Babette Ho Benefit with Jackson Browne and Ben Harper, The Mint

September 19, 2011 A friend asked me to describe Ben Harper’s sound and the best I could come up with was world-infused, surf-influenced, rhythm, roots and soul.  Harper is a singer/songwriter/guitarist who defies description and has a relentless following (pun intended).  I’ve seen Ben Harper a few times – almost two decades ago in The Mint, when it was half the size and maybe 150 people squeezed in, and then in 2009 before 50,000 some odd headlining the Acura Stage at Jazzfest.  I am a fan, but more from afar, not knowing his deeper catalogue.  That same friend mentioned how influential Ben Harper’s music had been on her high school years, and I felt old, as the rise of this musician from the IE with the Weissenborn guitar that created such a stir is still freshly emblazoned in my musical memory.  Reflecting on the Mint show of the early 90s, I thought the cat who sang “Momma’s Got a Girlfriend Now” (from 1994’s Welcome to the Cruel World) with seemingly straight up truth, then busting out some wicked slide on a lap guitar that looked closer to a dulcimer, was pretty damn cool.  No airs, this one.  That stayed with […]

Donald Harrison, Jr. Electric Band and Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew, Santa Monica Pier

September 8, 2011 As a native Angelino, attendance at any of the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series performances truly is a rite of summer.  Gorgeous nights, ocean air, sand between your toes.  Hard to beat.  Despite a rap that Southern California indulges in the frivolous and expensive – 8 figure “homes”, 6 figure cars, $15 cocktails, every summer Los Angeles and environs offers abundant opps to hear great music for nothing from downtown to Hollywood to the beach, and we are spoiled for it.  2011 marks the Pier Twilight Dance Series’ 27th year and if the last performance is supposed to mean that summer is almost over, it’s so not true.  We all know SoCal doesn’t really bake until October while the rest of the country tastes the first chill of autumn and winter ahead. I profess to only catching a few Pier shows the past few years, but could not miss Jon Cleary and his Philthy Phew (aka, Piano, Bass & Drums) with Donald Harrison’s Electric Band for the series closer on September 8th.  NOLA funk, meet Santa Monica mellow. I’ve seen Donald Harrison, Jr. in many configurations at Jazzfest, be it in full Indian regalia or blowing […]

Moonalice, The Mint

August 6, 2011 “Moonalice is a band of seasoned musicians who feel that live music should be a communal experience where the listener and musicians feed and derive inspiration from each other. Their songs try to speak to everyone, mixing a variety of genres with extended musical improvisations that evoke a sense of adventure and exploration.”  So says their story on www.moonalicetv.com, the first HTML5 driven band site that allows fans to HD stream any live performance to their iPads, iPhones, etc.  What, are these guys from the future?  Well, for sure, behind the mythology that is Moonalice, behind the gloriously handcrafted homage posters for each and every show, behind the jam rock immersion and the Dead elephant in the room, stands a band of the now.  Look under the hood, and you see great touring musicians of 30+ years, the likes of which just only seem to be getting better, and no doubt, they lean heavily toward their tied-dyed twirling brethren.   The Phil and Friends, Other Ones, Dave Nelson Band, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Starship, Bruce Hornsby CVs merely fortify the obvious.  But Moonalice is not just of, or about, the past.  Wrong.  They climbed on top of the social […]

Jim Brock’s Photography featured on Honey Island Swamp Band site

Jim Brock Photography and EyeOnTheMusic.com‘s recent posting on the June 26th Honey Island Swamp Band show at The Mint is currently featured on the HISB web site.  This was the band’s Los Angeles debut and a great set that did not disappoint.  Check them out at www.honeyislandswampband.com.

Jim Brock Photography raises over $1,100 for the Tipitina’s Foundation

Three Jim Brock Photography prints raised over $1,100 for the Tipitina’s Foundation as part of this year’s Instruments A Comin’ event during Jazzfest.   The featured images were of Donald Harrison, Jr., James Singleton and Snooks Eaglin, with the Snooks image well exceeding the maximum suggested bid.  Jim Brock Photography is very pleased to have contributed to the Tipitina’s Foundation mission and encourages visitors to this site to support the Foundation and learn about Instruments A Comin’, the T.I.P intern program, Sunday workshops and more at www.tiptinasfoundation.org.  

Stanton Moore Trio, The Mint

July 13, 2011 Stanton Moore is everywhere, deal with it.  And no drummer jokes, please.  Seriously, it seems like Stanton Moore is the Warren Haynes of the skins, playing wherever, whenever he can and not only like he’s having a great time, but also as if his life depended on it.  Whether leading his Galactic mates through a snare fed fury that turns the band into the equivalent of a human trap set, sitting in seemingly every night during Jazzfest he’s not gigging with the propulsively manic Garage a Trois, the brass royalty of the Midnite Disturbers, his own trio, or Galactic, this is a man who literally can’t sit down when he plays.  He is simply having too much fun to keep still.  Last year, Mr. Moore anchored Anders Osborne’s epic American Patchwork recording and tour in 2010 and fortified his collaboration with Hammond wiz Robert Walter. The tribal material and arrangements that grew from this collaboration resulted in one of the best albums of the year.  Moore and Walter, along with guitarist Will Bernard, have further shaped their unique funk with the Stanton Moore Trio over the years and for those who love their B3 sound dripping in […]

Honey Island Swamp Band, The Mint

June 26, 2011 Honey Island Swamp Band swung into the Westside on Saturday, another NOLA nugget appearing at the Mint.  This is a New Orleans band that reflects its Katrina Diaspora-Bay Area birth with chunky and soulful jams, tight arrangements and great material.  If you are expecting ballads, standards, and second lines, this ain’t that NOLA band.  Whether moving easily from moments Dead infused or Dr. John influenced, their self-described Bayou Americana sound never loses sight of its swampy swagger or solo driven joy.  The band has kicked ass at Jazzfest the past few years, so a chance to enjoy them here in the Southland was indeed a treat, and to my knowledge, The Mint gig is their first Los Angeles show. At Fest performances and in the studio, HISB often fattens their arrangements with horns, and Saturday had that taste with Karl Denson sitting in for both sets contributing frequent solos and locking into some killer grooves with Trevor Brooks on keys and Chris Mule’s SG/Strat driven leads.  When not providing the good time feel of a summer day front porch harp, Aaron Wilkinson switched between mandolin and his hollow-body Tele, taking the bluegrass string thing into Hendrix/Page territory, […]

New Monsoon, The Mint

June 3, 2011 When you know of a band, but haven’t really seen them live yet, it can go either way. The freshness of the moment can pick you up with unexpected potency, or leave you uninvolved with the lack of familiarity. New Monsoon has been part of the jam scene for over 10 years and my first show Friday at The Mint had me from the beginning. Playing to the expected jam-rock devoted and male dominated audience in the intimate confines on Pico Boulevard, New Monsoon brought creative, driven arrangements that never wandered without destination. I am admittedly new to the NM set list, but recognized originals such as Friendly Ghost and gems of covers like the Talking Heads Slippery People. This is a team effort, the whole much bigger than the parts. The acoustic guitar/banjo, SG/Strat frontline of Bo Carper and Jeff Miller, the constant interweave of Phil Ferlino’s solos and texture, and the rhythm section of Marshall Harrell and Sean Hutchinson, kept moving and pushing, not straying. Towards the end of the first set, Bo Carper’s banjo led New Monsoon into raga-jam territory, transforming that most traditional of sounds into a burning bluegrass sitar that elevated the […]

Jazzfest 2011 closing thoughts

Jazzfest 2011 is in the books.  Weekend 2 brought the it could only happen here bag of familiar closers (Jimmy Buffet, the Nevilles, et al), epic sonics (Arcade Fire, Wilco), roots, (not so) alt-country and blues (Lucinda Williams, Greg Allman, Willie Nelson), mind-bending bills (Trombone Shorty>The Strokes), sentimental moments (Rads farewell, Christian Scott proposing in the middle of his set), jazz giants (Sonny Rollins) and local and regional artists who have been, and always will be, the heartbeat of the Fest.  The lack of a jam band closer seemed to go unnoticed, supplanted by an edgier, “indie” orientation – an eclectic mix even by Fest standards.  “Only at Jazzfest could….” 50/60-somethings leave their front row seat for Robert Randolph and the Family Band to catch Kid Rock. The weather cooperated to the point of being freaky.  Not a drop of rain all seven days, temps warm to warmer, but not scorching.  As always, the food will take a year to work off and worth it. Whether at the Fairgrounds or night shows, I couldn’t split myself in half.  Simply too much good stuff to go around. Most of my time shooting circled the Jazz and Blues Tents, and unexpectedly (or […]

Jazzfest 2011 impressions so far…

Shooting the Fest is akin to an endless buffet, musical whiplash and constant discovery. Instead of full sets, joy is more concentrated, fleeting. Depending on the stage and act, three and done translates to here/now/next move. The fan inside is stifled and exhilarated. Mental focus is at a premium, especially when now doesn’t want to go. My coverage has been exhaustive some days, less intense on others, leaving the observer behind to just soak up the experience. Nature stepped up with beautiful weather, the rest was on me. Friday opened strong, and this photographer had to bond with the mastery of Jeff Beck, but close with a smokin’ set by the New Orleans Nightcrawlers at the Jazz and Heritage Stage. The reborn roots of Robert Plant, paired with Patty Griffin and the amazing string work of Buddy Miller were also especially captivating.   Whether shooting or not, where else could anyone experience the Kentucky bluegrass of Ricky Skaggs, move on to Robert Cray’s deep and soulful well and then witness an absolutely stunning performance by Ahmad Jamal, as I spent Saturday afternoon. Bluegrass, blues and straight ahead/to your head jazz – and that’s just a taste of a day, one […]