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Friday, February 16, 2018

Greensky Bluegrass 2.9.18 (Photos)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Mike Gordon 2.9.18 (Photos)

Neptune Theatre
Seattle, WA

Photos by Chris Davis

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Mike Dillon & Amandla 2.9.18

Psychedelic Ripple
Denver, CO

Words by Kristin Zachman (Direct Attention)
Photos by Blake Barit (Direct Attention)

This weekend the Midwest was plagued by some intensely snowy weather. Luckily, the forecast couldn’t keep Mallet Man Mike Dillon down. He braved the roads between Missouri and Denver to bring his vibraphone to Be On Key Psychedelic Ripple Room, a reincarnation of Quixote’s True Blue just east of Colfax. Having frequented Jay Bianchi’s Owsley’s Golden Road, Be On Key fell right in line with what I had expected. The psychedelic lounge was littered with posters of musicians and past concerts. There were kitschy signs that said things like “Pot Smokers Only” and laughable license plates that read “CSHRTRD” and “DEADHEAD” to ensure no escape from visual stimulation. Topping it all off was a tapestry with the hippy messiah, Jerry Garcia, keeping a watchful eye on the dance floor.

The night’s acts stood up to their overstimulating surroundings. Amandla, Claude Coleman Jr.’s passion project, opened the night up after a tumultuous day of travel for the leading man. A kind gesture in the form of a flight from Kansas City to Denver turned into a nightmarish six-hour waiting game at the gate. Even though the show was delayed because of this unfortunate setback, none of the patrons seemed bothered. Everyone could be seen either lounging on the couches, grabbing some drinks, or taking advantage of the pool tables.

Once the music started, it wasn’t long before Amandla filled the room with smooth genre-melding sounds. The band played tracks from all three of Coleman’s records, the majority from the newest, Laughing Hearts. A blend of smooth rock rhythms, bluesy guitar, and a dose of Asheville twang set Amandla apart from the main act. Initially a solo mission for Coleman, he’s finally got a troupe of stellar musicians to bring Amandla to life. The lineup is a testament to the caliber of Asheville’s musicians. Jazz Uries held down the drum kit, with Ram Mandelkorn supporting Claude on guitar, while Simon Thomas George brought flavor to the keys, and Nathan Lambertson stood in on bass guitar. Claude fronts the production playing guitar and singing. Amandla’s unique style and introspective lyrics give listeners an insight into Coleman’s personal and musical journey.

The end of the set didn’t mean the end of the night for Coleman; he and Nathan Lambertson ushered themselves back onstage after a few minutes to play with Mike Dillon. Lambertson played along on standing bass, bass guitar, and synthesizers while Claude backed him on drums. Though Dillon usually has a few more musicians on stage, the trio lacked nothing in sound or depth. Weaving in and out of provocative, self-asserting tunes, Dillon shows no fear when it comes to his trademark style. Notorious for pushing listeners out of their comfort zone, Mike Dillon exhibited quite a few of the tracks from his newest album Life is Not a Football, like the incredibly irreverent pseudo-love song, “Cremate Me.” He also incorporated songs from older albums like “Leather On” from Urn. Mike Dillon’s voice is one with merit to be heard in the current age of America. He unapologetically wanes between beautiful melodies and aggressive staccato on his vibraphone and various percussion toys, all the while offering up unabridged commentary on the current state of our culture.

All in all, Dillon didn’t disappoint, he brought high energy and dark comedy to Denver on Friday night. A strangely satisfactory mashup of punk rock, jazz, and even an inkling of spoken word put Mike Dillon in his own personal category of musicians. Backed up on the bill by Amandla, this tour isn’t one to miss. Catch these acts Thursday in Portland, OR at The Goodfoot, Friday in Eugene, OR at Whirled Pies, Saturday in Seattle, WA at The Royal Room, and Sunday the 18th in Zig Zag, OR at the Skyway Bar and Grill. Both Life is Not a Football by Mike Dillon Band as well as Amandla’s Laughing Hearts are out on multiple platforms for purchase.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Blues Traveler 2.7.18 (Photos)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Euforquestra, Mama Magnolia & Whiskey Autumn 2.1.18

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Words & Photos by Charla Harvey

Thursday night was an absolute treat at the Fox Theatre. Three seriously talented bands graced us with their instruments, their voices, and their souls. Denver-based band Whiskey Autumn kicked off the night. Greg Laut is the lead singer, he plays guitar and keyboard as well. Matty Schelling is the drummer, and Jason Paton plays bass and keyboards. At first, I was disappointed when Jason had his back to the audience for a good portion of the show until I realized he was playing the bass and keyboards simultaneously! Whiskey Autumn had a very calm stage presence. Everyone in the audience was smiling and dancing. One girl in the crowd had a polaroid camera, which seemed to fit the vibe of this indie pop rock band. Whiskey Autumn was appreciative the whole night, thanking the audience between songs. They ended their set covering David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” It was definitely a crowd pleaser. The band presented very professionally, as they had their set memorized – no scribbled napkins or floating sheets of paper here! Their set was comprised of seven songs.

Mama Magnolia feels like a family - you can tell they are close. They are also from Denver, and were absolutely magical on this night. Megan Letts (keys and lead vocals) has a voice as gorgeous as she is. She exudes confidence and poise, and her smile is undeniably contagious. Zach Jackson played bass beautifully, and surprised the audience when he started singing towards the end of the show. Jackson Hillmer played drums in the back. He never missed a beat, and he was always smiling. The stunning Carrie McCune played the trumpet and sang with soul. With her singing voice and her smile, she could be an angel. Everyone in this band can sing! Alex Cazet, who also plays in Kessel Run, played saxophone. Thomas Jennings was on guitar. The chemistry between this band is amazing.

Throughout the set, each member took a solo on their respective instruments. The other band members supported them—cheering them on, clapping for them. The band smiled at each other during every song. Amongst the crowd, everyone was transfixed by the synergy of Mama Magnolia. You could hear whispers among the audience talking about Megan’s voice. “I wish I could sing like that,” was heard in the crowd, by the bars, and the bathrooms. They surprised the audience when they brought out Lyle Divinsky from the Motet and Kimberly Dawson from The Pimps of Joytime. There was so much talent on stage. They introduced their two new music videos “Something About Fire” and “Half His Heart.” It’s only a matter of time before the whole country knows about Mama Magnolia, and we get to say we knew them before they got big!

Euforquestra headlined the night. The band is originally from Iowa City, but they are now based in Fort Collins. They are usually a funk, soul, reggae, afrobeat, and dub band, but for the show they became Euf-Zeppelin. They covered Led Zeppelin songs and dressed the part. Austin Zaletel was on saxophone. Jeff Peterson (and his impressive afro) played the drums. Otis Lande, who also plays in Intuit and Jive Tribe, shredded the bass. Matt Wright played the keys and Matt Bricker played the trumpet. Mike Tallman played guitar. Super special guest (who is also Mike’s wife), Kim Dawson, shared her powerful, soulful gift of a voice with us.

Euforquestra proved that they are a multi-talented band. They already sound amazing as their original funky, reggae selves, but they also do Zeppelin justice! According to bass player Otis, Euforquestra has wanted to do Euf-Zeppelin for a long time. They have a history of doing themed Halloween shows such as Talking Heads and Beck. “We were able to have Kim sing for the Halloween shows at The Aggie and Ophelia’s and they were well received. The Fox asked if we’d do another Zep set as a special one off, and we were happy to bring it to Boulder.”

Euf-Zeppelin started out with “The Song Remains the Same” and followed up with the obligatory “Immigrant Song.” The audience was already in high spirits because of Whiskey Autumn and Mama Magnolia, but Euf-Zeppelin playing and singing songs everyone knew just increased the happiness in the room even more. Everyone was singing along, dancing, jumping, head banging. They even brought Megan Letts from Mama Magnolia. Megan Letts and Kim Dawson singing together? That combination should definitely happen more often. Euf-Zeppelin ended the show with “Whole Lotta Love,” a perfect way to end the night.

Charla's Photo Gallery




Euforquestra Setlist: The Song Remains the Same, Immigrant Song, The Ocean, Misty Mountain Hop, No Quarter, D’yer Maker > Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, Dazed & Confused, Black Dog > Moby Dick > Rock and Roll, What Is & What Should Never Be, Kashmir

Encore: Whole Lotta Love

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fruition & Rayland Baxter 2.3.18 (Photos)

A Conversation with Zach Lupetin (The Dustbowl Revival)

By Kevin Alan Lamb

Can you recall the first post you made on Craigslist? Perhaps you were looking for a roommate, selling a couch, television, car, or maybe you’re kind of creepy looking for a Missed Connection… Or maybe, you’re too young or too old to have experienced the strange digital space made famous before the book of face revolution; either way, it was a thing (and still is, sort of) and the eight-piece American roots orchestra, The Dustbowl Revival, wouldn’t be one without it.

I’ve often given L.A. a bad wrap as the land where folks dreamed to one day arrive, yet forgot to dream again in the wake of their arrival; but a recent conversation with Zach Lupetin reminded that like the city I love (Detroit), the City of Angels is a melting pot for creative souls with sights set on soaring, where a decade ago the climate was just right for a tongue-and-cheek Craigslist post written as a breath of fresh air from a sea of Burger King commercials and relinquished dreams.

“Hey, I just moved here, and I'm looking for someone who can play one of these nineteen instruments, and if you like Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen and the Staple Singers, let me know. We were able to create a little community. People came to our shows and encouraged us, and then we started playing up and down the coast. By 2012, we were touring nationally."

Like rocket fuel, dreams are a sensitive subject. We all possess them, seek them, trade them, and only some ever hold onto them long enough to learn they are rarely realized in the manner which they were originally conceived. The Dustbowl Revival sound is difficult to articulate, yet spectacularly heard. It is a collision of the folk, roots, and blues music Lupetin learned to love from his father, and the funky, soulful, and honest songwriting Tedd Hutt dared him to write. Its flame emits shadows of a sound you’ve grown familiar with, in a form you’ve just begun to know.

Here’s my conversation with lead singer and founder of The Dustbowl Revival, Zach Lupetin, ahead of their Valentine’s Day performance at The Parliament Room at Otus Supply with special guest, Jack & the Bear.

KAL: Can you tell us about your evolution into a more soulful, and funky sound, and your influences in the transition?

ZL: Yeah man, I put together the band about 10 years ago and it sort of has come together as a happy accident, where we’ve played all different times of music in a meetup group of like-minded musicians in L.A. You know, L.A. is kind of a crazy melting pot town, almost no one that is here is from this town. People played in jazz, and people played in folk and bluegrass groups and we kind of merged those together. Initially, I wanted to write more old time folk and kind of gospel-blues stuff, and have it be this Vaudevillian variety type show where we’d do all sorts of stuff and have it be this spectacle. We had a lot of fun doing our own modern, rock and roll version of old school swing and blues and gospel stuff, then I started to get a little more courage to write in my own style, and write my own tunes that had a little more of this folk-soul combination where we started collaborating a lot more the last few years, as a band, and this record has a much more focused, kind of honest and raw feel to it where we wrote about some darker subjects, love and loss, and you always party along the way to, but it’s sort of the full spectrum of growing up and starting to be a little more wise about relationships and the world. It’s been a cool evolution.

KAL: What helped you feel that Ted Hutt was the right man to help y'all produce “the tightest, funkiest thing (you’ve) ever attempted?”

ZL: Well, I found him through his work with Old Crow Medicine Show, and I found out that he started Flogging Molly and did a lot work with Dropkick Murphys, and Lucero. He has this sort of mellowed out punk rocker in him, so he was kind of able to see the energy and spirit we wanted to harness, but also this feeling that we wanted to honor roots history, but also create something of our own, and new. On some of the Old Crow Medicine show records that I listened to that he produced, he gets this really fast, full, warm sound out of bands and it’s a really difficult thing capturing an eight-piece band with horns, fiddle, mandolin, drums and harmony vocals; it’s not for the faint of heart I’d say. It takes a lot to do it in a way that doesn’t sound forced, like you’re pretending to play live. He was able to get us out of our heads and get to the bottom of what songs are really about. And certain times he challenged me as a songwriter and said, “Stop avoiding the real darkness in the song. Who’s getting killed in the car crash, how do you feel about that?”

As a songwriter that was difficult at first, I don’t just want to say it, I want to say it with poetry and mystery and he was like, “Stop jazzing it up. Get to the point. Tell me what you really feel,” and that was a springboard for a lot of the songs to go further than we’ve ever done.

KAL: What is one of your wildest and weirdest memories from playing in The Midnight Special while living in Ann Arbor attending U of M?

ZL: [Laughter] There were some nights at the Blind Pig that were pretty hilarious. I remember a horrible ex-girlfriend of mine getting thrown out of the club during our first song [laughter] and me pleading with the bouncers to not hurt her. She had a fake ID and was already wasted at 8:00 PM [laughter]. Then we’re like, "Well, I guess we gotta just keep playing the show." They threw her into the alley and that was it. I remember playing some frat parties that had the feeling the whole house was going to get torn down around us. Where people were dancing and raging around us that we were fearing for our own safety, then sort of pouring out into the snow and people’s bodies were steaming and no one was wearing any clothes. It was a wacky and fun experience. I don’t how good we really were, but they let us rock out in their living room so that was fun.

KAL: Who helped lead you to influences like Pokey Lafarge and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band?

ZL: I think my dad growing up in Chicago was very influential in what I listened to. He had this sort of schizophrenic taste like I did, where he’d be playing Benny Goodman’s Swing Orchestra at Carnegie Hall one minute, then rocking out to The Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead the next moment, and putting on Miles Davis the next moment. He was always encouraging me to keep my mind open, and he brought me to some cool concerts, and as a teenager you rebel against your dad a little bit where I was like, “I want to listen to Green Day, I don’t want to listen to this old people music,” but then I went to college and figured out some of the earlier music who inspired this music, we all know The Beatles, and The Stones, and Allman Brothers, but the early blues and gospel stuff they were listening to as kids I liked even more, and I got into Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and that was the stuff that as a songwriter, I wanted to write that. I knew that I would never be a shredding guitar player, or something unattainable like The Beatles, but I felt like I could feel that energy of the early music and had this sort of accessibility that I could appreciate; early bluegrass stuff… The Stanley Brothers, it’s music for the people in a way. It’s stuff that you learn in church then sort of twist around. The modern interpreters of that, like Pokey Lafarge ,reminded me that there is an audience for that, and the scene in L.A. eight-nine years ago when we started was very receptive to this kind of music and it allowed us to kind of play three-four times a week all over town, and there were all sorts of weird speakeasies and bars that would give us a shot… and we were able to go from there and travel around the country. The Americana renaissance that’s happening right now is a sort of interesting continuation of that by people who appreciate the traditions of folk music and early blues and jazz, but also have a little more rock and roll and bearded sensibility, and I think the merging of all of that is pretty cool. Dustbowl doesn’t really sit in any genre, which has been kind of a blessing and a curse for us, but I think overall, it’s kind of fun to keep people on their toes and allow the listener to describe what type of music it is.

KAL: Do you remember where you were when you made the infamous Craigslist post that brought you all together?

ZL: I moved to L.A. in 2007, and I was working in advertising [laughing]. I came out to L.A. to be a writer in more film and theatre and stuff, and sort of sneak my music in on the side, and it kind of reversed itself where music was the thing that took over and I had to sneak work in on the side. I think I was sitting in an office; I would write Burger King commercials…[laughter] it was a cool first job, but I saw the dead-eyed stare of people who devoted their lives to the Burger King account, like that was their life, and there were really talented people who went to film school or were musicians or were actors and they kind of just… and that was it. They found a steady income and they never really break out of that, and it was hard to because that’s a steady thing.

KAL: They dreamed to get to L.A. and never dreamed again.

ZL: Well… [laughter] I think when you’re 23 and you’re young and stupid you think, “That’s never gonna happen to me,” you know? You’re like, “I’m gonna do it different,” and I think part of that Craigslist ad was not knowing anyone and feeling like I have to put something together here or I’m gonna go crazy, and we got super lucky in the amount of talented people that responded, some of which are still in the band today. It’s funny because I think Craigslist was a little more innocent back then you know? [laughter] You would actually find great musicians who would form an awesome band just on a Craigslist posting like, “Hey, you wanna help me out?” But I think you also have to get super lucky and people have to show up at the times and it took a long time, it’s not like… I remember when I would act as the band manager for years and I would send fake emails to The Troubadour [laughter]. “This is Frankie Johnson, we have a talented band here.” And the Troubadour would be like, “Guys, no.” It was like you had no chance, it was never gonna happen. But eventually, you get an agent and The Troubadour was like, “Okay, we’ll give you guys a shot.” Then you sell out The Troubadour and they’re like, "Alright, whenever you want.” You go from having no chance…

KAL: To no availability…

ZL: No, but there’s always one more step of no chance right? Dustbowl does well enough certain places, but we’ve only played Detroit a handful of times, and there’s towns where we’re like, “We gotta get back there” the energy is so right for us to kick some ass. You guys seem to have a lot of bands we play with festivals at and that’s great, because it can get pretty lonely out there. Trying to break into certain markets, and we have this sort of whiplash effect sometimes where we play to 800 people in San Francisco, and 500 people in Sacramento, then we go on a Tuesday to San Diego and there’s 70 people there and we’re like, “Fuuuuck.” How do we go to that place where your people find you everywhere? And that’s a really difficult next step to go. And sometimes you need a little umph from other bands… but I think we’ve sort of had to do things on our own for a really long time because people don’t really know what to make of us, and we’re not a band that’s an easy opening band for artists… but we were able to open for Josh Ritter at The Fillmore in San Fran a couple of weeks ago and that’s always a treat for us. We did a couple shows with Lake Street Dive, and that show with Preservation Hall Jazz was great, but that’s rare. You’re kind of forced to be an independent band that’s headlining which is awesome, because you can see who really cares about you, but it can also be daunting because there’s not a lot of support and you kind of hope the word gets out on a Wednesday in Detroit.

KAL: What's the last song you want to hear before you die?

ZL: Maybe like… Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” I got married to that song a couple months ago, and it makes you feel good.

Just in case you were listening for one, This is a Good Sound. Catch The Dustbowl Revival Wednesday, February 14, at The Parliament Room at Otus Supply.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pulse of Nature feat. Fareed Haque 2.3.18 (Photos)

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pink Talking Fish, Eminence Ensemble & Kessel Run 2.3.18 (Photos)

Friday, February 9, 2018

Fruition & Rayland Baxter 2.2.18 (Photos)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Umphrey's McGee It's Not Us

Words by Blake Barit Direct Attention

Since my first Umphrey’s McGee show, I was blown away by their genre bending sound and innovative approach to live performances. From hair metal runs, to funk grooves, straight forward rocking, psychedelia, sentimental ballads, aggro progressive transitions, even a bit of comedy, working cohesively to form a sound that would keep me coming back for the next 12 years. With this new album, we find an older band a bit wiser in their years, ready to push their craft even further and rock like nothing has changed.

Recorded in Chicago, it’s not us is the band’s eleventh studio effort. The album is seething with everything fans have come to know and love. Jake Cinninger on guitar, and Ryan Stasik on bass, bring power to a hard rock-driven album, layered with Brendan Bayliss’ introspective lyricism. Centered predominately on their classic progressive rock sound, the album maintains an eclectic nature, venturing into funk, electronica, and folk.

Right off the bat, we get our first taste of a more polished Umphrey’s with hard-pop banger, “The Silent Type.” The single was also the first song the band played in 2018. Coming in hot, right after "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year’s, the track leads with the bravado of a front runner. Exuding an aura of a night out in a European city, during a blizzard, complete with bicycle races, snow ball fights, and robots. Always robots. Getting a taste of what’s to come, we’re out of the gates and hugging the rail… locked in.

Dark rock Jake ripper "Looks" is next. Stasik lends a saucy bass line to Cinninger, who takes advantage to create some very intriguing and creative lead lines. One thing I love about Umphrey’s is their dark hard rock themes, and this album is dripping with them. "Looks" is the first cut of a number on it’s not us to venture into the nether world.

“Whistle Kids” is one of the best examples of a mature band, and a grown up Brendan Bayliss, speaking to the changed situations of their lives. The touching tongue-in-cheek funk rocker possesses the loving comedy which rings true with fans that still have to raise their kids after a Friday night with the band.

The contemplative ballad "Half Delayed" comes next. This tune leaves Bayliss ruminating on life’s difficulties and learning to accept change. The song starts on the slow side but pleasantly builds to a strong conclusion. Every album has that song that squeeked in, destined to be the placeholder that thickens out the album runtime. Congrats "Half Delayed," you made it.

"Maybe Someday" is a distance runner’s dream, ripped from the opening credits sequence of some synthed-out late 80’s sitcom. Pop this on your playlist and you’re golden. A strong starting groove drives into a blissed out bridge, capped off by an industrial foot-stomping finale, complete with signature shredding from Cinninger. There’s a lot of potential here for drawn out improv during live performances.

“Remind Me” doesn’t take shit, asserting itself as one of the stand out tracks on the album. Starting out as a Prince-esque jazz number, the track crashes head-on into a hard-rock, double-bass head-banging, rage inducing incantation of The Prince of Darkness. Shit. Gets. Real. Are those strings in the background? A choir mayhaps? Sounds like they could be the demonic shrills of the foot beasts of Satan. It scared me. I loved it.

After the carnage, respite comes in the form of “You & You Alone.” Bayliss’ beautiful folk ballad written to his wife is an ode to the frustrations of raising children, finding beauty in it, and all the while continuing down your road together. This is a great example of Umphrey’s being very charming and elegant. “Bullhead City” is a wonderful Jake ballad off of their 2004 release Anchor Drops that stands in a comparable light with Bayliss’ number.

“Forks” soars into the sky on the back of Cinninger’s raising and climbing guitar lines. Eagles pull this song up on their Zunes right before taking flight in search of a lowly field mouse. The blissed out Umphrey’s sound of songs like “Hajimemishite” are strong in this one, certain to elevate the proceedings during a live show.

“Speak Up” will be familiar to Umphrey’s fans albeit with added lyrics. The old jam is giving life to the new take, taken even higher by Joshua Redman. Redman, who has become a fixture at Umphrey’s shows over the years, lends his soulful prowess on the woodwind to thicken up this tasty cut.

“Piranahs” comes in as a smooth rocking number that laments the speed of a rock star’s life and the tiring schedule that brings a middle-aged family man down. The song’s groove is nicely accented by the stylings of Joel Cummins, while Kris Myers is solid in the pocket to keep the groove air-tight. The schmaltz many of these songs possess are countered nicely by the harder nature of the music that accompanies them.

“Dark Brush” ends the album magnificently. The NIN-esque ripper showcases Cinninger both lyrically and instrumentally, and serves as a capper to an album from an older more introspective band that still knows how to rip and have fun.

Their best effort since 2009’s Mantis, Umphrey’s brings us a powerful set of songs that posses the characteristics needed to enter the arena of live Umphrey’s, as well as give us all an honest look into the growing lives of the rock stars we love. The possibilities seem endless as it’s not us opens up brand new territory for fans to know and love. See you on tour.