Artists

artists

The New Mastersounds, November 16, 2007 in Denver

photos by Dieter Van Holder- for the Grateful Web

Send out the riders, the British are coming, and they're packing heat. The four lads from Leeds known as The New Mastersounds opened for J.J. Grey & Mofro, hitting the Ogden Theatre in Denver on Friday night like a punch in the face and sending the crowd home with sore muscles.

Why this four-piece funk band has not literally exploded across the music scene in America like so many WMD's is beyond me, and my only hypothesis can be that like those reclusive targets of Presidential invasion, the damn things are just too hard to find. When they decide to grace the US with their presence, The NMS tend to visit only a handful of locations, saving the bulk of their tour for venues across the pond. Luckily, they have taken to Colorado. Colorado, it seems, is also taking to them.

Not even two years ago, after opening up for the Greyboy Allstars, the band decided to play a set of its own at a smaller venue, generating little local support. The following summer proved a vast improvement, with jam band fans packing the house at the very same venue that the year before had seen less constituents than one could count on two hands. The venue on Friday night was a little bigger and thus warranted a headlining band with a little more of an established following in order to sell the tickets needed to fill the room. Or did it?

Upon entering the the 1,000+ person venue at Colfax and Ogden around 8:45, 15 minutes prior to show time, I asked one of the attendants at the door how many tickets had been sold, his response was as expected, about 600. I'll be damned if that number hadn't doubled within 30 minutes. At precisely 9:00, Eddie Roberts (guitar), Simon Allen (drums), Pete Shand (bass), and the recently added Joe Tatton (Keyboards), came out on stage firing the funk on all cylinders and didn't stop until everyone in the room was spent, nearly an hour and a half later. In short, with all due respect to J.J. Grey, of whom I am a huge fan and for whom I have the utmost respect, the opening act stole the show.

mastersoundsI had the pleasure of securing a prime piece of real estate in the orchestra section, for, having witnessed these boys in action before; I knew what was coming and wanted to assure myself of a good perch. From the first note, those of us who had seen them prior to Friday nodded in approval, turning to each other in agreement, and then to the first-time listeners around, who, mid-conversation with their neighbors, quickly fastened their gazes on the stage, mouth agape, and joined in the groove. As tunes like "Baby Bouncer," a superb rendition of the Meters's classic "Live Wire," and the fan-favorite and perennial closer, "One Note Brown," played, I witnessed more and more the Paul Newman a la Butch Cassidy-esque facial expressions and mouthed words of "Who are those guys?," understanding that as the evening pressed on, Eddie, Simon, Pete and Joe had secured more troops for their ever-growing cavalry.

To say that the band is heavily influenced by The Meters would be an understatement, but there is something about them that sets them apart. Perhaps it is Eddie Robert's incredible dexterity and precision on the guitar, reminiscent of 70's legend, Grant Green, or Tatton's gritty Hammond B3, or Simon's clever introductory remarks made moreso by that delightful Northern English accent, or Shand's utter coooool-ness onstage, or perhaps it is the fact that it is so surprising to hear black music that would make George Clinton himself pause and listen, emanating from the instruments of mostly white players. Furthermore, it would be short-sighted for one to discount the impression a band makes on its audience when it is evident that when they are playing, they are having so much fun they almost look mischievous.

Whatever these fellas are selling, I'm buying it, and I promise you, there is going to be a long line at the store.

Toubab Krewe 4 Night New Year's Run

photos by Amanda Bell- for the Grateful Web

Toubab Krewe will celebrate New Year's Eve '07 with four special performances: December 27 at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City, December 28 at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, and December 30-31 at the Orange Peel in their hometown of Asheville, NC.

The run closes out an amazing year for the band, which has been credited with "setting a new standard for fusions of of rock 'n' roll and West African music" (Afropop Worlwide). They kicked off 2007 in Essakane, Mali, where they played the legendary Festival of the Desert, known as the most remote festival in the world. Extensive tours of the U.S. followed, with the band playing over 100 shows, including sets at premiere festivals such as Langerado, SxSW, Wakarusa, High Sierra, 10,000 Lakes,  Echo Project, Wall to Wall Guitar, and the Voodoo Music Experience. Along the way they played with luminaries such as John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Mike Gordon
(Phish), Lamine Soumano and Tinariwen.

The band is currently working on their sophomore album with Grammy winning producer Steven Heller, which is slated for release in March 2008. They launch into the new year with performances at Jamcruise, setting sail from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to Roatan, Hunduras and Cozumel, Mexico on January 4. A national winter tour will follow, with dates TBA.

New Year's tour dates:

12.27 | New York, NY |  Bowery Ballroom (co-bill with Golem)
12.31 | Philadelphia, PA | World Cafe Live (co-bill with Golem)

12.31 | Asheville, NC | Orange Peel w/ special guests The Lee Boys
12.31 | Asheville, NC | Orange Peel w/ special guests Snake Oil Medicine Show

Net of Being – Alex Grey Exhibit in NYC

Alex Grey - for the Grateful Web

I went to NYC on November 10, 2007 to see Phil Lesh and Friends at the Nokia Theater in Times Square – in and of itself quite an event.  I had taken a train from Philadelphia late, on a whim and with just my black zip up hoodie on my back.   When I got to the show, some friends of mine handed me a flyer for the Net of Being opening party.

"Alex Grey's painting, 'Net of Being,' has been introduced to millions of people by the rock band TOOL.  After years of labor this epic work is now on view along with numerous new artworks depicting Grey's mystic visions and an architectural model of the future Chapel of Sacred Mirrors."  In addition to that wall sized painting; nineteen other new works were on display.

At the entrance to 542 W. 27th in Chelsea, NYC – we were greeted by a line of people waiting to get in the building.  The bouncers looked at us, guided us around the ropes and told us to proceed to the 4th floor.  Evidently there is an unrelated club on the second floor of the building, but being let into a club around a velvet rope based on looks was still an amusing experience.

Once upstairs and we forked over our $20 we entered CosMosis, the dance floor area of the space, where Schism, a Tool cover band was just starting. I have been a sometimes fan of TOOL, having seen them in 1993 with Lollapalooza, as well as having seen Adam Jones guest with Melvins – however had not been following their work recently.  Schism sounded great and the space was decorated with Alex Grey wall sized prints, a video display and a generous littering of bean bag chairs.  Alex Grey was painting live and grooving along to the band.

We headed next past the gift shop – which was closed – down a hall filled with people – to the entrance of the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors gallery.  COSM had unfortunately closed when the party portion of the evening – however there was a DJ in the darkened room in front of the entrance – which was fairly packed with people dancing.

Past this was the MicroCosm gallery which contained the Net of Being piece as well as other new pieces.  Unfortunately the gallery did not have the glasses that come with the tool album to view the pictures.

When we returned to the other room, I noticed John Barlow attended by several people – watching Alex paint – with a big smile on his face.

The whole experience seemed very familiar as I am fortunate to be able to regularly visit Fenario Gallery in Eugene, OR which boasts similar artists and friends – Martina Hoffman had exhibited in Eugene was purportedly about and at a benefit dinner for CoSM the previous evening.

At the same time I wish I was better prepared to identify celebrities in the middle of the night as I would have done a better job hob-knobbing – and maybe retrieved some interviews in the process.

Go see Tool on tour now – and buy their new album before you go – experience visionary art and music at the cutting edge of psychedelia.

Jake Shimabukuro: Jazz Ukulele Virtuoso

photos by Janie Franz- for the Grateful Web

When I first heard about Jake Shimabukuro, I probably was like most people, responding, "He plays what? A ukulele! You've got to be kidding!" But then I put his latest full-length album, Gently Weeps (2006), into my CD player, and, well, you had to scrap my jaw up off the floor!

This young man is a virtuoso string player.  Chase Don Ho and Tiny Tim right out of your head! Shimabukuro has elevated this simple, four string, two octave instrument to a classical artform. He has redefined what this instrument can do as did David Grisman did with mandolin and Alison Brown and Bela Fleck did with banjo.

Shimabukuro is comparable to Eric Clapton and even Andrés Segovia in both rock and classical styles - - and that's not hyperbole. Shimabukuro is able to cross a range of genres with ease, using skills appropriate to each. He produces string sounds resembling an acoustic tenor guitar that mix flamenco, classical, blues, and acoustic rock fingerstyling.

In Gently Weeps, Shimabukuro presents 12 songs with only his sole ukulele that are full bodied, thoughtful and stirring. He covers George Harrison's standard "Why My Guitar Gently Weeps," for which the album is named, as well as Chic Chorea's "Spain," Johnny Burke/Erroll Gamer's "Misty," and even "Ave Maria." His version of the Japanese folk tune "Sakura" sounds as if it were played on the Japanese 13-string koto.

There are also five original compositions. Then, as a bonus Shimabukuro includes five cuts that have a full band backing him (guitar, bass, drums, and keys). Of particular note is "Beyond the Break," written for the TV network THE N. Shimabukuro juxatoposes his ukelele against a driving electric guitar with effects, rock bass, and heavy drums.  It works like magic.

The accompaniment on this CD and on his new EP, My Life, enhances Shimabukuro's complex stylings. My Life showcases six songs, including Cindy Lauper's hit "Time After Time," Page and Plant's "Going to California," Lennon/McCartney's "In My Life," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which has become a signature tune for him.

I had the pleasure of seeing classical guitarist Andrés Segovia live in concert in the mid 70s and was awestruck then. But when I stumbled upon Jake Shimabukuro this fall in San Francisco at a free concert at Yerba Buena Gardens, I couldn't believe my good fortune. His concert at the Herbst Theater was sold out, but he graciously appeared at the free festival.

He played many of the selections on Gently Weeps and My Life.  Much of what I heard make me liken Shimabukuro to Jimi Hendrix on the uke, especially when he took his own original swipe at "The Star-Spangled Banner." He played richly and fully, enjoying his audience.

Shimabukuro even good naturedly took on a stage full of ukelele players, performers who had played all afternoon before him. They included  The UFOs  ('Ukulele Friends Ohana), Al Dodge and the Tin Pan Haoles, The Paper Dolls, Tippy Canoe and the Paddlemen, Faith Ako, slack-key guitarist Carey Camacho, The Victor Ohana Band, Kimo Hussey, 'Ukulele Ray, and The Frisky Frolics. His task was to play lead uke opposite this group as they tackled two traditional songs. And, by Golly, he did it! It was a nightmare for the sound techs in the front of the "house" and the monitor tech. Perry Thorwaldson and his crew from Thor Audio Solutions did a remarkable job! Clips of this show have been floating around Utube for a weeks now.

Beginning at the age of four, Shimabukuro has added lightning runs and bluesy string bends to classical finger work and flamenco flourishes. He has performed with or opened for Blues Traveler, Hot Buttered Rum, The Radiators, John Hiatt, and Fiona Apple. He's appeared on The Late Show with Conan O'Brien and Last Call with Carson Daly, and toured with Jimmy Buffett and Bela Fleck. He also played on Ziggy Marley's Grammy winning Love is Religion album last year.

If you're interested in what this ukulele virtuoso can do, check out his website www.jakeshimabukuro.com and grab one of his CDs, especially his new My Life EP. Better yet, go see his blazing hands live.  It will be a muscial experience you won't soon forget.

Umphrey's McGee Terrorizes the Fillmore!

This Halloween the Chicago-based sextet Umphrey's McGee brought their progressive jam-rock to the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, and in turn paid homage to some of the greatest horror movies of all time.  Not only did they fee

Langerado Music Festival Announces 2008 Lineup

Today, the sixth annual Langerado Music Festival announces its initial artist lineup. The 2008 event takes place March 6–9, and will host R.E.M., Beastie Boys, Phil Lesh & Friends, 311, Matisyahu, Ani DiFranco, Ben Folds, The Roots, Thievery Corporation, Les Claypool, G.

Umphrey's McGee | Live at the Murat | Review

One would think that a band that is so well-known for their live performances would have released multiple concert discs by now.  With the exception of a few "indie" releases years ago, prog-rock kings Umphrey's McGee waited until this month to birth their first commercially available, official live album entitled Live at the Murat.

Vegoose Pictures are Rolling In...

Grateful Web had both Amanda Bell and Forrest Dudek covering Vegoose this year.  Check back for their reviews soon.  In the mean time, some of their pictures are beginning to roll in.  We'll post more pictures when they come in.  Thanks to Vegoose publicity for a lovely weekend. Cheers!

Vegoose 2007 Pictures

Thanks,

Photos from the Drew Emmitt & Billy Nershi Halloween Show

Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon) & Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident) teamed up last night to play a show at the Boulder Theater.  Grateful Web was on-hand to snap some photos.  There will be some changes to the pictures, as unfortunately I uploaded them last night without changing all vertical pictures to be right side up, so my apologies...

David Gans | Twisted Love Songs | Review

Multi-faceted artist and long-time radio host of the "Grateful Dead Hour" releases his 5th disc to date through his own Perfectible Recordings label entitled Twisted Love Songs.  The collection is comprised almost entirely of recordings from his recent live performances around the West Coast and beyond.