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Turkuaz

Turkuaz - 06 May 2016 - The Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO

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Turkuaz - 06 May 2016 - The Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO

Turkuaz

06 May 2016 - The Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Band Members:  Dave Brandwein - guitar, vocals; Taylor Shell - bass; Craig Brodhead - guitar, keyboards; Michelangelo Carubba - drums; Chris Brouwers - trumpet, keyboards; Greg Sanderson - tenor saxophone; Josh Schwartz - baritone saxophone, vocals; Sammi Garrett - vocals, tambourine; Shira Elias - vocals

    Just like that it was the second evening of our two night Colorado run with Turkuaz, this time at The Fox Theatre Boulder, right near The Lot Scene’s Western HQ — one of my home venues.  Serendipitous for us, no doubt and we took full advantage of the proximity.  Besides, more Turkuaz was on the menu that night…and what a delicious prospect that was.  After Thursday night’s stellar performance, we already knew we were in for a treat as Turkuaz was sure to bring the heat.  Again.  As always.  You don’t call yourself a “power funk” band unless you can back that up.  And, oh boy, can Turkuaz back that very claim.  You bet your boots, good people.  The Nth Power did another bang-up job of providing a super high energy opener for Turkuaz to follow, much to the wide appreciation of the Boulder crowd.  But then it was time for the main event and there wasn’t an ear in the house not trained on the speakers nor an eye not focused on the stage, all eagerly waiting for that troupe of colorful characters to deliver their funky funkness.  It was time, indeed…

Chris Brouwers

Chris Brouwers

    The gentlemen of the band came out first and ripped into a groovy instrumental breakdown as an intro to their set.  Greg threw down one of his famous sax solos early on serving to whip the energy that much further up the scale straight out of the gate.  It was as if a sign on the wall said:  “For instant dancing to marvelous funk, just add Turkuaz.”  Because that is basically what happened to the room of us music adventurers gathered together at the Fox.  And delightfully so.  They followed this with a rousing version of “The Rules” with the ladies joining the men on stage in very fine fashion, as always.   Horns, vocals, funk…action!!  And, bang, we were off again on that freaky fresh freight train that is a live Turkuaz show.  Some seriously mean bass coming down from Taylor Shell on this one, as well.  That man is built of some serious groove matter, ’tis true.  Next up was a new and unfamiliar song to me, but a fantastic one nonetheless…you know, kind of a theme with this band, right?  Powerful vocals from Dave, Shira, and Sammi here not to mention some great keys to boot.  Love the soulful, jazzy jam session in the middle here, too.  A big ol’ guitar solo from Craig added quite a bit to the mix as well, again just so taken aback by the incredible nature of their ensemble sound, even during solos.  And then there were the keys…all those glorious keys.  Back and forth between Brouwers and Brodhead and then back again.  Magnificent.  Really dug that one to be sure there can be no doubts.  “20 Dollar Bill” was next in line that evening for us and we were treated to a superb upbeat version of the song which was reflective of the overall energy of the band and the evening at large.  Dave was on lead vocals for this one and took the opportunity to step out with a big helping of musical attitude on the lyrics.  This was backed up note-for-note by Sammi and Shira.  Big energy to this one, and bold, too.  Some incredibly nice interplay between Josh’s bari sax and Taylor’s bass here providing the perfect backdrop for a bright and brassy trumpet solo from Chris.  Big band magic at its finest.  And that unmistakable spinal cord of the entirety, Mike Carubba on drums, mighty master of the beat and meteoric all at once.  You add all these parts together and you get so much more than the sum, my friends.  You get Turkuaz.  Enough said on that, methinks.  An explosive and gleefully volatile “Back to Normal” followed “20 Dollar Bill” with Brandwein again on the lead vocals.  This one was a seriously intense run through some madcap musical merriment, believe you me.  Big on more keys from the boys, this song is run through with huge “B” sections filled to the brim with exquisite musical texture and enjoyment.  Lots of entertaining choreography here as well to entice the eyes as well as the ears — yet another reason I love this band so much.  And let’s not forget that monster breakdown in the middle region of this number:  huge.  Just huge.  Almost too much.  That’s what you get from this band at times…almost too much awesome.  Think that sounds like something you might be interested in?  I certainly hope so.  Next up was a selection from the new album Digitonium, “Bijou Drains, The Birddog”, which we captured for your viewing pleasure here: 

That song is just so catchy, like so many on that album.  Kudos to the band for writing such memorable music…and many thanks as well.  Next up was another new live one to me from Turkuaz, “M’Lady”, yet one more up energy powerhouse, heavy on sax and heavy on a quick and savvy tempo from Mike.  Dave spanked the lead vocals summarily with the always excellent support of Shira and Sammi, those amazing divas with the divine vocal cords.  Quite the fun ride this song, quite fun indeed.  Another favorite to add to that already overflowing bag.  We got a lovely treat next up as Joey Porter from the Motet joined in on keys — one of my favorite things about live performances:  guesting in.  “Gremlins” from their Zerbert album was in the queue and Joey was ready to tear it up alongside the band.  Which they all then proceeded to do.  And in crazy good fashion, too, why not?  They certainly looked as if they enjoyed the hell out of having their friend join them on the stage to help rip the fabric of the night wide open with note after delectable note.  Pure magnificence.  Bravi!  And thank you so much, Joey!!  A little later down the set came yet another new one to me, a groovy, mellower piece with a vibrant chill energy…sadly the name escaped me, but it was lovely with a trippy sort of esoteric feeling all juxtaposed to some really sweet vocals from both Dave and the ladies.  This was followed by “Electric Habitat” from their Future 86 album which they went directly into.  More of that perfect textural combination here:  the balance between all instruments and vocals in this band is clearly very well strategized and no doubt well executed.  This makes for a singularly marvelous musical experience at the hands of some seriously adept individuals.  Craig nailed a really fine guitar solo for us a ways into the song showcasing his own skill on the instrument.  The more I saw this band at work, the more utmost respect I gained for them as musicians.  Later on down the set we got the hard driving “Let It Ride” which continued the whirlwind craziness of the evening for us all in a highly palatable and enjoyable manner.  Dave Brandwein dominated the lead vocals with some incredible harmony opportunities with Garrett and Elias.  A super large sound to this one, another perfect opportunity to point out the very measured and successful strategies employed by Turkuaz to an extremely fine degree in terms of ensemble excellence.  A big and nasty good guitar solo from Craig was a definite feature of this one.   All the while supported by that magical musical artillery emplacement of a horn section blasting away in onslaught after onslaught of chords and notes and other assorted awesomesauceness.  Hells yeah!!  What a show!  Josh’s deep and commanding bari sax led things into the next song for us, a Shira-led jazzy number, with more of that intense mellow groove that this band can also deliver to an expert degree.  This was proving to be an educational show for me in terms of Turkuaz repertoire with which I was unfamiliar.  Trust me, I’ll make sure to do a bit o’ learnin’ up before my next show.    Which I hope is soon.  Their final selection of the night was a new one to me as well…what a great show for new material on a personal level!  Sammi Garrett took lead vocals for this last one, which was quite the soulful and upbeat number.  Always good to end things on a positive note, pun very much intended.  And that’s exactly what they did, finishing up a show so heavy on the goods we all crave so much in our musical souls with brightly burnished ecstatic electric feels for everyone.  I couldn’t have been happier after this one and after this two night run with Brooklyn’s best.  But they weren’t done there now were they?  Of course not…there is the subject of the encore to speak of.  But, why speak when we can share with you the precise magic of that moment when Josh stepped up to the mic and gave us this little gem by Joe Cocker: 

“Feelin’ Alright” now my friends?  I sincerely hope so after that phenomenal finish to a giant show.  So very many thanks to all of Turkuaz and their support folks for coming to Colorado in the first place and for helping shake the very mountains of the Front Range with such musical deliciousness!  Again, I say unto you, if you have not seen nor heard this band yet, correct this with the utmost haste!  I beseech you!  So much good will come of it, this you will see.  Thank you for sharing some of your time with me and with Turkuaz.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I.  Interested in more?  Then…

Sammi Garrett and Shira Elias

Sammi Garrett and Shira Elias

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Turkuaz - 05 May 2016 - The Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO

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Turkuaz - 05 May 2016 - The Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO

Turkuaz

05 May 2016 - The Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Band Members:  Dave Brandwein - guitar, vocals; Taylor Shell - bass; Craig Brodhead - guitar, keyboards; Michelangelo Carubba - drums; Chris Brouwers - trumpet, keyboards; Greg Sanderson - tenor saxophone; Josh Schwartz - baritone saxophone, vocals; Sammi Garrett - vocals, tambourine; Shira Elias - vocals

    Nothing like a Cinco de Mayo show to get your blood moving in all the desired ways.  What a cool, crisp evening it was down at The Bluebird in Denver as the sun was setting below a deepening purple-blue sky.  And what had us down in the big city that night in Colorado?  Why an evening spent with the one, the only Turkuaz, Brooklyn’s own power funk ensemble, of course!  And if you are not familiar with Turkuaz or have never seen them live before, I highly recommend doing both as soon as humanly possible.  An extremely smart band with roots in Boston’s Berklee College of Music, they are as marvelously talented as they are driven and polished.  Stopping through Colorado on a pretty aggressively scheduled tour, we had the honor of sitting down with them to pick their brains during an interview (more on that to come, my friends) just before the show.  A very fun and informative time to be sure.  Certainly put us in an extremely good mood for the set coming up after The Nth Power opened for them.  Such soulful music, The Nth Power, and such intensity.  It was as if the rawer side of New Orleans opened up and gave us a power quartet.  Lots of good energy preparing the crowd for Turkuaz to follow.  And follow they did, believe you me!!  Let’s get to it, shall we?

Turkuaz

Turkuaz

      The band took the stage in their familiar monochromatic outfits looking the very picture of their tour posters.  This is to say they looked fabulous, right?  You damn right.  Not a single note played and they already had the crowd in rapt attention.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Dave Brandwein greeted the audience with a huge smile and then, with Michelangelo Carubba’s drum sticks marking intro time, they were off into a speedy and upbeat “Coast to Coast”.  Immediately we were all immersed into that unique and powerful energy that is Turkuaz.  From the well-known feeling of Sammi, Shira, and Dave all sharing the vocals in a song to those wonderful horns from Chris, Greg, and Josh, we were all off on a musical adventure together, the likes of which only Turkuaz can provide.  And those vocal harmonies, too!  To those of you who know me and my musical predilections, you know I am sucker for awesome vocal harmony.  And what an entire evening of just such an incredible thing!  But I am getting ahead of myself because Greg’s white hot sax solo is definitely of very worthy mention here.  Melted quite a few faces as I recall.  Suffice it to say, all these invariably talented and skilled individuals know their way around their chosen instruments, horns to keys to guitar to voice and everything else on that stage each night.  Off to an incredible start, I’d say.  Next in line for us was a rousing and rollicking “Chatte Lunatique”, a song that I do like very much.  Pretty cool to hear Dave crooning to us in French, right?  Which is exactly what he did right along with this groovy-as-hell number.  Some of Turkuaz’s pieces have some fantastic amounts of the right kind of attitude — this is one of those songs.  I wish you could have been there to hear it, my friends.  Shira and Sammi sounded just magnificent throughout.  They were both in extremely fine voice the entire show.  Just lovely.  And that guitar solo from Craig?  Down right nasty good.  “Future 86” was a strong follow-up to “Chatte” and they nailed it, of course.  Veritably dripping with groove and searing intensity, this was the perfect kind of ass-kicker to keep the evening speeding mightily along.  More awesome guitar work care of Mr. Brodhead in this one as well — that man sincerely knows that instrument inside and out.  “Seventeen times I told you…” great lyrics applicable to many things but I’ll apply them here simply by saying seventeen times over:  get thee to see some Turkuaz!!  Trust me…you’ll be so happy you did.  After “Future” we were treated to “Nightswimming”, a favorite selection from their new album, Digitonium.  Sounding almost recording-perfect, this one was a bit of an indulgence for those familiar with the song.  I cannot express just how good this band sounds in concert and this show was no exception whatsoever.  Oh, and let’s just add how good their new album is to the mix while where at it.  Simply put:  go download it immediately.  Hit play.  Smile.  Repeatedly.  It’s that easy, my friends.  Josh gave us some super fine bari sax love at one point — talk about an anchoring instrument!  Love it.  All the while with Mike on the drums like a metronomic demigod.  The ensemble sound here is just like no other.  A modern “big band” to be sure.  And funked all to electricity and back.  Simmering.  And they just kept…on…going.  Whiz-bang, pow, wham, and wowsers!!  “Snap Your Fingers” came on like a welcome freight train with a superbly strong amount of up energy and with Shira killing the lead vocals, just killing them.  Chris’s trumpet stood out like a clarion call all song long especially after Dave’s guitar solo when Mr. Brouwers went into quite the horn solo of his own much to the appreciation of the crowd.  Yet again, another member of the band so adept and skilled at his instrument.  Really does make for a truly enjoyable audience experience.  And now you’re in luck my friends at home there, for we have a bit of the show for your very viewing enjoyment!!  Please take a look at “The Mountain” by Turkuaz.  Hope you dig it as much as we did!! 

Now that's just going to wow a person.  And that’s just a video!  But now imagine that all live, in your grinning face, washing over you like a tsunami of musical positivity and force of funk.  Sounds pretty great, right?  Well the next song was certainly that, in spades.  The band played another selection from their new album, this time “Murderface”.  Dave sang the lead on this one and sounded mighty fine if I do say so myself.  Taken at a fast clip, this one is yet another favorite from Digitonium.  Was really happy to get this one.  More great trumpet from Chris here as well and then from all the horns as the song developed.  Another example of the strong ensemble sound from this nine-member band.  Craig and Chris shared some really nice moments of back-and-forth keyboards between the two making for a pretty trippy section of the song.  Craig then delivered a couple of superb guitar solos helping to really expand this one and jam it out so much more in the live setting versus the album version.  Pretty damn hot stuff.  “The laughter, the screaming.”  Quite so, quite so, my friends.  Josh stepped up to the mic for the next one, taking lead vocals on “Babies Making Babies”.  And, I really need to stress this seriously here.  This.  Cat.  Can.  Wail!  And I mean it.   He is possessed of a supremely powerful voice with one helluva range.  So impressive and so great to get to hear.  Grateful, too.  So freakin’ soulful.  Speaking of soul, Greg threw down some serious sax soul in his solo as well…just so freakin’ soulful.  Hot damn is this band good!!  This was a new song to me and one I will always love from hear on out.  Thanks, Josh!  Thanks, Greg!  Thanks, Turkuaz!  Next up was some more Digitonium for us in the form of “Percy Thrills, The Moondog”.  Fun energy through and through, this one certainly did not disappoint at The Bluebird.  Some songs are just fun, right?  This is one of such songs.  Especially with more exquisite solo work from Greg.  Dave was spot on with the lead vocals, of course.  As he was with all his songs throughout the night.  I do appreciate a band that can sing.    And a man that can play the drums like Mike Carubba!  What a beast…that man is a machine!!  And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the showmanship that this band throws down.  The choreography is pretty amazing — I really don’t know how they remember it all.  It certainly makes for a lovely show to watch to be sure.  They followed “Percy Thrills” with the seductive tones of “Tiptoe Through the Crypto”, a slightly mellower but no less awesome attitude-laden song from their EP Stereochrome.  Sammi took lead vocals on this one and wowed every ear in the house with her sweet soulful song.  Just incredible.  Again, I really cannot tell you in mere words how amazing each of these uber-talented folks truly is.  What a performance.  This was followed by “Bubba Slide”, the very first Turkuaz song I ever heard.  This is a great time of an album track and no less enjoyable whatsoever live.  Great horns from the section in constant support of this funky, funky track.  Just love that phatty bass line from Taylor Shell, too.  So damn good.  And you should just hear him sing “the hits”.  But you might have to ask the band about that.  Big spacey jam in the middle of “Bubba” — pretty trippy and filled to the brim with horn goodies, tasty drum licks, wild guitar riffs, and always that big, badass bass line from Taylor.  One helluva great live version of this one!  Bravi!  We were certainly getting spoiled that night and the next song was no exception — another track from Digitonium.  Gee, this really was the Digitonium tour, huh?  “The Generator” started up with an electric thrum just like on the album and then took off like the dynamo it is.  For a song about a generator this one sure generates enough of its own energy and power to satisfy any audience or musical palate.  Fun, fun, fun from start to finish.  Man, what a show!  And, sure enough, they kept the Digitonium love rolling with “Digital Love” and a great synth-keys lead in from Craig.  Then the ladies took over with lead vocals trading off with Dave in one of my favorite interplays in any of their songs.  Still couldn’t believe how much of the new album they’d given us that night.  We at The Lot Scene would like to think they did it for us in light of our interview with them prior to the show.  Sounds great, right?  Exactly.  And then they treated us to a spankingly awesome cover of The Band’s “Don’t Do It” a perfect selection for them in my opinion.  Sammi and Shira shared a powerful duet all song long trading off the solo sections.  Holy crap!  I needed to sit down after that one.  So very good!  Just so very good…  What a set, what show, and it wasn’t over yet.  Their last selection of the night was “Lookin’ Tough, Feelin’ Good” which we also captured for you on video.  Please enjoy: 

Pretty incredible stuff, no?  Truly it was, my friends.  Truly it was.  After a quick exit from the stage they came out and gave us a big, bold “Monkey Fingers” encore.  A powerhouse way to wrap things up for the night for all of us gathered there.  Josh’s bari sax solo was a spiritual awakening in this one — so deft with that instrument.  Get down with your bad self, good sir!  Pretty hot solos from Chris and Craig worthy of mentioning here, too.  It is pretty impressive watching Mr. Brouwers play keys and trumpet simultaneously.   As in crazy impressive.  Which is precisely what this show was.  Holy goodness!!  I’m not sure I can think of enough positive, nice, or praiseworthy things to say about this show or this band.  But, if you are reading this and don’t know Turkuaz or their music, I beseech you again:  please download an album of theirs immediately!!  I cannot stress enough how happy this move will make you.  And then you can start coming to shows like this one and have your face melted off along with the rest of us.  Joyfully so, I might add.  Your face melted off joyfully.  But of course!!  So many thanks to Turkuaz for the unparalleled night of music and frivolity.  Made me that much more excited to be seeing them the next night, too, but you’ll have to wait for that one…

Turkuaz

Turkuaz

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All Good Music Festival 2015 - Summit Point, WV -  Friday

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All Good Music Festival 2015 - Summit Point, WV - Friday

All Good Music Festival 2015

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Friday

Cabinet - Turkuaz - Grand Ole’ Ditch - Railroad Earth - The Word - Joe Russo’s Almost Dead - Lettuce

    A mighty, mighty day of music t’was Friday at All Good this year.  So many fantastic bands, so much fantastic music — it’s going to take us a little while to stroll through it all.  I guess we had better get started, hadn’t we?  It was definitely warmer day out as we made our way back into the venue, however, a sky full of billowy white clouds helped to cool our heads throughout the afternoon.  Luckily the weather never got unbearably hot during the course of the weekend, although it certainly stayed warm until the end.  After hitting up the watering station as per usual we descended back down into the bowl in time for Cabinet to throw down some more fast pickin’ on the Crane Stage at noon.

    Things got going with “The Dove” with all of us grooving to the funky backbeat as J.P. Biondo lamented the sad tale of losing one’s love never to get her back.  A strong start which slammed delightfully right into the aural arcane enigma that is Cabinet’s “Mysterio” — but why take my meager word for it when you can see for yourself? 

And the hits just kept coming.  “Heavy Rain”, with its loud, lovely rigorously good harmonies was up next which most definitely had us all singing along and dancing to the fine fiddle stylings of Todd Kopec.  This band commands so much talent and skill, especially in the songwriting arena — so much of their music is just loads of fun or extremely poignant or full of feeling that it makes one of their shows a marvelous roller coaster ride through a thoroughly enjoyable musical landscape.  What a treat it was to get a second set from them this year!  The boys followed next with a little “Nashville Blues” action - “Because people here, Lord, they treat me fine.  First they give me beer, Lord, they give me moonshine!”  What a line!  Even if shine isn’t your cup of, well, shine, you have to concede the poetry there.  Well, I suppose you don’t have to — not in the business of giving orders here at The Scene.  But you smell what I’m stepping in, right?  Right.  Then they slowed things down a little and moved us onto a nice crowd favorite with “Caroline”, the oh-so familiar melody drifting out over the sea of faces under a hot West Virginia sun.  This was a rather stellar version that contained a huge and exceptional jam at the end with some incredible fiddle work from Todd and some great interplay between Pappy’s banjo lines and J.P.’s mando — mad good music from every angle.  Later on down the set came the song that made me a Cabinet fan and, as such, I was thrilled for its inclusion:  “Mr. Spaceman” which was, as always, a light-hearted tale of alien abduction punctuated by superb instrumentals. Thanks for that little gift, fellas!!  Even Andy Goessling of Railroad Earth stopped by to lend some saxophone chops to the mix by set’s end!!  Another incredible show from Cabinet — these boys gave us both barrels over the course of two days and left us all still wanting more!  That’s one of the hallmarks of a great band, my friends!!  And that, is most certainly what Cabinet is.  And more.  See you lads on Jam Cruise this year — hell yeah!!

Cabinet

Cabinet

    Turkuaz.  Dragon Stage.  Friday afternoon.  This nine-person dance music dynamo from Brooklyn walked out and took over the stage immediately as if they owned the place.  And, after their first few songs it was apparent that they did, in fact, own All Good for that set.  And they owned it so well!!  Pretty impressive swagger for their first time here — and with good reason.  Their opener set the tone for this maddeningly fun fox trot with frivolity: 

And now you have to listen to me some more.  Kind of sad, right, when compared to that delight, right?  I promise to try and not bore you.  But, no promises, OK?  OK.  Moving on.  They continued with the brassy and sassy “Future 86” hanging on that powerful and pretty damn amazing vocal duo, Sammi Garett and Shira Elias.  Man, can those ladies wail!!  Wowsers!  As if Turkuaz could please the crowd any further at this point they whipped out a super tight and gratifying “Bubba Slide” — nothing like watching Chris Brouwers play trumpet and keys simultaneously…that is some serious skill to be sure.  And rather entertaining no doubt.  I need to take a quick moment to tell you just how good this band sounds in person, how their wave of sweet sonority washes over you, coats your being in goodness, and brings a smile to the lips and jig to the midsection:  it is pretty special and most definitely worth checking out.  Find some dates and see these folks soon — well, only if you like good music, that is.  But that’s between you and the mirror, no?  “Lookin' Tough, Feelin' Good” was next in line for our musical delight, with its driving energy and feeling reminiscent a bit of The Talking Heads (with a major horn section — who tore things apart all set long I feel need to mention).  Their version of Traffic’s iconic “Feelin’ Alright” was a very nice and well-executed surprise with yet more excellent horn work from Chris, Greg Sanderson, and Josh Schwartz.  This was my first time seeing Turkuaz and I know that I couldn’t possibly be my last after how much freakin’ fun those guys were!!  Any group that can transport you on a magic carpet of musicianship away from the heat and humidity and into a place of pure musical enjoyment is a band worth anyone’s time, everyone’s time.  This, my friends, is such a band.  In spades.  Go. See. Turkuaz!

Turkuaz

Turkuaz

    After Turkuaz wrapped, we hightailed it over to the Believe in Music Stage to get in on some Grand Ole’ Ditch action, All Good-style.  Playing their first All Good as well, the boys from Cumberland, MD, pulled out all the stops and gave one hell of a great show that Friday afternoon.  The band opened with “Open Road” (fitting, no?) setting the tone immediately for their set, Jody Mosser’s masterful dobro and lead vocals starting us all into the next 45 minutes of powerhouse pickin’, done the Ditch way.  It sure is a treat to watch Jody play, him being one of those musicians who wears his joy and fulfillment at his job written all over his face for all to see.  Once again, though, why just read when you can experience, too?  VIDEO

They followed next with the bouncing and driving “Unwind” taking that right into “Whippoorwill”.  After that we got a reggae-ed up treat of an old Dillards song, “Man at the Mill”, which grooved and funked to the backbeat all punctuated by the sounds of dobro and mandolin.  A really cool tune to be sure — grateful to have gotten that one.  Then it was time for some hard drivin’ fast pickin’ in the form of the instrumental “Chester’s Breakdown” featuring some truly fine fiddle fronting from 'Fiddlin' Ray Bruckman.  Craig Miller jumped up and sang us the next song, “Take Me Back”, all the while doling out some right dandy banjo.  I really enjoyed this one, featuring some really cool multi-vocal lines and tight harmonies.  Looking forward to hearing it again sometime soon.  Sitting under the azure blue skies with a slight breeze blowing cooling the head the thought occurred to me at just how incredible this all was and how thankful I was to be there hearing such lovely music in such a lovely setting.  And surrounded by lovely people, of course!  Which made the whirlwind instrumental ride that came up next so fantastic — “Dragon’s Breath” was populated by massive amounts of great music and skill, each member trading the solo back and forth with ease and precision, especially Ryan Hohing shredding things to pieces on guitar.  Also of note, Todd Hocherl’s drumming really anchors the intensity of this band, providing so much of the driving force and feeling that, in my opinion, helps make Ditch the superlative band that they are.  Then we were treated to a selection from their new album called “Cabins in the Laurel” featuring Lucas Matthews on lead vocals — how lucky to get yet another “Colorado” song in the grass and jam world repertoire and a great one at that!!  Being from Boulder I am very prejudiced (how could I not be?) when it comes to songs about my state and, I must admit, I just love the ever-growing body of them.  And “Cabins” is most definitely a welcome addition to the mix!  Thanks for that little gift, boys!  And thanks for that sweet, sweet guitar solo, Jody!  Later down the set we got some Del McCoury action in with a little “I’ve Endured” finally closing things down with “Bluelight” the smiles on each face up there a perfect display of the joy we all felt at the Believe in Music Stage that afternoon.  Way to simply burn down your first All Good showing, my friends!  Absolutely one of the best sets I saw all festival.  Excellent job, Ditch, and thank you!!  Catch you round the bend really soon, I hope!

Grand Ole' Ditch

Grand Ole' Ditch

    Later that day we found our way once again to the Crane Stage, this time for those Stillwater, NJ, fellows, Railroad Earth.  I was very happy to see them included in the lineup for this year and I was looking forward to having a nice change of pace.  Todd Sheaffer kicked things off for us and the band with the opening strains and lines of “When the Sun Gets in Your Blood”, the whole ensemble instantly sounding texture-tight and ever-harmonious from the very beginning.  An auspicious start to a lovely set from RRE!!   As if pandering to me here in WV, the boys fired up a rock solid, lengthy, and jam-laden “Colorado” next, with so much of that iconic fiddle by Tim Carbone.  So much and so wonderful.  As well as some very fine playing, of course, from all the other gents, especially John Skehan on mandolin.  Ah, Colorado…summertime.  Thanks for that one, you guys!!  The pensive and introspective “Been Down This Road” came afterwards followed by the powerful and funky “Mighty River” which flowed like a round-robin from musician to musician, each one showcasing their immense talent and then receding flawlessly back into the ensemble sound, the entirety spanned by Todd’s unmistakably recognizable voice and vocals.  Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood) joined in on electric guitar with Railroad on the stage for a long and mellow “Grandfather Mountain” (11:37), another display of world-class musicianship from each member of the band.  It really could not be stressed enough just how incredibly excellent each of these gents is at his chosen instrument(s) — it is as if a collection of highly acclaimed professors and doctors of music decided to form a stupendous string band and go on the road hitting places like All Good.  Simply put, a Railroad Earth performance is like few others in terms of the amount of musical acumen and ability all in one group. Later in the set came that prime instrumental-heavy powerhouse, “Warhead Boogie”, which took us all on its well-known but wonderful musical journey eliding right into “Tuba Mirum” which, in turn, went directly into “Chasin’ a Rainbow”, Carbone’s familiar fiddle riffs anchoring us into the song like an old friend.  Ending jam?  You bet…and a really sweet one, too.  The back and forth between Andy and John and Tim was just stellar and completely on-point.  Then, tying a ribbon on the whole affair, the boys decided to finish things up with some pickin’ and grinnin’ for us with a very fine “Bringin’ My Baby Home”: 

    Back over on the Dragon it was time.  “What time?” you ask.  “Time for The Word,” I answer.  “Time for The Word.”  And time for The Word it was, indeed.  Power.  Intensity.  Electricity.  Dirty good music. The Word.  They came out swinging with the robust “Come By Here” from their recent album Soul Food.  Really incredible sound live to be sure.  The term “wall of sound” comes to mind.  But what sound!!  That Sacred Steel plus a hard edge of rock plus gospel plus funk plus soul plus so much more, it really has a unique a intensive sound when experienced up close and personal.  In case you are unfamiliar with the roster, The Word are:  Robert Randolph (pedal steel guitar), John Medeski (keyboards), Luther Dickinson (electric guitar), Cody Dickinson (drums, washboard), and Chris Chew (bass guitar).  Virtuosos each in their own right on their own instrument, as an ensemble they are well-nigh unstoppable.  The overall sound they end up creating is a moving happenstance, one that changes the listener.  It is impossible to be in the presence of such powerfully good music without coming away a bit better than before.  Instrumental after marvelous instrumental flew past and I lamented at my ignorance of their catalogue, it being my first time seeing them and all.  However, I also know this won’t be the last time I see them nor will I refrain from grabbing their album as soon as possible.  One particularly trippy moment came in the form of some electric washboard weirdness care of Cody Dickinson.  Never heard an electric washboard before — it was fascinating.  Later on down the riveting set we got a really nice keys-heavy “Glory Glory” which also featured some searing hot slide thanks to Mr. Robert Randolph.  So much attitude, so much in-your-face.  And so appreciated!  It must also be said just how spacey and out there this band gets at times as well — an extremely well-rounded group of gents musically.  Wonderful set, wonderful times!  Really looking very much forward to my next Word show.  Let’s hope it’s not too far in the future!  However, as The Word was wrapping things we were already booking it back over to the Crane for some JRAD all up in our business…

The Word

The Word

    I couldn't possibly have anything more wonderful to say about the band that came next on the Crane Stage -- their unmatchable energy and loyal dedication to performing the music of The Grateful Dead and perform it extremely well is almost immeasurable.  All of this led by that human octopus on the drums, Mr. Joe Russo himself, the man whose intricate and complex rhythms seem to accomplish in one person what the Dead did in two.  His leadership and guidance hurtles the band time and again wonderfully down the halls of musical nostalgia, all reimagined and given new, vibrant life.  The band, of course, is Joe Russo's Almost Dead and has quickly become my favorite Dead band on the beat -- this show not being one to let me down!  They opened their set with a near picture-perfect "Reuben and Cherise", Tom Hamilton’s lead guitar and vocals so very reminiscent of Jerry.  There was also a really decent and mellow jam at the end of "Reuben" that really got the jam juices flowing for the remainder of their show taking things directly into "Feel Like a Stranger" from there.  "Stranger", in turn, went straight into a very spacey and kinda trippy "King Solomon's Marbles".  But it just so happens we have some footage of that very jam for your viewing pleasure!! 

After that epic, happily heavily instrumental and jam-laden three song run, things took a quick pause and then continued with "Alligator" featuring some sweet jazzy, honky tonk piano stylings from Marco Benevento.  Nothing like a good keys solo!  And nothing like a really, really good keys solo, either!!   Man were these boys hot tonight!  Which made the next song, "Franklin's Tower", a particularly welcome addition to the setlist that evening.  And they just spanked this crowd favorite, and spanked it well and good.  If you are looking to experience the music of the Dead in a fresh and fun and fantastic manner, then get thee to a JRAD show as soon as humanly possible.  Each new time I see them I am always left with wanting more of their renditions of my faves.  Like their final song of the night:  "Sugar Magnolia".  Sunshine daydream.  Going where the wind blows.  Man, what a great way to end a supremely excellent set.  It most certainly had all of us singing and swaying and smoothly enjoying this wonderful song.  Lost in the heady delight with a mind full of being Grateful for 1.25 hours it was time to motivate ourselves to get ready for the evening’s remaining music.  What a day of music so far and what a night to go…not to mention Saturday on the horizon.  

JRAD

JRAD

    Let’s leave you with this parting shot from Lettuce’s fire hot set, shall we?  Just a little something good and extra from our Friday at All Good: 

Saturday on the way, folks!  Stay tuned!!

 

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