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.