An AZ Music Festival and some Keller Williams

MMMF

The Phoenix area has its own cool little happening called the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. It’s coming up on April 27th and 28th at WestWorld in Scottsdale. I’m excited about the opening night, which features the Neville Brothers and Bob Weir’s band, Ratdog (among a lot of others, shown here). If you’re in the southwest, come on down.

I’ve seen both bands a few times each, but not since the mid 90’s (the best was seeing both at Laguna Seca Daze in Monterey, Calif.). So this is a must see for me, with both bands together in my own back yard. You gotta think there will be some sort of collaboration too. We’ll see. I’ll be there listening in, snapping photos, and maybe even chatting with some of the talent.

Keller Williams

Regarding Bob Weir, he makes an appearance on the latest release by guitar and loop whiz Keller Williams. Dream was released back on February 6th. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Keller Williams until this album, so I have some catching up to do. But this CD has been on steady rotation since I got it. It’s his 11th release dating all the way back to 1994. Maybe a KW fan here can recommend their favorite, and steer me in the right direction for my next purchase (the boys at Hidden Track, maybe?).

Keller is known as a one-man jam band. At live shows, he jams by himself on mostly acoustic guitars (many of them 12 string) while looping the guitars and vocals with a Gibson Echoplex Delay. On Dream though, the concept was collaboration. Some of the folks helping out on this album are Bela Fleck, Charlie Hunter, John Scofield, Steve Kimock, Michael Franti, the String Cheese Incident, and Victor Wooten. The album is downright pleasing to the ears, folksy and relaxed. Highlights for me are the Kimock/Williams tune “Twinkle”- an instrumental with some tasty and wholly unique guitar licks and effects ; “Lil’ Sexy Blues”, which incorporates Indian instruments like tablas and the hansa veena (with special guests Samir Chatterjee and Sanjay Mishra) ; and a cool reggae tinged tune with Franti called “Ninja of Love”. Unique sounds are a theme throughout the album.

And that brings us back to Bobby Weir, who teams up with Keller on “Cadillac”. I never thought of Bob Weir as the kind of guy to sing lyrics like: “and Jesus be riding bitch seat / cuz he’s good like that”. But here he is, doing just that. Oh, and Bob’s dog, Jackson Hamlet Weir, contributes with some quality barking. Keller, by the way, will be on the road with Ratdog this summer.

Keller WilliamsCadillac (mp3)

Buy Dream.

Ear Fuzz Referral:Miles Davis at the Isle of Wight, 1970

Miles Davis

This is way too cool not to share. For amazing video of Miles Davis and band at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, go to Ear Fuzz now and take some time to watch this incredible footage.

The lineup: Jack DeJohnette (drums), Dave Holland (bass), Airto Moriera (perc), Keith Jarrett (keys), Chick Corea (keys), Gary Bartz (sax), and of course Miles Davis.

Observe the Stage Presence of Miles. What a badass mother—er. RIP Miles.

Tony Allen and Ginger Baker Poundin the Skins

Tony Allen - Bad Ass Drummin MFer

Kudos to Jefito for throwing a Fela Kuti / Ginger Baker tune on one of his Friday mix tapes a couple months back. It made me aware of Fela and the Africa 70’s “Live” album with Ginger Baker. It was originally released in 1971, but was reissued late last year with a 16 minute bonus track – a Ginger Baker / Tony Allen drum jam.

Tony Allen was Fela Kuti’s drummer for many many years, and is active today in The Good, the Bad, & the Queen, which also features former Blur frontman Damon Albarn, and former Clash – yes CLASH – bassist Paul Simonon. Hidden Track caught one of their shows over the weekend, and has some sweet pics posted in their photo review.

So I’m a percussion kind of guy, and can happily spend 16 minutes of my life listening to a fine Afrobeat / funkin’ drummin’ jam. Can you?

Ginger Baker & Tony Allen Drum Solo (mp3, 25mb) – Live at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival

Buy:

Jerry and Merl in San Anselmo, 1972

Merl Saunders nd Jerry Garcia

So what we have here is a vintage recording of Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and friends (pre-Jerry Garcia Band). This is a soundboard recording zeroed right in on Jerry’s guitar. For those people who associate Garcia only with the Grateful Dead, they’re missing a whole lot of what made him the musician he was. Jerry was an amazing soloist in the Dead’s improv-jam milieu (damn, it’s been a while since I’ve pulled that word out – hello old friend). But with his work outside of the Dead, Jerry dove into bluegrass (his very first band was a jug band), R&B, Motown, early rock & roll, and others.

This is the first set from this night. The second set isn’t in circulation. But even these six songs take a trip through musical genres… Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh…”; Gamble & Huff’s “Expressway (To Your Heart)”- a hit by the Soul Survivors; the gorgeous instrumental version of “Imagine” (only two months after John Lennon’s album had been released); “Big Boy” Crudup’s “That’s Alright Mama”- Elvis Presley’s breakout single; a Merl Saunders original, “Save Mother Earth”; and Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her”.

All the while, Merl Saunders’ Hammond B3 churns away warmly in the background. Both “Imagine” and “Save Mother Earth” showed up on Saunders’ album ‘Heavy Turbulence’ later that year (an album that featured Garcia on guitar). John Kahn, the bass player in this show, also played on the album, and was the bass player in the Jerry Garcia Band from beginning (1975) until end (1995).

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Paul Butterfield, late master of the Chicago Blues harp, joins in on the last couple of songs.

But it’s Jerry’s guitar skills that take over this show. Prepare to be blown away…

Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders, and Friends
Jannuary 19th, 1972
The Lion’s Share
San Anselmo, CA

It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry
Expressway To Your Heart
Imagine
That’s Alright Mama
Save Mother Earth *
I Was Made To Love Her *

* with Paul Butterfield on harmonica

Jerry Garcia – guitar, vocals
Merl Saunders – keyboards, vocals
John Kahn – bass
Bill Vitt – drums
Sarah Fulcher – vocals
Paul Butterfield – harmonica (Guest on tracks 5 & 6)

BUY Rhino’s The Very Best of Jerry Garcia or preview it Rhino’s Listening Party.

Jerry

Dead at the Cow Palace Contest

Dead at Cow Palace

If you didn’t win this in Hidden Track’s recent contest (they took the best post title, “A Dead Giveaway”), here’s a chance to pick up Rhino’s recent release of the Grateful Dead’s New Year’s Eve 1976 show at the Cow Palace. It’s a triple CD set, it’s 180 minutes of Dead in their prime goodness, and I think you should have it. There’s a listening party right here, and you can also check out and buy the CD here.

Leaving a comment below enters you in the contest, and I’ll pick a winner early in the coming week. Because it’s late Saturday morning, and I’m high on 2 cups of coffee and cold medicine, let’s get creative. Whoever comes up with the best Grateful Dead / Jerry Garcia related haiku wins the set.

About Haiku: “Haiku is an unrhymed, syllabic form adapted from the Japanese: three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Because it is so brief, a haiku is necessarily imagistic, concrete & pithy, capturing a single moment in a very few words.”

so good luck people
this is a lot of music
eat asparagus

February 2nd Update: We gotta winner: Boyhowdy! See here for details.

Sunday Jams

There are certain things in life which make you wonder how you ever survived without them. The internet, cell phones (for better or worse), and for me, Satellite Radio. I’ve been a Sirius subscriber for about a year now, and have discovered so much great music because of the multitude of commercial free channels.

One of my regular stops is Jam_On, which is Sirius’s ‘jam band’ channel, offering up your expected assortment of Phish, Dead, Widpespread Panic, etc. But they also feature some of the lesser known quality jam bands out there.

frame of mind

One of them is Frame of Mind. Their web site shows them to be “from the beaches of Southern California, to the mountains of central Idaho”. Definitely a couple of nice places to hone your craft. They’ve spent the last 5 years or so playing throughout the western states with such bands as Gov’t Mule, The Mother Hips, Arizona’s own Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, and Soulive (who I’ll be seeing in a couple of months at the Telluride Jazz Celebration).

It was this tune I heard on Sirius. The verses / choruses will conjure up thoughts of Blues Traveler (the harmonica riffs), but it’s the 8 minutes of instrumental meat in the middle which drew me in.

Frame of Mind: It’s All Good (mp3) – recorded live at John’s Alley. Moscow, Idaho – Feb 3, 2006 – check out and buy their music

the motet

Speaking of instrumental jam goodness, the Motet, based out of Boulder, Colorado, have been mixing up funk, jazz, afrobeat, and afro-cuban since 1998. It was founded by drummer Dave Watts, who composes all of their music. If you like percussion oriented music, you’ll like these guys.

The Motet: Belly (mp3) – from their Live CD

RIP Vince Welnick

Vince Welnick

The curse of the Grateful Dead keyboard player continues. Vince Welnick, who started with the Tubes, and ended up being the last keyboard player for the Dead (1990-1995), has died at his home in Forestville, California (apparently of suicide). I saw the Dead ten times between ’94 and ’95, so Vince was the only keyboard player I ever saw. After Jerry Garcia’s death in ’95, Vince eventually formed his own group, Missing Man Formation. He would also sit in with other bands from time to time. Vince actually sat in with my friend Evan Jones and his band Xtra Ticket, a Dead-influenced band here in the Phoenix area, a number of times. Speaking of a number of times, I spent every Thursday for about 4 straight years watching Xtra Ticket play at Boston’s in Tempe. Goood times were had my friends, good times were had.

Three of the five other Dead keys players also passed too early: Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (virtually drinking himself to death at the age of 27), Keith Godchaux (car crash), and Brent Mydland (drug overdose in 1990).

I had a really good Missing Man Formation performance from a Grateful Dead Hour I taped years ago, but of course, my search came up fruitless. However, I checked out Xtra Ticket’s site, and they have a full Vince / Xtra Ticket show from Vince’s Birthday just last year at the fabled and now former Sail Inn in Tempe, AZ.

Vince Welnick & Xtra Ticket: Watching the Wheels > The Wheel (mp3) – from Vince’s Birthday show, 02-19-2005

You can download the entire show (in Mp3 or Zip) on this page at Xtra Ticket’s site.

Grateful Dead: Way To Go Home (mp3), Vince on Vocals, from 06-25-1994 at the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl, Las Vegas (I was there!)

Case of the Missing Dead Head

Jerry

Here’s another story that’s impossible for me to ignore. Someone has gone and lifted Jerry’s porcelain throne!

SONOMA, California (AP) — The long, strange trip continues for Jerry Garcia’s toilet. Police say the Grateful Dead leader’s commode was stolen recently from a driveway along with three other toilets and a bidet.

Garcia’s salmon-colored toilet was the subject of a legal battle before it was finally moved to Sonoma, to await shipment to a Canadian casino. Last month, Koltys sold Garcia’s toilet for $2,550 to online casino Goldenpalace.com, which planned to use it as part of a traveling marketing exhibit. The casino is offering a $250 reward for its return.

Koltys said Friday the toilet once stood in Garcia’s master bathroom. “It would have been his personal head,” he said. – – from this article on CNN

It’s hard to speculate exactly where the toilet has found a home, but I picture a 3 foot bong, a half eaten pan of ganja brownies, and a couple of beat-up copies of High Times magazine.

So, I’m sorry, if bathroom humor is the theme of the day, then it is my doodie duty to play along…

Grateful Dead: Dark Hollow (mp3) – from Reckoning

Grateful Dead: Black Muddy River (mp3) – from In the Dark

Unearthing the Dead


I have located the mother of all Grateful Dead show mp3 repositories here at Archive.org. WOW. While my old tapes have been collecting dust, and I struggle with mustering up the enthusiasm to convert them to mp3?s, this site has saved me all the trouble.

I saw the Dead a total of 10 times in 1994-1995 (Phoenix, L.A., and Las Vegas), which is nothing compared to some friends of mine who were in the triple digits. Nothing will ever match the atmosphere and ambience of a Dead show, both in and outside the performance itself (the parking lot sideshow is something you can?t explain without experiencing it). It was a traveling carnival, a mass of friendly people selling their wares (both legal and not), dancing, drumming, walking around, checking each other out, smoking, and smoking some more? and the throng would just take over the surrounding area. It was something to see?

Here?s part of one my personal faves:

Grateful Dead: The Other One > Wharf Rat > Throwing Stones > Not Fade Away (mp3 16.5 MB) ? live at the Oakland Coliseum, December 31st, 1987

Link to hundreds of Dead Shows at Archive.org.