On New Year’s Eve, Railroad Earth swung into a rendition of Warhead Boogie that, when all was said and done, left me in a state of almost comical ecstasy. During the crescendo and climax, I was twirling and spinning and swirling and grinning, and, then, when even kinetic rhythm couldn’t contain my body, I jumped as high I could, over and over, like a gobsmacked pogo stick.
If there were to be a declared “newgrass” hub for the 1990s-2000s resurge of popularity, most would undisputedly agree that Colorado is that place. Sure the great states of California and Oregon have their fan base and head venues, and lets not forget that the Nashville scene is still souring with talent young and old. But all those Nashville folks never miss a single year of Colorado’s Planet Bluegrass Festivals (Telluride Bluegrass, Lyon’s Rockygrass and Folks Fest).
Having lived and worked in Boulder, CO for almost 20 years now, I can’t help but reminisce about how my life has changed since I first moved here from the East Coast in 1992. In July of 2012 I will have officially lived here longer than where I grew up.
When someone uses the term “fusion” regarding jazz, a spring-loaded thought process proceeds. Maybe it leads to thoughts of French violin composer Jean Luc Ponty’s experiments in the late 60s. Perhaps someone would think of the Miles Davis family of music, most directly In A Silent Way or Bitches Brew. Maybe another person would think of the “rock” fusion outlets of the 70s. Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Yes, or Pat Metheney.
The show began with opening act The Radical Dads, a trio that rocked Webster Hall with a big sound despite their lack of a bassist. With two guitarists and drummer, Robbie Guertin, who also played the keyboards in headlining act, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Radical Dads achieved a sophisticated sound that drew on garage band rock and roll without being overwhelming or muddled.
A Rastafarian and a Hasidic Jew walk into a bar… It’s not the setup for a punch line, it’s just another night at a Matisyahu show. Where else can we go to see Yamakas and Dreadlocks in the same place? The fusion of the two cultures is everywhere at a Matisyahu show, and a huge following of fans have evolved from the musical blend of traditional Jewish themes, reggae, and hip-hop that he has created.
One of the most apparent struggles for the “core four” surviving members of the late Grateful Dead is how to follow up a musical career without going about continuing the music of their previous band. And as we all know, calling Grateful Dead a “band” is simply a misstatement. It was a way of life.
Going to a Trace Bundy show is like going to a family dinner that you actually want to be at. The first time I listened to Trace Bundy’s music was in college. A friend had a copy of his “Adapt” CD and I used to play it when I needed to relax. This was the 3rd time I have seen Trace perform.
Every Phish fan has their favorite year of the band's long and storied career, and will argue to the death why they feel that specific year stands as the group's greatest. For some it's the feisty year of 1993, or the energetic and explosive 1994 tour, and some will even argue that the tight yet loosely woven shows of 2011 rank as their all time high. But for many, it was without a doubt the body of work heard during 1997.