Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron RIP

I guess the hardcore drug use finally caught up with him.  One of the most important progenitors of rap music, Scott-Heron incorporated poetry and jazz into his music, which ran the gamut from confrontational to mellow, but was always political.  He incorporated his sociological observations and opinions about racial inequality in America into all of his music.  I got into his music late, but really liked his 1970's output.  "Pieces of a Man" and "Winter in America" (with Brian Jackson) are 2 of my favorites.  Howard Stern used Scott-Heron's "Whitey's On The Moon' for a great bit in his earlier days, and Eric Lindell did a great cover of "Lady Day and John Coltrane" (on his 2nd disc "Low on Cash, Rich in Love").  

I've read interviews and articles about Scott-Heron where he talked about his drug abuse, and said that had no interest in kicking his habit.  In recent years he made a few albums (2010's "I'm New Here" was critically lauded) after being "discovered" again by the owner of XL Recordings, who took a chance and gave Scott-Heron the opportunity to create new music.    He was a great talent, and unfortunately died way too young.  Gil Scott-Heron was only 62 years old.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Clip from Ollabelle show in West Village

Performing "Northern Star".  From 5/6/11, an amazing private acoustic show for backers of the new Ollabelle record coming out later this year.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ollabelle needs you

Ollabelle, a great NYC based band, is trying to go the independent route for their new disc.  (Not too long ago that sentence would've meant they were recording for a small label).  The band has taken to the internet and social media to try and raise funds for their new disc, as they want to release it themselves.  Great idea and I hope they are able to raise the necessary funds (they're currently 90% of the way their goal of $10K).  I contributed to the cause, as I think they are an incredibly talented group of musicians (and if you've never heard them you really should seek out their 2 studio discs and 1 live disc).  They don't reach a wide audience, as they are a grass-roots driven band and mostly play locally.  I appreciate the fact that they are trying to make it on "their" terms, I only hope they can reach a bigger audience so they can afford to keep making music.  Their music is a true Americana-based sound, with blues, jazz, country and folk influences.  All are excellent vocalists as well as musicians and it's a shame that more people don't know about them.  Here's the link to their fundraising page and a few videos.

annual Allmans

The Allmans recently finished up their annual NYC residency, this year back at the Beacon (where they belong).  I went on Monday 3/14 and saw a great show.  This year the band focused on earlier material (mostly from their Fillmore days) as 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of the recording of the Fillmore East album.  Over the course of the run they pulled from a tight list of songs, only playing a few new covers, and very few songs from recent albums.  On the night I saw them they did play "Egypt" an instrumental Derek rips on they wrote a few years ago that they never recorded.  They didn't play 1 song from "Enlightened Rogues", which must remind them too much of Dickey Betts, although it's an excellent record.  (They still won't touch "Blue Sky" live, although Warren busted out a great version with Furthur at the Best Buy Theater during an off-night from the Allmans).  The special guests during the run were only so-so, with appearances by Dr. John, Steve Earle, Susan Tedeschi (obviously), David Hidalgo, being the better known.  I caught Bill Evans (sax) who was excellent, especially on "Dreams", and Bernie Williams, who I had (have) zero interest in hearing.  I've heard 8 or 9 shows from the run and the band sounds better than they did last year.  Jaimoe takes long breaks during the show and Gregg is still forgetting lyrics here and there, but the band soldiers on, the best live band in the world.  Derek and Warren are still phenomenal, and I hope they keep playing the Beacon forever.  Here's a video from Warren playing with Furthur doing "Blue Sky" and a clip from the Beacon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Top Songs / 2010

Excellent year for music.  This is the 1st year in a long time I had to leave songs off my year-end disc, so any year I can find more than 35 songs I really enjoy I consider a good one (music-wise anyway).  In no particular order:

  • Bodega - Eric Lindell
  • You Can Dance - Bryan Ferry
  • Heart of Steel - Galactic (feat. Irma Thomas)
  • Moneygrabber - Fitz & The Tantrums
  • Coma and Get It - Eli "Paperboy" Reed
  • The Trip To Pirates Cove - Tome Petty & The Heartbreakers 
  • Susanah - 30db
  • Beggarman - Smoove & Turrell
  • Rock Dust Light Star - Jamiroquai
  • Slow - Rumer
  • The Sweetest Thing - JJ Grey & Mofro
  • I Learned The Hard Way - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
  • Love Lives - Black Dub
  • How To Become Clairvoyant - Robbie Robertson
  • Soldier of Love - Sade
  • All My Bridges Burning - Los Lobos
  • Cold Boy Smile - The Black Crowes
  • Shaky - The Duke & The King
  • As We Enter - Nas, Damian Marley
  • Beautiful Place - Sean Carey
  • Blood Like Lemonade - Morcheeba
  • I Need A Dollar - Aloe Blacc
  • Stylo - Gorillaz
  • The Sound of Sunshine - Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • The High Road - Broken Bells
  • Cotton Was King - Widespread Panic
  • You Are Not Alone - Mavis Staples
  • Chance - James Maddock
  • Beg Steal or Borrow - Ray Lamontagne
  • Do You Love Me - Guster
  • Rocksteady - Big Head Todd & The Monsters
  • Shaky Ground - Jackie Greene
  • I Didn't See It Coming - Belle & Sebastian
  • Window Seat - Erykah Badu
  • F@#k You - Cee-Lo

Duke & The King

New band formed by the drummer (Simone Felice) from the Catskills-based band The Felice Brothers.  Excellent acoustic based folk-rock that actually has some soul.  Their music has influences as diverse as Neil Young and Smokey Robinson, and they are on the mellow side.  They've released 2 discs in the past 2 years ("Nothing Gold Can Stay" and the recently released "Long Live...") and both are very strong.  They were supposed to play Mountain Jam this past June but Simone had heart trouble and had to have emergency surgery.  From their Facebook page:  The Duke & The King are a soul-folk-glam ensemble from the sticks of New York founded, produced, and created by Simone Felice and Robert Bird Burke, featuring the sensational Simi Stone and Nowell" Reverend Loveday" Haskins, and like any traveling theatre troupe there's bound to be a growing cast of bewitching characters. Named for the traveling Shakespeare hustlers in 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'.
An excellent new band, look forward to seeing them live.  Here's their website:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fitz, the Flavor of the Month

Fitz & The Tantrums is a new band from LA.  Inspired by Stax and Motown, the band sounds like a bit like the band ABC sounded to me back in the early 80's.  A caucasian approach to soul music, it relies heavily on organ and horns to provide gravitas to the songs, which are good, but not great.  The band is led by Michael Fitzpatrick who sings vocals (and has a disconcerting shock of white in his hair), and he had the good sense to hire Noelle Scaggs as the female vocalist, who's got a really great voice.  You can't get away from their song "MoneyGrabber" lately, it's even being used in a T-Mobile commercial.  I got into them after seeing them on "Live at Daryl's House", where they did an amazing set.  Their latest disc "Pickin Up The Pieces" is very good, and a nice addition to the blue-eyed soul niche.  But I've got a problem when a band suddenly comes out of nowhere and all of a sudden are everywhere.  The disc is very good, but by no means a classic.  (There are 3 or 4 very good tunes on the disc).  Maybe they could've waited until their 2nd disc to have sold out, but I also understand that there's no guarantees that a 2nd disc would materialize so "take it while you can".   Seeing them at Bowery Ballroom in a few weeks, they're supposed to be very good live.