Newport Folk Festival 2014, Day 3

July 27, 2014 Few festivals conjure up historic page turners like Newport Folk. Dylan’s 1965 plugged in performance is the stuff of legend that only happens to be true. But by the time the 70’s rolled around, the event fell on harder times and went dark until resurrected in 1985. These days, there still is nothing like Newport. The picture perfect setting, Pete Seeger’s presence everywhere and attendance capped at 10K. This is a Fest just as independent as days of yore, whose acts are not about a paycheck and are on the bill regardless of sales. When asked his definition of “folk” recently, Fest producer Jay Sweet told JamBase that founder George Wein considered folk as “anything that wasn’t jazz”. This Fest has held true to that renegade spirit. In that same interview, Sweet went on to say that acts are booked because “I want them to play…the audience demands that you play…and the artist wants to play”. As Rolling Stone noted recently, talent will often play for less, just to be a part of the Newport experience. So, it was my good fortune that at the end of an East Coast vacation, I was able to wrap the […]

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 […]
May 23
by Jim Brock in Reviews 1 comments tags: Abner Ramirez, accordion, Acura Stage, Alabama Shakes, Alejandro Escovedo, Alex McMurray, Allen Toussaint, Alynda Lee Seggara, Amanda Sudano, Americana, Anders Beck, Anders Osborne, Arcade Fire, Astral Project, Avett Brother, B-3, Baritone Bliss, baritone sax, Bernard Allison, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Big Freedia, Big Sam Williams, Bill Nershi, Blodie's, Blues Tent, Bombino, Bonerama, Boz Scaggs, Brittany Howard, Casandra Faulconer, Chaka Khan, Chick Corea, Christina Aguillera, Chuck D, Cody Dickinson, concert photography, Congo Square, Cowboy Mouth, Creedence Clearwater, Dan Oestreicher, David Shaw, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dumpstaphunk, E Street, Ed Williams, Eric Clapton, ES-335, Eye on the Music, Ezra Koenig, Fender guitar, Flavor Fav, Fred LeBlanc, Gal Holiday, Galactic, George Porter, Glen David Andrews, Greensky Bluegrass, Gregory Davis, Gregory Porter, Henry Butler, Honey Island Swamp Band, Hooray for the Riff Raff, Infamous Stringdusters, Irvin Mayfield, Ivan Neville, James Si, Jason Isbell, Jazz Fest, Jazz Tent, Jimmy Buffet, Joe Krown, John Boutte, John Fogerty, John Fohl, John Hiatt, John Thomas Griffith, Johnny Sansone, Johnny Vidacovich, JOHNNYSWIM, Jonathon Boogie Long, Keb Mo, Lakland, Laura Mvula, Led Zeppelin, Liam Tyson, Lil' Nathan, Little Freddie King, Lonnie Smith, Luther Dickinson, Lyle Lovett, Maggie Koerner, Marcia Ball, music photography, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans music, New Orleans Suspects, Nikki Glaspie, North Mississippi Allstars, Patry, Paul Languedoc, pedal steel, Pharoah Sanders, Phish, Public Enemy, Quint Davis, Raul Malo, Reggie Scanlon, riti, Robert Earl Keen, Robert Plant, rock photography, Rodriguez, Roger Lewis, Roosevelt Collier, Runnin' Pardners, Russ Broussard, Russell Batiste, Samsung Galaxy Stage, Santana, Sensational Space Shifters, slide guitar, Soul Rebels, Southeastern, Springsteen, Stanton Moore, Stratocaster, String Cheese Incident, Sugarman, Tab Benoit, Terence Blanchard, The Mavericks, The Meters, The Nevilles, The Radiators, The Revivalists, The Wailers, Threadhead Records, Tom Morello, Tony Hall, Trey Anastasio, trombone, Trombone Shorty, Vampire Weekend, Voice of the Wetlands, Walter Wolfman Washington, Wayne Toups, Win Butler, World Boogie, Zachary Richard, zydeco, Zyedcajun

Reflections of a Wandering Jazz Fest Photographer

Years come and go. Jazz Fests do not. They endure. Each seemingly better than the last. Each its own indelible stamp on the soul. Jazz Fest 45 had everything going for it and, man, it did not disappoint. From the time the lineup dropped in January and headliner after headliner brought smiles, to the days of Fest without a drop of rain and temps in the 70s and 80s, to the ensuing butter and crawfish withdrawl, Fest 45 delivered. The big moments were big – Springsteen and New Orleans deepening their love affair, an epic crowd for Clapton, Phish’s return after 18 years and Robert Plant flashing some legend. But the small moments were big, too. Kindness spread generously throughout the Fair Grounds for seven days and musicians who were on stage one day would be roaming around the next. Locals Johnny Sansone, Irvin Mayfield and James Singleton were regularly spotted throughout the Fest. Photographer and fan frequently collide within me. Call it an occupational hazard. Stay on task, cover ground, hit my stages. But sometimes, you gotta just put the gear down and take it all in. I actually managed to do that (a little). I’ve come to the […]

Spring Quartet, Royce Hall

February 22, 2014 The stunning collaboration of drummer Jack DeJohnette, saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Esperanza Spalding and pianist Leo Genovese refers to itself as “The Spring Quartet”, and the musical possibilities suggested by this combo were very present at Royce Hall this Saturday.  DeJohnette is the quartet’s “elder” and shows no signs of slowing down after his recent 70th birthday tour. His percussive mastery and approach are simply unmatched. Spalding is a melodic and elastic player who has crossed over to wide critical and popular acclaim through her Radio and Chamber Music Society projects, and Genovese her accompanist for these journeys. Joe Lovano’s hearty post-bop expressions can be found on dozens of his own Blue Note recordings over the past 30 years as a leader, and in support of like minded musicians unafraid of the fringes such as John Abercrombie and Paul Motian to name a few.       Playing to a capacity crowd in the stately confines of Royce, the Quartet’s 100+ minute, nine tune set covered material from all, drawing from the compositional voice and diversity of each player. The opener, Lovano’s “Spring Day”, came out jabbing with Lovano’s tenor leading the way and meshing intuitively with […]

Waddy Wachtel Band, The Joint

November 16, 2013   Some of rock’s most indelible moments are the work of sidemen and session players, most of whom stay in the shadows, some of whom go on to achieve fame of their own. Over the past 14 years at The Joint, you could wander in from a unremarkable stretch of Pico Boulevard on the occasional Monday night and catch some of these unsung heroes, joined by rock royalty – Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Eric Burdon or Joe Walsh, to name a few. What draws them is the opportunity to sit in with a house band made up of some of the best session musicians and touring sidemen around. And for $10/head, you know they ain’t in it for the money. The band, headed up by revered axeman and producer Waddy Wachtel, includes longtime Rolling Stones backup vocalist Bernard Fowler, ex-Tom Petty drummer Phil Jones, Fleetwood Mac, David Lee Roth and Coverdale-Page keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Brett Tuggle, and Neil Young and Joe Walsh alum Rick “the bass player” Rosas. Now, I’ve caught my share of these gigs over the years (without the special guests) and never failed to have a blast. Wachtel’s credits are a […]

Anders Osborne + Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, El Rey Theatre

October 24, 2013 Anders Osborne went deep and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe embraced their inner Ray Charles for a wholly satisfying double bill at the El Rey Theatre last Thursday. The two combined for 3 ½ hours of wall-to-wall intensity, stunning jams and a full on soul dance party.       Osborne’s LA appearances are a rarity, made more of an event in the larger El Rey space and two act offering. Osborne is touring on his latest release, “Peace”, and several tracks were featured including the Cortez-ian title track that opens the album. (I couldn’t help but think that Neil isn’t the only one waging heavy “Peace” throughout the set. The Young influences are more than just the material, but down to the stage posture – lead foot stomping, head and shoulders hunched, scraping every note to the bone). “Windows” flew, “Five Bullets” attacked and “Sarah Anne” took the band into the light. True to form, Osborne opened with the thunderous squonk of “Black Tar” (from 2012’s “Black Eyed Galaxy”), but also went way, way back for “Burning on the Inside” (from 1995’s “Which Way to Here”) that has been a staple in his sets for some time. […]

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby with Kentucky Thunder, Royce Hall

October 18, 2013 Bluegrass is a lot of things. The high lonesome. Bill Monroe. Furious pickin’. Lots of strings. Acoustic instrumentation.  What it traditionally isn’t is plugged in, horns, a drum kit, and rarely, a piano front and center with all those frets. The Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with Bruce Hornsby performance at Royce Hall took the latter to heart and showed that keys and strings can indeed be natural companions. Touring on the just released live “Cluck Ol’ Hen” recorded during a previous tour when the two first got together, the show oftentimes felt like a primer in Monroe and all things old school. Heck, just listening to Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby reflect on their collective musical lives was its own show. Skaggs is a master not just of the instrument(s), but as a guardian of the music itself. Pretty much what you’d expect from a guy who first shared the stage with Bill Monroe as a tyke.         My bluegrass knowledge is not deep, but my appreciation is and runs through the likes of Del McCoury, Tony Rice, Norman Blake and many others. I am, however, an unabashed Hornsby fan and the pairing […]

John Scofield Uberjam + Dave Holland Prism Quartet, Royce Hall

October 5, 2013 The 6th annual Angel City Jazz Festival is as unique as the city that bears its name. Multi-venue, multi-media and highly eclectic, predictable only for its unpredictablilty. Not necessarily qualities you would attach to this tentpole town. This year mixed film with music, integrating episodes of the “Jazz in the Present Tense” project with live performances under the theme of “Metamorphosis: Artists on the Cutting Edge of Change”. John Scofield’s Uberjam Band and Dave Holland’s Prism Quartet are a mighty pairing that land in the event’s sweet spot. While some could suggest the Royce Hall double bill was more in than out, given Angel City’s edgy proclamation, they fall right in between in my book. Both are established and prolific players/composers bonded by different stints with Miles Davis. Holland’s years included In a Silent Way and the transformatively noisy Bitches Brew, while Scofield came later during the early to mid-‘80s. Davis’ electrified shift in many ways was the jazz equivalent to Dylan’s groundbreaking Newport Folk appearance in 1965 – the landscape was never the same. In Davis’ case, jazz fusion was spawned and the illustrious alum have shaped contemporary jazz ever since, with both Holland and Scofield […]

Jon Cleary & The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, The Tin Men and Paul Sanchez & The Rolling Road Show, The Mint

September 14, 2013 Saturday’s NOLA triple threat at The Mint was as close to Frenchmen Street as you can get on Pico Boulevard (in fact, last time Sanchez and company played the room in 2010, their gig was billed as the “Return of Frenchmen Street West”). But this evening was as much Napoleon or Carrolton Avenue as Frenchmen Street, with Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen’s satisfyingly feisty 90 minute performance (and long overdue LA appearance) starting the night before the Tin Men and the Road Show took over for a later show. Cleary’s set wasted no time, diving right into “Fools Game” (from his 1999 release, “Moonburn”) and “Just Kissed My Baby”  (from the Cleary & AMG, self-titled 2002 release). The former a propulsive soul blues romp with enough barroom piano rollick and get in your bones undertow to make every beer go down like an Abita. The latter a showcase for the best of the band, with its sticky Cornell Williams bass break and Cleary’s clavvy keys. Naturally, Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” was in the mix (featured on Cleary’s 2008, “Mo Hippa Live” release) and Cleary and the AMG had ample opportunity to display […]
May 27
by Jim Brock in Reviews 1 comments tags: A Tribe Called Red, Acura Stage, Alex McMurray, Allen Toussaint, Anders Osborne, Andrew Bird, Astral Project, AXS TV, B.B. King, Band of Horses, banjo, baritone sax, Beausoleil, Ben Harper, Ben Jaffe, Big Sam Williams, Bill Summers, Billy Hart, Billy Joel, Black Crowes, Black Keys, Blues Tent, Bonerama, Brian Blade, C.J. Chenier, Calexico, Campbell Brothers, Carl Dufrene, Carlo Nuccio, Carousel bar, Cecil McBee, Cesar Rosas, Charlie Musselwhite, concert photography, Congo Square Stage, Corey Glover, Corey Henry, Craig Handy, Dan Auerbach, Danilo Perez, Dark Matter, Dave Malone, Dave Matthews, David Shaw, David Torkanowksy, David Weiss, Debbie Davis, Del McCoury, Dianne reeves, DMB, Dr. John, Dumpstaphunk, Economy Hall Tent, Eddie Henderson, Eddie Palmieri, Edward "Kidd" Jordan, Electric dobro, Epiphone, Eric Bolivar, Eye on the Music, Fais Do-Do Stage, Fi-Yi-Yi, Fleetwood Mac, Fleur Debris, Flow Tribe, Frank Bua, Frank Ocean, Funktet, Galactic, Gary Glark, Gentilly Stage, George Benson, George Cables, George Duke, George Porter Jr., Gibson ES-335, Gipsy Kings, Glen David Andrews, Henry Butler, Irvin Mayfield, Ivan Neville, jam bands, Jamaal Batiste, Jason Marsalis, Jazz & Heritage Stage, Jazz Fest, jazz photography, Jazz Tent, Jazzfest, Jazzfest Foundation Archive, Jerry Douglas, Jill Scott, Jim Brock Photography, Jimmy Herring, Joe Ashlar, Joey Peebles, John Boutte, John Gros, John Mayer, John Pattitucci, Johnathon Boogie Long, Johnny Sansone, Johnny Vidacovich, Jon Cleary, Joshua redman, Kendrick Scott, Kevin O'Day, Khris Royal, Kristin Diable, Lagniappe Stage, Lakland bass, Lenny White, Leo Nocentelli, Little Willies, live music, Los Bayou Ramblers, Los Hombres Calientes, Los Lobos, Los Po-Boy Citos, Lucille, Ludwig drums, Luther Dickinson, Luther Kent, Marcia Ball, Mardi Gras indians, Mark Mullins, Matt Perrine, Michael Doucet, Midnite Disturbers, Mike Ballard, Modeliste, New Orleans jazz, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Foundation, New Orleans music, Nicholas Payton, Nite Tripper, NOLA.com, Norah Jones, North Mississippi Allstars, Offbeat, Page McConnell, Papa Grows Funk, Patrick Carney, Patti Smith, Paul Sanchez, Pete Murano, Phish, Phoenix, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Quint Davis, Radiators, Raul Malo, Raw Oyster Cult, rock photography, Roger Lewis, Rolling Road Show, Rolling Stone, Ronnie McCoury, Rosie Ledet, Roy Ayers, Runnin' Pardners, Sasha Masakowski, Shannon Powell, Sidney Bechet, Skerik, Sonny Landreth, soprano sax, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Stanley Clarke, Stanton Moore, Steve Masakowski, Stratocaster, Tab Benoit, Taj Mahal, Telecaster, Terence Blanchard, Terrance Simien, The Cookers, The Mavericks, The Meter Men, The Meters, The Revivalists, Thomas Hedlund, Thomas Mars, Tony Dagradi, Treme, Trickbag, trombone, Trombone Shorty, tuba, Twangorama, Vasti Jackson, Voice of the Wetlands, Wayne Shorter, Widespread Panic, Wille Nelson, Woodenhead, Zack Smith, Zigaboo, zydeco, Zydeco Playboys

Reflections and Musings of a Jazz Fest Photographer

The 44th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a few weeks past and my rear view reflections only seem to sweeten the experience. This Jazz Fest, my 10th overall, is best summarized by an exchange between two Festers NOLA bound from NYC by train, one a dear friend, composer and 3-timer, the other a vet from a krewe known for their affection for Fezs (yeah, you heard that right). “Hope to see you next year”…. “You will, and every year after that until I die.” What Rolling Stone calls the “greatest music event on the planet” inspires such pure devotion. 60+ acts a day, 12 stages and tents, 7 days (no repeats, Coachella, you listening ACL?). Most of my time these days is in the pit or hustling from one stage to the next, trying to burn more calories than I eat while keeping up with artists and bands older and younger than I am (not in my 40s anymore). Fest photographers do not get to enjoy whole sets. Far from it. With 3 and outs for most big names, as well as other random acts, and much ground to cover, the feast becomes a mountain of nibbles […]