If you had told me a year ago that the entire world would be in the clutches of a pandemic right now, I would have told you that you watch too much TV. Yet here we are, three weeks into a stay at home order. I live in New Jersey, close enough to New York City that we follow close behind as they shut things down. As of now, I believe, we are shut down until further notice. I just did a Google search real quick to see if I could find a date – and I can’t. I was watching the daily briefings from our governor for about the first week and a half. I can’t do it anymore. Since I work in education (financial), we have been working from home for a few weeks now. My husband is considered an “essential” employee in retail but has been quarantined after an exposure for close to two weeks. He goes back in a few days. My kids are home, my high schooler doing school work virtually, and my pre-schooler doing what she can to stay sane. As are we all.
I think I speak for a lot of us when I say I have been clinging a little harder to social media since this began. Updates, live streams, just a kind word all goes a long way. There have been wonderful challenges set to music and artists coming together virtually to help busk for one another. Despite what is going on in our daily world, there is still a trickle of new music coming out and it’s like the coolest salve on a burn when it does. The most recent one I have been digging on is the single “None of Those Things” from the always honest and fun Andy Frasco & the U.N. Talk about sunshine in the darkness. This song feels like a wave and a smile when you feel the loneliest you have ever been. They say the right music can change the world, and while I don’t know so much about changing it, the right song sure can cheer it the hell up. And we need that. We needed this song.
Musically, it’s got a fantastic groove. Body swaying groove that runs up your spine with great singalong lyrics. I am super excited to check this out live – whenever that is again. The overall vibe of this song is hopeful and strong. “Happiness will keep us free”. I think that is a sentiment we are all clinging to right now as we are locked away from our normal worlds and the faces we love. The age old saying is that money can’t buy happiness – which I’m sure is true if you have some. This song takes that idea in a far more relatable direction though and goes into the happiness you feel when you don’t have wealth and material happiness to lean on. A pure happiness that comes from experiences, togetherness, and love. It’s about finally getting all your dreams and realizing that it was never about the material. It was about the journey. It’s about the fact that you get to do what you love most every day.
At least, that was my take on the tune. No matter what the meaning is, the song is absolute fire.
Its no secret that I’m an enormous fan of Brooklyn psychedelic jamtronica powerhouse, Peak. Since catching them a couple years back at Arlene’s Grocery for a Jamwich review I was writing, they have become one of my absolute favorite live bands to follow. Their shows are energy packed and laced with powerfully written music that moves you inside and out. Individually, they are some of the most talented players I have ever had the opportunity to work with and are consistently blowing my mind. Together, they are a brilliant blend of skill that is creating some of the most exciting music to come out of the Northeast jam scene right now. If you have not gotten out to see them, I can’t say enough that you are missing a really good damn time.
Just this weekend, the band officially released their first batch of favorite jams from 2019/2020 Winter Tour live shows called Hot Clips Volume 1. This is the first release from the band with their current lineup – Jeremy Hilliard on guitar on vocals (Turbine), Kito Bovenschulte on Drums (Particle), Josh T. Carter on Bass (Hayley Jane and the Primates) and Johnny Young on keys and vocals (Mick Taylor, Artimus Pyle). The band has been extremely busy between touring and building their home base studios in New York. The album is available now on all platforms, so pick your favorite and give it a good listen. With the pandemic cancelling shows and tours left and right and grounding live music as we all self isolate, this release is a wonderful salve for those itching for delicious live jams. The music was lovingly mixed by the band’s own Johnny Young and the sound is fantastic.
As for the tracks themselves, one of my favorite songs that Peak does live is Barometric Pressure (Here Comes The Rain). The version on Hot Clips is as good as any I have seen live. It’s got Johnny’s trippy key work blending over Kito’s intense drumming. The guitar and bass come in between and create the perfect shake your body dance track. Seriously, if you are standing still when the jam kicks in ¾ through, you might want to check your pulse and make sure you’re still alive. I would put these guys up against any major jamtronica player in the scene right now because they more than hold their own – they are dominating. Another favorite that got included is Win Some, Lose Some. This song has such a cool city vibe. It feels like a dark club and a cold beer when it starts out. The vocals are fantastic and super clean. The song itself is a perfect blend of funky groove and bluesy jam. Jeremy’s guitar work on this track is exceptional and really showcases him as a player. Josh’s bass work is equally stellar on this track and just funky as hell. Path Paved with Roses is my absolute favorite Peak track, and seeing this song live is some of the most fun I have ever had standing up. Not that I was standing still, because I wasn’t. That’s not possible. This is some of the best Kito/Josh bass and drum work in all of Peak’s live catalog and if smiling had a sound, this would be it.
Can’t Love Somebody is a really cool Johnny fronted track with some really fun jamming that kicks on halfway through. They do some really fun builds in the jam and hit these great climax moments. Just super fun stuff. Wild Ride is another one we love to get down to live, so I was excited to see that one featured. It’s some immediately body-moving groove that I would dare anyone to try and keep still during. It’s not possible. Songs like this one just permeate you and before you know what’s going on, you are dancing with whoever happens to be next to you. I know this first hand. The dance jam on this song is absolute fire. I have never been someone that got down to live albums all that much, and this is a collection of songs that I can totally rock out too. They are extremely well done in not just the songs themselves, but the recordings are super clean. It’s a lot of fun to review music you genuinely love, but what these guys are doing is so much more than that. Their ever evolving music is a breath of fresh air in a really stale room. Don’t take my word for it though, and give it a listen. Give yourself some room to dance too…
Check out Hot Clips Vol. 1 on all the places you like to stream, and keep an eye on what Peak has going on. As soon as it’s humanly possible, they will be rescheduling their spring tour so you can get yourselves out there and shake it along with them live. Until then, let this new release keep you moving. Jeremy will be doing a live stream on Peak’s Facebook page (link below) on Monday March 30th at 8pm. I checked out his last one and it was super fun! Listen in, toss some tips, and love on some live music.
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and I can’t wait to see you all out there again really soon!
I don’t get to do as many rock album reviews as I would like to these days, so this has been a real treat. Deletto is an incredible rock project based out of Northern New Jersey and their debut album, OldKID, was just dropped on January 24th.
New Jersey breeds a whole lot of amazing things. I should know, as this is my home. Naturally if I get the opportunity to talk about music that was organically grown here in our amazing corner of the world, I am freaking delighted. This is not your ordinary band though, as Deletto is comprised of just two people. You would have no idea if you simply picked up the album and gave it a listen. The sound is enormous and the vibe exploding from within the music is incredibly powerful. The marriage of guitar and drums on every song displays a unique intensity that is very much their own. Founder Chris D’Eletto is behind the passionate vocals, the celestial guitar work, and the haunting keys. Kito Bovenschulte (Particle/PEAK) is behind the dynamic and potent drumming. These two gentlemen have created a powerhouse of sound, and you need to be listening. I don’t see this stopping any time soon.
This album in general is intense and loaded with potency. The opening track on the album, “Runaway”, opens into a haunting walk with Chris’s melodic vocal as the song builds. It’s a sensation of being guided, and I love that feel. Then Kito’s intense drums crash in and seem to kick the door wide open. The song packs a lot of emotion into only 2:51, and that’s impressive. Lyrically, it cracked me right in the head. It’s funny how the universe will find songs that speak to you and throw them at you when you least expect it. There is a delicate understanding here layered beneath the music, and it’s a great way to open the listener to what this record is going to do.
“Where the Wild Sleep” is incredibly captivating immediately. It’s got every element of a fantastic rock song but turns the volume way the hell up on everything. The vocal is incredible and gripping, and the more I listened to this record, the more that became one of my favorite aspects of it. If you read this blog regularly, you know I am a bit of a vocal junkie. Deletto feeds that in a huge way, especially the way the vocals are layered on a track like this one. There is softness, there is intensity. It’s a dance between the two, and it’s deliciously compelling. I love the rise and fall this song takes the listener on. And again, the drums – powerful and intensely precise.
Speaking of vocals, hop on over to “Violence Defines Her” and find Chris’s stellar chops over what begins as a very controlled guitar vibe. Give the song just a few seconds though, as those gorgeous vocals will open up with soaring emotion that carries the song as it climbs with intensity before exploding with Kito’s incredible ferocity. I love everything about this song. The emotion behind this song, and every song on this record, is so raw that it’s almost anxious at times. It makes for a wonderful listening experience. It’s gripping. It has gripped the hell out of me and I’m not letting go.
“Somebody Else” is another example of that vivid and impassioned voice married with the steady, intensive beat. The guitar work is incredible on this song as it lends to the passionate vibe as the song carries you through. This honestly might be my favorite song on the record for that trifecta of intensity and the way the song rises and falls with that guidance. It’s one of those songs that you can’t help but move with. The drums on this song deserve special mention for that wonderful controlled energy. I can’t believe this whole thing is just two people.
Honestly, I could very easily sit here and describe every song on this album, but you need to hear it. These are songs written to be felt.
I have nothing but praise for this record. There are plenty of albums I have listened to intensely for a week for purposes of review and rarely picked up again. This is not going to be one of those. I am a fan. The music is incredibly well written, the album fantastically recorded and produced, and it’s honestly been a while since I heard something that captivated me as hard as OldKID has. If you have not given this a listen yet, I suggest it strongly. I also suggest getting out to Debonaire Music Hall in Teaneck, NJ on Friday March 6th for the official album release show and see this incredible project blow the doors off. You can get the details in the link below.:
I have had this blog almost a decade. In that time, it’s grown as I have grown. My taste in music has always been eclectic and varied, but what I was reviewing was pretty safely within modern folk and very ska and reggae focused for a long time. My husband had tried unsuccessfully to pull me into the jam scene for years and I guess I just wasn’t ready to let go of all my preconceived notions yet because I resisted. Then one day while driving his car, Twiddle came on. Something in the song I heard resonated within me, and it wasn’t surface. It was deep. It reached into me and found a place that was parched and hurting and doused it in understanding. It had been a long time since a song hit me that hard, and I got curious. I started to dissolve their whole catalog and career up to that point. It led me to other artists I devoured just as hard. It led me to shows and festivals. Twiddle was my gateway to this scene – a place I have found love, acceptance, friends, and so much to write about.
Beyond Twiddle, I have been a fan of Mihali on his own for a while. I have seen him cover Round Here from the Counting Crows, one of my very favorite songs, in such a manner than I found myself screaming along in tears. A few years ago while interviewing Aqueous in the hospitality tent at a festival I was covering for this blog, Mihali strolled in and had a seat with us. He was delightfully kind, which was appreciated when I fully expected him to act in line with his success. (something I have encountered all too often since starting this blog) It was a wonderful surprise that I take great pleasure in telling people who decide to talk trash.
I guess that’s part of the reason I have been so damn excited for this solo record from Mihali to drop. I have been craving more of that vibe that pulled me in so hard. The record, Breathe and Let Go, is everything I had hoped it would be. It has the uplifting soul and deep feel of someone who has so much to say, but words don’t say enough so he artfully crafted music to narrate that train of thought. While you find words sung by a voice so uniquely Mihali, you also find and entire album’s worth of musical explorations to carry you where you need to go.
The album kicks off with the title track and its bright acoustic entrance, flavored a short time in with some steady beat and words that I think I really needed lately. “Breathe and let go, relax and go slow, let your life unfold…” Mihali is narrating a string of thoughts that I think will resonate with a lot of people in these tumultuous times when we are not sure if our path is the one we should be on, and that maybe we think about that too much. Or at least that was my take. The song Stubborn Smile was one that was released a short time ago, giving us all a taste of what was headed our way. It quickly became a favorite of mine. It’s that light reggae feel with fun sing a long vocals that we can relate to hard these days. I have always loved the thoughtful and reflective way that Mihali constructs vocals. It’s one of the reasons I loved Twiddle so much. Mihali sings songs I can so deeply feel, not just hear.
The track Enemies is stellar on its own, but it’s even more delicious with the talents of Matisyahu laced throughout. It has this deep, get-low kind of groove that infects you with a feeling that shakes your hips good and slow. I am digging hard on Mihali’s vocals on this one. His voice is very uniquely his, but I like what he does with some of his higher edges on this. Carved Lines is another good one that plays with acoustic guitar and self reflection. I like that stripped down sound so much. As much as I like Mihali as part of a powerful and talented four piece band, I really dig his work in a singer/songwriter role as well. It suits him just as well. I also really love Over Land and Sea. It reminds me of so much of the 60’s folk flavor I have been covering myself with my entire life, care of my parents and their deep love of that scene. It’s a stripped down song about love, simple and soulfully delicious. This song and it’s feel is everything I love so much about music.
My favorite song on this record didn’t surprise me, because it’s the first solo song I knew of Mihali releasing a million years ago – Fading State. I have been loving this song for a while! The track features guest vocal from Nahko and Trevor Hall, creating a triple threat of vocal groove and vibe that kicks you good and hard in the soul. My background and deep love for all things ska, reggae, and rocksteady lit up the first time I heard this track. I love so much about the feel of this song. Its not like the other songs of deep personal reflection, and instead seems a call to action – and man, do we need that. “It’s time to wake up”. That’s an understatement, gentlemen. We should be playing this song loudly right now, sharing it with everyone we know, and inspiring that awakening. I see this as an anthem for the balance of this year while we navigate this storm together.
All in all, the album is thick and warm with feeling. It illustrates the broad stroke of Mihali’s pen, and I love that it really shows his soul wide open in its words and feel. You don’t need to dig Twiddle to appreciate what he has done here. This record was well worth the wait, and I look forward to playing it on repeat this weekend. There is so much to love. Much like life. You can find it streaming everywhere right now, and I encourage you to get on that immediately.
You can catch Mihali out on tour in support of this record with friends like Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Luke Mitrani, and Rich Ortiz. He puts on a really great show, and I plan to head out for the Bowery Ballroom show on March 31st myself. I hope to see you out there!
STANHOPE, NJ – JamFam Music & Arts Festival is thrilled to announce their list of Artists for their inaugural line-up taking place at Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ on July 24-26, 2020. Early Bird General Admission and VIP Packages are available for sale now. The festival is announcing the following acts, with more artists to be announced soon:
The scheduled headliners are New Riders of the Purple Sage & Melvin Seals and JGB. With an additional 20+ well known artists that include: Jazz is Phish, lespecial, Out of the Beardspace, Flux Capacitor, Creamery Station, The New Motif, Cousin Earth, Jabbawaukee, Muscle Tough, Dogs in a Pile, Higher Education, Waiting on Mongo, This Old Engine, Cosmic Jerry Band, Uncle Ebenezer, Jeb Jones, Soular Bone, Comfortably Floyd and more artists to be announced soon.
The New Riders of the Purple Sage will be performing their 50th Anniversary show at the JamFam Music & Arts Festival and dedicating the anniversary show to Buddy Cage. Buddy Cage a long-time bandmate who played the pedal steel guitar of the New Riders, who passed away last week.
JamFam Music & Arts Festival is a two-day/ two-night RV and/or car-camping event, igniting the concert and adjacent fields into a Jam Band oasis of continuous music taking place on two stages. The festival is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of Northwestern New Jersey in the historic town of Stanhope.
Waterloo Village and the concert field have hosted numerous iconic recording artists and musicians mostly during the 1980s and ‘90s. The magic and mystique of Waterloo will be revitalized this year with the JamFam Music and Arts Festival. The bands that have played this historic venue in the past include Phish, The H.O.R.D.E. Tour, Lollapalooza, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, The Gregg Allman Band, America, Arlo Guthrie and The 25th Anniversary of Woodstock… just to name a few. The region’s best food and drinks will be available as well as numerous regional and local artists and artisans creating an enjoyable and interactive festival experience.
A limited number of 2-Day Early Bird Passes and VIP Packages are available now. 2-Day Festival & Camping Packages are available for $129 and 2-Day VIP & Camping Passes are $249. Single day passes will be made available when the full daily schedules are announced. Tickets are available at the JamFam website at www.JamFamMusicFestival.com/tickets.
“Our goal was to ignite the hallowed grounds of Waterloo and create a new beginning for this iconic venue while keeping the area spotless,” explained founder and producer, Michael Kestin. “The JamFam Music & Arts Festival will feature a ‘Leave No Footprint’ commitment to eco-conscious partying and music with an aim to protect the beautiful and lush landscape and environment. All camping guests will be given eco-friendly recycling and garbage bags to take with them upon exit. Littering of cups, cans and cigarette butts is prohibited.”
TREY ANASTASIO BAND, GOV’T MULE, AND BRANDI CARLILE SET TO HEADLINE THE THREE-DAY FESTIVAL MAY 29-31
Festival Returns To Bethel Woods Center For The Arts At The Historic Site Of The 1969 Woodstock Festival
Single-Day and Three-Day Passes Go On Sale Monday, February 10 at 10am via MountainJam.com
(Bethel Woods, NY – February 6, 2019)— Mountain Jam, one of the Northeast’s largest rock n’ roll music festivals, now in its 16th continuous year, has announced its lineup for the three-day music extravaganza May 29-31, 2020. The Festival will feature over 30 bands across three days including headliners Trey Anastasio Band, Gov’t Mule, and Brandi Carlile plus performances from Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, The Head and the Heart, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Margo Price, Yola, Hiss Golden Messenger and many more across three stages (full lineup by day below). Additionally, the Festival will feature a special tribute performance in honor of Levon Helm’s 80th birthday featuring The Midnight Ramble Band and very special guests.
For the first time, both single day tickets and weekend passes for Mountain Jam 2020 will go on sale at the same time on Monday, February 10 starting at 10am. Ticket prices start at just $44.50 for single day lawn tickets. For a limited time, three-day early bird lawn tickets will be available for $99.00. This year, general car parking will be included in the ticket prices. For more information on tickets, reserved and lawn seating, camping packages, and more, please visit www.mountainjam.com.
Mountain Jam will return to Bethel Woods Center For The Arts for the second year running. This year’s festival will again feature Gov’t Mule front man and GRAMMY Award-winning vocalist, songwriter, producer and revered guitarist Warren Haynes as co-presenter of Mountain Jam alongside Radio Woodstock and Live Nation, organizers of Peach Music Festival.
“Mountain Jam 2020 is a unique and highly curated festival, separate and apart from other music festivals,” says Gary Chetkof, founder of Mountain Jam. “We are thrilled to welcome Trey for the first time in our 16-year history, as well as to welcome back some old friends and to spotlight many of the great women making music today. The Levon Helm 80th birthday tribute will bring joy and tears and some very special guests. In addition, we continue to evolve the festival with lawn ticket prices that are lower than we have ever offered, as well as reserved seating options for the day or the entire weekend, and a VIP program that is second to none. On-site camping will be for RVs only this year, as we will utilize nearby campgrounds to offer our fans the best camping experience possible. And returning to Bethel Woods, a world class venue with the rich history of Woodstock, provides Mountain Jam with a special backdrop and amazing vibes.”
“I’m glad to be returning to Mountain Jam again after last year’s maiden voyage at Bethel Woods,” says co-presenter and performer Warren Haynes. “It’s a beautiful and historic site and a great place to host such a diverse three nights of music.”
“There is no better way to kick-off the 2020 summer season at Bethel Woods than welcoming back Mountain Jam for its 2nd year at our historic concert venue and Museum. We are excited for the cultural opportunity this represents for our guests and community,” said Eric Frances, Chief Executive Officer of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.
Three full days of music will kick off on Friday, May 29th and will feature star performances from more than 30 artists across 3 stages. Fans can stay for the weekend with on-site RV camping packages as well as multiple off-site campgrounds that offer tent camping, or car-side tent camping, or Glamping options. Shuttles will run daily to the festival grounds. Travel packages (which bundle a ticket with a hotel) are available, as well as hotel accommodations with special discount pricing for Mountain Jam ticket holders. For more information please visit www.mountainjam.com.
This year’s Mountain Jam Festival will again feature a yoga program each morning. There will be on-site attractions including an expanded Hemp Village and Craft Beer Tap House, and the addition of a New York State Distillery Garden, featuring the best locally produced products. The Hemp Village will include vendors, activities, and panel discussions over the weekend, covering a range of topics currently being tackled in the cannabis industry, as well as a look into the future as legislation and legalization continues to evolve. The Museum at Bethel Woods will be opened exclusively for festival attendees free of charge. A wide variety of food (from gourmet and organic fare to comfort food), arts & crafts vendors, and artist encounters will be available.
Stay connected with up-to-the-date information on Mountain Jam 2020 on Facebook by liking @MountainJamFest, and by following @MountainJam on Twitter and Instagram.
Mountain Jam 2020 Lineup By Day (to date)
Friday, May 29:
Trey Anastasio Band
Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
Andy Frasco & The U.N.
Saturday, May 30:
Gov’t Mule (playing 2 sets)
The Head And The Heart
American Son: Levon Helm’s 80th Birthday Celebration ft. The Midnight Ramble Band and Very Special Guests
Hiss Golden Messenger
Stephen Lewis and the Big Band of Fun
Hayley Jane and Friends feat. Reed Mathis, Michelangelo Caruba (Turkuaz) and Rob Compa (Dopapod)
Sunday, May 31:
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Ghost of Paul Revere
David Wax Museum
Sammy Rae and the Friends
The Rock Academy
About Mountain Jam
The Mountain Jam Festival is produced by Mountain Jam Productions, LLC, a collaboration between Chet-5 Festivals, Live Nation, Woodstock, NY’s legendary independent radio station, Radio Woodstock 100.1 (WDST), and Warren Haynes. Mountain Jam is a three-day, multi-stage event, featuring approximately 30 bands on 3 stages at Bethel Woods Center for the Performing Arts, one of the Northeast’s premier, natural amphitheaters and the site of the historic 1969 Woodstock Festival. Over the years, Mountain Jam has hosted some of the top names in live music, including Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Black Keys, Robert Plant, Beck, The Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Bob Weir, Jack Johnson, The Lumineers, Widespread Panic, Portugal. The Man, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Gov’t Mule, Levon Helm, The Avett Brothers, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Steve Miller Band, alt-J, Ray LaMontagne, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Roots, James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem), Mavis Staples, and many others.
About Chet-5 Festivals
Chet-5 Festivals is the Founder of the Mountain Jam Music Festival. Chet-5 produces numerous concerts and festivals in and around upstate New York and co-founded the Taste of Country Festival at Hunter Mountain. Gary Chetkof is the company‘s president and principal owner, and has been for over 27 years the principal owner and operator of Radio Woodstock, the legendary independent radio station broadcasting from Woodstock N.Y. and streaming globally via the iHeart media player.
About Warren Haynes
Visionay GRAMMY Award-winning artist Warren Haynes is a cornerstone of the American music landscape, lauded as one of the most formidable guitarists and vocalists of the modern era and a prolific songwriter and producer. He effortlessly cross-pollinates genres and unfurls solos that broil with passion in his distinctive, signature style. Throughout his prolific career as part of three of the greatest live groups in rock history – Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and the Dead – and an acclaimed solo artist, he has become one of music’s most treasured storytellers and his artistry has led to thousands of memorable performances and millions of album and track sales. Haynes is a beacon of creativity and musical excellence that inspires fans as well as fellow musicians, evidenced by the diverse array of artists that he has performed and recorded with. As the front man of Gov’t Mule, Haynes along with his bandmates drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis and bassist Jorgen Carlsson, create consistently honest, organic and daring music, leading them to be recognized as one of the most timeless, revered and active bands in the world whose spot amongst rock titans remains unshakable. The enduring, globally revered group, has showcased its virtuosity, intelligence and breadth over the course of 16 studio and live albums. Their flexible interplay in the studio and on stage makes them a true living, breathing ensemble. Gov’t Mule has become a human encyclopedia of great American music while adding to that canon with their signature sound. For more on Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule, please visit www.WarrenHaynes.net and www.mule.net.
About Live Nation Entertainment Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Sponsorship. For additional information, visit www.livenationentertainment.com.
About Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Located on the National Register Historic Site of the 1969 Woodstock festival just 90 miles northwest of New York City in the Catskills’ Sullivan County, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts is a 501c3 nonprofit cultural center focusing on history, creativity, and community. Home to an award-winning museum devoted to the story of the 1960’s and a 15,000-seat entertainment venue, Bethel Woods is a must-visit tourist and cultural destination, attracting local, national, and international visitors. For more information please visit www.BethelWoodsCenter.org.
It’s hard enough for a three piece to capture a big sound, but imagine a three piece comprised of horns and percussion alone that has an ENORMOUS sound. That’s Moon Hooch. This Brooklyn trio has gone from subway platforms to festival stages, from supporting act to headliner over the last bunch of years, bringing us all along on the journey with them. They create a masterful sound that combines everything great about dance and jazz music into this expertly woven blanket of awesome and I cannot get enough of them. I feel kind of foolish that it has taken me this long to delve into their sound, as I have caught and enjoyed them at Northeast festivals for a few years. I just happened to see that they played in New York last night, and it was like a cosmic kick in the ass. Why have I not explored this incredible band yet?
Well, there is no time like the present I guess – right? These three gents are back for the new year with a fantastic journey through sound on a new record called Life On Other Planets. When I saw that they had a new album out in the world, I thought it a great time to listen hard and ride this sound for all it was worth. I have to say, I am enjoying the hell out of myself. I’m floored. There is so much twisted beauty and deep energy in this record. The songs have jagged edges and constant twists and turns, leaving a listener stuck in an endlessly freeing and ever changing dance. It’s delicious and exciting and I have no idea why I was so late to this party.
Take the track Candlelight, for example. It kicks in with a great dance beat, layered with pulsing horns. I’m finding myself dancing in my chair and wishing I was in a club watching this live so my body could move the way the music is making it want to. Self control is not my strong point! I don’t know how anyone listens to this and sits still. Beyond that, these guys are simply stellar players. I am also really into the song This Is Water with its soaring into horns and building percussion, leading into a dirty get down that travels through a maze inside my head. Suddenly those horns get deep and sexy in their groove before climbing back into that dance chaos. It’s so incredibly cool. There is so much like that through the record. Every song is a different exploration, but every song makes you want to get up and MOVE.
There is something so tasty in the groove that this band brings forth. It’s not typical. It’s full of ups and down, backs and forths, twirls that go deep into the earth before soaring into the atmosphere. Check out the track Too Much Hooch too – loaded with wonderful chaotic horn blasts between smooth sensual climbs and falls before it descends back into the dance crazy energy. I wasn’t aware three guys with horns and drums could create such an enormous sound. I never really knew I could get as into a record so free of vocal, but these guys make me want to move. I have only been able to catch them on festivals with a shorter set, so I can only imagine the energy of a hot club and a headlining spot. I’m incredibly intrigued and I want more. Moon Hooch has dates posted through February all over the place in the US before hopping over to Europe in March, so get out and catch them in support of this fantastic new record, Life On Other Planets. I recommend it highly! You can check out the band on their website for album information and tour dates at https://www.moonhooch.com/
In case you are living under a rock today, we are here to let you know The Peach Music Festival has released their initial lineup and opened up early bird ticket sales. I hopped on over to take a look at the poster and let me just say…
If there is any festival you need to be at this year, this will be it. Setting up from their home base at gorgeous Montage Mountain, PA, the festival will gather friends from July 2nd to July 5th with fireworks every night. Massive headliners like Umphrey’s McGee and moe. are blazing forth from the lineup poster – and OYSTERHEAD. Freaking Oysterhead is poised to be the festival surprise winner for 2020, mark my words. I have been a disciple of Les Claypool for 25 years so the opportunity to see him tear it up would be a dream. In addition to that fat bag of awesomeness, festival favorites like Twiddle, JRAD, and Aqueous can be found below on the lineup poster. The incredible Dopapod is there too. Keller, Goose, Magic Beans, Kitchen Dwellers, more and more… There was seriously way too much girlie “squeeeee” in my voice as I read these names off, one by one. We have been able to catch so many of these incredible bands over the years at separate festivals and shows, and the opportunity to catch them all in one weekend has me seriously excited in the pants.
Peach is one of those festivals that I have been wanting to go to for years but just have not been able to make it happen. This is poised to be the first year A Perfect Mess is there to give our readers the full on low down. I’m already on the website trying to secure tickets under the payment plan, and judging by how my log-in screen is just spinning around and around forever, so is everyone else. You can head on over and get your early bird passes at http://PeachMusicFest.com
The jam scene is overflowing with artists and fans who want you to help them change the world. There is no shortage of folks who are ready and willing to tell you how we as humans are ruining everything with what we eat, how we commute, where our clothes come from and how we live. There are not nearly as many though who are out there putting their skills where their mouth is to make a real, genuine difference for the world. Dopapod is one of those artists willing to put up or shut up, and if I didn’t have incredible amounts of respect for them before, I sure as hell do now. They have a plan, and you can help.
The band has released a fantastic new track called November. It’s currently streaming now on the very Dopapod date of 11/11, but it’s not just here to tickle our ears with amazingness. It’s here to give us the opportunity to put up or shut up ourselves. We are going to plant some trees, friends. First, we are going to dance it out to the sweet synth magic, killer drum sounds, grooving bass lines, and soaring guitar of this incredible track. It reminds me of a lot of the vibe that came out of MEGAGEM, with a bit of that orchestral jam and hard hitting vibe. It’s a really fantastic track, recorded at the same time in Blackhawk, CO. The song is amazing, but the words hit harder than anything. ” The smoke has burned a hole, through the walls that kept us cold. We fell asleep with fire in hand, we need a different plan.” That’s it right there.
The song is inspired by the climate crisis we are facing as humans on Mother Earth. She’s ill, and we are responsible for her cure. To quote drummer Neal “Fro” Evans on his Facebook post promoting the track, “She is our home, and we are all behind on rent.” Truth. We have been taking a lot and giving back little to help replenish her, and it’s time for that to change. The band is donating 100% of all profits from this song to the organization “Trees, Water, and People”, a non-profit that plants trees in North and South America. (read more about them at www.treeswaterpeople.org)
The band is streaming this song on Spotify and all other platforms so you can hear it and love it, but if you head over to their bandcamp page, you can donate to make a difference. It won’t take much. Every dollar donated is one tree planted. That’s a pretty easy way to make a change. So dig down in those couch cushions, clean out the cup holder in your car, shake the change from the bottom of your purse, and buy some trees. Just buy one tree if it’s all you can afford. That beautiful tree will make oxygen for us all to enjoy.
I remember my first discovery of Aqueous about four years ago. I was just starting to feel them on my radar as I was delving into the scene. I loved the dance and funk fueled rock jams they were throwing out there, and I loved that they were so fresh in their sound. I got to see them open for Twiddle in Stroudsburg, PA at the Sherman when I wasn’t totally familiar with their catalog yet and danced my ass off. The following summer was my first really getting into festivals and they were just EVERYWHERE. Every lineup that dropped that spring had them on it. They seemed to be on so many things at once that I was wondering how the heck they were pulling it off. Teleporting? Holograms? We were able to catch them several times that summer. I thought at that time that these guys must be the hardest working band in the jam scene. I know now that I was right, and that it has paid off.
As a band, these are some of the most polished and dedicated players doing it out there right now. They pour themselves intro their craft – heart, soul and body – so completely. You can hear it in every lick and beat they put out into the universe. As people, they are some of the nicest that I ever had the chance to have a mildly intoxicated, taco-gifting tent interview with at a festival. That kind where it’s too loud to hear much of anything said in response to your questions, so you spend as much time as you can just making sure the band knows they are making people happy with their music. Because they truly are. Their last full length record, Color Wheel, blew my mind more than a little bit and remains one of the best albums that came out of 2018, in my opinion. I was delighted to learn they were dropping an EP, and curious as to what it would give us.
The record, Burn It Down, is a funky four track trip through rock, dance, and jam flavor and it’s dropping with a fresh style and just a touch of delicious throwback. “Come and Go” is absolutely my favorite song on the record. It’s got a clean and steady drum beat with fantastic vocals and guitar fire, lit up over a hot bass line. This is a constant hip shake track with singable vocals and I am completely unable to sit still listening to it. It’s got an almost Duran Duran thing happening in the vocal. The band caught such a cool vibe when they wrote this song and it holds strong from start to finish. I really want to check this out live! The title track, “Burn It Down”, is a straight dance rock hop with those awesome vocal harmonies and hip shaking bass and drum groove. The guitar work is straight fire on this track and you won’t be able to help but sing along. This song is amazing and makes you MOVE!
“Little Something To Me” is a slick trip of a track that grabs you with those harmonies and holds you with that sexy groove. This song has something really cool with its stepping drum beat and dirty rock guitar flavor. The final track, “On The Edge”, reminds me of pop rock in the late 90’s and listening to it just shot me back to my early 20’s. I love that about music. Some artists are so good at capturing a groove or a vibe and injecting it into the new music they are writing so that their listener is jolted to another time and space in their soul. Aqueous has gotten really good at this. I don’t think most bands can pack this much flavor and punch into a 14 minute, four song EP – but Aqueous did it. Burn It Down is straight fire.
You can catch Aqueous playing with Twiddle at The Capitol Theater on November 29th and 30th. These two bands put on an incredible show and we really hope to be there. Mostly, I am really wanting to hear these new songs live. Aqueous remains one of the best live bands I have ever had the pleasure of rocking out to, and I can’t say enough that you should be checking them out! Give your ears a taste of Burn It Down as soon as humanly possible. You need this in your life.