David Crosby, Saban Theatre

September 10, 2019 Croz always comes straight at you and from the heart, burned bridges and all. No surprise his Sky Trails tour two-setter at the Saban Theatre was so warmly greeted, from the “In My Dreams” CSN opener to the “Wooden Ships” and “Ohio” closers. “Eight Miles High”, “Guinnevere” and “Long Time Gone” were first set touchstones, and the set closing “Deja Vu” stretched for all the band to showcase their musical voices. Drummer Steve DiStanislo working skin on skins to subtle and expressive effect, James Raymond, producer, arranger and son of Croz on keys spotlighted. Michelle Willis lending her Rhodes inspired runs and vocals. Crosby had an origin story for all, but especially bassist Mae Liesz, whose busking turn led to love and touring. And then guitarist James Pevar, who has been playing with Crosby for 30 years, brought the tune back from the edges to that rolling 6/8 we all know. The exquisite “The Lee Shore” opened the second set. Crosby later sharing some of his darker moments as a junkie and how Jackson Browne pushed him to finish “Delta”as a turning point in his recovery. An a capella take of “What Are Their Names” sent shivers […]

Jubilee: A Celebration of Jerry Garcia, Theatre at Ace Hotel

March 30, 2018 It’s the year 23 AG (after Garcia). Dead & Co. are embarking on a stadium-centric Summer tour. Phil’s Terrapin Crossroads has a full schedule, and at 78(!), Lesh shows no signs of slowing his roll while sticking closer to home and sprinkling in some East Coast tripping (including a few recent Phil and Bobby duet dates, with Trey as a guest). And while Garcia (who would turn 75 this year), is long gone, the music really has never stopped. In steps the Bluegrass Situation for a one-night only Garcia throwdown billed as Jubilee: A Celebration of Jerry Garcia, featuring a bucketful of artists including Hiss Golden Messenger, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Belmont Tench, Margo Price, Chris Funk of the Decemberists, mandolinist extraordinaire Sam Bush, Amos Lee and the Jubilee House Band that includes Tench and Sean and Sara Watkins among others. Garcia is dearly missed, but the songs endure, and Jubilee was bound to be a warm embrace for anyone touched by the band and Garcia’s songs. Whether going back to Garcia’s jug band roots on banjo, his Old and in the Way album with David Grisman, Peter Rowan and fiddler Vassar […]

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 […]

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers + Steve Winwood, The Forum

October 10, 2014 Tom Petty has been an L.A. boy for 40 years. You can say he’s more than adopted the city as his hometown and the feeling is mutual, the crushing goes both ways. Petty and the Heartbreakers are pretty much synonymous with this town. So, it was completely fitting that his current US tour ended here with two nights at the spectacularly renewed Forum. The evening proved to be a master class in garage rock (meant in the best way) featuring just about every iconic guitar and classic guitar tone imaginable. From the dueling Tele shredding on a tribute to the late Paul Revere’s “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” to the twin Thunderbirds tearing at the throat of “You Wreck Me”, guitar geeks everywhere were drooling from start to finish. Vintage Les Pauls, classic SGs, Flying V’s and Rickenbackers, teardrops of a few shapes and sizes, a bright red Gretsch with more odd angles than an AP trig test, to name a few, all made appearances before the evening was out. But the Friday night show I attended was so much more than just the compadres Petty and Mike Campbell flashing their collections. Petty made himself right at […]

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Wiltern Theater

November 2, 2012 Grace Potter and the Nocturnals played to a packed Wiltern in the midst of her Fall “all request” tour. The generous set was in the audience’s sweet spot with many sing-alongs that had GP working the front of the pit to connect with as many fans as she could. Potter and the Nocturnals are a force of nature and few artists can pivot as effortlessly between stripped down ballads and blustery blues jams. Extended excursions on rugged hooks underscored why Potter and the band are such great draws in the jam band scene and the festival circuit. Potter herself has a totally magnetic stage presence to go with killer chops, and when she takes center stage playing a Flying V, it’s impossible to look away.       The band had an electric rapport, with guitarists Benny Yurco and Scott Tournet trading and sharing solos like punches – punctuated by Tournet’s gritty dustbowl Telecaster tone. With “2:22” from 2006’s Nothing But Water, Potter prowled her way along the floor to the top of the mic stand and let loose from the top of her pipes – a bluesy chanteuse in full roar. When Potter proclaimed “tonight you’re sleeping next to me” in Stop the Bus (from […]