Category Archives: Reviews

Two new Jackmormons in Boulder

Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons


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.                                 

Old Crow Medicine Show: Big Iron World

It must have seemed like a big iron world to the members of the Old Crow Medicine Show when they spent the first months of their existence in a cramped van, honing their skills on the street corners and alleys of what must have seemed like every town in Canada all those year ago.

The work paid dividends though, and now, with two records out on Nettwerk Record and infinite critical acclaim, the world is simply theirs for the taking – and they show no signs of letting up. Their latest, Big Iron World, is another in what hopefully is a long line of great neo-old-time/stringband/folk/bluegrass records.

Once again featuring a handful of well-penned originals along with some dusty old tunes they’ve spit-shined to a high gloss sheen, Big Iron World is O.C.M.S. at their infectious best singing good time songs of wine, women, and well, cocaine….again.

Ray Lamontgne: Till The Sun Turns Black

Ray Lamontagne is just too darn good to be true.

Rugged good lookin’ cat from Maine who has that classic Van Morrison-meets-Joe Cocker smoky, impassioned tenor, and a keen eye for a good tune and lyric.  Singers and songwriters of Lamontagne’s stature don’t come around very often and the ones that do don’t seem to screw it up some how.

Lamontagne’s latest effort, Till The Sun Turns Black, picks up where right where his debut, Trouble, left off – it's a stark, cinematic, soulful effort that shows no signs of major label confinement or sophomoric slumps.

Here in eleven wonderful tracks Lamontagne runs the gamut from straight Stax-era soul  (complete with horns) to lush, symphonic arrangements that make rich canvases for Lamontange’s hushed tales of love and loss.  With efforts like these first two, Lamontagne could be in for a monumental career.

Phish 2.0 at the Ryman

The Duo/ Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon with the Duo


Nashville, TN




I was pretty excited to find out that Marco Benevento and Joe Russo would be touring alongside old friends and bandmates Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon.  Then came the announcement that they would not only be playing in Nashville on July 16, but at the Ryman. 


All of a sudden it became some of the most exciting news of the summer.

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Old Union welcomes back 12th and Porter

Old Union

12th and Porter

Nashville, TN



Welcome back, 12th and Porter – Old Union has been waiting.


12th and Porter once was one of Nashville’s live music hot spots before the taxman came and took it away.  However, Old Union sent the place out in style, performing a smoking hot last show there over a year ago. 


Thanks to new owners, 12th and Porter has hung its shingle once again, and Old Union still seems to like hanging around.


 Old Union


Chuck Foster’s “1000 New Ways to Fly” greeted the honey hole with perfect sound and a little extra grit.  In fact, the energy bursting out at the opening of the show was only minutely stifled by the pause of David Bryndal’s blown snare head being replaced before ripping into “Jericho”.  There is no doubt that Old Union’s two guitarists cannot possibly make it through a night of playing without pushing things to blisteringly loud levels.  However, the instrumentation of the band has begun to evolve in different layers, and everyone seemed to be playing with a greater level of confidence while riding shotgun alongside new bassist Jason Williams’ dead-on hooks.  Williams added a new dimension to the band with his inventive play, and that freshness led to the retooling of some of the Old Union catalog.


Jason Williams “Message to the Maker” continued to showcase a more rounded Old Union as Foster’s barreling boogie-woogie piano strutted around in front of the boisterous and easily provoked guitars.  The band segued nicely into “Deadline”, joined by percussionist Andrew Swift from Ballhog!.  Swift stayed on stage with them for the remainder of the first set.


The second set started off to the liking of all in attendance with “J-Dubb” Williams on the doghouse bass and the electric guitars laid down to rest, acoustics armed and ready.  It was an MTV Unplugged version of an acoustic set if you will.  The set started off with a great “Drifter’s Prayer,” followed by a great “Motels and Highways” that took on a new persona as a stripped-away acoustic offering.  Both of these songs underwent a little retooling for the acoustic versions, lending an exciting new outlook on two great songs from the bands’ vast arsenal.  Spotty’s ability on the dobro alone is reason enough to start incorporating more of these acoustic sections to the traveling show.  Then, joined by Randy Russell on background vocals and the band’s talented manager Chris Bledsoe on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, they nailed Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere”.


A perfect waterfall of notes rang out from a guitar and landed atop the dancing keys of Foster as the intro to “Last Chance” got the electricity flowing once again.  One of the Old Union songs that seemingly received a makeover was “Working.”  Again the presence of Williams on bass helped to show great promise, with innovative takes on their own material.  Old Union has quite a few Rolling Stones songs in the bag, but the most recent cover “Rain Fell Down” is a scorcher.  A good Stones cover can ignite a crowd, and the band nailed this one, then immediately fell into “What’s Going Around,” one of Old Union’s oldest songs.


The night ended with a take on JJ Cale’s “Ride Me High”, a song that Old Union covers fairly often.  The crowd’s participation on the last song showed their approval of the night’s performance.


With that, another night of rock and roll was finished.  A few cars were towed and a few shots were bellied, all in celebration of the return of 12th and Porter to the Nashville nightscape.    

Black Crowes, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph serve up guitarfest in Nashville

There was no doubt that a night filled with music by southern rock icons the Black Crowes and the Drive-By Truckers would deliver.  In fact, this tour throughout the early summer has been lighting fires to venues across America.  Robert Randolph and the Family Band have also played on most of the dates as the third band on the monstrous bill.

Continue reading Black Crowes, Drive-By Truckers, Robert Randolph serve up guitarfest in Nashville

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.

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Dave Matthews Band with Gov’t Mule

Riverbend Music Center

Cincinnati, Ohio

August 1, 2006 

Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule entertained a wilting, sold out crowd at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on August 1 while opening for the Dave Matthews Band. Combined heat and humidity levels topped out at around the 98-100 degree mark, and water became the preferred drink of choice. Haynes took the stifling weather in stride, delivering an inspiring set of Mule standards that kept the crowd engaged.

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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.