Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hoxeyville Music Festival 2011: Day Three

Words & Photos By Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)


Festival Sundays are relaxing. Signaling the approaching end to a typical festival gathering, these days are often filled with nonsensical jokes, thirst-quenching drinks of water, and growing smiles that remind us why we came. This particular one, August 21st, mimicked the familiar casual form as sunlight, sending everyone in motion for one last celebration, broke over the Hoxeyville horizon.

Absorbing the day’s events at a leisurely pace, my morning began with conversations of the previous evening’s Umphrey’s McGee show. Most I spoke with echoed similar sentiments of being awed by the power of the Umphrey’s, a huge act for the size of this festival that clearly came to wow the Hoxeyville faithful the night before. To see Hoxeyville not only raise the bar with talent in 2011 but have said talent be well received is a great sign that points towards continued growth for years to come.

I caught random bits of music here and there throughout my Sunday travels, but there were two acts whose shows I made sure not to miss: Ultraviolet Hippopotamus and The Mickey Hart Band. The first of the two, Michigan’s own Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, represents everything there is to love about live music. Offering dynamic instrumentation, energetic phrasing, chops galore, and brilliantly crafted songs for your heart, these Hippos not only offer the total package for any fan of music but do it with such consistent force that it’s impossible not to be drawn into their progressive performances every time they grace the stage.

Much like their previous year’s performance, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus dominated a fast-paced set that began with the fan favorite “North Coast” that had Hoxeyvillians rushing towards the stage upon its opening notes. “North Coast” worked itself into another fan favorite, “Yin Yang.” With newly added twists and turns, the Hippo classic featured the first monster jam of the day and breathed live into the crowd with its trance rock rhythms and syncopated symmetry. The rarely played “Move Your Ass” was the surprise treat of the set. Before the tune began, bassist Brian Samuels switched to mandolin and welcomed to the stage a guest bassist whose name I unfortunately did not catch. Those at Hoxeyville who were lucky enough to witness the “Move Your Ass” performance reflected their appreciation by throwing on their dance pants and boogie’n down to the special occasion. Add the jaw dropping version of the “The Marine” that preceded to the equation and what we received was a Hippo show for the books. These guys never fail to amaze me.

Setlist: North Coast > Yin Yang, Hey Tommy, Background Music > Giants, The Marine, Move Your Ass, Tugboat

My time away from the stages was filled with friendly laughter until it was time to return for The Mickey Hart Band. Previously unfamiliar with this project, I was overly impressed with what I heard from the collective. Guitarist Gawain Matthews flat-out blew me away with his playing. As the band created textured layers of sound over Hart’s leading rhythms, Matthews channeled raw, gritty psychedelia by ripping through modal scales in exploratory fashion. The group’s take on “Fire on the Mountain” was undoubtedly the highlight of set. Walking out of the photo pit, I saw many fathers and mothers singing the song to their kids as they danced together in the festival fields. It was one of those moments that make you grateful to be apart of something so meaningful to so many people, a timestamp that can never be taken away.

Having already torn down my campsite due to work obligations at 8:00 AM the next morning, I made the walk to my car and took off towards Lansing. Hoxeyville 2011 was a success on many fronts. The cleanliness of the grounds, the volunteerism, the incredible music, the community… everything and everyone worked together towards something greater throughout the entire weekend. Offering the perfect mix of family vibes and well-established musical acts, Hoxeyville 2011 got it right yet again. It was one of the better festival experiences I’ve had in quite some time, and I’ll certainly be back in 2012. Big thanks to those who put countless hours into preparation and execution because these types of events are what keep the scene alive. See you next year Hoxeyville!

Greg’s Photo Gallery (Day 3)

Hoxeyville Day One Coverage

Hoxeyville Day Two Coverage

Keller & The Keels 8.27.11

Mishawaka Amphitheatre
Bellvue, CO

Words & Photos By J-man
Video By Nicholas Stock

Mishawaka is one of the most uniquely beautiful venues in Colorado. Its prime location in the Poudre Canyon sets the background for all of the great music that it hosts. On Saturday, August 27th, The Mish played host to Keller Williams and the Keels. Leading up to the event, my client, Pete Wall (Motet) asked me to make arrangements for a sit-in if possible. That being said, I contacted Keller's management and made the proper arrangements. Driving up to The Mish with Pete and his wife, I knew that it would be a great evening. What I didn't know at the time was how truly special the evening would turn out to be.

We made the drive from Denver past Fort Collins up into the canyon. As we approached the venue, cars lined the road. Passing the venue we could see a sizable line of people at the main entrance. We pulled the car into the backstage area where Pete unloaded and I went in search of Keller's road manager, soundboard engineer and collaborator Louis Gosain. I found Lou at the soundboard and introduced myself. He was super helpful in assisting me in obtaining our parking pass and credentials, as were the folks who ran The Mish.

After squaring away our creds, I ran into Summer Camp counselor and local celebrity Nicholas Stock. It's always a pleasure to work with Nick as he and I have extremely contrasting views on music, the scene, ect. It always makes for good conversation and fun banter. We headed to the front of the venue to prepare for the evening's work.

Now, a little background information; I have seen Keller more times than I count over the past ten years at solo shows with his various project and at festivals. My love for Keller has gone up and down over time. I've seen some fantastic shows, and some average shows (which is the case with any artist that one sees excessively). Leading up to the show, I kept hearing, "Keller always plays great shows at The Mish."

The first set was a Keller and The Keels set featuring one of the best flatpickers on the scene, Mr. Larry Keel, and his beautiful wife Jenny on bass. The trio came out on fire. Keller's energy coupled with the chemistry and bright instrumentation of The Keels made for a really positive and clean sound.

The show opened with grassy rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," setting the pace for a fun and fast-paced picking party. Keller sounded great. His playing was clean and was complimented by Larry's killer picking. As well, Larry and Jenny sang backup vocals that fit perfectly with Keller's energetic vocals. The crowd was really excited to see one of their favorites and The Mish quickly filled in. Keller and The Keels went through several Keller originals as well as several familiar covers from popular radio hits to Grateful Dead tunes. The vibe was really great as folks danced their collective asses off.

One of the highlights of the first set came with Larry stepping up to sing "Mountain Song," one of his strongest songs. In fact, The Del McCoury Band covered "Mountain Song" on The Company We Keep. Larry's raspy voice gave me goosebumps and left me immediately satisfied.

As I wandered through the crowd, I saw several familiar faces and ran into a handful of folks that I knew including Nadia of Madison House. I really dig Madison House. They are one of the most respected management/publicity firms on the scene. Nadia's presence at the show reflected that they care about their clients by turning out to support them and enjoy the music.

The first set was incredible. In fact, it was one of the best Keller and The Keel sets that I have ever witnessed. As they exited the stage, I made my way backstage to see to it that Pete was good to go for his second set sit-in and to snap a few fun shots of the Keels.

I made my way into the greenroom to find Pete and Keller rehearsing and The Keels relaxing. It was a great scene, and I had no choice but to snap a few shots...

You could hear the crowd outside partying in anticipation of the second set, and as Keller made his entrance for a solo set, the crowd went wild. Keller's jams and loops sounded the best that I have heard from him over a ten year span. All of the parts from the guitar work to the bass lines to the beatboxing, while done separately, came together in perfect unison.

After a few songs into the second set, Keller called Pete to the stage. Pete came out smiling. As a fan of Keller, it was a cool moment for Pete who was extremely well received by the packed Mishawaka crowd. Pete said to me before the show that he thought it would be interesting as he claimed the flute and baritone sax were two of his weaker instruments. As soon as he began, I laughed. His humble claims were bullshit as he absolutely killed "Moondance" on the flute. Keller smiled and danced uncontrollably to Pete's flute work. They sounded great together as proven by the crowds overwhelming reception. It was a cool moment for me to see one of my clients meshing perfectly with one of his favorites in that sort of environment.

On a side note, a cool moment came for me when I heard the legendary Larry Keel say, "Oh man, that sounds great!" in regards to Pete's playing.

"Moondance" transitioned into "Kidney in a Cooler," with Pete picking up the bari to cover the low end. I was amazed at how effortlessly Pete blew into the bari at such a high elevation. The collaboration sounded great, and many in the crowd who were not previously aware of Pete Wall were now fans. The song ended, Keller hugged Pete and the set continued.

"How did it sound?" Pete asked me as he came offstage.

I laughed and smiled, and before I could answer, Larry stepped up and said, "That sounded great!"

There was nothing that needed to be said beyond that. I patted Pete on the back and smiled once again.

The second set continued with Keller performing the best solo set that I have seen him play in years. His loops were perfect, his energy and showmanship were top notch and as expect, the crowd ate it up. Towards the end of the set, Keller called the Keels back onstage to finish the show. I couldn't stop smiling. What a fantastic set of music! Following a solo encore of "Boob Job," Keller exited the stage.

Folks piled out of the venue onto large charter buses and shuttles, satisfied with their concert experience. As the tear down took place, we thanked everyone for having us out and snapped a few shots for the ol' scrapbook. Exiting through the back of the venue, we crossed the street where Pete was mobbed by a few appreciative fans.

"Dude, that was awesome!" said one guy.

"You're the fucking man!" said another as he reached out for a high five.

"Is that really the guy from The Motet?" one of the kids asked me to which I smiled and nodded.

It was great to see that Pete had built an immediate fan base at the show. It was also a good feeling to see how excited these young kids were about meeting Pete. We hopped into the car, smiles around, and made our way back to Denver. Success.

J-man's Photo Gallery From The Show

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Signal Path: A Decade of Innovation

Words & Photo By J-man

When I hit the scene for the first time in 2001-2002, Signal Path was there. I recall seeing SP at many of my first festivals and thinking "What these guys are doing is unique". They weren't as much a part of the electronic movement that was sweeping over the United States, as much as they were pioneers of a separate movement, the jamtronica movement. A movement of instrumentalists with the ability to create a sound so consistent and so smooth that it came off as if machines and computers were the source of creation. Their subtle notation and danceable intuition created a vibe like none other. They weren't the only band involved in this movement, but they were one of the originals and one of the best.

Check out the earliest recording of Signal Path on the Archive...

Signal Path Live at Fox Theater on December 7, 2002.

The combination of live drums and guitar work made for a unique sound and allowed for more diverse range and options than the standard turntable/laptop work that was being done at the time. Not only was the effort and focus being put into raw instrumentation, but tastefulness as well (which is one of the issues that has always plagued electronic music). Their carefully, well thought out approach to the music is evident and the exploration of possibility has always run deep.

As the band's career progressed so too did their line-up. Going through some personnel changes and a short hiatus, SP returned to the scene in 2009, sounding refreshed and rejuvenated.

Nearly a decade after their birth, SP continues to tour and impress. One of the most admirable thing about SP is their willingness to share and distribute their music for free, allowing their fans open access to their output. More recently SP has been exploring a unique concept coined "The Quadrilogy", which refers to their four part seasonal album releases.

Check out their most recent recording from the Archive and notice the development in their sound...

Signal Path Live at Old Pearl St Jam Fest on July 9, 2011.

As time continues, so too does the progression of Signal Path. Their music continues to spawn new ideas within the realm of their sets and style as well as their conceptual output. If you haven't listened to SP prior, now is as good of time as any to dive right in. Their music is readily available and their tour schedule as usual is expansive. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain...

Hoxeyville Music Festival: Day Two

Words By Brandon Picard
Photos By Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)


We woke up Saturday morning to some light rain. Feeling well refreshed from the great sleeping weather the night before, I was amped to get my Saturday started. Keeping dry in the comforts of our tent, we chatted about our Friday experience and the day to come. The rain let up roughly after 10 AM. and our day had begun. For most of you it will come as a surprise, but before Hoxeyville, I was an Umphrey’s virgin. My Saturday mind couldn’t sway from the fact that on this night I was FINALLY going to see Umphrey's McGee! Hoxeyville people were sharing their many UM stories from years past. Tonight was going to get rowdy!

We started our day with a quick breakfast and shot over to the tent stage for an act recommended to us from our lovely neighbor Cord. The day before, scouting the schedule at our camp, we came across the name “Crazy Richard”. Our neighbor overheard the name and asked “Is that that crazy cat that throws fire and tells jokes for all the kiddies? Check that out!” With that, it was decided that Crazy Richard was going to get our attention. Kids were circled up around a rather scruffy looking individual excitedly blowing his whistle and shouting. The ten minutes that we saw, my friend and I were cracking up uncontrollably. The kids seemed to be having as much fun as we were! With juggling acts, kid’s stories and adult jokes, Crazy Richard started my Saturday better than I could have imagined.

The day was slightly overcast, perfect for a comfortable afternoon. We set up back in the main stage area and prepared to check out the acts to come. The first set we caught was The Ragbirds. Well, I shouldn’t say set. The first song we caught for the day was from the Ragbirds. Blah. It was the perfect time for a morning stroll through the forest. Before we could get settled in, we were out of our chairs and off to play some disc. Sorry Ragbirds, maybe next year.

Having the disc golf course on site was such an added bonus for Phil and I. being somewhat avid discers, it was awesome to have an extracurricular activity during the down times. Thank you Setphanai Myers of Disc Golf Michigan for the Solar Glow Disc Experience!

As we finished up another round of golf, I could hear in the distance that the Macpodz and Great American Taxi had switched slots and that Vince Herman and Great American Taxi were due up next. This was one of a few sets that I had been anticipating in the weeks prior to the festival. Vince Herman just seems to make everyone feel right at home when he takes the stage. It’s clear that Vince is one of the nicest, most well-liked guys on the scene. The Americana/folk sound portrayed by Great American Taxi makes any music lover feel great. Todd Snider came out and helped Vince and the others put on a great show. With the sun shining periodically, this was a good time for me!

Next up, the Macpodz.... If you live in Michigan, you’ve seen these guys (probably more than once). They play EVERYWHERE, EVERYDAY. How they can be in six different places at once is beyond me. Not really though, these guys just like to play music. Their dedication to their “disco bebop” sound is unsurpassed. Keep it up Macpodz; you’ll get some love soon.

We made our way back to camp for some final preparations for the evening. Stocking up on drinks we headed way back over and caught Todd Snider just finishing his set. Greensky Bluegrass was just finishing setting up. Greensky is a band that I have grown to love after first seeing them roughly five years ago in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at a very intimate theatre called The Ark. Every time these guys show their faces around my hometown, I make it a point to turn out. GSBG is one of those bands that performs…with ease….night in and night out. People seem to gravitate to their Michigan-themed bluegrass tunes. With an acceptable combination of jamgrass and traditional bluegrass songs, we will all be hearing from Greensky Bluegrass for many years to come, I hope!

Having yet to experience the disc golf course in the dark, Phil and I made our way back over for some psychedelic Frisbee tossing. The attention to detail throughout the course was remarkable. It was clear that many hours of preparation had gone into creating a great secondary activity for everyone!

The moment I had been anticipating for many weeks had finally arrived! I was going to my first Umphrey’s McGee show and hoped to live to tell about it! The crowd was clearly just as excited as I was. As the first song dropped, I instantly regretted not wearing a diaper as I could have shat myself on the spot. With the combination of moody euphoric lights and destructive shredding, it was clear that I had been missing out on something special. Screams of terror resonated through the crowd as UM tore down Hoxeyville. Having minimal knowledge and exposure to Umphrey’s, I took it for what it was, a musical masterpiece. I was blown away with the arrangement. The lights matched the mood of the entire show. Looking over at my buddy Phil, it was clear that he was just as terrified as I was. This will not be my last UM show, that’s a guarantee!

Saturday at Hoxeyville is a day that I will remember for a long time!

Greg’s Photo Gallery (Day 1 & Day 2)

Hoxeyville Day One Coverage

Hoxeyville Day Three Coverage

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hoxeyville Music Festival 2011: Day One

Words by Brandon Picard
Photos by Greg Molitor
(ReMIND Photography)


In its 9th year, Hoxeyville Music Festival has presented music fans from Michigan and beyond a wonderful August weekend experience. Located in the Manistee National Forest, Hoxeyville represents the simple beauty of Michigan. With a small gathering of roughly 3,000 people, the intimate setting makes it special for everyone involved. This year’s star-studded lineup included many local Michigan acts as well as nationally known talent. Headlining this year’s festival were Chicago’s own Umphrey’s Mcgee, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and The Mickey Hart Band.

Accompanied by Phil, my pal of all pals, we took the four hour drive northeast of Detroit to Wellston, Michigan, for what was anticipated to be a solid weekend of friends and music, among other things. Arriving at the gate around noon we were swiftly escorted in and out of line in no time. We gathered our credentials for the weekend and set off to find “home” for the weekend. Hoxeyville is set up throughout a plush forest with the stage area being the open epicenter. People can find refuge by camping in nicely shaded spots located around the outside of the festival grounds. Both Phil and I were first timers at Hoxey so we weren’t sure on the etiquette of setting up in the woods. Tents were piled on top of each other throughout the forest. Spots seemed very limited when we arrived. We drove around seeking a shaded spot but ultimately became discouraged and ended up setting up in the “field” of general admission camping. We chatted with our new neighbors and solidified our camp. Shortly after, MusicMarauders own Greg Molitor showed up and pitched his tent next to ours. Greg was there photographing the festival for MusicMarauders (Good times Mr. Molitor). There’s something about finalizing your camp setup. It’s the feeling that the festival has begun! Setting off for the stage I ran into some friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time! I immediately got the warm feeling that this was going to be a cherished weekend.

The first band we saw was Strange Arrangement. I was really excited to see the amount of people gathered stage front so early on Friday. Strange Arrangement rocked it. I had never heard of Strange Arrangement and was sad that I hadn’t. These guys were BY FAR my sleeper act of the weekend. People were moving and grooving, ecstatic to be there. Strange Arrangement reminded me a lot of Particle from six to eight years ago. They were musically sound, building up the progression of each jam into a climax and on into a colossal breakdown. For 4:00 PM, shit was hoppin’. Getting closer to the stage I could see a small fence separating the Media/VIP area from the general Admission area. I was SHOCKED to see the amount of people up front. The VIP area was completely full while the general area was scattered. As the day wore on things evened out, and by the end of the weekend the general area had earned some well deserved party respect. What a way to start out my Hoxeyville 2011, thank you Strange Arrangement!

The vendor semi-circle outlining the main stage area was full of beautiful art and great food. The more and more festivals I attend, the more and more prepared I become. And being prepared for festivals means don’t bring your own food. People will be happy to feed you! We pigged out on pizza, Thai food, BBQ, and personal my favorite, chili cheese dogs, all weekend!

Making rounds at festivals have become some of my favorite times. Seeing the same weekend warrior faces over and over again makes me happy. On a round of the grounds, we came across the tented stage nestled neatly in the trees on the outskirts of the festival. Setting down our chairs and catching some much needed shade, we tuned into Graham Parsons and The Go Rounds just starting their set. The soulful voice of Graham Parsons fit well with the soothing shade. People gathered by the dozen to hear the Adele-like vocals of Graham Parsons. As we looked around into the forest, we saw that the number of tents set up had tripled in the hours that we had been there. Immediately we regretted our decision to camp in the open sun. The amount of families at Hoxeyville was outstanding! The mellow vibe of the festival allows for people to bring their kids out and enjoy a weekend of music together.

The sun was still shining bright as we made our way back to the main stage to hear the sounds of Ekoostik Hookah. I wasn’t surprised to see the amount of people I did at the stage. Born in 1991, Ekoostik Hookah has built a solid family of followers. With their own festival, “Hookahville”, housing more than 15,000 festival goers in 2000, Ekoostik Hookah has a claim to fame in the Midwest. The free spirited improvisational rock ‘n’ roll funk group didn’t disappoint as their set wowed “Hookah Heads” and non “Hookah Heads” alike.

Skipping out on the last few songs of Hookah’s set, Phil and I had our sights set on the much anticipated glow-in-the-dark disc golf course! As we made our way towards the entrance of the festival and to the course, we could see we weren’t the only ones excited to play disc golf at a music festival. Many other attendees, Frisbees in hand, were making their way through the forest chasing after discs. Phil and I looked at each other and exchanged a kid on Christmas kind of smirk. From the first tee box you could see many random objects set up throughout the forest sure make the glow experience was one-of-a-kind. As we were finishing up our round of golf, I could head the upbeat tempo of Ella Riot.

The sun was just setting and the crowd from the day had nearly doubled. Teeny boppers were everywhere singing the songs of Ella Riot. Ella who? I later found out that Ella Riot had changed their name from My Dear Disco. It all made sense now. But where did all these teeny boppers come from? It was as if they showed up for Ella Riot’s set and slowly dispersed into the forest never to be seen again. However, for what it’s worth, the set was somewhat entertaining. Playing songs like “Do You Think You’re Better off Alone” by Alice DJ, I was quickly teleported back to my 8th grade dance doing the robot with my silly ass friends. Like it or not, Ella Riot brought the house down… for some.

With the sun down, Dumpstaphunk turned the bass up. Headlining Friday night’s lineup, Dumpstaphunk brought the heat. The New Orleans-based funk group that formed in 2003 features keyboard legend Ivan Neville. Friday night’s crowd was geeked up for the raw funk that Dumpstaphunk exerted. The rawness of Dumpstaphunk was bone crushing. With my grunge face finely tuned, my hips did the rest of the work for the night. The effortless bass slapping tied with Neville’s nastiness on the keys sent Hoxeyville into full roar Friday night. Dumpstaphunk's a bad momma! Get it! Uh! Put it in the DUMPSTAAAA! Getting the crowd involved all night with chants and cheers, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk proved to be a powerhouse in the funk industry. Look out world!

Exhausted from the day of preparations and driving, we tucked tightly into our tent to the sounds of festival chaos ringing in our ears. See ya tomorrow Hoxeyville.

Hoxeyville Day Two Coverage

Hoxeyville Day Three Coverage

Greg’s Photo Gallery (Day 1 & Day 2)

String Cheese Incident: A Colorado Tradition

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (

No band epitomizes Colorado jam more completely than the String Cheese Incident. What began deep in the heart of the Rockies has come full circle, becoming a true jam band tradition. Continuing our discussion of the big bands in jam, this week we take a look at the amazing journey of SCI.

Hailing from Crested Butte and Telluride, the original incarnation of String Cheese formed in 1993 and has continued to represent Colorado jam ever since. Playing ski resorts and small private functions, they took to playing in earnest in 1996. The band had a slow start, taking an organic approach to their rise though the jam ranks. Staring SCI Fidelity that same year, they put out their first album Born on the Wrong Planet and hit the road to support. Playing over 500 “Incidents” from 1998 to 2001, touring was never the issue. It was during this era that they solidified their jamgrass sound but also where they began branching out into rock.

In 2003, SCI Ticketing sued Ticketmaster for violating antitrust laws. Basically it came down to them not being happy with only being able to sell 8% of the tickets to their shows. The lawsuit was settled in 2004 but again it showed their dedication to the SCI fan base by at least attempting to fight the high service fees and the monopolization of ticket sales in the U.S. SCI Ticketing changed its name to Baseline Tickets and continues to operate within the industry today.

With the release of Untying the Not, the elements of electronic music began to seep into their sound by 2003. And things went on well with some seminal tours such as The Big Summer Classic with Umphrey’s McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Keller Williams as well as others. But by 2007, different ideas about the direction they should take as a band led them to announce their plan to break up. With shows in New York, Oregon, and San Francisco, String Cheese capped off their run with their “final” shows at Red Rocks. I was at those last shows and I can say it was a bittersweet experience. It was a lot of fun because everyone in attendance knew that once it was over, that was it. And for a while, that was true.

Eventually the bug got back in them and in 2009, after two years without an incident, they came back to play one show at Rothbury. With one additional unannounced sound check show at The Ogden, they were definitely rusty but the elements that made String Cheese special were still very much present. Since then they have played a handful of shows and just announced the Roots Run Deep tour which will take place on the East Coast and in the South for a nine show run. This is the most exciting news in recent memory for the SCI family. It will give them a chance to really get back into an extended run, and here are those dates:

November 25, 2011 Thomas Wolfe Auditorium Asheville, NC

November 26, 2011 Fox Theatre Atlanta, GA

November 27, 2011 Georgia Theatre Athens, GA

November 28, 2011 Ryman Auditorium with Acoustic and Electric sets Nashville, TN

November 30, 2011 Lyric Opera House Baltimore, MD

December 1, 2011 Tower Theatre Upper Darby, PA

December 2, 2011 The United Palace New York, NY

December 3, 2011 The United Palace New York, NY

December 4, 2011 Orpheum Theatre Boston, MA

So to wrap this up, I would like to talk about my first SCI show which was a co-bill with Phil & Friends and Les Claypool’s Fearless Flying Frog Brigade. SCI was the meat of this sandwich show as it was a chance to see them at my former home venue, Alpine Valley. The show they played that night would change my perception and gave me yet another band to be passionate about. They opened with an awesome “On the Road,” and here is the rest of the setlist from PT:

String Cheese Incident Live at Alpine Valley on July 14, 2001.

SET I: On The Road, Mouna Bowa, Turn This Around > Restless Wind, Way Back Home, Windy Mountain > White Freightliner Blues, Joyful Sound > Land’s End

ENCORE: Miss Brown’s Teahouse

I remember getting to the lot early and the fact that it immensely hot outside. We just hung out all day and made new friends. I was struck by how open and inviting the SCI fans were. People just seemed so friendly and happy to share not only whatever goods they had but also their deep knowledge about the band as well. This was the first time String Cheese had played Alpine and it was a solid outing, giving them a good foothold for additional Midwest shows. The “On the Road” was strong, but the “Mouna Bowa” was just beautiful. More than any other that SCI performs, this song epitomizes what I love about their sound. Kang’s fiddle work on this number is just mind melting.

After fighting through some sound issues, SCI pushed through to create a solid Incident in the blazing Wisconsin sun. The “Joyful Sound” into “Land’s End” to close out their set still sticks with me as one of my favorite musical moments at Alpine Valley. All in all, it went by way too quickly and it left me wishing they were playing another set. String Cheese definitely got their claws into me that night in Wisconsin, and despite the last few years being somewhat rocky, I still have high hopes for their continued success. And I truly believe they have amazing potential and deserve their spot at the top of the jam heap.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

IBMA Keynote

Words By Chris Pandolfi (The Infamous Stringdusters)

The IBMA has asked me to give a keynote address at the annual business conference this fall in Nashville (Tuesday, Sept 27th, 10:30 AM). Thanks IBMA, for such an amazing opportunity! There’s been much talk this year about the current state of Bluegrass affairs–a rekindling of an old, and important discussion. I hope to add something meaningful, and to move the discussion along in a positive way.

Above all else, my hope is for IBMA to be whatever it wants to be–a true reflection of its membership and leaders.

For some that means changes, new blood, and an updated idea of what part the organization can play in the acoustic music world. For others the concept of change is not so welcome, for fear that musical integrity will suffer and the intimate bluegrass community will get watered down with bigger, less informed crowds. The conversation is taking place between members, non-members, musicians and fans alike. And in some cases they seem to agree. Last week I posted an article about the IBMA awards and the response (from inside and out) seemed unanimous: the structure and process need to be changed. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses–several viable solutions were discussed. Amidst this discussion, Dan Hays (IBMA’s executive director) raised the larger of issue of how such changes are effected in this type of organization, which we need to understand if anything substantive will ever happen here. If everyone agrees that the Awards Show needs change, why haven’t we seen it yet?

The IBMA is a democracy made up of voting members and an elected board that tries to distill the information. Though the board seems to have a forward-thinking view of the big picture, the voting body is conflicted, and the conversation can be dominated by a few loud voices of opposition. This part of the democracy is natural, but it can really slow down the process of change. When talk of change lingers, the opposition digs in and little gets done.

Sure, the Awards Show has its flaws, but do we really need bigger change now? I don’t have the answer, but several key observations seem to say yes. The World of Bluegrass (the IBMA’s one huge event and main source of revenue) has seen decline on several fronts. Last year’s World of BG had about as many people as 2003 in Louisville. Needless to say the economy is a factor, but compared to 10 years ago (the Stringdusters were regulars–several of us met at the Galt House), the WOB just dosen’t feel as vital. On the one hand there is the actual business conference, a resource that we were never very connected to, which seems less populated (booths and fans) every year. The networking, jamming, socializing element was our thing–that’s where we met each other and various others industry folks who have been involved with our career as a band. But this has suffered as well, to the point that ‘no jamming’ rules actually shut down the action at the Renaissance in Nashville. It was the organization’s honest attempt to make the event more productive, less of a free-for-all, but as board member Jon Weisberger stated, they “overshot the mark.” But the biggest and most obvious reason for change is quite simple: the organization is losing money, which will clearly preclude it from making a sustained contribution to our music world. Though there is opposition to change, it seems at this point in time that some change is necessary for the IBMA.

So what would those changes be, and do they need to involve the integration of a bigger musical world? Right now it’s completely up to us, the voting members. If you care about the direction of this organization, then say something, because it has to reflect what YOU want. Try to be respectful to the people you disagree with, respectful of the fact that they care too, and that we are all very different. Prior versions of this conversation seem so heated, so serious, to the point of being counterproductive. It’s not even music we are talking about, it’s a music organization, trying to make a positive impact on the world. It’s clear that we’ll never agree on exactly what ‘bluegrass’ is, but we can at least agree that IBMA could be more than it is now. We can voice our ideas and work toward improving the organization. If we aim to make the conversation constructive, good ideas will emerge and positive changes that reflect the group could ensue.

Why do I care about any of this? It’s NOT because i want to ‘attack’ or ‘destroy’ bluegrass (not my words)! Bluegrass is amazing–I love it. We formed at IBMA, won three awards in 2007 and have received multiple nominations since. We will always be so grateful for this support. Since then we have moved into a bigger musical world on the fringes, sometimes distinctly outside of the scene represented at IBMA. But to us it’s a world that is clearly related, and one that has great fans and copious opportunities for a young string band. We played Red Rocks last Saturday with Yonder and Railroad, and there were 10,000 people. It was truly unreal! We could be part of building a bridge to that world, and other eclectic musical worlds that are on the fringe, without creating any significant changes in the existing traditional scene. But only if that’s what we (IBMA) want to do as a group. Though I believe that these worlds can coexist, I’m only pushing for discussion, and hopefully some consensus . I’m a member, and IBMA has asked me to help, so I’m reaching out to musicians, fans, board members, promoters, DJ’s, supporters, opposition, etc, trying to understand what’s going on.

Please discuss. See you in Nashville in a few weeks…

Friday, August 26, 2011

Saturday Dead: The Mosque 5.25.77

Words By J-man

Grateful Dead Live at Mosque on May 25, 1977.

Set 1: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Jack Straw, They Love Each Other, Mexicali Blues, Peggy-O, Cassidy, Loser, Lazy Lightnin'>Supplication, Brown Eyed Women, The Promised Land

Set 2: Scarlet Begonias>Fire On The Mountain, Estimated Prophet>He's Gone>Drums>The Other One>Wharf Rat>The Other One>The Wheel>Around And Around

Encore: Johnny B. Goode

This show comes at a time that many consider the prime of the Grateful Dead. You cannot deny the pure perfection in their sound. In addition to the band's sound, this recording from the Mosque in Richmond, VA reflects a near perfect setlist.

This recording boasts some of what many view as the best versions of a handful of songs. The show highlights are too many to name and the show falls under the "listen all of the way through" category.

This is the perfect show in which to hit play and enjoy your Saturday morning... Coffee, breakfast & Dead.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Soul Train & The Funk Movement

Words By J-man

The mid sixties brought James Brown's signature groove that focused it's emphasis on the downbeat or the first beat of every measure. With a little added swing and swagger the music took America by storm. A key contributor to it's national appeal came in the form of a show created and hosted by Don Cornelius, Soul Train.

Soul Train was an American variety show that was syndicated from October 1971 to March 2006 and featured R&B, Soul, Funk and Jazz musicians artists. The Soul Train concept originated in Chicago in the form of dance programs featuring predominately African American in-studio dancers.

In the program's heyday (1970s & 1980s) it was widely influential among young African Americans who tuned in not only for the latest music, but fashion and dance trends as well. One of those long-lasting trends happened to be funk music.

Funk/soul greats such as James Brown and Curtis Mayfield were featured in the shows prime. Check out Mayfield above singing his hit "Superfly" and the full James Brown episode below. We are lucky enough to literally view history in the making...