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Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Revivalists & Marcus King Band 10.5.18 (Photos)

Pisgah Brewing Company
Black Mountain, NC

Photos by Paul Stebner

View Paul's Full Photo Galley Here!



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Rumors 10.5.18 (Photos)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Hulaween 2018: Spotify Playlist

Words & playlist by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)
Photo by Keith Griner

Colorado’s String Cheese Incident is now hosting its’ sixth year at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park grounds in Live Oak, Florida. The park spreads itself over 800 acres with a capacity of 25,000 people. However, the past couple of years, the attendance has been capped at 20,000. So that’s about twice as big as a festival like High Sierra but only a third the size of a festival like Bonaroo, to give you an idea of the scale of the party we are dealing with here.

This year’s lineup features all of the most heralded genres in today’s live music scene. From the jam giants (STS9, MMW) to the veterans of funk and soul (Lettuce, Mavis Staples), to the most buzz worthy DJs of recent electronica (Tipper, Polish Ambassador), all the way to the flatpicking virtuosos of the bluegrass realm (Larry Keel, Jon Stickley), Hulaween is simply stacked with something for everybody. Let this hand-curated playlist guide you through your most anticipated artists (ahem…Jamiroquai…ahem) or introduce you to the acts with which you are unfamiliar. Unearth some obscure tracks and rock out to the classic hits. At 85 songs and a total of 6 hours, 11 minutes, this list features nearly every artist on the lineup. Depending on where you’re traveling from, this playlist should get you there. Here’s to prepping and pumping up for Hulaween 2018!


Monday, October 8, 2018

Jeff Austin Band & DeadPhish Orchestra 10.6.18 (Photos)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Greensky Bluegrass & The Lil Smokies 10.4.18 (Photos)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Leftover Salmon Blue Ridge Jam 9.22.18

Pisgah Brewing Company
Black Mountain, NC

Words by Jason Mebane
Photos by J. Scott Shrader Photography

This past Saturday Leftover Salmon bought the third installment of their annual Blue Ridge Jam to the Pisgah Brewing Company in the idyllic town of Black Mountain, North Carolina. Sitting in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains, Pisgah Brewing Company proved once again why it is the perfect spot for this type of all day musical events. By utilizing both the Taproom Stage and the Outdoor Stage the music was able to flow seamlessly from late afternoon into the wee hours of the night.

The day started out with Black Mountain natives Bayou Diesel bringing their unique Cajun stylings to the Taproom Stage as the attendees filed in for a long day of music. Those of us lucky enough to arrive in time to catch their set were rawarded with a special guest appearance by a tie-dye clad, rub-board toting Vince Herman. Bayou Diesel's Steve Burnside used to play with Vince back in the late 80's and judging by the smiles on their faces you could tell they were having a blast sharing a stage together again.

Once Bayou Diesel finished it was time to head outside for Asheville's own Jon Stickley Trio. Many reviewers have undoubtedly tried and failed to categorize Jon Stickley Trio's music so I will not attempt to do so here. While pigeonholing them into a specific style of music may be an impossible task, one task that is not hard to do is to enjoy the pure insanity that is a Jon Stickley Trio show. Jon himself is easily one of the most exciting acoustic guitarists on the planet and is never unwilling to prove it. Violinist Lyndsay Pruett effortlessly weaves her magic into, out of, on top of and through Jon's unique flat-picking licks. With less than a year under his belt drummer Hunter Deacon has already found his space alongside Lyndsay and Jon, and in my opinion, has taken their sound in interesting new directions. Jon's old high school pal, and Leftover Salmon banjo player Andy Thorn, joined the trio for a portion of their set bringing the insanity to a whole 'nother level.

After their hour long set it was a mad dash back to the taproom for the first Grass Is Dead set of the day. Like peanut butter and chocolate Grateful Dead songs and bluegrass are a perfect pairing and very few bands are as good at swirling the two together than Grass Is Dead. By now most everyone had arrived at Pisgah and the small taproom was overflowing with revelers AND energy. The set which included, among other songs, "Alabama Getaway", "China Doll" & "Dark Star" was the perfect way to get everybody's juices flowing for the remainder of the day's festivities. Normally after a set as hot as theirs it would be time for a breather, however there was no time for that as Spafford was already on the Outdoor Stage for the next leg of our musical marathon.

Over the last few years Spafford has really come into their own and cemented their place near the top of the jamband mountain. If there was anyone in attendance on Saturday that was not yet familiar with Spafford I'd be shocked if they made it through the ninety minute set without joining the ever growing legion of "Spaffnerds." From the opening notes of "All My Friends" to the closing chords of "Ain't That Wrong" it was obvious that Spafford was not treating this set as just another festival set. At times their improvisational jams got so far out there that it was hard to remember what song they were actually playing before they perfectly brought it all back full circle. Something tells me Spafford are well on their way to headlining slots at festivals like these in the very near future.

After another quick Grass Is Dead tweener set which saw Lindsay Pruett hop on stage to share licks with her father, mandolinist Steve Pruett, it was finally time for the moment we had all been waiting for. As an almost full moon rose from behind the trees on this, the Autumn Equinox, Leftover Salmon took to the stage for their headlining performance.

Leftover Salmon has had their share of personnel changes over the years but the 2018 version of Leftover Salmon might just be the best group of players they've had since their classic early lineup. Since joining in 2010 Andy Thorn has proven he is the perfect man for the job and the "new guys" Alwyn Robinson and Eric Deutsch bring an interesting non-jamgrass approach to the classic Salmon sound. If there is one thing we've learned over the course of their (almost) thirty year career it is that on any given night Leftover Salmon easily ranks amongst the best live bands on the planet.

Saturday night was no exception as they charged their way through two sets consisting of tunes spanning their entire career. Not only were they musically on top of their game but, Vince, Drew and company also seemed like they were having even more fun up on the stage than we were out in the audience. It was also quite obvious that Leftover was elated to be hosting this party in their Appalachian home away from home. Whether it was Drew Emmitt's speed-grass classic "Get Me Outta This City" or Vince Herman's party anthem "Sing Up To The Moon" the set was littered with songs that made it obvious Leftover Salmon were VERY aware of their surroundings. This was most obvious when the boys welcomed Jon Stickley to the stage to share vocal duties with Andy Thorn on "Home To Carolina."

After two amazing Leftover Salmon sets the show could've ended and no one would have felt slighted, however that is not how the Blue Ridge Jam does things. Instead there was one more treat in store for the folks at Pisgah. Back in the Taproom, outlaw new-grass band Horseshoes And Hand Grenades had the task of closing the days festivities and they seemed more than up for the challenge. It can't be an easy job to play the final set on a day like this, but somehow they pulled it off masterfully. The folks that stuck around until the bitter end were treated to the perfect ending to a perfect day, an acapella version of the traditional spiritual "We Bid You Goodnight."

I have been a Leftover Salmon fan for most of my adult life since I first saw them play over 20 years ago. Some of the best musical nights of my life have been spent with them and it's nights like these that remind me why. Here you have a band that cares enough about their Western North Carolina fans to not only show up and throw down, but also brings along a handful of the most exciting live bands around to make the party even better. I for one am already looking forward to next year's Blue Ridge Jam and judging by the smiles on the faces of the people pouring out of Pisgah Brewing Company on Saturday night I think it's safe to assume I am not the only one.

Scott's Photo Gallery




Thursday, October 4, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Yak Attack's Safety Third

Words by Julie Hutchins (Tipping Point Designs)

Yak Attack’s new album, Safety Third, is like a refreshing sip of moon juice from a rushing mountain stream in a galaxy far away. This release solidifies Yak as a vital resource in the field of organic dancetronica and nourishes an aural need for originality, prowess and pure fun. The record features an abundance of powerhouse musicians from coast to coast. The seamless transition between tracks creates a hypnotic trance that transports the listener across the universe and beyond. Conceptually to me, the album encapsulates the mesmerizing endurance of traveling. Whether you are a listener on a long road trip, or perhaps traveling from moment to moment within the daily grind, Safety Third will propel you through the ride at the speed of light.

The opening track “Pump and Dump” is a quintessential Yak Attack dance party icebreaker. The infectious riff takes the listener from 0-100 in mere seconds. “Rule 1” begins the thematic transition from high energy to downtempo. “U+Me(+Us)” is a house-style, colorful techno song. Sarah Clarke’s vocals ring out the truth that “this land is made for me and you.” There are no boundaries. The dub-house beats segue into the pensive “EYE2EYE,” which features melancholic, experimental digital soundscapes that are anchored by tasteful drum breaks.

“Hear the Sound” increases the frequency, featuring more horns and Little Warrior’s vocals. This song follows a pop format and is incredibly uplifting. The song is a memento from Yak to their fans, as a way to express their gratitude and motivation for creating music. “Rule 2” warps the “Hear the Sound” riff into another dreamy down-tempo theme. “Eighth Wonder” instrumentally builds on the vocal expression of gratitude in “Hear the Sound” and features a subtle build to the apex jam. The title track “Safety Third” consolidates the album by expanding on their undeniable jazz chops and flowing groove. As a bonus treat, the band composed this final track’s ending to loop seamlessly into “Pump and Dump,” creating a continuous and unending mix that encapsulates the DJ-style dance party they have become known for at their live shows.

Safety Third is Yak Attack’s strongest and most balanced release yet. Nick Werth is a Jojo Mayer incarnate and carries the arduous task of keeping the beat in the pocket, while tantalizing us with rapid counter rhythms and imaginative feels. Werth’s meticulous metronome is supported by Rowan Cobb’s thoughtful and smooth bass groove. The rhythmic drums and bass build a flowing, futuristic foundation for keyboardist Dave Dernovsek to unleash his luscious layers of loops. All together, their attentive listening to each other’s dynamics produce an unprecedented sound in world of live music. I look forward to witnessing their expansion and collaboration with stellar musicians in the studio and live atmospheres.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles with Jennifer Hartswick & Nick Cassarino 9.21.18

Star Theater
Portland, Oregon

Words by James Sissler
Photos by Jason Charme Photography

It felt like a Sunday morning Friday night as a motley congregation filled the pews of Portland’s Star Theater to witness the gospel of Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles. The organ stood shining center stage like a pulpit awaiting its preacher, flanked on one side by drums and amplifiers and on the other by a keyboard rig that dwarfed the band leader’s simple Hammond B-3 and Moog synthesizer. The crowd was surprisingly slow to build, though rich with anticipation, but it was not the night to show up late, with the acclaimed and adored Jennifer Hartswick opening the show accompanied by the Nth Power’s Nick Cassarino (that is, unless maybe you had tickets for their after party show at Jack London Review).

Known in part for her show-stopping trumpet and vocal features with Phish side-project Trey Anastasio Band, Jennifer Hartswick wasted no time proving that she deserves to be given center stage, even if it went to the organ this time (see photos). The duo’s set drew mostly from Hartswick’s new solo release, Nexus, featuring songs that showcased both the singer’s smooth and soulful, yet dynamic and versatile voice, and her equally tasteful trumpet playing. Her performance was expectedly breathtaking, enough to win over anyone who didn’t already know her coming in, while Nick Cassarino made new fans with his ability to faithfully interpret the laid back, but sultry sounds of the record on only an acoustic guitar. Managing to convey percussive grooves, dreamy, ethereal soundscapes and everything in between, all with equal mastery and a smile on his face, the guitarist inspired reactions from the crowd not just with his virtuosic playing, but also with his impressive, bluesy pipes on “Do I Move You?” Another high point came when he plucked a walking bassline and comped at the same time while his partner improvised a flawless scat solo.

By the end of the opening set, the musical bar had been set very high and the other bar was busy serving the excited congregants that had filled in the club’s remaining space. Then, after a short intermission, The Funk Apostles at last emerged with their charismatic leader, who immediately put on his preacher voice and welcomed everybody (“How many bodies?”) as he invoked the funk spirits with an inspired, gospel-style organ solo. The heavy church vibe quickly gave way to a driving four-on-the-floor funk groove as The Funk Apostles came in with “Testify,” the band’s first tune of the night. The group’s energy was explosive right off the bat. Backup singers Tiffany Stevenson and Denise Renee and their animated frontman (who also sings) did a great job using their bodies to show the audience how the music should be felt—and it felt good.

Lacking horns, the band’s sound depends on its rhythm section to lay down grooves that can stand on their own feet. The solid foundation of Sharay Reed’s bass, which was loud enough to feel as well as hear, is supported by TaRon Lockett’s gospel style drumming and Adam Agati’s percussive guitar playing. Nicholas Semrad meanwhile adds different voices and textures with his array of keyboards, but of course the crowd’s focus is primarily drawn to the frontman, who plays the main melodies overtop the rhythm section whether they are organ lines or vocal hooks.

Perhaps what is most striking about The Funk Apostles’ sound is how little funk there actually is. Soul, R&B, gospel, jazz, hip-hop, and even pop all shine through the music at least as much, which is refreshing, particularly because the band seems to draw an audience for much of whom these styles would otherwise remain unfamiliar. It is surprising also how little the group highlights Cory Henry’s organ playing. Unlike an instrumentalist like Derek Trucks, who embellishes almost every song he plays with a guitar solo in his signature style, the band leader seems reluctant to embrace the role of soloist, taking no more of the spotlight than the members of his band. Gracious as this may be, those wishing to see the gifted organist really show his stuff may be left wanting—after all, people buy Tedeschi Trucks tickets because they want to hear a sublime guitar solo in every song. Instead, he leans into the charismatic preacher role, engaging the audience in call and response and leading claps and sing-alongs with refrains like “I believe that love will find a way,” and “Life’s gotta keep on rollin’.” He even paused a couple of times throughout the show to rap about the power of love and music. There was no mention of Jesus, but the worship vibe was strong.

The rest of the set included originals off the band’s new release, The Art of Love, a cover of the Beegees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” which ended strong with Cory Henry playing a blistering lead with one hand while shaking a tambourine with the other, and a soulful rendition of CCR’s “Proud Mary.” The night ended on a high note, with outstanding vocal solos from Tiffany Stevenson and Denise Renee before an electric finish that had the crowd jumping up and down in unison. After an encore that included Robert Randolph’s “Send me a sign” and Cory Henry’s signature feel-good singalong “NaaNaaNaa,” the band left the stage and the elated congregation shuffled out into the streets. Some, including Cory Henry himself, made their way over to Jack London Review for cocktails and a late show ironically featuring the night’s openers, Jennifer Hartswick and Nick Cassarino.

Jason's Photo Gallery



Friday, September 28, 2018

Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band 9.25.18 (Photos)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Scallywag Festival 9.22.18 (Photos)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mingo Fishtrap & The Copper Children 9.20.18 (Photos)