June 2, 2010

Review: Dark Star Orchestra @ the Wellmont

Dark Star Orchestra @ Wellmont Theatre, May 22

Dark Star Orchestra do what they do so well, and have done it for years, which is precisely why they’re still one of the biggest mysteries in the scene. How is it that a band with this type of built-in conceit and therefore, so much stacked against it before note one is played on a given night, sounds vital?

Dark Star Orchestra – The Wheel (Live in Montclair)

Credit the music, sure. The Grateful Dead catalog is an endlessly malleable and contiguous oeurve; it provides for all of Jerry’s children, with leftovers. But then that alone was never it. There are plenty of keepers of the flame, not least guys named Lesh, Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart. Hundreds of Dead cover bands can do a serviceable Uncle John’s Band and call it a night. There are more than a few who can stick the landing in the Help > Slip > Franklin’s progression and leave a Dead itch scratched. There are others who through technical prowess and verve can provide a fun approximation of Grateful Dead music from A to Z.

But the great Dead cover bands thin to their most distinguished ranks after that, and Dark Star Orchestra is somewhere at the end of that thinning-out: a category of its own for the reason that it so understands the idiom of Grateful Dead music – the songcraft, the improvisational style, the set narrative, the puzzle pieces – that on a good night, it transcends what’s generally expected of even the most technically brilliant, note-perfect tribute groups. READ ON for more from Chad on DSO in Montclair…

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Pullin’ ‘Tubes: Prine Primer

Even the most casual of music fans can rattle off songs and albums from a number of the more famous singer-songwriters. Then, you have those that are considered “musicians singer-songwriters,”

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Tour Dates: I Wanna Rock

For those of you out there looking for something a bit different than the rock-heavy festivals this summer, look no further than the hip hop-centric Rock The Bells series. Now

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Briefly: iClips’ Mountain Jam Sked Revealed

iClips’ Couch Tour 2010 continues this weekend with three days worth of broadcasts from the sixth-annual Mountain Jam starting Friday. We’re most excited to see that the Levon Helm 70th Birthday Jubilee set – featuring Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, Paterson Hood, Warren Haynes and plenty of other guests – will be webcast on Sunday night at 7:30PM EDT. Other acts getting the webcast treatment include Dr. Dog, Dave Mason and ALO.

READ ON for the full Mountain Jam webcast schedule…

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Announcing: North Coast Music Festival

The latest entrant into the summer festival party comes in the form of the North Coast Music Festival, which will take place in Chicago’s Union Park from September 3rd to

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Krasinski, Rudd, Hader, Stewart, Colbert and Vampire Weekend Join Conan at Radio City

When Conan O’Brien announced his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour most of us news-gathering types circled the two shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York City as the potential stand-outs.

Vampire Weekend w/ Conan – Walcott

Not only did the gawky, red-haired comedian call the Big Apple home for 15 years but O’Brien would be performing in the same group of buildings where his former NBC bosses work. The first of two shows at Radio City lived up to the hype as Conan tailored the set for the NYC audience and welcomed more than a few of his famous friends.

Musician/comedian/whack-job Reggie Watts kept the audience guessing throughout his 30-minute opening set by mixing straight jokes with physical comedy and hilarious musical interludes. Watts’ experimental act – which features a large dose of beat-boxing and looping skills that would make Keller Williams proud – went over extremely well and made most appreciate getting into the legendary venue on time. Shortly after 9PM, the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny of Television Tour Band took the stage and immediately brought the energy up by dropping into a killer version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up that featured Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg on surprisingly good vocals.

After his band got the crowd all hot and bothered, Conan strolled out to a hero’s welcome. O’Brien’s monologue started with a joke about Phish as he referenced all the glowsticks in the room – cocktails at Radio City come with a glowstick – by saying “this is not a Phish concert.” Nearly 20 minutes long, Conan’s opening killed and included tons of jokes about the chain of events that led the late night tv host to his first tour. Coco strapped on the guitar at various points throughout the evening and after a few songs with the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Band he invited Vampire Weekend out for the first surprise of the evening.

READ ON for more on Conan’s first show at Radio City…

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Sean McConnell: Saints, Thieves, & Liars

Relatively unknown to mainstream success, singer/songwriter, Sean McConell has been writing and recording music for over 10 years.  McConnell’s songs have been covered by everyone from American Idol contestant, Jason Castro to country superstar, Tim McGraw and he has exploded in the Texas music scene.  Sean McConnell delivers his most accessible and strongest album to date with Saints, Liars, and Thieves, which blends his Americana/R & B sound with introspective lyrics alongside a soulful vocal rang.  McConnell’s sound is very unique in that it pulls from soul, country, folk, and R & B but it his beautiful lyrics and touching songs that separate him from most mainstream music out there right now. 

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Band of Horses: Infinite Arms

As Band of Horses strays farther from the sound of their debut, undoubtedly some fans of their earlier material are going to feel let down. Grandiose rock anthems like “The Funeral” are nowhere to be found here. Instead, their third effort sets a mood of subdued melancholy. Infinite Arms is an album whose sound is a better fit on the front porch of a country home than in an arena.

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