50: _Video: Entire Radio...
- 06/10/12--11:12: _Audio: Questlove’s ...
- 06/10/12--11:29: _Phish To Release UI...
- 06/10/12--17:10: _Phish Bonnaroo Setl...
- 06/11/12--07:00: _Video: Fiona Apple ...
- 06/11/12--08:00: _Televised Tune: On ...
- 06/11/12--10:00: _HT Interview: Neal ...
- 06/11/12--12:00: _Pullin’ ‘Tubes Thea...
- 06/11/12--13:50: _Stormy Mondays: Gr...
- 06/11/12--15:18: _Video: Kenny Rogers...
- 06/05/12--06:00: Hitting The Trunk Road: The Mystery Of Misty
- 06/05/12--07:00: Video: Bonnaroo Week – Ben Folds Five @ Mountain Jam
- 06/05/12--08:00: Review: 5th Annual DelFest
- 06/05/12--09:21: Moogis Comes Back From The Dead
- 06/05/12--10:00: Tour Dates: Gotye Goes Big
- The Walkmen: Fall World Tour (9/12 – 10/19)
- Citzen Cope: World Tour (6/24 – 11/23)
- Kansas: Fall Tour (9/13 – 10/19)
- Social Distortion: Fall Tour (10/11 – 11/16)
- Fitz & The Tantrums: Summer Tour (6/5 – 9/23)
- Polica: North American Tour (8/3 – 10/14)
- 06/05/12--10:48: Videos & Setlist – Levon Helm Tribute @ Brooklyn Bowl
- 06/06/12--06:00: Rex-A-Vision: Dave Matthews Band @ Riverbend Music Center
- 06/06/12--07:00: Video: Ogya – Live at Miller Plaza
- 06/06/12--08:00: Postcards: Perpetual Groove’s Amberland Round-Up
- 06/09/12--07:50: Video: Entire Radiohead Set From Bonnaroo Webcast
- 06/10/12--11:12: Audio: Questlove’s Bonnaroo Superjam Features D’Angelo
- 06/10/12--11:29: Phish To Release UIC Pavilion 1994 Shows as Chicago ’94
- 06/10/12--17:10: Phish Bonnaroo Setlist and The Skinny – Kenny Rogers Guests
- Venue Capacity / Attendance / Type: 80,000 / 75,000 (Estimate) / Major Multi-Band Festival
- Previous Shows at Venue: 2 Shows – 06/12/2009 & 06/14/2009
- Number Of Songs / Length – First Set: 12 / 8:05PM – 9:24PM (79 Minutes)
- Number Of Songs / Length – Second Set & Encore: 14 / 9:58PM – 11:43PM (105 Minutes)
- Total Number of Songs / Covers / Originals: 26 / 6 / 20
- Biggest Bustout: Shafty (LTP – 12/30/2003: 159 Shows)
- Debuts: The Gambler (Kenny Rogers)
- Weather: 73° Light Rain at Show Time
- Wardrobe: Trey – Black and Grey Striped T-Shirt and Black Long-Sleeve + Jeans / Mike – Black and Grey Checkered Button-Down Shirt and Jeans / Page – Blue Short-Sleeve Button Down and Jeans / Fish – Dress
- Average Song Gap: 9.2
- The Spread: Picture of Nectar – 4, Hoist – 3, Billy Breathes – 2, Story of the Ghost – 2, Joy – 2, Covers – 6, Misc. Originals – 7
- Longest LivePhish Track / Shortest LivePhish Track: Tweezer 12:20 / Rocky Top 3:39
- Audio: Live Phish
- 06/11/12--07:00: Video: Fiona Apple – Every Single Night
- 06/11/12--08:00: Televised Tune: On the Tube This Week
- The Who: Who’s Next on Classic Albums [VH1 Classic 2PM]
- Florence + The Machine: Unplugged [Palladia 10PM]
- Grace Potter & The Nocturnals on Conan [TBS 11PM]
- Black Box Revelation on David Letterman [CBS 11:35PM]
- Glen Hansard on Jimmy Fallon [NBC 12:35AM]
- Willie Nelson: Biography [BIO 8AM]
- Johnny Cash: Biography [BIO 9AM]
- Eric Hutchinson on Conan [TBS 11PM]
- Patti Smith on David Letterman [CBS 11:35PM]
- Cee-Lo Green on Jimmy Kimmel [ABC 12:05AM]
- Seal: One of a Kind [HDNet 1:50PM]
- The Beach Boys: An American Family [VH1 Classic 2PM]
- Kids These Days on Conan [TBS 11PM]
- Norah Jones on Jimmy Fallon [NBC 12:35AM]
- Death Cab for Cutie: Storytellers [Palladia 4AM]
- Bush: Live from Roseland [HDNet 1:25PM]
- Lionel Richie on Jay Leno [NBC 11:35PM]
- The Temper Trap on Jimmy Kimmel [ABC 12:05AM]
- Dukes of September on Jimmy Fallon [NBC 12:35AM]
- Motorhead: Live in Berlin [Palladia 2AM]
- 06/11/12--10:00: HT Interview: Neal Casal – It’s All One Big Band
- 06/11/12--12:00: Pullin’ ‘Tubes Theater Presents: Groupies
- 06/11/12--13:50: Stormy Mondays: Grateful Dead’s Psychedelic Cowboy
- 06/11/12--15:18: Video: Kenny Rogers and Phish – The Gambler
In his solo career, John Lennon surely did not invent the concept of songwriting as an act of catharsis. He did, though, set out a template for how it could be done in the most effective manner possible. Delving deep within, Lennon dredged up painful memories and offered not-so-insignificant glimpses of insight into his psyche. While no one in their right mind would ever compare Fleet Foxes to The Beatles, Josh Tillman, the former’s former drummer does have the onus of a relatively famous band looming over his shoulder while he attempts to succeed on his own.
As if to make a clean break, Tillman adopted the moniker of Father John Misty, a baptismal of sorts for his new solo career. In Every Man Needs A Companion, the closing song of Fear Fun, Father John Misty’s stirring and compelling debut album, Tillman leisurely tosses off his own version of “I don’t believe in Beatles” by proclaiming that he never liked the name Joshua and got tired of J. It would be a startlingly heartbreaking revelation; if only you could be entirely sure that he meant it.
Despite the omnipresence of fulsome, rustic atmospherics (you may be able to take the drummer out of the Fleet Foxes but not the Fleet Foxes out of the drummer) and a measured infusion of tempered barroom country rock, Fear Fun is a surprisingly Hollywood album. However, the Hollywood depicted by Tillman owes more to Bret Easton Ellis’ vision of Tinseltown than The Great Ziegfeld. In novels like Less Than Zero and The Informers (as well as their East coast cousins Glamorama and The Rules of Attraction), Ellis documented the ennui and emotional vacuity of a seemingly lost generation of morally bankrupt, unempathetic children of privilege. Tillman taps into that same vein on Fear Fun, offering what, at times, amounts to a winking satire of those that harbor grandiose hopes and dreams while possessing no self-awareness of their own shortcomings. With acute perception and a dry wit, Tillman explores the same psychic territory as The Eagles, only with a more nuanced spin and much less piety.
Setting the Father John Misty appellation as a shield between himself and the audience, Tillman turns Fear Fun and the live offering of its songs into an impenetrable paradox of intent as it is wholly unclear whether he’s possessed with the utmost sincerity or dripping with acidic sarcasm. It’s entirely possible Tillman does not know the answer himself. On Fun Times In Babylon, when he sings the final refrain of “look out Hollywood, here I come” with a vapid melancholia, it’s purposely unclear whether he’s wearily embracing the optimism inherent to the clichéd pronouncement or slyly making an ironic observation of its insipidness. Witnessing Tillman perform the song live offers little insight: as he dances along to the song in a slightly exaggerated fashion, declaring that he’s caught up in the moment would be as valid a description as claiming that he’s mocking the whole concept of a singer dancing to his own music. The enigmatic contradictions don’t end there. On Well You Can Do It Without Me, Tillman’s brashly critical of ambition but on Now I’m Learning To Love The War, he’s come to grips with its results begging the question of whether he’s truly accepted the Faustian bargain or just winking at the thought that people might believe he has.
While Tillman/Misty sings from a first-person point of view, his stage demeanor makes it difficult to believe that he is beset with the doubts and misgivings that underlie Fear Fun’s songs. Rather, it feels like he is giving voice to the shallowness and character flaws he sees in others. In doing so, he is brilliant cruel in his accuracy. With the charismatic and confident delivery of an accomplished frontman, Tillman humorously tweaks overarching and possibly clueless ambition in I’m Writing A Novel, mocks (possibly) the insecurities of a fella that’s just been dumped in Nancy From Now On and unemotionally doubts his own sexually prowess (or inattentiveness) on Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The subject matter simply doesn’t match the personality and if the songs come from a genuine spot in Tillman’s soul, he’s either past the point where they register or his stage demeanor is an extraordinarily brave face.
Whether Father John Misty is simply another name for J. Tillman or serves as an entirely new personality for the former Fleet Foxes drummer, Fear Fun is one of the more complex offerings of 2012. It’s been decades since it was fashionable to proclaim anyone the New Dylan, becoming gauche as none of the nominees ever fulfilled the prophecy. In blurring the line separating sincerity and sarcasm, turning an insightful and critical eye towards his surroundings and deftly turning a phrase, sometimes with biting effect, Tillman has made himself as equally difficult to pin down as the folk master himself. Quite possibly, that’s the point. As Dylan himself said, “folk songs are evasive – the truth about life, and life is more or less a lie, but then again that’s exactly the way we want it to be.”
As far as rock and roll legends go, Steve Winwood is one of the more unsung heroes. Since his days as the Wunderkid of the Spencer Davis Group, Winwood has been an integral component of supergroups like Traffic and Blind Faith and flirted with mainstream success in the Eighties without doing lasting damage to his reputation.
With the exception of a series of high-profile arena shows with Eric Clapton in 2008, Winwood has spent much of the last decade honing his solo show into a crowd-pleasing affair, heavy on hits from his storied career. At his recent show at New York City’s Beacon Theater, Winwood offered very few twists on what had become his standard show: Low Spark of High Heeled Boys segued into Empty Pages, an extended Light Up Or Leave Me Alone provided a showcase for band solos and the encore consisted of Gimme Some Lovin’ and a version of Dear Mr. Fantasy during which Winwood offers a reminder that he’s as talented on the guitar as on the keyboards. If anything, the Beacon Theater show came across as too rehearsed. In the past, when Winwood inserted Traffic chestnuts like Glad and Freedom Rider as well as rarities like 40,000 Headmen and Medicated Goo, he and his band seemed properly energized. While polish is too be expected from a rock and roll veteran, Winwood’s recent show lacked the spontaneity that makes live music an entertaining spectacle.
In the late-Eighties through the mid-Nineties, SPIN magazine served as an outpost for coverage of bands that weren’t mainstream enough for the growing monolith of Rolling Stone. Long before Jann Wenner’s bulwark gave exposure to bands like The Replacements, The Smiths, Sonic Youth and The Cure, SPIN had devoted significant pages to them and their then-underground brethren. In the ensuing years, the Internet and growing music blogosphere coopted much a SPIN’s cachet and for good or for bad, SPIN now serves an afterthought for relevant music criticism. Just recently, SPIN attempted to attract some publicity with a tried-and-true tactic: a list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all-time.
In proclaiming Jeff Beck’s “histrionics” to be “tyranny” and professing an ignorance of Derek Trucks, SPIN was just being idiosyncratically cheeky and placing a comfortable distance between themselves and Rolling Stone’s list of axemen. In slotting Jam Master Jay at #10, they made a mockery of the entire concept and turned the list into a desperate plea for attention (which since I’m writing about it, worked). This misstep never would have occurred during the magazine’s glory days, for which it truly deserves to be remembered. Let’s pretend this never happened. SPIN Magazine Is Dead; Long Live SPIN Magazine.
Our 10AM video posts this week will feature artists set to perform at Bonnaroo.
This past Saturday at Mountain Jam, the Ben Folds Five returned to the touring circuit nearly 12 years after the trio parted ways in 2000. While the Chapel Hill-based band did get together for a one-off gig in 2008, the Mountain Jam set was only the beginning of a reunion that will see the release of an as of yet untitled album in September and a worldwide tour that is expected to last until 2013.
Folds, bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee didn’t miss a beat at their first show back and displayed why they were known as a formidable live act in their day. The 18-song set touched on material from all three of the group’s proper studio albums – 1995′s self-titled debut, 1997′s Whatever and Even Amen and 1999′s The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. Thanks to YouTuber PianoBrad, here’s a playlist containing 12 tunes from Ben Folds Five’s Mountain Jam performance…
Jackson Cannery, Theme From Dr. Pyser, Fair, Selfless Cold & Composed, Army, Kate, Alice Childress, Song for the Dumped, Narcolepsy, Improv, Underground, One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces
You can catch the Ben Folds Five at Bonnaroo’s Which Stage on Sunday starting at 4:30PM.
DelFest @ Allegany County Fairgrounds, May 24 – 27
The 5th annual DelFest, curated by bluegrass legend Del McCoury and his family of bluegrass all stars, took place over Memorial Day Weekend and brought together big name acts such as Keller Williams, Leftover Salmon, Yonder Mountain String Band, and of course all the McCoury bands, from Del Band to the Travelin’ McCourys. As a family-oriented event that’s kept its roots at the Allegany Fair Grounds in Cumberland, Maryland, this festival draws not only kids and parents alike, but all your typical festival-attendees: the flower girls, the bros from college, the hoopers, the Deadheads and all sorts of music lovers. DelFest has always been a destination for bluegrass bands of any size, but this year’s event blew previous ones out of the water with three separate stages, multiple headliners every night and full swinging, dirt kicking, badass bluegrass all weekend.
Spoiler alert: I ADORED this festival. I went in with very little expectations (no offense McCoury clan!) and left the event simply amazed. Everything from the organization and the lineup to the setting, the vendors and the people, this little festival, truly blew me away.
Because of work, I arrived to the festival later on Friday and was enthusiastically greeted by other festivarians as I drove slowly down the tent-lined road to park. Only a small amount of people are able to camp next to their car, so I parked and walked my stuff in to my group who was waiting anxiously for me to get to Yonder Mountain String Band. We made it right on time and with their energetic set, my festival season was in full bloom. I realize I had missed a lot of great music already – Del performed twice, Devil Makes Three and Railroad Earth played on Thursday, while Split Lip Rayfield, Della Mae, David Mayfield and Luther Dickinson has performed earlier that day. But something about that Yonder set made it a perfect way to start an intense season of live music. Like so many of the sets this weekend, they invited special guests on stage to share in the moment – Darol Anger, Tim Carbone of RRE, Jason Carter, and of course Del himself sat in for a couple songs. In bringing him on, Jeff Austin compared Del to Jerry Garcia in his level of influence, and I’ve never seen a happier birthday boy than Jeff was in playing with McCoury; one of the first very special moments at this very special festival.
I was obviously itching for more music, but the late night sets were an extra $20 and sold out very quickly. This is where I will call DelFest’s bluff – while I agree with their reasoning to exclude it from the general ticket price (it is a family festival, after all), each time I went into the air-conditioned building where late nights were held, there was excessive space. Organizers “sold out” their late nights with plenty of availability to invite more people in. I felt for the groups standing outside, and was peeved when I couldn’t get in to Greensky Bluegrass and RRE on Friday.
But the show must go on, and there was more music to be had on that blistering Saturday. The heat was unforgiving, that is until the torrential downpour that lasted about an hour. God bless its cooling powers, but the whole beautiful scene got thoroughly wet, and stayed so through the weekend, which is apparently typical for DelFest. After a delightful swim in the Potomac River (note to self: bring an inner tube next year) and a subsequent rinsing in the rain, I made it in for The Travelin’ McCourys featuring Keller Williams. Another fantastic set of music, notably covers like Born to be Wild and Hot Stuff that really blew me away, and it’s this exciting new style for both Keller and the Travelin’ McCourys that their new album Pick draws from.
One of the many great thing about DelFest is that most of the bands play twice, if not more due to guest appearances, so you really get every dime of music you pay for. If you missed anyone Friday, for a lot of them, you got a second chance on Saturday, and for the first appearances from Emmitt-Nershi Band and Leftover Salmon, we would see them again later as well. The Del McCoury Band’s best set was on Saturday, when Del chose to play classic bluegrass tunes, inspired covers, and of course, welcomed guests for a slew of stellar sit-ins, but the real treat that night was Leftover Salmon.
Now, forgive me for being naïve, but I did not know that Leftover could rock a house like that. From the very first chords, the energy was vibrant, the band was running around stage having a great time dancing in the colors, and it did not stop for their whole performance. Even listening back to the set (which I could and did buy from the fest the very next morning), there was not a break or skip in the beat or lag of enthusiasm once. When I saw them for their 20-year anniversary two years ago, I don’t think I saw the same band, and now, I can’t stop listening to their collection. It’s truly radiant, and I hope we see a strong return from them in the next couple of seasons.
As quite a perfect follow-up, late night sets by The David Mayfield Parade and Infamous Stringdusters were speedy, intense and really fun. Infamous Stringdusters are taking the bluegrass community by storm, and it only seems appropriate since their music is a whirlwind in itself. Their originals sound like instant classics fueled by a modern newgrass high, and their shows are nothing short of a full jam band experience, which also featured one of the only The Band covers of the whole weekend. Thank goodness this band plays pretty much everywhere these days; you will have plenty of opportunity to see for yourself what I mean.
Another great aspect of DelFest is its willingness to nurture young bands through their Bluegrass Band Competition. Over Friday and Saturday, eight smaller acts competed for a half hour Sunday morning slot on the main stage, and an invite to next year’s event. Being that it was Memorial Day Weekend, no one was in a rush to get out of the beautiful Allegany County Fairgrounds, especially not the musicians. Possibly the most stacked day of the entire festival, each stage featured a lineup of killer performances and jams, leaving attendees unwilling to depart from the concert fields through the heat and rain.
A McCoury Family Jam was the perfect way to start the last day, followed by Sara Watkins, the Sam Bush Band, the Larry Stephenson Band, Bela Fleck and the Bluegrass Allstars, and then…a second wild and powerful storm. Headed by strong gusts of wind that at first felt awesome, then got scary, and huge bolts of lightning that crashed right over our heads, the fans made a great moment out of a stranded situation. As we waited for word on when the rest of the music would happen, fans started self-entertaining in the Grandstands. Hundreds of us did group waves, sung the National Anthem, and eventually, started mud wrestling. From two, to four, to ten and more, eventually we were being fully amused by a large group of brave, wet souls running around on the slippery horse track.
The rain eventually let up for an excellent set by actor, comedian, and banjo player Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. He did a lot of talking in between songs, but it was informative, interesting, and, of course, funny. Never taking it too seriously or making too much of a joke, Martin traversed the bluegrass stage with relative ease and impressive skill. Nothing could have topped the guests he had with him – bluegrass fame simply pouring off stage – with everyone from Del, Bela, Jason Carter, all the McCoury’s, Darol Anger, Drew Emmitt, Bill Nershi and more. It was an unreal spectacle.
The rains came again and the festival moved the last set of the weekend into the DelFest Music Hall, where the late nights and workshops took place. This Del set with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was the cherry on top of a perfect weekend, the tiny stage packed with explosive energy. On the whole, there was very little to complain about with DelFest. It was well run, at a amazing venue, a perfect size and featured an amazing bluegrass lineup to get us into that hot heat of summer music that’s ahead. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
The last we heard from Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks’ Moogis webcasting service was in April 2011, when paid subscribers to the company’s Wanee Festival broadcast were told they wouldn’t be getting the webcast they paid for and they’d have to wait for a refund. Last night Moogis sent out a note to its mailing list explaining that the company plans to webcast The Peach Music Festival on August 10 and 11 free-of-charge.
In addition to Moogis’s plan to webcast the Peach Fest free-of-charge, they also announced the return of the Moogis VOD Archives featuring footage of entire Allman Brothers Band shows from the 2009 and 2011 Beacon runs as well as the 2010 United Palace run and the 2010 Wanee Festival. While Moogis is charging $50 for access to the archives until March 1, 2013, those who paid for the 2011 Wanee Festival, which the company never delivered, will receive access to the archives for free until March 1, 2013. Moogis also revealed it will replay the Peach Music Fest broadcast a few weeks after it takes place for those who are attending the festival. The first annual Peach Music Festival is set to take place from August 10 – 12 at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Penn.
We missed Moogis this past March when the ABB’s annual March Madness run went without being broadcast live for the first time since 2007. In throwing a bone to those who got screwed by the Wanee debacle AND showing off what the service can do for free come August, Moogis has a chance to get back in the good graces of Allman Brothers Band fans. Let’s see if they can still deliver a high-quality viewing and listening experience without any revenue from those viewing at home.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last six months, there is a good chance that you’ve heard Someone I Used to Know, the ubiquitous breakout single from Gotye. Since first posting the video to YouTube roughly a year ago it’s been viewed a staggering 240-million-plus times, helping to earn the Australian singer-songwriter a spot on SNL and propelling him to stardom.
After touring the U.S. earlier this year, Gotye has revealed a new round of dates that will see him playing some impressively large venues, for an artist that most probably are only vaguely familiar with. The shed heavy tour kicks off with a gig at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on August 22, and includes a two-night stand in New York City, with show a piece at Radio City Music Hall and Williamsburg Park on September 25 and 26 respectively.
If you’re not into a night with Gotye’s brand of world music, then maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…
Kudos to everyone involved in putting on last night’s amazing Levon Helm tribute at Brooklyn Bowl. We’ll have a full report and photo set in the coming days, but we wanted to share the setlist and a batch of high-def videos from our pal Sunil featuring many highlights.
Levon Helm Tribute – Ain’t No More Cane, Jemima Surrender, Yazoo Street Scandal, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Deep Elem Blues, W.S. Walcott’s Medicine Show, King Harvest, The Shape I’m In, The Weight
Here’s a take on the setlist from last night. There were dozens of guests coming on and off for each tune, so we focused on listing everything played and who sang what.
Set: Ophelia* (sung by Scott Metzger), Slippin & Slidin’ (sung by Kelli Scarr), Goin’ Back To Memphis (sung by Dreiwitz), Ain’t No More Cane(sung by Ryan Miller of Guster, Luke Rathborne and Matthew Houck), Look Out Cleveland (sung by Matthew Houck and Tom Hamilton), Jemima Surrender (sung by Craig Finn), Yazoo Street Scandal (sung by Craig Finn), When I Paint My Masterpiece (sung by Chris Harford), Evangeline (sung by Kim Krans), Whispering Pines (sung by Nicole Atkins), Dirt Farmer (sung by Grayson Capps), Don’t Ya Tell Henry (sung by Tom Hamilton), Don’t Do It* (sung by Jonah Smith), Up On Cripple Creek (sung by Diamond Doves), W.S. Walcott Medicine Show (sung by Sam Cohen), Rag Mama Rag (sung by Sam Cohen), The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down* (sung by Ian Felice), King Harvest (sung by Kelli Scarr), Anna Lee (sung by Kelli Scarr, Leah Siegel and more), Calvary, Long Black Veil (sung by Diamond Doves), I Ain’t Got No Home (sung by Diamond Doves), Mystery Train* (sung by Jim Keller and Byron Isaacs), I Don’t Want To Hang Up My Rock & Roll Shoes* (sung by Luke Rathborne), Deep Elem Blues* (sung by Nate Martinez), The Shape I’m In (sung by Brian Mitchell), I Shall Be Released (sung by Nicole Atkins, Ian Felice and Ryan Miller), The Weight (sung by many)
* – w/ horn section
The above setlist is incomplete as far as guests. We do know Levon Helm Band members Jim Weider, Byron Isaacs and Brian Mitchell each sat in on multiple songs as did a trio of female backing vocalists (Kelli Scarr, Leah Siegel and ?) and multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby.
The explosion of ways to listen to music via the internet over the last few years has been mind blowing. Everything from your own tunes like Google Music or Subsonic, to subscription services like MOG to streaming radio like TuneIn Radio to social listening in Turntable FM…music is always at your fingertips. It is imperative that you have a decent pair of desktop speakers if you want to enjoy the plethora of music available in its full glory.
Desktop speakers with rich, deep bass, tons of power, and room filling sound don’t need to break the bank. At my office, an old pair of speakers that I bought with one of my very first computers, in the early 1990′s, finally kicked the bucket. Not a bad run really. Anyway, I wanted to spend about $125 – $150 and replace them with something that will give me great sound. I settled on Altec Lansing Expressionist Series MX6021 and I couldn’t be happier. They boast 200W of power and pretty impressive sound for the money (about $125). This week we’ll review these marvelous speakers that will give impressive results for everything from music, to YouTube videos, to games to anything else you throw at it.
Design: The first couple of things that you’ll notice is the relatively striking design of the desktop speakers and the immense size of the sub-woofer. The speakers each have a mid-range driver and a high-range tweeter that are housed in a sleek looking smoked acrylic casing that basically looks like a flat-topped pyramid. The subwoofer is similar in shape as well but is solid black and monolithic looking. However, measuring in at roughly 16″ tall and 15″ wide, this isn’t something that you can tuck onto the corner of your desk.
The satellite speakers connect directly to the subwoofer with a proprietary cable connection. Unfortunately, the cables are not very long so you are limited as to where you can hide the sub as your satellites need to still reach it. The cables are roughly 6′ long so that’s the maximum distance they can be placed away from the subwoofer. In my case, since I am using it on a desk, it was not an issue as I was able to place it under my desk and still have plenty of length to spare. I can definitely imagine some people being disappointed with the lack of flexibility.
Control: At home, I use the Bose Companion speakers and one of the things that I simply love about it is the control mechanism. I hate twisting dials on desktop speakers or having to control volume through my computer. Fortunately, the MX6021′s have a pretty sweet controller that can control power, volume, bass & treble. Additionally, there is a headphone jack and 3.5mm jack for plugging in mobile devices. Of course, you can also use an RCA adapter and plug in practically any device like a TV or turntable. The dial doesn’t turn quite as smoothly as Bose’s counterpart, but overall it works very well and is awfully convenient. One minor irritation is that the volume light indicators move in the opposite direction as you twist the dial which is a bit confusing at first.
[Controller with headphone jack and audio in]
Sound: In one word: Impressive. At full volume with something with deep bass, these speakers can literally shake your room and rattle your bones. Of course, even cheap speakers with artificially boosted bass can provide this sensation. But what makes these impressive is the overall crispness, clarity and natural sounding balance. One of the albums that I love testing new audio devices on is Dark Side Of The Moon. Particularly tracks like Money or Breathe with sound effects, shrill highs, deep bass and everything in between. When I can hear everything crisply and cleanly, I know that I will be pleased with most anything else I listen to. True enough, anything I tossed at them gave me very good results. I was particularly pleased with the guitar and vocals from There’s No Leaving Now, the new album from Tallest Man on Earth. Getting ready for Phish’s upcoming summer tour, I played some gems from Worcester past through the MX6021′s including the hour-long Runaway Jim and 2010′s amazing Harry Hood. As was the case with Dark Side, the results were impressive. My only problem was that I couldn’t jack the volume too high as I was in an office setting.
Similarly, watching video or movies gave very good results with great, natural sounding dialog. I asked my son to fire up Steam and play a few games. Needless to say, he was begging to keep them and was blown away with the rumbles, explosions, and overall sound quality of blowing people up.
Bottom Line: Great value at $125 for stylish speakers that will give impressive performance with music, games or movies. The desktop controller is a convenient way to plug in mobile devices or headphones.
I’d love to hear suggestions for any other budget conscious desktop speakers as I have one more computer to outfit in the coming months. What do you use?
Hidden Track Technology Tuesday
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Dave Matthews Band with the Carolina Chocolate Drops @ Riverbend, May 29
In a society that discards and disregards anything popular faster than expired dairy products, the staying power and popularity of Dave Matthews is remarkable and well earned. One of the saddest aspects of internet reviews is to talk down on the popular, to appear above the rabble and shower disdain on your subject matter. I have read dozens of reviews on Dave Matthews making fun of his supposed blandness, his fans and his place as a “Gateway” act, as if you need to move past his brand of happy, energetic music to be accepted into the realms of higher fandom. Yet, night in and night out, Dave Matthews and his stellar band play to sold out shows packed with smiling faces and sing-a-long voices, having the time of their lives.
[All DMB Photos by Rex Thomson]
The fans themselves don’t care what these elitist writers and listeners say, they just wanna hear Ants Marching. They don’t care if you listened to Dave a year ago and have moved past his sound, they care that it makes them happy, and that’s all Matthews is shooting for as well. Over the years he has not only delighted millions of fans, he has introduced his audience to hundreds of supporting acts, helping far more artists than I could easily name. On this night in Cincinnati, he brought the Carolina Chocolate Drops along and let them have a solid 45 minutes to share their old timey Americana/Roots style with the 15,ooo attendees. The CCD combine an earthy, authentic blend of styles, from ragtime, to spirituls, proto jazz and smiling soul that charms and entertains all at once. Mixing a variety of instruments, from cello, violin, guitar, drums and more, the trio from the Carolina mountains bring a humanity and humor to music that seems old as the hills and fresh at the same time.
[Photo by Joshua Timmermans]
With a spirited and soulful lead in like the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Matthews had the deck fully stacked in his favor. The Riverbend Music Center is set inside an amusement park, along the banks of the Ohio River. Motor boats enjoyed the smooth waters, and the skies were blue and stretched as far as the eyes could see. Many musicians would give all they had to walk out on a stage with as much positive energy and love waiting for them as Matthews does nightly, and you can clearly see his humbleness and appreciation. Walking to the front of the stage to peer out to the thousands of faces smiling and cheering back to him, a slight nod to himself as he picked up a guitar and with a look to his band launched into Sweet.
His band has held fast to a main core, with one tragic loss. Besides the remaining four originals, the band has three touring members, including most recent addition Jeff Coffin on saxophone and flute, covering the needed color brought by the wind instruments. Boyd Tinsley cut throgh the guitar based jams with a lean violin sond that was sharp but complementary to the material. Guitarist Tim Reynolds found opportunities to rip lines and solos, and added a bit of the “Guitar Hero” flash that brings the rockier tunes to a climax, while drumer Carter Beauford showed a range of precise, intuitive styles of playing, always making his parts the basis for the rest to work from. But as always with any show from this band, the true burden of connecting with and entertaining the crowd fell squarely on Matthews himself.
One of the most well-known faces in rock and roll, Matthews spent the entire show either smiling or appearing to fight a smile. And who could blame him? Having walked an epic road to world wide stardom, Dave Matthews has done almost everything you could ever hope for, worked with legends and done it all without a sad, “Fall From Grace” moment of debauchery or moral lapse so many of his famous brethren have lapsed into. Following a rolicking version of the band’s Tripping Billies, Dave laid out a solo number, a breathy cover of Whiter Shade Of Pale. Every man on stage took a moment to shine, including a thunderous solo by bassist Stefan Lessard, which led into the last song of the night, a wild version of All Along The Watchtower, the oft covered Dylan tune. Lesser bands would have either given a Hendrix styled reading, or simply turned it into a simple rave up. The DMB, however, treated the song with respect, and rose and fell like the tides, hushing down in the lyrics before rising sharply to a wild conclusion that left the audience crying out for more.
With a humble smile and wave Dave retired the stage, another in a near endless string of sold out shows under his belt. But there was no jadedness in his eyes, no sad relief at a job done, but a wild spark of light, as if he was fighting the urge, the urge to do just one more. So no matter how many times Saturday Night Live or anyone else chooses to parody Matthews, or deride the perceived simplicity of his music, the crowd knows, as do I, that there is a fire that burns inside him still.
Set: Sweet , You Never Know, You Might Die Trying, Rhyme & Reason, Granny, Why I Am, #41, Seven, Mercy, Tripping Billies, A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum cover) (Dave solo), Gaucho, Jimi Thing, What Would You Say, Time Bomb, Two Step
Encore: Squirm, Stefan solo ,All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan cover)
Here’s a full gallery of Rex’s photos from DMB at Riverbend and a few Carolina Chocolate Drops shots from Joshua Timmermans…
In what’s becoming a bit of a tradition around Hidden Track on Bonnaroo Week, we always enjoy highlighting the “Mr. Irrelevant” of the official lineup. For the sportingly challenged, Mr. Irrelevant is the term coined for the last player chosen in the NFL Draft every year. This year, Ogya, a world music outfit from Chattanooga with Ghanaian roots earned the honor of being the last band named. Ogya hits the Solar Stage at 9:45 on Thursday. Have fun guys; it sure beats not being named at all.
Memorial Day Weekend boasts many traditions to mark the unofficial start of summer. In the world of HT faves Perpetual Groove, the holiday weekend saw the 13th installment of Amberland, the group’s annual festival. Holding court at Cherokee Farms in Lafayette, Georgia, not too far from the band’s home base of Athens, PGroove drew and expanded on one of my favorite festivals. Although I wasn’t able to make it this year, we wanted to share some of the sights and sounds of Amberland 2012.
The festival kicked off with a late night set on Friday that featured guests from many of the other bands on the bill and other friends including former keys player John Hruby. Amberland’s PGroove and Friends’ “Super Jam” started out with Bobblehead Funk, and featured a nearly half-hour Drink Then Fill This set, which always kicks off the festivities, is what Amberland represents in a nutshell. It’s loose and casual, with musicians sometimes switching off mid-jam, but it also represents the beginning of what is a relentless onslaught of music from all sensory angles. Covers included Paul Simon’s I Know What I Know, Foster The People’s Pumped Up Kicks and Funkadelic’s Can You Get To That.
With six “official” PGroove sets on Saturday and Sunday, there were highlights around every corner. Saturday’s sets featured a pair of creative “sandwiches” in Cabulo Monstrosity > God’s Gonna Cut You Down > Cabulo Monstrosity and Mr. Transistor > Only Always > Mr. Transistor. The band also debuted a pair of new tunes in My Favorite Color and Fend For Your Life. Yet the event wasn’t just PGroove. With performances from The Heavy Pets, Under the Porch, Moon Taxi and Consider The Source, this was definitely the biggest Amberland to date.
We’ve got more photos, a video and a few songs for your streaming pleasure…
As keyboardist Matt McDonald said about the weekend, which was his first since his departure from the band in 2008 at this very event: “Amberland brought everything full circle for me personally this year. It was more a family reunion or backyard BBQ with 800 of your closest friends rather than a festival. It was great having Under the Porch, The Heavy Pets, Moon Taxi, and Consider the Source on the bill with us this year. It was my first time with other bands at Amberland and it’s a welcome change. The band definitely played some of our best sets of the year and some songs were even best versions ever in my opinion. Even when we all lost our voices by the last set on Sunday having Hruby and other musicians on stage to help out felt completely natural and we never lost momentum as a band. Really, some of the best playing we’ve ever done.”
Saturday’s sets also saw former keyboardist Hruby join his old mates on For Now Forget and The Butthole Surfers’ Pepper as well as the return of At The Screen, which also saw Mark Montrella sit in on bass. The show closed out with two bust outs: Andromeda (first since 5.29.10) and Green Light Go (first since 4.25.08), showing just how much attention to detail the band puts into their admittedly favorite weekend of the year.
Sunday highlights have to start with another aspect of Amberland – many patrons’ favorite part – the early morning “Brockfast“. Each Amberland, front man Brock Butler treats the crowd to an early morning set (often stretching well past two or three hours). This year, as he mentioned on the band’s message board about fans calling this the best Brockfast ever, but how things don’t always go as planned. “I very much wanted it to be [the best]” Butler said. “I truly wanted not for folks to go from Amberland as a whole, talking not of how I still could walk or play at all after being up for days, etc. I really made an effort to think out the sit ins, and introduce newer instruments I’ve picked up over this past year (the smaller and smaller guitars). [I] tried to pace [myself] and take care. So of course , of all the Amberlands, the one where I truly wanted to express my gratitude through my craft? My voice crapped out. Typical.”
Don’t worry Good Reverend, this set still sounds amazing. Guests included each of his PGroove band mates, McDonald’s wife Kelly, Ayinde Bryant on bass and Jeff Lloyd of The Heavy Pets as well as Brock’s roommate and collaborator Michael Blair. Among the many covers were Bon Iver’s Holocene, Wilco’s One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend), Alice In Chains’ Rooster, DMX’s Crime Story and The Only Living Boy In New York by Paul Simon.
Here’s a cover of Pearl Jam’s Release that he played with longtime friend Tye Munn on guitar…
Sunday’s PGroove highlights included a deliciously delicate Luthien & Beren that floats and drips upwards into the ether, led by Butler on a myriad of strings, and a raucous, yet complex, delicate odyssey through Sunday afternoon’s set closing Decepticon Structure. The second set saw Heavy Pets’ keyboardist Jim Wuest accompany the band through Space Oddity and a disgustingly dark Speed Queen, while the eventual start of the encore for TTFPJ saw not only Wuest, but Hruby, longtime collaborator Gary Paulo on sax and Heavy Pets’ guitarist Jeff Lloyd cap off the weekend.
Overall, Amberland showed tremendous signs of growth this year and holds promise to keep the beginning of summertime in Georgia as refreshing as a Sweet Tea for years to come.
We’ve got a few more treats from Amberland. First off, our friend David Shehi of Honest Tune filmed this incredible backstage performance of Butler, McDonald and Matt’s wife Kelly performing Ashtar Command’s Deadman’s Gun…
Also, here’s links to recordings of Friday’s Super Jam, Saturday’s PGroove sets and Sunday’s PGroove sets as well as the Brockfast set from the final day. There’s also recordings of The Heavy Pets’ Friday and Sunday performances on the Live Music Archive as well as Under The Porch’s set from Friday. Finally, Mr. Shehi has shared a few more photos with us…
One of the most anticipated sets of Bonnaroo – which is taking place this weekend in Manchester, Tenn. – was that of Radiohead, a band whose Bonnaroo ’06 performance is considered one of the best in both the group’s and the festival’s history. Thom Yorke and Co. stuck to a similar setlist as recent shows and dotted the 140 minute performance with shout outs to friends Jack White and the Chili Peppers. The Jack White shout out has led to speculation the Brits may collaborate with the former White Stripe. If you missed last night’s webcast, our friends at ArcadeFireTube have us covered…
All sorts of rumors swirled yesterday about who would join host Questlove at the annual Bonnaroo Superjam. A little after midnight Bonnaroovians got their answer when the drummer emerged along with his Roots band mates guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas and percussionist Frank Knuckles as well as keyboardist James Poyser (Jay-Z, Aretha Franklin), bassist Pino Palladino (The Who), Eric Leeds on sax (Prince), guitarist Jesse Johnson (Morris Day & The Time) and vocalist Kendra Foster (D’Angelo, Parliment Funkadelic). But there was one more performer, the biggest surprise was the addition of soul superstar D’Angelo, who was making his first live appearance in the U.S. since 2000.
[D'Angelo via @Questlove]
Our friends at the Funk It blog have posted a full audio download of the entire set. Here’s your chance to listen to the 90-minute performance which paid tribute to Electric Ladyland and featured covers of Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) by Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Guitar Watson’s Superman Lover, What Is and What Should Never Be by Led Zeppelin, The Beatles’ She Came In Through The Bathroom Window and more.
THE SETLIST: (I’m still figuring it out, but here is what I have so far:)
Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) [Jimi Hendrix cover] >
Go Back 2 The Thing >
Superman Lover [Johnny Guitar Watson cover] >
Go Back 2 The Thing >
Funky Dollar Bill [Funkadelic cover] >
Hit It And Quit It [Funkadelic cover] >
What Is And What Should Never Be [Led Zeppelin cover]
Power of Soul [Band of Gypsys cover]
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window [The Beatles cover]
Questlove – drums
Kirk Douglas – guitar
James Poyser – keys
Frank Knuckles – percussion
Pino Palladino – bass
Eric Leeds – saxophone
Jesse Johnson – guitar
Kendra Foster – vocals
D’Angelo – vocals, guitar, keys
[via Funk It]
So head over the Funk It blog to download to listen to an untracked MP3 of the 2012 Bonnaroo Superjam, with the promise of FLACs and tracked MP3s to follow soon.
The latest Phish vault release has been revealed on ADA Music and it looks amazing. On July 31, the band will put out Chicago ’94 featuring the famed June 18, 1994 and November 25, 1994 performances at the UIC Pavilion. All in all Chicago ’94 contains 6 CDs worth of music remastered by Fred Kevorkian. This marks the first Phish archival release from the legendary year of 1994 since 2005.
In addition to every note from both shows, as recorded by Paul Languedoc, Chicago ’94 will include material from the soundchecks as well as new artwork from Jim Pollock. While a soundboard recording from 6/18/94 has circulated for years, this will be the first time soundboard-sourced recordings of 11/25/94 will find their way into fans’ hands, plus as mentioned this edition will be remastered.
Here’s the setlists from both shows…
UIC Pavilion, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
Soundcheck: All Things Reconsidered, How Many More Times
 Three Blind Mice, Dave’s Energy Guide, Voodoo Child, and Purple Haze teases.
 Frankenstein and How Many More Times teases; Monty Python “Spam” vocal jam. Vocal jam also contained Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque quote.
 Full band tease of How Many More Times.
Notes: Bowie (after the Mind Left Body Jam) included Three Blind Mice, Dave’s Energy Guide, Voodoo Child, and Purple Haze teases. YEM included Frankenstein and How Many More Times teases, as well as a Monty Python “Spam” vocal jam. The vocal jam also contained a Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque quote. Chalk Dust subsequently contained a full band tease of How Many More Times.
UIC Pavilion, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
Encore: Good Times Bad Times
 Narration concerned happy green love beams and angry red hate beams.
We’ll have more information on this release once Phish officially announces it.
Phish Summer Tour 2012 continued tonight in Manchester, Tenn., where the band made their second Bonnaroo appearance. Long credited by Bonnaroo organizers as providing the blueprint from their festival, the quartet closed out what’s already been a spectacular weekend on the farm.
While Phish’s two sets featured many repeats from Worcester, most Bonnaroovians were on the farm since the Phish tour started this past Thursday. About 30 minutes into the opening stanza, guitarist Trey Anastasio stepped to the mic and mentioned he loved playing with musical heroes at Bonnaroo and welcomed out Kenny Rogers, who played his own set at the festival earlier in the day. The Country Music legend sang his most famous song, The Gambler, with Phish. This was the Phish debut of The Gambler, a song written by Don Schiltz which Rogers recorded for his 1978 album of the same title. Tweezer offered a chance for the band to stretch their improvisational muscles and they delivered a fairly straight forward version of the tune filled with heavy arena rock riffs. Shortly after the group turned a corner into spacier territory, all four faded out and Anastasio started Free. Backwards Down The Number Line and Cavern continued the high-energy, heavy rotation theme to close the set.
The second set started with a pair of covers in Golden Age by TV On The Radio and Also Sprach Zarathrustra and continued with Chalk Dust Torture, another high-energy repertoire staple. Festival attendees were then treated to Carini, which was one of the highlights in Worcester, and again Phish took the song deep. After a few minutes of exploratory jamming, the band settled on to the first version of Story of the Ghost track Shafty since December 30, a tune Phish soundchecked on Friday night. The stellar segment continued with a frentic romp through Rock and Roll by the Velvet Underground complete with Trey screams and rapid-fire licks. Alaska once again saw action in a second set and was followed by what one fan dubbed “a circumsized Hood” that segued during the solo into Light. A pair of heavy rotation favorites, Character Zero and Rocky Top closed off a standard set (show for that matter) that featured one sensational segment. Show of Life, Julius and Tweezer Reprise made up the encore with the former being the first song debuted in 2010 Phish has played in the three shows of 2012 and the latter featuring a festival-ending fireworks display. Phish returns to the stage on Friday in Atlantic City.
 Phish debut, with Kenny Rogers.
 The Gambler and Streets of Cairo teases.
Notes: The Gambler (Kenny Rogers) was a Phish debut and featured Kenny Rogers on vocals. Possum featured The Gambler and Streets of Cairo teases. Shafty was played for the first time since December 30, 2003 (159 shows).
Here’s The Skinny from Phish at Bonnaroo 2012…
It’s been roughly seven years since we’ve heard any new music from Fiona Apple, not that the tempestuous singer-songwriter hasn’t been trying her hardest to get it released; her feuds with her longtime label Epic Records have been well documented. After sitting on the shelf for well over a year, Apple will finally see her fourth studio album be released on June 19, which she has christened with another lengthy and poetic title – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. How about for now and forever we just let it be known as The Idler Wheel?
While Apple has just posted the album on NPR for our streaming enjoyment, she’s also put out a music video for the record’s lead single Every Single Night, whose lyrics are posted on Apple’s website, and seem to be about Fiona fighting her inner demons. The bizarre clip features a rather gaunt looking Apple wearing an octopus as a hat, covered in snails and well…just check it out for yourself:
Fiona Apple will kick off her first extensive North American tour since 2007, with a gig at the State Theatre in Ithaca, New York, which will also include a high profile appearance at the second annual Governor’s Ball Music Festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island this June 24.
Conan visits Chicago this week and along with funnymen Jack McBrayer, Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, Coco will welcome Grace Potter and The Nocturnals on Monday and locals Kids These Days on Wednesday.
Monday, June 11 [All Times ET]
Tuesday, June 12
Wednesday, June 13
Thursday, June 14
Consistent with the saying, “In order to be interesting; have interests,” (sage wisdom from the folks at eHarmony) coming up with interview questions for Neal Casal is a breeze – easier in fact than any artist I’ve ever interviewed. He just does so many different things. He’s cranked out 12 solo albums to date, played with Ryan Adams as a Cardinal, joined Chris Robinson as a sibling in the Brotherhood, coached Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson on their vocals for Starsky & Hutch, become an avid photographer and taken pictures for a number of well-known album covers as well as Rolling Stone and Spin, and collaborated on albums with everyone from Willie Nelson to Minnie Driver. The list just goes on. The questions ask themselves.
Casal embodies the true spirit of the collaboration and approaches music in the best possible way – playing with people because you like each another. In discussing his latest solo effort Sweeten the Distance and all the other elements of his career, Neal Casal said something about his lifestyle as a hard working session musician that resonated, “The whole thing just becomes one big band.” Seems like the way it should be.
Hidden Track: So, obviously you do a lot of different things and work with a lot of different people; I was curious with regard to the solo material, do you approach it any differently and also any voids it might fill in terms of creative outlets you might not get to explore with your other projects?
Neal Casal: Well, I’m a little bit better known for playing with other people than I am for my own work, but the fact is that my solo work is really the truest sign of what what I do, and I’ve done way more solo records than I have other things. You know, I’ve been doing these solo albums for 15 years, so it will always be the foundation of what I do. It’s the well stream of inspiration and ideas. Working with other people has really been from making friends in the world of music over all the years I’ve been in it.
Playing with other people is really just a bonus and these are offers that are too good to turn down. The solo stuff has really always been my home, you know? I just try with every record to do something different, work with a different producer or work in a different place to try to bring something new to it.
It differs quite a bit from when I work with other people, because when I work with other bands, I try to become the guitar player that I would want in my own band. You know what I mean? SinceI know what it’s like to to be the lead singer, and the lead guy, I know what makes a good second guitarist. So, when I work with other people, I try to be that person I’ve been looking for myself. I think I bring an interesting perspective on it, which is partly why it’s worked out so well for me. One thing feeds the other and they both work really well together.
HT: On that note, how would you compare your guitar playing in say Chris’s band [Chris Robinson's Brotherhood] or the Cardinals to the solo setting? Are there any major differences you would point out?
NC: In Chris’s band, I’ve been able to play more guitar than I ever have in my life. Chris completely opened up the field for me to do so much. I mean really stretch out with solos and sounds and ideas. He has such an open approach to the whole thing. That comes from his tremendous love of the Grateful Dead and the whole field of psychedelic music that he loves so much. He laid it at my doorstep and said, “Here, take it.”
At first I was reluctant to do it, because I had never been presented that opportunity so generously before. I’m used to playing really tight song structures and editing my playing down to be as minimal as possible. It’s hard. One of my favorite things about guitar playing is the notes that you don’t play.
The Chris Robinson thing is the opposite. There is a lot of playing and a lot of exploration, and that has been an amazing spirit of growth for me in the last year.
With Ryan’s music, it’s a bit of both. He’s a very disciplined songwriter and the structures are always very solid, and I loved playing within that structure, but Ryan is a sonic explorer as well. There were a lot of those songs that we extended pretty freely. I got into a lot of serious guitar using a lot of noise elements and dual guitar elements. We both love a lot dissonance, so we went down a lot of those roads. And you know, Ryan is a Deadhead too, so at the same time there were a lot of similarities between the Brotherhood and the Cardinals.
When it comes to my own work and my solo stuff, I tend to put my own playing in the background more and let the songwriting do the work. I also do a lot more singing and more textural or supportive things on guitar. I dont really show off too much.
I’m hoping in the future to take some of the stuff that I’ve learned, especially from the Brotherhood, and applying them to my own music and be a little more adventurous on guitar.
HT: In preparing for this, I got a kick out of seeing that you worked with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller as well as on some other interesting Hollywood stuff like Country Strong (ed note: underrated). I was curious how those opportunities came to be and what like exploring that so-called celebrity world?
NC: Well, the celebrity world really means nothing to me. I don’t participate in it in any way other than working like that on very rare occasions. Those opportunities have come up purely by accident just by knowing some producers. There is a guy named George Drakoulias who is a great record producer who did the first couple Black Crowes albums and some Jayhawks albums and a lot of things that I really love, and he does a lot of music supervision work in the movies. So, almost all of the opportunities I’ve gotten to work in film are through George, because I do some studio guitar and vocal work for him.
It’s not something I’ve ever really pursued, but I’ve always enjoyed them. It’s fun being a fly on the wall and observing and watching these people work. I come away with a lot more respect for the movie world. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of people, a lot of ideas moving around, and a lot of precision involved.
HT: Also, I thought it was cool that you’ve gotten into photography and put out some pretty well-known album covers and stuff like that?
NC: Most of my photos are interesting because they were taken from places photographers can’t normally get to, because I’m actually in the band or I’m in the studio. I haven’t been invited there as a photographer, but I take the opportunity to document the experience from the very center of it. It’s really from a non-observatory role. It’s from a central role. Most of the time if I’m shooting in the studio, I usually have a guitar in one hand and a camera in the other. It gets to the point when most people don’t even know I’m there and that’s when the best pictures arise, at least in terms of music.
I shoot a lot of things – street photos and abstract ideas – but it comes from just wanting to do more with myself. I started feeling that music was not enough, so it was no enough. So, it was really just pushing myself as – I don’t know – an artistic adventurer. I find it totally fun and it’s a great release for me. It’s really a companion piece to music and a function of my daily life.
[Cover Photo by Neal Casal]
HT: In terms of Sweeten the Distance, I was interested in what you were writing about in terms of the lyrical content.
NC: Oh man, it’s always hard for me to answer that question. I don’t really set out with particular goals in mind. I just write the best songs that I can. All of those lyrics comes from a really personal place. You know, it’s an inner place that’s still a mystery to me. I’m sure whatever themes people come up with are probably accurate. I suddenly become very inarticulate when I’m asked that question [laughs].
Songwriting is such a mysterious, elusive process to me that I don’t even really understand it. I don’t know where they come from, you know? It’s just hard to say. It’s hard for me to analyze. I just kind of do it.
HT: I think its interesting you say that, because I think a lot of people actually appreciate when listeners from their own ideas about what it’s supposed to mean. You’re definitely not alone in that.
NC: I’ve had a couple of moments of writing really good songs – and that’s where I hang my hat – but I was just listening to an interview with Joanie Mitchell the other day where she was asked these same questions and she can explain in details what each song means, what each song is about, and that just blew my mind. That impressed me so much.
She is such a fiercely focused artist. She knows exactly what she is going after and exactly what she’s talking about at all times. Of course, she’s a genius and I’m not, but I’m pretty good when I have my moments of greatness. I’m just hoping for more of them, you know? It’s hard for me to talk in detail about each song though. It really is, I don’t know why. I manage to write a lot of them though [laughs].
HT: You touched on this a little bit with making friends and all that, but I thought it was interesting reading through your credits and list of collaborations. It’s such a diverse group of artists – James Iha, Willie Nelson, Minnie Driver, Robert Randolph. It touches on so many kinds of music. So, while you are known primarily for your Americana-type stuff or exploratory rock band work, what other types of music are you really in to beyond that? Sorry, I think I just asked about four questions, but how do you end up around so many different types of music?
NC: As far as music listening goes, it’s all over the map for me. I’m a pretty obsessive music listener. I’ll try just about anything, and I’m into just about everything. I like just about every strain of American music you can imagine from classic R&B to country music. I’m a major jazz-head. Folk music. I definitely love every strain of rock music.
I dont know too much about classical music, but I have a couple things and a couple people I’ve been trying to learn from. I even listen to electronic records. Everything I can possibly learn from you know, because this is what I do for my life’s work. I have a pretty decent vinyl collection. I’m really into vinyl, more so now than ever.
As far as the collaborating, again it’s just from hanging around and getting involved. You just meet people and become friends and the whole thing just becomes one big big band [laughs]. As long as the music is really excellent, I just jump at it. I want to use my youth and my time on this Earth to make as much music as I possibly can.
One of the numerous memorable scenes from Cameron Crowe’s 2000 movie Almost Famous featured Kate Hudson’s character Penny Lane explaining the qualitative differences between Band Aids, and groupies, declaring, “We are not Groupies. Groupies sleep with rockstars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.” Well if you’ve wondered just what groupies were like during their infamous heyday in the late 1960s/early 1970s then your in luck, as the aptly titled, long out of print 1970 documentary Groupies has recently been uploaded to Daily Motion for your viewing pleasure.
The 92-mintue film features interviews with arguably two of the most famous groupies of all time – Pamela Des Barres, who wrote the tell all book I’m with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, and Cynthia Plaster Caster, whose exploits were the subject of the 2001 doc Plaster Caster, as well as a number of their well known cohorts. The flick also includes vintage performances from Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, Ten Years After, Spooky Tooth, Terry Reid, Keith Webb and Peter Shelly.
You can watch the entire NSFW documentary in this handy Daily Motion playlist. So grab some popcorn and a drink, crank up your AC and enjoy this first installment of Pullin’ ‘Tubes Theater Presents…
Having spent the first half of the year focusing almost exclusively of the Ghosts of Jambands past–from Project Logic to Garaj Mahal to Bad Hat–I really want to turn my attention to the Grateful Dead camp for a while. And to kick things off, here is one of my all time favorites: from The Felt Forum on December 5, 1971, Dark Star > Me and My Uncle > Dark Star > Sittin’ on Top of the World.
I’m a nut for the psychedelic cowboy, an Other One > El Paso or some other odd pairing of lysergic madness and Americana folk tale, and this one is killer. There’s the little struggle to pull the narrative from the instrumental explorations, and the immediate, willful plunge back into the formlessness as soon as it’s done. Perfect. There’s more to follow, but for now, as always, enjoy!
Last night at Bonnaroo Phish welcomed country music legend Kenny Rogers to join them for his most famous song, The Gambler, in the middle of the quartet’s first of two sets that closed the festival. While it marked the Phish debut of The Gambler, it was Kenny’s second time singing the 1978 hit that day as he played it during his set earlier on Sunday. We’re waiting for a webcast rip of the cover to surface, but in the meantime here’s the best fan-shot version we could find…
Check out The Skinny for more on Phish’s second Bonnaroo headlining appearance.