Friday, December 29, 2017

A Conversation With Claude Coleman Jr.

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

We at Direct Attention were humbled to sit down with Claude Coleman Jr. while he was in Colorado. Coleman is a talented multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work drumming in the alternative rock band, Ween. This hardworking guy is notorious for collaborating with a variety of acts including the Mike Dillon Band, Angelo Moore’s Brand New Step, and Eagles of Death Metal. Since leaving the Northeast, Claude is hugely involved in the music scene of his new home, Asheville, NC. We sat down with Claude at a restaurant in Old Town Fort Collins before his gig with Matt Butler’s Everyone Orchestra. The food may have been stale, but the conversation was anything but. We got deep into Claude’s influences, what his plans are for Amandla, as well as the magic of Ween, and what may be coming next.

DA: Hey Claude! You’ve been living in North Carolina for a while now. I know you’re working with a band called The Digs, and you’re playing with the punk band, Skunk Ruckus. Are there any other projects that you’re participating in, down in Asheville?

CC: Yeah! I’m also in this karaoke band that does honkey-tonk songs on Thursday nights. We have this book of 300 songs, and all these drunk hipsters come up and butcher them. The band is really beautiful though, and every once in a while there’s a really beautiful singer, which is great. I don’t do much at home because I travel a lot. Now I’m back, and Ween is off the road for a big break until around June or July. I’m gonna kickstart a bunch of shit, and get Amandla on the road.

KZ: Awesome! When can fans expect an Amandla tour?

CC: We have a tour planned with Mike Dillon in February of 2018. But… the whole thing with Amandla is that I don’t have anybody doing anything, it’s all DIY.

KZ: Do you have a steady lineup of musicians that you’re touring with?

CC: No, I don’t have a steady band. I don’t have a manager, or a booker, or a publicist, and I barely have a website. I do everything, play all the instruments, record it all, and print it. With this record, I’m assembling a team. I’ve been talking to this guy in Philly, and he seems like he wants to connect me with the right people, so I’ll be able to do more touring next year.

KZ: That sounds promising. Can you tell us some of the driving influences on the new Amandla record, since the last one was released in 2006?

CC: I got divorced. I was married for 16 years, so that was a big thing. The same time as that happened, Ween broke up and blindsided us. It was like a one-two punch.

KZ: Does Amandla’s name have any relation to the Miles Davis album ‘Amandla’?

CC: Not exactly as to why the name is Amandla, but it’s the same word. It was part of the political slogan of the African National Congress during the apartheid. It was used in all their protests, “Amandla Awetu!” which means: Power to the People. I like the word, it’s pretty, and it means "power!" It’s like naming your band "rock!" It eradicates any bullshit. Whenever I’m dealing with anyone’s shit I’m like; “Dude, the name of the band is power, and you’re doing some weak ass shit! Be it, be power!” It’s everything, just be truth man, and be honest, cool, good people... music, art, power.

KZ: Were your parents pretty into music when you were growing up? What was playing around your house?

CC: My father was really into jazz. I went to school for jazz, but that was just to learn how to play music. The environment I grew up in was a little musical, but I’m the only musician. It wasn’t a super music-centric family, but the art and the culture were appreciated. I just fell into playing music. There were these kids across the street who were my best friends, and we used to dress like KISS every year for Halloween. I would dress up like Ace Frehley, and I have pictures to prove it. Year after year, my Mom would set the paint out on Halloween, she was ready. I was this little black boy in Newark, New Jersey, going around with my face painted like Ace Frehley, like “Fucking Rock And Roll!!!” I was obsessed with KISS; I still love them.

KZ: So you have a thing for hair bands?

CC: I have an appreciation for them, for sure. There are better ones than others. There are good ones, in my opinion anyways. A good tune is a good tune, man.

KZ: Oh totally, I think it’s become fashionable to hate on stuff.

CC: Exactly! People don’t even know what they’re talking about. People like to hate on the ‘80s and ‘90s. It's like... Motherfucker, that was some of the greatest music, especially the ‘90s. That was the golden era of indie, alternative, and ‘90s hip-hop was the best. Even the ‘80s, it sounded goofy but all those songs are incredible! We still listen to them; they’re still amazing.

KZ: So we touched on your musical influences a little bit with your mention of KISS, but if you got to jam with anybody that influenced you when you were young, who would it be?

CC: It would be someone like Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Prince or Bowie. Those would be people I love to jam with, where the jam probably wouldn’t even be all that great. You just want to be able to say you played with them. Ween’s manager, Brad, is good friends with Stewart Copeland of The Police. Stewart is his kid’s godfather or something. Well, we were playing a show in L.A., and he calls Stewart up and asks if Ween can come to his house and jam. He’s got this badass set up; it was like a man cave studio all decked out with recording gear. So we’re like “Yeah, we wanna go to Stewart’s house!” If you want to talk influences, Stuart Copeland was the only reason I started playing drums. I played his music my whole childhood. I became known as the dude who sounds just like Stewart Copeland; I even had the same kit. So once we got there, we were all drinking tequila, smoking big joints, and he was just the most righteous dude. But… the jams were terrible, and he recorded all of it. Later we were like; “Man, I hope no one hears that shit,” because we were all super shithammered. We were in front of Stewart Copeland, all nervous, trying not to fall over ourselves. So I imagine if I were ever to jam with Prince, it would be the shittiest jam in the world because I’d be so freaked out, but I’d still want to be there doing it. So, are you guys from here (Colorado)?

KZ: No I’m from Central Illinois, and Blake is from Buffalo, New York. It was pretty sweet growing up; we had a good little music scene.

CC: Yeah, man, those are both great areas. I’ve always toured in some of the more rural areas of Illinois, and Ween would always play in Madison, WI, which isn’t Illinois, but it’s close to Chicago. We would play there religiously; it's the only regular place we haven’t played yet (since the reunion).

KZ: So, speaking of Ween. I’m a big fan of the Caesar Demos that came out of recording Quebec, like “That Man from the Flat Lands,” or “Ambrosia Parsley.” There is supposedly a lot of controversy around those songs. Do you think that Ween will ever play any of them live?

CC: There’s no reason we aren’t playing them. Honestly, there's just other stuff that makes for a more mainstream show. We like to sprinkle in obscure songs, two or three B-sides a night. There are thousands of recordings; Ween has so many songs. When you do that much material, your relationship to it is different. That record (Caesar) probably took in four or five hours to record, on day ten of fourteen days of working on the album (Quebec). Those songs were some of around about four hundred other songs. There are probably enough songs for ten other records like that, and it’s hard to play it all.

KZ: Does Ween usually record their albums in just a few weeks?

CC: No, those guys have a magical process. I’m as big a fan as anybody is of those two. The way they created was always amazing. It’d be the two of them, and they’d go and rent a house. Sometimes it’d be a farmhouse, or they loved to go to LBI, to the beach. That’s where they recorded  . And they’d just lock themselves in a house for a month. We’d dip in and out to help with the demos. Every time we’d dip in and out, they’d play all these songs that they’d been working on. We’d all just be laughing and talking about the songs, and they’d keep at it, it was magic. They’re just good together, and it just happened. They’d make this music that one song after the next was just the most amazing thing to be a part of. It’s like they didn't even try. If you lock them in a room with a four track and a drum machine they’d come out with some songs.

KZ: Do you foresee another Ween record getting made?

CC: For that to happen, I think there needs to be a little more resettling. We’ve come back and tested the waters with staying out, and we’ve proved to ourselves that we can keep stable, without incident. This is the beginning of a process, and for another record to happen organically, we need more time. To be honest, Mickey and Aaron’s relationship has to settle. The issues are still fresh for them. There’s some public animosity, but it’s not purely hatred. It’s like family, man; they’re like brothers. No one can put a timeline on their healing. When people ask me about a new album, I just say “Let us keep hanging, and playing shows, and then they’ll get the bug again, they’ll want to create.” I mean, Mickey’s creating all the time doing Dean Ween things, I’m not sure what Aaron’s doing, but I know for a fact that he wants to get back into it.

KZ: So, I read you don’t like to play “Poopship Destroyer.” Do you still not love to play it? Any reason why?

CC: No. I still don’t like playing “Poopship Destroyer,” and I have a reason. “Poopship Destroyer” is like... Ween had a middle finger on the Chocolate and Cheese ring, it was like our logo, and that’s what Ween is to the world. “Poopship Destroyer” is like us giving a big middle finger. It’s always too long, it’s so sludgy, and it’s stupid, man, it’s numbskull shit. The reason why we play it is because that's exactly what it is. Mickey always likes going into it if he’s not feeling a gig. It’s almost a negative thing, like “fuck this, let's Poopship Destroyer, fuck you all.” My thing is like, why even give people the middle finger, or couldn’t we do it in another way without “Poopship Destroyer?” I just never felt much about “Poopship Destroyer,” not like how I feel about 99% of other Ween songs.

KZ: Okay, so what is your favorite song to play, if you had to pick?

CC: “The Stallion, Pt. 1” That tune to me is the definition of Ween. It’s so agro, and weird. “You goddamned son of a bitch! You goddamn piece of shit!”

KZ: So did you have fun playing “The Stallion, Pt. 1-5” at Stubb’s in Austin?

CC: It was fun for us. It’s just fun to sing about The Stallion for thirty minutes, you know? Song after song about The Stallion. We should do a whole concert about The Stallion, with a symphonic piece, accompanied by a soundtrack, documentaries, a theme album, merch, all that. I think fans would love that.

KZ: I want to ask about your HalloWEEN costume. You were a prisoner, but if I’m not mistaken, you had a Donald Trump mask on. I thought that was hilarious, how do costumes usually come about?

CC: No one recognized who it was because the mask got all fucked up! I’m surprised more people didn’t say anything; it was a whole moment with Dave bringing me out in cuffs. But picking costumes is just a free for all. Everyone’s just like “Dude, what are you gonna be?” “Oh, I don't know, there’s a costume shop a mile away” “Oh! They have bunny costumes, get those!” Then it’s done. Halloween is usually a fucked up time as a drummer. No costume works at all because I’m moving, I’m bouncing around.

KZ: Where is your favorite place that Ween has gotten to play outside of the United States?

CC: Australia for sure. They knew us there, the crowds were like the same size as in the States, but so much rowdier. These people were crazy, man. We played this club, and they packed it so full, it was so hot and sweaty in there. You’d look around out into the crowd, and there were people crowd surfing in the back corners and going crazy. It was cool man; they had a lot of energy.

KZ: You play a lot of different instruments, right? Why is it we usually see you playing a drum kit?

CC: Yeah, I play almost every instrument. I’m in a lot of bands playing bass, and I’m starting to play more guitar in bands. I sing and play the guitar in my band, Amandla. When I got drumming in a band, those bands took off, so I got known for drumming. The first band I was in before Ween, was called Skunk, and I drummed for them. We got signed with Twin/Tone Records, and we actually got Ween signed.

KZ: Oh really

CC: So, when Skunk got signed, we were young. I was like 20, and my bass player was 18, and he lived in his parent’s house. We were getting signed to Twin/Tone Records in Minneapolis. Their A&R guy was coming out because they wanted to sign us, but they hadn’t seen us live. So we did this show in our bass player’s mom’s basement, and we were friends with Ween at the time, so I asked, “You wanna come open up for us? This guy is coming out for a showcase,” and they said, “Alright.” So they did, it was just Ween with the tape deck, the chef hat, and the goggles in the basement. It was all of us from Skunk, Mickey, Aaron, and this one dude! After we all played, they signed them on the spot, and then we went home. That’s how Ween got their big deal, and the irony is that I end up working for them my whole life.

KZ: Before they were signed, was getting a deal something they were pursuing?

CC: It was all word of mouth. Andrew Weiss, who produced them, had a home batch label and he was putting out all the four track tapes. His record label is called Bird Of Prey Records, and there are all of these great early Ween tapes. A lot of songs came from those tapes; they’re the fetal versions. So they were doing these tapes, and they were the darling of New Jersey. City Gardens was letting them open up for The Ramones, Sonic Youth, and all these huge bands. Everyone would boo the shit out of them, and throw shit at them. It was amazing; it was like, part of the show how badly everyone hated them. Aaron would just always be like, “Oh, what's wrong!? You hate us!? This song’s called “Papa Zit!!!”” It was such a freak show, man, just like, what the fuck… And they got every gig in the world, and then eventually, we (Skunk) got them a record deal.

KZ: Well, as big fans, this has been special for us. Especially hearing about your jazz influences. Jazz totally lines up to a punk mentality. When I was younger, I gravitated towards punk because it put a voice to a lot of the displaced aggression and anger I felt. I’m grateful for it though, because I exposed myself to some extraordinary stuff, and great art.

CC: Well, yeah, punk rock is cool man. And I think that's why you’re into jazz because jazz is punk rock. Like, Bebop? That shit is punk, it’s too fast, with too many notes, it is dissonant, crazy music. They were doing it all for themselves. Like... “Here motherfucker, you white motherfuckers.” They were shooting smack, and banging hookers, they were punk rock freaks! Jazz is a powerful form of original expression, just like punk rock. There’s no window dressing, that's why most people don’t like it, and why some people love it. It’s just fucking human. And punk is everything, man, like Weird Al Yankovic is punk.

KZ: I think any satire is punk. It’s saying “here, look how stupid we all look.” I think that insight is super beneficial for society, a reminder not to take itself so seriously.

CC: Yeah, it strips away pretensions. Sometimes, you have to say fuck it and play some music. That’s literally Ween; it’s like “Fuck you, we’re gonna write songs whether you like it or not. And if you like it, come party.”

For now, Claude’s back in Asheville gigging around with a handful of bands. We can count on him taking Amandla on the road and dedicating more time towards his passion projects before Ween gets back together next summer. In the meantime, Claude and Mike Dillon will be announcing their early 2018 West Coast tour soon, and you can download Amandla’s most recent album Laughing Hearts on many platforms (including iTunes and CD Baby.) I’d like to extend my thanks to Claude Coleman Jr. for the great conversation and for being such an amazingly talented and humble dude.

Unabridged Interview

Thursday, December 28, 2017

16th Annual "Make a Wish" Benefit X-Mas Party 12.22.17 (Photos)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Particle 12.16.17 (Photos)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Galaxy Far Far Away 12.13.17 (Photos)

Nectar Lounge
Seattle, WA

Photos by Chris Davis

View Chris' Full Photo Gallery Here!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Jessica Lurie Ensemble 12.16.17 (Photos)

The Royal Room
Seattle, WA

Photos by Chris Davis

View Chris' Full Photo Gallery Here!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Genetics feat. Chuck Morris of Lotus 12.15.17 (Photos)

Charlie Hunter Trio 12.14.17

Tractor Tavern
Seattle, WA

Words by Erica Garvey (Funk E. Bitch)
Photos by Chris Davis

The “trio” in Charlie Hunter Trio is a bit of a misnomer when it came to the group’s recent show at Tractor Tavern in Seattle. The full line-up of musicians included a drummer, a saxophone player...another saxophone player...and in charge of it all, a man carefully packing three instruments onto one guitar body.

The first set, starting with “Who Put You Behind The Wheel?”, was largely focused on the Charlie Hunter himself, and rightfully so. Carter McLean (drums) and Rob Dixon (saxophone) hold their own, but Hunter is a one-man show no matter what. He and his seven-string guitar are their own full-sized band: Hunter plays bass with his thumb on the lower strings, while strumming rhythmic chords and bouncing out melodies on the upper strings.

After a few songs with just the trio, Seattle-based saxophone hero (and member of Garage a Trois, one of Hunter’s prior acts) Skerik arrived onstage and had a prominent role for the remainder of the evening. The songs alternated from up-tempo funky jazz to slow, methodical blues every other song, with large swaths of improvisation throughout. The blues numbers started out with just Hunter plucking, then slowly added a light kick drum or a hi-hat until they welcomed one or more saxophone players to play. Often Hunter sang along, microphone-less, sometimes scatting and sometimes using real words that may or may not have actually belonged to that particular tune until that moment.

A quartet that is half saxophone is unusual, but with Hunter pulling triple-duty, it works. Dixon and Skerik traded solos, naturally, but spent much of the time playing side-by-side. McLean was somewhat subdued during the first set, but noticeably unleashed his full capabilities for the second set, which ended with a buoyant, drum-driven version of the sultry “Fine Corinthian Leather.”

Technically a seated show, this did not stop a small contingent of Hunter enthusiasts from respectfully gathering at the side of the stage to dance along to the free-floating guitar solos. Hunter seemed to enjoy the music just as much as the audience. At times he would be watching McLean or the saxophones, smiling, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was at that moment holding down one to three different components of the music. Hunter’s face often expresses a sentiment like, “Wow, guys! Did you just hear that neat sound that came out of this instrument?” It is so uplifting to see child-like joy from an industry veteran and to hear its musical results as well.

During one potentially jarring transition from a 70s-funk infused jazz number back to lowkey blues, Hunter prefaced the jump, almost apologetically, by saying “we like to go from 70s to 20s.” Really though, all of this sounds fresh in the hands of Hunter, and the next few decades of his music should be just as entertaining.

Chris' Photo Gallery

Thursday, December 21, 2017

DeadPhish Orchestra 12.15.17 (Photos)

Nectar Lounge
Seattle, WA

Photos by Chris Davis

View Chris' Full Photo Gallery Here!

Fareed Haque & His Funk Bros. 12.8.17

Stage Stop
Rollinsville, CO

Words by J. Picard
Photos by Blake Barit (Direct Attention)

Note: J. Picard manages Fareed Haque and books music at Stage Stop.

The fire was ripping at the Maylen's big red mountain house atop Coal Creek Canyon. I was getting the house ready for Fareed and his Funk Bros Alex Austin (Bass) and Greg Fundis (Drums). I have seeing the for probably over a decade in different forms, including MathGames. I was joined by Jeffrey Ervine (Genetics' guitarist) whom I brought along to enjoy the show and the experience! We made the short twenty-five minute drive to Stage Stop in Rollinsville, just outside of Nederland. The band was early, which is almost unheard of. They were setting up and soundchecking for the evening's show so Jeff and I grabbed beers and sat at a table on the lower level of the old hay barn, now incredible bar and venue that was built in 1868. Owner Heather Hatwan is known for her cooking and deep menu without a miss. We decided on the reuben and our evening took off from there!

On the second level folks started to wander in out of the cold and for a handful of lucky early arrivers, they were treated to a couple of songs courtesy of the trio. Following soundcheck the band ordered food as well, each plate looking as good as the one before it! I dove into New Holland Brewing's (Michigan) stout early and made several trips to the second story deck for smokes. On one such occasion we played witness to a passing Amtrak train coming from one valley between beautiful mountains and heading towards another. There is no venue that I have ever attended a show at that has provided the unique and beautiful experience that Stage Stop does. Inside, droves of people continued to arrive as the free shuttle to and from Nederland dropped off live music fans. By the time the band hit around 9:30 PM, the room was packed!

Christmas lights wrapped around the structure's support beams under which Fareed lead his trio through a range of selections from Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Garaj Mahal and originals both by Fareed and MathGames. Fareed's guitar work displayed the knowledge and proficiency of a professor. The crowd ate up his tasty licks and danced to his loose funky grooves. That night it felt as if Fareed was playing faster than I had seen him play and with even more energy. Alex's tone sounded great and the deep vibrations shook the venue, as well as our rib cages, as he complimented Fareed and nailed the pocket with Fundis. Fareed has played with some of the best drummers in the world and Greg is as good as any of them. His precise hits coupled with his ability to read Fareed and execute is second to none. On that Friday, he turned towards interesting electronic output as well, which created yet another solid layer on top of the already massive sound of the three.

After an hour and fifteen minutes the band took a break and hung out with fans for a bit before returning with an additional killer hour and a half set. Stage Stop got weird that night... in a good way. A solid two hundred and fifty people turned out for a jazz show in the mountains. The vibes were insanely good and people were so thankful for the experience as they talked to the band and purchased albums. The entire evening and experience (outside of bar tabs) cost folks a total of five dollars and included a Pabst Blue Ribbon! The mountain community loves good music and loves a good time. That Friday, it was evident and it paved the way for the bands return come spring.

After the show we headed back up 72 and back up Coal Creek Canyon where the hot tub sat at a steamy one hundred and four degrees. The band arrived and we dug into whiskey and wine and watched Star Wars on mute with Tabla Beat Science playing in the background. To everyone's surprise, some time around 2:00 AM I treated the group to a poutine (fries, cheese curds and gravy) which ensured a less painful morning. As the sun came up, we went down as fire turned to embers in the fireplace and night to day. It was only night one of the band's Colorado tour and what a great start it was!

Blake's Photo Gallery

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume 41 (12.20.17)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Brad Parsons & Starbird 12.14.17 (Photos)

The One Stop at Asheville Music Hall
Asheville, NC

Photos by J. Scott Shrader Photography

View Scott's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Atmosphere & Dem Atlas 12.13.17 (Photos)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Christmas Jam by Day 12.9.17 (Photos)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

California Honeydrops & Super Saturated Sugar Strings 12.9.17 (Photos)

Dynohunter, Tnertle & Collidoscope 12.8.17 (Photos)

The Bluebird Theater
Denver, CO

Photos by Ryan Fitzgerald (Jarred Media)

View Ryan's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Polyrhythmics 12.8.17

Crystal Bay Casino
Crystal Bay, NV

Words & Photos by Erica Garvey (Funk E. Bitch)

The level of entertainment at Crystal Bay Casino was off the charts last Friday night when funk-afrobeat experts Polyrhythmics played nearly three hours of newer originals to a motley crew at the kitschy North Lake Tahoe establishment.

Talking to locals around Tahoe that weekend, it became apparent that Crystal Bay Casino (or the “CBC,” if you want to sound like an insider) is the official hotspot for music and nightlife. Shortly before Polyrhythmics took the stage in the Red Room, guitarist Ben Bloom pointed out some of the dozens of crystals and geodes hiding in plain sight around the main slots area. The large rocks are easy to miss among the flashing colored lights of the slot machines, but the combination of all the stimuli here somehow amplifies the crystals’ magic. This place is fantastic.

The Red Room was nearly empty until moments before the first song, at which point the regulars quickly filed in under the low black drop ceiling with red-orange-yellow sparkling lights and expanded to fill up the dance floor. Ski bums, hippies, retirees, gamblers, vacationers, and your run-of-the-mill townies all mixed together in an enthusiastic group, many of whom were clearly familiar with the Seattle band’s music.

Polyrhythmics’ sound potential is much bigger than the CBC’s Red Room, but the band, with a solid assist from sound man Stuart Jackson, used the small space to connect with each other and the audience. The eight-member group, who has played this venue multiple times, seemed to enjoy this environment as much as the crowd.

The first set was filled almost entirely with songs from the band’s last two albums, Caldera and Octagon, which are quite polished on the studio versions but delightfully dirtier played live. The Caldera songs, including “Compound 49,” “Goldie’s Road,” and “Marshmallow Man” edge just slightly toward new territory, keeping the sound fresh but not straying from the band’s original sound. During “Vodka for my Goat,” the crowd effectively laughed and doubled-down on their dance moves when the music shifted to Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” The set finished with the Polyrhythmics’ classic “Labrador,” allowing new percussionist Karl Olson to show he can dig deep into the Polys’ catalog, complemented by band veteran Grant Schroff (a.k.a. “Champagne Bubblebath”) on the drum kit. These two, along with Nathan Spicer on keys and Jason Gray on electric bass, seem to rarely get even one measure of rest in any given song.

After the set break, which was exactly long enough to lose ten dollars on slots, Polyrhythmics treated us to several songs from the Libra Stripes album, all of which are made up of varying proportions of ‘70s funk, afrobeat and latin rhythms. (Actually the first song, “Moon Cabbage,” also had a coincidental fire alarm, which was ignored by everyone.) These are the songs on which the horn section (Art Brown on saxophone and flute, Elijah Clark on trombone, and Scott Morning on trumpet) really shone as a group. Farther into the set, we saw Bloom and Jason Gray nimbly locking guitar riffs and bass lines on “Au Jus,” one of the standout tracks on Caldera. Across both sets, each band member took multiple solos peppered throughout the night’s selections; with a few exceptions, most of the songs appear to belong to all members of the group equally, and they all step up to take ownership.

Maybe it was the excitement of being so close to the tour finish line (their final show of the year was the following night in San Francisco), but having been on the road for much of the autumn and early winter did not seem to dampen Polyrhythmics’ performance. Or maybe it was the casino’s crystals. In any case, the Polys put on a great show. Watch for more tour dates in 2018.

Set One: Le Hustle, Compound 49, Liam Rides a Pony, Goldie’s Road, The Itis, Marshmallow Man, Stargazer, Vodka for My Goat > Everybody Wants to Rule the World > Vodka, Journey to Caldera, Labrador

Set Two: Moon Cabbage, Chingador, Pupusa Strut, Au Jus, Bowling Green, Lord of the Fries, Skin the Fat, Spider Wolf, Before 4 After Four, Octagon

Encore: Fairweather Fiends

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Joey Porter's Shady Business 12.8.17 (Photos)

Del McCoury Band, Travelin' McCourys & Chain Station 12.9.17 (Photos)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Conversation with Matisyahu

By Kevin Alan Lamb

When “King Without A Crown” broke in 2004, I was fresh out of West Bloomfield High School, where I was better versed in jewish culture than most 18-year-olds, but had no idea who Matisyahu was, nor where he came from. I remember his appearance clearly: Long, dark, full beard with a black top hat. Thirteen years later I found myself sitting next to him, another world away, with his beard shaved, hair grayed and cut, but the man remained.

Born Matthew Paul Miller, Matisyahu “City of God” faced great scrutiny in the wake of changing his appearance, the devout lifestyle it entailed, vocal problems, and divorcing his wife, yet a man of great faith endured, intent on reclaiming himself.

Here’s my conversation with the 38-year-old man who stole the show from Trey Anastasio the first time he stepped on a major stage when he was 16, and learned the most important lesson of his life from his father, to be yourself.

KAL: So I always feel like a lot of places overlook having a media tent. A media tent is a good chance to make your festival shine because if you treat artists well you can get them talking about that, cater to the experience and capture the experience.

Matisyahu: Sometimes you have the surpluses of people in the media tents all geeked out with people doing interviews and others no one’s there then you’re just like, "Okay this is kind of depressing."

KAL: Haha yeah can we do this interview by the pool next time? Should we go outside the box?Yeah I’ve been here since last weekend, it’s been great. Yeah it was great to see you. My Morning Jacket was a really special set for me. I have a lot of friends here so I like to hang out with Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, the Accidentals, Trevor Hall. I’m really stoked for Nahko tomorrow night. He’s someone who is very special to me and I’ve had the chance to sit down with him a couple times. For me it’s really about forming relationships with people who are really using their gifts for something useful.

Matisyahu: Yeah I met Trevor when he was 17 at Sundance playing in an art gallery and my manager and another label were in a battle for this cat. All the majors were out for this guy. He was 17 and from North Carolina; he went to music school in L.A. He had his EP out called Lime Tree and he played it and there were two hippie girls dancing in the art gallery to it. I was like, "This kid's got it, he’s got IT." Then after that I put him on every tour for the next three or four years. I got to know his parents, his mom and dad would come out to shows. He traveled in my R.V. at one point; it was him my ex-wife, my kids, and I just remember my ex-wife would say the weirdest things to him like, “He can’t set up his idles! Don’t let him pray in my mother in-laws house with an idle because she’ll have a fuckin fit!” I’m like, “Dude, I can’t tell Trevor not to bring his shit to your house; that’s not cool.”

KAL: Isn’t it wild when some of the most genuine, positive, sweetest, most sacred people are that way.

Matisyahu: Yeah they’re threatened by other people because they have different centers and can’t get out of their own brain. I think that they just use that as a way to feed off their fears and not actually have to make any changes to the way they see shit. Trust me I know the type, I’ve been the type! Yeah I went in. I drank the juice.

KAL: It’s hard not to right?

Matisyahu: Well, yeah at that point in my life I was just searching, I thought there was a lot of beauty, a lot of cool shit that I saw and then I wasn’t able to decide between what was cool and what wasn’t. Then I just decided that the only way to do this was to go all in and I remember that conversation with my dad. I was like, "I know a lot of this shit doesn’t make sense, but if I’m going to do it, you know me, I’m going to do it right." I think that the only way to understand it is to lose my logic, just lose myself in it. Then if I’m willing to have faith, if I’m willing to believe in God, my goals, my music, my dreams, and I’ll come back to myself eventually, but I have to allow myself to go in. I understood it

KAL: I have a similar credo that has helped me live the life I have. It’s from The Avett Brothers it says, “Decide what to be and go be it” and I used to be an athlete, a baseball player and I thought I would spend my life doing that, but my shoulder etc. didn’t work out. So I was bettering myself which then took a song called "Head Full of Doubt: Road Full of Promise" and it made me go all in and commit to myself. I asked myself what I was best at: writing. What does it take to be a writer? Writers just get shat on. So it was me being willing to do all these things, to learn, to make sacrifices for it. Are there any credos that you live by? Anything that has gotten you on track?

Matisyahu: Yeah, I’m a little bit of a veteran in the sense that I’ve played so many shows that I know what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I know I get easily depressed from doing anything that is not authentic to me and my music. That’s where I still relate to God; that shit is pure. All the voices in your head that are like “speed up a little bit because it will get people moving more” or “play the song you think they wanna hear.” I won’t do it, I won’t write a set list. My sets are more than fifty-percent improvised; it is what it is. I just cultivate the fan base. You don’t like it go home.

KAL: You bring up something that I think we can delve into. Can you talk about how the improvisation of music is really translated into the necessity of improvisation in life; to be flexible and being able to adjust to the situation no matter your commitment?

Matisyahu: Yeah definitely. Playing parts in music is awesome and there are some badass bands that play great parts and great music and it feels amazing, but that is always what it is. Your brain, the second that it starts playing what it did the night before, I don’t care who you are, you can get into it, but on some level you go into autopilot and muscle memory. I know I can do that, but I’m not fucking going too. When you wait and you listen, then something new happens and you think it might be cool it might not be. Like you were saying about writers being shat on, if you’re a real artist that wants to improvise and try something new, you’re going to get shat on. People are like, “Oh, I don’t like that jam” or, “Oh ,why did he do that?” But that’s the way you grow, the way you learn what works by trying something new. By not doing a thing that you know, even if it’s awesome.

KAL: You had a pretty cool opportunity -- I have a few friends that are a little bit more seasoned with Phish and Trey -- and one of your kind of big hop on scenes that people are saying, even before you quite knew what was happening you were sort of leading the improvised beatbox scene. Can you sort of speak to that and how you got to this point?

Matisyahu: Haha where do I start? Okay, I’ll just hit the points: Sixteen I came back from Israel, I was depressed. I had just had some kind of inspiring spiritual experience and I come back and high school is just not working and my friend was like, “We’re going to go see Phish at the Centrum.” So we go, 16, for the first time, we drop L, and I knew for the first time that was it, that was it. I don’t know what or how, but somehow this is fucking it. I’m going to do this because the first thing I saw were kids my age and I thought, “Where are their fuckin' parents?”

Alright, if shit hits the fan I’m doing that. A year later, shit hit the fan and I leave on tour, my friends got a bus and there was that whole experience. But fast forward five years and I’m religious and I’m drug free and I’m disciplined. At that point I was like, “If the music's gonna happen it’s gonna happen.” Shit starts happening. Bonnaroo, on Shabbos, my manager is just like, “Turn on your cell phone! After Shabbos turn it on.” So he calls me after Shabbos and is like, “Trey wants to meet you” and I was just like, “Yes! It fuckin' worked! It’s happening!”

I literally studied Torah until fuckin' sun down until the moment. Then I turned it on and it was, “Trey wants to meet with you; I got in a car, had a rabbi drive me back to Bonnaroo, I’m trippin out; we walk up to the back and my manager is like, “I know you like to sit in and I know you like to ask, but don’t cross the boundary. Just go in, meet him, and it will happen. I walk in and literally the first fucking thing out of my mouth is, “You gotta fuckin' let me sit in on this show! I will fuckin' spit fire for you bro,” and he was like “I’ve got American Idol, Bo Bice sitting in with us there’s nothing really I can do man.”

I’m like, "fine" and I leave. I’m listening to some other bands and shit, then I get this stream of texts and it’s my manager, he’s like, “He wants to know if you know any Bob Marley songs!” I was like, “Do I know any fucking Bob Marley Songs? How is this happening right now?!” I run back and I’m in the room with the band and we're practicing "No Cry" in the trailer, 20 minutes before the set. Ten minutes later, Trey pops his head in and is like, “Track three! Track three! We want to do that also.”

So we go up on stage and I’ve only ever been in really organized school music school bands until I was 22-years-old and I get out on stage with Trey and we all completely forget the song. The drummer forgets the beat. If you watch the footage you’ll just see everyone looking around, then we improvised the whole thing. It was probably the number one experience of my career. That’s where I learned about reggae music and a lot of the different pieces of who I am and what I do. But that is the most important piece of my life is that music. Walking into that arena and thinking that it’s not about them or it’s not about Trey. They’re giving us a place to experience life and sound. It was my first experience where lights are shown on the performer and you’re in the dark; but you’re a part of the light show and you’re in the performance and a part of the community. There is no barrier. That’s what’s happening right now! Right over there! That was the blessing. I decided there that I want to be a part of this; I want to somehow be able to partake in creating this.

KAL: You strike me as the type of man who enjoys/would be good at working with children.

Matisyahu: Yeah absolutely when I first started touring, I would always stop at the rabbi's house in every city. They’re set up all over and that’s where I would stay. In Berkley, there was the funniest dude. He had all these kids and he said, “Matis I just don’t know what to do with them. My youngest he’s just absolutely insane I don’t know what to do.” I told him to get him a drum set. He got him one and I come back a year later, kid drums like crazy. I keep checking in over the years and he’s getting really into music and he’s on the path. About six months ago, I get a text that he’s in Rubicon Heights, I had a seven hour layover near there. I was like, “Dude, I don’t have time but would you meet me at the airport and you can play me some of your music. We can lap around JFK.” He was like, “Yeah, Matis!” and he comes, plays me the music and it’s so dope. I just moved into this house on the Hudson River. I told him that I need a guy to help me setup my studio and he asked me to come jam with him and his band sometime. I told him I’m out here touring I can’t really, I don’t have time. Finally, I had them all come over on Shabbos, all the kids and Rabbi’s. See, the deal with all these kids is that they met at a home for bad kids in their families, which is basically what it is. But it was so cool because this rabbi pushed these kids into music and made them the musicians they are today. They know reggae and hip hop. They know the music! So I invite them to the studio and I sign them. It wasn’t like I was trying to manage them or anything, but if I was going to do this I was going to do this full force.

KAL: Are you familiar with a man named Lazer Lloyd? He’s from the East Coast, but he brought blues and rock n roll to Israel. He’s a buddy of ours.

Matisyahu: Oh that’s so cool I did not know that.

KAL: When was one of the first times outside playing that you met a hero? Maybe not necessarily in music, but as a result of following your passion and living on this path. When, looking around, you were thinking this is pretty fuckin' cool. Just looking eye to eye with someone you really admire.

Matisyahu: Let me see, I’m trying to think of the cats I’ve really liked. Last weekend I got to meet with Vince Staples. But usually when I’m on tour there are like three or four artists and I usually listen to their music before the set to get me up. I connect certain tours with certain artists. Like I just got off a hard Vince Staples run where it was like 24/7. Then my song came "King Without a Crown;" I’ve tried to reinvent it over the years, but it just wouldn’t work for me and one time I was just jammin' with the band and Staples just came up with the complete opposite of "King Without a Crown." It was hard and gritty and I just started spittin’ "King Without a Crown" over it and was like, “Yo, this is a good song.” But yeah, I don’t really geek out that often, but once in awhile, yeah.

KAL: That’s awesome man, who is someone when you were really young that you would really just like to say thank you to? Or someone who you haven’t had the chance to thank who doesn’t know it so much; who you would like to give a little love too.

Matisyahu: Alright I’ll tap out to my pops. He’s the first person that rushes to my head because you know my dad he would choose when to give me advice. If I wasn’t going to listen he wasn’t going to waste his time. So there was only one or two times that I really remember him telling me things. I remember one, “Just be yourself. Don’t worry about anybody else or who they think you are or who they think you’re supposed to be. Just be you.” And even though I’m an artist and I’m hypersensitive to all types of shit, that’s just the advice I go through over and over in my head.

KAL: That was just the most useful and sort of, I think as you’ve said, everyone has accepted you. You’re proud and you have this image of who you are. Now you’re like, “I’m still me and nothing I’m doing is permanent and I’m shaking things up.” It’s sort of like a reset for you to start fresh. Not limiting yourself.

Matisyahu: Yeah, I was born on the Jewish day that Ezekiel had his vision of a chariot with four faces. I sort of connected with that because my music sort of feels like four different things; there are four different members of my band with totally different musical backgrounds. One is a jazz improviser, another is classical, a hip hop guy, they’ve all got different styles and that’s what I’m trying to create: a chariot with different dimensions to it. When you see them all together it creates a certain tension that work together. As the front man for that I feel like I have to have those things so it doesn’t shift.

KAL: You need to keep them in you and keep those perspectives.

Matisyahu: Yeah and in my life, my outer appearance is always shifting depending on where I’m at.

KAL: Then one more and we'll get out, after all it is day 167 of Electric Forest. We’re having a lot of fun. You have a set coming up, it’s going to be phenomenal as they usually are. This is a good environment for you. But after your set a giant alien spaceship will come and land; E.T. will walk out and you have the opportunity to represent mankind in one comedy movie. What would you show them?

Matisyahu: What movie? Oh fuck. Ah, I mean ,I would probably show them The Goonies.

KAL: "Up there, it’s their time; but down here,

[Collectively] IT’S OUR TIME!"

Just in case you were looking for one, This is a Good Sound.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Del McCoury Band, Travelin' McCourys & Meadow Mountain 12.8.17 (Photos)

Monday, December 11, 2017

Kamasi Washington 12.3.17 (Photos)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jeff Austin Band 12.2.17 (Photos)

Tractor Tavern
Seattle, WA

Photos by Chris Davis

View Chris' Full Photo Gallery Here!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Yonder Mountain String Band & Kyle Hollingsworth Band 12.2.17 (Photos)

Cut Copy & Palmbomen 12.2.17 (Photos)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Yonder Mountain String Band, Kyle Hollingsworth Band & Dragondeer 12.2.17 (Photos)

Dopapod & Genetics 12.1.17 (Photos)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Poor Man’s Whiskey & Head for the Hills 11.17.17

Nectar Lounge
Seattle, WA

Words by Erica Garvey (Funk E. Bitch)
Photos by Chris Davis

Attending a performance of Poor Man’s Whiskey’s “Dark Side of the Moonshine” is less of a concert and more of an experience. The band’s recent show at Nectar Lounge in Seattle was a medley of clever “newgrass,” both PMW originals and their widely-known, beautiful rendition of the famous Pink Floyd album. Added to this was an opener with an understated mastery of bluegrass, a viewing of “The Wizard of Oz” (obviously with the Moonshine tunes timed perfectly as a soundtrack), and some Wizard-themed costumes. Not surprisingly, it turns out that this is a recipe for an amazing show and a crowd that never stopped smiling.

Colorado-based Head for the Hills warmed up the audience with a set that was, comparative to the night’s main act, quite traditional bluegrass played on guitar (Adam Kinghorn), mandolin (Sam Parks), bass (Matt Loewen), and violin (Joe Lessard). The Friday night crowd was already pretty thick by the time they started, and the four acoustic instruments and their owners held a big yet tight sound throughout the set full of rich four-part vocal harmonies. While you can hear various styles of music as influences, HFTH gives the impression that they are not trying to do anything other than produce high-quality bluegrass. During one of the more serious and slow songs, the venue’s garage door separating the patio from the main stage area opened up in order to let the heat out, which always produces some cheers from the Nectar regulars, but HFTH remained all about business and the majority of the audience followed suit. There are no shenanigans with these guys, just admirable and energetic musicianship with a humble stage presence.

Though Poor Man’s Whiskey, the headliner, is a fairly non-traditional bluegrass band, they carefully crafted a set list to take us from HFTH’s straight bluegrass to the more psychedelic portion of the evening, “Dark Side of the Moonshine,” their reimagining of Pink Floyd’s uber-classic album. Kicking off their set from the center of the crowd floor, the band played “Rocky Top” with an assist from HFTH fiddle player Lessard.

The next few songs began to gradually add just a few of the many sounds PMW is known for mixing in: a full drum kit, keys with a pedal steel effect, electric guitar, and the like. Each song in their repertoire has a sonic surprise, large and small. It does not take more than a few numbers to realize that these guys are smart. One would think that the combination of bluegrass instruments with drums and electric guitar would make the band sound like a mediocre country act, but PMW never goes there.

Between “Like a River” and “State of Grace,” one gains a new appreciation for the combination of mandolin (Jason Beard), banjo (Josh Brough), and drums (George Smeltz), topped by Brough’s clear vocals and creative lyrics. By this point in the show you could see the happy audience dancing politely. They did not want to get too rowdy yet; they were responsibly pacing themselves. Then PMW pivoted to the jam-filled, spacey “Goodbye California,” which features Beard on electric guitar instead of mandolin, followed by the playful “Let’s Go Out Tonight,” which is a real barn-burner “hoedown” tune, but keeps the electric guitar sound and maintains a complex feel.

Next the band brought us back to the jams with “High on the Mountain,” showcasing two electric guitars (Beard and David Noble), electric bass (Tony Robinson, also on upright bass), and keys (Fletcher Nielsen). Brough calmly maintained order in the center, no instrument on this song, just laying down vocals while holding a beer in one hand. The band took us through two more deceptively simple country-ish songs, “Humboldt Hoedown” and “Lake County Lady,” which both require all of the musicians on stage to let loose at once, including violinist Turi McClain, who deftly managed to hold her own among the perceived chaos in the jam crescendo.

Rounding out the set were a pair of energizing mash-ups: a Paul Simon-Blondie combination of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” and “The Tide is High,” followed by PMW’s “Whiskey Creek” interspersed with “1999.”

All this and we had not even reached the night’s main draw.

The audience and the band members themselves seemed equally excited for the second set. The performers reassembled on the stage in various “Wizard of Oz” costumes (also worn by the most enthusiastic attendees). From the first sounds of “Speak to Me/Breathe,” each of the Moonshine songs were instantly recognizable. But this bluegrass-tinged, uniquely PMW interpretation serves as an even better Wizard soundtrack than the original Pink Floyd album. The mandolin and banjo smoothly express the aura of the girl from Kansas. The band added some signature flourishes, the clear audience favorite being the replacement of the “Money” cash register noises with the pop-hiss of rhythmic openings of beer cans, which were then passed into to the crowd so as not to waste any beer. Everyone, band and fans alike, was flying high as PMW took a bow before treating us to one more original, “Rock Star on the Weekend.”

Earlier in the night, prior to starting “Diamonds,” Brough had asked the crowd, “Do you think we’re weird?” Yes, we do, Josh, and that is exactly why we were all there. Keep Poor Man’s Whiskey weird and we will all keep coming back for more.

Set One: Rocky Top*, Like a River, State of Grace, Goodbye California, Let's Go Out Tonight, High on the Mountain, Humboldt Hoedown, Lake County Lady^, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes > The Tide is High > Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, Whiskey Creek > 1999 > Whiskey Creek Reprise

Set Two: Speak to Me/Breathe, On the Run, Time, the Great Gig in the Sky, Whiskey (Money), Us and Them, Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage, Eclipse

Encore: Rock Star on the Weekend*

*played acoustic from the crowd floor
^altered lyrics to “Lake City Lady” in reference to the Seattle neighborhood

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

John McLaughlin & Jimmy Herring 11.30.17 (Photos)

Paramount Theatre
Austin, TX

Photos by Rich Denis (Bigfoot Exposures)

View Rich's Full Photo Gallery Here!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Runnikine: Danger Close

Words by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)

The Runnikine are a local three piece band made up of Eric Luba, Will Trask, and Jon McCartan, which started up in November of 2014. What began as a side project for the members while touring with other bands has now become a more realized outfit with the release of this EP, Danger Close. This collection of three tracks was recorded at Scanhope Sound in Littleton, CO over the course of several months this year.

The first of three songs is a mid-tempo dance groove with plenty of keyboard ear candy. Synth licks overlay another electric piano track that pans and sweeps from left to right speaker, creating a dimensional motion to compliment the reflective nature of the lyrics. Eric Luba handles both the vocal and keyboard duties on the album. Interspersed on “Vice” are tasteful vocal harmonies and the stuttering sound of a subtle funky guitar (also Luba) to keep things fresh through the verses. The lyrics evoke the importance of remaining true to ourselves in an often superficially natured society. Right out of the gate, the pocket of the groove is tight and the dynamics of the trio offer a wholly satiating sound.

“After Tonight” is the following cut and features a heavier, more straight-ahead funk riff compared to “Vice.” The stereo separation between instruments is clear and spacious; nothing gets lost in this well balanced mix except for, dare I say it? The cowbell! Trask’s percussive cowbell hits are painfully hidden beneath the rest of the instruments. Unless this an instance of tongue-in-cheek humor, I think we all know what we need more of on this track. Digressions aside, the composition of the song is strong; concise sections, flawless transitions, and a tasteful drum breakdown towards the end. Texture is also a point of notice - crisp synth tones and a throbbing pulse of a bass from McCartan.

“They Walk Among Us” is the standout cut of the EP, and appropriately chosen as a The Runnikine’s first single. Aliens. Whether you believe in them or not, this one beams you up. “They’re already here,” is stated in the lyrics. Your neighbor could be a more intelligent form of life than you think! We get a more stripped down presentation of the band’s sound here. Three sustained chords from a naked jazz piano make up the groove of the verse and chorus, backed by a driving, punchy snare from Trask, a signature sound indeed. McCartan’s low end underneath lays ample space for the song to vibe effortlessly. Lush arrangements of synth and vocal effects swirl between segments. The band vamps heavily on a blues/funk riff to ease the paranoia incited by the lyrics. One hears echoes of Medeski, Martin, and Wood in this section.

The first official studio offering from The Runnikine is impressively cohesive, compact, and of course, funky as all get out. If I was to be critical of the album, the only main issue would be that it is too short. But alas, it is an EP, a harbinger of more good things to come. I welcome the thought of having a full length from the band, because this is only the tip of the iceberg, or the first couple rows of tiny square mirrors on the disco ball; for there is much more light to be reflected.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Devil Makes Three & Scott H. Biram 11.18.17

The Ogden Theatre
Denver, CO

Words & photos by Ryan Fitzgerald (Jarred Media)

November 18th at the Ogden Theater in Denver saw night one of a two-night run for Scott H. Biram and The Devil Makes Three, closing out an insane fall tour that covered the U.S. from the Dirty South to the Pacific Northwest, leaving behind a trail of sonic destruction along the way. Having lived in Austin before my time in Denver, I became very familiar with the work of Scott Biram and his “dirty old one man band.” If punk, blues, country, and metal had a whiskey-fueled four-way, Scott would have been the bastard lovechild. The Devil Makes Three, with a sound all their own that I’ve since only been able to describe as “Spookygrass,” made their way into my heart shortly thereafter. Seven years ago I would have never imagined the two acts on the same stage on the same night, though now that I’ve seen it I suppose I should have...

Scott took the stage early, kicking things off with all the fire and sound of a much bigger band, covering hits both old and new from his catalog. For a guy I’ve seen crush a room like Three Kings with no problem, it was both great and unsurprising to be able to see him fill a venue like The Ogden with that level of sound and energy. People were moshing, sweaty, and it seemed pretty drunk before the clock even struck 10. Working my way through the pit, I can say the man got himself a ton of new fans that night, as he damn well should have. By the time it was all over, there was a very well-earned musk hanging in the air and the energy in the room was at a fever pitch, ready for the headliner.

Watching the rise of The Devil Makes Three has been an absolute treat. In just the last three years, I’ve seen them open for Trampled by Turtles at Red Rocks, putting on a performance that I’d have expected from the main act, to one year later headlining their own Red Rocks show with another son of Texas, Shakey Graves. They’ve earned a massive following, playing all over the world in venues large and small, though now mostly large. Getting the notification that they were playing not one, but TWO nights in one of my favorite rooms seemed like a dream.

They kicked things off right, starting with "The Bullet" and going right into "Pray for Rain #9" and then their phenomenal cover of Robert Johnson’s "Drunken Hearted Man" from their tribute album Redemption & Ruin, as well as "I’m Gonna Get High" by Tampa Red off the same album. As is wont to happen during a sad song about blues, the crowd responded by kicking their energy (and alcohol consumption) into high gear. It’s a good thing they did, because the show did not slow down. We heard classics like "Old No. 7," "Gracefully Facedown," and "Tow," as well as more recent hits from I’m A Stranger Here like "Hallelu" and "Spinning Like a Top." I honestly don’t think I could have picked a better setlist.

All in all, the show itself wasn’t a particularly long one, but both acts used their time incredibly well. I haven’t been to a show in a room like that with that particular kind of high intensity energy in a long time. Both of these bands are favorites of mine (if that weren’t obvious) and if you take one thing away from this, let it be this; next time you see Scott H Biram or The Devil Makes Three coming to your town, drop what you’re doing and get your tickets. I don’t see either of these acts slowing down any time soon.

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