Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chicago Spotlight: April, 2010


Permanent Residency
Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, 773-274-5363 or 773-465-8005
No cover, these guys play every Tuesday night at 9:00
***a kickass bluegrass experience***

April 1
Metro/Smartbar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203
$21 for entry to both rooms, show at 9:00 with two openers, Bonobo is playing twice

April 2
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.
The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave, 773-276-3600
$13, show at 9:30 with 2 openers
***wild, fuzzed-out psychedelic rock from Japan***

Passion Pit, Mayer Hawthorne & the County
Congress Theater, 2135 N Milwaukee, don't even bother calling
$25, show at 8:00, Hawthorne is 1 of 2 openers

Flying Lotus
Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160
$5-$10, show at 8:30 with 3 openers

April 3
John Brown's Body, Toubab Krewe
Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160
$15, show at 9:00, Toubab Krewe is the only opener
***it would be worth your $15 to see Toubab alone, they are amazing***

Mucca Pazza
Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave, 773-404-9494
$12, show at 10:00
***a circus of sound***

Joanna Newsom
The Vic Theater, 3145 N Sheffield
sold out!, show at 7:30
***incredible harp with chilling vocals***

April 7
Fareed Haque
Greenmill Jazz Club, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552
$TBD, show at 9:00
***this show is listed on JamBase but not the Greenmill site, I'd call ahead***

April 8
Trampled By Turtles
Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160
$15-$23, show at 9:00 with 1 opener

April 9
Mr. Blotto, ekoostik hookah
Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State St, 312-949-0121
$12, not sure if it's doors or show at 8:00

April 10
The Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield
$25, show at 8:30 with 3 openers
***New Orleans funk-jam-blues explosion, do not miss this show***

Atoms For Peace (Thom Yorke), Flying Lotus
Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W Lawrence
$47.25, not sure if it's doors or show at 8:00

Major Lazer, Rusko
Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203
$21, show at 10:00

Great American Taxi with Vince Herman
Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave, 773-404-9494
$12, show at 10:00

April 11
Atoms For Peace (Thom Yorke), Flying Lotus
Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W Lawrence
$47.25, not sure if it's doors or show at 7:00

Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203
$22, show at 7:30

April 14
Orchard Lounge
Smartbar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203
$?? (probably like $15), show at 10:00
***explosive Chicago-area electronic group***

April 16
U-Melt, The Hue
Reggie's Rock Club, 2109 S. State St, 312-949-0121
$8, show at 8:00

Dr. Dog
Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203
$18, show at 9:00 with 1 opener

Smartbar, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203
$10 before midnight -> $15 after, show at 10:00 with numerous openers
***Dieselboy might not go on until 12 or 1, don't show up too early***

April 17
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
The Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield
$24, show at 8:00

April 24
Umphrey's McGee (UM Bowl)
Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln
SOLD OUT IN 10 MINUTES, show at 8:00
***the best show in the country on this night, if you got a ticket you kick ass***

EOTO, Heavyweight Dub Champion
Portage Theater, 4050 N Milwaukee, 773-736-4050
$15, show at 10:00
***not a bad consolation prize in one of the chillest venues in Chicago***

Ott, Jazzsteppa
Kinetic Playground, 1113 W. Lawrence, 773-769-LIVE
$12, show at 9, Jazzsteppa is 1 of 3 openers

April 28
Riviera Theater, 4746 N. Racine, 773-275-6800
$24, show at 6:30 with 2 openers
***with new singer Rome***

April 30
Future Rock
Park West, 322 W Armitage, 773-929-5959
$16, show at 8:00
***face-melting electro jams, bring your sunglasses***

Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, 773-489-3160
$10, show at 9:00


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Review: Henhouse Prowlers (Colorad Run Part One)

I have been hearing wonderful things about the Henhouse Prowlers; a traditional bluegrass band from Chicago, for about a year and a half. Having only listened to them on the internet, I was really eager to get a chance to see them live and in person. In the midst of a whirlwind Colorado mini-tour, the band was playing The Bar SS, a small bar in Laporte, CO; nestled right in between Fort Collins and the Mountains.

I had been to the Bar SS once before (also to see some bluegrass) and remembered it being more of a Locals Bar than a bonafide music venue. But, for bluegrass shows; sometimes this can be a good thing. I arrived about 15 minutes before showtime, and the crowd seemed to be pretty much split between locals and those of us who were there to see the music, maybe 60 people total.

Not really seeing any familiar faces in the place, a decided to order a Fat Tire (I don't often drink), and claim a nice space directly in front of the soundboard, where I could get a good audio and visual representation of the band.

When the band came on wearing suits and ties, and I realized they would be playing behind just one mic; I knew I was in for a treat. Theres really something to be said for everything that goes with the more traditional style of bluegrass.

The band opened with a rip roaring bluegrass number that really got us moving. I could tell right away that these guys were seasoned players and that there was no lack of talent. The next song, which I believe was titled Uncle Bubba, showed the bands ability to switch tempos with ease and highlighted their harmonizing vocal abilities, which I was extremely impressed with. Harmonies of this quality seem to be a lost art these days, not just on the bluegrass scene, but in a great deal of current music.

They continued on to play a nice assortment of covers and originals. A few of songs into the set, they played a great version of I'm Walking The Dog, which got the whole place on their feet, including the folks just sitting at the bar just having a drink. Again, I continued to be impressed with the harmonies every bit as much as i was with the band's instrmental prowess.

As I started to focus on each member of the band's playing, I came to realize that although this band doesn't have a mandolin player, I didn't really notice anything missing in the sound, even as they played straight mandolin numbers. I was impressed that a banjo, bass, guitar, and fiddle could produce such a full sound.

As the night went on, the crowd definitely became more involved. At the start of the show, there was nobody on the dancefloor, and I had a clear view of the band. But by the end of the first set, There were a good 15-20 people grooving, and I couldn't see a thing.

I enjoyed hearing them play traditional songs, in a traditional setting,yet still being able to stretch the songs out and improvise. Songs like the haunting Eli Renfro, Bringing in The Georgia Mail, and even Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky came off sounding somewhere in between traditional and newgrass.

Ryan Hinshaw seemed to hold the guys together, and struck me as kind of the band leader. He has a great voice and can really play the fiddle. Jon Goldfine was very talented on the stand up bass, and also had the vocal range to sing both leads and harmonies on several songs. Ben Wright was more than solid on the banjo all night long, and you could tell he was having a great time up there. I was most impressed with Eric Lambert, the newly hired guitar player, who had a unique style of mixing it up between rhythm and lead guitar work; often playing both at the same time.
Every member of the band sang lead vocals on at least one song and each of them sounded really good in their own way.

I really recommend seeing these guys if they are in your area. They are the type of band that would satisfy both the greenest Newgrass-Jamband fan, and also the most traditional enthusiast. They are able to mix it up to the point that they could probably play a completely tradional show for say; the IBMA crowd, yet turn around and play a grooving, jamming, high energy show for the festival and jamband crowd. personally, I prefer a little of each during eash show, and it seems the band does as well. Along with Cornmeal, they have proven to me that you don't have to come from the Hills of Kentucky to play great bluegrass music. Chicago will do just fine.

-Marc Hale

An Interview: Vince Herman

J-man: I looked at the tour dates for Leftover Salmon, Telluride and Red Rocks were listed. Not to shabby, for a couple of dates…

Vince: (Laughs) Yeah…

J-man: What’s next for Leftover Salmon and are there any plans for a tour?

Vince: None at all. It’s just like you were saying; a couple dates a year. Maybe some live compilations or something like that of stuff that would be released. As far as an album or something like that. But, no plans to go into the studio, no tours, no. Just a couple of occasional sets to pick with my ol’ buddies.

J-man: Right on. What are some of the highlights from your twenty years of playing with Leftover Salmon?

Vince: Oh man! Umm, god. Well, getting to play with Mark Vann all of those years was certainly a major treat. You know, Mark was an incredible banjo player and we lost him to cancer in 2002. So, that was definitely the was probably the most profound experience of getting to pick with a banjo player like that. Anyhow, all of the great friends we’ve made over the years; both musicians, fans and all of that stuff. It’s just a great community to be a part of. It’s certainly had a big impact on my life, that’s for sure. (Laughs)

J-man: I think Leftover Salmon had a big impact of a lot of people’s lives…

Vince: Hopefully positive! (Laughs)

J-man: Definitely positive. Can you talk about the difference between playing with Great American Taxi as opposed to Leftover Salmon?

Vince: Yeah, well Taxi is a bit more kind of country rock, alt country, Americana kind of thing. Where as Salmon, I guess, had a little bit more of a bluegrass feel to it… Bluegrass/rock and roll. In Taxi there’s five of us that sing, and write, and play, so it’s a very diverse material. Even though Salmon was incredibly diverse itself; there are more writers and singers in Taxi. And a little bit more complex vocal arrangements. But it’s a lot like Salmon too. I do a lot of improvising on stage, kind of making up words about what’s going on at the time. All those kind of things. So I guess the major difference is just a little stylistic shift.

J-man: How did the Suwannee Springfest go, down in Live Oak, Florida?

Vince: Oh, it was real fun… Real fun. We got to pick with Peter Rowan and John Randall Stewart. A real thrill for me; Richie Stearns from a band called the Horseflies, which is really influential on Leftover Salmon. Richie just happened to be at the festival, not playing with anyone. But, we talked him into coming up and playing with us. It was great… I have been wanting to play with him for a long time.

J-man: That’s cool. I love it down there, it’s such a beautiful venue… and a hell of a time.

Vince: Yeah it is… We’ve had some great times there over the years, that’s for sure (Laughs).

J-man: There has been several times at music festivals where I’d be wandering around at the early hours of the morning and come upon a group of wild pickers howling at the moon…

Vince: (Laughs)

J-man: … At second glance, time and time again Vince Herman is leading the charge. Where do you get the energy, and more importantly; where do you get you moonshine?

Vince: (Laughs) Oh man, I have a lunar sniffer, I guess.

J-man: (Laughs)

Vince: (Laughs) You know… I’m just so excited…

J-man: It’s apparent.

Vince: … To be alive, to be playing music and to be getting to play with these great musicians at festivals. Often when you’re on the road; you’re doing one night in each town. You kind of get there in time for sound check and you haul your stuff in, play the set and haul your stuff out. Then you drive, and play, and drive, and play… Then you get to a festival; sometimes you might even have two days in the same place. All these other musicians that otherwise would be out doing the same; play, drive, play, drive, thing. You get to hit this little oasis. So, when I hit those; I just feel like I want to suck it all up and play all of the tunes I can. That’s basically where the energy comes from.

J-man: That’s great. It’s turned my evening and my mood right around; to go from wandering around/spacing out and to come upon a group of good pickers having a hoot…

Vince: Well, it will definitely turn moods around…Especially if you’re trying to sleep and there’s a band playing outside your tent.

J-man: (Laughs)

Vince: Now there was one time when it was about six in the morning at the Telluride campground… We were picking tunes, just doin’ all this stuff and this guy yells from his tent “Hey, would you guys shut up? I’m trying to sleep, man!” And so we yelled back “Hey man, this is a festival and we’re playing music…” and there was a little pause and he said, in a real low voice “You guys stopped playing music hours ago…” ( Laughs).

J-man: (Laughs) That’s classic.

Vince: … We all just totally cracked up laughing and went somewhere else to pick (Laughs).

J-man: (Laughs)

Vince: (Laughs) He had us on that one…

J-man: What are your feelings on the newgrass movement?

Vince: Thank heaven for Sam Bush!

J-man: (Laughs)

Vince: It’s a beautiful thing, man. Bill Monroe invented bluegrass music and he cast it in this beautiful form of tone and style that’s just… great. As that music evolves, it takes these… In Anthropology you call it… in evolutionary terms a “punctuated equilibrium.” Where as you change from point A to point B; there are points on the way where there’s a little evolutionary jump, and it levels of, and en evolutionary jump, and it levels off on the way to this other point. “Newgrass Revival” and newgrass music is definitely one of those leaps in musical evolution, that really deeply affected my ears.

J-man: I’ve heard stories about your involvement with helping to elevate Yonder Mountain on the scene; can you talk about your early involvement with Yonder.

Vince: Well, they moved here to town, to Nederland. It kind of became a pattern, man; guys would move to town, start a band… and when I was home from the road, I’d get to pick with them. It was like “Oh cool, there’s new kids in town, let’s play.” Then they’d start their band, go on the road and I’d never see them again. (Laughs) Then a new band would roll into town…

J-man: (Laughs)

Vince: … So, when Yonder first got to town; they were hanging around all the time and pickin’. It was a lot of fun and they were always ready to play… Had their instruments on twenty four hours a day. They were totally committed to building their thing… and yeah, I made a couple of phone calls for them. I thought they were hugely talented, driven, good guys, and their hearts were in the right place… I still do.

J-man: There is a great band that’s out your way currently on a Colorado run, they’re called the Henhouse Prowlers. New sounding, kind of traditional bluegrass, with suits and a one mic set up. Great group of guys…

Vince: Oh yeah, I know those guys. We played with those guys out in Chicago a few times.

J-man: … Good musicians.

Vince: Absolutely.

J-man: Someone had mentioned to me that you had run for political office, can you tell me a little bit about that?

Vince: Yeah, I ran for the Board of Trustees here in Nederland, Colorado and luckily was a few votes away from winning (Laughs).

J-man: (Laughs)

Vince: (Laughs) The amount of time that it takes to do it… I was planning on doing a lot from the road, kind of over the internet. Boy, it would have been quite a bit of material to handle (Laughs). We have been touring a whole lot more than, I guess I anticipated.

J-man: You’re doing a lot of dates with Taxi…

Vince: Yeah, the Taxi pushes on. We’ve got a brand new record called “Reckless Habits” that we’re really pumped about, we’re getting good radio play, good reviews…Hoping that we start selling some soon… (Laughs).

J-man: (Laughs) What bands are you into currently?

Vince: Currently… Well, Elephant Revival, my friends from up here in Nederland are big on my radar right now. They are kind of lead by Bonnie Paine, who is a phenomenal washboard player, cellist, guitar player, singer… They’re just a great band. Incredible writing and just phenomenal world-class singing, from Bonnie and Bridget Law on fiddle and singing… Just a great band.

What else have I been listening to lately? I just got the Oxford- American Southern Sampler. I’ve been digging it… I just picked up this soul, late 60’s early 70’s gospel/soul compilation; recorder by this cat… It’s phenomenal. It’s really, really cool shit. It sounds like Motown, early reggae, soul stuff… It’s awesome!

J-man: I appreciate you taking the time to do this. It means a lot to me as a fan and I’m sure my readers will appreciate it.

Vince: Excellent, I appreciate it. Thanks a bunch.

Great American Taxi Live at Nelson Family Vineyards on September 12, 2009.

Jam of The Day: Bela' Fleck & The Flecktones

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Interview: Ben Combe (Particle)

As I was eating breakfast I glanced down at my phone to see that "Ben Combe" had sent me a text message that stated that today was a good day for the interview. With that I finished up at the diner and headed home to prepare for what came out to be one of the more enjoyable conversations I have had in a while.

J-man: You joined Particle with Scott Metzger after the exit of Charlie Hitchcock. That new era of Particle music was referred to as “Transformation”. Shortly after that, Scott left the band and a few years later; yourself. What was really going on?

Ben: (Laughs)

J-man: I’ll start off with a hard hitter…

Ben: No, that’s ok… I’ve had a lot of time to weigh all of this stuff out. Well, it’s not like a simple one sentence answer. There were lots of things going on in everybody’s life at that time. There was… One of the things that I think was an issue for me… and those guys… Let me start by saying; We’re all cool. I’m playing with them again. I’m not necessarily officially back in the band, but we’ve been playing shows and we have shows coming up. We’ve always been cool.

J-man: Right.

Ben: I think for me, the reason why I left was we were touring, pretty much like six months out of the year. So, I was married at the time and I was basically on tour so much that I was able to even unpack my suitcase (Laughs). I’d get home and I’d know I’d be going back on the road in two week. So I would do my laundry and put everything back in my suitcase, because I knew I was just going to be packing up and leaving again. That after a while was… it was tough , man. Particle started out, we were on a bus my first tour I ever did. Then due to whatever reasons we ended up in a van with a trailer, with six people running laps around the country in the summer time. It was just like; enough is enough. One of the things that a lot of my friends always say about this stuff that’s pretty funny is… I’ll talk to one of my friends who aren’t really musicians and they’ll be like “Wow! That’s awesome, you’re going to play Lollapolooza!” and “You’re playing with Robbie Kreiger!” and all this shit. The reality is that it’s really tough to make it, doing that. Even though that was going down. I mean, you’ve got to be able to support yourself and I wasn’t. I was running circles around the country, my marriage was falling apart and that was just my personal side to it.

Other factors were of course, Steve was getting into Phil & Friends. I’m actually glad I left when I did because he went on tour for a year and a half with them. So, actually; it was kind of serendipitous when it all happened. It just needed to happen.

J-man: In talking to Charlie and Scott it was eluded to that there were egos at play within’ the group. How does that play into the situation and do you think it effects the outcome of the music?

Ben: (Laughs)

J-man: Let me give you a piece of advice, think about your answer…

Ben: (Laughs) Wait, let me ask you a question first.

J-man: Sure, shoot.

Ben: What kind of audience do you have?

J-man: Well basically geared towards the festival/jamband/live music scene…

Ben: I know… But numbers.

J-man: (Laughs) Well, on a good day *Edit* hits a day.

Ben: Well, Alright… Um… I’ll say this; You know what… I have this… Here it is. I’m at the stage in my life where I’m not going to run and hide from anything. This is the reality of it and this is a lot of the reason why I’m going back to school full time… And this is actually one of the things I wanted to say to you. I heard about this recently… With the Disco Biscuits, when John Barber broke his wrist…

J-man: Right.

Ben: Right? Ok. So I looked on Jambase, and I started reading all of the “fans” posting stuff on the site…

J-man: I know where you’re going with this…

Ben: One thing after another! “Hate, hate, hate… I hate you., my band can beat up your band, my band is cooler than your band.” All just bullshit stacked on bullshit (Laughs). One of the things… There is always going to be ego and bullshit in music. Always, and there is always going to be ego. I think that, what I’ve learned about being a musician is that’ most musicians that I know are a little crazy. It’s a weird lifestyle, it’s a very different avenue that most people don’t… Look at what you’re doing. You’re stacking all of these people inside a vehicle and you’re driving circles around the country playing music to people who are partying and doing drugs all of the time.

J-man: (Laughs)

Ben: You know what I mean?

J-man: I do.

Ben: That’s going to affect everybody. (Laughs) You know, when you step on stage; no matter how you think you play there’s always going to be that dude who says “Dude, what kind of guitar do you play!?!” and some chick saying “Hi, how are you?” of course that affects ego… and of course things like that have an effect on playing. For me, when I got into Particle; I auditioned for it and I was kind of Mr. dude, from left field. I mean, I was living in the desert at the time, playing for a band that not many people were hearing. Then poof! There I was. Did that effect how my opinion got weighed…? Of course it did. I’m not saying anyone was like “I’m better than you.” or anything like that. But, it’s just like; of course. I auditioned for them… I was basically a hired gun and that’s what I did.

J-man: I appreciate that answer.

Ben: Good.

J-man: So, you’re going to be touring with Particle this summer…?

Ben: Oh yeah! Right now it’s funny, the way it is with the band. I actually like the way it is because it’s very loose with me. Now I can, because I am perusing other interests in life, in the fall. I’ve enjoyed playing these last ten or so shows and we have more shows this summer. I’m sure we’re going to be playing a lot more. But, now my whole perspective on everything is so different. Now when I’m going out to play I’m playing just for the joy of it and just the shear joy of playing my guitar. Which is something that the competitiveness was really getting the best of me. I think when we were like, playing two hundred shows a year, we were all over the place. Now it’s nice because it feels like we’re playing more from the soul… which is great (Laughs).

J-man: What other projects are you involved with?

Ben: Well, right now I’ve just been doing the Particle thing. I played a few shows with the Schwag. I don’t know if you know Stu Allen, he’s playing with the Jerry Garcia Band and Melvin Seals, all of that. So, when he was doing that, they would call me. So I did a bunch of shows with those guys. Those are great guy and I love them, and I love playing … That’s the thing about my playing is everybody… You know with Particle it’s kind of balls to the wall, ramp up and hit the screeching high note and playing the Dead; which you know, I am a huge Deadhead. I like that stuff because you can stretch out a little bit and don’t have to worry about melting people’s faces off all of the time (Laughs). You can melt them in a different way. It’s more like, hypnotic.

J-man: I heard the Schwag changed their name to “Dead Ahead.”

Ben: Yeah, they did. I think that was just kind of a sign of the times for them. They were looking to kind of branch out and do a new thing. I love those guys and I wish them all of the best.

J-man: What are your plans for the summer? Are there any shows or festivals that you’ll be playing or attending? Phish tour maybe?

Ben: Well, yeah. I put in for a ticket in the pre-sale lottery for Phish. I hate dealing with calling up Ticketmaster, I know that sounds a little lazy. I’m kind of an old-school Phishhead and I remember back in the day when you would have to hand-write your orders and they would like, send the tickets back to you. I kind of liked that (Laughs).

J-man: Yeah, Ticketmaster sucks. It sucks having to deal with them at all.

Ben: Yeah, it’s not that big of a deal… There is something I always liked… Especially now that Phish is back, there is some kind of nostalgia with getting those cool, funky, printed tickets. But, yeah but those are the shows that I’m going to go to just as a civilian, I guess.

As far as what we have coming up this spring; Wanee Festival, a festival in New York… I can’t remember the name of it.

J-man: Rock the Resort.

Ben: Yeah, exactly. Then we have a date in Muncie… Some festival in Muncie…

J-man: Yeah, Muncie Springfest. My friend James is involved with that.

Ben: Yeah, so we have that and something in Brooklyn. I know there is also going to be a Southern California run for Particle, who of course is from L.A. So, I think coming up we’re trying to line up a So-Cal run. We’ll probab;y do L.A. San Diego and somewhere else. I’m sure other dates in the summer will come up, but I like it now because they just say “Hey Ben, can you do some shows?” and I say “Yes, where are we playing?” It’s nice to be able to fly around the countries and play shows for people that want to hear it.

J-man: Is there anything else you’d like to communicate.

Ben: I just hope everybody goes out and has a lot of fun this summer. I just get bummed out when I see all of the hate that’s being spewed by everybody about things… You know, just the competitiveness of the fans these days…

J-man: I guilty of that as much as anyone. I am on Jambase frequently and I am overly critical. I mean, that’s what I do. I am a music critic.

Ben: Yeah. Dude, man… I have been a musician my whole life, but like come on.

J-man: I’ve had to collect myself a couple of times to ensure that thought was going into what I was putting out there. It does get really nasty… and often times it’s ignorant shit.

Ben: One thing that I do want to add is that what I have noticed is that (Sigh) … and again, I am kind of… It’s funny to say this, but I consider myself sort of old school. I started seeing Phish in the early 90’s. Of course I am from Massachusetts and they were always around here. I think in their absence, I noticed that… It’s weird but I think that a lot of people started to kind of come on to the scene, without seeing things the way that they were. Then all of a sudden everything just branched off into this new realm of… You know, I just think the drugs on everybody are just getting way to crazy. It makes people sour.

J-man: Do you think the drugs are a negative thing per-say? Or do you see positives in it as well? I feel like the use of psychedelics, as long as it’s somewhat controlled, could be a positive experience.

Ben: Sure, yeah… But when people are going and smoking DMT and doing all of those crazy/weird chemicals, that no one can pronounce; No, I don’t think those are good for anybody(Laughs).

J-man: I agree.

Ben: You know?

J-man: But I think to generalize the situation and to say that “drugs” are not good for the scene… I don’t know if that’s correct. Because I think they do play their part, you know what I mean?

Ben: Of course… and you know, you’re right. So, fine. I will retract that…

J-man: (Laughs)

Ben: (Laughs)

J-man: … That’s just my thought, and I appreciate your input on that topic. I have been easing into discussing it with some musicians. It’s a big part of the scene and a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. I think it needs to be discussed, maybe not in this format but…

Ben: Of course, that’s the thing; it’s not being discussed in a logical way, other than people just wanting to go out and party.

J-man: Right.

Ben: I like to party too, but when I see the negative aspects to it… I’ve seen too many times, that’s the only reason why people are in the scene.

J-man: It’s gross.

Ben: Yeah, it’s like the music is secondary. The partying is first and whatever happens to be playing at that point in time, or whatever their friends say is cool at that moment; that’s what’s going on.

J-man: Yeah, that’s really sad and I think that a lot of times the people who go on tour for an extended period of time or who are on the scene for a long time, run the risk of somewhat loosing a grip on reality. A lot of substances in a semi-utopian environment can do a number on people.

Ben: Yeah, I agree. I think you’re right on with that.

J-man: Again, Ben… I appreciate you taking the time do this as well as your insight.

Ben: Yeah, man.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jam of The Day: Heavy Pets

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On The Radio: The Henhouse Prowlers

Check out the Henhouse Prowlers in-studio on the Old Grass, Gnu Grass show at KGNU in Boulder, CO.

GNU Radio. (03-27 OldGrassGnuGrass)

The Henhouse Prowlers Segment Begins At 02:05:00.

Jam of The Day: New Mastersounds

New Mastersounds Live at Quixote's on June 1, 2007.

33(A Fine Year to Die)
Hey Fela!
Power Struggle
All I Want (Right Now)
The Minx
Six Underground
In the Middle
This Ain't Work(Part 1)

Talk is Cheap
Coming Up Roses
Baby Bouncer
Carrot Juice
Unknown 3
Better Off Dead
You Got it All
Bus Stop No.5
Give Me a Minute(Part 2)
Return to Gijon
Who's Making Love
Eazin' Down
(E)One Note Brown

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Interview: Brock Butler

J-man: Can you tell me a little bit about Perpetual Groove and what it is you guys do?

Brock: Well, I’d like to think that we travel and the music we make for our own artistic satisfaction and happiness; we try to pass that around to people. To serve as a catalyst… A social thing, for people to enjoy the music itself and I also think it’s the case with any band; if people get into something really hardcore, it explains a lot about a person. Like if I’m meeting someone for the first time, I always feel that’s a really good way to gage someone. You know, if you meet someone that likes Phish, you can kind of tell that they are a little bit more relaxed and certain things…

J-man: What festivals do you guys have lined up for this summer?

Brock: We’re doing All Good, for sure… and Bear Creek…

J-man: How did you guys get involved in Bear Creek? … And two sets at that…

Brock: Yeah, Paul who puts that on…

J-man: I’ve heard from several artists as well as my good friend Rex; that Paul is a great guy… I’m looking forward to meeting him.

Brock: Yeah, he’s awesome, man. We’ve done shows for him down in Florida and Georgia, being so close to that area… He’s always been a good friend to us as well. On Jam Cruise and things like that, we always hang out and have a good time. He’s a good friend and good fan to the band. He’s given us… He let me do an acoustic set last year.

J-man: … I didn’t mean to interrupt. What other festivals were you going to say?

Brock: Well, those are the two we have lined up right now. We’re not doing Vibes this year. They said they want to wait… skip one summer, and then let us do it again.

J-man: Can you tell me about the festival that you guys are putting on; Amberland?

Brock: Yeah, I never include that one, because it’s more of a glorified Memorial Day party with us and a bunch of close friends…

J-man: How did that come together?

Brock: Well, we started… A buddy of ours named Mark Day; his wife was named Amberlee, and he called his house “Amberland”. He always had a big pig roast for Memorial Day. So first it was us, as guests of his, and then it kind of flipped flopped around and became our show. He still does the pig roast, but we took it to different land, a different piece of area.

J-man: What are your thoughts on the festival scene? Also how do you feel about the culture of the scene and the effects that mind altering substances have had on the scene? Furthermore do you think P-Groove as well as jamtronica, cater to that altered reality and culture?

Brock: I definitely think there that are different levels within the festival scene. I think marijuana these days has become very commonplace and is no longer really the outlaw thing that it was. There are some of the more chemical, basement chemical elements that I don’t personally care for. I hate to see people broken down… You can see it in their eyes; that they’ve just taken it too far. I would like to think that if someone is in a particular headspace, whatever they’re on, that the music would further enhance that. Not so much that they only enjoy it while on certain things…

J-man: I think that’s a good point…

Brock: Yeah, there is a fine line there and think that if someone was a little anxious or stress out, that maybe some of the music calm… It might be something that you would put in to chill someone out, you know… That’s on a bad trip or something. (Laughs) I like that about it. I definitely enjoy, from an artist stand point; festivals, because you get so busy with your own tour, that you don’t always get to see a lot of bands that you’d like to. Festivals are a good opportunity to see the bands that you want to see, and in some cases even meet them, which is nice.

J-man: So would you say the festival scene is a pretty positive environment overall?

Brock: Oh, I think so. I think that you really see that a group of people can get together, with clean vibes. Even when a band like Phish put on their own things, they kind of set the standard. There is a difference between… I went to a Trey show at Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta and there was someone going around handing out trash bags and recycling bags. My buddy asked him “Hey, were you brought in by Lakewood?” and the guy said that he was actually hired by Trey. Panic did a show in Savannah one time and this one parking lot… when the kids left; it was just filled with garbage. Not to make it like a Phish/Panic thing but, it starts with whichever group is putting it on. We like to leave the spot in Lafayette, Georgia, where we do Amberland, as clean as we can. Obviously, some mess will be made…

J-man: So overall you’d say that your band takes a proactive stance towards positively effecting the…

Brock: Oh yeah! Absolutely. It’s all about your reputation and I would never want to get the reputation of being, or our fans being a messy people. Maybe some of them might be eccentric, but hopefully more on the humorous side, never... knock on wood. Never had any fights and never had an ambulance called to Amberland. Those are the type of people, I’d like to have.

J-man: P-Groove has been together for going on thirteen years now…

Brock: Yeah, about that. Adam and I started the band while we were in college, but I wouldn’t say we took it serious until we graduated in 2001.

J-man: I see. Are you happy with where the band is in relation to ticket sales, fan base, and draw?

Brock: Somewhat… There are some markets in the mid-west that are still ellusive to us. I don’t know if that’s an area that people just aren’t into it or... I read the internet message boards and people are just unnecessarily cruel. Not just with us, but they want to be clever with their insults, rather than an honest critique of the band. I’m all for constructive criticism… I can take it fine. It’s when people start to insult your character or talk about you as people and you know they’re lying. That makes it even worse.

J-man: Who are some of your favorite bands on the scene?

Brock: I really like My Morning Jacket, I’ve always loved The Slip, Band of Horses is another one. I really like anthematic, very big guitars… I liked some of what Sound Tribe was doing…

J-man: Do you like their newer sound, with going towards the laptops and such?

Brock: Not really, I don’t really like that as much…

J-man: How do you feel about the laptop movement?

Brock: I understand…

J-man: Do you think it kind of degrades the music?

Brock: Well, I think it’s just a different type of thing. What I used to really like about Sector 9 was that they were taking organic instruments and trying to reproduce with precision things that you could only so with an electronic metronome. When you start to over play those areas of automation and digital stuff... the whole PA sets... It doesn't... It's not my cup of tea. Some people will say "That's just bullshit." and "That sucks."... It's just not for me. I like to watch people with their real instruments. But, if it's working for them, than I'm all for it.

J-man: What are some of your favorite things about touring?

Brock: Well, going new places and I like the fact that at this point if I were to get stranded at any number of major airports, I can think of people… Like, if I were in Denver there’s probably ten people that I could call, and they would not only come and pick me up, but I would have a place to crash, food… There just a nice inter workings of, aside from the music. This comes back to knowing about people, like if you know what type of music they are into, there is kind of an inherent sense of camaraderie. It just comes out of knowing what kind of music people like.

J-man: A lot of times fans don't have open access to their favorite bands. But it's obvious to me, that your fans do. Either way, if you could communicate one thing to your fans, what would it be?

Brock: Well one, I'd like them to know that if they ever see me to always feel free to come up and say hello. I try to make myself as accessible as possible. I've met people that I've admired and have had both ends of the spectrum. Like being left feeling even more appreciation for the music, because as a person they were how I thought they would be. The way their music would imply them to be. Other times, they ended up not being that way at all. I just hope that people... If they get even half as much satisfaction and happiness out of it as I do... That's kind of what we're all about... At least me. Most of my lyrical content is to let people know that they're not alone and even though you may feel that way some days, or feeling weights just weigh on you; there's always that music. Music can be there for you.

J-man: I definitely appreciated how accessible you guys were and I think a lot of the fans appreciate that.

Brock: Thank you! That's one of the things about Jam Cruise that I really like.

J-man: I'll be aboard next year...

Brock: Oh, it's amazing. Some of the musicians will... Because they have an artist area, so they can get away if they need to. I'm sure for some that makes it a necessity... Like Jon Fishman or something.

J-man: (Laughs)

Brock: I view it as an opportunity to really get to meet people. When you're on a boat...

J-man: You're partying with the fans and vacationing...

Brock: Yeah, and there's no excuses like "Oh, we have to get going..." or "I've got this place to be or that place..." where do you have to be? You're all on a boat, you're all together.

J-man: My buddy Rex, who is a photographer, mentioned an encounter with you that he had. You apparently stumbled into his room...

Brock: Oh yeah, of course! He was so nice... I think I ended up playing... There was like seven people there. I played for a couple of hours and we just had the best time. It was memorable and just a legit encounter. I stay in touch touch with some of those people still. That was as special for me as it was for them.

J-man: That's cool. So, is there anything else you'd like me to pass on?

Brock: Just that I hope if people have seen us before, if they didn't dig it; maybe they'll give us another chance sometime. Because it's always switching from night to night. It's not always a hit. Or, if the music isn't their cup of tea; that they at least know that... We're a nice bunch of guys

J-man: Lastly, There was a guy I met tonight named Robert who is a big fan. It was his first time seeing you and he asked me to find out about your self titled album...

Brock: We've got to great lengths to keep that suppressed. Like, it's beyond a bad yearbook photo. I mean, some of the song writing was good but the overall production and stuff... If that were out there, I would hate for someone to pop that in...

J-man: Would you like me to leave this out?

Brock: Oh no, you can leave it, but I wouldn't want that at all to be a representation of us. We are going to do that album at Amberland, this year. We're going to play all of the songs.

J-man: That's a cool concept.

Brock: So people will hear what at the time we were hoping it would to sound like... But it didn't. Recently we were listening to that album and Adam and I hadn't listened to it in several years. We were just going through it an it was like "Oh maaaaaaaan." You know, at the time we thought it was great. We still play the bulk of the songs, minus a few... Maybe fifty percent of the songs.

J-man: Brock, I really appreciate you accommodations and you time.

Brock: J, thanks.

Check out Brock's web site As well as his new solo CD "Lately Here Though". Also check out and check out their Album "Heal" As well check out Amberland.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Review/Interview: Perpetual Groove (Syracuse)

The Night Prior To The Show:

I glanced down at my phone to see a text from "Brock Butler". I then called him to discuss happenings in Syracuse, as they had arrived in town a night early and were looking for something to do. I re-affirmed their decision on where to go; a bar/restaurant that had come recommended to me. We then discussed arrangements for the following night. He offered an invite to join them, but alas I had other plans. I was caught off guard by his friendly/openness.

The Day Of The Show:

Sometime mid afternoon Brock dropped me a text letting me know they were loading in at The Westcott. Again, I thought to myself; this cat has gone out of his way to accommodate me. I deal with a lot of musicians, and accommodations are one thing, but how down to earth Brock was, impressed me.

Perpetual Groove at The Westcott Theatre; Syracuse, NY 3.23.10

I arrived at The Wescott Theatre to find a parking spot right out front of the venue; a reminder that it was a Tuesday night in Syracuse. I have to again, say how much I appreciate The Westcott Theatre and what they are doing for the music scene in Upstate, NY. Upon entering the venue I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out. As the night progressed, more people filled in. I would have guessed there to have been about 200-250 people, leaving ample space in the 700 person capacity venue for hooping and grooving. I've said it before, and I'll say it again; What is the deal with hooping in an indoor venue? Please ladies, leave your hoops at home. Festivals are a different story...

As I staked a spot for a portion of the evening I met a gentleman named Robert, who is a business owner in the area as well as a P-Groove fan. I really enjoyed speaking with him about his exposure to the "jamband" scene. I also appreciated his sharing of P-Groove knowledge. Through-out the show Robert would lean over and inform me of the cd from which the song they were playing came from, also filling me in on when along the Perpetual Groove timeline a particular song may have come out. His insight was helpful in fully appreciating the show.

The first set was high energy. There were a lot of peaks and wailing. One thing that stuck out to me was the heavy synth. it was extremely prominent, and one of my favorite parts of the P-Groove sound. Another pleasant surprise was a light show that had me visually satisfied. The use of colors, patterns, and motion was very well done. I thought that the strobe backing lights, especially during the peaks were really well placed and helped create a raging atmosphere. Throughout the set Robert informed me that they were playing a steady mix of songs from their catalogue. P-Groove played a solid first set, then took a short break.

It was at this point the effects of a Tuesday night show started to weigh on the crowd, as people started checking their watches and slowly making their way towards the exit of the venue. As the night went on from this point, the crowd appeared to get younger and younger. The second set began with about ten girls hooping in the crowd. The second set picked up with the same vibe that the first set had left on the palate. As the set went on it became a total throw down, with the music paving the way for a dance party and light show that shouldn't be overlooked. The set ended with a double encore, leaving the patrons satisfied and sufficiently raged.

I thought the show was very good. I give it an 8 out of 10.

As the people made their way towards the front entrance Brock made his way off stage and through the crowd, stopping to talk to anyone that fancied conversation. Eventually, I exited the venue to find Brock out front, smoking a cigarette and seeing fans off.

After collecting some equipment from my vehicle I headed back in to do an interview with Brock. The load out process was under way as the Flaming Lips played over the PA. At that point I had a chance to talk to the gentleman in charge of booking for The Westcott, Dan. I thanked him for what he was doing and the effect it was having on the local scene. He was really appreciative and receptive. As well I met a young lady named Chelsea who was working with a Syracuse University film crew, documenting the evening.

I then made my way to the upstairs of the venue to offices/dressing room to conduct an interview with guitarist Brock Butler...


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jam of The Day: Aquaphonics

Monday, March 22, 2010

An Interview: Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass)

Photos By Rex Thomson

J-man: Anders, I appreciate you taking the time to do this. So you went from playing in Broke Mountain, to playing in the Wayword Sons, to Greensky Bluegrass; tell me a little bit about each of those projects and what they’ve down for you musically.

Anders: Yeah. Well, with Broke Mountain, that was a traditional Bluegrass band that we started in Durango, CO and it actually involved a lot of people that sort of went on to be in much bigger projects. It was kind of like a farm team, for a lack of better words. Sort of, as far as the bluegrass/jamgrass kind of thing. Travis Book played bass, he’s now in a band called the Infamous Stringdusters. Andy Thorn was the banjo player in that band, and he now plays with the Emmit-Nershi Band, Leftover Salmon… He played with Larry Keel for a while. John Stickley was the guitar player, he plays with Shannon Whitworth who is an amazing singer/song writer. Robin Davis played the mandolin. He played with the Wayword Sons for a little while and has been involved in all sorts of projects. I think for a lot of us, it was about learning how to play bluegrass. Andy and John were from North Carolina and they had come to Durango, sort of on vacation. We ended up picking a bunch and decided that we should start this band. that’s where Travis and I learned a lot about how to play bluegrass music. All of a sudden we had these badasses from North Carolina teaching us how it’s supposed to sound. (Laughs) So that was kind of like a bluegrass boot camp for a lot of us. That’s where we learned how to play and we were playing all day everyday and we were gigging as much as we could. We won the Rockygrass contest and eventually, t sort of ended up that we parted ways because everyone started to get offers to do other stuff that was bigger and national, instead of just regional.

At that point, Robin and I started the Wayword Sons with Benny Galloway; who is in my mind one of the countries best songwriters. He does a lot of work for Yonder Mountain String Band. They recorded a whole album of his tunes. He’s got songs on about every hit bluegrass album, in the past five years or so, I feel like. We decided we wanted to start a project which showcased those songs. That band was kind of unique. We had a really unique vision for it; we didn’t want it to be super bluegrassy. So we had a guy named Greg Andrulis playing piano and keyboards on it. So it was sonically really something different. So we had all of these killer songs and then we tried to create a totally different soundscape out of it. I think for me, that was also a real sort of learning experience because it got me out of the traditional bluegrass theme that I had been focusing on so much; the technical aspect of playing and things like that, and more into sort of stretching it out and playing of the piano. That band, we sort of decide that it was not set up to be a full time touring band.

So I ended up trying to figure out what to do next and Greensky became what happened. I still think that the Wayword Sons, in theory is one of the coolest bands that I have ever heard. Our execution wasn’t always perfect (Laughs) but when it was on point it was a really interesting sound. I liked getting to write tunes with Benny and getting to hang out with him and learning about that side of things. I got to the point where I was sort of looking for another project that would be full time and I had been picking with the Greensky guys at festivals and stuff and we had played some shows with The Wayword Sons and Greensky. I ended up approaching them and just saying… Well, I had made a list of bands that I could kind of see myself being in, or bands I felt I could add something to. A big thing for me was the band having good songs, because coming from a band with Benny, the bar was set pretty high. So it really came down to good songs, for me.

One of the things that really attracted me to Greensky was that I really liked their song writing… But they were also working their asses off, and clearly had the drive to sort of; make it to the next level. We all got along really well, and musically we all got along really well and I think shared a lot of the same visions. I consider myself pretty lucky to have found that band… But then also to have it work out (Laughs) you know, where thee are interested in having an extra member and they realize that it could be good for the sound.

J-man: What do you think will come of Greensky Bluegrass and what are your hopes for the band’s future?

Anders: I hope that we will be playing large arenas… No (Laughs). I think for all of us, the main thing is really to continue to create good music. I think that as a musician, and a band member, that by default has to be the number one focus. Then all of the things that you aspire to… As far as bigger venues, bigger crowds, all of that stuff, will come; hopefully. So, my real hopes for the band are just that we continue to make really good music. I feel like that’s something that’s happening. We’re writing a bunch of new tunes, that are awesome and exciting. Just sort of, learning how to play like ourselves and we’ve got good management and a good booking agent in place. All of the right things, officewise that enable us to do our job as musicians.

Beyond all of the stuff like; all I want to do is play Red Rocks before I die, (Laughs) I try not to focus on that side of it, and more just focus on the musical side of it. I figure if we do that really well and just, stick with it; all of those other goals will come into their own.

J-man: Relatively speaking, you haven‘t played the dobro for very long, yet your playing is extremely prominent and you’ve played and sat in with so many top notch bands; what do you attribute your musical success to?

Anders: Umm, not many people playing the dobro (Laughs)…

J-man: (Laughs)

Anders: I attribute it a lot to working really hard at getting good at the dobro in the early years of playing. I would play six hours a day for the first, almost year I started playing dobro. Just because I was really into it. Then, I attribute a lot of it to Broke Mountain. That band, I was just surrounded my musicians who were much better than me, and also my best friends at the time. So I was sort of forced to get good; fast. Then from there, working with Benny was really helpful because he has a really incredible ear for the way dobro particularly, fits into a song. Also learning about melodies and things like that… and still just practicing all of the time. I think as far as getting to the point where I was the guy always sitting in with a lot of cool bands. I think a lot of that has to do with, that I was apart of the Colorado scene for a while. You know, getting to know the Yonder guys and the Leftover Salmon guys, through Benny and other avenues; just doing a lot of hanging out and pickin’. Then, when it ends up time to get on stage it’s kind of like, well we’re doing it in the “green room” we might as well do it on the stage, kind of thing. (Laughs)

The dobro is an instrument that can fit in to a lot of musical scenarios very well. Kind of like the fiddle in that aspect, it fills the role. It helps that a lot of bands don’t already have a dobro obviously. But then, it’s kind of like a filler instrument, you know?

J-man: I do. It’s extremely melodic and bright sounding. It adds quite a bit in any setting.

Anders: Yeah, it’s a great instrument to add to any setting. Which I think I end up getting to play with a lot of different situations. It’s pretty unobtrusive, you can add a dobro and you get dobro solos and those notes kind of playing off of what the singers doing. So, it’s a great instrument to add to to a lot of different situations. As far as getting to sit in with a bunch of cool bands, I mean… When I was just learning how to play I went to see Leftover Salmon and things like that. Then, this year getting to play a whole set and a half of music with them at High Sierra, was kind of mind-blowing. Afterwards it was like “Did that really happen?”

J-man: That’s great…

Anders: (Laughs) Those guys are all my friends, which is super-cool… It was just one of those things where I was wandering around High Sierra and saw Drew and he was like “Hey, let’s pick!” Then I saw Vince and he was like “Go get your stuff, we’re doing sound check.” All of a sudden we’re hanging out there sound checking for two hours. It means a lot to me that those guys think enough of my playing that they would want to have me there. It’s kind of a nice… Sort of a nice… Umm…

J-man: … It validates what you’re doing.

Anders: Yeah.

J-man: Those are some of the top guys on that scene… and they’ve helped to elevate a lot of bands. Such as Vince Herman has done for Yonder. It’s great to see those bigger artists helping out a lot of the lesser know bands.

Anders: Yeah, I agree and I think “validates “ is a really good word… It’s just a nice reminder that what I am doing, I am doing somewhat right.

J-man: This segues into my next question; Who are some of your favorite musicians that you have gotten a chance to pick with?

Anders: Well, I would say that Drew Emmit is probably right there at the top of it all. That guy is a badass… He’s probably my favorite mandolin player and probably my favorite singer. So anytime I get a chance to play with him, not just with Leftover, but with the Drew Emmit Band and the Emmit-Nershi Band… It’s just so fun. It’s kind of Surreal.

Getting to play something like “Breaking Through”, a song like that with Drew singing and playing it’s just like; I almost don’t even want to touch my dobro, I just want to hang on the stage, and realize that I have the best seat in the house. (Laughs)

J-man: (Laughs)

Anders: But Drew is right there at the top of it all. Playing with the Yonder guys is always super fun, just because the energy of their crowds, and they’re so good at what they do. It’s always super fun for me. They really have that energy transfer between them and the crowd going on where it’s the perfect situation for playing because you can explore a little bit more on stage because it’s so rock solid.

J-man: That being said, what are your thoughts on traditional bluegrass and newgrass in relation to the cross-over that a lot of bands are doing, including Greensky Bluegrass?

Anders: It’s really interesting and strangely enough I have a sort of love/hate relationship with traditional bluegrass.

J-man: I can understand that.

Anders: I used to listen to it so much in order to learn the fundamentals of bluegrass, that I know it all really well and then I realize that in some ways it can be quite limiting. A twenty second dobro solo is (Laughs)… Once you’ve taken a five minute dobro solo; it just seems a little strange at times… In Greensky we play a lot of traditional bluegrass tunes. We play three minute songs, but we also get to explore. So it’s the balance that makes it really good, to me. If it were a super traditional bluegrass band, I think I would get bored. If it were a total jamband I think I might get some what bored too.

J-man: So you’d say it’s about finding a comfortable balance in between the two…

Anders: Yeah, absolutely. It’s all about the balance and I think that one of the things that I really like about Greensky is that we recognize that it’s not just about jamming for the sake of jamming. If a certain tune that we write, should be a concise three minute bluegrass song, because that what serves the song best; then that’s what we do. If it’s a tune that feels like it should be jammed out and stretched out and has the room to be interesting; then that’s what we do with that. In some ways it’s become a whole “traditional vs. jamgrass” in a lot of ways. I don’t really always see it that way…

J-man: … That’s part of the reason why I like band like the Del McCoury Band. Those cats are extremely traditional, yet it’s great to see them reach out across that barrier. There is definitely a stigma that comes from traditional bluegrass that jamgrass is not accepted. It’s great to see someone like Del, who is a staple on that scene; being open to what else is out there…

Anders: Yeah, definitely.

J-man: … Even down to the Opry. I wish the Opry was more open to the cross-over, because there is so much to it. Additionally, I think it would help the traditional bluegrass scene a little bit…

Anders: I agree. I think it’s a weird time, because there is a big gap between the fans of traditional bluegrass, and the fans of jamgrass… When everybody is doing something that is pretty close to the same thing. (Laughs) I was at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IMBA), their conference/party/pick fest. I saw a panel… I walked by a panel, I didn’t have a pass to get in, I was just hanging out… But, I walked by a panel and the thing on the door said “How to market your band to college audiences.” (Laughs)

J-man: (Laughs)

Anders: (Laughs) I just thought it was the funniest thing, because it’s all of these traditional “suit” bluegrass bands trying to figure out how to market their product to a younger generation. For some reason it just seemed really ironic… It’s not a marketing thing… It’s a musical thing.

J-man: Have you heard of the Henhouse Prowlers? They’re a band that sort of bridges the traditional “suit” bluegrass as you call it, and incorporating a little bit of that younger bluegrass sound. I don’t want to say jamgrass, but a youthful sound.

Anders: Yeah, I have. They’re bringing energy to it, from what I’ve seen…

J-man: Yeah.

Anders: On my Ipod I have a Del McCoury Band show from the Bonnaroo, whenever that was…

J-man: I believe they did 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2009 or 10 I believe…

Anders: Yeah, and it’s like; there you have it. To hear the crowd roar after a traditional bluegrass fiddle tune, and to hear how much the Bonnaroo/jam fans loved it; that was a real validation for me to hear. It is possible and we’re talking about the most traditional band out there just rocking the hell out of Bonnaroo. Not to say that it’s not about all of the history behind the Del band.

J-man: I heard that the first year, they had them set up with the traditional one mic set-up. But, because of the enormous turn out and high volume of people that came out to see them. They were left scrambling for additional equipment, when they realized what the situation was. It’s cool because it speaks loudly to the possibilities of traditional bluegrass.

Anders: Absolutely. I can’t stress enough how much we try to do both sides of it. To take what we’ve all learned from traditional bluegrass and then stretch it out… Because that’s not our only influence. I think the fan base is the same way; they like bluegrass, but they also like the Grateful Dead, Les Claypool and Wilco. It’s all across the board. It’s the same way for use as musicians… We love bluegrass, but we also love lots of other music. We’re not trying to fit any sound, we’re just trying to use all of our influences that we have as individuals and as a band. We’re trying to create this music that is us. If it comes out sounding like jamgrass or newgrass then by all means, we can call it that. But, it’s more about just trying to create what we like.

J-man: Sure. That being said; how has the Grateful Dead effected you, both musically and as a person? …And the same question in relation to Phish.

Anders: Well, first of all I am really excited to go see Furthur tonight (Laughs). So that will be fun. The Grateful Dead is like the majority of what I have listened to for a long time. My parents were cool enough to let me go see, like thirty some Dead shows… I’m only thirty two, but this is when I was like sixteen, fifteen, fourteen when they were letting me do that. They would let me go to multiple night runs at the Philly Spectrum, because they knew it was about the music for me and I was a guitar player. I still thank them for that to this day.

So, I don’t know; I just really loved the music. It’s hard to describe what it was but, it was the first band that I really connected with. Before that it was all classic rock and stuff like that, that my brothers were listening to. But that was the first band that was like, my band. Where I knew every single song and everything about it. Just the jamming aspect of it was what really appealed to me… and the killer songs. To this day… We listen to the Grateful Dead station on XM/Sirius, more than we listen to anything else in the van (Laughs). It’s just on by default, and then it just stays on because it’s so good. The music is just so damn good.

J-man: Indeed.

Andres: … Then with Phish… Around the time I was getting into the Grateful Dead I was listening to Phish as well. It was really the technical aspect that really appealed to me… And the fact that it just rocked so fucking hard. That band, still to this day, if you listen to anything from 92’ to 96’; that music is the most technically awesome music to me that you can listen to.

J-man: Hmm...

Anders: It just rocks so hard. I don’t know how else to describe it. So for me, something about it captured me. I saw my first Phish show in 1992 and once I saw it live, I was just like “Wow, there is nothing that I want to do other than go see that show again.”

J-man: (Laughs) How many Phish shows have you seen?

Anders: It’s like a hundred and forty something…

J-man: (Laughs) Good god…

Anders: I sort of lost count. The majority of those were before the year 2000. I went on a couple of Phish tours with my brother and some of his friends in 96’ and 97’. I sort of got to see the transition from the super rock band psychedelic Phish into like the funk version of the band. It was really an interesting time to see a lot of shows. Sometimes I listen to Phish and it’s really frustrating to me because it’s hard to hear that and go back to playing the dobro.

J-man: (Laughs)

Anders: The dobro is the closest thing to the electric guitar that you can get in acoustic music, in my mind. I try to steal stuff from Trey, but it’s just so on a different level that sometimes it gets frustrating to me when I try to translate it to dobro, because it really has to change a lot. Those two bands were sort of like my jambands, over the years.

J-man: Have you guys ever thought about doing a cd Tribute to the Grateful Dead? I know you guys do a lot of Dead songs. It would be cool in a live environment. It might help gain some new fans as well…

Anders: Yeah, we’ve talked about trying to do something like that, or trying to bill a show as like one set of Greensky and one set of Dead music. But, for me; it just seems a little bit fabricated. We love playing Dead tunes, because we all know them so well. I think beyond that our focus on our original music is so strong that we’re kind of nervous about getting pigeon-holed into that. But, I think you’re right. I think it would expose us to a lot of new fans.

J-man: What are your thoughts on the festival scene,? Did you ever think that this is where you would end up playing?

Anders: Yeah, I sort of figured that would be… It’s what we do in the summer. The festival scene is a very vibrant part of this culture. It’s amazing. I love festival. Not in the plural sense of the word, just in the singular, general sense of the word. (Laughs).

J-man: I can relate to that…

Anders: It’s the best… The best time you can have. You go there and hang out all weekend and play music all weekend… You get to party with your friends and see all of your buddies That you haven’t seen in a while. You get to mix it up and play with other bands.

There is a huge crowd there. You have all of these bands that bring in different fan bases, so for us as a band we get to turn a lot of new people on to our music. It’s a great time. It’s one of the few times where we actually get to stop and hang out for very long. On tour, you play the show that night, and the next day you’re on to somewhere else. So to get to hang out and listen to music is pretty awesome and rejuvenating in a lot of ways. Also getting to be the token bluegrass band a lot of these festivals is always great.

J-man: If you were given a open set at a festival to throw together a “super group”, which musicians would you surround yourself with?

Anders: (Laughs) I’ll keep it somewhat realistic. Let’s see… Drew Emmit would be on mandolin and Travis Book would be the bass player, from the String Dusters; who is a great friend of mine and a killer musician. And then… Let’s see, Jeff Sipe would be on drums... and man, the guitar slot is a tough one. We’ll lose the realism for a second and put Trey on acoustic guitar and then Page on keyboards (Laughs).

J-man: (Laughs) There it is…

Anders: Oh, and we need a fiddle player too… Probably go with Stuart Duncan on the fiddle because he’s a complete badass.

J-man: Yeah, he’s a beast.

Anders: That’s a pretty good band, huh?

J-man: I’d go see that…

Anders: … I wouldn’t take any solos, I would just hang out (Laughs).

J-man: (Laughs) Which festivals will Greensky be playing this summer?

Anders: Well, we’re going to be at Delfest this year for the first time, which we’re really excited about. We’ve heard great things about it. Also the whole McCoury music family is just amazing… And there will be a lot of good bands there. Our buddies Yonder will be there, Cornmeal will be there, Keller will be doing something, Lots of Del; it’s going to be a blast.

We’re also doing Rockygrass this year, which we’re also excited about. That’s put on by the same people that put on Telluride. It’s their more traditional festival. I think Greensky feels a little bit more a kin to Telluride, just because it’s a little more of a music festival than a traditional bluegrass festival. But, I’ve learned how to play a lot of music at Rockygrass and went to the Rockygrass academy years ago and spent a lot of time there, so I’m really excited to get back there. I think we might be kind of the token, weird jam band, a little bit more jammy than the usual band there. But, I’m excited to do that because it’s in Colorado, where they just like music. (Laughs) I can’t think of any others off the top of my head right now, but there are a bunch more that we’re working on getting confirmed up. But those are the two that I am really excited about.

J-man: I’ll be at Delfest. I’ll see you there.

Anders: Yeah, man.

J-man: I appreciate you doing this and have fun at Furthur tonight.

Anders: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. Take care. Check out their new live cd "All Access Vol. 1" Recorded live on Nov. 27th at the Riviera Theatre, Three Rivers, MI.

Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band Live at The Cosmic Coffee House on May 13, 2005.

The Wayword Sons Live at Horning's Hideout on August 25, 2007.

Greensky Bluegrass Live at Mt. Tabor Theater on March 20, 2010.