Friday, November 30, 2007

DMB w/Robert Randolph - Watchtower

The highlight of the Dave Matthews Band webcast from West Point a few weeks ago was Robert Randolph joining them for "All Along The Watchtower". More proof of Robert Randolph's greatness. Check it out at:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Major Rock Fest coming to NJ

"Promoter C3 Presents, of Austin, Texas, announced yesterday that the three-day rock festival originally proposed for Philadelphia's Fairmount Park will instead be held Aug. 8 to 10 on a 550-acre farm in Vineland, in South Jersey's Cumberland County.
Over three days, a crowd of 150,000 or more is expected at what C3 partner Charlie Jones called "a camping festival," similar to the Bonnaroo Music Festival held each June in Manchester, Tenn.
The camp-out concert at Menantico Colony, site of a former home for people with disabilities, would be the biggest rock festival New Jersey has ever seen and the biggest multiday music festival currently on the East Coast."

For more, see

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Donna Jean, Blind Boys, Toubab Krewe, Van Halen, Cracker

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We are still eating leftovers from the weekend which isn't a bad thing. I loves me some turkey with all the fixins!

BTW, I think I'm going to post to the blog little items as I come across them during the week. I try to remember when it comes time to do the weekly one, but I inevitably come across something the next day that I wanted to put in that week's blog. I'll only send out one weekly reminder when I do the big blog, so if you want to be completely up to date, subscribe to the blog using your RSS or whatever. Or you could just scroll down a little more after reading the big blog to find the baby entries. Or you could check daily, even hourly, to be sure you don't miss one exciting entry!

Onto this week's exciting Richmond shows. Donna Jean & The Tricksters play the Capital Ale House Downtown Music Hall on Wednesday. Doors open at 8:30 and tickets are $10. Ms. Donna Jean Godchaux McKay was and always shall be the only female member of that boys club known as the Grateful Dead, performing with them in their peak 70s years (71 - 79). She also sang backup with Elvis (your Elvis-Dead, or Dead Elvis connection), Percy Sledge and Box Scaggs. They'll be bringin' those good Dead vibes and I'm sure will put on a good show.

Also on Wednesday, if you are in the mood for some blues & gospel but Christmasy, check out The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show at Toad's Place. Doors are at 7P, show at 8:30P, tickets are $25. The Blind Boys are 4 time Grammy winners, Gospel Hall of Fame inductees and play that good blues gospel that you can find on the high end of your AM dial.

On Thursday at Capital Ale House Downtown, Toubab Krewe will be playing. Doors open at 9 and tickets are $10. I've heard some tunes from these guys and they are very intriguing. I'd love to check them out live. Look at their web site to hear some of their music. Its hard to describe, so here is their description:

Blending Malian, American, and "Dirty South" influences into a genre all its own, Toubab Krewe "has set a new standard for fusions of rock 'n' roll and West African music," says Banning Eyre at Afropop Worldwide. Members of the group developed their unique sound over the course of numerous extended trips to West Africa, where they immersed themselves in the local culture and studied and performed with masters such as Lamine Soumano, Vieux Kante, Madou Dembele, and Koungbanan Conde. The magnetic instrumental quintet formed in early 2005 and has attracted a diverse and devoted national following, captivating crowds everywhere from the Bonnaroo Music Festival and the Blue Note to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The band's energetic performances and acclaimed self-titled debut have won them praise from the New York Times, Global Rhythm, and Afro pop Worldwide.

For those of you looking to recapture your 80s youth, Van Halen tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 AM for their show at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville on February 22. (If the often rumored and probably never happening Led Zeppelin reunion takes place, they must play there for obvious reasons.) Van Halen played an integral part of my high school years, from walking around our development with the "1984" album blasting out of my friend's boom box, to listening to the song "Unchained" over and over again on the boardwalk in Sea Isle City, to driving around in my friend's big green 70s LTD with our VH, Police and Cars tapes accompanying us through the suburban NJ nights. I didn't get to see them on the 1984 tour. The tickets probably sold out too fast and/or I didn't have the cash. So I never go to see them with David Lee Roth. Until now. I'm starting to grow the mullet out now. I wonder if I'll still look good in the spandex zebra stripe pants.

VH took on Sammy Hagar in 1986 and I went to college and started to listen to too cool for you indie rock bands. One of those bands was Camper Van Beethoven led by David Lowery. CVB broke up, David Lowery started a new band called Cracker, which found some fame in the 90s and David Lowery and myself both ended up living in Richmond somehow. No foolin, David runs Sound of Music recording studios right here on Broad Street in downtown Richmond. And Cracker will be playing at Toad's Place on Saturday night. Tix are $18, Doors at 7 PM, opening band The Gaskets start at 8 PM. Start brushing up on the words to "Eurotrash Girl" now so you can sing along.

BTW, if you want a really cool free iTunes plug-in, check out iConcertCal. iConcertCal looks at the music you have loaded into your iTunes and then shows you a calendar which shows when any of those bands are coming to your area. Neato!

Speaking of iTunes, I was drifting off there for a moment listening to "Brothers On A Hotel Bed" from Death Cab For Cutie on my iTunes, a sad, spacey little tune about the death of a relationship and of innocence and youth. Sigh.

OK, melancholic haze has been lifted. "Dupree's Diamond Blues" is on now. And I am outta here. Have a great weekend, Richmond! G'night!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

REK and Toad's & Zappa reviews

Good evening. I dug deep into the videotape bag and pulled out one of the videotapes I made from the Amnesty Intl. Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986. I just saw hosts Christopher Reeve, Richard Belzer & Elliot Gould introduce Buster Poindexter (aka David Johannson) interviewing Bryan Adams. Right now, Joni Mitchell is playing. I had forgotten she was on this show. This is the tour that featured U2, Peter Gabriel and the first reunion of the Police.

Let's get right to it by letting you know that the great Robert Earl Keen will be playing at Toad's Place Thursday night. Doors are at 8, show starts at 9 and there is an opener (Matt King). Tickets are $25. For those that don't know, REK (as us fans refer to him) is part of the Austin music scene. Why do you never hear him on the radio? Because he is (repeat after me) too country for rock radio and too rock for country radio. However, he is an incredibly gifted lyricist, his band is great and his concerts are a hell of a lot of fun. He has written such classics as "The Road Goes On Forever" (this is the original mostly acoustic version. Believe when he plays this in concert everyone sings along, dances and Marines fight with cowboys. Its great.) and our Christmas favorite, "Merry Christmas from the Family". You know its a different kind of Christmas song when the opening line is "Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk/at our Christmas party". Speaking of drinking and REK, he is a great drinking band. I don't think I've found a song yet that doesn't reference alcohol at least once. Kathy (he is one of her favorites) & I will regrettably miss this one due to new baby, but he comes around once a year now, so we'll be there next year, for sure.

Speaking of Toad's, I finally got there for a show last Thursday and was impressed by the facility. Good sightlines all around, excellent acoustics, and an intimate feel. Also, you can start a tab at one bar and its good at any bar you go to in the place. Computers are cool! On the lower floor (I didn't get to check out the balcony because the band had just begun when we walked in), the bars are to the rear of the floor. This works well because when bars are closer to the stage, those more inclined to drink and talk than watch the show can be quite distracting.

OK, quick interlude. The U2 performance at the Amnesty show is beginning now. Bono's mullet is grown out a bit here and he has more of a Michael Hutchence haircut. Its weird to see Bono without the sunglasses. It seems like he has worn them forever. This performance and the one at Live Aid pushed them right to the brink of superstardom. Their next album had huge expectations attached to it and would make or break them. "The Joshua Tree" came out and the rest is history. I used to have this performance on a cassette tape also and would listen to it constantly. It was a concise setlist (MLK, Pride (In The Name Of Love), Bad, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Maggie's Farm / Cold Turkey (snippet), Help, Sun City) with Bad and the Maggie's Farm/Cold Turkey being the standouts.

Now, back to the present day and Toad's. The only minor quibble I had was that it got quite warm in there and this was on a cool night. Also, if you go, don't park in the free Toad's lot. The lot is on the river side of the flood wall at the entrance to Mayo Island. I am not one to fear the city, but the lot was dark and brush and trees obscured the lot from the road. There was no security that I could see and I thought that a crime could easily occur and not be seen. Pay the $3 or $5 to park in one of the garages nearby.

As for the show, Zappa Plays Zappa was excellent (3.5 stars out of 4). The show began on an ominous note when Dweezil had problems with his guitar. The band jammed without Dweezil and then they took a 10 minute break to replace his volume pedal which turned out to be the issue. From then on Dweezil's guitar was fine and a good thing, because Dweezil is an incredible guitarist. Whether its technical stuff or blues, he is the man. The rest of the band were all excellent players also, doing equally well on improvisation and the intricate Zappa songs. They did "Dirty Love" by request. "Joe's Garage" rocked. "City of Tiny Lights", one of my all-time favorite Zappa tunes, was all I could have asked for. Dweezil conducted the band and the audience together at one point. Another highlight was when Dweezil asked for a phrase from the audience that the band would then work into an improv jam. The phrase was "Oriental Exciter". After each band member took a turn jamming, Dweezil asked former Frank Zappa band member, vocalist Ray White, to work the phrases "Oriental Exciter", "Great Decider", "spawning", and "You Tube" into a song. With no hesitation, Ray improvised an excellent, dirty little ditty about our prez, his wife and the Oriental Exciter. Other highlights included Uncle Remus, Willie the Pimp, and Yo' Mama, The Illinois Enema Bandit and Muffin Man. When they played the song "Cosmik Debris", they merged video and audio of Frank singing and playing with the live band playing and it was cool to watch Dweezil jam with his father. Dweezil promised that Zappa Plays Zappa would be an annual tour to help spread Frank's music to a new generation and keep it alive for the people that love it. I know I will not miss it as long as Dweezil continues to bring it.

This week at Toad's, besides REK, pianist Leon Russell plays on Saturday night. Doors are at 7 PM, show at 8 PM, tix are $20 for GA and $30 for Gold Circle (thankfully, no gold circle at Zappa). Here is a short list of the people Leon has played with: Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, Edgar Winter, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, J.J. Cale, David Gates, Bruce Hornsby, Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Bobby "Boris" Pickett, B.B. King, Freddie King, Bill Wyman, Steve Cropper, Carl Radle, Chuck Blackwell, Don Preston, Jesse Ed Davis, Rita Coolidge, Gram Parsons, Barbra Streisand, Ike & Tina Turner, Ricky Nelson, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Ann-Margret, Dean Martin, Marvin Gaye, Dave Mason, Steve Winwood, and groups such as Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, The Monkees, The Astronauts, The Accents, The Fencemen, The Ventures, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Everly Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Tractors and on and on and on…

On Monday night at Toad's are new bands The Hold Steady, Art Brut and 1990s. I like what I have heard from The Hold Steady. They play upbeat, straight forward rock n' roll, with nice pop touches (like layered "Yeah Yeah Yeah" vocals during choruses. I like "Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs". Rock needs more "Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs".). Think Modest Mouse but a little rougher and not as snobby. Also, they like Springsteen and he likes them, which makes them alright in my book. Doors are at 7, show at 8 and tix are only $20.

Regina Spektor plays Toad's on Tuesday night. Doors at 8, show at 9, openers are Only Son and tickets are $28. Part of the Anti-Folk movement (think folk rock with a punk attitude), if you dig Cat Power, Nellie McKay, Fiona Apple or the Strokes you might dig her.

At the Capital Ale House Downtown on Thursday night, Vienna Teng plays. If you like Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin or Joan Osborne, you'll like her. Doors open at 8 and tix are $15.

On Friday at the Capital Ale House, blues guitarist Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin plays. Doors are at 9;30 and tix are $10. This guy played in Muddy Waters' band and has won the WC Handy Blues Award (the most prestigious blues award) for best guitarist.

On Saturday at the Capital Ale House, Bobby Lee Rodgers & The Codetalkers are playing. The Codetalkers are a jammy blues band and have featured Col. Bruce Hampton (ret.) and Jimmy Herring in the past. I haven't seen them for a number of years, but when I did see them they were always good. Doors at 8:30, tix are $10.

That's it. Isn't that enough?!? So go out and see some live music. Have a great weekend.

Tony Jordan
Richmond VA

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Zappa, Metheny, Galactic, Grateful Dead, Cosmic Charlie, Springsteen

Hey there! Thanks to Gordon for the VH review. If you missed it, click on the comments from last week's blog. Gordon, we will now expect one for the Police too. Gordon has traveled back to 1984 in the last week. Look for him at Genworth. He is the one with the mullet, the skinny tie, and the checkered Vans.

I will be attending Zappa Plays Zappa at Toad's on Thursday night with Phil. If you are interested in meeting up there, well, you know how to reach me. I'm going to be whizzing through the week's highlights because I need to get my sleep tonight and its late already. I had to do my football picks before the blog. Though the Zappa show starts at 8 and has no opener, so it should be done by 11:30. Good news for us working stiffs that have no days off left.

A number of good shows Friday night as Pat Metheny, the great jazz fusion guitarist, does two shows (7:30 & 10:30) at University of Richmond. Tix are $36.

Also on Friday, funky jam band Galactic plays at Toad's. Doors at 8, show at 9:30, all ages, and tix are $22.

Grateful Dead cover band, Cosmic Charlie, plays at the Canal Club on Friday. Doors open at 10:30, tix are $10. You can go early for "cinema" featuring animator Bill Plympton, who has done some crazy stuff over the years. That starts at 8. Then tix cost $15 for the movies and the band.

And if you haven't checked out the Dead's site lately, it has been completely redone with much to listen to (Taper's Section and classic Grateful Dead Hour's). There is also an announcement about the retiring of the Dick's Picks series and the new "Road Trips" series along with promises of much more to come.

For any of you in marathon or if you like to hang with people who have just run a marathon, there is a post marathon party at Toad's on Saturday at 7 PM. It says something about a voucher redemption so maybe you runners get that in your goodie bag when you finish. Good luck to anyone racing (Mike?).

Springsteen and the E Street Band are at the Verizon Center in DC on Sunday. Looks like I may miss "Kitty's Back" again. I am praying to the Rock n' Roll gods that he hits Richmond on the second leg.

Reverend Horton Heat is at Toad's on Sunday. Third Eye Blind is at Toad's Place on Monday.

I am outta here. Have a great weekend.

Tony Jordan
Richmond VA

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Zappa, Skaggs, Bush, Police, PBS, Derek Trucks and The Last Waltz

A few items of note this week.

Saturday night you can hit some bluegrass and bluegrass related shows with Ricky Skaggs playing at Toad's Place (8:30 PM, $40 advance, $45 day of show, $55 gold circle). Who knows, maybe his recent collaborative partner, Bruce Hornsby (who lives in Williamsburg) will stop by? Also Saturday, new grass pioneer, Sam Bush, plays with classical cellist, Edgar Meyer, and dobro player, Jerry Douglas, at a sold out show at Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond. Show starts at 7:30 PM if you have tickets or want to try to scalp.

The Police reunion tour pulls into Charlottesville's John Paul Jones Arena on Tuesday night. Tix are $50 - $225 and show starts at 7:30. The Police were one of my favorite bands and their cassettes had a permanent spot in my friend's big green LTD when we were cruising around town in high school (along with Van Halen. How about a review, Gordon?). They were the second concert I ever saw. The date was August 20, 1983 and we packed into JFK Stadium in Philly in 98 degree weather. Check out the openers: REM, Joan Jett and Madness. All that said, I find it hard to spend over $100 to see them. I listened to the show from Bonnaroo on line and they were good but not $100+ good. Apparently others feel this way, as the only seat level sold out for this show are the lower bowl $90 seats. You can still get the $225 seats on the floor. Wouldn't it be funny if there was no one in the $225 seats so there was a big gap between the stage and where the first fans were sitting? Serves the bastards right for charging that much. As the JPJ Arena is fairly small, the $50 seats would be a good bargain and if not for the young tyke, I might consider going for that price.

Wednesday, two great bands are in Richmond. New Orleans funk masters, Porter, Batiste & Stoltz are playing at Capital Ale House downtown. Doors open at 8:30 PM and tix are $12 in advance, $15 day of show. I saw these guys at All Good this year and they will get your booty movin'. You will probably have as much if not more fun (especially considering that they serve great beer here and no beer at all at JPJ Arena) than you would seeing that other trio from England the day before and spend a heck of a lot less money.

Also on Wednesday, at Toad's, is the Derek Trucks Band. Derek is of course the young guitar wiz who has played with the Allman Brothers, Phil Lesh and Eric Clapton. Doors open at 7:30, show at 8:30 (with opener, American Babies), tix are $25 in advance and $30 day of show. Derek's mellower jazz rock will probably work better indoors than it did at Innsbrook this summer and once he kicks into the blues there are few better guitarists that you'll ever hear.

Thursday at Capital Ale House, The Band tribute act, The Last Waltz Ensemble, play. "The Last Waltz" is one of my favorite albums/rock movies of all time and I am going to catch these guys eventually. Doors open at 8:30 and tix are just $6 in advance and $10 the day of show.

If I get out, Thursday night I go to Zappa Plays Zappa at Toad's. Doors at 7 PM, show at 8, tix are $32.50 advance and $35 day of show. Zappa Plays Zappa features Dweezil Zappa, an awesome guitarist in his own right, playing the music of his daddy, Frank. Included in the band is Zappa alumni (1976 - 1984), Ray White, on guitar and vocals. Zappa's intricate music is rarely performed live (I've only seen it twice, once on Frank's last tour in February 1988, once by NYC based Zappa cover band, Project Object, here in Richmond at Alley Katz) and I'm hoping to lace up my rock and roll shoes (Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, black with blue racing flames) again and get out to see this one.

So a full week. If I had no kids, lots of money and a job where I didn't have to get in until noon, I would be out a lot this week. As it is, hopefully I'll get to Zappa Plays Zappa on Thursday. Unless I hit the lottery this weekend, in which case I'll go to everything and you'll all be invited.

Have a great weekend!

Tony Jordan