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Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones Band, City Winery, NYC, 7.26.16

by Michael Sherer

Booker T. Jones is best known for being the namesake of Stax Records’ house band, Booker T. & The M.G.‘s, after joining the Memphis, TN based company in ‘62 at the age of eighteen. Booker was a local Memphis youth. The company had been formed in ‘57 as Satellite Records but its name was changed to Stax in ‘61. Although the area was quite black, the company was founded by two white siblings and business partners, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, who came fully aboard the following year after Stewart began it. Stax is a clever combination of their names. Although neither sibling had any experience or even much knowledge of soul music, they embraced those around them who did and went fully in that direction. The label soon came to represent authentic Southern soul at its best and the envy of many.

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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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