Salvador Santana Band: Carving Out Their Own Sound

Salvador Santana- for the Grateful Web

Salvador Santana has not just big shoes to fill, but legendary ones. His father is rock icon, Carlos Santana. Like many children of musical experts, he has pulled away from his father's instrument and even Santana's classic rock sound.

Recently, I was sent a five track demo by Salvador Santana and his band. It is a sampling of the group's jazz, hip-hop sound. Salvador has chosen the keyboard as his instrument of choice, and he's producing some sweet sounds. Assisting him on this EP, are Emerson Cardenas (bass), Eric Mendez (percussion), Rene del Fierro (guitar), Gene Coye (drums), Carla Holbrook (vocals) and Sam Totah (MC, vocals).

Five cuts aren't really enough to see the breadth of this artist, but I did see a sampling of his choice of lyrics, his writing style, and the avenues he was exploring. Though I found the first cut, "We Rock Da Mike" and the final cut, "SSB," to be self indulgent as some hip-hop can be, they gave me not only a taste of things to come, especially Carla Holbrook's haunting voice, but also framed the album. Both of these songs, like all but one of the others on the EP, were collaborations, and they clearly reflect the influences of MC Sam Totah.

Salvador's hip-hop and Holbrook's R&B create an interesting mix on "Simple Story of Love." That cut is enhanced not only by Salvador's tasty key work but by del Fierro's guitar and, most especially, by Mendez's percussion.

"Another Rainy Day"also pairs Holbrook with Salvador. In contrast, this moody tune is more jazz based, using mainly drumkit and keys, ranging from piano to synth. When del Fierro's guitar enters the mix, it is only to grace the work with suggestions of brightness.

"Electric Moon," Salvador's only solo written piece on the demo again is a tasty jazz-based instrumental. This is where this band shines. Those jazz influences no doubt come from absorbing music all around him as a child and also from his studies at Cal Arts in Calencia, CA.

One thing that was especially unique about this demo was the choice to bounce notes from one channel to the other. This isn't just pumping out guitar from one speaker and keys from another, but to switch keyboard notes (and even sustained notes) from each side in succession. It does a strange trip to your head if you listen to the CD through head phones!

This EP is a precursor to Salvador's full-length self-titled CD out on Tsunami Record Group that is out this year. New band members highlight this new album. Emerson Cardenas returns on bass, but Salvador has added Woody Aplanalp on guitar and vocals, Tony Austin on drums, Quincy McCary on vocals and a second set of keyboards, and Jose Espinosa on sax, flute, percussion, and vocals.

The resulting new sound is heavy with an Afro-Cuban sound. It comes mainly from Espinosa's percussion that complements Austin's drums. That kind of percussion and drum work, for me, has always been at the heart of Carlos Santana's music. It is what drew me to Santana decades ago and what moves me still. But this time, Salvador has dressed it up with hip-hop, R&B, and lots of jazz.

Salvador's bandmates have been amassing their own body of credits before they became part of this band. Tony Austin has played drums with jazz artists like Billy Higgins and Charles Lloyd, as well as the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band.  He also has played with Banyan, Rob Wasserman, John Avila of Oingo Boingo, and Erikah Badu. In addition, his work has appeared on NBC's "Studio 60" and "E-Ring," CW's "One on One" and "What I Like About You."

Jose Espinosa, also known as Crunchy, is a fellow grad of Cal Arts and helped found Ozomatli. A multi-instrumentalist, his work has appeared on recordings with Blackalicous and Black Eyed Peas, as well the films Cheaper by the Dozen, Along Came Polly, Havana Nights, and Any Given Sunday.

Quincy McCrary, founder of the LA act Burning Star and a player in Quetzal, also has had his work showcased in films, including Hook, Batman Returns, Dutch, Clifford, What About Bob?, Home Alone, and Captain Ron. He also has done tracks for the television shows Alley McBeal, Amen, the Arsenio Hall Show, and General Hospital. Though he is manning keys and doing vocals for the Salvador Santana Band, you can be sure Salvador will continue to add his own keyboard stylings.

Guitarist Woody Alpanalp has toured with some of the best ethnic musicians in the world. From 2004-6, he did a world tour, backing master Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. He has recorded and played live with African music legend Thomas Mapfumo. Also, Alpanalp has toured with Grammy award-winning hip-hop/R&B artist Lauryn Hill and jazz great Wadada Leo Smith's ensemble, the Golden Quartet. He also steals away to perform with his own eclectic rock group, Papa Woody.

Emerson Cardenas has played exclusively with the Salvador Santana Band.

Salvador Santana is presenting a new freshness on the musical landscape. Check out his self-titled album and you'll see what I mean.

The Gabe Dixon Band's New Album Streets August 26th, 2008

Gabe Dixon- for the Grateful Web

The Gabe Dixon Band's new self-titled album, due out on Fantasy Records on August 26, is in fact the group's third release, following the 2002 album On a Rolling Ball and the 2005 EP Live at World Café. But there's good reason Dixon, the band's writer/singer/pianist, considers it the GDB's debut.

Formed nine years ago by Dixon — then a classical piano major — and his two college roommates, bassist Winston Harrison and drummer Jano Rix, the group added a sax player and spent several years specializing in jazz-inflected, heavily improvised excursions, showcasing the virtuosity of the players. Dixon's elevated piano chops subsequently led to performances with Alison Krauss, O.A.R. and no less than Paul McCartney who tapped Dixon to play keyboards on his Driving Rain album and back McCartney and others on the internationally broadcast 9/11 tribute "Concert For New York City."

Offered the keyboard slot for McCartney's world tour, Dixon respectfully declined to focus on his own band and its then-yet-to-be-released debut album. But after a bout of cutbacks and regime changes at Warner Bros., the band's original label, the band reinvented itself as a three-piece song-based unit. The band's rededicated attention to arrangement, classic song-craft, and performance can be heard on the band's eponymous new album, The Gabe Dixon Band.

The trio cut the album live off the floor during ten days at Nashville's renowned Blackbird Studios with co-producer/engineer mixer Neal Cappellino (Alison Krauss, Mindy Smith, Jonny Lang) and with bassist Harrison doubling on "mandotar," a modified guitar he created whose sound somewhat resembles that of an electric mandolin. The album embeds vividly detailed, intensely personal and universally relatable songs in elegant yet muscular settings that draw, unabashedly and expertly, on classic rock.

The Tennessean, the newspaper in the band's hometown of Nashville, called it early when it stated in 2005 that the young artist "deserves to join the ranks of Jackson Browne and early Elton John in the pop pantheon." The piano-driven band has also rated favorable comparisons with the Ben Folds 5 and Bruce Hornsby.

Both the material and the supple arrangements result from "the music we heard growing up, listening to our parents' record collections," Dixon points out. "Mostly '70s LPs by Elton John, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Carole King and James Taylor. It was a magical era, the pinnacle of pop, rock and folk in terms of songwriting and musicianship." Dixon and his bandmates have not only assimilated those influences but brought them back into the present tense, resulting in music that is instantly familiar both musically and thematically, yet still provocative and in the moment.

Given the band's innate feel for rock's glory days, it was fitting that the legendary Henry Diltz, whose unforgettable photos of The Doors and Crosby, Stills & Nash have become an indelible part of rock history, shot the album cover images.

While Dixon wrote all the album's songs, three were co-written by onetime Trip Shakespeare and Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson, whose co-write of "Not Ready To Make Nice" with the Dixie Chicks earned him a Grammy. Two songs were co-written with gifted Nashville songsmith Tia Sellers, who won a Grammy of her own for Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance." For the ballad "Further the Sky," Dixon duets with Mindy Smith, herself a Grammy nominee, at her most inspired.

Of the newfound song focus of his onetime jam band, Dixon says, "We love great songs and real musicianship, and we take time as a band to come up with something that isn't typical, because the arrangement and performance can be just as impactful as the song itself. We've become more refined, and to the point, making the impact direct and immediate. The idea is pretty simple, really: We're dedicated to playing music people like that we like too."

From this immensely promising vantage point, it's been quite a journey for a guy who a decade ago was playing Tootsie's Orchid Lounge in downtown Nashville every afternoon from 1 to 5 for tips. The bridge of the song "All Will Be Well" could serve as the credo for Dixon and his bandmates: "You've got to keep it up and don't give up and chase your dreams," he sings, "and you will find, all in time."

Lookout for a Band Named Codename!

photos by Phil Emma- for the Grateful Web

On the Thursday of Jam on the River weekend in Philadelphia, there was no better way to kick off the festivities then with a raging show by a new band that has the potential to be a household name in

The Band's Rick Danko Remembered In Luke Doucet Song

photo by Carrie Musgrave- for the Grateful Web

Guitarist/songwriter Luke Doucet found himself in Woodstock, NY on the day fellow Canadian and The Band's singer/bassist Rick Danko died. In the southern rock inspired ballad "The Day Rick Danko Died" Doucet commiserates on the passing of Bob Dylan's former bandmate with an interesting character he met at a local bar upstate on December 10, 1999:

I was in Woodstock the day Rick Danko died.
I climbed up on a barstool beside a perfect stranger and both of us cried.

He said he was a guitar man- used to play with Bob Dylan.
I don't know if I believed him but to call his bluff tonight would surely kill him.

Do not cry old man, it's not what today is for.
Two dead rocks stars in one night is more than anybody's gonna cry for.

Bottoms up stranger, let's tip one for the bass man.
Let's bury him tonight, at the bottom of this mason

Luke Doucet's 'Blood's Too Rich' (Six Shooter, 6.24) marries Crazy Horse rhythm with The Band's swaggering melodies to tell candid tales of drifters and ne'er do-wells. The in-demand guitarist follows up his Juno nominated 'Broken (and other rogue states)' with this folk rock opus.

Kyle Hollingsworth Band Announces Front Range Run

photo by Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

Ever the inventor, Kyle Hollingsworth has put together a group of Colorado's favorite musicians for a run of shows on the Front Range to celebrate the Leap Year 2008.  Featuring Ross Martin, Matt Spencer and Dave Watts of The Motet, who appeared on Hollingsworth's acclaimed solo release, Never Odd Or Even, the Kyle Hollingsworth Band will also include Boulder favorite Liza Oxnard and vocalist Jans Ingber.  A reunion of some of Boulder's best musicians, this will be their first performance together since the last leap year.

Expect the funky sounds that Hollingsworth is known for, as well as world beat influences and DJ turntables to mix it up.  Hollingsworth will debut some new material and bring out some old favorites from his years with The String Cheese Incident.  It's a new year with exciting possibilities - don't miss what the Kyle Hollingsworth Band has in store!

Thursday, February 28th @ 9:00pm (Doors @ 8:00pm)

Hodi's Half Note

With The Liza Band supporting

167 North College Avenue, Fort Collins

Tickets $12.00 adv, $15.00 dos for 21+, $18.00 dos for 21- / Ages TBA

For more information please contact 970-472-2034

Friday, February 29 th @ TBA

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom

With The Liza Band supporting

2637 Welton Street, Denver

Tickets TBA / Ages TBA

For more information please contact 303-297-1772

Saturday, March 1st @ 9:00pm (Doors @ 8:30pm)

Fox Theatre

With The Liza Band supporting

1135 13th Street, Boulder

Tickets $13.00 adv $15.00 dos / Ages 21+ Welcome

For more information please contact 303-443-3399

Northwest Groove Band Announces Annual Winter Warmup

Flowmotion- for the Grateful Web

Last summer, genre defying Northwest band, Flowmotion, again celebrated the beauty and excitement of Summer with their 7th Annual Summer Meltdown.  Thousands of festival-goers convened against the backdrop of the Northwest's most beautiful alpine scene in Darrington, WA for three blissful days with multiple stages and renowned bands.

On Saturday, February 23, 2008, Flowmotion will celebrate their Summer Meltdown CD release by recreating the festival atmosphere indoors at The Showbox at the Market in Seattle, WA.   Flowmotion, TheVicci Martinez Band, and Handful of Luvin' will play for an all-ages audience

For more information about Flowmotion's Winter Tour or to buy tickets, visit!

"Chasin' Gus' Ghost" Jug Band Documentary Screens In Hartford, CT

John Sebastian- for the Grateful Web

Fresh off the heels of a sold-out world premiere screening at the Woodstock Film Festival earlier this month, jug band documentary "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" is set to screen at the Hartford International Film Festival in Hartford, CT on November 10th at 7PM.

The film, directed by Todd Kwait, is labor-of-love documentary focused on one of America's beloved forms of folk music, the jug band.  Featuring a who's-who of 60s folk artists like Rock and Roll Hall of Famers John Sebastian (Lovin' Spoonful) and Bob Weir (Grateful Dead); David Grisman, Geoff Muldaur, Maria Muldaur and Stamford, Connecticut-born Jim Kweskin, "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" explores the history of jug band music and the influence it had on these legendary musicians.

Highlights of this "inspiring" ( film include Bob Weir recalling the first time he met Jerry Garcia and the eventual formation of the Grateful Dead, vintage performance footage of Lovin' Spoonful and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and newspaper clippings, photos and archival video footage of jug band musicians dating as far back as the 1920s.  All are rare treats for music and documentary lovers.

What: Screening of "Chasin' Gus' Ghost"
Where: The University of Hartford's Wilde Auditorium, Hartford, CT
When: November 10th at 7PM
Tickets: $10 for "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" screening, available at the Wilde Auditorium before the screening and online at

Jug Band Documentary Featured at Woodstock Film Festival

photos by Mike Moran- for the Grateful Web

Woodstock, New York has a deep connection with film and music.  The area was featured in "Woodstock," a documentary about the best-known music festival of all time. Another famous film, "The Last Waltz," features The Band, which made Woodstock their home for many years, as did Bob Dylan, a featured performer in that Scorsese film.  

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian, another Woodstock resident and 1969 Woodstock festival performer, is featured in the new film "Chasin' Gus' Ghost," which will make its debut on October 13th at the Woodstock Film Festival.    

In recent years, the Woodstock Film Festival has emerged as one of the country's premier festivals and has screened many music documentaries including "Standing in the Shadows of  Motown" and "My Generation."  The 2007 festival will feature "The Future Is Unwritten," "Living The Blues," the Bob Dylan-inspired "I'm Not There" and "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" - a film that takes us on a three-continent journey to explore the legacy of jug band music and the influence it has had on artists such as John Sebastian (Lovin' Spoonful), Bob Weir (Grateful Dead) and Geoff and Maria Muldaur.

What: "Chasin' Gus' Ghost" at the Woodstock Film Festival
When: October 13th at 10PM
Where: Bearsville Theater (291 Tinker Street)
More info: The box office is located at the Woodstock Playhouse (corner of route 212 & 375).  Tickets are $10.  

Film trailer:

The Ryan Montbleau Band Supports Rex Foundation w/ New CD

Photo by Ryan Laurey- for the Grateful Web

The Ryan Montbleau Band announces fall CD release tour and designates the Rex Foundation as beneficiary of the tour.  Boston-based Ryan Montbleau Band is one of the most talked about young bands on the touring scene today. Through performing 200+ dates a year over the last three years, they have developed a passionate, coast-to-coast fan base that spans the gamut of fans of roots, Americana, R&B, soul, jam music, folk and blues. Their new independent release-Patience on Friday-is due on October 9, and is expected to help the band reach a broader national audience, thanks to the overwhelming response to the band since their first album came out 18 months ago. In that time they have developed one of the strongest MySpace presences to be found amongst independent artists (nearly 600,000 plays), and enjoy strong showings in press and at independent radio. Robust concert attendance, CD sales and free downloads (their December 30, 2007 show from Albany, NY has been downloaded over 20,000 times from have fueled nationwide interest in the band, and new fans and old will be pleased to see an ambitious coast-to-coast tour schedule for the Fall and well into 2008.

In addition to their commitment to music, the Ryan Montbleau Band wants to demonstrate their care for the greater good. The Rex Foundation is honored to be selected as the designated beneficiary of the Northeast Fall CD release tour to be the vehicle for the Ryan Montbleau Band's community giving, whereby specified shows will have a designated amount per ticket sold contributed to the Rex Foundation.

Check out the Ryan Montbleau Band website to learn more about the Band and their new CD - Patience on Friday-as well as the tour schedule and how to purchase tickets.

The Grateful Dead was always known for generosity and the performance of numerous benefits. In the fall of 1983, the Rex Foundation was established as a non-profit charitable organization by members of the Grateful Dead and friends to further this tradition. The Rex Foundation enabled the Grateful Dead to go beyond responding to multiple requests for contributions, and proactively provide extensive community support to creative endeavors in the arts, sciences, and education. The first benefit concerts for the Rex Foundation were held in the spring of 1984 at the Marin Veteran's Memorial Auditorium. Since 1984 the Rex Foundation has granted $8.2 million to some 1,000 recipients.

With the death of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995, the Rex Foundation lost a friend and board member. With the cessation of Grateful Dead touring, Rex lost its main source of funding, and until now has limited its grant making to three annual awards. Current board members have reaffirmed the importance of the Rex Foundation and their desire to have the foundation once again carry out its mission in full force.

The Rex Foundation aims to help secure a healthy environment, promote individuality in the arts, provide support to critical and necessary social services, assist others less fortunate than ourselves, protect the rights of indigenous people and ensure their cultural survival, build a stronger community, and educate children and adults everywhere.

Continuing to embody the spirit of generosity and concern that evolved in the culture surrounding Grateful Dead concerts, the Rex Foundation is on a new path that seeks to include and engage many people. With activities that honor the spirit of community, service and creativity, Rex is building the funding necessary to carry out our mission. Thanks to the resounding response of so many generous supporters, since December 2001 we have granted $832,000 to 149 programs, across the United States and internationally. We plan to multiply our grant making each year so that we can once again support many grassroots programs across the United States and beyond that might otherwise be overlooked by mainstream funders, yet work in innovative and bold ways to bring about helpful solutions to challenging situations. Please visit Fostering the Power of Community, Service and the Arts to see how Rex views its work in relation to social change.

• We respect traditional wisdom cultures.

• We respect individual rights and differences.

• We are willing to take risks and trust people.

• We help people who are helping others and are trying to make a difference.

• We help people develop bold new solutions to problems.

• We benefit the broader community and the broader good.

• We practice inclusiveness and open-mindedness.

• We support organizations committed to grassroots action.

• We seek to identify entities doing good work that might otherwise be overlooked.

• Our support helps beyond direct funding by boosting the visibility of the recipient's work.

• We want to be a catalytic agent of change, where our involvement helps leverage greater impact.

• We are non-partisan.

• We promote an active, informed citizenry.

• The Foundation is an efficient conduit for supporting the community.

• Being part of the Rex Foundation is enjoyable.

• We carry on the best of the spirit of the 60's to create a more harmonious world.

We encourage your tax-deductible donations to help support Rex's work. We are also pleased to keep you up to date on upcoming benefit concerts and other activities that support Rex. Thank you for considering a gift to Rex and letting us know how you would like to stay connected. Please join our mailing list and make a donation.

The Rex Foundation has no paid board members. Virtually all of our grant recipients are selected through the personal knowledge of our decision makers – as a result, grant requests are not solicited. We have no application forms and no published guidelines. Grants are made once or twice a year, and our report is published annually.

The Rex Foundation is named after Rex Jackson, a Grateful Dead roadie and later road manager until his untimely death in 1976.

The Chris Bramble Band

Chris Bramble- for the Grateful Web

With swirling thunder and wisps of sunlight, Chris Bramble Band's music revels in contradiction, weaving disparate strands into an improbable and yet surprisingly natural musical tapestry. One moment the delicate strains of an Appalachian ballad emanate from the stage, the next a soaring electronic wail. The inspiration remains the same, though: a heart rooted in ancient traditions of spiritual yearning and yet embracing this edgy modern world we find ourselves in, dancing all the while. Mixing the sweetness of the West Coast with the bluntness of the East, the deep pain of observing a world losing its way and the bright joy of finding candles in the darkness, Chris Bramble Band somehow resolve it all into their own unique harmony.

Bradley Leach - drums

Bradley Leach brings a lifetime of musical experience, starting at age 9 on the saxophone. Playing drums by age 11, he has performed with many musical luminaries over the years, including members of Zero and the JGB. He also has a disturbing, if charming, proclivity towards strange hats.

Paul Lamb - bass

Paul Lamb holds down the lower end of the sonic spectrum quite capably. Both steady and adventurous, he's a welcome newest addition to the family. A capable engineer, producer, and soundman as well as bassist and guitarist, he's perhaps best known as part of Germany's cult favorite psychedelic band Burnt Noodle. As a self-described "unabashed goober" Paul keeps the mood lively and fun.

Terry Ann Gillette - violin

terryTerry Ann Gillette's playing defies definition. Her playing is sometimes sweeter than honey, other times howling like an electric guitar in feedback fury and she brings an other-worldliness to the band that carries the musical conversation to outer realms. From the San Francisco area, Terry Ann has performed with numerous North Coast bands, including the Ruminators and Spiral Bound. A talented artist in many ways, she has offered to create tie-dyed tuxedos for the band's stage attire. We'll see....

Chris Bramble - guitar, vocals

Chris Bramble is the benign despot of the band, offering the seeds of songs and musical direction that the band as a whole then collaborates to mutate and joyfully reassemble into something altogether new and different. He discovered the joys of singing at age 7 and picked up the guitar at age 12, and has known since those early years that this is what he was meant to do in life. Utilizing his unisonix pedalboard to wrest an array of sounds from his acoustic guitar, he revels in improvising and singing of the full range of experiences of a conscious life. He aspires to someday figure out what time signatures his songs are in.

Paul Best - percussion

Paul Best adds a distinct musical flavor to the band as percussionist. Paul started out musically in his teens as a keyboardist and bassist in New York City and Los Angeles dance bands I AM and Day 15. His personal journey led him to take up hand drums and Native American flute. An actor in Hollywood for a time, we don't hold it against him that he's appeared in movies alongside the likes of Jennifer Love-Hewitt.