Category Archives: Photo Gallery

LAKE STREET DIVE 7/12/18, Raleigh NC

Dates: July 12, 2018

Location: NC Museum of Art, Raleigh NC

Sonic art one beautiful Tar Heel eve at the North Carolina Museum of Art. (Scroll down for more images.)

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TODD GUNSHER

On a clear Carolina night, the amphitheater at the NC Museum of Art was filled with the sophisticated pop sounds of Lake Street Dive. On tour supporting their latest record, Free Yourself Up, this was their third sell out of this venue, causing lead singer Rachael Price to comment that it is starting to feel like home.

Opening with the first cut from the new album, “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts,” the 21 song set included all the tracks from the new record interspersed with songs from their previous two albums, closing with a longtime fan favorite, the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back.”

Price, Mike “McDuck” Olsen, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese, always had a full sound but the addition of Akie Bermiss on keys adds just enough extra to help fill out the live sound. He even took a lead vocal singing Shania Twain’s “Still The One” in a style suited to a dark jazz club. Throughout the night the vocals and playing were tight and on point, with Kearney’s bass playing delivering numerous amazing moments. But to me, what really makes Lake Street Dive stand out in a world of beats, jam-bands, and singer/songwriters is their finely crafted songs. Even songs that at first sound simple still contain interesting chords, changes, and rhythms that harken back to The Beatles and Brill Building, in approach, if not actual sound. That’s what keeps me coming back whenever they come to town.

Opening the show was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear (above), a mother/son duo with a soulful, bluesy sound. They grabbed the audience’s attention from the first song and I’m sure gained a lot of new fans.

Follow master shutterbug, journalist, and vinyl enthusiast Todd Gunsher at his Instagram page.

 

 

 

Sherry Ryan / Darren “Boobie” Browne 5/25/18, Toronto

Dates: May 25, 2018

Location: The Burdock, Toronto ON

Live at The Burdock, and a night of Canadian musical community.

TEXT/PHOTOS BY ERIC THOM

I have family who hails from Halifax, so I know a thing or two about the close-knit sense of community inherent to those who live on our proud East Coast. However, there’s something even closer to be found amongst the people who call Newfoundland their home. It’s an intensified existence in which the land and the people are one, bound together in celebration of the sweet blend of harsh conditions and jaw-dropping beauty that is everyday life. Sherry Ryan hails from Middle Cove, just north of St. John’s – and it shows on so many levels in her art form.

Born of the traditional Céilidh (from the Scottish Gaelic for ‘kitchen party’) – a coming together of friends, family and often members of the immediate community – the Nerwfoundlanders’ world is grounded in music, good food and a coming together for a group hug. This was richly evident in this show – as Sherry’s sister, Jackie, commandeered a collection of cousins, friends and ex-pats to become a part of this special ‘homecoming’ show. The intimate setting of The Burdock’s music room was ideal for the emotion-fueled evening as Newfoundlanders and otherwise savored the work of this talented duo. Darren “Boobie” Browne, another noted Newfoundland export, provided drop-dead accompaniment on mandolin, supplying deft vocal harmonies to complement each of Sherry’s well-placed notes – creating a surprisingly full band sound in combination with Sherry’s acoustic guitar work, all the more impactful in the rec-room-cozy space. Never was an audience more captured than this.

 

***

Touring to support her fourth release, Wreckhouse, Sherry has long been a special breed of singer-songwriter, effortlessly painting mood-drenched pictures with relatively straight-forward lyrics that benefit from equal parts country and that certain hint of forlorn sadness that comes with the territory. What’s most distinctive is her voice which, as it starts to sink its hooks, has an uncanny resemblance to Anne Murray’s in its clear, confident alto (with an implied debt to Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline). Yet, her material has nothing to do with the pop-country backdrop of “Snowbird” – offering, instead, strong local imagery, the heartache of torn relationships, folklore – real and imagined and the laments inherent in the passing of time. The album’s title– “Wreckhouse” – refers to a true tale of the ill-fated Newfoundland railway (1882-1997) – and is the name given to car-tipping wind conditions that relied on a local trapper’s weather call to “Stop The Trains” (one of the album’s crowning jewels and co-written with her late Dad), thereby protecting them from nature’s wrath. Having more in common with John Prine than Anne Murray, this homegrown masterpiece represents the essence of Ryan’s talents. Like Prine, she reels you in with her heartfelt stories, a hint of humour and the vocal power to command attention to her every word. The new album, however, is a strong release based on it being a potent ‘band’ record – each original composition basking in the added firepower of pedal steel, guitar, piano, swirls of B3 and background vocals. The acid test for any good song is, however, what was witnessed on this warm, sun-drenched evening – two people, two instruments, strong vocals embellished with remarkably high-register harmonies. The powerful opener (and single) “Natural Law” mined the same country edge of the recorded version, despite the lack of baritone guitar and pedal steel. Browne’s deft skills with electric mandolin created sounds the likes of which I’ve never thought the mandolin was capable of, his vocal harmony adding considerable depth and personality to Ryan’s already powerful lead vocal. The next song, “Ferry Won’t Wait” is an ode to a missed ferry, causing a cancelled concert on Fogo Island in the land that weather rules. The Prine-like “Long-Awaited Question” was born from a breakdown at the Dollar Store that ended with a Tarot Card reading and the end of a relationship. “Cool and Clear”, following the order of the release, relies on piano on the album as yet another breakup song (this time, a friend’s) benefits from its simple, delicate delivery onstage. Again, the heartfelt yet humorous real-life “Stop The Trains” is a loving celebration of the way things were, worsened by the intervention of ‘modern-day improvements’ – to its hilarious conclusion. Jumping ahead to “On Paper”, these two voices created an hypnotic effect of back-and-forth with precious little accompaniment required, yet both guitar and mandolin turning in incredible, colorful textures.

The comparably upbeat “Ain’t Gonna Worry” moved into blues territory, buoyed by quality finger-picking that erupted, with Sherry’s coaching, into a legitimate audience singalong. The following song, “10 Minutes”, documents the distance across town in St. John’s at a torqued-up speed. One of the night’s most stunning songs was the standout “After Whiskey Before Breakfast”, providing Ryan with her Emmylou moment. Slowed down for maximum effect and minus its full serving of recorded pedal steel, this was a downer for the ages (meant in a good way). Much as the full band treatment cues the instant party, it’s this two-player presentation that demonstrates Ryan’s vocal power in its strongest light. Calling up two relatives to join her in a rendition of ”Something Else” (from 2008’s Wonderful Cures), its powerful chorus lit up the room, Ryan’s vocal still able to cut through the full force gale of voices. The natural fit of Ryan’s vocals to Browne’s harmonies was realized in the Carter Family’s “Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow Tree”, underlining Ryan’s understated guitar strengths and Browne’s prowess on mandolin. A compulsory, near-deafening call for an encore yielded a P.E.I. song written by one Gene MacLellan, as she kicked into “Snowbird”, no less – sounding as pure and natural as the Maritimer who made the song so indelible.

These themes of home, hearth and heartbreak suggest a rich upbringing in the sounds of the Carter Family but the fact that she’s a loyal Newfoundlander goes a long way to defining who she really is. She may not be a household name but she’s certainly no diamond in the rough at this point. She’s got a firm grasp of where she wants to go and all the skills to get there.

As for Browne, an integral component of a number of Newfoundland bands (The Burning Hell, The Kubasonics) and a continual, in-demand sideman, his self-released Birth of the Chickenpick (Boobie Browne & The Onions] is well worth hunting down.

Website: http://sherryryan.com/

Videos:

Natural Law

I Made it On My Own

Long Awaited Question

 

 

 

THAT’S ‘ROO FOR YOU: The Bonnaroo 2018 Festival

The annual blowout happened June 7 through 10 this year, and it was indeed a blowout. (Pictured above: Durand Jones & the Indications.)

TEXT AND PICTURES BY: MARK JACKSON (#markjacksonphotography1)

 Bonnaroo first started way back in 2002 with a heavy influence in jam bands, Positivity, and happiness, but has branched out in many wonderful directions. Over the years the festival has stayed true with their core selection of genres but has added more and more mainstream artist. Bonnaroo has also worked to separate itself from the many same old same old music festivals by giving the attendees a unique experience inside the festival grounds and in the campgrounds. Offering pop up mini-concerts and karaoke sets on small stages in the campground areas, shaded hangout areas, food vendors throughout the campgrounds, and the addition to a lot of “real bathrooms” this festival does indeed set itself apart from most festivals. With attendance at around 80,000 this year, I would say it’s safe to say they are giving the people what they want. Bonnaroo has also had its share of house and techno artist over the past several years, but last year they made a huge leap into the EDM scene by turning “The Other Tent” into a full stage that rivals the main stage. The Other Stage is solely dedicated to EDM music and EDM artist and with the crowds that flocked to the stage all weekend last year and again this year, I would say it’s definitely here to stay!

New for this year was the Grand Ole Opry, a two-hour country show similar to the Super Jam format in that they had many artists playing together. The official announcer of the Grand Ole Opry Mr. Bill Cody was at the helm and introduced Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show, Bobby Bare, Del McCoury Band, and Riders In The Sky, as well as Joshua Hedley, LANCO, Nikki Lane, and Maggie Rose.

   The Super Jam was a tribute to late great Tom Petty this year and it too had an all-star cast to pay tribute to Mr. Petty who passed away October 2nd of 2017. The tribute included such names as Cheryl Crow, Hayley Williams from Paramore, Matt Shultz from Cage The Elephant, Sameer Gadhia from Young The Giant, Langhorne Slim, Photographer and musician Danny Clinch, Vanessa Carlton, and more. This year’s Super Jam was a heartfelt tribute that showcased many songs of the career of Tom, and I think he was looking down on us with that wonderful smile that he had in approval.

    Bonnaroo is also known as a festival for finding the next big names in music. Artists that you may not have heard of yet will often play here and six months later be all over the radio and social media. I’ve seen this happen over the years with acts such as Twenty One Pilots, Highly Suspect, Halsey, and last years breakout artist who once again played this year on a bigger stage, Dua Lipa. The list goes on and on for breakout artist who first gains major traction at the Roo. Some of the up and coming artist at Bonnaroo this year included Lewis Capaldi, Lizzie, Topaz Jones, Flor, Jade Bird, and my favorite new find this year Sir Sly. Miller Lite held a contest this year called “The Road To Roo”, This contest allowed bands to compete for a chance to play and be featured on the New Music On Tap Lounge Brewed By Miller Lite Stage. The winning band was The Foxies who have roots in Phoenix but now reside in Nashville, TN. Fronted by Julia Lauren Bullock the band has started making a name for themselves in a town where country music rules. The Foxies are bringing an Indie pop sound infused with an 80’s glam pop that needs to be seen live.

   Headliners for this year’s Bonnaroo were Eminem, The Killers, Muse, Future, and Bassnectar.  There were many great bands such as Paramore, T-Pain, Midland, Khalid, Moon Taxi, who topped the bill as well, but there is so much more than music to experience at Bonnaroo that must be experienced for yourself. The motto “Radiate Positivity” is much more than a slogan on the farm and from the moment you are here you can feel it in the air and in the people. This place is much more than a music festival and arts festival. It is a utopia of sorts that carries with it long days, long nights and extreme Tennessee summer heat, but you won’t care about any of those things while you are living in the moment of this magical place. Unfortunately, we must live in the real world until next June 13th thru the 16th when we can once again grace the farm. Until then I would like to give a huge thanks to the first class Big Hassle Media staff and to Live Nation for once again allowing me to cover this fantastic music festival.

Arizona

Bobby Bare

CYN

Dua Lipa

Elohim

Eminem

Flor

Future

Hayley Williams (Paramore) – Tom Petty Tribute

Khalid

Langhorne Slim/Danny Clinch S

Lewis Capaldi

Lizzie

Maggie Rose (Grand Ole Opry)

Manchester Orchestra

Matt Shulz/Cage the Elephant

Mavis Staples

Midland

Moon Taxi

Old Crow Medicine Show

 

Paramore

Playboi Carti

Rag n Bone Man

Sameer Gadhia (Young the Giant)

Sheryl Crow

Sir Sly

The Foxies

T-Pain

The Other

Vanessa Carlton

 

   

 

 

Hot Snakes + Le Butcherettes 5/18/18, Denver

Dates: May 18, 2018

Location: Oriental Theatre, Denver CO

Two killer bands destroy the Oriental Theatre.

TEXT BY TIM HINELY / PHOTOS: JASON NUNN (2 CLOSE UPS OF HOT SNAKES AND ONE OF TERRI GENDER BENDER and JEFFREY WEBB DAVIS (THE TWO FURTHER AWAY SHOTS OF HOT SNAKES)

I’d been waiting very (im)patiently for this gig since It’d been announced and while I’d already seen Drive like Jehu and Rocket from the Crypt I’d never seen Hot Snakes before so I was ready (and, as I remembered below, I had seen Hot Snakes once before…).

The packed house seemed to really love Mexico’s Le Butcherettes. The band is a trio with vocalist/guitarist Teri Gender Bender (who I’d found out is orignally from Denver) and a rhythm section that includes drummer Gabe who used to be in The Locust. Musically they’re a heady mix of souped-up garage and sauced up rock and rock and roll had the crowd swaying dancing and even flying (one guy thought he was a squirrel) with Teri leading the charge like a ringmaster from a Jodorowsky’s film (Santa Sangre?). They laid a nice mix from all of the band’s records.

Hot Snakes returned a mere four years after their scorching set at Riot Fest 2014 and they were ready. John Speedo Reis and Rick Froberg are up front on guitar (Rick sings) while Gar Wood holds down the bass and on drums they had had rapid-fire monster Jason Kourkounis (formerly of Delta ’72 among others). These four were born to play together.

They played a good mix of tunes from all their records. Their latest Jericho Sirens (on Sub Pop, like their other three) came out this year to plenty of acclaim and with good reason, it’s packed with songs are are tight and smack you around like a angered bear. Cuts like “Death Doula,” “I Need a Doctor,’ “Six Wave Hold-Down” and the title track were all shredded to bits while older songs like “Lax,” “Who Died” and “10th Planet” were the requisite glorious punch in the face.

They played a handful of encores at least two of which were non-moldy oldies like “Retrofit” and “Braintrust.”

The crowd were certainly appreciative as the packed house didn’t want the band to leave the stage but alas, shows have to end as did this one. The next time the Hot Snakes come to town we’ll roll out the red carpet (kept in the trunk of my car). Hot Snakes rule!

 

The Reverend Horton Heat 6/8/18, Kansas City

Dates: June 8, 2018

Location: The Crossroads, Kansas City MO

Live at The Crossroads in the big K-C, it was psychobilly supreme.

By Danny R. Phillips / Photos by Drew Phillips

I ventured out into the heat of a Missouri June night to witness the reigning kings of psychobilly The Reverend Horton Heat, for what would be my fifth time since first seeing them at The Warped Tour sometime in the 1990s.  I’ve followed the Dallas, Texas, band for 25 years, from the Sub Pop years, and through 11 albums and four or five drummers. Their blend of country, swing, jazz, rockabilly, punk and metal had always appealed to me at a deeply rooted level.  All the sounds of my childhood and teen years blended together in one unstoppable monster.

I had been there for years with anxious anticipation, wondering, what they would do next? How would they push the psychobilly envelope? 

When we arrived at The Crossroads in Kansas City, the crowd within the gates was sparse, making me wonder to myself, “Did people not realize the show they would miss?” My photographer and I made our way to the beer stand to procure a warm Coors and wait.  Fast forward 45 minutes: the smell of marijuana fills the air as the crowd explodes in size.  Standing next to the barricade at the front of the stage, I looked back to see a suddenly packed house; a venue 20% full moments before was now pushing the limits of the venue’s capacity.

Wandering through the crowd, I saw a multi-generational cross-section of the Midwestern rock and roll populous: kids in black metal t-shirts, sleeveless denim jackets, greasers with pompadours sporting cowboy shirts, ten year olds with mohawks, aging punk rockers in faded Descendents and Supersuckers t-shirts, curvy rockabilly chicks with bright red lipstick and poodle skirts and dudes in suits, in total defiance of the 90+ degree temperatures.

As night fell, The Reverend Horton Heat took the stage.  Jimbo Wallace readied his upright bass, newest and best Rev Ho drummer RJ Contreras took his position behind the kit and Jim Heath, The Reverend himself, walked to the mic, strapping on his orange signature Gretsch guitar with a big shit eating grin on his face.  He knew what was coming and once they began playing, so did we.  It would be one of the best live performances I had ever seen.  Opening with the instrumental “Bullet” (the band almost always opens a show with an instrumental), the band blew through one hot number after another: “400 Bucks,”  “Big Red Rocket of Love,” “It’s Martini Time,” the crowd favorites “Five O Ford” and “Psychobilly Freakout”, Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon” with guest vocalist Big Sandy of Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Trio, (one of four songs performed with Sandy) “Baddest of the Bad,” from my personally favorite album Liquor in the Front, and many others.

They even proved their metal chops with their amazing take on the Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades.”

One look at the audience around me revealed people dancing, others hoisting beers while still others just stood and stared at the stage, either high, transfixed by the blistering set or both.

It was a two hours plus clinic on how a performance should be done, that a band with a damn would never “phone in” a show, whether they had been in a band for five minutes or 30 years; it was my friends, a night of psychobilly near perfection.

I’ve often thought that Jim Heath is the best guitarist I’ve ever seen live.  On this night, he proved it.

 

Beale Street Music Festival 5/4-6, 2018, Memphis

Dates: May 4-6, 2018

Location: Memphis, TN

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

The Beale Street Music Festival is an annual music festival that takes place in downtown Memphis, with the backdrop of the mighty Mississippi River and the iconic symbols of the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid, and the Tennessee/Arkansas Bridge. Every year this is one of my favorite festivals for many reasons, first being the staff. Memphis holds a month long celebration every year for the month of May and celebrates a different country each year (this year was the Czech Republic), including events such as the music festival, BBQ cook off contest, Great American River Run, exhibits, and more.

This festival always has a great mix of rock, alternative, rap artist, and a blues tent that only has blues artist for the entire three day event. This festival is always packed, but this year sold out completely on Sunday by five o’clock. I think it may have had something to do with having a “Rockstar” artist who is all over the radio and Youtube with hit after hit. You may have heard of him, he goes by Posty aka Post Malone. If Post alone was not enough, Sunday also had Juicy J, Young Dolph, Delbert McClinton, Dram, Erykah Badu, The Flaming Lips, Flor, Andrew W.K., and a band who I was especially excited to see live called Misterwives an indie pop band based in New York City. The lead singer, Mandy Lee, reminds me of Haley Williams from Paramore, with her onstage presence and dance moves. Misterwives had the crowd jumping, dancing, and everyone singing along.                                                                                                                                      Other great acts from the weekend included Alanis Morrisette, Third Eye Blind, Margo Price, North Mississippi Allstars, Queen of the Stone Age, Kaleo, Clutch, Tyler, The Creator, Cake, Chevelle, Gov’t Mule, David Byrne, Ludacris, Al Kapone, Logic, and of course Jack White, who once again banned the photographers with a closed pit with no photos allowed (as he has done many times in the past). Jack also kept low blue lighting for the entire show, which I assume was to not allow fans to have any photos as well.

We want to send a special thank you to the promoters and staff of the Beale Street Music Festival for having me and Blurt back for the fourth year in a row – I can’t wait to see who’s playing next year!

Among the artists who performed:

ACTION BRONSON

AL KAPONE

ALANIS MORISSETTE

ANDREW W.K.

CAKE

CHEVELLE

CLUTCH

DAVID BYRNE

ERYKAH BADU

FLOR

JUICY J

KALEO

KINGFISH

LOGIC

LUDACRIS

MISTER WIVES

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS

POST MALONE

FLAMING LIPS

THIRD EYE BLIND

TYLER THE CREATOR

VANCE JOY

YOUNG DOLF

 

Rock On The Range 5/18-5/20, 2018, Columbus OH

Dates: May 18-20, 2018

Location: Columbus, OH

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

This year’s Rock On The Range was bigger than ever with 140,000 people attending over the three day festival. This year marked the 6th consecutive sellout for Rock On The Range, and with names like Tool, Alice In Chains, Avenged Sevenfold, A Perfect Circle (pictured at top), Greta Van Fleet, Machine Gun Kelly, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace, And Stone Temple Pilots (just to name  a few of the nearly 60 bands who played this year), you can see why this is the biggest and best rock festivals of the year!

The festival did have a weather delay on Saturday and a three hour mandatory evacuation due to lighting in the area. This had many festival goers worried that the festival would be canceled for the day or at least miss many of their favorite bands, but this was not the first time that the promoters and staff have had to deal with Mother Nature. The promoters were able to get an extension on the city curfew, and with a few set trimmings and only having to cut Bullet For My Valentine’s set completely, all other bands were able to perform.

I love festivals because you get to see so many great bands in one weekend while enjoying the festival atmosphere. To me the atmosphere is totally different than that of a single concert where everyone is trying to get in and get out as quickly as possible. A single “big name band” night also means that most of the people skip the opening bands. In my opinion, you miss the up and coming bands that could very well be your next year’s favorite new band. When you attend a festival you get to experience these bands through out the day.

A couple of the new acts that I caught this year included joyous Wolf and The Fever 333. Both of these bands not only sound great but have a unique and wild stage presents. Some of the highlights for me from the weekend were Machine Gun Kelly who never fails to deliver. Stone Temple Pilots who are back and better than ever with a new singer whom sounds and moves a lot like Weiland, but you can tell he is his own front man who should continue to make hits with this seasoned powerhouse band behind him. Cory Taylor is always a great show. Cory’s voice is amazing wheatear he is pushing the limits of his voice with Slipknot or hitting the sweet spot while fronting Stone Sour.

Sunday’s lineup was a full schedule, with all three stages giving the crowd more rock than they could handle! Greats included Shaman’s Harvest, Red Sun Rising, We Came as Romans, I Prevail, Code Orange, Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, and of course Tool, just to name a few of the 21 acts.

And that’s not counting The Comedy Tent. The Comedy Tent also brought the funny this year with Taylor Tomlinson, Big Jay Oakerson, JB Smoove, and my favorite of the weekend Jay Armstrong! We even got a little Rap Rock this year with Jelly Roll, Tech n9ne, Body Count, Yelawolf, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Music fans from around the world even got to join in on the action this year as LiveXLive live streamed performances and backstage interviews through out the weekend. One of the busiest attractions on the grounds was A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson — America’s Oldest Harley Dealer, who had a motorcycle demo that festival goers who have never been on a motorcycle could get a little taste of the feeling of riding a Harley Davidson. While the bike was safely locked into a vise, it allowed the rear wheel to move freely and the rider could shift gears and use the throttle. This made for a lot of smiling faces. On Sunday A.D. Farrow also hosted a bike run with over one hundred motorcycles in attendance to raise money for the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial.

I would like to thank the following for allowing us to once again cover this great event. Rock On The Range, AEG Presents and Danny Wimmer Presents. Thank you for another great year and I can’t wait to see who makes the lineup next year! If you want to be in attendance I suggest you get your tickets early as this event will surely sell out for the 7th year in a row!

Among this year’s performers:

10 YEARS

A PERFECT CIRCLE

BIG JAY OAKERSON

BLACK VEIL BRIDES

ICE T & BODY COUNT

BREAKING BENJAMIN

CODE ORANGE

GODSMACK

GRETA VAN FLEET

I PREVAIL

JAY ARMSTRONG

JELLY ROLL

JOYOUS WOLF

MGK

RED SUN RISING

SHAMAN’S HARVEST

STONE SOUR

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS

TECH 9

THE FEVER

THREE DAY’S GRACE

WE CAME AS ROMANS

YELAWOLF

Nelly / Bone Thugs- N- Harmony / Juvenile 4/27/18, Jackson TN

Dates: April 27, 2018

Location: The Ballpark, Jackson, TN

Hip-hop show hits a home run at The Ballpark.

PHOTOS/TEXT BY: MARK JACKSON

Jackson, Tn. was ready to “Back That Thing Up” and shake their tail feathers all night long! How can you not have a great night when you have three great old school rap acts on one stage which just happens to be an open air baseball stadium? The night started off with the hot boy himself Juvenile. Juve got the crowd jumping and dancing with hits such as “Back That Thing Up” and “Slow Motion”. (Juvenile pictured below.)

 

Next up was the old school rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, I have had the honor of seeing and photographing Bones a couple of times in the past and they never disappoint! Bone Thugs-N- Harmony have had hits such as “Crossroad”, “1st of tha Month”, and “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”. They continue to add new fans, many who weren’t even born when these hits were released, and why shouldn’t they with their great beats and fast raps. Before leaving the stage to make way for Nelly, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony paid tribute to such greats as Snoop Dog, Easy-E, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls with some smash up songs. (Bone Thugs pictured below)

 

By the time Nelly took the stage the crowd was at a frenzy and ready to sing along while dancing nonstop and Nelly delivered big time! I had forgotten just how many great songs that he had and he sang them all from “Air Force Ones”, “Shake Ya Tailfeather,” ” Batter Up”, “Pimp Juice”, “Country Grammer”,  “E.I.”, and of course ‘Hot in Herre”. Fun Fact about Nelly that I didn’t know until tonight is that Nelly used to wear a band aid on his face when he preformed. I didn’t know it was for his brother who was locked up and couldn’t be with him. Nelly now doesn’t have to wear it because his brother is on stage right there beside him. Before the night wrapped up Nelly also announced that he is working on new album called All Work No Play.

 

DISTAFF VERSE CHORUS DISTAFF VERSE: Speedy Ortiz Live

Live at The Root Cellar one fine May evening, 5/16/18, indie rock and hip-hop/punk — courtesy opening act Nnamdi Ogbonnaya—ruled, okay!

BY JENNIFER KELLY

An odd pairing, the hyper-verbal, slant-riffed, feminist indie pop of Speedy Ortiz and the complicated hip hop/punk/math rock adventures of Chicagoan Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, but that’s what’s on tap at the Root Cellar on a mid-May evening in bucolic Greenfield, Massachusetts, and we’re lucky to have it.

I arrive with Ogbonnaya already mid-set, bouncing antically through the first few rows of the audience with a mic cord trailing. Ogbonnaya made a big splash last year with his full-length Drool, a slinky, slippery, verbally dexterous set of songs anchored around the performer’s voice, but lavished with all manner of instruments and samples. It seems to have been a rule, somehow, that all writers, no matter how much they liked the record, had to include the word “weird” in the lede, so let’s just get it out there, Ogbonnaya has carved out a very eccentric niche.

 

Sadie Dupuis explains later on that Drool was one of her favorite albums last year, but that Ogbonnaya set is very different — equally wonderful, but its own thing— and indeed, for much of the set, what Ogbonnaya and his band are doing is more like math-y punk rock than hip hop. It is complicated and frenetic, anchored by a good drummer and bass player and with one guitar and sometimes two (Ogbonnaya plays guitar sometimes), very much in the rock idiom. Because of the acoustics, it’s hard to hear the lyrics, and so, hard to pinpoint which songs he played, but the set gains momentum as it goes and the last three songs are awesome.

Then it’s on to Speedy Ortiz, whose Twerp Verse, released in late April, is a sharper, sweeter, more pop-friendly iteration of the band’s off-kilter art. It’s a home field, more or less, for Sadie Dupuis, who earned an MFA in poetry at nearby U. Mass Amherst and lived for a while in Northampton. As always she channels the vibe of liberal arts prof crossed with the smartest tweener you ever met, long pigtails trailing, short shorts and pink and aqua tinted guitars at the ready. Her band includes bassist Darl Fem, her long-time drummer Mike Falcone and new guitarist Andy Monholt (Devin McKnight has gone on to form Maneka).

The set begins as Twerp Verse does with the churning, buzzing bass of “Buck Me Off,” that’s tall, striking Fem, who midway through the cut joins Dupuis in exultant full-body hops, straight up and down. It’s as good an introduction as any to Speedy Ortiz’s latest album, with its meandering verse and big pop pay-off, the whole thing knocked silly and sideways by the way that Falcone whales on the drums. Dupuis nimbly injects feminist discourse and cultural references into her effervescent songs, skewering digital dating mores in “Buck Me Off” and giving Sheryl Sanders the side-eye in “Lean in When I Suffer.”  Yet though politically pointed, the songs are anything but didactic. In the big single “Lucky 88,” Dupuis trades vocals with Fem, her acerbic asides punctuated with the bassist’s high girlish counterpoints.

The set borrows heavily from the latest album, but takes a detour towards the past with “The Graduates” from 2015’s Foil Deer and “Plough” from her long-player debut Major Arcana. This latter song she wrote while living nearby in Northampton, she explains, though it was mostly about drinking at the Boston pub, The Plough and Stars.

 

The rest of the show mixes old and new, the simmering vulnerability of “No Below,” the stretchy tempo’d snap and pop of “I’m Blessed,” the blaring punk rock fuzz of early single “Taylor Swift” and the off-balance tunefulness of Twerp Verse’s “You Hate the Title.”  Heard side by side, the old songs sound leaner, tougher, less ingratiating than the new material; the new songs are giddier and more euphoric. And yet, even at their fizziest, Speedy Ortiz’s songs carry a sting. They’re smart, articulate and absolutely onto male/female foolishness, even as they bounce and entice.

 

 

Moon Taxi 5/16/18, Port Chester, NY

Dates: May 16, 2018

Location: Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY

Jammin’ at the always-dependable (and legendary) Capitol Theater, natch.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY GREG KELLY

Never having seen Moon Taxi, I was looking forward to a good blend of music from some talented musicians, who were touring for their latest release, Let the Record Play—and the crowd was eager to hear the new material. The band, clearly, were just as happy to be playing for their fans at the legendary Capitol Theater. A really nice blend of alt-rock, a touch of reggae, and a little jam band. I really felt that the band has a bright outlook on things, and it was clearly heard and seen in their performance. A great highlight of the night was when 15 year old Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, an amazingly gifted—and young—guitar player joined the band for a cover of “All Along  the Watchtower.” (Look out for Taz in the future.) Moon Taxi played an inspiring set, and I see this band branching out to reach a potentially much bigger fan base in the future.