Iconic architects of San Francisco’s celebrated psychedelic sound, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, brought their enduring roots-infused mélange, Hot Tuna, to Eugene’s (Ore.) McDonald Theater on Sept. 1st and suitably verified their vaunted rock-and-roll credentials. Though not as widely known as their seminal 60’s group Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna have been playing searing, head-spinning shows for nearly five decades.
Two homesick space aliens walk into a bar. They yearn to feel at home. So what do they order? What’s on tap? Hell no--Gary Numan, bro. Numan’s flowing tunic, octopus’ arms, and catatonic stare were made for the sound effects his amazing musicians manufacture. Now, the blistering electric solos would be grand enough alone, but when Numan sings his post-wave heart out and channels a higher spirit, you’ve got undefinable magic. The purveyor of 1979’s “Pleasure Principal’ still oozes Oxytocin into the air. Isn’t that illegal?
There was an angel sitting on Riot Fest’s shoulder this year. The annual, three-day extravaganza was anointed with spectacular weather and droves of receptive multi-generational devotees. The layout was easily navigable, with the two main stages, Riot and Roots, blessedly close in proximity, while Rebel, Radicals, and Rise were merely a cold brew away.
Day 2 of the 2018 KAABOO Del Mar Festival began as another gorgeous San Diego beach day. Head high waves had surfers up and down the coast flocking to the area beaches. Meanwhile, the music started early at the Del Mar Fairgrounds with bands playing before noon. By early afternoon Minnesota rockers Soul Asylum were lighting up the Grandview main stage with their high energy music. The Grammy-winning band was one of the first bands to be labeled alternative rock back in 1981.
The Lil Smokies are like the little engine that could. They keep chugging along creating a new landscape for themselves at each bend in the road. After critical acclaim including winning both the Northwest String Summit and Telluride’s band contests, they also received the International Bluegrass Music Association's Momentum Band of the Year in 2016. Andy Dunnigan, songwriter, vocals, and dobro player for the Lil Smokies took some time out to talk to Grateful Web.
One of the most important live recordings of the last fifty years, “Friday Night In San Francisco” (1982) brought together three prodigious guitarists of different legacies to one stage. John McLaughlin, one of the three guitarists, recognized the tour with progressive flamenco master Paco De Lucia and fusion marvel Al Di Meola as an essential collective performance. San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre had many legendary musical performances prior, but after that Friday night of acoustical transcendence on December 5th, 1980, McLaughlin further mystified the storied venue.
It’s one thing to create an understanding of an artist by visiting Spotify, and another entirely to hear them play. Trout Steak Revival is the perfect example. I didn’t have the highest hopes for Trout Steak Revival after visiting Spotify. But by the end of the first song, I could confidently say I am enamored by them. Mixing and mastering all of their talent into an audio file is a job I’d avoid at all costs. Something so authentic as an acoustic show never reflects the true richness that comes from having so much raw talent and mastery on one stage.
The KAABOO music festival opened Friday, September 14th with an estimated 40,000 fans selling out the event for the first time in its 4-year history. The event, which takes place at the upscale Del Mar Racetrack just north of San Diego, took advantage of the last beautifully sunny weekend of summer. The festival grounds back up to the edge of the Pacific Ocean and surfers were actually visible, catching waves on nearby Del Mar beach.