The Smithereens 4/22/16

The band is celebrating the 35th Anniversary of their hit album “ESPECIALLY FOR YOU” and will be performing the album in its entirety. They will also be performing their greatest hits, covers from The Who, and album gems.

Best known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop that inspired countless alternative rockers including Kurt Cobain, The Smithereens gained popularity with ’11’ the album the spawned the hits ‘A Girl Like You,’ ‘Blood and Roses’ & ‘Blue Period.’ ‘2011’ their first album of new material in 12 years. Produced by Don Dixon (who helmed ‘Especially For You,’ the group’s breakout debut) features 13 new tracks and finds the seminal New Jersey rockers picking up right where they left off: with irresistibly catchy hooks and rapturously fuzzed-out guitars.

Milk Carton Kids Monterey Spring Tour 4/7/16

Grammy-nominated harmony duo The Milk Carton Kids released their third album, Monterey on May 19, 2015. A refreshing alternative to the foot-stomping grandeur of the so-called ‘folk revival,’ an understated virtuosity defines The Milk Carton Kids and their new album. The two years since the release of their last album, The Ash & Clay, have been significant ones for the group. In addition to a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album, The Milk Carton Kids won Duo/Group of the Year at the Americana Music Awards in 2014. Their featured performances and interviews in T Bone Burnett & the Coen Brothers’ concert documentary, ‘Another Day/Another Time,’ brought the band its widest audience and their 55-city North American tour last year sold out months in advance. Cultural purveyors from Garrison Keillor to T Bone Burnett to Billy Bragg have hailed the duo’s importance among a group of new folk bands, both expanding and contradicting the rich tradition that precedes them. Yet while some of the band’s many accolades reference a specific genre, the duo quickly transcends those tags with clear inflections of jazz, classical, even the dark lyricism of modern ‘alternative.’ This past year, The Milk Carton Kids were asked to pay tribute to Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris ‘ Cash on the Joe Henry-produced remake of ‘Bitter Tears,’ and Harris with their standing ovation performance at the tribute concert ‘The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris,’ among luminaries including Kris Kristofferson, Mavis Staples, Alison Kraus, Iron & Wine, and Harris herself. If Cash and Harris taught us that American music is meant to be taken at its expansive word, without confines or borders, The Milk Carton Kids appear to have taken the lesson to heart.

Mike Zito and The Wheel 4/1/16

The natural habitat of the true musician is not the gleaming studio, a glitzy showbiz party or a five-star hotel. It’s the road. And if multiple Blues Music Award winner Mike Zito had a dollar for every mile of tarmac he’s burnt since his breakout in the early-’90s, they’d be piled up to his chin. ‘There’s just something in me,’ considers the solo bandleader and Royal Southern Brotherhood co-founder (with Devon Allman and Cyril Neville), ‘It’s there in all musicians. You gotta love the road to be a part of this world. You’re right there, looking in people’s eyes, swapping stories, shaking hands” There’s an undeniable romance about a life in motion ‘ and an enduring magic about the moment when the house lights go down, the roar of the crowd goes up and the shadows take the stage. For Mike, who began touring the Midwest circuit at the age of eighteen, and has since crossed twenty-plus countries as guitarist with the Brotherhood, this is when things get serious. ‘In my band, The Wheel, if you’re not already with us, you’d better get on board,’ he grins. ‘Because otherwise we’re gonna knock you down!’

Amy Helm 3/31/16

I’m just trying to tell some stories as honestly as I can,’ Amy Helm says of ​Didn’t It Rain, ​her first solo album and her eOne Music debut. Although the personally charged, organically soulful ​Didn’t It Rain ​is her first release under her own name, Amy Helm has been making music for most of her life. She’s already won widespread praise as a singer, songwriter and live performer, first as a member of the celebrated alt??country collective Ollabelle and subsequently for her extensive work with her father, musical icon Levon Helm, who passed away in 2012. Blessed with a commanding, deeply expressive voice and an uncanny songwriting skill that instinctively draws upon a deep well of American musical traditions, Amy Helm delivers a timelessly powerful statement with Didn’t It Rain. The spellbinding dozen??song set is rooted in first??person experience, exploring universal themes of life, love and loss on such musically and emotionally resonant originals as the smoldering soul ballad ‘Rescue Me,’ the hushed, lilting ‘Deep Water,’ the meditative ‘Roll Away’ and the stark, haunting ‘Wild Girl.’ Complementing Helm’s originals are her personalized takes on the Sam Cooke classic ‘Good News’ and the traditional title track, which she delivers with the heartfelt gospel urgency that’s always been an element of her vocal persona. Accompanying Helm on ​Didn’t It Rain​ is an impressive roster of players and singers that demonstrates the esteem in which the artist is held by her peers. Helm’s former Ollabelle bandmate Byron Isaacs, who produced the album, co??wrote the majority of the songs with Helm, and is featured as one??third of Helm’s current live trio the Handsome Strangers, playing bass alongside guitarist Daniel Littleton and drummer David Berger. Also contributing their talents are Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne; guitarists Larry Campbell, Chris Masterson and Jim Weider; keyboardists Marco Benevento, John Medeski and Brian Mitchell; and guest backup vocalists Carolyn Leonhart, Elizabeth Mitchell, Allison Moorer, Catherine Russell and Teresa Williams. Didn’t It Rain ​also marked the final recording sessions of Levon Helm, who acted as the project’s executive producer as well as adding his unmistakable drumming on three tracks; Levon’s distinctive count??off can be heard kicking off Amy’s rousing take on Martha Scanlan’s ‘Spend Our Last Dime.’ Helm had originally planned to release her solo debut a bit sooner, but chose to substantially rework the album that she initially recorded, recutting more than half of the songs with the road??tested Handsome Strangers. ‘That was kind of a reckless move financially, and it’s resulted in the album coming out two years later than I originally thought it would, but it was the right thing to do,’ she acknowledges. ‘When I started the record, I’d never done a gig under my own name, and I was still getting comfortable with the idea of being a solo artist. I thought I’d finished the record, but then I started going out on the road, and the stuff that we were doing live was so much stronger thanwhat I had recorded, and I started feeling more confidence and focus. So we went back in the studio, with no money and no budget, and found a way to do it and get it right.’ Many of ​Didn’t It Rain​’s songs are the product of an extended period during which the artist endured a series of personal trials and life changes, including the April 2012 passing of her father and chief musical mentor. ‘The past few years have been profoundly transformative for me, so I wanted to tell some of those stories as honestly as I could,’ she asserts. ‘I thought about the people I had lost, and things that had fallen apart and things that were coming together, and that influenced the way I sang these songs.’ Amy Helm began connecting with audiences early in life, playing her first gig in her early teens in a Manhattan bar and drifting informally through a series of combos before her father recruited her to join his live band. She also absorbed musical and personal inspiration from her mother, noted singer/songwriter Libby Titus; and her stepfather, Steely Dan co??mastermind Donald Fagen, who offered Amy additional opportunities to find herself as a performer. ‘I always did gigs through high school and college,’ she explains, ‘but my fears and insecurities kept me from committing to it. That’s when my dad became a huge influence; he scooped me up when I was in my mid ??20s and put me in this blues band. I was very, very green, but I got my road??dog status with him. It was like walking through fire every time I got on stage, but it forced me to decide if I wanted to do this. And I decided that I absolutely wanted to do it.’ Amy’s vocal and songwriting talents soon found a home in the New York?? based Ollabelle, whose three acclaimed albums and countless live gigs saw her evolve into a confident, charismatic performer. She also resumed her musical collaboration with her father, singing and playing in his band, playing on and co??producing his Grammy?? winning 2007 comeback album Dirt Farmer​, and helping to organize the now??legendary Midnight Ramble concerts at Levon’s home studio in Woodstock, NY. ‘He was the best teacher, in so many ways,’ Amy says of her father. ‘He wasn’t interested in overthinking anything; all he cared about was playing music. He saw himself as a working musician, and it was serious business and it had to be right. Playing side by side with him in the Ramble band for ten years, and building those shows with him, really changed the way I approached things, and his humility influenced and shaped me as a musician, as it did everyone who played with him.’ With ​Didn’t It Rain​ reintroducing her to the world as a solo artist, Helm says that her immediate plan is ‘to just get out and play as many gigs as possible. I think that the job of a musician is to try and shake people out of their own heads for an hour or two, and bring some joy into the world. So I want to get out there and do the job the best I can.’

KIMOCK 3/19/16

Even the most inspired and free-thinking artist, one whose celebrated command of his instrument and musical expression underscores a strong sense of fluidity and freedom within the traditional structure of American rock music, can wake up one day with the desire ‘ the need, rather ‘ to flip the table, reshuffle the deck, and draw fresh cards for himself. And so we find Steve Kimock, a master of small band improvisation and champion of the national rock and dance band circuit for four decades, breaking new ground with his latest solo effort, Last Danger of Frost. ‘There are other spaces and experiences music flows into, fills, and conforms to: family, nature, travel, quiet study and contemplation, imagination, to name a few. For me, the balance of the music has shifted to ‘other,” Kimock declares. As evidenced on Last Danger of Frost, the ‘other’ morphs acoustic and electronic sounds, voiced by vintage guitars, synthesizers and bass. For instance, the ‘other’ found him laying down an entire track using nothing but guitar feedback, manipulated into bird song that he overdubbed into the ambient ‘Big Sky’. Recorded in Kimock’s century-old Pennsylvania barn last winter before a move back to California, Last Danger of Frost offers a daring personal expression that introduces innovative techniques the guitarist discovered in a solo setting. Kimock dismantles the rock band framework and takes a full stretch to create exploratory sounds and intimate compositions that may have been waiting to be revealed ‘ or rediscovered ‘ the whole time. ‘Music is the feeling you get when you listen to good music,’ Kimock states. ‘That was my understanding when I got my very first cheapo acoustic guitar and, failing to tune or play it, entertained myself by sliding the bridge around to change the pitch. The non-conventional technique and tuning concepts came early and easy. I listened and played without knowing anything other than that I was being transported to a beautiful new world by sound. Some half a century later I find myself in my barn, recording these sounds ‘ in the absence of commercial style and convention, peer pressure and audience expectation… or maybe just in defiance.’ In spring 2016, this music will be presented in an exciting, new intimate ensemble called KIMOCK when Steve partners with John Morgan Kimock (drummer, composer, multi-instrumentalist). The father/son duo has been composing further music over the past year, inspired by the record’s compositions and direction, orchestrating musical styles across genres and generations. Fans will encounter a listening experience that spotlights Steve’s remarkable tone in an intuitive flow of Eastern and Western folk music, heartfelt acoustic guitar, ambient electronic expressions, inventive covers, and contemporary compositions. Also planned for the new touring project are Steve’s longtime bass-playing left hand, Bobby Vega, who will bring 30 years’ worth of chemistry and collaboration, adding intrinsic groves and tones to the new compositions. Add to that special guest vocalist Leslie Mendelson, with whom the duo has also been composing, and you have the makings of an inspired new project. KIMOCK invites audiences to lean in, listen and experience the symbiosis.

Sam Amidon & Glenn Kotche (of Wilco) 3/17/16

Sam Amidon & Glenn Kotche (of Wilco) This eclectic bill will feature 2 solo sets as well as a collaborative set of music. For a percussionist and composer as energetic, inquisitive and versatile as Glenn Kotche, it’s his sense of balance’his ability to thrive in different and seemingly disparate worlds’that really makes him stand out as a musician. Since 2001, Kotche has been the rhythmic anchor in Wilco, one of the most beloved rock bands on the planet. His first studio outing with the Chicago- based band was the breakthrough Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and has continued over the course of five albums, including the Grammy-winning A Ghost Is Born and the critically acclaimed The Whole Love. He has appeared on over 80 recordings by artists as diverse as Andrew Bird, Edith Frost, Neil Finn and Radiohead’s Phil Selway, and he’s a founding member of two other bands’ Loose Fur, with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and longtime collaborator Jim O’Rourke, and On Fillmore, with upright bassist Darin Gray. He has also written music for classical and post-classical ensembles like Kronos Quartet, the Silk Road Ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, So Percussion, eighth blackbird and many more. Unsurprisingly, Kotche has drawn the praise of his peers from all corners of the musical spectrum. ‘I could never find another drummer who was Glenn Kotche,’ Jim O’Rourke told Time Out Tokyo in 2013, ‘because there isn’t.’ In the program notes for Ilimaq, a piece written in 2012 specifically for Kotche, composer John Luther Adams observed, ‘…in the hands of a musician like Glenn, the drum set is a one-man percussion orchestra.’ Sam Amidon thought he had a pretty good idea what direction his new album Lily-O was going to go. Then he started recording it. Out now via Nonesuch Records, what turned out to be a collection of distinctive, enveloping songs rooted in folk music didn’t begin that way at all. In fact, the Vermont-born singer, guitarist, fiddler and banjo player had initially envisioned an album based more on the improvisational material he and jazz guitar great Bill Frisell developed together a couple of years ago while touring New England as a duo. ‘I thought it was going to be a much more instrumental, weird album of fiddle stuff and snatches of melodies and a little bit of singing, but really strange,’ Amidon says. ‘I didn’t set out for this album to be as much of a songs record as it ended up being.’ There are 10 songs on Lily-O, to be exact, and they include bright banjo and clickety-clack percussion on opener ‘Walkin’ Boss,’ the mournful interplay of fiddle and guitars on ‘Blue Mountain’ and glimmers of Frisell’s electric guitar framing Amidon’s plainspoken vocals on ‘Maid Lamenting.’

Y & T 3/8/16

Born in Oakland, CA, Y&T is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s own innovators of the hard rock sound. Featuring heavy grooves, powerful guitars and strong melodies, the band shows their versatility, delivering a range of high energy rockers, mid-tempo head-bangers, modern rock grooves, majestic ballads, and signature Y&T rock anthems. Since their inception in 1974, Y&T has sold over four million albums, receiving airplay with such hits as ‘Forever,’ ‘Rescue Me,’ ‘Mean Streak’ and ‘Summertime Girls,’ which also received heavy rotation on MTV. Whether performing to a festival crowd of fifty-thousand or in an intimate venue like the Narrows Center, Y&T’s high-energy set still captivates legions of fans around the globe, proving Y&T’s music timeless.

Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds 3/10/16

The Catskill Mountains hid rock ‘n’ roll’s best kept secret for almost 18 years. Then in 2008, singer and songwriter Arleigh Kincheloe said goodbye to her hometown hideaway and moved to New York City to start Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds. In the years since, the group has performed more than 600 shows, released two full??length albums and an EP produced by Randy Jackson (American Idol), and enchanted tastemakers ranging from The Wall Street Journal and LA Times to Glamour, USA Today, and The New Yorker. They have shared the stage with such heavyweights as Gov’t Mule, Dr. John, Trombone Shorty, The Avett Brothers, Counting Crows, and Galactic, and have turned audiences into believers through appearances on the festival circuit at Bonnaroo, Firefly, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Voodoo Music Experience and many more. On May 19th, the band will unleash their most rambunctious, raucous, and righteous recording to date in the form of T​he Weather Below,​which features the band’s roster of her brother, Jackson Kincheloe (harmonica), Sasha Brown (guitar), Josh Myers (bass), Phil Rodriguez (trumpet), and Brian Graham (saxophones), and Dan Boyden (drums). So, what is it about this ‘hard soul collective,’ as Arleigh so eloquently puts it, that has engendered such passion from both the press and the people? ‘It’s loud, fun, and it’s supposed to make you feel good,’ she declares. ‘That’s the goal.’ Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds accomplish that goal tenfold with a saucy sonic brew of rock, blues, gospel, and soul. In order to perfect that signature amalgam, the band retreated to the iconic Bear Creek Studio (James Brown, Eric Clapton), just outside Seattle, WA. Locked in the studio for three weeks, they worked closely with producer Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Vance Joy) and cooked up ten irresistible anthems. ‘In the past, we did every other record while we were still on the road,’ says Arleigh. ‘This time, we blocked out time to immerse ourselves in the recording process. We lived at the studio and worked for 15 hours a day. Ryan was everything I’d hoped for. He saw my vision and added his own flavor. Plus, the studio is so beautiful. We were in a barn in the woods, which was very reminiscent of the Catskill Mountains for me. I felt right at home.’ The group takes flight on the first single ‘Mama Knows.’ Bolstered by boisterous horns and bluesy grit, the track serves as a soulfully sweet ode to moms everywhere. ‘The idea for the chorus popped into my head when I was hanging out with my sister,’ Arleigh recalls. ‘We were thinking about our mom. She’s a huge influence on why I sing. She was my role model. She sang too, and I’d attend her gigs as a little kid. She was so powerful and beautiful’just a queen in my eyes. On the flip side, she raised us to be really humble. I wanted to do something to show my appreciation to her and mothers like her everywhere.’ Then there’s ‘Prison Cells,’ which swings from a bright verse into a wild chant that encourages living it up in the moment with the people who matter the most. ‘It’s about getting in trouble with your best friends and letting the fun take over,’ she goes on. ‘We’re definitely prone to do that in my family. We’ll get into trouble, but we’ll be singing and dancing all the way.’ Elsewhere on T​he Weather Below,​’Disappear’ flaunts a South American??style cinematic shine, while ‘Don’t Be Jealous’ points the spotlight on Arleigh’s passionate pipes in between a harmonica swell. ‘That’s The Dirty Birds anthem,’ she states. ‘It’s the story of us on the road with me and a bunch of dudes and all of our trials and tribulations along the way. We’re a crew, and we all have each other’s backs. This is a family. That theme runs throughout everything.’ Ultimately, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds stand poised to shake up rock ‘n’ roll all around the world. ‘This all stems back to why I loved performing and singing to begin with,’ Arleigh leaves off. ‘I want to make crowds happy and see them smile and dance. Singing brings me so much joy. I hope our music does the same for everyone.’

Peter Case and Milton 3/4/16

Peter Case, founding member of the Nerves and leader of the Plimsouls, and the first troubadour of the post-punk era, returns with his first album of new songs since 2010’s Wig! The Nerves’ 1976 ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ EP, its title song covered by Blondie, remains a classic and has earned the band a strong following of young fans around the world. The Plimsouls song ‘A Million Miles Away’ is a power pop classic. Case’s debut solo album, produced by T-Bone Burnett, earned him his first Grammy nomination and spearheaded a songwriter movement, now dubbed Americana. Twelve solo albums and two more Grammy nominations followed, including one for his 2007 album Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John. All along, Case has continued to tour consistently. HWY 62, due out October 30, 2015, collects tales from his journey, and brilliantly encompasses every facet of his diverse and critically acclaimed career. Much like a travelogue, HWY 62 includes pieces of Americana, blues, pop, and folk ‘ all anchored by Case’s knack for creating the perfect hook. A songwriter’s songwriter, known for his lyric craft, distinctive voice and soulful songs steeped in classic rhythm & blues, pop, jazz and country, Milton first gained notoriety in his hometown New York City when his song ‘In The City’ became a hit on New York’s WFUV radio. His live performances, which include material from every one of his albums, are praised for their wit, humor, and captivating charm. Milton has toured extensively throughout the states since 2005, as a headliner and appearing as support for Joan Osborne, Steve Earle, Sonny Landreth, Colin Hay, Kat Edmonson, Josh Ritter and many more. He raised over $30,000 on Pledge Music for the making of his most recent CD The Lady at the Bottom of the Hill. In addition to four full-length albums, he has gained a following for his blog (all about classic recordings, music history and songwriting). Milton has spent a good part the last year opening shows all over the country for his friend and mentor Chris Smither.

JGB featuring Melvin Seals 3/2/16

Melvin Seals has been a powerful presence in the music industry for over 30 years with a long-established reputation as a performer, recording artist and producer. Melvin is most revered for his powerful, high-spirited, Hammond B-3 organ, and keyboards in the Jerry Garcia Band. Melvin spun his B-3 magic with the Jerry Garcia Band for 18 years and in doing so helped pioneer and define what has now become ‘Jam Band Music’. From blues to funk to rock to jazz, Melvin Seals serves up a tasty mix with a little R&B and gospel thrown in to spice things up. Melvin and JGB brings an intuitive, expressive style, soul, spontaneity and remarkable chops to the table. With acoustic and electric ingredients and unique combinations of Dave Hebert’s guitar and vocals, John Paul McLean’s savory bass, Pete Lavezzoli’s hearty drums and, of course, a heapin’ helpin’ of the wizard’s magic on Hammond B-3 Organ and keyboards. Along with backing vocals, the result is a most satisfying blend of natural organic grooves that challenges genre boundaries. Their chemistry is the focus from which they create a spontaneous and high art where the sky is the limit musically. They offer an exciting, often psychedelic musical journey that changes nightly and keeps the audience dancing and smiling (and some staring in amazement) for hours. In addition to the often played staples, the band has recently been exploring the back catalog and performing a ton of super rare tunes, some of which The Jerry Garcia Band played only a few times over all those years. Adding his rock-gospel-soul-rhythm and blues touch with his funky style of playing, no wonder Jerry nicknamed him ‘Master of the Universe’. Melvin continues to treat music lovers to his unique brand of melodic flavor with JGB. Come see and hear for yourself!