Friday, April 30, 2010
This was my second free show at Proscpect park in the span of a week.
Antibalas carries the Afrobeat torch of Fela Kuti; they're even the house band for the current musical about Fela. Their brass-laden afrobeat jams, like Fela's, have a decidedly political slant, which fit in well with the disillusionment a lot of the country was beginning to feel towards the ineptitude of the Bush administration. The highlight was "Indictment" which called out every guilty politician for crimes against humanity followed by a burst of brass and the rallying cry, "INDICTMENT!"
Soulive delivered the best performance I've seen them play. I was raging up front solo. A middle-aged gentleman passed me a joint. Kras melted my face with Hendrix licks. Neil laid down some nasty organ and Alan held down the groove. They closed with a scorching rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Crosstown Traffic."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
06/17/05 Bad Plus/Charlie Hunter Trio/James Carter Organ Trio @ Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, NY
One of the absolute best things about living in NYC is the plethora of top notch free music. This is especially true in the summer months, when just about every neighborhood park has a concert calendar.
Central park gets most of the attention, but Prospect Park is more woodsy, and seeing a show there actually feels like you're in a park; there is no Astroturf.
This was my first time in Prospect Park, lured in by the jazzy triple bill. The concert actually "charges" a strongly suggested $3 donation to keep the scene alive.
The opener was funky and fresh.
Charlie Hunter disappointed a bit, wowing with his 7-string guit-bass technical wizardry, but failing to match the energy of Mr. Carter's group.
Headliner avant jazz pop rock trio The Bad Plus was pretty amazing. The highlight was their progressive rendition of the theme from "Chariots of Fire."
Monday, April 26, 2010
Fishbone are ska punk funk legends that never really busted out in the manner that their L.A. peers Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction did.
Slightly Stoopid follow directly in the reggae roots fusion footprints of Sublime, whose lead singer signed the band while they were still in high school.
The wrong band headlined.
I'm not sure if I was at this exact show, but I definitely saw both bands at Tonic at one time or another and this the date Google turns up.
I vaguely recall talking to Skerik in the crowd and he told me he was "putting the ass back in ascot."
That's about all I remember.
I remember this night well because I couldn't find anyone to join me and I debated skipping the whole thing. It was a decision I had faced many times before and would face many times again, but I decided to grab a six-pack of Heineken Dark Lager and head to the show solo.
I got a sweet parking spot right in front of the club and smuggled in the brews as needed.
The show was a mix of experimental funk and dub featuring the percussive vibraphonic madness of Mike Dillon, who resembles a punk rock George W. Bush. Saxomaphonist Skerik amped the weirdness quotient up to 11.
I'm pretty sure I was teh only one in the audience who picked up on the left field cover of Slick Rick's "Adults Only" featuring the amended lyric, "Ain't no way to put it subtle - Skerik wants the butthole."
Good times and one of my earliest memories of solo city musical adventure at its finest.
Club D'Elf is the "Moroccan-dosed psychedelic dub jazz" project of Boston-based bassist Mike Rivard. It features a rotating cast of musicians and the likes of John Medeski, Marc Ribot and Skerik.
This is another one of those supremely talented jazzy funky jambands that never really got the props it deserved, highly respected by a select few, but never breaking through to the next level.
This show had them bringing their brand of world jazz to the cozy midlevel Tap Bar at the Knitting Factory. I don't remember much; the tunes were not up to par with recordings I had heard, but enjoyable nonetheless. I think I was expecting a sit-in by some famous NYC jam scenester taht never came.
06/14/76, Beacon Theater, New York, NYFor a few weeks in the spring of 2005, I delivered Arabic newspapers to various mosques and restaurants in the Tri-State area. It wasn't the greatest gig, but I could work whenever I wanted and it paid roughly $10 per hour. Come to think of it, it wasn't half bad driving around Conencticut, listenign to music.
Set 1: Cold Rain And Snow, Mama Tried, Row Jimmy, Cassidy, Brown-Eyed Women, Big River, Might As Well, Lazy Lightnin' > Supplication, Tennessee Jed, Playin' In The Band
Set 2: The Wheel, Samson And Delilah, High Time, The Music Never Stopped, Crazy Fingers > Dancin' In The Streets > Cosmic Charlie, Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin's Tower, Around And Around
Encore: U.S. Blues
Filler: Second That Emotion
Notes: Special guest Rob Barraco on keyboards
On one such jaunt, I managed to rope my roommate into coming along for the ride. We leisurely traversed the Nutmeg State and stopped at a local bar or two to soak up the local ambiance.
Eventually the route took us to New Haven, the Ivy League enclave. Enamored by the collegiate charm of the town, we stopped for a bit to explore. Then I noticed some crunchy individuals lining up outside Toad's Place, where many of my favorite bands had played.
Much to my delight, Dark Star Orchestra was in town and I decided to drain the remains of my checking account and take a little break for some soul soothing Dead tunes.
My friend is more hip hop than hippie, so he whiled away the hours tagging up New Haven's alleys and bar bathrooms, but he soon caved and joined me at the show, which he still refers to when anything remotely related is brought up in conversation.
The Grateful Dead's keyboard slot was known as the "Hot Seat" since many of the individuals who tickled the psychedelic ivory are no longer with us. The "curse" even extended to high ranking tribute acts, and DSO had recently lost their keyboardist to a heart attack. Filling in was erstwhile Dead member and bandana afficando, Rob Barraco.
The highlights were "Dancin'" and "U.S. Blues" and the fact that the original Dead show took place in New York City. Seeing my decidedly anti-hippie rommate get down to some Dead was icing on the cake.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
04/26/05 B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, New York, NY
Official Post-Jammy's Show
Set I: Jazz Odyssey> In the Kitchen, Push the Pig, Resolution1, Soul Food I2, Bad Is Bad2 3, Heart and Soul2, Believe the Lie, Glory, The Bottom Half, Women Wine and Song> Hurt Bird Bath> Jam4> Jam4 5> Jam4 5> Hurt Bird Bath
Set II: Making Flippy Floppy> Jam6, Pay the Snucka, Miss Tinkle's Overture7, Thin Air, Bright Lights
1 with Hysteria tease
2 with Huey Lewis on harmonica and vocals
3 first time played (Huey Lewis and the News)
4 with Aron Magner with Joel on keys and Marc Brownstein replacing Ryan on bass
5 with Joe Russo replacing Kris on drums
6 "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" jam; with Nellie McKay on vocals
7 with Thunderstruck jam
This was an official after party for the Jammys, which is the jam scene's take on the Grammys, with a heavy focus on pairing musicians haphazardly with often captivating results.
As such, there were many guests in the house.
The higlights were Huey Lewis jamming on a few tunes, some Biscuits and Joe Russo jamming on another and some of my favorite Umphrey's originals: "In the Kitchen," "Women Wine and Song," "Miss Tinkle's Overture," "Bright Lights" and "Plunger."
There was also a Talking Heads cover and a peculiar vocal take on "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" by Nellie McKay.
All in all, it was a very jammy affair.
04/22/05 Roseland Balroom, New York NY
Set 1: Stellar Particles, Heart Of The Hydra, Wavemaker, Fire On The Mountain
Set 2: The Glow > Ed & Molly, Creature Of Comfort, We Are The Planet > Milestone >
We Are the Planet
Encore: Luminiferous Ether
Five years ago today, I celebrated Earth Day with yet another supergroup combining the livetronica forces of Particle with the world percussion of Rhythm Devil Mickey Hart.
Unfortunately, the sum was not greater than, or even equal to, its parts.
The highlight was a funky rendition of the Dead classic "Fire on the Mountain" and even that left me pining for its usual partner, "Scarlet Begonias."
I also saw notable Deadhead and oft-injured basketballer Bill Walton aka Big Red.
My friend was there handing out free condoms and information for the AIDS awareness organization LifeBeat, with which I would later volunteer.
Towards the end of the night, when she had finished her duties, we did a little dance and I regret not completing that lyric. I made the wrong choice of moving my car instead of piling into a taxi with her and her equally nubile lady friends.
Then I got shut out of a Phish cover band at the Lion's Den and failed to reconnect with her for the rest of the evening.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
This was a hip hop showcase at another NYC club that is no longer with us. This spot never really had time to develop a scene or identity so no one remembers it.
I actually found out about this show on crunchy concert listing site jambase.com, so the show had that backpack rap appeal.
This was one of the few shows I was ever able to coax my roommate into attending.
Glue was the opening act and I can honestly say i have never seen any performer work such a small crowd in such an exuberant manner. There couldn't have been more than 30 people in the audience, but emcee Adeem had them all hanging on his every word.
Surprisingly, there were even fewer in attendance when Breez hit the stage. He's one of those deep underground rappers, always on the grind threatening to flirt with the upper echelon of the unknown greats. He rocked a passionate set for the remaining heads.
For the first quarter of 2005, I was busy saving money to move to the city and commuting to Queens College from Rockland, so I didn't see much live music. The relatively low number of shows must have been the reason why the few shows I did see in the early part of the year were all super groups comprised of the best elements of my favorite regular groups.
This was the first show I saw after I moved to an apartment in Flushing, Queens. The proximity of my place to the Long island Expressway made it easy to drive to shows all over the five boroughs, but for my first musical experience as a resident of New York City, I chose a fairly far flung locale - Park Slope, Brooklyn.
The band featured Soulive's Eric Krasno on guitar, man about town Cheme Gastelum on sax, drum wunderkind Adam Deitch and organ grinder Robert Walter.
The venue is one of the nicer ones in the city, even though I haven't returned since.
The show was a predictable mix of exhilirating exploratory funk jams. The second set opened with Kras on bass for a few tunes.
On the way home, I got hopelessly lost in South Brooklyn for nearly two hours.
02/15/05 Mike Clark's Prescription Trio/Oteil and the Peacemakers @ BB King's Blues Club, New York, NY
The club had some sort of special so tickets for this show were only a few dollars each.
I was in the process of moving to Queens and I was looking at apartments prior to the show.
The opening act featured the bass wizardry of Allman Brother Oteil Burbridge fronting his own group. That set also introduced me to the beautiful and talented bassist extraordinaire, Tal Wilkenfeld.
Mike Clark was a drummer in Herbie Hancock's legendary Headhunters group, notable for the blending of jazz and funk in new and intriguing ways.
The Prescription Trio featured a revolving cast of jam and jazz heavy hitters, but this particular ensemble was the best of the various incarnations.
Skerik is a Seattle saxophonist best known for his work with various Les Claypool projects and his eccentricity. Robert Walters is Hammond B3 organ whiz.
The three of them together served up a delectable danceable cocktail and were joined for a spell by yet another jazz funk luminary, Melvin Sparks.
After a uneventful New Year's Eve spent at a friend's parent's house party, this was a nice New Year's Day treat.
The original Knitting Factory on Houston was known, in conjunction with the aforementioned Tonic, as the center of downtown's early 1990s underground alternative jazz scene that spawned such vaunted cats as Medeski Martin & Wood and Steve Bernstein's various projects.
The new location expanded the pallette to include everything from punk to funk, often simultaneously held in any of the venue's three separate performance spaces.
I believe this may have been my first time at the club.
The line-up was a supergroup of sorts comprised of Mark Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits on bass, Jamie Shields of The New Deal on keys and Joe Russo of Benevento Russo Duo on drums. These were (and still are) some of my favorite musicians from some of my favorite bands.
The vibe in the crowd was fairly laid back, fully understandable for the night after the biggest party night of the year.
We secured a spot in the balcony and danced our way through the improvised electronic grooves that the trio laid down in the first set.
At the start of the second set, a familiar face emerged on stage.
It was none other than Mike Gordon, bassist for recently disbanded Phish, who just happened to live in an apartment above the club.
Since Brownie was already holding down the low end, Cactus tried his hand at guitar, capably strumming along to the L. Cool concoctions for the duration of the show.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I lost my job and had a few unfortunate run-ins with the law in the latter half of 2004, so I didn't see as much live music as I might have liked to. However, I did discover one of my favorite venues of all time during that dark period.
On a random Saturday night, I was in the city looking for something to do and I saw a jazz show at a venue I'd never heard of, so I went to check it out.
It was a very competent jazz combo that turned out to have a bit of a Christian vibe.
The club itself was decidedly nondescript, hardly the type of space where you'd expect to see top notch music from the city's diverse world jazz scene. Yet that's precisely what it was.
The downstairs lounge, The Bunker, was once one of the city's many Kosher wineries and the private booths were giant wine barrels.
When I returned, half drawn by mysterious allure of a nearly bygone NYC era that I never knew, it was to see the eclectic Groove Collective perform their Grammy-nominated mix of Afro-pop, Latin jazz, hip-hop, and traditional jazz stylings.
Sadly, Tonic, like many great NYC music clubs, would soon succumb to gentrification. Unlike many other great clubs, I was actually able to go there more than a handful of times before it closed and actually appreciate its uniqueness.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
08/14/04 Newport State Airport, Coventry, VT
Set I: Walls of the Cave> Runaway Jim> Gotta Jibboo, You Enjoy Myself1, Sample in a Jar, Axilla, Poor Heart, Run Like An Antelope2, Fire
Set II: AC/DC Bag> 46 Days, Halley's Comet> Ya Mar, David Bowie, Character Zero
Set III: Twist> The Wedge, Stash> Free, Guyute, Drowned> Jam, Friday
Encore: Harry Hood
1 Trey gives trampolines out into crowd
2 With Tom Marshall
08/15/04 Newport State Airport, Coventry, VT
Set I: Mike's Song1> I am Hydrogen> Weekapaug Groove, Anything But Me, Reba, Carini, Chalkdust Torture> Possum, Wolfman's Brother> Jam2, Taste
Set II: Down With Disease, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Glide, Split Open and Melt> Ghost
Set III: Fast Enough For You, Seven Below, Simple, Piper> Bruno3> Dickie Scotland3, Wilson, Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: The Curtain With
1 Last Mike's Song opener (8/15/1998) at The Lemonwheel
2 With both Trey and Mike's mothers on stage doing the "sexy bump", followed by Trey and Mike "double-teaming" John Paluska in similar fashion
3 Songs made up about Bruno, Phish's monitor man and Richard Glasgow, the tour accountant
I had only seen Phish once at this point, but when I heard they were calling it quits, I knew I had to make the trek to northern Vermont for their final performances. The festival would become notorious in subsequent years as a template on how not to go out in style and Murphy's Law was in full effect.
It all started when we hit the road later than planned and I was forced to drive my newly acquired Chevy Blazer. This was a slightly better option than jamming four guys plus gear in a Toyota Corolla.
After a trip to the beer depot and dry ice factory, we were on our merry way. It was a 6 hour drive and we arrived early Friday morning. Then we sat in veritable standstill traffic for the next 24 hours or so. That's a day straight in traffic. It was downhill from there.
While in line, we managed to make a bit of a profit selling burgers and dogs off my tailgate. We decided to cut sales short to save food for ourselves, a decision that would prove asinine.
I wandered into the woods alongside the road and pictured the mystical land of Gamehendge.
The crew I rolled with were neither my best friends, nor especially well-versed in the lore of Phish, and being cramped up in the car for a day straight was not fun. My mp3 player died a few hours into the traffic jam, which didn't improve the matter.
Then night fell and the rains came. Spirits, already low, plummeted.
But the sun rose, highway wiffleball games abounded, frisbees soared and for a brief moment, all was well.
Then, Phish's bassist Mike Gordon took to the airwaves of the festival's very own radio station and made the fateful announcement that the festival gates were closed. The farm, victimized by an unseasonable deluge of rain, could simply not accomodate any more vehicles.
And the collective heart of a miles long line of vehicles from across the world sank like a stone.
Silence. Disbelief. Bemusement.
We weren't about to give up though. We parked our vehicles on dividers and we began to walk, taking all we could carry, only the essentials. And onward we pressed, by foot, hundreds and hundreds strong, down the highway to the great divide.
It was a 15 mile hike through rural Vermont in all its cow funk glory and it reminded me of film footage I've seen of the road to Woodstock.
We finally arrived at the grounds with an hour or two to spare before showtime.
There were puddles of mud at every turn. Just a couple months removed from the muddiness of Bonnaroo, I embraced it with barefoot aplomb. I departed the thin strip of dry land and trounced across a small shallow pond ever closer to the looming jams.
Unfortunately, my friends did not make the same choice and when I reached the other side, I turned around and they were nowhere to be seen.
There I was, all alone in a sea of unbridled wookery. Wearily, I trudged ahead towards the entrance to the concert fields and I reached the gate.
However, having bypassed the vehicle entrance on foot, I neglected to exchange my ticket for a bracelet and was forced to navigate the circumference of the grounds to seek the elusive bracelet booth.
Finally, just before Phish hit the stage, I found myself a spot, set up a mini camp and prepared to rage. I was down to some lukewarm Sammy Smiths and my morale was low, but I mustered up what little energy I had left and got down to some decidedly subpar tunes.
After a performance early in the first set of one of their most popular tunes, "You Enjoy Myself," which incorporates synchronized trampoline jumping, Trey and Mike passed their mini-tramps to the audience, a symbol of the symbiotic nature of the fans' relationship with the band, as well as a stark reminder that things were coming to a somber close.
I do recall thinking towards the end of the set that Trey should cover more Hendrix, as he had the chops to do so. Then they ripped into the set closing "Fire."
Sometime during the second set, I ran into a casual acquaintance. He had weed and I had a bowl. All was well. I was even able to stash my gear with him between sets while I took a Port-o-Potty break. But then I could not find my way back.
During the encore, Trey and Mike made their way down to the rocks in front of the stage to be closer to the fans.
After the third set, when the crowd had dispersed, I finally stumbled upon my belongings and made my way to a rare dry spot to make my bed. Pavement never felt so soft.
In the morning, I stumbled into the adjacent campsite proper and purchased some weed with storage space for my stuff tossed in free of charge. Then I made my way down Shakedown.
I ran into my acquaintence from the night before and I retrieved my bowl. While sitting at his campsite, my crew walked by.
They had set up a camp site almost directly adjacent to the stage area. On grass!
Furthermore, one of my friends had purchased an eighth of an ounce of psychedelic mushrooms and he wanted to share them with me. We decided to take them at setbreak so we would be peaking at the start of the second set.
We ventured into the vendor area for some food and drink. I grabbed a beer and, being the only one of age, asked my friends to meet me outside the enclosed beer area.
That didn't work out and I was once again alone.
I made some new friends during the first set, friends with Jägermeister.
I tried in vain to locate my buddies. I missed out on the mushrooms and the opener of the second set was perfect for the height of a trip.
"Down With Disease" replete with the largest glowstick war I have seen to this day is one of the few musical moments I remember from this legendarily awful career capping concert.
Then came an emotional "Wading in the Velvet Sea" causing Page to choke up on the vocals. I can't hear the song without recalling that teary-eyed rendition.
The next song, "Glide," is still cited as the epitome of what an absolute trainwreck the band had become, as well as a shorthand for the fanbase's overall disgust with the abject failure of the farewell festivities.
The third set included tributes to members of the crew and then an encore break.
For months, fans had wondered what song would close out the Phish, but not many saw this one coming.
According to Trey, "The Curtain With" was one the first Phish songs written (in a nearby cabin) and it contains the appropriate line, "Please me, have no regrets."
Then they played it in the right key.
As the band exited the stage, Trey quietly laid his guitar down, and just like that, a tumultuous 20+ year musical journey came to a somber end.
The masses ambled off the grounds in a quiet stupor. Only the distant hiss of nitrous tanks filled the air.
I wanted to get some sleep, but my friends insisted we make our way home. We had to take an ATV and a pick-up truck at a cost of approximately $20 each to get back to my car.
Cruising down Interstate 91, all my friends shortly fell asleep. I remember thinking to myself that I had better pull off and get a cup of coffee.
The next thing I knew, I was woken by the jolt of my car hitting the divider. I swerved across the thankfully empty lanes to right myself and pulled over to regain my composure. Luckily, I was in a small SUV with the windows just above the top of the divider. I managed to scratch up the driver side pretty badly and take out a tail light, but all in all, it could have ended drastically worse.
After that, a friend took over the driving.
We stopped for coffee and the battery died. We tried jumping it, but to no avail. We resigned to waiting a few hours for the garage to open. Then we figured we might as well try another jump, which miraculously worked.
I fell into a deep sleep for the remainder of the drive.
As soon as I got back to my hometown, I stopped by my friend's place to decompress, smoke a bit and tell my tale.
Despite all the negativity, it was not horrible. I doubt I'd do it again though.
Standing in my driveway at the end of the trek, I finished unloading my things and closed the tailgate window, which immediately shattered. It was a fitting end to a harrowing adventure.
Set 1: Jam> Playin' In The Band> Birdsong> All That We Are> Cassidy> Tomorrow Never Knows, Self Defense, Minglewood Blues, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Headcount Rap
Set 2: @Peggy-O, Dear Mr. Fantasy> ^St Stephen> ^He's Gone> Drums>^Space> ^China Doll, ^Sugaree, Birdsong Reprise> Cassidy Reprise> Touch of Grey, Donor Rap, Headcount Rap
@Bobby acoustic, ^with Joan Osbourne, #Phil vocal, no bass
This was my first proper Dead show after a barely tolerable rain delay at Bonnaroo. The show was sold out, but after a call to a friend, I scored some pavilion seats just 15 rows back from the stage.
The highlights were "Bird Song," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "He's Gone." Curiously, I was not a fan of "Ripple" at the time, despite its current standing as one of my favorite songs of all time.
Joan Osbourne, who had toured with The Dead the prior summer, joined the band for several tunes.
I sold some weed to a mother with some young children in tow. Parents today.
An ulu is an Inuit all-purpose knife traditionally used by women. It is utilized in applications as diverse as skinning and cleaning animals, cutting a child's hair, cutting food and, if necessary, trimming blocks of snow and ice used to build an igloo.
The Halve Maen (Half Moon) was a Dutch East India Company ship which sailed in what is now New York harbor in September 1609. It was commissioned by the Dutch Republic to covertly find an eastern passage to China. The ship was captained by Henry Hudson who was an Englishman in the service of the Dutch Republic.
Monday, April 12, 2010
This was my first time seeing Soulive in a club setting. They were one of my favorite band at the time and this was a smaller club than they normally played - the now defunct Tribeca Rock Club.
They played a two night stand and sold "Instant Live" CDs of the show. Of course, this being way back in 2004, I didn't receive the discs until a few weeks after the fact.
The show was sold out by the time we got there, but we were able to catch the second set.
The most memorable part of the show was when Supernatural came out for some freestyling and "Tabasco." For some reason, the crowd was not especially receptive to the hip hop element and he heard some scattered boos. When I listened to the tape, I could hear my friend yelling that "They don't understand."
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
This was at the dock where they brought the survivors of the Titanic. That little tidbit was imparted by Moby at a previous Pier 54 show.
Particle rose rapidly up the rankings in the jamosphere and then plummeted just as quickly. This was my first time seeing them and I got there towards the end.
I remember they did a techno version of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."
I believe this was my first time driving to the city in my own vehicle for a concert.
Monday, April 5, 2010
12-28-1986 Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, Oakland, CA 1: Cold Rain, Minglewood, Row Jimmy> El Paso, Stagger Lee, Box Of Rain> Big RxR Blues> Promised
2: Scarlet> Fire> L. L. Rain> He's Gone> Drumz> Other One> Black Peter> Sugar Magnolia
Encore: Baby Blue
Filler: Women Smarter
I went with my dad and his eponymous friend, who had been my "uncle" in my youth. They were sitting against the wall asleep sometime midway through the second set.
I ran into some acquaintances there who had already figured out the original show at set break thanks to a set list book.
At the punk and ska shows I used to go to in high school and beyond, I would always dream about the day I could go to the bar, grab a beer and hop in the pit. But when I finally turned 21 and got to a show, I felt kind of old. The bands get older and the fans stay the same age. Maybe that's why I moved on.