Thursday night in Stamford, CT on a mild late September evening, brought fun and great music to The City That Works. JD & the Straight Shot played an opening hour long set of mostly original compositions that ranged from Country to Americana inspired songs. Influences by Jay Ungar, David Bromberg, Larry Campbell and The Band can be heard in many of the songs.
During northwest Arkansas’ annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ festival near the end of September, fans of sultry Southern rock – of which there were many – enjoyed a lively set from JJ Grey & Mofro. A fairly frequent performer at George’s Majestic Lounge, lead singer JJ Grey was comfortable as ever with the variety of audience members. Bikers, bluegrass, and rock fans alike found themselves grooving along with Grey’s smooth performance.
Kansas, one of the most successful American rock bands to come out of the 1970's, brought their progressive rock jam sounds to the opulent Thousand Oaks Civic Center, Wednesday, September, 13th. The marathon performance featured no less than 24 songs in a nonstop show that stretched nearly three hours into the late summer evening.
The Bluegrass scene has been exploding over the past few years, and since the Bill Monroe days, south-central PA has been at the heart of it. In the middle of this hotspot of up and coming bluegrass bands, is Mountain Ride, an original bluegrass band that seamlessly comingles both traditional and progressive bluegrass styles. Lead singer and songwriter Eric Avey has assembled an amazingly talented group of musicians to go along with some very well written original lyrics.
On September 15th The Lil Smokies graced the world with their sophomore studio album, "Changing Shades." For anyone unfamiliar with the Lil Smokies, they are certainly a band on the move. Winners or the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition, they have catapulted themselves into the spotlight amongst some of the bluegrass greats. Hailing from Missoula, MT, the Lil Smokies played over 175 shows in 2016 alone.
A true English rock legend brought nearly six decades of rock music history to the Samala Showroom at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez California last weekend. Steve Winwood has been a rock star all of his adult life, beginning his musical career as a child prodigy in Birmingham England. The 69-year-old singer-songwriter, master Hammond B3 organist, and smoking blues-rock guitarist joined his first rock band, the Spencer Davis Group, in 1963.
Michael Franti and Spearhead brought the 'Love Out Loud' tour to McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater in Troutdale, Oregon, on September 9. The show featured positive vibes from the opening acts Choir, Choir, Choir, which had the crowd singing along, and singer-songwriter Ethan Tucker, who played a few acoustic songs, to Franti's two-hour heart felt performance.
Of the living legendary Jazz musicians of the 20th century, few perform with such purpose and poise as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. As the groundbreaking Jazz-fusion originating guitarist has put it in two separate interviews with Grateful Web, it’s all out of love. Love for life, love for the players in his earth-shattering 4th Dimension band, love for exploration, love for all people.
As the sun crested the sky on one of the more perfect afternoons you could ask for in the middle of New York City at the end of August, Phil LeshLesh and his Terrapin Family Band huddled at the side of the stage as the audience hooted and hollered, unable to contain their excitement for the music that was about to come.
As a music journalist for a decade and a half, I see a lot of live music. But every once in a while, I catch a concert that gives me a special feeling of knowing that I have seen music history and something sonically special. This was one of those moments. A few years ago here, it was Lana Del Rey who captivated her sold out show. This summer, it was her male musical soul mate Father John Misty.