Tea Leaf Green Feb 11, 2012 Brooklyn Bowl Williamsburg, NY

Tea Leaf Green

After Friday night’s show at the Bowery Ballroom, TLG was bringing the heat down to Brooklyn for their second NYC area performance. Ha Ha Tonka accompanied the band for both shows, and their whole tour actually, recieving a great opportunity to reach out and expand their fanbase. Though there was not to much from their rockabilly styings that swayed me too much, they did have me intrigued when they took on Zeppelin’s “Gallows Pole” a cappella. I was too heavily anticipating TLG’s set to focus though. I had gotten word from a stagehand that the band could only play one set tonight, but that it would be a long one and we would not be disappointed.
I have been seeing these guys play shows since I discovered them in 2007 during their day set at the Vibes, and I have caught almost every area performance since. They have such an evolving sound and strive to push the envelope and take chances as a band. The biggest evolution in their playing has come since bassint Reed Mathis joined the outfit a few years back. Formerly in Jacob Freb Jazz Odyssey, Reed brings a powerful rhythm to the band and really drives their jams. He has an authoritative style of playing that sees him picking the instrument and creating sounds most bassists leave to the guitarists to master. While it may not be uncommon for jambands to have a strong bass player, this guy has gained all sorts of respect from me since I started seeing him play in TLG. The band has also added a second drummer to their touring outfit, Cochrane McMillan. The double dose of drums and the heavy bass have inspired guitarist Josh Clark and keyboardist Trevor Garrod to continuously better their playing to keep up with the rest of their band. Altogether, they form what is in my opinion the most underrated jamband on the scene right now.
They opened up their set with the Bee Gee’s-esque jam “Easy To Be Your Lover,” off their new album Radio Tragedy. This set the tone for what was to be one of the best live performances I have seen them play. A few songs in they went to another favorite “The Garden (Part III)” getting everyone into the show and grooving throughout the Bowl. The lyrics Trevor writes really catch me sometimes, and this track is one example of that. There are only a few jambands that have such prominent lyrics, but Garrod puts alot of soul into his writing and I admire that, from both a fan’s and a writer’s perspective. As the band began into “Bouncin’ Betty,” I took note of the fact that gutarist Josh Clark has been taking the reigns on some of the singing duties for the band, showing of his chops as a lyricist and vocalist. His songs bring a raw edge to the band’s playing and give them an extended diversity of genre blending sound.
              “Devil’s Pay” was a real treat, a rocking jam that brought it all together and showed off the ever growing skills of Josh Clark. The band then brought out guitarist Scott Metzger, who played a show at the Bowl a few days prior to sit in for a few tunes. After talking to Reed on Friday, and him having mentioned they were good friends, I should have seen this coming. Either way the element of surprise created a nice treat for the crowd and myself. First they went through a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man In Me,” which I would later learn was a cue to the venue and the song’s presence in The Big Lebowski. The band then led Metzger into an original, one of my favorite TLG songs, “Incandescent Devil.” Metzger seemed to hold his own on stage, having a history with Reed and just overall communicating well with the band. It was a treat to see him and Clark trade solo’s throughout the jam. Another treat would come our way a few songs later as the band would invite another guest out on stage, Peter Levin of the Blind Boys of Alabama and God Street Wine. He sat in on organ going back and forth with Trevor through a take on their own “Dreaming Without Sleeping.” It was nice to see the West Coast troubadours inviting out these New York City mainstays for the night, showing the ties of friendship in the jam scene. After Levin’s departure the band would play another classic of theirs, “Red Ribbons,” which got moving and singing along to Trevor’s vibrant anthem. Then the band would make cue to the Brooklyn scene with the debut of “Hipsta Ninja.” Full of lyrical cliches, the band hit the hipster lifestyle to a tea with this catchy tune. The band would then invite their evening’s guests to the stage for a set closing take on “Panspermic De Evolution.” The jam saw Metzger and Clark trading off as well as Levin and Garrod, creating and explosive jam that reached several climaxes, showing off the whole band and their guests’ talents. Running low on time after the extended set closing jam, Clark quickly rushed the band back to the stage for the lone encore, “Death Cake.” This one, I had never seen live before, but it really rocked the Bowl before sending us on our way. Clark’s energy took the crowd by storm, flailing his body across the stage and throwing the mic stand to the ground. A perfect way to close out a great night of music, these guys are on the road alot, so if you have never seen them, GO! You will not be disappointed.
Brooklyn Bowl; Brooklyn, NY
I:(Extended Set)
Easy To Be Your Lover
5000 Acres
Honeymooners
The Garden (Part III)
Bouncing Betty
Cops Took My Weed
Nothing Changes
Oklahoma Home
The Devil’s Pay

The Man In Me (Bob Dylan; w/ Scott Metzger on Guitar)
Incandescent Devil (w/ Scott Metzger on Guitar)
Training A Cloud
Keeping The Faith
Dreaming Without Sleeping (w/ Peter Levin on Organ)
Red Ribbons
Hipsta Ninja (1st time played)
Panspermic De Evolution (w/ Levin & Metzger)
Encore:
Death Cake

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe & Anders Osborne Trio 2/8/12 Webster Hall New York, NY

2/8/12-Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe & Anders Osborne Trio

Performing the Rolling Stones 1971 masterpiece Sticky Fingers sounded like quite a challenge for any band to attempt, but I had confidence heading to Webster Hall Wednesday night. Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is a solid band with all the musical variety to cover such an album, so if they had the confidence to take the show on tour, I had the confidence it would do justice. I have seen KDTU on a number of occasions at a few different festivals last year, including The Hangout, Summercamp, and All Good, but this was the first time seeing them headline a show. Every time I left the stage where they were performing I was so impressed and only wished they had a longer set time. Tonight I was hoping they would pull out all the stops and I would really get to see this band in their element.

Anders Osborne Trio opened up the show with a 4-song/ 45 minute set that sampled the bands musical horizons. He opened up with “Mind of a Junkie,” which immediately gave off that angst driven rock and roll sound, perhaps influenced by Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Ragged Glory.  After about third song the band really hit their stride with a hard-hitting take on “Stoned, Drunk & Naked.” What really stood out for me on this track was the slide work Anders displayed throughout the track. The breakdown on this jam really brought it home and the crowd went nuts. He ended his set with a jam that fused a taste of reggae into his alternative edge with “Burnin’ From the Inside.” Having never heard any of his work I was thoroughly impressed with his performance and could not wait to see how he played with Tiny Universe for Sticky Fingers (he was billed as a special guest for their performance of the album). Here is a look at his set:

Anders Osborne Trio

Mind of a Junkie

Got Your Heart

Stoned, Drunk & Naked

Burnin’ From the Inside

When KDTU took the stage I was glad to hear them start into some original material before going straight into the album. The band powered through five tracks that got me really grooving. They have such a beautiful flow amongst themselves that brings their jams from raging funk back to soulful jazz with ease and precision. I was really going when they broke into “Satisfied,” a track I have seen them play a number of times and never disappoints. The funk was bouncing off the walls off my universe when broke down a killer jam on “Three Trials,” which featured spectacular flute soloing by Denson. The energy was flowing through the crowd and on the stage at this point, which in my opinion really defines the experience of a funk show. As they brought out Anders and jumped into the albums opening track, “Brown Sugar,” Karl shouted out “This is a song about inter-racial sex!” As they went through the album, I found myself continually impressed with the performance. Osborne channeled the raw bluesy edge of Keith Richards to a tea and Tiny Universe guitarist DJ Williams tore through blistering solos one after another. Denson’s vocals brought the deepest soul to “Wild Horses” while Anders was spot on to Mick’s pipes for “Bitch.” “Sister Morphine” stands alone though as the musical high point of the night, bringing everything together and giving me a new appreciation for the structural composition of the Rolling Stones early work. The concluding jam on this take saw the band reach musical peaks in deep realms of space that seemed to slow down time. I had to snap back to reality as they went into “Dead Flowers,” which had the whole crowd singing along to this ironically upbeat song about tortured love.  When the band came back out for their encore we once again got down to that funky fusion. Tiny Universe is on the road pretty much year round, if you see they are playing your town check them out! This show was some of the most fun I have had at a concert in months!

Webster Hall; New York, New York

I: Intro Jam>

Look Out

Find It

Apres Ski

Satisfied>

Three Trials

Sticky Fingers (with Anders Osborne):

Brown Sugar

Sway

Wild Horses

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
You Gotta Move

Bitch

I Got The Blues

Sister Morphine

Dead Flowers

Moonlight Mile

E: Malgorium

No Ammo

What You Want

moe. CD Release Party January 23rd, 2012 Hiro Ballroom New York, NY

moe.  

Before shipping off to the West Coast for an extensive winter tour, moe. made a quick stop in New York City to celebrate the release of What Happened to the LA LA’s? the band’s latest effort from the studio. While all but one of the tracks on the album have been debuted in a live setting by the band over the years, but who could miss an intimate club performance of all the new tracks and some old favorites? The Hiro Ballroom is quite a cool venue, to add, located under the Maritime Hotel on the west side. Not only intimate, but also a well-designed and fun place to see a show. The band hosted an autograph signing and acoustic set for the fans who sprung the extra cash for V.I.P. tickets and then played an extended set for the general admission crowd. The six song acoustic set featured four tracks off “the LA LA’s” as well as a cover of Jack Teagarden’s “Shake Your Hips” and an old favorite “meat.” Another note from the set was guitarist Chuck Garvey performed a solo take on “Suck A Lemon,” one of the tracks he wrote for the album.

Here’s a look at the V.I.P. acoustic set:

Smoke

Lazarus

One Way Traffic (1st Time Played)

Shake Your Hips (Jack Teagarden)

Suck A Lemon (Chuck Garvey solo)

Meat

Shortly after 11, the band returned to a full crowd to perform an electric set. “Downward Facing Dog” kicked it off and having been at the show when they debuted it in 2010, it has been interesting hearing this song progress to its current state. Even more than that though is seeing them incorporate the jams in the new songs to segue into older, classic moe. tunes. The slide guitar work from both Chuck and Al in “Downward Facing Dog” set the track up to flow nicely into “St. Augustine,” which also features Chuck playing the slide. The transition from the first track into the latter sounded so fluent its hard to believe they have not been playing it for years. Another treat that added to the venue’s uniqueness was during “Haze” acrobats were performing above the crowd. While I would imagine they perform at the club on a regular basis, it was undeniably entertaining watching them flow in the air above us in a rhythm to the music.

“Paper Dragon” seemed the most appropriate song to play at this venue, which has such an oriental feel to it. During the track the dragon head statue above the stage even had smoke erupting from its mouth. The set closing run from “the LA LA’s” track “Puebla” into the moe. classic “Moth” was another demonstration like the opening segue fore mentioned. “Puebla” is undoubtedly my favorite track from the new album. The jam in this track creeps up on you ever so slightly, and builds from a deep space to a shredding face melter and back beautifully. It has also become a strong jam vehicle for the band and will no doubt be both a band and fan favorite in the rotation for years to come. The encore showed off percussionist Jim Loughlin’s skills on the xylophone in a jam that led from “Chromatic Nightmare,” -Jim’s dark, circus-esque instrumental contribution to “the LA LA’s”– into yet another favorite, “Rebubula.” Like the slide guitar transitioned “DFD” and “St. Augustine” earlier in the evening, the band utilized the prominence of the xylophone’s to transition these two tracks. Seeing these songs progress at shows in the future will be especially memorable since witnessing their humble beginnings and I cannot wait for the spring run on the East Coast! Hopefully the Hiro Ballroom will get some more act to play there too, definitely check it out if you get a chance!

G.A. Set: Hiro Ballroom; New York, NY

I: Downward Facing Dog>

St. Augustine

Haze

Rainshine

Paper Dragon

Puebla>

Moth

E: Chromatic Nightmare>

Rebubula

Umphrey’s McGee January 20th 2012 Best Buy Theater New York, NY

Umphrey’s McGee

After selling out a single night performance at the Best Buy last January they raised the stakes for fans for their 2012 winter run. They kicked off the tour with two nights at the venue to celebrate the band’s 14th anniversary of their incarnation. I underestimated the love that New York City heads have for this band though, cause they ended up selling out both nights. As I walked to the box office in a hopeful effort of a last minute re-release of tickets, I was pleased to hear the lady at the booth say there was one ticket left for the show. I grabbed it and made my way out of the cold and into the now officially sold out show.

The London Souls played an hour set to open the night, and I have to say I was really excited for this added bonus. I knew from seeing them at a few festivals in 2011 that were a good fit to open up the show. They are bluesy trio that has great potential and demonstrates talent from every member. Needless to say they gained a bunch of new fans from the audience who caught their set of both originals off their self titled debut album put out last year and a few covers. After a quick break, Umphrey’s took the stage to the applause of the sold out crowd. They opened with a run from “Jazz Odyssey” into “Booth Love,” the latter one of the tracks off their new album Death By Stereo. I was also convinced that in the opening riffs of both tracks I heard teases of a Pink Floyd nature from the band. The band played another selection from the new album in their first set, “Conduit.” The band has been doing heavy promotion for the album since its September 2011 release (Which was celebrated with a 4 night run at the Brooklyn Bowl).

The second set featured a real fusion of the many styles this band ranges with their music. Possibly the best of which was a run from “Der Bluten Kat” into a take on Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” before returning into “Der Bluten Kat.” The segue into the cover featured guitarist Jake Cinninger on percussions with Andy Farag, but not before he brought together a transcendental jam with a Middle Eastern taste to it with the help of his masterful work on the slide guitar. This was definitely the highlight of the show for me, and really showed off their improvisational skill as a band. They concluded the set with a hard-rocking run from “Linear” into “Ringo” which displayed the metal sounding roots they show off as well. They ended the show with one of their most well known songs, “Divisions” and while this would be the only night of the run I could attend, the second night will definitely continue Umphreys’s McGee’s “14th Birthday Party.”

1/20/12 New York, NY

I: Jazz Odyssey>

Booth Love

Rocker II

Conduit

Tribute to the Spinal Shaft

Passing

Utopian Fir

II: 40’s Theme

Der Bluten Kat>

All Night Long*>

Der Bluten Kat

Linear>

Ringo

E: Divisions

* Lionel Richie; with Jake on percussions

moe. nye 2011 State Theater Portland, ME

moe.

After a mind blowing show to kick off their 2-night run to ring in the New Year, moe. had to have something big in store for us tonight. While we had not received confirmation, we were hopeful this would be a traditional 3-set New Year’s Eve show, unlike last year’s performance at the House Of Blues in Boston, which instead featured an opening set from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. They went on at 9 and went into a classic jam from “Not Coming Down” into “Wormwood.” Towards the end of the set emerged the twangy, country-esque “Backwoods,” a song just recently busted out during their fall tour after years of being shelved from rotation. The set closed with a rocking “32 Things,” which also has a bluegrass like feel to it. With one down and two to go, I was hoping they would keep pushing the limit as the night went on.

The second set opened with a nice cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money” featuring drummer Vinnie Amico’s daughter Marley on saxophone. This was also the first time they had covered the song since 2003, making it even more special. Other highlights of the set were “McBain” and “Big World,” both fitting, because “McBain” contains riffs from “George” and “Ricky Marten” teases riffs from “Big World” which were played the night before. The set concluded with the ending of the “Zed Nought Z” the band opened with the night before.

The band re-emerged onstage a few minutes before midnight, with the clock ticking atop Rob’s bass amplifier at just over 4 minutes until a new year. They started into “Recreational Chemistry” quickly and as the clock ran out on 2011, the band’s families all came onstage to wish their husbands and fathers a New Year. With a riff through “Auld Lang Syne,” the band went right back into Rec-Chem which stretched over the 25-minutes, going to outer space and back. What a way to start out 2012! The rest of the set consisted of long jams through heavy hitters like “Buster,” “The Pit” and an absolutely insane “Timmy Tucker.” Also worth mentioning was the first take on “Johnny Lineup” in over one hundred shows.

The band returned for a monster take on Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla,” a regularly covered song for the band. A great way to cap off a show of epic proportions, and we stepped out into the cold first hours of January 2012 happy moe.rons. Here’s to the great year of shows I got to see in 2011, and many more this coming year!

Night 2 (New Years Eve): State Theatre; Portland, Maine

I:   Not Coming Down>

Wormwood>

Deep This Time

Backwoods

Suck A Lemon

32 Things

II:  Money (with Marley Amico on saxophone; 1st time played since 8/30/03)>

McBain

Hi & Lo>

Big World

Skrunk>

Zed Nought Z (Completes version from 12/30/11)

III: Recreational Chemistry>

Auld Lang Syne>

Recreational Chemistry>

Johnny Lineup (1st time played since 7/4/10)

Haze>

Buster>

Tubing The River Styx>

The Pit>

Timmy Tucker

E:   Godzilla

MY 10 BEST JAMS OF 2011 (NO GUESTS)

MY 10 BEST JAMS OF 2011 (NO GUESTS)

1)   moe.: “Silver Sun”

5/29/11 Summercamp; Chillicothe, IL

When they debuted this song at their rescheduled Halloween show last December, I could not wait to see where they would take it in the future. This song takes moe.’s rock and roll edge and blends it with a jam reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.” On top of that the lighting rig they use at Summercamp intensified the spaced out aura of the song. I really hope they start putting this into their rotation more in 2012, it has the potential to be their next heavy hitter.

2)   Tedeschi Trucks Band: “Bound For Glory”

10/29/11 Klein Auditorium; Bridgeport, CT

You can read about this whole show if you want to know more about this phenomenal new project, the review was my first write up for the site. This track is possibly the most well known from their debut album Revelator and the jam during this song pulled out all the stops this 11-piece band has to offer. At one point in the middle of the track before the final chorus I was certain they had gone into an instrumental song. While not surprised when they dropped back into the main chords of the song, I was indeed impressed.

3)   String Cheese Incident: “Colorado Bluebird Sky”> “Rollover”> “Colorado Bluebird Sky”

12/3/11 United Palace Theatre; New York, NY

This was one of the best demonstrations during this run of SCI’s “roots running deep” in their music. Though their sound has evolved some over the years, they can still throw down hard with the bluegrass. “Colorado Bluebird” is just that and they transitioned it beautifully in and out of “Rollover.” All sorts of good stuff in this segue that captures many of the joyful sounds this band has to offer.

4)   moe.: “Puebla”> “Brent Black”

11/26/11 Terminal 5; New York, NY

This whole show brought the heat concluding their 2-night run in New York for Thanksgiving weekend. You can check out my write up of the first night in my reviews. This show though was definitely one of my favorite moe. shows of the year. This segue fused newer jam vehicle “Puebla” with one of my favorites by them, “Brent Black.” I had been hoping to hear “Brent Black” for quite some time now and when Rob started in on that bass line I nearly lost it. Great jam on “Puebla,” great transition, and awesome near 25-minute take on “Brent Black.”

5)   Furthur: “China Cat Sunflower”> “I Know You Rider”> “King Solomon’s Marbles”

3/5/11 Orpheum Theatre; Boston, MA

The “China/ Rider” segue is a favorite of mine to begin with, such a classic Dead staple with great energy all around. The band really breaks it down at about the 6-minute mark in “Rider,” and the lead guitar and keys are building on each other wonderfully. That topped with powerhouse Joe Russo laying it down in the background with enough prominence to create the sound of the two drummers that the Dead generally have gave even more energy to this jam. To top it off with the Blues for Allahinstrumental “King Solomon’s Marbles” accenting further the skills of Joe Russo, was pure bliss. The whole tour opening run at the Orpheum was outstanding and set the tone for in my opinion their best sounding tour to date.

6)   Widespread Panic: “Surprise Valley”> “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys”> “Surprise Valley”

4/14/11 Wanee Festival; Live Oak, FL

This jam was so good mainly because of the cover of Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” Sandwiched between Panic’s own “Surprise Valley” this jam was off the hook. For a band that’s been touring hard on the road for 25 years, they never skip a beat. These vets are some of the tightest sounding players on the circuit. The definitive moment came halfway through “Low Spark” when they broke into a seamless drum solo. Panic’s drum solos really get me going because drummer Todd Nance and percussionist Sunny Ortiz are in such great rhythm with one another. I find that a percussionist can really create the uniqueness in sound when it comes to jam-bands (i.e. moe.’s Jim Loughlin, Mickey Hart, and Sunny). Sunny is one of the best and while his instrumentals define the background of their playing, they stand out in the forefront of the music for me.

7)   Tea Leaf Green: “Nothing Changes”> “Sex In The 70’s”

2/12/11 Highline Ballroom; New York, NY

Tea Leaf is one of the best bands on the scene that few people know enough about. They are so underrated so next time they are in your area check them out. Since adding former Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey bassist Reed Mathis and second drummer Cochrane McMillan their sound has really progressed and they have hit a new stride in their jams. This segue from the slower almost ballad “Nothing Changes” into rocker “Sex in the 70’s” really captured me. Guitarist Josh Clark took the reigns during the latter and for those of you who do not know about him, he has potential to be the next Trey. These may sound like bold words, but check it out for yourself, you will be taken back at the fact that they are still playing small clubs.

8)   Umphrey’s McGee: “Cemetery Walk”> “Jimmy Stewart”> “Cemetery Walk”

1/31/11 Brooklyn Bowl; Brooklyn, NY

When we were at the sold out show Umphrey’s played 3 nights prior at the Best Buy Theatre, they announced this last minute gig at the Bowl. We got tickets the minute they went on sale as we were travelling down to their next show in Philly. Though the venue was 21+, I had to find a way to get in. So I borrowed a buddy of mine’s ID and headed to the show. They gave me no hassle what so ever it was time to catch another rocking show from these guys. This jam was the highlight of the three shows I saw that run from them and ultimately was the highlight of the ten shows I saw them play in 2011. These guys have talent and don’t be surprised if they sell out both nights at the Best Buy Theatre later on this January.

9)   Furthur: “Viola Lee Blues” v.1> “Bertha”> “Viola Lee Blues” v.2> “Caution (Don’t Step On The Tracks)”> “Viola Lee Blues” v.3

11/12/11 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ

“Viola Lee” is such a great jam on its own that when you make a triple decker sandwich out of it you could not ask the boys for more in a night. The transition from verse 1 into “Bertha” showed off some serious work on the keys from Jeff Chimenti, who in my opinion is the most overlooked member of the band. He is truly part of a standard of great keyboardist the Grateful Dead’s music holds up (i.e. Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland, Bruce Hornsby, ect.). This whole show was great but this part of the second set had me and my buddy Andy looking at each other with that feeling that can only be described as “WHOA!” with smiles ear to ear and eyes wide.

10)  Soulive: “Come Together”> “Something”> “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” 8/13/11 Royal Family Affair; Bondville, VT

Last but certainly not least, this collection of instrumental takes on Abbey Road favorites really capped off their headlining performance at their Record Label The Royal Family’s inaugural festival. Such an intimate weekend, with a small, but loyal crowd of fans up on Stratton Mountain, we were treated to some of the greatest acid-jazz funk out there. When they broke into this first track it was on. The band recorded a collection of instrumental takes on Beatles classics for their 2010 release,Rubber Soulive. I have never seen people get down so hard to the Beatles then when you take their music and put this kind of spin on it. I hope they continue the tradition of the Royal Family Affair this coming summer but until then check these guys out at third annual their Brooklyn Bowl residency in late February/ March dubbed “Bowlive.”

MY 10 BEST JAMS OF 2011 FEATURING SPECIAL GUESTS

MY 10 BEST JAMS OF 2011 FEATURING SPECIAL GUESTS

Something special happens when great musicians share the stage that can only be found amongst members of the Jam-band scene.

1)   Tea Leaf Green feat. Allie Kral:  “Jackson Hole”

5/27/11 Summercamp; Chillicothe, IL

At first Becca and I were in a bit of a debate over whether we should catch Tea Leaf’s show at the Jagermeister Stage of head to Lotus’ show at the Moonshine Stage. Festivals make it tough for fans sometimes by putting 2 acts you want to see really bad on at the same time. Ultimately we decided to hit Tea Leaf for a bit then head over to the Moonshine Stage for the rest of Lotus’ set. Long story short, we never made it to Lotus, Tea Leaf was kicking some serious ass for the handful of fans who showed up to their set and there was no way we were missing that. The best part of the show came when they invited out Allie Kral of Cornmeal out to play fiddle on a couple of tunes. Man this girl could shred! At bout the 3-minute mark in this track she really lets loose and trades licks with guitarist Josh Clark. The chemistry between the two of them was unbelievable I might add, really feeding off one another. This track and this performance in general was undoubtedly one of my highlights from a weekend full of great performances.

2)   Widespread Panic feat. Trombone Shorty: “Pusherman”

9/16/11 Orpheum Theatre; Boston, MA

The second and final night of Panic’s tour opening run at the Orpheum really brought the heat to Beantown. Being one of only three Northeast dates on the year for Panic, they had to do something special for us, especially with the 2012 hiatus on the horizon. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue opened up both nights with some dirty funk straight from the heart of the Big Easy. On the way up to these shows I remarked at the good chance for them to sit in with Panic. Sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed during Panic’s first set, and Trombone Shorty added some brass to “Rebirtha” and “Blackout Blues” to end the set. The real fire did not get ignited until halfway thru their second set though, when he re-emerged onstage for a smoking cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman.” The band as always was firing on all cylinders and was really in sync with their guest too. The track gets frequent airplay on Sirius Jam ON and its always cool to hear a track you got the pleasure of seeing live being held in high regards by the masses.

3)   moe. feat. Bob Weir: “The Other One”> “Smokestack Lightning”> “The Other One”

9/4/11 moe.down; Mohawk, NY 

When Bobby Weir was announced as a special guest at this past year’s moe.down, I knew it would be something special. Although he was only billed as a guest for the Levon Helm Band’s performance, I knew the chances of him sitting in with the festival’s headliner/creators was very high. On Sunday, a day full of rain, we needed something big to lift our spirits. When Bobby came out on stage as moe. started the jam from “Ricky Marten” into “The Other One” everyone went nuts. They played well together and really took the jam into “Smokestack Lightning” to very spacey dimensions. Al Schnier later nominated Bobby for the annual “Mayor of Moe.ville” election and, needless to say, he won by a landslide.

4)   Furthur feat. Larry Campbell: “St. Stephen”

11/10/11 Madison Square Garden; New York, NY

Magic was in the air this particular night as Furthur played a sold out show at MSG. It was as if the band channeled the spirit of past performances at their old stomping grounds. Arguably the best show I saw all year, it was hard to pick a particular track from this show, it was magnificent start to finish. Faced with a hard decision, I have come to the conclusion that this track tops all. The whole place was literally shaking as they jammed through this, and I would not be surprised if they heard us singing along all the way over in Times Square. Larry Campbell brought something unexplainable to the stage, trading leads with John Kadlecik and even adding fiddle on a few tracks. Listen to this whole show immediately, but if you don’t have three hours have your mind blown at least listen to this work of art.

5)   moe. feat. Kyle Hollingsworth: “Happy Hour Hero”

5/29/11 Summercamp; Chillicothe, IL

A weekend full of great music and great memories, one of my fondest came during moe.’s first set on Sunday. String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth was present this weekend specifically for the Everyone Orchestra set conducted by Matt Bulter, which collects artists present for free form improvisation at various festivals. Hollingsworth made a quick stop over at the Moonshine stage to join moe. for this stellar track before heading to the Red Barn for the Orchestra’s performance. Adding some great playing always leads the band to take it to another levek to keep up and this was a prime example. Just before the 7-minute mark after Chuck lets loose on the Framptonian, Kyle’s playing is really made evident. Check out this prime example of what the Everyone Orchestra is all about.

6)   Bruce Hornsby  the Noisemakers feat. Bob Weir: “Jack Straw”

9/4/11 moe.down; Mohawk, NY

This could not have come a minute later. Seeking refuge with the Happy Hour Heroes during terrible rain, Bruce Hornsby and his band the Noisemakers was playing the main stage and it was perfect music to kick back and relax to while the storm blew over. When Bob Weir came and joined them though I had to get back in the action. Bob and Brucehave plaenty of history together and that speaks through their music when they share the stage. From the 90’s era Grateful Dead to the inaugural Furthur Fest and late 90’s touring with the Other Ones, Bruce has brought energy and skillful piano playing to Grateful Dead music. This take on “Jack Straw” was no exception and was in my opinion one of the best demonstrations of Bob Weir’s vocals I have seen in recent years.

7)   Dave Matthews Band feat. Leon Mobely: “Two Step”

6/2/11 DMB Caravan; Atlantic City, NJ

The first of 4 summer festivals for the Dave Matthews Band, who took the majority of the year off the road, where better to bring a travelling roadshow than Atlantic City? This track from the last night of the fest features Leon Mobely, percussionist for Damian Marley’s Band on djembe. Part of me thinks that this show, mainly for this track, should have been chosen over the Sunday night show as the official live release from the weekend. Mobely trades heavy beats with DMB’s drummer Carter Beauford and created a presence onstage for himself, fueling this spectacular jam. For any of you folks out there who are ignorant enough to say DMB does not jam, listen to this track and get back to me.

8)   Gov’t Mule feat. Hook Herrera, Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, Ron Holloway: “32/20 Blues”

6/4/11 Mountain Jam; Hunter, NY

Warren Haynes may very well be one person on the jam scene to have played with anyone you can think of. So when you bring his band Gov’t Mule and a few dozen acts from the genre to his annual festival on Hunter Mountain Ski Resort, get ready for plenty of sit ins. Whether Warren is playing with them or they are paying with him, its going down. One song that showed off particular improvisational skill was Mule’s take on Robert Johnson’s “32/20 Blues.” A frequent of the band, this particular version featured Hook Herrera on harmonica, Warren Haynes Band’s Ron Holloway on saxophone, Luther Dickinson on slide guitar and his brother and fellow North Mississippi All-star Cody on percussions. With the stage full of great players, they tore the song to bits, teaching the blues a little bit about jam. Herrera and Holloway were trading solos in between Luther and Warren splitting blistering licks. My highlight of the festival, this version of “32/20” really brought the jam to the mountain.

9)    Furthur feat. Warren Haynes: “Viola Lee Blues”> “Turn On Your Lovelight” 

7/15/11 All Good Festival; Masontown, WV

My first trip down to the annual All Good festival boasted quite the lineup, featuring Furthur, Warren, moe., Umphrey’s and Primus among many others. And like I mentioned above, put Waren Haynes in the mix, and there’s bound to be a friend of his there happy to invite him onstage. This weekend he would join Friday night headliners Furthur towards the end of their first set. Having toured with Phil and Bobby several times in Phil and Friends and the Dead, there’s no doubt he knows the music and how to take it places. Earlier this year during Furthur’s Spring tour I got to see Warren join the band for there entire second set on March 13 at the Best Buy Theatre. Tonight though they brought some fire to Marvin’s Mountaintop. The jams between verses of Viola Lee left me astounded, and when they brought it right home with a jam into Lovelight they were connecting. Kadlecik and Haynes were flowing beautifully together, intertwined like they had been playing together for years. The music brought them together and Phil was smiling ear-to-ear seeing how much pleasure they bringing to us.

10)  Allman Brothers Band feat. Scott Murawski, Kebbi Williams: “Mountain Jam”

4/16/11 Wanee Festival; Live Oak, FL

Last but certainly not least, this jam from the last night of their festival down in Florida at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park really reinforced for me the fact that the Allman Brothers Band are some of the true pioneers of improvisational music. With their current lineup boasting the double entendre of guitar virtuosos in Derek Truck and Warren Haynes, to add a few guests to the mix was just an added bonus. Fittingly, “Mountain Jam” featured Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski on guitar and Atlanta based musician Kebbi Williams on saxophone. With the triple threat of guitarists on stage they really gave new meaning to the name of this song, stretching it well over twenty minutes and sporting all the talent on stage.

Cosmic Dustbunnies and Viral Sound January 6, 2012 Toads Place, New Have, CT

Cosmic Dustbunnies & Viral Sound

My first show of 2012 was this past Friday night at Toad’s Place. I was looking forward to checking out both of these bands that have been performing a lot of gigs in the New Haven area recently. While I was at Toad’s a few weeks ago for Kung Fu, some heads were buzzing about the show going on a few blocks away at Stella Blues Bar. There was a Jam Session going on featuring members of both of these bands as well as members from another local band Dirty Sanchez. Knowing the talent of jam bands like The Breakfast, Deep Banana Blackout, and Kung Fu that has come out of Connecticut I was anticipating seeing perhaps the next generation of local greats.

We arrived at the show and the Viral Sound had just taken the stage. Boy could these guys play! I was taken back at the tightly knit structure these guys formed their jams around. I strongly believe this band or some incarnation of its members are on the rise and will hit the big time soon. They sandwiched their set around an original tune of theirs, “Storm.” Throughout the 7-song set they played I was most impressed with the skills of bassist Ariel Moore. The Providence based quartet was also comprised of Jordan Giangreco on keyboard, Charley Zahringer on guitar, and Dan Rourke on drums. I found that they had an original sound driven heavily by the lead of Moore and blended the sounds of their many influences. Look for these guys on the scene over the next few months, I would not be surprised to see them headlining a show of their own at Toad’s by the end of the year.

Here’s a look their set from Friday night:

Storm>

Shakedown>

Searchin’>

Team Space>

Old Man>

Howl>

Storm Reprise (Jam in “C” /Reggae)

Following the set by the Viral Sound was the evening’s headliners the Cosmic Dust Bunnies. Hailing from New Haven, the opportunity for the band to headline Toad’s was a big deal and they were treating it as such. Another this I noted as the band took the stage was they knew many fans in attendance and has gained themselves quite a following. They also drew a good size crowd to a sizably larger venue then they are accustomed to playing.

While they were playing I could not help but realize that they sounded so much like the Disco Biscuits it was uncanny. The dimensions of the band were very much the same, from the drummer’s emphasis on his high hat to the noodling that defined the guitarist’s flow. Even the laser-lightshow was just like the Biscuits’. The band played original songs such as “Jay in My Life” and “Skyward,” while also incorporating covers like the Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” and Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue.” But they even through in a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell,” a song the Biscuits have been covering for over a decade.

The band has talent and undoubted potential, having grown in popularity since their incarnation in 2006. In my opinion though, they must expand their playing and develop a sound of their own. Otherwise the band will live out their career in the shadow of The Disco Biscuits.

Setlist: Toad’s Place; New Haven, CT

I: Jay in My Life

88 Down/ 88 MPH

NGC 1316>

Jam>

Jungle pt. 1

Skyward

II: Flood the Streets

Life During Wartime (Talking Heads)

Gotcha                                                                      

Houston

Cruise Control

Jungle pt. 2

E: Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant)

Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)

moe. December 30th 2011 State Theater, Portland, ME

moe.

Some people prefer to travel somewhere warm for the holidays, like the Caribbean or Hawaii, for many moe.rons though the compass pointed north. The New Year’s Eve run moe. was hosting in Portland, Maine at the State Theatre was the place to be. The venue closed down in 2006, only to be reopened in 2010 as an expansion of New York’s “the Bowery Presents.” In October of last year moe. put on an immaculate show during the venue’s grand re-opening weekend and to ring in the New Year here displayed their love for this theatre. Another important detail regarding this weekend was that other that the band’s annual festival moe.down and the Thanksgiving run in New York City, these were the only Northeast dates of the later half of the year. This brought even more anticipation to these shows, for the band has a great following in this region.

We filed in and got ready for the show, the band went on close to 9:30, opening with a run from an unfinished “Zed Nought Z” into “Head” and into one of my favorite newer songs, “Billy Goat.” When the band began playing “Head” though I was in shock, I new already this show was going to be great. The song debuted in ‘97 and in later years has been saved for only a few special occasions throughout the year. Stretching over the twenty-minute mark, this masterpiece of a jam had already made my night. After concluding “Billy Goat” the band began another run from “Crab Eyes” into “Down Boy” and then into another near twenty-minute jam, this time pushing the limits of the classic staple “George” that would eventually close the set.

The band opened their 2nd set with a run that would sandwich “The Road” with great takes on both “Ricky Marten” and then “Time Ed” before returning to “The Road.” The band was on fire tonight to say the least. I was also enjoying hearing songs they do not play as much in the regular rotation, like “Head” and “Time Ed.” As if the show could not get any better though they began a set closing run from “Four” into fan favorite and regular “Plane Crash.” Both of which stretched close to twenty minutes each but the playing on “Four” left me in utter disbelief. Another song that does not get as much frequency in the rotation, the dimensions of space were breached during this jam and Chuck Garvey gained even more praise than I gave him before. The diversity of songs in this show and the jams that accompanied them set the tone for a great weekend and made me grateful I took the trip north to catch these shows.

Night 1: State Theatre; Portland, Maine

I: Zed Nought Z>

Head>

Billy Goat

Crab Eyes>

Down Boy>

George

II: The Road>

Ricky Marten>

Time Ed>

The Road

Rain Shine

Water

Four>

Plane Crash

E: OkayAlright

The Disco Biscuits December 28th 2011 Best Buy Theater New York, NY

The Disco Biscuits

When the Disco Biscuits announced that their 12/28 performance at the Best Buy Theatre was going to be an after party for Phish I knew it would be something special. The Biscuits were concluding their 3-night New York City run before a trip to Chicago to ring in the New Year at the Auditorium Theatre. Phish was just getting their New York run started at Madison Square Garden this evening though and it was bound to be an epic night as the two jam band’s worlds would collide with one another while also seamlessly flowing into each other’s at the same time. The Disco Biscuits played a renowned late night show at the Wetlands after Phish in 1998, and after thirteen years of solid touring and a fan base that reflects that dedication, this one was bound to be just a tad bit bigger.

The band went on shortly after midnight leaving plenty of time for the phans to make it a few blocks uptown from the Garden. After leaving me a little disappointed the other night, I could tell as they opened into “The Very Moon” they had worked out the noticeable kinks from the 26th and were syncing together as a band again after a year with little touring.

They played a full 2 set show that stretched until 4 a.m. with highlights including “Mulberry’s Dream,” an unfinished version of “Confrontation”(which would be concluded during their New Year’s Eve show), and “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” The best treat for me was a set closing jam of “Above the Waves” into “House Dog Party Favor.” The band returned for a lone encore, a phenomenal version of a classic favorite, “42.” As I crawled into bed at 6 that morning I could do nothing but smile. I had just witnessed 4 sets of great music from 2 bands that currently dominate the jam band scene, what more could I ask for?

 

Night 3 (Post-Phish): Best Buy Theatre; New York, NY

I: The Very Moon>

Bombs>

Mulberry’s Dream>

Humuhumunukunukuapua’a>

Confrontation,

My Lady Survives

II: M.E.M.P.H.I.S.>

And The Ladies Were The Rest Of The Night>

Cyclone>

Above The Waves>

House Dog Party Favor

E:  42