Billy Bragg stopped through Chicago as a one off concert en route home from his performance at Kansas City Folk Festival 2017. A perfect setting, Old Town School of Folk provided an intimate stage for this sold out show. Solo with only his guitars and a mic, Bragg delivers so much punch. Again proving lyrics and social commentary is not only powerful but essential, particularly in these times.
The Brothers Comatose are one of the most exciting bluegrass outfits to emerge in the past decade, and I await each of their stellar releases with bated breath. I first encountered the band at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2015, where I stumbled across the latter portion of their set, the sound of the dueling fiddle and banjo drawing me in from across the sun-soaked fields of Golden Gate Park.
A sold-out crowd of avid music fans packed The Roxy Theater on Sunset Strip in Hollywood, on the last day of January, for a very special concert. Starset, who may have created their own musical genre of Heavy Metal Space Rock gave a “demonstration” of their latest live show to adoring fans in the packed little theater.
There is a great deal of discussion of the rift between the progressive and traditional bluegrass scenes, yet a number of groups have taken great strides to tear down the barrier between the disciplines. Ned Luberecki is a perfect example of this dismantling, as he blurs the lines between traditional Americana bluegrass tunes and avante-garde interpretations of songs from outside the genre.
It was a 1967 jukebox performance like no other at The Fillmore in San Francisco on January 31, when a veritable who’s who of contemporary Bay Area jamsters came together for a “Surrealistic Superjam.” The event, presented by the Recording Academy San Francisco Chapter, was a salute to “the 50th Anniversary of the Summer Of Love and San Francisco's own Jefferson Airplane’s release of the iconic album ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ on this day in 1967.”
On February, 2, 2017, Grand Rapids, MI welcomed Umphrey’s McGee. The “Umph” brought the “umph” to the first night of its “Mitten Run,” being the second act to open the brand new 20 Monroe Live in downtown Grand Rapids. It was a night of hot music in a hot venue.
“If you book them, they will come,” says the fictionalized, desert dwelling Jim Morrison in “Wayne’s World 2.” Pretty sound advice when you’re booking top end talent like Aerosmith circa 1993 for an inaugural festival, but what about a band that’s never performed together?