Many musicians who stage their very existence through live art seem to have trouble rolling over that passion into studio projects. The atmosphere changes drastically, and for many can stifle the creative process. However, those who embrace this medium can translate very well and generally reward the listener with real substance.
For a weekday during spring break, the North Star Bar in Philadelphia was vacant, but the musicians came to play anyway. Starting with the opening band, a new local jam band named Mogel's Brew, all of the musicians played with emotion and soul. It was really nice to see and hear a band that I would classify as a young jam band.
The North Mississippi Allstars decided to play a very unique acoustic tour. It wasn't the usual Mississippi foot stomping rockin' blues, but a mellow country blues that told a story and a history about a time and place much different from here and now. I saw the March 23rd show at the World Café Live in Philadelphia.
Normally I am a little skeptical of artists who release albums that are dubbed "B-sides" or "leftover recording material", because it usually is a feeble attempt to cash in on material that truly is b-grade. However, this is not the case with the release of Umphreys McGee's The Bottom Half, which happens to boast some beautifully written and energetically recorded tracks from the Chicago-based rock outfit.
As my wife and I walked into the quiet venue to the opening sounds of vibraphonist Sean McCaul, we could hear the delicate clanking of forks, voices whispering, and the sonorous vibes echoing relaxing notes into the dining area. The venue was set up like a dining hall tonight with tables with groups of people gently conversing while McCaul supplied the ultimate background ambiance.