Mark Knopfler, Greek Theatre

September 22, 2019 I was 17 the first time I heard “Sultans of Swing”, and I was not amused. Who was this nasally sounding, semi-spoken Brit with circular breathing like hammer-ons? But, it didn’t take me long to figure out that those tunes and that Strat playing were off the charts extraordinary. “Down to the Waterline”, “Water of Love” and, of course, “Sultans”, off Dire Straits eponymous 1978 debut, had a hypnotic ear lock on my head. To this day “Making Movies” is a high watermark that never receded, and “Telegraph Road” (in both it’s studio and live versions) from their follow-up “Love Over Gold” is definitely in the band’s pantheon. Then “Money for Nothing” broke, Knopfler switched his Strat for a Les Paul and the whole world was dialed in, and while I went along, it didn’t have the same nuance and elegance of previous records. The band held on for another few albums and I was fortunate to catch the “On Every Street” tour, their last, in 1991. Knopfler has released 10 solo discs since then and mixes his earlier catalog with this material when he tours. His latest, “Down the Road From Wherever”, is a quieter, thoughtful affair […]

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Greek Theatre

August 16, 2019 If you have ever been into the Dead, and written off JRAD as just a Dead cover band, you are so missing the point. For me, this band goes places I haven’t been, fueled by the Dead’s musical canon. If you made it to the Greek (or any show on this tour), you know what I’m on about. No emulating here. No Jerry or Bobby role. Just flat out all in. They take it down, when they could go up and explode when they could go low. One thing is clear, the music will never stop. And isn’t that really the point? Some deep dish visuals from this one.

Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles

September 15, 2018 My handy wiktionary tells me “throw down” is “to accomplish or produce something in a grand, respectable, or successful manner; to “represent””. Well, when it comes to the travelling New Orleans road show billed as Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown, to say that the four acts crossing the country this summer just represented, is like saying we live in uneventful times. Uh, yeah, they represented, alright. This had to be one of the best shows of the season.   This threauxdown was as close as Jazz Fest gets on the road. New Breed Brass, Pres Hall, Galactic and Shorty would be a great day on any Fest stage. That they’ve been at mid-size venues from coast-to-coast and back again is like musical room service for those with a taste for New Orleans.   When New Breed kicked off at 7, for a brief (20ish minutes), but very punchy set, the Greek was looking a little sparse. That wouldn’t last long. No breaks for this brass, they had their foot on it for the full 20.           By the time Pres Hall picked it up at 7:30, the sun was down and seats were filling […]

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 […]

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 […]

Yes with Syd Arthur, Greek Theatre

August 24, 2014 Sure prog rock is so 1974, yet, the stuff holds up. Hear me out. The bongs and headphones crowd may have moved on to second wives/third mortgages. But, long before World of Warcraft and GOT, stoner nerds nursed their souls to music that was complex, epic in scale and classically influenced, inasmuch the twain ever met (confession, first time I really heard Stravinsky was the recorded opening of 1972’s “Yes Songs”). Emerson, Lake and Palmer may have grabbed my head, but Yes had me at “Your Move/All Good People”. Steve Howe’s 12-string laud, Jon Anderson’s lilting vocals, Chris Squire’s rowdiness pushing all the niceties out of the way.  I even bought into the grandeur of “Tales from Topographic Oceans” the 1973 double album comprised of four sides/four tracks based on Hindu scripture (and clearly Jon Anderson’s dive into the deep end). And then there was Roger Dean’s cover art that seemingly made the other worldly accessible. Alas, by the late 70s, new wave and punk spat on such indulgences and Yes along with their prog brethren strove for the middle and drowned in the rebel yell of the time. Not that prog every really went anywhere. Bands […]

RatDog with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Greek Theatre

July 2, 2014 Hard to believe that the Dead offshoot, RatDog, has been at it for almost 20 years. The band, formed by Bob Weir not long after the death of Jerry Garcia, has become the longest running gig for any founding member outside of the Dead. In that span, guitarist Weir has taken on the appearance (and the role) of elder, bringing along a younger fan base that never experienced Winterland, Oakland or MSG. RatDog is a kindred unit, well suited to Weir’s truly unique guitar talents (inspiring legions of kids to be “rhythm” guitarists, myself included). Jay Lane on drums helped get the whole thing going with Weir in 1995, Furthur’s Jeff Chimenti provides the keys, Rob Wasserman is a wonderful bass player and frequent Weir collaborator, and Steve Kimock an important figure in the jam band world and occasional member of other Dead related projects. Brit Robin Sylvester fills out this version of the band on bass, as well. With Furthur on hiatus, both RatDog and Phil and Friends shows take on more importance and delight, each diving headfirst into the Garcia canon, adding a twist on interesting covers and exploring their leader’s compositions with abandon. The […]