Friday, October 30, 2015

PREVIEW: Monophonics & Polyrhythmics 10.30 & 10.31.15 (Seattle, WA)

Nectar Lounge
Seattle, WA

Words By Coleman Schwartz
Photo By Scott Shrader (J. Scott Shrader Photography)

Halloween weekend is almost here and live music fans everywhere rejoice for their annual excuse to command the dancefloor in costume. In the eccentric neighborhood of Fremont, Seattle, Nectar Longue will be throwing the craziest party in town. In an epic clash of prefixes, Seattle afro-beat superheroes the Polyrhythmics are co-headlining a two night run with SF based psychedelic soul sextet Monophonics. Friday (10.30) will feature the Polyrhythmics opening up for Monophonics, while Saturday (10.31) will flip the order to allow for a good old fashioned Halloween hometown throwdown, which is certain to extend late into the evening. Costumes are encouraged on both nights, but fervent dancing will be mandatory for admission. Doors will be at 8:00 PM each night, with music starting at 9:00 PM! Tickets for Friday are $20.00 DOS. Tickets for Saturday are $20.00 in advance, $25.00 DOS. A limited number of two night passes remain for $30.00. Purchase online or at the Nectar Longue box office!

Monophonics are best described as a soul-funk band that is becoming more psychedelic rock by the minute. They sound like a child born to Grace Slick and Sly Stone. As they blur genres, their sound is anchored by outstanding keyboard/organ work. Poignant vocals and horns combine to carry the melody beautifully and assure that even at their most psychedelic, the soul influence is not forgotten. Their drumming is very bouncy in a way reminiscent of Seattle psych rockers the Electric Prunes, and the guitarist also uses the correct distortion levels to merit that comparison. Their new album, Sound of Sinning, draws heavily from The Beatles and Beach Boys type influences (think Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds, specifically). These new tracks help to even further diversify their catalog and it should be very exciting to watch them mix all of these styles together live.

Once you see the Polyrhythmics, it is difficult to forget them. It’s not every day that you find an 8-piece group capable of grooving this tightly. Horns and Latin-influenced percussion work (particularly the jug) make key contributions to their extremely distinct and refined sound that has been filling out rooms nationwide. They are all instrumental, and masters of building up a slow, sultry groove into an intricate, funky breakdown that compels even statues to dance. Once the rhythm section has locked into their groove, the horns and guitar add tasteful interplay and jaw-dropping solos to the lush, world-influenced soundscape. Thoughtful songwriting allows the unique talents and sensibilities of each band member a chance to shine. For instance, certain tracks see saxophonist Art Brown bust out his flute (Ron Burgundy style) to transport audiences to an underground 1950s jazz club. Their catalog is large enough that they seriously mix up song selection from night to night. I have seen this group ten plus times in the past two years, and have yet to walk out of a show with anything less than stellar reviews.

Nectar Longue is their home venue and this will be their first performances there since May of this year. These holiday shows are sure to be high energy thrillers, so don’t miss out!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Dean Ween Group 10.16 & 10.17.15 (Photos)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tauk & Consider The Source 10.16.15

Fox Theater
Boulder, CO

Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

I've been hearing about Consider the Source for a couple of years. Saturday night I decided to venture out to Boulder and see what I'd been missing, as the band provided support to Tauk. As we entered the venue, CtS was already on stage, and I was immediately impressed with their chops. Guitarist, Gabriel Marin, was a sight to behold as he dominated a dual-necked fret-less guitar. His style was a barrage of notes that danced skillfully through various cultural influences. The best description I could muster was "world prog." In addition to Marin's inspired licks, Jeff Mann's rhythmic prowess was undeniable. Just maintaining a groove amongst the chaotic flurry of melodic madness was quite the feat, but the glue of the organization was provided by an absolute monster of a bass player... John Ferrara. Ferrara confidently thumped out some of the dirtiest and most impressive low end I've ever heard. His style was unique, but showed influences of two of the finest players in the world... Claypool and Wooten. Wow. Kid was incredible.

When Tauk took the stage, I wasn't sure what to expect. My only previous experience with them was hearing they were on the bill with jam rock favorites, Umphrey's McGee for a tour. As showtime hit, the lights went out and some bumping hip-hop accompanied their entrance to the stage. The members danced their way to their respective instruments and seemed to amp up the crowd. Led by shredder Matt Jalbert, the band galloped through danceable instrumental prog-rock. The funky grooves undoubtedly were a credit to drummer Isaac Teel, who's hip-hop-infused Rock drumming smoothed out the edges of what may have been an aural assault.

Perhaps the power of suggestion was stronger than I acknowledged, because the comparison to Umphrey's McGee wouldn't die. I told a friend that if UM was a professional sports team, Tauk would be their Double A club. The differences came in a few areas. On the downside, Tauk didn't seem to take many risks. For the most part the show seemed to be heavily composed without much room for improvisation. Jalbert's tone and style were extremely similar to Brendan Bayliss, but without a Jake Cinninger to provide compliments; it felt like it was a bit watered down. On the bright side, they also eliminated some of my least favorite aspects of Umphrey's. First, the entirety of their show was instrumental, meaning I didn't have to hear Jake or Bayliss' struggle through singing songs that probably should have been instrumental to start. I also thought they minimized the self-indulgent, masturbatory element of many UM jams. However, these aspects which have been toned down also robbed the show of it's pizzazz, leaving the remaining music good, but not great.

There was a strange sense of isolation that happened as well. The band spread across the stage with AC Carter (keyboards), Teel (drums), and Jalbert (guitar) taking up most of the room and edging bassist, Charlie Dolan off to the side. This idea was reflected in the music also, where it seemed there was a heavy connection between the rest of the band while Dolan just seemed to be along for the ride. To his credit, Dolan was consistent, just not flashy. His choices were safe and timely. I couldn't help thinking how much better they could be with a gunslinger like Consider the Source's Ferrara. As the show progressed, the energy continued to rise, and by the end of the show, I was grooving.

To summarize, before you go Tauking, I'd probably Consider the Source.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jen Hartswick, Bernie Worrell, Roosevelt Collier, Reed Mathis, Russ Lawton, Gabe Mervine & Matt Pitts 10.10.15 (Photos)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey 'Battle For Earth'

Words By J. Picard

Alone in a basement on Colfax Avenue in Denver, I read the accompanying comic for Jacob Fred's Battle For Earth. It's easily one of the weirdest things that I have ever read start to finish without actually putting it down. I was fortunate enough to be at the album's recording shows at Dazzle Jazz a mere year prior, so when it came to Battle For Earth's soundtrack, I knew exactly what to expect. The comic book though was an absolute treat of nonsense. For the sake of not spoiling the story line, this review will focus on the music, outside of a mention of an elk putting a crystal to its third eye and the band riding their spirit animals into space. The album starts with the selection "Better Living Through Competitive Spirituality," setting the tone for space through jazz. The trio's output conjures up thoughts of bands like Medeski, Martin & Wood, Snarky Puppy and even Herbie Hancock at times. "Hey Hey NSA" pushes the tension to a ten while the ascending line jumps in and out of pure instrumental madness. "Tetherball Triumph," brings the vibe back down to earth for sweet intertwining riffs that sound like the theme to a digital dream. The sound of the melodica from Brian Haas and airy guitar from Chris Combs spiral around a tight beat from Josh Raymer on drums before the piano and synth take it to an abrupt close.

"Let Yourself Out" offers a menacing beginning that results in effect laden lap steel work with building drums and piano. The full sound of the music leaves questions unanswered as to how a trio could output so much with so few players to cover the insanity and notation. The climax of the track offers a horrifying glimpse into outer space and frontiers unknown. "Betamax" offers interplay between all three members that reflect the tight nature and achieved chemistry through time served in the current incarnation of Jacob Fred. The guitar soars over the bass synth covering as much space as possible in the open staff of uncharted territory. "The Finder's Keeper" leans towards the avant-guarde before sorting out it's melancholy groove. Things escalate quickly and a sort of musical chaos ensues before resolving and repeating. "Appropriation Song" wastes no time in building and instead starts heavy and disjointed. The trio finds its direction and gets comfortable, reaching into the pocket before the synth takes over in mind-bending fashion and the floor drops out, leaving the listener floating and grasping at uncomfortable notes.

"Say Nothing" continues in a similar direction until the song's midsection when Brian shines with a sort of saloon style piano part that fades back into Jacob Fred's signature sound. A start stop flutter kicks off "New Bird," an ambient track that dips in and out of a variety of scattered influences resulting in jazz madness as often Jacob Fred tracks do. "Bounce," a fittingly named track, provides the bass and drums to move the listener in a sultry fashion. At times the next move makes sense, while others pull in a unconceived direction of spontaneity and surprise. The adventure closes with heavy hitter, "The Montage," the longest composition on the album, and feels the most in-depth and orchestrated throughout it's beautiful execution. It's a masterful close to an incredibly exploratory live album. Join us at The 1up - Colfax in Denver, CO on October 23 & 24 for Jacob Fred + Skerik "Battle For Earth" with Bill Smith (Friday) and Emily Clark & The Passing Fancy (Saturday)! Tickets are available at!

Friday, October 16, 2015

ALBUM REVIEW: Jelly Bread's 'Here, There, and Everywhere'

Words By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

I first heard of Jelly Bread when this album review came up. With my adventurous ears ready for some new sounds, I took on the task. The band was described as a “really good funk band from Reno,” and I let my mind imagine what they sounded like. For some reason I was thinking the band would be a young group tackling the neo-funk played by bands like Lettuce. What I got was a surprise.

The opening track immediately hauled me into a quasi- blues tune that brought to mind Tedeschi-Trucks. The vocals sounded seasoned, powerful and full of soul. They really were a highlight throughout the album. I had been expecting the shiny, bass-driven, funk… not the soul I was hearing.

The second tune was a bit raw in comparison. The chill vibe and relaxed instrumentation gave it a familiar vibe, but I couldn’t place a comparison. I did enjoy the lead line near the end which was somewhere between an envelope filtered guitar and a grindy clavinet. The opening riff of “Gotta Give Something Back” was much closer to the Motet/ Lettuce sound I was expecting. As the vocals hit, the combination was different. This tune was somewhat of a funk and soul melting pot, combining different elements from 40 years of funk’s history.

“Funk to the Left” kicked off with a bass-line of Les Claypool proportions, but quickly glided into a fusion of Parliament Funkadelic and the Sugar Hill Gang. The chorus was very synthy and had a bit of a Chromeo or Juno What vibe in the mix. The horns had been subtle throughout the album, but they were arranged tastefully, artfully, and complimentary.

“By and By” sounded like it could have been an early Moe tune. It had obvious Gospel influences, while hitting on a very 90’s energy. Interesting. I didn’t think it was the strongest song on the album, but I did think it served the diversity of the album, and was still a quality effort. The organ work and following guitar solo were short, but rich in tone and talent.

“Let it Burn” had the subdued, slow draw of a southern tale. The tune had a candlelight mood and an introspective sort of sound. The drums played some very unique rhythmic patterns I found intriguing. As the tune wasn’t a bluegrass tune, I wasn’t sure why, but Cabinet (a Pennsylvania bluegrass band) came to mind regarding the songwriting.

“In You” sounded like I had momentarily dialed in to a soft rock station. While the quality of the song was comparably professional to the rest of the album, it felt a bit out of place. I imagined sterile listening environments, like dentist offices, elevators, or other places where people play soothing melodies to keep people calm and compliant. The upside was that the vocals were featured like in a Withers, Robinson, or Vandross tune.

“Hole in My Pocket” may have been a huge hit had it been released in the mid- 90’s. The initial notes immediately conjured The Barenaked Ladies, before the song progressed through the land of Hootie and the Blowfish, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the other alt-pop-rock bands of the era. This song was catchier than a Gold Glove award winner.

The slide of “In My Head,” brought a southern, gospel vibe to the tune which was otherwise a stomper. Once again Claypool came to mind, though this time more in the guitar line than the bass. Odd timing, strange melodies, and overlapping vocals gave this tune a different vibe. Ultimately, it crossed into a groove that reminded me of a “Thriller” jam. Really a distinct song… unlike anything I have heard.

“Fixin to Run” was a tune of desperation… though the energy wasn’t sad, more just reluctant and hesitant. The vocals differed on this tune also, but they were still full of power and soul. If there was one thing this band nailed, it was the soul.

The album rounded out with a tune that reminded me of something from a Bill Withers album. The basslines, organ hits, and snappy drums really had a high energy for the sparse instrumentation which featured some really cool guitar work around the two minute mark. It was an excellent placement as the album’s caboose.

Following the theme from the title, the album seemed to touch on a lot of influences. As I listened to it unfold, two ideas came to my mind. The first was that it sounded like I was walking through a multi-stage music festival, stopping at each stage to catch a tune. The stylistic continuity was there, but the diversity of sounds really made it sound like each tune could almost be a different band. The second idea was similar. I thought, if a college radio station needed to “set it and forget it” for a while, this album could conceivably fool listeners that it was a radio show set-list featuring several bands. At the end of the day, this album sounded like it was sent from the past, collecting influences along the way from Here, There, and Everywhere.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Two Nights of Jason Hann's Rhythmatronix feat. Kang, Haque, Stoops, Manga & Pineda 10.2 & 10.3.15 (Photos)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Too Many Zooz & Atomga 10.1.15 (Photos)

Monday, October 5, 2015

PREVIEW: Jen Hartswick, Bernie Worrell, Roosevelt Collier, Reed Mathis, Russ Lawton, Gabe Mervine & Matt Pitts 10.10.15

The 1up - Colfax
Denver, CO

Join us this Saturday at The 1up - Colfax in Denver, CO for a very special super jam with Jen Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), Bernie Worrell (Parliament Funkadelic, The Talking Heads), Roosevelt Collier (The Lee Boys, Colorado Get Down), Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green, Billy & The Kids), Russ Lawton (Trey Anastasio Band), Gabe Mervine (The Motet) and Matt Pitts (The Motet) with special guest Naryan Padmanabha (Family Funktion & The Sitar Jams)!

Tickets are available at

Friday, October 2, 2015

Conor Oberst & The Felice Brothers 9.29.15 (Photos)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Head For The Hills with Wood & Wire 9.11.15

Aggie Theatre
Fort Collins, CO

Words & Photos By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)

“Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. For the times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan

Seems like you can’t blink your eyes these days without major shifts in the scene with far reaching repercussions felt by many. Even going to see hometown heroes Head For The Hills is not without a sense of transformation. Founding member Mike Chappell picked his final mandolin string with H4TH at YarmonyGrass this summer. Mike is settling down in Portland with his new wife after more than ten years with the band. Maybe he and Vince Herman will start an acoustic coffee house project for the people of that fine city. Who knows? I absolutely wish him the best in this new chapter. This particular show was billed as a Grand Reopening celebration as The Aggie Theater finds itself under new management. Co-owner of Cervantes, Scott Morrill, along with a cavalcade of fellow investors has taken over the famous Fort Collins institution. I caught up with Scott who said that the changes planned over the next few months include a new sound system, fresh paint, and live paintings on the walls from artists like Scramble Campbell and John Bukaty. Morrill has always been a huge supporter of the live painting scene around Denver. In fact Laurie Keener was on hand too for the festivities and painted an amazing visual collage to mark the occasion. Eventually, the plan is to rebuild the old balcony and increase the capacity of the room. If the renovation of Cervantes in the post Bianchi era is any indication, The Aggie is in good hands.

The night began with Austin, Texas favorites Wood & Wire. These highly accomplished front porch fire pickers mesmerize while putting you at ease. There is a certain comfortable attitude in their delivery. Lead by the most photogenic picker touring today, Tony Kamel; the band opened with a powerful version of Del McCoury’s “True Life Blues.” The banjo heavy “Brand New Day” was an early highlight from their hour-long set. Fans streamed into the new Aggie in small clumps and found a hostess handing out popcorn and snow cones. This was just a small nod to the occurrence, but a welcomed one by many attendees. Kamel’s vocals harmonized beautifully with his band mates on the “The Seawall.” “Dancin’ On My Grave” was a sizzling hot potato that was appropriately passed between each picker with grace. The room really got rocking on “Moonshine Boogie” penned by Coloradoan Jeff Union of Ragged Union fame. They asked the audience if they had any requests and an inebriated guests shouted, ‘Pink Floyd.’ The boys from Wood & Wire obliged with the Grateful Dead’s version of “Deep Elum Blues.” They closed a very solid set with their outlaw flavored “Mexico.” This band is touring prodigiously and their musical output is top notch. If you like old timey acoustic music, there are few bands of this caliber touring today.

Head For The Hills utilized local picker Sam Parks of The Lonesome Days to fill in the gap left by Mike’s departure. Sam is a multi-instrumentalist with a strong sense of timing and lightning fast fingers. This was only his second time playing with the band and the man didn’t miss a beat. Adam Kinghorn got the night going early with the now classic nostalgia trip “Take Me Back.” Despite calls from the audience for Joe Lessard to remove his vest, he maintained his fashion sense throughout a smoking “Never Does.” Adam treated us to a new song focused on food before they went into a perfect “Dependency Co.” The boys proceeded with an unexpected rendition of Mickey Newbury’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” followed by a twang-tastic version of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” The band sounded good overall, regardless of any reservations fans might have had about the first hometown show sans Chappell. They wrapped up the first set with “Lover’s Scorn” which was the inspiration for their Biere De Garde of the same name brewed as a collaboration between the band and Sanita’s Brewery.

The second set began as a clusterpluck with all of Wood & Wire joining Head For The Hills on stage. They opened with a rowdy and beautiful version of “Sittin’ On Top of the World.” The members of Wood & Wire left and H4TH got down to business as a newly formed foursome. I have to say they sounded solid. Now obviously you can’t replace the synchronicity attained after a full decade of performing together with a handful of rehearsals, but Head For The Hills played well. They focused on many of the old school originals and classic covers that made them formidable pickers in the first place. And honestly the rest is a blur of good times and warm feelings. I’ve always said that Head For The Hills is one of the best musical outputs Fort Collins has ever witnessed. Change is constant and if anything, this particular concert was an exhibition of a band transitioning live. Time will tell if Parks becomes a full-fledged member of the group. If their two sets at the newly christened Aggie are any hint, the possibilities for Head For The Hills are still very much limitless.

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