If the spirit of the 60s was still alive, it’s probably not through the music. Nostalgia is what connects most folks to those simpler, but equally perplexing socioeconomic times in American history. On a grand scale, the human-be ins and connectivity that brought the young generation, the baby boomers, growing into adults of the late 1960s, was a time when youth stopped buying into their elder generations ideas of conformity and the lies about being patriotic by supporting a pointless war halfway across the world.
The idea of the super group can be a tricky concept. Powerhouse musicians of their craft all accomplished individually, collaborating together as a new ensemble. Ego, style, and ability can clash. True cooperation is easier to envision than to execute properly. In the jazz world it gets even more complex. Since jazz is inherently less about similar personnel compiling a unit and more about open collaboration and musical conversation, creating jazz “super-group” is a delicate operation.
Master magician, Steve Martin performed a neat trick Friday night at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts—he twisted a blazing-hot bluegrass band (Steep Canyon Rangers), a “notorious” singer/songwriter (Edie Brickell) and his own show-biz savoir-faire into an entertaining, vaudevillian blend of musicianship and comedy.
Not only is heavy metal rare to see in Boulder, but Sweden’s mysterious and anonymous Ghost is a rarity on the tour circuit in general. What a treat this was! For me, it started almost five years ago when my aptly named friend, Metal Steve from Long Island, NY told me how I have to hear this band Ghost. It was not an easy task. At the time, Pandora and Spotify did not know who they were, and their music was hard to get a hold of. Finally, I found their music and instantly became a fan.
There’s one thing you can count on from a Gogol Bordello show; you’re going to leave it dripping, either from your sweat, everybody else’s sweat, or with some red wine that frontman Eugene Hutz uses to liberally douse the crowd. You’re also going to leave immensely satisfied at having seen one of the best live acts going, period.
The venue’s Velvet Jones, a small-to-medium set in downtown Santa Barbara with Zion-I headlining—my first California show. Born and bred in New England, I had zero idea what I should be expecting from the Friday night gig out here on the western coast.I arrived early to a long line out the door.
As I stepped into the Gothic Theater in Denver I immediately felt the electrifying energy of the crowd. Fashioned in outfits right out of a speakeasy, the men looking spiffy in suits and hats, while the women dressed to impress, in classy dresses and harmonizing accessories.
They resurrected a spry Dead set from early ’87—April 7, Brendan Byrne Arena (NJ)—that again moved a crowd of hopeful dreamers and warmed yearning hearts with smiles, smiles, smiles.
Crowd-pleasing has never been any sort of issue for the Virginia Born prog-grass quintet Infamous Stringdusters. Every crowd seems simply enamored with their boisterous stage presence, aggressively cunning musicianship, and true accessibility. The Dusters use most tour dates as a catalyst to interact with fans through various environmentally geared cleanup projects. They’re wholesome yet mysterious. They’re seemingly traditional but stylistically inexplicable.
Upon entering George’s Majestic Lounge on Sunday night I noticed something in the air. It wasn’t smoke, because you can’t smoke in George’s. But there was something else hovering in the spaces between us humans. Music wafted from the back room – a folk duo picking at stringed instruments and harmonizing light Arkansas accents. The venue was buzzing with old friends and new faces, happy hearts and big smiles. Elephant Revival was in town – a cause for celebration. And a celebration it was.