Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. | Hi-Dive | Denver, CO

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. took the stage last night at the Hi-Dive in Denver clearly on a mission from God. Wearing their traditional Nascar-style track jumpsuits and big ol mesh trucker caps, the Detroit duo of Josh Epstein and Daniel Zott made their debut in the great city of Denver on a tour supporting the release of their debut album, It’s a Corporate World.

My Suitcase Is Always Packed | Red Stick Ramblers | Streets 5.19

red-stick-ramblersThe Red Stick Ramblers return on May 19th with My Suitcase Is Always Packed, their fifth album and second for Sugar Hill Records. That rare young roots band that both embodies and transcends their influences, The Red Stick Ramblers continue to hone their unique hybrid of Cajun, honky-tonk, and swing (Western and otherwise) on their most visceral, personal album yet. The eleven new originals (in both English and Cajun French) are structurally daring and lyrically evocative, while still resounding proudly with the echoes of the traditions that inspired them. A pair of vintage Cajun numbers cement the band's undeniable affection for and mastery of classic Louisiana music.

 Featuring the twin-fiddle frontline of Kevin Wimmer and Linzay Young backed by the versatile rhythm section of Chas Justus (guitar), Eric Frey (bass), and Glenn Fields (drums), The Red Stick Ramblers have been astonishing audiences at dancehalls, festivals, and concert halls around the world since 2002, when they first emerged from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My Suitcase Is Always Packed, produced by the band with Grammy-winner Gary Paczosa and Brandon Bell, is their most wide ranging album yet - from the surging Cajun opener "Je T'aime Pas Mieux" and the haunting banjo and triangle driven "Nonc' Yorick" to the almost casually ingenious, charismatic swing of "Doggone My Time" and the title track. Brilliantly balancing the hard-driving and the heart-breaking, My Suitcase Is Always Packed is the sound of The Red Stick Ramblers in full flight, at once achingly familiar and infectiously surprising.



"Like all great bands," reflects fellow musician Dirk Powell in his powerful liner notes, "The Ramblers have grown over the years, grown together, grown individually, raised the stakes time and again. This time, they've dug deeper and reached further than ever."

New York Guitar Festival Opens to a Packed House

Natalia Zukerman-photo by Chris M. Junior- for the Grateful Web

Every other year, some of the world's most distinctive guitar players gather in New York City to celebrate the New York Guitar Festival with a series of intimate concerts and one-of-a-kind collaborations.  To open the 2008 New York Guitar Festival, more than 20 artists assembled at the World Financial Center's Winter Garden to honor the music of Bob Dylan by recreating his famed 1966 "Royal Albert Hall" concert.  (The original Dylan show actually took place May 16, 1966, in Manchester, England, not at the Royal Albert Hall in London but has become known as such through many old mislabeled vinyl bootlegs.)  From Belle and Sebastian frontman Stevie Jackson to vocal powerhouse Toshi Reagon, the concert featured an eclectic lineup of some of today's most talented guitarists and vocal standouts.  Performing the show in sequence as Dylan did more than 40 years ago, the musicians treated the at-capacity crowd to an unforgettable interpretation of one of music's most known and storied concerts.

To open the show, host John Schaefer (of WNYC radio) introduced Oakley Hall - with full band - to electrify the usually acoustic "She Belongs To Me".  Dylan's inward and outward battle with his shift from acoustic to electric guitar playing was a recurring theme in Saturday's night's concert and Oakley Hall set the tone.  In contrast, "Royal Albert Hall" Project line-up latecomer Natalia Zukerman nailed "Fourth Time Around" with her outstanding acoustic guitar work.  Natalia's soft yet powerful performance led seamlessly into Stevie Jackson's "Visions of Johanna" solo.  With an affected Dylanesque vocal delivery, albeit with a Glaswegian accent, Jackson captivated the audience, who listened attentively still wondering the song's true meaning. 

Warmed up and ready for more, the crowd was delighted to see Jason Isbell, co-founder and formerly of Drive-By Truckers, take the stage for his rendition of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", which he sang as though he'd been performing the song for years.  The next tune, "Desolation Row", was performed by Freeman, a young Welsh songwriter/guitarist and recent signee to Clive Davis's RCA Music Group. In introducing Freeman, John Schaefer touted him as possibly the next Jeff Buckley, creating nearly impossibly high expectations for everyone.  However, his impassioned vocal performance, accompanied by Brandon Ross's fine guitar work, astounded the audience and left little doubt about his promising future.

A fan favorite, "Mr. Tambourine Man", came next on the bill.  Kelly Joe Phelps' inspired vocal performance and his Mississippi John Hurt-like fingerpicking induced an excited hush over the packed house.  Additional concert highlights include Jim Lauderdale and John Leventhal's version of "Tell Me Momma" and Chocolate Genius, Inc.'s full-band take on "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"; Marc Ribot's virtuoso guitar work nicely complemented Genius' snarky, growling vocal.  Not to be outdone, Lenny Kaye, Mr. Nice Guy (who also doubles as Patti Smith's guitarist) and Katrina Kiedis (late of Sufjan Stevens's band) gave sweet treatment to "One Too Many Mornings," alternating vocal duties during the verses and bringing it on home during the hook.

For the last song, Toshi Reagon and band – with Marc Ribot again supplying Telecaster genius – tore through "Like A Rolling Stone" with such force that not an eye could be turned.  Reagon's powerful voice filled the cavernous Winter Garden and had the audience on its feet in overwhelming approval.

Much to the audience's delight, all of the night's artists rejoined on stage for a very special encore performance of "Knockin on Heaven's Door".  With some of guitar's most talented players performing the music of one of the world's most gifted songwriters, The "Royal Albert Hall" Project was the perfect beginning to the exciting weeks of music still to come in the New York Guitar Festival


Complete "Royal Albert Hall" Project setlist and artists below.


1. "She Belongs to Me"                       Oakley Hall

2. "Fourth Time Around"                      Natalia Zukerman

3. "Visions of Johanna"                      Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian)

4. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"            Jason Isbell (formerly of Drive By Truckers) with Browan Lollar

5. "Desolation Row"                          Freeman & Brandon Ross

6. "Just Like A Woman"                       The Last Town Chorus

7. "Mr. Tambourine Man"                      Kelly Joe Phelps

8. "Tell Me, Momma"                          Jim Lauderdale with John Leventhal

9. "I Don't Believe You"                     Laura Cantrell with special guest Stevie Jackson

10. "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down"           Harry Manx & Kevin Breit

11. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"            Jesse Harris

12. "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat"              Chocolate Genius Inc. with Marc Ribot

13. "One Too Many Mornings"                  Lenny Kaye & Katrina Kiedis

14. "Ballad of a Thin Man"                   Richard Julian & Jim Campilongo

15. "Like a Rolling Stone"                   Toshi Reagon with special guest Marc Ribot

16. E: "Knockin on Heaven's Door"            All Artists