Yesterday, a handful of Pearl Jam North American tour dates briefly leaked on the band’s website. Amidst the flurry of tour and festival announcements that customarily takes place each January, a handful of concert dates appeared on the band’s list of upcoming performances.The new dates had the band performing at Safeco Field in their native Seattle, WA on August 8th and 10th, Washington-Grizzly Stadium in Missoula, MT on August 13th, Wrigley Field in Chicago (the home of Eddie Vedder‘s beloved Chicago Cubs) on August 18th and 20th, and at Boston’s Fenway Park on September 2nd and 4th.In addition to the dates–the majority of which are Major League Baseball stadiums, the website also briefly displayed a “The Home Shows” section of the list, perhaps indicating that the shows will take on an athletic theme and be marketed as “Home” (Seattle) and “Away” (elsewhere) shows.“The Home Shows” page on the Pearl Jam website (now removed, screenshot via Alternative Nation):You can see screenshots of the now-removed dates below courtesy of Alternative Nation: While these dates have not been confirmed by the band, and are no longer on the website, the fact that fully-detailed announcements, website updates, and custom artwork have been produced surely points toward their legitimacy, and likely portends an imminent tour announcement from the band.As of now, the only dates officially on Pearl Jam’s schedule are overseas. In March, they will head to South America for four performances including Lollapalooza events in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and an extra stadium show in Rio thrown in for good measure. In June and July, the band will make their way through Europe on a 14-date run stopping in the Netherlands, the U.K., Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal.For more information on Pearl Jam’s touring plans, head to the band’s website.[h/t – Alternative Nation][Cover photo: Video screen shot from 8/20/16 at Wrigley Field]
Last week, The Hollywood Reporter published an interview with David Crosby, which focused on politics in the United States, Donald J. Trump, the score he wrote for the new independent film Little Pink House, and more. Crosby was predictably outspoken on politics, reaffirming his stance that he doesn’t want supporters of Donald Trump and voicing his endorsement for Elizabeth Warren for president in the future.However, one standout moment came when asked about a potential Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young reunion. When asked whether Donald Trump’s election could cause a reunion, Crosby responded:Yes, it might, but we don’t get along, and we haven’t gotten along for a while. They’re all mad at me. But they all dislike Donald Trump very much, the same way I do. We dislike him intensely because he’s a spoiled child who can’t do his job. So a reunion is possible. We don’t like each other, but we like Trump a whole lot less.Hilariously, The Hollywood Reporter followed up with “Would a reuniting of the band include Neil Young?”, to which Crosby sassily responded, “Well, that’s the only way you could reunite the band, isn’t it?”You can read the full interview for yourself on The Hollywood Reporter here.[Photo: Bryan Lasky]
Photo: Chris Burgess After meeting with the kids, the band took the stage for their performance, the majority of which seemed noticeably tied to themes of togetherness, unity, and love in their honor. In addition to the common thematic thread in the song selections, both Burbridge and Bob Weir wore #MSDStrong t-shirts throughout the show. As the performance went on, the other band members began to don their own #MSDStrong shirts as well. By the time they took their encore bows, all six band members were wearing maroon for the brave students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.Dead & Company opened with “Shakedown Street” before moving into “Cassidy” without skipping a beat, Mayer and Weir both adding vocals to each tune. Next, Burbridge stepped to the mic, delivering a tender rendition of the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter ballad “Comes A Time”.Mayer took the vocal reins from there, leading the band through a rendition of “They Love Each Other”, which proved to be both the improvisational and emotional centerpiece of the set following the pre-show rendezvous with the MSD students. “Bird Song” came next, and the tune fluttered into “New Speedway Boogie” before returning to “Bird Song” for a brief reprise. Finally, a roaring “Deal” closed set one, with Mayer leading the charge on both guitar and vocals.Dead & Company returned to the stage for set two with another love and togetherness anthem, The Band classic “The Weight”. The all-for-one theme continued with a relatively brief “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!”. Rather than moving into “Franklin’s Tower” to complete the classic trio, the band took a left turn into “Eyes of the World”, which they built out past the 17-minute mark before bleeding into “Dark Star”.The transitive nightfall of “Dark Star” signaled the beginning of a particularly spacey segment of the show, as the jam tumbled and turned through the cosmos. A typically chest-thumping “Drums > Space” followed before eventually coalescing into a wistful “Days Between” whose decades-old lyrics seemed specifically picked to pay tribute to the young souls lost on Valentine’s Day. The band closed the set with an appropriately defiant “Throwing Stones”, the song’s lyrics (“So the kids they dance and shake their bones/And the politician’s throwing stones”) perhaps never ringing as true as they did on this emotional evening in Sunrise.Finally, Dead & Company returned to encore with perhaps their most optimistic tune, “Touch of Grey”. After the widespread devastation and anger spawned by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the band, the MSD kids, and the rest of the crowd sang together one last time, thoroughly feeling the emotional weight of Robert Hunter’s words: “We will get by. We will survive.”Dead & Company has one more make-up show tonight in Orlando. After that, the band will be off the road until the start of their summer tour in Mansfield, MA on May 30th. For a full list of summer dates, head to the band’s website.You can listen to full audio of Dead & Company’s Sunrise, FL performance and check out a beautiful gallery of photos from the performance (via photographer Chris Burgess) below:[Audio: taper Dan Nolan, Jr. (spyder9)]Setlist: Dead & Company | BB&T Center | Sunrise, FL | 2/26/18 Set One: Shakedown Street > Cassidy, Comes a Time, They Love Each Other, Bird Song > New Speedway Boogie > Bird Song (reprise), DealSet Two: The Weight, Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Dark Star > Drums > Space > Days Between > Throwin’ StonesEncore: Touch of GreyDead & Company | BB&T Center | Sunrise, FL | 2/26/18 | Photos: Chris Burgess Load remaining images On Monday night, Dead & Company continued their run of fall tour makeup shows with a performance at BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL, located in Broward County. The county has been under the national microscope since February 14th, when a horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers. In the wake of the tragic events, the school’s brave students have galvanized the country into action, actively challenging lawmakers to institute common sense gun control measures. During a CNN Town Hall that took place in Sunrise last week, MSD student Cameron Kasky put Senator Marco Rubio (R) on the spot on national TV, challenging him to stop taking campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.Just like the rest of the country, the members of Dead & Company were amazed at the courage and fortitude of these kids, and they took the opportunity to thoroughly recognize them while they were in town. The band invited a large group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to the performance (including Kasky, pictured below with Oteil Burbridge, Mickey Hart, and John Mayer), taking the time to get to know them beforehand. As the band remarked when they posted their setlist after the show, “They all love each other, Lord can you see it’s true. A truly inspiring night in Florida.”You can read some thoughts from the band on the experience below:
Rising jam band Formula 5 is gearing up for a big 2018. The Upstate New York upstarts have just announced a 21-show spring tour which spans April and May before culminating with festival appearances at Domefest, Sterling Stage Folkfest, and Disc Jam Music Festival. Along the way, Formula 5 will hit the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast, performing with Perpetual Groove, McLovins, The Magic Beans, The Southern Belles, Goose, and Space Carnival.The band has also revealed plans for their second annual ‘Rock The Dock’ Music Festival, set to take place on July 13th, 2018 in Lake George, NY. In addition to Formula 5, Rock The Dock’s musical lineup includes Soule Monde (Featuring Ray Paczkowski & Russ Lawton of Trey Anastasio Band), Strange Machines, and Let’s Be Leonard, all of which can be enjoyed from any of the three historic Lake George steamboats that wrap around the stage. Craft and food vendors will also be on hand for Rock The Dock.“Rock The Dock was started as a way to celebrate the Lake George Steamboat Company‘s 200th anniversary by doing something that the company has never done in its history, hold a concert on the pier,” explains event manager Luke Dow. “The concert was a way of giving back to all the loyal patrons as well as showcase the talents of local artists and food trucks. This year’s festival will also be focused on giving back, with 25% of all ticket proceeds benefiting the FUND for Lake George, to help with their efforts to keep the lake clean and pristine for years to come.”You can secure tickets today on the festival’s website here.For more information on Formula 5’s spring tour or Rock the Dock, visit the band’s website.Formula 5 Spring Tour 2018 dates:April 6 – Nectar’s, Burlington, VT*April 7 – Buffalo Iron Works, Buffalo, NY^April 11 – Silk City, Philadelphia, PA*April 12 – DROM, NY, NY*April 13 – Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, Greenfield, MA*~April 14 – Pacific Standard Tavern, New Haven, CT*April 19 – The Waterhole, Saranac Lake, NYApril 20 – Jay Peak, Jay, VT$April 26 – Flour City Station, Rochester, NYApril 28 – The Hollow, Albany, NY%May 2 – Woodlands Tavern, Columbus, OHMay 3 – Octave, Covington, KYMay 4 – Lamasco, Evansville, INMay 5 – The Local, Boone, NC@May 7 – Preservation Pub, Knoxville, TNMay 8 – Charleston Pour House, Charleston, SCMay 10 – The Whiskey, Wilmington, NCMay 11 – Tradition Brewing Company, Newport News, VAMay 17 – Domefest, Bedford, PAMay 26 – Sterling Stage Folkfest, Sterling, NYJune 9 – Disc Jam Music Festival, Stephentown, NY* with Goose^ with The Magic Beans~ with The Basement Cats$ with Perpetual Groove and McLovins% with Space Carnival@ with The Southern BellesView Tour Dates
It’s been roughly two-and-a-half years since Grateful Dead alumni Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann teamed up with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti to form Dead & Company. Since then, the band has played dozens of shows across the United States, garnering a large following that has made them the most popular of the numerous Grateful Dead spin-off acts that have carried the torch since Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995. With so much momentum behind them, many Dead & Company fans have begun to wonder what else might be in store for the increasingly cohesive band.One question that is often asked is whether or not the group has plans to record any new original music of its own. It’s an interesting prospect for a band that more or less exclusively performs music that was written between 52 and 22 years ago (with the exception of a few choice covers that are even older), but it’s not one that they’ve talked much about publicly. So when Mickey Hart got on the phone with Live For Live Music to discuss his upcoming performances at the American Museum of Natural History, we had to ask him if Dead & Company have any plans to hit the studio:Sam D’Arcangelo: Speaking of touring acts, you’ve been on the road with Dead & Company for the past few years. Do you guys have any plans to record new music of your own?Mickey Hart: No. Not really. We’ve talked about it, but we’re a performance band. We like performance. The Grateful Dead was the same way. It’s hard in the studio. We never made great records, really great records. There were a couple that were magnificent in their moment, as period pieces, but the magic always happened live. It was a chore in the studio. There are great studio musicians, and I appreciate that very much, but we’re not that. And it’s ok.So I don’t know, we might wind up in the studio, but it’s so much fun playing live. I’d be hard-pressed to go into the studio, to be honest with you. I’m in a studio almost every day myself, but a band is different. It’s a different chemistry when everyone gets together in the studio as a band as opposed to individuals, where you can determine your own thing totally. When you’re in a band, there’s a lot of opinions, and that’s what gets in the way sometimes. If it works, it’s amazing. But if it doesn’t, it’s a very difficult experience.As you can see, Dead & Company don’t have any plans to go to the studio, and Mickey Hart doesn’t seem particularly interested in the idea either. This is a bit different from the position that Weir and Mayer took when they were confronted with similar questions in 2016, so perhaps some things have changed in the past two years. An excerpt from the pair’s April 7, 2016 interview with Billboard reads:“I’m open to any of it,” guitarist Weir told Billboard during a conference call with reporters. “I think it’s fertile ground. I think only just now have we sort of gotten up to speed. It’s a left foot/right foot kind of deal; We have a lot of ground to cover before we get to that place, but I think we’re getting there. We don’t have any immediate plans, but I know it’s in the back of everybody’s head.”Mayer added that the group members prefer to let the idea of new music come organically rather than trying to force that situation. “If it can state its case for the reason it needs to exist, then I would absolutely be up to doing it,” he explained. “It would have to come out of the earth. It can’t be planted from above the soil. There’s no reason it couldn’t be; I would actually be very interested to see what the band could do as composers and as improvisers — composing through improvisation, I think, is really interesting. But I’m open to anything this band could or wanted to do, as long as it answered that constant question, ‘Well, why?’ And if it has a strong answer, I’d love to do it.”While Hart’s recent statement may be disappointing for some fans, it should be noted that he didn’t rule out the possibility of new original music making its way into the live arena. Considering Dead & Company’s improvisational nature and the ambitious “Drums” > “Space” segments that have found their way into the band’s repertoire, one could argue that every show has new music to offer.
Photo: Jay Sansome/Human BeingDuring Jazz Fest, one will almost certainly get hipped to new artists and bands that are pushing the envelope, taking the scene by surprise, or just doing the damn thing proper—sometimes all of the above. The Eddie Logic Project was a pleasant diversion, as what seemed a novelty turned into some super sick shit with a quickness. DJ Logic juggled breakbeats while Eddie Roberts, Khris Royal, Mike Olmos, Chris Spies, Jermal Watson and company matched the grooves and then launched the jams skyward. That show also put Bay Area bassist Victor Little on my radar, as the dude popped up all over town, all week long.Then there is something to be said for consistency, too. In this case, Karl Denson has made his bones in this city for over two decades now. The man they call “Diesel” has delivered the goods in nearly every room in this town, whether it be with the Greyboy Allstars, his own now-legendary funk/soul band Karl Denson’s Tiny Unvierse, or in any number of combinations and superjams. The band enlisted Stanton Moore and Kenneth Crouch to reprise their “Eat A Bunch of Peaches” revue at the Joy Theater second weekend. I’ve been lucky to catch Karl play at every Jazz Fest I’ve attended, going back to the year 2000, and this year would be no different. To kick off my own Fest 2018, first Saturday we were treated to an old-school KDTU groove-train at the House of Blues in the French Quarter. Old pal Robert Walter’s 20th Congress opened with an updated sound, but Denson and company delivered a classic blend of the sexy, smooth funk of yesteryear, with a dash of the dueling guitar attack of contemporary KDTU, thanks to DJ Williams and Seth Freeman.I stumbled into Maison early on a Wednesday and caught NorCal upstarts El Metate, whose bluesy, boozy rock n’ rare groove turned quite a few heads. On second Sunday, uptown at the Maple Leaf, Pretty Knights, a cadre of immersive NOLA warriors (plus The Disco Biscuits bassist Marc Brownstein) set the famed stage ablaze with a simmering hot take on greasy jamtronica. Similarly, SOUL Brass Band, led by the ubiquitous Derrick “Smoker” Freeman, offered their updated spin on a tradition upstairs at the Nile on the final Monday.This being my sweet sixteenth year blessed to get down to the Jazz Fest, I’ve learned to settle into my own groove, and chase the musicians that I hold dearest. I target a select group of Fest veterans, with a few young bucks mixed in for good measure, and then follow them (around the clock) throughout NOLA, to the best of my stamina and abilities. More often than not, the interests will cross-pollinate, and several of my favorites will inevitably play shows with one another. The usual suspects for this writer remain Adam Deitch, John Medeski, Karl Denson; chances are if those cats are on the gig, yours truly will be in the building. But on the heels of what went down second Saturday at the Music Box Village, it’s high time to add another heavyweight champion to my proverbial Mt. Rushmore of Jazz Fest, and his name is Weedie Braimah.A huge thank you to Fiyawerx Productions, Backbeat Foundation, JuJu Fest, the Blue Nile, Live For Live Music, Boom Boom Room Presents, the Maple Leaf Bar, and, most of all, the city of New Orleans and the incredible artists and fans that make Jazz Fest the best event on the calendar. Please enjoy this look back at the finest musical art this writer took in during 2018’s NOLA Jazz Fest After Dark. It is an honor and a privilege to again tell this story, assisted by phenomenal videos courtesy of Funk It. Le bon temps rouler!Photo: Camille LenainWeedie Braimah and the Essence of Time – Saturday, 5/6/2018 – Music Box VillageBoth onstage and off, master djembefola Weedie Braimah is nothing short of a force of nature. Having witnessed his collaborations with iconic Jazz Fest staples like Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Nth Power, or avant-garde types such as Jonathan Scales Fourchestra and Afro-jazz conjurer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, people knew that Weedie’s early-evening show at the extraordinarily unique Music Box Village would be special. But not even the superhuman buzz that permeated town (on the heels of Mike Dillon’s Punk Rock Consortium show in that same venue one week earlier) could prepare us for the majesty that Weedie Braimah and the Essence of Time unveiled in a nearly two-hour story in song. This show was an instant classic, transcending Jazz Fest to immediately land on the short list of most powerful musical experiences this writer has ever been privileged to enjoy.Braimah—a New Orleans resident who grew up in East St. Louis, Missouri, and spent his formative years in Ghana—congregated a cross-cultural, intercontinental, multi-generational collective of virtuosos to deliver a thrilling narrative of the African diaspora, communicated through spiritual music. The audience was transfixed from beginning to end, scattered about the interactive venue, amid the instruments, players, and art installations. We were very much a part of the proceedings, living within the music itself. Joining the percussionist/purveyor-of-light in this most ambitious mission were his JuJu Fest bredren Luke Quaranta (Toubab Krewe, Megawatt), Raja Kassis (Antibalas, Megawatt) and Sam Dickey (Benyoro), along with Ghost Note and a host of other musicians from the globe over.Of local note, Weedie called on the legendary Bill Summers of Herbie’s Headhunters and NOLA’s own Los Hombres Calientes, for his inimitable styles on Bata. For many years, Braimah has teamed with Amadou Kouyate around the world, and he would join Braimah’s decorated-yet-humble assembly for this journey, as well as serve as narrator. The massive group adorned themselves in appropriately luminous tones and coalesced as one living, breathing, invigorating ensemble.[Video: Funk It]As Weedie later explained to me, the idea behind this performance was to do three things- educate, entertain, and spiritually move the crowd. This righteous conglomerate was about more than just playing folk music, which they certainly did with appropriate reverence and homage. Braimah and his cohorts told the heartbreaking story of his people, a tale that included gospel, jazz, blues, funk, Afro-Cuban, and so much more. The meditative tones of what sounded like a hundred drums ushered in the saga with historical and traditional context.When the group traversed through the wind of the slave trade, tears began to flow amidst the engrossed. Soon the group arrived at a Latin section, and people couldn’t contain themselves, they were contagiously called to dance wildly. By the time the entirety of Ghost Note (Robert “Sput” Searight, Nate Werth, MonoNeon, Jonathan Mones, Peter Knudsen) joined the swollen collective for a furious rollercoaster through tribal-fusion funk, a palpable energy had completely overtaken the village and every beating heart within the Music Box was levitating.The Essence of Time told a riveting story through the universal language, a mystical ride through the African diaspora, by way of what Braimah himself terms “Afro-African Music.” The performance was much more than a recital or a collection of songs; it was a spiritual awakening, an emotional journey through history, space, and time. Thunderous, triumphant rhythms pulsated with wisdom and perspective. The paean of gut-wrenching truth and penetrating potency was received through an open door into the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to step into the otherworldly confines of the Music Box Village. For most of this blessed audience, it was the definitive performance of Jazz Fest 2018, as people came away from Weedie Braimah and the Essence of Time visibly shaken and positively stirred.Weedie Braimah and the Essence of Time Performers:Weedie Braimah – Djembe, CongasAdama Bilorou Dembele – Balafon, DjembeAmadou Kouyate – Kora, Djembe, NarratorLuke Quaranta – Dunun, Kenkeni, BellMunir Zakee – Sangban, Kryn, BellThemba Mkhatshwa – Sangban, KenkeniRaja Kassis – Acoustic GuitarSam Dickey – Djelingoni, GuitarJawara Simon – DjembeSimba Marvin – DjembeBill Summers – Bata DrumsKito Johnson- Bata DrumsGhost Note:Robert ‘Sput’ Searight – Recycled materials Drum SetMono Neon – BassNate Werth – Percussion HousePeter Knudsen- GuitarJonathan Mones- SaxophoneView All[Video: Funk It]NeonMedeski – Monday, 4/30 (late night) – One Eyed JacksMonday night, Boom Boom Room Presents brought together a phenomenal slate at One Eyed Jack’s on Toulouse. After two appetizers, including the popular annual Frequinox show, the main event was a late engagement with NeonMedeski. For the second consecutive year, a fearless team of improvisers and mavericks, captained by the shamanic keyboard maven John Medeski and the enigmatic bassist MonoNeon, descended on NOLA and unleashed a sizzling session that straddled hip-hop and psychedelic jazz with aplomb.The cadre of creatives included Daru Jones, whose Detroit-Deli drum steez is integral to the DNA of this particular venture, and Jones’ energy with Mono-Neon was palpable. Same can be said for the swashbuckling boogaloo and cosmic Crayola box that swirls from keyboardist/Jazz Fest savant Robert Walter, who revels in his role adjacent to the living legend, John Medeski. Few players on the scene embody a pure Jazz-Fest ethos more than Walter, and his contributions on this particular gig were substantial.The chameleon-like Skerik reached into Hard Bop’s closet to serenade us romantically in red, though every once in a while, he reared back for some patented skronk when the situation begged for it. A wildcard was guitarist Marcus Machado, a close collaborator of Jones—unfamiliar to some in the audience, but rest assured, this dude has been turning heads for years. As the night wore on, Machado’s luscious, understated comp licks were sung through a lusty Fender tone, one that can only be described as “buttah”. Jason “DJ Logic” Kibler offered abstract textures and turntable action when the canvas opened up just enough for him to get in there.Jermaine Holmes and Redd Middleton, who grew up singing together in North Jersey churches and are both of D’Angelo and The Vanguard, took turns fronting the band for a couple of Soulquarian-flavored jams. Holmes invoked a celestial take on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come,” Middleton riffed on “We Can Get Down”, and both vocalists added just the right flavor to the unit. Same for a horn player or three, as Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown and any number of others would float on and off the stage over the course of this manic Monday.The assembled collective delivered two hours and forty minutes uninterrupted, slabs on slabs of psychedelic sexy, entirely improvised and unleashed in the moment. This was Be Here Now transmitted through Jones and MonoNeon’s J Dilla-fied filter, focused on creating a vibe, coloring near-but-still-outside the lines, taking chances predicated on moxie, not ego. There’s a difference, and that’s precisely what separates super jams that look good on paper, and nights like these, which just ooze a torrid mysticism.[Video: Funk It]Worship My Organ XXX – Friday, 5/4 (late night) – MaisonOriginally the brainchild of organ maestros Robert Walter and Marco Benevento many Jazz Fest moons ago, for the second weekend, this year John Medeski returned to Boom Boom Room Presents’ popular franchise gig, Worship My Organ XXX. The Worship concept is simple yet abstract, as the band eschews the usual mainstays in bass and guitar, instead employing luxuriant layers of organs and keyboards atop Adam Deitch’s decidedly hip-hop, groove-laden drums. Pile on the spastic, psychotic sax that only comes from Skerik and introduce the choice cuts and turntable colors from DJ Logic, and the all the elements are present for a sordidly tantric odyssey. As Walter explained to me, the concept with Worship is to consciously avoid both playing a song and soloing atop the band. Each player listens carefully, and minimalism owns the night. It’s a blueprint for selfless, fearless improvisational dialogue.With these six demonic hands and three devilish brains leading the lysergic pilgrimage on a dozen keyboards, the potential for anchorless free jazz was tempered by the hard-line and relentless pocket of Deitch’s unwavering pulsations. Adam steadily added new percussion flavors, experimenting with boom-bap, and forcing heads to bob like emergency breaks. Benevento tried his hands on the drum hit before Sir Joe Russo, in town with his Duo foil for two massive Joe Russo’s Almost Dead shows at Mardi Gras World, relieved Deitch for a spell, just as Skerik completed casting another.Medeski, Benevento, and Walter did their best to throw away anything resembling traditional chord changes and instead built cacophonous pantheons of sound, coming to life at the end of long and winding avenues, sourced from riffs and vamps that seemed to almost psychotically catch a fire. Each of the three extraordinary organists was given ample real estate to show their wares, yet none of them claimed the spotlight—content with the role of a sideman. There loomed an unspoken need for low-end theory, but among the trifecta, it remained unsaid, and the pact unbroken, somebody always remembered to get low.There was no bandleader, but Skerik periodically rose from his cauldron sixty feet deep, to deliver the finest in depraved dementia like only he can. Some other players came and went, but the named co-defendents stayed the course, braving the nightmarish bends to arrive at Shangri-La. Every year, Worship My Organ begins their promenade closely connected to time-honored jazz traditions, and then unspools metastasis into an unholy orgy; in adding Medeski, the collective revealed a distilled recipe for haunting the chapel.[Video: Funk It]Megawatt: Afro-Dub Soundclash – Saturday, 4/29 – Blue NileReturning for their second year, Megawatt: Afro-Dub Soundclash performed as part of the amazing JuJu Fest programming, and this time the show was included as part of Backbeat Foundation’s diverse Jazz Fest After Dark menu offered at the Blue Nile. Eclipsing last year’s debut, Megawatt delivered an enthralling two-hour tour of reggae and African dub in a variety of forms, mixing in Afrobeat rhythms amid the island vibrations for a unique elixir.Don’t get it twisted, this is a band, not a superjam, though the contributors read like a veritable murderers row. With Antibalas’ touring axeman Raja Kassis acting as musical director, this selfless assembly of players weaved in and out of Kingston and Lagos, delving deep into roots, dancehall, and lover’s rock before arriving at a few lengthy Tony Allen jams. The team then deftly navigated their way back from the motherland for a strong finish that said nuh romp wid mi.Fronted by the captivating Sierra Leone-born, Brooklyn-bred vocalist Bajah (of the Dry Eye Crew), the group consisted of heavy hitters like Adam Deitch, Borahm Lee, Josh Werner, Weedie Braimah, Luke Quaranta, Khris Royal, and Maurice Brown. Opening with “Kaballah Rock,” it was clear, early and often, that this was a mission, not a small-time thing; Megawatt meant serious bidness. Buju Banton’s cathartic “Not An Easy Road” was a personal fave, and the bloodfire troupe forwarded tomb-rattling dub anthems from Sly & Robbie, Aswad, and more.Saxophonist Khris Royal particularly shined in Megawatt, he stepped up and showed out, his skills within the live reggae jams a product of his tenure with Rebelution and his ever-colorful sound palette. The percussion prowess from Quaranta and Braimah slipped neatly between the riddim brothers, Werner (bass) and Deitch (drums), making for authentic irie dynamics. Keyboardist Lee also seemed to elevate his game with a rudebwoy swagger, as he too is quite comfortable in the yardie idiom. Closer “Champion” (Buju Banton) had the entire dancehall hollering for more fiya, to some of us, his message transformed to more life, more strength. Megawatt’s music embodies that ethos, so let’s hope this krewe is here to stay![Video: Funk It]Maple Leaf All-Stars – Sunday, 4/30 – Maple Leaf BarSunday night, we left J.E.D.I. a little early to head uptown to Oak Street and make sure we caught a good chunk of a superjam that was billed as Maple Leaf All-Stars. The band consisted of a handful of New Orleans finest and funkiest players, including Ivan and Ian Neville, Tony Hall, Raymond Weber, and Derwin “Big D” Perkins. The alchemy between these musicians is something to behold, especially considering they’ve played the NOLA songbook with each other for decades, and their names and voices are etched in the history books and the hearts of so many Jazz Festers.The Leaf is a special, historic room, often oversold and with poor sightlines, yet still the perfect place to rage a funky show in New Orleans. Every year when I make a pilgrimage to Fest, it’s important—really essential—to plug into the NOLA culture, feel the musical heartbeat of those who call the Crescent City home. We can see our favorite national and regional artists the rest of the year, but we are only in NOLA for two-ish weeks annually, and I think it’s imperative to honor and celebrate how we got here. This evening was most certainly one of those occasions, made all the more poignant with Charles Neville’s death a few days before Jazz Fest 2018.Charles’ brother, the Uptown Ruler himself, Cyril Neville, showed up to run these familiar streets and front this all-star band for a few classics, including “Gossip”, “Okey Doke”, and, of course, “Cabbage Alley”. Towards the end, things got very Neville up in there as Mean Willie Green took over the drums for “Junk Man”, and Cyril unleashed roaring energy on the mic. There’s nothin’ like hearing the muscle-car mojo of Ivan Neville belting out “Welcome to New Orleans” while his screamin’ B3 rolls out the purple, green, and gold carpet. Tony Hall took the lead on a few jams as well, and his bass playing was the glue between Ivan, Ray, and Ian—the OG Dumpstaphunk squad. Yet it was the gospelized chops and spiritualized essence that flows through guitarist Derwin “Big D Perkins”—he of the chicken-scratch funk and greasy-fried melodies—that really filled us up.[Video: Miles Pastuhov] The Nth Power – Sunday, 4/30 & Monday, 5/7 – Maple Leaf Bar & Blue NileA large group of bands descends on Jazz Fest every year and spread themselves far and wide around the city, but no band really takes NOLA Jazz Fest by storm annually quite like The Nth Power. Born of a late-night gig during Jazz Fest at the Maple Leaf some half-decade ago, the band has continually returned to Jazz Fest in a variety of incarnations to bless the people with their special gospel.Over the past year, the band has been touring as a trio, with the core members Nikki Glaspie (drums/vocals), Nicholas Cassarino (guitar/vocals), and Nate Edgar (bass) taking on a harder-edged sound and a tangibly more aggressive approach in the live element. The new material reflects this evolution, but given that it was Jazz Fest, inevitably their musical family would join them onstage at a variety of gigs over the duration of the festivities. This year saw Nth return to Tipitina’s Instruments A Comin’ and also their proper Jazz Fest Fairgrounds debut. As is their custom, The Nth Power delivered a third-annual tribute show at One Eyed Jack’s, though this year, it was the death of close friend and longtime collaborator with whom Nate and Nikki had recently reconnected that (appropriately) inspired “Nth Utero” to pay homage to Nirvana.However, it would be the next night, super late uptown on Oak Street, that this writer got his first dose of Nth magic this year. The trio welcomed the likes of Rob Marscher (keys), Tony Hall (vocals), and even the Berkelee guitar wizard himself, Jeffrey Lockhart, to join them onstage at the Maple Leaf. Lock is a teacher and beloved figure in the lives of many who make musical waves in the Crescent City, and this was finally Jeffrey’s Jazz Fest debut in 2018, At both OEJ and the Maple Leaf, Lockhart joined The Nth Power to add his brilliant and unique axe attack to their always ethereal equation.At the Leaf (and again, the final Monday at their customary Blue Nile gig), The Nth Power summoned the intestinal fortitude to unveil thrilling medleys from their previous tributes to Earth, Wind & Fire and Bob Marley. Their whirlwind take on “Shining Star” is worth the airfare to and from New Orleans alone, but coupled with the enchanting Nesta classic “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock)”, and you can begin to taste the sauce.Glaspie and Cassarino often receive much of the adulation thrown towards The Nth Power, but bassist Nate Edgar is likely the only cat in town that will quote Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” and chase it with a Bad Brains riff in the same musical thought. Despite their ever-evolving lineups, one fact that never changes is that The Nth Power loves you, and always has. Their truth and our treasure is forever found within the band’s spellbinding original music, brazenly pouring their hearts out, from the first verse, all the way up until it’s time to get on that plane and go home.[Video: Miles Pastuhov]FIYA POWA – Thursday, 5/3 (late night) – MaisonFiyawerx Productions can be counted on each and every Jazz Fest to provide a tasty selection of NOLA-centric nights out on the town, and 2018 would be no different. Their signature greasy funk formula was on display three times over the second week of Fest. Second Thursday is the annual FIYA POWA threaux-down, and once again the party was going down at Maison on Frenchman Street.The bedrock for this annual Jazz Fest supergroup band came together behind two generations of local icons—bassist George Porter Jr., keyboardist Ivan Neville, and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore. The blueprint is a simple one: grab some of the baddest NOLA cats in the business and some superstars from around the country, and run through a songbook that just about everybody knows inside out. Sometimes at festivals, this sort of gig can be a recipe for the underwhelming, if everybody onstage hasn’t bought in. Yet on this particular night, just as second weekend was getting underway, there was no denying that this was pure, unadulterated firepower personified.Ivan’s Dumspta-brotha Tony Hall strapped on a guitar, and Roosevelt “The Doctor” Collier sat down with his roarin’ pedal steel. Horns were accounted for with authority, Karl Denson’s tenor and alto sax leading the charge, as well as Big Sam Williams on trombone and Maurice “Mo Betta” Brown on trumpet. A new face on this scene, BK Jackson (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave) stepped up for some tenor action.Rising star Andrew Block sat in on guitar for “Them Changes”, as did Break Science’s Borahm Lee for The Meters’ “Funky Miracle.”The setlist was fairly standard, but the performance was anything but. A sold-out house enjoyed a tremendous tour through the history of funk and some of NOLA’s time honored traditions. The krewe wandered into more beloved classics, namely some Bill Withers, Sly Stone, and even a dash of proper rock ‘n’ roll in Neil Young’s “Down By the River”.[Video: Funk It]Adam Deitch Quartet – Tuesday, 5/2 – Blue NileMy first proper Lettuce family affair was the annual Adam Deitch Quartet hit on Tuesday night at the Blue Nile as part of Backbeat Foundation’s Jazz Fest programming. The venerable drummer wunderkind brings the Shady Horns (Zoidis and Bloom) to his jazz project known as AD4, rounded out by the Bay Area’s B3 bully Wil Blades.The third consecutive Jazz Fest engagement for AD4 was an astonishing ride to the far side, yet what we have come to expect from Adam if he’s going to put his name on the marquee. Over the course of one hundred minutes, Deitch and his trusty cohorts unveiled a series of mouth-watering originals, including “Egyptian Secrets”, the psychedelic hip-hop masterpiece and title track to this project’s forthcoming debut album. As the band worked their way through this hypnotic composition, one could only begin to dream of a Pete Rock or DJ Premier mining this gold for luscious samples.Ashlin Parker joined Bloom for dueling trumpets for a “Rocky Mountain Boogaloo”, and later Eric Krasno appeared for a swaggy run through Michael Jackson’s buoyant “The Way You Make Me Feel”. An extra nod is due to Hammond hero Wil Blades, whose feet were driving the lane with sturdy basslines while both hands were liberating the masses with warm, opiate organs from beginning to end..[Video: Funk It]Big Lil Baby Jesus Peasant Party – Wednesday, 5/2 (late night) – Howlin’ WolfAnother phenomenal side project for the Lettuce krewe is bassist Jesus Coomes’ annual Big Lil Baby Jesus Peasant Party, an event that took this writer’s honors for finest late-night excursion in 2017. This year, the festivities were moved to the Howlin’ Wolf, which had both positive and negative consequences. The Peasant Party was the final installment to the annual Megalomaniacs Ball, traditionally held at the Wolf on the Wednesday of the daze between.The band’s lineup once again consisted of the de facto bandleader Jesus on bass, his older brother Tycoon on drums; Ryan Zoidis on sax and synths; Khris Royal on keys, sax, synths, bass guitar; and Borahm Lee on keys and synths. The band of brothers and badasses was blessed with contributions from Adam Deitch, longtime ally and Berkelee-bruiser Aaron Bellamy, and upcoming NOLA drummer AJ Hall.Unfortunately, the Howlin’ Wolf wasn’t the ideal room for the vibe that this sort of improvised session requires; it was too big and hollow, and the situation suffered for it. Luckily, the music did not suffer even a little bit, and the highest highs of 2018’s Peasant Party were as good, if not better, than the mystical Maple Leaf show last year.For the last forty-five minutes, the band and its small but engrossed audience turned the proverbial corner to take another mind-bending expedition into the annals of J Dilla, Flying Lotus, golden-era hip-hop, progressive psychedelia, and beyond. Tycoon delivered a choice assortment of classic breaks and wonky, filtered beats underneath baby bro’s adventurous boom-bap basslines, while Zoid and Khris Royal traded soaring leads and luminescent licks all night. Borahm Lee was the glue that held it all together, as he and Royal offered layers on layers on layers of sound design from a variety of keyboards, organs, and synths.[Video: Funk It]Lettuce’s Rage!Fest – Thursday, 5/4 – Joy TheaterFor many moons, Lettuce booked two or three shows during Jazz Fest, offering a variety of options to see the band in different rooms around the city. For the last couple of years, the band has performed one flagship gig in NOLA during Fest—an annual, traditional two-set “Evening with Lettuce” christened Rage!Fest, and held on Thursday of second weekend at the glorious Joy Theater.Eschewing an opening act and opting for the all-vinyl stylings of DJ Soul Sister to warm up the crowd, Lettuce confidently asked for the spotlight to be turned squarely on them for three full hours. Demanding their audience’s undivided attention, Lettuce returned the serve with vociferous force, captaining another fantastic voyage to the netherworlds of psychedelic hip hop funk.[Video: Funk It]The first frame began with a furious “Blast Off”. A 17-minute catharsis through “Purple Cabbage” was the set’s centerpiece, beginning in its “Yancey” roots and spiraling exponentially into sacred geometry in sound. Towards the end of the first set, the K9 Brass Band, made up of youngsters from NOLA’s Booker T. Washington High School, lined up at the front of the stage. Trumpet player Eric Benny Bloom acted as onstage conductor, and the band dropped into their unreleased, future-bass banger “Trap”, as Deitch’s organic 808’s and Jesus’ titanic bass bombs made di youth dem secure. The Shady Horns then steered the K9 Brass Band into Cardi B’s mega-hit “Bodak Yellow”, and the entire Joy Theater proceeded to lose their shit. Somehow, from within this bedlam, Lettuce plus the K9 found their way back to “Trap” and finished the free-wheeling first set to a deafening ovation.Voltron was in the “4th Dimension” to set off the second set, and the band dropped this hip-hop heater hot off the press. The family welcomed Jesus Coomes’ brother Tycoon on a variety of percussion throughout the gig; Tyler Coomes has a certain connection with his brother and drummer Deitch that allows him to jump into the fray with (relative) ease. Same can be said for founding member and brother-in-Lett Eric Krasno. The six-string superstar stood side-stage, admiring his once and former squadron’s muscular frame during “The Force” (which teased the brand-new “Zoid Void”) before grabbing his trusty Gibson SG and stepping into the classic dual-guitar dance of “Last Suppit.” It was glorious to see Kraz and Shmeeans onstage together, wheeling and dealing once again. The boys rolled up a “Kron Dutch” for Kraz to get nice and irie, and it sounded like “Gang Ten” hadn’t missed a beat. RAGE!Fest mission accomplished.[Video: Funk It]Break Science Live Band – Saturday, 5/5 (late night) – One Eyed JacksTaking the stage after a juicy Sonic Bloom hit featuring Eric Krasno, Wil Blades, Alvin Ford Jr., Chris Bullock and more, Break Science Live Band returned to Jazz Fest After Dark in 2018, playing to a packed One Eyed Jack’s late night on second Saturday. Deitch and Borahm Lee once again enlisted a large chunk of Lettuce-funk for their live band incarnation.Jesus, Zoidis and Shmeeans were happy to oblige their boys with an explosive get-down to put an exclamation point on a gratifying couple of weeks in the Big Easy. Break Science placed a blazer beam on material from their most recent LP, Grid of Souls, and many of these songs took on a new elevation when performed by the live band, especially in the dead of the night- on second weekend of Jazz Fest- with a squad firin’ on all cylinders. The boys were sure to dust of a classic BrkSci banger or two, for the heads who’ve been holding them down from jumpstreet.People were wildin’ out in the club, as the boys blended Break Science’s grown ‘n’ sexy electronic flavors with the vibe and alchemy that comes from Jesus, Shmeeans, and the Shady Horns. This made for a unprecedented dance party that was brimming with energy and block-rockin’ beats. Borahm in particular took to the skies throughout the thunderous concert, ripping up the Rhodes and a wall of synths, while maintaining the programmed parts that define their sound.Meanwhile, the Lett krewe got crunkadelic everywhere around Lee. Highlights included “Reno”, “Android Love”, and a blast from the Break Science past, busting out their long-shelved rework of YES’s ‘80s hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. This was the third consecutive Break Science Live Band hoedown in NOLA during Jazz Fest, and I suspect many heads would agree, this was the project’s finest and most focused hour.[Video: Funk It]Herbie Hancock Tribute – Sunday, 5/7 – MaisonOn the final night of Jazz Fest, Live For Live Music threw two phenomenal shows. The late-night “Purple Party” tribute to the dearly departed Prince sold out and stole the headlines, and rightfully so. It was a massive throwdown of mammoth proportions that toasted the revered icon into the heavens with the ultimate respect and admiration. Yet earlier in the evening, a mercilessly funky affair took place in the very same room, paying homage to a living legend who still walks and grooves among us: the decorated luminary Herbie Hancock.Joey Porter, keyboardist of The Motet, brought together bandmate and bass maestro Garrett Sayers, as well as Ryan Zoidis, Robert “Sput” Searight, and Nate Werth, and the assembled players took on a lion’s share of beloved jams from Herbie’s funk era. Having already wound this up once before (sans Zoidis) at Brooklyn Comes Alive, the band was already quite familiar with one another, and this quintessential material is forever burned into the recesses of their collective minds.Peter Knudsen (of Ghost Note, and The Positive Agenda) slid through with some subtle, choice contributions, and the guitarist was seemingly in all the right places all week long. As for the show itself, the results were staggering, if predictable, with terrifically groovy and well-greased runs through Headhunter workouts like “Chameleon”, “Actual Proof”, “Watermelon Man”. They closed it out with the rumbling funk earthquake “Hang Up Your Hang Ups”, and we spilled into the street and down to d.b.a. to take in some Frequinox.J.E.D.I. – Sunday, 4/30 – MaisonFor J.E.D.I. (Jazz Electronic Dance Improvisation), Brazilian Girls drummer and David Byrne collaborator Aaron Johnston enlisted the likes of the Shady Horns’ Ryan Zoidis and Eric Benny Bloom, Break Science’s Borahm Lee, The Disco Biscuits’ bassist Marc Brownstein, and more to present an extremely vibey, very danceable, and downright delicious one-hundred minutes of sizzling improvised dance jams. The Nth Power’s Nate Edgar, who was in this project in its infancy, sat in late in the show, among other members of Byrne’s touring band. A deft departure from the superjam norm, as high art improvisation and world music stylings took flight on Frenchman.[Video: Steve d]New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars – Saturday, 5/5 – Vaughn’sThe New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars are another local music and culture institution that tears it down each and every year, and there’s nothing more authentically NOLA than a proper get-down at Vaughn’s in the Bywater. On this particular evening The Yiddish folk/Nawlinz’ funk troubadours were led by guitarist Jonathan Freilich, accordian Glen Hartman, and Galactic’s sax madman Ben Ellman. NOKAS broke in a new drummer Brendan Bull, who was stepping into some rather large shoes; both Stanton Moore and Mean Willie Green have held down the drum seat over the past quarter century. Local hero Dan Ostreicher (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave.) was blazing hot on the baritone sax. The two-plus hour rager in the Treme was proof in the pudding; this Crescent City mishpucha is showing nary a sign of slowing down, as new troops are always at the ready to carry on the funky Klezmer traditions.Photo: Dino PerrucciPapa Grows Funk – Monday, 5/7 – Tipitina’s UptownThe cagey veterans, led by NOLA funk icons John “Papa” Gros and June Yamagishi, returned for a reunion of their storied post-Fest Monday night affair, held this year at Tips instead of its former home the Maple Leaf. Papa Grows Funk was rounded out by Jason Mingledorff, Marc Pero, and Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander on the drum seat. A thoroughly Big Easy way to close out Jazz Fest 2018, with this greasy, loving look in the rear view mirror. The band recalled their fiery form of yesteryear, calling up “Do U Want It?” as an opener, scorching through a set that had Tips packed with primarily locals howling every word back at the boys. “Junker Man” really tore the house down proper.[Video: Mic Clark]FestMob – Tuesday, 5/1 – Blue NileAfter Adam Deitch Quartet, we ventured upstairs for the time-honored Crescent City brotherhood FestMob, fronted by the short-in-stature but huge-in-personality Steven Bernstein of SexMob fame. Bernstein’s wailing trumpet and feel-good vibes led a contingent of Kirk Joseph (sousaphone), Jonathan Freilich (guitar), Will Bernard (guitar), and Mike Dillon on drums. Bernstein composed a song on the spot, and Benny Bloom, fresh from the AD4 hit downstairs, hopped on along with two other (mystery?) saxophonists, and the boys second-lined their way off the stage and onto the Blue Nile Balcony in true Crescent City style.[Video: FunkItBlog] Maurice “Mobetta” Brown & Soul’d U Out featuring Talib Kweli & DJ Scratch – Saturday, 5/5 – Three Keys at Ace HotelMaurice “Mobetta” Brown & Soul’d U Out brought a taste of classic hip-hop and upscale soul to the Ace Hotel with a slammin’ set featuring rap royalty Talib Kweli and DJ Scratch. Mo Betta was musical director and soared on the trumpet, while spitting verses amid Khris Royal and Irvin Pierce (saxophones), Shea Pierre (keyboard), Marcus Machado (guitar), Max Moran (bass), and Thomas Glass (drums). Kweli even had a few choice words for his longtime friend Kanye West before launching into a blistering rendition of Yeezy’s Talib anthem “Get By”. Marcus King Band keyboardist DeShawn D’Vibes Alexander slipped onstage for a choice sit-in as well.[Video: FunkItBlog]John Medeski’s Mad Skillet – Wednesday, 5/2 (late night) – MaisonBorn of a late-night Jazz Fest rager in 2015, John Medeski reconvenes his vehicle Mad Skillet annually in New Orleans, and each year they benefit by more and more groove workouts. In 2017, the keyboard scientist took Mad Skillet overseas, touring in Europe to audiences totally slack-jawed by their inventive playing. With the help of NOLA’s greasiest trigger-man, Terence Higgins, on drums, sousaphone svengali Kirk Joseph pumping out Crescent City low-end theory, and axe-man Will Bernard keeping things spicy on hollow-body guitar, this was a recipe for rumblin’ deep into the French Quarter night. The band performed a healthy mix of bluesy jazz, occasional Medeski, Martin & Wood tunes, covers with both rock and funk sensibilities, all drizzled over Higgins’ shimmying NOLA shuffle.[Video: FunkItBlog]Special thanks to Randy Bayers and Funk It Blog for the abundance of amazing video footage!Words: B. Getz A tradition like no other, Jazz Fest in New Orleans is an underground culture and lifeblood all its own. Beginning with and anchored by the traditional festival at the racetrack fairgrounds, this entire event is brimming with the best of music and cuisine for two action packed weekends. Each and every spring, we step inside a brave new world, a supernatural gathering in the musical mecca of the Crescent City. A celebration that welcomes any and all practitioners of improvisational live music, from the festival to the nightclubs to the streets, smothering us into her proverbial bosom for nearly two weeks. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the gift that keeps on giving.Die-hard music fans of all stripes and sizes flock to the Bayou and fill its plenitude of live music venues on a quest for the finest purveyors of vibe. For a certain slice of the Fest population, the true magnetism that draws them in is the musical mayhem that takes place in the clubs after dark. All night long until the sun comes up, the biggest ballers and brightest stars sink into the Big Easy, sharing a piece of themselves and channeling the spirits through dialogues in sound. It’s a righteous prophecy that keeps people coming back year after year, to these same clubs, to hear these beloved artisans repeatedly co-create an authentic tapestry that is never, ever the same thing twice. A healthy gumbo of NOLA’s best and dozens of the finest players from around the country come together in the nerve center of improvisational music, the Super Bowl of Rage, it’s Jazz Fest beybeh… Welcome to New Orleans!Photo: Jay Sansome/Human BeingBeneath the magical collaborations, the copious imbibing, the crazy performances at even crazier hours, the crystallized allure of Jazz Fest is undoubtedly its community—a loose-knit collective of kindred souls who share a thirst for the thrilling. Every year, it seems we mourn a beloved artist who recently passed (Charles Neville) and sometimes also a member of the greater festival family (Stephanie Devine Rath). This mutual belly of musicians and fans annually swarms together like a family, huddling to honor fallen comrades, dancing to celebrate life, spreading the culture(s), and emboldening the free exchange of artistic traditions. This community has become transformative and again was lovingly on display in brilliant living colors all over New Orleans during Fest.In one form or another, I feel it necessary to add this disclaimer to my Jazz Fest After Dark feature every year. One human cannot possibly take in all the divergent musical offerings available over the course of two weeks in NOLA. With respect to three days at the Fairgrounds, and in spite of my fervent efforts to hit as many shows as I could (without overdoing it), inevitably I was not present for a number of incredible events that took place this year during Jazz Fest. But, as is custom, word travels back about the magic that transpired. Among these missed opportunities were Robert Glasper Rotation Trio at the Ace Hotel, Daze Between Band at One Eyed Jack’s, Turkuaz’s Wings Tribute with Denny Laine at Tipitina’s, Matador Soul Sounds at the House of Blues, Col. Bruce Hampton Tribute at the Maple Leaf, F*ck 2017, Robert “Sput” Searight’s annual “Sputacular” event at the Blue Nile, the NOLA debut of Walk Talk (a new project from Pimps of Joytime vocalist Mayteana Morales), Polyrhythmics at Maison, Ideateam’s breakfast jam at the Howlin’ Wolf, IKO All-Stars: Without A Shrimp Net at the Joy Theater, and, most notably, Greyboy All-Stars at Preservation Hall’s Midnight Preserves. This astounding assortment of unique-to-Jazz Fest shows that I was absent for is a clear and present testament to the magnificent menu of music made possible over this period.
On May 18th and 19th, the Jay Cobb Anderson Band took to Denver for two stand-out nights of music. Jay is best known for his work with the beloved and quickly rising West Coast band, Fruition. For these special solo shows in Denver, Anderson invited many familiar friends along for the ride, including his Fruition bandmates, Tyler Thompson and Jeff Leonard, as well as the band’s frequent collaborator, Brad Parsons, and many others. However, this wasn’t the only reason that Anderson and company were in town, as Anderson went on to play with Elephant Revival during their final farewell show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on May 20th.Cobb’s run with his solo band—which saw support from Brad Parsons Band and TK & The Holy Know-Nothings—took place at Denver’s iconic independent venue, Cervantes’. Cervantes’ has become a special place for Fruition and the band’s extended musical family, given that the dual venue is owned by the renowned Colorado talent buyer, Scott Morrill, who has become a friend to the group over the years. Morrill has always been a fan and a big supporter of the band. Over the years, he’s advocated for them and helped them grow, offering Fruition gigs before they began performing at legendary venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and climbing the bills of nationally renowned festivals like High Sierra, Electric Forest, and Northwest String Summit.While Jay Cobb Anderson was in Denver for these shows, Morrill and Anderson had a moment to sit down, catch up, and talk earnestly with one another. You can read the interview below. For those who missed out on Jay Cobb Anderson’s appearance at Red Rocks earlier this month, you can catch Fruition at the legendary outdoor amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado, on August 18th, where they’ll support fan-favorite Americana act, Railroad Earth. For more information about Fruition and Railroad Earth’s upcoming Red Rocks show in August, head here.Scott Morrill: So Jay, let’s start by talking about your songwriting process. I know you spend a lot of time writing songs with both bands you just played with last weekend: Brad Parsons Band and TK & The Holy Know-Nothings. You guys are so close and it seems like you wouldn’t have to schedule time to write together—you’d just end up late night with your guitars. Is that accurate?Jay Cobb Anderson: That’s pretty much always how it has happened, whether it’s late at night or in the daytime. Brad [Parsons] used to live with us, and I live with Taylor [Kingman] still, so it makes it really easy. We’re constantly playing music. You wake up in the morning, and someone’s working on a song. It’s happening all the time. It makes it really easy to collaborate. Sometimes, I’ll poke my head in Taylor’s room and be like, “I got this thing I’m working on! What do you think? What should I do?” We’ll hash stuff out. Sometimes, things come really quick when we’re at a bar or something. But yeah, it is all very natural and it always has been, because all of us are dedicated songwriters. It’s what we do.Brad Parsons & Taylor Kingman – “Desert Rose”[Video: Mark’s Memories]Scott: How did you first get to know those guys?Jay: Brad I’ve known for a long time. He’s from the same place I’m from in Idaho—Lewiston, Idaho. He was actually at my first show ever, when I was 13. He was a high schooler, which was intimidating. I was like, “Oh, man…” because I knew Brad Parsons. He was always a great musician and known around town. But we didn’t become friends until way later, until I was about 22 or so, when he started coming to our home pub, Hogan’s in Clarkston, right across the river from Lewiston. They’re all in one valley.It wasn’t until a little later that he asked me if he could buy some weed from me, and we became friends. I was like, “No way, dude,” because I didn’t think he smoked, but then, he came over to my house and finally peer pressured me into selling him weed, and then we started jamming. From that point on, we became really really good friends and started a band called The Villains. Later on, I moved to Portland and kind of talked him into moving out there. Then, we started another band called The Bell Boys together, and we did that for a long time until that band split apart. So that’s how I’ve known Brad.Taylor, I met him at Horning’s Hideout in Oregon, at a festival called The Raindance. There’s this new band on the bill called The Hill Dogs. I was sick, I believe, and we headlined the show late night. After the show, there was this kid that came up to me with his neck tattoo and was like, “Man, I love your music. I’ve listened to it for a long time. I just wanted to meet you and say thank you, you put on a great show.” And I was like, “Oh, thanks!”, you know, and then went to bed pretty early that night. The next morning, I woke up, sleeping in a car, and I heard this music coming from down the hill. And I was like, “What the fuck is that? I have to go.” So I got up as fast as I could and ran down the hill and it was The Hill Dogs playing, Taylor’s band. So I’d met him the night before but I had no idea how talented he was.Scott: How old was Taylor at that point? He was probably pretty young since he’s 25 now. Jay: He was 19 or 20. I got his contact information and said I’d love to play some shows with you. The first show I played with him was a Villains show actually. Brad was on drums. But yeah, we played at the Goodfoot Pub in Portland with The Hill Dogs, and none of them could stay and listen to us because none of them were over 21. So, it was like this hilarious thing. The band was so tight and so talented and original.Scott: Well, you probably have a ton of stories about the two of them. Are there any that stand out as especially funny and memorable?Jay: There definitely are a ton of stories, especially since we live together and play together so much, too. The one from Taylor that sticks out… he wrote this song called “The Night That I Stole My Own Guitar”. I was there that night when everything happened. He played a show at Mississippi Studios with The Hill Dogs. After the show was over, we all went across the street to a buddy of mine’s place on Mississippi, and it just turned into a raging party really fast.He’d had his guitar with him at that party, but then later after the party, he’d forgotten that he’d put the guitar in his friend’s trunk. The next day, he wakes up, he looks in his car. No guitar. So he freaks out about the whole thing. He posted something online about it, because it’s this beautiful old Gibson from the ’50s. It’s priceless basically. And it ended up getting shared over 1,000 times on Facebook, to the point where the news heard about it and took him on the local news channel. Like, “Taylor Kingman, local musician, had his guitar stolen out of the back of his trunk.”There he is on the news… [Jay takes a long break to laugh] …talking about how his guitar got stolen. This is like a week later, mind you. Then the next day after the segment, his buddy finally just sends him a picture of his guitar in his trunk, and goes, “Whoops!”Scott: Closed the case on that one.Jay: Yep, closed the case on that one. That’s just one of the many, many stories of Taylor. The one of Brad that’s sticking out to me right now is a thing that happened last weekend at the show. There was a fan that came to the show, and he came there a little early. Brad was walking past him and was on the phone talking. The guy was trying to get Brad to take a picture of him and his buddy, because he hadn’t seen his buddy in forever. Brad said no because he was on the phone and he was busy. Later that night when we’re playing our set, we invite Brad out for the TK & The Holy Know-Nothings set to sit-in and sing with us, and there’s the guy in the front row just flipping him off. Not saying a word. The whole time Brad was up on stage, this guy was just unwaveringly giving him the bird. It was amazing.Scott: You said you compare Brad to Larry David?Jay: I compare Brad to Larry David, a lot. He has things like that happen to him. Crazy little happenstance moments where he thinks everything’s okay and then, in the end, something strange like that happens, and it’s funny.Brad Parsons Band with Andy Thorn – “When The Morning Comes” – Cervantes’ Other Side – Denver, CO – 3/24/2017[Video: Kyle Isaac]Scott: [laughs] To everyone else.Jay: Right. It’s funny to everyone else.Scott: Amazing, so let’s talk about Jay Cobb Anderson Band a little bit. I know how many songs you write and how you need another outlet to play those songs because Fruition can’t really play all of them. Is there a difference in the way you write music for yourself versus how you write them for Fruition?Jay: Not really. What happens most of the time with the Jay Cobb Anderson Band material is that I’ll have a bunch of songs that I’ve been sitting on for a while. Like you said, a Fruition album isn’t going to be all Jay songs because there are two other songwriters. So I just have all these songs kind of sitting there, and I’m continually writing tunes too. It gets to a point where I want to play all these other songs, and if Fruition can’t fit them on an album, then I’ll go out and play them.A lot of the new stuff that I come up with, I’ll go out and play them as a pre-requisite to Fruition. I’ll see if they work out and see if the band wants to take on any of the new tunes. That’s what happened with the last album, Watching It All Fall Apart. I think the Jay Cobb Anderson Band was playing probably at least three of the tunes, maybe even four, that ended up being on that album before Fruition had ever touched them. So it’s kind of a good jumping point to see if anything is going to take and see what kind of songs we like.What’s great is that Tyler and Jeff are both in the band, so three-fifths of Fruition already knows the tune. We get to hash out the arrangements and then present them to the band when we’re about to cut a new album. They can listen to all the stuff we’ve done and go, “We want that one, we want this one, we want that one.” So it’s a pick-and-choose thing from that point on. That’s how that usually works.Jay Cobb Anderson Band – Cervantes’ Other Side – Denver, CO – 5/18/2018[Video: Kyle Isaac]Scott: With all this material, are you guys going to be going into the studio anytime soon? Can we expect any releases from Jay Cobb Anderson Band?Jay: Definitely. I have been recording a bunch of tracks with Tyler, just in the basement of the house where we rehearse and where he records a lot. We have about 18 tracks at this point, but I’m still not quite satisfied with the direction of stuff. There are a couple of ideas that I want to do. For one, I want to do an acoustic album of my stuff. The second one, I kind of want to do all the weird freaky stuff that doesn’t really fit on a Fruition album or anything like that. But yes, there are plans to do it. They’re loose right now. We’re hashing out ideas at the moment, but I’m really excited to get some stuff done and released.Scott: So we’ll say, before the end of 2018, we’re going to see something.Jay: Before the end of 2018, you will see something.Scott: I’m finding out things for myself here. This is good. So, are you currently working on any other side projects at the moment?Jay: I’m in TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, as you know. I’m really really excited about that band. I’m going to try to dedicate as much as my time as possible to it, because I believe in the songs so much and the vibe of the whole thing. It’s a really original sound. Other than that, side project-wise, I don’t really have time. But I’ll sit in with anybody that I can, you know? If they ask.Scott: For the TK project, how many songs do you guys write together in that versus Taylor’s own songs?Jay: It’s kind of a conscious thing on my part to make it, and I think on Taylor’s part too—to make it more about all of Taylor’s material. He has such great stuff, and I love it. There are times when we’ve collaborated on tunes, and we’ll continue to do that. He’s talked about throwing some of my tunes in there, but I’m a little reluctant because I just like his vibe so much. When it comes to co-writing, there’s already some of that and there’s bound to be more.TK and The Holy Know-Nothings – Cervantes’ Other Side – Denver, CO – 5/18/2018[Video: Kyle Isaac]Scott: Like Two Dudes.Jay: Like “Two Dudes”—that’s a classic tune.Scott: To bring it back to Fruition, you guys have been growing at a very fast pace all over the country. You just went on the road with Jack Johnson, and you just released your album, Watching It All Fall Apart. What are you most excited about right now, as far as Fruition’s progress is concerned?Jay: Hm, I think I’m most excited about getting back in the studio and recording more. We’re ready to release an EP already that’s already been recorded. So I’m excited for that. More than that, I really want to get back into the studio and cut some more stuff, because there’s just stuff waiting to go. So stay tuned! Don’t miss out on Fruition and Railroad Earth’s upcoming Red Rocks show on August 18th in Morrison, Colorado. For more information about the show and for ticketing, head here. For more information on Jay Cobb Anderson, head to his Facebook fan page here or to his personal Bandcamp here. For more information about Fruition, head to their website here. For more information on Brad Parsons, head to the Brad Parsons Band’s website here. For more information on TK & The Holy Know-Nothings, head to their Facebook page here.
On Wednesday night, Phil Lesh began a two-night Phil & Friends run at his Terrapin Crossroads venue in San Rafael, CA. Today, he’s announced that the run’s second and final night tonight, Thursday, January 24th, will be webcast via Nugs.tv for fans across the country to enjoy from the comfort of their couches.Phil’s lineup of Friends for tonight’s show is an impressive one, featuring guitar legend John Scofield, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead guitarist Scott Metzger, multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby and drummer Alex Koford (both of whom play with Phil’s Terrapin Family Band), and drummer Tony Leone.You can order your webcast for tonight’s Phil & Friends show by heading to the Nugs website here. The webcast is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. PST/11 p.m. EST.Later this year, Lesh will once again team with Scofield and an exciting cast of players for his annual birthday bash at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, set to take place on March 14th, 15th, and 16th. For more information on the various upcoming Phil Lesh shows, head to his website here.
On Thursday, Phil Lesh announced that he will one again host his Terrapin Nation Seder alongside a group of Terrapin Crossroads regulars.On the fourth night of Passover, Monday, April 22nd, Terrapin Crossroads will welcome guests for a special seder in the park, followed by a night of music and dancing in the Grate Room. Lesh has recruited guitarists Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz and Ross James, keyboardist Scott Guberman, vocalist Jeannette Ferber, and drummer Ezra Lipp for the musical portion of the event.The announcement reads,On Monday, April 22nd, Terrapin Nation will celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover with a unique night of dining in the park, and dancing in the Grate Room, Terrapin-style!Tickets to Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Nation Seder are now on sale here.For a full list of Lesh’s upcoming tour dates and ticketing information, head to his website.
It was a change for the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. In a space that has hosted enough leaders and politicians to rival CNN, suddenly there was song.Negro spirituals by the group DivinePURPOSE filled the hall Dec. 4 as Henry Louis Gates Jr. led the ninth annual Du Bois Medal ceremony, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute‘s highest honor, which goes to individuals whose work has made a significant contribution to African and African-American culture. Gates, director of the institute and the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, called the event, which was co-sponsored by the Institute of Politics, “the biggest of the year.”The music was just part of the uplifting but poignant commemoration, sobered by the death a month ago of one of the honorees, Cambridge storytelling legend Hugh M. “Brother Blue” Hill ’48. Blue was a decades-long fixture around Boston and Cambridge, renowned for his tales, which he spun while wearing his trademark bright blue clothing and a butterfly necklace. Blue’s widow, Ruth Edmonds Hill, accepted his medal for what Gates described as “his desire to build a better world, one story at a time.”Writer and journalist Calvin Trillin was on hand to present the award to his friend, journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, whom he first met in Georgia, when Hunter-Gault was 19 and “already sassy,” he said.Hunter-Gault and Hamilton E. Holmes were the first blacks admitted to the University of Georgia in 1961, ending segregation there, amid riots and controversy.“I was a reporter then, covering the Civil Rights struggle,” Trillin recalled, “and I noticed that, even at that age, she had the ability to stand outside what was happening to her and observe it ironically.”Trillin thanked Hunter-Gault for his “education in the South.” He said, “I thought I had a pretty good understanding of segregation,” but was ultimately schooled when Hunter-Gault informed him of an unpleasant train ride she’d had, and Trillin replied, “I thought that was supposed to be a great train?” Hunter-Gault responded, “Not where we have to sit.”“I realized I hadn’t understood much about segregation until then,” said Trillin. “I’m happy to say that, partly because of her efforts, she can sit anywhere she pleases.”“I actually feel quite at home,” said Hunter-Gault, accepting her medal. “I feel as though I am a child of Du Bois, and I will wear this proudly.”William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, introduced another award winner, New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert, saying that Herbert strove to “arouse the consciousness of the masses with his stories on social justice,” and labeled him a “humble man, and a great listener.”“Many of Bob Herbert’s articles are about people in trouble, often through no fault of their own, and their misfortunes are not rare,” said Wilson. “And Herbert insightfully traces these problems to abuses of power and social injustice, not only in this country, but around the world.”Herbert argued his own humility, joking that newspaper columnists need “the arrogance to rant and rave 100 or more times a year.”“But I do feel humble tonight,” he said, noting that his father — just one generation back — could’ve never have held Herbert’s jobs.Also honored were philanthropists Daniel and Joanna S. Rose, who helped to fund many educational and cultural institutions, including the Du Bois Institute, where they are members of the National Advisory Board; Frank H. Pearl, the Perseus Books founder; and Princeton University President Shirley M. Tilghman, who was honored for her devotion to African-American studies, which led to establishing the Center for African American Studies at Princeton in 2006.Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annette Gordon-Reed recounted how she came to know lawyer and political adviser Vernon E. Jordan Jr., another medal winner, when he contacted her to help write his memoir “Vernon Can Read!”“The truth, of course, is that Vernon Jordan helped change my life, even before we first met,” said Gordon-Reed.Jordan’s legal career began with his clerk work in the landmark desegregation case that admitted Hunter-Gault to the University of Georgia.“Vernon Jordan has been an extraordinary presence in American history for nearly half a century,” said Gates. “He has guided us all to a much better place.”Jordan said that in his senior year at a “dilapidated, segregated” Georgia high school, he was offered admission to Dartmouth College by the president of the Atlanta-based alumni association.“He told me, ‘We want you to go to Dartmouth College, get a good education, and then come back to Atlanta and be a Booker T. Washington for your people.’”Washington and Du Bois disagreed on the strategies for how best to attain progress for blacks. Washington pushed for blacks to advance their own lives but to accept discrimination; Du Bois argued against that aspect, and helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.Jordan did not accept the Dartmouth offer, instead attending DePauw University. “I am a W.E.B. Du Bois man,” he said. “That’s why this medal means so much to me.”To view the event.