Category Archives: Reviews

One-man rock in Seattle

Scott Biram

Sunset Tavern

Seattle, Washington

September 1, 2006

 

Words/photos by Candise Kola

 

The jam scene has had its own one-man wonder in Keller Williams for a while, so when I considered checking out Scott Biram, I was curious what he would bring to the table that Keller already hadn’t.  I was pleasantly surprised to see he had plenty in his pockets that Keller probably wouldn’t dream of.  He wasn’t trying to copy what has already been done with a bunch of fancy looping equipment and a guitar.

 

Scott Biram

 

Biram, a one man band from Austin, Texas, is what one could call the antithesis of Keller’s squeaky, freaky, tweaky sense of humor and song repertoire.  He brings to the stage a redneck/blue collar image, complete with a trucker’s hat, brown work pants and a mean handlebar moustache, and he sings with a blues/roots/gospel/country/punk edge.  His foot board and Bible provide the right amount of thump needed to keep the audience clapping along with him.

 

When your eyes are greeted with his stage set-up, you see plenty of vintage gear amongst other things, and when Biram begins the show one hears a man who is definitely singing with soul.  He does not mess around with delivery, and will frequently remind his audience with his bullhorn to “SHUTTHEFUCKUP!” if he suspects attention is going elsewhere – his performance demands your attention.

 

Biram’s song list is compiled of material from his 4 releases, peppered with just the right amount of appropriately matched cover tunes.  I was thrilled to see him work the audience with a very involved version of the gospel tune, “What’s His Name!” and then swiftly jump to the blues roots classic “Just Cant Be Satisfied.”  He winded down the one and a half hour set with a very gritty and speedy “Black Betty.”

 

Scott Biram Biram’s guitar work lends itself well to all the musical styles he delivers.  He appears to feel his music – his stage gestures indicate he loves what he’s doing.  He pairs the enthusiasm with a brand of humor sure to shock.  Picture if you will a rubber fist…uh yeah…THAT kind of rubber fist…swung around the air while Biram informs the audience “this thing ain’t just for collecting nickels ya know!”  It’s so easy to laugh and it’s even easier to enjoy the music.  The guy seriously works every minute of the show.

 

Inspired, I picked up his new CD, Graveyard Shift, on the way out the door and have been listening ever since.  His stories are just what you’d expect: unrequited love, various badass-isms, trucks, the road, drinking, the devil and Jesus.  They are put together well, keep the listener imagining the characters being sung about, all the while laughing at the picture your mind’s eye paints.  This is the kind of CD that is great for a road trip; it will have you singing along and slapping the steering wheel in no time.

 

Biram is on the road this fall, supporting his new CD.  His is a unique style that any blues, country, rock, gospel or punk fan would enjoy and appreciate.  I whole heartedly recommend the $10.00 ticket- it’s an entertainment bargain.

Honest Tune talks with…Jimbo Mathus

I came across the music of Jimbo Mathus as a result of exploring the varied and numerous paths which the Dickinson family has traveled.  It was easy to find Jimbo’s contributions documented in the current Mississippi roots and blues scene, as he has worked with a host of Southern talent.

 

Jimbo has just finished a new CD entitled Old Scool Hot Wings, recorded on his own vintage equipment, with his own choice of musicians.  He called on the people whom he has grown to love playing with the most but doesn’t see often, and captured down-home jams. The result demonstrates a common appreciation of and ability to perform traditional/roots music in a relevant and highly entertaining manner. The group-think and cohesiveness behind this project comes across loud and clear.

 

Jimbo is a unique storyteller, a gifted conversationalist, and has mastered the art of composing thoughts for strangers. He is adept at putting people instantly at ease, and one can’t help but immediately become engrossed in his straightforward southern way of expressing himself.  He is deeply steeped in the process of exploring and preserving the integrity of the way music began in this country, and takes the act of producing back to where it once belonged….from the heart and soul.

 

Jimbo Mathus is an artist who is working expertly at making old sounds familiar to new listeners and his body of work to date indicates that an immense gift has been passed down to him from a musical family, regional heritage and that great juke joint in the sky…the one that hovers over the entire Dirty South.  The ghosts of Mississippi have got nothing on this guy, and Honest Tune contributor Candise Kola is fairly certain they love to haunt him.

Continue reading Honest Tune talks with…Jimbo Mathus

Honkytonk Homeslice: Self-titled

Honkytonk Homeslice’s self-titled album kicks off with the Scott Law-penned “Shot in the Blue.”  This song is completely saturated in goodness, with great harmonies, phenomenal picking, and a healthy dose of blue sky.

 

Law, a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, has been a left coast secret for some time.  He's shared the stage with String Cheese Incident, Railroad Earth, Hot Buttered Rum and the invigorating Everyone Orchestra regularly.  Long overdue, this collaboration with husband and wife Bill and Jilian Nershi will allow more to be reached by his work.  Bill Nershi’s “Weary Homesick Blues” follows with more great front porch picking.  Law’s mandolin dances around while the trio takes the chorus over the top with a high lonesome sound.

 

  

Continue reading Honkytonk Homeslice: Self-titled

Zilla: all Iz

Riding a deeply trenched groove of improvisation into the recessed corners’ of the night, Zilla returns with all iZ.  The Boulder, Colorado trio, comprised of renowned Hammered Dulcimer player Jamie Janover, multi-instrumentalist Aaron Holstein and String Cheese Incident drummer Michael Travis, take the listener on a voyage into the vibrant world of improvised music. 

 

Continue reading Zilla: all Iz

B.B. Comes To Town in Kettering

Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons

7/16/06

Fox Theatre

Boulder, CO

 

 

It’s no secret.

 

I am a Jerry Joseph fan. 

 

I often take pride in ruffling the feathers of those who don’t care for the sometimes-abrasive songwriter with my rants of his greatness. 

 

Jerry Joseph When I heard Jerry’s longtime band the Jackmormons had grown to five deep, I was anxious, yet a little reserved about the new incarnation.  Would the addition of Little Women guitarist Steve James take away from Jerry’s thunder?  And would percussionist Steve Drizos make an impact with the utter loudness of the Jackmormons? 

 

After missing my opportunity to catch one of their post-Widespread Panic shows in Winter Park, I arrived at Boulder’s Fox Theatre ready to go.  The opening “K-Line” kicked things off, serving as a convincing argument for the band’s new arrangement.  James’ presence did in fact tone down Jerry’s guitar; however, it also provided a more rounded result.  Jerry’s play seems less aggressive, with more down tempo twists and turns. 

 

This helped to answer my second question: the additional musicians had a reverse effect of what I had expected.   Rather than being too much fat to chew, there was more elbow room in every song.  The presence of percussionist Drizo did in fact manage to break the sound barrier. 

 

During “The Jump,” Jerry took the reins for a moment, delivering the thick riffs that Jackmormon fans are used to, occasionally playing rhythm to his own lead.  Then, with a blessed “We Will Go Down,” everything drifted back toward the newly balanced sound. 

 

Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons

 

Added vocals, another guitar, and some hard-working percussion have built nicely on the garage rock sound of Brad, Junior and Jerry’s cigarette-stained efforts.  As they segued into “Good Sunday” I found no reason to hold reservation toward the new Jackmormons.

 

Before launching into a section of material off the new release Into the Lovely, Joseph dropped a red hot “Belmont Radiator” as a pleasant little surprise.  The depth of material Jerry has written leaves many seldom-traveled roads lying in wait.  Songs like “Thistle” may be shelved for a while and then pulled back out, kicking and screaming all along the way. 

 

Steve James “Thistle > USA” started a segue of songs that did not let up until the band had ripped thru “Comes a Time > Mohawk > Comes a Time > Mohawk” flawlessly moving from one song to the other and back. 

 

The Jackmormons are, without a doubt, a must-see when they come screaming through your town.  The new instrumentation of the band and the more balanced sound will appeal to a larger crowd, winning over some of the holdouts and disbelievers. 

 

I hope that this fall brings the enlarged Jackmormons to the southeast, and maybe Steve and Jerry will see fit to dust off a few more Little Women songs now that they’ve been joined by some old friends.                                 

“Sugartooth McDan” tour touches down in Cincinnati

Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons

7/16/06

Fox Theatre

Boulder, CO

 

 

It’s no secret.

 

I am a Jerry Joseph fan. 

 

I often take pride in ruffling the feathers of those who don’t care for the sometimes-abrasive songwriter with my rants of his greatness. 

 

Jerry Joseph When I heard Jerry’s longtime band the Jackmormons had grown to five deep, I was anxious, yet a little reserved about the new incarnation.  Would the addition of Little Women guitarist Steve James take away from Jerry’s thunder?  And would percussionist Steve Drizos make an impact with the utter loudness of the Jackmormons? 

 

After missing my opportunity to catch one of their post-Widespread Panic shows in Winter Park, I arrived at Boulder’s Fox Theatre ready to go.  The opening “K-Line” kicked things off, serving as a convincing argument for the band’s new arrangement.  James’ presence did in fact tone down Jerry’s guitar; however, it also provided a more rounded result.  Jerry’s play seems less aggressive, with more down tempo twists and turns. 

 

This helped to answer my second question: the additional musicians had a reverse effect of what I had expected.   Rather than being too much fat to chew, there was more elbow room in every song.  The presence of percussionist Drizo did in fact manage to break the sound barrier. 

 

During “The Jump,” Jerry took the reins for a moment, delivering the thick riffs that Jackmormon fans are used to, occasionally playing rhythm to his own lead.  Then, with a blessed “We Will Go Down,” everything drifted back toward the newly balanced sound. 

 

Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons

 

Added vocals, another guitar, and some hard-working percussion have built nicely on the garage rock sound of Brad, Junior and Jerry’s cigarette-stained efforts.  As they segued into “Good Sunday” I found no reason to hold reservation toward the new Jackmormons.

 

Before launching into a section of material off the new release Into the Lovely, Joseph dropped a red hot “Belmont Radiator” as a pleasant little surprise.  The depth of material Jerry has written leaves many seldom-traveled roads lying in wait.  Songs like “Thistle” may be shelved for a while and then pulled back out, kicking and screaming all along the way. 

 

Steve James “Thistle > USA” started a segue of songs that did not let up until the band had ripped thru “Comes a Time > Mohawk > Comes a Time > Mohawk” flawlessly moving from one song to the other and back. 

 

The Jackmormons are, without a doubt, a must-see when they come screaming through your town.  The new instrumentation of the band and the more balanced sound will appeal to a larger crowd, winning over some of the holdouts and disbelievers. 

 

I hope that this fall brings the enlarged Jackmormons to the southeast, and maybe Steve and Jerry will see fit to dust off a few more Little Women songs now that they’ve been joined by some old friends.                                 

Chris Thile: How to Grow a Woman From the Ground

Adding to the spirit of adventuresome risk taking in roots based music that was prevalent on 2004's Deceiver recording, Chris Thile chips away fervently to break down musical barriers on his latest release, How to Grow a Woman From the Ground.

Mixing classical pieces with genre stretching, picking interpretations of modern rock compositions, Thile collects the broad based talents of Gabe Witcher on fiddle, Greg Garrison on bass, Chris Eldridge on guitar, and Noam Pikelny on banjo. 

Thile's mandolin playing talents are formidable, and he brings fire and passion to the traditional arrangement, “If the Sea Was Whiskey” and a cover of Jimmie Rodgers' “Brakeman's Blues.”

But the more challenging material for Thile is in the alternative and improvised country influenced takes of The Strokes' “Heart in a Cage” and a bluesy, confessional version of Jack White's “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.”

Chris Thile continues to reinvent and re-imagine the parameters of the mandolin accented bluegrass form

The Mars Volta: Amputechture

Having swayed the masses with Frances the Mute, The Mars Volta continues with fresh stretches of experimentalism on Amputechture.

Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez delve into their usual assortment of heavy avant garde acid rock with the help of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante.  The result is a boisterous opening salvo of shimmering leads and staccato stop-start riffing on “Vicarious Atonement.”

Many comparisons to King Crimson and System of a Down are justified on the nearly twenty-minute opus, “Tetragrammaton.”  At times, Amputechture feels like the sound equivalent of fast food forced through the back end of a tube. 

And, “Meccamputechture” combined with “Day of the Baphomets” can drone on into one overproduced 23 minute collaboration. 

But, The Mars Volta’s winning hand is a stroke of genius involving the off-patterned time changes on “Vermicide” and the esoteric balladry of “Asilos Magdalena.”

Two new Jackmormons in Boulder

Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons

7/16/06

Fox Theatre

Boulder, CO

 

 

It’s no secret.

 

I am a Jerry Joseph fan. 

 

I often take pride in ruffling the feathers of those who don’t care for the sometimes-abrasive songwriter with my rants of his greatness. 

 

Jerry Joseph When I heard Jerry’s longtime band the Jackmormons had grown to five deep, I was anxious, yet a little reserved about the new incarnation.  Would the addition of Little Women guitarist Steve James take away from Jerry’s thunder?  And would percussionist Steve Drizos make an impact with the utter loudness of the Jackmormons? 

 

After missing my opportunity to catch one of their post-Widespread Panic shows in Winter Park, I arrived at Boulder’s Fox Theatre ready to go.  The opening “K-Line” kicked things off, serving as a convincing argument for the band’s new arrangement.  James’ presence did in fact tone down Jerry’s guitar; however, it also provided a more rounded result.  Jerry’s play seems less aggressive, with more down tempo twists and turns. 

 

This helped to answer my second question: the additional musicians had a reverse effect of what I had expected.   Rather than being too much fat to chew, there was more elbow room in every song.  The presence of percussionist Drizo did in fact manage to break the sound barrier. 

 

During “The Jump,” Jerry took the reins for a moment, delivering the thick riffs that Jackmormon fans are used to, occasionally playing rhythm to his own lead.  Then, with a blessed “We Will Go Down,” everything drifted back toward the newly balanced sound. 

 

Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons

 

Added vocals, another guitar, and some hard-working percussion have built nicely on the garage rock sound of Brad, Junior and Jerry’s cigarette-stained efforts.  As they segued into “Good Sunday” I found no reason to hold reservation toward the new Jackmormons.

 

Before launching into a section of material off the new release Into the Lovely, Joseph dropped a red hot “Belmont Radiator” as a pleasant little surprise.  The depth of material Jerry has written leaves many seldom-traveled roads lying in wait.  Songs like “Thistle” may be shelved for a while and then pulled back out, kicking and screaming all along the way. 

 

Steve James “Thistle > USA” started a segue of songs that did not let up until the band had ripped thru “Comes a Time > Mohawk > Comes a Time > Mohawk” flawlessly moving from one song to the other and back. 

 

The Jackmormons are, without a doubt, a must-see when they come screaming through your town.  The new instrumentation of the band and the more balanced sound will appeal to a larger crowd, winning over some of the holdouts and disbelievers. 

 

I hope that this fall brings the enlarged Jackmormons to the southeast, and maybe Steve and Jerry will see fit to dust off a few more Little Women songs now that they’ve been joined by some old friends.