Metallica threw their own music festival on Bader Field in Atlantic City in late June. Orion Music + More combined a surprisingly diverse musical lineup with film, pro skateboarding, spray paint art, horror collectibles, tricked out cars and more – basically, the various passions of Metallica’s members laid bare for their fans and curious spectators to rummage around in. Joe Russo waded into the first day of this two-day gathering to bring us this great set. Like the best live music photography, Russo makes us want to crowd surf his shots, wishing we could somehow join the raucous fun we see in his work.
If one is looking for a barometer of what’s cool, what’s on the verge of cresting, and simply what the kids are listening to these days, you’d be hard pressed to do better than Sasquatch!, the annual late May gathering at The Gorge where the next wave of indie bands set to jump to theatre headliners (and the pack just behind them) rub shoulders with big names like Jack White and Bon Iver. The best write-up you’re likely to find of the 2012 installment is right over here, and we have Todd Hobert to thank for this wonderful, mood capturing sampling of the weekend.
What does the son do?
He turns away,
Goes outdoors to feed with wild
Things, lives among dens
And huts, eats distance and silence;
He grows long wings, enters the spiral, and ascends.
Talent and passion are not enough to guarantee success in the music business. It’s a hard truth but one faced by many hard working musicians on a daily basis. The machinery of the industry – the part that spills out money and fame – is calibrated to different parameters in the 21st century, where manufactured shock, passing fads, and homogenized commonality count for more than the music itself. Turn on MTV, CMT and VH1 and the blunt commerce of the product on display slaps one with a sting that’s hard to shake if one is a true lover and connoisseur of real music made by real musicians. However, if one looks away from the comic car-wreck mainstream there is amazing music being made by VERY hard working, highly skilled folks all over the place. Really, it’s blooming in your backyard – DI guarantees that if you make an effort to explore your local scene there are delights the likes of which you cannot currently imagine.
Case in point, the 2nd Annual Guitarmageddon Blues Ball which showcased some of the most talented, driven, downright gifted musicians in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. None of these folks are household names. None of them has a country house, a big sailing ship or even health insurance in many instances. But, you would be extremely hard pressed to find better players making better music just about anywhere today. Each shucks ‘n’ jives every single day to keep the bills paid and the dream rolling along, but put them in a studio or especially up on a stage in front of a few enthusiastic listeners and they glow. The joy of what they do – their abiding pleasure in their craft – shines out of them with a light that cannot be measured by any man-made device but warms us and sustains us in palpable ways. The Impound has known may of these musicians for the better part of a decade and it amazes us that they keep on keepin’ on in the face of the challenges to working musicians in modern times. Their courage and dedication to doing what they do for the right reasons is inspiring to us, and it should stoke the fires of anyone trying to build their own heart songs and public dreams.
Photographer John Margaretten – a blossoming kindred spirit to great talents like Jay Blakesberg and Danny Clinch – brings us a truly marvelous set of images from this night, including the opening sets from Huckle and the Sean Leahy Trio. The six-string knows no greater, more naked celebration than Guitarmageddon, who only gather a few times each year (next up for this self-described “soundtrack for the end of the world through wailing guitars” is High Sierra Music Festival in July), and the festivities are captured in a vibrant, equally joyful way by Margaretten here. It is a pleasure to share his work on DI.
We STRONGLY encourage you to get to know the work of Huckle, Leahy and the other participants in this performance/Cali scene. New Monsoon shredder Jeff Miller has a sweet, intimate solo record out you should delve into, and Tea Leaf Green‘s Josh Clark is always up to something interesting either as a blazing singer-guitarist in TLG and as a fine, under-appreciated artist/cartoonist. And Kiyoshi Foster, Four Year Bender, the varied projects of the Sean Leahy Trio’s rhythm team [Daria Johnson (drums) and Mark Calderon (bass)], and the other fine folks involved in this night are all doing their own voodoo regularly on sessions and in clubs. Explore what they do. Support it with your time, dollars and attention. In each instance, it is a good measure finer and more noursihing than what’s being shoveled at you by the mainstream.
The sudden death of justifiably legendary guitarist Ronnie Montrose on March 3, 2012 caught many off guard. Montrose had been gigging regularly after a couple years battling cancer, coming back strong once it was in remission. When the news surfaced that his death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the whole situation became even sadder for friends and fans. Rather than dwell on the negative, many of his former bandmates and admirers gathered at the Regency Ballroom to celebrate his life and influence. The all-star cast at this benefit for Ronnie’s family included the remaining members of the original Montrose band – Sammy Hagar, Denny Carmassi (drums) and Bill Church (bass) with Joe Satriani filling in for the late guitarist – as well as the members of Gamma, Tesla, guitarist Neal Schon playing his old Journey drummer Steve Smith (in a quartet with Ricky Phillips and Ed Roth), former Night Ranger guitarist/co-founder Jeff Watson and more. While Ronnie Montrose himself may not have understood his impact on hard rock, this small army of talent surely did as they paid their respects to an under-sung great whose influence can be felt still on Montrose’s seminal 1973 debut album, his delicate touch on Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey, his aggressive acumen during his brief stint with the Edgar Winter Group, the sharp, smooth lines of Gamma, and many more places.
Jay Blakesberg was at the Regency this night and brings us this wonderful set of photos. We’ve included a few videos related to this tribute concert below the pics, too.
Bluntly, modern country music with very few exceptions sucks it sideways, a product-minded industry that bears almost no resemblance to what Waylon, Willie, Hank and Johnny helped bring into being. Enter West Coast all-star ensemble Brokedown In Bakersfield, a bunch of Merle Haggard lovin’ sons (and daughter) of guns that do country’s forefathers right proud. Scott Law (Telecaster guitar), Nicki Bluhm (vocals), Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips (vocals, acoustic guitar), and ALO members Dan Lebowitz (pedal steel, dobro), Steve Adams (bass) and Dave Brogan (drums) don’t get to twang it up too often but when they do honky tonks everywhere swing happier. BIB recently paired up with He’s My Brother She’s My Sister – who are doing their part to make flamboyant folk pop an interesting new thang – and Bay Area club favorite Paula Frazier, and John Margaretten was there to ensnare the festivities with his camera. Just from the look of it this was a neat night of switched-on music making, and John’s pics make us want to explore what’s being played as soon as we can – a testament to his instincts and skill.
Rare is the band that’s better nearly 20 years into their career. Is there a soul alive that will argue the superiority of Undercover versus say Sticky Fingers? And the bands that do manage late catalog magic usually don’t make it to the 20 year mark at all, ending in a blaze before the water treading begins. However, there are grand exceptions to these generalizations and one of them – resoundingly so – is Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons. The Portland-based trio’s – an enduring contender for “Best Rock Band In America That Most People Don’t Know About” – latest effort, Happy Book (released March 20 on Response Records), is both their first double record in their 17-year tenure together AND one of the best song cycles they’ve ever produced – mature and earthy, wise and real, and charged up and just plain ol’ rockin’. It’s the work of musicians who’ve lived a good deal and come back with the skin of their experiences crammed under their nails – births and deaths, highs and lows wrestled into melodies and verse that hit their targets with expert skill. The band’s recent visit to California found them them exploring these new songs at length, and despite a songbook that stretches to 300+ tunes, the focused approach revealed an inherent range in these new numbers that was impressive and absorbing. What was also obvious is how much Jerry and the Jackmormons – JR Ruppel (bass, backing vocals) and Steve Drizos (drums, backing vocals) – are enjoying fleshing out these fresh numbers into their fully formed live incarnations. Ace shooter Susan J. Weiand brings us a glimpse into one of these Northern California nights at one of DI’s all-time favorite road houses, Moe’s Alley. The band returns to the road again in early May (dates & details here), which gives y’all plenty of time to familiarize yourselves with Happy Book, a death grip lock for the Impound’s Best Albums of 2012.
There’s an aura of mad joy to this photo set capturing two nights at Terrapin Crossroads, the new restaurant and live music venue for Phil Lesh currently in a soft opening. Having his own clubhouse appears to be sitting well with Phil based on these two recent Phil Lesh & Friends performances featuring Lesh (bass, vocals), Warren Haynes (guitar, vocals), Larry Campbell (guitar, violin, vocals), Teresa Williams (vocals), Jeff Chimenti (keys, vocals), and Grahame Lesh (guitar, vocals). These cats were clearly AFTER IT in a big way at these gigs. Once again, Jay Blakesberg has shaped live mojo into music for our eyes.
While ticket prices have been bitch-inducing high for these intimate shows (some shows a whomping $150/ticket), it is a rare chance to see master class musicians let their hair down, and it comes with a grilled cheese sandwich at the end of the night, so that’s something. Tickets for upcoming Terrapin Crossroads shows are available here, including the reunion of “The Quintet” with Lesh, Haynes, Jimmy Herring, Rob Barraco and John Molo.
1st Set: Here Comes Sunshine, How Sweet It Is, Uncle John’s Band, Millenium Jam, The Eleven, Blue Sky, Brown Eyed Women, Look at Miss Ohio, Sugaree
2nd Set: Passenger, The Wheel, Chest Fever, Caution (Do Not Stop On Tracks), Dark Star, Wish You Were Here, Dark Star, Unbroken Chain, Stella Blue, In The Midnight Hour
Encore: Angel Band
1st Set: Althea, Ship of Fools, Big Railroad Blues, Into the Mystic, Scarlet Begonias, Mountain Song, Midnight Rider
2nd Set: Shakedown Street, Playin’ in the Band, Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, This Wheels On Fire, Little Sparrow, Bird Song, Layla, Fire on the Mountain, Morning Dew, Playin’ reprise
Not many bands have made such a positive first impression or continued to stoke our faith in them over the years as NYC’s Leroy Justice. The essence of greats like The Black Crowes and The Band murmur in their bones, and they look just like we think a rock band should – there’s something of an archetype about them. Judge for yourself in these super sweet photos from Joe Russo captured at the band’s February performance at Brooklyn Bowl with guests God Street Wine’s Lo Faber and saxophonist Michael Kammers guesting. There’s a new performance video of an unreleased track from this show below the photos, too.
Leroy Justice returns to the Bowl to open for the North Mississippi Allstars next Friday, April 6th, along with a handful of opening slots for NMA this week and some other gigs the next – dates & details. And if you haven’t already, y’all need to get familiar with Leroy Justice’s two albums, Revolution’s Son and The Loho Sessions as we wait impatiently for record number three (which we think is gonna be pretty fucking great based on the new tunes they’re doing live).
Set One: Worry Me No More, Blue Eyed Blues, Light Cigarette, Evil K, Bender, So Long, Watch Him Fall, Domino
Set Two: Before I Die > Revolution’s Son, Swingtown *@, Belt Buckle *@, Let’s Go Get Stoned *@, Love The One You’re With *@, Temporary Cure *@, The Ocean *
Encore: Sea Jam > Out To Sea
* – w/ Lo Faber on guitar.
@ – w/ Michael Kammers on sax.