Rhino Records drops some new Monkees music on us as we wait for the release of their spruced up TV series BluRay Box Set. All 58 episodes of snarky lunacy that melded the Marx Brothers with pop culture of 1960’s West Coast America will appear in the midst of innumerable bonus features. Those extras include the group’s only feature film Head as well as the even more challenging final television special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee. The mega-set can be ordered at the Monkees’ official website only, and is limited to 10,000 copies world wide.
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Return To Forever…
“I’m thinking I’m 17 years old again,” was the answer Carlos Santana gave when asked what he thought upon first hearing the lyrics of Greg Rolie’s “Anywhere You Want to Go.” That recently released single track and an album’s worth of others find the guitarist working once more with the musicians who created the Santana III album in 1971. The core of the original Santana band.
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“Embarrassment of riches” is a phrase that always comes to mind when I do my annual overview of the spring and summer music scene in New York City. These outdoor concerts feature a treasure trove of listening opportunities that when amassed across a short three month period is not only mind boggling but for the most part offered FREE to the general public.
On May 18th, The City Parks Foundation launched its 30th Central Park SummerStage season with a great show by what I think is the quintessential American band of our time, The Tedeschi Trucks Band. They are also currently my favorite band. You may have already read my rhapsodizing about why I love them here and as far back as my Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 BluRay review on PiercingMetal.Com. I’ll give you the spiel anyhow.
S’oul in the Family…
By design, TTB is a 21st century Delany and Bonnie and Friends with a twist of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishman. Those bands form the roots of a tall family tree that includes Derek and The Dominoes, Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, The Grease Band, mid-period Rolling Stones and George Harrison’s masterpiece, the All Things Must Pass album (1970).
Though the namesake of wife and husband Susan and Derek, TTB is also the vehicle for a boatload of musicians who could equally front their own bands. These are 11 amazing players, vocalists, and songwriters who make what appears a juggernaut run like a Ferrari.
Derek Trucks – Guitar
Susan Tedeschi – Guitar & Vocals
Kofi Burbridge – Keyboards & Flute
Tyler Greenwell – Drums & Percussion
J.J. Johnson – Drums & Percussion
Mike Mattison – Harmony Vocals
Mark Rivers – Harmony Vocals
Kebbi Williams – Saxophone
Maurice Brown – Trumpet
Saunders Sermons – Trombone
Tim Lefebvre – Bass Guitar
Strains of blues, gospel, free jazz, southern soul, and “Americana” run through the veins of TTB. While they embody the ethos of a jam band they also never lose sight of the song in favor of endless extrapolation. That said, you will find that their studio recordings, while excellent, are merely a starting point for evolution. Like The Allman Brothers Band before them the real way to appreciate TTB is live onstage. Surprises like opening their swampy barn burner “The Storm” with the coda from Led Zep’s “What Is and What Should Never Be” make the shows exciting and fun for savvy listeners.
Though a few tunes like Mike Mattison’s “Midnight in Harlem” have deservedly become fan favorites and apparent staples, the group continuously juggles their set-lists to keep things interesting for camp followers and they always pick great cover tunes (from Bobby “Blue” Bland to The Beatles) that inform the audience of their musical lineage.
Like the Foo Fighters they are extremely respectful of what came before them, the musical shoulders they stand on, and also like FF they are not shy about shining a light on those progenitors. For instance this summer at the Interlocking Music Festival in Arrington, VA., TTB will pay homage to the late Joe Cocker with a tribute concert (including original members) to the aforementioned Mad Dogs and Englishman band. They’ve already regularly played “Space Captain” in the past, but the idea of having this band dive into “Delta Lady,” “Cry Me A River,” “Feeling Alright,” and Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham’s “The Letter” is beyond exciting for this fan.
Join Together with the Band…
Inviting fellow musicians to join them on stage is also a standard practice. At Summerstage, Clapton cohort Doyle Bramhall II augmented the group for a healthy portion of the set including a funky workout on Derek and the Dominoes’ “Keep On Growing” and blues standard “Key to the Highway.” They also hosted Ms. Sharon Jones who delighted the capacity crowd performing two classic soul numbers, Etta James’ “Tell Mama” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” Jones and her band The Dap Kings will support TTB this season on the “Wheels of Soul” Tour. It seems a perfect match, and I suspect we will be treated to many more duets between Susan and Sharon.
TTB Central Park SummerStage Setlist, May 18, 2015
Made Up Mind
Do I Look Worried
Midnight In Harlem
Get What You Deserve (Mike Mattison, lead vocal)
I’ve Got A Feeling/Jam (Beatles cover w/ Doyle Bramhall II)
Keep On Growing (Derek and the Dominoes cover w/ Doyle)
Key to the Highway (Charles Segar cover w/ Doyle)
Break in Every Road
Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke cover w/ Sharon Jones)
Tell Mama (Etta James cover w/ Sharon Jones)
I Pity the Fool (Bobby “Blue” Bland cover)
Bound For Glory
More and More (Little Milton cover)
Give that show, and so much more, a listen by exploring the wonderful tapers’ community at the Internet Archive. There’s lots of Soulive and Lettuce there too. Also, be sure to treat yourself to a ticket or three to see Tedeschi Trucks Band as they tour throughout the year.
September will see The Tedeschi Trucks Band roll into New York City’s beautiful Beacon Theater for a residency that I hope eventually grows to rival The Allman Brothers’ now legendary March encampments.
Before that, be sure to check out the schedules of amazing free shows throughout NYC this summer.
The City Parks Foundation SummerStage offers concerts in all five boroughs, BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn series has a great line-up at the Prospect Park bandshell, and City Winery has outdoor shows (5:30 – 7:00 pm) behind the venue on their loading dock (which they like to call Hudson Square Mall) on Tuesday evenings starting June 2.
Eagle Vision/Universal Music Group
DVD Produced and Directed by Joss Crowley
2CD+DVD Running Time: approximately 111 Minutes
DVD 9, 16:9 Screen Format, DTS Digital Surround Sound, Dolby Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo
Release Date: March 31, 2015
2. Out of Touch
3. Say It Isn’t So
4. Family Man
5. It’s Uncanny
6. Back Together Again
7. Las Vegas Turnaround
8. She’s Gone
9. Sara Smile
10. Do What You Want, Be What You Are
11. I Can’t go For That (No Can Do)
12. Rich Girl
13. You Make My Dreams
14. Kiss On My List
15. Private Eyes
Eagle Vision and Universal Music Group‘s new DVD/2 CD package Hall and Oates: Live in Dublin chronicles the duo’s first gig in the titular city’s Olympia Theater. Played to a sold out house, it was a great show to document. Not only is the setting intimate and beautiful but the Dubliners are an effusive and collaborative audience, singing along from stem to stern, making for a really engaging viewing and listening experience.
The 15 song set is a smart mix of crowd pleasers and more obscure material that spans the band’s history and puts a fresh spin on familiar hits. Fortunately Hall and Oates’ catalog is very malleable – ripe for rearrangement – meaning many of the kitschier studio embellishments found on the 80’s hits are eschewed for polished funky presentations that highlight the songs’ “evergreen” status. It also ensures that H&O don’t become a “cover band” of themselves.
Daryl Hall and John Oates’ stock in trade has been a palpable sincerity conveyed in the smooth soul crooning of their breakout tune “She’s Gone” through even the pop-iest of their mega-hits like “Kiss Is On My List.” It’s a believability that’s rooted in their vocal group tenure in the early days of the Philadelphia PA music scene that producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff eventually forged into TSOP: The Sound of Philadelphia. It’s exemplified in H&O tunes like “Sara Smile” and “Do What You Want, Be What You Are.” Both are represented on Live In Dublin in fine fashion. “Sara Smile” is all feel, Daryl announces it as “…the truth, plain and simple.” It’s a worthy successor to The Impressions. The deep soul of “Do What You Want…” gets an extended airing that features a fun solo duel between senior band member saxophonist Charlie DeChant and newest player guitarist Shane Theriot before it seamlessly slides into “I Can’t Go for That.” Theriot favors a scooped lead sound that cuts through the three guitar front line. He’s a fine improvisor who is also willing to replicate a studio solo when it’s a song’s melodic hallmark, as in “Private Eyes.”
The duo has always had a knack for finding great musicians for their stage bands from the very start. In the past members have included drummers Jerry Marotta and Mickey Curry, Elton’s Caleb Quaye, Peter Frampton’s “Alive” cohort Bob Mayo, Utopia’s Kasim Sulton and John Siegler and SNL’s house guitarist G.E. Smith and Bassist the late “T-Bone” Wolk. These are formidable shoes to fill but the current line-up is exceptional in their own right and they are deservedly highlighted in a bonus feature that offers a bit of biography on each member. Almost all of them are multi-instrumentalists, with the core players, including drummer Brian Dunne, coming from the Average White Band, and percussionist Porter Carroll Jr. having led Atlantic Starr. Along with their playing, background vocals are stellar from the staccato “watch out’s” in set opener “Maneater” to the “are watching you’s” on second encore closer “Private Eyes.”
My bottom line benchmark for any purchase is the level of likelihood I’ll return to the piece after the initial watch. Hall and Oates: Live in Dublin has been a pleasure to repeat spin for the purposes of this review, and will continue to be top of the heap for replay for some time to come. If you’re only interested in the video content I suggest you grab the BluRay, although the standard DVD looks very good up-sampled on my Playstation 3.
What’s missing? Well, I’m one of the oddballs who counts the Todd Rundgren produced War Babies album as a favorite, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for “Beanie G and the Rose Tattoo” to show up in a set list any time soon. That is unless some hipster record bin crawlers decide War Babies is H&O’s great lost Pet Sounds. Hmm… sounds like a Twitter crusade in the making. See hashtag above.