This has been an amazing few months of music for me, but once again, I cannot avoid writing about how music has literally spread its wings to reach out as far as possible with different mixtures of sounds and influences to combine into a genreless gumbo. Elephant Revival’s Facebook pages states, “Where words fail…music speaks,” and as a writer, I could not agree more. I often ask my muse, where do I get the words to describe some of the music that I have been seeing lately? Needless to say, it is difficult.
Last weekend Elephant Revival returned home for a sold-out two night run at the Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado. The set of shows was called “Birds of a Feather Autumnal Ball”. The band Horse Feathers from Portland, Oregon kicked things off on Friday and opened for Elephant Revival.
I am not very religious, but I do consider myself very spiritual, and if I were to attend a church, it would be something that included the music of these guys. I do not mean to sound overly dramatic, but I was nearly moved to tears several times by the power that I felt coming from this stage. There were four men, two Malian (Muslim) and two Israeli (Jewish), and the music that they make together is as piano player and singer Idan Raichel calls religious on certain songs especially. It was one of my favorite musical experiences that I have ever had.
I cannot believe that it has been almost a decade since I first saw Matisyahu perform “Close My Eyes” with his musical idol and mine, Trey Anastasio at Bonnaroo in 2005. After that joyous performance, I attended one of his concerts. And, in 2008, I saw him play at the Jammy Award Ceremony with Rose Hill Drive and his bandmates Aaron Dugan and Rob Marscher (formerly of 2001 Jammy nominees Addison Groove Project). They played a Flaming Lips song, and that night was one of my favorite moments in music.
How many more Dead tribute bands does the scene really need? There’s truly already plenty out there. Even if the music is structured to be boundless and open for continuation, it seems like bands could better serve the music with an improvisational spirit, but playing originals instead of Dead covers. Indeed it takes a special group of musicians who understand the music inside out and have the ability to diversify the extensive catalogue instead of simply parroting it.
I moved to Colorado in 2010 to pursue my Masters degree in education. I chose CU because it had a strong program for my discipline, but I’d be lying if I said the town of Boulder, itself, held no sway in my decision. Having wandered in a proverbial desert of live music for five years, I was a deeply dehydrated Deadhead who needed an oasis to slake my thirst. Occasionally, a noteworthy band played at The Santa Fe Brewing Company or an hour south at one of Albuquerque’s few ramshackle venues, but these were rare occasions.
Mainly known for his work in Bright Eyes, guitarist and vocalist Conor Oberst is in the midst of a coast-to-coast tour showcasing his new solo album, Upside Down Mountain. Recently, Oberst played a nearly sold-out show at The Boulder Theater in Boulder, Colorado.
I have been going to shows regularly for over 15 years. Somewhere along the line, I came to understand that live music is my adopted religion and venues of great renown are, collectively, my house of worship. Being a Deadhead, in particular, is a sect onto itself. Until recently, I only understood this spiritual manifestation in the abstract.
Few people are truly aware of the extent of Buddy Guy’s influence. If you do not think that he is one of the greatest guitarist’s of all time, then your favorite guitarist probably does. Without this legend, other legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page would not have been who they are. Guy was the bridge between the blues and rock n’ roll.