Monday, August 22, 2005

John Butler Trio - Opening bands that out rock the headliners...

Simply put, the John Butler Trio put Assembly Of Dust to shame, even when AOD got a little help on bass from Mike Gordon (of Phish fame). So here goes: the good, the bad, and the unfortunate.

The Good:
I walked in with my friends minutes after John Butler started. I think I heard the first note as we walked through the large wooden double doors at Higher Ground, but for all I know we missed the first song. However, according to the VERY accurate concert schedule we missed one song at the most. So we walked in, having no idea what to expect from this band that we had all only heard one song by on the radio in the last few weeks. The quad I was there with shuffled our way into the middle of the crowd and chatted it up as would be expected for an opening band. But as we stood there, a pattern of silence started. People would trail off in mid-sentence and stare at the stage. Within two songs, we realized this was no 'opening' band. This was THE band we were there to see. If he's not selling out arenas in the near future, there is no justice in the music industry. He has all the potential to be the next Dave Matthews; his songs are radio friendly, but in concert there is SO much more there.
If one were forced to describe John Butler's music in one word, it would have to be 'roots'. He brings in all of the old, the reggae, the blues, the rock, and the tribal, and brings it together like it was never meant to be apart. As unfair as it is to try to quantify a musician into an amalgamation of other artists, I'd say John Butler is one part Rusted Root, one part Live, and two parts Ben Harper. And he does it all with a backing of two. And he's picked up QUITE the duo to come along.

The Bad:
Apparently the guy we totally bagged out on seeing was pretty good. But I doubt it. Look at Kyle Riabko's website, and watch his music videos. Did they clone Hanson, but only one was successful?

The Unfortunate:
Nate Wilson, what's up? Why are you wasting your time with Reid? I'll desist from ranting about Reid's shortcomings, but my real disappointment with AOD was Nate. Personally, I had never before seen Nate have a bad show. He was the center of Percy Hill, the guys understood it and played accordingly, and he seemed to feed on it. He smiled a lot, and was the one that brought me back to see Percy Hill time after time.
Percy Hill was/is a band. AOD are not a band, they are a group of musicians. Maybe someday they will be something more. Today, they have no cohesion. Maybe this is a result of not doing full blown tours together, maybe it is something else. Until they form together, they are what Strangefolk was the last time I saw them two years ago, bits and pieces of greatness without the glue to hold the pieces together. I will keep hope up for them, as individually they all have the potential for greatness, but together they do not equal the sum of their parts.
Mike Gordon made it apparent that the bass is the weakest piece of AOD, but he also seemed to walk into the haze of 'who goes now' and 'what do I do next' that seem to constantly arise in AOD even when they're playing with no guests.

John Butler Trio - Funky Tonight (Live 2004-08-13)

John Butler Trio - Far Away (Live February 2003 on Channel V)

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Assembly Of Dust - Listener Appreciated

Assembly Of Dust
I have trouble liking the Assembly Of Dust, but at the same time I also have trouble NOT liking the Assembly Of Dust. The first opinion stems outside of the musical realm and more into the nostalgic, and really so does the second...

The Assembly Of Dust's core members began as Strangefolk and Percy Hill, my two local favorites during my high school years growing up in Stowe Vermont. I have probably seen those two bands in concert more than all other bands combined. Personally, I always like these two local jam bands better than their contemporaries which hit it big, Phish included. Of these bands, I always saw Nate Wilson on keyboards as the standout of Percy Hill and Jon Trafton on lead guitar as the standout in Strangefolk, but the lead vocalists of both bands were more than capable. Joe Farrell of Percy Hill could outdo Sting on a Police cover, and Reid Genauers could wrench an amount of emotion out of his vocals which is rarely seen in the jam band scene.

I saw these bands grow and prosper, gaining national recognition and musicianship from month to month. Percy Hill put out one of the greatest studio albums of any of the jam bands in recent history, Colour In Bloom, and Strangefolk looked poised to follow in Phish's footsteps. Strangefolk even followed Phish in playing the (my) Stowe High School Prom (please contact me if you have a bootleg of this show, I've heard they exist).

Then, on the Strangefolk message boards in the summer of 2000, I heard that Reid was leaving the band to go to business school and get married. Personally, I had always seen Reid and Jon AS Strangefolk (Erik and Luke are great, but interchangeable), so to me this was the end of Strangefolk. This was not to be so, and Strangefolk continued without Reid. They were never the same, as they have not been able to replace Reid's amazing vocals and are essentially a different band now.

Percy Hill went on hiatus slightly before Strangefolk broke apart, so I was suddenly left with a void. I went to a few Strangefolk shows and they did not bring out the same feeling they used to, so I stopped going to hold on to my memories of the old band. Don't get me wrong, they're still great, but personally I'd rather see Jon playing lead guitar in a new band, or at least see a new SINGER in Strangefolk. Jon's a capable singer, but as a backing vocalist or the occasional song... think of Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam.

So when I heard Reid was playing shows under the name 'The Assembly Of Dust', I was kind of pissed off he had not reformed the original Strangefolk. This aggression grew as I heard he had recruited Nate Wilson and John Lecesse of Percy Hill to play in his new band. But this was quickly alleviated when I read that Percy Hill would still be playing together when Assembly Of Dust was taking time off and the rest of the band was available. I'd always liked Reid, and I can understand his reasons for not wanting to continue on the road. So I eventually came to be ok with the idea of The Assembly Of Dust. I was even excited at the prospect of hearing what Reid and Nate would be doing together. The live recordings I've heard get better and better the later they have been recorded. The Assembly Of Dust website has a bunch of songs to download for your pleasure. Take a listen to my favorites I came across on their official site. I think you may like it....

Oh, and if you're lucky enough to have tickets to the WNCS listener appreciation show which the 'Dust and the John Butler Trio are putting on tomorrow, I'll see you there.

PS - Much love and sympathy goes out to Jon Trafton in his battle with cancer. He looks to be on the road to recovery, but there is still much to go through. I am pulling for you Jon.

Assembly Of Dust - The Deed (Live)

Assembly Of Dust And Derek Trucks - Blues Tune (Live)

Assembly Of Dust - Roads (Live)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Beck - Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime

I couldn't wait to put my first post up... so I'm skipping ahead of my original idea to start with the center of my music collection, and instead bring in one of my new favorites.

I've been a Beck fan since the first time I heard 'Loser'. It was one of the first CDs I fleeced BMG for (back in the pre-mp3 days), and unlike many of the other discs I got in those many orders, Mellow Gold did not end up in the used CD bins of the local shops.

I've had a hard time swallowing the fact that Beck is a Scientologist, but it doesn't take away from the fact that Beck is essentially a modern Bob Dylan without the lyrical eloquence and awful voice. And by modern, I mean avant-garde. The guy pulls more styles out of his lo-fi hat than just about anyone else in the music industry, and he rarely misses.

This post is dedicated to an amazing song Beck put out for the movie Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, 'Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime'. As for the movie, if you haven't seen it, you should go rent it NOW. Michel Gondry + Charlie Kaufman = greatness. Beck's song is the haunting theme to the movie, and it works perfectly with this original and heartwarming love story (you will not often hear me use that cliche again...).

Right now, you get the link to the remix of the song done by JoolsMF. Its a good retake on an amazing song. When I resolve my hosting dilemma, you'll be getting the original version also.

Beck - Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime (JoolsMF Remix)

First Post

I've been feeling as though I've been caught in a net in the river of life lately. I seem to be getting tossed around endlessly, without moving forward (or backward) in any real sense. In an attempt to break through this net, I have grabbed the one knife I have always been able to count on: music. This blog will be my sounding board for my thoughts on music. This will include music reviews in various forms, focusing at the beginning on the core of my music collection and slowly branching out to the new music I come across which I have deemed worthy of inclusion in my vast music collection.

This site plans to be not just an mp3 blog, but a companion to my music tastes... a source for you to hear my opinions and samples of the music I'm talking about. Eventually, this will be a daily source for music, but until I have high speed internet at home, I'll be posting when I get the chance.

This first post won't have any mp3s associated with it. All future posts will include at least one music sample of what I'm talking about (or a link to where you can get some). Before this can start, I need a good FREE mp3 hosting site. Direct links preferred, but I'll go with whatever I can. Thanks for listening, and come back when the fun starts ;-)

Please remember, all mp3s are provided for your TESTING purposes ONLY. If you like the song or album, buy the album, or go see the band in concert. If you don't support the good artists, the crap will continue to rise to the top. I have no ownership nor association with any linked pages or information contained beyond the pages of