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Classic Rock Magazine

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    While many people’s knowledge about Peter Frampton starts and ends with his 1976 double-live album Frampton Comes Alive, the guitar-player has been impressing audiences since the age of 18, when he was a founding member of the blues-rock act Humble Pie. This summer Frampton will put his guitar playing on display as he’s lined up an impressive package toured dubbed Frampton’s Guitar Circus.

    Joining Frampton at various stops in the support slot on the lengthy summer run is a meaty array of accomplished ax-men – B.B. King, Robert Cray, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sonny Landreth and Steve Lukather. The massive 51-date run, which kicks off at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on May 28, will also include appearances from the likes of Vince Gill, David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Davy Knowles, Roger McGuinn (founder/lead guitarist of the BYRDS), Richard Thompson, Vernon Reid (Living Colour) and Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) at various stops throughout.

    If you’re into a night with these legendary guitar-slingers, than maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…

    Here’s the full list of Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus dates…

    *with Robert Cray
    † with Sonny Landreth
    ‡ with Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    § with Steve Lukather
    ** with BB King

    May 28 – Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium*
    May 31 – Hollywood, FL – Seminole Hard Rock*
    June 1 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre*
    June 2 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall*
    June 5 – Grand Prairie, TX – Verizon Theatre*
    June 7 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at the Moody Theater*
    June 8 – Midland, TX – Wagner Noel PAC*
    June 9 – Houston, TX – Arena Theater*
    June 11 – St. Charles, MO – Family Arena*
    June 13 – Windsor, ON – The Colosseum at Caesars*
    June 14 – Rama, ON – Casino Rama*
    June 15 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE*
    June 17 – Grand Rapids, MI – Meijer Gardens Amphitheater*
    June 19 – Indianapolis, IN – The Lawn at White River State*
    June 20 – Columbus, OH – The LC Pavilion*
    June 22 – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica*
    June 23 – Huntington, NY – The Paramount*
    June 24 – Lancaster, PA – American Music Theater*
    June 27 – New York, NY – Beacon Theater*
    June 28 – Rochester, NY – Rochester Jazz Festival*
    June 30 – Webster, MA – Indian Ranch†
    July 10 – Glen Allen, VA – Innsbrook Pavilion‡
    July 13 – Durant, OK – Choctaw Events Center§
    July 14 – San Antonio, TX – Majestic Theater‡
    July 16 – Corpus Christi, TX – American Bank Theater§
    July 19 – Quapaw, OK – Downstream Casino§
    July 20 – Dubuque, IA – Diamond Jo Casino§
    July 21 – Minneapolis, MN – State Theater‡
    July 23 – Beaver Creek, CO – Vilar Performing Arts Center
    July 26 – Airway Heights, WA – Northern Quest Casino‡
    July 27 – Manson, WA – Mill Bay Casino
    July 28 – Marysville, WA – Tulalip Resort Casino‡
    August 5 – Bethlehem, PA – Musikfest
    August 7 – Simsbury, CT – PAC – Simsbury Meadows†
    August 8 – Baltimore, MD – Pier Six Pavilion†**
    August 10 – Atlantic City, NJ – Trump Taj Mahal†**
    August 11 – Vienna, VA – Filene Center**
    August 13 – Alpharetta, GA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater†**
    August 14 – Cincinnati, OH – PNC Pavilion at Riverbend†**
    August 16 – Aurora, IL – RiverEdge Park†**
    August 17 – Council Bluffs, IA – Harrah’s Hotel & Casino†**
    August 18 – Kansas City, MO – Kauffman Center†**
    August 20 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheater†**
    August 21 – Albuquerque, NM – Route 66 Casino†**
    August 23 – Las Vegas, NV – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino**
    August 24 – Los Angeles, CA – The Greek Theatre†**
    August 25 – San Diego, CA – Civic Theatre†**
    August 28 – Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery**
    August 30 – Lincoln, CA – Thunder Valley Casino Resort**
    August 31 – Paso Robles, CA – Vina Robles Amphitheater†**

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    Last night legendary rockers Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers kicked off a five-show run at the intimate Beacon Theatre in New York City, with plenty of rarities, covers and even a few greatest hits thrown in.  The show marked the band’s first at the historic venue. Looking for surprises? Towards the end of the main set, Petty and his longtime band lit into a cover of Little Feat’s Willin’.

    The Heartbreakers also played Tweeter and the Monkey Man from Petty’s days with The Traveling Wilburys. Before the tune, Petty told the crowd how he wrote the song with Bob Dylan. Take a look…

    Other covers besides Willin’ included The Byrds’ So You Want To Be A Rock N’ Roll Star, Paul Revere & The Raiders’ (I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone and Chuck Berry’s Carol. Opening night also saw tour debuts of Melinda, Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It), Cabin Down Below, Billy The Kid, To Find A Friend and Angel Dream; showing that Petty and the Heartbreakers will dig deep during the five-show residency.

    [Photos by Michael Jurick]

    Here’s plenty of video from last night’s show and more of Michael Jurick’s photos…


    (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone

    A Woman In Love

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    Last week’s Google annual I/O developer conference didn’t bring any new hardware announcements. However, it was rife with news from across the company’s vast services. One of the exciting pieces was the announcement of the rumored streaming service dubbed “All Access.” This streaming service expands the utility of the existing Google Play Music service. Similar to existing streaming services such as Spotify, MOG and Rdio, Google Play All Access is nothing groundbreaking of course, but has a handful of features that make it stand out. Likewise, there are a bunch of drawbacks that leave much room for improvement.

    This week we’ll take a quick look at Google Play Music All Access and five features that make the service awesome, five drawbacks to the service and five additional suggestions to help tip the scales and make it the best streaming service available and draw people away from whatever service they are currently using.

    Basics The ridiculously named service, “Google Play Music All Access,” offers many of the same features that the other streaming services provide including access to millions of tracks, ability to download for offline use, recommendations, customized “radio” stations, playlists and a free trial to check it out prior to committing to pay. If you do like it, you’ll shell out $8/mo if you commit prior to the end of June and $10/mo thereafter.

    Five Great Features

      1. One of the best things about All Access is the integration with the existing Google Play Music service which allows free upload of up to 20,000 tracks for playback anywhere. Playlists containing both your own tracks and those tracks that you find from All Access are easily created. Tracks that you find on All Access are easily added to your “library” and live next to your existing tracks.
      2. Fully interactive radio queue. When streaming a “station” created from a song, the resulting queue can be rearranged and individual songs “swiped” away easily so you don’t need to skip them when they start playing. This queue is both beautiful and functional and among the best “radio” features of any of the other streaming services. Selections are typically spot-on with a decent variety. If you like the resulting play queue that was randomly generated, you can also save it into a playlist or add it to an existing one for future playback. With an unlimited amount of “skips” or “swipes” from the queue, no ads, and ability to create unlimited stations, this is Pandora on steroids: unlimited and endless tunes in any genre you want. Check out the radio queue I built off of Brent Mydland’s Blow Away from his unreleased album (below). Radio queue was built with Page McConnell, Robert Hunter, Neil Young and other appropriate tracks and artists. I tried creating a radio queue for comparison in Spotify. MOG and Pandora and couldn’t. None of those services even recognized Brent Mydland as an artist. In most other cases, when I compared queues, All Access always had the best song selections.
      3. Downright beautiful. I have used many music, streaming and radio apps and All Access is among the best. Album art is crisp is subtly pans from left to right when playing providing a nice visual element. Artist pictures on each artist page are also a great touch. Fonts are easy on the eye, extremely legible and the layout is uncluttered but filled with all the commands and menus you’d need on any given page. Regardless if looking at your queue, browsing albums, suggestions or playlists, all the pages are well designed and simply look nice.
      4. Search is awesome. Google knows a thing or two about search. Music search is powerful, instant and accurate. Start typing and results instantly start appearing just like Google Instant search. No need to press enter and no need to switch from page to page for artists, tracks and albums. The results are neatly, beautifully and instantly displayed. You can search any music in your own collection that you have uploaded as well as the millions of tracks available on All Access.
      5. Quality and stability. All Access streams up to 320 kbps and the music sounds as good, if not better, than any of the other streaming services I have tried (most of them). I do have force high quality enabled on my mobile as I have unlimited data which helps. Of course, with lower data speeds you may get lower quality, more compressed tunes. Likewise with the web player- playing through my desktop speakers and the music is very high quality. After a week of using the mobile app, I have had zero crashes, error messages or lags. Music simply plays when it should without hiccups or problems.

     [Android Player while browsing an album]

    Five Drawbacks

      1. No official iOS app. This is an egregious oversight and hopefully will be promptly rectified. Third party apps, such as gMusic, may fill the hole, but there’s no reason that Google shouldn’t offer an official app. This should be like GMail- platform, device and system agnostic.
      2. There’s no ‘Free’ option. Barring the locker/upload service to the cloud, which is awesome, there’s no “light” or “free” option. Most of the streaming sites have free tiers that allow limited streaming, streaming to desktops, or some other way that cripples the full blown, paid level but still gives some functionality of streaming. As a way to hook people into buying individual tracks from Google Play and a way to hook them from other services, this seems like something that Google ought to do.
      3. No gapless playback. Gapless playback really adds to the enjoyment of listening to live music and full albums where tracks seamlessly blend into one another. Gapless is becoming more prevalent on players and apps and it is a shame that Google is not providing this out of the gate.
      4. No built-in Scrobbling. For those that like to “scrobble” their tracks to Last.FM, you’ll have to find a third party app to handle that for you.
      5. Limited sharing features. Yes, of course I can Google+ a track, but if you are into sharing your “now playing” or playlists with others, All Access does not give you many options. Music apps seem to be thriving on the social aspects, but All Access isn’t jumping on that at all. While not  a feature I use, I know that many enjoy quick sharing links.

    [Radio Queue with the Web Player]

    Five Suggestions

    1. Up the ante with the amount of local tracks that can uploaded to the cloud! 20,000 is a decent start, especially for free. But to kick this up a notch and put it over the top- why not 100,000? Or 1TB? Hell, Flickr is giving people a free terabyte of storage online, why not Google? If I could get a much larger percentage of my collection into Google Play Music, this would be an absolute deal maker. For most people to have ALL their tunes everywhere, without having to sync or use a cable is pretty compelling.
    2. Queue Sync. This would be a killer feature. Now that Google has FINALLY figured out a way to sync chat notifications and conversation across all platforms, devices and services with their new “Hangouts”, why not add similar functionality with All Access? I could build a queue on my tablet, pick up the queue where I left off on my phone, and finish it at home on my laptop. THAT would be a HUGE win- with the player knowing exactly where I paused in a song with the same queue built. I’d pay just for that feature.
    3. Lossless playback! C’mon Google! Here’s a chance for Google to REALLY stand out from the competition. They can obviously handle the bandwidth of lossless streaming as YouTube can playback 1080 HD video flawlessly. Why not give music listeners the ability to listen to their own lossless tracks without compression and add lossless tracks to All Access library? Listening on earbuds or tethered to car radio with Bluetooth, really makes no difference, but to use as a home stereo streaming option, it would be a welcome quality boost.
    4. Stats. Google should build a robust stats section that would eliminate the need for Last.FM if someone wants to tracks listens by track, artist, genre, etc.
    5. Support for third-party players is CRITICAL. Many people listen to their music services through things like Sonos, Roku, and other such devices. Without support for players and devices, All Access is at a major competitive disadvantage.

    Bottom Line Google has built a great streaming service that seamlessly integrates with your own uploaded or matched tunes. The radio feature is fantastic and sets the bar in that arena. Search is brilliant and the Android app is rock solid and beautiful. However, without an iOS app, limited sharing options and no free tier of service, it may not be enough to move people away from their existing service. There’s a handful of things Google can do to really stand out and lead the pack in the streaming arena and it will be interesting to see what features and enhancements are added in the future.


    WINNER Last week we reviewed Monoprice’s great Action Camera. I’ve had a couple people tell me that they’ve already bought one and look forward to seeing some killer footage in the coming months from all your summer adventures. We had an Action Camera graciously donated by Monoprice  for one lucky reader. Congratulations “tallboycan”. You’ve been randomly selected as the winner! Please get in touch with me to make shipping arrangements. And remember the rules! You promised to send footage! Enjoy your Action Camera.


    Hidden Track Technology Tuesday

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    Product, app, or web service you are passionate about? Feel free to get in touch with me.

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    Another of the impressive collaborations put together by Interlocken organizers has been revealed as Widespread Panic will play two nights at the fest, one of which will feature John Fogerty. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Furthur, The String Cheese Incident and The Black Crowes are among the bands that were included in the first Interlocken artist announcement that came out last Friday.

    As we mentioned yesterday, Furthur will perform an acoustic set for VIPs and will play Workingman’s Dead in its entirety at the fest. Early-bird tickets go on sale May 23rd at 10AM ET.

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    A little bit gentle… a little bit runnin’ wild…

    Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer: Child Ballads

    There’s something magical in albums like Child Ballads: where two people seem destined to play together and specifically play these songs together. Here Mitchell and Hamer take on a set of old English folk songs, long stories told through the harmony of their voices and acoustic guitars. Simple, beautiful, perfect.

    Spotify: Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads
    MOG: Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads
    Rhapsody: Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads
    Amazon: Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads

    Jenny O.: Automechanic

    Jenny O. has one of those voices…equally well suited for the sweet love song as the country rambler as the full out rock song. Her debut album has got a bunch of that and more. Produced by Jonathan Wilson, his ear and touch is evident, but the songs carry the day, nary a weak track on the album.

    Spotify: Jenny O. – Automechanic
    MOG: Jenny O. – Automechanic
    Rhapsody: Jenny O. – Automechanic
    Amazon: Jenny O. – Automechanic

    Caitlin Rose: The Stand-In

    Some people are just born that way and Nashville native, Caitlin Rose, whose mother and father are both in the country music biz, was no doubt born to sing these songs. This is throwback country music perfectly realized, sounding fresh and modern all the same, Rose’s voice singing sweetly of heartbreak and the like, a healthy dollop of steel guitars, banjos, et al. backing her up. Rose’s music exists where indie pop, rock and roll and country meet… I guess that’s Nashville?

    Spotify: Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In
    MOG: Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In
    Rhapsody: Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In
    Amazon: Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In

    Lady Lamb the Beekeeper: Ripley Pine

    Ripley Pine opens up with Aly Spaltro singing sweetly with just her guitar, like certainly she’d done hundreds of times in her bedroom. It’s nice, but you’ve heard it before. 30 seconds later, though, the band kicks in and all of the sudden Spaltro is Lady Lamb and we’re fully rockin’ out in “where have you been all my life?” mode. Which is just a way to say: don’t let the Beekeeper thing fool you, Ripley Pine is one of the biggest surprise kick-ass albums of 2013.

    Spotify: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine
    MOG: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine
    Rhapsody: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine
    Amazon: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine

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    At the Jazz Foundation of America’s “A Great Night in Harlem” benefit concert at the Apollo last week – a show that played host to stars like Elvis Costello, Macy Gray, Quincy Jones, Morgan Freeman as well as Jazz ringers like Steven Bernstein and Nicolas Payton – 13-year-old Matthew Whitaker stole the show. Born three months early, weighing under 2 lbs. and without sight, Matthew Whitaker is quickly becoming one of the promising young talents in jazz. Here’s a great profile from the NJ Star-Ledger.

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    Back on this date in 2000 Phish delivered a version of the song Ghost most-worthy of the overused “epic” descriptor at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Our pal Myke “LawnMemo” Menio, who wrote a blog called The Daily Ghost in which he analyzed every Ghost, had lots to say about the Radio City Ghost and he’s kindly allowed us to re-publish his essay…

    Background (Set: 2 of 2 – Song: 5 of 6 – Show Gap: 5)

    The first Ghost of the new millennium is one for the ages. It takes place in the last part of the second set. It is listed as a segue into Rock and Roll but this Ghost is it’s own beast. After archivist Kevin Shapiro released this Soundboard (SBD) during From the Archives 6/12/2009, he said “I don’t quite know what to say about that”. Sure hope I can come up with a few things.

    Composed Section (0:00-4:32)

    The first Ghost of 2000 greets us with the familiar loops from Trey that we all loved from the late ’90s. The loops last longer than usual, and almost die out completely as Mike and Fish enter. They enter extremely soft at first and you can tell something is going to be different with this Ghost from the beginning.

    The slow, controlled pace, that dominates this Ghost is evident from the first minute. Even after a long layoff for the band, you can tell the confidence they have with this jam stalwart. At 2:13, you can hear Fishman mess up his vocals, and then at 2:25. A lot of times you will hear the band members laugh, not tonight. Fish messed up the vocals and wants to get to back to business. I promise you he does not mess up the beat during the jam.

    The solo section is groovy. It keeps the nice slow pace but each note is powerful. Especially from Mike. The pause is average length and is followed by a great drop in. It is on from there. It is time to describe Picasso.

    Did I ever tell you the story of Mike Gordon (4:33-7:05)

    The jam drops and immediately Mike Gordon gets in a Ferrari and takes the lead. There is no hesitation from the Cactus. At 4:43, he leads out with a powerful bass line and takes even more control when Fish changes things up at the 4:50 mark.

    Many of the Ghosts from this point forward are heavily dominated by Mike Gordon. There are some great examples of this in the first 60 Ghosts but this is the real turning point in my opinion. We will certainly hear fantastic examples of the other band members doing incredible things during the Radio City journey, but Mike is the clear star.

    At the 5:00 mark, Mike brings down an avalanche on the pristine New York City theater. From that point the combination of Mike’s incredibly powerful bass and Fish’s high hat brilliance carves a space like few jams have seen. The blending of Mike and Fish produces ice cream. I am not talking about that Butterscotch crap either, I am talking about the best Hot Fudge Sundae you have ever had.

    Fish’s beat creates so much space for Mike it blows me away. Gordon is free to do whatever his crazy mind pleases. Then on top of that, while leading out, Mike also creates a groove that allows Page to layer on top of that. Lastly, Trey checks his ego at the door and sprinkles in some of the most minimalist style playing I have ever heard from him. He adds the smallest bits to this section that just give that extra love. So…

    Fish-Vanilla Ice Cream, Mike-Hot Fudge, Page-Whip Cream, Trey-Cherry on Top. Each layer has to be there, for the other one to be enjoyed! Be back in a few, I am suddenly craving ice cream.

    At the 5:25 mark, if you have some great headphones on, you can hear Page start to enter the picture. His heavenly piano starts to cut through the powerful Cactus thunder bass. Demonstrating what a brilliant musician he is, Page works his melodies in with extreme patience.

    More musical intelligence from Mike at the 6:07 mark, as he realizes that Page is making inroads. He switches his tempo to provide a better runway for Page. This more uptempo beat from Mike allows Page’s notes to ring even more beautifully.

    And WOW does Page ever respond. His notes feel like unicorns and angels could ride them to whatever destination they wanted. At 6:45 Page strikes on of my favorite melodies that my ears have ever heard. Every time I hear it (and wow is that a lot of times) it stops me dead in my tracks. It is incredible that a melody so light and beautiful, has to the power to floor me like that.

    Page introduces Earth to Gary Busey, only if he was from Mars.. (7:06-10:08)

    Trey interjects a funky lick ever so slightly at the 7:06 mark. Mike reads this
    and responds with more cleverness right away. He changes up the beat once again which just feeds the hungry Trey lick. It takes on a ton of life immediately. Just a fantastic read and adjustment from Mike.

    At the 7:16, Page also reacts and cancels the unicorn and angel ride. He then presents a tractor beam for all alien life forms. Page has made friends with aliens before (sometimes I think he is one of them) and takes the enormous chance of bringing them into this groove. He could have simply played with Mike’s incredible groove like he did in the previous section. HELL NO! Phish is the greatest band in the world when they take massive chances like this.

    The first thing through the Page Portal (I am trademarking that as of now) is some space birds at 7:35. Then the tractor beam begins to get stronger. Trey ads some incredible awesome loops that are moving softly in the background. At 8:30, the Page Portal brings some evil stabbing aliens into the fold. Shortly after at 8:46, he strengthens the tractor beam before bringing half of the interplanetary galaxy to New York.

    Seriously, at 9:12, ray guns, space ships, Sasquatch, Quinn the Eskimo, Alice Cooper, and the Children of the Corn seem to becoming from Page’s rig. Mike is of course still laying down that groove that drives this entire jam. It allows Page to lead this section and take us on this crazy space journey.

    If you have forgotten where you are and think that you are going to be floating in space forever, get a hold of yourself! We have 16:30 minutes left!!!!

    The Build (10:09-13:51)

    Trey begins to lead the band into a different section at the 10:09 mark. What makes Radio City Ghost some of my favorite playing from Trey is how tactical he is. He has been pretty quiet, but when he has played, he has spoken loudly. Trey leads the band away from the Page Portal. He waits like a Viper and then lays down one awesome lick. He then repeats that lick over and over and over. This allows for Mike and Fish to build this jam even bigger.

    Page still tries to bring over some alien life forms for a bit, but is forced to eventually close the portal. The beat from Fish, Mike, and Trey is too strong. When you hear the portal close at 11:07, you can really feel how strong the beat is. I love that moment.

    Page moves back to the piano and begins to carve his way into this authoritative groove (I just used the thesaurus to come up with authoritative).

    The patience Phish sometimes finds could not be more evident during this section. As Page works his way into this groove, the entire band is on lock-down mode. Mike and Fish especially, with Page and Trey varying their melodies every so slightly. They know they created an incredible space, and they decide to live in it.

    At 13:45, if you listen closely you can hear Trey try and pull the trigger on the peak just a tad early. Trust me Trey, I get it! We all get a little excited sometimes and are a bit premature. Well except Wilt Chamberlain, pretty sure he has it down after 20,000 practices.

    Trey Anastasio has officially entered the building (13:52-15:56)

    At 13:52, Big Red breaks out a lick reassuring us, the guitar god is still very much in the building. For almost 14 minutes, Trey has kept his cool and been an integral part of building this jam. The lack of playing from him for that amount of time always blows my mind. You don’t hear him, that quiet, for that amount of time. I love it!!! Why? Because when he comes in, he grabs you! Each note is that much more powerful.

    Let’s get one thing straight this is not Prague Ghost’s peak. This is however so awesome within the construct of what has been built. Trey plays some rocking guitar licks without ever taking this jam out of where it is going. That to me is true brilliance. Many incredible guitarists can take a solo and melt your face with it. Heck, Trey has done that plenty of times. What makes me blown away is when he takes my face and warms like it is going to fall off, and yet keeps it in tact with the rest of my body.

    Mike and Fish move away from the dominating beat they created and move more in line with what Trey is doing. At the 14:00 mark Fish moves into some nice cymbal work which gives Trey’s sound even more life. Then he and Mike start move around a bit now that the band has crafted a space to rock.

    Mike is (of course) standing out. He varies patterns, beats, lengths of notes, and frequency all based around what Trey is doing. It doesn’t matter what the band did this night. Mike would respond perfectly. Some nights you are in the zone.

    Overwhelming Warmth (15:57-20:53)

    I am going to stray away from a lot of technical music talk (which I suck at) because this is one of my favorite sections of Phish. It makes me feel more emotions than any other section. To try and break it all down would be too painful for me, I will instead try and focus on what it makes me feel.

    At the 15:57 mark, Trey makes another crucial decision. He begins to inject this jam with a nice easy lick. Page, Mike, and Fish are still moving at quite a fast pace. Slowly, though you can start to hear Trey’s lick slow this jam down. Measure by measure Trey moves this into a different direction.

    At 16:19, Page plays a quick high pitched repeated note that moves the jam down quickly. Trey’s lick continues to grab a hold of the band and help them to find their individual direction.

    Mike backs off his destructive bass line from before and instead finds one that compliments Page. Fish slows his beat up as well, giving all the room in the world for the Chairman. What results is some of the most moving Phish that has ever been played in my opinion.

    At the 16:40 mark, Page begins to move out in front and begins to find melodies that still to this day move me. I have heard Radio City Ghost over a hundred times in my life. The melodies from Page in this section make me emotional every single time. Starting at the 17:00 minute mark, Page gives you plenty of examples why he is my favorite musician.

    We all find different things about Phish that move us in so many different ways. I love the funk, the ripping face melters, the ambient space, and all amazing blends of different sounds that Phish produces. Nothing though connects with me like beautiful Phish. So far removed from anything that resembles Ghost at this point, I start to tear up every time. The beauty that Page produces is more than I can handle. That is no exaggeration, no fluff, just pure emotion. People go through their entire lives looking to find anything that produces that kind of emotion. Like many of you, I found it with a band from Vermont.

    When I wish for Type 2 magic, here is another example. This is what separates Phish from every other band for me. Many bands I love tear the roof off a building, with incredible solos, and full band power. I rarely hear a band strip a jam down to this level and create something so far and away from anything else they have ever played.

    At 17:59, Page begins to play my favorite series of notes, I have heard him play. It makes me think of the same thing every time. I picture my self at the end of my years on a porch in the middle of the woods. I am in my late 80′s and the sun is setting. The red, orange, and blue sky is something I could stare at forever. I am on a wicker rocking chair sipping on a beer, on the most quiet place on earth. I start to think about all of the great moments I lived. All the people I have cared for, and what they have meant to me. All the moments we have shared, and how blessed I am. The warmth I have for those people and memories is overwhelming. How can one man have lived a life where all of these people brought him so much joy?

    I know this vision Page’s playing creates in me has a lot to do with my late grandfather. Easily the man I have respected the most in this world. I used to watch him sit in a chair with family around him appearing to feel some of those same things. No matter who was around him the man was full of happiness, due the fact he created it in others. I know that he was able to sit in his chair and feel the things I described in my vision. I try and live my life so that I am able to sit and feel those same things at the end.

    It is incredible to me that even after all these listens, I still picture that same imaginary moment and feel the same warmth. Music is incredible.

    I will say that as incredible as Page McConnell seems to pull the strings of my soul the rest of the band is every bit as crucial. Trey grabs a hold a lick and just never lets go. Fish anchors down a soft beat that gives just enough texture. Mike moves freely from holding a beat to playing a touch of lead.

    This section runs a bit into the next but simply put 15:57-20:53 of the Radio City Ghost is one my favorites. In no way am I saying it is the “best” it just connects with me, like no other.

    Fish’s Turn (20:54-24:30)

    At 20:45, Mike begins to run a series of notes quickly. At 20:54 Trey injects another fantastic lick into this jam. He continues to repeat the lick while Mike and Fish move around it. This section is Fish’s to shine. After being such an important part allowing for everyone else to shine, Fish catches my ear the most here.

    Mike also has an outstanding tone. He has moved his pitch up and makes the most of it. With Trey continuing to replay the same lick, the freedom for Mike, Fish, and Page to run in any direction is so apparent.

    Trey starts rocking a bit at the 23:00 mark, then he starts to repeat a lick which Mike takes over. At 23:13 Mike finds an attack helicopter and grabs everyone. He then transports them into the next section. The helicopter picks us up and flies for a couple seconds before landing us back down to the ground.

    Starting at 23:56, some incredible sounds start to rock around the band. Big powerful, booming notes. AWESOME!

    Blissful Ending (24:30-26:57)

    I know many people who have told me this section is some of their favorite Phish. It so blissful and peaceful. It is almost like the happy ending…Whoops! That came out wrong!

    In all seriousness, the jam has almost nothing going on. I mean that in a good way. Completely stripped down, and blissful, this section is moving. I live in Buffalo and see plenty of snow. When I got outside and it is snowing and all the streets are empty, this section makes me think of something like this…

    Trey shows his Radio City brilliance one last time. Just enough to make this one of the more memorable moments in any Ghost jam. What a way to end an incredible jam. When the last note drifts away, you feel like you just got a runner’s high. You are so spent, and it feels so amazing.

    Final Thoughts

    Radio City is not just my favorite version of Ghost, it is my favorite Phish jam of all time. The great thing about Ghost is how different the jams can be. Just think of how different Radio City is from Prague! There are probably 10 versions that I would be fine with people arguing as the “best” of all time. Once you get to the top tier it comes down to personal preference. The incredible flow this Ghost has, the tremendous interplay, and most of the emotions it makes me feel, put this version at the top of my list.

    Score: 10.0

    Some quick notes from other people who wanted to share their thoughts…

    “At the show, I closed my eyes and imagined NYC from its inception to the now. Built the city in my head”-@CampbellMackenz

    “I have such vivid memories of being on the balcony for that show and feeling it bounce with crazy energy. I seriously doubted whether it had ever been placed under that kind of stress before and didn’t know if it would hold. That Ghost was the highlight of the two nights at Radio City and the Roseland show. – Jen@PurseDreams

    “Short statement on the 2000/05/22 Ghost: This jam is like bouncing forward off of stretches in the fabric of the universe and then right when you think it’s done a chord progression that is the entirety of existence and being envelops you and takes you into a previously unexplored plane of existence.”-Daniel

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    This past Friday night God Street Wine guitarist Aaron Maxwell and bassist Dan Pifer were Reid Genauer’s guests as part of the AOD front man’s venue-opening run at Garcia’s in Port Chester, New York. The bar, which is part of the Capitol Theatre, is named after Jerry Garcia and features Captain Trips memorabilia. Reid was performing with members of Assembly of Dust as well as special guests, which on Friday were Maxwell, Pifer and Yahuba Garcia of the Ryan Montbleau Band.

    [All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]

    At one point during the second set, AOD (and GSW) multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby teamed up with Aaron, Dan, Garcia and a drummer for fun takes on God Street Wine’s Waiting For The Tide and Mile By Mile. Video of Waiting For The Tide has surfaced thanks to Joe Madonna…

    Here’s more photos from Friday night thanks to Andrew Blackstein

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    We’re just about to post my review of last night’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performance at the Beacon, but I couldn’t resist posting this incredible video of the group’s cover debut from Monday night’s Beacon Residency Opener. Watch as Petty and his band cover Willin’ by Little Feat…

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    HT faves Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros have gone the self-titled route for their third studio album which is due out on July 29th. The album was produced by the band’s front man – Alex Ebert and he calls it “the rawest, most liberated, most rambunctious stuff we’ve done.”

    Upon listening to the first single, Better Days, we agree. Check it out:

    Here’s a tracklisting for the album and tour dates…


    1. Better Days
    2. Let’s Get High
    3. Two
    4. Please!
    5. Life is Hard
    6. If I Were Free
    7. In The Lion
    8. Country Calling
    9. They Were Wrong
    10. In The Summer
    11. Remember To Remember
    12. This Life

    Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros 2013 Live Dates

    5/23 – Stateline, NV – Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa
    5/25 – Portland, OR – The Rose Festival
    5/26 – Quincy, WA – Sasquatch Music Festival [SOLD OUT]
    5/28 – Billings, MT – Babcock Theatre
    5/29 – Jackson, WY – Pink Garter Theatre [SOLD OUT]
    5/30 – Salt Lake City, UT – Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre [SOLD OUT]
    6/2 – Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheater [SOLD OUT]
    6/4 – Council Bluffs, IA – Stir Cove
    6/5 – Des Moines, IA – Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheatre
    6/7 – Pittsburgh, PA – Three Rivers Arts Festival (FREE)
    6/8 – New York, NY – Governors Ball Music Festival – Randall’s Island Park
    6/9 – Portland, ME – State Theatre [SOLD OUT]
    6/11 – Shelburne, VT – The Green at Shelburne Museum
    6/12 – Montreal, QC – Metropolis [SOLD OUT]
    6/15 – Atlanta, GA – Candler Park (FREE)
    6/13 – 6/16 – Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music Festival
    6/18 – Chattanooga, TN – Track 29
    6/19 – Knoxville, TN – Bijour Theatre
    6/21 – Norfolk VA – The Norva
    6/21 – 6/23 – Dover, DE – Firefly Music Festival
    6/24 – Kalamazoo, MI – Kalamazoo State Theatre
    6/25 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze Outdoor Plaza
    6/26 – Milwaukee, WI – Summerfest
    6/28 – Chicago, IL – Old St. Pat’s Church Block Party
    6/29 – Kansas City, KS – Kanrocksas
    7/27 – Floyd, VA – Floydfest
    8/1 – Las Vegas, NV – The Cosmopolitan Hotel
    8/4 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl
    8/17 – Sterling Heights, MI – Mo Pop Festival
    8/23 – Simcoe, ON – Gentleman of the Road Stopover [SOLD OUT]
    8/29 – Kennett Square, PA – Longwood Gardens
    8/30 – Troy, OH – Troy Memorial Stadium [SOLD OUT]
    9/1 – Aspen, CO – Snowmass Conference Center
    9/6 – Guthrie, OK – Cottonwood Flats Campground [SOLD OUT]
    9/7- 9/8 – St. Louis, MO – Loufest
    9/13 – St. Augustine, FL – Francis Field [SOLD OUT]
    9/27 – 9/28 – Nashville, TN – Southern Ground Music Festival

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    Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers @ Beacon Theatre – May 22

    Words: Scott Bernstein
    Photos: Chad Anderson

    Like a fine wine, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers seem to get better with age. The legendary rockers are in the midst of a 21-show tour that includes arena dates, visits to sheds, festival appearances and most notably a pair of residencies at intimate venues. The first of these residencies is currently taking place at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, where the band played their second of five shows at the Manhattan venue last night and kept the crowd hanging on every note thanks to a full-bodied mix of potent rockers, gorgeous originals and even a few fun covers.

    [All Photos by Chad Anderson]

    Tuesday night’s show kicked off the way all four shows on the tour have started – with a deliciously jangle-fueled cover of So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star by The Byrds. While Petty deserves all the accolades he’s gotten over the years as the group’s front man and songwriter, from the first note it was clear just how much The Heartbreakers mean to his music. Lead guitarist Mike Campbell is one of the best in the biz and delivered one jaw-dropping lick after another all night. Keyboardist Benmont Tench is an extremely versatile player who adds impressive layers to each tune, while never stepping on his band mates’ toes. Drummer Steve Ferrone pounded the skins so hard that he nearly collapsed at the end of the group’s 19-song main set. Ron Blair steadies the band as an incredibly capable bassist, while Scott Thurston is the Heartbreakers’ Jose Oquendo – a multi-instrumental “utility player” who fills in wherever needed depending on the song.

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Friend Of The Devil

    After finishing the Full Moon Fever track Love Is A Long Road, Tom Petty stepped to the mic and was met by a roar from the crowd. The roar only gained in strength when the Gainesville, Florida native announced, “Was anyone here last night? Well, we’re playing a completely different show filled with deeper tracks.” It seems most fans were clued in on the mission behind the residency, which was to show the depth of Petty’s repertoire that goes so far beyond the hits that continue to be classic rock radio staples. If there were attendees upset that songs like Free Fallin’, I Won’t Back Down and Breakdown weren’t performed, they kept quiet about it. These residencies are for the hard-cores and for fans who could appreciate the band’s stellar catalog. However, after making the “deeper tracks” announcement, Petty said they’d play one everyone knew before “embarking on tonight’s adventure” and lit into Here Comes My Girl.

    To start the evening’s adventurous portion, Tom and the Heartbreakers performed the outstanding You’re Gonna Get It! cut When The Time Comes. Though Petty announced they last played the song in 1978 after it was finished, he was wrong. Turns out The Heartbreakers last rocked When The Time Comes on January 27th, 1980 – a whopping 33 years ago. Now THAT’S a bust out. Speaking of bust outs, next up was a cover of the iconic Booker T. and the MG’s instrumental Green Onions which turned the spotlight on Tench. Green Onions was a fairly regular part of Petty’s live sets from ’97 – ’01. After that he only played it once in 2011 before filling the Beacon with the organ-based romp last night. Tom has a huge repertoire, so he can be excused from not remembering some facts. For instance, before he started The Best Of Everything, Petty was stuck trying to remember what album it was from before someone offstage yelled to him “Southern Accents!” Though it was a tour debut, The Best Of Everything was performed flawlessly. There’s no doubt this band spent lots of time woodshedding before taking the show on the road.

    The “deep tracks” kept coming at a quick pace with little fanfare between them. Past Beacon shows from a variety of bands have found audience members who yell at those who have the audacity to stand or god forbid dance. On this night you could hear a pin drop during the quiet moments and could witness audience members going berserk during the more energetic numbers. Towards the front of the orchestra, most of the crowd was on its feet all night long and the bathrooms were mainly empty as many didn’t want to miss a minute of this show – again, quite shocking considering how few “hits” were played.

    Album cuts weren’t only kept to Petty’s older LPs, he also treated fans to the year’s first (and only the third since 2002) When A Kid Goes Bad off 2002′s The Last DJ and the tour debut of Saving Grace off 2006′s Highway Companion. From there, The Heartbreakers showed off their improvisational prowess during The Traveling Wilburys’ Tweeter And The Monkey Man. After delivering the New Jersey-referencing lyrics, the ensemble embarked on a twisted, psychedelic swamp-rock jam that featured awe-inspiring work between Tench and Campbell as they finished each others’ musical statements in the way that only bandmates of 36 years can. While far from a jamband, The Heartbreakers are quite capable of jamming.

    Of all the rarities, Southern Accents track Rebels garnered the best response from the audience. Men and women of every age sang along in a way that made it seem like Petty and the Heartbreakers succeeded in filling the crowd with diehard fans. Up next was a string in which three of four songs were off of Petty’s outstanding Wildflowers album including the LP’s beautiful title track – trotted out for its tour debut. While Wildflowers was a solo album, its tunes gain enormously in concert from the contributions of The Heartbreakers. Besides the title track, that also went for Crawling Back To You and a show-stopping take on It’s Good To Be King which were both included in last night’s set. The latter featured another killer jam and showed off the understated light and set design employed for these intimate shows.

    In between the Wildflowers songs was one of the finest moments of an evening filled with them – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ cover of Friend Of The Devil by the Grateful Dead. Petty and his band first performed the Dead tune back at their Fillmore Residency in 1997 and dusted it off for this tour, with the bust out coming this past Saturday night at the Hangout Fest. Tom strode to the mic with harmonica in hand for an extended intro that saw the murmurs from the crowd increase in volume as fans started to recognize the song. The best covers aren’t straight-up imitations and The Heartbreakers add tons of their own flair to their take on FOTD. Particularly impressive were Mike Campbell’s licks which used Jerry Garcia’s work as a roadmap but not as a stencil. Campbell bent each note in a way Jerry would’ve approved of during a gorgeous solo that followed another outstanding organ solo from Benmont Tench.

    For the finale of the main set, Petty and the Heartbreakers gave us a two-pronged assault of hits in Refugee and Runnin’ Down A Dream. Both gave the crowd another chance to get their ya ya’s out and the parade of Petty’s best-known songs continued into the encore with another burst of jangle in Listen To Her Heart and the group’s trademark ditty American Girl. American Girl was a fine cap to the evening and one of the few songs that Tom Petty MUST play each night. Watching The Heartbreakers work through their first hit is a right of passage for music fans as it’s quintessential rock and roll.

    For the past few decades this band has toured sporadically and at most shows they played a heaping dose of hits mixed with tunes from their latest album. Petty and his band’s 2013 excursion gives them a chance to explore the forgotten side of their legendary output and those who get to see it are in for a special experience. At 62 Tom Petty is getting up there in age, but last night he played with the energy of a man half his age. That said, he won’t tour forever so if you get a chance to see him, jump on it.


    Photo Gallery…

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    Here Comes My Girl

    Listen To Her Heart

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    The Clash were easily the most commercially successful band to come out of the 1970′s punk scene, with their potent brand of punk rock that mixed elements of ska, reggae, funk and rockabilly, all set to Joe Strummer’s socio-political lyrics. On September 9, the iconic and influential punk act will release Sound System, a massive nine-disc box set that comes packaged in a vintage boom box designed by Clash bassist Paul Simonon.

    The set, which will feature remastered versions of the band’s five studio albums, will include three discs of demos, non-album singles, rarities and B-sides. The box will also come with a DVD containing previously unseen footage of the band, original promo videos and live footage, as well as reprints of the band’s original ‘Armagideon Times’ fanzine plus a brand new edition curated and designed by Simonon and merchandise including dog tags, badges, stickers and an exclusive Clash poster.

    Finally, back in the fall we mentioned that Dogfish Head Brewery was teaming up with the fine folks at Grateful Dead Productions for the latest in their line of music-inspired beers that they dubbed American Beauty. The Milton, Delaware-based craft brewery reached out to fans asking for their input in selecting the final ingredient and their Dead-inspired story for the imperial pale ale. After getting some 1,500 suggestions, which ranged from red grenadine to jalapenos to sassafras root, the winning ingredient came courtesy of Thomas Butler. Butler, who attended his first Dead show at the Oklahoma City Zoo at age nine with his dad, suggested using granola – stating in his entry that “the components of granola – honey, toasted grains, oats and fruit – offer a lot from a beer perspective, the idea is to have a sessionable ale that highlights the oats and honey with a nice ‘dank’ hop selection.” American Beauty hits stores and taps throughout Dogfish’s 27-state distribution network this October.

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    Legendary rocker John Fogerty made his second appearance on CBS’s The Late Show With David Letterman in as many days last night. For Wednesday night’s episode, Fogerty performed the track Someday Never Comes with fellow HT faves Dawes. Fogerty and Dawes had last performed the tune together at SXSW in Austin.

    Someday Never Comes originally appeared on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1972 album Mardi Gras. Fogerty re-recorded the track with Dawes for his soon-to-be-released Wrote A Song For Everyone LP. Let’s look at the version they played on Letterman…

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    John Fogerty & DawesSomeday Never Comes

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    Out of all the songs that Laura Marling could have covered from Bruce Springsteen’s vast catalog, we would have likely figured it would have been something from either of his stark acoustic records – the brilliant Nebraska or its 1995 follow-up of sorts The Ghost of Tom Joad. Instead the folkie-chanteuse, who will release her fourth studio album Once I Was An Eagle next Tuesday, threw us for a bit of a curve ball, teaming up with Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Eddie Berman for an unexpected take on Dancing In The Dark for The Lab TV.

    The track, which appears on The Boss’s mega-selling 1984 record Born in the U.S.A., is a classic unapologetic 1980′s bar rock anthem, and famously featured a young Courtney Cox in its music video. For their take, the duo stripped the tune down to its bare bones, turning it into a gorgeous acoustic folkie-dirge with the assistance of an accordion and violin player. Let’s check it out…

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    Anticipation. Tension before the release. Two of the things that Phish has always been masters of. And with summertime looming, which will see Phish embark on the beginning of their 30th year as a band, expectations are running sky high – especially for this journalist and fan who can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. So, for this week’s column, I simply wanted to run down a short list of some things I would like to see happen throughout the rest of the year.

    [Photo by Jeremy Gordon]

    7.) Encores Galore

    If you’ve seen one Bouncin’ >Tweeprise encore, you’ve seen them all. Encores, in my eyes, have always represented a final exclamation point on what has often sometimes been a landmark show. This year, I hope the band decides to bust the hinges off the “formula” and play some wild encores that represent not only the evening’s show, but magnificent accomplishments in that venue, city, state or moment in time. Think 12.30.97′s mayhem (still a top three or five show for me thanks to the “unforgettable” factor and my favorite AC/DC Bag of all-time),  or 7.13.99′s Tuesday’s Gone encore, which I’ve been listening to a lot this week. The significance of 30 years in the Phish world cannot be understated.  So fellas, let’s move past the often tacked on encores and make them count. Some of us are still listening, and not in a hurry to scurry out to the lot for a fatty veggie burrito.

    6.) Spock’s Brain

    Let’s hear this dark opus once again! A fantastic (maybe best?) name for a song in the repertoire, this is one I’d simply like to hear again, as it’s been far too long (last time played Camden ’03, and only eight times total since its debut at the Voters for Choice Benefit in Lowell. Spock’s Brain is also a dangerously tough song for the band to re-learn, so by playing it again, it would show the fans that the band is going all out in their 30th year.

    5.) New Material

    With Trey confirming plans for Phish to enter the studio, I can only hope that some new tunes find their way into the setlists. While the past years have found the band’s overall playing growing by leaps and bounds, I would be remiss not to mention that most of 2010, 2011 and 2012 felt repetitive at times – in certain aspects. Let me explain: The styles of playing have varied and progressed, certainly, but the setlists have become almost predictable at times. Nothing could help this more than to debut some new tunes early on in the summer and watch them blossom organically with each voyage out on the road. The point of this wish is not the song itself, but rather the impetus of something new and exciting that can blossom into something much, much more in a short time span. We can only hope for such things this year…

    4.) Explosiveness/Mixed Bag

    Otherwise known as the X-factor. Don’t come out and mail in ANY shows. Play like you did 25 years ago when you were trying to prove something in Vermont, college frat parties and The Wetlands (where the soundcheck from the 3.3.90 show at that NYC Mecca helped birth Tweezer) – not just earn a mega-payday. Make each show special. One way I can see this happening is by tipping their collective hats and play certain covers or perhaps even recreate EPIC set(lists) from some historic venues? I know that may seem sacrilege but hey – why not think about it? The “S” show and “Fuck Your Face” show at Dick’s in Colorado the past few years make me think it could be pretty cool to take the setlist antics a little further more often.

    3.) Halloween

    One of the most important (and fun!) nights the band has ever played, it imperative the band plays Halloween this year. And if they truly had any balls, they’d play Zappa (regardless of what Gail says and what you and I think they should play), who is arguably their biggest influence, especially in their early, formative days a band. Make it the most memorable of what has already influenced the band to date, instead of what the style of playing will predict for the remainder of the year), practice your asses off (which would carry throughout the rest of the year) and take it back to your roots.

    2.) Band vs. Audience Chess Match, Big Ball Jam, etc.

    Revive some tricks and gags from the past.

    Since the end of the New Year’s Eve show in 1995 the score has remained tied at 1-1 in the Band vs. Audience Chess Match, something I always thought was appropriate as it represents the reciprocal and equal nature of the band and their fans. The time is right for the return of the Chess Board during a potential Fall Tour. I can just imagine the crowd roar when we take down the decisive match in Hampton or back at MSG for New Year’s again (if either of those runs wind up happening), giving the fans a well-deserved victory in this epic battle. (I have certainly made sure to practice my chess moves just in case this day ever comes).

    Along the same lines is the Big Ball Jam, Secret Language and things of that nature. Mix it up and give a nod to the ideas that made you. The Big Ball Jam, while not always producing magical musical results, would be really cool to see once or twice this year – if for nothing else to experience.

    1.) Gamehendge

    Maybe I’m crazy and completely off my rocker, but I certainly DO want to see a live version of Gamehendge in its entirety before I die. There’s no denying it: to me (and I’m sure at least some other fans out there) it’s the Holy Grail. Maybe it’s the fact that the last complete one was five days (7.8.94) before my first show, and I’ve been “chasing” it ever since. I mean it – really, truly. But I’d be a lot more likely to scale back my own touring schedule if I ever experienced the lore and legacy of Gamehendge in person. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. You’ll believe it when you see it!).

    A perfect setting would be on their actual 30th Anniversary. Again, call me crazy, but this will constantly be on my mind the closer we get to December 2nd.

    In the end, I know this may seem like a guy who wants to relive the band’s glory days, and I guess in part that is true. This list could have been 88 things I wish, hope and long for for from my favorite band in existence. It’s only because we all care so much and want this year to be, literally, the best ever. It’s supposed to be a celebration! It’s their 30th Anniversary for crying out loud. But what I truly hope for is that Phish makes their own things even more of their own this year, by adding a fresh, revamped take on the classic Phish humor, gags, musical adventures and fairy tales I have mentioned.

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    To start off the interview with Joey Ryan of the Milk Carton Kids, I did something that’s probably a total “no-no” if were a more traditional media outlet. I told him a personal story and said “thanks,” because the Milk Carton Kids latest album The Ash & Clay has literally made my life easier. I kid you not, every single time I play the album, my little rugrat son drops his head on my shoulder and falls asleep. It’s usually within one song, but at the most three or four. It’s a total daily ritual, and it never fails.

    That’s the vibe of the album; it’s totally relaxing. But that’s not to say it is a sleepy record. On the contrary, it’s a captivating record. That’s why it’s so relaxing – with the dueling vocals and acoustic guitars playing off each other in harmony.

    The list of great complete albums that can serve as wind-down music is very short, and it’s especially rare to find a wind-down album that might actually have your favorite song on it. Cat Stevens and Nick Drake could do it without really trying. Roger Waters has done it. Carl Broemel just did it. Billy Breathes? Maybe a couple of Dylan albums? I’m sure there are more, but The Ash & Clay is right up there with the greats in this category.

    Talking on the phone from “the shadiest Tennessee gas station ever, where a guy is ashing his cigarette on the ‘No Smoking’ sign’”, Joey Ryan checked in to discuss the quiet nature of the album, where they fit in amongst the folk/bluegrass revival, and a truly touching story of the anonymous fan who gave him his Gibson J-45.

    HT: So, the mellowness of it all, is that by design or was it just the result of how you guys play together?

    JR: I think it’s something that we’re drawn to and it’s also a by-product of just the instrumentation that we’ve chosen. It’s hard to do anything else I guess with just two guitars and two voices. But you know, we’re both drawn to music that is beautiful in some ways. The way that it comes out of us is like you said, mellow, but it’s not really something we’re striving for.

    HT: Another thing I wanted to ask about is your bluegrass influences. I know everybody tends to file you guys in the folk camp, but it seems like you take a lot from bluegrass as well. Do you have any major influences or favorites in that world?

    JR: My exposure to that world is only recent in the past few years, but we have and we do take from it. There’s an aesthetic about it that we are enamored with, and we allow it to creep into our writing and playing. For me, the thing that resonates the most is the duo record that Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice made. That one to me stretches the limits of what you can do as a duo with two instruments and two voices. That’s actually a strong musical touchstone for me personally.

    We didn’t come up in that traditional, and we didn’t come up in that traditional bluegrass scene though. There’s a respect and a tradition, and we don’t have that history of upbringing. We’re fascinated with it, but in a sense we’d feel like outsiders there.

    HT: In terms of the speed of the band’s growth, does this feel like the right natural progress for you guys. Obviously it’s exciting, but is it getting intimidating or anything at this point?

    JR: I think it’s just right. We’re also wary of growth that comes too quickly or growth from a single source like a song on the radio, a song on a television show, or in a film. We’ve got friends who’ve experienced that and can fill up much bigger rooms than we can, but many times half of those people are there waiting for the one song they know from the television show or commercial. We’ve not had that, so it’s all just right. Even as the audiences grow, it seems like the audience is all there for the right reasons, or at least the reasons we would want them to be there for, which feels good.

    HT: Is there a certain demographic that you’re seeing or is it a pretty broad mix?

    JR: It’s incredibly broad. I would even imagine it could be kind of weird for the audience members. There was a girl who wrote to us about our show in Nashville that said by the time it started, nobody else could get in. She wrote to us, “While I was waiting in line, it looked like a bunch of old people who had heard us on NPR were coming in with tickets that bought way in advance after Prairie Home Companion.”

    I think it’s probably kind of weird to show up as an 18 year old and see a bunch of people who look like they would be friends with your parents. It is pretty neat to get such a broad mix of people at our shows though.

    HT: I wanted to ask you a bit about your guitar. I read a story that mentioned that a fan gave you the guitar you always play, so I was wondering if you would mind telling the rest of that story.

    JR: Yeah, that was actually a really fascinating act of altruism. A lot of fans – and we appreciate this too – want to be involved in some way and feel a part of things, which is just great, but the woman who bought me this guitar, she would come to my shows, but never say ‘hi’. She would buy the albums, but instead of buying them at the shows, she would always buy them on the internet. So, she always kept her distance.

    Then, one day she wrote and asked me what would be my dream guitar. I actually just thought she wanted to start some sort of a conversation, but I told that my dream guitar was the Gibson J-45. So she wrote back a couple days later with a link to an eBay auction, and said “Like this one?”

    It was a beautiful guitar, so I said, “Yeah, just like that one.” But then I looked at the auction and I saw that her name was already listed as the winner of the auction. So I said, “Wow, you bought this? Congratulations, what a beautiful guitar. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!”

    Then she writes back, “You’re going to have to send me your address, because I didn’t buy it for me. I bought it to send to you.”

    And that was it. I still don’t really know what to make of it. I hope that she’s still out there following along, but we’ve still never met. And it’s still my only guitar.

    HT: How did the Gus Van Zandt connection occur with you guys being included on the soundtrack for Promised Land?

    JR: He saw us play. Anything good that has ever happened to us has been because somebody saw a show. This one included. We were opening for KD Lang and the tour went through Portland. So, he was at the show, because he’s friends with KD and we talked to him after the show for like an hour, but we talked about everything besides our music and his movies. It was really nice. It was a wonderful conversation.

    At the end of it, he said I’m working on a film that I think you’d be perfect for. Would you mind if I called you in a few months? So, we said “Yeah! No! We don’t mind!”

    So, a few months went by after we had forgotten about it and we never really heard anything, but then one day he calls Kenneth’s cell phone. We don’t even know how he got it, but he got it. He said, “We’ve tried everything from your first two albums, but nothing seems to work. Have you got anything that is unreleased?”

    So we said, “Why don’t we do you one better? We’ll come into the studio, and we’ll bring everything we’ve got, but we can also take a crack at writing something for you?”

    We went for three or four hours to the studio with him watching parts of the film and figuring out what is was he was after. The beautiful part of it was that his instinct was that our collective voice, and the sound that was just coming out naturally, was really what would work best for his film.

    The assignment was just “Write whatever you want, and send it in”. That’s how those three songs ended up in the film. The one song we wrote that actually makes mention of the film title, the song called Promised Land – which is on our record – was the one he didn’t want. He thought it sounded like it was written for the film.

    So, people always say, “What’s it like to write songs for a film?” And I have to answer, “I still don’t know.”

    HT: Finally, I wanted to talk a bit about the song Heaven, which is one of my favorites on the new album. I wondered how that one came about and where you got the idea and so on.

    JR: What is your impression of it? I’m curious to know before I delve into it.

    HT: Hmmm, I don’t know. I haven’t gotten a chance to see you guys live yet, but it strikes me as the “shitkicker”, get the crowd riled up live tune. It comes near the end of the record after being at this relaxed level for quite a while, and then it kind of  kicks up a bit.

    JR: Well, it definitely fills that role, but the “shitkickerness” is completely ironic in my opinion. The song is actually a slight against “shitkicking” kick drum stomping folk music. I like to envision to the crowd actually talking the instruction to clap their hands and stomp their feet, only to realize a few lines later that we are making fun of people who make music for that purpose.

    I don’t want to say too much, but our thing is so deliberately quiet and insular that it makes us feel like the perennial underdogs in a lot of ways due to the current aesthetic currently being called – mistakenly in my opinion – folk music. So, that one is a bit of a commentary about the groupings that we find ourselves being put into by people who listen to or especially write about our music.

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    As I wrote about for JamBase, Phish front man Trey Anastasio made his 2013 orchestral debut last night at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Anastasio performed with the National Symphony Orchestra and mixed Phish staples with tunes from his solo repertoire at the two-set show.

    [Photo by Matty B]

    While much has been made of a fan who interrupted the show, let’s not forget what the evening was really about – the music. With that, watch Trey Anastasio and the NSO perform You Enjoy Myself…

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    Yesterday, Les Claypool used his Facebook Page to offer up a chance for his followers to join in on the reality show he’s making with Ween guitarist Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo. If you recall, we’ve been tracking the progress of the show which is currently in production and will feature Les’s fishing and musical hi-jinks with Deaner.

    [Photo via Larry Ferrari of Ween Forum]

    Here’s how you can get involved with the reality show…

    Do you wanna fish with Claypool and Deaner? If so, use your smartphone/Iphone and send us a close up video saying so, “I wanna fish with Claypool and Deaner!” is the phrase we are looking for. Be creative but try to keep it head or face shot and 5 seconds MAX. Email submission to

    This mission has Vine written all over it. We can’t wait to see what people come up with.

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    Icelandic post-rock band will be Jay Leno’s guest this evening on The Tonight Show. This will be the band’s second major U.S. TV appearance in a row after they were featured on last Sunday’s season finale of The Simpsons. Sigur Ros’s appearance on The Tonight Show follows a visit from fellow countrymen Of Monsters And Men. Jay must love those Icelandic bands and who can blame him?

    Friday, May 24 [All Times ET]

    • The So So Glos on David Letterman [CBS 11:35PM]
    • Sigur Ros on Jay Leno [NBC 11:35PM]
    • Dawes on Jimmy Kimmel Live [ABC 11:35PM]
    • They Might Be Giants on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon [NBC 12:35AM]

    Saturday, May 25

    • Radiohead on Austin City Limits [PBS]
    • Motorhead – Live In Berlin [Palladia 7PM]
    • Judas Priest – Epitaph [Palladia 9PM]
    • Michael McDonald – A Tribute To Motown [AXS TV 11PM]

    Sunday, May 26

    • Dropkick Murphys – Live At Fenway [Palladia 8AM]
    • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live in NYC [Palladia 9AM]
    • Billy Currington & Nickel Creek – Live [AXS TV 5:55PM]
    • Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains The Same [Palladia 7:30PM]
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    Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood was originally recorded by Nina Simone in 1964, but it’s arguably best known as one of The Animals’ signature tunes. The Eric Burdon-fronted act turned the song from a slow-burn jazz number into one of the seminal garage-rock tunes of the early 1960′s, with the help of some vamping organ and Burdon’s signature baritone growl. Now almost fifty years later Burdon, who released a new solo album earlier this year, has teamed up with HT fave Jenny Lewis to re-recorded one of his signature tunes for the latest edition of the soundtrack for the HBO show True Blood.

    Eric Burdon & Jenny LewisDon’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

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