Wide open: That’s the phrase John Medeski uses to describe his bandmates’ musical sensibilities, the attitude he seeks in himself, and the spirit of musical adventure that Medeski Martin & Wood have pursued for two decades. The trio’s amalgam of jazz, funk, ‘avant-noise’ and a million other musical currents and impulses is nearly impossible to classify, which is just how they like it. Medeski’s keyboard excursions, Chris Wood’s hard-charging bass lines and Billy Martin’s supple, danceable beats have come to resemble a single organism, moving gracefully between genre-defying compositions and expansive improvisation atop a relentless groove.
Jimmie Vaughan is far more than just one of the greatest and most respected guitarists in the world of popular music. As Guitar Player magazine notes, ‘He is a virtual deity–a living legend.’ After all, Vaughan provides a vital link between contemporary music and its proud heritage, as well as being a longtime avatar of retro cool. Since releasing his first solo album in 1994, he has set the standard for quality modern roots music. Throughout his career, Vaughan has earned the esteem of his legendary guitar-playing heroes and superstar peers along with successive generations of young players. His musical ethos and personal style have had an impact on contemporary culture, from spearheading the current blues revival with The Fabulous Thunderbirds to his longtime, innate fashion sense of slicked-back hair and sharp vintage threads (now seen throughout the pages of contemporary fashion journals) to becoming a premier designer of classic custom cars. But for Jimmie Vaughan, none of it is part of a crusade or a career plan. It’s just his natural way of living his life and pursuing the interests that have captivated Vaughan since his youth.
She’s got a new record and a new band. She brings her brassy vocals and rock attitude back for her annual post Thanksgiving bash. Sounds like fun.
Jefferson Starship, created by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Jefferson Airplane founder Paul Kantner; and, David Freiberg, also a former Jefferson Airplane member and co-founder of the legendary Quicksilver Messenger Service – takes aim on yet another historic milestone in 2012. The band, descended from Jefferson Airplane ‘ who performed at Monterey and Woodstock, at Altamont with the Rolling Stones, and shared the bill countless times with Grateful Dead & Janis Joplin, and whose music helped define a generation focused on civil rights, environmental awareness and anti-war activism ‘ is set to perform their 2,000th concert since they first soared in 1974 ‘ following the 1972 dissolution of Jefferson Airplane. Jefferson Starship 2012 features a luminary assemblage, fronted by Grammy nominated lead vocalist Cathy Richardson who starred on Broadway on ‘Love, Janis.’ Joining Richardson, Freiberg & Kantner is longtime lead guitarist Slick Aguilar who has been with the band 20 years and toured with David Crosby before that, drummer Donny Baldwin who appeared on many of the band’s classic recordings and also toured with Jerry Garcia Band, and keyboardist/bassist Chris Smith who joined the band in 1998 after years with The Supremes. The band continues to perform their iconic repertoire of hits spanning all eras of their existence, including ‘Jane,’ ‘Somebody To Love,’ ‘Miracles,’ ‘White Rabbit,’ ‘Volunteers,’ ‘Count On Me’ and many more.
This is a rare US appearance. The band was formed around 1979 in refugee camps in Libya but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990’s. Tinariwen are often associated with just one image: that of Touareg rebels leading the charge, machine gun in hand and electric guitar slung over the shoulder. The founding members abandoned their weapons long ago and have engineered a minor aesthetic revolution by setting the electric guitar ‘ the instrument which became their mascot and made them famous ‘ to one side and giving pride of place to acoustic sounds, recorded right in the heart of the desert, which is the landscape of their existence, the cradle of their culture and the source of their inspiration. Tinariwen’s music and sensibility have always been close to the American Blues and on ‘Tassili’ they re-enact the emotions of an individual who finds himself face to face with loneliness and doubt, gripped by torment, the prisoner of inextricable circumstances (‘Djeredjere’). But that individual also manages to find hope in the strength of his community (‘Imidiwan Wan Sahara’) or in the simple pleasure afforded by insignificant daily moments, as on the song ‘Takest Tamidarest’, sung by Abdallah, which drops us right in the middle of the desert, with its slow-baked pace that lends itself to pure contemplation of man’s surrounding and to profound inner meditation. For that reason, ‘Tassili’ isn’t just an extraordinary musical moment, in which Tinariwen repossess their own art to the extent that they feel completely relaxed about inviting others into their world, it’s also a shared human experience of rare quality.
Grammy Award-winner Rodney Crowell and New York Times best-selling author Mary Karr are scheduled to release KIN, SONGS BY MARY KARR AND RODNEY CROWELL on Vanguard Records June 5, 2012. Produced by Joe Henry, KIN marks the first collaboration between the two writers and is Karr’s entry into the world of music. Long known as a poet among songwriters, Crowell is a masterful storyteller and hit generator. He charted five consecutive number-one hits with the album Diamonds and Dirt and has become one of the most critically acclaimed artists in country music. Crowell’s songs have been recorded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Norah Jones. He was recently inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame between Willie Nelson and Guy Clark. After reading Karr’s memoirs ‘ Cherry and The Liar’s Club ‘ which spent over a year on the New York Times bestsellers list and allegedly kick-started the memoir craze, Crowell name-checked her in ‘Earthbound,’ a track off his critically acclaimed album Fate’s Right Hand. ‘I called out to her in the darkness because she was a bona fide poet I knew could write songs,’ Crowell added, ‘and despite her professor’s pedigree, she’d ridden a bike in a mosquito truck’s fog.’ Karr has taught at Harvard and Syracuse University, where she still holds a chair in literature. Upon hearing Crowell’s songs, Karr recognized her own less-than-perfect family. ‘We grew up about 100 miles apart in the same stretch of east Texas Ringworm Belt.’ Karr said. She mentioned that both childhood homes had bullet holes in them from their parents’ drunken rampages. But there’s a thread of grace and redemption and at least one gospel number among their ballads and rock songs. In their most recent memoirs, Crowell’s Chinaberry Sidewalks (Random House) and Karr’s Lit (Harper), religion figures prominently. They claim a deep spiritual connection made them brother and sister ‘ or kin ‘ and informed their work. ‘We settled down and raised a record,’ Crowell claimed. The stellar lineup of vocalists who render the songs ‘ longtime friends of his ‘ became extended family: Norah Jones, Vince Gill, Lucinda Williams, Lee Ann Womack, Rosanne Cash, Chely Wright, Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris and Rodney himself, with Joe Henry producing. Asked to draw the source of their respective successes in literature and music, despite early hard knocks, Crowell said, ‘Neither of us was a crybaby, and we kept loving everybody we shared DNA with’no matter how crazy.’ Karr said, ‘An outlaw pedigree isn’t always a disadvantage for a poet,’ adding, ‘This record’s about everybody.’ Over the course of his career Rodney has written songs for some of music’s most notable artists (Emmylou Harris, Bob Seger), collaborated with Johnny Cash, produced breakthrough albums (Roseanne Cash) and charted five number one hits of his own on the Billboard charts.
The world’s greatest Cajun band returns to the Narrows for a dance party of the highest order. They are great musicians who can transform any stage into in a Louisiana dance hall Bon Temps Roulez.
Ben Sollee is like no other cellist/singer-songwriter you have ever heard! His style is a mix of the Appalachian music he heard while growing up in Kentucky to the R&B style that fits his soulful voice and thoughtful lyrics. At the heart of Ben’s drive is the desire to bring communities together with music and he likes the idea of doing good things with good people. These ideas have been well received by other musicians, as his collaborations have shown. Ben has shared the stage and/or recording studios with the likes of My Morning Jacket and Bela Fleck. Ben has also embraced the idea of slowing down to appreciate the communities around him, so he embarked on the ‘Ditch The Van’ tour, where he and his crew ride their bikes (and tow their equipment) from venue to venue to take in the sites, sounds and people around them.
The Kings of British boogie blues. Kim Simmonds is still ripping it up with their best line-up in years.
For most of his life, San Francisco has been Chuck Prophet’s muse…or more accurately, his drug of choice. ‘It can suck you under. That first hit. It really does a whammy to you. And if you’re like me you can find yourself chasing the San Francisco dragon for the rest of your life. That’s what the record is about.’ Named for the ill-fated rock club of the same name, Temple Beautiful was ‘made in San Francisco, by San Franciscans about San Francisco.’ Roy Loney, vocalist and wildman in legendary Bay Area band The Flamin’ Groovies contributes guest vocals to the title track. One of the driving forces behind cult heroes Green on Red and the influential L.A. Paisley Underground scene in the 1980s, Prophet’s creative mold was actually cast in San Francisco. Recalls Prophet, ‘Temple Beautiful is the name of a long closed rock and roll club which was between Bill Graham’s iconic Fillmore Ballroom and the tragic storefront church founded by the Reverend Jim Jones. It’s where I saw my first gigs.’ Inspired by current San Francisco artists, Prophet felt compelled to pay tribute to the history and weirdness that brought him to the city nearly 30 years ago. ‘There’s a kind of rock and roll psych renaissance going on in this town at the moment with bands like Thee Oh Sees, Girls, The Fresh and Onlys, Kelley Stoltz and Sonny and the Sunset’s. I’m very encouraged by all this stuff going on here.’