Viewing entries tagged
Snarky Puppy

Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Thursday

Comment

Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Thursday

Jam Cruise 14

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Thursday Highlights

Cabinet - Paul Hoffman, Anders Beck, & Friends - Snarky Puppy - Lettuce - Con Brio

    Not too much worse for the wear just yet, we arose, caffeinated ourselves, pulled our gear together, and got our slap-happy selves up to the pool deck to start the day with a little Cabinet action.  This Pennsylvania-based string band was a mighty fine addition to this year’s lineup and we were very grateful to have them aboard.  Their unique sound and energy was most certainly appreciated by the audiences they drew, from both bluegrass fan and non-fan alike.  I do know that they killed it, however…twice in fact.  But we’ll just focus on that first Thursday noon set, shall we?  J.P. Biondo took to the mic for their first number, “A Smile”, which had a light and mellow reggae feel to it especially on top of the grooving bass line Dylan Skursky was putting down for us.  Nice way to get things going underneath that warm Caribbean sun.  Next up they gave us a personal favorite of mine:  “The Dove” (or “Dub Dove” in this case) — also with J.P. on lead vocals.  But, why not take a quick listen and enjoy? 

They took this one directly into the funky instrumental “Mysterio” followed by another favorite, “Heavy Rain”.  Love the amazing vocal harmonies in this Pappy Biondo-led one and definitely love them live best.  Also dig on Todd Kopec’s fiddle style — it really comes out in this one and adds this fantastic dimension to the song.  Later down the set came the track that made me a Cabient fan at DelFest a few years back:  “Mr. Spaceman”.  Filled with the electric guitar licks of Mickey Coviello, this rock’n’roll number is filled with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and super fun musical textures and lines all buoyed up by Jami Novak’s excellent drumming.  “Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won’t you please take me along for a ride?”  And what a ride this song takes you on!  Fiddle, guitar, banjo care of Pappy…mando thanks to J.P. and all these things wrapped up in the central jam.  Oh, and did I mention that they had Ron Holloway join them on saxophone for this one, too?  Ron’s incredible sax stylings against Cabinet’s edgy string-band background?  Pretty freakin’ unreal to say the least, everyone.  The Cabinet boys finally brought their energetic set to a close with a superb “Susquehanna Breakdown” every foot in the crowd tapping or dancing right until the last note.  If this was any indication of how Thursday was to go, then we were all of us in for a true treat.  Many thanks to Cabinet for getting things started out just right!

Cabinet and Ron Holloway

Cabinet and Ron Holloway

    Next up on the Lagunitas Stage on the pool deck was a special surprise, indeed.  We all knew that Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass were hired stringslingers for the duration of the cruise but when we saw five gents on stage vice the two we were expecting, we knew that we were in for something unique and wonderful.  Joining Phoffman and Anders were Travis Book (The Infamous Stringdusters) on bass, Cris Jacobs on guitar, and Jay Cobb Anderson (Fruition) on guitar — not a bad supergroup, eh?  Someone in the crowd shouted their name should be ‘The Heartthrobs’ and I think it kind of stuck.  At least Phoff was heard to like it, however I am getting ahead of myself.  They kicked things off with a lively “Frederico” (GSBG rep being the majority of the selections they played) and it was a perfect chance to see how this ad hoc ensemble of acoustic greats gelled together musically.  Not that any of us had any reservations, that is.  To the contrary…all this group did was live completely up to any and all expectations, exceeding many more.  After “Frederico” they played “Fixin’ to Ruin” — we got up nice and close and personal for this one so we could share the magic with you: 

These fellows sounds pretty durn amazing, huh?  And they just kept laying down the heat, song after song.  Then it was time for the soulful and beseeching “Windshield”, a current crowd favorite in the Greensky universe.  It was fascinating to hear another ensemble besides GSBG playing this one…this sort of incredible but bizzaro alternate timeline Greensky backing Paul’s heartfelt solo replete with that oh-so iconic dobro line from Anders.  Really glad that Anders and Paul decided to put together The Heartthrobs.  (See?  It’s sticking.)  “Demons” was next in line for our musical delight featuring some really exquisite guitar stylings from Mr. Cris Jacobs — another place where it was of interest to see the difference between GSBG and The Heartthrobs especially when counterpointed by the familiar mandolin of Phoffman.  And who doesn’t love a little reggae?  And a little Bob Marley to boot?  “Could You Be Loved” was an apropos cover for the tropical and cheery atmosphere all around the stage underneath that bright seascape sun.  Cris and Jay decided to trade guitars on this one, thus furthering the differing sounds of this ensemble.  Paul just nailed the solo here, too.  Not to mention Jay on the back-up vocals…killing it.  Really the whole thing sounded just marvelous.  Thanks for that little gift, fellas!   Later on down the set we got some more GSBG in the form of “Don’t Lie” which sounded pretty damn great.  Again, I have to point out the funny play on the ears that this set threw down for us — Greensky songs played by some of the band with extremely talented friends sitting in.  Surreal and supremely fantastic.  One of my favorite sets on the entirety of Jam Cruise this year to be sure.  Cheers to all five you skilled gentlemen and thanks for sharing!

Travis Book, Anders Beck, Paul Hoffman, Cris Jacobs, & Jay Cobb Anderson

Travis Book, Anders Beck, Paul Hoffman, Cris Jacobs, & Jay Cobb Anderson

    Later in the day we found ourselves back up on the pool deck at the main stage for some funk love with Snarky Puppy.  This was only my second time seeing them so I was pretty psyched to catch some more of their sound and style.  So it was to be horns and funk and straight jamming out and I was more than ready for it.  This was the perfect way to ramp up an evening scheduled for tons of funk.  Their first song was full of nasty good rock mashed up with funk and it was an optimal way to get us all dancing where we stood on the packed, packed pool deck.  In listening back through my notes, I was struck over and over by the interplay of horns and guitars and how incredible that sounds, all bolstered by some seriously tight drum work.  And then there’s the keyboard skills of distinctive mention.  All told it makes for one incredible ensemble sound with layered textures and lines that weave together one ear-opening tapestry of sound and energy.  Looking forward to familiarizing myself with Snarky all the more in the future and very grateful that they found their way onto the Boat to be a part of this funk-laden voyage.

Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy

    Lettuce was another band I was happy to see again as I’ve only seen them a couple of times before.  Keeping the funk going loud and proud and adding a healthy dose of soul to the mix, Boston’s Lettuce always makes for a really great time, no matter your musical tastes.  And who didn’t love the fact that there were so very many horns on Jam Cruise this year?  Horns everywhere you looked.  So much funk and New Orleans groove busting out at the seams.  It was a brassy smorgasbord of sweet sonorous sound.  And Lettuce were certainly no exception providing their own unique spin on the genre.  They most certainly had everyone dancing and moving and kicking it to their funky bad selves bringing out guests like Nigel Hall to get down with them.  And get down they did…like the bosses they are.  Of mention is their penchant for trippy, space-jammy interludes that really grab the ear musically and aesthetically especially in the keyboard lines.  Pretty wild stuff at times — gotta love it.  Sadly, however, we cut our time with Lettuce a little short this evening in order to grab some much needed food.  But that’s not Lettuce’s fault.  Jam Cruise is a marathon of sprints, remember?  As much as you hate to, sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to sustain yourself.  Then again, the best thing about Jam Cruise is that you usually have a second chance to get your dance on with a band you missed or partially missed.  But we’re not done yet!

Lettuce

Lettuce

    Con Brio was the big unexpected break out band on Jam Cruise for me this year.  Based in San Francisco, this group specializes in “dance-heavy funk” and boy, do they ever.  Frontman Ziek McCarter is a tour-de-force with a dynamite voice and some serious showmanship to be reckoned with.  I’d place his sound squarely somewhere between Jamiroquai, D’Angelo, Michael Jackson, and Pharrell…but with a sound all his own.  And the group?  Incredible!!  So much energy and what a great ensemble sound!  Here is a bit of info taken from their website: 

    “In 2013, the longstanding rhythm section of keyboardist Micah Dubreuil, bassist Jonathan Kirchner and drummer Andrew Laubacher joined forces with incomparable guitar slinger Benjamin Andrews and McCarter: a Texas transplant who as a 19-year-old had already begun drawing crowds in his new hometown. Add in the fireworks of the Marcus Stephens on tenor saxophone and Brendan Liu on trumpet and you have the skill and confidence that comes from years of stage time and deeply-established musical partnerships with the thirst and energy of a rising star – a bright light who’s just getting started.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Several people I spoke with stated that Con Brio was their favorite or a stand out band for them for all of Jam Cruise.  I had no idea who they were before setting sail but I will certainly be seeking them out from here on.  I would highly recommend these guys to you, my friend.  If you love dancing to some funky great groove music, that is.  Dirty, dirty good rock’n’roll funk dance music.  You know, if you like that sort of thing.  The band opened things up with a, surprise, funky one called “Paradise” and that is where we were all first introduced to Ziek’s powerful and beautiful voice.  Not only a strong full-voice singer, he is also possessed of a fine falsetto which he uses with great aplomb.  They followed this with “Sundown” and later down the set with a song called “Never”.  My favorite song of their set had to be “Kiss the Sun” featuring some groovy keyboard work from Micah and some pure funk guitar from Benjamin.  All of this providing the foundation for Ziek’s angelic crooning.  Moral of this story?  Go so this band.  Seriously.  Follow them and find them and go see this band.  Trust me, you’ll be rather glad you did.

Con Brio

Con Brio

    We finished out the evening with some more of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, catching the tail end of the set in the Pantheon Theater.  A completely epic “Truckin’” dominated the few songs we saw, all members of the band firing on all cylinders.  There is nothing like watching that band play that music in that way.  That remarkable, one-of-a-kind way.  And a great band to lead us into our late night offerings around the Boat, those small moments of magic and mayhem that can only be found in the wee hours of the morn aboard Jam Cruise.  Another day was closing down but one more was yet on the horizon.  Friday was anon but sleep called in it’s annoyingly insistent way.  What a Thursday.  What a Thursday, indeed!  How couldn’t I look forward to Friday and all that Friday promised?  And what a way to fall asleep…filled with gratitude and the fondest of fresh memories…


Friday inbound soon, my friends!!

Comment

Railroad Earth - 18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

Comment

Railroad Earth - 18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

Railroad Earth

18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Band MembersTodd Sheaffer - lead vocals, acoustic guitars; Tim Carbone - violins, electric guitar, vocals; John Skehan - mandolin, bouzouki, piano, vocals; Andy Goessling - acoustic guitars, banjo, dobro, mandolin, lap steel, flute, penny whistle, saxophones, vocals; Carey Harmon - drums, hand percussion, vocals; Andrew Altman - upright and electric bass

Set One:  Untitled #12 > The Hunting Song > Grandfather Mountain, Bread & Water, Old Dangerfield, I Am a Mess, Colorado, Cold Water 

Set Two:  Where Songs Begin > Fisherman's Blues, Like a Buddha, Bringin’ My Baby Back Home, A Day on the Sand, The Forecast, Spring-Heeled Jack > Hard Livin', Take a Bow 

Encore:  Terrapin Station, Long Way To Go 

    And so, there we were, at Red Rocks with our heads still spinning from the earlier stellar performances of Snarky Puppy and Billy & the Kids, basking in the cool evening air and ready for more music to astound us, more magic to surround us.  Given what Railroad Earth came out and did immediately following, we weren’t to be disappointed in the slightest.  To the contrary.  In fact, this may have been the best RRE show I have seen to date.  So many things went so right all evening long — it really was a remarkable show.  So, let’s get to it, shall we?

    The Railroad boys kicked their evening with us off with some hot jamming and boisterous up energy with the instrumental “Untitled #12”.  Like all good Railroad instrumentals, this one featured each of the gents on their respective instruments stepping up and stepping out, showing us the masterful level of skill for which this band has quickly become known.  They took this blistering number directly into the slightly slower groove of “The Hunting Song” with a great lead in from John on mando, Andy on penny whistle, and Tim on fiddle.  Todd sounded album perfect on the vocals not to mention having a great guitar solo as well.  The central jam featured some mean bouzouki work from John as well as Carbone on the shaker.  Quite the round robin of instruments, et al, all song long.  Impressive to say the very least.  After a connecting jam, they took “The Hunting Song” directly into “Grandfather Mountain”, Todd’s familiar voice crooning out the familiar vocals from the stage all the way up the Red Rocks tiers to the mountains that stand tall behind the venue.  We were treated to a very nice, very chill, very mellow jam in the middle of “Grandfather” with some lovely fiddle work from Tim not to mention John’s delightful piano strains and Andy on the dobro.  So many instruments this band has!!  And so good on all of them!!  Like John’s amazing piano outro for this piece for instance.  Simply stunning.  The rollicking “Bread & Water” followed bringing the energy back up to a frenetic dancing pace.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look and listen here, my friend: 

Wowsers.  Just wowsers.  And this just kept going all night long.  Again, best Railroad show I think I’ve seen.  Tim Carbone and his fiddle dominated the instrumental “Old Dangerfield” which was followed by “I Am a Mess”, which Todd prefaced by telling us a little of his adventures with his brother in Crested Butte, CO.  As fate would have it, we got an excellent banjo solo from Andy as well as one on mando from John out of our “Mess”.  “Colorado” rang out next, such sweet, sweet music to those ears gathered underneath the darkened, gentle Colorado skies…it was almost as if they played it on purpose.  Heh heh.  In all seriousness, however, it sounded just incredible, with superb solos from John on mandolin and Tim on fiddle.  Excellence all around!  They rounded out this first set with a fun and frolicking “Cold Water” which proved the perfect way to finish up.  By the last note the crowd was cheering with a maddened and marvelous fervor, knowing full well how incredible that set was and that we had another set to go.  What a way to head into a set break!!

View from side stage

View from side stage

    Funky, mellow rock was the name of the game with second set’s “Where Songs Begin” opener.  Featuring Andy on saxophone and later Tim on fiddle, I love this one because of the way it feels, slightly different than the rest of their catalogue.  Nice long jam…a great opener.  They took this directly into The Waterboys’ “Fisherman’s Blues” — what a great cover for this band.  Perfect even.  Some fine penny whistle from Andy and great fiddle work from Tim gave this one such an authentic feel, certainly it was a welcome surprise.  Following this was a pretty epic, but supremely happy and energetic 12:10 long “Like a Buddha” which had the entire amphitheatre singing.  Always a fun song and tonight was no exception.  This was followed by a sizzling “Bringin’ My Baby Back Home” bringing us all a little fast pickin’ for the night, each of the gents taking advantage to show their stuff.  And what and enjoyable band to watch in the midst of a supreme performance such as this!  Later on down the set we got a lengthy and funked out “Spring-Heeled Jack” featuring stellar and adept-level skills from each and every member of this collective of acoustic string ninjas.  This they took directly into “Hard Livin’” which featured guests the Snarky Puppy horns (Chris Bullock - tenor sax, Justin Stanton - trumpet, Jay Jennings - flugelhorn, and Mike Maher - flugelhorn) — in a word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!  The added four horns to Andy’s saxophone and the rest of the band?  Unbelievably good, my friend!  Such a rich texture and full sound on top of that already rich timbre of Railroad Earth!  One of my favorite collaborations I have heard with RRE to be sure.  What a fantastic version of “Hard Livin’”.  So much soul!  The Snarky boys stayed out there for the set’s closer as well — “Take a Bow”.  And there was still an encore on the way!  Almost impossible to believe after such a great set.  But it was true, indeed!

    As for the encore, I already wrote up a review for the first encore song, “Terrapin Station”, which I hope you’ll enjoy here:  Terrapin Encore Review.  It was a very special moment that needed its own attention.  After nailing “Terrapin” it was time to close with one of theirs, a personal favorite, a crowd favorite, a band favorite:  “Long Way to Go”.  Lots of energy bringing smiles to lots of faces, this was the perfect choice to wrap up this amazing evening of amazing music.  What a setlist, right?  What a great series of lovely song choices, right?  What a way to spend an evening with Railroad Earth, right?  How right everything was with the world after a show like that. How powerful the feeling of gratitude inside.  How moved and changed and made joyous by music inside.  How transformed.  Again, I must say that it was the best I’ve seen them.  And they only seem to be getting better, those Railroad gentlemen.  What excellent news for all who love incredible music!!  Thanks for the one-of-a-kind night, Railroad Earth.  Can’t wait to do it all again sometime!!

View from back stage

View from back stage


Comment

Billy & the Kids - 18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

Comment

Billy & the Kids - 18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

Billy & the Kids

18 September 2015 - Red Rocks Amphitheatre - Morrison, CO

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Band Members:  Bill Kreutzmann - drums, Tom Hamilton - guitar, Reed Mathis - bass, and Aron Magner - keyboards

Setlist:  The Harder They Come, Me and My Uncle, They Love Each Other, Scarlet Begonias, I Know You Rider, Feel Like a Stranger > SpaceJam > Mission in the Rain, Loose Lucy, The Other One > Casey Jones 

Bill Kreutzmann

Bill Kreutzmann

Just another Friday night at Red Rocks?  Hardly.  Anything, everything but.  (Of course, is there ever “just” another Friday night at RR?)  Not only was there a triple bill, but that bill included a member of the Grateful Dead and his fantastic current side project…nothing ordinary about this Friday night, really.  And, once Billy & the Kids took the stage, things skewed straight to the extraordinary.  With a setlist filled to the brim with Dead favorites, this extremely talented quartet took us all on a joyous musical journey for which we were all so very grateful.  Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come” appeared first on the scene that evening, the band choosing so adeptly to nail it summarily to the back wall of the stage, one and all.  Luckily for you, we captured the moment on film so you don’t have to rely on my word for it, take a view: 

I think you’ll agree, one helluva way to start a show.  They took this wonderful energy to the next song, John Denver’s “Me and My Uncle”, one of my absolute favorite Dead covers.  Having invited Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone to join them on fiddle, Billy and his Kids proceeded to power through this one in a mighty fine fashion.  Tim’s fiddle solo work was of the highest quality, as always, however what it contributed to this song was both special and the perfect addition.  Only two songs in and the set had all the makings of a powerhouse.  “They Love Each Other” followed with Tom Hamilton on lead vocals and a nice, mellow rhythm from Mr. Kreutzmann, as sweet and gentle as this song ever is.  Delightful.  And then it was time for a monster good version of “Scarlet Begonias” — in fact, in my voice notes I remarked “C’mon…how couldn’t this be good?  It’s Billy & the Kids playing ‘Scarlet Begonias’!!”  And it was so very, very good, as well.  This they took into “I Know You Rider” which became an instant favorite with the supercharged crowd, the grand majority of voices picking up the lyrics and singing out into the night alongside the band.  Hamilton treated us all to an superb guitar solo in the middle jam of “Rider” one most certainly worth mentioning.  Really tied the song together tightly.  Additionally, the harmonies during the choruses were completely on the level, really, really great.  Big, important version of that song.  Aron Magner stepped up the mic for “Feel Like a Stranger” which came after “Rider” and gifted us with some ridiculously supreme vocal work.  That man has a great deal of soul contained within…which he delightfully shared with us all that evening at Red Rocks.  That’s not to mention all the intense keyboard acumen he showered upon us — that cat can play those keys!!  Hamilton and Mathis led us through a big and nasty central jam, both showcasing their skills on their respective instruments.  They took this “Stranger” directly into an appropriately trippy “SpaceJam” and then straight into the lovely “Mission in the Rain” which featured yet more of those fantastic four-part harmonies we had been getting all night.  Just gorgeous.  And then it was time for more guests, this time the Snarky Puppy horns coming out for a little “Loose Lucy” groove with the boys.  Talk about a big, bold, beautiful sound!!  Nothing like some brass and brazen badassery to round and round out a song and set, right?  It was a huge version of this song sound-wise and sight-wise…what a massively great part of the show!  Trumpet solos, brass harmonies, and so much more!  As such, in those immortals words I must say:  Thank you!  For a real good time!  No doubt.  Mr. Mathis was up the mic for the next song, “The Other One”, giving us even more spot on vocals for our evening.  A great rock song, through and through.  And a marvelous way to help bring the set towards a close.  Jamming the ending hard into the next selection, Billy & the Kids weren’t about to let us down too easily for the night.  They took “The Other One” right into “Casey Jones” which they slowed down to a mellow groove with Tom Hamilton back on lead vocals.  An excellent ending to an excellent set of music, filled with positive and powerful energy start to finish.  And what a show to see at Red Rocks!!  It was obvious from the applause and cheering how much the crowd both loved and appreciated their entire time with Billy and his Kids.  And I could certainly see why from my own lovely experience.  A huge thanks to Misters Kreutzmann, Hamilton, Magner, and Mathis for such a splendid show!!  Certainly can hardly wait to see them again, ’tis true!!

Billy & the Kids with Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth

Billy & the Kids with Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth

Comment