Thursday, November 8, 2007

Keller Williams & The WMD's - Live 11.4.07 - Washington, D.C.

For nearly two decades Keller Williams has been fascinating audiences with his lively and imaginative performances. Manipulating sounds with an extensive array of delay systems, looping devices, and custom-made instruments, Keller has rightfully earned the title of “guitar’s mad-scientist.” He builds his songs in phases, recording each layer individually using a series of gadgets and gizmos.

Despite the improvisational nature of his stage act, even the most loyal Keller fans have expressed fear that his one-man show may be growing stale and repetitive. While the validity of that argument is clearly subjective, it appears to some extent that Keller has taken those criticisms to heart.

This past summer, Keller announced that he would be hitting the road with three brilliant colleagues from the jam band scene - bassist Keith Moseley, guitarist Gibb Droll, and legendary percussionist Jeff Sipe. What was originally thought to be a few select festival performances was expanded to include a short tour of the Southeastern U.S. this November.

The group, going by the name Keller Williams & The WMDs, made their third stop of the Fall tour at Washington D.C’.s 9:30 Club on Sunday. Soon after 8:30, Keller and his all-star entourage emerged, confirming reports that there was no supporting act. There was an arsenal of axes lined up on the stage and a slightly atypical layout; instead of being centrally positioned, the drum kit was to the far right facing the band as opposed to the crowd.

The show started with some beat box from Keller, with the others joining in one by one. There were a few minutes of warm-up jams and noodling around before the opening chords of “Best Feeling” hit with a bam. Keller sang out “for one second I felt like a kid,” and the trippy projected visuals switched to a recording of his toddler-aged daughter dancing around. As if it was the crowd’s cue, skirts began twirling, arms raised in the air, and the floor in front of the stage became a wave of motion.

The intensity built as Gibb and Keller played the call-and-answer game, finally culminating in a soaring solo from Gibb. A pained expression spread across his face and his eyes shut as he shredded his guitar with feverish energy, unleashing greatness that most performers reserve until the end of the night.

With a zip-a-dee-dip bee-bop, Keller launched into an off the cuff “Sunday Night” freestyle. Declaring it time for a “big-ass party” with a “laid-back chill groovy vibe,” he certainly set the tone for a spectacularly fun evening.

Whenever Keller (and his sense of humor) is at the helm of the ship, funny moments are to be expected. During the second set, a piece of clothing was thrown at his feet to which he commented, “I’ve never received boxer shorts on stage.” The crowd roared with laughter as he leaned forward to inspect them saying, “No I’m not going to touch them! They will be tweezered off.”

The set list was mostly material from Keller’s catalog, peppered with a few cover songs and some Gibb Droll originals. While many different genres were dabbled in throughout the night, the overall feeling was straight up funk. Keith Moseley’s intense bass grooves were at the root of that, reminiscent of funky forefathers Bootsy Collins and George Porter, Jr.

Having Jeff Sipe on sticks elevated this ensemble to the ranks of excellence. His effortless style makes drumming seem simple, and his sense of dynamic balance makes it almost possible to forget he’s there. As the show progressed, it was evident that there was a reason for the kit’s unexpected position on stage. Sipe was constantly watching his three band mates, sensing when to lay low and also when to let loose.

The mind-blowing power of Gibb Droll was perhaps the most startling surprise. There were moments when his guitar seemed liable to burst into flames from the sheer fervor of his playing, and it remains a mystery as to why this man is relatively unknown. His skills frequently inspired incredulous looks throughout the audience and on the faces of his fellow band members.

With the WMD’s, Keller has found a way to reinvent his songs and breathe new life into his act. Their cohesiveness as a group is remarkable considering they’ve only played together in this configuration since June, truly a testament to the tremendous improvisational talents of these four individuals. A night with this live music dream team promises not to disappoint.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Live 10.21.07 - Washington, D.C.

Two straight-backed, black leather chairs sat empty on the stage at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. The sold-out house, packed with hundreds of anxious Rodrigo Y Gabriela fans, bustled with rowdy anticipation. Shortly after 9:30, an uproar of applause and cheering welcomed the young guitar duo as they took their seats and strapped on their acoustic guitars.

Hailing from Mexico City, the pair definitely has a Spanish guitar sound, but to say that these two are flamenco artists would be a glaring understatement. In fact, describing their music using any conventional classifications seems inadequate. The Latin roots are undeniable, but Rodrigo Y Gabriela have truly created a style of their own - a form of jazzy acoustic hard rock you really have to see to believe.

The D.C. crowd was inspirited from the first note of the performance, clapping loudly and moving their bodies to the rhythms that Gabriela slapped out on her guitar. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed; hands moving so rapidly they are a blur, striking each chord and beat in perfect time.

At one point towards the end of the show Gabriela attempted to demonstrate her method, explaining that many people think she uses her knuckles but it is actually her wrist, thumb, middle, and ring finger. Despite slowing it down quite a bit, it’s doubtful that anyone will be able to replicate her technique.

The seemingly effortless ferocity on stage was complemented by live video providing close-up views of the fluttering fingers and impeccable artistry. Rodrigo’s deft maneuvers on the fret board exhibit a technical mastery surprising for such a young musician. He not only picks the strings but also occasionally scrapes them, creating a thunderous sound resembling a helicopter or jet engine. Whenever he was not playing, his arm raised and pumped in the air, inciting the crowd to clap along with Gabriela’s percussive taps.

About midway through the set, Gabriela finally spoke out, “Hello everybody! You’re f**king great clappers,” eliciting a wall-rumbling outburst of hoots and hollers. She mentioned a new album coming up next year with “new riffs and new harmonies,” and then added with a smile, “If you want to dance naked, no problemo,” before launching into the next song.

After this number, it was Rodrigo’s turn to address the fans. “It’s great to finally be here after two times we couldn’t,” referring to the Visa problems earlier this year which resulted in several postponed shows. He then welcomed former Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick (who had played as the opening act in the form of the Alex Skolnick Trio) to the stage, stating what an honor it was to have him there.

Once their guest had concluded his appearance, Rodrigo Y Gabriela resumed their head-banging thrash acoustica with more songs off their self-titled album and its forerunner Re-Foc. In addition to original material, the duo put their innovative spin on the Led Zeppelin classic “Stairway To Heaven,” as well as several Metallica tunes including “Orion” and “One”.

Perhaps the most stirring moment of the evening came during the hair-raising cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” which had nearly every audience member singing along. Just when it seemed Rodrigo couldn’t possibly be more impressive, he picked up his beer bottle and used it to play an amazingly smooth slide guitar solo which evoked looks of wonderment throughout the audience.

The show ended after roughly two hours of steady playing, although Rod Y Gab looked like they could keep going all night. The expressions of awe on the faces exiting the 9:30 Club were evidence that casual fans had become admirers. Rodrigo Y Gabriela have legitimately raised the bar, and their live show couldn’t come more highly recommended.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Bridge - The Bridge CD Review

There is something undeniably cathartic about driving and listening to music.

Certain albums seem to be made for the open road, and The Bridge’s self-titled release is one of those offerings. With a laid back pace and narrative lyrics referring to wheels a-turning and engines spinning, it is a very befitting companion for a trip down the highway.

The young Baltimore-bred quintet delivers a melting pot of musical styles on this latest CD – from bluegrass-flavored tunes like “Flats of the Old Avenue” and “Chains,” to the incredibly funky “Bad Locomotive” and “Shake ‘em Down.” One of The Bridge’s unique selling points is the incorporation of beat box and saxophone, adding jazz and hip-hop flare into the mix as well.

From the opening song “Get Back Up,” listeners will hear the remarkably tight instrumentation between guitarist Cris Jacobs, bassist Dave Markowitz, drummer Mike Gambone, saxophonist Patrick Rainey, and mandolin/beat boxing extraordinaire Kenny Liner. Supplementing the five core members of the group are frequent guest appearances, including organist John Ginty (Citizen Cope), pianist Mookie Siegel (Phil Lesh & Friends, Dave Nelson Band), and drummer Russell Batiste Jr. (The Funky Meters).

One of the album’s most powerful displays appears in the soulful and dynamic “Angelina.” Jacobs reveals his strength on lead vocals, showcasing a broad range and pitch perfect harmonies with backing vocalists Dave Markowitz and guest Ed Hough.

“Bad Locomotive” is an instant stand-out track, filled with beefy bass lines, smoking hot guitar licks, and a blistering solo from Jacobs that is nearing Stevie Ray Vaughan status. Ominous statements like “halfway to the burying ground” and “I sold my reason for a one-way ride” conjure images of addiction and destructive behavior, which marks a brief departure from the mostly light-hearted tone found in the rest of the album.

Beyond his abilities on the guitar and vocals, Cris Jacobs is listed as the songwriter for nine of the album’s twelve tracks. He and co-founder Kenny Liner share authorship of “The Ballad of Clear Rock,” and Liner is credited with the remaining two songs.

It was an ambitious undertaking considering the band’s heavy national touring schedule, but apparently these two were up to the challenge. What has emerged is a refreshing album with broad appeal, one that literally bridges the gap between genres and generations (and it helps with road rage, too).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Live 10.9.07 - Charlottesville, VA

The Drive-By Truckers are surely missing the talent of Jason Isbell, but from the look of his performance in Charlottesville last week, he’s not lacking anything at all. His songs, both new and old, teem with the fresh energy of a man who's no longer fenced in. His touring outfit, the 400 Unit, lay down deep-fried accompaniment that is the perfect enhancer for Jason's fiery twang rock recipe.

The boys from Muscle Shoals started this evening at the Satellite Ballroom with “Brand New Kind of Actress,” also the opener from Isbell’s debut solo album Sirens In The Ditch. They wasted no time getting into Truckers material though, following with the hard-edged “Decoration Day” to the delight of the crowd. The band was solid, and the pure power that Jason and co-guitarist Browan Lollar unleashed during the solo was a full-on assault. If there were any doubts about the 400 Unit’s capabilities, they were quickly erased.

To display his virtuosity, Jason moved to the piano for “Chicago Promenade,” a slower-tempo ballad from the new album. As he sang and tickled the keys, his raspy, smoker’s voice resembled a southern version of Tom Waits. “Are ya’ll having a good time?,” he asked as he reclaimed his axe and took a swig of beer. The audience cheered with a resounding yes, and they were rewarded with more hammering drums, deep bass grooves, southern-style vocal harmonies, and blistering guitar interplay.

Jason Isbell and the members of the 400 Unit have an evident chemistry and camraderie, which surely lends a great deal to the vibe on stage. They seem to be having fun while also remaining committed to their musicianship, something that is decidedly more difficult than it looks.

Between songs, while switching from electric to acoustic, Jason commented on Charlottesville calling it a “beautiful town with beautiful people” and repeatedly thanked everyone for coming out and listening. While most musicians give these obligatory nods to the fans, Jason’s came across as sincerely grateful. He then announced that he and the band would play their one bluegrass song, “The Magician.” While it didn’t have the same “pow” factor as the electric songs, it further exposed the members' multi-talented abilities.

After a brief smoke break, the reinvigorated band emerged and blasted into "Never Gonna Change," a song written for the Drive-By Truckers 2004 release The Dirty South. This was perhaps the highlight of the evening, with the back-end more lively than it had been all night.

In addition to Jason's self-penned material, the band also threw in a couple cover songs – the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” Eric Clapton’s “Please Be With Me,”,and ending with Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” – all of which were remarkably impressive and faithful to the originals.


Brand New Kind of Actress
Decoration Day
Chicago Promenade
Down In A Hole
Psycho Killer
Goddamn Lonely Love
The Magician
Please Be With Me
Never Gonna Change
In A Razor Town

The Assassin

Monday, September 17, 2007

Harptallica - Live 9.15.07 - Virginia Beach, VA

Imagine sitting at the symphony and suddenly a mosh pit breaks out in the balcony. The scene during Harptallica’s set at the FM99 Lunatic Luau festival this Saturday was nearly as bizarre. There were no guitars on stage, no drums, no bass – just harps. “You are the first audience ever to crowd surf at a harp show,” announced Ashley Toman, founding member of the Metallica tribute band.

This was all she needed to say. Once she and bandmate Patricia Kline struck the opening notes of “Unforgiven”, the onslaught of crowd surfing was relentless. The girls were visibly distracted by the feet hurtling towards them and their costly instruments, but they recovered quickly and barely missed a beat. Ashley, clad in jeans and a Misfits t-shirt, got her whole body into the act, plucking the strings vigorously and shaking her head with eyes shut. Patricia’s method was more reserved but equally as skillful. When feedback reared its ugly head, the ladies pressed on unflinchingly.

In an arena filled with hard-rock fans, most likely there to see headliners Buckcherry, Papa Roach, and Hinder, it was admittedly surprising to witness the audience soaking in Harptallica’s approach to these familiar songs. As the only female performers at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater that day, they were in a presumably intimidating position. They took the challenge admirably, and the cry for “Encore! Encore!” after the finish of “Enter Sandman” was evidence that the festival-goers hadn’t yet had enough Harptallica. Unfortunately, due to the time restraints when several bands are sharing a stage, the girls were unable to give their admirers another sample.

While their live performance was impressive, the adaptations of these songs were the strongest evidence of artistry. Ashley has arranged hard-hitting anthems like “Battery” and “Master of Puppets” in a way that manages to capture that intensity on a harp, an instrument that is far from being considered “bad-ass.” It’s Metallica gone through anger management, and oddly enough, it works.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

MINK - Live 9.9.07 - Norfolk, VA

Most young musicians (and fans alike) can only dream about sharing the stage with one of their idols. Every once in a while though, the stars align and a band somehow breaks through the static.

Such is the case for MINK, the Australian/New York based group who has already performed with KISS and is currently touring with rock legend Perry Farrell and his latest outfit, Satellite Party. Add to this a debut album produced by veteran Sylvia Massy, and I think it’s safe to say MINK is off to a damn fine start.

While these are some pretty impressive accolades in print, it’s tough to determine talent until you witness it firsthand. On Sunday night in Norfolk, MINK gave me and my fellow Virginians a chance to do just that. As the house lights dimmed, the band quickly launched straight into their high energy “Madame Chung” and I felt my head begin bobbing instantly. MINK’s pop-infused punk rock sound is well suited to a midsize venue like the NorVa, and the band seemed completely at ease. MINK continued the intensity with their first single, the incredibly catchy “Talk To Me”, and I soon saw other audience members bouncing along to the beat as well.

At this point, I heard several people commenting on the percussionist. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I saw a female drummer, but I can say without a doubt I have never seen one as competent as Ms. Stella Mozgawa. With her ferocious rhythms, I believe she could give even the beefiest, burliest man on the kit a run for his money.

Lead singer Neal Carson comes across as a modern-day amalgam of classic rock frontmen – his strut reminiscent of Mick Jagger, his penchant for the mic cord akin to Roger Daltrey’s, and his tight pants evocative of Robert Plant. He definitely knows how to work the stage too, locking eyes with crowd members and occasionally grabbing their outreached hands. His vocals are an intriguing blend of fierceness and softness, simultaneously familiar and unique.

Bassist Grant Fitzpatrick and lead guitarist Nick Maybury provided some solid backing vocals throughout the first half of the set while the guitars remained relatively stripped down and unembellished. Then during “Pressure Pressure”, with the help of rhythm guitarist David Lowy, the three axe men totally stole the show. Nick seemed to realize, holding his guitar outward from his body as if he was channeling a higher power. The band rode this wave into the next number, “Jodi”, featuring a downright sexy bass and drum break (complete with red light effect.

The most passionate crowd response came with the surprisingly ballsy cover of Bowie’s “Suffragette City”, which really got the people singing and dancing along. Neal thanked us and the band closed out the set with “Pills” and “Get It Right”, two more fast-paced rockers from their recent eponymous release.

I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to MINK. If you’re in the mood for some pure, fun, party-time rock and roll that makes you feel young again, look no further.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Allman Brothers Band - Live 8.14.07 - Bristow, VA

The Allman Brothers Band
Nissan Pavilion – Bristow, VA
August 14, 2007 – 6:30 PM
Supporting Act – Bob Weir & Ratdog

Last night was absolutely mind-blowing, and the current state of my brain definitely confirms that. I still have a smile on my face (and grass stains on my feet) even though I’m at work and running on few hours of sleep + lots of coffee. The performance (and the whole experience) exceeded all of my expectations. The weather was picture perfect, the lawn was open for business, and the crowd was just the right size. We met quite a few colorful characters – one guy in the beer line who was our own personal stand-up comedian.

The band took the stage at 9:00pm, and the music didn’t stop for two glorious hours.

Hot ‘Lanta, Statesboro Blues, Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More, Midnight Rider, Maydell, Soulshine (with Ron Holloway on sax), Wasted Words, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (with Jeff Chimenti on keys), Leave My Blues At Home, Trouble No More, Same Thing > Bass > Drums >Same Thing (with Ron Holloway on sax)
Encore: Melissa, Jessica

Sunday night, the show started off at a simmer. Last night, they came out scalding with “Hot ‘Lanta” into the unshakable crowd-pleaser, “Statesboro Blues”. They kept the hits coming with “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” and another audience favorite, “Midnight Rider”. Then it was time for some Warren Haynes originals. “Maydell” sure put the squeeze on me – the guitar work and Warren’s vocals had me crying out to the heavens. I didn’t think it could get better, but that opening riff of “Soulshine” nearly brought me to my knees. One of the best songs ever written in my humble opinion, and Ron Holloway on sax sends it soaring. Our other guest of the evening, Ratdog’s keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, laid down some vicious piano on “Schoolgirl” while Gregg took a break. There was no relenting once Gregg came back out. Willie Dixon’s “Same Thing” was perhaps the pinnacle of the evening for me, if I had to choose. Also, I am in love with the bass and drums combo they have going on now. As I said before, it’s great to see Oteil getting more of the limelight. The night ended with the two beautiful belles of the ball, “Melissa” and “Jessica”, leaving me with an entirely different setlist than Sunday night. I wish I had more hands so I could give this show TEN thumbs up!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

North Mississippi Allstars - Live 7.28.07 - FloydFest 6

I can’t even begin to describe how fantastic the guys were on Saturday night. Then again, it’s impossible for me to be objective at this point. Trust me despite my bias – you absolutely, positively MUST go see the Allstars if you get the opportunity. Straight up blues, boogie, funk, rock, country – you name it, these fellas can lay it down. Kurt Clayton has started sitting in on keys for some shows, and I had the pleasure of seeing him for the first time at FloydFest. The element he adds is incredible, never distracting, like he was meant to play with ‘em. I also got to see Chris break in his new Lakland and it was mmm mmm good. The MC pulled me aside and told me Big Chew was the best bassist he’d ever seen in his life, and he certainly got no arguments from me ;o) The brothers Dickinson were on fire as usual. Luther is not wasting any time ascending the ranks to guitar god status, and Cody is just plain killer on the drums. They were only scheduled to play til 12:15, and it was about 12:45 when they started the encore. The crowd was going nuts – I’d be curious to know how many people came to FloydFest to see the NMAs, cause they were packed in like sardines as far as the eye could see. During the “All Night Long” encore, a young man, he couldn’t have been older than 13 or 14, came out and just SHREDDED it. I was floored when I looked up and realized it was a kid. Apparently, he is/was a student at Dave Matthews’ guitar school, but skills like that can not be taught, he played like an old pro. I was jealous of his cool factor – this kid is going places. Eventually I’ll get back to you with his name….

EDIT: The "young shredder" referenced above is Willie DE - he was at the festival performing with his band, The Wave.

Anyway, if I didn’t say it enough by now, the show was amazing. I’m still quite exhausted, though. We got lost for about an hour and a half leaving the festival grounds, I was in a rental car because the Kia was broken, and I’ve spent about 15 hours on the road in the past two days. But was it worth it? Hell yeah!

PS: I wasn’t kidding when I said go see these guys (click here for tour dates ) – they’ve got gigs lined up all over the country through the rest of the year – a few supporting the Allman Brothers and the Black Crowes, and then a 6 week tour with Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite, and Joe Krown. I know The Grammys are a sham these days, but still, they didn’t get nominated for three for nothing.

PS: Total praise & gratitude towards the special gentleman who made this night amazing :O)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

King Wilkie & Sarah White - Live 7.21.07 - Charlottesville, VA

King Wilkie w/ Sarah White opening
Satellite Ballroom – Charlottesville, VA
July 21, 2007, 10:00 PM

You know you’ve got a concert addiction when you’re going to see people you’ve never even heard of. In my experience, some of the coolest musical discoveries are made in those spur of the moment occasions. So, in that spirit, last night I decided to go check out King Wilkie at the Satellite Ballroom. Of course, I did some cursory research and found out they’re a bluegrassy-americana style band. It felt like a good night for that, so I figured it was worth a shot. I had an ulterior motive as well – I’ve really wanted to scope the venue that has replaced my beloved Starr Hill. I’ll cut to the chase – this place doesn’t hold a candle :( The acoustics were awful, the vibe was sterile and impersonal, and the parking is no longer free (unless you have a Charlottesville native with you, which fortunately I did). I don’t like to say only negative things – the seating options were better, and it definitely wasn’t as hot. Oh and there were some trippy projected images on the wall behind the bar. Yeah, I’m reaching :/

We got there right as Sarah White took the stage. There was no back-up band – just her and her guitar, which I respect the hell out of. Her voice reminded me of Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Sarah McLachlan….classic yet ragged. The flaws are what make it. Her songs are soothing, combining elements of country, folk, and rock. If you’re into a raw, simple sound and lyrics that tell a story, you’ll probably like this chick. You can check out a few songs on her Myspace page.

About 15 minutes after Sarah’s set finished, the gentlemen of King Wilkie emerged – six young fellas clad in button-down shirts and ties, easy on the eyes to say the least. They assumed their positions next to their respective instruments – an upright bass, 2 guitars, a banjo, a fiddle, and a mandolin. The first song was a real knee-slapper, conjuring up images of hoedowns and dosey-do. They lost their momentum after that first one, though. The next few songs were much softer, sweeter, and sloooowwwer. The fiddle and the vocal harmonies were gorgeous, and I was so relaxed I felt like I’d taken a Unisom. If I had been seated, I definitely would’ve been snoring. As I fought back the yawns, I told my friend Hillary how much more enjoyable this music would be if it were an afternoon show, or if I was lying in a hammock at the beach. I really enjoyed their sound, kinda similar to Nickel Creek and Union Station, with a 3-man vocal harmony reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Their timing and dynamic changes were impeccable, their songs were balanced and well-written – my only complaint was the choice of setlist. When it’s past midnight, you might wanna play something that keeps your audience awake. I will definitely be buying a CD though – if insomnia ever hits, I’ve got just the cure!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Keller Williams - Live 7.14.07 - Charlottesville, VA

Keller Williams w/ Bob Weir & Ratdog
Charlottesville Pavilion – Charlottesville, VA
July 14, 2007, 6:00 PM

Saturday shows are by far my favorites. When work’s not looming on the horizon, I can finally breathe easy and let my freak flag fly! Ahhh…the blissful concert afterglow. For my money, there’s no better way to undo life’s stresses.

So, I got to Charlottesville early to meet up with Amanda for some grub. After we ate, we wandered towards the venue, and as if the delicious food wasn’t enough to set the day off right, I’ll be damned if we didn’t get to hear Keller’s Soundcheck!!! First off was a pretty killer rendition of Dave Mathew’s “Jimi Thing”. A sizeable crowd started to form, and Keller seemed to become aware of the audience. He made a slight chord shift, and sang in one of his silliest of voices, ♪I would swallow my pride, I would choke on the rinds…♪ Haha. Eve 6’s “Inside Out”. “Play This” and a couple other warm-up jams followed, then some fine piano work on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. Just when I thought the soundcheck was over, Bob Weir came out and the two played “Brown-Eyed Women”, a favorite of mine from the Grateful Dead collection ♪Brown-eyed women and red grenadine, the bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean♪ Yup, Robert Hunter wrote some great party lyrics. After soundcheck, we still had plenty of time to kill before the show, so we went and had seriously the BEST gelato I have ever had in my life. I wish I had an endless supply of that stuff.

EDIT: I still can't stop thinking about that gelato from Splendora's. Mmm. I highly recommend the place.

Fast forward to 6 pm. We have our spot staked out on the lawn, the weather is fantastic, $5 beers in hand. This was my 5th time seeing Keller, and he’s still at the top of his game. I am more in love every time. The setlist had some Keller classics, “Fuel for the Road”, “People Watchin’”, “Bob Rules”, “Love Handles”; as well as some fun cover songs, “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”, “Wanted Dead or Alive”, “Rapper’s Delight”, and the “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” that we’d heard him rehearse earlier. Bob came out again to close out Keller’s set, and I got to hear “Brown-Eyed Women” again. Score!

Bob Weir & Ratdog - Live 7.14.07 - Charlottesville, VA

Bob Weir & Ratdog w/ Keller Williams
Charlottesville Pavilion – Charlottesville, VA
July 14, 2007, 6:00 PM

Things were becoming warm, fuzzy, and hazy by the time Bob & the band emerged :O) There was a huge turnout for this show – Deadheads everywhere. This was my first time seeing Ratdog, so I had no clue what to expect. Well, turns out I should have expected GREATNESS . Bob Weir is THE MAN , and the guys in the band are all amazing. I heard from someone in the crowd that Steve Kimock was filling in for the guitarist, and no offense to Mark, but that made me quite happy. Steve’s always on point and I love any opportunity to see him in action. Also, another tidbit I heard that last night was

Bob Weir’s 750th show!

The internet confirmed this fact and all I can say is holy freaking crap, that’s ridiculous.

They didn’t waste any time, and started us off with a blazing jam that slowly escalated into “The Music Never Stopped”, which got everyone up and dancing. Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and Dylan’s “Senor” were the cover tunes for the first set, along with a few other songs I didn’t recognize. Then the set closed with one of the night’s highlights, the towering “Eyes of the World”. My girl Lizzie recently mentioned the moment where you lose yourself in the music, and “Eyes of the World” took me to that place. A helluva way to end the first set.

I didn’t think the guys would be able to surpass that “Eyes”, and for the first few songs of the second set, they didn’t. Then, I heard that funky opening riff of “Estimated Prophet” and Weir’s voice sounded like it hadn’t aged a bit as he sang out ♪California!♪ They didn’t relent, calling up the thunder in “The Other One” – followed by a deep version of The Beatle’s “Dear Prudence”, and closing out the second set with the BEST “One More Saturday Night” I have ever seen. The energy on that song made me feel like I might explode. The crowd hooted and hollered as the stage went black. The encore came quickly, and I can’t begin to explain how happy I was. “Ripple” – one of my most beloved Dead songs. I nearly cried because I wished it was Jerry up on stage, but somehow Bob channeled him. I could not have walked away more impressed. I am now a full-blown Bob Weir & Ratdog fan. Worth every penny.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Umphrey's McGee - Live 6.27.07 - Charlottesville, VA

The D.U.M.B Tour
Umphrey’s McGee co-headlining with The Disco Biscuits
Charlottesville Pavilion – Charlottesville, VA
June 27, 2007, 6:50PM

Whenever there is a jamband-y show at the Charlottesville Pavilion, the pedestrian mall leading up to the venue gets taken over by swarms of hippies. This amuses me to no end. You can see the look of terror on locals’ faces as they’re dining at the outdoor cafés and are suddenly engulfed in a sea of tie-dye, dreadlocks, and patchouli. It’s one of the few times and places where you witness the awkward, and hilarious, intermingling of the hippies and the squares.

Sadly, I didn’t have time to take all that in like I usually do. I was running late, and my bladder was about to explode. I rushed through the hippie promenade and got to the Pavilion just in time to hear Umphrey’s take the stage. I still hadta pee, and let me tell you, the bathrooms are such an upgrade from the porta-potties that used to be there. Also, LADIES, some really generous female fans of Umphrey’s McGee (a group called 2nd Self) came up with just about the greatest idea I’ve ever seen. They placed baskets of feminine products, hand lotion, condoms, mints, etc. next to all the sinks. How extremely sweet and much appreciated!

I grabbed my first beer and weaved through the crowd. I counted at least 4 Tool shirts on my way to the front, confirming my theory that Umphrey’s is the Tool fans jamband. I made it to the stage at the exact moment they started into the second song of the evening, a long-time favorite of mine, “Jimmy Stewart.”

Plunger > “Jimmy Stewart” > Plunger > The Fuzz > Partyin’ Peeps, Wizard Burial Ground, Thin Air, Great American > Got Your Milk (Right Here), All In Time, YYZ

The crowd was visibly sluggish from the muggy heat, but “Partyin’ Peeps” got everyone moving and getting their groove on. ♪ The beat is kickin’ in, we’ve got a second wind ♪ Brendan Bayliss’ voice has a quality that breaks into my brain and captures me, very similar to the effect of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd. This is not to diminish the impact of the other band members, since 4 out of the 6 of them are equally active and talented with the vocals. The tightness of the ensemble is impressive; everything they do is gleaming. If they were ever out of step, I didn’t notice it. They improvise and jam, but they serve up their noodles al denté. In one song, they are playing synchronized runs that conjure images of the Allman Brothers, in the next song, they sound like Iron Maiden. Their newest, “Wizard Burial Ground,” was heavy and totally bad ass. Then Joel Cummins brings this jazzy piano solo, paving the way for the percussionists to infuse yet another genre into the mix – bongos + steel drum = Caribbean. Towards the end of their set, Bayliss reenacted Chappelle’s “Tyrone Shuffle”, which seemed to go unnoticed by everyone but me. Brendan, if you read this, I saw that and I cheered! They closed out with a stellar cover of Rush’s “YYZ” (teasing “Spirit of Radio” at the end) which left me even hungrier for more. They’re playing in Norfolk, VA tonight…damn this day job! As the roadies set up for the Disco Biscuits, I found myself wishing that it wasn’t a co-bill. Bisco is alright, but they just don’t do it for me like Umphrey’s McGee.

PS: A thanks to my special friend who made this evening possible

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drive-By Truckers - Live 6.22.07 - Richmond, VA

Drive-By Truckers
Brown’s Island in Richmond, VA
June 22, 2007; 6:00 PM
Opening Act: Patty Hurst Shifter

The Drive-By Truckers kick ass. This was my first time seeing them, but it will definitely not be the last (if I can help it). Why did it take me so long? Well, stupidly, I steered clear of these guys (and gal) for awhile. I wrongfully assumed I wouldn’t get into them because of the twang and storytelling, figured it was too much country for my liking. Then a couple years back, a friend played Southern Rock Opera for me. I did a complete 180. I had to burn a copy immediately.

To get me in the mood, I jammed out to The Dirty South on my drive down the mountain to Richmond. The weather was lovely on Friday night, warm with a nice breeze. We missed most of the opening band, Patty Hurst Shifter, while in line for wristbands and beer. Luckily, the crowd was small enough that we managed to stake a spot up front, center stage. At about 8:00 pm, the Truckers came out, passing a fifth of Jack Daniels while they tuned their instruments. Patterson’s big ‘ole grin is instantly engaging and infectious. “I love you too, fucker,” he replies to a cheering fan as they launch into the first song.

Bulldozers and Dirt
Uncle Frank
After The Scene Dies (NEW – Patterson)
A Ghost To Most (NEW – Cooley)
The Living Bubba
Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife (NEW – Patterson)
Marry Me
Self Destructive Zones
Tales Facing Up
18 Wheels Of Love
Zip City
The Story Of The Road Cases
Road Cases
Shut Up And Get On The Plane
Let There Be Rock
Angels And Fuesalage
Buttholeville->State Trooper->Buttholeville

The highlight of the night for me was the second half of the set – especially “18 Wheels of Love”, a song that’s rarely played. Patterson told a hilarious story of the song’s history – how his mother went to work at a trucking company, met Chester the truck driver, and this song was Patterson’s wedding gift to them. “They were married at Dollywood – I can not make this shit up,” he said. He then told the crowd that Chester has been quite sick as of late, and he was dedicating the night’s performance to him and a speedy recovery. Keep him in your prayers. “Road Cases” was another great one, introduced with a story about the rise and fall of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. “Let There Be Rock” had the whole crowd screaming along with fists raised in the air, “Bon Scott singin’ let there be rock!!!”

It was also cool to hear some of the new material. Patterson revealed that they had just started working on the album a few weeks ago, and they’d be back in December when it was finished. Scott Baxendale, custom guitar extraordinaire, joined the stage for the encore of “Buttholeville” into “State Trooper”.

I was sad to see them go after just one set, but I have no right to complain when it’s free!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Medeski, Martin, & Wood - Live 5.24.07 - Richmond, VA

Medeski Martin & Wood
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA
May 24, 2007, 6:00PM
Ticket Price $25
Opening Act: Homemade Bread

The evening was beautiful – my first time seeing Medeski Martin & Wood and my first visit to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Being there, I remembered how I love plants (not just the ones you smoke ;). I felt an instant sense of peace when I walked through the gates. The flowers and the greenery were in full bloom, little hippie children were running around, and the weather was ideal. I made a spur of the moment decision to go to the show, so I figured it would be a solo venture. Luckily, Amanda had the day off and accompanied me.

We got there about midway through the opening band’s set. Homemade Bread they were called, and they sounded pretty good. Their style was funky and jazzy, and the vocals were solid. The saxophone player, David Gay I believe, really impressed me. Definitely want to check out more from these guys, but I’m having difficulties locating them on the web, can’t even find ‘em on Myspace. I think they need my marketing assistance ;o)

EDIT: I came across this snippet about Homemade Bread on the Haymaker Festival website.

I used the break before MMW to wander around and snap some more pictures of the gardens. Gorgeous! I can’t believe I go to Richmond so frequently and don’t take advantage of that place.

The stroll through the plant labyrinth (along with the beers) had me nicely relaxed and primed for the MMW set. The crowd cheered as John Medeski made his way over to the piano, with Chris Wood and Billy Martin following shortly there after. They each took their time warming up – Medeski getting used to the feel of the piano, Wood tuning his upright bass, Martin organizing his giant arsenal of percussion equipment. Unlike a rock ensemble, where the first song is like a blast to the face; Medeski, Martin, and Wood slowly built up to their introductory number. (Disclaimer: I wasn’t able to identify the tunes by name since I am not very well versed in the MMW catalog). They started off with a straight-up jazz piece. As the intensity built, Martin and Wood brought the rhythm, laying the foundation for Medeski to show his stuff. It wasn’t long before he was standing and strumming the strings of the grand piano as if it were a stringed instrument (well, it is technically, but you know what I mean). For the second song, Medeski pulled out his melodica and Wood switched to the electric bass, and the sound shifted from jazz to world music. They got into some deep grooves throughout their 90 minute set, but the highlight was definitely the encore cover of “What’d I Say?”. People who had been seated all night got up and joined the rest of us in the hippie shuffle. MMW was exactly what the doctor ordered for me, but I heard some folks commenting that it was too jazzy for their tastes. My guess is that most of these people miss the guitar. I thought it was a refreshing change to have the focus be on the piano; I miss that instrument in music. Definitely seeing this trio whenever they come around Virginia again.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit - Live 5.9.07 - Richmond, VA

Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit
Innsbrook Pavilion in Glen Allen, VA
May 9, 2007, 6:30 PM

Even though I’ve been to the Innsbrook Pavilion many times before, it still trips me up that the place is nestled inside a giant office park. Not your typical location for a concert venue, but somehow the folks over there have made it work. There are some drawbacks to the area, though. For one, the crowd is normally littered with white-collar professionals who are much more interested in social hour than music (an ongoing beef of mine). Secondly, the security is tighter than the proverbial duck’s arse. While the police presence didn’t confront me none, the constant chitter-chatter certainly cheesed me off. I meandered through the crowd searching for a quiet haven to enjoy the show, which I did, right in front of the speaker. It’s sad when that’s the only place you can go and actually hear over the talking, but hey, you do what you have to do.

By the time I got settled, the sun was setting and the Aquarium Rescue Unit was already about 30 minutes in to their set. The group, considered the forerunner of the modern day jam band scene, has had an ever-changing lineup since its inception in the late 80s. Wednesday night, the ARU consisted of some familiar faces to me – founding member and “Godfather of Jam” Col. Bruce Hampton, current Widespread Panic guitarist Jimmy Herring, and the Allman Brothers Band’s current bassist Oteil Burbridge as well as Jeff Sipe aka Apt Q-258 (percussion) and Bobby Lee Rodgers (banjo/vocals) both of whom were new to me. Since this was my first ARU gig, I didn’t recognize much of what I was hearing. You didn’t have to know the songs to know it was some straight-up goodness, though. These guys rarely play together nowadays, so it was beyond a treat to have this opportunity. The band laid down some of the sickest grooves I have ever witnessed – impeccably fusing rock, bluegrass, jazz, you name it. I have heard before that Oteil is limited by the Allman Brothers Band; judging by his performance Wednesday night, that assessment is correct. He really took command over a good portion of the show, singing and scatting while dropping some scorching hot bass lines. Someone awesome captured footage and posted it on YouTube –

When Oteil wasn’t directing traffic, Col. Bruce graced us with his rough and rootsy vocals. Even though he is considered the band leader, he deserves to lay low if that’s what he’s feeling – the man is an unacknowledged legend. He just has that quality about him – you know you’re in the presence of greatness. And then there’s Jimmy Herring, who is a master of his craft. Most people know Warren Haynes is one of my favorite living guitarists, but Jimmy is now closing that gap. He shreds it and totally floors me with his solos. If he sang, too, Warren might have a real fight on his hands. See what I mean –

Towards the middle of the set, Derek Trucks came out for a few songs and we got a short glimpse of the amazing chemistry between him and Jimmy (more to come during the DTB set). Then, a very young man appeared on the drums who was later identified as Derek’s little brother, Duane. With their uncle Butch playing drums for the Allman Brothers, the Trucks family is building quite the musical pedigree. The ARU closed out their set with a splendid rendition of “Turn On Your Lovelight,” and the roadies got to work on setting up DTB ’s equipment.

If you EVER have the opportunity to see the Aquarium Rescue Unit, you absolutely should. They made a hell of a first impression on me. I have run out of ways to say amazing, so I’ll just leave it at that.

PS: A special thanks to the wonderful man who made this evening possible :P

Derek Trucks Band - Live 5.9.07 - Richmond, VA

The Derek Trucks Band special co-bill with Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit

Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit
The Derek Trucks Band
Innsbrook Pavilion in Glen Allen, VA
May 9, 2007, 6:30 PM

The sun had set, the crowd had thickened and at about 8:30 pm, Derek’s entourage emerged. No words, no introductions – they just launched straight in.

Volunteered Slavery >
I’ll Find My Way
Crow Jane
Sahib Teri Bandi
Soul Serenade (with Duane Trucks on drums)
Meet Me In The Bottom (1st Time Played)
Goin’ Home (1st Time Played)
Joyful Noise (with Jimmy Herring on guitar, Oteil Burbridge on bass, and Jeff Sipe on drums)

Mahjoun > Greensleeves (with Jimmy Herring & Jeff Sipe)
Key To The Highway (with Duane Trucks & Jimmy Herring)


This was my fifth time seeing the Derek Trucks Band on stage, and as always, I have nothing but compliments. These guys have incredible unity, with a sound that is so direct and pure. You can tell by their masterful fusion of different genres that they are drawing on a huge musical vocabulary. You won’t get much stage antics from these guys, either – aside from drummer Yonrico Scott’s facial expressions and band introductions. “On lead vocals and beautiful afro, Mr. Mike Mattison; on keyboard and flute, Mr. Kofi Burbridge; on bass guitar, Mr. Todd-don’t call him small…but he is small Smallie; on percussion, Count M’Butu; and on the guitar…….MR. DEREK TRUCKS !” Aside from those introductions and a “thank you for coming out” at the end of the night, the band lets their music do the talking.

“Crow Jane,” a grinding delta blues tune, is one of my favorites to hear. Close your eyes and listen to Mike Mattison’s falsetto singing, and you might think it’s a woman up there on stage. I use this description in the most flattering way; the man has an incredibly diverse, soulful voice and is comfortable letting it fly however it sounds best. “Sahib Teri Bandi” is another one of my top picks, mainly because of Kofi Burbridge’s flute playing (takes me back to when I was a flutist in my high school marching band heh). “Meet Me In The Bottom” and “Goin’ Home” were both performed for the first time – I was keeping track of the setlist and they threw me a curveball with those two. I wrote this review a few days back, but my dedication to detail prevented me from posting until I found out those song titles (thanks DTB setlists!).

The highlight of the night was unequivocally the “Joyful Noise” featuring 3 percussionists, 2 bassists, and 2 guitarists. Each musician had his time in the spotlight, with Oteil reconfirming that the Allman Brothers fence him in. And then you have the interplay between Derek and Jimmy. Is there anything more awesome than the guitar call and answer? My soul just feels lighter when I’m watching two musicians at the top of their game “talking” to each other musically. Jimmy and Derek are both men of limited expression while they’re playing, but I caught Jimmy smiling in amazement as Derek did his thing, and Derek had more grins than I’ve ever seen him have on stage. All of the guys looked like they were having an insane amount of fun, and it definitely rubbed off on the audience. People around me were clutching their chests and looking up to the sky as if to thank God for this beautiful music. When the song was finished, the crowd applauded and cheered and begged the boys to return to the stage. I was thrilled to see Jimmy return with the rest of the band. The “Greensleeves” arrangement that Derek does is incredible, although by that point it made me want to lay down for a nap. Luckily, it was an abbreviated version, and they went out with a bang – “Key To The Highway.” Mike unleashed everything he had left, and Derek channeled Duane with some of the most heart-wrenching slide guitar work I’ve ever heard. I’ve seen them perform this song several times now, but I think the addition of Jimmy Herring made Derek up the ante. He gets better every time I see him.

Derek Trucks Band is on the do-not-miss list for me. The guys are playing in DC Wednesday night, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s gonna be tough for me to keep the Kia parked in the driveway!

PS: Again, a very special thank you to the great friend who made this evening possible

Friday, May 4, 2007

Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival - 4.27 - 4.29.07

My first trip to California was as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be, and the Coachella craziness was well worth every penny spent. My only complaint – I’m still struggling to process it all! Try as I might, there’s no way I can relay all of the fabulous sights & sounds. There were so many, and I missed plenty. The sleep deprivation and scorching heat apparently wiped my brain of its ability to remember things. I saw 20+ acts, and there were very few that I didn’t enjoy. Still, I had my favorites:

Satellite Party
Rufus Wainwright
The Nightwatchman
Kings of Leon
Ghostface Killah
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Black Keys
The Roots

And of course, this goes without saying, Rage Against The Machine were as intense and phenomenal as I dreamed they would be. Unlike my cohorts, I didn’t survive the pit through Manu Chao. I thought I could hang, but I got smashed into some guy’s armpit and I didn’t want to die with BO as my last memory. I figured it was better to get out while I could still walk, so I shoved my way through the crowd. I got lucky, though (there are still kind people in this world) and ended up getting a spot in front of the crowd, on the left-side of the stage. I couldn’t see Brad, but I had a practically unobstructed view of Tom, Zack, and Tim. The crowd energy was insane, and somehow my tired, achy body was healed for that hour or so. I have never jumped up and down more at a concert. It gave me goosebumps to hear the people chanting each word along with Zack. And I have seen plenty of guitarists, but none do exactly what Tom Morello does. Say what you want about his technical abilities, he is one of the most unexampled musicians out there today (in my humble opinion).

Anyhow, I wish I could tell more compelling tales of the experience, but I’m still so overwhelmed. I will say this, though, the horror stories I read were not all true. I thought the event was well organized, there were plenty of places to cool off if you were getting overheated, bottles of water were $2 (but there were fountains where you could refill for free and a recycle program), food was consistently good, and the acoustic bleeding from stage to stage wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d heard it would be. If I ever have the time and money, I will definitely consider going again.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Widespread Panic - Live 4.3.07 - Richmond, VA

Widespread Panic
Landmark Theater in Richmond, VA
April 3, 2007, 7:30 PM
Ticket Price: $45

Going to see Widespread Panic gives me a sort of giddy excitement that only a few other bands can top. Now that they have guitarist Jimmy Herring in the mix, the energy is insane. They nearly blew the roof off the Landmark Theater in the second set. I will say, though, that I prefer the Pan-Pan in outdoor venues. There are six guys on stage, and that’s a lot of sound to be contained by four walls. Our seats were at the top of the theater, too, so the vocals were a little washed out. But no matter. The jams made up for it. And I’m used to dancing on the grass, so the plush carpet was a nice change of pace.

Part of the joy of Panic shows, for me, is the interaction between fans. There are really no strangers; we’re all united in our love of the music. And I really look forward to seeing everyone in their hippie garb.

Set 1: From The Cradle > Fishwater, Better Off, Angels on High, You Should Be Glad, Flicker > Greta, You Got Yours, Give

Set 2: This Part Of Town > All Time Low > Diner > Party At Your Mama’s House > Airplane > Drums > Impossible > One Arm Steve > Love Tractor

Encore: Pilgrims > Blackout Blues

On the way to shows, I always like to name my 3 wishlist songs for the night. This time I wanted Surprise Valley, Climb To Safety, and Fishwater. Well, I got Fishwater second song of the night. Can’t ask for more than that. Flicker is a new song that they’re working on, and we Virginians got blessed with it’s first on-stage debut. Excellent.

Set 1 was definitely a warm-up for Set 2. I think they must’ve tweaked the sound a little bit, too, cause the vocals were slightly clearer. The boys didn’t relent in bringing the hotness – This Part of Town into All Time Low into DINER ! into PAYMH into AIRPLANE !!! Then the bongo and drum time ensued. You can always pick out the moderate fans – they sit down during the drum solos, hehe. Anyway, it seemed like a lot of people were complaining about the sound, but always in the context of, “If they sounded that good with crappy sound, imagine how awesome they’ll be this summer.” I can’t wait!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Rose Hill Drive - Live 3.8.07 - Washington DC

When I went to see The Who last week, I had no clue about the opening band. I got to the venue at 7:30, and shortly thereafter, the lights went down. Three young-looking lads with hair almost down to their waists come out and launch right into some good ole-fashioned style, loud rock ‘n’ roll. They get instant brownie points from me – I have a thing for power trios (and longhairs). Their sound is definitely borrowed heavily from Black Sabbath, the Rolling Stones – also reminds me a little bit of Wolfmother. Their lyrics aren’t particularly memorable, but their stage presence and sound are. No frills, nothing too fancy – just straight up RAWK !

My only complaint was I did not know who they were. The frontman mumbled their name 2 or 3 times, but never clearly enough for me to make out what he said. The people in the crowd around me were all wondering as well. It’s a shame they didn’t have some sort of banner posted or something. I bet a lot of these people won’t take the time to find out who they are. Lucky for them, I am uncompromising when it comes to these matters, and I wouldn’t stop the Google searches until I uncovered that they were Rose Hill Drive from Boulder, Colorado. The band consists of two brothers, Daniel and Jake Sproul in the front, with friend Nate Barnes on drums. Here’s the kicker – not one band member exceeds the age of 23. And they’re already opening for the freaking Who! That must be quite a head trip for them. I expect good things to come from these guys. I’m really looking forward to seeing them grow, and I highly recommend them. Check out this little promo video -

For more –
Rose Hill Drive on Myspace
Rose Hill Drive Website

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Who - Live 3.8.07 - Washington DC

The Who
Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
March 8, 2007, 7:30 PM
Ticket Price $121.50
Opening Act: Rose Hill Drive (Stay tuned for another post about these guys – they rawk!)

This was my second time seeing The Who on this tour, and I was blown away again. Daltrey’s vocals sounded even more powerful than they did last time, and Townshend, well, what can I say? His playing, stage presence, songwriting – simply astonishing. Although he’s 61 years young, his guitar work hasn’t petered out at all. He strikes each note and chord with precision, and channels incredible energy into every riff.

We got all the greatest hits – I Can’t Explain, The Seeker, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Baba O’Riley, Eminence Front, You Better You Bet, My Generation, Won’t Get Fooled Again, and a nice encore Tommy medley including Pinball Wizard and See Me Feel Me. The addition of Real Good-Looking Boy was a nice surprise. Daltrey told about his boyhood fascination with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, saying that Elvis was one the biggest influences on his career path (the other one being Pete). They launched into the song while some video footage confirmed that Mr. Presley was indeed a “real good-looking boy.” They also played excerpts from the mini-opera on Endless Wire, with an introduction from Pete. He was almost apologetic about playing the new material, saying that he didn’t want to shove it down our throats. I was annoyed by how many audience members left for beer refills after that; but whatever, I’ve come to realize my dedication to the music is atypical – except here on MOG :)

Anyway, I’m kind of spacing on the rest of the details. I need to start taking notes! It’s hard to believe these guys classify as senior citizens…thank God they didn’t die before they got old. Of course I can’t deny my longing for a time machine, back to the Isle of Wight for instance, but I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to at least see The Two. And I don’t want to downplay their supporting musicians. Zak Starkey (drums) and Pino Palladino (bass) are filling roles that many fans claim are impossible to fill. They pull it off admirably, though.

I’ll leave you with a blistering solo from Townshend. This was filmed in Reno about 2 weeks before I saw them.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Keller Williams - Live 2.3.07 - Baltimore, MD

I've been away from the blog for awhile - I saw some great music in that time (especially Warren Haynes' Christmas Jam WOW) but I decided to take a break from writing and concentrate on more important matters of groovin' :o) Anyway, I'm ready to get back into the swing of things, but I’ve been waiting to post this review because I really wanted to see a setlist first. Finally, the moment none of you have been waiting for ;o)


Set 1 (Keller & The Keels)
01 Star Trek Theme->
02 Portapotty
03 2003 Minus 25
04 Loser (Beck)>Loser (Jerry)>Loser (Beck)
05 On the Way Home Again
06 Local Outdoor Organic
07 Thirsty in the Rain
08 Mountains of the Moon
09 Breathe->
10 Another Brick In The Wall->
11 Breathe
12 Passapatanzy
13 Changed the Locks
[Happy Birthday Tease]
14 Wild Horses
15 Crater in the Backyard
16 Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown
17 Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)
18 Connie Chung

Set 2 (Keller Only)
Moving Sidewalk
Alligator Alley
You Are What You Eat
Wind Cries Mary
Life Is
Terrapin Station (On Piano)
Loup (w/ Lou On Trumpet)/Keller Thank You’s->
Celebrate Your Youth

Encore (w/ The Keels)
Nobody Bother Me (Theme From A Jhoon Rhee Taekwondo Commercial)
Play This

This was a very special occasion because, for one, it was my first show of 2007. Secondly, Baltimore is about 2.5 hours away from Richmond, so we had some quality road trip time. Thirdly, well, it was Keller – and we love him. Plus, my girl Amanda & I hadn’t been to a concert together since the last time we saw Keller in Fall ’05!!! We also found a delicious deuce-deuce of Red Stripe at a 7Eleven along the way, which was an added bonus :O)

We walked into the venue to the sound of Keller & The Keels jammin’ out a bluegrass cover of “Another Brick In The Wall.” Now that I’ve finally seen the setlist, it looks like we missed a little over half of the first set. Normally I would be very sad about this; but since we almost didn’t get to go at all, I will not complain (about that at least). Some people don’t really care for Keller’s project with the Keels, but I think that it’s a ton of fun. “Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown” is a great Tom Petty cover medley. I will say, though, that I prefer the Keller Williams & String Cheese Incident version of “Breathe.”

Keller’s solo set is what I was really pumped up about. I just can’t believe the crazy jams that he comes up with as just one man. He has so many different guitars, instruments, and gadgets up on stage; and he uses them all. The way he records each little line & loops them over top of each other- it’s almost impossible to describe – you just have to witness it. When he sat down at the piano to cover “Terrapin Station”, the guy behind me leaned in and asked, “Is there anything he can’t do?”

We got a great setlist and super-cool visuals & video screenage – “Alligator Alley”, “You Are What You Eat”, “Zilla”, “Freshies”, and “Celebrate Your Youth” stand out as highlights. After “Celebrate Your Youth”, Keller left the stage & a message appeared on the screen that it was now officially Keller’s Birthday. He & the Keels reemerged for an encore to the sound of the crowd drunkenly singing Happy Birthday.

Speaking of THE CROWD
Now here comes my little gripe session. What is with the super lame-o’s who feel the need to be up front & subject me to their social hour? I've sounded off about this before, and I have now noticed that this is way more of a problem at jam-band shows. There’s this new wave of frat guys who drag their prissy-ass girlfriends to the shows, who proceed to get drunk & scream in my ear. Luckily, they fall off their stilettos easily & don’t really care for crazy hippie bitches dancing into them. During the set break, we found a nice group of people to stand with who were actually there for the music (imagine that!)

The drive went along pretty smoothly until we got into the city. We were heading towards the venue and our Mapquest directions said we needed to stay straight onto Pratt Street. Well suddenly, we see Pratt Street, and it’s to our left…not straight at all. I ask if I can take a left hurriedly, and as Amanda says, “No,” I saw a gap in traffic & proceeded anyway. The horns screamed, and Amanda & I burst into laughter. Amanda kept looking at everyone and saying, “We’re from Virginia!” I hate drivers like me. I’m such a hypocrite. I have since looked at a road map, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how I should have correctly maneuvered that intersection. Shrug.

For those of you who may care, there are plenty of parking garages near the Ramshead. It cost us $15, though.

Reasonably priced. Sierra Nevada on tap was $5. I expected $7, so the bartender got a better tip. Their house beer was $4 a cup, and they have a full bar. Some dude kept trying to buy us tequila shots, but I didn’t want to end up in Delaware on the drive home…so I abstained.