Reviews

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As you entered the theater, you were given a postcard which had instructions for the “cue” for when to sing happy birthday to the birthday boy. Some of my fellow attendees were already wearing birthday hats and even giving them out to their friends. The theater was hoppin’, and the vibe was that of a celebration. It was a sold-out crowd (GA/LOGE/BALCONY). Of course, it really didn’t matter if you had a seat anyway when I looked around, people were standing and dancing everywhere.

There’s something irresistible about the Infamous Stringdusters. Their ebullient enthusiasm and riveting musicianship completely overwhelmed the packed house at Eugene’s (Ore.) HiFi Lounge on March 8.  The Stringdusters performed two invigorating sets of their distinctively expansive, new grass music and beguiled the enthusiastic crowd. They produced a bona fide ball, flooding the small venue with ecstatic musical energy that felt bigger than the room.

Backed by a varying procession of Bay Area players, Paige Clem led an epic CD-release party for her outstanding new album, “Firefly,” at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California, on March 9. Clem, an engaging and talented San Francisco-based songwriter, singer, and guitar player, had plenty of prominent Bay Area musicians on hand to make this a special two-set show.

There are three key fundamental elements to a superior live music experience. The band, the crowd, and the space. Sure, there are factors from the outside like weather, parking, a potential Shakedown Street, and maybe even lame small-town cops. But it’s the first three that bring it all together. Two veteran acts co-billed a doubleheader at San Francisco’s legendary Great American Music Hall last Thursday and Friday.

Any jazz aficionado who acknowledges the significance of the fusion movement beginning in the late 1960s would cite bands like Miles Davis, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and George Duke as prominent architects of the sub-genre. What do all of these legendary groups have in common? Drummer Billy Cobham. He’s unquestionably the finest living drummer from that period, one who took risks playing in groups outside of the “certifiable” jazz community.

On a cold and sleepy Sunday night the veteran Punk and New Wave band, The Psychedelic Furs brought nearly 2,500 people to the Canyon Club in Agoura, California. The standing room only show featured decades of hit music from the veteran English rockers.

Spafford, the improvisational musical wizards from down Phoenix way, swept through Marin County, California, on their latest tour, touching down for a weekend of songs and jamming at Terrapin Crossroads.

In one of their biggest headlining shows to date, Baltimore-based funk phenomenon Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took over Denver for an incredible night of music at the Ogden Theater, showcasing their signature styles and earning plenty of new fans along the way.

Forget the one-man band, Zach Deputy is a one-man orchestra. The Georgia-rooted multi-instrumentalist has devoted his life to the pursuit of musical excellence, and the development of his feel-good funky sound. Saturday, March 3rd, Zach Deputy performed to a full crowd in San Francisco’s Boom Boom Room. By the time the show was set to start, an eccentric crowd of dedicated fans stood close to the stage in anticipation of the upcoming performance.

There is something about the energy created by people coming together to hear the music of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. The first time I experienced this seemingly human-powered electricity was a few days before my 18th birthday, in 1994, in a parking lot near what was then the Boston Garden. When Jerry died the following summer, I found myself in a park sitting in a circle around a singular candle that seemed to burn for hours.

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