LIVE PEAK – New! Hot Clips Vol. 2 and Upcoming Shows!

Why does it seem so long since we have all been able to get together and dance to a great live band? Probably because it has been. At least for us. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have only been to one large show in New York City (Bad Religion) and one smaller show nearby in Stanhope, outdoors (Twiddle). Mostly though we still watch from afar. Live streams, vlogged shows, live albums. I am not upset about it. Aside from being a little medically fragile, I have grown to quite enjoy ready access to cheap drinks and a clean bathroom with no line. However, I deeply miss that live energy. The palpable energy of a room full of people digging hard on the same grooves you are. Even better, a field full of people digging those grooves, dancing under the lights, the stars, feeling the sounds permeate their soul.

Since mandates have been lifted and large populations have been vaccinated, there is hope that some semblance of normalcy can resume in the world of music venues and shows. With COVID rolling on with less gusto but no sign of going away for good, we are cautiously emerging, vaccinated and sanitizing, from our caverns of sourdough bread making and working from home to gather again in the church of live music. And I’m here for it.  I crave that energy like a life force, and I long to feed that craving again on the regular.

I can’t wait to do it with one of my very favorite bands in recent years in just a few days…

This Friday, Brooklyn’s psychedelic indie funk quartet PEAK will be bringing us all out of the dark when they hit the Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ with Uncle Stump. One of the most fun live bands I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know, PEAK brings fantastic songwriting and steady beat dance jams that will keep you moving until you think you might explode from the energy. Purely stated, they are a lively, fun live show put on by some of the most talented players in the scene and if you have not caught them yet, you need to be there. Don’t take my word for it – you are being given a preview!

In addition to live show news, I am delighted to bring you new music news! PEAK is back with the second installment of their Hot Clips series featuring selections from their summer and fall shows in 2021. Comprised of songs off their two previous studio albums, a few unreleased songs, and even a Mac Demarco cover, this selection of jams gives you a taste of what PEAK brings to the room when they show up and throw down. Songwriter and guitarist Jeremy Hilliard (Turbine), drummer Kito Bovenshulte (Particle), Josh T. Carter (Haley Jane and The Primates) on bass, and keyboardist Johnny Young (Mick Taylor Band) create this incredible collective of soaring jams, dance beats, and rock out moments captured in the Hot Clips series. PEAK is something spectacular to witness live with the kind of honest energy and songwriting that has been lacking in the jam scene in recent years. It’s one thing to be talented, but the songs are exceptionally written and the shows are the kind of fun that you just get lost in. It’s an experience. I feel like I throw PEAK at my readers a lot, but I have yet to have one come back to me anything other than floored by their experience with them. If you are new to PEAK, let Hot Clips, Vol. 2 be your introduction.

One of my very favorite PEAK tracks, especially live, kicks off the collection – Path Paved With Roses. It’s a track off the band’s last studio album, Choppy Water, that brings super fun danceable beats with singable lyrics. This version dissolves into a steady, trippy jam. There is also a gorgeous version of the track Starlight Child in this collection that brings a sick jam with ripping guitar and crazy heady bass over an insane blend of drums and keys before delicately dropping back into the chorus and finishing precise. Their cover of Mac Demarco’s Freaking Out The Neighborhood is a really fun version that highlights each ridiculously good player in this band. The solo’s flow from Johnny’s impossibly good key work into Jeremy’s guitar shred. The whole time, Kito is absolutely destroying the drums and Josh is absurdly ripping on bass. Then the jam kicks in – slow and spacy first and then picks up the pace. It climbs steadily, holds you for a minute, and freaking explodes in a righteous climax and it’s over. (The original version of this song has an amusing backstory that I encourage you to Google). This is one of my favorites to see PEAK do live. It freaking RIPS. 

Here is the track list for Hot Clips, Vol. 2:

Path Paved With Roses

Vanishing Skies

Run Me Down

In My Mind I’m Already Gone

Freaking Out the Neighborhood

Missionary Ridge

It’s Easy To Give Up (Don’t Give Up Too Easy)

Starlight Child

The band will be celebrating this release this Saturday the 16th when they hit the Gramercy Theater in support of Lespecial. If you can’t make Friday’s Stanhope House show, I heartily encourage you to get yourself to NYC and catch them there for Saturday. The show will be a rager for sure! In fact, the band is doing FEE FREE tickets for $22. Just Venmo them your details to @PEAKtheband, $22, and your tickets will be at WILL CALL at the Gramercy Theater. How about that goodness?

In the meantime, you can check out Hot Clips, Vol. 2 (live) everywhere that excellent music streams. 

Peep the link:

https://peak2.hearnow.com/hot-clips-vol-2-live

The band is out on tour this spring and adding shows all the time. Get out there and check them! If you plan to hit the Stanhope House, I’ll see you there!

You can also check out Peak on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWkM9fouVYWPivSR2jiiiZw

And Bandcamp

https://peaktheband.bandcamp.com/

GROW with DOPAPOD on 2/20/22

It’s a cold day in New Jersey. Despite a little sunshine, it’s 11 degrees. The trees have no leaves. Everything carries a thin chalky gray coating of salt that smears on your coat if you get too close. It’s midwinter and I have the blues. Then I got an email.

There is new Dopapod coming.

I repeat, THERE IS NEW DOPAPOD COMING.

The band put out the track “Think” recently and I have had that in fairly heavy rotation. It’s rocking (killer guitar, heavy hitting drums) while still being a bit plucky. It has really had me in a mode for full on devouring of every hang up and struggle from the last year to just dance. A truly welcome respite from reality but it was just one song…

This month on the palindrome date (obviously) of 2-20-22, the world shall be blessed with the official release of the band’s new single “Grow”. Someone somewhere must still value my opinion and that of you wonderful readers because I got a taste of this new goodness in my in-box and let me tell you something: the Jersey winter just got a whole lot warmer with this in my ears.

The track busts in with the funky groove we all love from Dopapod. Clean, funky tapping synth and sexy bass with steady drum beats and scratchy guitar. That wonderful blending of sounds and feels that are every reason we follow these gentlemen is front and center in this track from the moment it opens. It has you shaking what you got out back for a good minute and a quarter before the vocals come in with good swirling vibes and those amazing harmonies. The lyrics are powerful – legit and hopeful. The whole track has a strong feel of summer with bare feet on matted grass, hands on cold beverages, and a momentary release of worries that we enjoy in that moment as an audience member to powerful music. It rises and falls, ebbs and flows, but the energy never for even a moment lets up. That beat holds you nice and tight and you will be moving with it. I love this song and I am so freaking excited by it!

“Big things have small beginnings.”

They sure do, guys. And I think we all really needed to hear that from you right now.

After two plus years of hopelessness and isolation, this is exactly what I was hoping for from the jam community in terms of new music. I feel like I have been sitting here, tapping my foot and looking at my watch going, “ok fam…any time now” waiting on new music to bring our energy back the heck up and maybe even put us back in a dancing crowd together safely so we can remember how it feels to FEEL. Everything has been so bleak and add to that the fact that it’s just the dirty snow and bitter cold part of winter, and you really start to wonder where the hope went.

Where the light is.

We are desperately in need of fire and strength, set to something we can dance to, and leave it to Dopapod to truly understand the assignment. They are here to hand us that fire with “Grow”.

Grow is a fantastic track and truly everything that is great about this band. It’s four stellar and smart music writer and expert players creating a tapestry of sound that transforms and transports the listener. I cannot wait to catch this song live just to see all the weird and wonderful places the guys will take the jams encased within it. They are just sitting there, patiently waiting to be released. I want to be there when they are set free.

Speaking of releases, you should be checking out “Grow” as it is up and live today, 2/20/22! I encourage you to be ready to shake the dust off. This song is everything we have been waiting for.

Follow the band on https://www.dopapod.com/ for more and to see where the band will be when they hit the road – tour dates are already posted!

PEAK Conquers with New Music and Upcoming Album Release Show

I first met Jeremy Hilliard and Johnny Young from PEAK four years ago in New York City. I was working for a music publisher in midtown at the time and writing here and there for this blog as well as The Jamwich – who asked me to cover an album release show. My job was boring as all get out (how many times can I type the name of that song into the computer in 8 hours…) but this was the reason I wanted to work in the city in the first place – to experience live music as much as possible, even if it was not necessarily job related. Our corner of New Jersey is lovely, but live music venues are not exactly dotting the map there. Naturally, I was delighted. Of course I would cover this show for this Psychedelic Indie Funk band called PEAK and their record Electric Bouquet.

I got the opportunity to meet Jeremy, Johnny, and his wife Michelle that night and formulate a wonderful fanship/friendship that has followed PEAK over the last few years. Since that night, the band has added bassist Josh Carter, formerly of Haley Jane and the Primates, and Kito Bovenschulte, formerly and sometimes presently of Particle. The combination of these two gents and the already catchy and addictive songwriting that existed in PEAK has been nothing short of explosive. The live shows over the last several years have become a haven of joy for my husband and I and we have traveled all over just to have our own private dance parties with the crowd at a PEAK show. That profile picture of mine on the APM page on FB? That’s me dancing like a crazy thing at a PEAK show. We have come to know and love the songs they wrote as they played them live and were honestly chomping at the bit for this new album to drop. And drop it did, like a big, fat piñata of awesome.

The record, Choppy Water, is a deliciously danceable journey through thoughtful inner monologues, set to jamming and often rocking music. It was recorded deep within the pandemic at Horizon Sound Studios in Brooklyn and engineered by Johnny and Michelle Young. The finished product was mixed by Jason “Jocko” Randall (Turkuaz/Jimkata/Dopapod) at Moresound Studios in Syracuse, NY. It’s such a different album than the last record and brings forth so much flavor from the depths of what could have been a depletion of creativity, Instead, this masterpiece is here to bring us back the hope that comes from a packed dance floor, enormous smiles, and incredible players.

The band quite smartly kicks the doors open with their song When The Night Comes Calling You. It has a deep groove that is more than a foot tapping sensation. It’s a climbing, hip shaking, why-would-you-possibly-stand-still kind of groove. Kito’s stellar drumming is all over this track, dragging it around the floor with every shaking body in the crown. Layered through those beats is Josh’s bass lines which are deep and heavy and just add to that hip shake. Johnny has an expertly light touch to his keys sound in this song but it carried through the entire tune in a dance with Jeremy’s guitar work that creates a vocal all its own. Add that to the actual vocal which is catchy as hell and helps to build with everyone through to the top of the chorus. It’s a masterpiece, this song.

The immediate next track, Path Paved with Roses, has been a favorite of mine through many, many live shows. I was so excited to hear it as a studio track and PEAK didn’t disappoint me in the least. A fun, foot-tapping vibe through from start to finish colored with Johnny’s throwback key sound and singable vocals by he and Jeremy create another really fun experience for your ears. This song makes you want to dance. I have literally hurt myself dancing to this song! The guitar solo three quarters through, playing over the stomping drums and steady bass takes the song to the end, and then I get sad that it’s over.

The title track, Choppy Water, has become my favorite driving song. It has a vibe somewhere between the bass groove and fills that just kill, steady, precise drumming, and those lovely vocals that kind takes the mind off somewhere else. It’s a mellower feel after the first two tracks, but it’s welcome, dreamy, and comforting especially carried by the keys and in its layout and overall feel. Your foot is still tapping though. PEAK puts together a really great song every time they sit down to do it and if you think you like it in the studio, just wait until you hear them live. The fourth track, It Ain’t Over til the Credits Roll, is a fantastic uptick in temo, spirit, and overall feel. Johnny takes lead vocals here, absolutely destroys on keys, and there is a killer guitar solo by Jeremy as well. Another great mention is the last track, Day the World Was Born. It has a great Americana feel and different kind of vibe from much of the rest of the album, but that versatility as players and writers is what separates the guys in PEAK from other musicians in this scene.

Every member of this band is a powerhouse of ability in their own right. They are sincerely four of the most talented players I have ever had the opportunity to see play live and that is not me blowing smoke at anyone. I genuinely think they are some of the most purely talented people out there now, in addition to being some of the hardest working. They are also a collection of wonderful human beings, truly appreciative of a crowd having a great time. I have seen PEAK everywhere from a tiny bar in Sparta, NJ to the hugeness of Brooklyn Bowl to freezing and pouring down rain in a field at Yasgurs Farm. No matter where it is, they are giving spectators a fantastic show full of energy, sincerity, insane ability, and a metric shit ton of fun.

Don’t take my word for it – come out Friday October 22 to the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn and see for yourself when the band has their official album release show for Choppy Water. They will be supported by friends in Waiting on Mongo from Asbury Park and Trailheads all the way from Pittsburgh. PEAK should hit the stage by 9pm. You can head over to bit.ly/peakkfbk to get your tickets ($15) and I cannot recommend highly enough that you do. It’s a fantastic live show that is not to be missed. I’ll be there, and surprise! It’s my birthday! Come out and hang out and shake what you were given with some great people and amazing music. In the meantime, PEAK’s album Choppy Water is streaming everywhere and you should be devouring it! You can also buy CD’s at the show and a limited amount of posters NYC-based Artist Conor Brewster, seen below.

Check out the FB invite for more info:

https://fb.me/e/2LTmglHmr

See you there!

For Immediate Release: SweetWater 420 Fest Returns in 2022 on April 28-May 1 Lineup Announced, Tier 1 Tickets On sale Oct 8th

SWEETWATER 420 FESTIVAL
RETURNS TO ATLANTA’S CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK APRIL 29-MAY 1, 2022
LINEUP ANNOUNCED WITH NEWLY ADDED 420 PRE-PARTY CONCERT
‘Tier 1’ 3-Day General Admission & VIP Tickets on sale October 8 at 10 AM at SweetWater420Fest.com

SweetWater Brewery Company and Happy Ending Productions Present the return of SweetWater 420 Fest from April 29 through May 1 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Festival announces the full 2022 lineup, including headliners OysterheadTrey Anastasio Band (2 sets), and The String Cheese Incident (2 sets).

Additional artists include Umphrey’s McGee (2 sets), Snoop DoggJoe Russos Almost Dead (2 sets), GooseDirty HeadsSnarky PuppyJJ Grey & MofroLotusTurkuaz with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew: Remain in LightSpaffordBig SomethingToo Many ZoozThe MovementDoom Flamingo + Queen is Doomed (2 sets), BadfishBoombox Feat. Backbeat BrassTown MountainThe Nth Power Feat. Jennifer HartswickTropidelicBrandon “Taz” NiederauerKarina RykmanKitchen DwellersNeighborDENMLittle StrangerKanika Moore & The PsycodelicsHedonistasButcher BrownSexbruise?Certainly SoJoslyn & The Sweet CompressionKrisBs Midnight RailroadBird Dog JubileeThe 4 KornersThe StewsPressing StringsThe Broadcast, and the Taylor Scott Band.

NEW in 2022, SweetWater 420 Fest is thrilled to announce the first kick-off pre-party concert on Thursday, April 28 at 12 PM in Centennial Olympic Park featuring two sets from headliner The String Cheese Incident supported by moe., Oteil & Friends, and Empire Strikes Brass.

Founded 18 years ago, SweetWater 420 Fest continues to deliver an eclectic musical lineup, singular in its ability to bring some of the most prominent jam band names in the industry alongside cutting-edge acts and some of the most revered artists on our playlists.

Returning experiences include three stages, heady concoctions from SweetWater Brewery featuring handcrafted signature drinks, cocktails and craft beers served throughout the festival and at the festival favorite ‘SweetWater Experience Tent.’

Additional features include a local craft & artist market, an expanded food court with a variety of food trucks, the Planet 420 environmental and non-profit village, our 5k Road Race with everyone’s favorite beer at the finish line, and the newly added Thursday pre-party concert in the park with general admission (GA) and VIP upgraded experience purchase options.

Furthermore, the Peachtree Road Race qualifier 420 Fest 5K returns April 30. 5K/Fest combo packages available. Participants can register at sweetwater420fest.com/420-fest-5k.

“We are more than excited to celebrate not only the return of live music but the return of SweetWater 420 Fest and our festival community to Centennial Olympic Park in 2022! Furthermore, to add to the excitement, and for the first time in our festival history, we are announcing our full festival lineup in October with tickets on-sale on the 8th!” says President of Happy Ending Productions, Jennifer Bensch. “Plus! We added an extra day of music on Thursday with a kick-off pre-party in the park!”

SweetWater 420 Festival tickets are on sale October 8 at 10am. Tier one three-day GA tickets start at $118, three-day Big Fish VIP at $350, the newly added three-day GA Kush at $198, and premium Riff VIP passes including a range of exclusive amenities.

Plus! Purchase your 420 Fest pre-party ticket for Thursday, April 28, for an additional fee when you purchase your three-day tickets.

Purchase your 2022 Tickets here.

2022 LINEUP


Oysterhead

Trey Anastasio Band (2 sets)

The String Cheese Incident (2 sets)

Umphrey’s McGee (2 sets)

Snoop Dogg

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (2 sets)

Goose, Dirty Heads

Snarky Puppy

JJ Grey & Mofro

Lotus

Turkuaz with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew: Remain in Light

Spafford

Big Something

Too Many Zooz

The Movement

Doom Flamingo + Queen is Doomed (2 sets)

Badfish

Boombox Feat. Backbeat Brass

Town Mountain

The Nth Power Feat. Jennifer Hartswick

Tropidelic

Brandon “Taz” Niederauer

Karina Rykman

Kitchen Dwellers

Neighbor

DENM

Little Stranger

Kanika Moore & The Psycodelics

Hedonistas

Butcher Brown

Sexbruise?

Certainly So

Joslyn & The Sweet Compression

KrisB’s Midnight Railroad

Bird Dog Jubilee

The 4 Korners

The Stews

Pressing Strings

The Broadcast

Taylor Scott Band.

For more information, including lineups, event news, and the latest updates, please visit sweetwater420fest.com and facebook.com/420fest and follow on Instagram and Twitter at @420Fest.

The SweetWater 420 Festival is produced by Happy Ending Productions, offering promotion, production, event operations, and logistics management. Happy Ending Productions’ client list includes Festivals: Camp Bisco, Counterpoint, Bonnaroo, Hookahville, along with tour support services for Phish, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and more.

About SweetWater 420 Festival

SweetWater 420 Fest returns to Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, April 29-May 1, 2022 with three stages. Founded 18 years ago, SweetWater 420 Fest has delivered an eclectic musical lineup, singular in its ability to bring some of the most prominent jam band names in the industry alongside cutting-edge acts, varied genres, and some of the most revered artists of our time. Festival experiences include three stages, handcrafted signature drinks, cocktails and craft beers by SweetWater Brewery Co.’s served throughout the festival and at festival favorite ‘SweetWater Experience Tent,’ local craft & artist market, expanded food court and a food truck village, Planet 420 environmental and non-profit village, and a peachtree qualifying 5K Road Race. For information, including lineups, event news, and the latest updates, please visit sweetwater420fest.com and facebook.com/420fest and follow on Instagram and Twitter at @420Fest.

About SweetWater Brewing Co.

SweetWater Brewing Company is an Atlanta-based craft brewery living by the motto “Don’t Float the Mainstream!” In 2020, SweetWater was acquired by Aphria Inc., now Tilray (TSX: TLRY and Nasdaq: TLRY), a leading global cannabis company inspiring and empowering the worldwide community to live their very best life. SweetWater Brewing Co. celebrated 24 years of heady brews in 2021 and is the 11th largest craft brewery in the nation, according to the Brewers Association. The award-winning lineup of year-round beers includes 420 Extra Pale Ale, H.A.Z.Y. IPA, G13 IPA, High Light, 420 Imperial IPA, Golden Isles Hard Tea and SweetWater Oasis Premium Hard Seltzer. Additionally, seasonal releases offer palate pleasing variety, along with an experimental, one-time-only Dank Tank series, 420 Strain Series, innovative Non-Dairy Almond Milk Stout and progressive barrel aged styles in The Woodlands Project series.

SweetWater is passionate about protecting natural resources and habitats and is recognized for its contributions to environmental initiatives throughout its distribution footprint. Supporting the conservation of some of the nation’s most threatened rivers, streams and coastlines is a cause near and dear to the brewery, as clean water is also vital to the creation of their tasty brews.

Visit SweetWater Brewery – located at 195 Ottley Drive in the heart of Atlanta – for tours of the main brewery, and pints and bites in the newly renovated taproom and restaurant. For more information about SweetWater Brewing Company and brewery hours, please visit sweetwaterbrew.com. Follow SweetWater Brewing Company on Twitter/Instagram @sweetwaterbrew, and become a fan at facebook.com/sweetwaterbrew and facebook.com/SweetWater-in-Colorado

Link to Media Assets

Bill Kight
PR & Media Relations, SweetWater 420 Fest
970-708-3753|
sweetwater420fest.com

PEAK Show Dates!

I am cautiously optimistic, but I am seeing show posts popping up. Earlier today, I caught myself scream a little when I saw Galactic will be at the Blue Note Jazz Fest in New York City this summer. Could it be true? Can we dance together again soon? So much of our life blood is the energy of live music. Can this be real?

Then here comes my regular “Peakin’ Beacon” email and low and behold, PEAK dates!

PEAK. TOUR. DATES.

The last show we saw before the world shut down was PEAK. Their livestreams were some of our favorite glimmers of normal. I am incredibly excited to be able to share these upcoming show dates with you!

5.30 Yasgur’s May Meltdown, Bethel NY (PEAK headlining Friday night!)

6.17 Stella Blues, New Haven, CT

7.10 Electric Haze, Worcester, MA

7.16 Snug’s Bar, New Paltz, NY

7.23 B.R.Y.A.C. Bridgeport, CT

8.26 Tellus 360, Lancaster, PA

8.27 Altered State Distellery Erie, PA

9.10 ALBUM RELEASE SHOW Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY

ALBUM RELEASE SHOW? Yes you read that right. There is a new record in the hopper, and it’s going to knock socks right off. More on that later…

I’m sure I will see your lovely faces at a few of these! See you out there, friends!

Digging Hard on New ShwizZ – “Clock Tower”

This blog has been slowly finding its feet again after a year of lockdowns, cancelled festivals, closed venues, and postponed released. I am DELIGHTED beyond all comprehension to be bringing my followers and readers some exciting stuff and amazing new music. A Perfect Mess has always been set on bringing new music to your ears.

This pandemic has created a drought in new music and I think we are all feeling it’s emptiness in our souls. Just when I think I can’t take any more and might waste away completely, Nyack New York’s prog-fusion powerhouse ShwizZ is here to bathe us in hope and soaring guitar vibes with their new track, Clock Tower. It’s a killer tune and I can’t wait for everyone to get a listen so we can discuss!

Never one to shy away from the melding of meditative music and hard, heavy hitting rock, the guys in ShwizZ don’t disappoint with this new track. Guitarist Ryan Liatsis brings his gorgeously airy guitar work that goes from gentle and introspective to heavy, while still soaring, over the course of the song. It’s like being in a dream sequence as the song progresses through rooms of thought and emotion, changing ever so slightly and then completely before bringing you back. Drummer Andy Boxer is, as always, creating a perfectly melded series of beats that leads you through the highs and lows of the song with effortless precision and perfect emotion. The song also brings in the talents of bassist Scott Hogan who lays a deep, heavy and melodic groove, and William Burgaleta on amazing keys that are at times straight up otherworldly. All together, these gents are creating a deliciously epic trip that I seriously can’t stop listening to.

Not to stop at just an incredible song, ShwizZ has also graced us with a video that you can check out below: Give a watch and a listen and tell me what you think!

Po3tic Treachery (Paul Hollands) – Photo / Cover ArtDan Rappaport – Video Production / Photo EditingNatasha DiMarco – Production AssistantReleased by Color Red Records

Produced, Recorded & Mixed by ShwizZ at Call Hollow StudiosMastered at Csharp Studios

I am constantly being wowed by these guys. I am hoping hard for more music from Shwizz ASAP, as I know they have some live shows in the hopper! You can check them out at the following later this year:

August 14 – Yasgur Road Reunion

October 1 – Opple Topple Music Festival 

October 2 – Flyday Music Festival

https://flydaymusicfestival.com/

Two Exciting Preview Tracks from Shwizz! New Album “Big Things” Out 6/26

How are we all hanging in our quarantines and shut-downs? Is everyone ok? I know the solitude and confusion has been rough on a lot of us, and I am hoping everyone is holding up out there. The one thing that is getting me through these rough times has been the sprinklings of new music I have been getting to write about, pushed along by the fact that you all want to read about it and hear about more – so thank you! I know we are far apart these days, but we will get each other through this. Music is life, after all.

I have said it before and I will say it again – reviewing singles is becoming my new favorite thing. It’s like wine tasting. You get just a sip of something you had no idea you wanted, and now you cannot wait to bring home that whole bottle. It’s even more delicious when you know you will have to wait for more because the album is not out for another month or so. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Something like that – ANYWAY – the guys in Shwizz have released an epic teaser to their upcoming album, Big Things, with two early released tracks. Shwizz is an incredible band comprised of two members – Ryan Liatsis on guitar, keys, and vocals, and Andy Boxer on drums and vocals. You might remember we did a review of their last record, Shwizz II not that long ago and talked a lot about what incredible players and writers these guys are. Well, guess what? They are back with more of that goodness for you with these two tracks! 

I have to admit, I have been devouring these songs amidst all the chaos of the pandemic and our lockdown. I think we can all use something to look forward to these strange days, and hearing these songs is going to be that thing for you. I already cannot wait for the full album to be released, and I think you will find that you agree. This is just a sampling, and the two songs are so diverse from one another that I cannot wait to see what the rest of the record has in store for us.

The first of the two songs is called Unnamed King. It’s a heavy as hell, hard hitting song that the band did with Consider The Source bassist, John Ferrara. Unsurprisingly, his bass lines in this song are epic. The whole song from start to finish is simply fantastic and proves what a force Shwizz is in their writing styles. The drums hit with perfect precision and incredible force. Boxer takes you through the rises and falls in the track with incredible creativity. The guitar Liatsis lays down is soaring and heavy while still being so smart and intricate. Ferrara’s bass work in the beginning is such a different intensity than at the end of the song. The writing is brilliant in that it’s this perfect mayhem of precision and power. I asked Shwizz drum master Andy Boxer where this song came from: 

“I wrote the song 4-5 years ago after seeing Consider the Source. I laid down the foundation and Ryan blasted it to another level.” That’s an understatement! Dive into this song and let it take you on a journey!

The second song took me by surprise. It’s called Your Call Is Very Important To Us and if you think it sounds familiar, you are probably right. “It’s inspired by hold music. Like, literally.” says Boxer when asked what prompted them to write the song. When you hear it, you will know right away. It’s an amazing song in that, for a moment, it sounds like every horrible hold experience you ever had. That typical tune. You know the one. Gentle and calming to assist your mood while you wait for someone to take your concerns. Then it breaks into these absolutely gorgeous guitar solos that really highlight what an incredible player Liatsis is. The tempo of the song picks up, then down, taking you up and around on a roller-coaster ride. There are these great drum hits and combinations that set the pace and changes. The whole track intensifies at the ¾ mark, taking you higher and higher with ferocity from the dance between drums and guitar. Then the song comes back down around to that familiar tune and gently ends. I was just floored by the whole thing. I mean, who else can take hold music and make it into a crazy good, intricate song? No one but Shwizz, and that’s why this band is amazing.

That’s why I cannot wait for this album next month. The upcoming album, Big Things, will be available June 26th and you can find out more by heading to the band’s website, https://www.shwizz.com

Check out these tracks on Spotify right now!

Peak Is Keeping Us Grooving with Hot Clips Volume 1

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! 


Keep up with Peak here:

wesbite: www.PEAKtheband.com

FB: www.facebook.com/PEAKbandnyc

IG: www.Instagram.com/PEAKtheband

twitter: www.twitter.com/PEAKtheband

Mihali Makes Good on His Long Awaited Solo Record – Breathe and Let Go

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!

https://www.facebook.com/MihaliMusic

JamFam Music and Arts Festival Announces Inaugural 2020 Lineup – Official Press Release

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

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.”

#JamFam

www.JamFamMusicFestival.com

www.facebook.com/JamFamFestival

For more information, please contact:

Michael Kestin, Producer
Mobile: 201.315.0603
press.jamfam@gmail.com

Gratefully,

Mike Kestin

Founder & Producer

Jam Fam Music & Arts Festival

Waterloo Village, Stanhope, NJ

LocalPartyPlanner, LLC

Mobile: 201.315.0603

Email: MKestin00@gmail.com

www.JamFamMusicFestival.com