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Ohio Players horn section

Ohio Players - BB King’s, NYC, 7.16.16

by Michael Sherer

The Dayton, Ohio area of the middle of the mid west isn’t known for much special, but musically they have a claim that is: The Ohio Players. This is one the premiere R & B/funk bands of the ‘late ‘60’s and ‘70’s that actually goes back in their first incarnation to ‘59 as the Ohio Untouchables. And they’re still around, albeit with many breaks along the way since the mid ‘80’s. None of the very original members are in the group, but two early ‘70’s guys are, that being drummer Jimmy “Diamond” Williams and keyboardist Billy Beck. Beck is a major contributor in the songwriting department.

With a three piece horn section of trombone, sax and trumpet adding to the bass heavy, romping funk, these guys tore up the house. ‘70’s classics such as Fire, Sweet Sticky Thing, I Want To Be Free, Heaven Must Be Like This, Love Rollercoaster, Who’d She Coo? and more were played at top level by the current band. I was especially impressed by bassist Darwin Dortch. The bass is, of course, so very key in funk type of music like this.

With the entire band locked in and swinging, the crowd was was really into it. A person next to me stood up and danced to some songs. The only problem with standing is that this venue is usually a seated one, (as it was on this night) so people behind him were blocked. But it’s not easy to stay contained with a blast of great sounding, vigorous R & B/funk of this caliber coming at you.

Diamond did the talking, and explained why he has the numbers ‘72 on his stick bag. He said it was the year he joined the band and because he was voted number 72 in a Rolling Stone drummers poll. (Or it could have been Modern Drummer magazine.)

Be sure to catch these mid westerners for anything but a middle of the road show. They’re front and center and in your face.

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Chris Cornell does the Overture Center in Madison solo acoustic

Chris Cornell with Fantastic Negrito - Overture Center Madison WI July 5, 2016

by Laura Sorensen

The show opened with a half hour acoustic performance by Fantastic Negrito, a single performer accompanied by a backup guitarist.  Negrito had plenty of wit and humor while also addressing some very serious events in his personal life that included the shooting death of his brother at the age of fourteen, and a near fatal car accident in 2000 that put Negrito in a coma for four weeks. His music is very heartfelt and expressive, full of passion, a great intro to the headlining performance by Chris Cornell.

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John Mayer, Bill Kreutzmann & Bob Weir

Dead & Company, Citi Field, Queens, NYC, 6.25.16

by Michael Sherer

Citi Field holds approximately 45,000 people, and on this splendid summer night a strong sense of nostalgia for the past and of closure for what’s left of the Grateful Dead was palatable as they perform what could be their last tour. Over fifty years on since forming as The Warlocks in Palo Alto, CA., this can hardly be a surprise.

Original members consist of Bob Weir on guitar and vocals and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. Mickey Hart, who joined in ‘68 as a second drummer, is also in the band. Missing is bassist Phil Lesh. Oteil Burbridge is in his place, and Jeff Chimenti is on keyboards, a chair that’s had several musicians after the death of original keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” Mckernan, who passed in ‘73 from a burst ulcer as a result of excessive drinking. The heart of the band, guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Jerry Garcia, passed in ‘95 from heart failure.

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Punky Meadows

Punky Meadows, BB King’s, NYC, 6.14.16

by Michael Sherer

Former Angel guitarist Edwin “Punky” Meadows has been completely out of the music world for decades. He was running a tanning salon in Virginia for many years. Hailing originally from Washington D.C., he was near home but far from what he’s known for, that being rocking out in a band on mostly Fender Stratocaster type guitars and paying close attention to his appearance while doing so.

With his first recording in 35 years and his first ever solo outing, called Fallen Angel, Meadows is back. This resurrection is very much owed to partnering musically with songwriter, guitarist and singer Danny Anniello. They wrote some songs together and things progressed from there. Danny was present on stage, as well as Chandler Mogel on vocals, Bob Pantella on drums, Charlie Calvin on keyboards, Randy Gregg on bass and two back singers named Jessie Wagner and Amy Anderson. Former Angel bassist Felix Robinson played bass on the record and performed on two of songs during the show. He normally plays the whole show on this tour but he wasn’t feeling well that night. The crowd was glad to have him at all, though.

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Cage the Elephant - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 2016

Cage The Elephant with Twin Peaks and Portugal. The Man - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 11, 2016

by John Noyd

Returning nearly one year to the day, Cage the Elephant once again stormed Madison’s Orpheum Theater, packing a powerful new album along with a lightning-sharp line-up comprised of Chicago’s Twin Peaks and Portland’s Portugal. the Man. Originally slated for the Alliant Center, the downgrade in venue size only made the sold-out evening more the compact powder-keg of explosive commotion; capping one of first really hot days of the summer with one of this year’s hottest nights for monumental rock.

Big, loud bands practiced in the art of fusing electric blues, crunchy funk and jammy psychedelia into pro-active party-jams, the killer triple bill stoked technically proficient expedition of soulful out-of-control rock ‘n roll. Portugal, the smallest and least animated of the three, upped the ante with an energetic emcee assigned to pumping up the already-rabid crowd who also provided a valuable service grabbing exclusive on-stage video for a few lucky stage-huggers. The five-piece Twin Peaks shaked and quaked backed by two guitarists, three lead vocalists plus keyboards, bass and drums that kept them on a runaway train for their entire thirty minutes set. While headliners Cage, expanded their super-tight quartet with two additional players to upgrade their heavy sound into rafter-wrecking proportions.

A tight-knit nucleus of admirers converged early to catch Twin Peaks’ well-tended engine mow over a solid concoction of sweat-soaked and focused indie-rock romps. By the end of the Windy City band’s blustery set, the Orpheum’s main floor was a dense hive backed up to the sound board ready for Portugal’s churning journey. The rainbow-rockers’ galactic crashes and cosmic gospel united the audience in a communal trance that sky-rocketed in the last third of their hour-long set after a firing shot of the Stones’, “Gimme Shelter,” erupted into face-melting renditions of, “All The Light,” and, “The Home;” throwing in a roaring, “She’s So Heavy,” portion of The Beatles’, “I Want You,” before closing with a thundering, “Purple, Yellow Red and Blue.” A well-deserved breather gave people time to recover from Portugal’s feverish finish and to prepare for the evening’s main event. Fittingly, the core members of Cage slowly strolled out one at a time to ever increasing applause until lead singer Matt Schultz made his entrance, announcing, “Last time was memorable, let’s one up that shit.” Breaking into a bombastic, “Cry Baby,” from their recent, “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” Matt launched himself into the crowd,-surfing over a sea of appreciative supporters. Aided by fog-machines, strobe-lights and multi-colored lasers, the band quickly made good on their ballsy promise.

Informing the theater they were heading home for a short break after their Madison show, Cage the Elephant’s set list took on an sympathetic layer of homesickness. The group’s desolate themes telegraphed in jack-hammered ambitions appeared somewhat paradoxical; their potent odes to isolated heartbreak packaged in pro-active catalysts that bonded fans in pathological solidarity. As the crowd sang along to, “Back Against the Wall,” with full-throttled honesty, “ got me where you want me again, and I can’t turn away,” the lyric’s unrequited insights met a tidal wave of compassion. The song continues, “I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool.” Closing the night with a solid three song encore and another crowd-surfing turn, the Schultz brothers would be fools to think anyone would leave them hanging on anything but hopes for another song.

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