August 30, 2009
In a well-hidden, acoustically suited room on the Lower East Side, the sweet and dissonant sounds of Jim Campilongo fill the ears of attentive listeners. He’s a marble among the chards of glass.
Campilongo’s longtime Monday night residency at The Living Room showcases his versatility. Sometimes he goes solo, shredding a combination of classical and jazz guitar, speaking the language of sweet beauty. But when accompanied by his electric trio, Campilongo comes hard. Last Monday, alongside bassist Jeff Hill and drummer Tony Mason, the trio crossed the board with infectious blues, hard jazz, and a little bossa nova.
The electric trio started off with what one might expect to hear, minding the name, acid jazz. It was funk, it was raw, and it never shied away from a tight groove. It would have been acceptable to assume the whole night would be filled with similar tunes, but growing from rapturous harmonies, the set was counterbalanced with cross-genres of jazz. Transitions may not have been placed with the most grace, yet it all seemed so genius.
The song “Chelsea Bridge” followed the funk. Its quiet arrangement was filled with passionate chords and represented Campilongo’s respect as a musician, demonstrating that one doesn’t have to play a bunch of useless, fast notes to be heard. Refinement is key. This is also the case for “Maceo,” a tune off his upcoming album, Orange. From the venom of jazz, to the slight swing of it all, the trio went directly into the country twang of dixieland. Campilongo proves time and time again that there isn’t anything he can’t attack with style and elite composition.
Orange is set to be released in February 2010. Campilongo is prolonging the release because he doesn’t want to compete with everyone on the planet during the holiday rush. Good news, though, he will have CDs on hand within the next few weeks.
Campilongo doesn’t play every Monday, but often enough. I highly suggest taking a late night trek to the LES to check him out.
by Genette Nowak
August 22, 2009
Either while touring for decades, manning side projects, or sitting in on gigs, these six musicians have blown up many stages with nostalgia and pride. They’ve built-up and sustained an essence and a legacy, not only of great music, but for the “jam” of it all. With time, fans have grown more dedicated. And with time, the musicians have sowed a tighter network. Now the movement progresses one step further. They are Furthur.
Furthur is Phil Lesh (guitar), Bob Weir (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keys), John Kadlecik (guitar), Jay Lane (drums), and Joe Russo (drums). Based on the members’ bios, it doesn’t take half-a-brain to know this project will produce elongated jam sessions and climactic melodies. The question is, what will they play?
Lesh and Weir, two staples of the Grateful Dead, cut all ties after Jerry Garcia died. Weir formed Rat Dog with Rob Wasserman, and on Wasserman’s recommendation, Lane joined the group. Upon Lane’s suggestion, they brought on Chimenti. Lesh started Phil Lesh and Friends incorporating various players at any given time, often asking past Dead members, with the exception of Weir, to join.
More on Board The Bus, It’s Time To Go Furthur
August 16, 2009
Upon learning of Michael Jackson’s death, unfortunate as it may be, many vendors quickly went into the production of printing MJ t-shirts and framed photographs, attempting to cash-in on the tragedy. But who would’ve thought the has-been hip-hop artist LL Cool J would take part in these shenanigans, albeit in the most ridiculous of ways?
On August, 10, LL (not so?) Cool J dubbed over “Billie Jean” with a bunch of recycled lyrics, referencing the unflattering legacies of Jackson’s life. It’s not uncommon for musicians to pay homage to the deceased, and that has been happening for Jacko, but Cool J’s off-the-mark song is horrible.
The first of many issues with “Billie Jean Dream” is the motive. Cool J says that Jackson visited him in a dream, and delivered these lyrics; they are Jackson’s own words. He woke up and scribbled them down. I call bullshit. He woke up with dollar signs in his pupils. If Cool was trying to properly honor the King of Pop, he should’ve taken the extra time – compose some fresh beats, pinpoint his glory days, or even write an original chorus.
“Billie Jean Dream” opens with lyrics referencing Jackson’s iced-out Bentley and his purchase of the Beatles’ music catalogue, “Tell Paul to chill.” Really?! Doesn’t Cool J realize this was not a glory moment for Jackson? He goes onto to rap about all the millions “he’s” made, drinking merlot, and “There’s no sons on my lap/ the king wears a crown not a Santa Claus hat.” What does that even mean? The chorus is a regurgitated line from LL, “Something like a phenomenon,” repeated way too many times, then something about “Boom dizzle,” followed by, “Take a look at my sounds and fix your face/ I’ll do what I want, I’m the king/ I’ll put my nose on my chest if I want to.”
“Michael Jackson wrote that for me in a dream,” he claims. Yup, that really sounds like something the ever-passive Jackson would’ve said.
I think LL is either on too many drugs, completely delusional, and/or most definitely full of it. Not once does the song adhere to Jackson’s legacy outside of his copious amounts of money. Wow, LL, I guess the only thing you got going for you are your looks.
Song after the jump.
by Genette Nowak
More on Rolling In The Grave: “Billie Jean Dream”
August 8, 2009
Sunday night in Chicago, some lucky Lollapalooza after-partiers will be the first to hear what happens when Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) have at it. The group has booked a surprise debut show at the 1,100 capacity Metro, following the close of the three-day festival. My guess is that it will be sheer collective rock genius. But for now there’s only speculation.
Going by the name Them Crooked Vultures, the trio has decided it’s time to stop bullshitting and join forces, but it’s all so ambiguous. For four years, rumors have itched ears that one day this could happen. In 2005, Grohl told Mojo about the prospective project that would feature him on drums, a treat in itself. He hasn’t been dedicated to his kit since the flannel days of Nirvana. The only solid information known is that October 23 is the official release date for the album, Never Deserved The Future, on Interscope.
If you look for them on Myspace there’s nothing more than the logos of each of their respective bands – no music, no pictures, no friends, no comments, nothing. There is a website, but again, a state of nothingness – well, except for a simple silhouette of some sort of being, part human, part vulture.
Public relations are keeping a tight lip. Fans will just have to wait until Monday to catch buzz of The Crooked Vultures with hopes that someone out there will be recording and posting clips on YouTube, or something to that nature. Leave it to these guys to make years-long hearsay come true.
In the two day wait, why not listen to “Go With the Flow,” off the now-classic 2003 Queens of the Stone Age LP Songs For The Deaf, streaming below.
by Genette Nowak
August 1, 2009
Talk about making it work. Seasick Steve transformed his hobo lifestyle of working as a carnie and a cowboy, hopping freight trains from state to state, into that of an established bluesman. Regardless of how the road twisted and turned, he remained dedicated to song and dance.
In the 1960s Seasick Steve befriended those in the circle of Janis Joplin and began touring with other bluesmen. From that point forward he ditched the title “hobo” and gained status as a session musician and studio engineer. Years later, Steve moved to Europe, where he recorded his first album, Cheap, then the solo LP, Dog House Music. It wasn’t until 2007, when he received the UK MOJO Award for “Best Breakthrough Act,” that he began playing festivals all over Europe. Last year, he was signed by Warner Music and released I Started Out With Nothin’ And I Still Got Most Of It Left. The title sums up Steve’s modesty: he has found great success and a mass following, but he’ll never retire his beat-up guitar and worn overalls.
Seasick Steve’s blues are highly textured with diddley bows and stomp boxes. His poetic lyrics bring the sensibility of what he knew as the ways of the world, telling the tales of having nothing – a true countryman. Instrumentation is layered with the charming twang of slide guitar to the subtlety of hands clapping, the whine of a harmonica to the chirp of a flute. For this hitchhiking musician, folk and blues aren’t just genres, but a way of life.
Most recently Seasick Steve played New York’s Mercury Lounge, and the All Points West Festival, opening for artists like Jay-Z and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. He will be back in the NYC area on August 8 at Southpaw in Brooklyn.
by Genette Nowak
July 26, 2009
Over a year ago soul singer Erykah Badu released her fifth studio album New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) on Universal Motown; it went straight to the top of the charts. Unlike many of her previous recordings that orbited personal struggle and intense soul searches communicated through esoteric sounds, New Amerykah is embedded with social commentary. It raises issues of drugs, racism, revolution, poverty, urban violence, and encourages all Americans to stand up to the corrupt. The question remains, when and where will part two take us?
Her next LP, tentatively named New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), has no official release date, though it’s rumored to surface within the next month. Badu hasn’t disclosed information of what to expect from the sequel, but the title leaves a little room for speculation. The ankh represents “eternal life” and is said to be the key to life, although its precise origins remain a mystery to Egyptologists. It is also speculated that the ankh was the belt-buckle of the Egyptian mother goddess, Isis. One can only conjecture the theories of the ankh must somehow play directly into of what’s to come from the “Queen of Neo-Soul.”
More on Erykah Badu | Badu’s Sequel
July 18, 2009
Summer is all about relaxation: celebrating the good weather with good people. Here in New York City we are lucky to have the handfuls of parks to lay back, relax, and enjoy a concert. Rhythms, melodies and fans come together for the love of music – fortunately, in these recession ridden times, there are plenty of free concerts this summer, so we can keep doing that. One to look out for is Richie Havens at Castle Clinton in Battery Park on July 23.
Almost 70 years old and Havens hasn’t lost any of his chops or charisma. Since his time in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the 60s, he has provided a strong voice of unity for both fans and the music world alike. Havens’s career began with him singing doo-wop on Brooklyn street corners, learning to play, and developing himself as a musician by ear. He just listened to atmospheric sounds. But it was Greenwich Village where he found ease, a place where self-expression wasn’t muted and judgment was non-existent.
More on Richie Havens: Freedom
July 12, 2009
For the past twelve years, head-banging, hardcore metal heads have looked to Ozzfest as the great summer voyage. The festival where insane facial piercings, razor blade mohawks, and getting tattooed at dirty vendors in the thick summer heat are standards. To the disappointment of many, Ozzfest 2009 has been cancelled so Ozzy can work on the follow-up to the poorly received Black Rain. But don’t fret folks, Pedal To The Metal is looking pretty good.
The inaugural Pedal To The Metal festival began with a collaboration and the desire to produce a kick-ass summer tour. Chad Gray of Mudvayne and Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society are about to hit the road for a fast, extreme, and riveting show. After much discussion, and considering the cancellation of Ozzfest, they decided that the tour would pack more punch if they were joined by some friends. Gray told AntiMusic, “We’re really excited because this package is a merging of great bands, good people, and fucking amazing fans. It’ll be great to bring them all together.”
Joining them are Bury Your Dead, Suicide Silence, Static-X, and Dope. The nice thing about not having 20-something bands, like at Ozzfest, is that fans are going to get more of what they came to see – not half hour stints of brilliance. I’ll never forget what a shame it was when Wylde was cut off after five songs on the second, smaller stage in 2007. It was bullshit.
Mudvayne and Black Label Society are the perfect marriage of metal composition, a kind of blissful angst. Mudvayne more often belts from the top of their lungs, backed by super swift riffs. And Black Label Society, not that they come without great power, incorporates more of a classical element with their sixteenth notes – subdued hardcore.
I say bye-bye Ozzfest, you may be replaced.
The tour begins in Portland on July 24 and will be making its way east. For tour dates and tickets go here.
by Genette Nowak