Our gal on the ground in L.A. does indeed believe in magic, and she’s got the images from this star-studded benefit for the Autism Think Tank to prove it. Initial details we posted HERE, so check out her photos and observations. Exclusive photos (pictured above: original Spoonful members John Sebastian and Steve Boone) and videos follow the text.
Text & photos By Susan Moll
In conjunction with the Autism Think Tank and the Autism Healthcare Collaborative, the Los Angeles-based Wild Honey Foundation stages yearly tribute concerts at the historic Alex Theatre to raise funding for autism research, education and treatment. Last year’s Wild Honey benefit paid homage to The Kinks Are the Village Preservation Society, and The Band and Buffalo Springfield have also been celebrated in the past. (Follow the above links to our coverage.)
This year’s occasion was dedicated to the Lovin’ Spoonful, beloved sunshine boys of the ‘60s. Their folk-pop sound, admired by Lennon, McCartney and the brothers Davies, was a study in contrast to the pandemonium of the mid- to-late 1960s. As the Spoonful daydreamed, Watts rioted; as they believed in magic, Vietnam War protestors self-immolated. With songs redolent of sunshine and flowers, rain on roofs and summers in the city, the Spoonful served feel-good music to a country and a world desperate for something, anything, to feel good about.
It’s rare that a band shows up to play at its own tribute, and this year’s Wild Honey gathering marked the first time that original members John Sebastian, Steve Boone and Joe Butler appeared onstage together since their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two decades ago.
They maintain it wasn’t an official reunion – an impossibility without Zal Yanovsky, who passed away in 2002 — but a casual regrouping of the Nashville cats. A slideshow of rare images of the band snapped by renowned photographer Henry Diltz preceded the happenings, which lasted for nearly four hours. No one in the Spoonful or the vocalists and instrumentalists of the Wild Honey Orchestra, the collective that backed each of the guest performers, lacked in stamina at any point of the 36-song lollapalooza of a setlist. Sebastian, Boone and Butler radiated palpable delight in their togetherness.
Sebastian happily regaled the audience with vignettes from throughout the Spoonful’s career, each one more entertaining than the last. In the ‘70s, he lamented that his musical style was no longer in vogue until the Sweathogs barged in. Enter “Welcome Back,” one of many enthusiastic sing-alongs … Sebastian detailed the origins of “Summer in the City,” penned by his brother, Mark, who stood in for Yanofsky … Dave Alvin, who paired with Sebastian for “Night Owl Blues,” first encountered the Spoonful at age nine, when they appeared at the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena with Herman’s Hermits. Not only was it the first concert of his life, it was the first time he ever saw anyone play an electric harmonica … Cindy Lee Berryhill gave out “Money” with banjoists Rob Bonfiglio, Jordan Katz and Jason Berk and percussionist Jim Laspesa (Love and Mercy) clacking away on a vintage typewriter… Bonfiglio and better half Carnie Wilson dueted “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” the stuff of young boys’ fantasies. So many girls, so little time… Micky Dolenz turned in a sweet rendition of “Daydream” and Claudia Lennear of 20 Feet from Stardom fame lent the evening a soulful touch with “You Baby,” a Ronettes 7-inch as well as a Spoonful hit … Carla Olson, whose next album, Have Harmony Will Travel 2, comes out March 20, was full of fire on “Stories We Could Tell” and “4 Eyes,” performed with Sebastian and Peter Case, respectively. … Case, meanwhile, broke open “Blues in the Bottle” and Steve Stanley stepped away from his duties at the head of the Now Sounds reissue label to contemplate a “Younger Girl” … Marshall Crenshaw channeled hums of the Spoonful with “Rain on the Roof” backed by pedal steel player Dave Pearlman, who’s accompanied the likes of Dan Fogelberg, Bobby Womack and Phil Everly on tour … Leave it to Mark Eitzel to find a happy band’s saddest song — “Didn’t Want to Have to Do It”– which he sang with passion and compassion to spare … Durham-based singer/songwriter Skylar Gudasz , who has accompanied Big Star on its Third traveling concert series , sang “You’re a Big Boy Now.” (Her next album, Cinema, arrives April 17.)
The evening concluded with the entire ensemble gathered onstage for the finale, “Do You Believe in Magic?” It’s guaranteed that everyone did.
Summer (n The City: Sebastian & Wild Honey Orchestra
Daydream: Mickey Dolenz
4 Eyes: Peter Case & Carla Olson
Susan Cowsill: You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice
Group Encore: Do You Believe In Magic?
Dates: November 7-10, 2019
Location: Various Venues, Austin TX
The quintessential Lone Star State gathering of the tribes, natch, at multiple venues over the course of November 7 thru 10. (Note: If you don’t recognize any given artist, hover mouse over a photo in order to read which band you are seeing.)
PHOTOS AND TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON
We know that Austin, Texas, is the music mecca, especially when it comes to festivals. Levitation takes it up a notch by bringing in the best in Underground music and artists from around the known universe. For four nights every year it goes into a hyper-space-warp frenzy bringing some of the best and brightest happening Psych, Metal, and Dream Pop music under one tent, or several clubs anyway. It’s like a slice of SXSW but no filler, not that much walking, and you can actually get into venues.
Levitation happens in several venues with Stubb’s (which doubles as a fab BBQ joint) as the focal point featuring the closest things you get to headliners at this 4-day party. Blurt Contributor John Boydston tried to cover as much ground as possible getting to all the acts, but realized early on it was a 4-person job, so this is what he got, some of the best, but of course, by no means all of it.
Thursday at Stubb’s the lineup was Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and ready for her David Lynch Twin-Peaks soundtrack closeup, Angel Olsen. All performers and crowd were braving a chilly temperature drop but soldiered on and got lost in the electric dreamscapes created by all of the above. I caught a few bands down the street at Mohawk which was reveling in the glory of Texas metal warriors Creeping Death (Denton) and Power Trip (Dallas) among others.
Friday night Stubb’s was alive with the magical psych-rock of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips. Not sure if Rev is short for revelry or revelation but both work for me after hearing this power house psych band lay it down. Then the Flaming Lips killed the crowd with kindness, love, and confetti. Just wow – and master Lip Wayne Coyne said it all with this blow-up ballon spelling it out for us.
But wait, Friday was just starting after that show – I hauled my wagon of photo gear into other venues and heard one dynamite band after another any one of which you can see in Austin at these venues, but not likely on the same night, same bill. I caught part of Stonefield’s power set, featuring the 4 psych rock sisters from an area of rural Australia known as Macedon Ranges. Then over to The Barracuda and for the rest of the night heard in rapid succession Frankie and the Witch Fingers, Elephant Stone (from Toronto and truly an East meets West rock experience), Death Valley Girls (always fantastic), Crocodiles (new to me but rocked like no band I’ve seen in years – must hear more), and Broncho ended this amazing night doing what they do but better, tighter, and more up than I’ve ever heard ‘em).
Saturday started mid-afternoon with Habibi – (NYC) bringing their internationally-inspired surfy 60’s girl pop to The Empire. Then White Fence from SF. Led by Tim Presley, a brilliant and underrated writer-singer-guitar picker who I can’t pin down exactly but think Ray Davies meets Piper at The Gates of Dawn. Or The Kinks if Syd Barret was Dave Davies older bro. And caught The Allah-Las who are currently touring, and have managed to seriously beef-up their stage sound without changing anything you may already love about this band, which is remarkable.
Not content with this fun, headed to Stubb’s Saturday night see openers and Waco psych kids Holy Wave, Levitation Festival curators and Austin’s own The Black Angels, who for my money have never sounded more up and alive in their not funhouse mirror takes on life. A really dynamic and electrifying show for this band – and they would have carried the night had John Cale and his band not come out and taken it back. Not sure what else you can say about Cale and his rock pedigree. Being a founding member of The Velvet Underground would suffice but his 50-year career since is equally impressive. Wasn’t expecting this 77-year old rock icon to come out and slay but he and his crack band did just that. Thanks for having him, and me Levitation. If you’ve outgrown SXSW and ACL is too crowded, save some dates on the calendar for this one – Fall 2020.
Dates: December 2, 2019
Location: Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA
Live at the storied Variety Playhouse, natch.
Dates: November 9, 2019
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City
TEXT & PHOTOS BY GREG KELLY
The crowd quickly filled in the 20,789 seated MSG and the night began to take shape.
Opening the show was Phil Anselmo and nd The Illegals. Going through a short set of Pantera songs it was clear that the bands songs are still relevant 30 plus years later. Next was Ministry, a band I saw in 1988(The land of Rape and Honey) and I have never stopped going when they came through town. Al Jourgensen , a great musician , great frontman led the band on a brutal assault on this N.Y.C. crowd. Two highlights of the set was “Supernaut” by Black Sabbath and “ Jesus Built my Hotrod” Ah, next came Primus An interesting band to put in between all the others. I have seen Les Claypool over 50 times and never get tired of absorbing the psychedelic funk metal. Opening with “Those dam Blue Collar Tweakers” Primus showed they could not only hang with the Slayer crowd they might have picked up a couple new fans! A highpoint of the set was a great cover of the Rush song “ Cygnus X-1” . Then came the main event, SLAYER!! Another band I have seen many times over the years. Touring for “ The Final Campaign” this was sure to be a special one. Before the band started the stage was covered with a curtain with upside down crosses on it. Clearly these guys don’t frequent Sunday mass!
When the curtain dropped the band came out with “Repentless” from the self titled album. What can I say about these guys except they have never strayed away from where they started musically! A nonstop assault of your senses. The mosh pit never stopped! The Slayer fans are one of a kind and tonight the energy was felt by all. Going through a long set list of songs I was always drawn to “Seasons of The Abyss” ,” South of Heaven” ,”Rain in Blood” and of course there encore “ Angel of Death”. Slayers spot as one of the best heavy metal bands will not go away any time soon!
Dates: November 13, 2019
Location: Eddie's Attic, Atlanta GA
Not one, but two freakin’ shows of prawndom from the maestro, all at Eddie’s Attic in the dirty South…
When Robin Hitchcock says, “Hello Fellow Human Beings,” you kind of know he’s being gracious to at least some of us, but that’s why we love him — he’s happy to share glimpses of his world, which is really our world turned inside-out, upside-down, and mirror-imaged back at us.
Witty, sardonic, charming, and in fine musical form alone with his acoustic guitar (he is an excellent player) and sometimes harmonica, Hitchcock is a natural for the stage. His non-sequitur intros are as entertaining as the songs from his extensive catalogue, and most eras were represented here tonight. He seems to entertain requests if you can get them to him pre-show.
Recent LP Robyn Hitchcock from 2017 on Yep Roc is still getting airtime on my table. Plus, there is a recent 10” with Andy Partridge titled Planet England that Partridge’s Ape House label dropped in September.
Solo tour continues – check out dates: – https://www.robynhitchcock.
In which our man on the ground, the esteemed Prof. Boydston, protects his lens from proximate fan damage because he cares about YOU, dear Blurt readers. More to come!
BY JOHN BOYDSTON
Planet Stubbs (see colorful stage photo) and some class acts help lift Levitation 2019 into gear in Austin, Texas, Thursday night (Nov. 7).
A damn chilly night did not put a damper on Vagabon, Devendra Banhart, and the truly angelic Angel Olsen (pictured above). Many bands were blazing down the streets and around the corners, but once you get into a Stubbs BBQ groove, it’s hard to move on.
Tonight, the electric psych sounds of Holywave, Mercury Rev, and The Flaming Lips will light up this stage. And many many others around the corner.
Dates: August 16, 2019
Location: Hard Rock Cafe, Pittsburgh PA
Live at the Iron City venue Pittsburgh Hard Rock Cafe! Above: Blacktop Mojo
TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIFFINI TAYLOR
When it comes to rock concerts, finding just a good old garage feel band rock show seems to be a dream for fans. I’m here to say that isn’t true anymore! Pittsburgh Hard Rock Café was the place to be, the stage rocked with Chuck Moses & The Trash Bandits, Redson, Lullwater, and Blacktop Mojo. The “Can’t Sleep” tour has a perfect line-up for all rock fans. The tours intensity to bring rock and smack you in the face will make you smile.
It’s been said rock is dead, don’t believe it! Rock has a soul as pure as the first breath of the word rock. It may be a little harder to find pure rock during this present time, but it is out there and needs to be heard. Pittsburgh Hard Rock Café had bands who knew how to get down good. It was a semi-cool summer Tuesday night to have a drink at Hard Rock Café and enjoy the music.
Chuck Moses and The Trash Bandits, a local band, rocked a simple lighting effect stage, orange, blues and white. A band of talented musicians who has a retro late seventies vibe with blues thrown in made the crowd feel good. The drums were pounding by a man who knew how to pound, the bass was going with a sexy Miami Vice vibe, and the guitar player who was enjoying himself who resembles Robert Plant. A simply good band.
Next taking to the stage is Redson, a band who embodies the appearance of rock ‘n’ roll. A heavier sound is what Redson brought to the stage. The stage lit up with nice lighting effects of red, blue, white, orange, and it has a little purple too. Their sound is harsh, but in a good way. The music is heavy, it’s like if good and evil had a baby. The guitar growls into pure heavy rock while beat is flavored with powerful drums and bass. Redson is a heavy rock band who is worthy of being seen on this tour.
A band from Athens, Georgia as popular as Creature Comforts “Athena”, better known as champagne of the south, Lullwater is the champagne of grunge style rock. Lullwater is becoming legendary, just like Creature Comforts, all over the country and the world. The band are good guys who love music who’ve been doing it for a long time. Lullwater comes full on heavy rock and brings it all to the stage. Their newest released album “Voodoo” will put the voodoo inside you. No one will be disappointed, especially seeing them live. Simple stage lighting made the music come to life. A large audience gathered around the stage to see a good heavy rock band. A loud riff beginning everyone knew who Lullwater was before their set was over. Red, white, and blue lights illustrated the musicians to another level of rock. Hearing Lullwater play live and viewing their charisma is bliss.
Once hearing Lullwater you begin to think it can’t get any better, then Blacktop Mojo enters onto the stage. These guys from Texas know how to rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd seemed to have grown larger and the excitement to rock grew stronger. Jeans and cowboy boots walked into Pittsburgh Hard Rock Café with a strong Texan howdy. Upon entering the stage, the audience had a roar. The first drumbeat, bass strummed, and the guitar riffs, it’s party time. The white lighting, with hues of blue, orange and red compliments the band and their instruments. Feeling the beats and the vibe from the stage knew this was a special moment which you look for in rock ‘n’ roll. “Can’t Sleep” is a song which is a taste of their upcoming release of the album “Under the Sun”. Blacktop Mojo came into town to rock Pittsburgh, PA an it was accomplished. Everyone at Hard Rock had a great time along with great vibes and memories.
Blacktop Mojo and Lullwater are the new face of rock ‘n’ roll. Don’t believe me, then check out these faces.
Dates: September 29, 2019
Location: Variety Playhouse, Atlanta GA
PHOTOS/TEXT BY JOHN BOYDSTON
One of my favorite early ’90s UK pop-gaze bands is back – been back for a while actually, and I’m guessing they’ve never sounded better, because they were amazing at this Atlanta performance. It was my first chance to hear them. Ride formed in Oxford 1988 and quickly became part of the shoegaze scene that I personally still can’t get enough of. They made some great records, found an audience and critical acclaim, but broke up in 1996. Andy Bell, Laurence Colbert, Mark Gardener, and Steve Queralt reformed in 2014 and have found an even bigger audience and are still making great records.
Ride is currently touring the US and circling the globe in support of their latest LP ‘This is Not a Safe Place’ on Wichita Recordings, and has found an even bigger audience since getting back together.
They broke out of the shoegaze mold a long ago by writing catchy songs, but keeping the pedals on overdrive. The result is a wall-of-sound guitar bliss. Check out the music and dates and all things Ride here. Photos of the Atlanta show are below.
Dates: May 17-19, 2019
Location: Columbus, OH
Rechristened Rock on the Range has become one of the largest – and loudest! – annual events in the US. Above: In This Moment.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON
It was a great weekend of Rock at the Temple.
This was the first year for the Sonic Temple Festival in Columbus, Ohio, but as the people in and around Columbus know, this festival comes from the great team of Danny Wimmer Presents. Danny split last year from his partner and is carrying on the great festivals that he has produced for years while adding some new energy on top of those already stellar festivals. The festival scene has been evolving over the years, and Danny and his team are keeping up with the game by adding some flare, great vendors, and sponsors.
This year’s Sonic Temple festival is the new name of the storied, near-legendary Rock on the Range Festival that has been held in May in Columbus for a number of years. Danny and the team knew they had to have an awesome lineup to kick off the newly named festival — and they delivered, with bands like Foo Fighters, System of a Down, Disturbed, Ghost, Papa Roach, Halestorm, Avatar, The Cult, In This Moment, and many more acts over the three day event.
There was also a comedy tent with Andrew Dice Clay (below) and Pauly Shore.
The weather was perfect for Friday and Saturday, but Sunday gave us a small hiccup with a rain delay due to lightning for about two hours, causing a few of the afternoon bands to be pushed out; luckily, this delay didn’t interrupt the evening headliners. If you missed this year’s event, start planning for next year’s festival, as it is one of the largest rock festivals in the U.S. I for one can’t wait to see who makes the lineup next year. In the meantime, check out the Louder than Life Festival, also produced by Danny Wimmer Presents, that will take place at the end of September in Louisville, Kentucky. (Review and photo gallery of the wild 2017 LTL fest can be viewed here.)
Black Label Society
In This Moment
Lamb of God
Black Dahlia Murder