McDowell Mountain Music Festival kicks off Friday

What: McDowell Mountain Music Festival
Where: Westworld – north Scottsdale, AZ
When: Friday, April 24th & Saturday, April 25th

This is a weekend I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. My favorite local festival, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, kicks off tomorrow. Over the next two days, north Scottsdale’s WestWorld grounds will transform itself into the music mecca of the area for the weekend.

The next two days will feature some seasoned veterans: Hot Tuna and New Riders of the Purple Sage (a band that once featured one Jerry Garcia); some festival favorites: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Railroad Earth; an Irish band from L.A. (the Young Dubliners); a Hasidic Jew with a flair for all things reggae (Matisyahu); and then, headlining Saturday night, a band that has us – the desert dwellers – abuzz: the Flaming Lips!

Fun in the sun, groovalicious tunes, cold brewskis for those of us who enjoy such things, great food, great people….

And a nice forecast…

I’ll be snapping up some photos, and tweeting around throughout the weekend. For now, I leave you with a cool version of the Flaming Lips covering Madonna’s “Borderline”. See you all on the other side!

Flaming Lips to headline day 2 of McDowell Mountain Music Festival

It’s been a few days for me. My Ickmusic command center (aka my loft) is in the process of a makeover (hardwood floors), so the Mac has been moving hither and yonder and I’ve been busy doing man stuff. My neighbor Kevin is a jack of all trades, and he works for beer (for his next door neighbors). So thanks Kevin for showing me how it’s all done…

So here’s some big news from Arizona’s coolest music festival, the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. They just announced the Flaming Lips as Saturday night’s headliner! Their past lineups have always been impressive, but have tended to lean more toward the jam scene and reggae, which I have no problem with at all. But with the announcement of the Flaming Lips, they’re clearly expanding into other territory that will bring in a wider audience, and give it more clout to pull in more impressive acts for years to come.

I’ve heard great things about the Flaming Lips live show, so I can’t wait. Now I need to get a good primer on the their music, because I just checked my iTunes, and I only have three tunes: “In the Morning of the Magician” and “Do You Realize” from ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’, and “The Machine in India” off of ‘Zaireeka’. – – – Okay, well I just bought all of ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’. So Lips fans, where do I go next? What’s the essential album? Any good DVD’s I can Netflix?

The Flaming Lips – “In the Morning of the Magician” (mp3) – from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

McDowell Mountain Music Festival – 2009 (Web Site)

Friday, April 24th

Saturday, April 25th

Hometown Tunes: McDowell Mountain Music Festival

As an Arizona resident for the last sixteen years, there are a handful of things I look forward to each year – one is October, when the triple digit heat finally gives up and goes away for eight months or so. Another is Spring Training baseball – AZ is home to the Cactus League, where 14 major league teams come to train. Quickly inching its way up the list is the McDowell Mountain Music Festival, two April days of fun in the sun, great music, cold beer, and tasty food – all in my backyard, up in north Scottsdale at the Westworld grounds. I know it’s four and a half months away, but hey, I get excited, okay?

The festy launched a slick new web site today, with some lineup announcements, including Michael Franti & Spearhead as the Friday headliner. The Saturday headliner is yet to be announced, as are a few other slots on the bill. But so far, McDowell has a handful of national acts booked: Railroad Earth, Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Assembly of Dust, and Young Dubliners.

The two headliners for Saturday are still pending, so I’m expecting that it’ll be worth the wait (I threw in my 2 cents, recommending Band of Horses). It shares the weekend with the first weekend of New Orleans Jazz Fest, which swallows up scores of talent, but I’ll have faith! So far, this year’s lineup hasn’t knocked my socks off, but I find that I always end up enjoying every set regardless – something about Arizona, April, beer, and music.

If you’re in the southwest, come on down… McDowell is still small enough that you won’t get swallowed up in a crowd, the people are great, it’s very well organized, and you may even bump into me as I stumble out of my rented RV! YoW!

McDowell Mountain Music Festival – 2009 (Web Site)

Friday, April 24th

Saturday, April 25th

Two years ago, the Neville Brothers were there, and I shot one of the musical highlights of my life…

Review: Friday at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival

When you show up to at a music festival to pick up your press credentials, and you’re handed a VIP pass with 12 free drinks ready to be punched, at a Sierra Nevada-sponsored festival, well – you just know it’s gonna be a great day. Nine hours later – after seeing and hearing the likes of Gov’t Mule, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the subdudes, Steve Reynolds Band, and Mikel Lander, Meridith Moore & Friends – I was right, it was great.

This was my second straight year at the Friday offering of Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountain Music Festival. It’s a young festival (this was it’s 5th annual), and with the impressive lineups, the great organization, and so much room at the Westworld venue to expand, it’s going to pick up steam and continue to grow each year. So on this Friday, my partner in crime was my friend Greg. Let me take you through our day…

Coming Right Up: McDowell Mountain Music Festival

For those of us in the southwest U.S. who can’t make it to Prince’s Coachella debut this weekend, a great alternative exists with the 5th annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival in Scottsdale.

I’ll be heading out Friday to see the Subdudes, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Friday headliner Gov’t Mule.

Saturday’s lineup includes the John Butler Trio, Blues Traveler, the Wailers, and J.J. Grey & Mofro.

So grab the sunscreen (forecast of 90 degrees), hit the noon to 4pm happy hour ($2 beers), and catch some quality tunes with Ickmusic! (or Pete, as I’m known in these parts)…

festivals and subdudes

If I had my way, I’d hit all of the big festivals.. the Coachellas, the Bonnaroos, the Lollapaloozas, etc. But add the tricky dynamic of wife and kids (not to mention a shitty economy), and a guy like me has to choose his battles festivals. So 2008 is shaping up to look exactly like 2007, which works just fine for me.

I’ll be hitting two festies, a local and a biggie. The local is Scottsdale’s 5th Annual McDowell Mountain Music Festival , coming April 25th & 26th. Not too shabby of a lineup: Gov’t Mule, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, the subdudes, the John Butler Trio, Blues Traveler, the Wailers, and JJ Grey & Mofro.

And nationally, I’ll once again be attending the Austin City Limits Music Festival, for the second year in a row. It takes place September 26-28, so too early for lineup announcements – but they never disappoint. Can’t wait!

At last year’s McDowell Mountain Festival, my highlight was the Crescent City’s own Neville Brothers. This year, the subdudes will be representing New Orleans. A nice laid back mix of soul, rock, and cajun influences, lead singer Tommy Malone and the boys have been shredding up the stages on and off since 1987. Their very first gig was an impromptu one at Tipitina’s – a great place to be born.

My favorite tune of theirs comes from a mid 90’s album of theirs, Annunciation. “Save Me” is beautiful and heartfelt – a tune that I always return to.

the subdudes – Save Me (mp3)

Links: the subdudes official site | myspace | on foxytunes – You guys & gals should check out FoxyTunes if you haven’t already – cool widgets to different music sites, and a controller for your music player built into your browser (Firefox on the Mac).


Aaron Neville at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Aaron Neville, originally uploaded by ick1999.

It was a loooong, satisfying day yesterday at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. My wife and I rolled up at about 1:30, right when the music kicked off. We made it until about 9:30, partly into Ratdog’s set. Unfortunately, Mr. Migraine decided to make an appearance and made my wife’s later evening an unpleasant one.

But the whole day can be be summed up in five simple words: Tell It Like It Is. Yep, the highlight for me was seeing Mr. Aaron Neville sing his 1966 classic. It was one of the most exhilarating and special live music moments of my entire life. I stood at the front of the stage and took it all in. And my Canon SD630 was there too to capture most of the song. I had it bumped down to low resolution, so the video and audio quality isn’t great, but this is what I got to experience.

At the end of the song, you’ll hear some yahoo scream “Yeeahh! – – baby!! – – I LOVE it!!”. Uh, yeah, that was me.

To see all of my photos from the festival, check out my Flickr photoset of the day.

McDowell Mountain Profile: Ratdog

photo courtesy of Alan Hess:

Headlining the McDowell Mountain Music Festival tomorrow night is Bob Weir and his band Ratdog. The band originally formed as a side project for Bob and his friend Rob Wasserman. They picked up former Primus drummer Jay Lane and guitar / harmonica player Matthew Kelly and hit the road in 1995. For those that don’t know, Bob Weir was the rhythm guitar player and founding member of the Grateful Dead (did I need to mention that?). Ratdog’s songbook has consisted primarily of Dead tunes, Weir solo tunes, and the wealth of Bob Dylan tunes that the Dead also enjoyed playing over their 30 year career. Only Bob and Jay Lane remain from the original Ratdog lineup (Wasserman left in 2003), but they’re still going strong. This summer, they’ll be touring the U.S. with jam-guitar man Keller Williams.

Judging by a Weir interview I read in the local paper today, I can look forward to seeing some Ratdog / Neville Brothers collaborations tomorrow night. Did I mention I’m excited?

RatdogMasters of War (mp3) – Dylan cover, live, unknown date & location – great version of a great song that rings OH SO TRUE today.

Ratdog Heaven Help the Fool (mp3) – live, September 2nd, 1995 – original comes from Weir’s 1978 solo album of the same name – this is hands down one of my favorite versions.

  • Ratdog’s Official Site.
  • Stream / download some live Ratdog shows on
  • Current Ratdog lineup: Bob Weir (vox, guitar), Jay Lane (drums), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards,vox), Kenny Brooks (sax, vox), Mark Karan (guitar, vox), Robin Sylvester (bass, vox)

McDowell Mountain Profile: The Neville Brothers

neville brothers
Photo by Beate Sandor

Now we’re getting to the really fun part. I’m excited as hell to say that I’m gonna see the Neville Brothers on Friday! As I mentioned in another post, I saw them at a cool festival in May 1996 called Laguna Seca Daze at the Laguna Seca Race track in Monterey, California (a festival that also included a “Being There”-era Wilco). I remember a really amazing moment as they were playing a version of the Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” as the sun was setting (nope, not “Fire on the Bayou”). There were rolling green hills behind the stage, and around the bend on a distant hill road came a red fire truck with lights on and the faint sound of the siren. Amazing imagery (pfffffffssstt – pass it on!). Mindblowing dude! 😉

So where do you even start with the Nevilles? They are an institution in their hometown of New Orleans. Brothers Ivan, Aaron, Cyril, Art and Charles released their first record as the Neville Brothers in 1977 (self-titled). The brothers were active prior to that. Most notably, Art was a founding member of soul/funk pioneers the Meters. For a full bio, check out their site. So thirty years later, here they are still going strong, touring as ambassadors for their suffering city. As New Orleans Jazz Fest kicks off this weekend, I’ll have the honor of catching the Nevilles here in my home, Arizona. I consider myself very privileged.

The Neville BrothersYellow Moon (mp3) – live in KBCO studios, Boulder

Previous MMMF Profiles: Gelatinous Groove | 2 Tone Lizard Kings | Tea Leaf Green | Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

McDowell Mountain Profile: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

grace potter and the nocturnals

Next up on the big stage Friday: Vermont band Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Grace leads the band with her killer soulful voice and a Hammond B3. The Nocturnals are made up of Scott Tournet (guitar), Matthew Burr (drums), and Bryan Dondero (bass). The fine folks over at Hidden Track swear by her, and they are true aficionados of today’s jam scene, so I’m looking forward to the live GP & the Nocturnals experience. Judging by a recent live show I checked out on Archive, it should be good.

So this summer will see their third release, This is Somewhere. Here’s a sneak peak at one of the tracks…

Grace Potter & the NocturnalsAh Mary (mp3)

Watch Grace & the Nocturnals tear up “Mystery Train”.

Previous MMMF Profiles: Gelatinous Groove | 2 Tone Lizard Kings | Tea Leaf Green