The First 8 Weeks of 2011 Music, NYC Bound

[Ed note: I have been lax in my habit of coming home and writing about every show I see.  Very lax.  That seemed to happen for only a few months in the beginning of this journey, but now it seems to be harder to do every show I see, (yes, I know – crybaby cry…)  I will try to sum up what’s been going on in NYC on these dreary wintery nights, where the snow piled high on cement streets, freezing cold winds slapping in my face…. Oh, whilst in the depths of winter, music will warm my bones…]

Bernie Worell, The Bitter End

That Bernie Worrell show with his whacked out jacket, jammin hard with a stage full’a fellas, Will Bernard, 2 saxs, great drummer, trumpet player from PFunk, in the tiny Bitter End club.

Umphree's McGee, Brooklyn Bowl

Umphree’s McGee and all their lightshow bonanza at the Brooklyn Bowl, phewwweee!  That was great fun, and their lights made the Brooklyn Bowl sparkle, there was a haze on the mirrored dance ball over the dance floor.  It was wild, they sounded great, the crowd was psyched and ready to roll with UMG’s surprise Monday night show.

Funky Meters, Brooklyn Bowl

Nigel Hall‘s, vocals/piano, Residency last Wednesday at the Rockwood with all the Royal Family members in the house and then to Brooklyn Bowl to see the funky Meters play with Brian Stoltz, Art Neville, Russell Batiste and George Porter, Jr., the late night at Bembe with some tasty DJ licks by Nutritious, where the night came full circle when Nigel Hall comes to bang on some congas and dance the night away.  Did I say this was a Wednesday…

The insane late night rage at the Blue Note with Sam Kininger, Sax that I wrote about here.

Dr. John, Maceo Parker, Eric Krazno, Photo by Allison Murphy

The killer Soul II Soul Benefit at Brooklyn Bowl with Nigel Hall and the Royal Family folks with Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley.  Horns in the HOUSE.  Dr. John on keys.  Good lord.  Insanity.  Listen here at Archive:

Photo by Robyn Gould

The night at The Beacon Theater with the gorgeous Dickinson Brothers, Cody (drums), and Luther (guitar) opening for Robert Plant’s Band of Joy.  WOW.  First off, the Dickinson Brothers (North Mississippi Allstars), wailed incredibly tight jams my ears couldn’t believe at times that there was only two instruments on the stage.  Then Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, his new band.  Really great to see Robert in the flesh, dancing and singing perfectly.  Voice sounds great, the band is filled with string instruments and great singers.  Sweetness.


The Royal Family Ball featuring Soulive, Lettuce, Nigel Hall and special guests, Terminal 5, 10.2.10

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

“Please note: Tonight’s show at Terminal 5 starts EARLY so please plan accordingly. We don’t want to miss any of your (melting) faces.”

– Royal Family Records website

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

Cast of Characters:

Eric Krasno, guitar; Soulive/Lettuce/Chapter 2
Alan Evans, drums; Soulive
Neal Evans, Hammond B3, bass keys, clavinet; Soulive/Lettuce
Nigel Hall, vocals, keys; Soulive/Chapter 2/Nigel Hall Band
Adam Deitch, Drums; Lettuce/Chapter 2
Sam Kininger, saxophone; Lettuce
Rashawn Ross, trumpet; Lettuce
Ryan Zoidis, saxophone; Lettuce
Erick “E.D.”aka “Jesus” Coomes, bass; Lettuce
Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff, guitar;  Lettuce

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

Special Guests:

John Scofield, guitar
Warren Haynes, guitar
Big Sam Williams, trombone, vocals
Talib Kweli, vocals
Maurice Brown, trumpet
Christian Scott, trumpet

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

The show started early, in good ‘ole Terminal 5. I was dressed for a ball, and have to note, the “ragers” this night forgot to read the title of the show – it was billed as The Royal Family Ball… why weren’t there more ties and dresses? Anyways, I had a dress on, bling around my neck, my hat and boots were rocking and I was ready to dance proper with the Royal Family.

photo by: Dino Perrucci

This evening extravaganza builded like a crescendo, each band (and there was 3 of them) set the bar to out”rage” the next set.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a show like this.  Soulive and their Royal Family friends are all raw power, highly technically sound musicians who are relentless.  Relentless in the way that the energy these guys put out is matched by their fans appreciation.  They filled the 3,000 capacity Terminal 5.  They are recognized by the greats, why else would artists like Scofield, Haynes, Derek Trucks continue to cross their paths?  They are on the verge of the next level, you felt it last night.  I can’t wait to watch these guys soar to the next stratosphere.  We will all be lucky when their music goes mainstream.

photo by: Denise Sullivan

Nigel Hall Band: At 7:45-ish, Nigel Hall took the stage.  By the time I get into position I see Nigel Hall, Zoidis, Kininger, Deitch, Brown, Smirnoff, Krasno and the Evan’s brothers (Neal on keys, Alan on guitar) and 2 backup singers (who are they?) on the stage.  Nigel’s incredible voice, raging, wailing, screaming into the mic for us to all stand alert and stamp our feet, and nod our heads into the same groove.  Yessiree, the funk has landed in midtown NYC.

Lettuce: Full rage, and we haven’t even gotten to the Soulive part of the evening yet.  By this point there were 5 horn players (Big Sam, Maurice Brown, Kininger, Zoidis, Ross), John Scofield on guitar, Krasno on guitar, Coomes bringing on the funky bass with his bad self, Talib Kweli comes on and hip hops his way around Nigel Hall blasting back at him, Neal Evans on keys, Alan Evans, percussion.  The place goes nuts, the floor full of bouncing heads and dancing ragers.

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

I’m on the 3rd floor (thanks Peter!), looking straight down at the stage, the epicenter of where the sound explosion had begun bouncing all around Terminal 5’s rafters.  I’m in awe, not boogie-ing yet – still trying to decipher the sounds of what is happening all around me, trying to hone in on each artist’s playing.  Krasno so technically perfect it is mouth-gaping, Coomes going so low, keepin it all together, Adam Deitch kickin it on those drums, loud and crashing, the horns blasting this craziness into the stratosphere.

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

Talib Kweli brings it down to the ground, funky, loud, head banging raging insanity, trading licks with Nigel…..phewww boy it had gotten hotter from the heat rising from the stage, before Scofield comes on stage, -at first, his guitar sounds like a sax- and he continues blasting us all into a Funky Cold Medina with his trippy, groovy jams.  My neck began to hurt from the heavy funky nodding/dance we had all commenced in.  The Lettuce was dirty…dirty dirty Lettuce.

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

Soulive w/ Special Guests: Rubber Soulive goes down in full effect.  A melody of classics from The Beatles, John Scofield and Eric Krasno in a musical tit-for-tat game both going just sick on their instruments of power.  My notes are all jumbled.  Can’t seem to read my handwriting.  I have to somehow write this down from memory (and without any setlists yet – none are released at this time)…

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

My eyes settle on Alan, one of my personal top 5 drummers, and he’s frikkin wailing on the drums. His whole body raging into the beat, um, he’s setting the beat, fast and dirty, damn Al!,  Neal Evans and his freakishly absurd hands playing keys and the bassline, at the same time!  Eleanor Rigby flows into I Want You (She’s So Heavy) and by this time, my mind is floating, I’ve succumbed into the funkiness that is Soulive/The Royal Family, and my head gets light, I close my eyes, I shake my ass, and… that’s it folks.

photo by: Dino Perrucci

I watch Sco leave the stage, and Krasno and Alan bring him back, like “No man, you’re staying for this”, when I hear Krasno introduce Warren Haynes to the stage.  Right.  Warren.  Head was light, now eyeballs are falling out.  So, to recap, there is Eric Krasno, John Scofield and Warren Haynes on the stage – three of my personal top 5 guitar players.  Holy hell, my head exploded all over the 3rd floor – I know mine wasn’t the only one.  Warren with Sco and Kraz on Born Under a Bad Sign.  Ridiculous.  The night ends with an encore from Nigel and the Royal Family for a killer James Brown Medley.  It felt like seven bagillion people were on the stage.  Can. Not. Wait. For. More…….

photo by: Allison "Ruth Rocks" Murphy

Mountain Jam VI, Day 2 – Saturday, June 5

photo by: Ross McKillop

I woke up to the most glorious, beautiful day.  The sun was shining, the sky was that perfect not-a-cloud-in-the-sky blue, the lush green off the mountains were vibrating.  I was ready to shake on the mountain, and I was able to find iced-coffee to boot.  Fabulous!  I was in for 8 sets of music today.  That ice coffee would help.

Weather: Beautiful.  Sunny, warm, a bit sweaty.  I kept saying all day, “I can’t believe the weather is so gorgeous.”  Last year’s Mountain Jam was cold.  I was in flip flops the last night, it was 37 degrees cold.  This Saturday it was bikini weather.

The day started off with a bit of London Souls.  These guys are incredible.  They have a shredding, Led Zeppelin sorta, old school rock n’ roll thing going for them.  They rocked out, and dancing has commenced.  Again, if they’re in your area, be sure to catch them.

photo by: M Berke

Drive By Truckers: They were a nice warm up to Yonder Mtn. String Band.  I’ve never seen them before, and that was my first impression, with their rockin’ guitar riffs.  They were solid.  I was wandering through the vendor area while they were on stage,

Lettuce is probably my first personal highlight of the day.  Because of the schedule change with Dr. Dog, we were blessed with 2 sets of Lettuce on Sat.  Lettuce’s core members are Eric Krasno, guitar, Neal Evans, keys; Adam Deitch, drums; Jesus Coomes, bass and The Shady Horns, Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis.

photo by: M Berke

Kofi Burbridge comes on and plays pretty much for the full set on his flute.  Eric shreds his guitar, Adam Deitch going all Animal on the drums, and Jesus Coomes on the bass, yeah… these guys are really tight.  Then there is Neal Evans.  I don’t know what to say about this guy except he is amazing, I always become absolutely blown away. I remember thinking, “oh yeah…I know that nasty key playing sound.  Oh yeah, silly me, how could I have forgotten.”   Then, one by one, in this short 1 hour set, on the small stage on Hunter Mountain… well, it got kinda craaazy.  Nigel Hall walks in and starts wailing soulfully into the microphone, like only Nigel does.  Oteil Burbridge comes on stage with that beautiful bass of his.  Derek Trucks comes on to shred a bit with Eric.  Susan Tedeschi comes on stage to sing along with Nigel.  By the end of it there were about a dozen people on the stage, raging out, people on the mountain were bouncin their heads to the same beat at the same time, we all got all sorts of funked up, and it got hot and steamy.  The heat had nothing to do with the sunshine.  The heat was radiating from the stage.  Oh my my my.

photo by: Ross McKillop

To slow down the pace a half a beat (or more), Yonder Mountain String Band, joins the main stage for some bouncy bluegrass string ‘ole time plucking.  I do love the Yonder, and if you like bluegrass at all, I’m sure you’ll like them too.

Dave Mason: No recollection at all.  Unknown.

Photo by: Ross McKillop

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band:  So excited to hear these guys.  Between Derek’s shredding of the guitar and Susan’s incredible voice, the Brothers Burbridge and Brothers Trucks on the stage… yeah.  No words. The talent in this band is palpable, it kind of oozes off the stage into the crowd.  They have so much fun playing together you can feel it and the crowd’s energy bounces off the band.  A wonderful cycle.

The band: Derek Trucks – Guitar, Susan Tedeschi – Guitar & Vocals, Oteil Burbridge – Bass Guitar, Kofi Burbridge – Keys & Flute, Tyler Greenwell – Drums, Duane Trucks- Drums & Percussion, Mike Mattison – Backing Vocals, Nigel Hall – Backing Vocals

photo by: Ross McKillop

Highlights: Love Has Something Else to Say (Susan belts it) into Midnight in Harlem (my newest favorite song, getting good rotation in my iPod lately…gosh I love that song) into Susan screamin her way through Love Was All in My Mind.  I’ve never heard this song before, but the jist of it was this woman loved this guy, stood by all his crap then she finds him hangin w/ another chick.  Susan belts this song like Etta James and Aretha put together.  Incredible power.  Mike Mattison and Nigel Hall on background vocals turn this into a hard core blues explosion.  I laughed, I danced, I stood and just watched her.  I need the lyrics to this song.  Loved it.  Good lord almighty. Check the video below.

Photo by: Ross McKillop

During Nobody’s Free, Derek literally destroys his guitar.  3 strings, gone.  He keeps playing though, odd sounds bouncing around, the band keeps up with him… kinda.  Finally Derek just goes off and hits those strings in “Trucks’ Time” and phewwww.  Susan says, “I don’t know how he did that with 3 strings, or something…. destroy that guitar, honey.”  She’s a great front woman for this band.  Look Around was another highlight, Derek shredding, Susan wailing, Oteil getting really low with his bass, a great blues song.  These guys are a great blues band, but then they go funky with Serve it Up. Insane keyboard playing by Kofi Burbridge, jammin out with the great beats from the drummers and his brother Oteil, then Derek goes off, whooo boy.  Hot stuff.

At one point in I’d Rather be Blind, Crippled and Crazy, I believe the mountain went silent.  I’ve been at DTB shows where the audience literally goes silent before, and it happened during this song.  I love that stuff.  Warren joins the stage and sings with Susan on Comin’ Home, the whole stage, the whole mountain… bounces.  Into Drums.  Yeah, Derek’s little brother Duane can play is an understatement.  Tyler Greenwell is a force to be reckoned with as well  They end the 90 minute set with Joe Cocker’s Space Captain. And I floated away…

Set Break: I had lost my posse during Derek and Susan, and I was on a mission afterwards to make sure I had a beer for Mule.  As I settled into our homebase near the Karma Wash I see one of my buddies from Boston just standing there.  Alone.  I ended up hanging with him the rest of the set and enjoyed every moment of it.  I also found my long lost cousin whom I only happen to see at shows.  Fellow music lovers unite!

Mule: Did I gush about Mule in Day 1 enough?  No.  No, I did not.  3 hours of Mule.   Mostly crazy cover set with incredible special guests sitting in.  Derek Trucks, Eric Krazno, Matisyahu, Kofi Burbridge, Sam Kininger, Ryan Zoidis, Jackie Greene.  Uh huh.

Woodstock, played near Woodstock.  Yep, it felt right.  Broke down on the Brazos ROCKED. That song gets better and better every time I hear it.  Sad & Deep as You with Kofi.  This rendition was not quite as drippingly sad as it was at Wanee, and yet was so

photo by: Ross McKillop

beautiful.  Kofi’s flute makes it all that more tender, he makes the flute flutter… damn. Flute + Mule = Sweetness.  Kind of Bird with Derek.  They shredded guitars in pure Allman Brothers style.  Fast, loud, yes please. Blind Man in the Dark, I love this song because of its slow rolling nature to crazy riff endings.  The Mule was on fire.

photo by: Ross McKillop

The Joker what? really?  Yeah, Steve Miller with a reggae beat.  Warren began the sway, singing as he told us that we were going back to Jamaica. Matisyahu comes out and taunts the crowd with this one, schooling us for what was to come with his Day 3 set.  I laughed my butt off as I shook my hips and tried to bounce on the mountain.  10 something pm on a sloped hill, 2 days into a festival, yes, this takes skill by this point.  Zeppelin’s D’yer Maker – no need for words, just amazing.  Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil Young cover.  If you know anything about me, you know my love of Neil so, you could imagine my happiness.  Hendrix’s Machine Gun rocked me away, total instrumental guitar insanity riffs holy hell.

photo by: Ross McKillop

These guys were relaxed, enjoying themselves, and the Mountain once again was bouncing and swaying then we went back to Rockin’.  Um, wow, a 15 minute Rockin with Machine Gun thrown in there.  Amazing.  Warren says “ohhh, it’s about to go down.”  And Eric Krasno comes out with the Lettuce Horns for the Stones’ The Spider and the Fly.  Sam Kininger and Ryan Zoidis show us how they throw down those saxophones while Krasno decides to shred his guitar up there with Warren.  “my, my, my, don’t ya tell lies…”  yeahhhh…. beautiful.

photo by: Ross McKillop

Things get fuzzy by this point – Jackie Greene comes up and plays 2 songs and then for encore Mule throws out Pearl Jam’s Black. The posse had come back to the Karma Wash by this point and we all raged to the Pearl Mule Jam that was going down. Aerosmith’s Train Kept A Rollin’ kept us rollin’ on.  Yeah.  MULE.  See ya next year, on the mountain.

Lettuce/DSO (late night set) I have to admit, Mule blew my face off my head so I have no set list.  I have nothing except the Lettuce was crisp, and by the end of late night, about 2 hours later, the Lettuce was Shredded.  God these guys were so damn hot, the place was packed, I was dancing, laughing, my buddies were all around me, the posse went up right to the front and I stayed back.  I needed my space to groove.  And then I went into music schizophrenia mode because I really wanted to see a bit of Dark Star Orchestra.

I ran up the mountain to hear Goin Down The Road Feelin Bad. Then I ran back for Lettuce, looked for my friends-couldn’t find them, closed my eyes and shook my ass to the rage that was Lettuce.  Gosh, it was going DOWN in the Colonel’s Hall.  I must have ran back up the hill to catch DSO again, because the notes say I was there for The Eleven>Shakedown Street>Tangled Up In Blue.  I guess I couldn’t leave DSO while they were playing Dylan.

Evening into Morning: As I said, it gets very fuzzy around this time.  I do know I ended back down at the Hall because I ended up with the posse, walking back to the campsite, and then hanging out in one of the VIP tents on the mountain until the sun came up.  It was nice in that VIP tent, they had couches to relax on.  And we were hanging with the Karma Wash Crew. It is nice to make sure your Karma is clean, and it is nice to have people to clean it for you. As the Tiny Rager and I walked back to the house it started to rain.  Which was fine.  We had beds, which were waiting for us all warm and dry.  I slept like a baby for about 5 hours.

Ed note:  I am grateful that Ross McKillop let me use his pictures, instead of my grainy whacked out photos.  He reminded me to shout out to two great photographers who have incredible photos and prints, and capture the most amazing musical moments:  Dino Perrucci and Allison Murphy.  Check ’em out, check their work, and pay respects. Thanks Ross!