Monday, May 30, 2016

'Keeping it honest' spans a range of new releases

A number of celebrated, groundbreaking artists are captured at the height of their powers via a slew of outstanding springtime releases. 

Artist: Eric Clapton
Title: I Still Do (Bushbranch / Surfdog)
You might like if you enjoy: Eric Clapton, JJ Cale
Tell me more: While British blues guitar masters such as Alvin Lee (Ten Years After), Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page built their reputations on speedy guitar work, Eric Clapton always used velocity in the service of groundbreaking grooves and a deft touch (think "Cocaine," "Let It Rain" or "I Shot the Sheriff") that allowed him to be flashy even during more laid back material (including ballads, as evidenced by "Wonderful Tonight"). On his 23rd solo album I Still Do, Clapton offers up a sterling collection of original gems and lovingly-rendered covers that prove Clapton remains an artist of unique and special significance. On "Spiral," Clapton and his supporting players rise and fall like the sea, Slowhand's beautiful lead guitar lines swirling amidst the nuanced performance around him. Clapton digs deep into old-time blues via a take on Skip James' "Cypress Grove" and Robert Johnson's timeless "Stones In My Passway,"and masterfully turns Bob Dylan's "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" into a poignant gospel blues hymn. Information: EricClapton.com.

Get 'I Still Do' here


Artist: Santana
Title: Santana IV (Santana IV Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Early Santana, War
Tell me more: For the first time since the early 1970s, the original members of Santana reformed to record, the results showcased on the new studio album Santana IV. The natural follow-up to 1971's successful "Santana III," the reunion project teams guitar great Carlos Santana with the majority of his Woodstock-era line-up including Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums). There is a passion, inventiveness and cohesive spirit across the disc, with the rhythmic powerhouse "Shake It" (featuring a terrific blend of percussion and lead guitar fireworks), signature Santana-styled "Anywhere You Want to Go," expansive psychedelic-blues instrumental "Fillmore East" and funk rock-styled "Freedom In Your Mind" (the latter featuring guest vocalist Ronald Isley) all pushing the classic rock ensemble forward. Information: santana.com.

Purchase 'Santana IV' here





Artist: Sturgill Simpson
Title: A Sailor's Guide To Earth (Atlantic Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Ray Charles, Van Morrison
Tell me more: An amazing follow-up effort to his 2014 sophomore album "Metamodern Sounds in Country Music," Sturgill Simpson's third LP A Sailor's Guide to Earth confirms the Kentucky native's greatness. On the album's first track, "Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)," Simpson somehow blends authentic country music, orchestral textures and soul into a single five-minute arc. A few songs into A Sailor's Guide to Earth, it's obvious that the Kentucky native has somehow blended far-flung genres into a single sound built around an eight-track song cycle written following the birth of his first child in the summer of 2014. The thematic collection also includes a musical intermission where he delivers a magical and completely reworked cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom." Information: sturgillsimpson.com.

Get 'A Sailor's Guide To Earth' here




Artist: Linda Ronstadt
Title: Silk Purse (Varèse Sarabande Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris
Tell me more: Since her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014, there has been a long-overdue examination of singer Linda Ronstadt's long career. Although she retired in 2011 (and was sadly diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in December 2012), a newly-issued reissue of her second solo album Silk Purse showcases Ronstadt's amazing soprano and emotional connection with a song. The 1970 album features Ronstadt exploring folk rock, alt-country and related styles. Chief among the joys here are the duet "Louise (with Gary White), the country ballad "He Darked the Sun" and her first hit "Long, Long Time" (the latter which earned the Arizona native her first Grammy Award nomination in 1971). Information: VareseSarabande.com.

Get 'Silk Purse' on audio CD here


Artist: Alan Jackson
DVD Title: Keepin' It Country  Live at Red Rocks (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr., George Strait
Tell me more: The emergence of country music traditionalists including Chris Stapleton, Mo Pitney and Sturgill Simpson over the past few years is likely a reaffirmation of the path forged by artists long interested in preserving country music's rich roots. On his latest release, available on DVD and digital, Alan Jackson makes a pretty compelling case for keeping the music real in an age where many country music artists have drifted into the world of pop. Keep' It Country  Live at Red Rocks finds the Georgia son performing a rousing 26-song set of his beloved songbook, including "Good Time," "Gone Country," "Small Town Southern Man," "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," and "Where I Come From." Not one to ever live simply in the past, Jackson's live performance staged before a capacity crowd at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado also featured new songs from his 2015 album Angels and Alcohol. Information: alanjackson.com.

Get 'Keepin' It Country - Live at Red Rocks' here


Robert Kinsler

Friday, May 27, 2016

Concert review: Doheny Blues Festival 2016 Roundup

Singer-guitarist Roy Rogers, left, with fiddler Carlos
Reyes at Doheny Blues Festival. Photo: Robert Kinsler
Editor's Note: This is an expanded version combining my two reviews that ran earlier this week in The Orange County Register.  A special thank you to photographer Bob Steshetz for letting me use a number of his wonderful photos with my review.


Doheny Blues Festival
When: May 21-22, 2016
Where: Doheny State Beach, Dana Point, CA

Review by Robert Kinsler

Day 1, Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 1 of Doheny Blues Festival 2016 featured a number of wide-ranging artists appearing on three stages and elsewhere. Noteworthy performances stretched from a breakfast set staged outside the Dana Point venue courtesy of Steve Copeland & Raging Sun to headliners Lynyrd Skynyrd. 

Johnny Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
In recent years Lynyrd Skynyrd has performed at a number of high profile spots including Stagecoach in May 2014, at Pacific Amphitheatre in August 2014 and at the NAMM Show in Anaheim last year. And while guitarist Gary Rossington remains the only original member of the groundbreaking Southern rock outfit (a majority of the members were killed in an October 1977 plane crash), the band's well-chronicled tale of survival and an enduring collection of FM radio favorites is celebrated at each show. 

The band (fronted by singer Johnny Van Zant, younger brother of original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant) finally made its first-ever appearance at the Doheny Blues Festival on Saturday, delivering a rousing and memorable 90-minute show that blended classics ("Free Bird," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Simple Man"), a sweet tribute to the late Merle Haggard (a spirited version of the Hag's "Honky Tonk Night Time Man") and more obscure material ("Cry For the Bad Man," "Whiskey Rock-A-Roller"). 
James Hunter at Doheny Blues Fest.
Photo: Bob Steshetz

The single best set of day 1 may well have belonged to the James Hunter Six, who blasted through more than an hour of exciting, dynamic and fun songs that blended rock 'n' soul, R&B and blues. From the opening notes of their first song, the uptempo "She's Got a Way" to the two dozen or so songs that followed, Hunter and his five talented band mates personified how much fun a great concert can be in the hands of masters. Highlights came fast and furious, from the title track of Hunter's latest album ("Hold On!") to the spirited "The Gypsy" (where Hunter unleashed some amazing guitar work to finish out the track) and beautiful ballad "Something's Calling," this set was a complete triumph for the soulful Hunter.

No artist traveled further to get to Dana Point that Finland-based songstress Ina Forsman with the Helge Tallqvist Band. Forsman, who noted this was her first time in California, made the most of the trek to showcase a mix of her emotive originals and beloved material from both Etta James and Amy Winehouse. Highlights included her own reggae-meets-blues nugget "Farewell" and the potent ballad "Don't Hurt Me Now," the latter showcasing Forsman's incredible soprano. Harmonica master Helge Tallqvist impressed throughout their set.

Making a well-deserved return to the concert stage were the Rockin' Rebels, a loose and fun-styled rockabilly quartet that delighted discerning listeners on the Backporch stage. The area quartet is set to release a new CD on Rip Cat Records this summer.

The first artist to appear on the Backporch via an early Saturday turn, singer-songwriter John Long performs authentic original songs that sound as if they were being written and performed in the early 20th century. His first song, the Delta blues-styled "Pressure Cooker ('Bout to Blow)" and the infectious slide guitar-anchored "Baby Please Set a Date," the latter the wonderful lead-off track off Long's 2016 return Stand Your Ground (his first studio album since 2006's Lost & Found). Guest Al Blake blew some great blues harmonica during "Baby Please Set a Date." During much of the set, Long was joined by Fred Kaplan (piano), Bill Stuve (upright bass) and Washington Rucker (drums).

Kicking off the day was an appearance of Steve Copeland & Raging Sun. The talented Copeland (guitar, vocals), was joined by lead guitarist-vocalist Terry "The Count" Medeiros and harmonica virtuoso River Blue for an acoustic set that displayed the power of one of the ensemble's full-band outings. While a medley featuring Rolling Stones, Steve Miller and Creedence Clearwater Revival classics was fun, an artistically-reworked version of Kris Kristofferson's "Me & Bobby McGee" was amazing. …Robert Kinsler


The Walter Trout Band remains a force of nature.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Day 2, Sunday, May 22, 2016

Two things marked the 2016 entry of Doheny Blues Festival: amazing weather and great guitar playing. That was especially true on Sunday, with Roy Rogers, Walter Trout, Tommy Castro, Tommy Harkenrider (guesting with England's Si Cranston and his Soul Revue) and Brian Setzer displaying some flat-out amazing guitar work. 

Concertgoers certainly didn't have to wait long to take in amazing music making on Sunday. Widely considered one of the greatest slide guitarists ever, Roy Rogers' performance on the Backporch stage offered the chance to see the legendary artist in an intimate performance that offered a chance to see the artist as he put his virtuoso guitar talents in the service of a wide range of material with his trusted Delta Rhythm Kings and guest fiddler/Paraguayan harp player Carlos Reyes.

Songs from Rogers' latest album, 2015's Into the Wild Blue, provided fuel for part of the 70-minute set, including the blues rocker "She's a Real Jaguar" and the Keb' Mo'-styled "Don't Let Them Win." Among the selections perfectly suited for Rogers and Reyes to shine while playing in tandem was an uptempo take on Willie Dixon's "Built for Comfort."

Walter Trout's appearance at the blues fest was his first since undergoing a liver transplant in May 2014, and the Huntington Beach singer-songwriter-guitarist made the most of his set by featuring songs from his latest album Battle Scars, which documents his brush with death and miraculous recovery. "Almost Gone," "Haunted By the Night" and acoustic-flavored "Please Take Me Home" were powerfully rendered and captured the depth of the songs during the performance. Trout also brought up his sons Jon (on guitar) and Dylan (on drums) to play a few tracks too. Trout's winning vocals and flat-out impressive guitar chops are as strong as ever, and the crowd cheered his return to Dana Point.


The Record Company rocking the Backporch.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
The Record Company is clearly one of the better young bands that have tapped into hard rocking blues elements of the 1970s and found a way to work those influences into something new that connects and excites modern-day audiences. At the trio's incredible performance on Sunday afternoon, the Record Company attracted a large and enthusiastic crowd with its sure-fire and infectious sound. "We are the Record Company," said singer-guitarist/harmonica blaster Chris Vos when he took the Backporch stage with band mates Alex Stiff (bass) and Marc Cazoria (drums). "We play rock 'n' roll."

Indeed, the Los Angeles-based threesome tore through a set of original rock, many of the songs from the group's 2016 debut Give It Back To You. The amped-up opening shot "On the Move," nuanced country-flavored "Hard Day Coming Down" and blues-drenched "Rita Mae Young" were among the many great songs performed by the exciting outfit.

Closing out the action on the Sailor Jerry Stage were long-time favorites Tommy Castro & the Painkillers. Like Trout, Castro is as talented as a singer-songwriter as a guitarist, so his 75-minute set worked on a number of levels. Early, he honored his hero B.B. King with an inspired Chicago blues take on "Bad Luck," the arrangement showcasing Castro's skilled lead guitar work. Castro also brought soul into his blues mix via the infectious "I'm Qualified" and tore up the place with his anthem-styled blues rocker "Can't Keep A Good Man Down."


Brian Setzer at Doheny Blues Fest.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
The festival's final act was a great one. Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot offered up a dream set of Stray Cats gems (a scorching "Rumble in Brighton," extended "Runaway Boys" with some great guitar work, the crowd-pleasing "Stray Cat Strut"), as well as great material off his 2014 Rockabilly Riot! album; the song "Vinyl Records" featured some of Setzer's greatest vocals of the set. Everywhere his lead guitar work impressed, including on some great covers (Carl Perkins' "Put Your Clothes On," Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire," Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and more). 

Make sure to read writer George A. Paul's comprehensive report of the Doheny Blues Fest. We both covered the two-day festival for The Orange County Register, and he was able to cover several of the acts I missed. You can access his day 1 report here. His day 2 report is here.

A special collective "thank you" to the talented staff at 100.3 FM (better known as "The Sound") who spent some time with the Register's writing crew and shared musical stories. I got to meet Mimi Chen, Cynthia Fox and Uncle Joe Benson after listening to all of them for many years on the Southern California "airwaves." It was very cool and they are truly passionate about music - and great people too.
From left, writer George A. Paul, 100.3 FM radio host Mimi
Chen and Robert Kinsler. Photo: Bob Steshetz



Review by Robert Kinsler 



MUSIC WORTH BUYING episode: The Jayhawks, Beyonce

Watch the latest episode of MUSIC WORTH BUYING where Robert champions the latest album from The Jayhawks, Paging Mr. Proust, while TJR takes an in-depth look at Beyonce's Lemonade

Friday, May 20, 2016

Doheny Blues Festival hits Dana Point this weekend

Walter Trout performs at 2011 Doheny
Blues Festival. Photo: Bob Steshetz
Doheny Blues Festival
Where: Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point
When: Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22, 2016
With: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aaron Neville, the James Hunter Six, Edgar Winter Band and more (May 21); Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot!, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Walter Trout, Tommy Castro and more (May 22)
How much: Gold Weekend passes and VIP tickets are sold out; some single day Gold tickets ($230), single-day general admission ($60) and two-day general admission ($115) tickets were available as of press time
For more: DohenyBluesFestival.com

Launched by Omega Events in 1998, the Doheny Blues Festival has hosted some of the most legendary names in blues, rock 'n' soul, gospel and classic rock, including the likes of B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, John Fogerty, the Black Crowes, Etta James, Mavis Staples, John Lee Hooker and Al Green. 

"When we start the booking process, we always target a headliner that has never performed before at Doheny...and a returning headliner that is a sure fire home run," explained Rich Sherman, president of Orange County-based Omega Events. 

This weekend's festival delivers on that mark, with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd set to headline the event on Saturday night, while singer-guitarist Brian Setzer will close things out on Sunday. Among the other returning favorites are Bay Area singer-guitarist Tommy Castro, and Orange County's own Walter Trout.


Walter Trout performing at the
Coach House in July 2015.
Photo: Bob Steshetz
Trout is making his first appearance at the festival since he received a liver transplant in May 2014. 

"They (Omega Events) wanted me there last year, but I wasn't ready. I didn't do a gig until June 2015 (he performed two songs at the Lead Belly Fest at London's Albert Hall).

"I really thought I was going to die," Trout confessed of the challenging months leading up to his successful liver transplant. 

But Trout has been getting stronger with each passing day, and his performances are as strong as ever. On May 5, Trout earned his first-ever Blues Music Awards (for "Rock Blues Album" for 2015's "Battle Scars," and "Best Song of the Year" for the powerful "Gonna Live Again"). His forthcoming album, Alive In Amsterdam, is set for release on June 17 and celebrates his return to the stage.

"It's awesome man - it's awesome to be anywhere," said Trout, a long-time resident of Huntington Beach. "I have a new-found joy, and appreciation for what we do. It's an incredible experience to be up there. I savor every moment. As you know I play a lot of notes; I love and saver every single note."

After Trout performs in Dana Point on May 22, he flies to Canada to perform at the "Jeff Healey: A 50th Celebration" to commemorate the late Jeff Healey. Trout will be joined by Albert Lee, Sonny Landreth and other guitar greats at Massey Hall in Toronto on May 26.


Tommy Castro in concert. Photo: Mitchell Glotzer
Tommy Castro & the Painkillers is another favorite, and will return armed with material featured on his latest album, "Method To My Madness." The Bay Area artist is known for his top-tier guitar playing and strong vocals. While his new album features mostly original material, he does cover B.B. King's 1956 standout "Bad Luck" on the disc.

"B.B. was a little more than one of my influences; he was my main influence," Castro said in a recent interview. When Castro was growing up he gravitated to blues and rock greats ranging from Taj Mahal and Elvin Bishop to Eric Clapton. "I started digging back to see where these guys got it from; B.B. King comes up with everybody."

Castro did a couple of summer tours opening for King, and the two both performed the same day at Doheny in 2009. Like King and Trout, performing blues is in Castro's DNA and he can't imagine not performing.

"I've been at this with our band for 25 years," said Castro, who just purchased a new tour bus last year dubbed "The Doghouse."

"I still enjoy it. I don't have any plans to stop doing it anytime soon."

Sherman is very excited with the line-up of artists performing at the event this year.

"Lynyrd Skynyrd is an American institution, one of the greatest Southern Rock bands ever formed, and they have been riding a wave of renewed popularity the last few years, headlining country music events and touring with the likes of Kid Rock and Bad Company," Sherman said.

Sherman is just as excited by some of the international acts he is bringing to Dana Point, including James Hunter and Si Cranstoun (from from the U.K.). 

"Usually these acts are making noise in their own countries before we start talking to them, like another import act this year Ina Forsman from Finland. What is for sure, though, is that when these acts make their debut in Dana Point, they usually steal the show because the Southern California fans haven't seen them yet. It's a blast to watch," Sherman said.

When asked about the enduring popularity of blues music, and popular events such as the Doheny Blues Festival, Trout noted: "The blues is a gift to the world; a gift this country gave to the world. The blues is the basis of all popular music."


Robert Kinsler

Editor's note: Robert's review originally was published on The Orange County Register Web site on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

OHANA Dana Point to host Eddie Vedder, Elvis Costello, Band of Horses, Lana Del Rey, City and Colour and more!

Wow, this festival sounds amazing! And it's coming to Orange County in August! I had missed the announcement about this that went out last month, and a friend just emailed me the link to the festival Web site...It is being held in the same amazing location that hosts the annual Doheny Blues Festival (which happens to land in Dana Point this weekend, May 21-22)...

OHANA Dana Point coming August 27-28, 2016
Elvis Costello will perform at OHANA Dana Point in
August. Photo: Kelly A. Swift

Eddie Vedder, Elvis Costello, Band of Horses, X and more to play Saturday

Lana Del Rey, City and Colour, Cat Power and more to play Sunday

The event will be held at Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point, CA. 

According to the event's Web site, OHANA Dana Point is a special event to help generate funds which will support the efforts of maintaining coastal access in south Orange County state beaches. California State Parks, Orange Coast District (CSP-OCD) and its cooperating association, the San Onofre Parks Foundation are focusing efforts toward enhancing and maintaining beach access for the people of California via California State Parks.

The event will be held 1 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 27, and 1 p.m. - 9:15 p.m. on Aug. 28.

Information: theohanafest.com.


Monday, May 16, 2016

The Zombies announce West Coast tour dates, including Coach House date


Great news for fans of The Zombies. Among the announced tour dates is a Sept. 3 concert at the legendary Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. this Friday, May 20, 2016.


The Zombies performing at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA
on Oct. 24, 2015. The band will perform in Southern California
again in September 2016. Photo: Robert Kinsler
The band delivered an amazing set at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA on Oct. 24, 2015 (you can read my review of the show here).

Here are the just announced dates:

Sept. 2 - The Rose in Pasadena, CA

Sept. 3 - The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA

Sept. 4 - Libbey Bowl in Ojai, CA

Sept. 7 - The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, CA

Sept. 8 - Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA

Sept. 10 - The Rialto Theatre in Tucson, AZ

Sept. 14 - Boulder Theater in Boulder, CO


You can read my review of The Zombies' multi-format Live In Concert at Metropolis Studios release here: http://www.musicnewsnashville.com/innovative-multi-format-releases-celebrate-groundbreaking-artists/

You can read my short concert preview of The Zombies' 2011 concert date at the Coach House on the Orange County Register Web site here.

For more information on The Zombies, visit the band's Web site at thezombiesmusic.com. For more information specifically on the Sept. 3 date at the Coach House, call the venue's box office at 949-496-8930.

Also, want a rear treat? Listen to Beck's cover of the Zombies' "Beechwood Park" via the embedded video below:



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Journey, Doobie Brothers & Dave Mason launch last season at Irvine Meadows

Arnel Pineda, left, with Neal Schol.
Photo: Kelly A. Swift
San Francisco Fest 2016
Who: Journey, The Doobie Brothers, Dave Mason
Where: Irvine Meadows
When: Thursday, May 12
Next: the Chin Pavilion in Phoenix, AZ on May 14

When it was Journey bassist Ross Valory's turn to step up to the mic early in the band's set at Irvine Meadows on Thursday night, he noted this was the first night of the venue's "last season for concerts." The boos that filled the cold night were appropriate for a crowd of mostly Baby Boomers who have been attending concerts at the outdoor amphitheater for more than 35 years.

And while the imminent closure of Irvine Meadows five months from now cast a brief pall on the chilly night, the focus for the near-capacity crowd was truly all about nostalgia. From Dave Mason's opening set to the Doobie Brothers successful turn at getting everyone to sing along with its radio staples and headliner Journey's 90-minute hits-laden affair, this was an audience that wanted a soundtrack to the party. I can't remember ever being asked during a critical moment of a concert by a stranger to turn around and take a group's picture when that could have waited for the intermission.
A chatty and often inattentive crowd aside, all three artists turned in solid performances on the first night of the so-called "San Francisco Fest 2016" tour that extends through Aug. 30 with a date at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista (in San Diego County).

Arnel Pineda in Irvine on May 12,
2016. Photo: Kelly A. Swift
For casual Journey fans the departure of long-time singer Steve Perry in the 1990s proved to be no problem in Irvine. Arnel Pineda, 48, has been singing with Journey since February 2008 and has increasingly been accepted by fans as a fixture in the band. Indeed, at times during the show on Thursday, this writer would close his eyes while Pineda was singing and it sounded like Perry (who I last reviewed at the Bren Events Center in Irvine in March 1995).

Journey's approach in 2016 is much like it was in the late '70s and early 1980s when the Bay Area-spawned outfit was a commercial juggernaut. From the minute the band opened with the bombastic opener "Separate Ways," Journey delivered an energetic and engaging set highlighting the accessible material that has helped the band sell 90 million albums around the globe since their launch in 1973. Guitarist Neal Schon remains an amazing lead guitarist, and showcased his speedy fretwork throughout the 17-song set. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain's work and drummer Steve Smith also shined. The band's straightforward delivery of uptempo rock was occasionally dialed down for some more nuanced material, including "Only the Young" and lovely "Lights" early in the set, and 'Who's Crying Now" (showcasing Pineda's tenor) and "Faithfully" later on.    
Patrick Simmons of the Doobie Brothers.
Photo: Kelly A. Swift

Less than two weeks after performing inside a packed Palomino tent at Stagecoach in Indio, the Doobie Brothers delivered an almost-identical set of favorites in Irvine. Opening with "Jesus Is Just Alright" and turning right into "Rockin' Down the Highway," founding members Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons (both juggling lead guitar and lead vocals duties) and their top-tier band of supporting players performed both well-known and some lesser-known songs that worked well in concert. Particularly beautiful was the acoustic-flavored "Another Park, Another Sunday," featuring Johnston's effective lead singing. But it was the last half of the set that got the crowd excited, with the bluesy "Black Water," and rollicking "China Grove" and set-ending "Listen to the Music" getting the crowd on their feet and singing along.
Dave Mason in concert.
Photo: Kelly A. Swift

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason, who earned cheers when he announced he had turned 70 earlier in the week,  showcased highlights from his solo career and time with Traffic. Both his voice and electric guitar work remain credible, with highlights including the acoustic flavored "We Just Disagree," his '68 Traffic hit "Feelin' Alright" and a powerful version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" - the latter including at least three guitar potent solos with a powerful 90-second foray closing out the track. 

It may have been lost by many in the crowd, but Mason played 12-string guitar on the 1968 Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland recording and it was thrilling to see Mason revisit the classic to kick off Irvine Meadow's final season. 

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photos courtesy of Kelly A. Swift

Friday, May 13, 2016

Music Worth Buying episode: Radiohead, Esperanza Spalding

On the new episode of MUSIC WORTH BUYING, TJR and Robert Kinsler take an in-depth look (and listen) at the latest albums from Radiohead (A Moon Shaped Pool) and Esperanza Spalding (Emily's D+Evolution):