band

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.

STARS ALIGN IN SAN FRANCISCO FOR DOCUMENTARY FILM DEBUT AND CONCERT CELEBRATING ROOTS AND INFLUENCE OF JUG BAND MUSIC

David Grisman- for the Grateful Web

John Sebastian, Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur and More Come Together for the Debut of Chasin' Gus' Ghost on August 25, and "Extravaganza" Concert on August 26.

As part of this year's San Francisco Jug Band Festival, Ezzie Films will debut its documentary on the roots and influence of jug band music.  Chasin' Gus' Ghost, which features performances and commentary by many popular musicians including John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, will premiere on August 25.  The "Chasin' Gus' Ghost Jug Band Extravaganza" concert will include many of the featured artists and take place on August 26.

What:  Chasin' Gus' Ghost documentary film debut and concert celebrating the history and influence of jug band music.  From 1920s genre innovators Gus Cannon and Cannon's Jug Stompers to the modern Jim Kweskin Jug Band, the film explores every aspect of this influential roots music. The film trailer is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsELhdJohkA

Who: Hosted by filmmaker Todd Kwait, the concert will showcase popular musicians featured in the film, including John Sebastian, Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, David Grisman, Fritz Richmond's Barbecue Orchestra and special guests.

When and Where:
Screenings: There will be two screenings of Chasin' Gus' Ghost, at 7:00pm and 9:00pm, on Saturday, August 25 at the Roxie New College Film Center.  Tickets for the screening are $9 each.

The Roxie New College Film Center
3117 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
http://www.roxie.com

Concert: The Chasin' Gus' Ghost Jug Band Extravaganza takes place at 8:00pm on Sunday, August 26 at the Great American Music Hall.  Tickets are $28 and are available in advance.

The Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
http://www.gamh.com/artist_pages/jug_band_extravaganza_082607.htm

Dark Star Orchestra – More Than Just a Cover Band

photo(s) by Phil Emma- for the Grateful Web

It was a happenin' day in Princeton as deadheads filled the quaint town just as they have in the past. Tie dies filled the streets, fathers brought their sons to tailgate in the lot, and fans were getting carried out of bars before the show for a trip down memory lane. The Grateful Dead only played one time in Princeton in 1971, which made Dark Star Orchestra's visit that much sweeter. But instead of playing in a gym, DSO chose the beautiful McCarter Theatre as its venue. The ushers at the theatre deserve recognition because they allowed fans to dance in the aisles and indulge in activities usually frowned upon in this venue.

As many people know, DSO covers actual shows note for note like the Grateful Dead played them originally. Tonight it was a show that occurred almost exactly 27 years before. It was May 10, 1980 in Hartford, CT that was being celebrated tonight. They opened big with "New New Minglewood Blues," which got the crowd on their feet early. A little known fact about this song is that it is constantly mislabeled. Many people as a shortcut call it "Minglewood Blues" or "New Minglewood Blues." The reason why this is incorrect is because those are totally different songs already. Both songs were written by Noah Lewis and performed by different jug bands in the 1920's and 1930's. The lyrics have no similarities between them. Speaking of similarities, the next song was haunting because of the likeness of lead singer John Kadlecik's voice to Jerry's. "Peggy-O" was sung with perfect tone and inflection. Then it was Rob Eaton's turn to belt out a hot "Mexicali Blues > El Paso" run.

Next was the first of the Saturday songs. Robert Hunter's lyrics of "Althea" read, "You may be Saturday's child all grown moving with a pinch of grace," blended perfectly with the older crowd enjoying the nostalgia. Smokin' guitar riffs and loud applause came with "Passenger," the song that was originally written as a joke by Phil Lesh. He said that it's a take on the Fleetwood Mac song "Station Man," just sped up with a few different chord changes. The crowd tonight was on their feet clapping along until the calm Brent Mydland song sung by the great Rob Barraco "Far From Me," where everyone sat down to listen. After, Rob Eaton said, "We can't express how grateful we are to play in such a beautiful environment." He was right, springtime in Princeton is gorgeous, and as it drizzled lightly outside, DSO played "Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance" inside. The crowd got a little sleepy until Kadlecik's guitar solo in the set closer "Deal" breathed life back into the theatre, and the crowd was up and clapping in unison.

dsoThe second set opened with one of my favorite song runs "China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider." The rest of the show was pretty much played one song into another until close to the end. "Feel Like a Stranger" kept the crowd going strong.  "Comes a time when the blind man takes your hand says: don't you see?" The lyrics of "Comes a Time" are some of the most inspiring words ever written. This rendition gave it the justice it deserves. "Estimated Prophet" was performed with the same zeal and energy that the subject of the song would preach it with. Weir and Barlow wrote it about the crazy and high type of fan with an important message they felt had to be delivered to everyone. We've all seen them in the crowd.

"He's Gone" and "Uncle John's Band" gallantly took us into "Drums." Then, the fan friendly "Not Fade Away" had the crowd participating as usual. Finally, the best song of the night "Sugar Magnolia" closed the second set. DSO did a great job in the second set convincing the crowd that they were in 1980. I love to watch people's faces at DSO shows because one can always tell who has never seen them before. They all react with amazement and wonderment at the beauty of how well they play the part of the Grateful Dead.

The encores were "Alabama Getaway" and "One More Saturday Night" from the original show, which were performed very well. But, DSO had one surprise for the grateful crowd. They added the traditional classic "Don't Ease Me In" as a filler.

Overall, this show was a lot of fun, and I hope that DSO comes back to this venue because I think that it lends itself very well to their shows. The theatre as well as the sound was full and vibrant. Check out the band with their heavy tour schedule this summer and fall. It will truly be a fun adventure.

Derek Trucks Band

photo by Don Aters- for the Grateful Web

Recently, Ivan Neville commented, "Derek Trucks is a happening deal.

GB Leighton: A Roots Rock Band to Watch

photos by Sheila Ryan- for the Grateful Web

It's been said that fine, delicate wines need to mature slowly. For bands, sometimes that's true. In GB Leighton's case, it has taken almost two decades of songwriting and serious performing to develop into a force that is poised to take on the musical world.  That maturing is grounded in Brian Leighton's songwriting, his powerful vocal delivery, and the backing of a phenomenally talented band.

There is nothing delicate about GB Leighton. However, there is a rootedness in Minnesota "nice" that pervades the songs and the band's performances. Even when Leighton sings about bad boys, there is still the urge to forgive the young pup, no matter what he did.

That is one reason why GB Leighton has been a big draw to Minnesota clubs.  Brian and his band seem to generate a good time wherever they play, whipping up audiences, not into frenzied crowds, screaming for his body or into drunken music fanatics, but  into warm friendly places where people dance till they drop and sing along with Leighton standards. The band creates a Cheers type of atmosphere, where everyone knows your name–or soon will–while  couched in musical refrains.

Leighton's love of music began in his Shoreview, Minnesota home, listening to the country outlaws of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson and eventually being turned on to Bruce Springsteen who offered a vocal delivery full of energy that profoundly influenced Leighton's own singing style. He began playing guitar at 14, and started GB Leighton at 18, his first and only band.  The band recorded its first studio album a few years later in 1991, when Leighton could legally play in bars. Then in 1994, the band produced One Time...One Life, an album of songs, some of which Leighton still pulls out at every show.  Other studio albums, live cuts, and a DVD followed, with nearly a dozen recordings to the band's credit.

In the early days, GB Leighton burned a path through the US, playing such clubs as Tramps in New York, Howlin' Wolf in New Orleans, Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, and Bohager's in Baltimore.  The band even sold out in 800 to 1200 seat venues, while continuing to draw eager fans to regional clubs, becoming overwhelmingly one of  Minnesota's top-drawing bar bands.  Leighton has also opened for the BoDeans, bluesman Jonny Lang, and Joe Cocker. He and his band appeared in a cameo and on the soundtrack for the independent film, The Marksman, which was viewed at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 1997.

Though Leighton has stayed close to home for a number of years, only slipping down to Acapulco in the winter for a week of non-stop music, he and the latest incarnation of his band are ready for wider touring. And, with good reason. His current band lineup is strong enough to stand against Leighton's powerhouse vocals.  Now, he has to reason to hold back and doesn't, allowing him to give everything he can during performances without fear that he'll blow a band member (or the audience) out of the venue. He has a big sound that comes from deep inside, but there is a clear, understandable quality to his singing without distortion or screaming. His audiences want to catch not only the words but the vocal nuances that he uses and his choice of phrasing. That is further enhanced by strong vocal backup by band members Luke Kramer, James Patrick Carey, and Jason Perri.

Though Leighton is definitely in charge on stage, he is also generous. Long time bandmate, Kramer complements Leighton's songs with intricate guitar riffs and, on the new album, Shake Them Ghosts, lap steel, and takes several solos during shows. Carey on keyboards and Perri on sax and fiddle (yes, fiddle, in a rock band!) add color and energy throughout the songs. Perri shines as he struts on his part of the stage, adding those high note solos, and Carey rocks, swinging his keyboard layout to the side so that the audience can see his fingers dance among the keys. Nick Salisbury on bass and Ryan Inselman on drums, the anchors of the band, keep the musical organism moving and always danceable, and sometimes take a solo themselves.

Though the band is tight and has great vocals, GB Leighton could remain a bar band for another twenty years if it weren't for the songs that Leighton has been writing. And, the latest batch on the new album, Shake Them Ghosts, have shifted the band into brand new territory.  As Leighton evolved over the years, the energy and pureness that was present in his Live From Pickle Park album (1998) was lost as Leighton moved into more pop sounding arenas that culminated in his This Life album in 2003. Though the songs themselves were good, there was something missing. When Leighton and his band entered Winterland Studios in Minneapolis last December to record Shake Them Ghosts, Leighton not only was reclaiming something of himself but also moving out into a gutsy, rootsy genre that had a much broader appeal and spoke to a wider audience than the cute babe in the bar.

The groundwork for Shake Them Ghosts was laid months earlier when Leighton journeyed to Nashville to work with Nashville songwriters at Still Working Music, the publishing company owned by Barbara Orbison, Roy Orbison's widow and manager.  There he connected with writers like Clay Mills whose work has been recorded by Reba McIntire, Trisha Yearwood, Danielle Peck, and Diamond Rio.  Mills lent his skills to two of the most infectious songs on the album, "Twisted" and "Wings Workin' Overtime."  Leighton worked with other writers: Rachel Thibodeau, a Minnesota native, who has written for Marina McBride and Lila McCann; Jay Knowles whose songs have been cut by George Strait and Montgomery Gentry; and Liz Rose who has a song on Bonnie Raitt's latest studio album, Souls Alike.

Though you'd expect collaborative work coming from writers like these to be the stuff of pickup trucks and honkey tonks, what happened was a matchup of closeted rockers who really wanted to help Leighton shape his ideas.   "We're not in there to just write a great country hit or anything like that," Leighton says. "We're there to write something just a little more rocking and something that will use words that I'm going to say live."

Leighton has always been able to capture more than a smooth pick-up song. His "Man in the Moon," a song from one of his older CDs, tells about faithfulness and standing with someone no matter where they are, and "One Foot Over" is about having the determination to follow your dream. However, the songwriting experience of throwing songwriters in a room and expecting something to come out that often is daunting to so many was actually the necessary stimulus that Leighton needed.  "I did definitely learn a lot about writing songs from people who do it every day and who live in a city that expects great stuff to come out of them," he says.

Then as Leighton and his band came into the studio to produce these songs, the album was further shaped by producer Don Dixon who had produced The Smithereens and R.E.M. Dixon also brought in rock drummer Kenny Aronoff to assist the album since Leighton had just hired Ryan Inselman who was very new to the band.  Aronoff, named #1 Studio Drummer for five consecutive years by the readers of Modern Drummer Magazine, had previously kept time for  Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Elton John, John Mellencamp, Smashing Pumpkins, and Willie Nelson. Inselman, however, didn't just sit on the sidelines. He observed Aronoff and even added hand percussion to a few tracks. "After he was in the studio watching Kenny Aronoff play," says Leighton. "I just saw a different drummer."

The resulting album is strong and intense. The good times are still there, but there's a maturity and a personalization in the details of the songs and in the whole band's efforts, vocally and instrumentally, that takes this CD to another level. "Wings Workin'' Overtime," a collaboration with Clay Mills about the transformative power of a woman's love, is more than worth the price of the album–or five albums for that matter.  However, "Twisted" and "Favorite" are lighter cuts that attract audiences but offer more. "Twisted," for example, co-authored with Clay Mills and Stephanie Lewis, is twisted. It begins like Primus rising up through the floorboards of a backwater honkytonk and morphing into a crap-kicking rock anthem. It is pure Leighton, delivered with guts and warmth.

GB Leighton is a band to experience. Find them and the party at a venue near you or in their latest recording,  Shake Them Ghosts. Check out tourdates and CD info at www.gbleighton.com.

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Other Janie Reviews:

1. The White Iron Band (6/16/2006 6:44:38 PM - http://www.whiteironband.com)
Their hard-hitting tunes make the Kentucky Headhunters seem like lite rock, and they can sweet talk you out of a band mood with the strike of a chord or the honeyed blend of multiple-part harmonies.
2. Phil Lesh Legacy (7/14/2006 5:00:43 AM - http://www.gratefulweb.net/photos/photoInterface/photos.aspx?direct=Band...)
But it is Lesh himself who is venturing out to major jam festivals this summer in search of the vibe and some answers. He's looking to explore why the jam scene keeps going and what it all means. As part of a long-term oral history project, Lesh has started formally dialoging with people of his generation and young people today about the 60s, what some have thought was a Golden Age of enlightenment and music or a time of unachievable idealism and unrest.
3. Enchanted Ape: An Enchanted Experience (7/16/2006 6:17:05 AM - http://www.enchantedape.com/ )
Enchanted Ape takes their name from Thomas Carlyle's (1843) written comment about non-conformists, where he states, "...and thou art as an Enchanted Ape under God's sky, where thou mightest have been a man, had proper schoolmasters and conquerors, and constables with cat o'nine tails, been vouchsafed thee...."
4. Umphrey's McGee: Layers of the Unexpected (7/16/2006 4:45:30 AM - http://www.umphreys.com/ )
An Umphrey's McGee show is a musical extravaganza as the band members trip in and out of musical genres. This band is unique even in the jam scene because of the musical diversity, not only within each set, but within each song. Audiences can hear jazz, rock, ambient space music, Primus-edged metal, and even country wedged up against each other.
5. Blues on the Prairie: Backyard Barbeque and Blues Fest (1/1/2007 2:44:03 PM - )
Blues legend Buddy Guy showed up in a striped shirt and overhalls. When I had seen him before, he wore polka dots and changed guitars like a fashion statement, including a white one with black polka dots on it. There was another change, too. Guy had only a four piece band. Back in 2005, he had a very talented saxophone player with him. The current configuration, however, is top-notch. They are master musicians in their own right, and hold up well in Guy's nightly game of dueling instruments.
6. The Bands of 10,000 Lakes, Part 1 (3/15/2007 10:49:07 AM - )
With warmer temperatures, jamfans are already looking toward summer festivals. To tempt you further, we're going to take a look back at last year's 10,000 Lakes Festival in Minnesota, the new kid on the festival circuit that is drawing fans to its musical honey and its truly sweet location.
7. Unity the band: Bringing the Love (3/16/2007 8:17:47 PM - )
Though reggae, like American hip-hop now, is found all over the world, roots reggae differs depending on where is it nurtured and grown. "The difference with reggae we have in the island," Pita says, "is we have a little bit more of an African flavor, our African heritage and Indian nature. It's old style. It's almost a little faster than reggae, but it has a little pop to it."
8. Turbine: Always Turning Out The Good Stuff (3/17/2007 5:38:42 AM - )
In 2005, jammers at the 10,000 Lakes Festival were floored by the power duo from New York City, Turbine. Ryan Rightmire (harmonica, acoustic guitar, vocals) and Jeremy Hilliard (electric guitar, vocals) had audiences awe-struck when they launched into their set. "There was a moment after the first long jam of the set, and no one was making any noise during the song, " recalls Hilliard. "We finished and for a second, we were wondering what was going to happen. Then everyone sort of exploded."

The White Iron Band

photo by Mark Walentiny- for the Grateful Web

Whatever you might have heard through the music grapevine about the infamous White Iron Band from deep in the North Woods of Minnesota is probably true. Though Minnesota nice is real, these bad boys aren't called Minnesota's music outlaws for nothing. They carry a reputation for being hard drinking and always eager to settle a squabble with their fists. Yet, when it comes to their music, they are as talented and dedicated. Their hard-hitting tunes make the Kentucky Headhunters seem like lite rock, and they can sweet talk you out of a band mood with the strike of a chord or the honeyed blend of multiple-part harmonies. There's just something about they way they sing about drinking that somehow, despite their long years of actual practice in the liquid art, seem less decadent than country and almost elevating like blues.

The White Iron Band have burned a swath through Minnesota, playing everywhere they can (and being barred from a few venues in the process in their younger days). Last year, they were one of the regional offerings at the 10K Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes. They will be returning this year, bringing new fans with them. The White Iron Band also has opened for pure country performers like Sherwin Linton and Tommy Cash, as well as country legends Stonewall Jackson and Marvin Rainwater.

Their music, however, is anything but straight country. With strains of Dylan, early Bruce Springsteen, old time Hank Williams, Loudon Wainwright III, and Tex Mex, you never know what this band will pull out of its guitar cases, nor who will be added to their repertoire on stage.  Though the band has expanded and contracted like a Cajun squeezebox, they currently feature Jeff Underhill (drums/percussion), Reed Braaten (bass), and Eddie Juntenen and Nicholas Mronzinski (twin keys). These guys keep that hard-driving, honky tonk rock sound solid. Sammy Weyandt, their lead guitar player, is one of the best acoustic flat pickers around, and frontman Matt Pudas on rhythm guitar also does double duty on harmonica, making blues notes do things that ought to be banned they're so good!  Adding another musical color to the band is John Moline on fiddle.

photo by Mark WalentinyThe White Iron Band's latest CD, Take It Off the Top, has the addition of a banjo and female backup vocals. The CD is typical of the musical mix of genres that the band presents in its live shows. The White Iron Band has a broad range and the ability to handle not only a fast dance tune but a moody ballad. Their "Cocaine Train," in particular, doesn't glorify the white addiction but offers advice to the young not to get on that train. The band even does a wailin' version of that old time country standard "Walkin' Cane" that not only sends chills up your spine, but would please any old-time country fan. Laced through this musical gumbo like a shot of good bourbon is the White Iron Band's strong vocals and tight harmonies. Everyone sings except the drummer, which is a switch, since it's usually the bass man who stands silent in most bands.

The White Iron Band's music always guarantees a good time, whether it's doing a crowd-revving rendition of "Whisky River" or an organ-laced twist on that old country gem, "Stay All Night." But it is those other moments that have secured this band's loyal fan base. When they dish out a blues laden heart-breaker like "Ain't Your Man" that combines mournful fiddle and enough organ to make Herbie Hancock jealous, it's a deadly combination that is winning fans by the droves.

Come on up to the 10K Lakes Festival and pour yourself a finger of some of Minnesota's finest. The White Iron Band will make you forget your troubles.

Every Now is a New Now for the Steve Kimock Band

Steve chatting up the crowd in VT- for the Grateful Web
SKB in Burlington, VT 10/29/05- for the Grateful Web

Alright, so timeliness is not my forte.  I'm always getting caught up in the moment, hence my lateness with papers, reviews, bills, and work, but perhaps it is also a reason for my being drawn to The Steve Kimock Band, whose tendency to explore the moment through improvisation, emphasizes "the now" in music.  In my opinion, SKB consistently illustrates one of my favorite observations about existence that every "now" is a new "now", and they will continue to explore that maxim in their New Years Eve Celebration, The New Now Ball at San Francisco's Great American Music Hall.

Perhaps the only thing that really matters in music is the moment.  Or maybe not, but if so, is this "review" of an SKB show from late October still relevant?  Well, I'd like to think so.  There is at least some value in past and future, in memory and anticipation.  If this fall tour is any indication, the upcoming New Now Ball will be a moment in time to be remembered!

The "new now" theme for the upcoming NYE celebration is a fitting opportunity to explore some of the seeming contradictions of the jam band scene.  Improvisational music is by definition "about" the moment.  Is it strange that a type of music so tied to the moment has a fan base that places so much emphasis on capturing and cataloging that music?  Can the fan who "knows" all the "greatest" versions of a particular song ever be satisfied with an average performance?

Comparison and its bastard sibling Expectation often mar the moment.  The many blissful experiences I've had seeing Kimock have created the foundation for my anticipation of seeing him play.  I am always hopeful that this show will be among the best ever.  Oftentimes for me the first notes of a particular song will yield a rush of all the hopes and dreams tied to the memory of a particularly spectacular performance.   The better the performance memory, the higher the expectation. 

But how can you really compare performances?  How can a memory be better than a live experience?  If you are concernerd with how the present performance compares, then you are hardly experiencing the moment, right?  Not to mention how many variables play a role.  The scene, the sound, the weather...every listening experience is going to be different.

This particular performance, October 28th in Burlington, VT, was the show I've been waiting for. The Steve Kimock Band brought it all to the table this particular Friday night.  The song selection was top notch.  The venue was superb. And my wife and I were finally out without the kids!  Could it get any better than that?  Well, the lovely city of Burlington topped things off with an idyllic sunny fall day at the Farmers Market, plus a yummy Indian lunch and a Halloween parade the next day.  Not a shabby weekend, I must say!

Where do I start?  I suppose when I saw that Steve was going to be in Burlington on a Friday night, I immediately hoped to myself that my mother-in-law might be able to come stay with the kids so wifey and I could make the road trip from Saratoga Springs and have a night to ourselves.  Lo and behold it worked out.  Thank God we called her the day before to remind her, because she said she thought it was Saturday night...ugh.  What a nightmare that would have been! The stars were aligned!

Time for some music!  Higher Ground is a well designed venue.  It is a ballroom style floorplan with chandeliers and plenty of dancing room with a bar along one side and one in back.  I liked that the bar in the back was raised a couple steps, with some tables and the like.  There was a tiny little balcony overlooking stage right that was accessable to press and guests...nice view, but the sound was primo out front...in fact there wasn't really anywhere that didn't sound great.  Gotta hand it to Steve, I have never heard any band he has been involved with that didn't sound great.

Many of you are already familiar with the ineffably cosmic guitar playing from Steve Kimock, and most of you who know about Steve are likely familiar with his incomparable band. All of them of virtuostic talent. Rodney Holmes on drums provides unparalled dynamic range and heart.  The only name I would drop that Rodney might compare to is Billy Cobham.  Billy was the first drummer I had ever heard who could play "lead drums" without breaking out of the song into a drum solo per se.  He could simply overtly or subtley control the song's shape and feel and not break the momentum.  Rodney does this, maybe even better! He is one of the most captivating drummers I can remember.  And it isn't just that his playing commands yoiur attention and respect and awe, but he simply exudes a warmth and plays with such heart that you can see and feel how real he is.  There is no bullshit agenda with Rodney.  He makes me want to keep writing about him until i get it right.  We'll leave it at that (Heck, one other note:  be sure to check out Rodney's new album to be released next week, Twelve Months of October).

Reed Mathis plays bass with a fluidity and sincerity that makes you groove.  His smiling and dancing is so infectious that you can't help but enjoy just watching him enjoy playing, but even more you can't help but dance! His other band, Jacob Fred Jazz Odysey is another mostly instrumental, expeditious trio of sonic explorers.  Steve always finds great players, but Reed is a revelation.

Last but obviously not least, Robert Walter's funky organ fills this music with depth and soul.  Sometimes you look up and wonder, "What the F**k is making that sound?!"  And Rob is hunched over his keys, wailing away.  He mixes in these crazy, complementary rhythms that trip you up and make you dance like nobody I've heard play in a long time.  Plus, when Rob breaks out the B-3, look out, the New Orleans native will surely be cookin' up of some kind of soulful stew, a groovin' gumbo if you will.

Burlington was a blast.  The crowd filled in nicely, yet there was still plenty of dancing room, which made both my wife and I happy, we like our space.  The band was all smiles and apparently much happier with this crowd compared with the poor turnout I witnessed two nights earlier in Troy. Catching Reed's ear to ear grins during pregame warmups set me up for the great night ahead, as my notes confirm, "Reed a very happy boy tonight."

The highlights of the evening included the lead off number "Moon People" which I hadn't heard without former SKB guitarist, Mitch Stein, but Rob's crazy keyboard matched Mitch's whacked out rhythm work.  A nice warm up, but the "Ice Cream" that followed typified for me how this tour has been for this line up. It wasn't the smoothest version ever, but it hardly mattered as the highs were very high and the perseverence the band showed to reach those highs was gratifying indeed.  Steve kept regrouping the band so to speak and taking further charges that paid off with some hard dancing and a blissed out climax on the third peak.

My wife likes to go explore the venue and we meet up to dance every other song or so.  She checked in with her report on what the music did for her.  She rambled on about this bubbling of light that finally broke through on that last peak of "Ice Cream"...I thought that was apropos.  Apparently this night was going to be a battle of light and dark..."Incantation", according to my wife, revealed the darkness "yelling to get back in".  But Rodney's drumming helped to "chase the darkness away".  I don't remember at which point she exclaimed to me, "And he's winning!"

I had not heard a Mitchless "Weapons of Moose Destruction" yet and found this one quite satisfying.  The transition from Rob's solo to Steve's (Walnut Tripleneck Stringmaster) solo was so smooth you probably missed the handoff.  "Twinstar" was led in by a gorgeous bass solo from Reed, as my wife said it was like floating downstream while rapids slowly built, but never lost control.  I thought it was more like a sweet dream gone awry.  "Dr. Zaius" closed the first set.  I think this has been one of the great songs for 2005.  Always a little something for everyone.  And Rodney always makes this one intersting.  If anything, as a fan, hearing Steve take the song into a looser and less formal realm would be fun, but that might not mesh with the feel of the song.  I forgot to ask my wife what she thought.

I love to hear people's far ranging interpretation's of the music.  It goes to show just how subjective it all is.  I am always humbled by seeing a show that I thought was mediocre only to take my first step out the door and over hear someone say, "That was the best ever!"  Yet, I feel there must be some type of objective nature to the music that allows folks to collectively deem a particular performance "great" and another "mediocre".  There are times when the music is just so hot you have no choice but to believe, and yet, it always comes back to the listener. Go figure...I guess that is why I appreciated my wife's interpretation so much, because it was based on what the music did to her and how she reacted, rather than judging it as good or bad per se.

That is exactly what I love about the SKB experience.  It is a trip every time.  And the second set exemplified that for me. I had been waiting since KVHW (circa 1999) to see "It's Up To You" live, so I was fully satisfied with this perfunctory performance of it.  The thing about this song is that is is wide open for literally anything to happen - Steve's "Dark Star" if you will.  The song reminds me of the first time I visited Yellowstone.  I drove in from the north and remember climbing a mountain, expecting some amazing peak at the top...I had no idea what the view was going to hold.  And when I came to the top of the mountain, I was blown away that it was no mountain, but rather a huge plain.  All I could see was flat grassland for miles, and some more mountains far in the distance.  I drove for a long while before coming across a herd of bison.  I drove on and on and came to the grand canyon of Yellowstone (or whatever it is called).  Holy Moly!  Whole worlds hidden away in this seeming barren plain.  The geysers, the forests, the lake, the Tetons in the distance...This was a place in which to get lost in the moment.  Around every corner was a new place and time.  And therein, every now a new now.  I have always felt that way about the vast possibilities of "It's Up To You". This may not have been my favorite version or the most fully explored, it is always worth the trip.

Next up was, in my opinion, perhaps the song of the year, "Elmer's Revenge".  There have been a number of decent versions throughout the years, characterized by what I think of as a sort of "triumphant redundancy" of the main riff as the song builds intensity.  I was first struck by the use of the end of this song as an oppportunity for Rodney to go off.  The so-called lead instruments and bass hold down a steady rhythm, allowing for Rodney's turn to explore, usually blowing the doors off the place.   This year the mellow first section has developed into one of those timeless spaces for exploration.  I quite enjoy the mellow side of SKB, and some of the spacey noodling that Steve partakes in this section nowadays can be mind boggling.  I love it.  Robert is assured an opportunity to unleash his super heavy oprgan here, too, before Elmer finally got ahold of that wabbit.

I found my wife upstairs having a nice conversation with Steve's sister Anne (I didn't ask if she spells it with an "e" or not).  She lives in Vermont and said she loves to see Steve when he is in the area.  She was adorable talking about her big brother and how proud she is of him.  I asked my wife how that conversation developed, and she said she just asked her if she was with the band, because she thought Anne must be related to Steve, "They have the same hair!"  I had to laugh at that one. Meeting her and hearing a new perspective on Steve added more color to an already colorful experience. 

After the that little interlude and the two jammy juggernauts, we got some old fashioned funk, Robert Walter style, with "Hover" and "Aquafresh" which are prime dance numbers for the masses.  The addition of the "Rob tunes" has been a nice new twist to the usual SKB fare.  They tend to be more consice songs with some raunchy soloing by both Rob and Steve.  Next was a sweet and melodic version of "Stella Blue" that always makes for a happy crowd.  Steve stayed with the Stringmaster for nice run through "Samba", which makes for a good closer. A truly satisfying and exhausting night!  But this poor body was ready for my feet to leave the dance floor, and find a new now with my head on my pillow.

All in all, the "new" Steve Kimock Band proves to be as fun and danceable a band on the scene today!  They keep everyone happy from the guitar geeks, to the funksters, the trippers, and even those who are just looking for a good night of music away from the kids.  If you can't catch them live, you can buy pristine recordings of their shows at digitalsoundboard.net or oftentimes you can find many of their great fan recorded shows on archive.org.

The SKB archivist, Charlie Miller, has put together some highlights of this fall tour on his Road Notes Vol 2 released through digitalsoundboard.net (yes, of course there is a volume one from late spring, which I also highly recommend).  This is a phenomenal three disc set which is missing only one piece to make it "complete" in my opinion.  It needs a good "Elmer's Revenge".  But lucky for us, Charlie uploaded the soundboard/audience "matrix" version of the show from Dallas on 10/01/2005 as a special treat for the fans on the Live Music Achirve. Also check out the version of "Eudemon" from that show as it is amazing (which is included on Road Notes).  It is the title song form the first SKB album which came out in August.  If you look around, you can find plenty of great freebies all over the internet, and the archive is the jackpot.  You are sure to get great sounding fan recorded music there.  If you want a premium sounding recording of a show you have seen or simply want to hear, digitalsoundboard.net will have it, most everything from 2003 to present.  They also have begun podcasting some highlights from various shows for the occaisional treat. 

Check out kimock.com for details of upcoming shows.  I believe SKB is on its way toward the great Northwest before they head down to San Francisco for their New Years Eve run.  Get out to see them durng this particular now, because you never know how long your now is going to last. Better Now than never...

Thanks to all the Kimock Band and crew.  You are putting out some great music and taking us all to some crazy new places!

Namaste, 

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Past stories from Chris:

Rather Sit Than Dance To It?

The Dead & DeadHeads celebrate Jerry's Birthday

5.8.77 - Cornell University - 28 Years Later...

Dark Star Orchestra Provides Fun and Nostalgia in NY

Thoughts on American Music and Jerry Garcia

Gathering of the Vibes 2005

Thoughts On Katrina

Mountain Jamming w/ The Allman Brothers Band

The first thing I see as I enter the top of Red Rocks is the full moon just barely sitting on the Colorado horizon. It's got that dusky, orange glow and an uncanny resemblance of, well, dare I say, a Georgia peach. It sat center-stage and shined like a beacon getting brighter and brighter the higher it went.

Sloppy Roast Beef (Band of the Month - June, 2005)

Sloppy Roast Beef- for the Grateful Web
having fun at the show- for the Grateful Web

Sloppy Roast Beef was formed in the summer of 2002 when six close friends decided to take their guitar driven original rock and roll sound out of the basement and into the public eye.

At the time of "The Beef's" inception, three of the band's members, A.J. Davidson, Michael Moore, and Zac Davidson, were playing with the group "Jo Digs" while the other three members, Andrew Teague, Nick Edwards, and Derek Lewis, played in the band known as "Sweet Automatic".

While both former bands achieved moderate local success in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a yearning still remained among band members to create a sound that not only accented strong songwriting and musicianship but that was also authentic to the South.

The end result would be a collaboration of original music that has been compared to a wide variety of rock and roll styles ranging from bands of the 1970's such as The Doobie Brothers, Santana, and the Allman Bros. to the more modern jam band styles of Widespread Panic, Gov't Mule, and MOE.

Stuck in the middle of a music era where image, piracy, and "Bling Bling" have become industry norms, Sloppy Roast Beef has continued to do what they love the most…

-Make music and play it live!

THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND

nitty"This album has a real spirit of renewal," Jeff Hanna says of Welcome to Woody Creek, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Dualtone debut. "In some ways, it's a return to where we began. But it's also the start of a whole new thing for us."

Over the course of a recording and performing career that spans five decades and over 30 albums, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has earned a unique status as one of America's most respected and beloved musical institutions. Since their early days in the vanguard of the '60s country-rock movement, they've consistently drawn from a broad array of influences to make music that's distinctly their own. Along the way, they've scored several hit singles, won countless awards and collaborated with an impressive assortment of contemporaries and legends.

The durable quintet's formidable creative chemistry is particularly potent on Welcome to Woody Creek. The 12-song album finds the multitalented, multiinstrumental combo—guitarist/vocalist Jeff Hanna, guitarist/bassist/mandolinist/vocalist Jimmy Ibbotson, keyboardist/vocalist Bob Carpenter guitarist/banjoist/drummer/harmonica player Jimmie Fadden and mandolinist/fiddler John McEuen—demonstrating the musical and personal rapport that's endeared them to fans around the world. Hanna, Fadden and McEuen were present for the band's formation in the mid-1960s, while Ibbotson came on board in 1969; Carpenter joined up in 1976.

The new album—the NGDB's first full-length studio effort since 1998, and their first since McEuen's return in 2001 following a stretch of solo projects—is something of a landmark in the group's storied career. The five bandmates cut the bulk of the album in the relaxed setting of Ibbotson's home studio in Woody Creek, Colorado, unencumbered by the pressures of a formal studio situation.

The resulting album is a compelling showcase for the band's effortless expertise and seamless versatility. The rootsy pop numbers "Walkin' in the Sunshine," "It's Morning" and "Forever Don't Last" and the poignant ballads "Jealous Moon" and "Any Love But Our Love" distill the same homespun blend of solid songcraft and emotional substance that originally earned the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band its reputation, as do the rollicking rural workout "Party on the Mountain," the country-gospel tune "Safe Back Home" and the moody instrumental "Midnight at Woody Creek."

Another standout track is the wry "It's a New Day" (penned by Hanna's wife, renowned singer/songwriter Matraca Berg, and ace tunesmith Tim Krekel) a cautiously optimistic number that taps into the theme of a renewed spirit.

Welcome to Woody Creek also continues the band's longstanding tradition of astute interpretations of outside material, with a haunting, heartfelt reading of Gram Parsons' evocative ballad "She," as well as a playful bluegrass reworking of The Beatles' "Get Back" that recalls the group's early days.

"We used to fool around with bluegrass versions of Beatle songs back in the early days," Hanna explains. "We kind of rediscovered 'Get Back' when John McEuen rejoined the band and we started playing it live. I think we cut it the first or second day in Woody Creek; it's essentially a live track, and it was a perfect way to get ourselves in the right frame of mind for this project."

"Get Back" is typical of Welcome to Woody Creek's emphasis on earthy, unpretentious performances, with a minimum of production frills. "This album's kind of going back to what we were doing in the late '60s and early '70s," Hanna observes. "When I listen to it, I hear that same spirit that we had then, but with a lot more experience and a little more maturity."

Welcome to Woody Creek's loose, organic vibe is largely a by-product of its stripped-down recording approach. "Colorado is our adopted home, and we've returned there as often as possible," says McEuen. "Woody Creek's atmosphere is a lot like Aspen was when we first went there in 1970. It was a perfect place to go and make some music; we had great memories to reflect on, and new ones to make."

"The most refreshing part of this project was just getting in there and being left to our own devices," Hanna enthuses. "It's been a long time since we made a record that way—just went into a room and looked at each other and said 'Let's see what we can come up with.' "

"The whole process," he explains, "happened very naturally and very quickly. We originally went in just to do some demos, but we liked what we heard so much that the demos became the record, more or less. We didn't even have a record deal when we started recording; we just went ahead and made some music and figured we'd find a home for it."

The informal, spontaneous atmosphere resulted in some of the band's most inspired performances to date. "When you strive for perfection, you risk losing the feel in the process," Hanna notes, adding, "Anybody who's made a record has had the experience of trying to beat the demo—trying to capture the original moment of inspiration that you felt the first time you played the song. I think we avoided that on this one by keeping the original moment of inspiration. Sonically, it reminds me of the records that we made in the early '70s."

Indeed, Welcome to Woody Creek maintains a deep connection to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's eventful musical history. The group has played a key role in rock's rediscovery of its early rural roots, from their early days as a fledgling jug band at the legendary McCabe's Guitar Shop, to their 1967 debut hit "Buy for Me the Rain," to their pioneering country-rock explorations on such highly regarded albums as 1970's Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy (which included the group's first Top Ten pop hit "Mr. Bojangles") and 1975's Dream, to their widely acclaimed three-LP 1972 set Will the Circle Be Unbroken. The latter project was an unprecedented and momentous undertaking, teaming the band with such country, bluegrass and folk giants as Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs and Mother Maybelle Carter. It was followed by acclaimed sequels in 1989 and 2003.

In the course of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's evolution, the group's lineup has included such notable fellow travelers as a pre-stardom Jackson Browne, Kaleidoscope member Chris Darrow and Eagles/Flying Burrito Brothers guitarist Bernie Leadon.

For a few years in the late '70s and early '80s, the group shortened its name to the Dirt Band and scored memorable pop hits with "An American Dream" and "Make A Little Magic." In 1984, they made headlines as the first American rock act to tour the Soviet Union. Through the remainder of the '80s, they reassumed their original full-length moniker, and achieved substantial success on the country charts with numerous hits including the Number One singles "Long Hard Road (The Sharecropper's Dream)," "Modern Day Romance" and "Fishin' in the Dark." Meanwhile, the group's trailblazing embrace of its musical roots was echoed increasingly in rock's emerging Americana movement.

Although they've achieved an enviable level of commercial success over the years, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band continues to stick with its original sources of inspiration. "We're grateful whenever we get on the radio, but things like singles and airplay aren't as big an issue for us anymore," Hanna asserts.

"Now we're more concerned with just making music that we feel good about and can stand behind," adds Fadden.

"We did very little overdubbing and doubling of instruments on this album—a lot less than we would have if we'd been trying to make a contemporary 'radio' record," Carpenter points out. "I think it sounds more like us because of that."

"The five of us playing together make a sound that nobody else makes," Hanna says. "Whether it's good, bad or indifferent, it's ours. We're all like brothers and the way we play together is pretty instinctive at this point. There are times when we've gotten a little too perfect for our own good, so the ability to be scruffy is important to us."

That blend of mastery and understatement allows Welcome to Woody Creek to capture the sound of a veteran band still discovering new strengths. As Ibbotson points out, "There's a line in the liner notes of this album that says, 'It seems that we've been playing music with each other since we were schoolboys, but every now and then it's good for us to look at each other in a new light.' I think that taking ourselves away from the grind of the music business to make this record has really helped us to rediscover our bond, and to rediscover what's special about this band."

"We really consider this album to be the beginning of something for us, and I think that this is how we want to make records for the rest of our career," Hanna states, adding, "It's a really great time for us. I think that people are hungry to hear real music made by people singing and playing together. That's great for us, because that's what we do."