Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Lil’ Smokies 4.13.18

Aladdin Theater
Portland, OR

Words by Emily White
Photos by Coleman Schwartz Media

On Friday the 13th, the Lil’ Smokies treated us to one killer set at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR. They opened the show with “The City” off their latest album, Changing Shades. A song that you can’t help belt out at the top of your lungs – and I did. It was appropriate that their next song was “Winded” because I sure was from all the dancing and singing. Matt Rieger (guitar) and Jake Simpson (fiddle) really blew me away with their solos. From there we were taken on a Tom Petty journey when they covered “Learning to Fly.” It was a crowd pleaser and quite the sing-along. You would think the last show of a two-month winter tour the boys would be tired (I’m sure they were), but the energy on stage made it feel like we were at the tour opener.

After some covers and new songs “Cheating Kind of Life,” “Irish Goodbye,” “Feathers,” and ”Fortunes,” the band started playing “The Toothfairy” from their first album and jammed into the classic “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones. This jam particularly slayed when Andy Dunnigan (Dobro) and Jake Simpson were feeding off each others solos and had every person up dancing and especially during Matt Cornette’s banjo solo, my feet would not stop moving!

Towards the middle-end of their set we were blessed with my favorite three Smokies songs in a row – “California, “Might as Well,” and “Miss Marie.” As a recent transplant from California, this toe-tapping, hip-shaking song always makes me nostalgic for home, especially during these cold and damp months in Oregon. If the show had ended after “California” I would have been happy but once I heard Jake Simpson play the first note on his fiddle, I knew we were about to enjoy a melodious, “Might As Well.” This song should be every human’s mantra; take chances, go out and follow your dreams because you never know what is going to happen. The Lil’ Smokies incredible harmonies are what really grabbed my attention when I first discovered them. When I finally heard the harmonies of “Miss Marie” live, it sent goosebumps up my spine and caused me to have to catch my breath.

Throughout the whole show they perfectly blended their originals that we all know and love, new tunes that have yet to be recorded and plenty of covers everyone could get into. After “Miss Marie,” Matt Rieger took over on lead vocals and sang “Run to You” before Jake Simpson took a turn on “Dust in a Baggie,” by Billy Strings. With the way he plays it’s hard to believe that he’s only been a part of this band for a little over two years. During the cover, Scott Parker’s bass breakdown was one the best things I witnessed that night.

Ending the set with a new unrecorded tune, “Rabbit Hole,” you could tell the energy was high and that no one was ready for the show to end, including the band members. They came back on stage, popped a bottle of champagne in celebration of tour being over, and came at us with three banging encore songs. Starting with a Zeppelin cover, “Going to California,” into another fan favorite, their own “Decades,” and finally ending with “Gone at Last,” by Paul Simon. I could not have asked for a better night of music from The Lil’ Smokies.

I’ve fallen in love with not only The Lil’ Smokies music, but their charismatic charm onstage and witty banter. My favorite part of the whole show is that Matt Rieger (or the Beyonce of Bluegrass as Andy Dunnigan likes to call him) sings every word to every song with his hair blowing in the wind, even when he was standing away from the mic. He looks like he genuinely loves every moment onstage. It's moments like this that separate the Lil’ Smokies from other bands. They take you on a journey and make you feel like you are a part of their family. You could feel and see the love and energy exchanging from the band to the fans and vice versa. The Lil Smokies are smoking hot right now and definitely should not be missed!

Coleman's Photo Gallery

Setlist: The City, Winded, Cheating Kind of Life, Irish Goodbye, Feathers, Fortunes, The Toothfairy>Paint It Black, The Sequence, California, Might as Well, Miss Marie, Run to You, Dust in a Baggie, Rabbit Hole

Encore: Going to California, Decades, Gone at Last

Friday, April 20, 2018

M. Ward 4.17.18 (Photos)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Black Angels & The Black Lips 4.12.18 (Photos)

Monday, April 16, 2018

MusicMarauders Spotify Playlist - Volume 44 (4.16.18)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Roosevelt Collier's Exit 16

Words by Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)

Roosevelt Collier’s recently released Exit 16 is more than just something you should listen to. Respect it. Love it. Listen to it really loud. Definitely repeat Track 3, “Make It Alright” because Bobby Sparks completely destroys his keyboard solo. Make sure you have room to move your feet when The Dr. Roosevelt Collier brings the heat with his slide magic on “Supernatural Encounters.” And do not hesitate to call League a funky white boy when “That Could’ve Been Bad” and League’s heavy bass bombs come blasting through your speaker system. I personally requested to review this album because of how awesome I knew it could be and Rosie absolutely crushed it.

Produced (and contributed to) by bassist Michael League of the three time Grammy Award Winning Snarky Puppy and released on their GroundUp Music label, Exit 16 has numerous genres incorporated with Roosevelt’s mastery of the pedal steel guitar giving any listener a wide range of reasons to love this album. Beginning with Collier’s well-known church playing background, the initial track “Sun up Sun Down” has a definitive organ-led undertone with Bobby Sparks again proving why he was a great addition to this recording. “Happy Feet” brings the mighty Jason Thomas into the forefront, showing off his drumming skills that have made him a major contributor to Snarky Puppy, Marcus Miller, and many other celebrated jazz/soul musicians. “Exit 16,” the title track and album namesake is a rowdy steel pedal guitar shred-fest with Thomas plus Sparks again backing up Collier with funky pocket grooves and high-pitched organ chords. But, if I were to pick a favorite track off of this awesome first album (and hopefully not the last) from The Dr. Roosevelt Collier it would have to be the Jimi Hendrix infused head-banger “Spike.”

Rosie was kind enough to provide us with two versions of “Spike” on his inaugural album, and the twelve minute extended bonus track is a must listen. The quartet of Collier, League, Sparks, and Thomas comes together in a fiery jam-filled track where each member plays a distinctive role and layers over each other in a truly beautiful way. Utilizing numerous effects/pedals, Collier brings Hendrix back to life with intense chord changes and some ridiculous slide playing that in my opinion is unmatched in our musical world today. This is not your typical bluegrass dobro my friends. This is Hendrix-esque shredding; with a funky ass bass/drum beat behind it and an organ solo that would make Melvin Seals a very happy man. I can’t get enough of this song. There is so much going on with Michael League holding down the foundational bass line and the three others feeling themselves on top of it. Again, I remind you to play this album loud and have room to dance.

I was lucky enough to see Collier live for the first time on Jam Cruise 2013 sitting-in with Greensky Bluegrass on the Allman Brother’s classic “Midnight Rider.” I had no idea who he was, had never heard of the Lee Boys, and was very much so a baby-wook. But something happened in the purple theater that brings me full circle to my previously mentioned want to get back to purely just being present and enjoying the live music in front of me. Forgetting my reviews, and putting down my camera I was introduced to one of the biggest smiles you will ever see on any stage across the country. Rosie, you made me cry tears of pure enjoyment that night and it’s quite possible that you have done so a few other times in the last four years. You are an amazing musician, person, and friend with one of the very best hearts. Not only are you one of my favorites, but I can firmly say/believe you are one of the absolute best pedal steel guitar players in this world and I cannot wait to see what comes next for you.

All in all, I cannot be more pleased and happier for Roosevelt with Exit 16's release and when the likely supporting tour comes to our amazing state of Colorado, I will be first in line to grab a front row ticket. Do not miss this my friends. I will be there loving, respecting, and for damn sure dancing every moment Collier graces us with his presence in the Rocky Mountains and I hope you come along with me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Papadosio & Higher Learning 4.7.18 (Photos)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Eminence Ensemble & Legato 4.6.18 (Photos)

Travelin' McCourys & Jeff Austin 4.6.18 (Photos)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Boris Garcia Feat. Tim Carbone & Henhouse Prowlers 4.6.18 (Photos)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Sweet Lillies - Album Listening Party 3.31.18 (Photos)

Roosevelt Collier w/ Special Guests & Dandu 3.31.18 (Photos)

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Flash Mountain Flood, Cycles & Dave A'Bear 3.30.18 (Photos)

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Drunken Hearts & Todd Sheaffer 3.30.18 (Photos)

Roosevelt Collier w/ Special Guests 3.29.18 (Photos)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Roosevelt Collier w/ Special Guests 3.29.18 (Photos)

Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood 3.30.18

The Ogden Theatre
Denver, CO

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

Nature’s page has turned in Colorado as the nearly non-existent winter has ended and spring is finally upon us. The sun is getting warmer, the grass is growing greener, and the summer music season is fast approaching. Luckily, our particular Coloradan demographic attracts a diverse and consistent influx of gifted acts all year. This weekend, connoisseurs of quality soundwaves were out in full force to support the creative powerhouse that is Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood at Denver’s humble and intimate Ogden Theater.

Those of us who have frequented The Ogden appreciate the variety of settings the venue can play host to. Some nights at this Denver staple, you have a breadth of room to boogie, others you’re participating in a standing dogpile and marinating in spilled beer. Virtually every night I’ve spent at the Ogden included me peeling my feet off of the floor once the film of alcohol congealed into wook glue. Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood attracted a more mature crowd, and despite the inevitability of spilled drinks and a full house, everyone had room to groove.

Each member of this jazz juggernaut hails from a celebrated background. John Medeski with his magical keyboards is a pioneer of the New York Acid Jazz movement of the 90s’, and is a frequent guest of Phil Lesh and Friends and the Trey Anastasio Band. John Scofield, jazz guitar powerhouse and welcomed addition to MMW, has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with jazz royalty Charles Mingus and Miles Davis. The combination of Scofield and Medeski, Martin, and Wood is a gift that keeps on giving; their original alliance appears on Scofield's album A Go Go (1997). Billy Martin is another collaborative whiz kid, adding eclectic percussive flair to a variety of avant-garde jazz assemblages, notably The Lounge Lizards. Rounding out the foursome is Chris Wood, a bass savant and Boulder native. When Wood isn't touring with these master musicians, he can probably be found playing with his brother Oliver in their folk group, The Wood Brothers.

The quartet sauntered onstage to meet the exuberant cheers of a full house. Their presence alone evoked a rumble of glee and anticipation for the musical journey to come. The group dropped into a poignant, pungent set of musical exploration. As Medeski initiated a departure from song structure, the other members of the quartet studied his notes, furiously weaving an intricate tapestry of musical improvisation. These musical wizards could not be stifled, even by Chris Wood's blown speaker stack. While Wood sorted out his technical difficulties, Martin opened the door to the avant-garde, using percussive instruments to take audience members on a magic carpet ride to an alternate dimension.

Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood cultivate musical experiences as strange and natural as the moon lingering over the mountains in the morning. This quartet of Olympian proportion is not a group to on. A mixture of playfulness and professionalism, experimentation and theory, these men are continuing the tradition and evolution of jazz in the 21st century.

Blake's Photo Gallery

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Kitchen Dwellers & Rumpke Mountain Boys 3.29.18

Star Theater
Portland, OR

Words by Mitch Melheim
Photos by Coleman Schwartz Media

Touring together for the first time, the galaxy and trashgrass contingencies collided in Portland, Oregon when Rumpke Mountain Boys and Kitchen Dwellers stepped onto the supposedly haunted Star Theater stage. Each band’s loose interpretation of the bluegrass genre has become their identity, making for an ideal combination of degenerate jamgrass.

Rumpke began the night with an old Jim Reeves song, “Yonder Comes a Sucker,” and a tune that Jerry Garcia made famous, “Ragged But Right.” Originals such as “Go Home Girl” and “Fourdinaire” followed and came with textbook Rumpke themes like the blessing of finding roaches in your ashtray and “drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade because the fridge is empty ‘til I get paid.”

All four members of this band write and sing songs, and it was perhaps mandolinist Ben Gorley’s “Falling Behind” that was the highlight of the set after guitarist Adam Copeland’s equally relatable songwriting kicked things off. Bassist J.D. Westmoreland eventually added his own voice during “Birds of Paradigm,” a tune off of his solo album of the same name, and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Jason Wolf impressed on everything from banjo to pedal steel guitar.

It was out with the trash and in with the galaxy grass as Kitchen Dwellers brought their spacey brand of bluegrass out for a jaunt. The Montana pickers opened with an energetic combination of “Where They Do Not Know My Name” > “Living Dread” before guitarist Max Davies dusted off an old tune about his dog named “Auggie” that he wrote with his old band, The Hollowtops.

Torrin Daniels (banjo) has emerged as the band’s primary songwriter since the departure of former guitarist Kyle Shelstad a few years ago. With that change came a decided new direction in their music and a shift from less traditional folk songs to more progressive tunes with complex structure and plenty of sections to explore instrumentally. Their songs “Shadows” (written by mandolinist Shawn Swain) and “Buckle Down” (Daniels) were both good examples of this new and improved style, the latter of which featured an extended jam with teases of “The Four” (Greensky Bluegrass) and Michael Anderly on trombone.

Anderly stayed out on trombone for a cover of Van Morrison’s “Cleaning Windows” in what I would’ve called the most impressive segment of the night had it ended there, but it didn’t. It was followed immediately by a “Visions of More” sandwich that lasted at least fifteen minutes and concealed a cover of “Bertha” deep in the middle. Rumpke Mountain Boys then joined the stage for an all-encompassing encore of The Band’s “Ophelia,” as the Star Theater staff tried their best to funnel us out of the venue.

Rumpke Mountain Boys: Yonder Comes a Sucker, Ragged But Right, Go Home Girl, Fourdinaire, True Religion, Falling Behind, Kelly Joe's Shoe's, Shelterific, Birds of Paradigm, Just Outside, St. James, Mandella > 1st Lie, Time Stands Still*, Sunny Side of the Mountain

* “California Sunshine” tease

Kitchen Dwellers: Where They Do Not Know My Name > Living Dread, Auggie, Cherokee Shuffle > Paul and Silas, Shadows^, Buckle Down*!, Cleaning Windows*, Visions of More > Bertha > Visions of More

Encore: Ophelia*^^

^ Crazy Train tease
* w/ Michael Anderly on Trombone
! w/ The Four Tease
^^ w/ all members of Rumpke Mountain Boys

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

J. Wail Live Band & Vince Herman 3.28.18 (Photos)

ALBUM REVIEW: Jack White's Boarding House Reach

Words by Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

I admit that I was later to the Jack White party than most. The little bit of White Stripes, Dead Weather, and Raconteurs that made its’ way to my lobes failed to capture me. Then I heard Lazaretto, and everything changed. His arrangements were unexpected and brilliantly crafted. From Tennessee fiddles and angelic harmonies to digital delays and sonic textures, Jack White’s solo band was eclectic and fresh. Since then, I’ve delved headlong into his other projects, enjoying them more now, but not as much as his solo work. So, word of a third Jack White Solo album had me more excited than Sarah Huckabee Sanders has ever been in her entire life.

White wasted no time shattering my expectations with an introductory riff that whomped like a dubstep effect. It’s pairing with Jack’s melancholic vocals was stark yet creatively cohesive with White’s other solo efforts. By halfway through the track (“Connected by Love”), I realized the song had taken a turn for the more traditional Jack White sound. He somehow blends disparate influences into some simultaneously derivative and groundbreaking cocktail of the American songbook. A concept he actually explores in the song “Ice Station Zebra.” “I live in a vacuum, I ain’t copying no one!” And later, “If you rewind the tape, we’re all copying God.”

As Boarding House Reach unfolded, I noted the funky influence of keyboardist Neal Evans. Neal has been working in the jazz and funk circuit for decades, and his influence on the album is evident. His hip-hop, soul, and funk background injected a different dimension to an already impressive assortment of musical styles. Nowhere is his presence more apparent than in the driving funk of “Corporation.” Neal’s vibe complemented Jack White’s songwriting tremendously, always adding and never taking away from Jack’s vision. The groovy riffs and funky licks provided yet another surprising layer to White’s arsenal of audio. A pool that grows regularly. White absorbs stylistic elements from every direction. His ties to Detroit, L.A., and Nashville are as much a part of his sound as his work with Beck, Beyoncé, Loretta Lynn, and Jimmy Page.

Like the ghost of some poet portrayed by Johnny Depp, White’s timeless style integrates sounds from gospel, honkeytonk, Americana, Country Western, as well as cutting edge modern alternative rock roots. It saunters up with a bag of musical tricks from across the last century, unassuming and impossible to ignore. It’s remarkable how cohesive the album is, considering the numerous genres represented.

There are a few tracks that have modest background grooves and what sounds like spoken word poetry as the focal point. In other tracks, White uses his raw, garage-punk bellow to wail modern 12 bar blues in to these sort of saloon-punk sing alongs. There are fragments of the album that push further into electronic territory than anything Jack has done. And there were moments that were quintessential JW.

Lou Reed once said, “Godfrey, I try to write ‘Sweet Jane’ every day.” The pressure to continue to be brilliant once you’ve proven you’re capable of brilliance can be a lot to shoulder. Some get writer’s block, some try to write the same kind of music and become stale, some progress too far and alienate some of their fans. It’s rough in the world of music, and trends are fleeting. The way that Jack White has been able to grow, maintaining his artistic integrity, his creative inspiration, his continuing relevance, and his commitment to quality while taking on new sounds, styles, and partners speaks to the depth of his musical talent.

After no less than a dozen listens so far, I can say I enjoy this release as much as any White work to date. His development as a creative powerhouse has led to multiple successful bands, a resume of collaborations that highlights the cream of the entertainment crop, and a record label that has a sterling reputation despite its place in a dying industry. And from the look of things, he’s not done yet.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Matador! Soul Sounds & The Runnikine 3.24.18

The Fox Theatre
Boulder CO

Words & photos by Blake Barit (Direct Attention)

Living in Colorado, we’re all very lucky to have a hutch on the side of the national musical superhighway that is the Denver/Boulder metro area and its surrounding boroughs. Nationally touring, high profile acts are as numerous as they are eclectic and the various venues that work to accommodate them have become nightly destinations for the hordes of ravenous musical devotees needing to fulfill their weekly boogie quotas. The Fox Theater in Boulder is such a place. Being in the middle of my fifth year as an east coast transplant, one of my favorite things about this area has been all of the brand new, home grown, and truly inspired music that comes right through my backyard. Tonight, that brand new, home grown, and truly inspired music is that of Matador! Soul Sounds, a new collaborative effort from Eddie Roberts and Alan Evans.

Local staple, The RunniKine, started things off with a spirited step. Eric Luba, Jon McCartan, and Pikachu (Will Trask) set the stage for a night of non-stop movement and laughter with a loose yet very compelling opening set. Combining the auditory sound of Stevie Wonder and a bit of tongue-in-cheek exploratory vaudevillian brio, the band is frequently seen in the first position, eager to lead off any night’s proceedings.

The main act of the evening, Matador! Soul Sounds, are a cadre of musicians that do not want to be called a super-group. Born from the shared vision of Roberts and Evans, the band is an amalgamation of members of Soulive, Pimps of Joytime, The New Mastersounds, and Jimmy Herring Band. As vocalist Kim Dawson said from the stage, “We are a group of musicians who came together to write new original music and share it with you all.”

Share they did. For such a young band (their debut album, Get Ready dropped March 12th) the interconnectivity of their playing and willingness to divvy up the spotlight is quite extraordinary. Alan Evans and Eddie Roberts represent the leaders of the band, getting funked up all night on the drums and lead guitar respectively. The vocal section was incredible and shined brightly throughout, made up of Pimps of Joytime alum Kimberly Dawson and Orgone diva Adryon de León. Kevin Scott provided ample low end from the bass position, while Chris Spies provided his keyboard not only as an instrument but as a place of congregation during peak output for the “banderilleros.”

The band gave off the youthful exuberance of a seasoned outfit with lots of dates under their belt. Charging through their inaugural tour, they give off an aura of confidence and tenacity, ready to prove something that they don’t need to because they are already levelling up. Destined to be a live funk music juggernaut for years to come, this cuadrilla is certainly taking the bull by the horns… and making it bend to their will with sabers of funk, soul, and jazz. Toro! Toro!

Blake's Photo Gallery

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Matador! Soul Sounds & Cory Wong (Vulfpeck) 3.23.18

Cervantes Other Side
Denver, CO

Words by Derek Miles (Miles Photography)
Photos by Charla Harvey

I was surprised but not entirely shocked by the plentiful early crowd at The Other Side of Cervantes on Friday night. The room was filling up quick not long after “doors” and so was the excitement in anticipation of Vulfpeck’s featured members, Cory Wong and Antwaun Stanley to take the stage, as well as the newly formed funk super group Matador! Soul Sounds to follow. House lights faded and Cory Wong’s band humbly sauntered over to their instruments; Petar Janjic sat at the right side of the drum set while Steve Goold was to the left half of the kit (an inventive tandem setup). Kevin Macintire saddled his bass around his neck and Kevin Gasonguay approached the keyboards.

The band kicked things off with a tight, mid-tempo funk groove with plenty of backbeat and rock solid bass thump. A few minutes of vamping and Cory runs onto the stage with enthusiasm and a smile - seemingly out of breath; eager. As soon as Cory started laying down some funky chucks on his punchy Fender Strat, we knew it was on. Most of the songs were instrumental and not dissimilar to classic Vulfpeckian sound - deep pocket grooves, catchy riffs, virtually infallible musicianship, and tight as all hell. Antwaun Stanley graced the room with his soulful golden pipes on a handful of tunes including Bruce Hornsby’s 90s hit, “The Way It Is.” I see the merit of a good cover not only to be in the execution or new interpretation that it brings, but also the appropriate-ness and relevancy of the song choice to present time. Considering the world’s affairs, racial issues, and the social plight of the modern human condition, this cover selection hit the mark.

"Said, hey little boy you can't go where the others go
'Cause you don't look like they do
Said, hey old man how can you stand
To think that way
Did you really think about it
Before you made the rules?"

In addition to Cory Wong’s band delivering a fully satisfying set of itch scratching funk, we were treated unexpectedly to a variety show filled with humor, multimedia, and even a few music lessons. One song was set to the accompaniment of a Jurassic Park scene, which was projected onto a screen behind the band. Cory Wong also enlightened the crowd to his impassioned yet possibly facetious reverence to smooth jazz and admiration for saxophonist Dave Koz and his annual smooth jazz cruise that he claimed his band was trying to play. He had the audience identify Weather Reports’ “Teen Town hi-hat pattern” by applauding whenever Petar Janjic would sneak it into a song for a few measures. Cory also instructed everyone in the room how to count out a Serbian time signature using a mnemonic device. He had the audience chant in rhythm to the drums “Give me my Chipotle, Give me my Chipotle, I want Chips, I want Guac, Give me my Chipotle.” Needless to say, Cory’s band, showmanship, and quirky musings were joyously engaging.

A brief set break and shuffling of gear on-stage before it was time for Matador! Soul Sounds to take us on our next musical sojourn into a different realm of funk. The song selection was sultry and dealt with a recurring theme of love, all played with swagger of course. The crowd was back in their dancing shoes in no time at all. Eddie Roberts’ signature staccato licks filled the air. The energy was kept on high throughout the set; you could feel that this project had verve. Everyone in the band brought forth an inspired energy. This was also probably the closest I had seen a band situated towards the front of the stage in recent memory – they wanted to be close to the action.

Alan Evans exudes a confidence and prowess on the drums that cannot go unrecognized, his presence commands attention. Kevin Scott similarly brings a monstrous bass tone and punctuality that provides ample foundation for groove. Kim Dawson and Adryon De Leon are the vocal soul of the band and elevated things to new heights with their lush harmonic treatment of the groups’ mostly original music throughout the set. I found the sound to strike a nice balance between instrumental funk akin to New Mastersounds-ish compositions but also more traditional heavy hitting funk somewhat reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone. Chris Spies on keys provided a perfect accompaniment which sat evenly in the range of instrumentation, everything had its’ place.

And that’s how the whole night felt frankly, a “Goldie Locks” affair, just right. A fiery encore and the house lights went up. We were left basking in the all familiar after show glow; some eager to leave and get the after party started and others reluctant to leave the venue, leaving what they felt in the room behind and facing the next work day ahead. But wherever we go after the show, the secret is to take that feeling with us, and to carry it on in our daily lives.

Charla's Photo Gallery

Cory Wong Setlist: Skeletal Logic, Rubens, Lee, Clouds, Pleasin’*, The Way It Is*, MOVE!*, The Optimist, Sidestep, Simon, Dial Up, Work It Out*, Peg/Aja Hits*

Notes: * = w/ Antwaun Stanley

Matador! Soul Sounds Setlist: Get Ready, Too Late, State of Affairs, Anything For Your Love, What Do I Have To Do (Marva Whitney), Mr. Handsome, I Am Somebody (Johnny Taylor), El Dorado, Now Is The Time (Sisters Love), Soulmaro, Cee Cee, Theme For A Private Investigator, Stingy Love


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Roosevelt Collier Feat. Members of Genetics & Dopapod 3.27.18 (Photos)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Kyle Hollingsworth's 50

Words by Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)

As a long time fan of the String Cheese Incident, Kyle Hollingsworth’s keyboards have accompanied a large swath of the soundtrack of my life. His latest album, 50 was recently released for the occasion of Hollingsworth’s 50th Birthday. A reminder that neither of us are getting any younger. His appearance, energy, and playing seem youthful, and I was actually a little surprised by the fact that he was born 5 decades ago.

The album is framed between tunes called “Onset,” and “Offset.” The former leads in like a stream of consciousness, setting the tone for an album that feels familiar and personal. The accompanying tracks followed like a career retrospective. I consider Kyle one of the best keyboardists I’ve seen tickle the ivories, but have become progressively less impressed with his songwriting. Not that his songs aren’t catchy, musical, or substantive, but it seems he has regurgitated the same songs in a dozen different ways. With each new solo album, it’s become harder for me to ignore. Maybe it’s because he lives in Boulder... that town loves to recycle.

Though the tracks almost all seemed to be replicas of some prior ditty, the diversity within the track list was still impressive. For an “old man,” Kyle dropped some spunky electro-funk a la The New Deal. And his funky grooves seemed to have more of a Motet vibe with beautiful layers of female vocal harmonies. Considering the album’s theme, the introspective nature of a few of the tracks made sense. Lyrics about children, family, and community have made appearances in Hollingsworth’s notebook before, and his connection to what is important is still in tact.

Once again I found myself simultaneously impressed and embarrassed by the track, “Stuff.” While the concept and message of the song are incredibly relevant, the actual lyrics were painful at times. “Will my OS impress?” “Will my tweet compete?” Fairly cringe worthy on a couple of levels. And while I did find these lyrics fairly weak, I thought the tune might be the best one on the album. Strange how that can happen. It may be the most poignant track on a philosophical level also, but I don’t know that I would ever play this track (or album) for anyone who didn’t already like Kyle. In my opinion, the tracks just don’t have enough substance to draw in new fans.

Writing a review for an album by one of your favorite musicians is hard. The temptation to fluff the review creates a powerful pull, and much like a swimmer in undertow, you have to really kick to escape that eventuality. On the other hand, there’s an inclination to be a bit more critical when thoroughly familiar with an artist’s catalog. The process turned introspective and retrospective. And then I was left with a thought... maybe the consistency within these similar songs was done to help feel like a career in review. Roger Waters latest album sounded like a ton of old Floyd tunes rehashed, and though I found it lacking in originality, I found it impressively genuine in it’s homage. Arguably, the Waters’ album was his best attempt since the days of Waters and Gilmour’s partnership.

50 is perfect in it’s own way. The balance of rock star and “Dad,” must be a strange reality to manage. This album illustrated a snapshot of a man who is teetering between headlining The Electric Forest Festival and driving his kids to the mall to grab supplies for a school project. If we are lucky in this life, we will be half as cool as Kyle when we are 50.

Monday, March 26, 2018

George Clinton, Miss Velvet & Blue Wolf, Future Shock 3.24.18 (Photos)

Umphrey’s McGee & Russ Liquid 3.15 – 3.17.18

Pacific Northwest

Words by Maximo Menchaca
Photos by Coleman Schwartz Media

The arrival of Umphrey’s McGee to the Pacific Northwest was accompanied by breaking clouds and sunny skies. The band’s notable absence from the Seattle and Portland music calendars last year, combined with their phenomenal previous foray to the region (2016, which to these listener’s ears contains the best Seattle show the band has ever done), made for a hot ticket. This tour, supporting the band’s January-released latest album, it’s not us, was not only the band’s first sellout in Seattle, or the first time the band had sold out both nights of their Portland run, but the first time the entire run of PNW shows were sold out.

Besides the great weather, the band was also accompanied by The Russ Liquid Test. Going in, I knew next to nothing about the New Orleans-based trio. Full disclosure: the Tuesday before this run, I streamed one of RLT’s previous shows and found the music at odds with the band’s self-described philosophy. The set seemed geared less towards classic funk (of which I am a big fan) and more towards EDM (which is not as much to my taste). Luckily, I found my live experiences of RLT more enjoyable than this initial exposure. All three members are talented musicians. Drummer Devin Trusclair is clearly enjoying himself as he lays down his beats, while guitarist Andrew Block pulls blistering guitar solos straight out of the ether. I loved his guitar tone, and thought it fit perfectly with the multi-pronged approach of Russ Liquid (moniker of frontman Russell Scott). Scott alternated between tenor saxophone, trumpet, keys, synthesizer, and vocoder throughout the sets. He relied on looping passages to build ever more complex foundations for new ideas.

Some of my favorite sections were reminiscent of old house or quiet storm, complemented with Tower of Power-esque cool chromatic blasts from the horns. This, combined with Trusclair’s drumming and Block’s instinctual playing, really evoked the band’s intent to marry vintage funk music with modern dance music. The inclusion of horns and vocoder were very welcome, and I thought could be employed more often. There were periods where the music sounded like a phenomenal foundation to back a guest vocalist, but needed a bit more on its own. Overall, the addition of vocoder or saxophone added a dimension that was not present in their absence. Secondly, and this is less a reflection of Russ Liquid Test’s ethos than it is of the crowd, it seemed as though at times they were the right band for the wrong crowd.

Thursday, March 15:

Showbox at The Market
Seattle, WA

This seemed especially true in Seattle. It’s one of my main criticisms of my adopted hometown: music fans here seem quite fussy, and some of the crowds at other jam/funk/groove shows belies the town’s musical reputation. The sellout made me extra excited for this show – there’s a certain pride with seeing some hometown representation. After a 6-year detour to the Neptune and Moore Theaters, this would be the band’s return to the 1000 capacity Showbox, right across from iconic Pike Place Market. I was curious to see how they would respond – would they bring a loose feel resulting in extensive jam sections, or favor more of their high-energy originals to rile the crowd up?

The opening “jazz odyssey” is one of the most unique things the band does – the lights go down, a pre-recorded piece of music accompanies the whoops of the crowd, and the band files on stage and gradually replaces the recording. Tension building is something Umphrey’s does as well as any band in the scene, and these odysseys, a mainstay of UM’s shows since 2011, provide both the band and audience an invigorating transition into the show. From this, the sextet transitioned into the opening of “1348,” a staple of the band’s setlists since its debut on 2009’s Mantis. The jam out of the song served as a perfect introduction of each member to the audience. Guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger harmonizing riffs gave way to a groove cemented by bassist Ryan Stasik, before the mantle was passed to drummer Kris Myers and percussionist Andy Farag, who treated the crowd to a fervent, syncopated drum duet. As the band returned to the groove, keyboardist Joel Cummins took the lead on his Moog.

The band threw a curveball by launching into “Loose Ends” – one of their more introspective songs, to which the audience responded positively. The set continued into a personal favorite of mine, “The Fussy Dutchman.” Anchored by blindingly fast descents down the keyboard/fretboard by Cummins and Bayliss, by the time the band gave the audience a breather, Bayliss built to another furious solo.

The band continued to oscillate between high and low energy songs for the remainder of the set. “Hajimemashite” built from Bayliss singing over a simple guitar line, and bled into “Hurt Bird Bath,” characterized by a furious avalanche of hammer-ons and pull-offs from Cinninger and Bayliss. The set ended with two songs from the latest album, “Forks” and “The Silent Type.” The latter tune is built off a piece of improvisation the band has been polishing on-stage for years, has already been a jumping off point for high-energy improvisation, and tonight provided a short peak of dueling guitar lines.

I’ll admit, I found the setlist so far one of the odder ones I’ve seen. The group never seemed to settle into a groove. Luckily, the second set loosened up, with correspondingly longer song lengths, and it provided my favorite jam of the weekend. While the opening “40s Theme” contained a rare jam section, and the crowd ate up the dance-y cover of Mark Ronson’s “Daffodils” (anchored by Myers’ soulful vocals), it was the “Night Nurse” that was the highlight. The song, with a house backbone, eventually bled into a jam based on Miami Nights 84’s “Sunset Cruise." This synth-heavy uplifting song continued to build and feed off the crowd, and the band only stopped the groove when they were finished with it. The roar of the crowd embodied our appreciation.

When the band returned to the stage for an encore, Bayliss asked if we wanted to dance. After receiving an affirmative response, Bayliss, sporting his signature seagull guitar, raved about his walk along the water front earlier in the day, during which he saw a flock of seagulls. This preceded the band’s fitting drop into the night’s final song, “I Ran.”

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Set One: Catshot > 1348 > Loose Ends > The Fussy Dutchman, Hajimemashite, Hurt Bird Bath, Forks, The Silent Type

Set Two: 40's Theme, Daffodils, Plunger > 1348, Night Nurse, Mulche's Odyssey

Encore: I Ran

Friday, March 16:

The Crystal Ballroom
Portland, OR

We headed to Portland in the thick of the night in preparation for the band’s two-night residency at the Crystal Ballroom. The 1500-capacity room has a long history in Portland, and features a floating dance floor. It is slightly disconcerting at first, but the bounce is a unique experience (we’ll get back to this later).

Friday’s showing was the strongest of the run. “In the Kitchen” started with Cinninger running up and down a scale, before the jam devolved into a tribal funky beat, which barreled into a peak accentuated by lighting designer Jefferson Waful. As always, Waful’s lighting rig and designs provide the extra oomph to the live experience.

Both he and Stasik were on point all night – at least four people came up to me during the show raving about Stasik’s basslines. His control of the lower ends of UM’s sound is unheralded. In a band with Cinninger’s effortless fretboard-melting runs and Myers’ furious drumming, Stasik’s stable lines help propel Cinninger, Bayliss, and Cummins to new heights.

He proved this throughout the latter portion of the set. “The Crooked One” led into a murky groove that slowly morphed into a pleasing jam initiated by Cummins’ organ. “August,” one of the oldest songs in the band’s catalog, holds sentimental value in my heart, as it opened my first Umphrey’s McGee show in 2007. While I’ve grown used to the happy, major-key jams this song spawns, tonight’s version was flavored by something a bit funkier. I was thrilled to see the set close with “Out of Order.” While setlists vary night to night, I think I could be satisfied to see this song every night – the build is sublime, and the opening theme’s sweet riff spills down the fretboard like honey. The song’s 6/8 time signature sharpens into a 4/4 theme that the band effortlessly jumps into and out of as they transition into the ending.

The opening to the second set continued with more songs of a late 90’s vintage – “All in Time,” Umphrey’s signature song, led into long exploration of an extensive dance jam that contained strong contributions by each member. This progressed into a “2x2,” which melted into “Nothing Too Fancy.” The long intro is revered by fans for its high energy, and the final payoff of lights and frenetic riffing had the crowd going absolutely nuts. As Cinninger’s blistering solo led into the usual jam section of the song, you could feel the anticipation build. Instead of dissolving into the traditional jamming, the group instead started playing the distinctive opening notes of Ween’s “The Grobe.” Watching the response of the band to the crowd’s increasing fervor is part of the reason I continue to see this band year in and year out.

The set ended with two more songs from the new album – "Dark Brush," which prompted Cinninger’s 7-string guitar making a rare appearance, sounds almost exactly as its name suggests, while “Piranhas” is a more upbeat number. This transitioned into the up-tempo ending of “All in Time,” with its unique Rainbow Road-esque harmonizing guitar riff featuring Cinninger and Bayliss intertwining like snakes.

The crowd roared as the band left the stage, and their return brought an unexpected arrangement, as Cinninger sat at the keys and Farag assumed Myers’ usual throne. With Stasik and Cummins on guitar and Bayliss on the bass, Myers took the forefront in launching the band and crowd into the Beastie Boys’ rowdy “Sabotage.” Arms were flying in the air as every audience member tried to shout down his or her neighbor.

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Set One: There's No Crying In Mexico > Cemetery Walk, In The Kitchen > Andy's Last Beer, Whistle Kids, The Crooked One > August > Out Of Order

Set Two: All In Time > 2x2 > Nothing Too Fancy > The Grobe, Dark Brush, Piranhas > All In Time

Encore: Sabotage[1]

Notes: [1] with Brendan on bass, Jake on keys, Joel on guitar, Andy on drums, Kris on vocals, and Ryan on guitar

Saturday, March 17:

The Crystal Ballroom
Portland, OR

It would be premature to assume that, even after this amazing showing, Portland had had their Umphrey’s fill. A greener-clad (and tipsier) motley crew assembled once again at Burnside and 14th Ave for a repeat performance on St. Patrick’s Day. (At least about as repeat as you can get at a jam show.) In lieu of a pre-recorded opening, the band launched straight into one of its newer songs, “Attachments.” Given the song’s frequency (many fans were shocked it does not make an appearance on it’s not us) and the so-far absence of a jam section, opinions of the song are mixed, but I personally enjoy the harmonizing duet of Bayliss and Myers, and the lyrics about… well, take a guess.

This transitioned into “Smell the Mitten,” which featured the jam of the night. It featured a jam powered by Stasik, sharp staccato riffing from the guitars, and Cummins on the synthesizer. The jam organically evolved, slowly and patiently, into a sublime peak.

“The Triple Wide” was another highlight of the set. The song begins with e-drums, but the groovy jam was highlighted by Farag’s syncopated conga playing. The song transitioned into another personal favorite of mine, “Ocean Billy,” before the band invited Russell Scott onto the stage with his tenor saxophone for a rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Hang Up Your Hang Ups.” Scott worked artfully to fit into the band’s sound, and his solos sandwiched Cummins’ improv.

After opening the second set with the new song “Maybe Someday,” UM dove into the current jam vehicle du jour, “Draconian.” Opening with a riff dragged straight from the primordial muck, it’s delicious evilness eventually evolves into a wistful outro yearning to ameliorate failed expectations. In 2017, the band consistently bridged the two disparate sections with wide-ranging improvisation, and tonight’s version was no different – all members built around Cinninger’s chug.

The ending section of the set began with Bayliss egging the crowd on to make that dance floor bounce. And we complied – with the Crystal’s floor, it would be hard not to with all your neighbors launching you upwards! The first song, “Wappy Sprayberry,” accompanied the jumping masses, with its gradual, dance-y build into the composed part of the song. The short jam section began with Stasik’s ascending bassline, and after achieving a nice groove, built back into the powerful ending of the song. It led into a rendition of the polyrhythmic “Half-Delayed” (which sounds ripe for a jam section after it cements itself in the band’s rotation), into “Phil’s Farm,” another one of the band’s oldest tracks. The song is always a conduit for improv that seems at odds with its’ country-tinged nature. Cinninger’s blues rock led into a groove that smoothed out, before descending into darker territory. However, like a phoenix, the band flew into the uplifting “Upward.”

The encore contained an extended cover of Prince’s “1999.” I love Prince, and given Umphrey’s reputation for tight, faithful, and impressive homages to other artists, I was thrilled to finally catch this tune. The extended jam of Miles Davis’ “It’s About That Time” was just icing on the cake.

Coleman's Photo Gallery

Set One: Attachments > Smell the Mitten, Nopener, Crucial Taunt, The Triple Wide > Ocean Billy, Hang Up Your Hang Ups[1]

Set Two: Maybe Someday, Draconian, Wappy Sprayberry > Half Delayed > Phil's Farm > Upward > Phil's Farm

Encore: 1999[2]

Notes: [1] with Russell Scott on saxophone, [2] with It's About That Time (Miles Davis) jam

As we headed downstairs and I began to say my goodbyes to the friends whom I might not see again until once again under Waful’s lights, I began to reflect on the run and why I continue to see this band again and again.

A song early in the first set highlighted one of the things I love about Umphrey’s. After playing a Ween song the night before, UM’s own satirical side manifested in “Nopener,” the band’s smirking take on thrash metal. I suspect the band is aware of the next level of irony – since Umphrey’s McGee is more willing than other jam bands to flirt with some of the heavier, metallic elements of music’s periodic table, some of the band’s detractors find the song completely serious.

Those fans are 100% missing out. If the point of improvisation is to let the music lead the way, shying away from music that skirts around certain genres only seems to undermine the musician’s arsenal. Umphrey’s makes no effort to hide their infatuation with metal, and many jams lead places other jam bands fear to take their audiences. Umphrey’s marches bravely into heavy territory, and I am grateful for it.

Cinninger and Myers are the eye-catching aspects of the band. Both are arguably among the best alive today on their respective instruments. You can rely on them both to leave you in awe at their almost inhuman skill. But the heart and soul of the band runs through Bayliss, and I’d argue that his soloing during this run was some of the best I’ve ever heard. For a tour based on their new album (and they certainly displayed the album prominently, as all songs but one made it into the four-night run including these 3 shows and Missoula), the group played many of their older songs, which consistently feature Bayliss’ improvisation. The dueling guitars are a trademark of UM’s sound, but the two musicians approach their improvisation differently – Cinninger hops effortlessly around the fretboard, but Bayliss soulfully digs into his notes, the emotion pouring evidently from his face. His efforts in the weekend’s songs were phenomenal.

There were definitely nitpicks I thought of throughout the weekend – wishing the band had played a certain song (e.g., “Last Man Swerving”), had avoided certain others (e.g., “Upward”), had not taken jams in certain directions (e.g., “Ocean Billy” was doing fine at first). But you know what? – this is more a reflection of me than of the band. If I think I’ve earned the right to nitpick one of the tightest bands around today (and I haven’t), it’s only because I’ve been spoiled by their consistently amazing shows. I’ve opened my wallet widely, slept on floors, driven 8 hours in the middle of the night without sleep, forgotten the name of the city I’m in, and made a fool of myself more times than I can remember. But in return, following Umphrey’s McGee has repaid me handsomely. It’s my constant reminder to think less and experience the moment more. Which might be my cue. See you on the road!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sam Bush & Caribou Mountain Collective 3.17.18 (Photos)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Galactic & Greyboy Allstars 3.17.18

Fillmore Auditorium
Denver, CO

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

St. Patrick’s Day in Denver did not result in green beer or waterways, there were not hordes of people stumbling around like you might see in Chicago or Boston, but Coloradans were lucky enough to have beautiful weather and Galactic and The Greyboy Allstars at the Fillmore Auditorium, in Denver. Spirits were high even as the sun was setting and the first few people entered the concert hall. They were greeted by three extremely dapper DJs, flipping through their collection of 45s. These well-dressed gentlemen had a job that I was envious of, touring around and playing 45s in venues across the nation. The selection of tracks included classic soul, funk and R&B music that may not have been familiar to all of the attendees, but that didn’t stop them from getting down.

The auditorium was moderately roomy all night, even into the early set of The Greyboy Allstars. The troupe came onstage to a warmed up crowd eager to boogie down. Each of the musicians brought experience and mastery of their instruments from the multitude of projects they're each involved in. They’re all giants in their own right, but as the band is approaching its 25th anniversary, the players work almost flawlessly as a group. This funky, acid jazz production is primed for taking throwback stylings and bringing them into the contemporary world. One festive set later, attendees cheered the Allstars off the stage and awaited the impending presence of Stanton Moore and Galactic.

Galactic is a self-proclaimed jazz-jam band who has been consistently delivering high-quality soul music out of the funkiest city in America, New Orleans. For the past 20 years, the group has been a key influencer in the funk world. The instrumental five-piece came out to kick off their set, but Erica Falls and Corey Henry eventually joined. Falls’ vivacious presence was only overshadowed by her boisterous voice, filling the room with silky, sultry sounds. Falls has been a familiar face at Galactic concerts for quite some time now, her thick soul sound pairing perfectly with the jazzy soul funk that Galactic is known for.

As the night came to a close, it was a pleasant surprise to see how few people were struggling to stumble out of the Fillmore. Perhaps the non-traditional approach to St. Patrick’s Day served Denver well. Both Galactic and The Greyboy Allstars share a legacy of influencing jazz-funk groups that came after them, and it was a treat to hear them both in the same night. Though it may not have been the traditional lineup of Irish-inspired festivities, the holiday was a joyous one, topped off with drinking and plenty of dancing. Galactic takes their tour west with weekend dates in Seattle and Portland, before heading to Nevada, Arizona, and California. The new album Into the Deep drops mid-July, featuring a slew of collaborations with the heavy hitting artists they’ve worked with over the years. You can hear the single featuring Macy Gray now on many platforms, including on Galactic's website, as well as

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