Reviews

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On September 15th The Lil Smokies graced the world with their sophomore studio album, "Changing Shades."  For anyone unfamiliar with the Lil Smokies, they are certainly a band on the move. Winners or the 2015 Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition, they have catapulted themselves into the spotlight amongst some of the bluegrass greats. Hailing from Missoula, MT, the Lil Smokies played over 175 shows in 2016 alone.

A true English rock legend brought nearly six decades of rock music history to the Samala Showroom at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez California last weekend. Steve Winwood has been a rock star all of his adult life, beginning his musical career as a child prodigy in Birmingham England. The 69-year-old singer-songwriter, master Hammond B3 organist, and smoking blues-rock guitarist joined his first rock band, the Spencer Davis Group, in 1963.

Michael Franti and Spearhead brought the 'Love Out Loud' tour to McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater in Troutdale, Oregon, on September 9. The show featured positive vibes from the opening acts Choir, Choir, Choir, which had the crowd singing along, and singer-songwriter Ethan Tucker, who played a few acoustic songs, to Franti's two-hour heart felt performance.

Of the living legendary Jazz musicians of the 20th century, few perform with such purpose and poise as Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. As the groundbreaking Jazz-fusion originating guitarist has put it in two separate interviews with Grateful Web, it’s all out of love. Love for life, love for the players in his earth-shattering 4th Dimension band, love for exploration, love for all people.

As the sun crested the sky on one of the more perfect afternoons you could ask for in the middle of New York City at the end of August, Phil LeshLesh and his Terrapin Family Band huddled at the side of the stage as the audience hooted and hollered, unable to contain their excitement for the music that was about to come.

As a music journalist for a decade and a half, I see a lot of live music. But every once in a while, I catch a concert that gives me a special feeling of knowing that I have seen music history and something sonically special. This was one of those moments. A few years ago here, it was Lana Del Rey who captivated her sold out show. This summer, it was her male musical soul mate Father John Misty.

Dressed in black, like his collaborator Carlene Carter’s famous dad, Johnny Cash, John Mellencamp wasted no time getting in tune for his second Ravinia performance, surrounded by a smoke machine and a background of scrawled graffiti.

“Music is like color,” Lukas Nelson has said. “When I listen to the musicians who affected me when I was growing up, I take from the primary colors to find my foundation. Then I apply secondary colors and the music becomes more and more complex.”

In the last decade, one the North Bay Area and wine country’s premier venues has become Weill Hall at Sonoma State University. Housed in the Green Music Center, this indoor/outdoor hybrid venue space is one of a kind. The theater has stunning wooden seats and a double-tiered balcony, while the outdoor lawn seating is ideal for year long daytime and nighttime shows. Despite its sizeable capacity, it feels homey and intimate with projector screens displaying multi-shot coverage of the stage up-close.

This past Saturday at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheater, Nederland’s own Yonder Mountain String Band and longtime jam legends Gov’t Mule co-headlined an action-packed show filled with sit-ins, surprises and an incredible all-star tribute to the late great Gregg Allman. It was the first time in over ten years that Yonder and Gov’t Mule have teamed up for a show. The Marcus King Band also joined in on the festivities, as members of all three bands sat in with one another throughout their respective sets.