Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gathering of the Vibes 2013

As you read this please keep in mind that my user name is OldRockr1.  I am not a kid by any stretch of the imagination so please know that someone younger may have a different impression of this festival.
Vibes is huge!  There had to be over 20,000 attending and Bridgeport's Seaside Park turns into a mini city for a week in July.  We didn't camp so I can't comment on that experience but the Holiday Inn was very welcoming to the "Vibe Tribe" and shuttle service was OK back and forth to the festival.  Security varied...tough on some and easy on others with lots of cans of beer seen on the festival grounds each day.  Security on the concert field was pretty much nonexistent and there was a police presence but they didn't seem too engaged.
The setup allowed you to get pretty close if you arrived by noon each day but it got very crowded by the time Phil Lesh played each night.  The problem for me each night was the younger, douche stoners.  I have no patience for these assholes.  Do what you want but just blasting through peoples chairs to get a good spot down front just sucks.  Most of these losers are play acting a Dead show experience having never been there themselves.  Given the choice I think I will be leaving these shows to them in the ruins the day for me when I want to punch some little turd in the head.  So those of you of a similar age and mindset should keep this in mind if you are thinking about one of these huge jam fests.
Aside from this the music was very good at Vibes and that was the main reason we all go in the first place.  Four days of music for $170 is a hell of a deal and if you get there early each day you can set up pretty close as I said and move down to the front of the stage for most of the acts, which I did each day.
Some highlights for me: 

Dark Star Orchestra - A great first set by this long time Dead tribute band.  Sometimes these guys are more fun than Phil or Bobby on their own (I know, I know that's sacrilege but true).  The Spirit of the Dead is alive and well in DSO.

Railroad Earth - I love these guys.  I have watched them grow from 200 seat venues up to some of the larger theaters in the NYC area and they just get better.  I am a huge fan of acoustic instrumentation and they take that roots/bluegrass base to places no one else even attempts to go.  They should have an even bigger audience.  Check Railroad Earth out live if you get the chance.

Tedeschi Trucks Band - I initially thought their first album was just OK but a bunch of friends got me to play it a few more times and boy did it grow on me.  Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks have put together an outfit that makes bluesey-soulful sounds that positions them to be at the top of the jam heap for years to come.  They play songs folks.  Yes Derek is a guitar legend but the band plays really good songs which is often missing from many jam band repertoires.  They were my favorite act of the entire festival.

Wavy Gravy - What more can you say?

Gov't Mule - I've been on the Mule bandwagon since sometime in 1997 and I still love seeing them live.  They played a bunch of new songs which were good, but I don't know how often I'll play the new album.  Like a lot of the acts at Vibes I am starting to lose a little interest.  Maybe it's age, maybe it's just a shift in my listening habits, but I had the same feelings during a lot of the festival.  I liked it but I didn't love it.

Phil & Friends - I have always liked the Phil & Friends shows I have seen.  It's usually an interesting group of musicians playing some of my favorite songs in new and different ways.  The line-up with Scofield and Medeski was no exception.  I would have liked to have seen and heard more but the crowd just pissed me off too much to stay each night. 

Some of the other acts had some interesting moments, in particular Galactic and The Revivalists doing Gimmie Shelter which absolutely killed.  The Funny Meters were pretty good as were Assembly of Dust, but I was a bit disappointed in Grace Potter.  Ms. Potter has moved far away from what I liked on her first two records into more of a heavy pop sound.  Not my thing.  Here's a few more pictures.

So all in all it was a fun weekend with some good and sometimes very good music.  Will I be back?  Probably not, but it may work for you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival 2013

I look forward to this festival every year.  This year was no exception.  A great line-up, camping with my wife, son and his girlfriend, good food, good drink and HEAT.  It was freaking HOT this year.  We arrived around 9:00 on Wednesday morning and were totally set up and sweating in the heat by 10:30 at our favorite spot right near the Catskill Stage (the dance tent).
Thursday was the first day of music and we stuck around the tent most of the day due to the heat.  We did check out Mama Corn on the Creek side Stage and I liked them quite a bit along with the 23 String Band on the High Meadow (main stage) but the heat was brutal so we went back down to the dance tent and checked out the Kickin' Grass Band who were pretty good along with The Duhks who were more enjoyable than I expected.  After dinner we headed up the hill for Devil Makes Three who most folks seemed to enjoy more than I did.  Too much beer and too much heat and I fell asleep pretty early but there was some very good music on day one.
Mama Corn

23 String Band

Kickin' Grass Band

Devil Makes Three

The Duhks

Day 2 was just as hot but the tent was pretty cool so we set up camp there for the day and watched a string of really good acts play some great sets.  In particular my wife and I really liked I Draw Slow a string band out of Ireland.  My wife asked me to get both of their CD's which is something she never asks me to do.  The SteelDrivers were their usual great selves both in the dance tent and on the late stage for their headlining set.  The Infamous Stringdusters just killed on the main stage with one of the biggest dance crowds of the festival.  These guys just continue to grow. 
I Draw Slow
The SteelDrivers

Saturday had a little cooler weather and even hotter music.  We caught another set from I Draw Slow, one from Monroeville and the Carolina Chocolate Drops with Cedric Watson.  I was really looking forward to the Carolina Chocolate Drops but was disappointed by their first set.  So much so that I almost missed them on the main stage later that night which would have been a major mistake because they totally killed later that night.  They are a musical encyclopedia of styles.  Just wonderful.  Jerry Douglas and band did a straight Flatt & Scruggs set and the late night jam band was a blast.  A great day of music.
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Jerry Douglas

The Magnificent Late Night Grey Fox Allstars


All in all another great Grey Fox Festival.  I am already looking forward to next year and the great music and good times at the Walsh Farm.  Oh yeah and you have to love the sunsets...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Furthur - Barclay's Center July 11, 2013

Last night was the first show of Furthur's Summer/Fall Tour 2013.  The venue was fairly empty in the upper deck which was a surprise considering how well they do at MSG.  I was a little apprehensive after Bobby's "illness" back in May and the show did start out a little hesitantly with a very ordinary Stranger>Rag>Hell in a Bucket.  Things did pick up a bit in the second half of the set with a pretty darn good Cold Rain & Snow > Friend of the Devil > Jack Straw.

The second set was much better IMHO.  The playing was a bit looser and it kind of flowed really well.  In particular the Uncle John's Band > The Wheel > Uncle John's Band just killed.  Here is the complete setlist.

Barclays Center
Brooklyn, NY

July 11, 2013

Set I (8:13 pm - 9:20 pm ET)
Feel Like a Stranger (BW)
Doin' That Rag (JK)
Hell in a Bucket (BW)
Cold Rain and Snow (JK)
Friend of the Devil (BW)
Jack Straw (BW)

Set II (10:13 pm
Here Comes Sunshine >
Reuben and Cerise >
Greatest Story Ever Told
Uncle John's Band >
The Wheel >
Uncle John's Band (reprise) >
Unbroken Chain >
Weather Report Suite Part 2 Let It Grow

donor rap

We Love You >
Weather Report Suite Part 2 Let It Grow (reprise)

I'm a little bummed the tour has so few dates this year but I am looking forward to Phil with John Scofield at Gathering of the Vibes in a couple of weeks.  Maybe we'll get an MSG show added around Thanksgiving.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth Of July Musings and the Best of 2013 So Far...

So it's the 4th of July.  Happy Birthday America.  Now if everyone could play nice we would have something to celebrate but that's for another post.  Might as well dig a couple of 4th of July Songs.

Shooter Jennings

Dave Alvin

Bruce Springsteen

Since it's midyear I thought I might ruminate on the state of music (as are many of the bloggers) in 2013.  So far it has been a weak year that has seen some very good albums released.  Hell quality is always better than quantity.  So in no particular order here are the mid year all stars.

Holly Williams deserves a listen because she is Hank's grand daughter.  She deserves to be album of the year because this one is that special.  It's been in constant rotation since it was released and I still find new things to like about it.  A major singer-songwriter has been unleashed on the world.  Do not hesitate to pick this one up.

Speaking about major much has been written about this masterpiece, another contender for album of the year, that I wonder if I have anything to add to the accolades.  This is simply an amazing, mature work by one of the premier songwriters of this or any other era.  It's that good.

This one was a complete surprise and I have to thank Autopsy IV over at for first posting about this one.  Being totally unfamiliar with his work I was blown away by the first couple of songs I heard.  My wife hears Bruce Springsteen in the vocals and I definitely do as well.  However the Boss hasn't quite gotten this sound down so well in the past.  From what I have heard he rock more on his earlier albums, but this one is just right.  Check it out if you like Otis Gibbs, White Buffalo, etc.

Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis are husband and wife.  He has written some huge hits and she has a killer voice.  Together they make beautiful music.  I especially like their take on Border Radio.

Honest, real country music folks.  Fans of Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean can move along.  This is some serious, hard core country.  Thanks Sturgill.
Here's an early version of Life Ain't Fair with his old band Sunday Valley.


Speaking of hard core country this is the seconds album I've gotten by Eric Strickland.  If he keeps making them like this I'll keep buying them.  He seems incapable of making a bad record.

I had never heard Dale Watson before and I am kind of pissed at myself for that.  Great, honest, honkytonk or as he calls it Ameripolitan Music.  Whatever he wants to call it is fine with me.

So have a great day folks.  Pop a top or two and listen to some music.  It doesn't get much better than that on a beautiful summer day.  I hope the neighbors aren't expecting any top 40!