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.