All posts by Josh Mintz

The Bridge live at the 8×10

The Bridge
August 16, 2006
8×10 Club Baltimore, MD

In Baltimore during the summer if you want to see live music on a Wednesday night there is only one place to go, and one band to see.  You make your way to Cross Street in Federal Hill, cruise down to the 8×10 Club and find a good spot close to the stage so you can catch The Bridge’s weekly set.  Over the past couple of years these residency shows have become a staple of the hot months.  These shows are a good measure of the growth of this band, as the size, shape, and make up of the crowd let it be known that the secret is out.  What once seemed to be a small intimate gathering of friends supporting their favorite local band has blossomed into a must see show, with people making the long trek downtown from many far reaching spots.  Wednesday nights are traditionally a tough night to fill a venue with live music, but people are ignoring the bleary-eyed work day that lies ahead of them as they will not make it back home until the wee hours of the morning as the Bridge routinely finish up their two hour plus long single set near 2am, and instead pack the Club until the last note has been played.

Where once on a Wednesday you could look around and seemingly know everyone in attendance, it is now packed wall-to-wall, floor to rafter with people.  It is easy to bump into any number of strangers through the course of the night who wish to proclaim the greatness and importance of this band.  Much like the tie-dye wearing, grey haired mullet sporting, middle age man dancing and flaying around as if he is trying to swat away a swarm if killer bees.  He is more than happy to share his feelings about the band with any one in his dance space, informing all those who care to listen how he did not go see any live music after Jerry Garcia died, but these guys have now brought him out of hiding.

This evenings show stayed true to the pattern they have established all summer, one long set mixed with a collection of reliable fan favorite songs, such as the opening “Good Rhythm”, a spattering of new songs (“Get Back Up”, “Bad Locomotive”) that provide a preview of their new CD (due to be released in November), and a tasty choice of covers that find the band reinventing and reinterpreting a wide range of songs that on this night included a Bob Dylan tune and Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” among others.  They also opened their stage to a number of guests just as they have done all summer.  During a blistering version of the Allman Brothers Band “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”, Matt Nichols from opening band Mozley Rose brought his southern-outlaw guitar sound to the stage after winning a coin flip against a band mate for the right to sit in with the Bridge.

Another addition to the stage is new sax man Patrick Rainey, who has just recently joined the band and brought a youthful exuberance to the band that seems to infect everyone as he bounces around the stage during the night with unbridled energy.  During old-school favorite “Agua Y Vida”, his slinky, salsa tinged blasts launched the band into realms they had previously never visited.

The platform from which these sonic blasts could lift-off from was built up by the backbone of the band, bassist Dave Markowitz, who because of the close, cramped quarters on stage spent much of the evening nestled into a back corner of the stage – building a strong foundation with his laid back demeanor upon which his rhythm section partner in crime, drummer Mike Gambone went to work over.

Gambone spent the evening trading licks with Baltimore drum-legend Mark St-Pierre, who sat in the entire night on percussion.  The sit-in was highlighted by a spirited drum duel during “Elizabeth Reed”.  St-Pierre even found time to trade places with Gambone later in the set and take a turn on drums, while Gambone moved to percussion.

It was during one of the first songs the Bridge ever wrote that the genius of St-Pierre was made clear to all that did not know.  “Pakalolo”, a live staple since the earliest days of the band, is based on a simple beat built up by Kenny Liner on beat-box and mandolin, underscored by Cris Jacobs’ guitar.  The song cascaded into an infectious groove that eventually moved into a call and response jam between St-Pierre and Liner.  St-Pierre laid down increasingly complex rhythms that Liner answered beat-box style.  Back and forth it went until St-Pierre dropped a beat that was beyond the scope of human recognition.  Liner started to answer, but quickly became tongue-tied and could not finish instead ending his turn with an appreciative laugh and a loud, “Oh my God!”

It is these moments that show Liner to be the personality of the band, the one to make a joke or say something to the crowd, the one who connects and parties during the show with fans off to the side of the stage.  He is for many the connection during the night, the one who tells the crowd what is going on whether it is serious or not.  On this evening he took time to wish a Happy Birthday to seemingly everyone one in the place, whether it was really their birthday or not.  His off-key warbling of the Talking Heads “Nothing but Flowers” during the encore was the most human moment of the night, a heartfelt moment which all can relate to.  Liner is unafraid to put himself out there, to connect with fans, much like he does during his beat-box solos which always draw some of the largest cheers on the night.  Tonight his solo was laced with a snippet of the Who’s “Baba O’Reily” and then moved into a new gem, “Clear Rock” played by Liner and Jacobs only, a poignant moment as they are the heart of the band.

The Bridge was formed as an acoustic duo by Liner and Jacobs and it is always a treat to see the two of them perform, to get a peak into the genesis of the band.  If Liner is the personality of the band, Jacobs is the soul – the driving force behind the Bridge.  For all the elements that make up this band, musically there is no larger part than Jacobs’ guitar.  His crisp, clear lines ring with a depth, emotion and an original creativity never heard before.  From the late 70’s Shakedown Street era Dead inspired lines during “Rosalita”, to the balls-out rocking during “Ain’t No Use”, to the delicate touches during “New Mistake”, he has quickly garnered (well deserved) acclaim as one of the hottest up and coming guitarists out there.  He directs songs and exploratory jams with his imaginative leads and the knowing glances and nods he spreads around.

It is easy to talk about how great a band is when they have made it and become “that band”, but it is much harder to talk about how great a band might be.  The Bridge makes it easy to speculate about their potential, as it is limitless.  Seeing the Bridge at one of their Wednesday night residency shows is a chance to be at the center of something special, to join in and take part every time they take the stage.  For all those in attendance who have seen the band grow, evolve and explode from small intimate gatherings to packed shows, this has always been our band, but we knew the secret would not last forever, and one day they will be your band as well, and you will be thankful when it is.

The Bridge To Celebrate New CD

The Bridge’s self-titled 3rd album will be released November 22 at the Rams Head Live in the bands’ hometown of Baltimore, MD.  The show will continue the Bridge’s annual tradition of playing a hometown show the night before Thanksgiving.

The new album will include long-time concert staples and fan favorites “Brother Don’t” and “Chains” as well as newer songs such as “Bad Locomotive” and “Ballad of Clear Rock”.  Several special guests and friends lent their talents to this album, among them Russell Batiste (The funky Meters, PBS), Mookie Siegel (Phil Lesh & Friends, David Nelson Band), and John Ginty (Citizen Cope, Robert Randolph).

The Bridge will follow their release show up with a few East Coast dates, including a stop at the Knitting Factory in New York City, before ending the year with a New Years Eve blow-out at the 8×10 Club in Baltimore.

Clapton and Trucks burn down Atlanta

Eric Clapton

Gwinnett Civic Center

Duluth, GA

October 14, 2006 

 

Sometimes bandmate are able to interact so well that it seems like a match made in heaven.  In the case of Derek Trucks and Eric Clapton, perhaps it is in the literal sense.

 

As Derek played Clapton’s former Derek & the Dominoes foil Duane Allman’s slide guitar part during the coda of "Layla" in Duluth, Georgia, Duane was probably smiling from somewhere up above.  While stylisitcally Duane and Derek are not mirror images, there’s just something there in Derek that evokes Allman’s image.

 

Regardless of any cosmic connections, from the opening notes of "Pretending" at Clapton’s show at the Gwinnett Civic Center this was a band that was clearly locked in and firing on all cylinders.  "I Shot the Sheriff" had Clapton singing with the conviction and passion he had in the 1970’s, and bassist Willie Weeks got a nice little bass solo during "Got To Get Better In A Little While" as Trucks switched from his Les Paul to his SG.

 

Opener Robert Cray came on stage for "Old Love," which featured a great guitar solo from Clapton.  After a nod to the D&D days with "Anyday," "Motherless Children" was busted out, and with Trucks, Clapton, and Doyle Bramhall II all on slide guitar, it was definitely one of the highlights of the night.  Their triple slide attack was fantastic, as all three guitars sang in unison.

 

There has been a seated, acoustic portion of each of Clapton’s shows on tour, and after "Motherless Children" the lights in the arena went out.  The roadies brought out two chairs, and Trucks and Clapton took a seat center-stage, spot-lit with guitars in hand.  They ran through the first few bars of "Back Home" before the lights slowly went up across the rest of the stage as the rest of the band quietly joined in.  Bramhall, absent for the first song, came back out for the rest of the set as Trucks put away the acoustic and played his SG on the remaining songs, "I Am Yours," "Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,"and a phenomenal "Running on Faith."

 

The band was back to full electric for "After Midnight," and then Clapton completely owned "Little Queen of Spades."  He’s clearly been pushed by the young guitarists like he hasn’t been pushed in quite a while, and has responded with sharp guitar work.  On "Little Queen of Spades," the guitarists took turns soloing, each one setting the bar just a bit higher for the next guitarist to hurdle.  Trucks was perfect here, and the crowd exploded after his solo.

 

After "Further On Up The Road," the band slowed it down a bit with "Wonderful Tonight."  Then, Trucks’ guitar conjured the ghost of Allman, and the opening riff to "Layla," arguably the 7 most famous notes in guitar history, rang out across the Gwinnett Civic Center.  The crowd exploded, and the band responded.  Pianist Chris Stainton’s work on the coda was perfect; in fact, he was stellar all night, the unsung hero in a band which spotlights (and rightly so) instruments of the six-stringed kind.  As Stainton, Trucks, and Clapton brought "Layla" home, the band broke into "Cocaine."  Clapton’s only just started playing this song after a long absence in his setlists, and he’s added the word "deadly" to the chorus (she’s all right, she’s all right, she’s all right…that deadly cocaine).

 

After a short encore break, the band was joined again by Cray for "Crossroads," and they called it a night.

 

In the grand scheme of rock and roll shows, Clapton’s currently got one of, if not the best one out there.  With each note he shows why he’s the legend on stage, and in the process he’s building that of Trucks.  While Bramhall certainly is a great guitarist in his own right, on some songs it really seems like it’s the "Derek Trucks show."  Hopefully Trucks is soaking up all of this, because sooner rather than later, he’s not going to be a sideman to anyone; these huge crowds that show up to see Clapton will soon be showing up for him.    

Bluegrass + electronica = great show in Memphis

Wayword Sons with Vince Herman   "We're gonna get some bluegrass particles flyin' around here," said Vince Herman as he took the Newby's stage with the Wayword Sons in Memphis.

The Wayword Sons with Vince Herman/Particle
Newby's
Memphis, Tennessee
9-19-06

words/photos by Josh Mintz 

 

 

 

Continue reading Bluegrass + electronica = great show in Memphis

Black Crowes Rock at Riverbend

Black Crowes

Riverbend Music Center

Cincinnati, Ohio 

August 5, 2006
 

 

The Black Crowes landed on stage at Cincinnati, Ohio’s Riverbend Music Center on August 5, 2006. The legendary Southern band brought with them a sense of purpose in their musical direction and linear improvisational approach. Taking a cue from The Grateful Dead, the Crowes loosely began the evening, jamming several minutes before "Black Moon Creeping" off of 1992’s The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion began to take shape.

Continue reading Black Crowes Rock at Riverbend

Los Lonely Boys: Sacred

Epic/Or Music/One Haven

Southwestern trio Los Lonely Boys return to rock with Sacred, the first album of original material since their 2004 debut. Sounding like a cross between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Los Lobos, the Garza brothers —Henry, JoJo and Ringo— turn in an inspired disc full of hairpin musical twists and turns, showing off a rich heritage of cultural diversity near the Texas/Mexico border.

 

True, some of Sacred's hot spots are the pop oriented big production numbers like the fluff and sass of the radio ready "Roses." But, John Porter and Mark Wright's crisp, clear assistance at Pedernales studios in Austin, Texas equals a larger, more inclusive Los Lonely Boys recording that stretches across a wider spectrum and is destined to bring the band a broader demographic.

 

The opener "My Way," smolders with the Texas roadhouse blues of Henry Garza's guitar and vocals meshing with JoJo's fluent, rhythmic forays on bass guitar. The Texas Horns chime in to lend a hand, and "My Way" fulfills Los Lonely Boys' promise from their first outing, setting them on an extended career path as headliners. "Diamonds" is another gem benefiting from Porter and Wright's techno enhancing savvy, and Ringo's stormy drum breaks pop up into the forefront of the mix.

 

Aficionado's of the SRV, Albert Collins school of showy, electrified blues will enthuse on Henry's scorching wall of sound on "Oye Mamacita." The Boys bring out the mellower, Latin romantic side of their background on "I Never Met a Woman." And, they get a little help from their father, Enrique Garza, Sr., and mentor Willie Nelson on the country flavored "Outlaws." Sacred sets up the building blocks of Los Lonely Boys' escalating pyramid, putting them in rarefied territory with past greats that have crossed the rock and roll and blues divide, laying a solid groundwork that stands the test of time.