Newport Jazz Festival 2016

July 29-31, 2016 Newport Jazz. Coltrane’s last performance. History that reaches back to 1954. And, yes, the oldest annual jazz festival in North America is still under the stewardship of founder George Wein for one last year. Newport, along with the Monterey Jazz Festival on the West Coast in September, stands taller than the rest and for good reason. The stunning Ft. Adams setting, the showcase for fresh directions and emerging acts, and the legacy of musical giants past and present all converge for an event that has long been on my jazz bucket list. Having the good fortune to drop in at Newport Folk the past few years, this was my first shot at Newport Jazz, which retains the stage layout from the previous week’s Folk Fest. The smallest tent is barely more than a dozen rows deep, while the largest stage is set against a backdrop of breathtaking bay and bridge views. Both events are incredibly relaxed and attendance is capped at 10K, creating one of the more intimate festival experiences of any year. Sure, the crowd and vibe skew differently between weekends, but damn if jazz isn’t alive and well in the Northeast, and a younger Millenial […]
May 23
by Jim Brock in Reviews 0 comments tags: Aaron Wilkinson, Acura Stage, alt-country, Americana, Anders Osborne, BB King tribute, Ben ellman, Big Sam Williams, Billy Gibbons, Blodie's Jazz Jam, blues, Blues Tent, Bonnie Raitt, Boz Scaggs, Brandi Carlile, Brian Blade, Buddy Guy, Carl Dufrene, Chris Mule, classic rock, Clevenger, concert photography, Congo Square Stage, Cyril Neville, Dap Kings, Dave Malone, David Shaw, Derek Trucks, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Donald Fagen, Economy Hall, Efrem Towns, Elvis Costello, Eye on the Music, Fais Do-Do Stage, Gal Holiday, Galactic, Gary Clark Jr., Gentilly Stage, Gibson SG, Gov't Mule, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock, Herlin Riley, hip hop, Honey Island Swamp Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, J Cole, Jack DeJohnette, jam bands, jam bands Susan Tedeschi, Janelle Monae, Jarekus Singleton, Jazz and Heritage Stage, jazz photography, Jazz Tent, Jim Brock Photography, Jim James, Jimmy Vaughn, John Hammond, Kirk Joseph, Kristin Diable, Lauryn Hill, Little Freddie King, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Mardi Gras Indian, Matt Garrison, Michael McDonald, Midnite Disturbers, Monk Boudreaux, My Morning Jacket, Nathaneil Rateliff, Neil Young, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Nicholas Payton, Nightsweats, Paul Simon, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Promise of the Real, Radiators, Raw Oyster Cult, Revivalists, Rhiannon Giddens, roots music, Shannon Powell, Sharon Jones, Skerik, Snarky Puppy, Sonor, Soul Rebels, sousaphone, Steely Dan, Stratocaster, Subdudes, Tab Benoit, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Terence Blanchard, trombone, Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars, Walter Trout, Warren Haynes, WWOZ Jazz Tent, ZZ Top

Reflections and Musings of a Jazz Fest Photographer – 2016 Edition

  Yeah, it’s been a year of musical losses. But, Prince, the day before Jazz Fest 47 got underway? WTF? From the glyph etched in the blue above the Fair Grounds the first weekend, to the Treme second line the Monday following, to My Morning Jacket’s howling “Purple Rain” finish second Friday, Jazz Fest did its part, as it always does. “I am because he was”, Janelle Monae confessed to the Congo Square stage crowd. And whether Prince or Bowie or Toussaint or B.B. or Merle, and on and on, Fest is where the music is honored and celebrated like no other gathering on the planet, even when heaven and earth throw everything at you. And this was a Fest like no other, where Stevie Wonder’s only Fair Grounds performance was an acapella Purple Rain through a bullhorn in a deluge, and where it was impossible to tell the booming thunder above, from Neil Young and POR below. The music stuck like the deep muck of the infield and never let go. And whether on stage, dancing with a stranger, singing along, holding back tears, sharing a bite, sleeping it off, that’s just a Jazz Fest fact. This photographer took […]

Gambit Weekly Second Weekend Jazz Fest Edition Cover

Jim Brock Photography’s image of Jon Cleary from the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is featured in this week’s Gambit, New Orleans largest alternative weekly publication. Check out the digital edition here.

Lucinda Williams, Royce Hall

March 4, 2016 It seems many established acts are getting more artistically liberated in the deep end of their careers, or is that just me? Whether it’s an unusual union (David Crosby and Snarky Puppy come to mind in the moment), reaching way back into an early catalog, or running through entire albums from first groove to last, there’s a more untethered attitude towards a body of work than I ever recall. With a thriving concert renaissance, such deep track experiences and artistic reach have become especially rewarding for fans and bands alike (despite Billy Corgan’s distaste). Less constrained by sales and image, these can indeed be very satisfying times. Lucinda Williams knows this territory well. Long before Bruce rolled out The River from coast-to-coast, Williams played a 5-night stand at the El Rey Theatre running through her first five albums in their entirety in 2007. Yet, in the early days of her career, albums and tours had the frequency of a Terence Malick flick. Then “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” reached the masses and deservedly expanded her audience who mostly knew her tunes, but not the writer. A mighty vein was struck and an outpouring of excellent albums […]

The Infamous Stringdusters and Della Mae, The Troubadour

February 25, 2016 Some serious stringing occurred at The Troubadour last week courtesy of another nice Bluegrass Situation Presents double bill of the globe trotting Della Mae first on before the Infamous Stringdusters. The women of Della Mae’s resumes are top flight and they pulled no punches during their hourish set. Oh, and did I mention they know how to squeeze every bit of languor from “Love in Vain”?               Celia Woodsmith prepped the crowd for the “face melting” Infamous Stringdusters and she wasn’t far off. The floor was packed for these guys and their devotion among the growing jamgrass legion was apparent. Not a lot of pickers could make “In God’s Country” sound straight out Music City. Fiddler Jeremy Garrett fueled the ‘dusters throughout their headlining set, who were joined by Della Mae’s Woodsmith and the Bay Area’s Nicki Bluhm for the last few tunes at the world famous Troub. In case their jamgrass cred left any doubt, guitarist Andy Falco and dobro player Andy Hall, as well as Nicki Bluhm, joined Phil Lesh and Friends at the Vegas Brooklyn Bowl later in the week for what I heard was a pretty fine […]

Mardi Gras Bhangra with Red Baraat and Butler, Bernstein & the Hot 9, Royce Hall

February 9, 2016 Fat Tuesday in Los Angeles is hard to discern from any other day of the year in this sun spoilt metropolis. Once you get past the pre-packaged king cakes in Whole Foods, there are limited options to channel any decent Mardi Gras energy. Fortunately, the Center for the Art of Performance (CAP) at UCLA, who never fail to pull a season together of the worldly and eclectic, really hit on something when renowned New Orleans pianist, Henry Butler (with Butler, Bernstein & the Hot 9) travelled west at the same time Brooklyn dhol’n’brassers Red Baraat kicked off a coast-to-coast tour. This Mardi Gras Bhangra bill was as close to real deal as we’ll get in this town, and a convergence of river deltas like no other. Words tend to fall short when describing Red Baraat. This speaks less about my limited vocabulary and more about music that bends and infuses the seemingly disparate global elements of wedding music from Northern India (“baraat” is Hindi for a groom’s wedding procession) and the fat horns and funk of New Orleans, and then makes such utterly perfect sense when you experience it. Suffice to say it is a mashup of […]

LA Bluegrass Situation, Greek Theatre

October 3, 2015 Yup, we got an LA Bluegrass Situation on our hands, and with Way Over Yonder a goner and a tinge of real time Hardly Strictly Bluegrass envy, that 10-hour hang at the Greek on a balmy Fall day couldn’t be any more welcome round these parts. Ed Helms, who co-founded BGS, and Amy Reitnouer their Executive Director, love the music deeply. Well, they hit their mark without missing a strum, and it showed in a strong lineup and front porch feel that continued long after the sun went down. Featuring generous sets from Dawes, the Punch Brothers and the ever rising Lone Bellow, LA BGS 2015 also showcased new grassers Della Mae (who just killed it), Gregory Alan Isakov and his stirring writing, and Nashville émigré Jonny Fritz palling up with Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith on the Greek’s main stage. During the earlier part of the day (music started at 2 PM), a smaller stage was set up by the venue entry, and featured acts almost at eye level to folks listening, dancing or taking in a smattering of games, crafts and food trucks – a nice Sunday in the park atmosphere. Wild Reeds, L.A.’s Dustbowl Revival (do […]

KAABOO, Del Mar

September 17-20, 2015 With summer and festival season coming to a close, in steps KAABOO, a 3-day inaugural event held a sea breeze away from the Pacific at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The brain child of Denver based Bryan Gordon and a huge supporting cast, the fest offered a broad spectrum musical experience mixed with comedy, artists of many media and a late night party with an emphasis on the creature comforts for the masses that many festivals lack (real toilets for all!), and top flight culinary options in one of the best craft beer counties in the U.S. The challenge for any first timer with big ambitions is to establish not just an identity, but to create a distinctive experience that separates itself from the pack of an ever more crowded festival field. It is not enough to draw a weekend’s worth of headliners to a town near you with an eye chart worthy promo poster in tow. There is a lot on the line for KAABOO. Until now, there has not been a Southern California event with the musical diversity to befit the region that isn’t branded Coachella, and there has been a vacuum in San Diego since […]

Newport Folk Festival 2015, Day 3

July 26, 2015 Proudly sitting on a half century plus of tradition, the Newport Folk Fest feels more like a mellow picnic with your pals and belies its legacy as one of the most important music events of past and present. With attendance capped at 10,000 and the historic Ft. Adams setting on Naragansett Bay, it is a personal, friendly experience. One where the event co-founder, 89-year old George Wein, is still scooting around the Fort shaking hands, talking to people and taking it all in. A gathering built of sturdy roots and tradition, one that honors the music first, and where most favor their ears, (and the space between them), over their smartphones. I recently came across a HuffPo piece on whether music festivals have lost their mojo and devolved into customized super concerts for Generation Distracted. It’s a fair, but debatable point. And one that warrants further appreciation that Newport Folk exists at all. It’s hard to grasp now that just the mere act of plugging in by a young Bob Dylan in 1965 was taken as both rebellion and betrayal (still debated today). The stakes were that high (Elijah Wald’s excellent “Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, […]

Wheels of Soul Tour – Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Doyle Bramhall II, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles

June 10, 2015 The musical marriage of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks spawned a heckuva family. The band sports a 3 piece horn section that drapes Tedeschi’s voice and excellent blues stringing, and provides many a jumping off point for Trucks’ fiery bottleneck excursions. Casual fans may not know that long before their union, Susan Tedeschi had established herself as an exceptional blues player and vocalist in her own right, while widening the road for the likes of Samatha Fish, Beth Hart, Carolyn Wonderland, Ana Popovic and many others. Tedeschi’s voice draws easy comparisons to Bonnie Raitt, but she gets to grittier places with the force to match. Trucks’ years with the Allmans, leading his own band and supporting others (the 2006 Derek & the Dominoes rich Clapton tour, was particularly memorable) all led to here. He almost seems hotwired to another plane and the fierce intensity of his playing belies the meditative expression that accompanies most of his solos. The only flash Trucks bares is in the soul tearing notes he pulls from his SG. Some years back, I heard Trucks interviewed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, when asked about his no pick/full fingered technique, his […]