The Freight and Salvage

Legendary blues preservationists Hot Tuna performed a three-night engagement in Berkeley’s storied Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse to bid farewell to 2018. On the eve of their fiftieth anniversary together as Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady were unmistakably grateful to be still playing and creating together.

Acclaimed mandolinist and bandleader David Grisman is no stranger to Berkeley’s Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. The storied folk and Americana venue has undoubtedly seen the likes of dozens of incarnations of Dawg music with countless shows. The crowd at the Freight is respectful yet boisterous, out of their seat yet out of the way, absorbed yet moveable.

Little Village Foundation, the non-profit record label focused on bringing the hidden veins of roots music in America to the masses, presents a sampler of the folk, blues, jazz, gospel and ethnic flavors that make LVF’s the most diverse catalog around. 

The Newgrass style had come quite a way since the days when John Hartford and New Grass Revival began deviating from the technique and approach that had defined the bluegrass previously. The original bluegrass players such as Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs were indeed innovators. As music is a reflection of times and the outlook of those playing, the late 1960s birthed ambitious and talented players who deviated from the rules. Still, their admiration and respect for the country greats before them was foundational.

Progressive bluegrass wouldn’t be the same without Sam Bush. Though the mandolinist might have been slightly proceeded by the guys in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in exposing the bluegrass and rock ‘n’ roll combo on the radio, it was Bush who truly bent the sound toward unlikely use of acoustic instruments in genres thought irrelevant to country or bluegrass.

Maurice Tani marks the release of his seventh album, “The White Water”, a collection of six new originals and four reimagined selections from other writers as diverse as Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia and Burt Bachrach & Hal David. Maurice’s May 13th performance at Freight & Salvage will be primarily acoustic, featuring material from his previous six albums and debuting new material from this latest release.

It’s been forty years since mandolinist and bandleader David Grisman began playing with his Quintet, a band that bended more genres into the bluegrass/acoustic idiom that ever before. His groundbreaking compositions sat nicely with the school of acoustic gypsy-swing first popularized in the United States by guitarist Django Reinhardt and fiddle player Stephane Grappelli. Entirely different than the “newgrass” music from his contemporaries John Hartford and Sam Bush, “Dawg” music was and still is truly a form of its own.

The Banana Slug String Band is celebrating 30 years as a Band! The Slugs teach Environmental Education and Science thru Music. The Banana Slugs Live shows are Fun, Educational and Uplifting, They are full of costumes, characters, laughter and Love….and they have performed for almost 2 Million people. The Banana Slugs are Airy Larry,  Doug Dirt, Solar Steve and Marine Mark…all original members!  The Slugs have recorded 11 Award-winning CDs.

Sometimes a pet-project grows into a full concept far surpassing the inventor's original prospects. For veteran bluegrass siblings Sara and Sean Watkins, they likely began their musical Family Hour as a way to ease the strains of rigorous touring in their native Southern California. In their natural habitat of Americana, exploring favorite originals and classic canonical country brought them enough pleasure to make a regular occasion out of it.

It wasn't hard to feel right at home inside the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, CA. With Jessie Bridges warming up the crowd (and successfully so) before Paul Knowles and Nicole Storto of New American Farmers took the stage. Freight and Salvage Coffee House is a historically rich home-away-from-home for both musicians and listeners alike.

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