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Are you a fan of Delta Blues, Rock, or Jam?  Do you have an affinity for Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and a good live show?  If by now you haven’t heard of the North Mississippi All-Stars, please emerge from your cave this instant.

You might still think this was 1973.  I did for a second, as I watched the tie-dye clad Deadheads trekking through wheat-colored fields, on a pilgrimage to Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View on Sunday evening to catch the band now known as The Dead.

Keepers of the flame. Revivers of the vibe. The ultimate players in the game of cover band glory.—Whatever title you pin on Dark Star Orchestra, doesn’t nearly encapsulate their dedication, precision and drive. Getting everything right, even the simple sounds of instrumental tuning, is something that they take very seriously.

On a cool Berkeley evening I walked into The Starry Plough to catch The Grateful Dead cover band Live Dead. The Plough was once again packed with young and old local “Dead Head” hippies, sporting heavy beards and tie-dye shirts. Others danced wildly by the stage, as Live Dead opened their first set a little after 9:30 pm. The members of Live Dead formed recently out of the ashes of other Dead cover bands such as Workingman’s Ed, Grapefruit Ed, and Crazy Fingers.

On April 10, Indie rockers The Hold Steady played to a packed house at the Fox Theater here in Boulder.  Appealing to a mix of the young and hip and the grown-up and mellow, this group of rock and roll storytellers put on quite the high energy, low tech spectacle.  Whereas only the night before the Fox Theater had been aglow with BoomBox’s pink, purple, red, and blue lights, the closest thing to the Aurora Borealis that Boulder will ever see, for The Hold Steady the theater was bathed only in dull

Avery Brewery in Boulder Colorado has a small tucked away tasting room down the back ally of a local business park. They have a large selection of fresh tasty beers on tap, and I was there enjoying one when four guys drove up in a Green Van from Ft Collins. As they unloaded their equipment, set up their mics, tuned their guitars, and oiled up the Tuba I had no idea what to expect. What I got was a great set of music from Ft. Collins own Handpicked Holler!.

In 2004 the San Francisco rock outfit New Monsoon made a storied appearance at the famed Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, and blew away newcomers with their unique blend of West Coast rock, jazz, Latin, and West Asian sounds.  From that performance the band released their first live disc aptly titled Live at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

chinaThe Starry Plough bar, on the corner of Shattuck and Ashby in Berkeley, stands out on the block as there is not much else around. I arrived a bit early and saw Dead Heads standing outside the bar smoking joints and cigarettes, making me think I was walking down the mythical “Shakedown Street.”

In December of 2004 I saw Béla Fleck & the Flecktones at the Water Street Music Hall in Rochester.  At that show Béla made a mention of his plans which at that time included traveling to Africa to research the roots of the banjo.  This intrigued me as I had just been to Morocco and seen banjos being played out in the square, a sight I was not expecting, and as I also have a large amount of family in Africa.

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