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

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

Umphrey’s McGee

Set One
Jazz Odyssey > Booth Love > Rocker Part 2, Conduit > “Jimmy Stewart” > Conduit, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft > Passing > Utopian Fir

Set Two
40’s Theme, Der Bluten Kat > drums^ > All Night Long^ > Der Bluten Kat, The Linear > “Jimmy Stewart” > The Linear > Ringo
Encore
Divisions
Notes
The London Souls opened
^ with Jake on percussion

A Friday night in Times Sq and winter has finally hit.  Cold Air, wind, little snow on the ground..but the hippies will always find a way.  Surprisingly, this show only sold out a couple hours before they hit the stage.  I had never been to an Umphrey’s show, but heard they had some real followers.  I believe they have been on tour for close to fifteen years, and have built up some faithfuls.  I only got into them the last year and was still warming up to their sound.  They have some Lotus, Biscuits, STS9 in them..but they definitely are not that far on the electric side of the jam band spectrum.  I had been listening to new tunes on their albu,, “Death By Stereo”, and felt very fortunate to.  They have a deep bass in their sound that is nicely droning to the senses.  I was ready to experience the real deal with these guys..

Quick note on the Best Buy..its in the middle of Times Square, so your just gonna have to deal with some of the glitz in the theater (its clean and shiny.)  Surprisingly, the prices are not too bad..its a fairly comfortable theater..the floor is ridiculous, as most are, push n shove..the second level is a little better, and the seating has some space..its tough to get a good view here.  the second level, maybe the best option..has way too much movement..its brutal.  I thought this only happened at the Biscuits show, but it occurred for this one too..an issue.  Your either packed on the floor, cant maintain focus or see on the second level, or feel great from the seats, but at a distance.

These guys sounded good..they drone the senses.  You can really feel their beat and want to move with it.  Its a little spacey, a little slow..not prime dancing music.  It wont let you go crazy..but the mellow beat is very soothing.  I was so glad to hear them open with, essentially, “Booth Love.”  Great song off their new album.  The beat is just so chill.  I was not too familiar with the remainder of the first set.  They all had a good groove to them..its tough to get to know the tunes without as many lyrics..and esp. with the improvisational jams..my friend Doug explained this to me, and Im wondering if that decreases band popularity..

Second set was solid. We had a nice mellow start with the 40’s theme, Der Bluten Kat and some dreams…but then we all had to whip our lighters out..we were getting a sick cover..Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.”  The place was rockin’ and we were feelin good.  A little more Jimmy Stewart felt good in the second set and finishing it off with Ringo was a nice finish.  Division was a solid lil Encore and we capped off a decent night.

Id probably rate this a little higher, but I think the venue decreases attention and appreciation..

Rating: 7.5

Top Eleven Jams of 2011

Top Eleven Jams of 2011

This is a compilation of my favorite jams for 2011.  I have not been to all of them, but after listening to enough of them on the “jam on” channel, or you tube, I got a pretty good feeling for them..

#11: Phish “Back on the Train” May 27, 2011 Bethel Woods, NY

Second song, second set..first show of the tour.  We are absolutely on fire now.  The excitement and pure rush of Phish are at equal peaks, and we know there is nowhere in the world we would rather be at this time.  What a sweet version of BOTT..so perfect.  Trey sounded so good, and the dancing was ragin’ at this point..we were all nicely stretched out and the energy was mind poppin’.  Damn it feels good to be a Phishhead..

#10:  moe. “Money” featuring Marley Amico on Sax December 31st, 2011 Portland, ME

We knew the new years eve show would be exciting, but had no clue we were in for this surprise.  First song second set got us off to a nice roll.. a sweet cover of “Money” could only be more amazing with Vinny’s daughter coming out on stage to play the sax.  She was very talented too.  Great jam that had us smiling for the rest of the night..

#9:  String Cheese Incident “Desert Dawn” July 2nd, 2011 Rothbury, MI

For some reason, String Cheese just seems to fit into a festival.  Im not a huge fan when they are just in concert, but when they join in the entire mix, that funky, bluegrassy, spacey feel, fits in very well.  They hit this song on all notes, on a warm Summer day in July, and made it worthy of a top 10 in 2011.

#8: Lotus “Golden Ghost” Toads Place New Haven, CT October 20, 2011

If you told me Lotus would make my Top 10 Jams list in 2011, twice, Id tell you you’re crazy.  I only discovered them this year, and really had no experience with electronic jam bands.  But, they have grown on me, and are really good Live.  I first heard this song at Terminal 5 a month earlier, and fell in love with it.  The choo-choo portion just reminds me of a train pluggin along, as we dance to the beat.  Were all on this train, all on this funky junky ride together.  Nice performace, kicked off a killer night at Toads!

#7: Widespread Panic with Trombone Shorty “Pusherman”  House of Blues Boston MA September 17, 2011

Panic really killed it this year.  For 20 years on tour, they should be very proud of what a banner year they had.  The most disappointing part was that they only decided to play three shows in the NorthEast.  I was lucky enough to catch them in Brooklyn for a great performance.  But, the night before was the real thriller, where they brought out Trombone Shorty for a killer performance, where the trombone really brought this song to the next level.  Nice choice boys.

#6: Widespread Panic “Heartbreaker” Bonarooooooooo  June 12, 2011

Panic comes out again with another killer performance worthy of Top 10 ranking.  “Heartbreaker” is wailed out by Dave Schools, and you can sing it from the mountaintops, because it has that sweet, sweet sound.

#5: Phish “Sand” September 16, 2011 Portsmouth VA

How could Phish not make this list?  Its just a matter of how good a ranking they get.  Coming near the end of one kickass Summer Tour, the sweet sounds of  Sand” echoed all through Virginia, as they boys sounded good as ever playing this sweet, sweet tune.

#4: Umphrey’s McGee “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” November 26, 2011 Chicago, IL

Umphrey’s just had the perfect take on this classic tune.  Brendan Bayliss bails this tune out, and you need to go find it on YouTube.  It touches every thread of the soul, and you feel at peace, and grateful.  I seriously did’nt know Umphrey’s could go to these levels, but they sure have taken it up a notch this year.  Master of covers, fun, and a brand new album, made for a strong 2011.

#3: Phish “Free” Tie: May 28 2011 Bethel Woods, NY, Dec 28 2011, MSG NY, NY

Both of these versions had everyone going berserk, I didnt have the guts to pick one over the other..they were both too damn good.  The first version took place in Bethel Woods..second song, segued from 2nd set opener “Down with Disease.”  Heavy Bass..The entire arena ragin hard..Opening Night, Madison Square Garden..Opening Song, “Free”..first time ver as an opener..enough said.

#2: Phish “YEM” December 29, 2011 MSG New York, NY

Night two at the Garden..Second song..Could it Be?  Is he really whipping out YEM at this point?  I knew they would play it on this run, I mean, for goodness sake, its the new years run, but second night, second song?  For surely this would be a new years eve tune, or at the very least last song second set or even an encore.  Nope, he whipped it out, and the Garden went crizzzazzzzzy!  They played this song to its piques and the garden shook all night long.  This was considered the set of the run, and YEM made it.  Or, shall we follow the term…”YEMSG.”

#1: Furthur featuring Al Schnier and  Clarence Clemons on Sax “Turn on Your Lovelight” April 6, 2011 Boca Raton, FL

Furthur playing Boca in April.  I look at this come up on my Sirius received and get jealous of the beaches and 80 degree weather.  But the real beauty to this tune, is Clarence whaling it out on sax.  He truly was a special act (Sadly, Clarence died a couple weeks after this show.)  My favorite moe.ron, Al Schnier, taking the time to sneak out here after playing Fort Lauderdale the night before, really capped this puppy off.  A truly awesome performance, one Jerry would be proud of, a must see on YouTube, as this can never be dedicated.

Well, thats it folks.  A truly special year on the jam band scene.  Get your cars tuned up for 2012, as its sure to be another rager.

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

Phish December 28th 2011 MSG New York, NY

 Phish

After taking most of the year off from Phish with the exception of 6/7/11 in Mansfield, MA, I was heading to the Garden with to say the least some skepticism. As of late I had not been too impressed with the band’s playing, I did not feel like they were reaching their potential. This feeling was heightened especially due to knowing what they are capable of from years of listening. With my doubts I went to the streets with my finger in the air hoping to find a ticket to this sold-out show. Being the first night of their sold out New Year’s run (not to mention in New York City), I was not sure what the odds of finding a ticket would be. Much to my surprise though, a local who was unfamiliar with the band stopped me in Penn Station and handed me two tickets. He said, “I found these on the ground walking off the train, you look like you could use them.” With a smile, a hug and many, many thanks we parted ways and I found a friend who I came with who was also in need of a ticket. Little did I know then that this would not be the only surprise that was in store for this evening.

Entering the show I was directed to the seats we were miraculously graced with, first row up from the floor, dead center! What a night this was shaping up to be. In my experiences there has always been something magical when seeing a show at Madison Square Garden, especially when it’s a packed house. Its as if the spirit of all the great players and performances over the years radiates from the stage creating an energy that is just indescribable. The crowd was feeling it, I was feeling it, and everyone was ready for the lights to drop and the boys to take the stage.

When the moment finally arrived, I was thrilled as they busted into the opening chords of “Free.” One of my favorite songs lyrically by Phish, it was a great start to quiet the reluctance I had prior to the show. They then shifted into the first “Glide” since the last time I saw them play the Garden in 2009. The first set also boasted two covers, the Talking Heads “Cities”(fitting seeing as we were in the greatest one) and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew.” The latter is one of my all time favorites; as Skynyrd’s holds a special place in my heart and they were also my first ever concert years ago. The set came to a close with “Bathtub Gin” which included a heavy bass driven jam.

The 2nd set only continued the pace laid down in the 1st, opening up with another favorite of mine (though this one for the jam), “Birds of a Feather.” The set rolled on and I continued to be mesmerized by the playing displayed by Gordon this evening. From “Tweezer” to “Harry Hood,” it was clear he was on top of his game tonight. Trey was weaving in and out of Mike’s lead and the sound was magnificent. The set closed with “Bug” and I was completely dismayed. This was not the band I had been disappointed with all year in the slightest. They returned to the stage and went from “Tube” into the bluegrassy “Rocky Top” and then the bass lines erupted again dropping like bombs into “Tweezer Reprise.” The place was rocking and ready for three more nights!  In other news I’m back on the Phish train ready for 2012!

 

Night 1: Madison Square Garden; New York, NY

I: Free

Glide

Possum

Cities

Ballad Of Curtis Loew

Stash

Contact

Sample in a Jar

Kill Devil Falls

Bathtub Gin

II: Birds of a Feather

Carini

Tweezer

My Friend, My Friend

Rock and Roll

NICU

Bouncing Around the Room

Harry Hood

Bug

E: Tube

Rocky Top

Tweezer Reprise